Scott Thornbury offered up a stimulating blog post this week titled “R is for Representation“. About how textbooks don’t represent the world of the student, the spaces they live and walk among, the people they know nor the dreams they have for themselves. I won’t relate anymore, read the post and the fine comments, my own included. I’ve also written on this subject numerous times on this blog – here is one such post- Textbook Talk: Using SCC.
I will write about what I was reminded of when enjoying the post over Sunday coffee – a lesson on stereotyping I created years ago. It has some very vivid examples of 1980s textbook material that includes incredibly insensitive images of ethnic stereotypes. You might also think to yourself, “this could never be the case today!” and you’d be dead wrong. You see, the thing is we don’t see the images of our textbooks and materials as “offensive”. Why? Because by their nature, stereotypes are ingrained, not something we can see except from afar – be that in time or through a great break with our own culture.
It is a cool presentation that you can quickly use with a computer and screen (or IWB or class tablets/devices). It will challenge your student’s existing prejudices, no matter what part of the world they are in. I’ve used this in my curriculum development classes to get teachers seeing how materials can be unintentionally very offensive. I’ll also note my opinion that we should also try to use “local” content/images – what is relevant and closer to the student’s world. This presentation outlines this for where I was teaching at the time, Korea.
I like the term “tech”books. I’ve been busy the last couple of years creating lots of free books for teachers, books meant to bypass the clutter of the textbook vultures out there. Kind of born of my angst against how textbook culture (and it is a culture, so many are so deep into it, so “hooked”, like culture they can’t even see so), how textbook culture addicts teachers/schools and more seriously, de-trains teachers from actually teaching language in a personal, direct and “human” fashion. Time we all withdraw from this drug and low/no cost techbooks are the answer. Direct, simple and what teachers need – meant to supplement their teaching not suppress their teaching and make teaching into,”exercise 1, exercise 2, now class, turn the page and read”. OMG!
I’ve finally collected all the EnglishCentral techbooks I’ve produced, on one handy page. Take a look and just print and use with students along with the video. You can sign up as a teacher, make a class page of these videos and use the videos there with your students (and get reports, track students).
The normal delivery is
1. Ask some video theme specific discussion questions 2. Play the video, repeat as necessary. 3. Play parts, pause and have students repeat. 4. Students role play the video 5. Students complete the techbook vocabulary exercises. 6. Students go to EnglishCentral and study further, speaking the video etc…
But the point is, the teacher is in control. These are low/no cost, there is no huge pressure to use to the nth degree. They are used as will benefit the learners and the teacher.
I published Teach | Learn about 8 months ago. A lot of what I’ve learned and believe about teaching English to students in a classroom went into this simple book. It’s simplicity can be deceiving and it is based on my own belief in SCC or Student Created Content. Find out more through these tagged discussions on SCC.
Beyond representing my constructivists and progressive beliefs in education – I wanted to make a simple book that teachers could use with many levels. A book that didn’t “detrain” teachers but allowed them the freedom to teach but with some basic underlying structure. Further, in publishing the book online, I was dedicated to my belief that individuals could write, design, publish, print, sell their own textbooks. Not only that – do so in a way that isn’t a money grab but still pays the author for his/her time and labor.
In this vein, I’m happy to let the world download and share Teach | Learn. (click the link to preview and download). I’ve sold enough copies online to recoup my costs (about 235 copies) and now it is time for the child to fly away from the nest.
The book also has accompanying editable lesson files, a voicethread and a power point of the whole book to show on a big screen. You can get these extras as a supporter of EFL Classroom 2.0.
Clayton Christensen, Harvard professor and proponent of how new technologies change traditional market structures and relationships, defines disruption as “the process of transforming something that was previously expensive and complicated into something affordable and simple that everyone can obtain.”
This is my own drum beat, as I look at my own dedicated road along ELT. But we need more, many more, pounding on this drum.
