2013 ELT Resolutions Met PLN
At the beginning of last year, I set two very specific goals related to ELT:
1) to start a blog and write reflections on my teaching at least once a month.
2) to write a few lines about each lesson taught and look back at how it went, how I felt, and if possible, to write what I would do differently next time.
I did not write a blog post every month (missed August and October), and occasionally I wrote very short notes on lessons taught, or skipped reflecting all together. However, I did manage to at least accomplish my goal to write most of the time, and for that I am thankful. Last year helped me to begin letting go of that perfectionism that has sometimes prevented me from continuing to work on a goal once I get slightly off track. Looking back, it is clear to me how my Personal Learning Network on Twitter, as well as the blogs I read, played a key role in keeping me motivated -giving me reasons to continue reflecting, brainstorming new ways to do things, and to reach out and get some creative energy at those times of the semester when we feel like we are “done”.
Last November, I learned about the #FlashmobELT movement through Ann Loseva’s blog post (thanks to @michaelegriffin). What a wonderful example of sharing ideas and learning from my PLN! Ann’s post came just as I had reached a point in the semester where I was struggling to come up with an engaging activity to get started reading one of the last academic texts for the semester. Although it’s been well over a month since I did this activity in class, I’d like to share some thoughts on how it went and what I learned. It’s a good thing I journaled a bit after teaching because now that I read it, I realize that I would not have remembered as much had I not kept notes.
Instead of selecting an activity from the linoit page in which FlashmobELT is collecting a growing amount of teaching ideas, I chose the 10 words activity that Ann mentions in her blog post. My students were about to begin reading a dense text (to be discussed in class) and I had not explicitly taught vocabulary in a while. The “10 words” activity (it doesn’t really have a name, but I’ll just call it that for now) requires students to choose 10 words they’ll have a partner guess from context and clues –giving students an opportunity to practice their listening and speaking abilities as well.
I took the first two paragraphs (A and B) from our reading and divided students into two groups. To model the activity for students, I chose a quote related to our topic and took out a few words. Then, I read the quote out loud (skipping the words I had selected) and asked students to guess what the missing words were. The words I chose were too easy and students guessed them right away –I think I would prefer to make this a bit more challenging next time since some of my students ended up also choosing easy words when they selected their 10 from the paragraphs.
Afterwards, I asked students to chose 10 words (from their paragraph) that they did not understand or thought would be useful throughout the text. I took about 5 minutes to go around, helping students understand the words they did not know. Students could not really ask each other what the words meant since I already had put them put into pairs and I had asked them not to show their paragraphs to each other. In the future, I might group all A and all B students together so they could help each other in this first stage of the activity.
Student A began reading the paragraph to student B, skipping the target words and giving clues instead. After student B got it or came close to guessing the words, they switched. This part of the activity took about 15-20 minutes.
I enjoyed seeing how engaged students were throughout the activity, even if I’m not sure they learned a lot of new vocabulary words. I teach a monolingual class, so it was definitely unusual to see most of them speaking in English during the whole time. Students did not appear distracted or sidetracked, which was also refreshing, especially considering we were approaching that time of the semester where it is hard to stay focused. I liked having chosen the introduction of the text because it gave us a starting point to begin discussing some pre-reading questions later on in this lesson, but I think in the future I may look for some excerpts containing more useful vocabulary since the paragraphs I chose were a bit too easy.
This year I hope to add some activities of my own to the FlashmobELT group. I am thankful to my PLN for all the motivation and encouragement I get from reading blog posts from other teachers and articles shared on Twitter. Since most bloggers I follow use WordPress, I’ve decided to make it easier on myself and move my blog here. This year, I hope to post twice a month and to increase my participation online.
Thanks to everyone who has taught me so much these past 12 months –looking forward to another enriching year in ELT!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!