Teaching Tips 92
Our job as teachers is to facilitate learning by providing a comfortable & efficient environment for learning to take place. To enable this we provide 'scaffolding' to support the learner. Without this the building, the learning process, would fall down, lose direction.
This metaphor works on all levels of the process. At the top there is the syllabus, course & lesson planning stages. We choose the most efficient approach to suit our particular learners. For example, low level learners in an English-speaking country would need a more functional approach so we might provide relevant functional language through a situational & task-based syllabus. We decide how the language can be parcelled up into manageable bits so it is not overwhelming. This is the scaffolding on the outside of the building.
Inside the building, on the outer edges we have our approach to the content of the lessons. We review & build on previous lessons, helping the learners to see the connections. We provide ways to get new language & concepts, across through a variety of channels; visuals, situations, explanations etc. that clarify meaning.
Taking a top-down approach with reading & listening texts helps to ease the learners through the process & towards an awareness of the sub-kills involved, without bogging them down with an overload of language.
Then towards the centre we have our scaffolded interactions with the learners as we provide language to help them express themselves, as in the following exchange:
Student: I think I ...... Well, I'm not .... how say this... It's difficult..leave for the night.
Teacher: To go out at night?
Student: Yes, yes, go out at night.
Teacher: And why's that?
Student: Well, much money for drinks.
Teacher: Drinks are expensive.
Student: Yes, very expensive.
The teacher here is providing the scaffolding for communication to take place. We can grade our language & provide needed language to help the flow. By using pairwork we are encouraging peer scaffolding as learners help each other out.
As the learners become more autonomous we can begin to take the scaffolding away bit by bit. This building metaphor is a useful one. Next time you find yourself planning or reflecting on your teaching, think of the scaffolding you are providing & whether it is the right amount. Getting the right balance is the trick.
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Martin Luther King Day
As the 2006 Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday is to be held on Monday, January 16 this year, any day this week would be appropriate for a slot or whole lesson on Martin Luther King, Jr.
Below are three excerpts from two famous speeches; the 'I have a dream' speech & 'I've been to the mountaintop'.
I Have a Dream
The famous speech delivered in 1963 to more than 200,000 civil-rights marchers at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
"I still have a dream" MP3 download 247 KB - 1.03mins
"Let freedom ring" MP3 download 218 KB - 1.20mins
I've Been to the Mountaintop
After narrowly surviving a stabbing, King gave this speech, saying "I may not get there with you." It was the day before he was assassinated.
"We will get to the promised land" MP3 download 215 KB - 0.56mins
Here are the scripts to the downloads:
A couple of excerpts from the text of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" Speech on August 28, 1963
"I still have a dream"
/So even though // we face the difficulties // of today and tomorrow.// I still have a dream.// It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream./
/I have a dream /that one day // this nation will rise up /and live out the true meaning of its creed.// We hold these truths to be self-evident // that all men are created equal./
/I have a dream // that one day on the red hills of Georgia /the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners // will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood./
/I have a dream...../
"Let freedom ring"
/...let freedom, ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia./
/Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!/
/Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi // and every mountainside./
/And when this happens,// when we let freedom ring, // when we let it ring from every tenement and every hamlet,// from every state and every city, // we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, //black men and white men, // Jews and Gentiles,// Protestants and Catholics,// will be able to join hands // and sing in the words of the old negro spiritual, /"Free at last, // free at last.// Thank God Almighty, // we are free at last." /
An excerpt from the speech that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered in support of the striking sanitation workers at Mason Temple in Memphis, TN on April 3, 1968 — the day before he was assassinated.
/We've got some difficult days ahead.// But it really doesn't matter with me now.// Because I've been to the mountaintop.// And I don't mind. // Like anybody, I would like to live // a long life.// Longevity has its place.// But I'm not concerned about that now. // I just want to do God's will.// And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain.// And I've looked over. // And I've seen the promised land.// I may not get there with you. // But I want you to know tonight, // that we, as a people, // will get to the promised land/.....
A few lesson ideas:
Intro & vocab - play one of the extracts & ask the students if they recognise the speaker >> what do they know about him....
