LESSON PLANNING IN THE PARK

Creative teachingOne of the great things about being a teacher is that now I can work anywhere, including my favorite spot in the park. Students see you for an hour maybe two and think that’s all there is to it, but any teacher can tell you that for every hour taught, there’s many more in the planning. Especially in your first years as a teacher! When it comes to my time to plan lessons, I love being outside.

Yesterday Nala and I sat next to the stream and she chased after ducks while I planned a lesson on weather and global warming. A lesson on what?! Yes, I’m still an ESL teacher (English as a second language) not an Earth sciences teacher, but the days of standing in front of the board explaining verb tenses for hours and hours are long gone, at least in my eyes.

The students and colleagues that have watched me teach can tell you one thing, my classes aren’t your normal run-of-the-mill English classes. We’ve gotten used to such a traditional way of learning and teaching, but now I’m always so happy with the enormous smiles I get from students when I teach adverbial phrases with an “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” episode, or the lesson I was planning yesterday in the park about global warming and weather, with segments from movies like “Twister” and “An Inconvenient Truth”. Shouldn’t creativity in teaching be the norm and not the exception? Not only for students! I can tell you I have so much fun planning these lessons and waiting to see what my students’ reaction will be. It’s not all decoration by the way, you can turn a funny scene from “Airplane” and transform it into a listening practice by simply adding some pre-listening tasks. Use comedians and music to teach subtext and inferred meaning. Not to mention vocabulary and grammar, Alanis Morissette’s ‘Hand in My pocket‘ has more adjectives in it than any course book I’ve ever taught with! I can also tell you that the tv show “Friends” has just about every single lesson intro or warmer you can possibly think of. It’s a simple way to engage students a bit more and make the lesson and its contents more memorable. Not to mention a really positive way of getting students to practice listening and especially get used to the speed in which the words are said in a normal conversation.

This is the way I learned in school, I was one of those lucky ones to have “magicians” as teachers when I was growing up, but I’ll cover that in a different post soon. Some of the lessons, books, stories and subjects I learned in this way have never left my mind, and it’s not because of any memory super power of mine  (I have quite the opposite actually!), it’s because of the way these subjects were being taught.

I can’t wait to have our Creative Teaching section ready for you guys, I simply need a few extra hours to take some fun photos I want to include, and it will be ready. In this section you’ll find great links and ideas so you can take your teaching to a more creative place. Your students will love you for it.

I’m off for today to teach a lesson on the possessive with old family photos (yes, baby pictures included! yikes!). Wish me luck!

Did you have any unusual and creative experiences as a student? Please share your stories with all of us in the comments! We’d love to hear from you!

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