Back in business

After a fairly long hiatus, which has seen massive ELTpics growth (over 17,300 images now in the resource, 101 sets, 1,250 members of the Facebook group….though the Twitter feed is largely silent), Take a photo and… is back, with three posts lined up already.

The first of this new-burst-of-life batch of posts is by ELT author, New Jersey girl and, more relevantly, IATEFL BESIG lady, Marjorie Rosenberg, who we had the honour of welcoming as the 1000th member of our Facebook group. 1,000! With IATEFL (Harrogate 2014) not long over, it seems a good time to bring Marjorie to the blog, by way of thanking her for all the work she does for the SIG.  I leave you in her very capable hands.

Colours on the beach.  Image by Marjorie Rosenberg at ELTpics

Colours on the beach. Image by Marjorie Rosenberg at ELTpics

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The wonderful world of ELT Pics

Marjorie Rosenberg

Being a true digital immigrant meant that my first introduction to a smart phone was

Tzatziki. Image by Vicky Loras at ELTpics.

Tzatziki. Image by Vicky Loras at ELTpics.

nothing short of overwhelming. Luckily I had bought one shortly before going on holiday to Greece and when I spotted a similar one being used by a windsurfing friend, I jumped at the possibility of asking if he could help. This turned into daily lessons at the local taverna over Greek salads and tzatziki and soon I was using Facebook and Twitter on a regular basis.

One day I noticed something called eltpics on my Twitter feed and saw they were asking for contributions for their collection of free, crowd-sourced photos. Great idea, I thought, as the copyright issue is one that crops up again and again in ELT. As I had just learned how to take a photo and then attach it to a tweet, I began happily looking about at the beautiful scenery and sending off tweets to the hashtag eltpics.  Then the request came for pics showing colours and that brought a new challenge as the sea and the sand did not offer a lot of variety. Luckily, there was an extremely creative holiday-maker on the beach who began creating wonderful creatures out of the natural clay which could be found at the base of the nearby hill. The creative work went on for a couple of days and once the masterpieces had dried he took out a set of paints and he and his two young sons got to work. By the end of the first week the beach began to be filled with colourful creatures of all shapes and sizes. And I was lucky enough to be able to photograph them and send them off to eltpics.

Key and fob. Image by Victoria Boobyer at ELTpics.

Key and fob. Image by Victoria Boobyer at ELTpics.

When I got back other projects were waiting for completion and I didn’t get the chance to take or send photos but one day after seeing some reminders about the weekly topics took a look at the website and lo and behold, there were my pictures, a sight which was really thrilling to see. Although these pictures were not the first project of mine which was published there was something very special about being included in this collection put together by other teachers around the globe and I felt like I had truly arrived in the big league, that crowd of those well-known educators in my PLN.

However, work took over again and I didn’t get a chance to do much about my photos or using those of others.  Then at an IATEFL SIG coordinators meeting last autumn we discussed the problem of SIGs and copyrighted materials. There had been various suggestions of how to help IATEFL members find out about Creative Commons and what they are allowed to use for educational purposes. I suggested that we tell everyone about eltpics as it is a wonderful resource. In the meantime I have learned how to use it myself thanks to the very helpful crowd running the show and will be showing some of the pictures as part of my next power point presentation. I was looking for everyday items and found a photo of a key by Victoria Boobyer and then I needed something about music and discovered a great photo of a cat orchestra by Sandy Millin, both of which will be making their debut in a few weeks at a workshop for teachers in Israel.

A Band of Cats.  Image by Sandy Millin at ELTpics

A Band of Cats. Image by Sandy Millin at ELTpics

I think this is a truly brilliant project and one of the reasons I still love working in ELT after over 30 years is the cooperation and collaboration found among teachers world-wide. Although we only get to meet up f2f at events (at least those lucky enough to be able to travel to them) the idea of setting up a website to provide people with free, useful and fun materials is something to be commended. I am very proud to be the one thousandth person to have joined the Facebook page.  What an honour!

 

Keep taking the pills…

Get your ches'nuts 'ere..

Get your ches’nuts ‘ere..  Image by @fionamau at ELTpics

As October draws to a close and, here in the Northern Hemisphere, Autumn fills the air with smells of wood-smoke, roast chestnuts, wet leaves, our world of food undergoes a subtle shift too. Salads are replaced by soups, pulses and stews push lighter fare aside, chilled beer is usurped by red wine (and tea, of course); the harvest season ends with its various festivals celebrating and giving thanks – for crops, for grapes, for hops… – in time for Persephone’s period in hiding. .. Sorry, it’s an autumnal mood thing ;)

Anyway, in keeping with that, and to bring together the close of the IATEFL Global Issues SIG’s Food Issues Month, ELTpics’ third birthday (I’ve just uploaded eltpic number 16,000!!), and this blog’s second, I’ve done the opposite of Persephone and come out of hiding. I’m very pleased to be able to welcome, as guest blogger, and old friend of mine whose name has become more and more familiar over the years. More Global, in fact…. Curiously, one of the first times I met Lindsay, we were dealing with a food issue – helping a hotel manager translate after a cranky English-speaking client had thrown a bowl of soup at a waitress! A fortuitous bowl, as it turned out, as Lindsay has been amongst the people I call ‘friends’ ever since. Lindsay is a prolific contributor to our profession, and has been for a number of years: involved in and fronting various successful adult coursebooks, participating in iT’s for Teachers, onestopenglish and a handful of resource books, Lindsay is now one of the people at the helm of The Round, which was a nominee for the prestigious 2013 ELTons awards. I leave you in his capable hands.

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It’s interesting how sometimes the smallest thing can set off an idea that just won’t go away. In my case it was the following photo in eltpics, taken by Ann Loseva.

Full of beans   Image by Anna Loseva at ELTpics.

Beans? Pills? Hallucination?    Image by Ann Loseva at ELTpics.

I have been moderating the IATEFL Global Issues SIG event on Food Issues. When I saw this image with the following title: Beans? Pills? Hallucination? I couldn’t stop thinking about food pills. I started doing some reading on it. Did you know that in the late 1800s food pills were once a dream of the early feminists? Food pills could therefore easily be a Food Issues lesson! A couple of days later, here is the result. Enjoy!

Lindsay Clandfield, October 2013

Food pills – a lesson idea inspired by eltpics for Food Issues Month.

Preparation: For this short activity you need the photo above, taken from eltpics (photo by Ann Loseva). You could also do the interesting background reading Meal-in-a-pill at the BBC.

Optional preparation: Bring in a selection of dried beans or pills to be used as realia (see variation stage 4)

Level: B1 +

Stage one:

Tell learners you have a photo of an object that you want to show them. Before you do, explain that the object in question could be interpreted in different ways. Tell them you are going to suggest different interpretations of this object. Can they guess what it is?

Read the following sentences out. Emphasize that these are all interpretations of the SAME object.

