This week we had two PD activities: a presentation by Erkin Özdemir on the use of emoticons to promote writing skills, and another by İsmet Görkem Akgün and Numan Aydın on how to implement movies in language classes.
Erkin presented his study (that he conducted in 2015). He first told us about what made him consider conducting the study: he had D level (Beginner) level students with low motivation. As he searched for a fun way to promote writing, he came up with the idea of using Emojis (the Word of the year in 2015 was an emoji: “Face with Tears of Joy: 😂
He looked into the issues about writing, and learnt about the fear of writing and the reasons behind it:
- adjusting to a new form of writing
- writing for a reader or readers who are overly critical
- working in a limited time
- responding to an assignment
As he went over these reasons, there was also some self-criticism: we could sometimes be overly critical and all four could be sound reasons for why our students might be struggling with writing as well.
In relation with the last reason, he also mentioned that there was a shift from handwriting to using electronic media. Even for the writing assignments other than the requirements for the lessons, some students seem to prefer sending them online. Questions “Do those students feel more comfortable that way or do they do it because of practicality? Do they have more problems with spelling?” also come to mind.
After giving some more theoretical information on why and how to teach writing (with reference to Jeremy Harmer, of course), Erkin moved onto his study. He chose an informal setting (WhatsApp and Edmodo), as he felt it would help his students more. Remembering the 4 reasons of the fear of writing, the choice of an informal setting could help with each-I thought.
So what did he do? He shared with his students a sentence containing an emoji (or more) and his students posted comments or questions. His first post was, as far as I understand: “ Yesterday I went 🐟 and I ate 🐟 ” Not all the comments to this post were in the target language. One I remember was “Afiyet olsun!” As for error-correction, he did not do it explicitly: he commented on their posts so that the students would see the correct versions of their sentences.
Erkin mentioned that he had done the study with 20 students only and added that statistically speaking, it might not be as valuable. He might be right, but I felt it provided valuable data for his classroom practices, about his class as a whole, and his students individually. It was also valuable in the sense that it gave us some ideas about how to promote writing in our classes-and not necessarily only for beginner level classes: surely good enough reasons to consider it a valuable study- I thought.
Before sharing some statistical results with us, he told that there was more production and the topic & themes they covered were more varied than he had expected. For some reason, this observation stuck in my mind more than most of the statistical data he provided us with. As for the results of his study, I was surprised to learn that only half of the students thought such activities helped them with error-correction.
What followed were more ideas on how else we can use Emojis to spice up our lessons.
- Give students some emojis and ask them to write about a weekend away.
- Give students some emojis followed by several questions, ask them to answer the questions.
- Instead of doing “Spot the Differences” with pictures, why not do it with emojis? This could be an individual activity, or you could give each student a set of emojis and do a communicative pair-work activity.
- And here is an idea for homework:
We would like to thank everyone who participated and shared their ideas and experiences with us all.
We would also like to thank Erkin Özdemir for this session. For more information about the study and the slides he used, please contact him: firstname.lastname@example.org
The following session was by İsmet Görkem Akgün and Numan Aydın on how to implement movies in language classes.
Görkem started off by asking why we (should) use films. Needless to say, there was a lot we talked about, as far as I remember, the ideas we came up with are:
- Using films are a motivation in itself- of course.
- They are authentic.
- They provide exposure (particularly valuable in our non-native context)
- They provide rich & fun material to work with.
There might have been more reasons mentioned, but some of what my colleagues said during the discussion were:
- short clips from films could speak volumes to our students
- for students, sometimes it’s like being in the same room with the characters having a conversation: that’s exposure to real language
Görkem then continued saying that he’d be sharing his experience. It was about how he had used a short film with low-intermediate students. He mentioned that it might work better with intermediate students. The short film he chose was “Alike”- well-worth watching if you haven’t already. This website provides a lesson plan with easy to follow steps. I really like the personalising activity (questions) at the end, and Görkem also mentioned that he had chosen a “guess the ending” activity, which probably added to the value of the already rich discussion they apparently had.
I took a quick look at the website and this caught my eye. Do have a look at that, too if you have an intention to use a short film in your classes.
Then, Numan took over. His focus was not particularly short films. He asked whether we (in our school) use films in or outside the class. This created an opportunity to talk about how we used films in and outside the class and raise more questions:
- How worthy is it to give them tasks (beforehand)? Does it harm the value of using films?
- How about just mentioning a film you really like and asking your students what they think of it?
Both comments gave me something to consider. Then, Numan provided us with a list of activities of how we can use films with references to the four skills, grammar and vocabulary. There were a lot of ideas and a lot of films that were mentioned. The ones that stood out to me were “12 Angry Men”, “The Grave of the Fireflies” and “Bicycle Thieves”.
I really liked the next part where Numan and Görkem showed us samples of their students’ written work. They had asked a simple question: “What is the moral of the story?” I thought it was obvious that the students were interested and creative. Numan added it might not work as well with another class the way it did with one.
One of the things that makes these PD activities really worthwhile for me is the opportunity to learn about the beliefs and practices of my colleagues, and in this session, we talked about:
- how we worked with different partners
- what we think when one of the partners sharing a class does not seem to be following the syllabus (or does not seem to be making much progress)
- what we think about using films in the class in relation with the syllabus and -of course- the outcomes
- why using films in the class is a problem (if at all)
I’d like to think that it was a useful discussion building up to understanding of why we do what we do and eventually tolerance towards different beliefs and practices.
It was a productive session: we all chose which activities we’d like to try with a film of our choosing.
Again, we would like to thank everyone who participated and shared their ideas and experiences with us all.