DEVELOPING TEACHERS.COM Newsletter
February 2001 - issue 2/01
Welcome to the Newsletter
This month's theme is about cutting down
on preparation time. Sounds good ..... We look briefly at
teacher organisation & using what is in front of you in the
classroom as opposed to running to the photocopier to run
off more material. We hope you find the ideas interesting
& useful - there may not be anything 'new' in the ideas but
it will hopefully get you thinking about the area. There's
also a Valentine's Day lesson plan - a reading lesson with
a very exploitable text for intermediate students.
Keep the Recruitment
pages in mind when you're looking for a job or from the
other side, a teacher.
Contributions & suggestions are very welcome
- e-mail them to email@example.com
2.VALENTINE'S DAY LESSON PLAN
8.WEEKLY TEACHING TIPS
1. THEME - Cutting down on preparation time
full version of this can be seen on the site.
How long do you spend on preparation time?
Do you spend minimal time & make it up as
you go along, spend ages thinking of ideas but inevitably
change them, make up a fortnightly timetable to use as the
lesson plan on the day, cannot really quantify the amount
of time, spend a sufficient time preparing, find that you
can't spend too long as you teach 35 hours a week, spend much
less time preparing now than you used to?
Whichever applies to you, I'm sure we'd agree
that cutting down on preparation time while still providing
quality lessons is a good thing.
Here are a few ideas:
1. organisational - the key to being an effective teacher
2. activities - to draw on & integrate.
using the students
using the classroom
1.organisational - a few obvious suggestions
Plan your month, weeks in the month, your days and your hours.
Teaching can be an exhausting business so the more you are
personally organised the less wasted energy you will expend.
Planning and timing the activities in your day/week in advance
can be very useful. Make yourself up a chart, a more detailed
diary really, and give yourself strict time limits on activities.
Afterwards compare your estimate with the reality and you
should see how much time you actually waste in the day.
Do it for the coming month/two weeks. By timetabling you can
ensure that there is balance, variety, continuity and a sense
of progress for both the student and the teacher. Just because
you have a timetable doesn't mean you have to stick to it
- change it on the way. It also doesn't have to be very detailed
either, just a basic outline to show you (& the students if
you give it to them) where you are going. Sunday afternoon/evening
is a good time to spend a couple of hours getting everything
together to start confidently on Monday morning knowing that
all you really have to do is get the materials together. At
the beginning it does take longer but it certainly does help
cut down on preparation time in the end.
See http://www.developingteachers.com/tips/pasttips2.htm for
a timetabling procedure
Know your materials
Put in a fair amount of time getting to know the materials
that are available to you. It will be time well spent as you
will always have them to draw on and you will be providing
your students (and yourself) with interesting and varied lessons.
File timetables & materials & ideas
Keep your old timetables and lesson plans
Create an organised file according to levels and do the same
with your stock of materials that are lying around in a pile.
Try and get your colleagues to donate copies of their timetables
and materials to the school and create organised easy to find
files for all to use. Write out role cards carefully and make
sure the students don't write on them, chew them or eat them
and get them back after the activity to use again next time
- it's a good idea to plastify them.
Organise your staffroom
Not quite but it's worth suggesting that someone (you?) sort
out the materials into easy to find sections. Start up a well-planned
filing system for homemade materials. All that the teachers
do is put a copy in the relevant file for others to copy.
Buy yourself a copy of 'Use Your Head'
by Tony Buzan. Lots of ideas on becoming more efficient with
your study skills in areas such as reading skills, increasing
memory ability & note taking. Very thought provoking and useful
information to pass on to your students.
2.A few activities - by no means
A word of explanation - I'm not suggesting that we don't prepare
lessons. The more experience teachers get the more they find
to exploit & bring into their lessons. The activities below
do just that & hopefully they give the lesser-experienced
teacher a few more leads. They don't necessarily cut down
on preparation time - it's just not necessary to constantly
photocopy materials to take in when you can easily exploit
what is around you - the students, the materials, you & the
classroom. Link the activities below into what you are doing
in the theme/coursebook unit/syllabus.
Using the students 'Learner-Based Teaching'
by Campbell et al (OUP) is an excellent activity book that
draws on the knowledge & experience that students bring to
the classroom. Check it out for inspiration.
Self-study hours - students work individually
or in pairs on problem areas in class with grammar books,
dictionaries, coursebook etc or in the self-access centre.
Get around & help them out with their research. Can easily
increase preparation time if you need to get individualized
Speaking & Listening:
Use the students' jobs, families, experiences, holidays, weekends,
plans, ideas etc. as a springboard. Integrate current affairs.
Prepare mini-talks for each other.
Write dialogues & then act them out from
situation/cues given by you - applicable to just about any
Chain stories - you start the story, student
A continues, you provide a linker (and, but, however) & then
student B continues and so on around the class.