It’s an object that liberates women from work in the kitchen.

It’s an object of a terrifying future world, where people don’t get any pleasure from eating.

It’s a solution for the world’s food crisis.

It’s a more efficient way of eating so you have more free time for other things.

It’s a dangerous object that has lots of chemicals in it.

An object that people use to control their eating, so they don’t eat so much.

Can learners guess what it is?

Stage two:

Show or project the photo and the list of interpretations. Put students in groups of three or four and ask them to choose one of the interpretations and give more reasons to support that interpretation. They should try and come up with at least three reasons. Allow around five minutes for this, then feedback as a group.

Stage three:

Explain that the concept of food pills is one that has been interpreted in all these different ways in science fiction and society. Ask the class which of the interpretations they think is most interesting/relevant/improbable.

If you like, you could assign the reading at this moment or as a follow up to the lesson.

Stage four:

Put students back into pairs and display the photo again. Give each pair one of the following questions (on a piece of paper).

Imagine these three pills contain all the taste and nutrients of an amazing three-course meal. Describe what that meal would be.

Imagine these three pills are medicine that could help people who have problems with food or eating. What would each pill do?

Imagine you work for a corporation that sells these “meals-in-pills”. What would your marketing strategy be? Identify the people who would most likely buy these pills, and the arguments you would use to sell them.

Imagine you live in a future where these pills are the way all humans consume food. What would be the causes of this situation? What would be the consequences? Think of three of each.

Variation: If you have brought pills or dried beans to class give each pair three of them. They can use them in their presentation in stage four.

Stage five:

Ask pairs to present their ideas to the rest of the class and feedback.

Lindsay Clandfieldissues-month-final-5-500px

If you’d like to add a class-plan using ELTpics and working on Food Issues, as a way of extending the GISIG’s great idea, and to thank them, and Lindsay, for allowing  us to participate, please send me a message via Twitter (@fionamau) or Facebook (you can find me via the ELTpics Facebook page).

Fiona

Korea calling

Another great guest blogger, Mike Griffin is based in Seoul and is a key figure behind the blossoming #KELTchat, an ELT chat for teachers in Korea. He’s also got an unmissable, ‘must-read’ blog. I’m so glad he agreed to write for Take a photo and…, particularly as he hasn’t actually used ELTpics much, and it’s wonderful to see the thinking through of how he could actually incorporate the resource. Have a read and then please do add your own thoughts in the comments box below. How could YOU use ELTpics? Over to Mike:
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I’ve  never even owned a camera. Well, there was that one time I borrowed an old one from my sister just before departing on a trip sometime in the late 90’s. I promptly lost it and have never gotten around to buying another one. I guess I am not really all that into photos or photography. Most likely, you didn’t click on the #ELTpics website to read about my history with photography so I will stop there. I noticed #ELTpics quite early on in my journey with social media for professional development. I don’t think it is much of a coincidence that the folks most involved in #ELTpics are such great connectors, role models, bloggers, photographers, sharers, and, indeed, people. I thought they were doing cool stuff before I was actually fully aware of #ELTpics. I thought it was a brilliant idea before I really know what it was about.  When I figured out (by “figured out” I mean I took 2 minutes to read the blog) what #ELTpics was about I loved it even more. I was inspired to get involved and to use the site as much as possible for my classes. Unfortunately, I haven’t quite managed to use #ELTpics much in class for a variety of reasons (mostly related to a lack of internet in certain rooms and a lack of projectors in others and a lack of pre-planning coupled with a surplus of laziness on my part).

I have actually only used #ELTpics in class once. Just once in 18 months. A question came up in class (in a classroom that had easy internet access) and I remembered seeing a picture (from @aclilltoclimb, I believe) I thought would help clarify things a bit. I took a minute or two to find the picture I had seen a few days before, found it, put it up on the screen to the knowing nods of approval from my students. That is my one and only experience using #ELTpics in class so far. I hope to try out a few things in the next few months and I will mention some ideas I have for this later on in this post.

I have used #ELTpics for blogging a few times. Among my favorites was this one by Victoria Boobyer.

Image by Victoria Boobyer at ELTpics

Image by Victoria Boobyer at ELTpics


It was great to search by emotion and find exactly what I was looking for!

I have also used #ELTpics for presentations from time to time and I greatly appreciate it as a resource. A lot of the photos are breathtaking and provide a nice respite from Powerpoint slides filled with words.  In a recent presentation I was able to use #ELTpics photos to spice things up. Since the audience sort of “ohhed” at times when I changed slides  I think they had the impact I was hoping for.
(Photos by @annehendler)

AnneH1

Both images contributed by Anne Hendler

Both images contributed by Anne Hendler

As you can see the original photos (below, by @nina_septina and @theteacherjames respectively) are much more beautiful and striking without me in them!

Image by @nina_septina at ELTpics

Image by @nina_septina at ELTpics

Image by James Taylor (@theteacherjames) at ELTpics

Image by James Taylor (@theteacherjames) at ELTpics


I am keen to try out #ELTpics in class and I have been bouncing ideas around in my head for a while now. I have three main ideas I’d like to share.

1) The first idea is related to having students do a pecha kucha using the pics.  Instead of simply having students use the pictures to create their own pecha kuchas (which is a fine idea itself) I would like to add a bit of a twist. Instead of students choosing their own topic and scouring #ELTpics for pictures to match it, I would like to flip this around and have other students organize the slides for their peers. This means that the speakers could get a set of slides that is intentionally random. I think this would promote a lot of creative thinking and fun. I also think the considerable challenge of the task could act as a way of relieving stress because the task is already hard so students might feel that they can just give it a go and have some fun with it. I am already imagining students deviously creating a collection of pictures with no apparent connection. I might consider adapting it to 10 slides rather than the standard 20 for this. (Shout out to Alex Walsh, who I discussed a similar idea with in relation to as yet to occur inaugural #KELTchat Conference. Actually, our idea was even more devious, speakers would not have any time to see the slides before doing the pecha kucha and would have to speak extemporaneously as the slides appear. Not for the faint of heart.)

2) One activity that I like to do from time to time in class is to choose three or four related words and ask students to choose the “odd one out.” I was thinking it might be fun and useful to do the same with pictures. The #ELTpics collections could be particularly well-suited to this activity. I am imagining printing out the photos or just having them on screen and asking students to select the “odd one” and explain why they have done so. I can imagine students would have a wide variety of criteria and this might be a nice, safe nudge to have students explain the reasons for their decisions.

3) I love having students and training course participants make posters in class. I like it for English classes and like it even more for teacher training sessions. This is something I started doing in the past few years and I have probably gone a bit overboard at times with it in terms of frequency and duration. Perhaps #ELTpics could be a part of my poster creation toolkit. The first idea that comes to mind is to have students/trainees  choose pictures  from the site and print them off and add them to their posters. The second, more digital idea, is to have students create a digital poster. Of course a picture from #ELTpics could figure prominently in the design. Part of the reason I am so interested in doing this with training course participants is because here in Korea public school teachers are typically expected to have flashy presentations and I think an eye-catching picture from #ELTpics would surely fit the bill.