Open innovation and connecting what were “competitive” forces, is a feature of disruption that is very important. Many diverse groups can now join and achieve solutions to problems that once were beyond reach. This goes for ELT. Openess is key. Open innovation, open resources, open access, open collaboration. We are witnessing an age of transparency.
Disruption is also happening along the lines of the student-teacher relationship. Students can now learn online, can now get free access to knowledge. They no longer “need” the gate keeper, the teacher. So the teacher must now truly carve out a niche and show their worth/necessity.
For too long, students and teachers alike in ELT, have been captive to market forces that did little regarding the affordable dispersion of knowledge and access to resources/training. Too little. Technology is allowing disruption of this proprietary and I will say, “predatory” model. Here are just a few of my own involvements highlighting my own efforts at “disruption”.
I offered it free and was overwhelmed by the response. Over 300 teachers signed up in under 24 hours! It has a small user fee now but I’m looking to return it to “free” status. This is an example of how the internet can offer freely, something once charging teachers hundreds of dollars. As is, as a standalone course, it is just as good as others that charge teachers 100s of dollars.
2. Ebooks. My ebooks are something I’m very proud of. They cut out the middle man and can be many times offered for free download. Even this blog is an ebook! My “techbook” Teach | Learn has been directly purchased over 230 times and I’ll soon reach my goal and release it as a free download. No longer do teachers and students need to buy a textbook for their class. Just download this book. Print for students and in addition get support, get a book you can edit, get multimedia materials…. In a word, disruption.
3. Social Media / Online Community
EFL Classroom 2.0 has been a godsend. Born of spirit, it continues in spirit – the spirit of giving teachers resources/training/ideas that they need for FREE. The twitter and facebook age have made this a challenge, this creation of community but EFL 2.0 forges on because of the content it offers teachers. No fees, no ads, no agenda like so many traditional social networking communities. TEFList, my jobs site, offers all the ELT jobs on the web, at your fingertips, in one place. It disrupts the traditional model of protective “job banks”.
My work with EnglishCentral and my own joy in joining them – is precisely because of the disruptive nature of this new way to learn and teach the English language. It is truly radical and disruptive to the traditional model of a coursebook and one size fits all delivery of lessons to students. Students choose their own videos. Teachers can bring “real” language into the classroom, in a controlled and purposeful fashion which helps students learn English. No longer do students who really want to become fluent in English, have to pay thousands of dollars, have to fly overseas and spend, spend, spend …. Disruption.
There are more ways I’m disrupting and using technology to take what was once “expensive and complicated”, what was once the realm of “the expert” and making it open and available at low cost to many.
What other disruptive sources/efforts do you see in ELT?
I spent a few hours looking at the conference offerings this coming fall. Something I’m used to doing and invigorated by – I’m energized by the pursuit of knowledge and no better place than a conference, a meeting of minds. Yet, this usually vitalizing activity got me very depressed.
Well, it seems there is within the “leadership” (if I may use that word and ruse), there is within this speakerhood of conference presenters, a very bitter hypocrisy. I mean, so many are professing to be on the boat of humanistic teaching, of student centeredness, of being cutting edge and knowing of where the world of language teaching is going. And all this may be true. However, almost all are parading to the tune of the pied “textbook” piper.
Let’s face it – the era of the textbook as we know it is dead. Yet, so many of these astute presenters are a generation born, bred and still getting their sustenance from the textbook absurdities of 12 units – speak, pronounce, vocab, read and write and you know English. It’s all packaged differently, it’s all wrapped in a million layers of “newness”, they’ll all swear their book is different but at the end of the day they are selling yesterday. What’s worse – I find nobody calling them on it.
So next time you are at a conference with some veritable “name” on the stage. First, ask yourself if what they did (the textbooking they put their name upon) really has benefited students and led to learning and not dependence, to profit. Then, ask yourself if what they are saying isn’t a bit hypocritical, given their publishing record. Finally, stand up and ask them this question – “if you could do it all over again, not needing money or fame and having a steady income from your inheritance, would you still dance to the tune of the pied ”textbook” piper?
