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!





A couple of comments on ‘Five against One’ by @bealer81

6 10 2012

An International House colleague, Adam Beale, finishes off his second year of teaching and heads into his third with a couple of pertinent blog posts and much promise of an exciting new project for the year ahead:

http://fiveagainstone.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/consider-me-an-object-and-put-me-in-a-coursebook-shaped-vacuum/

I think I’m looking forward to your blogs this year even more than last years – hopefully we’ll get lots of adapted materials out of you to share on the IH platform! And will you be presenting for us at IHTOC3 –http://tinyurl.com/IHTOC3info ?

http://fiveagainstone.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/i-was-a-rabbit-in-your-headlights/

Adam, interesting reading and a lovely way to bring the project to a close – really enjoyed following it all the way through.

That you finish with a comment about emergent language and a formula is great too – I have many doubts about Emergent language and I love formulas. I think the Dogme movement are confused when they speak about emergent language, what they really mean is interlanguage. As I understand it, emergent language is the result of the process, therefore your formula could read:

interlanguage + input = emergent language

I’d be a lot happier with this formula, but it’s also one that’s been around a lot longer then Dogme…





Participles in boxes

26 09 2012

Yesterday I was standing in for a colleague who’s gone to Disney with her kids, and so I was teaching an Upper Intermediate 2 class (they’re preparing for FCE in december).  The previous class they’d read a text about Pompeii and the other teacher had left me with the remit of continuing on into the language focus that followed on from the reading – participle clauses!

While I can imagine some of you might think participle clauses aren’t for the faint hearted, I was actually quite excited at the prospect, since it gave me the opportunity to try out a game I designed for the IHWO Games Bank, which I’ve never actually had the chance to use in a class before.  And since the class was a group of teens from 13 to 16, a game of boxes was just what I needed to keep their attention on the target language and get some intense practice in.

We quickly looked at the example sentences form the text and explored together what participle clauses actually were.  Normally I’d do this as a guided discovery, but the downside to GD is the prep needed and when substituting I like to keep that to a minimum.  So old fashioned teacher-at-the-board presentation it was, although I elicited all of the info from the students, of course!

Then it was straight into the game.  Hopefully you all know how to play boxes?  It’s basically joining up dots to complete the four sides of a square.  The strategy comes in because it’s the team that completes the fourth side of the square that wins the box for their team – and the team with the most boxes wins the game.  In our class version of the game, the teams have to correctly add a participle clause into short sentences in order to win the opportunity to draw a line and start building up squares.  Here’s the game and rules for you to try with your students:

Level 7 Lower Advanced Participles in Boxes

I knew the success of the game would hinge on keeping the pace high, so I set the game up very carefully.  They had to use a new verb in their clause each time.  They had ten seconds to answer, once I’d said the initial participle-clause-less sentence.  I simply counted down the ten seconds on my fingers, ensuring I didn’t distract them from thinking up their clauses, but also keeping the pressure on and the pace high.  Indeed, if they could think of both an active and passive participle clause for the same sentence they got two goes at box-making.

The game actually worked even better than I thought it would.  The students were motivated to be playing a game they play anyway amongst themselves and they were motivated to try and solve the challenge of creating sentences that would win points but also try and entertain me at the same time.  I think the topics of the original sentences also helped here.  The momentum of the game and the ten second rule also helped to keep the game flowing and the two point rule also allowed us to actually make some boxes in the time we played for (about twenty minutes).

The game also helped the students to see how participle clauses can make their sentences more interesting and informative and they also were challenged to make logical sense with their clauses – there were quite a few non-sequiturs to start with which I didn’t allow, leading to some interesting arguments about the logic of what they were coming up with.

In the end the game was so successful that I’m very tempted to continue playing it at the beginning of the next lesson to revise the use of participle clauses, but only if everyone’s done their homework of course!  I hope you and your students enjoy playing Participles in a box too – let us know how you get on!

 





Comeback #87 Conference #3

10 09 2012

Easy by mcneilmahon at Garmin Connect – Details.

Seems like I spend more time injured than I do as a runner.  After two months nursing a torn calf – it still feels torn and lumpy but I felt it might hold up to some light running – and inspired by the wife and friends running the half marathon of Buenos Aires on Sunday (while I was giving my online workshop), I finally managed to trot out for 3km last Friday and 4km this evening (unaccompanied by the wife whose quads are still suffering :). 

As always with my numerous comebacks, early thoughts are always on trying to keep form and not overstress any muscles and I’m consciously trying to lift my quads a little higher and so have a longer bouncier stride this time round.  The softer style new shoes I got from Run&Become back in June help with this and seem to give me better protection that the previous harder ones I used to use. 

But I was also thinking about IHTOC3 and the call for papers that I have to get out by the end of the week.  It’s an exciting time of year as we start organising a new conference, especially since this one is going to be open to all and not just limited to IH teachers.  Let’s hope we can do some solid marketing over the next two months and pull the EFL crowds in on the 2nd and 3rd of November.  

So many things to think about – the rooms, the speakers, the sessions, the moderators, my own contribution, exciting times ahead.  Let’s hope I can keep injury free for these two months so some fresh air and lively muscles can help me to organise the conference even better than the previous two.  Let’s get it on!





Comment on Katy Davies’ blog about Feedback Fiesta

9 09 2012

http://lessonsfrommystudents.wordpress.com/2012/08/25/that-one-webinar-has-revolutionised-the-role-of-feedback-in-my-classes/#comment-15

Hi Katy,
Many thanks for featuring my seminar on your blog, I’m really glad you found it so helpful and it’s great to hear the things you say here about feedback resonating so succinctly with my own beliefs. Personally I believe feedback is the crucial part of the lesson and it’s borne out by the research quoted in the seminar.

But, as Chris recognises, when we talk about feedback we mean so much more than error correction. As you say and have experienced with your CAE students, the process of reflecting on what they’ve done, comparing findings, discussing answers, having correct answers verified and sharing information are all vital and motivating aspects of feedback that we need to give space to in the lesson.

Please keep continuing to give me feedback, I really appreciate it! Are you coming along on Wednesday? http://ihworld.com/ih/next_online_workshop





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?