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





The Game’s Up!

7 12 2012

The Game’s Up! was my plenary session on Saturday morning at IHTOC3. The aim of the session is to review the use of games in the classroom over the last 50 years or so and discuss whether games are still relevant in the language learning classroom today. 

Along the way we played a few games from the past and the present and looked forward to the future of games as well (with a little help from my private student, Sergio).

On the link you will find a recording of the session, the session slides and all of the handouts of the games used in the session – enjoy! 

The next step is to create a handout for teachers to use while watching the video to make watching it a more hands-on exercise – watch this space. 

What are your favourite games to play with your students?  Do please share them with us.  Do you stick to old faves or are you at the forefront of gaming technology use with your students.  As always, I’d love to hear from you, both about the session and your ideas too. Game on!





Conference presentations index

6 10 2012

Here is a list of all the workshops, seminars, talks and plenaries I have done, with links to any relevant pages, particularly those I have reworked here on the blog:

2014

From Ladders To Mountains – cutting Demand High down to size

Refreshing ELT, Bahia Blanca, Argentina

Think About It!

Refreshing ELT, Bahia Blanca, Argentina

IH Buenos Aires Joint Meeting

Teens and Tools and Twiddling Thumbs

Refreshing ELT, Bahia Blanca, Argentina

Stringing Students Along

IHTOC6 – IH Teachers Online Conference

Bringing Out The Inner Voice

Macmillan Uruguay 4th Annual Conference (Plenary), Montevideo

IH Buenos Aires Joint Meeting

2013

Hitting the Heights – Demanding Teachers for Demanding Students

Macmillan Uruguay 3rd Annual Conference (Plenary), Montevideo

IH Buenos Aires Joint Meeting

IH60 Lesson Ideas 

IHTOC60 – IH Teachers Online Conference

Take the stage!

IHWO Live Online Workshop

2012

The Game’s Up

IHTOC3 – IH Teachers Online Conference (plenary)

Surviving through song – words of wisdom for NQTs     

IHWO Live Online Workshop

IH Teachers Online Conference – 50 years of IH teacher training (Plenary)

Back to the future – IHWO Resources Update     

International House Directors of Studies’ Annual Conference (Plenary), London

Realising Reading

Macmillan Uruguay Annual Conference, Montevideo

No Man’s Land – Finding the middle ground in the Dogme debate  

Macmillan Uruguay Annual Conference, Montevideo

Pro-T Conference, Buenos Aires

Feedback Fiesta   

IHWO Live Online Workshop

2011

Feedback Fiesta

IHTOC1 – IH Teachers Online Conference

International House Montevideo Teachers’ Centre presented by Macmillan

KEL Martinez, Buenos Aires, on behalf of Macmillan

APIZALS Conference, San Carlos de Bariloche, for Macmillan (Plenary)

Correction Celebration     

International House Montevideo Teachers’ Centre presented by Macmillan

Professionally Developing  

ABS  Conference for Directors of Studies and English Coordinators, Buenos Aires

2.0 Web or Not 2.0 Web?

ABS Younger Learners Conference, Buenos Aires

2010

Professionally Developing

International House Cuernavaca Local Coordinators’ Training Day, Mexico

International House Veracruz Local Coordinators’ Training Day, Mexico

IHWO Resources Update

International House Directors of Studies’ Annual Conference (Plenary), London

DoS Special Interest Group Thread    

International House Directors of Studies’ Annual Conference (Plenary), London

2009

Feedback Fiesta     

International House South American Regional Workshop, San Isidro

The Drill Bit               

ABS Conference of Professional Development for Teachers of English, Buenos Aires

Teenage Texts     

ABS Conference of Professional Development for Teachers of English, Buenos Aires

2008

Coordinating Against The Clock – Time Management for Coordinators     

ABS Conference for Directors of Studies and English Coordinators, Buenos Aires

LANCELOT – The Synchronous Online Training Course

International House Directors of Studies’ Annual Conference, London

2007

The Mighty Noun Phrase

ABS Conference of Professional Development for Teachers of English, Buenos Aires

ICC – It’s Just Not Cricket!

