Comment on Damian William’s blog post ‘Solutionism in ELT: magic bullet or malady?’

16 01 2015

Brilliant blog post by Damian Williams inspired me to comment thus:

Thanks for introducing me to Solutionism, Damian!
And just to further your thought, while course books get a lot of flack these days, it’ll be teachers getting a lot of flack tomorrow, while technology ironically takes us back a century. And while I don’t agree that course books are unrivalled (my students get a lot more out of authentic materials, unlike solutionists) I do agree that good teachers are and always will be.

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Bringing out the inner voice

19 05 2014

Saturday May 1th 2014 saw me presenting a spanking new talk at MAC2014 – the annual Macmillan conference in Montevideo, hosted by the Anglo institute.  It’s the third time I’ve talked at the Macmillan Montevideo conference and it was great to catch up with old friends and make some new ones.

#2014mac

#2014mac

The talk has been a long time in the making since it was inspired by Jeremy Harmer’s talk at the 2010 International House DoS Conference – ‘Speak the speech, I pray thee’, which discussed improving students’ fluency by helping them to think and prepare inside their heads first.  It was an inspiring talk, but a little short on practical ways to get the students actually doing this in the classroom.  So I set about trying to motivate and inspire my students to think much more in the class, alongside their development of the other four skills. It’s taken me a few years to put what I’ve done into a talk, since it’s very much a case of small steps and slowly, slowly catchy thinking student.  As the Macmillan conference was focused on developing Life Skills, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to make myself write the talk and bring together my ideas on the topic.

#2014MAC Life Skills tree

#2014MAC Life Skills tree

The results are here, in the form of the slides for the talk in PDF:

Bringing Out The Inner Voice

and a video of them too:

as well as the video I used at the end as a way of having the students reflect on the ideas we discussed during the talk and think about how they could create more thinking space, structure and sensitivity into a lesson using this video.  Unfortunately during the talk the sound was dodgy, so the great lyrics couldn’t be heard beyond the front row (and apologies to the audience that I had to resort to singing some of them myself!

I also hope to put a lesson together myself using this text as a launching ad, so look out for that here too!

Next up is the example text-based guided discovery lesson I used.  You can read more about Guided Discovery and this lesson here if you’re interested.

global-int-unreal-past

And then here are some lesson ideas to use at the beginning of your efforts to inspire your students to think in English:

Thinking in English

A reading based on a text about why to try and think in English when learning the language, with a worksheet that has built in space and structure for thinking.

The Week in English

Encourage your students to do some thinking for homework and then discuss what they’ve done in class – the flipped classroom turns your students flipping (if they talk to themselves 🙂 ).

Anecdote feedback sheet An example of how the students can reflect on each others’ work and tech each other a little more about anecdoting.

Image

In full flow at #2014MAC





IH60 at IATEFL

14 04 2013

So IATEFL  2013 has come to an end and all of the delegates have left Liverpool.

IH colleague Shaun Wilden says Goodbye Liverpool on Facebook

IH colleague Shaun Wilden says Goodbye Liverpool on Facebook

But in many ways the conference is only just beginning.  Now there’s more time to read and reflect, to revisit and review, to draw conclusions and put into practice.  I hope to continue doing this throughout the rest of April.  But for today I’d like to show you the best bit of the conference for me, in case you didn’t have the chance to visit it – the International House World stand!

60_Gifts_image

The reason being this year International House celebrates its diamond jubilee – 60 years since John and Brita Haycraft set up the first school in Cordoba, Spain.  We’ve come a long way since then and to celebrate we’re giving away lots of fabulous presents to teachers, as well as giving you lots of fabulous opportunities to contribute yourselves and get your students participating in the celebration, participating in a range of competitions we’ll be having throughout the year.

60 years of International House

60 years of International House

Hopefully those 2585 of you who were lucky enough to attend the conference yourselves are proudly clutching your IH world gift on your way home and have already signed up to our gifts list to receive all the fab freebies we’ll be sending your way throughout the year.  And those of you who couldn’t make it can do so right here:

Screen Shot 2013-04-14 at 1.22.26 PM

The free gifts already available on the website include a sample 6 lessons / activities / games from our various resource banks – General English Activities, CEF Activity packs, the IH Writing Portfolio and the IH Games Bank.  I’m very proud to say that I edited the first three of these and wrote the Games Bank in its entirety.  Of course, if you want to have the complete resources you’ll have to become an IH teacher!

We are also running a Lesson Plan competition for all teachers around the world.  The lesson simply has to have a link to the word 60 somehow.  I have created an example lesson to give you an idea of what we’re looking for and to provide a template for you to use for your entries.  You can enter as many times as you like and could win a free IH training course – take your pick:

Win a free IH online course - many to choose from, something for everyone!

Win a free IH online course – many to choose from, something for everyone!

Full details of the competition are available in our special IH60 section of the website:

IH60 Lesson Plan competition details

IH60 Lesson Plan competition details

You can also access all of the videos from the IH DoS conference in January (just in case you’ve already watched all of the IATEFL videos):

IH DoS conference 2013 videos

IH DoS conference 2013 videos

and my favourite section of the IH60 gifts page at the moment is the ‘I wish I’d known’ section, where 60 IH teachers from around the world share what they wish they’d known all those years ago when they started out in the world of English teaching:

I wish I'd known...

