Mapping it out
Back to more serious matters this week -
hope last week's April Fool Tip didn't cause any confusion!
What visuals have you got on the walls of your classroom
or in your bag to take to the company class? Posters, examples
of your students' written work, the phonemic chart? What
about a world map? If you have one I'm sure you're well
aware of how useful a map can be as a reference aid when
the need arises.
Here are a few specific ideas
on using that world map in class:
- possibly the most useful
for me - which places have been in the news recently? Current
affairs warmer discussions are instantly placed on the map & the discussion revolves around the map.
- for introductions to places/countries
- the place is identified & the students brainstorm
all they know about the geography, the people, the culture,
the political system etc.
- if you are from another
country, for you to use as a reference when passing on information
about the life & culture of your homeland. If you have
a more detailed map of the country you're from as well,
then all the better. And, of course, for the students to
do the same. And where the group members have travelled,
what happened to them etc.
- to teach specific language
through - place names, nationalities, travel vocabulary
(travel, trip, voyage..), been/gone, present perfect (He's
been to six countries) past simple (He went to Hungary on
Saturday, Finland on Sunday & finished in Switzerland
on Monday), future plans (He'll be travelling to Majorca
next month for a meeting & Mexico the month after for
a presentation), conditionals (If you go to Spain you'll
be able to visit the Prado Museum), present wishes (If you
could be anywhere in the world, where would you be and what
would you do?), etc.
- as well as providing the
context & sentences the map can be useful when drilling
- point to the countries & places to elicit further
sentences - eg. He's been to Spain, He's been to Italy,
- persuasion discussions -
more interesting than town/city discussions - give out places & students think of advantages to living there & then do battle to persuade the others their place or country
is more interesting/beautiful/healthier etc
- discussing cultural differences,
using the map as a frame of reference - could generate into
stereotypes so careful.
- narratives - if a journey
is being related on a tape, or you're telling it, as an
initial task the students could listen & look at the
map & mentally trace the route. If asked to write about
a journey it could again be used as a stimulus.
- seeing different things
through the eyes of different nationalities. A window on
Having a world map at hand
is the same as having cuisenaire rods at hand, the longer
you have it there the more uses you find for it.
to the contents
Stir it up
1st April 2002 - April
You may remember at about
the same time last year a Tip titled 'Cognitive & Affective Confusion'.
In that Tip the University
of Soto del Real published research that confirmed that
the more confused the students were, the better they learned.
Since then I have been trying my best to enforce this excellent
way forward. No longer do I plan lessons but make it up
when I arrive in the class. I deliberately ignore what I
have told the students we were going to do & look for
something else way beyond their level. I find this last
second rush & change an effective first step towards
creating complete havoc by the end of the lesson.
Recently the University has
come out with some more startling research. This time they
say that not only confusion promotes better learning but
combine this with peer antagonism then students can move
into the superlearning bracket. The idea is that you have
to pitch the students against each other so that a mutual
dislike begins to form. This, with much provoking by you,
then turns into a higher level of hate, a state they call
Great you say, but how can
I do this? Well, start off by favouring a few students in
the group & ignore the rest. Then the next week change
the ones you favour & be nasty to the others. You could
let slip certain unsavoury facts about the students, as
well as start a few rumours about select individuals in
the class, generally stirring them up as much as possible.
At the same time, carry out some really wicked humanistic
activities like getting all to discuss their most horrific
moments of their lives - you could provide a communicative
purpose of them deciding who had the worst moment. They
could then roleplay these moments in front of each other
- thus providing a great degree of communicative stress,
which makes learning more efficient. While the roleplays
are going on, class derision is to be supported. And don't
forget to put students who dislike each other together.
You might like to have a group tutorial, discussing the
negative aspects of each student. If, as a result, there
is any actual physical violence then you can really say
you have achieved your aims!
So, they've done it again
at the University of Soto. Cutting edge stuff.
to the contents
The Collins English Dictionary
gives a definition of 'brainstorm' n. as:
1. a severe outburst of excitement, often as the result
of a transitory disturbance of cerebral activity.
2. Brit. informal. a sudden
Brainstorming is a very useful
activity in both teaching & training but I'm not sure
I'd go that far. Sounds more like heavy overload.
The definition given of 'brainstorming'
- intensive discussion to
solve problems or generate ideas.
This is more like it although
still I'm not sure of the 'discussion' bit. It can be an
individual activity, no?
There is a lot on brainstorming
on the net & I came over the following UK-based site
which you might like to check out:
They talk of brainstorming
originating in 1941 with Alex Osborn, an advertising executive,
who was looking for more creativity. He used the term 'think
up', which later became 'brainstorming', as "a conference
technique by which a group attempts to find a solution for
a specific problem by amassing all the ideas spontaneously
by its members". He formulated several rules to be
followed by the group;
Go for large
quantities of ideas
Build on each
and exaggerated ideas
When these were kept to a
lot more ideas were created & within these he found
more original ideas were coming out.
It is a very useful technique in our teaching & a healthy
habit to encourage in our students. As you can see from
the four 'rules' above it is also a very good technique
for developing & consolidating group dynamics. Here
are a few occasions when it might be used:
pre-lesson brainstorming - tell your students
what will be covered in the next lesson - this could be
from the timetable you give out every two weeks - &
they can then brainstorm what they can before they come
to class. The readier they are the quicker you can get on
& the more you will be able to cover. Tell your students
that they'll be getting more for their money!
to introduce a theme - get the students to
throw out all the words they can think of to do with that
area. The problem with this is that not everyone will know
all the vocab & might want it clarifying which would
take much longer. Just tell them that you'll be looking
at the vocab through the theme & the aim here is to
just sink into the area. You could get the stds to write
all the vocab they know on the board - again they run into
the same unknown vocab problem.
pre-reading or listening - like the theme,
get the stds to brainstorm all they know about the topic
of the text they are about to read or listen. They could
do this silently for 30 seconds, in pairs or as a group,
depending on your aim. Same roles could storm together before
splitting up into different roleplays.
pre-roleplay - this is preparation time before
a roleplay - they storm how they are going to act & what they are going to say.
language presentations benefit from a storm
at the beginning so that the new can be linked into the
known. For example, a quick storm of ways of expressing
the future before going on to look at the future perfect
with an intermediate group.
problem solving activities to develop speaking & listening skills can be brainstorming sessions in
mind mapping is a way of storming ideas on
paper, as well as a recording process.
the Past Teaching Tips