Surviving Through Song – The Sixties: It’s My Party by Lesley Gore / Part Two for Teachers

21 08 2012

This is the second of a series of blogposts focusing on some of the best songs of the last fifty years and looking at how we can use them in the classroom and how they can help us as teachers to remember how we can survive in the classroom and reflect on our practice.

You can read the introduction to this series here.

One of my fave songs of the sixties (just as International House Teacher Training was getting in to the swing of things) was ‘It’s My Party’ by Leslie Gore.

We have already looked at how we can use this song in the classroom, so now let’s have a look at what the song might say to us as teachers and how it inspires us to reflect on our teaching.  

As the slides to the talk outline

(Surviving Through Song – Words of wisdom for EFL teachers)

this song helps us to remember that:

It’s not our party! and We shouldn’t cry in class! 

What this means to me in reality is:

•Put the students first, don’t talk about or plan ‘your’ lesson, plan theirs!

      If you have a problem class or student for example, you might find it easier to deal with them if you have them in the forefront of your thoughts when you are planning ‘their’ lessons.  This simple change in attitude / approach to planning, can help you to focus on what they need rather than what you (or your course book, perhaps?) want to do.  Which brings us onto:

•Do what the students want to do and need to do

It’s their party, so always have their wants and needs in mind when you plan your lessons and as you move through the class, don;t set the agenda yourself or be led by your institute or an anonymous course book writer who’s never met your students, if it’s going to be to their detriment. 

•Listen carefully to what your students are saying

Make sure you respond to them as human beings first and language learners later.  Make sure you listen to how you can improve the language their using – and also the language they’re not using – are they avoiding using any more natural or better ways of saying something and so need to focus on it? 

•Always be in a good mood

Your job is to also be positive and to ensure the students are provided with entertaining and challenging classes that allow them to learn and motivate them to do so too.  Don’t bring in any downsides to your life (be it an argument with a colleague just before you go to class or your grumbling about your lack of a pay increase) to the classroom.  The students want and deserve a happy teacher in a good mood.  If anyone cries in the classroom it should be the students’ tears of joy. 

The third of these four points inspires the observation task that goes with this song – you can either use this to self-reflect on your own lessons or use to observe a colleague during the peer observation process.  We use this task each month on our CELTA courses at IH in Buenos Aires. 

The Sixties – For Observation IHTOC50 NM TO Errors & Correction

I hope you enjoy these ideas and I’d love to hear yours – how does It’s My Party inspire you as a teacher?  

How helpful do you find the observation task?  Do you have any similar or better to share? 

Advertisements




Sprinting onto the podium – an Olympics-themed observation task

8 08 2012

Continuing my obsession with all things Olympics (see previous posts Olympics Use of English and Opening Ceremony Reading, not to mention I’m wearing my Olympics t-shirt yet again as I write…), I even have an observation task for you with an Olympics theme.

I call it Stages Sprint onto the Podium.

First of all, while watching one of your peers teach, make a note of all the positive things you can discern about each stage of the lesson, breaking that stage down into it’s constituent steps as suggested by the menu column (instructions, examples, monitoring, feedback) as well as any other aspects that occur to you.  In this way, each stage is racing against the other stages of the lesson, trying to be the most successful.

Then, after the lesson, you can use the sprint grid to reflect on what you saw, electing the best three activities to go onto the podium.  The gold medal activity is the most successful, and you should think of the three most convincing reasons why it was so successful.  The second gets silver and only requires two convincing reasons why it was successful, and then the bronze comes in third with a single reason.

This combination of while watching and then reflecting lets you combine both ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ reflection on a lesson and the theme of the observation makes it a little more fun but also ensures you focus on the positive.  This is good news for the teacher you’re watching and can be good news for you as an observer, since it’s often much easier to see what could be improved and focus on that rather than compliment the teacher on their successes.

Of course, you can also use these worksheets to reflect on your own classes, using them both as cold reflection tools, especially for those times when you’re feeling a little down about your classes and you need a shot of positivity.  Enjoy!





Olympics Use of English

5 08 2012

Olympics Proficiency Use of English

Here are an Open Cloze and a Word Formation exercise based on texts from the BBC about Bradley Wiggins winning gold in the Cycling Time Trial and the Royal Mail issuing stamps for each British Gold Medal winner.  I love the way they’re painting the post boxes gold in the towns of the winners!

Bradley Wiggins Gold Medal Winner Stamp

These exercises were extremely challenging for my prof students this week, but they’re designed to really get them thinking about how to train themselves to guess the right expression.  They need some very clear and supportive feedback on the tasks.

There are also a couple of speaking tasks thrown in for good measure – a class discussion and a couple of two minute speeches.  You could also get them to roleplay interviewing Bradley and trying to use the expressions that are tested in the exercises at the same time.

As always, I hope you and your students enjoy and do let us know how you get on.  I’m sure there are many other fab texts out there to use this week too!