Hits and misses from the IATEFL Day One ‘pool

9 04 2013

Image

So as promised, here’s what I got out of Day One at IATEFL. To be honest it feels like not very much, since I haven’t had much time to dedicate to it at all – just a few visits to twitter and a quick read through a few emails. I was hoping to watch the plenary session by David Crystal when I got home but then I got distracted by an irrational urge to make Delia’s braised red cabbage to go with the left overs from last night’s beef. Sorry, David, I promise I’ll watch it very soon (I have it on in the background as I write this). Here it is if you’d like to join me…

Congratulations too, David, on your new website launched today as well: http://www.davidcrystal.com something else to bookmark and come back to. Although I was all ready to explore The Memors until I read the description and came across the combination techno-fantasy and tweenagers – not for me then.

Anyway, back to IATEFL and the things that made my day…

iatefl-liverpool-banner-240x80

The biggest hit of the day for me, popping in and out of the conference asynchronously from the other side of the world, was easily Sandy Millin and her various blog posts on the talks she attended. No idea how she managed to collect so much info about so many things into such short concise blog posts, although I imagine it had a lot to do with blending her tweets together skilfully. Wonderful stuff, Sandy, and most of my impression of day one comes from your posts, so looking forward to more over the next few days.

Unfortunately, one of the drawbacks of Sandy today was that she went to a few talks that I wouldn’t have wanted to go to, mainly because they seem more targeted towards ESL rather than EFL, which is my context. However, I was really interested in reading what she had to say about the following talks:

Penny Ur – Technology in ELT

Penny's conclusions - a means, not an end

Penny’s conclusions – a means, not an end

Seems from her conclusions Penny was talking a lot of sense and resonating with my own soundbite when it comes to technology – it’s not what you use or even how you use it but why you use it that counts. Penny’s ‘cautiously, critically, selectively’ mantra seems to reflect that. Though of course it’s also true of every activity we do in the classroom, not just ones using hi-tec specs.

I like this list that Penny shares of the things that technology offers us – word processing, editing tools, the internet, digital dictionaries, improved self-access, more and more engaging written interaction, more easily accessible audiovisual material, distance learning possibilities, and even interactive whiteboards (I’m still sceptical, but then I’ve never actually used one). All these things can help students learn – if we use them purposefully and they therefore give us something that other means don’t. So good common sense there then, but nothing new.

The downside and dangers she discussed aren’t new either, so let’s move on to the activities she offers. Nope, nothing new there either. Although I did come up with a new idea for a mobile lesson myself today, that may well have been discussed in Penny’s talk. I’ve just realised the power of having students with smartphones and the ease with which they can do quiet reading and research in the classroom.

This idea came out of a tweet I saw that wasn’t actually IATEFL linked, but very much linked to why I didn’t post yesterday:

Sean Banville Tweet

Yes, Thatcher died, and Sean has made a thirty activity lesson out of the news – incredibly impressive (not that I’ve had time to get beyond the quantity yet, but, yet again, I hope to have a look at some point), although it did make me think of a lesson about Thatcher I would do if I had a class at the moment (I’m CELTA training, though subbing Thursday night so I might try this out then), which wouldn’t involve any materials:

Lead-in – get the students to discuss the current news stories and see what they come up with (floods here in Argentina are much bigger news than the Iron Lady’s demise).

Steer conversation around to Thatcher and get the learners to discuss what they know about her and feel about the news of her death.

Lead the conversation towards the whole ‘she’s a saint’ / ‘dance on her grave’ debate and ask them for initial impressions.

Speaks for itself

Speaks for itself

Get the learners to research the topic. Tell them they have ten minutes to read up on the topic (this is where you need wifi and enough smartphones to at least be able to share in pairs / a computer room) and make notes in preparation for a debate.

Divide the class into two groups, one researches the positive side of Maggie, the other the negative side. It’s a good idea to elicit where they will go to get their stories (Facebook and TWitter are the obvious answers, along with the BBC and British newspapers).

After ten minutes research put each group together (or sub groups in a big class) and get them to share their research with each other.

After an initial comparison and exchange of info, introduce them to the idea of the debate, in which they’ll argue about the merits of Margaret. Quickly outline the debate schedule (I don’t have time to outline this here I’m afraid, wife will be home soon). And then off they go, debating Maggie (my debate format takes at least 45 minutes) to their hearts’ content – As v Bs.

