Classroom Community Builders: Book Review

Introduction

I was kindly asked a few weeks ago by Alphabet Publishing to review a recent publication, “Classroom Community Builders: Activities for the First Day & Beyond“, written by Walton Burns. After a few weeks of waiting, the book finally arrived along with a personalised letter from the publisher.

The publisher, Alphabet Publishing, is one of those small independent organisations which specialise with practical ideas for teaching and lesson ideas. The first book that I reviewed for them was “50 Activities for the First Day of School” as a video book review. You can watch the video below or find out a bit more from a previous blog post.

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Twenty Ideas to Make Your Lessons More Exciting

A teacher training session looked at 20 ways to make your lessons more exciting and engaging. Please find below a video of the training session, the PowerPoint slides as well as a Handout which was provided to each of the attendees.

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Teaching Ideas for Word Stress

pronunciation-practice-activities
Pronunciation Practice Activities” by Martin Hewings

So the past few months, I have been focusing more and more on pronunciation for all levels of learners, no matter whether they are young learners or adult learners of English. Anyhow, I tried out a new lesson idea today which was partly inspired from the wonderful book, “Pronunciation Practice Activities“, written by Martin Hewings. I would recommend any teacher worth their salt to purchase this book, as it offers some great pronunciation lesson ideas which could be incorporated into class immediately.

Most teachers would identify word stress with the teaching of new vocabulary or as a technique to support pronunciation for problematic lexical items. This is all well and good but it reminds me of a teacher reacting to issues rather than proactively focusing on areas of language learning. Personally, if a teacher is able to develop a lesson based around pronunciation and developing learners’ awareness of pronunciation, so much the better. There is by no means anything wrong by reacting to pronunciation issues as they arise but I think it would be a nice change of focus when we remind learners that there are some basic principles that they can learn no matter how large or small the lexical item. Nevertheless, lets look at one lesson idea which is published in “Pronunciation Practice Activities“.

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Real English Lesson: Functional Language

I recorded this lesson at my work of a fellow teacher preparing learners with functional language for debates and expressing points of view. It was a great lesson and I was so grateful being able to observe and record such a valuable lesson. I now thought that I will share this lesson with you all to see how my colleague is able to engage, motivate and support learners during a lesson. Enjoy!

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"How Filming Lessons Could Completely Change Professional Development (Modern English Teacher

The latest article published in Modern English Teacher focuses more on the latest filming that I have focused more in the past few months. Have a read to find out a bit more how teachers could film their classes for their own personal CPD as well as sharing ideas with out English teaching professionals from around the world.

Perhaps I should focus on a future article about how to edit and upload a video to a website which promotes video sharing such as YouTube. For example, I have to spend hours editing the video, rendering it, upload it to YouTube and then finally add effects and thumbnails. It takes a lot longer than you think but it is rewarding to see so many people deciding on watching some of the videos.

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The Ultimate Way to Get Students Debating

Last Friday, I was fortunate enough to observe one of my colleagues teach her Intermediate class with no material what so ever. She told me that she was going to get her students debating in class. I have always had difficulty getting my students to communicate and I thought it would be a great chance to see how another senior teacher encourages learners to communicate and debate naturally. It was the first time that I had been able to take away some ideas for teaching for next time. What made it even more valuable was that I recorded the lesson with my video camera – with her consent.

What I really found useful was the fact that the teacher did not use any worksheets or handouts and used all the students in class to elicit possible pros and cons for the debate. Here are the stages for preparing learners to debate and follow a similar lesson structure.

  1. Elicit possible statements for agreeing and disagreeing
  2. Board up these statements on one side of the whiteboard
  3. Choose a topic and divide the class in half
  4. One half of the class think of positives of the topic and the other half think of negatives
  5. Pair a student who focuses on positives with a student who focuses on negatives
  6. Get the learners to use the functional language on the whiteboard
  7. Monitor for feedback at the end of the lesson and prompt learners to use the functional language
  8. Stop the debate and then get students to decide who in their group won the debate and why
  9. Repeat the debate again but with a different topic and pair different students together
  10. Provide feedback and end the class

This is a great activity for Pre-Intermediate learners and above. Try it out next time and see whether you got your students speaking. A huge thank you to Lisa for allowing me to record her lesson.