Story telling - everyone knows a fairy story,
maybe a horror story, an embarrassing experience, a joke -
listening for pleasure.
Spontaneous roleplays - teacher tells class
the situation, one that involves a number of people i.e. the
whole class, e.g. a parents association meeting & problems
at the school - when you stop talking they get on with the
Prediction work before using a text e.g.
use pictures & headlines, use what they know about the subject,
use the first lines/paragraph & predict what comes next.
& coolers e.g. Persuasion - students persuade each
other that their favourite. colour, animal, season, anything!
is better than their partners.
Trust exercises, voice, mime and roleplay activities - build
up a stock of them for use whenever you can integrate them.
Get them to bring in an article in English they think all
of the group might be interested in.
Get a class novel going - weekly discussion
of thoughts on the novel and sorting the problems out. For
ideas with Readers check out 'Class Readers' by Greenwood
(OUP) for loads of creative ideas. Prediction work for all
kinds of text.
Dictate own texts to each other.
Rotating a written story - all start a story
then pass it to std on their right and then continue the story
they receive and so on.
Summarise text as a way of checking comprehension.
Std/std correction of written work.
Write questionnaire to ask each other/another
class/teachers in the school. Write comprehension questions
for text for each other.
Brainstorm lexical areas - students draw lexical mind maps.
Give word rose & students make up a stories - go for lead-ins.
Students bring 3 new words to class (as homework)
& explain them to the others.
Test each other on last week's vocab. Use
the vocab record card idea - see: http://www.developingteachers.com//tips/pasttips6.htm
Error analysis - work on their problem areas.
Record a discussion or roleplay and work
on part of it with the class.
Students research an area & then present
it to the class.
Clothes & things in their bags/pockets/handbags - get a collection
of things from the students & they then become the things
on a dead person found in the Retiro in mysterious circumstances.
The students then make suppositions 'He could've been ....
because there's a ......' etc.
Disclose about yourself - you can't ask them to if you aren't
really willing to do the same yourself. Tell them about your
family, city, holiday, experiences etc just as you would do
with a friend.
As a visual aid.
Mini-talks on homeland - the town/city you're
from - the educational, judicial systems of your country.
Using the classroom
Realia in the room - I-Spy, teach vocab, tell story including
5 objects in the room etc.
The view from the window for descriptions,
imagine conversations of those in the street, construct life
history for passers-by etc.
Room becomes .... e.g. flat for estate agent
& prospective buyer roleplay or any other place in a roleplay.
Use the posters on the walls. Try and get
a world map or a map of your home country on the wall - describing
holiday routes, where you used to live, where would you like
to live, for current affairs discussions, for target language
culture mini-talks, to discuss where to write holiday postcards
from etc. A very useful aid.
In the full article there are suggestions
for going into class with just one object. This is not to
say we recommend this as a teaching approach. It is meant
to stimulate imagination & help to exploit what we have in
Back to the index
2. VALENTINE'S DAY LESSON PLAN
intermediate reading lesson based around the text - 'A
Love Story'. The lesson plan offers suggestions on how to
tackle the lesson rather than just one way.
3. JOBS WANTED
If you're based in Spain & looking for an
ESL teacher check out Sarah Luckam. She has posted her
CV on the site.
In response to comments in the last newsletter
Lee Buckley writes:
'I'm one of those teachers who has been working for quite
some time and I agree that the profession suffers from an
image problem. I'm interested in doing something teaching-related
to make more money (it would be nice to have some work in
July and September, too) (no, not translations, as everyone
suggests). The obvious solution is something to do with technology
and the web. Anyone interested in a focus group/brainstorming
group/well-behaved radical cell with drinks, whatever? I live
and work in Madrid. Please pass my e-address on to interested
Back to the index
If you should be looking for someone to translate
Spanish/English then look no further. Krystyna Sleziak is
a very experienced professional translator - documents of
any genre & simultaneous translation.
For a professional & speedy translation: firstname.lastname@example.org
5. YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Send your questions about teaching to us.
Anything from classroom management problems through to grammar
6. E-MAIL COURSES
Maximise your time by getting started on
a quality personalised
teacher development course.
Back to the index
I stumbled across this the other day. If you have access to
computers in your class & your students are interested in
the Net then this is a great tutorial to work through - reading,
speaking, language work & 'content' teaching (teaching a subject
through English). It's ideal for the one-to-one professional/business
class. Excellent! It aims to 'teach people to evaluate the
quality of information that they find via the internet.' It's
free, downloadable in various formats & available in English,
French & Dutch. The site goes on to say, 'The tutorial's educational
content includes worked examples, "try it yourself" sections
and interactive quizzes and exercises with automated feedback.