Unfortunately,  I don’t think most teachers in Korea are familiar with this great resource. I am adding this to my goals. In addition to trying out some ideas in my own classes I am hoping to introduce more and more teachers to #ELTpics. Thanks for reading and please wish me luck  with my goals. I will be sure to report how it goes. Much gratitude, respect and love for everyone involved.
(Picture by @senicko)

Image by Steve Nickodemski (@senicko) at ELTpics

Image by Steve Nickodemski (@senicko) at ELTpics

Burning questionnaires

Mosaics from Burning Questionnaires by Ian James, Anne Robinson, Ceri Jones and Dale Coulter

 

I consider myself a Dogme teacher, it’s what interests me, or, more than that, it’s what motivates me, and, even when not in ‘full Dogme mode’, the principles behind Dogme underly my teaching philosophy and practice. I firmly believe in the student’s right to choose, to learn in their own way, to be respected by their teacher(s) and not simply treated like ‘just one more’, but of course most of us work within the constraints of an institution, with a syllabus, a coursebook, tests to be passed, a Director of Studies (and parents) to be kept happy, boxes to tick. In my ‘institutional’ work, I have a coursebook, but also a very open-minded, ‘tuned-in’ DoS who is happy to allow me to be as learner-orientated as I wish / they need, but my classes are generally of 20+ students, so true personalisation is on a student-by-student-per-class basis, or by applying a type of democracy. Not so in my one-to-one classes. Pure Dogme (or Dogme 2.0, as I always have my laptop to hand and my students usually arrive armed with smartphones and/or iPads) is par for the course (with a Plan B, just in case), and the ELTpics suite of resources is a big ingredient in some of the more successful lessons.

The other day I was talking to a student, a journalist by profession, about the interview blog, the Burning Questionnaire (*for the origin of The Burning Questionnaire, see the end of this post) – I can’t remember why, but as a journalist, we may have been talking about – hey – interviews. We went into the blog, and I showed him some of the mosaics chosen by interviewees (see above for examples), and we spoke about what they might say about those people. My student’s curiosity was piqued, so we read Dale Coulter’s interview. I hadn’t particularly noticed the language in Dale’s answers – the blog is aimed at ELT people after all – but my student found it fascinating. He is of what used to be called Intermediate or Upper Intermediate level – B1 or B2, depending on the day – and he enjoyed reading chunks out loud and playing with the pronunciation, for example with Dale’s description of Vince Vaughan in Swingers as an ‘outrageously misogynistic character’ (and this reviewed the word ‘tongue-twister’ from an earlier lesson..). We spoke about music, motivation, why we become what we become, professionally, and about the film – and book – High Fidelity by Nick Hornby. My student (J.R.) was genuinely interested in Mr Coulter, to the extent that we decided to read another interview and compare them. Ian James was our next subject, and my student was even keener, particularly upon reading Ian’s musical tastes, as J.R is a music buff with even more musical knowledge than the guys in High Fidelity. Ian’s explanation for where it all started brought mirth, then

Scribblings.    From an image by Fiona Mauchline at eltpics (click for full image)

Scribblings.    From an image by Fiona Mauchline at eltpics (click for full image)

the musical recommendations agreement; vocabulary items were discussed ‘scribblings’, ‘pews’, ‘toad-in-the-hole’, and we compared notes on Ian’s recommended films, particularly as one of them is set here in Extremadura, more language chunks for pronunciation, the meaning of inspiration, and just who WAS (IS) Jenny Agutter

I asked J.R if he fancied writing his own answers to the Burning Questionnaire, and he agreed, seeming quite keen after having read two examples and, I think, been impressed by the eloquence of the ‘average’ ELT person :) I slightly modified the questions to suit a journalist rather than a teacher. and emailed them to him. A day or two later, he sent me his first draft, and we looked through it in class, without writing on it in any way. I pointed out areas that I felt could be improved on, either in language or spelling, and we discussed his answers in terms of content, much as we had discussed Dale’s and Ian’s. After class, I highlighted in yellow the areas we’d suggested he improve on, and he redrafted his answers. Very few errors remained. I sent a quick email querying a couple of things and he sent me his final draft, and his choice of four ELTpics. I have asked his permission to reproduce his work below. And believe me, this is a student who is B1- B2, but you can see how his imagination has been caught by the writings of Messers Coulter and James, and how the desire to write well shines through. If you have any one-to-one classes, or perhaps even groups well managed (reading and discussing in smaller groups), you may like to try this idea. It certainly worked for J.R.

My Student’s Burning Questionnaire (NB this is his third draft, uncorrected, and presented in the same way as those on the Burning Questionnaire blog, with his mosaic and individual images):

mosaic2d10365f6916f5ed5bf04d1f5c6b71aec0bf5262

What is your full name, and where did it all start?

José Ramón Valdivia González, heir to a dynasty of conquerors from Extremadura. Hahahaha. One of my history teachers told me that my ‘great, great, great grandfather’ Pedro de Valdivia, conqueror –or defiler of Chile, as we see- was killed by the natives, who used his bones to make cups, plates… cookware . I guess it all started there.

What music do you listen to while driving/cooking/contemplating your navel?

Depends if I’m alone in the car or not. With (my wife), rumba and singers like Pablo Alborán. It’s a dictatorship. When I can choose – most of the time- I turn on my iPod, connect it to Chevrolet and and let the music play randomly: Sigur Ros, Love of Lesbian,

Image by @fionamau at eltpics

Image by @fionamau at eltpics

Maga, Belle and Sebastian, Leonard Cohen, Dylan …

When I cook, I do the same. Sometimes I prefer flamenco, especially Camaron, El Cabrero and Poveda. By the way, ‘Three daggers’ is a masterpiece. “I’ve bought three daggers for you to give me death. The first: indifference. The second: betrayal. And the third: stainless steel if you have courage”. Great! I have recommended this song to all my friends.

Do not usually look at my belly button … metaphorically, either.

What’s the most satisfying – or frustrating – aspect of your job?

Satisfying: Communicating. Informing citizens and stimulating their analytical and critical capability.

Frustrating: Seeing every day unscrupulous businessmen who do not know the mass media are demolishing the foundations of good journalism and democracy.

Writing or on the air? Why?

Both of them. I still haven`t found what I’m looking for. Today, I prefer to fly on the air. Tomorrow, who knows… But always writing.

A teacher from your schooldays:

It’s hard to say, but none of my teachers — and I’ve had dozens- influenced me. In none of did I find that mixture of passion and knowledge to become a reference in my life. I barely remember the names of ten or twelve.

