Active learning really works!

Yesterday with my KET students I tried a different activity. I wanted to review the weather and teach them the “going to” tense so I decided to do something more entertaining with them.

First I reviewed the weather vocabulary with some flashcards, then I put them on the table and we played a game. They had to put their hands on their heads and when I called out a flashcard they had to touch it. The first one in touching it gets the flashcard. They are around 13 years old so they like a lot competition.

Then I arranged them into groups and gave them different roles (so I make sure everyone’s doing something in the group). I told them they were going to present the weather forecast. One member was the secretary (who had to write down the script), another was the language moderator (the one who checked that the script was well written) and then the other was the tv presenter.

I told them that the best group would get candy (they are still kids and this motivates them a lot!). As soon as I said that they started working.

I put a map on the whiteboard (one group chose Europe and the other one Comunitat Valenciana) and the presenter had to stick the flashcard in the area and report the weather. (On Tuesday it’s going to be sunny in Valencia… It’s going to rain in London…etc.).

They loved a lot the activity, all of them were working and we reached the goal: to learn the weather, to learn the going to and obviously speak in English and… more important… they had fun!

In the end I gave candy to all of them because they did it perfect! One of the group even created adverts and some jingles for the news! ūüôā

I was only there to help, they were the ones in charge and used their creativity to do this exercise. It took me 15 minutes and it really changed the atmosphere in the classroom!2d33dde

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Happy Easter

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A nice and easy craft I did today for wishing Happy Easter with my younger students!

You just need yellow and orange cardboard, yellow sheets of paper, googly eyes, brad fasteners and some strings.

First you draw the shape of an egg, then draw both hands of the kids on the sheets of paper and fasten them with brads, then you glue the beak and legs of the chick you have drawn on the orange cardboard. Add the googly eyes and then put the string on top of the head. You can draw a nice message on the tummy of the chick.

Reflections of a teacher

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Today I want to share with the world how happy I am.

I’ve been teaching only for four years but I have to say I wouldn’t do any other job as I really feel teaching is my thing! ūüôā

Every year is different, kids change and so do I! I feel every year I get better as I learn from my mistakes and I like asking my students how do they feel after a lesson from time to time. This blog also helps me to reflect on how I could do things and how I would like to do them.

I get loads of love from my students , I think teaching is the most rewarding job. Sometimes I get angry with¬†them¬†(they don’t listen, or they are just tired) but then they show me they understand and learn so fast and that they are actually getting good grades. I love working with kids but this year I’m also teaching a group of adults and I also enjoy it¬†a lot.

I feel grateful and full of joy today…¬†I got a phone¬†calle¬†from the mum of one of my¬†students¬†today to tell me how happy she is. Her daughter didn’t like English at all… and now she got the highest grade and she is always asking when is Sara going to come home.

I have a passion for English, I always liked this language… I really want to transmit my students this passion. Teaching should go beyond getting a mark, it should go beyond the conception that it’s a subject. It goes beyond that… it is a code, a powerful way in which people of different cultures and places in the world can communicate. It can be fun and interesting.

I know for some people English is just hard and they don’t get it and they are bored… we need more enthusiastic teachers that can actually¬†change this… impossible is nothing!

 

 

 

Last reflections on the subject

In the last session of the master’s class our teacher gave us some time to work actively on our blogs. Mine was already done so I took some time to go through the posts, re-read¬†and edit¬†them and also add some nice pictures.

I have enjoyed a lot the subject; not only it has been useful for my final project of the master’s degree but to open my mind as a teacher. Before starting the master¬†I still¬†had the traditional view of teaching: following the course book, listening activities, etc. which is boring for them and for the teacher as well. But session after session I discovered and learnt new techniques and teaching alternatives we can use in order to make our classes more dynamic and engaging.

I liked the idea of working cooperatively with my classmates and to work through stations because we learnt how to teach English actively by working ourselves that way! We had to work cooperatively through the sessions to get a final product: learn how to teach actively. I also loved the idea of the blog because this is my first blog on education and I like a lot writing on it as it is useful for me to reflect on the way I’d like to teach my students in a near future.

I wish I could use all of these amazing techniques and tools with my students in a real class because I have lots of ideas and I think they are tired of how is English taught in Spain due to the fact that when they finish their studies they are not able to mantain a basic conversation in English. We, as teachers have to present the content in an innovative way and provide our students with significant learning.

I think that active methodologies can change the way in which students see English, we can help them to maintain a positive attitude towards the language and show them that English can be fun and useful for them.

Teaching actively through short stories

I have chosen Guy de Maupassant’s short story¬†The Necklace because¬†I think it is quite easy to understand and I enjoyed a lot while reading through it, I think students might like it. I like the message that it contains as well; it might make them reflect on the important aspects of life, and also make them think that you have to be careful if you are too materialistic because in the end it can cause you the ruin as it happened to Mathilde, the protagonist. You can find the short story in a previous post called “The Necklace”.

Now I’ll tell you which activities I’d use to teach English through this short story in an active way. The activities will be divided into pre/actual and post-teaching.

PRE-TEACHING ACTIVITIES

1. Students read the first paragraph of the story and they have to predict what the story will be about.

She was one of those pretty and charming girls born, as though fate had blundered over her, into a family of artisans. She had no marriage portion, no expectations, no means of getting known, understood, loved, and wedded by a man of wealth and distinction; and she let herself be married off to a little clerk in the Ministry of Education. Her tastes were simple because she had never been able to afford any other, but she was as unhappy as though she had married beneath her; for women have no caste or class, their beauty, grace, and charm serving them for birth or family, their natural delicacy, their instinctive elegance, their nimbleness of wit, are their only mark of rank, and put the slum girl on a level with the highest lady in the land.

