Bully Me No More (Lesson Plans)

Tomorrow, December 17th 2010, is Anti-Bullying Day and as a person who has been, in different life situations,

the victim, the supporter, the hero... 
the observer, the bully, the oblivious...

I decided to channel my energy into creating a lesson plan on the subject.   I hope you and your students find it interesting and I hope it helps.

1. Tyler Ward's Cover Version of Eminem's No Love
Write the following paragraph on the board or beam on to a whiteboard/IWB:

It's a little too _______ to say that you're ______ now. You kicked me when I was _____ but what you say just don't ______ me, don't hurt me no more. You showed me nothing but ______, you ran me into the _________ but what comes _________ goes _________, what you say just don't hurt me, don't ____ me no more.

Ask your students to guess what the missing words are.

or Watch the video via the internet http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zz1Y6EZUT10&feature=related 
to confirm the missing lyrics.

Ask your students to tell you if they know who the original song and singers are.
(Eminem & L'il Wayne). Who are they? Ask what they think the song ís about.

2. Eminem & L'il Wayne: No Love (video)

a. Ask your students to jot down notes while they watch about what they see on the screen – start the music video – make sure to play without sound (very adult lyrics)*  
(this is a clean version)

Eminem - No Love ( Feat. Lil Wayne )
from Top Music on Vimeo.

http://www.vimeo.com/17010892 (available Dec2010)*explicit
((some countries have clean versions of the lyrics available -do a google video search))
b. Ask your students to describe (in as much detail as possible) the story they saw in the video and how it made them feel while watching.

c. Ask students if they think that Eminem or L'il Wayne were ever bullied at school. Were either of them the bullies? Why do they think so?

3. What is Bullying?
Ask students – What is bullying? How does it differ from fist-fighting, verbal abuse or other types of hurtful or angry behaviour? 

What factors are usually in place in a situation like the one shown in the video – can we usually tell if someone is being bullied?   What happens to people who fight back?

Sticks & Stones

4. Sticks and Stones
(If you have access to real sticks and stones + cards with common insult words put these up on a table in the front of the class.)
Ask students: Is violence always physical? What does the saying Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never harm me mean?  

Is it true? How do words harm?

Get students to push the desks out of the way and create an open space in the centre of your classroom. Take a roll of tape and draw a line through the middle of the room. Make sure to assert that your classroom is now a safe-place and ask for respect to be shown to each other.  

Example here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4H7QMy54Keg&feature=player_embedded
(Alternatively you can opt for asking students to remain seated and raise their hands or stand up in place when answering yes.)

Ask students to stand on the line whenever they can answer yes to a question and to stand off the line whenever they want to answer no. No elaborating on questions -simply asking them to step on or off the tape. 

*If you're teaching second language learners you may need to clarify some of the vocabulary beforehand.

Stand on the line/ Stand up/ Raise your hand

  1. ... if you like listening to music...

  2. " if you have an mp3 player

  3. " if you have an ipod

  4. " if you have an itouch/ ipad/ iphone

  5. " if you have more than 30 albums on your music device

  6. " if you own any rap music

  7. " if you have any albums by Eminem or L'il Wayne

  8. " ~if no one in your family knows about this... :-)

  9. " if you had an argument with anyone in your family this week

  10. " if you had an argument with anyone at school last week

  11. " if you have ever called someone a bad name in private

  12. " if you have ever called someone a bad name in public

  13. " if you have ever been called a bad name in private or public

  14. " if you have ever been hit by anyone else

  15. " if you have ever hit a brother or sister/ friend

  16. " if you have ever hit a someone you didn't know well

  17. " if you have seen someone else hit

  18. " " … and didn't do anything

  19. " " … and reported it to an authority

  20. " " … and hit the person doing the hitting

  21. " " … and waited, then helped the victim

  22. " if you have ever been a friend of someone who hurts people

  23. " if you have ever been a friend of someone who took their own life.

Thank the students for sharing and then get them to help put the desks back in place. Don't talk about the experience or intervene – at this stage - if some students are emotional, allow them to comfort each other.

