Teaching with interactive stories | Teacher training materials

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Attribution:  Pratham Books | Illustrator: Priya Kuriyan | CC BY 4.0

Here’s the next set of materials I wrote on an ITDI course called Creating ELT Materials with Katherine Bilsborough. For this assignment, we were asked to create activities around an authentic text. I decided to use an open-access children’s book from Pratham Book’s Storyweaver (what a brilliant resource!). I ended up designing loop input-ish materials for teachers that integrate interactive storytelling techniques with raising their awareness of the third conditional (if you take a look at the book, you’ll see why).

I had a bit of a think about whether a children’s book from an organisation that promotes literacy is authentic. I think it is for the target audience – lower primary teachers. I’ve included a rationale for this on the last page.

Here’s how the handout is organised:

  • Participant handout (pp. 1-2)
  • Trainer notes (p. 3)
  • Overview (p. 4-5) – this was something Katherine asked us to put in and includes background information on the text and the tasks.

The book – It’s All the Cat’s Fault – is available in more than 58 languages ranging from Telugu and Punjabi to Serbian and Khmer. So you could easily make the materials work within your own context if the teachers you’re training would benefit from reading the book in their L1.

I’ve got a multilingual activity using a book from Storyweaver in the pipeline incorporating at least five or more Indian languages (English, Marathi, Konkani, Kannada and Hindi) so do watch out for that.

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Life in the 21st century | An image-based lesson

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Here’s the third assignment from the ITDI course I did a couple of months ago on Creating ELT Materials with Katherine Bilsborough. We were asked to design materials around an image or images. I created some activities around three public domain images from the late 19th century. At the turn of the century, several French artists imagined what life in the 21st century would be like and they came up with some pretty fanciful images. The materials I designed focus on grammar – and a somewhat obscure but useful grammar point –  ‘future in the past’ structures with some speaking activities. My  favourite is image 1!

Have you ever used public domain images to develop materials?

 

Spin to win | A verbing game with ‘body parts’

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In July, I did an ITDI course with Katherine Bilsborough on Creating ELT Materials. I plan to write a longer post about the experience at some point. In the meanwhile, you can have a look at this summary by Geraldine who was also on the course. Over the next couple of weeks, I plan to share the materials I designed for the course’s assignments.

Here’s my first one … well it’s actually the fourth and last assignment. Interestingly, it was the simplest (at least from my perspective) and the one that I spent the least time on.

Katherine asked us to create a game or a puzzle for this assignment.  Spin to win – the game I designed introduces Business English learners to idioms that use parts of the body as verbs in a process that’s called verbing. But I reckon you could could tweak it a bit and use it for other contexts because not all the idioms are necessarily businessy. You’ll find teacher notes on page 4. Let me know what you think!

 

An allegorical map of teaching | A reflection activity

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In the 18th and 19th centuries, allegorical maps of love, courtship and marriage were very popular. Here’s a map of matrimony.

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You’ll find some more examples here. In this reflection activity, participants create their own allegorical map of teaching.

Objective

  • To encourage teachers to reflect on how they see teaching as a practice and a profession.

Materials

  • An example of a historical allegorical map (they’re all in the public domain) or perhaps one that you’ve drawn.

Procedure

  • Show an example of an allegorical map such as the one above.
  • Ask participants to draw and label their own allegorical maps of teaching.
  • Encourage participants to share their maps with each other and compare similarities and difference.
  • Get them to reflect on why their maps look the way they do and if they would want their maps to look different.

Extended reflection 

  • Ask participants to take pictures of their maps and revisit them after 3 months or 6 months. Are there any new islands or terrain they’d like to add to their maps? What do these represent? How did these changes come about?

NB: This activity hasn’t been road tested yet. I did create my own allegorical map – I’m not sure I’m ready to share it yet. It’s turned out a bit dark – something for me to reflect on?!

Review activities | Ideas from Twitter

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Ever since Kamila tweeted about this activity, I’ve been wanting to collect activity ideas people share on Twitter because I find that liking or a retweeting stuff like this doesn’t always translate to revisiting or using it subsequently. What I particularly love about these activities is their simplicity – the picture says it all!


And then thanks to the utterly prolific Pete Sanderson (@LessonToolbox), I found a lot of review activities shared by teachers of other subjects such as history, science and Spanish. I can easily see myself adapting some of these ideas for both my learners as well as for teacher training workshops. There are literally hundreds of tweets with activity ideas but I’ve selected a few that I thought were interesting. Don’t miss place mats for CPD – fair warning – you’ll have to scroll down quite a bit until you get to it.

This one’s not just a plain vanilla review activity, it’s also a metacognitive exercise where students have to decide what they need to focus on.


This twist on Scrabble could lend itself to vocabulary, receptive skills tasks and for reviewing content knowledge such as information about teaching approaches.

Here’s another way of presenting it:

Along with the template:

Here’s a more intensive review activity inspired by Scrabble:


I love this blob activity. It would work well for speaking but it might also be an interesting reflection exercise.

