Archive of ‘teaching’ category

I don’t want to be a teacher by Vladimira Michalkova

Part of the series From my PLN

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I wanted to be an archeologist or work with animals. Well, definitely anything really dynamic, changing and what would include my constant learning and development – I do love learning! I studied Teaching English as a Foreign Language but during the last year of my studies I came to conclusion that, actually, I don’t want to be a teacher. I couldn’t imagine not learning anymore and rigorously (and willingly, as I see in many cases) follow given teaching materials no matter who is in your class or what is going on behind the walls of your school . Well, now, five years later, I still don’t want to be a teacher!

Yes, I don’t want to be a teacher!

Not, if that means a person coming in the classroom, sitting down and starting a lesson with words like “open your book…”.

Not if that means a person always complaining about the students and using red pen to correct their works just to show them how much they still need to learn.

Not if that means a person who thinks that teaching is a job where no further development or learning is actually needed.

Nevertheless, I have a job I would never change!

“By learning you will teach; by teaching you will learn”

Latin Proverb

I have found the joy and happiness in the work where I can (hopefully) inspire, motivate and support the learning and exploration of the opportunities that are offered around us. You may call it a moderator, facilitator, mentor or just a teacher if you still insist. And besides that, I have discovered that this job involves constant learning, developing and creativity. I guess, I couldn’t wish for moreJ.

On my way, I have met many fellows with similar beliefs and opinions and as I go I try to influence and inspire (again hopefully) those (teachers as well as students) who find it difficult to look for the inspiration on their own.

So, I do not think of myself as a teacher (at least not the generally accepted connotation described above). And what does it mean for my students?

Well, I guess, they would describe it as “expect unexpected”. In my experience, they are usually shocked at the beginning of term but eventually get used to that and welcome any kind of “experiment” in learning a new language. I admit that I often fail or come across obstacles on my way but after all it teaches me something new (again and again).

One of the most fascinating aspects in all this experimenting is that I gain really a lot from it all, more than I could hope for. There are times when I have to look for and reveal the skills I didn’t actually know I possess (singing and acting in my case J – still working on storytelling, especially telling the jokes which I am terrible at).

Another one of the amazing things is that using all those styles, variations, techniques and possibilities I can help my students see what is around them and what they can actually use for their benefit but also help them find their own way on the path of learning (which neither starts nor finishes in the classroom).

Yes, I don’t feel like a teacher and the people in my classroom are certainly not the only ones to be called learners.

If you would like to get a notion of what is going on in my classroom these days, see the following links – my RECENT experiments with adult classes.

technology related activities easy to use in various situations

 “I never teach my students. I simply provide the situations in which they can learn.” Einstein

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I want to thank Vladka who kindly accepted to write a blog post for my blog. I’m so happy that I had the chance to meet her and I’m so happy that I have wonderful people in my PLN to accompany me during my journey.

vladkaI am an English language teacher in Kosice, Slovakia. I have MA in Teaching English as a Foreign Language and Ecology from University of Presov in Slovakia and certificate in Teaching Business English from English Language Centre in Brighton. I am trying to motivate and inspire my students so that their learning do not finish with the bell in the school. My favourite areas are Learner Autonomy, Homework in the 21st century and Teacher Development. I blog about my teaching experience http://vladimiramichalkova.edublogs.org/ and you can also follow me on Twitter @vladkaslniecko.

I was chosen as a winner of Diana Eastment Commemorative Award 2011 for a lesson plan using technology in the classroom.

A Poetry Lesson

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1. Choose a poem to read with your students.

2. Write the title on the board and ask students to predict what the poem is about.

3. Divide the class in groups.

4. Give each group a copy of a word cloud you prepared previously.

5. Ask students to write a poem using the words from the word clouds.

6. Compare the poems of each group. (You may want to ask each group read the poems in their groups and mark them according to a criteria you prepared)

7. Distribute the original poem and see the similarities and differences.

8. Discuss the poem

9. Ask students to write their feelings about the poem.

Follow up:

  • Students can create glogs for their poems.
  • Students in groups can draw the picture of the poem.
  • Students in groups can prepare a wall display with their poems and the original one and the word cloud and drawings.