6. Who feels what? 

Hand out the wordle* Who feels what and the activity sheet asking for the emotions of:

  • The Bully
  • The Bully's Lieutenants
  • The Victim
  • The Victim's Supporters
  • The Victim's Hero
  • The Observers
  • The Oblivious

Switch groups after 10-15 minutes. There are no right or wrong answers. If teaching 2ndLanguage learners, allow dictionaries.
*Depending on your culture and the age-group you're teaching, you will need to make a decision on which wordle to use. One of these includes the phrase sexual thrill and uses harder adjectives.

7. Tell your story
As the teacher, you should now tell a story from your own personal experience (your childhood or that of one of your kids) of either being bullied, watching a bullying experience plus what you did or didn't do or, perhaps, even of being the bully yourself in a specific situation.  

It is very important that you share a true personal story rather than something in the news at the moment - if you can - as it will help your students trust you enough to tell their own.

Now ask your students to share a story from their lives: they can write their stories in their blogs or notebooks and make sure that they know that they will not required to share these stories unless they choose to. Stop them after a long enough period has passed and then ask for volunteers of those who would like to share their story publicly: again remind everyone that your classroom is a safe haven today and
ask for respect without judgments.

8. Bully Me No More: question cards
Print out enough copies of the card game on coloured paper to create multiple small groups of 3-5 students. Cut the cards and distribute the questions you feel suitable for your age group. Put them face down on the table, the students should turn over the cards and ask each other the questions on them.

9. Write a play
Divide up your class into groups of no less than 6 – 10 students and ask them to script a play about bullying:

Act I: A horrible incident occurs afterschool.
Act II: A school meeting is called to discuss the incident.
Act III: 25 years later, everyone meets at a school reunion.
Who is everyone now? What do they do/ what jobs do they have?  What do they talk about?
If the students would like to, get them to choose characters, act it out / film and/or host on YouTube.

10. Follow-Up: Internet Research and Project Work
Post up the following options on the board and ask students to choose which they would like to research on in order to work collaboratively. Students can then use their computers/web2.0 tools to create posters/ prezis/ glogsters/ animotos/ wallwishers/ comic books/ infographics etc.

  • Bullies throughout history:a timeline
  • How to: A guide by students to teach teachers how to spot and deal with bullies
  • What is cyberbullying: how to report, prevent it and stay safe online
  • Cyberbullying: what stories are in the media today?
  • How to spot sexual predators (off and online)
  • Understanding the psychology of the bully / victim/ supporters/ observers
  • What is defamation of character? Understanding the legal issues of slander and libel.
  • What is the NOH8 campaign?

I love hearing from you!
Please add your thoughts if you enjoyed this lesson plan and you feel like there's something you would like to question, add or say about it - don't worry about perfection or agreeing with me: it's always a pleasure to hear from you and know your own opinions.

Best, Karenne

Download the lesson plan:

Luciana Podschun's Vocabulary Tree

The Tree of HypatiaSince I joined twitter a couple of months ago and started building up my PLN, I became incredibly addicted to it.  I discovered awesome educators and wonderful people who are sharing their experiences, fantastic tools for web 2.0, thoughtful  blogs and interesting discussions all in one place - on “twitter”.

I must confess that besides twitter, I am now also hooked on reading blogs. Little by little I started submitting comments and participating in some of the discussions on twitter such as #eltchat #ntchat# and #edchat. I still don’t feel comfortable enough to start my own blog, but I do love sharing my experiences and writing on other educators’ blogs. So, here I am, I’m writing for the first time as a guest on Kalinago English Blog.

Today, I am sharing an activity which is suitable for all levels and is pretty useful to widen student's vocabulary through its practice, it's called Vocabulary Tree. Once when I was searching on the web for different ways to memorize words I came across to this technique. After reading some other blogs about it, I decided to adopt it for my private students.  I started with my beginner group last month and they really enjoyed it because it’s was a good way to memorize the words.

The overall experience for my students and their initial reaction was great.  The students were thrilled as they realized the interrelation of the different words.  It was good fun for everyone and the students learned in the process. The classes went by very fast!

