IATEFL Belfast 2022: Planning collaborative and reflective online lessons for adults and teenagers – Rachel Tsateri

Rachel is a blogger you may / should (!) know from The TEFL Zone. This is her first IATEFL presentation.

She is talking about a framework she came up with for planning online lessons, and talking about how it worked with her students.

When coronavirus arrived, Rachel was teaching B2+ teenagers and adults. Their motivation plummeted and it was a challenge to get her students to care about their lessons. She had no idea how to use her coursebook online, and her classes were really teacher-centred. The only authentic communication was right at the beginning of the lesson. She decided to perhaps flip to authentic materials for a while, rather than the coursebook to boost their engagement.

The stages she used were:

  1. Lead in
  2. Listening
  3. Text reconstruction (audio)
  4. Text reconstruction (typed)
  5. Free recall
  6. Focus on lexis
  7. Select and reflect

Stages 2-4 are what Rachel calls a jigsaw-gloss.

Rachel started by showing pictures – can they guess the name of the programme?

She selected this programme because she’d heard them talking about it. They then moved on to talking about their interest, emotions, motivation, knowledge and opinions about this programme. It was important to include emotions in the process because many of the students were feeling shut down.


Rachel created a summary of the plot. She divided it into four parts. She recorded it with the help of colleagues. Each student only had access to one part of the audio, via a link. She told them to listen in a dictogloss way – they were already familiar with this approach.


  • Listen first just to get a general idea
  • Listen again and note key words
  • Listen a third time for detail and language to help them reconstruct their text

This was a balance of autonomy and guidance. They had purpose(s) for listening – they tended to listen and start taking notes, lose track, and become overwhelmed because they couldn’t keep up.

The texts weren’t equally divided into four parts – some were shorter / longer, easier / more challenging, which allowed for differentiation.

Text reconstruction

They went into breakout rooms to put the plot together and put it in the right order orally, with one person who’d listened to each part of the recording. This was a huge focus on fluency and using the language.

Then they worked on written text reconstruction. They wrote their parts individually. If they wanted to, they could turn off cameras and microphones – they don’t have to interact all the time.

Peer feedback – they could read other’s texts, and ask each other questions. They started with giving each other feedback on content, then moved on to feedback on language.

Why did this process work?

This was a collaborative process, where students depended on each other, not the teacher, from the start.

It worked on mediation – they developed their own versions of the text. They had to explain it to classmates. They co-created a target text. These are real-life tasks.

This is a communicative replication task.

There was a balance between loud and quiet interaction, and individual time.

It was student-centred. This helped students to become more engaged overall.


Listening + text reconstruction = jigsaw-gloss

These are the elements that it got from jigsaw listening, and from dictogloss.

These were 60 and 90-minute lessons.

Free recall

Stop and jot / pause and write / stop and reflect.

Write three words or three phrases from the lesson up to this point. If you want to make it interactive, they can then share these with a partner (turn and talk).

This worked as a break from the rest of the lesson. Reflection can be included in the middle of the lesson – it doesn’t have to come at the end of the lesson.

When they’re sharing, they’re collaborating. Students learn from each other. They notice words and phrases they didn’t notice but their classmate did.

Lexis focus

Rachel believes that high-level students know a lot of grammar, so what they need to develop is how lexis works together.

A central element of language learning is raising students’ awareness of and developing their ability to chunk successfully.

Lewis, 1993

Rachel chose activities like match chunks to definitions.

  • Adjective + noun collocations: social outcasts
  • Semi-fixed phrases: a gang of bullies

Then go back to your Google Doc – did you use these phrases? This allowed learners to put the language into practice – had they noticed the phrases when they listened? Or can they add them now they know they exist?


Select and reflect: select 6-8 items (not words!) that you are going to use or that you feel you have learnt from today. How are you going to use them? Why did you choose this chunk? How will you remember it? What strategies will you use?

This allows for differentiation. Different learners can choose different items.

It allows for choice and responsibility.

She felt it was a realistic number of items.

It was a useful challenge, as they had to process what they had learnt. Adding metacognition to their learning.

Reflection – it was individual, and they also had to share their reflections. They could collaborate. Learners actually took notes of each other’s strategies.

The classroom is a community – we need to help learners to learn from each other, not just from the teacher.

Rachel Tsateri

Strengths of this approach

Productive – learners spoke a lot.

Huge focus on fluency.

Collaborative all the way through.



Rachel ran out of time. Lessons were 60 / 90 minutes.

Long texts. Her texts were too long at the beginning, so she never made it to the lexis stage.

Focus on accuracy? Select and reflect looked like it worked, but when she asked learners to remember what they learnt in the following lesson they often couldn’t.

So, how can Rachel improve this framework? It helps her to have collaborative and reflective lessons, but how can she make sure the learners will remember the language.

If you’d like to share your thoughts, please use the hashtag #jigsawgloss on social media to say how you could help Rachel with this framework.

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