Thursday, 26 February 2015

Headlines: Recycling Vocabulary Creatively

A post I wrote for the Teaching English British Council blog community on recycling vocabulary creatively through the use of the Headlines thinking routine.

An interview to Vicky Papageorgiou

Vicky Papageorgiou a dear friend and worthy colleague wanted to know a few things about my relationship with art and ELT. Here is the link to her blog where you can read the interview. Thanks to Vicky I also had the chance to create this short video where I explain a few things about the Art in the English Class Project. It is a project I have been working on with my pre-intermediate/intermediate mixed ability 6th grade students (11 years old). It explores the integrated use of thinking routines and artful stimuli as a means of fostering students' creative thinking alongside their linguistic competence in English. 

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Artful Stimuli & Visible Thinking: Fostering Communication of Thought in ELT

Happy and honoured to have been invited by the British Council to talk at the TESOL Greece event The Art of Communication. The invitation came because of my contibution to the upcoming British Council's publication on Creativity in Language Teaching (Co-editors: Nik Peachey and Alan Maley). I am sharing the ppt presentation of the talk.  

Friday, 6 February 2015

Inages on Canvas - The Image Conference Cordoba

At the end of November I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at the Image Conference, in Cordoba, Spain. The Conference is an event that puts media and images at the heart of language learning. This year it was organised by IH Cordoba. It was a really worthy and thought-provoking experience. 

The focus of my session was how we can use artful stimuli and Thinking Routines to foster students' creative and critical thinking alongside their English language skills. The session drew upon experience from a classroom project with my 6th grade primary school students, the Art in the English Class Project.

I am sharing the ppt presentation and some feedback provided by participants at the end of the session.



Sunday, 1 February 2015


Description: This lesson proposal is organized around the theme of friendship. 

Source material: Best Buddies, a painting by Keith Haring, a short extract from Ruth Krauss's book I'll Be You and You Be Me, an extract from Hans Christian Andersen's The Ugly Duckling, and Broken Wing, a short animation film by Amos Sussigan. 

The thinking routines used are: 3-2-1 Bridge, Sentence-Phrase-Word and Headlines

Level: Intermediate+
Learners: 11+
Topic: Friendship
Language: Friendship related language, Present Simple, Past Simple, can/should, 1st conditional
Skills: Observing, describing, discussing, watching, note taking, linking prior knowledge with new ideas and thoughts, engaging with meaning from text with a particular focus on "what speaks to them", capturing and summarizing the essence of a topic.

Step 1

Show students Best Buddies by Keith Haring. Ask them to describe it and guess the title. Reveal the title of the painting and the name of the painter.

Best Buddies, Keith Haring 1990

Step 2

Ask students to work in groups and write:
3 words
2 questions
1 simile
that quickly come to their mind when they think about friendship. 

Explain that similes are connections we make, comparing one thing to another because they are alike in some way. The words “like” or “as” are typically used. Provide a simile example first if needed. Friendship is  like... 

Here are some ideas the students I worked with had:

Step 3

Write on the board the saying: To have a good friend, you need to be a good friend. Then, ask students to reflect on the questions:

-What is a friend?
-What qualities do you think are important in a friend?
-How can you be a good friend? (I can be a good friend, if...)
-What things should friends never do?

Have them discuss the questions in pairs or in groups. Get feedback in the form of a plenary discussion.

Step 4

Show students the 2 slides from Ruth Krauss's book I'll Be You and You Be Me. Read them aloud in class.  

I'll Be You and You Be Me
I'll Be You and You Be Me

Then show them this quote by Plutarch:

Discuss what they think the important ideas in the poem and the quote are. 

Step 5

Give students the extract from Hans Christian Andersen's The Ugly Duckling. You might consider reading the extract first to the students. Then, have them read silently.

Ask them to select individually or in groups:
A sentence that is meaningful to them, that they feel expresses a main idea of the text.
A phrase that moves or engages them.
A word that has caught their attention; that they think it is powerful.

Note: Students can start with any item they like (sentence, phrase or word) and they can also skip an item if it does not work well (phrase might be a bit confusing).

Share ideas as a whole class discussion. Ask them to explain if they can their choices. Finally, reflect by asking:
-Are there any common themes that have now emerged?
-Why do you sometimes don't want someone to be your friend?
-How do you treat a non-friend?

Write on the board: A friend in need is a friend indeed. Ask students what they think the proverb means.

Step 7

Show students this image from the Broken Wing animation film. Ask them how the image makes them feel and why.

Then show them the next image from the film and do the same.

Ask them to compare the two images and say how they are different. Then ask them to guess what story the film might tell.

Step 8

Tell students that the images are from a short film called Broken Wing. Tell them that after watching they will have to write a short narrative of what happens in the film. Show the film. 

Broken Wing [Film] from amossussigan on Vimeo.

Step 9

Ask students to work in groups and write the short narrative in Present or Past Simple. Get feedback.

Step 10

Go back to step 2 and to the 3-2-1 Bridge routine. Ask students to write: 3 words, 2 questions and 1 simile when they think about friendship.
Bridge by sharing ideas and seeing how new responses are similar or different from the beginning. 

Step 11

Ask your students:
If you had to write a Headline in a newspaper or a magazine about friendship now that would capture the most important aspect of the issue, what would that be? 

I hope you find this proposal worth experimenting. 

You can have a look at classroom practice here