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GREAT TEACHING
- THERE’S NO APP FOR THAT!
I wholeheartedly believe that everyone has the ability to achieve
success and happiness as long as they work hard and stay smiling.
Schools are the best place where this process should happen.
Classrooms are supposed to be fun learning centers, where the most
important quality required is freedom of expression.
By encouraging creativity, the teacher is making sure that the
student has the ability to think for him / herself. If a child is encouraged
to be creative from a young age, he / she will carry this quality with him
/ her all his / her life, and this quality will enable him / her to succeed in
this (sometimes) ruthless world. Unfortunately, I am aware that many
teachers do not possess the quality to encourage creativity in the
classroom. Those who do that are sometimes thought of as being not
enthusiastic but strange or even eccentric. Still, I love being creative!
Creative teachers use their creativity to design innovative lessons,
create a positive classroom environment and engage their students in
interesting projects. A creative teacher does not kill students’ creativity!
He / she fosters it!
In my school, we may not have the adequate technical support to make
videos or short films, but we still manage to express our creativity. We
make posters, collages, class newspapers, act out.
We all agree that students learn by doing, making, writing, designing,
creating, and solving. The fact is that passivity dampens students' motivation
and curiosity. Students should be offered a range of activities to express
themselves not only through paper and pencil, but also audio, video,
animation, design as well as new technologies (e-mail, Web sites, message
boards, blogs, streaming media, etc.). However, just because technology is
available for students does not mean it has to be used all the time. The key is to
use it wisely and create a balance to minimize any negative effects. In
education, I feel that everything must be used in moderation.
Technology should enhance learning. There is no value in just
having access to it. What is more important is how it is used. For example,
allowing a student to use technology in projects creates more authentic
learning and keeps a student engaged in the development of his idea. I believe
that effective use of technology means four things: active engagement,
participation in groups, frequent interaction and connection to real-world
experience. What is more, the use of technology must support curricular goals.
– it shouldn’t be used for its own sake or at any cost (for example, when the
teacher reads from the PowerPoint and students take notes).
Only when technology is used in the discovery and maturation of
ideas does it become powerful within the classroom setting.
Using songs in the classroom is one of my favourite activities and I tend to use them
very often for different reasons. I have a collection of carefully chosen songs to use when
teaching both grammar and content. From experience I have concluded that most students
love teachers bringing pop songs into the classroom and that’s what I do most of the time
(even though personally I am more of a rock type). Pop music is a highly accessible source
of authentic language. Music isn't scary; it's part of students' lives outside the classroom.
Even our beginner level students listen to music with lyrics in English. Most students are
highly motivated by song-based activities, which they perceive to be fun. You can create
lessons around songs that can be used to practise any of the main language skills. Grammar
can be surreptitiously - in secret - presented or practised through songs!
There are different activities I plan around songs: brainstorming, amend the song,
order the song (put the pictures in order, put the lines in order, find your place among a
group of students), find the synonyms / antonyms, expand the song, rewrite the song, write a
song review, cloze activities, vocabulary practise (tick the words you hear), grammar and
pronunciation practice.
Just like all teachers, I know that if I want my students to be motivated, I, as their
teacher, must be motivated in the first place. I keep myself motivated by the
activities I choose to do in the classroom – if I am not excited and motivated by
the activities I have planned for my students, how can they be?! For me, teaching
is fun – I enjoy playing with my students, telling jokes, using humour. It serves to
keep a fun and happy learning environment, and this alone can motivate students.
If your students can laugh with you, and if they like you, they’ll be interested in
what you’re doing up there in front of the class. When I enjoy, my students enjoy.
It’s as simple as that.
I also strongly believe that variety is the spice of life, so why not the
spice of ELT?! ‘Teaching should be full of ideas, instead of stuffed with facts.’
(anonymous) If we approach teaching in that way, we can prove that some, for
students boring and rather dry activities, can bring a lot of fun and be not only
interesting but highly educational. If I see that the students in one class don’t
respond to an activity, I avoid it in the future and stick to the ones they like. I tend
to give them a variety of activities and always keep changing them. A little bit of
this, and a little bit of that, makes my classes more interesting and my students
more motivated.