ABS Conference for Directors of Studies and English Coordinators, Buenos Aires

2006

Tip Top Teacher Talk

ABS Conference of Professional Development for Teachers of English, Buenos Aires

Metaphor Magic

ABS Challenge Your English Conference, Buenos Aires

Putting Action Research into Action

ABS Conference for Directors of Studies and English Coordinators, Buenos Aires

2005

A Perfect Present – The Future of Grammar

ABS Conference of Professional Development for Teachers of English, Buenos Aires

Nurturing Noun Phrases

IH Buenos Aires Annual Conference

Teacher Talk Hokey Kokey

IH Buenos Aires Teachers’ Centre

Get Cracking!

ABS Challenge Your English Conference, Buenos Aires

Keeping to the Script

ABS Conference for Directors of Studies and English Coordinators, Buenos Aires

2004

Forward Thinking on Feeding Back

IH Buenos Aires Annual Conference

Drill Bill Vol.1

IH Buenos Aires Teachers Centre

2003

Keeping It Real

IH Buenos Aires Annual Conference (Plenary)

101 Vocab Bag Activities

IH Buenos Aires Teachers Centre

2001

Just Joking!

IH Prague Annual Conference

IH Budapest Annual Conference

2000                           

Revealing Remoteness

IH Prague Teachers Centre

Win When You’re Singing

IATEFL Annual Conference, Plzen

IH Prague Annual Conference

1999

Christmas Crackers

IH Prague Teachers Centre

If you have a particular workshop you would like me to rework (or come and present in your town/ school, please do let me know by commenting below!





Materials for Surviving Through Song – IHWO LOW September 2012

8 09 2012

Here are all the materials you need to enjoy ‘Surviving through Song – words of wisdom for EFL teachers’ which I’m presenting as an IHWO Live Online Workshop this September – Enjoy!

I’m hoping to post blogs about each of the songs used in the workshop, but having done a couple of them, I can see it might take me a while to do them all, but hopefully we’ll get there eventually.  

Here are the first few:

It’s my party – for students

It’s my party – for teachers

The slides:

The Songs:

Lesley Gore – It’s my party

The Boomtown Rats – I don’t like Mondays

The Smiths – Ask

Oasis – Wonderwall

Dead or Alive – You spin me round

The Cure – Just like heaven

The Handouts

IHTOC50 NM HO Lesley Gore – It’s My Party Handout 1

IHTOC50 NM HO Lesley Gore – It’s My Party Handout 2

IHTOC50 NM HO Lesley Gore – It’s My Party Handout 3

IHTOC50 NM HO The Boomtown Rats – Tell me why I don’t like Mondays

IHTOC50 NM HO The Smiths – Ask

IHTOC50 NM HO Oasis – Wonderwall

IHTOC50 NM HO Dead or alive – you spin me round

IHTOC50 NM HO The Cure – Just Like Heaven

The Observation Tasks

The Sixties – For Observation IHTOC50 NM TO Errors & Correction

The Seventies – For Observation IHTOC50 NM TO Critical Moments

The Eighties – For Observation IHTOC50 NM TO On The Podium

The Nineties – For Observation IHTOC50 NM TO Successful Stages

The Noughties – For Observation IHTOC50 NM TO Going Round In Circles

I hope you enjoy the workshop – if so, please do leave a comment and tell a colleague about it!





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? 





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

5 06 2012

This is the first 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.

First of all, let’s have a look at how we can use this song with students.

It’s My Party by Lesley Gore

I suggest a straightforward Text-Based Guided Discovery lesson in order to compare and contrast real and unreal conditionals, which both come up in the chorus.  This means you can use the song as a straightforward listening lesson and then come back and do the language lesson another time (or not at all) if you want to.

So the lesson starts with a lead-in about parties you can find some suggested speaking tasks here in the first handout:

IHTOC50 NM HO Lesley Gore – It’s My Party Handout 1

Then we have a gist listening about why the singer is crying and then more detailed listening about the facts of the party and the situation the singer finds herself in.   You could just follow this up with a speaking task about when people cry, the last time they cried or perhaps write a letter from the singer to Johnny breaking up with him or form Johnny to the singer asking for forgiveness.  However, both of these writing tasks might also include conditions and results, so why not have a look at the language of the song first?

IHTOC50 NM HO Lesley Gore – It’s My Party Handout 2

Our guided discovery focuses on the meaning of the two structures in the chorus which are made up of conditions and results:

‘I’ll cry if I want to’

and

‘You would cry too if it happened to you’.

What I really like about this song is the context gives us a clear difference between real conditions and results in the present and unreal conditions and results in the present.

