Archiv der Kategorie: Teaching

Speed Talking

What do you need?

  • Cards – one for each student – with (interesting) names/topics on them
  • Enough space so the students can make a big outer and smaller inner circle (if the weather is good – why not go outside?)
  • Clock to stop the time

How?

Divide the students into two equal groups. One group forms an outer circle, the other an inner one. The students face each other. Give each student one topic-card. To begin, the person in the outer circle starts talking about his/her topic for two minutes (or less… or more), while the other student listens. The students switch after two minutes and the one listening before is talking for another two minutes. Now, before all the students in the outer circle move clock-wise, they exchange cards with their first partner. This way they never talk about the same topic twice and realize quickly that it helps them imensely if they listen to their partner.

Why?

  • Ss talk (a lot)!
  • Fun

Additional Notes:

This activity can be used at any level, as teacher I just need to chose less complex topics for lower levels. My students (upper-intermediate) loved it and it woke them up this morning at 8am. I’ve barely seen them talking so lively without realizing that they use English. It’s also possible to use the Speed Dating/Talking idea for a first lesson where the students don’t know each other yet; instead of topices they’ll then talk about themselves.

Reference:

This great activity wasn’t my idea. I got it from:

B. Hoffman, Germany, published in ETp 76, September 2011 – thanks for this awesome activity!

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Literature Bunch Pt. 2

In part one I described the concept of a Literature Bunch. Now I want to give an example of one I’m doing with my students at the moment.

Students:

The students are 3rd formers (Swiss grammar school), 15 years old, and in grammar school since two years. Their level is pre-intermediate, and they are a really strong class in every possible sense.

Teaching goal:

My foremost intention was to get them reading. To show them, that reading can be fun even if the books are written in English. They should learn not to look up every single word they didn’t understand/weren’t able to translate immediately into their native language.

Books:

Because of my set teaching goal, I decide to chose „fun“ books – books that might not be usual for an English classroom.

I actually didn’t plan on using „Uglies“ and „WWW: Wake“ but rather „The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had“ by K. Levine and „Purple Heart“ by P. McCormick. However, it is not always easy to get English books in Switzerland on short notice, so I had to improvise and get other titles.

What happened so far:

The students grabbed their – more or less favorite book – and started reading, and reading, and reading…. (I allowed them to use two lessons because we did a lot of grammar stuff the week before). Well, first lesson was over and they already were discussing their books. At the beginning of the second lesson one student approached me and casually mentioned: „I’ve already finished my book, what shall I do?“ I was shocked… pleased… helpless. Luckily, she had a book for German class with her, so I allowed her to read that one (and swore to be better prepared the next time – but who would have guessed that a student finishes a book in one evening?). During the following week I saw my students wandering around the school with the books in front of their noses and other teachers asked me how I managed this („Simple. Just chose books that they like!“). Then, another student approached me wondering if the sequel to „Hunger Games“ was available in the library because he wanted to know how the story continued. I wasn’t sure, so I gave him my copy and wrote an urgent message to our school-librarian. Another one wanted to know if he could borrow the second book of „WWW: Wake“, unfortunately, it hasn’t been published yet.

So, after the appointed time for the first book, half of the class had read more than one book and they were eager to swap themto get the one they’ve already heard so much about. Before exchanging books we discussed what we liked/dis-liked about the stories (e.g. „I have to wait for the sequel to be published“) and what the message might be.

Now/Future:

Next week they’ll have finished their second offical book and we’ll talk about the characters and how to write a character description. Exchanging books again, the class will read the third book over summer vacation and in the second/third week of the new term we’re going to talk about book reviews and how to write them. Afterwards I plan to read something in class, though not sure yet as to what. If you have any tips, please contribute to the google-docs list „Literature in ESL classroom“ – thank you in advance!

To be continued…


Unterricht & Second Life, Pt. 1

Eigentlich hätte ich ja heute Prüfungen und Aufsätze zu korrigieren gehabt. Stattdessen bin ich in Second Life herumgewandert, um interessante Orte für Lehrer zu finden. Ich habe nicht Orte gesucht, welche für Geschichts- oder Englischlehrer interessant sind, sondern mich auf andere Fächer konzentriert. Natürlich kann ich, als Nicht-Biologe, Chemiker, Informatiker die Locations nicht wirklich beurteilen, sondern nur sagen, wo sie sind, einige Impressionen mit euch teilen und euch einen Besuch vielleicht schmackhaft machen. Ort für Ort soll euch so zum Erkunden einladen.

