classroom management

IATEFL 2017: Developing teacher talk

I’ve just watched Jamie Keddie’s talk entitled ‘Developing Teacher Talk’. I was excited about this one. I’m a fan of Jamie’s site and I recently watched his TEDx talk On Videotelling. Here’s a link to the talk (can’t embed again).

Keddie knows how to warm an audience and started at his anecdotal best in this talk. He was a model of good storytelling – reminding me a lot of a former colleague who was just as engaging. He started with a couple of stories about misunderstandings he (or people he knew) had encountered – barmaids mistaking ‘pints of lager’ for ‘pina coladas’ and a family member referred to as ‘a hungry old man’ rather than ‘a hundred year old man’.

These highlighted the point that anecdotes are a compelling way to introduce a topic. Keddie is known for his interest in using video in the classroom – he pointed out that teachers often use videos as a way to introduce topics when a story from the teacher could be just as effective. (more…)

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Lesson tip: Wheel Decide

Wheel Decide allows you to create instant decision/scoring wheels in class. You can change the categories to anything you want, meaning the wheel could choose who goes next, the next topic of discussion, who does a grammar forfeit, anything you want! I plan on using it to decide who makes the coffee in the staffroom…

Click on the image below to visit wheeldecide.com. Scroll down on the homepage to create your own wheel (Wheel Builder). The instructions are easy to follow.

wheel2

I first came across this site after looking on yaseminislah.com. It’s a great blog, I recommend that too!

Lesson idea: the youngest person ever…

We recently looked at an article in English in Mind about a child genius. She was the youngest black female ever to get a place at an American university. I created a few activities based on information in the text which went down ok, but it was the follow-up task that was really successful.

youngest ever

Before class I prepared 16 slips of paper, each with a ‘claim to fame’ written on it. Each started with ‘you were the youngest person ever…’, for example:

  • You were the youngest person ever to grow a beard longer than 2 metres, aged 15
  • You were the youngest person ever to sing with One Direction, aged 10
  • You were the youngest person ever to complete a solo skydive, when you were 5!
  • Etc.

My classes are normally organised into four different groups of four students.

I gave each student one slip of paper, and allowed a few minutes for them to make some notes, think of their story and the facts around it, etc. Then students had 10 minutes to mingle and listen to each other tell their crazy stories. They always started off by asking their partner:

‘So what’s your claim to fame?’ / ‘so what’s special about you’?

Students had to remember as much information as possible about each of their classmates’ stories. They returned to their groups and told the people on their table who had the most interesting story. I did a brief class feedback but didn’t want students to share too much information.

Then came the fun part! (more…)

Classroom Management Techniques

I contacted Cambridge University Press last month. I said ‘If you send me a book, I’ll review it on my blog.’ To my surprise, a copy of cmt1Classroom Management Techniques by Jim Scrivener turned up in my pigeon hole at work. This was very generous of them, but it’s been out for a while and reviewed plenty of times so I’m not going to stick to my promise (sorry). Instead, I’m going to write a few different posts about sections in the book, choosing things that I agree with, new things I will definitely try out, and some things that I feel differently about as a practising teacher.

Two things I should say. First, you can find a good overview of the book here, and a nice review here. Secondly, the fact that I disagree with some things written in the book doesn’t mean I dislike it. We had a copy of it at my last school (don’t tell CUP I’ve read it already), and I think it’s great – actually I’d say it’s an essential book for any staffroom.

I’m starting with the final section in the book which is about lessons. The last 50 pages of Classroom Management Techniques offer tips and activities related to 10 different topics, which are: (more…)

Lesson tip: tidy-up song

Do you use a tidy-up song at the end of class? This is mine…

My primary level students start singing this with about 5 minutes of the lesson to go. They love the challenge of getting everything packed away, plus the furniture neat and tidy before the song ends. I have to make sure that everything goes back in its proper place, but they are pretty good!

Thanks for the idea Kirsten!

classroom organisation: some reflections

I was re-reading a booklet the other day on how to use Cuisenaire Rods in class, written by John Evans whilst at LTC Eastbourne. It’s brilliant so look it up! Anyway, the first activity in the booklet involves using rods to tell the story of the Battle of Hastings. This is still one of the best teaching resources I’ve used.

The very first procedure of activity says this:classroom arrangements10

Set the chairs up in a horse-shoe. Do not have students sitting behind their desks. You WILL kill the lesson. It is important that they can see the rods and that they are close to the action. If you don’t believe me, try it!

As John points out, the layout of the learning environment can really influence the class dynamic. Here are some of my reflections on organising the classroom and dealing with some problems have arisen. (more…)

Little tips from CELTA training that go a long way

When you undertake a 1-month intensive CELTA course it’s near impossible to absorb all the information you’re given. You have to prioritise, and that means getting the basics right. Staging a lesson, introducing new language effectively, anticipating problems, that type of thing. Even learning English grammar rules, that’s hard enough for a native speaker!

However, if you get chance, take a bit of time to consider how your CELTA tutors model good classroom practice during input sessions. Our tutors used a lot of activities and techniques on us which we could in turn apply in the classroom. They didn’t always tell us this, so it’s worth making a note of little things you observe. You never know when a little tip or idea might be beneficial, so you might as well jot it down just in case! (more…)