There is no end to education. I do know, for a fact, that many of my students are far
better at many things than I am. There are students who amaze me in ways I don't even
know if I can put into words. Some children have more kindness than I had until I was
much older. Some young people are incredibly wise in ways that astonish me.
I must admit that during my eighteen years of teaching and spending time with
my students I have learned a lot from them (and I am not ashamed to admit that!) I have
kept up with the times. I learn current trends, good and bad. New slang (always good to
know) I have learned patience (over and over again!) I have learned that everyone is
capable of learning but not everyone learns in the same way. I have learned humility.
They have taught me that I am always a student. We never stop learning. You dig deepest
to find the greatest rewards.
I have learned a great activity from one of my third grade students while they
were doing a project presentation. Namely, their task was to prepare a presentation of a
famous person’s life in a way they find the most appealing. When I entered the classroom,
the first thing I saw were posters on the walls. The girl who put them there was eager to
start her presentation. She talked about the singer in question showing in turns a DVD,
an audio CD, some photos, a T-shirt… At one point, she took a hat and asked other
students to take out a piece of paper from it. Each of them got a few lines from the
singer’s most popular songs (written in hand and nicely decorated!). First, she asked
them whether they recognize the lyrics and some of them said yes and named the song.
Then she let them listen to the first song she had brought and asked them to listen
carefully if they can recognize the lines they have. In turns they responded and she let
them listen to another song and another and another (six of them all together – not full
versions just the opening part which contained the lyrics she had copied). Finally, she
asked them to read the lines and tell her what they thought of them. I simply enjoyed! It
was a great, and at the same time a very refreshing experience!
Students learn best by seeing the value and importance of the information presented in the
classroom. If the students are not interested in the material presented, they will not learn it. In order
to achieve the ultimate goal of student learning it is important to use a combination of teaching
methods and to make the classroom environment as stimulating and interactive as possible.
It seems that we all agree that we cannot change or choose the National Curriculum or the
textbooks we use in the classroom. However, we can try to make the most of it by adapting the
suggested activities to the needs, interests and cultural background of our students. We should take
into account both the student’s background and the concepts that are important to the target language.
These two things are in my opinion equally important – by teaching both aspects we prepare our
students to be global citizens and at the same time give them the opportunity to represent their
culture, tradition, country in the best way possible.
So, how can we do that? I use projects. Projects are a great tool for learning a language and
developing real-life skills. Projects give students a chance to do research and express their creativity.
Depending on what your goal is, you choose the topic, but the point is that it can be anything and it
can provide practice across curriculum – e.g. art, history, geography, biology, etc.
Let me give you just one example. Due to the popularity of the Turkish series in my country,
many of my students got interested in Turkey and the Turkish language. I found this as a good theme
for the project and of course, the students were thrilled. They were divided into groups of four and
had different tasks – to explore similarities and differences between Serbia and Turkey as far as
history, geography, language, music, customs and food are concerned. The outcome was brilliant –
they came up with a mini dictionary, a cookbook, a PowerPoint presentation, a newspaper, a video
and a poster presentation. As a teacher I couldn’t hope for more – increased motivation, all four skills
integrated, authentic input, a break from the routine and a chance to do something different. What is
more, a context is established which balances the need for fluency and accuracy.
According to my experience, projects appeal to all types of learners as they can express themselves
in the way which suits them best.
Students study successfully if they can find the right strategies. The strategies they use depend
greatly on their individual learning style. These strategies include the ways in which they learn and
remember information, how they study for tests and how they make the best use of their abilities. Many
students are not aware that they are using any learning strategies, as it has become a natural and automatic
process for them.
Some students are quiet and tend to be reflective in the way they process information. Others are
more open and they need to use the information and solve problems. That is why ‘self-knowing’
(metacognition) is very important. Visual learners will use mapping, drawings, graphic organizers and
colour coding to make information visual and grasp the idea or the bigger picture. Auditory learners will
ask a lot of questions during the lecture to get more information in an auditory format. Therefore, in order
to appeal to most of the students in a class, a good lesson plan should be a mixture of different activities
that will equally activate our ‘right-brained’ and ‘left-brained’ students. As pointed out by Rita Dunn “If a
child is not learning the way you are teaching, then you must teach in the way the child learns.” Therefore,
teachers should choose different types of activities to suit the needs of different language learners in their
classes.