Genome Island

Wie der Name schon sagt, geht es hier um Genetik in jeglicher Form. Bloss geht es hier nicht um trockene Wissensaneignung, sondern ums Experimentieren (zu meiner Zeit benutzten wir im Unterricht noch Pfeifenputzer um die Mendel’schen Gesetze zu lernen!). Hier ein Auszug aus der HP von Genome Island:

„In the virtual world of Second Life, the Abbey shares Genome Island with other buildings, gardens and pools that house representations of the work of other geneticists: the structure of DNA, genetic coding, genome organization, a human chromosome gallery, genetic regulation, bioinformatics and population genetics. Science progresses by the creation of virtual worlds that overlie everyday and not-so-everyday phenomena. The metaverse of Second Life provides a vision of that world that anyone can enter and experience. If you are an instructor thinking about bringing a class to Genome Island, this guide is for you.  If you are a student or even just a casual visitor to Genome Island, feel free to peek!“ (http://faculty.txwes.edu/mclark/Genome/Guide.htm)

And a little movie found on youtube:
Mehr Orte (z.B. die Sixtinische Kapelle, das Space Museum, …) bald.
To be continued…

Education & Second Life, Pt. 1

Today – instead of correcting essays and tests – I teleported around Second Life to find places that might be of interest to teachers. I didn’t go for destinations that might interest ELT or history teachers, but for other subjects. As I am not a biologist, chemist or geographer, I can’t really rate the places – only tell you where they are, share some impressions and maybe inspire you to go exploring for yourselves. Place by place I will write about them as good as I can.

Genome Island

As the name of the sim indicates, it’s all about genetics here. But instead of just reading about it, or waiting ages to conduct some real-life experiments, the visitors can do them virtually (I remember doing Mendels‘ laws with pipe cleaners in class!). Here an excerpt from the Genome Island’s webpage:

„In the virtual world of Second Life, the Abbey shares Genome Island with other buildings, gardens and pools that house representations of the work of other geneticists: the structure of DNA, genetic coding, genome organization, a human chromosome gallery, genetic regulation, bioinformatics and population genetics. Science progresses by the creation of virtual worlds that overlie everyday and not-so-everyday phenomena. The metaverse of Second Life provides a vision of that world that anyone can enter and experience. If you are an instructor thinking about bringing a class to Genome Island, this guide is for you.  If you are a student or even just a casual visitor to Genome Island, feel free to peek!“ (http://faculty.txwes.edu/mclark/Genome/Guide.htm)

And a little movie found on youtube:
More places (e.g. Sistine Chapel, Second Life Planetarium, …) will follow.
To be continued…

History & Second Life, Pt. 1

As an SL-Junkie, fascinated with this virtual world and its possibilities, I’ve known for quite some time that I wanted to integrate it in my classroom. Not as a big time project, but why not use it now and then?

Rediscovering Web2.0 for myself, I stumbled across an article (in German: http://www.geschichte-und-neue-medien.de/?p=264 ) about the US Holocaust Museum in SL (http://slurl.com/secondlife/US%20Holocaust%20Museum1/1/35/27). I just had to check it out immediately.

The place captured me upon entering the first room.  In the colourful world of SL a room made in black & white attracts attention; it irritates and reminds you of its seriousness – it isn’t a game. 

Three boards invite you to examine. If you click them, you’ll get a notecard (NC) containing more information. 

