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!
P.S. I’ve already linked to an article about QR codes to make adventure stories in the classroom; ‘A hero’s journey’ describes the power of narratives for learning. If you’re interested in the process of creating graded readers, check ‘Up a level, down a level’.
I’ve heard it said before that it’s not enough to replace VHS with YouTube, or blackboards with IWBs. It’s just digital substitution, and it’s considered better practice to do something with the help of technology that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. And yet – original use doesn’t always mean deeper learning, and this interview at EdSurge.com takes things further: there is advice about redesigning edutech activities so that they actually move our students closer to deep learning: how to encourage meaningful dialogue, achieve meaningful work, make the learning experience authentic. Interesting!
Here is a nice fresh activity from Teresa Bestwick to celebrate the winter mood: write topics on sheets of paper, have a snowball fight with them, keep one snowball each and write questions to interview your partner based on the topics. What makes this speaking activity different? The physical silliness of course – a perfect stirrer for a tired or fidgety group. Check the original post for a full description, or have a look at another of my favourites by this author: Scissor quizzes.
This blog post from Bright Classroom Ideas contains a useful checklist to engage the emotional side of young learners when planning or teaching a lesson. The author addresses the text mostly to parents, so you will see phrases like ‘your kid’ – just add the plural 🙂 There are 15 great ideas: from singing-clapping-dancing to engaging their inner rebel. And the most amazing advice: think of a topic as if it was a superhero and find its superpower. Hmm, what would the superpower of the Present Perfect be?
Here is a practical text to complement the idea of ‘warm demanders’: how we can keep being strict and kind at the same time. The author of the post lists as many as ten steps that teachers, and whole schools, can take to make the learners comfortable without compromising on standards of learning or behaviour. My favourites are: “Don’t relax your expectations, but relax your persona”, and “Frame corrections positively”. Could be useful in other situations!
Today I’ve been trying to make sense of this article from ‘Popular Psychology’ popularising research into teachers’ job satisfaction. The central idea of it is ‘job crafting’ . To explain it, the author (Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D.) quotes the original article: people “re-engineer their jobs from within as a way to find increased meaningfulness”. Apparently, for teachers this means not only adapting their teaching approach to different groups of students, but also changing and re-defining their roles at work, especially during the times of big organisational changes.
Is job crafting viewed as something positive? On the one hand, yes – people take ownership of their work and see it as their ‘calling’. On the other hand, the research showed that teachers engage in more job crafting when they get less administrative support and are less satisfied with their work – so it’s more of a coping strategy and a sign that the teachers need more help.
What do you think? Do you do a lot of ‘job crafting’ at work?
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?