All we need is to put the subject in the center of the paper.  We can also write a short introduction using as many words related to the subject as we can. Using the introduction we can arrange the main ideas related to the subject in a Vocabulary Tree.

In order to enrich students’ vocabulary we start asking about the ones they know and gradually introduce the new words by asking questions. It’s also a great way to get the students accustomed to the usage of a monolingual dictionary.   We can also add some pictures related to the words for those students who learn better in a visual way.

In the illustration below,  I wrote jobs and occupations in the center of the sheet of paper; with a arrow I put the words which are related and its workplace, so they could learn also the workplace related to the jobs.

I hope you try out this activity, the students get motivated once they learn the interrelation between words. 

Luciana Podschun

By the way, I would love to hear from you if you've done something like this too or have any suggestions for me on how to adapt it.

Christmas Cards

Just in case you popped over to my website to pick up the Christmas Conversation Game...  
(my site's been down - sorry, I'll fix it over the holidays!)

Holiday Snowman Card

Here it is!

Happy holidays!

Vote for me...


Because you completely love me to bits....

but if you got sidetracked by some of the other amazing blogs in that list... then vote on this one instead:


Thanks, love you back!


Dogme Blog Challenge #10 The questions which continue to niggle...

and niggle...

Need a Spark?

For ten weeks we, as Educational bloggers, have explored the concepts and precepts of dogme together - we have enthusiastically shared our knowledge and experience, described what it has meant to us to adopt a student-centered approach to our language teaching and we've told thousands of others about how this practice has enriched our work and affected our classrooms.

But for this week (and for the next ones following until the end of the year) why don't we write posts which turn the tables on our readers, asking them about the questions they may still have...  or perhaps some of them will write their own questions telling us what it is that still niggles about dogme...

What stones have we left unturned?
And let's now listen deeply.

The Blog Posts Challenge #10
      Read previous Challenge blog posts:
      What is all this about? 
      The Dogme Blog Challenge + links to the blogs discussing Dogme
      The dogma of Dogme - background info & links
      Dogme ELT - other stuff I've written on Dogme

      How to share on Twitter:  use the #dogmeme hashtag

      How to share your fellow teachers' blog posts with each other?  Add/link to the blog(s) written on the subject on your post so they form a ring and your readers can travel on from post to post!

      How to respond?

      Comment below with short thoughts
      Go to your nearest yahoo!group and share your opinions
      with like-minded teaching colleagues

      Blog it:
      Write a list or tell a story, 
      compare lessons: dogme and non-dogme, 
      relate an experience, a contrary opinion,
      quote research, your own theory,
      submit mere musings, rant...
      share an idea, a paragraph, a dictionary's definition
      come up with a clever sentence,
      a beautiful photograph,

      a video-log
      an article or draft the bones of an essay, 
      share examples from your own classroom experience...

      In short, be dogmeic: personalize  your response!)

      Important URLs to quote/link to in your post (if necessary):
      • Teaching Unplugged: http://www.deltapublishing.co.uk/titles/methodology/teaching-unplugged
      • Scott Thornbury's website + articles: http://www.thornburyscott.com/
      • Scott Thornbury's blog: http://scottthornbury.wordpress.com/
      • Luke Meddings' blog: http://lukemeddings.wordpress.com/
      • Luke Meddings' on the Delta blog: http://www.deltapublishing.co.uk/author/luke-meddings
      • Dogme ELT in Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dogme_language_teaching

      Andrew Wright's Tao Story and what we did with it...

      A few weeks back Lindsay Clandfield hosted a guest-post from the amazing Andrew Wright, who is for those who unfortunately now teach in an age devoid of supplementary-games-materials books or   are a bit too reliant on the computer, the king of cartoons. 
      (if you happen to be wondering why these books disappeared- well, see, they got replaced & all supplementary-type of activities were stuck at the back of teachers' books which no one ever buys or reads... the result of which is, even if you do actually buy the teacher's copy, has been squeezed up and is now non-readable because of  the space vs page and all the financial restrictions of that..ya know
      because see,
      there happens to be no money in photocopiable stuff)

      Anyway, that was a long digression,  let me get on with my stories.

