On 8th February 2020, I had the pleasure of presenting at the IH Barcelona 2020 conference. I shared 4 activities from Richer Speaking, my ebook of 16 ways to get more out of the speaking activities you do in class with minimal extra preparation.
To find the full details of the richer activities, plus another 12 ways to extend speaking activities, get your copy of Richer Speaking from Smashwords or Amazon [affiliate links]. It costs around $1/€1, so shouldn’t break the bank! As always, I don’t claim that these ideas are original, but it’s handy to have them in one place and see how they can be applied to specific activities.
If you’d like more reflection activities, you can find all the links to buy ELT Playbook 1 at eltplaybook.wordpress.com. There’s a 10% discount until 29th February 2020 if you buy it via Smashwords [affiliate link] using the code WG94S.
Here are my slides:
I did a version of this presentation in July 2019 which I’ve fully written out here.
Thank you to those who attended my talk, and I’d be really interested to hear from you if you try out any of these activities in your classroom. And don’t forget to get your copy of Richer Speaking from Smashwords or Amazon [affiliate links]!
*or at least, very very low prep! Thursday night: nobody had suggested any queries or problems for our one-to-one troubleshooting session tomorrow. What should we do instead? There wasn’t really time for me to prep anything else, and Ididn’t know what to pick anyway. Cue a quick email:
Please think about 2 things you’re proud of in your lessons (group or 121), and 2 questions you most want answered. We’ll use that as the basis for the session tomorrow.
At the start of the 60-minute session I spread out a pile of A4 scrap paper on the floor. Everybody took a piece, folded it in half, and wrote two questions they had, one on each half. They put them on the floor for later. They then took another piece, folded it again, and wrote the two things they were proud of. This took a lot longer, and I had to point out that ‘proud of’ doesn’t have to mean finished or perfect, just something you’ve worked at and know you’ve improved. We got there in the end! It reminded me of Sarah Mercer’s IATEFL plenary, when she told us to spot our strengths, the inspiration for the strength spotting task in the Teacher Health and Wellbeing section of ELT Playbook 1. Everybody mingled, chatting to everybody else, holding up their strengths in front of them, including me. We talked about why we chose them, what we’d done to work on them, and asked each other questions. That took about 10-15 minutes. I asked for a show of hands to see if any of the strengths matched any of the questions. Only 3 or 4 of the 20 teachers put their hands up, so I changed my mind about the next step. Instead of pairing people off, I ended up putting them in groups of 4 or 5. They had about 15-20 minutes. This time they all read out their questions in their group, then chose which ones to discuss and offer answers to in a free discussion. Meanwhile, I took photos of all of their questions and wrote them into a single list. It was an excellent indication of the range of concerns that our teachers have, from classroom management and better pacing to more effective listening lessons and challenging students more. This is a great starting point for deciding the topics of our upcoming workshops. At the end I asked for another show of hands: who’s learnt something today that will help them with their teaching? Every hand went up. The feedback was very positive. Teachers said they particularly enjoyed the small group work and the freestyle nature of the session. It worked well at this point in the year as everyone is settled and feels comfortable as a group. Definitely a format I’ll use again!
The first was proposed by Rod Ellis in a 1986 ELT Journal article called Activities and procedures for teacher training. It lists 10 different kinds of task for teachers on training courses, arranged loosely from less to more cognitively/linguistically demanding:
With a coursebook page as a prompt, we used these taxonomies to come up with 6 teacher training tasks laddered from easier to harder, with the caveat that the taxonomies are guidelines, not straitjackets.
The aim my partner and I chose for our imagined group of middle school teachers was ‘to learn how to adapt coursebooks to increase student engagement’. The 6 tasks we came up with were:
List ways you already know to engage students with a coursebook page. (Listing/Remembering)
Read this blogpost – what else can you add to your categories? [On reflection, that should probably be something like ‘Choose one thing to add to each category.’ as otherwise it could be overwhelming!] (Adding)
Which of the activities on your list would/wouldn’t work with your students? What would you change? (Analysing/Evaluating)
In pairs, plan your own lesson based on the coursebook page. (Preparing/Creating)
Look at another pair’s lesson plan. Decide what works and what you could improve. (Evaluating/Improving)
Feel free to try out this session with your teachers. I’d be interested to know how it goes 🙂
Teachers often talk about what and how, but often don’t say why or why not.
That was a quote from a session on teacher beliefs (the why/why not of what we do) on the NILE Trainer Development course today. We talked about various ways of uncovering beliefs, and I’ve thought of one more. What would you add?
Have 2-3 statements connected to beliefs teachers could discuss at the beginning of a session.
Say a statement – they stand to the left or right depending on whether they agree or disagree, or somewhere in the middle if they prefer.
Have statements which trainees tick/cross/modify.
Create short case studies with some kind of dilemma – each ‘solution’ is valid, but discussing them can show up beliefs.
Today on the NILE trainer development course we read an article by Briony Beaven about how to make trainees aware of all of the different methods of input that we use on a course, as well as the variety of interaction patterns and activity types we use. She suggested using a poster at the end of each session with a tick list that can build up over the course. Trainees are often not able to notice input processes because they are so focused on the content of sessions. The poster draws explicit attention to input processes and will hopefully help trainees to vary their own input, activities and interaction patterns in their lessons. The original article appeared in English Teaching professional issue 74, in May 2011 and includes examples of such a poster. We’ve started using one for our course too.
30 tasks for new teachers to help them learn to reflect on their teaching, as well as build up an online community. Also great as a refresher for experienced teachers, or as session prompts for trainers and managers. The ebook is just £5/€5.50 - less than the price of a cinema ticket! Also available as a paperback.
What are you waiting for? Get your copy today!
30 tasks for teacher trainers to help them learn to reflect on their teaching, as well as build up an online community.
A collection of techniques for adapting speaking activities. Click the image to read more and to find links to purchase it for less than 1 USD a copy! (Published by the round)
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These are, in turn, available free to others in the field of ELT under a CC license to use in their classroom and on their non-commercial materials.
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It was nominated for an ELTons award in 2013.
You can see the last 10 photos uploaded to the site below:
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