Guest Post #1 – Luciana Podschun’s Response to the Wandrous IWB Challenge

 

When I first entered the world of twitter and blogs I was very fortunate to find some wonderful people who were very supporting and motivated me to have my own blog and discover what a great tool for professional development it can be. The final “push” I got towards the final decision of starting my Box of Chocolates here came from Ceri Jones, who invited me to write a guest post on her Close Up, telling my experience with one of Jason Renshaw’s challenges (Trying Upside Down and Inside Out). I have Ceri (and Jason) to thank for that final push :-)

So I find it really interesting that the first guest post on my blog is also the result of another of Jason’s challenges. I’m pleased to have as my first guest writer Luciana Podschun, an English teacher from São Paulo, who decided to take up Jason’s Wandrous Whiteboard Challenge on one of her groups and wrote about her experience here. May it also be the final push Luciana needs to start her own blog!  Help me give her the final push people :-)! Thanks for sharing your experience with us Lu, and for being a wonderful first guest post writer!

 

 

 I am really pleased to write for the first time as a guest on the Box of Chocolate Blog.  I want to thank Cecilia for giving me this opportunity to write about an experience I had with my students.  I want to address the question if the “Wandrous Whiteboard Challenge” technique suggested by Jason is worth utilizing.

 

Unfortunately the school where I currently work is not very progressive with its teaching methods.  Teachers must give classes following a strict methodology, step by step and without deviation.  We don’t feel like teachers and at times we feel like robots. Most of my students learn the steps or at least the procedures after each step of the lesson.  I’ve recently written on Ken Wilson’s blog that I am a teacher who likes to break the rules and yesterday I decided to do something different with my pre-intermediate students who range in age from 13 to 17 years old.  I knew I couldn’t spend more than 40 minutes on a new activity as I would fall behind the set schedule even further.  Anyway, I decided to go ahead and as soon as my students started arriving in the classroom we just greeted each other as normal and I didn’t say anything until the bell rang.  I then closed the door and said, “today will be slightly different”.  I then gave the marker to my student who arrived first, she is not shy, so I decided to start with her.  Her first reaction was just to stare at me; she didn’t know exactly what to do, so I told her to write anything she wanted on the board.  She asked me if it really could be anything she wanted, so I just nodded…..after hesitating a bit she wrote: 1)“Deliver us from Evil”, which is the name of a song by Bullet from my Valentine, a rock metal band.

 

An up-close look at what the board looked like

 

And then the following students wrote:

2) I studied English yesterday

3) Bob went to a party yesterday

4) I will go school tomorrow

5) I went to Pernambuco last year

 
   

My sixth, seventh and eight students arrived while the activity was already taking place so I gave them the marker and asked them one by one to write something on the board.

6) I will probably go to the country next year

7) I love you teacher

8 ) My name is Nicolas

So, as everybody wrote I started to ask questions.  For example, with line 1, I asked my student who sang that song.  She said it is sung by Bullet from my Valentine.  As this metal rock band is not popular amongst my students we had many questions related to this band but also to music in general.  As they had not hear about this group, and neither had I, I am sure most of them went to look for more information about it after class.  After exploring the first subject we moved on to the second line.

As you can see there is a mistake so I asked them to find it.  I then followed with many questions using the simple past as well as the simple past continuous (the last grammar topic they learned) Since the third and fifth subjects were also related to the past tense, I decided to discuss both sentences together third student wrote the name Bob, who is Bob?  He replied that this name was inspired by his dog’s name.  This answer made all my students laugh until they cried.  So in total we spent about 15 min in past tense subjects.

When my fifth student wrote “Pernambuco”, I mentioned that I got a new twitter friend from Recife, PE who is also an English teacher. :)

  
Subjects fourth and fifth were related to the future tense so we could explore more about what they will probably do on their holidays  as well as their next vacation…..many plans, many hopes.  These discussions lead to the 1st conditional that we will study during the next lesson.  Subject 7, “I love you teacher”, I wanted to know why.!!  The student said, “you’re the best teacher in the school, you’re out of this world”.  Needless to say I blushed, so I turned the subject to talk about the beloved person in each student’s family.  We also talked about the importance of love in the world. Subject 8, the student wrote his name, he said that this was the first thing that came to his mind as he was the last student that arrived in the classroom.

