In this lesson plan designed for the British Council Teaching English site, we explore the topic of creativity and innovation. This lesson was devised to mark World Creativity and Innovation Day on 21st April. However, it could be used at any time of year as this is not specifically mentioned.
The lesson begins by looking at what is involved in being creative, trying to expand this beyond the usual areas of art or creative writing.
The students then do a reading activity where they match the headings to each section. They then identify the synonyms which will have enabled them to do this task and focus on the idea of avoiding repetition. They read the text again and discuss which ideas they personally find most useful.
The lesson finishes with a creativity task, followed up by a final discussion.
Encourage students to think about their own creativity and how they could develop it further
Expand students’ vocabulary and ability to avoid repetition using a range of synonyms
Provide reading and speaking practice around the topic of creativity and innovation
Teenage learners at CEF level B2
The lesson plan and student worksheets can be downloaded here
In this lesson plan designed for the British Council Teaching English site, students read a first-person account by a person who stammers, about how he would prefer people to respond when he does so. After some discussion about the topic, the lesson goes on to focus on some different grammatical structures to express preference and sometimes annoyance: would rather/sooner, would prefer, wish. There is some practice using sentence transformation (as found in FCE) and then some more personalised practice.
To help students understand more about stammering and how (not) to respond when someone stammers
To practise reading for specific information
To be able to use a range of structures for expressing preference and/or annoyance: would prefer, would sooner, would rather, wish.
Adults and older teenagers
CEF level B1+/B2 (especially useful for Cambridge First Certificate preparation)
The lesson plan and student worksheets can be found and downloaded here
Considering that our brains are the key tool for learning, it is surprising how rarely teacher education focuses on neuroscience. Education is full of vague statements about only using 10% of our brains, or using the right or left brain, or being a kinaesthetic learner, but are these really based in science?
Friday 5th October 2018 is World Teacher’s Day and to celebrate I presented a free webinar as part of the British Council’s 5 on 5. In my session we looked at what recent research has to tell us about learning, looking specifically at motivation and memory, and how to apply these findings in the classroom to help students learn more easily and effectively.
How can we continue to challenge ourselves and grow as teachers? In my latest post for the British Council Teaching English site, I suggest ten questions that could help you climb above the teaching plateau.
A free lesson plan, which I wrote for the British Council Teaching English Teens page.
This lesson begins by focusing on some anti-smoking posters with students discussing the message and effectiveness of each one. They then learn some vocabulary to talk about four key reasons not to smoke: (health, cost, the impact on your attractiveness, and the impact on others). Students then choose one of these reasons and write a paragraph about it, using the vocabulary as appropriate.
As an optional final activity, the students design their own anti- smoking poster and present it to another pair or to the class.
Click here for the lesson plan and student’s worksheet.
Raise awareness of the many reasons not to smoke, or to give up smoking.
Extend students’ vocabulary to talk about health risks and other issues connected with smoking. E.g. bad breath, anxiety, blood pressure.
Develop students’ writing skills through writing a paragraph (using vocabulary) about one negative aspect of smoking.
Encourage peer feedback and correction on writing.
As an optional final task, develop students’ oral fluency as well as their ability to work together to design a poster and present it to their peers
I’m an advocate for CELTA. It isn’t perfect, and you certainly can’t consider the job finished when you pass, but in my experience it’s an excellent way to pick up a lot of skills quickly.
The intensive course is just that- intensive. In fact, I once had a trainee who’d been in the SAS, who said CELTA was harder. But whether you’re doing the intensive course, an online or blended or part-time course, there are a lot of things to learn. In fact,
‘Being a new teacher is like trying to fly an airplane while building it.’
Rick Smith, Conscious Classroom Management, 2004, p.44
With this in mind, I’ve just produced my first self-published book, with the-round.com . It’s called the CELTA Teaching Compendium. A compendium is ‘a detailed collection of information on a particular subject, especially in a short book’ (Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners) and in this particular compendium, I’ve set out to provide a quick, easy reference to all the key practical teaching skills taught in CELTA.
If you’re a trainee, you could think of it as being like having your CELTA teaching practice tutor available for questions any time of the day or night. If you’re a CELTA tutor, you could recommend sections to read, either as follow-up to your feedback, or in preparation for teaching practice.