It’s such a simple lesson (if you have the tech) and involves a range of skills – speaking, reading, negotiating, debating, note-taking, listening etc. And minimal preparation time. And of course you can use it again and again whenever you have a controversial news story. I hope Penny would approve of this lesson, since it’s a very simple and small use of technology that really helps the learners prepare for the main speaking task (and they can always go back for more if needs be).

So there you go, my free activity of the day – much more overt than the one in my intro IATEFL post (which only three of you found – have another look). Sorry, got to go and stir the cabbage:

Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 9.21.46 PM

And so on to:

Victoria Boobyer – Implementing Handheld Learning

Seems the talk was much more about the practicalities of setting up the use of ipads rather than how to actually use them – there’s some good advice in there and many things I wouldn’t have thought of before taking a box of ipads into class (as if I’ll ever get the chance…) and a couple of fun activities are showcased at the end – picture poems and comic stories. Been getting students to write their own stories to comics for years, but it does waste a lot of Tippex, so this is definitely an area where technology helps.

Swiftly on to

Jim Scrivener – How to Demand High

which I’m very interested in cos I’m doing a talk on Demand High in Montevideo, Uruguay in May, so I wanted to see if Jim had added anything to his talk at the IH World DoS conference in January.

Judging by Sandy’s take, he has. I like the idea of getting the audience to think of ways to demand more of their students using one exercise (exactly what I’d planned to do next month) and then compare to his own.

Unfortunately from the photos I can’t see too much of Jim’s ideas on his handout – can anyone help?

I can only make out the following:

Checking answers without rubber stamping

Getting behind the answer

Listening

Feelings

Various pronunciation exercises

Practice, memory, mistakes and being playful…

I imagine most of these are already in a few teachers repertoires and there’s a lot of benfit in encouraging more people to take them on board – less is definitely more and we need to take the time to spend quality time with and on language – I hope there’s some nice ways to do that here.

Which reminds me, I also came across this while trawling through twitter today:

Phil Keegan MLT

which sounds like a very helpful article for my talk next month. Roll on MET.

Missus is on way and cabbage needs turning again, here are a few more tweets I enjoyed today from IATEFL before I go:

Fluency/accuracy dichotomy too simplistic: also need fast/but form focused activities or focus on meaning/but slow – Jason Anderson#iatefl

Echos what we’ve just been talking about

“Seeing others notes before a debate makes you more willing to take part” – great session from Jason Anderson on fluency & accuracy #iatefl

Nice idea for debate preparation to combine into my Maggie lesson

Colin MacKenzie: thinking of creative professions primes us for creative thinking #tdsig #IATEFL

A little touchy feely for me but might just work, will give it a try. But we definitely need ways of promoting creative thinking (as well as critical thinking of course).

David Crystal at GISIG #iatefl: The two forces that drive language forward: identity and intelligibility.

I favourited a few of Jim’s tweets from David’s talk (although from what’s going on in the background on my computer I think the best bits must be at the end) but this is the most interesting. Lots of food for thought there in those 10 words. Speaking of which it’s dinner time.
20130410-145927.jpg

My dinner is on the table

So I’ve tried to give you a flavour of my IATEFL day and I hope it’s been of some use for those of you like me who are far, far away from the magic on the Mersey. I haven’t seen the plenary, I haven’t explored the facebook page and my app has been hapless today, but I still got lots to think about and play with from the day and I hope you did too. Night!

 

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I’ve never been to IATEFL…

6 04 2013

My 16-year-and-counting career has had its ups (I’ve just finished a fabulous intensive DELTA course and am about to write a synchronous online Delta Module One course) and downs (at the last count I’ve made about 26 trainees / students cry on my courses / in my classes) , highs (I’ve got the longest title in ELT – International House World Organisation Academic Coordinator for Resources and Director of Studies Support)and lows (I’m responsible for co-ordinating IHWO’s Live Online Workshops), ins (I’m a member of the Delta-and-Lancelot-qualified-and-working–in-South-America group of one) and outs (I’ve never slept with a fellow IH teacher)2, but in 15 years of EFLing I’ve never been to IATEFL.

iatefl-liverpool-banner-240x80

This year’s conference kicks off tomorrow of course and I’m not going.  But, since various moons are colliding…