The singer is clearly singing about now (rather than the past) when she imposes her condition ‘if I want to’ and her result is also clearly

It’s My Party by Lesley Gore

in the present ‘I’ll cry’.  The context also makes it crystal clear that it is very likely that the singer is in the crying mood and tears are on the way.

Which contrasts really nicely with the second condition she puts when she addresses her listener ‘…if it happened to you’.  This is clearly again based in the now but this time is an unreal (imaginary or hypothetical) event.  And once more, the same clarity goes for the result of this condition and the fact that it is unlikely to happen.

All of this clarity can be used to let the students discover for themselves the different forms used to express the conditions and results by asking them the questions in the guided discovery handout.  There’s no overt pronunciation discovery here though, so don’t forget to drill the structures and other similar ones before you feedback on the form-focused questions (which begin with In real present conditions we use…).  And then of course it’s time to practice!

IHTOC50 NM HO Lesley Gore – It’s My Party Handout 3

These two practice activities are fun, challenging and involve lots of personalisation.  They also challenge the students to use the correct conditions and the correct results in the correct contexts.  The learners always have a choice between real and unreal and that’s where the success of a practice activity and its focus on meaning and use as well as form really lies.  I particularly like the freer practice since it’s simply a little different to what students are used to and at the same time clearly shows then how and when they might use conditions and results in their own lives.  It also isn;t so free that they can avoid the structures all together.   Just beware that the students might need lots of examples to understand how to arrive at conditions they are under (hence my multiple examples!).

I really hope your students enjoy the song, the guided discovery and the practice activities.  If you do use the song with your classes, please do let us know how it went down and whether you added anything or your students had any trouble with anything.  And if you have any questions about how I’ve presented the language and created the guided discovery do let me know and I’ll get straight back to you.

Next time out we’ll look at the message Lesley has for us as teachers and how we can look at our teaching through the message of the song.  See you there!





Weaving the magic of literature circles

1 06 2012

Last Wednesday evening I was standing in for my Director, who has a Post-Proficiency literature class once a week here at IH Buenos Aires Teacher Training.

He asked me to do so last Thursday and low and behold on Friday morning I was moderating Ratna Ragunathan from IH Malaysia’s Live Online Workshop ‘Weaving the magic of literature circles’ and I quickly found my standby lesson staring me in the face.

The idea of literature circles is that each learner takes a different angle towards the book / story they are reading and leads a discussion of that angle when the circle meets in class.

The different roles:

DiscussionLeader_IH

Illustrator_IH

RealLifeConnector_IH

Summarizer_IH

StoryConnector_IH

WordWizard_IH

The story we read:

The Story of An Hour – Kate Chopin

Kate Chopin

Since I didn’t know the learners it was difficult for me to assign them roles I thought they would get into, so I asked who would like to be the Illustrators and then gave out the other roles at random.  In the end there were eight students, so I ended up giving out the first four roles to pairs, who then helped each other prepare the role in relation to the story and then the class split up into two circles to discuss the story.

To be honest I was expecting more discussion to come out of the roles, I felt students at this level (post-proficiency) should have been able to mine the text for more ideas and have more interesting responses to it.  Perhaps a combination of things played against my expectations for the activity being fulfilled:

  • the students not knowing me and therefore being a little hesitant as we got to know each other
  • the students not finding the story so inspiring – I’m sure there are many better stories out there that could be used with the literature circle roles
  • it being the end of a long day for most of them and they simply weren’t fully-focused on English
  • my expectations were simply too high in the first place after Ratna’s fantastic workshop

Actually, by the time they had got through the four roles about an hour of the lesson had passed, so the circles had taken a good 30minutes, which is actually an excellent amount of continuous speaking in a normal kind of class – it just didn’t seem that fluent and engaging as they were doing it.

Then I gave out the last two roles and each circle discussed one role in preparation fro swapping over and, in pairs, leading the discussion of their new role with a new pair of partners.  This lead to more good conversation, and as before I had trouble finding anything to give them constructive feedback on language-wise, so I didn’t.

And then finally I gave each of them a part of Kate Chopin’s biography and they had to discuss the story in light of her life, thus sharing with each other more details about the author and the time she lived in.  It would have been good to have more time for this stage of the lesson, since it ended up being the most interesting discussion for them.

So, all in all, a successful first attempt at using literature classes and I will definitely go back and use them again, although perhaps with more concrete texts, particularly at lower levels.