      Andrew Wright, probably on a whim one day - how ever did he convince a publisher to print that book (now there's a story) - decided to teach teachers all over the world, how to draw stick-figures on our boards to explain anything from emotions, grammar and easy and difficult lexis...

      And he is the man behind me getting my own students drawing cartoons...
      last week's post & even more coming next week, but in the meantime pop over to EHerrod's page

      I enjoyed Andrew's 60 years on Clandfield's blog so I travelled on from SixThings to Andrew's blog where I was met by a number of delightful stories: mostly aimed at a younger crowd than my adult IT/Banking/Automotive lot.

      Still, there was one which grabbed my eye so I printed it out.

      Here's what I asked my students to do with it:

      Read this story.
      What do you think it means? How would you apply this story to business and the way that companies or people in your industry work?

      Here's the story:

      (republished here with permission)

      There was a young woman. She was lying under a tree and she was sleeping.

      Suddenly, she heard the roar of a tiger! She woke up! She saw it! The tiger, a huge tiger, its eyes burning bright, its teeth gleaming, was running towards her!


      She couldn’t climb the tree. There was nowhere to hide! She ran! She ran away from the tiger. And she ran like the wind! She was fast but the tiger was faster and on great silent feet it came nearer and nearer!

      What could she do?

      She saw a cliff in front of her. It was the side of a deep gorge. The tiger was just behind her. She half jumped, half fell over the cliff. She caught a vine. She held on to the vine.

      Let the sleeping tigers lie........................... or..... Rock a bye, baby...

      The tiger was above her, its burning eyes staring at her, its claws opening and closing on the edge of the cliff.

      She climbed down the vine, a little bit further. She looked up. The tiger was silent. Its eyes were closed. Its head was on its paws. It was sleeping.

      Thank goodness!

      Then she heard another tiger roar below her! At the bottom of the cliff was another tiger, with burning eyes. Its roarings echoing in the gorge.

      Then she heard a scratching and a gnawing.

      It was a little mouse above her. It was in its hole and it was gnawing at the vine; eating the vine slowly, slowly, eating the vine. But it was a thick vine and it was a little mouse.

      Tree-climbing mouse 2

      And the young woman felt the warm sun on her back. She felt the warm sun on the cliff. She smelled warm, rich smells coming from the little rock flowers and then she saw there were some bunches of dark blue grapes on the vines!

      Rich and ripe! Fat and succulent! She reached for a bunch of grapes. She pressed the fat grapes into her mouth.

      She lived the moment and forgot about the two tigers and the mouse.

      The mouse was still gnawing at the vine.

      Here's what two of my students responded:

      1 (online)
      I have read the story twice. I think the company is the woman in dangerous and risky situation. At the first time, she was scared and ran when she knew she was in seriousness. And she found a cliff. After safety in it, she observed what make her feel unsafe outside. Although she knew the dangerous things is around her but she also knew she was safe in the cliff. Thus, she kept calm and ate grapes. You can see if you want to manage your business well, you should kept calm like the woman but still look around and find out all of dangers could be happened accidentally and the methods to avoid them.
      Sometimes, you must forget your present circumstance to relax and to find out the exit way then. About the mouse, I think it symbolizes inside inside factor of the business.
      As we know, the mouse ate the vines and the vines is just like the development of the business (has grapes are rich and ripe, fat and succulent) .   Therefore, the mouse is the employees in the business. They do not contribute their talent, skill and ability to grow and expand the company they are working, but take advantage of the company to make their own profit.

      2 (face2face, but sent as an email)
      How can the tenor of the story be transfered to the modern economy?  The young woman looks like a young and inexperienced market player.   And the tiger symbolizes an old and clever competitor.  Maybe the young woman is enjoying success of a good business so she doesn't think about the jealousy of her competitors and she forgot to secure her advantage. 
      Suddenly a competitor is breathing down her neck in the form of the same or better products.  To find a way out of her problems she runs into new markets in a panic.  Luckily for her, the old competitor can't follow her into this new market and the other competitors are now far away.
      But while she is enjoying this new sweet success, another small competitor is gnawing at her advantage.
      Conclusion: you can't sleep if you do not know who or where the tigers are.