Then go on to brainstorm the lexical set of 'civil rights', in pairs or small groups, at the end getting the students up to the board to add their words & so create a class mind map on the board. get the students to clarify to each other any of the words & at the end they copy the map down for a record. You might want to slip in some vocab that comes up later on in the lesson.
You could incorporate the MLK wordsearch - pdf download found at:
Reading - Before getting on to the listening excerpts, it might be appropriate to have a reading stage on MLK's life. Here are a couple of links to copy & paste the info you need:
A brief biog:
From the King Center site:
From the same, a chronological life history:
The Wikipedia entry:
Listening - if you have looked at the area of prominence, give out the scripts & ask the students to mark the tone units.Then they listen to confirm, before going on to look at the content. The scripts above have the tone units marked - you may not agree with them all - change to suit. After getting a consensus, students could practise reading them aloud.
For more on prominence & tone units, check out the phonology section of the site:
Focus on the discourse - analyse the text for features used such as strategic pausing & repetition to add effect.
Writing - students could write their own speech beginning 'I have a dream....' & then read out to the class, or if they prefer, out them on the walls for all to view.
Speaking - a discussion on how much the students think has been achieved, how far to go, the situation in the students' own countries etc...
Other lesson plan links - there's a lot on the Net:
Lesson Planning article: Happy Birthday, MLK!
Worksheet to go with the brief biog above:
coming from a plan at:
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The BBC are running a 'Thank You Letter' competition. The idea is to submit a letter twice but punctuated differently so that both versions make sense. Here is the original unpunctuated version - see if you can come up with two versions:
dear aunty grace what a surprise to receive a nice gift from you when I had not sent you my new address I had thought you would not be able to send a present this year wasting good money at this time of year it is common for people to send presents that are far too big like those giant toy clowns you always insist on sending me great presents like this years our incredible walks on Xmas day were particularly fun this year without you too much food and drink was consumed in haste rebecca
Here are the two versions given:
Dear Aunty Grace,
What a surprise to receive a nice gift from you when I had not sent you my new address. I had thought you would not be able to send a present this year.
Wasting good money at this time of year, it is common for people to send presents that are far too big, like those giant toy clowns.
You always insist on sending me great presents, like this year's. Our incredible walks on Xmas day were particularly fun this year. Without you too much food and drink was consumed in haste.
Dear Aunty Grace,
What a surprise! To receive a nice gift from you! When I had not sent you my new address I had thought you would not be able to send a present this year - wasting good money. At this time of year it is common for people to send presents that are far too big, like those giant toy clowns you always insist on sending me. Great presents like this year's are incredible! Walks on Xmas day were particularly fun this year without you. Too much food and drink was consumed.
There is actually a small change - 'our' & 'are' near the end - not mentioned on the BBC page.
Here's a humorous example that we use on training courses to highlight literacy skills from 'Eats, Shoots & Leaves' by Lynne Truss Profile Books (2003 p9/10). See what you can do with the original before looking at the two versions.
i want a man who knows what love is all about you are generous kind thoughtful people who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior you have ruined me for other men i yearn for you i have no feelings whatsoever when we re apart i can be forever happy will you let me be yours
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we're apart. I can be forever happy - will you let me be yours?
i want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men I yearn. For you I have no feelings whatsoever. When we're apart I can be forever happy. Will you let me be.
This is a lovely way for your students to play round with punctuation, making punctuation fun. Find a text, take out the punctuation & see what they come up with, the group comparing their different versions. Clearly it will be impossible to find texts which fall into two versions like the ones above, but all the same you will find variations. This should then throw up interesting punctuation points for immediate or future attention.
And then there's the 'Thank you letter' theme to follow up after looking at the first example above......
A couple of punctuation links:
A brief overview:
And Wikipedia's main punctuation page:
The Philosophy of Punctuation - article:
The Chicago Manual of Style:
The Punctuation Underdog Page:
Eats, shoots & leaves quiz:
NASA's view on grammar & punctuation:
There is a Year 2005 Quiz, looking back at the year's events, for use with classes. It is fairly simple& wide-ranging to provoke discussion. To see the Quiz:
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