Alternative: You can do the same activity with a song.

More Go and Open the door poems here and the poem is also here

Using Songs by Anna Musielak

Part of the series From my PLN

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Music is everywhere, it surrounds us from the moment we are born – well even before that;) My father is a music lover so my earliest childhood memories revolve around singing, dancing and „making” my own music. I loved to record songs or my covers of rhymes;) I never had a  great voice but I was very passionate about singing (and listening to music). I was a very lively child and my mum said that when I listened to music those where the few moments I was”calmer” and let her work a bit;)

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I started learning English when I was quite young – my parents were my first teachers. And how did they do it? Through songs of course. Old Macdonald, Hokey Pokey, ABC and many more…When I was a teenager my father played The Beatles or The Rolling Stones to me, asking whether I can pick up and understand some words (he does it till this day, sometimes with very complicated lyrics;)). That is why, as a person who cannot imagine life without music and never leaves home without an Ipod, I think it is important to use songs in the ELT classroom. If we are passionate about something  – we should share it with our learners. I try to pass my love to music onto my daughter as well – she is four and loves singing:) And that is how I teach her English – through songs and chants:)

On my lessons I like to use songs that are not very well known because then the response seems to be „fresher” somehow . I mix the less common songs with the classic ones and I think that lessons with more than one song work best. Here is a lesson plan for young adults using three songs.

 

Level: FCE/CAE

The aim of this lesson was to talk about various types of love and relationship, as well as to focus on grammatical expressions talking about regrets and the past (wish/regret/modals in the past/would)

Apart from listening, grammar and vocabulary skills were also practised and the lesson continued with a writing project.

On this lesson I used three songs – each about a different kind of love such as motherly love, unrequited love or lost love. We started the lesson by looking at the word cloud made up of keywords from those three songs. Students were supposed to predict the content and discuss the themes in pairs or groups.

 

At that point students were presented with the lyrics of the first song – and here I decided to gap the text. They skimmed it and asked about words that were new. They tried to predict what music genre it was and who was singing this song. Later on, they listened and filled the gaps. After completing the task in groups, they checked their predictions and discussed the type of relationship/love presented. They decided what keywords conveyed the meaning and discussed the grammatical structures talking about the past and regrets.

 

The be good Tanyas  

Momsong

You said to yourself that we did not love you
All of the years didn’t mean nothing
You told yourself we would not forgive you
Mistakes that you made would keep us separated

Comin’ home hard day done
Comin’ home hard day done

Don’t you know it’s your laugh we laugh that
pulls us through
And the strength and the love that we carry
We got it from you

 

With the second song the task was similar but the lyrics were jumbled.  Again the students familiarized themselves with the text and tried to predict the music genre and main theme.

Lee DeWyze

 “A Song About Love”


I used to make you cry,
but I haven’t smiled since you left.
Can you undo ‘Goodbye’,
its a word I wish I cud forget.
U told me you love me and to try to move on.
But its hard to get up when you fall,
so I wrote a song about love but its nothing at all.

It was you who took the blame,
even though we both knew who was wrong.
Yeah I’m calling out your name,
every time I’m singing this song.
Coz its over, yeah its over
U told me you love me but its time to move on.
its hard to get up when you fall,
so I wrote a song about love but its nothing at all.

Coz its over, yeah its over
U told me you love me and to try to move on.
its hard to get up when you fall,
so I wrote a song about love
and its sad cuz it won’t be enough.
so I wrote a song about love but its nothing at all.

And last but not least,  it was time for the third song, this time in full version. Students read the text to get the main idea. The vocabulary was checked and students were asked to search for keywords presenting the main idea. After that they listened to the song.

 

 Eric Clapton

“Layla”

What’ll you do when you get lonely
And nobody’s waiting by your side?
You’ve been running and hiding much too long.
You know it’s just your foolish pride.

