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

Advertisements




From ladders to mountains – cutting Demand High down to size

10 06 2013

This is a talk that I first did at the Macmillan Annual Conference at the Anglo on Saturday May 11th 2013.  I then repeated it as a workshop at International House in Buenos Aires on Friday 31st May 2013 at our weekly interschool teacher development meeting.

577506_516295928426825_1433201395_n

IH Facebook photo

They were two very different and very worthwhile experiences and they both showed different ways in which using the ‘Demand High’ meme (as Adrian and Jim suggest we call it) can be a very powerful reflection tool for teachers of all experiences in all contexts.

A meme example

A little meme example for you – is this what A&J meme?

Slide02

First of all, in Montevideo, Hitting the Heights was much more of a talk, since there were around 300 people present and we were in an auditorium at a conference, so the set up was very talk-oriented.  Hence the use of the following slides, which you can access here: Hitting the Heights

But let me talk you through them a little, in case you’d like to join us on our reflection journey up the mountain, or would even like to  give a similar workshop yourself.

I started by explaining where my mountain metaphor came from – my wife wanting to climb Aconcagua while I wanted to go to the IH Dos conference in London.  Since I ended up not being able to go, I ended up enjoying the videos of the talks on the IH World website.

Jim's ladder of teacher stages

Jim’s ladder of teacher stages

First of all Jim Scrivener takes us through the reasons for Demand High and uses a ladder to explain why teachers can use Demand High as a way to continue developing their higher skill sets.

and then Adrian gives us some practical examples of putting Demand High into practice.

Slide09

What I did in the talk was summarise these two talks and blend them together with another by Steve Brown, the slides for which he makes available on his blog for others to use – and so I did!   Here are the aims for Steve’s session (click on the slide for a link to his blog) – he nicely splits them into Low Demand and High Demand.  The aim of my talks (and this blog post) were very much to allow the audience to reflect on their teaching…

One main tenet of Demand High is the focus on three areas of teaching and the teacher – our attitude towards our students, where we focus our energy and whether we are continuing to improve our techniques.

Slide13

The attitude shift they call for is key to the whole concept of Demand High – are we really pushing our students to do the best they can?  Are we demanding enough of them?  Or is our attitude more lax than that – ‘They’re doing enough’, ‘I doubt they can do much better’, ‘That’ll do’.  Most of my audience agreed that we do fall into this trap too often and we do need to keep ourselves focused more on pushing our students (and also getting them to push themselves).
Slide14In order to do this, we also need to focus our energies on high demand teaching and this is another key point that Jim & Adrian ask us – are we actually running away from the real teaching that needs to be going on in our classrooms?  Are we afraid to get our hands dirty? Learning a language is a messy, difficult job and we need to be putting in the detailed ‘grimy’ work to get it done.  The Communicative Approach in particular has led us (allowed us) to facilitate the students communicating, doing things (mechanically?), but are we getting involved enough in teaching forms and giving constructive feedback that ensures they are really making progress and improving step by step?

Slide15

And finally, in order to do this, are we using the best, most effective techniques to do so?  Are we armed with ways of helping our learners learn?  Are we equipping them with the best techniques for learning by themselves away from the classroom?  Are we continually striving to explore new ways of doing and reflecting on the most effective ways of teaching in the different contexts we find ourselves?  Are there enough ‘nudging interventions’ in our classes?

Most of us seem prepared to answer No! to most of these questions, which is why I find this session such an excellent reflective tool.  It makes us ask the questions of ourselves, and hopefully as we now move into the detail, provides some possible answers too.    Jim goes on to compare received contemporary ideas with their suggestions for Demand High teaching.  In the workshop we tried to match these up ourselves, but here you have them in their full glory.

First of all consider the left hand column – do you agree with Jim that these are part of the status quo?  Do they happen in your classroom?

