Language Learning & Self-Assessment (Keep Talking)

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 – A Unit of Speaking Activities

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.

I have included the lesson plan and the PowerPoint for you to use with your classes.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments box below.

Travelling – Destination Unknown (a double ‘Speaking’ lesson)

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.

I have included the lesson plan and the PowerPoint for you to use with your classes.

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.

It’s Friday I’m in Love – The Cure

A song to get students speaking!

Speaking is the most challenging of the four skills to teach in large heterogeneous classes. As speaking is interactive and demands an almost instant response, the pressure to ‘perform’ is often overwhelming for students.

With this in mind I created a fun lesson plan based on the famous song ‘It’s Friday I’m in Love’ by The Cure. Not one of my 10th grade students knew the song but they all quickly ‘fell in love’ with it.

My aim was to get the students speaking and using the lexical chunks from the song. However, to my amazement they quickly began singing the song, and asked me to play it again and again.

I have included the lesson plan and the PowerPoint for you to use with your classes.

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.

‘The Seven Year Itch’ and ELT

7-year-itchAfter 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…. But now I think… 

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.

It is good to be back.

 

 

Pecha Kucha & the Power of (saying) ‘Yes’

 

 

Photograph courtesy of @oded1cedar
Photograph courtesy of @oded1cedar

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:

  1. Marjorie Rosenberg – The Very Serious Side of ELT
  2. Penny Ur – Seven Misconceptions about English Teaching
  3. Mel Rosenberg (later hacked by Andy Curtis) – FRASPINATION – An internet bored game
  4. Amos Paran – Who Wrote Shakespeare’s Plays or Who’s Your Will?
  5. Leo Selivan – 10 cool words that would enhance English
  6. Hugh Dellar – 20 things in 20 years

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.

Kung Fu Panda 3 – Grade 6 lesson plan 4 the end of the year

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.

I have included the lesson plan and the PowerPoint for you to use with your classes.

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.

 

 

 

The Past, The Present and The Future @The National Library of Israel

library 6

“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’:

  1. The map room houses the most significant Holy Land maps’ collection in the world
  2. The Ardon Windows (pictured) represent Isaiah’s vision of eternal peace
  3. The oldest book in the museum is a Koran, dating back to the ninth century
  4. Israel’s ‘Book Law’ requires  two copies of all printed matter published in Israel to be deposited in the national library
  5. The museum is divided into 4 major collections: Judaica, Israel, Islam & the Middle East and the  Humanities
  6. 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)
  7. ‘Ephemeral’ means transient or short-lived
  8. The Time Travel and European Ephemeral collections 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
  9. 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
  10. 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.

Tweeting 2 Learn & Learning 2 Tweet @ IATEFL2015

@twitter
‘Engagement’ was one of the keywords that understandably cropped up again and again in presentations at this year’s IATEFL. This was also the conference where I transitioned from being more of a passive learner via Twitter (following other educators to learn about new ideas and tools) to an active learner/user.
As a consequence of actively tweeting from sessions I was engaging in the presentations in a new way. I found myself trying to summarise the speakers’ points and tweet concisely and interestingly. I was happy when people retweeted my tweets and found myself checking the #IATEFL hashtag to see what was hot or not, and what I had missed in other sessions.
One of the best Twitter experiences for me was when I finished my presentation on the last day of the conference and discovered to my joy that three people had been tweeting from my session. This felt like affirmation, that maybe I did have something worthwhile to say after all. I also wonder if my tweeting during the conference had led to people choosing to hear me speak when they could have gone to the IATEFL signature event with David Crystal, or one of the other 18 sessions that were running simultaneously.
A few thoughts and lessons learned:
  1. Use relevant hashtags so that others can see your tweets, i.e. #IATEFL #ELT #edtech #eltchat
  2. Look for the speaker’s Twitter account in advance of their presentation in order to include them in your tweets
  3. RT – retweet tweets that you like, identify with and want to share
  4. Thank others for tweeting from your sessions, and for retweeting your tweets
  5. The conference continues well after it is over with the blog summaries being posted on twitter
  6. As it is s so affirming when someone tweets from your sessions, why not tweet things your students say that will resonate with the rest of the class?
  7. It is a great way to check students’ understanding of a lesson by asking them to tweet what they now know as a consequence of the lesson
Although only a couple of years ago Tweeting seemed to me to be abstract and not relevant to me as an educator, I am now a twitter convert. I have learned so much from following educators on twitter especially Edtech and #eltchat educators, that I can’t imagine what kind of educator I’d be without it.

A fox aspiring to be an OWL -A case study, LAMSIG IATEFL 2015

As a DOS / managing director of a language school I deal with challenges and conflicts on a daily basis, which can lead to stress. I deal with stress by running three or four times a week. Just lately on my runs I have encountered a fox that comes out at dawn and dusk, to look for food. I noticed that we have a number of things in common. We run at the same times of day, we are usually alone and we are looking for opportunities (to eat, in the case of the fox, to get fitter and think clearer, in my case).

At the end of the LAMSIG (leadership and management PCE) which focused on case studies I am left pondering what kind of a manager am I, as portrayed by Thomas and Kilmann,1977? I know I’m not the competitive shark or the accommodating teddy bear, but do identify with the turtle who likes to avoid difficult situations. However I probably am more similar to the compromising fox than I should be as a manager. Now that I have had the time to reflect, actively listen and learn from colleagues from all over the globe I will aspire to become the wise owl, who is able to collaborate more successfully in difficult situations.

So like the fox in my neighbourhood my job can be quite lonely, yet there are opportunities out there for collaboration. I don’t need to fend for myself but I do need to manage, as that is what I am paid for. So the next time a conflict arises I will ’embrace the conflict’, say yes and activate my negotiation skills. I will strive to be an owl by separating the people (their emotions, values and perceptions) from the problem. I will focus on the reasons for the conflict and explore all the options for the benefit of the organisation, and hopefully all involved.

Although not yet an owl, I do feel a little wiser following today’s fantastic LAMSIG PCE.

20150410-201104.jpg