…I have a ‘slow’ week at work

I haven’t blogged much yet this year and need to get started up again

International House is 60 years young this year and we’re celebrating the fact at IATEFL

IH Buenos Aires has been doing CELTAs for five years now and I’d like to celebrate that fact with a bit of a social media push during my ‘slow week’ and therefore can persuade my boss that me spending my work day keeping up to date with IATEFL is good for business

…and…

I have a new smartphone…

My new phone

My new phone

I feel like I might be able to take an active part in the conference even though I’m 7000 miles away and four hours behind conference time.  How do I intend to do this?  Well I’ve downloaded the conference app to my phone, I’ve checked out the online support pages and forums and I’ve scanned the schedule and tried to fit it in with my own.  I’ve availed myself of the conference hashtag (#IATEFL), the conference Facebook page, cast an eye over the IATEFL registered blogs, signed myself up as one of them  and now I’m ready to roll.

The idea is to post a blog a day summarising my thoughts on my IATEFL interaction.  In order to do this I need to interact.  The plan is to…

…follow #IATEFL on twitter and retweet any interesting tweets with my own take on them (if space allows)

Following #IATEFL on tweetdeck

Following #IATEFL on tweetdeck

do much the same on the Facebook page

choose a different forum each day to read and post in

IATEFL Forums

IATEFL Forums

and then summarise this activity in a ‘what did I get out of / give to IATEFL today?’ type post.

IATEFL on A Muse Amuses

IATEFL on A Muse Amuses

Why don’t you do the same?  We can be in this together! Come and visit me each day and share your take on events.  Let’s catch up on twitter and Facebook and the conference forums and share ourselves.  We can’t go to the ball and the talks and have a coffee between them or a beer afterwards, but we can engage online and share and share and share alike.

And who knows?  Maybe as a result of our sharing, something wonderful might happen…

…a new idea for a lesson activity

The Game's Up!

The Game’s Up!

a further understanding of how our students learn English

One of my classes in IH Buenos Aires Recoleta ten years ago - has much changed?

One of my classes in IH Buenos Aires Recoleta ten years ago – has much changed?

a new friend in ELT world is made

ELT friends in Montevideo

ELT friends in Montevideo

old CELTA trainees get back in contact

Some of our lovely CELTA trainees at IH Buenos Aires Teacher Training

Some of our lovely CELTA trainees at IH Buenos Aires Teacher Training

new sources of information and knowledge are discovered

OTTI - best online resource I've ever discovered...

OTTI – best online resource I’ve ever discovered…

I get double figure visitors to my blog page

Screen Shot 2013-04-07 at 9.38.28 AM

someone invites us to talk at next year’s conference…

Macmillan Uruguay Conference 2012

Macmillan Uruguay Conference 2012

Whatever does happen, let’s hope I can at the very least keep to the blogpost a day pledge and that you enjoy the journey.  I’m going to IATEFL!

Footnotes
1 Just like to point out this is the author’s own opinion, not an academically researched fact. 
2 As I was writing this I actually honestly believed it was true.  While there was SPOILER 1 (fond memories), she wasn’t a teacher.  And then there was SPOILER 2 (further fond memories), but she wasn’t IH.  But then I was about three quarters of the way through writing the rest of the post when I did actually fabulously fondly remember SPOILER 3, and she was a teacher at IH, and so in the end this statement is not strictly speaking (or in any other manner of speaking) true.  But it amuses me so I’ll leave it in anyway and hopefully this footnote saves me from having actually knowledgeably lied on my blog for the first time. 




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.





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:

2017

The Key to ELT – Exploit the c**ts

IHTOC9 – IH Teachers Online Conference

2015

Raiders of the lost ART

Refreshing ELT, Bahia Blanca, Argentina

IH Montevideo Spring Conference, Uruguay

Mobile Phones and the Temple of Doom

Refreshing ELT, Bahia Blanca, Argentina

Blowing Hot and Cold

IHTOC7 – IH Teachers Online Conference

2014

From Ladders To Mountains – cutting Demand High down to size

Refreshing ELT, Bahia Blanca, Argentina

Think About It!

Refreshing ELT, Bahia Blanca, Argentina

X Anglia Examinations International Congress for English Language Professionals

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!





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!