Personally, I am a visual learner. The first time I took a quiz to discover my learning styles was in
2008 as part of my TKT training organized by the British Council, Serbia. It was the learning style
questionnaire inspired by those in Reid (1995). Back then, I learnt that there is no right, or perfect, learning
style: everyone is, to some degree, a mixture of all three learning styles (visual, kinesthetic and auditory),
but most people have one learning style which is dominant.
Sometimes it is not very difficult to identify student’s learning styles only by monitoring him / her
in class. For example, visual students look at you very carefully when you speak and rarely ask questions;
they enjoy visual presentations and may react emotionally to what you show; they are creatively gifted and
if you look at their notebooks or textbooks, you can see that they use a wide variety of colour, draw
pictures and graphic organizers; they enjoy playing games. If we want to adapt our teaching styles to these
learners, we need to use / show the real things or flashcards, do demonstrations, draw timelines or graphic
organizers, use PowerPoint presentations or videos. Auditory students ask a lot of questions, ask for
clarification, repeat what they have just heard to make sure they understand properly, remember all the
words to songs they hear! We need to engage these students in conversations as much as possible and let
them do oral presentations. Kinesthetic learners play with their pens or pencils and never look at the
instructions first – they immediately start working. We can offer them checklists, role plays, TPR.
One of the activities I find really appropriate and useful:
Read a book and give a presentation
Linguistic: write a traditional book report
Visual: create a comic of a chapter of the book
Logical: create a chart that keeps track of the
suspense of the book
Kinesthetic: make a diorama of a scene
Musical: create a sound track for the book
and explain why he/she picked the songs
Interpersonal: work in a small group to present a scene
or a round table discussion about the book
Intrapersonal: keep a journal about his/her personal
reaction to the book
Book Cover - students create a book cover for their favourite book.
Front cover - students create the front cover for the book using a drawing made with any art materials.
They can include a scene from the chapter, title, author...
Inside front cover - students write summary of the book. Inside back cover - students write a short
biography of the author. Back cover - students interview each other or make up four different reviews.
I work in a public school and teach five groups of students. In each class there are at
least 25 students. I see my third graders five times a week, second graders three times, and
first graders only twice a week. Each class lasts for 45 minutes. The coursebooks we use have
12 units (or more). Taking these facts into consideration, one must conclude that I definitely
lack time to do many activities I would like to do with my students in the way that would be
the most beneficial for them. Even if you have more classes every day, five days a week, it is
still not enough to achieve a high level, if you do nothing in between. So, I assign homework.
I believe that homework should be something that moves students to investigate,
research, discover; something that makes them curious and motivated enough to spend their
free time doing something meaningful, relevant, interesting and different. So, what type of
homework works best? Based on my experience, it is project work. I usually have class
projects (when class is divided into smaller groups of four or five students), but sometimes
individual projects over a period of time. They are mostly based on topics from a coursebook,
but sometimes I let students choose their topic related to their interests. I believe that good
project should engage with student’s prior knowledge, but also interests and experience. It
should draw on the world outside the classroom and thus make the world more relevant. In
addition to that, it should allow students to use their imagination to create something
completely new. Project work needs to be carefully planned - preparation is the key to make
project a success. However, it needs to be guided in terms of preparing written directions,
discussing the task with students (teaching them how to do the project) and deciding on the
criteria for its evaluation. The whole process needs to be monitored regularly.
Finally, ‘share what your students know.’ (Edutopia, Top Ten Tips for Assessing
Project-Based Learning). Having read the article, I realized how providing students with an
audience is important and beneficial for their further progress.
Cool Homework Stuff
English Class Projects
Legend Has it... I wonder Model Millionaire
Say NO to Bullying Friends Forever
The Hound of the Baskervilles
https://www.youtube.com/user/biljanapipovic971
A balanced lesson, like a balanced
meal, has a variety of ingredients.
