May 15

InnovateELT

I had a truly amazing time at the InnovateELT conference this weekend. I’ve wanted to go since it first started four years ago and am so happy that I finally got my act together, submitted a proposal and went.

As a huge fan of professional development, and especially conferences, I generally have a good time whenever I’m off TEFLing – meeting other ELT professionals, sharing ideas, confirming and questioning beliefs – I get a real buzz out of it. But Innovate felt especially special…

Firstly, it was incredible to finally meet lots of people who I follow and admire on social media, namely Twitter – Amy Blanchard, Sarah Priestly, Zhenya Polosatova, Melody Philip and more – and professional contacts who I’ve only conversed with via email – Dan Shepherd, Karen Spiller, Nicola Meldrum, Fran Austin and others.

Secondly, I got the sensation that everyone who was there was genuinely engaged and involved. So often attending conferences can feel like a teacher’s CPD obligation for the year but it was clear from the levels of enthusiasm for ELT that this isn’t the case with InnovateELT attendees.

I’ll admit the promise of craft beer was also a decisive factor in my applying for InnovateELT and the social atmosphere surrounding the conference didn’t disappoint. With the beautiful backdrop of the OxfordTEFL garden, the Espiga flowed, as did the conversation.

Congratulations to the InnovateELT team, eltjam and OxfordTEFL for such an incredible conference and thank you as well to everyone who came to my session on Guided Visualisations – I’ll post up all the ideas from the session over the next few days.

February 15

Engaging Exam Exercises

Here are the slides from the talk I gave at the FECEI annual conference, held in Madrid last weekend. If there are any questions about any of the activities, leave a message in the comments below or feel free to email me.

Engaging Exam Exercises from verybouncyperson
***UPDATED***
Thanks to the wonderful Sandy Millin for reminding me that I was going to post links to the activities from the slides:
Spot the difference
Ask the Experts
Phrasal Verb Jeopardy
Dice Games – these can be downloaded from my Activities page
Word formation 4-in-a-row
You can find an explanation of SPRE in this blogpost  and there’s a bit about using guided visualisations in this blogpost. The idea of the final activity was to helo learners with creative writing – by doing a guided visualisation and using the SPRE format for story-writing, we can help our learners become more effective writers, especially when they’re trying to do so in the pressure of an exam
September 17

Views from the Smartboard

Quite a few years ago, I had a change of environment and started working in a state school which had blackboards – prompting me to suggest a new title for the blog.  Well, it’s happened again…but now I’m faced with a scarily expensive smartboard!  Annoyingly, there is also a whiteboard in the room…at the other end of it and whilst I love using the whiteboard, I feel it’s a little inconsistent to ask my class to turn their chairs/desks around every other day.

So, at the moment I’m going PowerPoint-crazy, prepping my lessons like the billy-o.  However, I will ask someone at the centre to help me out with using the smartboard as a board, rather than just projecting everything.

Another area of excitement with this new environment is that I have been given the highest level group…which means I have a range of levels from pre-B1 to post-B2, with some who have even prepared for a C1 exam.  I’m going to look into how I can effectively differentiate in the classroom, bearing in mind that the centre is materials-light (so no wonderful photocopying of various level reading texts) and also has a no-phones policy (so no wonderful differentiated listening tasks on BYOD).  It’s a new adventure!

September 10

Factors aiding good classroom management

In yet another change of direction, it looks as though I won’t be teaching any YLs this year.  However, these ideas, from a professional development session last year, are still valid when we think about our adult classes.  Although we often assume there will be less discipline and classroom management issues with adults, this may not always be true.  In fact, it can sometimes be more difficult to deal with such issues as you don’t want to patronise or embarrass your adult learners by responding to issues in the same way you would with younger learners.

So, in a bid to minimise classroom management problems, here are some factors to consider, in no particular order:

  • planning
  • consistency
  • clear boundaries
  • variety
  • realistic expectations
  • flexibility
  • seating arrangements and classroom layout
  • clear inx and targets for tasks
  • knowing how to motivate learners
  • roles or tasks for fast finishers
  • L1/L2 control
  • monitoring
  • routines
  • interaction patterns
  • teacher’s energy
  • giving responsibility to learners
  • positive approach to content and learners
  • resources
  • rapport and classroom relationships