The last few years, I’ve been very focused on the role and possibility of video in the classroom. Thus, my recent work developing EnglishCentral and my focus on the potential of a “Flipped Classroom“.
I had an interesting skype discussion with Dan Soriano (@danhummsoriano ) at the BC in Mexico City. He’s thinking of adopting a Flipped Classroom model as an experiment. During our discussion I returned to a term I’ve used over the years, “Extensive Watching“. I’d like to outline this important concept for language learning here and get your own feedback, opinion, thoughts.
I’m a big fan of extensive reading. It works. If done properly, it allows students to acquire a lot of fluency quickly (so long as equal attention is paid to speaking). However, the rub these days is that many students don’t want to nor like reading. It’s just a fact that I’ve run across time and time again in the classroom. I think it has to do with;
a)Visuality being an ever present force and medium now – through the internet, TV, film etc…
b)Communication. Youth are so connected, never alone and a book entails the place and discipline to be alone with self. Today’s youth want shared experience, a social experience. A book is in their head, the images in their head – something is never shared. A film / video has an objective visual reference and is more shared/social.
As I’ve outlined before, the Gutenburg Galaxy is waining. The role of text is taking a back up role to the cool medium that is the visual realm. This entails a change on the part of teachers. We should now update Day and Bamford’s classic and call it “Extensive Watching“. I took down the book from my self and revisited it. It can simply be re-written for this new media focus.
Students “watch” at their own level and through this massive watching of video with language in context, can, do, will achieve rapid language acquisition. That’s where EnglishCentral is coming from but it could be any source of video that is at the appropriate level for the student and contains motivating, interesting content.
I looked at pages 7-8 of the book, “The Characteristics of Extensive Reading”. I hereby end and hand the torch to Extensive Watching by rewriting this to outline the characteristics of extensive watching (and in a future post, I’ll outline the differences, however obvious, with the “extensive listening” approach).
The Characteristics of Extensive Watching
1. Students WATCH as much as possible. (preferably outside of the classroom – following the flipped model of the language classroom)
2. A variety of videos/film is available in a variety of genres and topics so as to encourage watching for different reasons and in different ways.
3. Students select what they want to watch and have the freedom to stop watching when the video fails to interest them.
4. The purposes of watching are related to pleasure, information and general understanding. The purposes are determined by the nature of the videos and the interests of the students.
5. Watching is its own reward. There are few exercises after watching and only for quickly reinforcing the material.
6. The videos are well within the linguistic competence (level) of the student. Video gives context and allows for a “wider” leveling. Dictionaries are used after the viewing and rarely during the watching of the video. Subtitles in the L2 may or may not be used depending on the objectives of the learning.
7. Watching is both shared and individual. Videos if possible, to be discussed and used as scaffolding material into purposeful communication and speaking practice.
8. Watching speed is at the natural rate of the media’s speakers. Whole watching is the recommended practice rather than stopping and reviewing video.
9. Teacher’s orient students to the goals of the program (communicate the rationale), explain the methodology (how to) and track what students watch, and guide students to get the most out of the program.
10. The teacher is a role model and watcher. They participate and watch what students watch. The extensive watching classroom is a place of equality and a decreased power dynamic between teacher and learner.
To wit: Extensive Watching works and fosters student self learning and monitoring. It also has the added benefit of having pragmatic features of language (body language, postures, gestures etc…) that help the learner immensely (think of how a baby “makes meaning out of sound”).
I’ve again updated the book. Lots of additional multi media links/materials. As well, added some extra printables (the back of the book is loaded with them.) Get it here. You can also get the book AND all the other ebooks/resources by becoming an EFL Classroom 2.0 supporter!
I’ve really been so happy and overwhelmed by the response by teachers – becoming supporters. I know I’m giving good value for the donation but still overjoyed members are contributing to our community and we are now about 70% of the way to covering the year’s costs.
1. It supports a self published author and the community/content of EFL Classroom 2.0.
2. It promotes the student created content learning method. Students creating the curriculum and learning much more organically.
