I’ve made presentations about the Sense of Progress several times this academic year: presenting the training plan at home, doing an INSETT session, doing an external workshop for teachers – and for the IATEFL Liverpool presentation I’ve attempted to bring it all together and speak about a CPD concept which can help teachers focus on the sense of progress.
You can download the slides here. It’s a condensed version of what I said in the talk, so check the ‘progress’ tag on my blog if you’d like to read more about it (or drop me a message for a copy of the evaluation tools).
Me pacing the room to answer questions.
I had great questions and comments from the audience (and anyone else who cared to listen to me before and after the presentation!). For example, what organisational support is needed to make the change sustainable? How do I concentrate less on lag and more on lead indicators? How many years does it actually take for a CPD scheme to make a lasting impact? Exciting – seems like my next year’s plan is cut out for me!
It’s interesting how Stevick explains the necessity of games in the classroom: they are not just a welcome change of pace. Games are necessary for short-term motivation: they have simple goals that can be achieved within one lesson (rather than an exam or new career) and can thus provide a sense of progress and meaning to classroom activities.
And a simple activity with Cuisenaire rods (other objects can be used as well): students are divided into several groups; one group builds a structure from the rods hidden behind a notebook or another tall object; then they describe it in English so that the other groups could build the same. It’s not as easy as it seems, and I really like the information gap and the competitive element here. Stevick also mentions the ‘psychological safety in numbers’: the competition is happening between teams, not individuals, and therefore is not as threatening. And the language components? Colours, prepositions, other ways to describe location – what’s not to like?
The event happened on 1 March, and I was very happy to be one of the speaker experts. There were more than 400 English language teachers from all over Ukraine!
The opening ceremony
I had the pleasure of meeting quite a few of them in my own session, where I spoke about my favourite hobby horse – the sense of progress! You can download the presentation slides here.
Ready for the session
Just like any conference, this one tempted me with several interesting workshops at the same time. I finally chose Anne Robinson’s, about Support, Challenge and Choice in the secondary and adult classroom. It was quite an interesting session, with a range of activities to do around an exam-type text: from rehearsing to choosing photos as illustrations, and webapps. The text she chose was about planting trees, and she compared the kids who planted the trees in the story to cathedral builders who never used to see their finished work. Isn’t it the same with everyone working in education?
Two sections of the day were given to the participants to suggest and then present their own topics, and I got to see two of those. So much enthusiasm, so much enjoyment in their work! And my own audience was the same: warm, responsive, enthusiastic and interested. During the questions part, the teachers got up and started writing their tips to each other on the board. How cool is that?
And I bought myself a great book about personal effectiveness. Perhaps I’ll write about it on my blog (once I become more effective, that is!).
Here’s a great post by Claire Hill about introducing retrieval practice, interleaving and other so-called ‘desirable difficulties’ (a term coined by Robert A. Bjork, as I understand) into English (language and literature) lessons. A lot of it can borrowed for ELT, for example, planned recall sessions, completing knowledge organisers from memory and then adding the missing information with another colour of pen – very interesting indeed. And the outcomes are: better learning, easier tracking of progress, saving time in the lesson and for the teacher.
Todd Finley is one of my favourite writers at Edutopia (you may have seen these posts: Ride the recency effect or Group reading galore), so it was even more exciting to stumble upon this cool infographic by him:
I can easily see it on a poster in the teachers’ room or above a desk, to use as a lesson planning aid. Bloom’s taxonomy? Check. Assessment for learning? You got it. Sense of progress? Very much so!
If you have often heard, or said, that language learning is a bit like a spiral, Nigel Caplan takes this metaphor even further: it’s a tornado because it expands (and is probably just as chaotic, though hopefully not as destructive). You can read more about this in his post if you need any more convincing! For example, if you say, ‘We’ve already done the Present Perfect’, you can’t be more wrong, either as a learner or as a teacher. It’s never over because there are always new and more complex contexts and situations where this language could be applied, and the knowledge doesn’t transfer automatically.
So, next time a student comes to me with a question about his or her sense of progress, I know what picture I’m going to draw!
Here is a great example of how tech can help teachers track students’ progress in the most painless and time-saving way. The author uses extensive reading as an example, but this method can be applied to anything else you would like to track, especially if there are a lot of students and a lot of checkpoints. The answer is simple: Google Forms: you input the results with one click and get statistics in a neat spreadsheet.
Could be useful for that action research project you have been planning for ages!