As teachers in the Israeli school system we need to assist our students to finish high school with knowledge of approximately 5,200 lexical items in English. According to Professor Batia Laufer, without massive input there will be low word gains. Furthermore, the input needs to be at the right level, and properly spaced.
I created this speaking lesson for my 10th grade ‘Keep Talking’ class, based on Laufer’s assertion that we need to ‘activate’ our students’ passive vocabulary. Firstly, I asked my students to recall the meaning of some lexical items previously taught. I presented the words in English, and asked students to recall and translate the words into L1 (receptive skill), and then use some of the words (productive skill), to complete the given tasks, based on picture prompts.
You can see an example of one pair’s work below, and then listen to an excerpt of their ‘Pair and Share’ activity, in order to see how engaged my students were.
If you get a chance to do this activity with your students, I’d love to hear about it.
This Double lesson plan has been created specifically for the teachers delivering the 10th grade ‘Keep Talking’ programme in Israeli high schools. I suggest using the lesson in one of the first lessons of the year in order to get the students thinking about their oral proficiency, and to make them aware of the different techniques and strategies available for effective learning.
I have included the lesson plan and the PowerPoint for you to use with your classes. The link to the student Self-Assessment Google Form is in Task 3 in the lesson plan itself.
I hope you and your students enjoy the lesson as much as I did.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments box below.
Bullying is brutal. It always has been, and probably always will be an issue that too many children and teenagers have to deal with, both at school and now, due to cyber-bullying, at any time and in any place. I created this lesson after seeing a short JuBafilm – A Piece of Chalk – whilst invigilating a 12th grade Cinema Studies class.
The speaking booklet, that I have been using with my 10th grade ‘Keep Talking’ class, has a whole unit devoted to the topic of bullying, so I simply adapted that unit to incorporate ideas that were raised by the film. This 4 lesson unit plan includes a mix of speaking activities: two oral presentations, and another short film – Listen to Me – which deals with the concepts of stereotypes and bullying. The lesson plans are aimed at students from both intermediate and proficiency levels (CEFR levels B1 – C1). I have provided suggested times, however, the lessons may need more or less time depending on the class.
As I continue to work with my 10th grade students in the new ‘Keep Talking’ programme, I have created two lesson plans to supplement the approved speaking booklets. The lessons may be used to supplement the travel units, in each of the books, or as a standalone ‘speaking’ unit. The lesson plans are aimed at students from both intermediate and proficiency levels (CEFR levels A2/B1 – C1). I have provided suggested times, however, the lessons may need more or less time depending on the class. My overarching objective in this course is to get the students speaking in pairs and small groups, and to make sure they both increase their lexis and their confidence, in a fun and engaging learning environment.
After seven years in ELT management I decided that I need to live the life that I want to live and not just continue doing what I had been doing for the last seven years, just because of the ‘conditions and status’, or because that is what everybody expected me to do. My resignation from the Open University surprised everybody, but for me it meant going back to teaching, to learning and to working directly with teenagers.
On 30 August I rolled up to the pre-teaching in-service day at my new school feeling both excited and nervous. Those feelings were personified two days later when I stood at the door of my first class, waiting for the students to stand. How would they perceive me? Would they behave? Would they understand me? Would they participate in the speaking tasks? How was I going to remember all of their names? I was full of doubts, but as soon as I stepped into the room, greeted the class and started off with a ‘Getting to know you’ icebreaker, those initial doubts evaporated. I left the room feeling energized and excited to be back in my own classroom, after a seven year gap.
Since then I have had a few great lessons, many ordinary lessons and some less than good lessons. Following each lesson I reflect on what went well, what could I have done differently, and did I actually meet the learning aims that I had set? I often think to myself, if I were observing this class I might have asked the teacher why she corrected that particular mistake and interrupted the student’s fluency, or, why didn’t she scaffold the task better, or had she noticed that boy in the back row, who was on his phone under the desk, during most of the speaking task.
I used to think that if I am the best teacher I can be and plan my lessons really well, the students will respond accordingly. But I now think that this isn’t always enough.
I used to think that if I integrate technology effectively to enhance the learning outcomes, the students will be motivated and engaged. But I now think, that sometimes this is true, but quite often, it is not.