3. It shows that text books can be edited and supported with multi media materials. They don’t have to be “jailed” objects. Your purchase allows you access to the Teach Learn wiki where you can download an editable copy of each lesson (plus a ppt of the whole book for more editing or display with a whiteboard or projector.)[give me a day or so to upload there]
This book has a CC Sharealike license. As long as you are using it for non commercial purposes – copy away and share!
Please review on your own site and blog if you can. That will help immensely. For good or bad!
List of additional resources the textbook provides:
1. 100s of multi media links for extension activity and further practice
2.A Voicethread students can visit to practice the lesson’s target language.
3. Dozens of extra blackline masters to use with lessons or seperately
4. A certificate of completion for students
5. Complete teacher notes and instructions/ideas for each lesson
6. The book completely in power point – for whole class reference.
7. A wiki where there is each lesson in .doc format – you can download and edit / personalize!
The past few weeks, I’ve been mulling over the future of “the book”. In particular, the textbook and even more precisely the ELT textbook.
Probably been thinking about this because I’m busy every day making books (and I use “make” deliberately – authors these days can “make” books and not just write them). Further prompted by the recent announcement that Korean public schools will be “bookless” by 2015. Also because I’ve always been puzzled by the force of the written word as “a book”. Particularly, in English language teaching where words are free and language doesn’t of necessity have to come wrapped and bounded in a book.
What is the future? What are some possible outcomes for the now tiring “textbook”?
If you survey schools and teachers, you see that most still use the traditional book. It is a force of nature. Yet, there are inklings of change, winds blowing. The trends seem to be;
1. Open source. Textbooks that are much cheaper and current (can be edited easily and are POD (print on demand).
2. Interactive books. Online books with meshed multi media content. A reader clicks a word or a picture and is given more information.
3. eBooks. Basically a book on a computer. May or may not have multimedia embedded but allows students using the device to access other content.
4. Self publishing. Now authors are also publishers and can edit, design and market their books online.
5. Remixing. Online materials are woven together into a complete “set”. Many teachers are experimenting with this but it is the most problematic due to the stranglehold that copyright law has on education (and I’m one who ardently thinks education should get a pass on this).
6. No book. Paperless. Yes, this is a trend. There is a strong movement towards less paper. Further, video is replacing text as a means of communicating knowledge. Schools can now teach solely by designing their own online multi media materials without need of a book. Or skills can be learned through online websites. You pay for access not for a take home book.
I’ve been busy experimenting in a very rudimentary way. This coursebook would be a good example. Or in the sidebar – look at how I made a book of my blog. I’m also making courses without books. Teach | Learn, my own textbook is also a small attempt to open things up and give both teachers and learners more options within the space of the book.
But these are very small steps. The book will always be here with us but the form will change dramatically. My own sniffer tells me that ebooks WON’T be the future and they are the cassette tapes of the present generation. Instead, we’ll have very book looking devices with electronic paper. That’s my guess.
My work over the years has brought me into thinking heavily about the role of video in language instruction. Even more so now with my work with EnglishCentral. I’m a big fan of video and have been from the get go. I saw its power as a university T.A. – tramping around the campus showing heavy “reels” of film to mesmerized classes. I wouldn’t go so far as Chris Anderson of TED who says we are in the midst of something as transformative as the Gutenberg revolution. But I will say, as a language teacher, it feels so! The world is now in our classroom!
We are using print less and the course book will take a less central role in the years to come. We are in a McCluhanesque way, returning to the older form through the newer media (one of his laws of media). Our brains are hard wired for pictures, the visual and language learning will benefit from this gigantic shift in the way humans learn (by video as opposed to books). I had a great chat with Vicki Hollett about this and she agreed, things will be changing. Video is the way forward. For a more learned read on the text / video debate – try The Gutenberg Elegies by Sven Birkerts
I’ll be speaking more about this at the Reform Symposium conference next month. Talking about the Flipped curriculum and how video is so important to this delivery method.