Biljana Pipovic

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Great-Teaching.pdf

  • 1. GREAT TEACHING - THERE’S NO APP FOR THAT!
  • 2. I wholeheartedly believe that everyone has the ability to achieve success and happiness as long as they work hard and stay smiling. Schools are the best place where this process should happen. Classrooms are supposed to be fun learning centers, where the most important quality required is freedom of expression. By encouraging creativity, the teacher is making sure that the student has the ability to think for him / herself. If a child is encouraged to be creative from a young age, he / she will carry this quality with him / her all his / her life, and this quality will enable him / her to succeed in this (sometimes) ruthless world. Unfortunately, I am aware that many teachers do not possess the quality to encourage creativity in the classroom. Those who do that are sometimes thought of as being not enthusiastic but strange or even eccentric. Still, I love being creative! Creative teachers use their creativity to design innovative lessons, create a positive classroom environment and engage their students in interesting projects. A creative teacher does not kill students’ creativity! He / she fosters it! In my school, we may not have the adequate technical support to make videos or short films, but we still manage to express our creativity. We make posters, collages, class newspapers, act out.
  • 3. We all agree that students learn by doing, making, writing, designing, creating, and solving. The fact is that passivity dampens students' motivation and curiosity. Students should be offered a range of activities to express themselves not only through paper and pencil, but also audio, video, animation, design as well as new technologies (e-mail, Web sites, message boards, blogs, streaming media, etc.). However, just because technology is available for students does not mean it has to be used all the time. The key is to use it wisely and create a balance to minimize any negative effects. In education, I feel that everything must be used in moderation. Technology should enhance learning. There is no value in just having access to it. What is more important is how it is used. For example, allowing a student to use technology in projects creates more authentic learning and keeps a student engaged in the development of his idea. I believe that effective use of technology means four things: active engagement, participation in groups, frequent interaction and connection to real-world experience. What is more, the use of technology must support curricular goals. – it shouldn’t be used for its own sake or at any cost (for example, when the teacher reads from the PowerPoint and students take notes). Only when technology is used in the discovery and maturation of ideas does it become powerful within the classroom setting.
  • 4. Using songs in the classroom is one of my favourite activities and I tend to use them very often for different reasons. I have a collection of carefully chosen songs to use when teaching both grammar and content. From experience I have concluded that most students love teachers bringing pop songs into the classroom and that’s what I do most of the time (even though personally I am more of a rock type). Pop music is a highly accessible source of authentic language. Music isn't scary; it's part of students' lives outside the classroom. Even our beginner level students listen to music with lyrics in English. Most students are highly motivated by song-based activities, which they perceive to be fun. You can create lessons around songs that can be used to practise any of the main language skills. Grammar can be surreptitiously - in secret - presented or practised through songs! There are different activities I plan around songs: brainstorming, amend the song, order the song (put the pictures in order, put the lines in order, find your place among a group of students), find the synonyms / antonyms, expand the song, rewrite the song, write a song review, cloze activities, vocabulary practise (tick the words you hear), grammar and pronunciation practice.
  • 5. Just like all teachers, I know that if I want my students to be motivated, I, as their teacher, must be motivated in the first place. I keep myself motivated by the activities I choose to do in the classroom – if I am not excited and motivated by the activities I have planned for my students, how can they be?! For me, teaching is fun – I enjoy playing with my students, telling jokes, using humour. It serves to keep a fun and happy learning environment, and this alone can motivate students. If your students can laugh with you, and if they like you, they’ll be interested in what you’re doing up there in front of the class. When I enjoy, my students enjoy. It’s as simple as that. I also strongly believe that variety is the spice of life, so why not the spice of ELT?! ‘Teaching should be full of ideas, instead of stuffed with facts.’ (anonymous) If we approach teaching in that way, we can prove that some, for students boring and rather dry activities, can bring a lot of fun and be not only interesting but highly educational. If I see that the students in one class don’t respond to an activity, I avoid it in the future and stick to the ones they like. I tend to give them a variety of activities and always keep changing them. A little bit of this, and a little bit of that, makes my classes more interesting and my students more motivated.
