Review: Ready to Run

This review was first published in the Winter 2019 edition of the ETAS Journal. Many thanks to ETAS for allowing the review to appear on this blog.

Ready to Run, from Digital Learning Associates (DLA), is a platform providing video-based lesson resources for ELT classrooms. Its resources are marketed as ‘engaging and authentic video experiences’ which cover a range of real-world topics. Ready to Run is a subscription-based service – each video lesson includes printable materials for students, teacher notes and video transcripts. The platform recently won a British Council ELTon for Innovation in Learner Resources.

The resource catalogue for Ready to Run is generally easy to navigate, although better tagging might make searching for relevant resources more efficient. There are currently about 10 videos available at each CEFR-aligned level (A1-B2). The digital content itself is certainly varied, and likely to be engaging for a wide range of learners. Videos are high quality, a suitable length (most around three minutes) and have been well-edited. The videos are initially sourced from vlogs, TV programmes, and other authentic broadcasts, and then are adapted for classroom use. The selection of topics is inclusive and relevant – it is good to see that the platform offers resources that address issues such as immigration, refugee crises, climate change, and minority groups. Topics are dealt with sensitively, and follow-up project-based tasks on the video content encourage learners to explore these topics in greater detail. The willingness of Ready to Run to deal with some topics that tend to be avoided in global coursebooks is certainly a strength. (more…)

Why ELT coursebooks are great!

Late last year I read the Jordan and Gray/Hughes exchange on ELT coursebooks, which appeared in ELT Journal. It’s an interesting discussion if you haven’t read it yet. I generally agreed more with Hughes, but that’s to be expected; I write coursebook materials for publishers, I use coursebooks and generally value them as a classroom resource. I also tend to find more radical stances against coursebooks polarising and distant from classroom practice. A bit repetitive too. I’d like to see more research into learner perceptions of coursebooks, and direct engagement with publishers to explore the theoretical and pedagogical underpinning of these resources in more detail.

Anyhow, the exchange prompted me to consider my views on the use of coursebooks, I’m keen to write a few of these down so I can see how they evolve over time. There have been a few posts I’ve revisited on this blog that I felt were a good snapshot of my thinking at one moment in my career – thoughts that have since changed, developed, etc. There is only one post I’ve come to completely refute over time, my views on multiple intelligences. So much so that I deleted it! Nooooo! Never do that, it misses the point of a learning journey!

So, some of my current (10/01/2019) views on coursebooks. (more…)

Writing lesson: online dating profiles

This is a lesson based around authentic texts from the eHarmony website. It is aimed at adult pre-intermediate level plus, but these texts are full of rich language so it would ideally suit intermediate level students.

Aims: 

· Share personal experiences and attitudes towards online dating

· Identify key features of an online dating profile

· Create a short online dating profile for yourself or a friend

· Evaluate the effectiveness of other online profiles (more…)

Research in brief: reading disruption of a textbook

The research

Winter, C. (2018). Disrupting colonial discourses in the geography curriculum during the introduction of British Values policy in schools. Journal of Curriculum Studies50(4), 456-475.

Open access, click here.

Summary

The aim of the study was ‘to expose and disrupt discourses dominating global development in an English school geography textbook chapter.’ (2018:456)

Winter analyzed one chapter of an English Curriculum Geography textbook using a disruptive approach, a technique proposed by Jacques Derrida.   (more…)

Lesson idea: the ideal classroom

My secondary class (age 14+, B1) are exploring education in our latest module. We are building up to a ‘design your ideal school’ task. The first step was to consider what makes a good classroom/learning environment.

Step 1: General discussion questions as a lead-in, about what they think of their education system, their schools and learning environments, etc. Brief critique of our own learning environment.

Step 2: Brainstorm these concepts

A traditional classroom is / has… A non-traditional classroom is / has…
 

 

 
An inspiring classroom is / has… An uninspiring classroom is / has…
 

 

 

(more…)

How to annoy commissioning editors (and find work)

Another ‘how to become a materials writer’ article has popped up – Kirsten Holt’s article for ETPro  offers some more good advice for budding writers. Every time I read one of these posts I’m itching to chip in. I really want to help others get into materials writing. My advice is always the same:

  • It’s easier than you think.
  • As with most things, it requires effort at first (unless you’re lucky!).
  • There is something missing from lots of the advice already out there.

Read on, I’ll tell you what that is. (more…)

ELT materials writing – my year in review

It’s been quite a good year on the writing front. Balancing writing with full-time teaching is tough, but the rewards are great! It’s only three weeks until our xmas holidays so I’m calling this the end of my writing year. Here were my highs and lows.

My stats…

Contracts offered to me this year: 17

Contracts offered directly through LinkedIn: 6

Total contracts taken: 8 (more…)