Six “hidden gems”(?) on this blog

Hello everyone!

I have never been one to turn down an opportunity for an easy blog post, and I’m a sucker for blog memes. So  I’ve decided to meet the challenge thrown down by Jason Renshaw (the English Raven himself) and show you some hidden gems here on Six Things (he suggested this idea, and shared his own gems, at this post). I think that Darren Elliot of Lives of Teachers made a similar suggestion a while back. Anyway, if you’re a regular reader you may remember some of these, but if you’re a more recent visitor to this blog then these are some fun little posts that you probably have missed!

My regular blogging will resume very shortly. Meanwhile, this should tide over anyone needing a six things fix! 🙂

1 Six famous writers who used to be language teachers If you’re working on the next great novel then don’t give up hope. These six people all escaped ELT to untold riches and fame!

2 Six wildly popular lists in English language teaching. The list of lists. How many can you guess?

3 Six bits of Latin that make your English look smart . This IS a hidden gem, judging from the few hits it got. But reading it will make you sound so much more sophisticated!

4 Six very original what if questions. Tired of talking about lotteries and winning a million dollars in your conditional classes? Here are half a dozen great alternatives.

5. Six highly provocative quotes in ELT. Seeking a topic for an MA thesis? Seek no further! Any one of these would serve as a great starting point…

6. Six drinks for an English Teacher’s New Year’s party I still dream one day that someone will tell me they actually held an English teacher party with some of these drinks. How sad is that?!?

I think of them as hidden gems, but of course you may have your own favourites (or simply think these aren’t really that good!). Leave a comment if you feel inclined…

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Published in: on October 4, 2010 at 4:16 pm  Comments (5)  
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Six lists that can greatly improve lesson planning

Right! We continue work here at Six Things by, erm, not continuing work but getting others to do it for us! Actually, I’m happy to have another repeat offender here, none other than Hall Houston a fellow teacher, blogger and author. Please check out his website and especially his book Provoking Thought, a collection of thinking activities for ELT (with some really nice ones on critical thinking). Here he shares some lesson planning ideas.

In a previous guest post by Vladimira Michalkova on the Six Things blog, the author suggested keeping multiple intelligences theory in mind when designing homework assignments in order to appeal to students with different needs and interests. As Vladimira put it, “Keep changing the style!”
This gave me the idea of assembling six lists for a similar purpose.

These lists could serve as…

* a reminder of the many things a lesson can contain
* a challenge to be more creative
* a gentle nudge to use a broader range of activities

There is some overlap between the lists, and there are probably many other lists that could be included here.

1. Four skills and Five systems
2. Three macrofunctions
3. Stimulus based teaching
4. Five senses
5. Seven (or maybe eleven) Multiple Intelligences
6. Higher order thinking skills

1. Focus on the basics – the four skills (reading, writing, speaking, listening) and the five systems (structure, lexis, phonology, function, discourse). A good place to start.

2. Focus on macrofunctions – Michael Halliday’s list of three macrofunctions. These are social (for example, exchanging thoughts, opinions, feelings), service (for example, getting information from television, public announcements, or a newspaper and using it), and aesthetic (for example,  reading a poem or creating a webpage) This list can remind teachers to involve students in a wide range of functions to maximize language use.

3. Focus on adapting stimuli – Tessa Woodward’s unbeatable list of five steps for stimulus based learning. This list is recommended for teachers who want to put a little creativity into their lesson planning. Woodward describes five ways of adapting a stimulus (an object, a text, a podcast, a picture) to encourage language practice in class. These are: meeting the stimulus (introducing the stimulus to students), analysis (breaking the stimuli down to its basic elements), personalization (asking students to relate the stimulus to themselves in some way), alteration and transfer (making a change such as reducing, expanding, creating parallels or opposites), and creation (students make something such as a poster or recording). See Woodward’s Planning Lessons and Courses (P. 56-58) for more about stimulus-based learning including some examples.

4. Focus on the senses – vision, hearing, taste, touch, and smell. The first two relate directly to language through reading and listening, and indirectly through use of images and music. The other three provide more of a challenge to incorporate into a lesson. You can bring in realia, food and beverages for students to describe, but a more economical alternative would be to get students to use their imaginations to recall things appealing or unappealing to the senses.

5. Focus on intelligences – Howard Gardner’s Multiple intelligences theory –  The seven intelligences are visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, musical- rhythmic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. In addition, there are four more intelligences that are not widely accepted , but might make for some interesting lesson ideas – naturalist intelligence, spiritual intelligence, moral intelligence and existential intelligence.

6. Focus on thinking skills – Benjamin Bloom’s Taxonomy (Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, Evaluation) can help with guiding students through different levels of thinking. The website www.in2edu.com has an easy to follow chart for ways to exploit Bloom’s Taxonomy in the classroom. (Bloom’s Taxonomy Wheel)

So what’s missing? What lists would you recommend for other teachers? Post them here.

Published in: on April 30, 2010 at 3:25 pm  Comments (15)  
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