Keep on Learning

PLUS: First Lesson MindMap

In last week’s blog, I briefly reviewed my past year of Professional Development and this got me thinking about just how much stuff I’d learned. However, as I eagerly started working on a new set of materials, midway through I realised that I was simply recycling very similar ideas to some of my previous materials. Surely, after all I’d learnt, I should’ve moved on after all that studying? So, I had a sort of guilty writers block for a couple of days. Fortunately, yesterday I realised that in order to consolidate and really get to grips with all of the wonderful insights and access to resources I’d been given on these courses, I need to unpack them piece by piece, not try to start from scratch and overhaul everything all at once. And why not share more of the learning process I go through here, rather than just the final product.

So this is where I am today. I’m about to start combing through the copious notebooks, books, documents, websites, blogs and reflections that I’ve accumulated and pick out and the things that struck me as particularly interesting and necessary for me to explore further. I might look at some of my previous materials and see how I can improve them. Or just start afresh on a new topic, but ensuring I integrate something new that will give my materials more depth and variation.

Explore Listening

For example, in both my teaching and writing it became clear to me over this last year, that something I really need to explore further and develop is the whole approach to listening as a skill and how to teach it. To that end I have invested in a couple of new books: Listening in the Language Classroom by John Field (Cambridge) and Phonology for Listening by Richard Cauldwell (Speech in Action). These were both recommended during the Take Your Time DELTA Module 1 course. So I will start to work my way through them to find ways to implement some of the ideas in my materials.

I really need to explore ways to better help students deal with the challenges of understanding spoken English, particularly with authentic texts, rather than the scripted texts you often get in coursebooks. As my materials tend to be for intermediate/upper-intermediate students, at this level it is particularly important to give them as much support as possible.

New “Useful Links” Page Coming

As I go through this process I’m going to start compiling a list of useful links both for teachers and learners which will become a new page on my website. Let me know your own recommendations for what I should include: websites, apps, blogs, videos…

First Lesson MindMaps in Glorious Technicolour

As for what I’m sharing today, it’s a bit of a cheat, but to buy a little time to get started on those books, I’m going to update some materials that I created in my 2020 blog, The First Lesson, where I shared a load of ideas and resources for how to approach first lessons with new students. Yes I know, term is already well underway now in most schools, so I’m a bit late, but at least you’ll have it in good time for the next new cohort!

Another of my objectives is to make my materials nicer to look at, a bit more colourful, but without being too distracting. I love using, so I’ve not only rehashed the “About Me” mind-map but I’ve also done an infographic for the Teachers Notes on how to use it in class. I mean just because it’s for the teacher it doesn’t mean it should bland, does it?! This version leaves a lot more up to the student, so they need to add their own ideas rather than simply select and highlight words/phrases on the page. In fact, I’ve done two versions, one blank one and one with examples to show them, so they know exactly what is expected of them.

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