What was the first thing you learnt as a journalist?

Absolute truth does not exist. Nor does objectivity.

Image by @fionamau at eltpics

Image by @fionamau at eltpics

What motivates/inspires you most?

The good people always motivate me and inspire me. Every day I search for them in the pages of newspapers, on the television news, on the streets, in the family, among my friends…

Do you ever cry in the cinema?

Many times. Especially with emotion. With ‘Schindler’s list’, ‘Cinema Paradiso’, ‘It’s a wonderful life’… The list is very long. My private little secret (not anymore) is related to a Jennifer Lopez’s movie called ‘Maid in Manhattan’. I’ve seen this film twice and I cried both. She is an immigrant hotel maid and a famous congressman falls in love with her. Cheesy, no?

Your favourite meal? Where? And perhaps with whom?

A good stew of chickpeas, with their meat and vegetables. With good wine, of course. Best at home. Although I would say that the most pleasant culinary moment is when Mati and I eat paella at the beach bar in Aguablanca (Ibiza).

A dream?

See my son become a honest, honorable and happy man.

Favourite film?

I will not be original: The Godfather saga. Under the excuse of the mafia and the family, the three films complete a metaphor for life, with their miseries and greatnesses. Few days ago, when Ratzinger flew, I remembered the third movie. If we talk about Spanish cinema, I love –and hate– ‘Los santos inocentes’, because it’s masterful and reflects the Extremadura that should never exist again. Not everything is going to be drama. ‘The front page’, from Billy Wilder, is the best comedy I’ve ever seen. Oops, I said five movies … and

Image by Phil Bird (@pysproblem81) at eltpics

Image by Phil Bird (@pysproblem81) at eltpics

all, including the last, are dramas. I’m sorry.

A sport?

Rugby, because it contains all the human values ​​that I cant`t find in football or basketball. In rugby, players fight to the death to win, but always respecting the opponent, without tricks. Also, this historic sport has managed to integrate new technologies to solve problems. Basketball begins to do it. In football, it’s unthinkable. Football is another world. “Football is football”, said the historic coach Helenio Herrera.

Beach, mountains or city?

Beach, of course. It is the ideal of every ‘extremeño de dehesa’. Few things are comparable to a day at the beach, swimming, talking to friends, reading a book, having a beer at the beach bar and watching the sunset. In Ibiza or Zahara better.

Image by Steve Nickodemski (@senicko) at eltpics

Image by Steve Nickodemski (@senicko) at eltpics

Day or night?

The night, because the night belongs to lovers, as legendary musicians like Patty Smith, The Boss or Natalie Merchant have sung. At night, I find the necessary solitude to cultivate my spirit, or to destroy it. I always find inspiration, peace and food for my life. Also at night I have shared the best moments with my family and friends. Definitely, I’m a vampire.

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* The Burning Questionnaire was originally a feature in an old ‘webzine’ of mine called The Atlantic Forum, back in the day (about 12 years ago, I think). Apart from articles on ELT and news, I used to ask a ‘Name’ in ELT to do The Burning Questionnaire, and ‘victims’ back then included Mario Rinvolucri and Mark Hancock, whose BQs I still have on my computer :) When Take a photo and… was about a year old, I decided to reuse the format with contributors to this blog, and hey presto. SO be warned, all contributors past, present and future; your turn will come….. ;)

Fiona Mauchline 2013

Newsflash: ELTons 2013 nomination

Well, what a wonderful surprise. The ELTpics suite of resources for teachers, including

Click on the image for more information about the 2013 ELTon Awards.

Click on the image for more information about the 2013 ELTon Awards.

this blog, has made it to the shortlist of nominees for an ELTon, so we’ll be there at the ceremony in London in May.

Literally hundreds of teachers from around the world have helped make ELTpics the resource it is, and we’d like to thank each and every one of you.

Thank you.

Fiona, on behalf of the eltpics curators.

Interactive techno-travels

Paul Braddock is one of the brains (brainses?) behind the British Council’s wonder-web TeachingEnglish, a former ‘Barefoot blogger’, a teacher based in Barcelona, webinar host extraordinaire and all-round nice guy – and it’s a great pleasure to include his post amongst the collection of guest posts we’re so lucky to have on Take a photo and…  So without further ado……. Paul Braddock.

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This is a lesson I’ve used a few times using the ‘Bridges’ collection. It has always worked well and can be adapted for a range of levels & contexts. It is a more tech-integrated way to focus on the topic of travel and gives students a chance to personalise their learning.

Stage 1

paulbridge1Show students the six different pictures of bridges. Ask them to choose just one of the pictures they like and ask them to try and guess where the picture was taken.

After conducting feedback and writing their guesses on the board (next to the picture if you’re using an IWB), show the pictures with the correct locations below.

paulbridge2Put students into pairs and ask them to choose one or two of the photos. They should make notes about the place(s) they have chosen, including facts they know about the country together with some ideas about why they would like to go to their chosen locations, or what they might expect the place to be like. You can use simple sentence heads to guide them:

  • What I know about X is that it is / has…
  • If I went on holiday to X, I would…
  • One reason I would like to go to X is…

While they are working with their partner, place the individual bridge pictures around the room. This will give you an opportunity to listen to the different discussions without it looking like you are monitoring too closely.

When they have finished (give them about 5 minutes), form new groups of students and invite them to give feedback on what they had been discussing to their new partners by walking around the room, stopping at the different pictures they chose and talking about what they had written in their notes.

Explain to students that they are going to find out more things about one of the places shown in the pictures. Make a list with the class of things that they would want to know if they were going to a place. If you have slightly less motivated students, you could do this as a ranking exercise by giving them a list of things they might want to know and asking them to put the list in order of importance.

  1. Night-life
  2. Recommended Sights (monuments, squares, etc.)
  3. Cost (hotels, meals, public transport)
  4. Shopping (the best places for x, y, z)
  5. Restaurants / food you should try
  6. Galleries / museums
  7. Festivals & Celebrations
  8. The people
  9. ?
  10. ?

Stage 2

Once you have a list of 8-10 things, or you have finished the ranking activity, tell the students that they are going to find out some of these facts by researching them. A problem I often find with these kind of “we’re going to the computer room so you can do some research” activities is that there is often very little communication going on in English between students. To a large extent, an overuse of L1 is sometimes unavoidable, although this is also true of activities conducted in the classroom. At the same time, there is a tendency for students to look on websites written in their own language, or to simply copy and paste text without even understanding the gist. To avoid this, it is important to give students clear tasks with tangible outcomes. For example, in this activity, where students are being asked to look at different websites to gather information, I tend to give them the url’s for a small number of sites via a sticky wall (see below) and tell them to use only these few sites to conduct their research.

paulbridge3This avoids long periods of time spent on Google looking for relevant sites. There is still the issue of understanding the content, but if students choose the ‘copy & paste option’, you should build in activities that focus on some of the vocabulary and also allow for students to develop their summarising skills.