      Fun, eh?  How would you have interpreted this story yourself?
      Actually after spending about 45mins reviewing their emails/ discussing the various options for the application of this story to their own business scenarios (my students are well-trained in dogme - btw did you see how he picked up the word gnawing and inserted it into his own text, correctly in context -proud TeacherMama I am)...   anyhoo, we naturally flowed on to their own memories of childhood fables and we all had a good time trying to remember stories of foxes and storks and the like... 

      And I simply have to share P's with you because, aside from the fact he had us cracking up in class, I just haven't been able to get the core lesson out of my head since.  

      I apologize in advance if this story has a copyright somewhere -I'm just going to retell it as P told it.

      There was once a little mouse who was being chased by a tiger.   She ran up to the elephant and said "hide me, hide me, I'm in big trouble, there's a tiger chasing me..."
      The elephant said "No problem, go behind me."
      Then the elephant shat on her...  
      Unfortunately, the mouse hadn't curled her tail up next to her so when the tiger came up behind the elephant he could easily see where the mouse was.  
      He pulled her out by the tail and then he ate her.

      The moral of the story? 
      Not everyone who shits on you is bad and not everyone who pulls you out of the shit is good.

      Share with me...

      I hope these bad words haven't offended you, this is how my student told it and he's an adult, as am I and I decided the story wouldn't make sense without them. 

      But my question is, do you think that BE classes should always have BE texts as reading material?  Aside from the news and topical life events I generally have tended to focus in on Business when working with my students but after the success of this exercise I wonder if it's too limiting to think like that.   Have you ever used any fables or any other type of philosophical tales or even plain old-fashioned storytelling in your own adult BE classes?  What texts work best, in your opinion, where do you generally source this material when you're not using a textbook? 


      Useful links related to this posting:

      Karenne's Blue Carpet Nominations: Edublogs Awards 2010

      Lifetime achievement
      Alex Case

      Wordpress recently knee-jerked and lost archived articles when Alex reached his 1000th post.

      This probably says it all, doesn't it?  Since June 2007, Alex has consistenly challenged us; made us laugh; provided  us with endless lessons and worksheets.  He has been an exemplary edu-blogger and is more than worthy of this acknowledgement.

      If I were allowed to nominate more bloggers in this category I would also  have been honored to nominate: Graham Stanley, Larry Ferlazzo, Eric Roth, David Deubel, Jeffrey Hill and Nik Peachey.

      Best individual blog
      Scott Thornbury

      When Scott started blogging I had mixed feelings, would my techno-phobic (not true) favourite author stay the course?  Would he really participate in the 'sphere; would he be a consistent writer and sharer... about 6 months in, I wondered if, actually, I should just pack up shop.  There's no way I can/could ever produce the same quality of content.

      Since last December, Thornbury has written pedagogically challenging posts, questioning parts of a book he had previously written and he has collaborated with us, his teaching readers, into thinking ever deeper into the ways we teach.  

      I can think of no other blog more suitable for this award and therefore it is a complete honor for me to nominate the A-Z of ELT in the category of best individual blog.

      Best teacher blog
      Sabrina de Vita

      There are literally so many blogs who fall naturally into this category that, in a dilemma, I almost decided not to nominate here.  Except that I decided to concentrate on development as a teacher blogger and I believe, having read her blog since 2008, that Sabrina's writing style has strengthened so much over the years - it has been an utter joy to read what happens in her classes.  

      If I were allowed to nominate more bloggers in this category I would add: Sue Lyon Jones, Jason Renshaw, Darren Elliot, Özge Karaoğlu, Willy Cardoso, Eva Büyüksimkeşyan, Janet Bianchini, Marisa Constaninides, Vicki Hollett and Rick Oprea.

      Best new blog
      In the last year we have seen so many incredible new bloggers enter the 'sphere, so again this was an incredibly, incredibly difficult call to make.  However, I have searched through my favorites thoroughly and in the end have decided on  

      Diarmuid Fogarty's Tao of Te(a)ching for its entirely unique approach and voice.