The supporting materials include a PowerPoint presentation,
handouts and practical suggestions for incorporating the tutorial
into a course curriculum.... As well as being used by individuals,
the tutorial can support teachers, lecturers and trainers
who wish to teach Internet information skills. It can be used
as an "off the shelf" teaching aid.'
The Internet Detective comes out of the 'DESIRE project (which)
ran from July 1998 until June 2000 and was a collaboration
between project partners working at ten institutions from
four European countries - the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden
and the UK. The project's focus was on enhancing existing
European information networks for research users across Europe
through research and development in three main areas of activity:
Caching, Resource Discovery and Directory Services.' http://www.desire.org/
Here's some interesting reading material for class. Each article
debags an empty theory & gives further links to follow up.
They say there are 'over 400 skeptical definitions and essays
on occult, paranormal, supernatural and pseudoscientific ideas
and practices with references to the best skeptical literature.'
If you are a budding/experienced writer then this is a site
for you - an on-line writers' resource centre. There are lots
of ideas to help writers refine their skills - articles, poetry
& book reviews, as well as a 'time out' section & inspirational
monthly quotes. New & experienced writers are equally welcome.
Another dictionary to bookmark. This one's the Academic Dictionary
of Science & Technology, consisting of 2.500 pages & 'contains
a total of 133,007 entries, making it the largest scientific
dictionary ever compiled in the English language. Included
among these 133,007 entries are 112,227 main entry words and
20,780 secondary entries.'
A search engine about famous quotes plus lots more encyclopaedias,
dictionaries & thesauri.
A word engine to download - Word Web - 120.000 root words,
100.000 synonym sets, definitions & synonyms, proper nouns
& related words. It links into MS Word & is a 4.5 Mb download.
The Babylon Translator has been around for a long time now.
This provides a desktop translator that works efficiently.
I didn't realise that, apart from the different dictionaries,
you can also download a host of glossaries to use in the programme.
From computer terms to golf to the weather. The programme
download size is 1.5Mb. A handy little programme to have installed
- for free!
Back to the index
8. WEEKLY TEACHING TIPS
As always, free weekly practical teaching
tips by e-mail. This week's tip is titled 'Going with the
flow'. Sign up!
Train in Spain - Courses running in the near
future at the British Language Centre in Madrid:
GETTING TO GRIPS WITH PHONOLOGY A twelve hour course taking
place over six Fridays, 12.00>>14.15 Starts on 9th February.
PRE-DIPLOMA DEVELOPMENT COURSE A thirty
two hour course, Monday & Wednesday mornings - 11.00>>13.15
Starts on 5th February.
CAMBRIDGE CERTIFICATE IN ELT - CELTA Full-time
four-week courses: February, March, April ... Twelve week
part-time courses: April>>June.
CAMBRIDGE DIPLOMA IN ELT - DELTA Full-time
eight-week courses: April & May & then July & August
Reasonably priced accommodation can be arranged
for the duration of all courses. You can see brief descriptions
of all of the current courses on the BLC web site http://www.cospa.es/blc/ted/ttframes.htm
The postal address of Teacher Education at the British Language
Centre is Calle Bravo Murillo 377, 2, 28020 Madrid, Spain.
The phone number is (00 34) 733 07 39 & the fax number is
(00 34) 91 314 5009. The e-mail address is
Back to the index
MusicMatch Jukebox is an indispensable programme on my computer.
It looks after all of my mp3 collection, allows me to transfer
these to CDs & vice versa. It has a variable compression rate
so you decide on the quality & size of the files & a host
of other features. There is a pay version, which would be
useful for burning CDs if you didn't have software such as
Nero - otherwise the free version is probably all you need.
Online Conversion - a very useful site to have bookmarked.
Convert anything you can think of - length, temperature, speed,
volume, weight, computer, time, cooking, angles, area, power,
energy, density, force, light, clothing, fun stuff......among
many more categories.
A very useful site to have bookmarked in the (likely) event
of problems with your Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT 4.0,
Windows 2000 and Windows ME operating systems. A host of tips,
articles & advice to help sort you out, each section beginning
with a diagnostic flow chart.
If you'd like a free second opinion
on how your system is shaping up get along to the Pit Stop.
The site puts your computer through its paces & gives you
an analysis & tips on performance improvement. You need Microsoft
Internet Explorer 4.0 or higher.
Microsoft Office Template Gallery - as they say: "For those
times when you know what you need but don't want to start
from scratch, we've created the Template Gallery. We've partnered
with content experts to provide you with hundreds of useful
templates to get your work done. We already have hundreds
of templates: resumes, cover letters, sales and marketing
documents, collection letters, legal documents, complaint
letters, and much more. And, we're just getting started. We
are working with a growing set of partners to provide additional
templates based on suggestions from our customers like you."
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