Once your students have made their relevant notes, either on their own virtual sticky wall or in their notebooks, tell them that they are going to create a virtual display highlighting FOUR key facts about the city they have researched.

Go to popplet.com which, if you don’t know it, is a fantastic online mindmap resource. It is incredibly simple to use and is free! In the computer room, if you are still there, or in the classroom if you have an IWB or data projector, demonstrate the different features to the students by building a mind map for one of the locations the students didn’t choose as in the popplet below of Tokyo

paulbridge4If you are still in the computer room, give students time to sign up for an account. Go through with them again how to use the site and then give them a time-limit for creating their Popplet. Ideally, it should include some video content and images as well as a small summary sentence to go with each image or video.

Stage 3

Explain to your class that, now they have compiled interesting information about their chosen location, they now have to get back home. Tell them this is not as simple as getting on a plane and flying back to their home town.

In order to get back home, they need to travel by four different means of transport.

Elicit the different possibilities (boat, train, plane, bus, hot-air balloon(!), etc.).

Tell them that each group will be competing to see who can travel home the quickest using the different forms of travel and also spend the least money. Obviously at this point, any students that have chosen Venice, for example, will be smiling at those who chose Vietnam.

If this happens and you have groups travelling back from a nearby country, make sure you give any group that chose a nearby destination 4-6 hour penalty as well as a suitable amount of your country’s currency as a forfeit.

Students should plot their journey home on the Popplet they have created and demonstrate they have researched travel options by explaining how they travelled, how much the journey cost and how long it took as well as one interesting fact about each place they stop (see example Popplet below).

paulbridge5The nice thing about Popplet happens that you can share your canvas with anyone who also has an account and allow that person to edit it. This makes it a perfect activity for students to do at home if you run out of time in class or if you are teaching online. If you look at the different ‘popples’ on the popplet, you can see the name of the person who created it, so you know (if it is a homework task) who has put some effort in and who has slacked off!

Anyway, once students have finished their journeys home, ask them to give a small presentation outlining how they travelled and some of the interesting information they came up with. Total up their full journey time and cost and announce the winners.

What I like about this activity

  • There is a lot of room for personalisation. Students are able to ‘choose’ at pretty much every point – which image do they like? where do they want go & why? Travel options, choice of information to represent on the popplet…
  • A lot of rich language emerges from the activities – describing the pictures (useful for exam classes), travel & transport vocabulary, sequencing events (we started in… then we travelled by boat to… after we had arrived in… etc.)
  • A number of skills are used (reading for gist, summarising skills, presentation skills, agreeing/disagreeing, working collaboratively (either face-to-face or remotely), selecting & justifying.
  • There is a harmless competitive element to the final activity which motivates the students to do the task well.
  • There is the option to spend time at the popplet-creation stage to focus on copyright and copyright-free images that can be used.

(For an earlier Take a photo and… post on using the Bridges set with ESP learners, see here.)

eltpics used in ‘bridges’ worksheet

  • NY bridges by @shaunwilden
  • Rainbow bridge, Tokyo by @pacogascon
  • French bridge in Vietnam by @elt_pics
  • Venice by @mkofab
  • Bosphorus bridge by @arzuteacher
  • Dublin by @mkofab

Images used in Popplet

  • Tokyo Tower by Another side of yukita
  • Kimonos by starfires
  • Cosplay Parade by chooyutshing
  • Lunch at the station by @grahamstanley

A coursebook in the life of

How to introduce this guest blogger when in fact he has saved me the job, and kindly added a short bio at the end of his article? Adam, who is based in Istanbul, is one of those people you meet on Twitter or Facebook (@yearinthelifeof) and you feel you just have to meet in real life too (and not only because Tweedeck flatly refuses to let me see his avatar photo ;) ). Always a source of interesting references, blog posts and musical titbits, I have actually yet to meet him (so many reasons to go back to Istanbul one day…..), but am extremely pleased to be able to welcome Adam to Take a photo and… in the same month as the British Council ‘TeachingEnglish’ team has shortlisted him for the Blog of the Month ‘accolade’. So, it’s over to Adam………….

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    How do you work with your course book? Do you ever get your learners to look forward to coming units in anticipation, or do you take each unit – or even the coming page – as it comes? While books are organized in a certain way to promote their linear, chronological use, there are benefits to looking ahead to what’s coming up. With this is mind, here’s one easy activity that I’ve used to get your learners actively talking about their coursebook in a positive and engaging way.

First, I’m going to describe the procedure of the activity, and then I’ll tell you why it’s so beneficial.

What you need

Go to ELT Pics and have a look around. Now that there are more than 11,000 pictures available, you have a good chance of finding something that will fit your needs.

Choose a bunch of pictures based on the contents of your course book contents. Naturally, the number and content will depend on what comes up in your book.

How to proceed

I’ll describe how I did this in the context of my own book.

  • My course book is split into two books, each book containing five units. Each unit is split into four inputs, each focusing on either reading or listening.

  • At the start of the semester I found four pictures for each unit, one for each input.

  • I had sixteen learners in the class, so I put them into four groups of four.

  • To get them into the activity, we all looked at the pictures I’d chosen for unit one.

  • Each group got a copy of the set and had to:

    • Decide what each picture could represent

    • Decide what could possibly connect the four pictures

  • After several minutes of discussion in groups, they shared their ideas among one another.

Here are the pictures I used:

Images at #eltpics by @CliveSir @senicko @Notyetlanguage and @eannegrenoble

Images at #eltpics by @CliveSir @senicko @Notyetlanguage and @eannegrenoble

So, what do you make of those four pictures? Can you guess what the theme of the unit is?

Well done! The subject of the unit is indeed education. Now, can you assign one of the photographs to each of these four headings?

  1. Education today

  2. Intelligence in seven steps

  3. Restructuring education: Rationale and methods

  4. The future of learning

There are no correct answers at this point; all learners need to do is to connect a picture to one of these headings and try to justify why they made that choice. The important thing here is making a connection between the image and the thing they will be studying at a later point.

Here’s how I continue:

  • I assign a set of pictures to each group, one set representing four images for one of the other course book units.

  • They looked at the pictures and decided an overall theme for their unit.

  • Each group received the headings of the reading and listening content of their unit and allocated one picture to each heading.

At this point, you can take the activity in a couple of different ways:

  1. The groups intermingle and share their ideas with members of different groups. Each person should have their own copy if you do it this way, so they can show others what they are talking about and why they connected one particular image to a part of the book.

  2. The groups present their ‘findings’ to the other groups. Each group takes it in turn and can have a Q and A before explaining their pictures if they wish.

Benefits of this activity

  • This is a simple activity that could easily be used to get learners talking and listening to each other, in a meaningful way, around the contents of a given unit of work.