I used to think that through my teacher training I could have an impact on so many more students than I could in the classroom myself. But I now think that there is nothing more satisfying than engaging with the students themselves, in a large classroom, with all its challenges, and seeing everybody engaged and on task.
Hosting the Pecha Kucha evening at the 7th International ETAI conference, 4-6 July 2016, provided me with the opportunity to source the international and local presenters, send them guidelines with a delivery deadline, and then review their presentations, to check they had met the criteria and had the automatic timings set correctly. The presenters in order of their presentations were:
When initially approached, some of the presenters immediately gave me an affirmative answer, “Yes, sure” or “Ok”, whilst others were more hesitant. One presenter wrote to me saying, “If truth be told, I’d forgotten that I’d allowed myself to be talked into doing a Pecha Kucha!!! I’d been thinking about chickening out, but …. hey why not! Another presenter stated, “At first I groaned – And then I thought about what I could do …. So, end of moan. I am happy to do something. Am I mad? Yes, I am.” The latter responses were similar to my own when Leo Selivan (Leoxicon) asked me to host the event. “I don’t think I can. I work full time. I’m studying etc.” I responded and then I stopped myself and thought – If Leo is asking me then he must believe I can do it, and in the words of Richard Branson, “If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you are not sure you can do it, say yes. Then learn how to do it later.” This year’s team of courageous ELT presenters demonstrated that they also subscribe to the Branson philosophy, and as a result each of the presenters put themselves out there, and we, the audience, benefited from their experience and humour, and had a great time.
Giving a Pecha Kucha is different from being a plenary or keynote speaker, it seems to fall much more into the ‘edutainment’spere, and the pressure on the presenter to ‘perform’ is not insignificant. For the host, though, once the presenters have agreed to present and their presentations have been received and checked, all that is left to do is to choose the order of the presentations, upload them onto the computer in the auditorium, check the timings, and write some introductory notes about each speaker. There shouldn’t be any surprises.
However, on Tuesday 5 July, a few hours before the Pecha Kucha evening was due to start, I bumped into Mel Rosenberg and Andy Curtis, who told me that they had had an idea that they wanted to run by me. “Andy is going to do my Pecha Kucha, sight unseen. What do you think?” I looked at Andy and asked him, “Do you know what Mel’s Pecha Kucha is about?” “No, not a clue.” Andy responded. “Though it would be a great example of creativity, if I presented it without seeing it, don’t you think? Do we have your permission to do this crazy thing?” I thought to myself, Mel’s presentation is not clear to me, and I’ve seen the slides, so how is Andy going to present it? But then I thought, this could be an opportunity to do something different from the ‘traditional’ Pecha Kucha format. So I said, “Yes. I like the idea.” Andy looked a little surprised, as he hadn’t expected me to agree quite so quickly. And thus the first Pecha Kucha ‘Unseen Hack’ was born.
Video courtesy of @MelRosenberg
As teachers we are always putting our students on the spot in front of their peers, asking them questions, getting them to do presentations, prepare speeches and debates and complete numerous other language tasks, that many of them don’t feel comfortable doing. Our students usually have no choice but to say ‘yes’, as the task often forms part of their summative assessment. As teachers/ELT professionals we must be role models for our students, and also be willing to put ourselves ‘out there’ in front of our peers, even when we may feel uncomfortable about the request, because saying ‘yes’, can be both challenging and rewarding. In fact, Emily Liscom (Education to the Core) would go even further, and say that by using the word ‘Yes’, to our students more than the word ‘No’, we might be surprised to experience improved classroom management and teaching strategies.
Thank you to each of the six/seven presenters for saying ‘yes’, when I approached you – each of you were courageous and inspirational, and are great role models to other ELT professionals and students across the globe.
The end of the school year is Coming Soon, so here is a lesson for you to try with your students. As in previous years (2015 –The Happy Lesson, 2014 – The Way Back Home) I went into my son’s English class and gave a lesson. This year I chose to use the Kung Fu Panda 3 movie trailer, to provide the students with an engaging and fun lesson which would both be accessible for all learners, and challenging for the more advanced students, whilst encouraging students to work in groups.
My son’s class were very excited about the lesson, they particularly enjoyed the Quizlet vocabulary set that I had prepared, and within the limited time created some cute Compare and Contrast Panda posters.
