General

Using Stories Without End

Here’s a quick follow-up to my review of Stories Without End (Taylor Sapp, Alphabet Publishing).

As you may have read, I thought this was great resource which could be easily adapted to my own context. Here is an example of how I adapted one of the stories.

The resources as they are include a few lead-in questions related to the story content, a bit of vocab pre-teaching, the story, and some creative follow-up tasks.

I bulked these out a bit and created the following sequence around the text called ‘Spooky House’ (in which some kids are deciding whether or not to enter a scary looking house). This was for A2/B1-ish level. I taught it at Primary (without the grammar bit) and also Secondary (full content). Worked well for both.

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Seesaw for EAL and young learners

Someone contacted me last week in a panic. ‘Aaargh, we’re going to start using Seesaw – any tips? Is it easy? Can you do a lot on it?’ etc.

I find Seesaw really easy to use as a classroom learning app for EAL. The functionality for slides and templates is like a Jamboard +1 (you pay for the privilege). You can do quite a lot with it – here are some random (very random) screenshots from my Year 4/5 lessons just to give you a general idea. These aren’t all-singing-all-dancing, I just want to reassure the person who contacted me that things will be more familiar than you imagine.

In no particular order…

It’s really easy to model activities/tasks when not doing a live lesson. In this example, I wanted learners to predict the captions for a load of images. I can record myself doing the task and add a voiceover with instructions too (students just click play button to view).

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Review: Work It Out with Business Idioms

Scroll to *get on with it, Pete* for review.

Do you remember that BBC article about how rubbish us native speakers can be at communication? I think that put me off teaching idioms for a bit. I came to think of them as ‘flowery’ (as the article suggests) and likely to cause misunderstanding. I feel like some of Chan’s maxims of good business communication reinforce that viewpoint and don’t seem very idiom-friendly…

… yet in a later chapter of the book (English for Business Communication, 2020) Chan then lists the 50 most popular idioms used in business contexts, suggesting that learning these may result in ‘effective communication with native speakers of English’.

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18 more ways to introduce your lesson topic

This term I’ve tried out a few different ways to introduce a lesson. These ones have worked well. They might be worth reading if you’ve exhausted my previous list!

  1. Song lyric gap fill

Example: 3rd conditional, regrets

Do a short gap fill on part of a song related to your topic. Mine was on some lines from Frank Sinatra’s My Way:

Regrets, I’ve had a few… (0.55 – 1.06)


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Review: Eduland Writing Project

Eduland is a short story project for the China ELT market. You write short fiction texts for young learners, add a few comprehension questions (guidance given), do one round of edits (typically), and get paid!

Currently, the short stories are part of a series involving a fictional family called the Jollys. Full road maps and character profiles are provided along with writing templates, topics to avoid, and plenty of other guidance.

Stories should be between 400-2500 words. Submissions are paid at 7 US cents per word.

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Materials writing news and views, March 2021

Mostly new releases, plus references to Premier League sticker albums…

New releases

  • English Code – Mary Roulston. Dinosaur on the front cover, win.
  • Cambridge Primary World English teacher’s guides – saw on Melissa Bryant’s Linkedin. Hodder Education.
  • Language Fuel have another new course and some kinda revamp coming up. Teaching EAP, Tania Pattison. Incidentally, the Language Fuel ‘Who’s who’ of authors is a bit like a Merlin/Panini sticker album of ELT Writers. They only need Rachael Roberts for complete coverage. If you ever collected EPL stickers then you’ll know all about ‘the shiny’, which in this case I guess is Jill Hadfield. I wonder who would be ‘Peter Fear’. I swear, this guy was in EVERY pack I ever bought.
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Review: Retrieval Practice

This resource by Kate Jones (2019) is a concise overview of all things retrieval practice – theory, research and classroom implementation.

It begins by defining the term…

‘… the act of recalling learned information from memory (with little or no support) and every time that information is retrieved, or an answer is generated, it changes that original memory to make it stronger’

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Materials Development Task 11: Future-proofing

Think…

  • Have you ever created a resource that aged quickly?
  • What aspects/features of a published resource might make it more susceptible to ‘ageing’?
  • How could you, as a writer, minimize the chance of a resource becoming dated?
  • Do you think that resources aimed at certain markets are more likely to date quickly? Why/Why not?

It’s time to play… DATE THAT RESOURCE!

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Materials Development Task 10: Knowledge and the notes

This is a new series of blog posts for teachers looking to become materials writers. It aims to help future writers explore topics and issues in writing, encourage deeper insight into the content of published materials, and promote a principled approach to materials development.

Think…

How would you rate your knowledge and skills in the following areas? Give yourself a mark between 1-10 for each category.

1 = Huh?

10 = I’m an expert!

  • Subject/content knowledge – e.g knowledge of grammar, vocab, pronunciation, language skills and strategies, etc.
  • Pedagogical knowledge – e.g. knowledge of teaching approaches, how students learn, etc.
  • Cognitive knowledge – e.g. knowledge of the science of learning; memory models, encoding, storage, retrieval, etc.
  • Technological knowledge – e.g. knowledge of how to best use technology to enhance learning.
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Materials Development Task 9: Functional language

This is a new series of blog posts for teachers looking to become materials writers. It aims to help future writers explore topics and issues in writing, encourage deeper insight into the content of published materials, and promote a principled approach to materials development.

Think…

  • How would you define functional language?
  • To what extent does transactional language differ from interactional language?
  • How do you approach teaching functional language?
  • In your experience, how is teaching functional language approached in published materials such as coursebooks? How do you feel about the approach(es) used?
  • In a general sense, how might the functional language needs of YLs, teens and adults differ?
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