This one seems similar to tasks I’ve seen in a lot of writing worksheets but the old newspaper cutout’s given me some ideas.


Speak like a historian – this is brilliant – Speak like a global consultant, speak like a teacher, speak like a researcher, speak like someone at B2?! I’m going to be using this one a lot!

Another version of speak like a historian:

This has obviously been very popular with history teachers – here’s another:


A more intensive activity – the instructions are given at the top of the worksheet.


I think the creators of this activity intended summary pyramids to be worksheet-based but I am going to be using Cusinenaire rods to bring this to life.


Question balloons might require a lot of prep but it could also be a lot of fun.


Place mats for prompting CPD-related reflection for teachers – this one’s just amazeballs! I can’t wait to try it out.


A simple graphic organiser activity – I’m not completely sure if the learner is also required to create some kind of connection between the different pieces of information s/he writes into the squares.


This school’s Twitter account is the friggin motherload of activities. I am obsessed with verb bugs – can’t wait to try it out with English collocations.

This mingling activity seems more familiar – I like the idea of ‘stealing’ a card and I think my learners will too.

This one’s a great way of encouraging learners to take more ownership for what happens in the classroom as well as their own learning.

I haven’t done linking hexagons in ages – I’m going to try to sneak it in for some vocabulary work.

I don’t know where I’d be able to use this but it looks really neat.


🙂 Head in a hole!


Finally, a fun emoji review:

I set out to catalogue just a few but I’ve ended up with quite a lot and I’ve only been through tweets from a few accounts since the start of this year. I think I’m going to do this as a regular exercise. I’ve got a lot more practical ideas from these tweets than I have from many ELT activity books.

Image attribution: Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

Landshark | A multilingual Instagram activity

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One of my favourite Instagram accounts is @mumbaipaused. He normally posts pictures of street life in the city of which he has a unique perspective, but at times he also collaborates with artists on thought provoking illustrations. This activity is designed around one of these illustrations that @mumbaipaused posted late last year and is an attempt to fulfill my recent commitment to integrate more multilingual practices into my  classroom.


View this post on Instagram

#FridayRelease with @urankaramol

A post shared by Mumbai Paused (@mumbaipaused) on

Objectives

  • Explore different future forms in the interrogative (as well as the rhetorical function for more advanced learners)
  • Introduce the expression ‘land shark’
  • Develop oral fluency in the context of land grabs/over-development/environment/social media advocacy and encourage learners to share their own experiences with these issues.

Materials

  • Depending on resource constraints in your teaching context, you could use the ‘save to collection’ feature to bookmark the image in Instagram and display it to students using your phone/tablet. You could also show them the image by accessing the URL and displaying the image on a computer or a projector. If you teach older students who have their own devices, you could give them a QR code or a shortened URL so they can access the image through their own Instagram accounts.

Procedure 

  • Display the picture and ask the learners to think about how they would say this Hindi question “Aur kitna kayega Mumbai?” in English. Ask them to write their translations down and compare it with a partner.
  • Get them to then compare their translations to these – which one is theirs closest to?

How much more will you eat, Mumbai?

How much more are you going to eat, Mumbai?

How much more are you eating, Mumbai?

How much more would you eat, Mumbai?

  • For more advanced learners, you could explore the rhetorical function by asking if @mumbaipaused was looking for an answer to this question and getting them to think about why he posed it as a question. There’s also an allusion to a Bollywood movie which learners may recognise.
  • Encourage students to work in small groups to explore the differences in meaning and form. Get them to think about what @mumbaipaused was trying to convey in Hindi. You may need to do a whole class focus on meaning/form for the target forms based on responses at this stage.
  • Ask students to now focus on the actual illustration and guess the idiomatic expression it represents. Elicit land shark and ask students if they can think of a parallel phrase for it in Marathi, Gujarati, Konkani, Tulu (or any other home language). In the North of India, there’s an interesting expression:  भू माफिया (/bhu mɑːfjɑ:/) which combines the Hindi word for earth and mafia.
  • Students now work in small groups to discuss what they know about land sharks – have their families or friends been affected by land sharks? (This might strike you as an odd question but it’s sadly all too common an occurrence).
  • Ask students to think about what @mumbaipaused was trying to draw attention to in his Instagram post – point out the geo-location – ‘Aarey Forest’. If they’re from around Bombay, they might know the controversy over the felling of a part of the forest for metro construction. If they don’t know about it, tell them about it and ask them if something similar has happened in their city or town. This can segue into a discussion on any topic that interests the learners: the cost of development, political cartoons, using social media for advocacy, disappearing urban birds/trees etc.

Follow-up

  • If students have their own devices, ask them to create Instagram accounts if they’re not already on the app and post a picture connected to the discussion that shows how the environment or people are being affected by indiscriminate development (or whatever they ended up talking about). Get them to use two rhetorical questions in the caption that use one of the forms explored in the lesson: one in English and the other in their home language (in the Roman script or in their own script – whatever works). This can become a nice show and tell activity for a subsequent lesson.