      If I were allowed to nominate more bloggers in this category I would have also loved to have nominated:  Willy Cardoso, Candy Von Ost, Jeremy Harmer,  Adam Simpson, David Warr, Ian James, Mike Harrison, Dave Dodgson and Cecilia Coehlo.

      Best resource sharing blog
      Larry Ferlazzo...

      I don't really need to say anything here, do I?

      No one does it like Larzo!

      Best educational tech support blog
      Ana Maria Mendes

      Ana consistently dreams up new and crazy ideas to get you teaching English with technology.  Because she is in the classroom and still working with students, her ideas are rock-solid and pedagogically sound.   I learn something new each time I go to her page and it's a pleasure for me to nominate her in this category.

      If I were allowed to nominate more bloggers in this category I would have nominated: Nik Peachey, Özge Karaoğlu, Sue Waters, Richard Byrne and David Kapuler.

      Best group blog
      I almost skipped over this category as I couldn't come up with  what constitutes real-group blogging however I came to the conclusion that the new practice several bloggers have taken up of inviting guest posts must surely count as group blogging (especially as in many cases guest posts make up a third or more than half the content). 

      So with this in mind, I would like to nominate someone who mixes his own fascinating posts with the stories of others, who has supported young ELT professionals more than anyone I can think of, by providing a space for their voices within his own space - creating a community of educators.  This person is someone worthy of a lifetime of achievement awards:

      Ken Wilson
      Given the above criteria, if I were able to nominate more than one blogger in this category, I would also nominate:  Lindsay Clandfield, Barbara Sakamoto and Shelly Terrell.

      Most influential blog post
      The post that most rocked the ELT blogosphere this year, No Dogme for EFL

      Jeremy Harmer

      Best individual tweeter
      Oh, dear.

      Another incredibly challenging nomination.  Does one nominate for number of tweets, for sharing great links, for the conversation?  What is the best individual tweeter supposed to look like?  

      Well, I suspect, in fact, she looks like this:

      Sue Lyon Jones

      Others I would have been honored to nominate in this category:  Anna Pires, Sue Annan, Duncan Baker, Berni Wall, Tara Benwell, Mike Harrison, Marisa Constaninides and Shelly Terrell.

      Most influential series of tweets & Best educational podcast

      Run by five impressive tweeters who all deserve nominations as best individual tweeters as well: Olaf Elch, EnglishRaven, Rliberni, ShellTerrell and Marisa_C.  This site is based on providing a space for ELTeachers to connect with each other every Wednesday, to share their thoughts and impressions regarding our teaching practice.

      Podcast interviews are produced and transcripts from each twitter discussion - therefore providing our PLN with a permanent record of learning.

      Best educational use of a social network
      As extraordinary as Twitter is, as the blogosphere is, as marvelous the numerous community platforms are, the most incredible site, in my mind, is 


      Through their care and conscientous diligence, two remarkable educators, Tara Benwell and Josef Essberger, have managed this site for around 18months and through it, have encouraged students all over the world (some with no other access to teachers or a place to learn English) to  be able to come together online at any time in order to practice their English every day - and at the moment that's 27,208 of them!

      Best use of a PLN
      The entire #dogmeme crew:

      For all those who have written blog posts to share their thoughts on the dogme, a student-centered approach to language teaching.

      This nominaton is for those who have questioned and prodded at it,  made fun or raved about this special way to teach:  those who have chatted about it on Twitter, Facebook or in their classrooms and staffrooms; those who have opened the door to their lessons and those who mused or ranted in essays and articles, those who have sketched out dialogues and created videos:

      Mike Harrison, Sabrina de Vita, Willy C Cardoso, Nick Jaworski , Cecilia Coelho, Candy Von Ost, Anne Hodgson, Sue Lyon Jones, Rick Oprea, Diarmuid Fogarty, Michelle Worgan, Dave Dodgson, Nick Jaworski, Jeremy Harmer, Andrew Pickles, Richard Whiteside, Natasa Grojic, David Warr, Anna Rolinska, Tara Benwell, James Taylor, Vicky Loras, David Deubel, Paul Braddock, Leahn Stanhope, Luke Meddings, Darren Elliot, Patrick Jackson and Evan Frendo...
      This honour also goes to all of those in our PLN who have read the posts, retweeted the 60+ blog posts on to their own followers and fans.

