by Fiona Mauchline
Some years ago – and I mean something like 12 – I went to a day of workshops with Herbert Puchta. At that time, multiple intelligences were the In Thing, much as CLIL and technology are now, and Herbert’s sessions offered a fascinating smörgasbord of classroom activities that worked via each of the original 7 intelligences as described by Howard Gardner at that time. One of the activities we tried was an interesting titbit involving the intrapersonal, then interpersonal intelligences. We were invited to observe our neighbour in silence, then write I don’t recall how many sentences about him or her – pure conjecture, and adaptable to many grammatical structures such as the dreaded present perfect or modals of deduction/hypothesis. When we had finished, we showed our sentences to our neighbour, who told us how many were correct but not which. We then had a conversation along the lines of ‘I think the first one, ‘he must have bought his shoes recently’ is correct, as you’ve left the price label on the sole‘… To this day I not only use this activity frequently, in both classes and teacher development sessions, but it’s a great ice-breaker and of course requires no materials other than pen and paper. Learner-centred, learner-generated. How does this link to eltpics? Well how about this. There are two ways, and then a third variation on the theme.
Could be you
Prepare some mosaics of a fairly large number of eltpics. Allocate each student a partner and tell each student to look through the photos. Choose five that make them think of their partner. Students then think about why the pictures make them think of their partner and write their reasons down. This can be simple sentences at lower levels – I think Xavi has a red motorbike – or paragraphs at higher levels or with groups you are encouraging to develop self-expression – I think Frank likes surfing, and these flowers remind me of surfing too, as I think they’re the kind of flowers you often see on board shorts or beach skirts. They remind me of exotic places and beaches – the kind of places I think Frank might like to live. Etc.
Students then exchange their written pieces and read. Ask them to add a written comment saying how many sentences/paragraphs they agree with or are correct, but not which ones – you may ask them to guess which pictures have been chosen, too. When students return the written pieces with the comments, students then discuss why they wrote what they wrote, which ones they think they got right, and so on. Finally, students may like to write a complete written response to each sentence or paragraph. ‘You’re right, I love the beach and surfing but I really don’t like the colour orange. I might like the flowers if they were yellow, but these flowers remind me more of my grandmother than of exotic places‘….
(Mosaic images by @sandymillin, @yearinthelifeof, @cgoodey, @mkofab, @ij64, @ricsili, @jinotaj, @pterolaur, @CliveSir, @elt_pics, @cerirhiannon and @fionamau.)
Could be me
Ask students to look through eltpics and choose three or four pictures that say something about themselves. Ask them to write an explanation on a separate piece of paper (I’ll spare you my example, unless I get fifteen comments requesting it). Students either exchange their images for a partner to write their ideas down ‘I think you might have had a pet duck when you were a child‘, or you can put students’ image collages on the wall for the group to look at as if they were exhibits in an art exhibition. As students look, they make notes – this can be done in L1 and you can then have a ‘vocab surgery’ (wonderful emergent language opportunity) between the looking and thinking, and the writing in English stages – then they write down their impressions on either one student’s images or on various. They could also guess which images were chosen by whom and write their explanations. Students can then discuss their ideas together, explain why they’ve written what they’ve written and eventually read the original pieces and compare. As an example, here’s a mosaic that tells you things about me… but what might those things be?
This is me
Finally, a ‘me’ idea that doesn’t actually use eltpics but students’ own photos, and is essentially the same as the idea Could be me above. Ask students to make a pair of photos of things that tell a story about themselves; ask them to take one photo, then remove one or two things and take a second. First of all, in pairs, students play Kim’s Game. They look at the first image for 30 seconds and try to memorise the things in the photo – have a look at my photo way up at the top of this post. They then put the photos away and try to remember the items in it. Can you remember what’s in my photo? After a minute or two, students show their partner the second photo to check what they’ve noted down. They should also try to spot what is missing from the second image.
Here’s my second photo.
Students then conjecture about the items in the photos, as in the idea above. What do you think my photo could tell you about me? If you pop any guesses in comments below, I’ll let you know if you’re right…..eventually.