When I walked past my colleague’s desk at work a few days ago, I noticed a really interesting handout, and asked her if she would be willing to share it with the world. I’m very happy that she agreed 🙂 Over to Katie…
‘Tis the season for teachers to hand out Christmas holiday homework, and if your students are anything like mine, ’tis also the season for students to ignore their Christmas holiday homework until half an hour before their first lesson back in January. So I came up with an idea that will hopefully motivate them to actually do something different every day, without having to personally visit them on Christmas day and force them to talk to me.
The format is simple and can be adapted for any level, but mine was for an advanced class (hence the uninhibited use of the word “regale”). I’ve made a calendar for my students, with a box for every day between our last lesson of the year and the first lesson of next year. Every day they choose a task from the list, and they note down which one they did into the right day. On their return to the class in January, they use the calendar to recall the different things they got up to over the holidays. My hope for this exercise isn’t necessarily to test or challenge my students, so I won’t take in any of their work to be marked. Instead the aim here is to train them to keep working at their English even when I’m not standing over their shoulder.
The list is based on my class and what I know might be interesting to them, but you should edit the list to make it appropriate for your class. I’d especially recommend adding in any online resources that you regularly use with your students, but to keep all the tasks relatively low-effort.
put a photo on social media with an English caption
write an email to Katie wishing her a Happy Christmas & tell her what you’ve been doing (firstname.lastname@example.org)
listen to some music, look up the lyrics and try to sing along (obviously only songs that have English lyrics!)
write a diary entry about something interesting that happened to you
watch something in English on YouTube & tell someone about it
learn a Christmas song in English and sing it to your mum/uncle/pet/neighbour
compose a haiku about Christmas Day
go into a shop and pretend that you don’t speak any [Polish], and ask them to speak English to you
write a Christmas recipe out for Katie to try at home (please make it very clear, and with minimal pickling)
regale your family members by speaking to them in only English for part of the day (even if they’re not sure what you mean)
look at your textbook, sigh, and say “maybe I won’t do anything in English today today” *ONE USE ONLY*
Katie Lindley has been teaching at IH Bydgoszcz since September 2016. She hasn’t published any books (yet), or spoken at any conferences (yet), but the 9-year-old girls in her kids’ class think she’s brilliant.
I hope you enjoy adapting Katie’s festive homework, and I’m sure you’ll join me in asking her to write more posts in the future!
It’s observation season at IH Bydgoszcz at the moment. Some of the advice I’ve given has made me think of skills that are really useful to have as a teacher, but which we are very rarely taught, or have to pick up as we go along.
Here are my examples:
Reading upside-down: really useful for monitoring to see which answers students have.
Picking out individual student’s voices from the general noise (or the Cocktail party effect): key for both monitoring and assessment, if you’re assessing speaking while the whole class is working. Also, tuning in and out of multiple conversations smoothly.
All the many functions of a photocopier.
Sitting down, standing up, and when and why it’s useful to switch positions.
I’m a fast reader anyway, and think that this was something I may have been able to do before I became a teacher, but I’ve definitely honed this over time. I hadn’t realised that many people found it challenging until recently!
Another skill I kind of had but am now much better at. The flipside of this is that I find it very hard to tune out of conversations when I’m not in a classroom, so I can join in with staffroom conversations even when I’m sitting in my office 10m away 😉 I also sometimes find it hard to focus on conversations in restaurants etc. if there’s another interesting conversation going on nearby, or I’ll flit between the two conversations. Apologies to anyone I’ve done that too!
I think most people are probably shown one or two ‘magic’ things their local copier can do, but there are so many other functions that generally remain a mystery!
I’m mostly thinking about small groups here, up to about 16 students. I know some schools have rules about sitting/standing, but it’s often not addressed on training courses.
So (how) did you learn these skills? How can you help other people to learn them? What else would you add to the list?