Transforming teaching and learning for the 21st Century

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An activity to build rapport and promote a positive classroom atmosphere

We know that building rapport with students is fundamental if we want to get the best out of them.  Establishing positive student-student and teacher-student relationships also helps create a positive classroom atmosphere which in turn leads to more effective learning.

How can we build positive relationships?

  • Listen
  • Show interest
  • Personalise
  • Show respect
  • Share responsibility for the learning process
  • Make learning brain-friendly (realistic, attainable objectives; scaffolding; relevant…)
  • Provide choice
  • Show we care

This is an activity to help build rapport and create a positive classroom atmosphere which addresses all of the above. I do it at the start of the school year but it can be done at any time, especially if you see a need for students to sit back and reflect on their personal situation and/or what is happening in class (and how they can help change the situation.)

Step 1 Reflection

  1. Students write down their passions and interests (1)
  2. Students reflect on their strengths and weaknesses related to learning English (2,3)
  3. Reflecting on the strengths and weaknesses they identified, students make their objectives for the term, thinking about what they need to focus on to be the best they can (4)
  4. Reflecting on the strengths and weaknesses they identified, students think of ways they could help their classmates be the best they can (5)

action plan example

In this step students reflect on the reality of their situation and ways of making me progress (especially in the areas where they are not so strong.)  Ideally they create objectives linked to their interests and passions, making learning more personal, relevant and motivating.

Step 2 The Challenge

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3 activities to promote storytelling in the language classroom

Stories are all around us, be it in oral or written form. Some entertain, some educate, some explain and many transmit our feelings, beliefs and values. Every day, every year, every meal, holiday, encounter, memory… tells a story.  We think in narratives all day long, making up stories in our heads for every action and conversation. It’s how we understand the world.

Telling stories is nothing new, we’ve been doing it since ancient times and the power of a story is undeniable, but what makes stories so engaging?

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people speaking


Big classes and speaking activities that work

Setting up and managing a speaking activity can be a tricky business – even more so with a big class.  The problem doesn’t seem to be with reproduction or monologue style activities, this kind of speaking practise is relatively easy to set up and manage even with a big class.  Unfortunately, however, speaking practise is sometimes limited to these kinds of activities (practise/change the information and practise the dialogue with your partner… ) The problem arises when we want our students to interact with each other to develop fluency.  Pair work in the form of ask and answer the following questions, might be apparent in some classrooms, but anything more is often considered impossible with large classes or not even considered.  I know because I’ve been that teacher…  

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First day of class? 3-2-1 go…

Since I started this blog in May, until a few weeks ago,  I have been pretty good at sticking to my schedule and posting something every couple of weeks.  The past few weeks however I’ve been neglectful as it’s that time again…back to school time!  I’ve been rummaging in bags flung in a corner in June, not to be opened till “nearly back to school time” and taking out folders that were gathering dust while I’ve been getting high on summer, trying to remember just what that new education reform was all about, how many students had resits, and where on earth my pencil case was… In short, I’ve been trying to get my head around going back to school.

The other day I started to plan the first week of class and started looking through my folder called “first day activities.”  I came across one that I have used a few times since learning about it from Shelley Terrell on an EVO session3-2-1.

If you read my last post about using Powtoon to enhance teaching and learning, you might remember it.

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