(1) Attend with friends. I used to think that attending with colleagues to "divide and conquer" would be a more efficient approach, but it was not as fun. It is more effective learning if I go with a friend so we can discuss and process together after the workshops and on the drive home. If there are too many good seminar options to choose from and we are interested in different topics, the divide and conquer method can work. Be sure to pick up an extra handout to share.
(2) Choose a blend of seminars I want and seminars I need, but lean more toward wants. If I pick workshops that will be useful right away, I am more inclined to apply it and remember what I have learned. I look for seminars with authors I have read (anything with Keith Folse, Randi Reppen or Dana Ferris), topics I am currently teaching or researching, and techniques that sound inspiring.
That said, here are the winning tokens from my CATESOL sessions last weekend.
Teaching Dynamic Grammar with Mr. Bean videos (with Katherine Guevara)
Mr. Bean video clips are a great resource to teach grammar with speaking and writing practice for several reasons. Mr. Bean's manner is slow and methodical. The episodes have little (if any speaking), are culturally appropriate for most conservative audiences, have countless applications for grammar and topical study or discussion, and are widely available via YouTube or cheap DVDs.
The presenter had an awesome handout using activities similar to what you can find here and here. I particularly like the "Back to the Screen" activity for Mr. Bean grammar practice.
Using Cell Phones in Class to Improve Motivation and Involvement (with Marilyn Lee & Andralena Panczenko)
This session focused on smart phone apps that you can use in the classroom. For many students, the cell phone is their most valuable possession, so you know they will have it available and be motivated to use it for learning purposes. Here are a few of the apps and activities they suggested:
- Polleverywhere.com - (Free) Students text responses to a poll question. Use for warm-ups, new unit introduction, assessment
- Camera/Video - Use student photos and videos to promote discussion, analysis, and writing tasks. They can use it outside of class for interviews or a photo scavenger hunt, then use the "evidence" they gathered to present to the class.
- Timer/Stopwatch - Students self-monitor time limits for activities such as timed readings, fluency practice, and other pairwork. Example: Post a discussion question on the board. Student 1 answers the question, talking non-stop for one minute on the topic. Then Student 2 takes a turn.
- Twitter - With a 140 character limit, "Tweets" can be used to summarize the main idea of essays, stories, discussions, movies, etc.
- Web browser - Use for scanning activities and in-class research.
- Instagram - Create or find artsy illustrations for writing, presentations and dialog journals.
- Voice recorder - Students practice pronunciation, create dialog journals, record interviews, etc. Example: In groups, create a radio ad including dialog, sound effects, vocabulary and grammar structures that you have been studying.
Can you tell I'm on a technology research kick these days? What other teaching applications have you used for video or cell phones in class?