  • 6. There is no end to education. I do know, for a fact, that many of my students are far better at many things than I am. There are students who amaze me in ways I don't even know if I can put into words. Some children have more kindness than I had until I was much older. Some young people are incredibly wise in ways that astonish me. I must admit that during my eighteen years of teaching and spending time with my students I have learned a lot from them (and I am not ashamed to admit that!) I have kept up with the times. I learn current trends, good and bad. New slang (always good to know) I have learned patience (over and over again!) I have learned that everyone is capable of learning but not everyone learns in the same way. I have learned humility. They have taught me that I am always a student. We never stop learning. You dig deepest to find the greatest rewards. I have learned a great activity from one of my third grade students while they were doing a project presentation. Namely, their task was to prepare a presentation of a famous person’s life in a way they find the most appealing. When I entered the classroom, the first thing I saw were posters on the walls. The girl who put them there was eager to start her presentation. She talked about the singer in question showing in turns a DVD, an audio CD, some photos, a T-shirt… At one point, she took a hat and asked other students to take out a piece of paper from it. Each of them got a few lines from the singer’s most popular songs (written in hand and nicely decorated!). First, she asked them whether they recognize the lyrics and some of them said yes and named the song. Then she let them listen to the first song she had brought and asked them to listen carefully if they can recognize the lines they have. In turns they responded and she let them listen to another song and another and another (six of them all together – not full versions just the opening part which contained the lyrics she had copied). Finally, she asked them to read the lines and tell her what they thought of them. I simply enjoyed! It was a great, and at the same time a very refreshing experience!
  • 7. Students learn best by seeing the value and importance of the information presented in the classroom. If the students are not interested in the material presented, they will not learn it. In order to achieve the ultimate goal of student learning it is important to use a combination of teaching methods and to make the classroom environment as stimulating and interactive as possible. It seems that we all agree that we cannot change or choose the National Curriculum or the textbooks we use in the classroom. However, we can try to make the most of it by adapting the suggested activities to the needs, interests and cultural background of our students. We should take into account both the student’s background and the concepts that are important to the target language. These two things are in my opinion equally important – by teaching both aspects we prepare our students to be global citizens and at the same time give them the opportunity to represent their culture, tradition, country in the best way possible. So, how can we do that? I use projects. Projects are a great tool for learning a language and developing real-life skills. Projects give students a chance to do research and express their creativity. Depending on what your goal is, you choose the topic, but the point is that it can be anything and it can provide practice across curriculum – e.g. art, history, geography, biology, etc. Let me give you just one example. Due to the popularity of the Turkish series in my country, many of my students got interested in Turkey and the Turkish language. I found this as a good theme for the project and of course, the students were thrilled. They were divided into groups of four and had different tasks – to explore similarities and differences between Serbia and Turkey as far as history, geography, language, music, customs and food are concerned. The outcome was brilliant – they came up with a mini dictionary, a cookbook, a PowerPoint presentation, a newspaper, a video and a poster presentation. As a teacher I couldn’t hope for more – increased motivation, all four skills integrated, authentic input, a break from the routine and a chance to do something different. What is more, a context is established which balances the need for fluency and accuracy. According to my experience, projects appeal to all types of learners as they can express themselves in the way which suits them best.