  • This gives the learners the sense that you’ve planned ahead and are in control of the whole course, plus they get a sense of everything that is in store for them.

  • You can do some pre-teaching of vocabulary that is pertinent to any given unit.

  • You can pre-activate schemata for any given unit.

  • You can generate a bit of excitement about the upcoming unit(s) of study, having already built up some anticipation of what is to come.

  • You can give the learners a sense of ownership of the book, as you can return to this activity when you eventually arrive at a particular unit and hand over the class to your ‘unit experts’ to introduce the subjects that will be studied in the coming days/weeks.

A note of thanks

This activity is based on an idea for introducing the course book which I saw in a conference presentation by the ever excellent Ken Wilson.

About Adam

@yearinthelifeof aka Adam Simpson

Adam has been fortunate enough to spend the last twelve years of his journey as a life long learner working with others in what some call the ‘language classroom’. He is currently privileged to have the opportunity to help young adults meet their educational goals at Sabanci University in Istanbul. His professional interests include flexibility within the curriculum and the considered use of technology in the classroom. He occasionally finds time to blog about his life: www.teachthemenglish.com.

New Year’s Puddin': first helping

DSC01152

Merry Christmas                                by Fiona Mauchline

As a post to close the door on 2012 and kick off 2013, I thought I’d answer that question: What have we done? ELTpics and its curators have been pretty busy, so here’s a ‘Compendium of Stuff‘ for you to mull over while your wine does likewise close by and a new term beckons with glee. Happy New Year to you all.

ELTpics busyness: the Resource

ELTpics turned two in mid October, 2012, and celebrated it with its 11,000th image being added to the resource. Not bad, considering the whole thing started as a photo-swap between three friends (Victoria, Vicky and Carol). We had wanted to celebrate with some sort of symbolic action and photos, something like setting off balloons, but ecological and time issues dampened the fuse on those plans. However, we did celebrate by posting an article written by Shelly Sánchez Terrell on Take a photo and… , and subsequently had our Best Day, hitwise, thanks to that article. The blog has had, as I write, just under 13,200 hits since its start some14 months ago, and we hope to keep it running strong, through 2013.

Another birthday ‘present’ came in the form of the ELTpics portal, a webpage bringing together the various sections or facets of ELTpics to increase user-friendliness. If you’re a regular ELTpicser, you may like to bookmark the portal.

Around our second birthday, we also started to talk about spreading from Twitter to Facebook, to reach more people via a more visual medium. Thus, at Christmas 2012, a page was born… and the ELTpics facebook group took off. As an open group, it had 83 members by the time it was 24 hours old. Right now, it’s 48 hours old and has 121 members. Let it grow…

The last set to be opened in 2012, and therefore the first to collect images via Facebook was Dreams and Ambitions, which looks set to be a great way to wander the pathways of your imagination as you peruse and use photos of dream cottages, guitar-players, balloons, travellers…. At the time of writing, our latest contribution via Facebook and the last one from either source in 2012 was from Antonia Clare

Image courtesy of Antonia Clare for #eltpics

Image courtesy of Antonia Clare for #eltpics

and a few hours earlier, our last image via Twitter was from Michael E Griffin in Korea, which, while it was meant for Food, certainly shows a Dream and Ambition of mine….

I dream of carrot cake.....

I dream of carrot cake…..  Image by Michael Griffin for #eltpics

The first image to reach us in 2013 was this Dream/Ambition from Christian Schenk

Oh to be a professional football player....  Image by Christian Schenk for #eltpics

Oh to be a professional football player…. Image by Christian Schenk for #eltpics

and, at a little before lunchtime on New Year’s Day, we already have 7 images this year.

In addition to Take a photo and…, in April 2012, we added a second blog, The Burning Questionnaire, which is a collection of interviews with the guest writers who have posted on Take a photo and... As well as answering the questions in the interview, the guests choose four ELTpics which say something about them, and the images are used to illustrate or decorate their interviews. I have to admit to having become a bit slack re sending out the interviews since summer – sometimes life just gets in the way – but I intend to come back with a vengeance now in 2013, so look out guest bloggers past, present and future, you have been warned….

ELTpics busyness: the Events

ELTpics is increasingly being mentioned by people giving talks at conferences, training days and so on, with ELT folk such as Ben Goldstein, Ceri Jones and Jeremy Harmer waving the flag for us, for which we are immensely grateful.

Jeremy Harmer, in fact, used ELTpics to create his Pecha Kucha when asked to compère the IATEFL Glasgow Pecha Kucha evening in Spring 2012. He then wrote a post for Take a photo and… and added his interview to our Burning Questionnaire.

ELTpics was also invited to take part in round table (or rectangular screen, I guess) as part of the online Virtual Round Table organised by Heike Philps in April. This was a new web experience for me. I sat newly showered in my slippers, smart from the waist up, in a tiny hotel room in Córdoba, very few metres from the Mezquita, with the windows tightly closed in the hope that the street sounds wouldn’t interfere too much, and presented ELTpics to people around the planet via slides made using, hey guess what, ELTpics. It was a great feeling of intimacy and expansion at the same time, and was vaguely reminiscent of the opening sequence of The Brady Bunch.

ELTpics also went to TESOL France in November, and provided me, at least, with one of the most satisfying moments of the year, in true ELTpics ‘togetherness’ style. Prior to the Colloquium in Paris, Bethany Cagnol the then-president of TESOL France, mentioned on facebook that the speakers would be coming from over 30 countries. We decided to ask them to send photos from their country – either of residence or origin – which we would then use to make a slideshow.

Canada  Image by Tyson Seburn for #eltpics

Canada                                                                  Image by Tyson Seburn for #eltpics

This was to be beamed onto a wall during the coffee breaks. Little by little, the photos arrived, and by the time the Colloquium came along, I had 97! Some were labelled, some I labelled, then, with the indispensable (ie life-saving) help of Brad Patterson – without whom there would have been no slideshow – we stuck ‘em all together. Well, no. That’s not quite what happened. Two days before going to Paris, I had a message from Bethany asking me to contact Brad about a logistics problem. It turned out that the wall we wanted to beam the slides onto was very brightly lit AND bright red. So it wasn’t going to work. Instead, Beth suggested showing the slides as the grand finale of the Open Mic Evening, and…. turning them into a kind of karaoke sing-along slideshow. With me leading the singing…..eek.

As anyone who saw me there can verify, my knees trembled so hard at the thought, my brain descended to meet them. The original suggestion for the song was Come together, but as I was supposedly going to sing in front of everyone, I wasn’t sold on the ‘…over me‘ bit, so took the liberty of throwing out that idea and choosing something I felt was more in the spirit of what we had done – created a show together, crowd-sourcing the photos which were then to be donated to ELTpics as a set; I chose (oh my goodness, and I then had to sing…) We are family.

