Thursday, June 4, 2009

Motivating lessons at NILE

Here I am once again at NILE, in Norwich, England. It's been extremely productive - we'll revamp the stay in England a bit for the next set of students - and also inspiring! But let's just look at the inspiring language aspect and not the inspiring organizational aspect.

Today I got to sit in on Mr. Jamie Keddie ( and got to focus on two main text-reconstructions activities that I summarize here below:
1) Watch a Youtube short video without sound (e.g. "Procrastination" Tales Of Mere Existence")
2) After watching the video, elicit vocabulary and recreate the story verbally with the learners
3) Teacher has prepared the text in advance. Do some sort of language work with it, such as a running dictation where the learners then have to write the text and put the sentences in the order shown in the video.
4) Learners compare what they wrote with what was provided and correct their answers.
5) Each sentence is written on a blank card. Each learner is given a sentence and has to draw a picture of it on the other side.
6) Show the pictures to the class and elicit the sentence. In chorus, repeat the sentences.
7) The picture/sentence cards can be used for a variety of other language activities.

Adaptions for the primary school level or with beginners.
  • You might let them watch the Youtube video with the sound.
  • Let them watch the video without sound, but have key words and chunks (with distractors) prepared.
  • Simplify the language of the video as much as possible.
  • With the running dictation, have it in the form of a gap text, where they run, read the sentence, run back, but then fill in the gap text with the word and not rewrite the whole text.

The second idea went as follows:

1) Explain to the learners that their task will be to draw what they hear, but first they have to listen.
2) Have the learners put their pens down. Read the text to draw out loud.
3) As the learners to recreate what they just heard. Start writing what they say on the board.
4) Now let the learners take over - pass the board marker to a student who has to continue. Adaptation: Let the student write a sentence or two but then pass it to another student (or put stars under their chairs in advance so those people have to write).
5) Once the text has been recreated, reread the original text and discuss any discussions held during the text reconstruction.
6) Have the students draw their pictures.
7) Discuss the pictures (in this case, activate prior knowledge about the T Rex).
8) This particular example included speech bubbles. Once the pictures were finished, learners were given an "A" or a "B". The As had to write two lines of a joke. The Bs had to write the other two lines of the joke.
9) The instructor explained that this joke was told to him by his father. The learners' homework was now to rewrite the joke in their own words.

Adaptions for the primary school level or with beginners.

  • This would work just as is with a very simple picture description.
  • With early writers, have the text written and cut up (with distractors). Have the children put the text together and copy it or have a gap fill on the board or first letters of words or have the teacher write the whole reconstruction and then the learners copy it.
  • Give the children another joke for homework, provide them with a technique for memorizing it (look, say, cover, say, check) and have them tell their joke to a partner in class the following day.

Thanks, Jamie!!

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