Teaching with a twist

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Marc from TESOL TOOLBOX has started an interesting series of ‘oldies-but-goldies’ with a twist, where he describes a well-known ELT activity and suggests modifications to it. Here is, for example, a twist on a typical brainstorming activity which makes it even more engaging for students because the teacher introduces a competitive element into it. Another activity he writes about is jigsaw reading – but did you know you could slightly ‘sabotage’ it to your teens’ delight? Definitely something to check out if you are looking for fresh teaching ideas.

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Taking sides re retrieval practice

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Here is a thought-provoking article from The Learning Scientists about different approaches to revision. Some teachers think that tests are boring, and try to hid retrieval practice behind other activities; others do not mind doing a lot of low-stakes non-threatening tests (these unassuming little checks reduce text and exam anxiety, provide regular revision and, of course, increase the sense of progress).

And which side are you on?

It’s time, Jim, but not as we know it

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I’ve been looking into time management in the classroom – did you know, for example, that eliciting can be a huge time-waster? And technology can be both hindrance and help, depending on your preparation. Here are two articles with more advice: Tim Wilson’s “Better time management in the classroom” from the point of view of a teacher, and Neil Staker’s “How can I improve time management in the classroom?” , which can be useful for teacher trainers. The latter offers the best advice I’ve read so far: “The clock is half full”. We just need to focus on the time we have and make the most of it!

The many faces of co-teaching

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Co-teaching has been coming up quite often in my RSS-Reader, but this article on educonnections.org is among the best I’ve read. The authors start from the rationale of teaching together, add a few video examples and then list quite a few models of co-teaching, from ‘Station teaching’ to ‘One teach, one assist’. Makes you appreciate all the variety of human interaction, doesn’t it?

By the way, Kamila has an interesting blog challenge about Team Teaching, do check it out if you have something to share!

Rules for classroom instructions

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Here is a great infographic from ELT-Connect about 10 tips for giving classroom instructions: a useful refresher that can find itself on the wall of a teacher’s room or in a newly-qualified teacher’s folder. It has keywords, clear explanations, examples of activities and even justification of why each tip works.

My favourite tip is No.9, “Never Assume” – good for lots of other situations, too! And which one speaks to you the most?

Reflective cycle: stop and feel

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I’ve recently read about an interesting approach to Kolb’s experiential learning cycle in teacher training from Zhenya Polosatova: in her post, she suggests that participants should ask themselves ‘How do I feel?’ at several stages of the cycle. The beauty of this approach is that focusing on emotions actually helps the teachers put them aside and look at the facts. “They learn to separate ‘facts’ (data, evidence) from ‘opinion’.” Zhenya also mentions various factors that may affect the choice of the stage where we would use emotions, and invites us to also consider positive feelings like being proud of the students’ achievements.

Would you use something like this in a training session? I rather think I might, though I am a bit wary of going too deep into the emotional side of things!

More of the same or more of a good thing?

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Here is an inspirational read for those who still hesitate to submit a conference proposal, start a blog or facilitate a training session because they think they have nothing new to say. The author, Shaelynn Farnsworth, reminds everyone that there is nothing truly original about stories in general and about education in particular: we rehash old ideas, recycle somebody else’s methods, engage in ‘principled eclecticism’ – and it’s ok because each of our stories adds to the development of our profession, and our enthusiasm still fuels the enthusiasm of everyone else.

Well, I’m feeling even more inspired now, and you?