The contents are listed alphabetically, so that the reader can dip in and out. Whenever another key skill is cross-referenced, there’s a link to take you to that section.
Clearly there’s in fact no ‘right’ way to teach. However, the suggestions and tips in this book are based on years of teaching and training teachers. I was also lucky enough to get feedback and further suggestions from a very kind group of CELTA tutors: Ricardo Barros, Viacheslav Kushnir, Anthony Gaughan, Natalia Ladygina, Marie Pettigrew and Zach Pinson.
You can see it on the round here, and the book is available for purchase at $4.99/£4.19 on Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com and Smashwords. I hope you find it useful, and I’d be delighted to get any feedback or the offer of a review.
The American dictionary, Merriam Webster recently tweeted, ‘Lookups for ‘feminism’ spiked today. It’s “the belief that men & women should have equal rights and opportunities.” It is believed that this was in response to Kellyanne Conway’s (a top Trump adviser) remark that “It’s difficult for me to call myself a feminist in a classic sense because it seems to be very anti-male..”
Feminism is not about being anti-male, but it is about recognising that, despite the strides that have been made in certain parts of the world, women are still very much disadvantaged. This doesn’t mean that bad things don’t happen to men, or that men aren’t discriminated against too sometimes, but that there is still a lot of work to be done to make things equal.
I’m a member of a new group on facebook, Women in ELT, (set up by Nicola Prentis) and the stories I have heard from my fellow female teachers around the world (more than 600 members so far) would make your hair curl. It’s only open to women teachers (which has been controversial), but if you’re one, just put in a request to join.
The great thing about this group, and the great thing, in my opinion, about Trump’s election, is that it is waking people up and pushing them into standing up for what they believe. And that includes me. I hope I don’t get a backlash, but I think it’s something I’ll have to risk.
So here are some lesson plans you could use to look at feminism and gender equality with your classes and wake them up too. Some from me, and some from some very talented teachers I’ve met through the facebook group. I’ll add more as I find them.
Women in Science– the lesson begins by challenging some stereotypes and asking students to consider why there aren’t more women in science. They then read a text which provides some possible reasons, and discuss how these relate to their own opinions.
The lesson then focuses on reference words, and how they link a text together, before a final speaking tasks about different jobs and gender.
Unsung Heroes– the lesson begins by asking students to think of well-known people that they consider to be heroes. It is likely that many of these will be men, so the students then go on to learn about 5 remarkable women in a jigsaw reading activity.
The students discuss these women’s achievements, and learn some useful vocabulary for talking about social issues. There is then a focus on relative clauses, before the final task of writing about another female hero, using the vocabulary and relative clauses where appropriate. For a 50-60 minute class the writing stage could be done at home.
Labels– the lesson is built around a viral advertising video which focuses on the idea that women are not treated equally in the workplace, being judged differently from men for doing the same things. The video has no dialogue, just a soundtrack.
The lesson starts by looking at the words used in the video to ‘label’ men and women. For example, persuasive vs pushy. It would probably work best not to tell the students the topic of the video at this stage. Students then watch the video and answer a couple of simple comprehension questions.
They then go on to read an article about the video, which discusses the issue in more depth, and also how suitable it is to use an advert selling a beauty product to discuss a feminist issue.
Finally the students discuss their own opinion of the message of the video and consider other viral videos they have seen which promote a message.
A conversation lesson about self love– by Cecilia Nobre. Cecilia says, ‘When I first came across Jessamyn’s story, I thought it was gutsy and moving. She is a yoga teacher who has become an Instagram star for her body-positive message and for showing the world that Yoga teachers can come in all shapes and sizes. I tend to plan my lessons around topics that interest me first, and I then reflect on whether my students might also connect and engage with these topics.
Most of my sources are authentic and this one is no exception. I essentially based all of the tasks on Jessamyn’s impressive Facebook profile; she posts interesting news articles, videos, photos and different sorts of media items.
This topic couldn’t be more relevant: self-love, self-acceptance, self-esteem, fat shame are currently hot topics in the mainstream media. She talks about her body insecurities and I believe that 98% of all women can relate to this, in one way or another – and certainly some men too. Therefore, your adult learners might have dealt with these issues at one point or another during their lives – so why not bring the topic into the classroom?’
