Friday, July 28, 2017

Summer Stew

It's summer, and I'm cooking up a stew of

  • how to use corpora in class
  • better whiteboards
  • Personal Knowledge Management
  • syllabus-writing skills
But, it's okay, because I'm enjoying a few lessons and sitting back, letting the above mentioned topics come and go, some simmering (PKM, whiteboards), some in need of stirring:  syllabi and corpora.

Last week, I pulled out the old Scrivener "Learning Teaching" and Harmer "The Practice of English Language Teaching" and looked up 'syllabus'

I read the entries, made notes, and created two syllabi, one for an adult IT specialist aged 40, the other for a 42-year-old mother of two who is between jobs. I created syllabi and started implementing them in class. Feedback solicited from my DOS ("teach expressions for clarifying and asking good questions').

Scrivener gave me a plethora of syllabus types such as 'functional' 'grammar-based' and '4 skills' and from Harmer came 'make lists!' Lists of tasks, activities, needs, etc. I did select a functional syllabus with long lists of everything from board games to silent video.

The goal here is to learn theoretically sound syllabi writing skills that I can use when time is short, this autumn.  So far, the project is going well.

I'm doing something with corpora too: creating gapped sentences around phrasal verbs. I used the 'collocates' search in for a basic exercise.  Will do more in future (in August, that is!).

Summer in Bohemia, Czech Republic (on a hike during the annual teacher camp)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

BESIG's around the world, the 2nd annual IATEFL BESIG online symposium

Very proud to be a part of this wonderful collaboration. Hats off to Pete Rutherford and the BESIG Online Team for excellent systematic organizing of this event. Starting at UTC 8.45 on Sunday, 25 June 2017 (CEST IS UTC +2 HOURS)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Selfie observation, ideas from John Hughes' IATEFL Glasgow talk

I got the idea from John Hughes: take photos of your whiteboard occasionally.

The first thing that happened (after taking a few photos) was I was ashamed of my whiteboard work -- too ashamed to post any photos on the terrific Twitter space where teachers share their whiteboards.

This activity has motivated me to improve the appearance of my whiteboard.

Here are the 'suspects'

Well, I have been following an old setup: at top, today's date; left, brief list of today's lesson activities; right side "Word Bank" - the place where Ss and I collect new words that come up during the lesson.

I've got lots of growing to do in this area!

I could: add more photos, use colored PostIts, stick up realia...plan a different layout in advance...or lots of other stuff. Will check Matthew Noble's site and the Twitter Whiteboard postings.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Experiment with virtual museum

I got this idea AFTER the IATEFL Glasgow conference in April. Vi"siting the Glasgow Museum of Art, I found a glass case in the main hall which contained various artifacts from the museum's collection, each identified with the name of the local resident who had chosen it for either its beauty or ugliness, along with a few sentences explaining the person's choice. Apparently, the museum had organized a program offering Glasgow residents an opportunity to visit the museum and choose items they found beautiful or ugly. The personal comments were so endearing!

This brought to mind my advanced learners, four in the group, and not a very cohesive one -- so I asked them to visit the National Museum of Natural History in the U.S. online, take a virtual tour of the various halls, and choose an item for its beauty, another one for its ugliness, and write a few lines. They had just learned the words 'epitome' and 'epitomize' so several students used those words in their explanations.

I collected their screenshots of the museum items along with their comments, and placed them on a page in the class wiki, which we viewed together in class and discussed, focusing especially on how each individual's use of English reflects his or her thinking and personality.

One student wrote

"I think that whales are too big relative to me. I think their eyes are evil-looking. Maybe that's the background of my choice that I do not like any aquatic animals."

Another said

"The epitome of beauty I found is an aquarium. I chose this because the underwater world attracts me, also watching fish just swim around and underwater plants sway has a calming affect on me."

This project seems to have drawn the students together by allowing them to respect each other's unique personalities through English.

I recommend it for anyone who needs to build a good atmosphere in their classroom.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Attention please! 20 APRIL DEADLINE! You can apply to the mentor training course sponsored by IATEFL Hungary with award winning materials and training. Location: Budapest, starting in September 2017 on Fridays. Details and forms here!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Starting up again, I hope!

It's been a long time since I wrote something here. At the moment, I'm reflecting on 25 years in the teaching scene. For so long, I set concrete goals about my teaching, such as "increase task-based teaching by 10%" "design effective whiteboard lessons" or "chart the roles I play during a lesson"

At the moment, I'm not disciplining myself with any concrete goal. In a relaxed fashion, I'm watching each student, estimating his or her needs, and writing up lesson plans on an A4 page fill-in I made myself. It looks like this:


Teaching point:................

Warmer ..................

Body 1 ......................

Body 2 ......................

Body 3 .......................

Extra ....................

What's next/homework ....................

WORD BANK (where I note vocabulary while monitoring during the lesson)

This form seems to be sufficient for now, and I can mesh it pretty nicely with the handouts, notes, and ideas I've been picking up lately at various teacher workshops, conferences, and from readings.

Visitors! How are you doing your lesson plans these days?

Attribution: eltpics @Senicko

Friday, October 28, 2016

My reflections about the 2106 IATEFL Poland conference

Conference Notes
IATEFL Poland conference, 16-18 September 2016, Szczecin

A good conference is like strenuous exercise: it makes you stretch. However, conference goers should keep in mind many factors when choosing presentations: stretching out of their comfort zone, relevance, and professional development. The talks and workshops at IATEFL Poland offered a broad, well-balanced selection. I chose Business English and professional development slots, but I jumped out of my zone, too.

Twenty seconds is all a teacher of 4-year-olds gets to transition from one activity to the next, otherwise the little learners scatter like autumn leaves. I watched “Musical Babies,” a live English lesson demonstration with pre-schoolers. Anna Rattenbury changed activities with speed and skill — she was supremely organized. According to one study, most teachers who attend conferences become more aware of developments in ELT contexts other than their own. True enough for me: I learned how cleverly YL teachers plan their lessons.

Back in Business English, I found one thing in common with Mandy Welfare — we both love teaching lower level business people, and we were the only ones in her session who felt this way! The key points are allowing as much speaking as possible, and motivating with bite-sized successes. Later I heard Evan Frendo provide easy ways to contruct discrete items (multiple choice and gapfills) — finally! I’ve always wondered how it’s done, and now I can hardly wait to do it myself.

Then came loads of fun with Anna Podlewska, who teaches medical students, but her games could easily be adapted to other ESP areas. For example, there was a derivative of musical chairs, based on the teacher reading out true or false statements about diseases — very funny, and the subject matter could easily be finance, marketing, etc. Another hilarious game was a dialog cut into strips and distributed to individuals in the class, who called out the statements on their strip one by one, while the others strove to find the appropriate reply.

Professional development is still exciting, even if not the newest star in the sky. I was reminded by Marjorie Rosenberg to wake up my blog and make it work for me. Also, Magda Zawadzka provided a smorgasbord of tips and tricks that ranged between paper-and-scissors preparation and a few clicks for online resources. These may not be new ideas, but small changes make a teacher more professional, too.

In his Sunday morning plenary, Jamie Keddie extended and contracted his leg asking, “What am I doing?” Answer: “Szeczin!” (stretching). At the 2016 IATEFL Poland conference, I really stretched out, too. No doubt I’ll do the same next year in Bielsko-Biata.