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.
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.