I wish I’d known…

So many exciting gifts to start off with and many more to come during the rest of the year.  Get thinking about some of your favourite lessons and think how you can get the word 60 into them so you can enter them in the competition.  Visit the IH experience page so that you can see how to get your learners involved and keep up to date with our various competitions as they come online.

Screen Shot 2013-04-14 at 1.45.30 PM

And make sure you sign up to the IH60 gifts list so that you keep getting lovely presents throughout the year, as well as news of our various conferences and workshops and competitions celebrating 60 years of International House.  Happy birthday IH World!

Screen Shot 2013-04-14 at 1.47.23 PM





Comment on Sandy Millin’s blog post ‘Surviving the DELTA’

24 02 2013

http://sandymillin.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/starting-the-delta/#comment-3244

sandymillin.wordpress.com

sandymillin.wordpress.com

Many thanks for this, Sandy, and Chris. I’m going to make both your blogs obligatory reading for all of our prospective Delta Modules candidates here in Buenos Aires, so that they are as clear as can be about what they’re letting themselves in for. It’s never quite the same being ‘told’ by a tutor how hard it is – reading the experiences of others going through it is much more effective.

Best of luck with LSA3, Sandy, and the whole course, Chris (do think about coming and doing Module Two with us here in Buenos Aires!), and while I’m here best of luck to all my current Deltees who are doing their externals this week – eek!

 

 





Comment on Scott Thornbury’s ‘S is for Student-centredness’

17 02 2013

http://scottthornbury.wordpress.com/2013/02/17/s-is-for-student-centredness/#comment-8978

mcneilmahon (18:42:13) :

For me, student-centredness is an attitude – an attitude to planning and teaching. A teacher who says ‘I’ve got to plan my lessons’ is not demonstrating as ‘student-centred’ an attitude as a teacher who says ‘I’ve got to plan my students’ lessons’. It might seem a tad facetious, but the simple switch in language use highlights the importance of having the students in the forefront (or should that be centre) of your mind when planning your / their lessons. And some may go even further and say ‘I’ve got to plan how my students are going to plan their lessons’.

The same goes for in the lesson too – are you making decisions as the lesson progresses based on their lesson and how its panning out, or your lesson? This student-centred attitude can ensure that even the most teacher-fronted stage of a lesson can be completely student-centred (exactly what these students need at this point, eliciting from them, them making notes, etc. everyone completely involved in what’s being discussed) and a completely student-fronted stage (all sitting in a circle discussing something, teacher on the sidelines monitoring) can involve very little student-centredness (only one or two students involved, teacher chosen topic, teacher led discussion, only teacher knows the aim of the stage).

Looking at student-centredness as an attitude therefore means you can have very student-centred lessons within Tyson’s context because the teacher has chosen topics they know the students need preparation in (even when the students themselves don’t) and as Carol highlights this is true across a whole range of approaches.





Comment on Vicky Loras’ blogpost on CPD

13 01 2013

http://vickyloras.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/professional-development-for-now-and-the-future-inspired-by-michaelegriffin/#comment-3497

mcneilmahon says: January 6, 2013 at 15:15

Yes, great idea Adam. This post, Vicky, reminds me of a talk I did a couple of years ago in Mexico and Buenos Aires on this topic and there are even more ideas for us to choose from – the slides are available here: https://amuseamuses.wordpress.com/2011/08/26/professionally-developing.

This is a great time of year for us to be thinking of what we can add to our CPD (are teachers the only people who still make New Year’s resolutions? ). I definitely recommend making sure you guys get observed more – definitely the best way to develop for me. I’m being observed tomorrow, so will choose Join conferences as my ‘new’ one for this year. I need to make sure I go to LABCI  even if I have to walk there!

Vicky Loras says: January 6, 2013 at 16:11

Hi Neil, Many thanks for your comment and links. Have fun at LABCI!





Comment on Sandy Millin’s blog about Guided Discovery Language Clarification

13 01 2013

http://sandymillin.wordpress.com/2013/01/13/clarifying-language/#comment-2881

Hi Sandy,
It’s not completely clear from your post if you have embraced guided discovery worksheets or not? If not, then I definitely recommend them as a way of getting the students to work alone and then in pairs / groups to discover the language for themselves. The worksheet will have your CCQs on it for the students to answer and then they can finish off a guided form themselves as well. You might even get them trying to drill each other before you provide models to make it even more student-centred, though that can lead to problems and does need learner training.

Using Dale’s SS WBs can be a big part of feeding back on this stage (I just use laminated blank A4 paper – can you actually buy them, Dale?), or you could get groups to create their own posters of the grammar point as they understand it. Or if you’ve monitored everything to your and the students’ satisfaction and they seem to be going good you could just praise their work so far and head straight into using the language to see if they can cope with it.

For examples of what I mean with conditions and results see:http://wp.me/p15rqq-bX (though this does include a whiteboard-based feedback session :) ).