DespoinaGreece1

Greece Image by Despoina Galanaki for #eltpics

On the night, the slideshow came at the end of a great show: beautiful opera, brilliant piano-playing and guitar numbers, Sue Lyon-Jones’ great ELT version of Killing me softly, stand up comedy… my knees dissolved, though if I’m honest, seeing my vastly more talented peers quiver with nerves did help me calm mine. And in the end, it went fine. I found my voice or what there is of it – and even danced, but that’s quite by the way as no one noticed anyway (thankfully); they seemed to love the pictures and Brad’s masterful addition of the lyrics below them in synch with the instrumental version of the song we’d managed to find. Everyone sang along in a truly inspiring show of what people can achieve when they work together. Me, I thoroughly enjoyed dancing in the dark and singing at the top of my voice with no one looking :)

Those were the three main ELTpics events in 2012 that I know of, but if you know of more, please feel free to drop them into the comments box and I can add an addenda later. 2013 will see us at TESOL Spain and who knows where else – hope to meet you somewhere down the line.

Also in 2013, we hope to continue to expand (the resource, not our waistlines…) and offer teachers of English, and of any language or subject if they’d like to join in, a wealth of great images and ideas, and we also have a couple of surprises up our collective sleeves, so watch this space.

I’ll be back in a couple of days with a second helping of New Year’s Puddin’, for you (ideas, pictures…), but for now:

A very merry Christmas And a happy New Year Let’s hope it’s a good one Without any fear.

Fiona (with a little help from J Lennon)

Happy Hogmanay and may your 2013 be bright and shiny.   Image by Carolyn Kerr. Taken in 2013 for #eltpics

Happy Hogmanay and may your 2013 be bright and shiny.                       Image by Carolyn Kerr. Taken in 2013 for #eltpics


Instaclassroom ELT..

Instagram is a social network app for photographers. Like Twitter, it enables users to follow photo (2)the people that they find interesting as well as their friends. It doesn’t seem like the most obvious tool that could be used by English language teachers, but we think it can be a great tool in the classroom.

We live in an era where almost everything can be done by the touch of a button. You can book a table at your favorite restaurant, check if the bus is running late or order a pizza! The mobile revolution has reached our classrooms transforming the way we teach and learn. Today’s iPhone and android smartphones are multimedia studios that fit in our pockets. Users can take photos, record videos, edit and share the world around them on the go.

Apps like Instagram can help teachers guide their students to understand the world and learn a new language. The world is full of visual representations that are core to the understanding of social practices and human interaction. Our 21st century students must be aware of the choices made in a certain ad campaign to discover a possible hidden agenda or go beyond what the eyes can see. For that, we must encourage them to look critically into the world of pictures and photography. image_1355190938833505

In March 2012,ScottThornbury wrote about using photographs as a way of encouraging students to engage with the language outside of lesson time. He suggested asking students to take photos of examples of English that they see on the street between lessons, and listed questions that they could be asked in the next lesson as a source of research and discussion. Based on his idea, I asked very similar questions to one of my students who had just got an iPhone for the first time and loved playing around with the camera.

My student expressed an interest in something and I used it our advantage. She’s interested in photography and she’s going to take photos whether I ask her to or not. By being adaptable and using the content she has already created, I’m able to have an authentic stimulus in the classroom that leads us to explore areas of language that are genuinely interesting, relevant and useful to my student.

Photography can teach us a number of lessons that can be applied to the learning setting. One of them is that we can always make it better. Tell your students not to be afraid of taking a bad photo, that they will improve their skills, and that they should go ahead, try more and their pictures and their learning will be enhanced day-by-day. Hopefully this positive attitude will influence their language learning too.

Teachers can also make use of Instagram in order to use pictures for their lessons and for presentations at conferences. Tag your pictures with #eltpics and any teacher in the world will be able to use that picture for educational purposes without having to worry about copyright issues. If you are an English teacher who uses Instagram, tag your picture #eltpics so they can be added to the ever growing library of pictures for teachers.

Instagram in the classroom

Instagram can become a powerful tool if you want to explore the world of pictures in ELT. Here are some ideas:

1) Summarizing a caption in 140 characters

Many of our students are regular users of Twitter and other social forms of social media so therefore they are used to creating short texts. Combining Instagram and Twitter can be a way of helping your students to become better at summarizing an event or a narrative.

- Have your students take pictures of a topic you’ve previously assigned and upload it to Instagram and Twitter simultaneously.

- Tell them they have to come up with a caption that summarizes the story behind that particular photo in no longer than 140 characters.

What's the caption? ... Any ideas?

What’s the caption? … Any ideas?

2) A narrative picture sequencing

With this idea, your students will have fun and learn how to create narratives from photos taken by themselves and get engaged in a meaningful way.

- If you work with groups, create a hashtag for your class to use on Instagram such as #brunosclasslevel3.

- Assign participant numbers to your students. Student number one is the one to start the story with his picture. He must include a short introductory text to the narrative plus another tag: #photo1, for example.

Once upon a time, in a far-off land..........

Once upon a time, in a far-off land……….

- The following students have to pick up from where the previous student left off and continue the story plus the appropriate tag: #photo2, #photo3 and so on.

- You can also use a webservice like storywheel.cc to create an individual narrative from a user’s photos.

3) Mine is bigger!

Practice comparatives and superlatives with pictures.

- If you’re teaching comparatives and superlatives, ask your students to take pictures of a given object, person or attitude (whatever that works for you).

- In class, group your students in pairs and have them compare the pictures

- So as to practice superlatives, ask three students to come to the front and show their pictures. One of them has to describe the pictures by using superlatives.

4) I spy… something environmentally incorrect!

Help your students to become more critical thinkers by searching for environmentally incorrect attitudes and capturing them.

Can't see the what for the trees? ....

Can’t see the what for the trees? ….

- Ask your students to take photos of attitudes they consider to be environmentally incorrect and post onto Instagram using a hashtag you created with them (e.g: #school_environmentallyincorrect)

- Ask them to include a text saying why they consider that certain attitude environmentally incorrect and to provide a possible solution

- Back in class, ask them to share their findings in a small group and to choose the most serious problems and report it back to class with its possible solutions.

5) There’s beauty in trash

What happens to an object before it is thrown away? Get your students thinking about waste and the trajectory it has made until it reached the bin.

- Get your students to take photos of objects that have been thrown away that triggered their curiosity as to what might have happened before it was tossed away.

- Have them upload a set of photos on to Instagram under a commonly decided hashtag (e.g: #beauty_in_trash2012)

6) Cliché hunt

Just like every popular service, Instagram inevitably has it’s clichés. If your students are active Instagram users, they may enjoy this activity.

- Ask your students what they understand by the word cliché.

Sun on sea, small sail centred, blue skies.....Cliché or not cliché? Who cares...... palpable freedom.

