A little over a month ago, I issued a challenge to all who read this blog. The challenge was to reflect on and write about a little thing that has made a big difference to your teaching during the last year. All was quiet and then sometime later, there was a flurry of discussion on Twitter
as a result of Sandy sharing my link on Twitter and Facebook. (Thank you, Sandy!) And this is where Ceri Jones comes in. Not only is this the first blog post written in response to my challenge, but Ceri also has the dubious honour of being the first person to write a guest post on my blog! I’m delighted to host her post here and hope she will be the first of many guests. Ceri is a teacher, materials writer (you may have seen her name on one of your course books! – Inside Out, Straight Forward, The Big Picture…) and also has a great blog , well worth a visit.
Here it is then, Ceri’s response to my challenge…
I was sitting on a train using Facebook as a pacifier, when I came across this great blog post by Lizzie. It got me thinking. Then it got me writing. First to Lizzie in the comments and then in my little purple note book.
One little thing …
Post-its used to be an essential part of my day-to-day teaching kit. I was teased about it, in fact, leaving little coloured squares in my wake wherever I went. But that was a long time ago. And I moved on and discovered other tools that obsessed me instead (scraps of paper, IWB slides, shared photos on my phone, voice recordings on our class blog.)
Then, a few months ago, I attended a workshop at a conference by a teacher taking the reverse journey, from technology to paper. And more specifically exploring the potential of post-its. It wasn’t her ideas as such (though she had some great ones to share) but the objects themselves that inspired me. And on Monday morning I bought a stack of post-its and took them into my beginners class. And alongside the whiteboard, the miniboard, the projector, and the blog, they became a new focus for collecting and organizing and revisting and recycling emergent language in our barefoot classroom.
My purple notebook started to bulge with them. The walls of the classroom were decorated with them. The photos from our classes were dotted with them. I don’t think it’s changed the way I taught as such, but it did refresh it and made playing with language (literally) more hands on.
Here are a few examples:
In this class, the post-its helped us look back at what we’d studied last term, and look forward to what we wanted to do next. I’ve kept them in my notebook as a reminder.
In this photo, taken in yesterday’s class, we’re revisiting question words. The students matched the words with their meanings. Then we took away the words and they remembered them from their meaning. Then we took away the meanings and remembered them from the words. Then we moved them around and regrouped them, comparing e.g. who, which and what, or how, how much, how many, how often. The little pink stack will come back to the table at the beginning of the next lesson again to be fingered and matched and moved around.
Here the words have gone back into the context of the questions the students had asked in the lesson before. And later, after we’d followed the various tangents thrown up by the questions, they stayed on the board without their questions as memory hooks.
The colour and the movement and the manipulation makes the language, and the lesson, just that little bit more memorable. A little thing … but thanks for giving me the time to think about it Lizzie!
Thank you, Ceri!
I hope everybody enjoys Ceri’s post as much as I have.
If you would like to write a guest post in response to this challenge, or on a different topic (e.g. metacognition , language learning , your Delta/M.A. experiences , learner autonomy, a classroom activity you’ve used successfully… etc!) please do get in touch by commenting on this post or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.