      This has truly been an extraordinary and never-seen-before level of educational sharing and collaboration!

      Best educational use of audio
      An extraordinary man.  A series of extraordinary sites.

      Sean Banville & Breaking News English 

      Best educational use of video
      I think this one is so obvious, I almost don't even have to say why, do I?  Other than to say thanks so much, Russell, you've made so much of teaching with technology easier: kudos!

      Russell Stannard & Teacher Training Videos

      Best educational use of a wiki
      Shelly Terrell & Özge Karaoğlu for their extraordinary well-updated wiki, Technology 4 Kids.

      Dogme Blog Challenge #9 Being Critical

      One of the greatest problems I have personally found, from an attempt years ago, to bring in the then topical subject of weapons of mass destruction into our classroom - the war in Iraq was gearing up  - was that politics can be a very dangerous and difficult discussion. 

      However, does it pay to always avoid the difficult?

      Do you believe that everything we read, write, watch or hear in the media is always true?   Have we ever been lied to or misled by those in positions of political authority?

      We know the answers to these questions lie in layers of greyness, layers which are often unpercievable by second language learners - yet how often do we challenge our students to think about these issues?

      Should we be teaching our students to think critically about the materials/opinions/news items we bring in to class with us?  That they bring in?

      What has been your experience - how have you handled critical thinking in your dogme classrooms?

      The Blog Posts Challenge #9
      This is a critical update by Diarmuid Fogarty
      Critical Thinking, we aim at it by Sabrina de Vita
      Thinking in a crisis by Candy von Ost
      A reflection on teaching critical thinking by Tyson Seburn

          Read previous Challenge blog posts:
          What is all this about? 
          The Dogme Blog Challenge + links to the blogs discussing Dogme
          The dogma of Dogme - background info & links
          Dogme ELT - other stuff I've written on Dogme

          How to share on Twitter:  use the #dogmeme hashtag

          How to share your fellow teachers' blog posts with each other?  Add/link to the blog(s) written on the subject on your post so they form a ring and your readers can travel on from post to post!

          How to respond?

          Comment below with short thoughts
          Go to your nearest yahoo!group and share your opinions
          with like-minded teaching colleagues

          Blog it:
          Write a list or tell a story, 
          compare lessons: dogme and non-dogme, 
          relate an experience, a contrary opinion,
          quote research, your own theory,
          submit mere musings, rant...
          share an idea, a paragraph, a dictionary's definition
          come up with a clever sentence,
          a beautiful photograph,

          a video-log
          an article or draft the bones of an essay, 
          share examples from your own classroom experience...

          In short, be dogmeic: personalize  your response!)

          Important URLs to quote/link to in your post (if necessary):
          • Teaching Unplugged: http://www.deltapublishing.co.uk/titles/methodology/teaching-unplugged
          • Scott Thornbury's website + articles: http://www.thornburyscott.com/
          • Scott Thornbury's blog: http://scottthornbury.wordpress.com/
          • Luke Meddings' blog: http://lukemeddings.wordpress.com/
          • Luke Meddings' on the Delta blog: http://www.deltapublishing.co.uk/author/luke-meddings
          • Dogme ELT in Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dogme_language_teaching

          Complicated vocabulary? Make cartoons!

          Almost no teacher of adult learners would stand in front of her classroom, take out the crayons and proceed to tell students to get out a sheet of paper and draw pictures of challenging vocabulary...

          However last week when I noticed the verbs look at/look for/look after being consistently used incorrectly in our conversation, this is exactly what I resorted to.  

          Normally, I would have reached for the computer, Google and PowerPoint (my dearest friends) but last week I was actually in a classroom with a chalkboard, not a whiteboard let alone a computer and projector and none of them had their laptops.  I kid you not.   

          Baffled... I still had to make my learners see the difference.   

          There is a good reason we drew as kids - that whole spending time thinking about concepts and then creating something out of those thoughts marks the brain in ways that receiving oral explanations never will and we shouldn't ever let those skills go to waste just because we're working with adults.