Now I know this activity is perhaps targeted at an Indian audience (or more specifically one’s that familiar with Hindi). Nonetheless, I think you could use it as a frame to develop activities using languages spoken in your own classroom – particularly if you can find Instagrammers in your city who use the platform to make a social comment about current events in local languages. Let me know how it goes! 

 

The language of pep talks | An evidence-based activity

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I’m often asked by my clients to help their managers ‘motivate’ their teams more effectively. I usually excuse myself from supporting this request by suggesting that it’s out of my scope so I was naturally intrigued by this HBR article on some recent research on the language of motivation, perhaps bringing it into the ambit of ELT. Here’s a quick activity I came up with to help learners explore this research.

Materials & preparation 

  • It may be a good idea for the T to read the article, The Science of Pep Talks.
  • You’ll need to copy and cut up the jumbled functions.
  • You’ll also need copies of the speech from the article.

Procedure 

    • Pre-teach pep talk if necessary (you could also use an excerpt from an American movie – YouTube has loads – unfortunately, I couldn’t find any without inappropriate language).
    • Draw some speech bubbles on the board and ask learners to think back to the last pep talk they received from a manager or leader at work. What sorts of things did this person say? Do they give pep talks to their team members? What do they include in these messages?
    • Introduce learners to the three elements of pep talks: direction giving or uncertainty-reducing language, empathetic language and meaning-making language which Milton and Jacqueline Mayfield discovered were shared across motivating messages from different domains such as sports and sales.
    • Distribute the jumbled functions and ask learners to put them in these three categories.
  • Get learners to work in pairs or groups to come up with expressions for these functions which make sense to them within the context of their jobs.
  • Ask learners to discuss which of the three would be most difficult to incorporate into a motivating message  (The research suggests it’s meaning-making, for example, imagine how challenging this might be for a fast-food outlet manager trying to motivate his part-time employees to perform better).
  • Signpost the following speech and explain that it was spoken by Erica Galos Alioto, a sales leader at the popular social media company, Yelp. Sections of this speech have a number after them – ask learners to review these sections and decide which of the four techniques Alioto uses to motivate her team.

Let me just say how impressed I am with this group … Thank you for being the top office in Yelp right now, and for welcoming me with such incredible energy.

Right now the New York office is leading the company with 104% of quota, and there are two days left in the month. That’s absolutely insane.… Colleen is at $80,000. I tried to say hello to her yesterday, but she was on the phone, pitching like a madwoman, so I couldn’t ….1

Everybody knows how amazing the last day of the month is in the New York office. But LDOM isn’t really about the day of the month. It’s about how we approach that day. There’s something about that particular day that makes us come in with the ridiculous amount of grit and determination, the ability to make the unthinkable happen,2 the energy to achieve just about anything so that no matter where we are in relation to quota, we’re going to win. All those people who’ve been telling us no all month long—we’re going to turn that around and get a yes….3

Hopefully everybody has a pen and paper. I want you all to take a moment and write down what success looks like for you today. It may be how many business owners you talked to, or how many hearts and minds you won.… Write it down.4

When you woke up this morning, what was your mentality? Sometimes we get into negative self-talk. Sometimes it may sound like this: “Why is Jon at target today? He must have a really great territory.” Sometimes we believe if somebody is achieving something that we’re not, it must be because the other person has some advantage.5

Guess what? We also have plenty of examples of what people think of as a bad territory, and we put somebody new on it, and they go out and absolutely crush it.

If there’s anything negative in your thinking, I encourage you to turn that thinking on its head. Instead of looking at the differences between you and somebody else with a lot of success, look for similarities.6

We’ve got two days to make it happen. Everything you do today, every action you take to make that successful outcome, every time you pitch, every business owner you talk to, every time you encourage a teammate to be better, every time you win the heart and mind of a business owner, you’re not only helping yourself—you’re helping your team, you’re helping your office, you’re helping your company, and you’re helping Yelp get where it wants to be.7

Source: McGinn, D. The Science of Pep Talks. HBR Jul-Aug 2017

Here’s the answer key:

1: Empathetic language – Praising the group and individual contributions 
2: Meaning-making language – Portraying LDOM as a significant event and connecting the reps’ actions to a larger goal 
3: Empathetic language – Acknowledging that some people are lagging, but emphasizing their self-efficacy and resilience 
4: Direction giving or uncertainty reducing language – Offering specific guidance on how to approach the day’s task 
5: Empathetic language – Recognizing employees’ tendency to get discouraged, rather than be emboldened, by colleagues’ success 
6: Direction giving or uncertainty reducing language – Instructing reps to avoid negativity 
7: Meaning-making language – Connecting today’s work to the company’s larger goal.

  • Ask learners to reflect on their own leaders’ pep talks; do they have these three elements? What about their own pep talks?
  • Learners then work in groups to create notes on a pep talk for their team members which incorporates these three techniques. Ask them to use Alioto’s speech as a guide but create something more concise, which they can then pitch to their peers.
  • You may want to combine this with a session that explores techniques for using the voice effectively.

Image attribution: Pep talk by Kenneth Moore | Flickr |CC BY-NC-SA 2.0