Select Page

I really, really, hate board pens.

This morning the ^above^ happened to me. I am getting a bit pissed off with board pens, as this is about the 4th shirt that has been splattered by pen ink in the past couple of years. Bummer =(

But was I gonna let this get me down? Was I heck!

It just lead me down an unplugged path for 2 hours of class this afternoon, with the cherry of focused exam practice for FCE Speaking Part 2 roped in at the end (dear dogme gods, we could have spent the lesson doing practice Reading papers – boring! – so don’t smite me down).

We started with the Teaching Unplugged activity ‘A problem shared…’ (reference below), at the start of which I proceeded to tell my students how annoyed I was by my exploding board pen! They gave me some advice:

Just throw it away!

You could go to Primark and buy a new one…

Ahem.

They then thought of a situation or person that was bothering them and shared these in pairs, then giving each other advice. Some were banal – ‘I don’t think I have money enough to buy clothes to go to Portugal’ – while another student told something a bit more serious about trouble with her host family. Lovely language emerged and we talked this over, highlighting 2 ways to give advice – the imperative verb form and modal verbs of possibility (You could do this… You should do that…).

One piece of advice (about saving money) made us laugh…

 

…so I put the class into two groups to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of following such a piece of advice. I then borrowed the initial writing technique I saw on Alan’s blog to elicit some well known phrases to do with money. See if you can guess the two below…

 

I was pleasantly surprised when they got them both =)

Discussion ensued for a bit, and I then used the initial writing in reverse to test their memories of what had been written on the board.

I shoe-horned in a bit of exam prep at the end, but in a slightly different way than usual. I took a couple of pictures in our college library and language lab before the lesson:

This was followed by my adap of the FCE Speaking part 2 task – where candidates have to compare and contrast two pictures on a related theme, and answer a question. Instead of giving them the full picture, I took a leaf out of Ceri’s book and asked them to imagine they had ‘stepped back’ from the close-up and then widened their view – what could they see happening in the library and lab? I then gave them the task – compare and contrast and say what people can learn in each of these places.

As a round up of the lesson, I asked the students to write down three words or phrases they had learnt during the lesson. I think I better check my instruction-giving, as what I got back were useful, interesting, fun… adjectives describing the lesson! Oh well not going to complain about that.

Reference:

Initial impressions by Alan Tait

Unleashing the power of images, IATEFL Brighton 2011, workshop by Ceri Jones

‘A problem shared…’ p39, Teaching Unplugged, Meddings and Thornbury, Delta Publishing (2009)

http://www.deltapublishing.co.uk/titles/methodology/teaching-unplugged