KRISTALLNACHT: A NATIONWIDE POGROM, NOVEMBER 9-10, 1938

„Prelude to Destruction“

The pretext for the violent pogroms of Kristallnacht was the November 7 assassination of a German diplomat in Paris, Ernst vom Rath, by Herschel Grynszpan, a Jewish teenager whose parents, along with 17,000 other Polish Jews, had been recently expelled from the Reich. Initally denied entry into their native Poland, Grynszpan’s parents and the other expelled Polish Jews found themselves stranded in a refugee camp near the town of Zbaszyn in the border region between Poland and Germany. Though the Nazis portrayed the pogroms as spontaneous outbursts of popular outrage, they were calculated as acts of retaliation carried out by the SS, SA and local Nazi party organizations. (…)

„Kristallnacht: Night of Broken Glass“

Kristallnacht refers to the wave of violent anti-Jewish pogroms which took place on November 9 and 10, 1938 throughout Germany, annexed Austria, and in areas of the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia recently occupied by German troops. (…) It was a turning point in history. The pogrom marked an intensification of Nazi anti-Jewish policy that would culminate in the Holocaust – the systematic, state-sponsored murder of Jews. (…)

„After Kristallnacht“

During and after Kristallnacht, for the first time, Jews were arrested on a massive scale and transported to Nazi concentration camps. About 30,000 Jews were sent to Buchenwald, Dachau, Sachsenhausen, where hundreds died within weeks of arrival. (…)

After having read everything the room has to offer (I didn’t copy all the information on the NCs), I continued through a hidden door. The second scene is more like the usual SL setting, e.g. colours.

Here, a whole quarter, inviting you to discover its secrets, is re-enacted. Many rooms hold additional NCs on the Reichspogrom Night… but I don’t want to give everything away. Go and experience the museum for yourselves – it’s worth it!

Some last notes: I haven’t worked like this with my students yet. But after having been to the museum, I know that next autumn, when the subject is on the curriculum again, I’m going to let my students explore it in SL. Before including this into a lesson, however, the teacher should have some basic knowledge about SL. For my students, I plan on using two lessons – one for introducing SL and another one for the task of exploring the museum. Of course I’ll let you know how it turns out… even if it takes a few months.

To be continued…

PS: More information:  http://www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/focus/kristallnacht/


Geschichte & Second Life, Pt. 1

Als SL-Junkie, fasziniert von den Möglichkeiten dieser virtuellen Welt, war mir schon früh klar, dass ich diese in meinen Unterricht integrieren möchte. Nicht im grossen Stil, aber ein Versuch kann doch nicht schaden, oder?

Neu eingetaucht ins Web2.0 bin ich heute über diese Notiz gestolpert: http://www.geschichte-und-neue-medien.de/?p=264 . Natürlich musste ich dort sofort hin und selber auf Entdeckungstour (http://slurl.com/secondlife/US%20Holocaust%20Museum1/1/35/27) gehen.

Schon mit dem ersten Schritt in die Räumlichkeiten war ich völlig fasziniert. In der bunten SL-Welt fällt dieser Raum in schwarz-weiss auf; er irritiert und erinnert daran, dass es kein Spiel ist. 

Drei Tafeln laden zum Betrachten ein. Klickt man sie an, erhält man jeweils eine NC (Notecard) mit zusätzlichen Informationen.

KRISTALLNACHT: A NATIONWIDE POGROM, NOVEMBER 9-10, 1938

„Prelude to Destruction“

The pretext for the violent pogroms of Kristallnacht was the November 7 assassination of a German diplomat in Paris, Ernst vom Rath, by Herschel Grynszpan, a Jewish teenager whose parents, along with 17,000 other Polish Jews, had been recently expelled from the Reich. Initally denied entry into their native Poland, Grynszpan’s parents and the other expelled Polish Jews found themselves stranded in a refugee camp near the town of Zbaszyn in the border region between Poland and Germany. Though the Nazis portrayed the pogroms as spontaneous outbursts of popular outrage, they were calculated as acts of retaliation carried out by the SS, SA and local Nazi party organizations. (…)

„Kristallnacht: Night of Broken Glass“

Kristallnacht refers to the wave of violent anti-Jewish pogroms which took place on November 9 and 10, 1938 throughout Germany, annexed Austria, and in areas of the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia recently occupied by German troops. (…) It was a turning point in history. The pogrom marked an intensification of Nazi anti-Jewish policy that would culminate in the Holocaust – the systematic, state-sponsored murder of Jews. (…)

„After Kristallnacht“

During and after Kristallnacht, for the first time, Jews were arrested on a massive scale and transported to Nazi concentration camps. About 30,000 Jews were sent to Buchenwald, Dachau, Sachsenhausen, where hundreds died within weeks of arrival. (…)

Nachdem ich mich in diesem Raum umgesehen und alle drei NCs (habe nicht die ganzen Texte abgetippt) gelesen hatte, ging es weiter durch eine versteckte Tür. Der zweite „Raum“, ist schon eher so, wie man sich SL gewohnt ist, nur schon, weil (leider) nicht mehr in schwarz-weiss gehalten. 

