And the real event started on Saturday. It is already Sunday today but I’ll be able to post this in the morning. I had a fantastic day at the conference, not because I met some of my twitter friends for the first time and hugged and kissed each other as if we had known each other for ages, it was because a very full day with great talks and ideas.
Karin and I decided to attend different workshops and write about different things so I chose to go to Michael Berman’s session, called ‘English through the writing on your forehead’. The main focus was on storytelling and how to use stories in classroom. Since I attended British Council’s Winter Warmer in March and had the opportunity to listen to amazing Jan Blake at Istek conference, I’m more interested in telling stories in EFL classrooms. He used two stories from Armenian folklore and mythology and here are the activities I jotted down from the session.
- Fish and chips game: tell students you are going to tell or read a story and whenever they hear the word fish in the story, they have to shout chips; otherwise, they won’t learn the ending of the story.
- While telling a story to the engaged and motivated students stop suddenly and ask them to fill in the gap with the correct word.
- While telling stories, if you mention something interesting stop and ask questions or give information.
- Michael Brennan pointed out ‘We like making choices and our students are not exceptions’ so he suggested that we give our students a chance to make choices while answering the questions. Give your students a set of questions and tell them to answer the three of the ones that they want.
- Prepare a set of question starters and ask your students to ask questions on the story and then exchange papers with their friends.
- Use guided fantasy/visualisation. Students may not want to share what they have experienced so instead you can ask them to write their account.
And then we finished with a wonderful activity. He asked us to write a note for him and then we exchanged papers then we tried to guess our friends personality through their handwriting.
The other session I attended was Michael Swan’s talk on ‘Where reading and grammar meet.’ He pointed out that language learners whose mother tongues are not similar to English can have lots of troubles while reading complex (embedded) texts. Those problematic areas are
- Past participles often look like past tense
- Reduced relative clauses
- Omitting relative pronouns
- Give students handouts and ask them to underline the embedded bits.
- Prepare handouts. Ask students match the halves. Try to come out with funny sentences.
- Ask students to add ‘that’ to make the sentences easier to read.
- Ask students to make complete sentences including the groups of words.
e.g.: the food they ate today was not tasty…
a thing children …
- Rewrite the words in italics to make the meaning clearer.
- Use an internet search engine to find sentences
- Ask students to write exercises for their friends
The next session was reading again. It was ‘Text to context: where reading takes us’ by Robert Hill.
And I ended the day at the blogosphere symposium listening to Karenne Sylvester, Tara Benwell and Berni Wall. These three ladies are amazing people ready to enthuse the people who are following them.
Karenne talked about what we blog, why we blog and what the benefits are.
Tara told us about the wonderful thing she has been doing on MyEnglishClub. The activities she does with her students on MyEC are not different than the things we do in class. I must say her writing challenges are great challenges for everybody who are blogging. Once in a while I wrote about them too.
Berni focused on the importance of twitter for starting our own learning network and she even showed us how to form it with a quick warmer. She explained what edchat, eltchat and virtual roundtable conference are and how they work.
I know many people were amazed at what they had found at the symposium.
As Karenne stated blogging is not just keeping online diaries for teachers. It is more. I repeated that many times I have a 7/24 staffroom full of teachers who are ready to interact, collaborate, help and comfort me because of blogging. You don’t just share ideas, you also see what your weaknesses and strengths are when you are doing. You get feedback, you get suggestions and you get invitations for collaborations.
We finished the day at MacMillan’s OnestopEnglish birthday party, listening to Elvis and chatting to friends.