The first workshop I attended was Ceri Jones’s Unleashing the power of images.
From that time on, I took pictures of shadows, close ups and absolutely anything that could lead to further use and discussion in classroom. What I learned is that you don’t need technology in your classroom to use images with your students. You can use their own memories through mental images – what a great idea. You can also use the images of the places your students are familiar with and don’t be afraid to use only fragments of the places (let them visualize the rest of the place, time, people and atmosphere). Help your students speak confidently about the places and things they know and include all of the senses when talking about it.
This is the picture of Tara’s book and the shadow of my hand. What is the story behind the picture?
Use all the senses to describe familiar places.
The next session that gave new perspective to my teaching was Jamie Keddie’s Authenticity trap.
Go off the piste when you are teaching and use authentic materials but choose carefully what is authentic and what purpose it serves in your classroom.
Ken Wilson also mentioned that we should be careful when working with course books because not everything there is meaningful and useful for the students and serves as a source of further discussion, collaboration and motivation > Do you want to read about full English breakfast or the future menu consisting of really nutritious and tasty insects?! So try authentic materials, play with them but always keep in mind why you are using them and how your students can benefit from them.
I was surprised and pleased that I learned many useful and interesting ways of using mobile phones with classroom at Shelly Terrell’s workshop. Do your students have smart phones? Let them use the applications while learning. It’s the cheapest technology you can bring to classroom. And in case you or your students don’t have ones, use their mobile phones to record their voices, interview each other, take pictures or any other collaboration. It’s fun!
Shelly’s favourite app called Mouth Off!
Russell Stannard, our Jing King, was also talking about super easy to use web applications and websites and he again proved that everyone can use them and there is really nothing to be worried about. He showed us great tool called Word magnets for which you don’t even need internet connection! Just be creative, playful and make your teaching (and your students’ learning) motivating, enjoyable and appropriate for the 21st century.
David Warr showed us his brilliant idea of word planting and many ways of using and playing with them in the classroom. And I thought that it’s pity I am not a student anymore when there are such incredible things to use. And we’ve also learned Swahili language > using word plants, so nice!
Using word plants gives you and your students opportunity to remember phrases in chunks!
Sue Lyon Jones also asked in her talk why the teachers are so afraid of using technology and what’s the big deal when there is always plan B! Anyway, it’s just technology, it should serve us and not vice versa. Go and give it a try.
And then I heard some brilliant ideas on improving students’ writing through reading from Cecilia Coelho. We can help our students with writing by using storm writings or their supporting their imagination when describing characters in details that were not covered in the book. And you can enrich the project by using wallwisher notes where students can collaborate or even set up the class blog or wiki on the books and writings.
One of the books Cecilia used with her students!
The future of teaching is in technology whether we like it or not (well, I like it and don’t mind learning all the stuff!). We live in the 21st century when all the kids have their own mobile phones, laptops, iPads and they want to use them. So why not using what they like when they are learning. It’s the most natural way of learning.
In all of the sessions I attended (and mentioned above), technology played significant role whether it was a direct use of it or it was just a medium for something else.
Eric Baber, new IATEFL president, also said that we must embrace the digital age!
And the last but not least I would like to thank OUP team for the opportunity to attend this amazing event and become a member of their social team during the conference. It was lovely to meet all those friendly people who work hard for OUP. My thanks go to Naomi Moir, Shaun Wilden, Dan Bond and Alex Williams and other great people I could meet! Amazing team!
TEACH – TECH > not a big difference in the spelling but huge difference when they both meet in the classroom!