Eye on the classroom 2: Focussed classroom observations using graphs

This post is a version of an article I originally wrote for English Teaching professional magazine in Issue 58, September 2008 and is reprinted with permission of Pavilion Publishing. We often assume that a classroom observation should involve watching and noting down comments on everything that happens. In fact, an observation is often more valuable when the focus is on only one aspect of the lesson. This means that any feedback you give to the teacher will be very precise and much clearer. It also means that you can observe for an area that you personally want to develop in…

Eye on the classroom 1: Peer Observation

Between 2008-2009 I wrote a series of six articles for English Teaching Professional on the topic of classroom observations. It was called ‘Eye on the classroom’. So with permission of English Teaching Professional and Pavilion Publishing to reprint the articles here, I’ll post all six in the next few days. Note that in places they might not appear in their full entirety as the originals came with photocopiable pro-forma. However, if you are a subscriber to English Teaching Professional you can download the original as a pdf. Eye on the classroom 1: Peer Observation Many language schools and their teachers…

ELT materials, teachers and learners

  When I write materials for ELT I’m very conscious of – not surprisingly – how materials interrelate with the teacher and the learner. At first I have a mental image of how the material will be used by the learners and the teacher. The four sections [1] [2] [3] [4] in the diagram (shown above) highlight where the cross over occurs between the three. All ELT writers need to understand the implication of these relationships on what they write and how they write. [1] Teacher + Learners + Materials This is the meeting point in the middle where the teacher…

Video for daily routines and notes and messages

Someone recommended this on Twitter to me. It’s a short film called ‘Signs’. Other than being intrinsically entertaining, it’s one of those videos that just cries out to be used in ELT. The opening minute follows a bored office worker through his typical daily life. If you played it to students and they noted down each event in his routine, you’d have a nice opening to a lesson on present simple and adverbs of frequency for daily routines. Students would write down the verbs in the film (get up, have breakfast, start work, photocopy, have lunch, go home, have dinner,…

7 billion: Are you typical? (Integrating video with all four skills)

In my talk about using video in the classroom I mention the importance of combining images with language (see dual coding theory) and also integrating video with language teaching. In the actual presentation for this, I use a number of practical activities for classroom use to illustrate my point. Here’s one activity that seems really popular to use with students because it integrates all four skills (reading, writing, listening,and speaking). The video is free to use online from the National Geographic website (or you’ll also find it on You Tube). It’s about the most typical person on the planet basedon…

Tips for giving webinars

I’ve given presentations at hundreds of workshops and conferences and I’ve delivered training online but none of this quite prepared me for giving my first webinar. It’s unlike other forms of delivery and it taught me a great deal. So I thought I’d share some of what I leanred from the experience and try to sum it up in tip form for any other trainers out there who are running webinars for the first time. And of course if you have your own experiences of webinars already, then please add your own tips and comments. The background to this is that BESIG…

The Eclectic Teacher

Here’s an idea from a training input session entitled ‘The eclectic teacher’. I first used it on a Diploma course and other trainers have commented how useful it (or the idea behind it) has been. Note that the participants will need to have some familiarity with different approaches and methods in ELT history 1 Give the handout below to each person and ask them to tick any of activities 1–30 that they have used in their lessons. 2 They compare and explain their answers in groups. 3 Ask them to match an approach or method to each of the 30 activities….