Layla, you’ve got me on my knees.
Layla, I’m begging, darling please.
Layla, darling won’t you ease my worried mind.

I tried to give you consolation
When your old man had let you down.
Like a fool, I fell in love with you,
Turned my whole world upside down.

Let’s make the best of the situation
Before I finally go insane.
Please don’t say we’ll never find a way
And tell me all my love’s in vain.

 After listening students were presented with two images and had to decide which one suited best to the last song. They had to justify and defend their opinion, of course.

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  song4

After listening to all three songs it was time for comparison and contrast. We started with the themes and various types of love moving on to more analytical tasks, such as vocabulary and grammar comparison (how many different tenses were used, how did the author express regrets and wishes etc).

We decided together how the songs could be made shorter – which words could be reduced without changing the meaning and how to expand them by adding more nouns, adjectives or verbs.

As homework students were asked to change the format of chosen texts e.g. turn them into a newspaper article or a screenplay.

The lesson continued with lots of follow up projects and students themselves found songs dealing with chosen topics they wanted to discuss and analyze:)

The reduction/expansion and media transferred ideas are inspired by Alan Maley’s procedures

AnnaMusielak

Anna Musielak is a a teacher and teacher trainer from Poland. She is  also a drama  and literature enthusiast. If you want to follow her on twitter,  she is @AnnaMusielak

I’d like to thank Ania for this wonderful contribution to the song lessons and this blog. I’m glad I had the chance to attend her workshop at TESOL France and admired her enthusiasm for teaching.

Thanks Ania, being part of my PLN…

My Teacher

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It is that time of the year again. The time to make resolutions for the future and the time to recall past to take some lessons…

I have lots of plans again. However, the thing that I want to share now is a bit different…

I’m thinking about my 4th grade teacher… I have been thinking about her since my kids started 4th grade this year.

Most probably she isn’t alive now.bomonti

Mrs Garabetyan was my 4th and 5th grade teacher…

She was a tall, middle aged lady with short wavy grey hair. She was elegant. No, not in that sense that she was wearing fashionable clothes. When I was a kid, fashion was not as important as it is today. People didn’t have hundreds of pullovers and skirts. Yet they could still look elegant…

She was elegant as a lady. She would wear turtle neck grey pullovers and a long chain with a round pendant.

She was fair, she was hardworking…

In the Friday afternoons, she would choose a book from the class library and read it to us. We used to listen to her attentively because she had a lovely voice. From time to time she would stop and ask a question from the book or would ask our opinion. It was fun to wait for those Fridays.

She was the oldest teacher of the school but I never felt I needed a younger one. She was young in spirit. I think I was lucky to have her. I learnt so many things from my lovely. She was incomparable, she was a role model…

Well, when I think about her, I remember her enthusiasm, patience and affection…

My Reflections of TESOL France, Part 1

faces

 

image taken from here

Well, when I sat down to write my reflections on TESOL France which was a huge success, I focused on faces rather than the sessions I attended.

I saw the faces of teachers who arrived from the different corners of the world to update their skills, to learn more or to share what they’ve already known.

I saw the faces of teachers…

Those were the ones who crave for making a difference in their schools, classes…

Those were the ones experienced or unexperienced, young or old, with a guarantee of a contract  or the worry of where they will end up next year.

Those were the ones who didn’t care about the cold weather or the distance…

Those were the ones most probably who won’t be praised because they have spent their weekend talking about their classes or techniques they have been using.

This is a post to pay tribute to them.

I know there are loads of teachers who complain about their classes, students.They complain about the unmotivated but they never try to motivate. 

 There are teachers who just do what their coursebook tell them to do. Nothing less, nothing more…

Yet there are those faces I saw at the conference with great enthusiasm still in search for a better way to reach their students.

I am glad that they exist.

BTW, soon I’ll write about my reflections of the sessions I attended and give a brief summary of what I did there 🙂

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