“What is a book? According to the Merriam Webster dictionary it is “a set of printed sheets of paper that are held together inside a cover.”
At this year’s ETAI winter event more than 50 English teachers were taken on a book discovery tour through the impressive National Library of Israel, in Jerusalem. The 120 year old library has a collection of more than 5,000,000 books, 2000 manuscripts, 700 personal archives and 30,000 hours of recordings which are available to the public, at no cost.
As a consequence of my experience I would like to share with you ’10 things I now know about the National Library of Israel’:
The map room houses the most significant Holy Land maps’ collection in the world
The Ardon Windows (pictured) represent Isaiah’s vision of eternal peace
The oldest book in the museum is a Koran, dating back to the ninth century
Israel’s ‘Book Law’ requires two copies of all printed matter published in Israel to be deposited in the national library
The museum is divided into 4 major collections: Judaica, Israel, Islam & the Middle East and the Humanities
Gershom Scholem loved to write notes in the margins of his books, which can be seen in the Gershom Scholem Library (comprising 35,000 items related to the Kabbalah, Jewish Mysticism and Hassidism)
‘Ephemeral’ means transient or short-lived
TheTime Travel and EuropeanEphemeralcollections are made up of letters, tickets, posters, postcards etc., and provide a rich resource of life and culture that can be used for engaging our students in the English classroom
The library has an educational partnership with the UK, available via an online site, and includes lesson plans and worksheets for use in British classrooms, which could be relevant to our English language classrooms in Israel
The National Library has a resource rich Facebook page in English which is regularly updated, and provides authentic materials for English teaching.
So why should English teachers teach with Primary Resources? Karen Ettinger, Project Manager for Education at the NLI, explained that primary resources are motivating, relevant, make use of authentic material, enable students to practice 21 century skills, exercise their critical thinking and research skills, whilst connecting them with their past. So if you want to do some, or all of the above I strongly recommend a trip, either physical or virtual, to the National Library of Israel.
Thank you to all of the National Library staff who took us on a journey which made me think differently about the role of the library in the English language classroom today.
It is always fun for a DOS to get back into the classroom and give a lesson to a class of young learners. Once a year I go into my son’s class and give them a lesson that aims to engage the students, use all four skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing) encourage group work and integrate technology.
Today’s lesson did all of the above in only 45 minutes. Pharrell Williams’ ‘Happy’ song was the inspiration. The students loved the Muzzy ‘Word Play’ website and were excited to see their class poem come alive literally on the screen in from of them.
I have included here the powerpoint, the lesson plan, the worksheet and the video clips for you to use.
When I asked the students why I am happy in the fourth slide, one of the students said “Because you finished the marathon.” Another student said: “Because of your man.”
Quizlet – for learning vocabulary items, lexical chunks, collocations and so much more.You can create a class, and sets of items (no more than 20 items is optimal), you can use synonyms, definitions or translate the terms ( supports most languages including Arabic), add images and even use it for comprehension tasks. It is easy to share with your students, and you can encourage them to make and share their sets. No need for students to sign up. See Sandy Millin‘s detailed guide here .
WhatsApp for creating class groups to share images, texts and recordings – this is the most important App of them all as all the URL addresses can be shared with your students via your class group.
Answergarden for brainstorming, checking students prior knowledge and getting short (20 characters) answers. No need for students to sign up.
Mentimeter for brainstorming, mind mapping, allows for longer answers. I like the visual features. No need for students to sign up.
Linoit – Collaborative board for sharing ideas, images and videos via sticky notes. Easy for students to use. IPhone users now need to download the app in advance to see the canvas (collaborative board), which is a recent and less convenient change. No need for Android students to sign up.
Photofuniafor creating fun posters, billboards and other images on Smarphones, using photos from the Smartphone gallery.
All of the apps in this post are free and have websites where you may feel more comfortable creating your language task than on your mobile device. You can then copy the URL address and make it tiny with goo.gl which generates a QR code, your students can then scan the code with a QR Code Reader app, which takes them straight to the task you have created for them.
When using Smartphones in the class always ensure that the use of the app meets the learning aims of the class, and that you have tried it yourself on a mobile device, and preferably get somebody else to try it too.
For those of you who attended my presentation Mobile learning – empowering teachers and engaging students here is the promised powerpoint presentation.