So I sat down and wrote some tips for using video in the classroom. Here it is. Comments appreciated, I’ll be refining this as I go along.
Video is a powerful tool in today’s classroom. It provides strong context through which to teach English. Meaning comes alive and it brings the outside world into the classroom and gives your teaching “reality”. Video also provides all the paralinguistic features of language that audio only can’t.
Nowadays, students are very much visual learners. Further, with the quick spread of broadband internet access, the use of video in the classroom is much more reliable. Video is a medium which is replacing print – it is changing both the way we learn and the way we interact with each other.
Without a doubt, video is the future for all of us involved in education. Gone are the days where it took a high degree of technical know how and hours of set up to bring video into the classroom. Now the classroom is wired and connected. It’s an exciting time to be both a teacher and a student. The world is our classroom.
1. Keep the Video Short (2-4 minutes)
- attention spans are limited when watching visual content. Chunk up and divide up videos with focused activities.
2. Watch the whole video first.
- students need to “have a try” first and watch to get the “big picture”. This provides students with the chance to deal with the “ambiguity” of language. Give students one simple task while watching the whole video – to keep them focused.
3. Always preview the video.
- Be sure to watch the whole video yourself before using it in class. You never know what content might be inappropriate or hurtful to your students. You, the teacher, know your students best. Best to be safe!
4. Make it available outside the classroom.
- provide students with a webpage or link so they can watch the video and practice outside of classroom time. Many students learn better independently and this is a great opportunity to foster student independence.
5. Use videos your students want.
- this may seem obvious but many teachers forget to survey their students and show video content they definitely know their students will be “into”. However, use your best judgement and find a balance between videos that highly motivate and those that are strongly educational. Many times you can do both!
In the flipped classroom, students study and learn independently (in groups or individually). The teacher sets up the content and learning environment and then consults with students as they learn the video content. Students could learn on a webpage/lab (for example EnglishCentral) and the teacher could use class time to review their progress, check and evaluate. Also consult with the students to make sure they are on task. Teachers set up the curriculum and show students how to access the video content. In a nutshell, a teacher becomes a facilitator. Teachers might also use print materials made specifically for the videos (like these EnglishCentral example books).
2. Blending video into the existing curriculum and course.
This option allows a teacher to choose video content that compliments the objectives of their course. Videos are chosen for each unit and they are used in conjunction with a course book. Thus, the teacher is blending the learning – combining traditional print (textbooks) with the power of video. Videos are blended into and part of the official course curriculum.
3. Using video as a supplement for engagement or re-inforcement.
Here, videos are used only at the beginning of a lesson (to provide context and prompt student schema/background knowledge) or as supplemental material for the lesson (either inclass or as homework). The teacher brings in video that will supplement the existing course curriculum and provide context and reinforce the learning objectives. However, the videos are not part of the official curriculum.
How To Use Video
Videos can be used in many ways other than just one student at a computer. They should also be used as a “shared experience” and an in class teaching aide. Teachers should play video in the classroom and share it, as you would a book or any print item.
Don’t be afraid to pause, rewind, fast forward the video. Use it as a tool for reference of language and study points. Think of the video as a malleable material, like any other classroom material for learning.
Generally video activities are divided into 3 main types or stages:
1. Pre-viewing. Activities done before watching the video. They help prompt student schema and background knowledge. Often a way for the teacher to assess student knowledge and interest.
2. Viewing: Students have a task while watching the video. They perform tasks and activities during the video, either with or without the teacher pausing the video.
3. Post Viewing: After watching the video, the students practice the language forms and vocabulary encountered in the video. Students might discuss, retell, roleplay or complete exercises during this stage.
Here are a list of practical ways to use EnglishCentral videos in class. Try some and find what works best with your own students and for your own teaching situation. Good luck! Your students will love it!
