September is here and another school year is on its way. I’m just enjoying the last few lazy days reading and planning ahead. I’m reading “The Little Paris Bookshop” by Nina George at the moment. I loved the book. Not only for the plot, not only it is set in Paris along the River Seine but also the richness of the creative writing ideas that pop up in front of my eyes while reading it.
The book takes place in Paris and tells the story of a bookshop owner Jean Perdu who calls his bookshop the Literary Apothecary, because he doesn’t just sell books to his customers, he also prescribes them to suit their minor ailments he diagnoses in them.
I just don’t want to forget those brilliant ideas Mr Perdu brought into my mind so I decided to write them.
Here is one as a first week activity. Mr Perdu says “books are like people, and people are like books.” And continues “ I ask myself is he or she the main character in his or her life?” (pg 28) well, I’m not going to reveal more but I’m planning my first day activity as follows.
The activity will be suitable for any level if you plan it that way but I’ll do it with my year 12 students.
Tell students they are a character in a novel.
Tell them to describe themselves, their motives, ambitions, weak points, strengths.
Who else are in their story? What kind of characters are they? A short description for them as the characters of the story…
The blurb of their story, their problem and how they expect the story will end.
I’ll tell them to create a book cover and a few pages of their books to display on classroom walls.
I think this will be a good beginning for a class who will be studying hard for their university exam. This year their main concern is the exam and how they will shape their future so I guess starting the year with these book covers will be fun.
I’ll share a quick drama activity I learned from our drama club while performing at an event at school.
Put 3 chairs in front of the board.
Put labels on the chairs as “sad-1”, “happy-2″,”angry-3”
Write some situations on slips of papers and put them in a box. (You are waiting at the bus stop and the bus is late / You are going to take an important exam /You are travelling to …
Let students choose a slip of paper
Give them a few minutes to prepare a very short story based on the situation they have on their papers.
Begin with the volunteers. Explain the rules.
Tell students that you will shout a number from 1 to 3 and she/he will sit on that chair and start telling the story according to the emotion written on the chair. While the student is telling the story change the numbers randomly.
This activity will be suitable for intermediate and above but I think it can also be tried with beginners as a reading aloud activity. The teacher can give a text to practise reading aloud and then asks the students to read the text sadly, angrily, cheerfully, etc
Welcome to the 33rd ELT carnival. The theme is Using Music and Songs in EFL Classes and today I’m happy to introduce a wonderful album to you. If you are ready grab a cup of coffee (hot or cold), put the record on and enjoy …
I’ve been thinking about the change. We are all talking about the digital natives but I think I’ve just met them. The ones I graduated from high school last year, the previous years were just the pioneers and now I have to deal with the real ones.
If we really know them, we can guide them.
But the problem is we are just a handful of digital-immigrant-teachers and parents. The rest thinks these kids are just a bit weird and continue doing the things they are used to doing. They complain about their addiction to games, their early acquaintance to mobile apps. Yet, they are rarely aware that they can’t be taught.
I totally agree with ‘If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our students’ future’ ( John Dewey) and this must be a quote that every teacher would stick somewhere to see all the time and take action to update herself. And this very quote will be relevant in the future as well.
Marc Prensky calls these new students as ‘digital natives’ and points out that ‘Today’s students think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors’(Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants; pg 1) He also reminds us that these kids were born into a digital world and have grown using them.
I think I coped with this very well till last year but now I am face to face with the 2nd or the 3rd generation of these new kids.
I’d like to share how my students have changed. I also hope to understand them better and change my attitude towards them.
They get bored easily. They think everything is useless. There is no need to learn all the stuff as they are a one-click away to reach.
We think they are multi-taskers but actually the only multi-task they are used to doing is texting while watching TV or travelling on the bus.
They love socializing but they do it virtually. Even the youngest kids have twitter, facebook, foursquare, youtube accounts to broadcast their lives. They don’t usually sit and chat with their parents, siblings at home.
They don’t get instructions. I tried many times in many ways, in many languages but always the majority of the class comes up with something totally different than I instructed. (and actually this post is being written because of this, I received two-assignment mails last night but they produced something I didn’t instruct)
So is this the end of battle?
Although I totally agree with the proverb Eric Roth reminded me the previous day ‘you can lead the horse to water, but you can’t force him to drink’ As I know deep down they are worried about their future and know that learning English will help them open new doors, I will try to follow the advice my PLN gave.
And here is the strategy:
I will tell, retell and re-retell how to learn things, how to use web to reach the information, how to filter them.
I will explain how important communication is. Social networking is a must in their lives but they should realise that they will enjoy the chats with their parents, sisters, brothers.
I will continue giving interesting tasks but will also focus on more traditional ones.
I will give them choice. ‘Choose a topic and and let’s work on it’ will be the instruction ( and I will hope that this will be comprehended)
As Richard suggested I will allow them to work with activities which will ‘take their minds off other things’. ( I tried puzzles, word searches, games and they didn’t work with this group but, I’m sure I can find something else)
If these still don’t work, I will just take a deep breath and wait for the next group in September.
I always supported the idea that if a teacher is willing, eager and motivated, sooner or later the most demotivated students will respond but unfortunately this year I realised that a teacher, no matter how idealistic, eager, motivated she is needs some leader students who will help her to make others want to learn. Ironic, isn’t it?
This year I’m the same teacher, yet I have two groups of very unmotivated teenagers and nothing moved them to go a bit further.
I feel exhausted.
I feel I’m losing my creativity.
I feel I’m losing my hopes, my optimism.
Nothing worked well with them. Technology, traditional ways, challenges, games, movies…