Slide16

In the talks, we had a mix of yes and nos, which shows that most of us are a little further up the mountain than Jim and Adrian give us credit for (or perhaps they felt the need to start below sea level in order to include everyone and not lose some less able / experienced climbers along the way).  And when we compared them with the right hand column, there were lots of knowing nods and ‘yes that happens in my class’ and ‘yes that’s always my aim’, but it was good to see some ‘I’d like it to happen even more’ ‘I don;t always achieve this’ and ‘I hadn’t thought of that’ or ‘I’ve forgotten about that one recently’ in there as well. So wherever your starting point, be it base camp, halfway up the mountain or even below sea level, there’s definitely something in here for you and this task opens us up and prepares us for some more detailed reflection on our teaching.  Which brings us back to Steve Brown…

Steve suggests some areas which we might already consider as Demand High teaching :

Slide21

but then asks if they really are such good ideas after all.  This is where things get rather controversial, since Steve takes a very ambitious view of Demand High teaching.  In fact, he gave me some…

so I had to talk to the mountain to see where I stood on these matters.  So in the slides you have the original wisdom, Steve’s Demand High turn around, and then my middle ground.  One example here to show you how to interpret this section of the slides…

Slide23

Steve suggests and we probably mostly agree that it’s received wisdom to plan your lesson.  But Steve asks us to consider what the Demand High results of not doing this might be, listed in the above slide. I then take these to the wisdom of the mountain, and come up with the responses in the slide below.  Sometimes I completely agree with Steve, sometimes I think he goes a little too far to elicit a reaction and sometimes I think he’s missed a point.  As you work through the slides and compare the two views, you can make up your own mind, but the idea of the activity is to help you see where you stand on some fundamental concepts of classroom practice.

Slide25

Plenty of theory to be getitng on with then.  But what about putting it into practice?  Jim and Adrian don’t suggest too many ways of actually Demanding High in the classroom.  Adrian has a pronunciation suggestion (of course!) which is an excellent drilling technique I’d never come across before and it does work really well.  It simply involves getting the studnets to hear your model of the language before they repeat it themselves, to hold on to their mind’s recording of your voice and repeat it as many times as they can before they lose it (normally after around five seconds) – try it out in class, it’s quite a powerful technique.

To finish up I suggest a few ideas of ways I’m going to try and Demand High in my own classes, which you can enjoy below…

Slide46

Slide48

Differentiation is an area I’ve not thought about too much since I tend to teach monolingual classes which are pretty well levelled, but I know it’s an area I should be considering more even within this context.  I found a helpful self-reflection task on how differentiated your teaching is, which also gives some practical ideas about how to go about doing it.  Are you more to the left or the right of the differentiation clines?  As with all these ideas I could blog a separate post on them, so keeping it brief here.

Slide49

Slide50

Early finisher exercises are another area I’d like to widen my repartee in.  I give one simple example here, but want to spend time and perhaps a blog post leading to a workshop on how to engage and push the fast finishers.  I obviously need a lot more time to Demand High of myself…

Slide51

Slide52

And as a teacher trainer, I always like to encourage observation, since I consider it the most effective development tool.  So here are a couple of Demand High peer observation tasks for you to try out when watching and being watched.

Hitting the heights observation

Student peaks

And finally, giving the learners more motivating, realistic/authentic and Demand High homework tasks is an area I feel I can improve in.  Again I share just one simple idea here, but hopefully more will be on the way someday.  Learners had to go and watch youtube videos and find examples of unreal past conditions and results to share with their classmates.  Then they brought them into class and their friends had to guess where they were from.  We ended up showing them in context on mobiles to check their predictions.  The blank one is because some didn’t find any – but they had lots of intense listening practice anyway as they tried to find them…

Slide54

Slide55

It’s a very simple idea with very little teacher preparation, but really engaging and personalised for the students. One I’m going to use again and again, tweeking here and there of course. So we’ve reached the summit of the mountain and the view looks pretty spectacular.  We’ve had some tough times on the journey and had to look inside ourselves to find the attitude, energy and techniques to get to the top, but with a little help along the way from Jim, Adrian and Steve we made it!

Now all that’s left is to share the tale of your journey with friends and family once you get back home.  How are you Demanding High of yourself and your students?  Which areas are you going to choose to work on?  What Demand High techniques and activities are you adding to your teaching?  Please do share with us here, we’d love to hear from you.

Congratulations on Demanding High, enjoy the view, and remember by Demanding High, you’ll Hit the Heights!





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!

 





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. 




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!





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!





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!