A few months ago, I decided to invest in some Story Cubes and have been trying them out with some of my classes. If you are unfamiliar with Story Cubes, they are a collection of nine dice with images printed on each side of the dice. They are stored in a convenient box which is super portable, with them being small enough to just place in your pocket. Anyhow, when using the Story Cubes in class, the students responded positively and created some very engaging and funny stories. If you want to find out a bit more information about these Story Cubes, you can check Rory’s website.
In this article, we look at ten teaching ideas for using Story Cubes in the classroom.
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.
I was excited to receive one of the latest publications from Cambridge University Press, Interaction Online. The book is co-authored by Lindsay Clandfield, who has written other titles including the successful Global coursebook series, as well as Jill Hadfield, who has written the recognisable photocopiable resources: Communication Games. As with other Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers series, this latest publication is edited by Scott Thornbury.
“Interaction Online” is aimed for teachers who are keen to incorporate an aspect of online interaction as part of their course. It also encourages use with not just face-to-face courses but also with online or blended learning courses. As you read further into the Introduction of the book, the authors focus on interaction and tools to promote online interaction. These suggested tools include message or chat services such as WeChat or WhatsApp, audio or video tools such as FaceTime or Skype as well as discussion forums or message boards. The Introduction is logically organised and well paced with suitable information for any reader who is keen to implement an element of online interaction with their course. The final section of the Introduction provides a comprehensive breakdown of suggested interactive online activities in their corresponding chapters: ‘Personal interaction‘ (Chapter 2), ‘Factual interaction‘ (Chapter 3), ‘Creative interaction‘ (Chapter 4), ‘Critical interaction‘ (Chapter 5) and ‘Fanciful interaction‘ (Chapter 6).
It is that time of year where a vast group of English teachers venture to the UK to continue their professional development for the IATEFL Conference. This year it was held at Glasgow. I believe it was five years ago, in 2012, when I went to the IATEFL Conference in Glasgow to give my talk based upon my research for my MA in Dogme ELT. You can read more about my dissertation and research in this post.
Anyhow, attending conferences can be overwhelming, challenging and intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. This post looks at the best ways to make the most out of conferences and how to make the most of your time.
Last week, I was inducting some new teachers into our school: preparing them for their teaching career for the year ahead. We looked at various areas about teaching: classroom management, get to know you activities, games in the classroom, etc. The final area we looked at was about continuing professional development (CPD). We looked at formal and peer observations, attending workshops, contributing to workshops as well as blogging. All teachers with varying years of experience, including a teacher who had just completed her CELTA (or equivalent), had only come across the mainstream websites related to English language teaching (TEFL.com, Dave’s ESL Cafe or Teaching English) yet had not really considered blogging a tool for CPD.
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“.
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!
The latest article published in Modern English Teacherfocuses 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.
It is the first time that I have attempted to do a book review via video before and I decided the lucky book would be “50 Activities for the First Day of School” by Walton Burns. Watch the video below to find out more about the book and whether it would be useful for teachers.
Again, please let me know what book reviews I should do in the future. Again, a huge thanks to everyone who has been supporting my YouTube Channel – I now have over 42,000 minutes of watch time and over 12,000 views on my Channel. So a huge thank you to everyone.
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.
Elicit possible statements for agreeing and disagreeing
Board up these statements on one side of the whiteboard
Choose a topic and divide the class in half
One half of the class think of positives of the topic and the other half think of negatives
Pair a student who focuses on positives with a student who focuses on negatives
Get the learners to use the functional language on the whiteboard
Monitor for feedback at the end of the lesson and prompt learners to use the functional language
Stop the debate and then get students to decide who in their group won the debate and why
Repeat the debate again but with a different topic and pair different students together
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.