Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Motivating students - Ken Wilson

Vector of Orange Guy Reaching for the Stars by Leo Blanchette  MOTIVATING THE UNMOTIVATED

This was the title of Ken Wilson's workshops last week - November 14th and 15th 2014.  He demonstrated some activities which could be useful in our classes. Here are a few of them . There was an emphasis on using the students' own imagination, knowledge, interests and abilities (very Thornbury dogme), asking them questions for which every answer is 'correct', and getting them out of their chairs. 

1.  Make students curious - He suggested showing a visual as a lead in and getting the students to discuss what they think or feel about it.  So, project a picture of something that is not obvious, where every student's answer is 'correct' and what each person has to say about it is just as good an answer as anyone else's.  They are using their imagination.  This may need some explanation!  Even at the workshop there were participants saying 'I don't know'.  Of course this is not an acceptable answer - they must have some idea about a picture - who is it? where was it? when was it?  what was happening.  They could discuss in L1. The idea is to make them curious... After this they can read the text and may find out something they didn't know before.  KWL technique is similar.  Students write what they know about a topic, and what they want to know; then later what they have learnt.  This treats the text as an interesting piece of  news rather than 'a reading comprehension text'.

2.  Let students use their imagination.  For a reading text, ask them questions - where the answer is not in the text! For example, olr 0.5 33 Job Ads - you could ask them who is the owner of the business, what do they look like, how old are they? etc etc - the answers are not in the text!!
Similarly play a short piece of music, students close their eyes and then write and discuss what they saw.  No one's answer is wrong.....

3.  Have fun!! Get students to stand up. They could work in fairly large groups so they don't get bored waiting for their turn.  They have to count to 100 fairly quickly, but each '4' is replaced by 'bang'.. They count 1, 2, 3, 'bang', 5....11, 'bang', 13, 'bang', 15, 'bang'.. etc..  of course they lose count and you can all fall about laughing.

4.  Let the students use their mobiles to get real, instant information. They nearly all have smart phones, and the can be an amazing source of information, not just online dictionaries or flashcards.  For instance, they are reading about a town e.g. olr 0.5 32 on Washington, they can find out what the weather is at that time.  Ken Wilson warned us that letting them use mobiles means setting rules for use - he had set rules, a student had broken them and he had then banned their use.  The students had used peer pressure to make sure the rules were kept to. 
  Ken Wilson's blog is http://kenwilsonelt.wordpress.com

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Dindy for keeping notes and sharing them. Challenging the students' imagination can be hard work. Inevitably, they wonder about the relevance to the test. How is imagination going to help them pass the test? In fact, we tend to penalize answers that are creative and imaginative. Ultimately, like Sugata Mitra concluded, there is little we can do to effect change in the class (and the students' mindset) if there is no change in the method of assessment. Still, this shouldn't stop us from trying...