Welcome to our third weekly blog post, and the first of our regular Guest Blogger spots. To launch this spot, we have asked one of #eltpics keenest contributors and greatest ‘promoters’, Ceri Jones, to add one of her ideas to this collection.
Ceri is a well-known ELT writer, teacher trainer and teacher, as well as one of Wales’ finest exports. She currently lives in Cadiz, in Spain, with her partner and children, and her blog is a treasure trove not to be missed. Over to you, Ceri; take a photo and…..:
(Read Ceri’s Burning Questionnaire here. )
It’s a great honour to be asked to write a guest post for the #eltpics blog. I’ve always been a big fan of the #eltpics initiative, and was so pleased to see the photostream “coming of age” on its first birthday with more than 5000 photos and a great new space for sharing ideas for the classroom.
I’d like to introduce one of my favourite webtools for working with images: the mosaic maker. It’s so easy to use and produces interesting collages at the press of a button. Coupled with eltpics, it’s great. Here’s an example:
I made it by adding links from the #eltpics “Doors & windows” photostream and the mosaic maker did the rest. I don’t know why I like mosaics so much, I think there’s something in the symmetry that’s appealing, and I guess maybe they’re one of those formats you find all over the place – on billboards, in magazines, online – and they have a kind of familiar yet contemporary feel to them.
I like to use them in class. If I can project them on a whiteboard, that’s great! But mosaics can work just as well as photocopies too. Maybe just one on the floor in a circle of students, or three or four per group around the class – on their desks or maybe pinned (or blutaked) to the wall. See how well the one above works in black and white:
Here’s one idea for how to use this particular mosaic in class. I’m sure there are lots of others too. And obviously each new mosaic lends itself to a new idea, but I hope that some of the steps here are generative enough to be used with any mosaic or collection of images on a similar theme.
Step one: choose a photo …
Ask the class to look at the mosaic. Is there any one door that attracts them in particular? It may be the first one to catch their eye, or they may need to look a little longer, linger on the details, before they choose.
Step two: thinking time
When you see that students have chosen a door, ask them to think about why that particular door attracts or interests them. Do this quietly and individually, letting each student work at their own pace. After a few seconds of thinking time, give the student a slip of blank paper – not a page, just a thin strip, to emphasise that they don’t need to write a lot, they’re just writing a quick note – and ask them to quickly jot down a few thoughts. (This can mean quite a lot of monitoring in a large class – one way around this is to write the prompt at the top of the strip of paper.)
Step three: micro writing
I go round the class encouraging the fast finishers to write more, to stretch themselves, maybe nudging the slower students with prompts, leaving the thinkers alone to gather their thoughts, trying to allow everyone the chance to write something. I use micro writing tasks a lot to generate ideas and scaffold speaking tasks, especially with multi-level classes.
As the students are writing I often pick up a text by a fast finisher and read it out to the class. In this case I’d ask them to guess which door is being described. My rationale here is to provide a model for the weaker/slower writers, but also to give feedback to, and stimulate, the faster/stronger writers. As I read out the mini texts I paraphrase or correct if necessary – and when I hand the paper back to the student ask them to check what they wrote and to write another text. I might repeat this two or three times before drawing the writing stage to a close.
Step four: speaking
Once you’re happy that all the students have chosen a door and are confident enough to be able to explain why they chose it, collect the strips of paper from all the students. Ask them to work in small groups. Ask them to explain which door they chose and ask their partners to guess which door it is. To round up ask for a show of hands for the most popular doors and the most popular reasons for choosing them.
Step five (optional) : redrafting
If you want to, you could return the slips of paper to the students at this stage and ask them if they want to change anything or add anything to their notes. If they hadn’t written in full sentences earlier, ask them to do so now, working towards a redraft of their initial writing. Often coming back to their writing, they will want to rethink and reshape what they’ve written.
Step six: bring it closer to home
To round off, ask the students if any of the doors look like doors they know in the real world, and if they do, where they are and what significance they hold (if any) for the students. This stage can throw up interesting conversations.
And a seed for another lesson … please help it grow!
If you are one of the photographers, please leave a comment with the story of your door (I’ll add mine in a comment box). We could use these in class too as a follow up task. Students could read your stories, match them to your doors and then made make a story of their own. (If you search on google images for door + book cover the results can be quite interesting and are a starting point for a whole new lesson plan … but I’ll leave that one to you :) )
And, of course, if you have any interesting photos of doors, please add them to the eltpics “doors & windows” set!
Oh, and here are the credits for the doors, starting from the top left
Row 1 – @asalinguist, @aClilToClimb, @cerirhiannon, @asalinguist
Row 2 – @theteacherjames, @nutrich
Row 3 – @europeaantje, @antoniaclare, @mamalarut
Row 4 – @aClilToClimb, Jane Arnold, @nutrich, @aClilToClimb