The Women’s March Vienna 2017– by Katy Simpson on her site, myenglishvoice.com. Katy says, ‘My English Voice is all about helping people to make their voices heard. So we were very excited to join in the protests on Saturday, 21st January 2017; it was a historic day for people around the world who feel their voices are not being heard.Up to 2 million people took part in protests around the world in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington. There were marches in 161 cities across all seven continents the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th president of the United States. (Source: The Guardian). This lesson is about the march in Vienna, Austria.’
A free downloadable lesson, particularly suitable for Valentine’s Day, but usable at any time of the year, about 36 questions which might make you fall in love.
The lesson starts by discussing different views of love, before the students read a short text, giving the background to an experiment where strangers asked these questions to see if they would fall in love.
The students then watch a video of two strangers getting to know each other by asking these questions, and see how they become closer as the interview progresses.
There is then a focus on question forms, looking at some slightly more complex questions. This would be suitable from B1 upwards.
Finally the students choose some of the questions that they are happy to answer, and discuss them in pairs (falling in love definitely not obligatory!)
[NB. Be aware that at around 4.19, Cam gives a couple of examples of swear words.]
21st century skills is a term that everyone seems to be talking about, yet no-one seems entirely sure what exactly it means. Or rather, everyone interprets it slightly differently. In my latest blog post for the British Council, I look at the skills the World Economic Forum predicts are/will soon be needed in the workplace, and how we can help our students to develop these skills, without completely changing what we are doing already.
Marking written work can be incredibly time-consuming, and it’s disheartening when you see the students glance quickly at your detailed comments and put the piece of writing away in their bags never to be looked at again.
So, what can be done to a) reduce your workload as a teacher and b) encourage students to actually learn something from your feedback*?
We all know that it’s important to get students to take responsibility for their own work and many teachers use a correction code to encourage students to self-correct. This can be useful, but you still need to be selective. Too many corrections/comments can lead to the student feeling overwhelmed and demotivated, and/or the student not knowing which of these areas are high priorities.
Choose one or two areas with the whole class that you will focus on for this set of written work only. For example, if it is an opinion essay, you might choose to focus on text organisation. Or you could choose a grammatical area, such as articles, that the whole class finds difficult. Instead of the teacher choosing these areas, you could negotiate them with the class before they start or after they have written the work but before they have handed it in.
Ask students to individually select two areas they want you to focus on as you mark their work. They could either write these at the bottom of their work, or highlight sections that they don’t feel as confident about.
Focus on just one or two (anonymous) pieces of work that you look at with the whole class. Take it in turns so that everyone has this opportunity. Especially with a monolingual group, it is likely that many of the issues will be the same for most students.
Just correct one paragraph of each student’s work. Then ask them to self-correct anything similar in the rest of the piece.
Of course, with all these approaches it is important that the students understand that not highlighting something doesn’t automatically mean that it is correct, but that you are being selective.
Set aside time for students to respond to and act on your feedback
In the UK this has the lovely acronym DIRT (directed improvement and reflection time). If we don’t want our carefully thought through feedback to be ignored, DIRT is vital. However, it is unlikely in most contexts that you will have sufficient class time for students to sit and re-draft the whole pieces of work in class. Again, be selective.
So, if you have just marked one paragraph, students could work on that one paragraph in class, and then look at the rest at home. Or, if you have just marked errors with articles, you could write a selection of errors on the board for the class to correct, and then ask students to correct just one paragraph of their own work in class. Or if they have asked you about a particular section, give them time to work on rewriting that section in class, in response to your feedback.
Once students are familiar with the DIRT technique, you can write DIRT activities on the bottom of their written work. For example, ‘Find at least three sentences where you have used ‘and’ and ‘but’ and change them to use more complex linkers’ or ‘rewrite paragraph 3 and make sure that the tenses are used correctly.’
Extensive feedback that students do nothing with is, quite frankly, a complete waste of everyone’s time, so why not experiment with some of these ideas?
*Of course, feedback is not only about pointing out what could be better, and it is also important to point out what went well.
You can find another post on written feedback here:
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.