  • 8. Students study successfully if they can find the right strategies. The strategies they use depend greatly on their individual learning style. These strategies include the ways in which they learn and remember information, how they study for tests and how they make the best use of their abilities. Many students are not aware that they are using any learning strategies, as it has become a natural and automatic process for them. Some students are quiet and tend to be reflective in the way they process information. Others are more open and they need to use the information and solve problems. That is why ‘self-knowing’ (metacognition) is very important. Visual learners will use mapping, drawings, graphic organizers and colour coding to make information visual and grasp the idea or the bigger picture. Auditory learners will ask a lot of questions during the lecture to get more information in an auditory format. Therefore, in order to appeal to most of the students in a class, a good lesson plan should be a mixture of different activities that will equally activate our ‘right-brained’ and ‘left-brained’ students. As pointed out by Rita Dunn “If a child is not learning the way you are teaching, then you must teach in the way the child learns.” Therefore, teachers should choose different types of activities to suit the needs of different language learners in their classes. Personally, I am a visual learner. The first time I took a quiz to discover my learning styles was in 2008 as part of my TKT training organized by the British Council, Serbia. It was the learning style questionnaire inspired by those in Reid (1995). Back then, I learnt that there is no right, or perfect, learning style: everyone is, to some degree, a mixture of all three learning styles (visual, kinesthetic and auditory), but most people have one learning style which is dominant. Sometimes it is not very difficult to identify student’s learning styles only by monitoring him / her in class. For example, visual students look at you very carefully when you speak and rarely ask questions; they enjoy visual presentations and may react emotionally to what you show; they are creatively gifted and if you look at their notebooks or textbooks, you can see that they use a wide variety of colour, draw pictures and graphic organizers; they enjoy playing games. If we want to adapt our teaching styles to these learners, we need to use / show the real things or flashcards, do demonstrations, draw timelines or graphic organizers, use PowerPoint presentations or videos. Auditory students ask a lot of questions, ask for clarification, repeat what they have just heard to make sure they understand properly, remember all the words to songs they hear! We need to engage these students in conversations as much as possible and let them do oral presentations. Kinesthetic learners play with their pens or pencils and never look at the instructions first – they immediately start working. We can offer them checklists, role plays, TPR. One of the activities I find really appropriate and useful: Read a book and give a presentation Linguistic: write a traditional book report Visual: create a comic of a chapter of the book Logical: create a chart that keeps track of the suspense of the book Kinesthetic: make a diorama of a scene Musical: create a sound track for the book and explain why he/she picked the songs Interpersonal: work in a small group to present a scene or a round table discussion about the book Intrapersonal: keep a journal about his/her personal reaction to the book Book Cover - students create a book cover for their favourite book. Front cover - students create the front cover for the book using a drawing made with any art materials. They can include a scene from the chapter, title, author... Inside front cover - students write summary of the book. Inside back cover - students write a short biography of the author. Back cover - students interview each other or make up four different reviews.
  • 9. I work in a public school and teach five groups of students. In each class there are at least 25 students. I see my third graders five times a week, second graders three times, and first graders only twice a week. Each class lasts for 45 minutes. The coursebooks we use have 12 units (or more). Taking these facts into consideration, one must conclude that I definitely lack time to do many activities I would like to do with my students in the way that would be the most beneficial for them. Even if you have more classes every day, five days a week, it is still not enough to achieve a high level, if you do nothing in between. So, I assign homework. I believe that homework should be something that moves students to investigate, research, discover; something that makes them curious and motivated enough to spend their free time doing something meaningful, relevant, interesting and different. So, what type of homework works best? Based on my experience, it is project work. I usually have class projects (when class is divided into smaller groups of four or five students), but sometimes individual projects over a period of time. They are mostly based on topics from a coursebook, but sometimes I let students choose their topic related to their interests. I believe that good project should engage with student’s prior knowledge, but also interests and experience. It should draw on the world outside the classroom and thus make the world more relevant. In addition to that, it should allow students to use their imagination to create something completely new. Project work needs to be carefully planned - preparation is the key to make project a success. However, it needs to be guided in terms of preparing written directions, discussing the task with students (teaching them how to do the project) and deciding on the criteria for its evaluation. The whole process needs to be monitored regularly. Finally, ‘share what your students know.’ (Edutopia, Top Ten Tips for Assessing Project-Based Learning). Having read the article, I realized how providing students with an audience is important and beneficial for their further progress. Cool Homework Stuff English Class Projects Legend Has it... I wonder Model Millionaire Say NO to Bullying Friends Forever The Hound of the Baskervilles https://www.youtube.com/user/biljanapipovic971
  • 10. A balanced lesson, like a balanced meal, has a variety of ingredients. Biljana Pipovic