Christmas in the classroom, Pécs

I did a workshop on a Christmas theme at my old school, PTE Babits HS, in Pécs. It is getting harder to come up with Christmas teaching ideas that I haven’t used before, and this one inevitably had something dusted off from the archives – but also some new activities.
There is a speaking task based on ‘Would I Lie to You?’ and also a collaborative poetry activity using the wintry wonder that is Frost’s ‘Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening’.
The Quiz questions at the end would have been used as part of a Quizlet live task: I got as far as uploading the questions, but we didn’t have time to try it out. (Sporcle was one of the sources I used for the questions – can be a good resource.)
Slides here: Christmas in the classroom

Oxford Teachers’ Day, Zurich

Slides of my talk are available here in pdf format.

Litty-gritty: reading as a non-cognitve skill
In this talk I would like to bring a fresh perspective to a topic of perennial relevance: how we can get students to read more. Like many teachers, I am convinced of the value of extensive reading, and in addition to graded readers, I also enjoy using extracts from literary classics and young-adult fiction in the classroom. My students – like yours, perhaps – tend to avoid bookshops, and are certainly reluctant readers. My approach to promoting extensive reading skills differs from the norm: I do not believe that making reading “fun” is always the best approach. In my talk I will be considering the surprising benefits that can be reaped by conceding that reading is a chore for many students, and using that as a basis for developing important non-cognitive skills such as resilience and grit.

Kiev, IATEFL Conference (OUP)

Plenary slides here
My four Cs
‘Twenty-first century skills’ is a broad term encompassing life skills, literacy skills and learning skills. As teachers, we are most concerned (but not exclusively concerned) with the third aspect: learning skills. You have probably already heard of the so-called Four Cs – communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity – and are probably interested in finding out ways to kindle them in your students. This talk is not going to focus on those Four Cs. Instead, I would like to consider the role of the teacher in all this. What skills and qualities do we need to bring to the classroom? To help discover some of the answers to this question, I’ll be sharing my own ‘Four Cs’ for effective teaching in a twenty-first century context.

Workshop slides here
Ideas for the classroom using selfies, airplane mode, and memes
Students often tire of the topics in the coursebook. In this session I’ll be sharing some practical ideas for designing classroom activities based on topics that have genuine appeal for students – especially teenage students. We’ll start by looking at ways we can use selfies to generate language; then we’ll switch to ‘airplane mode’ and look at activities that can be done using the basic functionality of a smartphone – without apps or internet. Finally, I’ll share some ways of using memes as the basis for creative communicative classroom activities.

P.A.R.K Conference, Brno (OUP)

Slides from my plenary talk are available here in pdf format.

Making the most of students’ potential
Students in mixed-ability groups each have their own unique potential, but how can we make the most of it? In this session we consider simple and practical ways in which we can make the content and language of the lesson more accessible and engaging to students in the group – whatever their age, language level, personality and interests might be. I will also argue that the teacher’s handling of classroom interactions can have a huge impact on students’ attitude towards learning, particularly if it helps them develp vital non-cognitive skills, such as self-awareness and grit.

Czech Republic, Headway Day, OUP

Slides of my talk in Prague and Ostrava are available for download in pdf format.

Speak here, write now: developing productive skills in the classroom

How can we best get students using English in class? In this talk I will focus on the productive skills of speaking and writing. I will look at motivating approaches for teaching speaking and writing skills, using materials from Headway 5e as a basis. I will also share a variety of practical techniques for extending and consolidating activities which target these important skills. The emphasis will be on how we can exploit the materials in the book to activate and engage learners, especially in situations when we notice that students are reluctant to use English during lessons