With the joys of food poisoning, this week’s blog will be a matter of duty rather than a chronicle of joy. I looked through my notes and reflected on my week. There weren’t too many tweaks which I actually applied to either my classrooms or lesson planning. Perhaps there was one thing…
Speaking practice extension. After the “tune-in” or “in conversation” feature of the text books I take a line, which is also part of the target communicative function, from the dialogue and ask students to provide a replacement sentence using the sentence stem that is appropriate for the context of the dialogue students have just heard. So, for example in the grade 2 book, lesson 4, one of the characters in the dialogue says: “Feel free to give me your opinion.” Feel free to… is the target function. So, basically students have to provide an appropriate replacement…possible examples might include: “feel free to say how you feel.” Or “Feel free to give me any advice.”
KOTESOL National Conference
While I may not have had direct improvements in my lesson planning immediately, I feel I planted seeds for the future by recently attending the KOTESOL National Conference. There were at least three ideas that I will consider implementing in the future.
“Murphy Mind Map.” I honestly didn’t like Rob Murphy’s presentation related to the so called “NeuroELT.” It just felt like he was much more interested in selling than diffusing knowledge. I asked him a few questions about his techniques, for instance: Do his techniques have any empirical support or are they just inferences drawn from studying various avenues of neuroscience? He gave two consecutive evasive answers, and that is when I realized that I couldn’t get a straight answer from him.
Nevertheless, I feel I should give the “Murphy mind map” a try. It is basically an elaboration on the traditional mind map approach. Except for students need to give a judgment about the emotional valence of the words selected and classify the terms into positive and negative. I certainly wouldn’t have thought of that myself.
Polarized Mind Maps Mind maps are quite popular in Korea, aren’t they? Peadar Callaghan explained how to draw out mind maps to provide scaffolding for a basic conversation. Somewhat similar to Murphy’s mind map, students mindmap and classify the words in to positive and negative categories. For example, if the topic is food, the student can list pizza as something he likes, then the project can be extended further…why do you like it…how often do you eat it, et al. This is definitely potentially useful and I intend to try it out during my English camp, and maybe my so-called “overseas travel class.”
Fly swatter This is nothing new, but I have never tried it since I never felt my “classroom management realities” allowed such an activity (middle school boys!). However, in the right context (say an English camp?) I think it would be great for listening practice and as the presenters suggest, helping students discriminate among minimal pairs.
So there it is, I hope to find a little more inspiration next week.