CO #12--Community Resources DMV

Karen Wade

Rogue Community College


Name of Activity:  Read and record traffic and road signs in town  (an attempt at authenticity)


Competency Area and objectives Addressed:


1.9.1    Interpret highway and traffic signs

2.2       Understand ÖÖ.and interpret related travel information

2.2.1    Follow written instructions giving driving directions

2.2.2    Recognize signs related to transportation


Description of Activity:


            My class of beginners and low intermediates meets two evenings a week for 2 hours each evening.  We had been studying road signs and what they mean, had watched a video and had done numerous activities with cards depicting various road signs.  I was ready to send them out into the world to bring back some information to work with in class. 

            I gave the students a handout with instructions to work with a partner, start at the north end of town and drive south on 6th Street (a one-way street) until they reached the bridge.  (approximately 19 blocks)  They were to record all the traffic and informational signs along the way.  (This didnít include the names of streets or shops, but did include all other signs giving information to drivers and visitors.)

            I assigned this project to the class on Thursday, giving them the weekend to complete it before the following class on Tuesday.  I intended to use the information the students gathered to have them categorize the different types of signs that were on 6th Street.  The three categories were: signs showing traffic rules; road conditions; and places or activities in the town.  Students worked in pairs to do this activity.  This was followed by a worksheet of questions based on what they had read and seen on 6th Street. The questions were to assess their understanding of and familiarity with the signs they had seen and/or worked with in the categorizing activity.

            I suggested the students do the recording activity with a partner, as one person would have to drive the car and the other write down information.  The students seemed to understand the activity and appeared enthusiastic.  I assigned the activity over a weekend to give them plenty of time do accomplish it.


What I liked about the activity:


            I liked the idea of the students connecting their classroom learning with what they saw in the real world.  This activity would do the connecting for all students, whether or not they were drivers.  I thought it would make them aware of some of the traffic rules in the area and also draw their attention to the points of interest in the town.  Since not all of the signs were traffic signs, I thought it would even interest the non-drivers.  


            Studying this unit had increased my awareness of the various signs on the roads.  I had experienced that excitement of recognition when I connected new learning with the real world.   I wanted my students to experience it also.  I liked that they would be talking and thinking about real signs in our town instead of something on paper.  It seemed somewhat ďauthentic.Ē


How the Students Reacted to the Activity:


            When the students returned on Tuesday, everyone had forgotten to do his homework!  I was crushed.  But I had done my homework and the follow-up activity continued as I had planned.  Although students hadnít done the assignment, all of them drive parts of 6th Street regularly and were familiar with some of the signs already, so discussion wasnít hindered.  They were agreeable as they completed their tasks and asked questions when they didnít understand things.  Applying the comprehension questions to their own town made them think harder. 


What I would do differently:


            I was frustrated by the fact that the class meets at night and it was too dark by the time the students arrived for us to do the activity as a class.  It would be better to attempt it as an all class activity in the early fall, late spring or during summer sessions when the days are longer.  Then it could even be a competition.  It is also possible that the activity was too daunting for them to attempt.  I may have given them too much to do. 


            I was also stymied by the time delay.  I gave the assignment on a Thursday and they had four days in which to accomplish or forget it   Perhaps I should have assigned it on a Tuesday and reminded them to complete it at the Thursday class meeting.


            The follow-up activity was well received by the students and fostered some thoughtful thinking and good conversation, but the result is either inconclusive or that the activity wasnít authentic enough to be meaningful to the students.