10 Recipes For Using Video In The Classroom
1. Discuss It. Give students some previewing questions for the topic of the video. Students discuss and prompt their background knowledge. Watch the video. Now, discuss again using some prepared questions. Surveys are a great addition also.
2. Just Do It. Students are given a viewing task. This can be some questions to answer. It can be a group of vocabulary items to find or some language to listen for. You might even make this interactive – give students some different tasks (ie. different vocabulary) and when they see/hear it, they stand up. Again, they sit down. Last one standing at the end wins!
3. Describe It. Always a fun activity but make sure to get your students to speak in a low voice. One student watches while others describe the action. Pause the video from time to time to allow students time to describe fully. Switch the student who is listening. Make sure to watch the ending of the video together.
4. Report It. Students are reporters. List the 5 Ws on the board. After watching the video, the students must answer the 5 W questions. This also can be an excellent writing lesson. Also, get students making up their own post viewing questions and quizzing each other!
5. Listen For It. A teacher favorite. Teachers prepare a cloze version of the transcript (words are missing). Students listen for the words. Watch the video again, pausing and checking the answers together. Another option is to provide students with a graphic organizer or chart. They watch the video and fill in the categories.
6. Repeat It. A very interactive way to focus on pronunciation and form. Turn off any subtitles. Pause the video after a line and have the students repeat the line. If the video is a dialogue, assign different roles for students. Challenge the students to repeat the lines by only listening to the video, not watching. Also practice the present perfect tense (has/have just) by pausing the video and asking students, “What has just happened?”
7. Re-tell It. A very powerful way to acquire language. Students in small groups re-tell the story or the action of the video. One student starts and others must continue to re-tell by adding a sentence. Perfect for practicing transitions (First, Next, Then, Finally). Re-ordering activities are also great. Students are given sentences or pictures and must put them back in the right sequence while re-telling the story. Perfect practice for the past tense.
8. Revise It. Students love to “change up” the video. Students can role play the video and add their own twist, create their own version. Commercials work well for this. Also, write their own version, changing characters. For lower level students, prepare a transcript with words missing – students can add their own words to personalize.
9. Predict It. Prediction is a great language prompt and can be used with any video. Simply pause the video at a point and ask the students, “What do you think will happen next?” Students discuss and give their own answers. Provide a prompt for the students like
I (don’t) think that ___________ (won’t) will ____________________.
Lastly, continue the video and see if the predictions were correct.
10. Teach It. Videos offer a great opportunity for specific language study. Choose a video that highlights and reinforces your lesson objective(s) (for culture, topics, functions, vocabulary or grammar points). Pause the video and use it to explain the language points. It provides real life context and examples of usage. Prepare worksheets and exercises to practice your language points. Here’s an example
Part of my job as a materials developer and consultant involves thinking through the role, purpose and process of combining online and offline learning. How do you link what physically happens in the class with what is possible online? Where are the borders? How to facilitate the transition and support of these two media?
It’s a big topic and today by way of illustration, just want to provide an example.
I’m really convinced that online websites and applications need to “bridge”. By that I mean that they need to facilitate access and use of their own tools / functionality by way of traditional media. In most cases, that means using a book to “translate” what they do. My course book We Teach | We Learn is an example but let me be clearer. Here’s what I mean. Your opinion of this, much appreciated.
I’ve written 3 books recently, real physical books you can either print out or order as a physical book. Teachers can use them in class. They have a minimum of complexity and detail on purpose. Each lesson rolls out the same. They are meant to transition and “bridge” the classroom and EnglishCentral, the online English language learning platform.
I think this approach allows teachers and learners to have a “core”, a very traditional and understood core around which to enter into “technology”. All learning needs a “place” and the online experience has challenges providing this. Further, people are still in an old “paradigm” and until that changes, we need to communicate in traditional forms, the power of the new forms.
Below, is the EnglishCentral video – that students can watch and “speak”. Also, do online video quizzes with. Also, the matching lesson from the book (Commercials for Learning English). The book lessons are designed with 3 principles in mind.