          Step 1
          Whenever you notice a group of words with similar meaning but they're not quite the same / a set of common errors between English and the students' native language / phrasal verbs that have distinct meanings first talk about what is wrong in their conversations: give or elicit an explanation.

          Step 2
          Get your students to draw cartoons demonstrating the differences.

          Step 3
          Encourage your students to share their drawings with each other.

          That's it: have fun!


          The Greatest Master is HE who

          makes the most masters.

          Reef Shark surounded by fishThis post is not an attempt to gazump Fogarty's brilliant blog, the Tao of Te(a)ching even if the quote is from his guru....

          and, considering how many of my posts these days are dedicated to dogme, I wouldn't want to bore anyone with more of that, even if there is one particular post in the blogosphere which is indeed annoying me - in my opinion: another attempt to justify non-student-centered classrooms.

          It's also not about a completely different yet equally controversial blog post in the 'sphere... despite being rushed off my feet these days, I have one eye cocked as I vaguely watch my screen unravel an embarrassing scramble of folks killing themselves to be listed or to get their best mates listed on the  so-called "TEFL:100 the list of "influencers..." 

          Ya gotta wonder. 

          Ya do.

          Hallo, it's 




          Oh.. for heaven's sake, we're in a bubble...a micro-sized niche of education.  Get a grip - it's not Shakespeare and no one is shaking the ground, earthquake style.   Sometimes when you read through the testosterone-driven fields of our profession, you'd almost think we were writing novels, movies and competing for Oscars...


          Arrogance is such a big subject in my mind at the moment.  

          I talked to a dear friend over the weekend... she was telling me she got accepted to IATEFL and was pretty excited - when she told me about her proposal, I said  

          What a great idea! Sometimes it's better to be a big fish in a little pond because  if you'd gone for x...  well, you could pretty much disappear in that very big pond -

          and with a smirk she retorted...  

          OR you'd have to become a shark.


          I wonder if that's what happened to some of these old guys... 

          They just had to become reef dwellers.. you know the ones I mean, the ones that can not stop talking about themselves.    I wonder if they're afraid that the current and amazing PLN of talented teachers and presenters are going to clean come and eat them up.  So silly, there's sea enough for all of us.   

          But I wonder if this will wind up being us, one day - today's explorers and adventurers today - are we going to wind up in twenty or thirty years time scared out of our wits of giving up the stage to the brighter sparks?
          Somehow I don't think so, though, as for the most part we have another vision - we share and we care.  And like some of my favourite folks  out there in the 'verse (Harmer, Greenall, Thornbury, Wilson) we'll join in and like them, we'll support: we'll build and we'll continue learning.

          Sidebar 2
          All this.. you know the Greatest Master stuff... gotta say, it was certainly something to mull over on the way home from the very best conference I've ever attended: TESOL France - Kudos Ms Cagnol - there were just so many incredibly talented presenters there and boy, what an audience!    

          Active, lively, interested teachers - filled with super questions, determined to get down to the pedagogy (andragogy) behind all the flash and dash of tech.  

          Engaged with the content and profession.

          Except... for one old guy.  

          A "master"... who hogged the stage in the evening's entertainment event.  

          How much more impressed we would have been with him if instead of doing the


          all night, 


          he'd allowed the real talent to shine.

          How much more impressed with him we would all have been if he'd help create masters...

          By the way, did I ever tell you I've swum with sharks?  

          Twice, actually, once by accident...  months and months later I was sitting in a pub telling some Aussies that I had loved swimming in Nara Inlet at 6 in the morning because I was the only one there at that hour and they said, you mean the place with the tiger sharks? 

          And then once on purpose, off the coast of Sipadan...  and although I was initally fascinated by their focus and musculed mass I soon saw their greyness, their lack of intelligence and dead eyes,  and turned to concentrate on the incredibly beautiful turtles.  (That wasn't an analogy, btw, it's the way it was).

          Hmmm... this is an convoluted post, isn't it.  I don't dare press draft though as it will disappear and become draft #53...

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