So here’s how action research works:
It was the Polish academic Alfred Korzybski who famously said “The map is not the territory”, in the context of the developing field of general semantics. His phrase has since been widely used, even to promote holidays and to sell cars, but at its core it represents the fundamental difference between our perception of a thing and the reality of the thing itself.
The education version of Korzybski’s dictum might be: “The plan is not the lesson”.
You may well be familiar with scenes like this. You have probably sat through teachers’ meetings yourself where a head teacher or director has informed you of changes that seem to make no sense or which seem to reflect a fundamental and unwelcome shift in organisational philosophy. For me however, the key words in that extract are “coming down from on high”.
My schedule is such that on teaching days I feel as though I rush from my house to the teachers’ room and from there to the classroom and from there back home in the evening. I sometimes feel as though I barely have time for getting through all the marking, let alone for reflecting on my teaching.
In particular, he looks at the four key digital literacies: focus on connections, on language, on information and on (re)design. This article presents a series of activities, lessons and ideas that you can take away and use with your classes to help them develop some of these key skills. Some of them you can make a part of your regular teaching practice, others work better as standalone lessons.
Hopefully they all work for you! If you do try any of these ideas out, do let us know in the comments section below.
An autonomous learner is one who goes off and does their own thing while an exam very often acts as a constraint on the learning process, focusing everything in towards what is required to get that passing grade. And yet, it is very often the students that sit there waiting to be told by the teacher what they need to do to pass are the ones who have the greatest difficulties and who struggle to achieve the grades they need.
I kept thinking I couldn’t teach the language without Michael Swan’s Practical English Usage right by my side. I was sitting up all night making sure I didn’t get it wrong. But eventually, I think I learnt how to get along.
This isn’t one of those homily type analogies where I go on to say something about becoming a friend, it’s more prosaic than that. In October I changed teaching jobs and while last year being a mentor was in my job description, this year it isn’t.
So here are six ways I think you could exploit this image with your classes. I’ve tried to come up with one idea for each level, or approximate level, of ability – there should be something for everyone! With all of these I’ve taken the approach of using the image as a springboard for language production – the image is the stimulus if you will, the prompt to try and help learners generate language. The point in all of these is that the language comes from the learners and they work with what they’ve got – it’s not about input, but output.