 

    

My Conclusion:  Fantastic activity, it gave my students the chance to see their potential in developing a conversation and they concluded that English conversation is not the nightmare that some of them expected.  It also gave me the opportunity to establish more interaction with each student.

They learned new words and most importantly they learned from each other.  When one of them wrote something wrong the other students would spot the mistake and even explained the error – this was great to see.  In my case, having a pre-intermediate group, the session also worked as a review of the tenses, specially past and future.  The students saw that they can go beyond the current boundaries if they want, they just need to be willing – as Cecilia mentioned on her post

After spending more than 40 min, I thought I wouldn’t have enough time to finish the lesson but to my surprise I was able to do complete the set lesson for the day because my students were much more “alive” than ever.  They were motivated to carry on the previous lesson.  So, answering the question about the usefulness of this technique, it was not only worth doing but also rewarding for the students.  I think that every teacher who likes challenging their students should try this activity as well as other new things to keep the students motivated – yes, even if he or she is breaking the rules of their school.
 

Luciana Podschun
Follow me on twitter  
http://twitter.com/inglesinteract
http://www.inglesinteract.com

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13 comments on “Guest Post #1 – Luciana Podschun’s Response to the Wandrous IWB Challenge

  1. David Warr says:

    Another great story about the Wandrous Whiteboard. I like your description very much, Luciana. And Cecilia, guest bloggers already! Well done.
    David

    • Hi David! It seems we’ve getting a lot of great stories from the Wandrous Whiteboard doesn’t it? I’ve definitely incorporated it to my teaching practice :-) Thanks for the lovely comment. And yes, can you believe I have a guest post already??? things just seem to happen fast around here – gotta keep up with it!

  2. Hey Lu, Hey Cecilia!
    I have long watched your steps on Twitter and the progress we all make is impressive. Thanks for being part of this immense PLN.
    Lu, what a GREAT job! Simple and effective. I bet your students will be begging for more like this.
    Being a revolutionary teacher means going beyond what we are told to do so. Despite being attached to a strict methodology you could manage to deviate a little and make it enjoyable, profitable and innovative.
    Keep up the good work! :-)

  3. Ceri Jones says:

    Hi Lu!
    A great post and a great lesson. It’s fantastic how experimenting, and letting our students know we’re experimenting, automatically ups the energy levels – and makes the normal, business as always part of the lesson easier, not harder. All about motivation – and putting the students centre-stage and using their lives and words as the core of the lesson is a great motivator!
    Looking forward to seeing your new blog :)

  4. Cecília, Ceri, Bruno and David,

    Thanks a lot for your encouragement as well as compliments, I really appreciate it! You’ve really made my day!
    Definitely, the Wandrous Whiteboard from Jason is a technique that every teacher should try at least once. Needless to say that I have incorporated it into my teaching practice.
    Cheers!
    Luciana Podschun

  5. DavidD says:

    Hi Luciana,

    Thanks for sharing your experiences here. I love the way this challenge can take us & our students anywhere, always with different results.

    You should definitely start your own blog as well!

    Oh, and Cecilia – guest bloggers already? Wow! First you get more comments on your opening post than I’ve ever had in 6 whole months of blogging and now this – I’m jealous! ;)

  6. Great work Luciana,

    This is a really fun lesson!

    Karenne

  7. Hi Dave,
    I’m pleased you enjoyed it. The great thing about this activity is that you will always get a different response from your students no matter how many times you try, even if it’s with the same group, the result will always be different as you mentioned.
    In regards to your suggestion….well I don’t think I’m ready enough to start a blog, but I think I’m convinced that I should start one in a near future. :-) meanwhile I’m very happy to write as a guest. Thanks for sharing your comments.
    Cheers!

    Luciana Podschun

  8. Excellent piece of work here, Luciana!

    I particularly liked the way you managed to turn/twist/coax each of these statements in directions that involved specific language development as well as new topical applications: the trademark of spot on unplugged teaching, in my opinion. I also liked how you potentially worked some things in with future coursebook foci, which is a good move when you are under the CB yoke so much…

    Well done – a great read.

    – Jason

  9. Jason,

    I’m really glad you enjoyed the way I conducted the activity.Thank you very much for your words of encouragement, they really mean a lot for me.

    Luciana

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