Hier ist ein Stadtviertel nachgestellt, in dem man auf Entdeckungstour gehen kann. Viele Räumlichkeiten bieten zusätzliche Informationen zur Reichsprogromnacht… aber mehr möchte ich hier nicht erzählen. Geht selber auf Entdeckungstour – es lohnt sich! 

Noch einige kurze Bemerkungen zum Schluss: Ich habe dieses Thema so noch nicht mit meinen Schülern bearbeitet. Nachdem ich aber heute all dies gesehen habe, weiss ich, dass ich dies nächsten Herbst (wenn das Thema wieder fällig ist) sicher machen werde. Bevor man dies jedoch in Angriff nimmt, sollte man sich bewusst sein, dass zumindest der Lehrer grundlegende Kenntnisse in SL haben sollte. Für die Schüler rechne ich mind. mit 2 Lektionen – eine, um sich zu orientieren, die zweite für das Erkunden des Museums. Natürlich werde ich euch über den Ausgang des Projektes auf dem Laufenden halten…. auch wenns noch ein paar Monate dauern wird.

To be continued….

PS: Mehr Informationen hier: http://www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/focus/kristallnacht/


Literature Bunch Pt. 1

Many English teachers are surprised when I tell them just how many books my ESL students have to read. They usually just manage about two each schoolyear. I would too if I went for the chapter-by-chapter approach. So, how do I get my students to read about four novels during a school-year?

Instead of reading one book chapter by chapter with lengthy discussions on details etc., I order a choice of books. If I have a class of 20 students, I choose five novels and order four copies of them. As soon as they arrive, they will be displayed on a table in the middle of the classroom and the students can come up, look at the books, read the cover text and decide which book they want to read first. Sometimes there is a little fight if too many students want to read the same book, but that doesn’t happen as often as one might expect.

The students usually have six till eight weeks time to read the book in private, though I occasionally give them time during lessons too (e.g. if it’s a double-lesson and they take a test the first hour). After the allotted time I plan some activities, discussions, tasks etc. about/on the novels. Those lessons might range from one till six hours. Having done this, the books are swapped, each student reads a new one and the cycle begins anew. Using this method, the students get to read three novels (more cycles would be too much – but that is my personal opinion). I still do the chapter-by-chapter approach too; one term the students read a bunch of books, the other term we do it the traditional way.

Sure, there are disadvantages to this approach. The students are on their own, not many teachers feel comfortable with this. „Clever“ students buy the book in their native language or just read a synopsis on the Internet – though an even cleverer teacher knows how to test/prevent/punish this strategy. The teacher gives away a lot of control – did the students truly understand the importance of chapter xyz?

However, there are advantages too – have to be, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it! A class only has three English lessons a week and literature is just one (smaller) part of the curriculum. Reading a novel in-class takes away one third of the lessons the students might need to deepen their understanding about the past perfect. Now, I have all three lessons for the course-book – though because they have to read the book at home, I don’t give as much homework – and only spend a few lessons every second month on literature. Another advantage for me – some might see it differently – they get to read: what better way is there to learn a language, apart from living in a country where it is spoken, than reading? The students pick up vocabulary, grammar and constructions on-the-go. And even if they only have it stored in their passive knowledge, it still is in their knowledge base.

So far I worked with this method three times. It was a (huge) success, especially with my pre-intermediate students (age 15/16). What they were „forced“ to read, what other bunches I did/am planning, what kind of activities we do in-between cycles will be in the next parts.

To be continued….

PS: The idea for „Literature Bunch“ isn’t mine, it was part of my teacher training courses by H.B.