They’ll do a brainstorm in small groups and they’ll create a wordcloud (http://www.wordle.net/) that summarises their ideas. They have to explain orally to the class what are their predictions and why do they think that will happen. They can also share their wordclouds on Edmodo (http://www.edmodo.com/).

2. Discuss  the following quotes in small groups:

“There are people so poor that the only thing they have is money.” –Unknown

“You might be poor, and unhappy; but become suddenly rich, and you will still be unhapy.” –Rick Beneteau

“How poor we truly are when we measure wealth in monetary terms; overlooking the true value of ourselves and those we love.” –Kelly Comeau

 

This short story is about a lowly woman who aspires to become rich. One day she has the opportunity of attending to an important event but she has nothing decent to wear. She has a rich friend who borrows her a beautiful (and apparently expensive) diamond necklace. Unfortunately, Madame Loisel loses it and she and her husband spend all their possessions and work hard in order to buy a new necklace. After 10 years, Madame Loisel and her friend found each other again and, talking about the issue, Madame Loisel discovers that the necklace she was lent by her was an imitation and the one she bought cost her a fortune!

Students have to discuss in small groups the quotes, expressing themselves and sharing their opinions. Through this story we can teach our students some values. We live in a materialist world and we sometimes have to reflect to see where the real happiness come from: family, friends, health…etc.

ACTUAL TEACHING ACTIVITIES

1. Try to represent one or two of the major points of action of the story: when Madame Loisel borrows the necklace from her friend, the affair… through a scene. You can use either goanimate (http://goanimate.com/) or bitstrips (http://www.bitstrips.com/) to do so.

Students must read the whole story. Then, they get into small groups and they have to identify the different parts of the story: introduction, plot and conclusion. They have to focus on the plot and select the best moments and represent them using a nice tool online. They can share their stories on Edmodo as well. The scenes must be coherent and students can’t copy directly from the text as they have to use their own words to retell the scenes. The best scenes will be awarded with a special badge on Edmodo from the teacher!

POST-TEACHING ACTIVITIES

1. Role-play. Get into pairs and represent the last part of the story where Madame Forestier and Mathilde Loisel found each other after 10 years. Try to represent Mathilde’s reaction when Madame Forestier tells her that the necklace she lent her was an imitation indeed.¬†

This activity is purely communicative although students should take notes in order to arrange the script of the role-play. They can dress up as if they where the characters in the story and record themselves and then upload it on Edmodo so the rest of the class can see and share each others’ works. With this activity they think about what will happen next in the story and can also provide a different ending for the story. There are many possibilities, they just need to be creative and have fun while doing it!

So, this is it! I enjoyed a lot while designing my activities for the song and the short story. There are so many possibilities in which we can teach our students in an innovative way… I can’t wait to teach students of Secondary Education and try these activities with them! I have discovered a new world through blogging! This is my first blog and I feel it won’t be the only one!

Sara

Some reflections on active learning/teaching…

I’m writing my final project of the master’s degree on active methodologies so I’ve spent the weekend reading and investigating about it and there are lots of interesting ideas and projects we could develop with our students…

Active techniques can successfully engage our students, involve them in the learning process and help them to acquire key competences and cross-cultural skills which are beneficial for them.

As we are living in an era of “technological information” and society has changed enormously due to this fact, traditional methodologies no longer work. Our students must be the centre of the process “learning-teaching” and we, as teachers, should be the ones who guide them through the process, coaching and encouraging them to work actively. Through active methodologies you can integrate all the skills (listening, reading, writing and speaking) in the tasks, you just need to be very creative and present contents in an interesting way. We all learn by doing and practicing, memorising stuff is boring and our students deserve a significant learning that will make them become better and prepared for life persons.

I did an internship in a school with students of 1¬ļ of Eso and Bachiller for three months and I had to follow my tutor’s instructions… that implied following the book by heart. It was really boring … I tried to make the most of it and provide the students with opportunities for expressing themselves and sharing their opinions whenever possible. I even used some games as: Simon says to teach the imperative or Mimics to practice the present continuous. Whenever I had the possibility I tried to incorporate more active techniques in the classroom but my teacher told me that if we “waste much time on those things” she won’t cover the full book and that means trouble.

It is a pity that our educational system is a mess here in Spain. It is a fact that most of the students finish secondary education without being able to maintain a “basic” conversation in English.

Something is wrong here. I read some articles in the law and all the contents, objectives and competences are correctly stated but what it’s not effective is the way ¬†in which English is taught in Spain by most of the teachers. Most of them just follow the book because they are under pressure as they have to cover the whole book during the academic year and there’s not much time left to do something different (and in fact significant for students). Some teachers care about this issue but others who have opportunities don’t do it because active methodologies imply lots of planning from the teacher and it is time consuming.

In my opinion, more formative courses should be offered to teachers of secondary education in order to make them see the educational needs and open their eyes to reality. We, as teachers, need to be in contact with each other, share our experiences, fears, opinions … and also be in constant retraining.

I hope that in a near future I will become a secondary education teacher and that I’ll have the opportunity to change things. Our students are the future and we have to prepare them for life. For now, I’m more than happy of teaching little kids to acquire English through games, songs, TPR… I’m obtaining wonderful results and they love learning English!

http://www.inspiringteachers.com/classroom_resources/tips/curriculum_and_instruction/great_active_learning_strategies.html

Here are some tips to introduce active learning techniques in our classroom. Those techniques can be adapted to different levels, language level…etc.