Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Milking it - getting the most out of resources

 New teachers often find it difficult to extract the most out of students/materials, as they are nervous about ending up boring students. A commendable concern, and understandable...my problem is filtering out all the things I'd like to try so that we can actually move on from time to time! The phrase 'milking it' is something I like to do - squeeze all the activity you can out of the materials & time you have. Sometimes having a cast iron lesson plan can get in the way of realising a fabulous opportunity when it presents itself...like yesterday afternoon.

We had a precious five minutes left and I wanted to review some of the vocab we've probably forgotten from earlier in the book. First off, we tried recent words we've picked up...by spelling the word on our partner's (ticklish) back. They loved it. I only usually do this with younger children, and then only letters, but this worked at word level. The 'readers' concentrated very hard on the tracing on their backs - much more than usual - and I am sure they were 'seeing' the letters in their minds, remembering order and then trying to fit that pattern to a match from memory. As they got the hang of it, and recognised their 'writer's' touch, we went back into previous chapters for a bigger challenge. Very rewarding and I said nothing!

Prior to that we'd read one of the songs in the back of our book (English Time 2). I like doing this to help reinforce their confidence and speed things up a bit by taking turns (line by line) or recording/timing them. Using the music last in this way helps them relax - it's not a singing class! (I do like the music as well, especially as it makes them stick to a faster beat than they normally adopt, and they have to keep up...can't false start/correct yourself - plunge onwards to the end! Anyway, the final step for them today was to cross out the icky food from the song and replace with their own preferences. Again, not much input from me!

Now they own the song and are much more likely to want to sing it - in pairs to help each other out, we now have three versions for the price of one. Good work girls!

Reducing TTT (Teacher Talk Time) was something I was reading about here http://eltchat.com/2011/02/09/effective-ways-to-minimize-ttt-teacher-talk-time-maximize-stt-student-talk-time-2/ and it is something I consciously try to do less of myself. Sounds contradictory to some parents, who think if their children have an "English shower" then they'll learn by osmosis or something! Kids learn off each other...I just facilitate.