Sun on sea, small sail centred, blue skies…..Cliché or not cliché? Who cares…… palpable freedom.

- Once you have checked their understanding and given them similes and connected words (e.g. stereotype, tired, lazy, unoriginal etc), ask them to create a list of the kind of photos that a lot of people upload to Instagram.

- If they need help, show them an example, like “duckface”.

- Once they have finished, compile their lists onto the board.

- Give or show them the pictures from this article: http://mashable.com/2012/08/31/cliche-instagram-photos/ and ask them to discuss why the pictures are so clichéd.

- After getting feedback, ask them to have a look at their own Instagram images and find their own clichéd photos.

The Practical Stuff

At the time of writing,Instagram is an iOS and Android app only. The app is only designed for smartphones, however there are free apps you can use on the iPad such asinstaflow which enables you to view your and others’ pictures. It is only accessible on computers via websites such asink361.com, statigr.am/ orweb.stagram.com.

As with any web service not designed specifically for ELT, there is always the risk of inappropriate content and advertising. In general Instagram are good at blocking obscene or explicit material, but there is a lot of spam advertising at the time of writing. It would be good to make your students aware of this if you choose to use it.

If you want to follow us on Instagram, search for theteacherjames and brunoelt. You can also find James’ photos on histumblr or onflickr.

And remember to tag your Instagram photos #eltpics!

 

 

Creativity and ELTpics

Creativity is often cited as one of the 21st Century skills we need to be teaching our students. Being creative seems to be an inherent part of what we think helps us to be good teachers. But why is creativity so important in language classrooms? And what exactly do we mean by creative thinking skills? I’ve run a number of workshops and training sessions recently which look at these questions and explore how we can nurture a culture of creativity in our classrooms, demonstrating practical ideas for exploiting images, video, poetry and online tools, and looking at the use of frameworks to encourage learners to actively and creatively engage in the learning process.

I like to think that the materials I write can act as a springboard to encourage teachers to be creative in their teaching and allow learners opportunities to be expressive with their language. Several of the ideas I use mention the wonderful ELTpics as a resource, so we thought it would make sense for me to write them up for you here.

1 A Story in Five Frames

This idea was inspired by this website: Five Card flickr stories

http://5card.cogdogblog.com/play.php?suit=5card

Put students into small groups and set them up to play a round (or two) of Five Card flickr. Students work together to create stories by choosing from five random pictures selected from Flickr. The random nature of the selection ensures that students put their creative thinking hats on, and you’d be surprised at what they can come up with. Obviously, if you wanted to focus on specific language, you might look at narrative tenses, or useful language for telling stories (e.g. time linkers: as soon as, by the time, during, while, etc. ) Or story-telling discourse markers like: In this story….Before long…All of a sudden…Anyway….In the end etc.

The same activity works well with ELTpics. Get your students in groups to choose pictures from ELTpics to make short stories. You can make it into a game by getting students to choose the first picture and a title, before passing their story to the next group, who write the beginning of the story, and pass it to the next group who continue the story etc. The group with the best story at the end win some chocolate.

2 Getting Emotional

This idea uses some ‘emotional pictures’ as a prompt for speaking and then poetry writing.

Choose some pictures from the emotions set on ELTpics. I particularly like these ones: Photos taken from http://flickr.com/eltpics by @sandymillin @VictoriaB52 @dfogarty @acliltoclimb, used under a CC Attribution Non-Commercial licence, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Ask the students the following questions:

What emotions do you think this person is feeling?

Why do you think the person feels like this?

It’s a good idea to try and include a few ambiguous photos here, so that students have something to say. They may disagree with each other ;)

Tell students that actually there are only six basic emotions, which are recognised by all humans by their facial expressions. Can the students guess what the six basic emotions are? (Answer at the end of this post)

Get students to talk about situations in their lives when they have experienced any of these emotions, e.g. a time when they were surprised, happy, or angry etc.

Now, it’s time to look at the poems. When I do poetry with students, I like to take them out of the classroom, maybe to a park, or garden, or somewhere where they can breathe fresh air and feel inspired. First of all, I get students to think about the different senses; what can they hear/see/smell? This can bring up a lot of interesting language (especially if you’re sitting in a London park!).

Using some of the language and ideas, I get students working together to choose an emotion and write a poem following a simple framework. Here are a couple of poems that my Intermediate students wrote:

What I love about this activity is that by giving students the framework and a bit of creative inspiration, you enable them to come up with something really special. Most of my students have never written poems before coming to the class, let alone written a poem in English. It is a hugely confidence-boosting activity. And sometimes the results are spectacular. I like to read the poems aloud too and work on rhythm and stress patterns.

Poetry is important because it makes us think, it opens us up to wonder at the sometimes astonishing possibilities of language’ – John Burnside

3 A Museum Of Me

This last idea was inspired by a museum exhibition which ran a while ago at the Oxo Tower Wharf called ‘A Museum Of Me’. Visitors were asked to become a part of the exhibition by writing about their dreams, hopes and other secrets and putting their ideas into a tin, or adding them to the exhibition, and reading what others had written.

Go to ELTpics and choose a few pictures which you think say something about you, or your life. Put the pictures into a mosaic maker like this. So, what do you think these pictures say about me? (Answers on a postcard, please)

Image made using photos taken from http://flickr.com/eltpics by@melgarrish @asalinguist @antoniaclare @worldteacher @sandymillin @thornburyscott, used under a CC Attribution Non-Commercial licence, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Show the collage to the students and get them to guess information about you and your life. I often use this activity at the beginning of a course, when meeting with a new group of students. It’s a great get-to-know-you. The obvious follow-on is to get students to make their own collage. Here, you can stick with tradition; give the students a load of magazines, scissors and glue (we are ELT teachers, after all) and get them to cut out pictures that mean something to them, and make them into a poster collage. Or, if you want to involve them in some digital literacy at the same time, just send them to ELTpics and let the mosaicmaker do the rest. (For more ideas similar to this one, see our earlier post Could be, might be, must be… )

I strongly believe that creativity is at the heart of real, genuine learning. We can teach students grammar, CEF statements and skills objectives, but if we fail to engage students’ creative processes, then the real learning is likely not to be there.

If you’re interested, I have made a Scoopit Magazine with various teaching ideas and articles relating to creativity and creative thinking here:

http://www.scoop.it/t/creativity-in-elt

Bio:

@antoniaclare

Antonia Clare is a teacher, trainer and materials writer whose special interests include creativity and the use of video and new technologies in ELT.  She has taught and trained in many countries around the world, including Italy, Spain, Hong Kong, Portugal, Poland and the UK and is a co-author for Language-to-GoTotal English, English in Common and the award-winning series Speakout (published in partnership with the BBC).

P.S The Answer: The Six Basic Emotions are: anger, disgust, fear, joy, sadness and surprise (Speakout Intermediate p68)