September 13th is the Roald Dahl day and this year it’s his 100th birthday. Regular readers know that I’m fond of Roald Dahl stories and I love using them in class. I just wanted to bring some links that you’d like to use with your classes.
Here the schools are not open yet but I’ll start the year with some Roald Dahl stories with my Grade 11 and 12 students. So here you can find some ideas and websites which will inspire you with your celebrations.
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
Nowadays there is a TV commercial of a fizzy drink that we talk a lot about. The dances used in the commercial is Bollywood style and we have just come across the original song on YouTube and it was not a surprise to find out that the song was from a Bollywood movie. The lyrics are in English but when I first listened I thought they were in Indian. Only when I focused, I caught the words. Then the idea emerged in my mind. Alas, it’s the end of year. I will not be able to use it this year but for the coming academic year, the song is on my list.
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 motivatedstudents 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.