1. Can be used by a teacher in class or an independent learner.
2. The transcript can be used for both listening purposes AND personalization of the content by substitution of words/language.
3. The book has a pdf version and access to the online material (video/quiz) can be got immediately.
Let me know what you think about this approach (and it isn’t that radical, it is just a more “tight” version of what a lot of teachers and materials developers are doing presently). The books (Level 1, Famous Speeches, Commercials) are in beta and and available to EFL Classroom supporters or individual purchase.
I’ve made a very beta coursebook for beginning level learners. It uses a set of EnglishCentral videos which the students can then use for practicing their speaking using their state of the art speech recognition technology. Teachers can use the videos in class, along with the book.
The exercises are very simple. One – personalizing and then performing the dialogue. In this way, the students put in their own content/meaning and are more motivated than through pure repetition. Two – a simple exercise to use the word bank from the dialog. Students can do the video quizzes for the vocab. on EnglishCentral.
Click on the photos to go to the appropriate EnglishCentral video. Or find them all in one handy place on EFL Classroom 2.0.
Comments about this coursebook, its design, methodology and “future” are appreciated.
I really believe in presenting information as a way for students to develop strong fluency. Not only do they make great gains in language but they also develop a valuable skill that transfers across all languages.
This course culminates in a day of presentations by the students, with assessments. A nice power point which you can edit to produce a beautiful certificate is included.
Here’s a sample of the book (the photos are clicked to go to the multimedia materials – but they aren’t working in the sample). The book also includes dozens of extra materials through the supplemental website which is included.
Purchase of the book helps in two BIG ways:
1. It helps support EFL Classroom 2.0 and the thousands of dollars I spend out of my own pocket.
2. It helps sustain a new direct model of textbook creation and sales/ distribution. Teachers helping teachers. David against the Goliaths of the publishing world.
Have you used public speaking with your students? I’d love to hear what you think about it.
However, I want to mention a few things and make a request.
I put a lot of work into this book – mostly to prove a few things.
A) A teacher can make a quality textbook and eschew all the filtering and loss of control that comes when publishers own the rights.
B) Student created content can work. It allows for better teacher development when curriculum is made – not just served as a processed slab of meat.
C) Technology allows us to blend the learning experience. It can be right in the course book and doesn’t have to be chunked off and sold separately.
D) Textbooks should be sharable, printable and for the benefit of education, not just profit (but yes, I do think the work of an author should get a “return”. ).
E) Textbooks should be editable. So they can be up to date (and the teacher / students doesn’t have to buy a new copy). So, in the case of language which is not content laden, they can contextualize and personalize for their own learning environment.
But all this won’t be realized without other teachers joining in. Buying the book and also promoting the book. It will take a crowd to make some noise.
So I’d like to ask not just for your support through purchasing the book. I’d like to ask you to let others know about it (and grab the embed code here). Also, write up a review or use it for some action research to present at a conference. Anyone who wants to write a review – CONTACT ME for a free copy.
I’ll also state that any teacher who forever reason can’t get a copy but wants one – just CONTACT ME. I’m serious. Money or means should never be a reason for not having a resource for your classroom.
[ Update: Now get this book FREE. I've sold the 220 copies to pay for its costs and now the world can download and share. Big thanks to all the teachers who purchased the book and who are now using it in classrooms around the world!]
I’m proud as punch to announce, after much work (and thank you Dario my graphic designer! – http://www.dgb-design.com.ar) – Teach | Learn – A Student Created Content Coursebook is now available. See related blog posts about it here.
2. It promotes the student created content learning method. Students creating the curriculum and learning much more organically.
3. It shows that textbooks can be edited and supported with multi media materials. They don’t have to be “jailed” objects. Your purchase allows you access to the Teach Learn wiki where you can download an editable copy of each lesson (plus a ppt of the whole book for more editing or display with a whiteboard or projector.)[give me a day or so to upload there]
I’ve been, like I’m sure many other have, watching the ongoing events in the Middle East with sheer fascination. The power of normal people to say – “we aren’t going to take it anymore”. The invigorating energy given by technology to inform and empower the powerless. Havel would be so proud these days – something he always talked about.
