MY friend Cida who sat still for hours for me to practise basic skills back in 2007
One of the most important lessons I learned in my life during my art days was that it is essencial to master the basics before you move to more advanced endeavors. Nevertheless having someone to guide you through saves a lot of time and energy. Having someone to show you how to do things, to watch you do it and then give you constructive feedback. But above all who is willing to do it for as long as you need to. I was fortunate enough to have those especial people during my art time and my first year of teaching.
So, from time to time I like to reread the books, take lessons and brush up my teaching skills just as I would with art skills.
Cida’s portrait was painted in the beginning of 2007, while the one below was delived in the end of 2006. A huge endeavor for me back then. I had this concept in my mind and local artists were called to produce artwork for celebrating the city’s 45th anniversary. Even though I had all the praises I could get and small ceremony and all, going back to the basics was really refreshing in the following year.
At the city hall in 2006 with the mayor and vice-mayor.
Learning and relearning/reviewing/reflecting is a wonderful thing. I found ItdI’s
especially nice because of that. It is a wonderful way for new teachers to find the support I described above (finding fellow teachers and lessons to learn from, discuss and get feedback), and also for more experienced teachers who find extremely useful brushing up teaching skills, as well as developing further as the opportunity I had through Breaking Rules course
where my teaching beliefs were challenged and reshaped.
Going back to ItdI yesterday, I reread what I posted on one of my lessons questions for reflection and interesting enough it was about how I like working with integrated skills in class using for example as one of my strategies with teens “playability concept”.
How I plan lessons
EFT Lesson 2: What skills do students need to learn?
Nowadays, I try to include as many activities as I can that make students think about the language, because one of the things that our students have a habit of doing is translating, thus they rely much more on memorization. Because of that, for the last couple of years I have been trying to work with the concept of manipulating language in a variety of ways. I don’t plan my lessons anymore around reading, listening, writing and speaking, like they are separate skills. I believe that a single activity can integrate the necessity to use the four skills at times. For example, the game-like idea I got from British Council website last week, a communicative bingo¹ where I gave each student a table (3 x 3) with enough space to write in each cell a question. As I used this activity with groups with different levels of English, before even going on how to play it, I explained that it was a different kind of bingo and we needed some preparation first. Then on the board, I elicited examples of present perfect and present perfect progressive. After the quick review, they were asked to fill their table with yes/no questions in those verb tenses considering the three discussed cases: an event where time is not specified, how many times something has happened and connecting the past to the present. We also reviewed the role of stative and dynamic meaning verbs. After that, I stressed that in order to fill their table first and shout Bingo, they had to create yes/no questions that were most likely to have positive answer and as soon as they got a yes, they had to write the student’s name and ask the next question. This is very much like the Find someone who activity, but as a game. They have to think of strategies to win by making the right questions and using what they know about their friends. During the activity – from preparation stage to mingling and getting the answers, the skills emerged as a necessity of communication and not as a teaching aim. I plan my lessons in order to students improve their knowledge of English and communication skills by using the syllabus as a guide map. I do this because using language comes from a necessity (so by creating a clear context to use language in a playful manner engage teens and we don’t miss the point that is focus on the language more than just playing – added in order to match the topic of the post), so now, I try to use activities that create the necessity to use language (and trying to make classroom time and interaction more meaningful and as well as offering a variety of tasks that involve reading, listening, observing, feedback and so on). The more opportunity they have to use language in a variety of ways, more likely I believe they will be able to communicate their thoughts. But I also believe we need time to organize our thoughts first when we are in the process of mastering something, be it language or skills. The way Barbara puts makes my view even clearer.
I like your idea, Rose! Even more, I like the way you try to combine skills in the same lesson. It’s definitely an effective way to make good use of limited class time. It’s also a more natural way of learning language, I think. We rarely use separate skills when we communicate, right?
Check out the Bingo activity: The Bingo Mingle activity by Leonardo de Waal, Colombia at the Teaching English Website
I started learning drawing and painting back in 2004 on my own with books instruction and in the end of 2004 I found Wetcanvas community. There I found the support and feedback I needed to move forward and achieve my goals. In 2006 I decided to start blogging in Portuguese to help people, even though I knew my level of expertise was very low comparing with the pros, but I wanted to help those who wanted to understand more about draw or paint and couldn’t engage in Wetcanvas because of English. Then, only in 2007 I felt my painting skills achieved what I desired, but as I didn’t master the basics the effects I wanted to achieve took much longer to get and not even got near my favorite artists and mentors. Nonetheless, their encouragement and feedback got me going for most of those years.
I am so thankful to all of them for the lessons they taught me especially about teaching.
It is about caring,
and being willing to
taking the time
to offer constructive feedback.
Not the other way around.
The blogs from 2006