Here is an inspiring post by Alastair Lane about writing ‘gamebooks’, or ‘choose your own adventure’ stories for language learners. Much as I love reading, I have never been a fan of those books: I just want to focus on one storyline and one world that the author has created for me. On the other hand, these books are a great opportunity for narrow input and revision, and they can be incredibly motivational provided they are written well and use elements of gamification. And, judging by the post, Alastair’s and his co-authors’ books are definitely worth checking out!
Here is a great overview article by Jim Knight about professional development – it’s actually a manual on how to avoid stagnation! It covers the reasons why are we sometimes stuck in a rut, what is it that we fear, and how we can get out of the ‘Zero-Learning Zone’. The author offers a lot of techniques to try, from design thinking to doing a hope audit (that’s a new one for me), and after reading this there can be no more excuses – would you agree? 🙂
Here is an interesting article to consider: Julio Vieitas from RichmondShare is talking about adult learners and what makes them different (and sometimes difficult). Yes, they are not ‘empty vessels‘ and have previous experience that can affect their attitudes to learning. They need real-life skills and they need to understand what exactly they are being taught. All this seems common teaching sense – but do we think about this often enough, and do we help our adult learners the way they need to be helped?
Do you remember this cool book called ‘Teach like a pirate’? Well, Dave Burgess, the author, is not alone: there’s a group of innovative educators who write books, speak and generally inspire teachers and learners. These two books in particular seem exciting: The Path to Serendipity and The Princes of Serendip by Allyson Apsey. The former is about life, the universe and everything – how you can find joy in lucky and beautiful moments (that’s what I got from the blurbs, but the book is now on my Kindle). If the first book is for adults trying to make sense of their life, the other one is its companion for children, instilling the same values through a story with pictures. And now I really want them both 🙂
Why I’m telling you all this? Just to ask if you have any thoughts about serendipity and if it has any place in your classroom or workplace. Are you one of those princes on the journey to Serendip? Do you want your learners to be?
This concept has resurfaced in my little Internet neck-of-the woods recently, and it makes me wonder: how often do we do too much in the classroom just because we can, or because we think we should? Wouldn’t it be better sometimes to stop and wait to see what really needs to be done? I found this series of posts on an extinct blog and was really inspired by how the writer applies this idea to everything from his own teaching to teacher training and mentoring. Once, when he was giving a talk at a conference, he asked the audience to do absolutely nothing for 2 minutes! Do read on for stories like that one, and for very interesting reflections.
For my own part, I’m planning to sit down and do absolutely nothing for as long as 5 minutes when I come home tonight – and you?
You may have seen it around your networks, but it would be too much of a shame to miss it – an article about “Englich” lessons that Napoleon took on Saint Helena, his reactions to the learning process, mistakes he made. Hilarious and so true! Like so many learners of today, he tries to calculate how many words there are in the English language and how many years it will take him to learn it, complains about no sense of progress, insists on using French pronunciation – and at the same time plays with words, tries his hand at book reviews and courageously makes jokes in a new language. Some good learning habits there!
Here is a nice inspirational post by Erin Whalen about students ‘doing the work’ in the classroom (rather than the teacher). The idea is that even though sometimes it’s easier just to do something for them, we need to let them try, and make mistakes, but learn. She lists several benefits, like longer retention and sense of accomplishment, but my concern at this time of the year is with the teachers’ level of energy and workload. Erin has the answer to that as well: if you let the students do some work for you (including those paper cutouts!), you can free some time to focus on the students, listen to their needs and build relationships with them. Or just to be a little less overworked.