But what about ELT – English Language Teaching? Has technology, crowd sharing, social media, the internet and connective technologies been liberating?
I’d say that it has but with a caution. There is so much more that could happen (and I believe will). There are still too many “landlords” and “fiefdoms” in our part of education. Still the propertied class that doesn’t pay its share and is concerned with feeding itself and not learning. Let me talk about one small piece of the pie – textbooks.
I’ve been bantering and chirping to myself on Jason Renshaw’s always stimulating and thoughtful blog. I recently stated something there that I’ve always wondered and really grind my teeth over – the fact that we teachers/students, the underclass, purchase materials in the billions of dollars. Paying for yachts and planes (and yes, there are a few in the ELT business that can afford their own planes and boats). We pay but we have zero control.
I mean, why can’t we use technology to edit the materials we have paid for?
Imagine a publisher that would give you a textbook all ready for you to edit and change, as you will. You could do so much;
* put in students names and photos
* record students and have their voices as listening material
* delete the stuff that you don’t want and will never do!
* substitute and replace material
* throw in links that would send students to websites where they can do self directed learning and get more input.
* add photos that are culturally relevant to the students.
* allow innovation and teachers / students into the creative process
* add your own idea… I could go on forever.
Here is Richard Baraniuk describing how this is very possible. See his Connexions for what he’s built for the university / academic world.
And why isn’t this done in ELT? Well basically, it is because of control and archaic protection of copyright laws. Inertia. The money is still rolling in.
It is similar to the remix debate in the music industry. And it suggests that learning is NOT important to publishers – what is important is control and the ability to forever come out with new, “improved” variants. For them to control the curriculum – to say it in a nutshell. (please watch Larry Lessig’s lecture for an esteemed academic’s taking of the same forthright position I am. )
You see, if they allowed you (after purchase) to edit a textbook – why would you ever need to buy another one? OMG! That would just destroy their planned obsolescent model.
Let me return to the point about the possibility that edited textbooks would have. (not to mention how up to date they’d be).
Here is the first page of a unit from Interchange 2. Here are my suggestions, imaging what I’d do if I could just click on the document, change and then print for my students (and oops! forgot to mention, how would they ever make money if we could just print as we wished!).
I think we need a revolution in the ELT publishing and textbook industry. The people (students and teachers) need power and control. Teachers know best for their students. Teachers who design and create materials for their students (or even just adapt) are strong teachers. It informs them.
We need a wikipedia, Web 2.0, read/write revolution in the textbook world. My textbook out next week – Teach | Learn will be fully editable (and edible!). Viva La (textbook) Revolucion!
It will be out next week but thought it would be interesting to some, to see a sample lesson and to get a few thoughts about the delivery of this lesson and the use of the course book.
Here is an example lesson. All 36 lessons are like this one and have the same methodology more or less. I’m using a lesson I showed previously, so you might also see how this book has developed and been designed.
Basically it goes like this:
Page 1: Whole class. A student or teacher is at the front of the classroom and is the focus of the target language. The activity is completed (see Teacher’s Notes below, which are for each lesson in the back of the book). This gets students comfortable with the target language and prompts background knowledge and schema.
Page 2. Pairs / Small groups. Students do the same but with their own language, questions, input, experiences. There are multi media materials to click which both teacher or student can use to reinforce, repeat or complement the lesson.
I’ll have more tomorrow about the rationale for this methodology. Go here for some more thoughts on my own beliefs/process in creating this course book.
Teach – Learn is almost ready! It will be here soon and to be used and enjoyed instantly with students. 36 complete “student created content” lessons with an abundance of extra materials / blackline masters and clickable online lesson extensions / ideas. Also, an online voicethread community where students can practice, supporting each lesson.
Looking forward to your support, use and feedback on how effective this is in the classroom. It will have its own special forum and community.