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No whiteboard, textbooks or photocopying - help!

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by kijog, Nov 8, 2011.

  1. Harking back to a bygone era - does anyone have some good activities for a class that doesn't need a projector, textbooks or photocopying? Sounds impossible I know but that's where I find myself. I'm an NQT and my new school has moved away from textbooks in favour of teacher produced resources. Except we've got no money left for photocopying. Now, to make it even worse - the lamp in my classroom's projector has failed with no sign of replacement... Does anyone have some simple games or activities for languages which can be done there and then? I'm going to be using the whilteboards a fair bit, but do people have good classroom 'game' formats which don't need resources?

    Many thanks!
  2. Teafrog79

    Teafrog79 New commenter

    If the topic allows, use props for hot and cold.
    With magnets you could put the flashcards on the board for noughts and crosses assuming you can find a set lying around in your department
    All the best
  3. Get yourself an old OHP (overhead projector), probably the best piece of 'technology' ever invented for language teachers, and go back to basics. You might find your pupils actually begin to learn vocabulary and grammar with the right methodology - and now you have the perfect excuse to experiment with the methods of old, the ones that we as teachers were brought up on and which gave us our linguistic expertise, unlike the new methods which entertain but do nothing much else. If you can't find an OHP, look in the back of old HOD cupboards and ask around. Somewhere you will find one, desperate to be dusted down, started up and shown some TLC. And if you find an overriding desire to resort to 'game formats', I strongly suggest you visit some of the TEFL websites where you will find a plethora of linguistic games and advice. Remember that TEFL teaching techniques have stood both the tests of time and success: their methodology and resources are, I believe, far better suited to teaching languages than some of the 'band wagon' solutions that Ofsted and headteachers like to hail as the best thing since sliced bread. The best thing since sliced bread was quite possibly the OHP!
  4. While you are looking in the cupboard you might find a banda machine. Oh the smell of a freshly churned banda sheet! I remember at school when we fought to be the one to give out the banda sheets. To plunge your face into the pile, the smell was just heavenly.
    When I became a teacher, you could have a daily fix. I also became used to having purple tinged nails.
    The other great joy of banda is the cost, minimal compared to photocopying.
  5. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    I know it may be difficult to find but even better than an OHP would be a 'visualiser' and then you just need one copy of a textbook.(Sorry just relised that needs a projector too! Try to book one out of next year's budget. They're a modern version of an epidaiscope and you can show pages from a textbook/ pages from a student's work etc large on a whiteboard for all to see!
  6. They are n't as versatile as an OHP though. The number of exercises, games etc you can produce from a few sheets of acetate and some coloured pens is enormous.
  7. Whiteboard? Luxury! The Italian village school I'll be teaching in on Friday has a blackboard and very dusty chalk!
    Nothing wrong with games for recycling language [​IMG], but tony above is right that there's loads of TEFL materials out there. You might even get a few books for ideas such as the one produced by VSO: "The English Language Teacher's Handbook", where it is assumed you don't have projectors or copiers. Similar assumptions lie behind Oxford Basics which is a useful series and includes titles such as 'Presenting New Language' and 'Teaching Grammar'.
    Get the students to help prepare materials: if they complain of boredom refer them to the senior staff. As a freelance TEFL teacher most of my materials are "teacher produced" but in a school context it sounds like a euphemism for something: 'get the teacher to pay', perhaps?

  8. musiclover1

    musiclover1 New commenter

    Yes, get the pupils to make you a flashcard each on a given topic (such as food or jobs), and then you've got all the right flashcards for your class. And use mime and props. I get them into teams and give them a number each and I call out an item and a number and then they have to run up and touch the right item Nothing wrong with you dictating stuff for them to write down in their exercise books either - all good for their spellings.
    Great fun but takes lots of time is pupils making and then playing a board game that teaches grammar and/or vocabulary.
    Put flashcards on the wall with bluetack and when you call the word they have to point in the right direction and if they don't point fast enough they're out.
  9. Geekie

    Geekie Occasional commenter

    Absolutely agree. I really miss mine. I found it particularly useful for vocabulary practice. You could be facing the class at all times, and having small acetates to move around was so much more versatile than a static whiteboard/PPT display. Flashcards are another thing that you can dig out of the cupboard and which you can do lots with. I've written several blogposts about flashcards, which I hope you will find useful - http://changing-phase.blogspot.com/search/label/flashcards

    Who knows - your students might actually be grateful for some low-tech lessons. They may have whiteboard-fatigue from everywhere else.
  10. tortuman

    tortuman New commenter

    Why don't you get a book with games for children? The type of games you would use on a summer camp or team building. You don't have to use any technology. I find that "normal" games sometimes work best that those that are specially designed for language learning.
    It obviously depends what topic you are teaching. But some that I can think of are:

    Descriptions: people think of a famous character and others have to guess who it is by asking questions.
    2. People write descriptions of a person on a picture they bring from home. Two or three pictures per student. Then they are put in the middle of the room and the description read, the others have to guess who it is.
    3. Write down descriptions of characters on pieces of paper. Give them to students. Students mix around in the room and they have to find out, for instance, a person from Rome, somebody who likes dogs, etc. Multiple variables.
    4. Story telling: Fortunately, unfortunately... Teacher starts: fortunately yesterday it was raining, student: unfortunately, I had an umbrella, other student: unfortunately, it was broken... and so on. You can practise vocabulary plus past tense...
    5. Desert island. Students make a list of what they would take to a desert island in groups. Then with the teacher and whole class, they decide on the 10 most important items and why... obviously in target language if poss.

    It really depends on the level of the students, but most activities can be adapted for different levels. I have taught a lot in community settings and generally you can expect to have just photocopies and sometimes they even forget the whiteboard. I could live without projectors and interactive whiteboards as many other teachers in community settings!
    So, just think about those little games that we all do or did when at home with parents or families, usually after a big dinner at Christmas. They are great for language learning.
  11. tortuman

    tortuman New commenter

    Sorry, can't do paragraphs in stupid Chrome!-----------------------------------------------------------------------
    By the way, what's the logic to move away from textbooks? I would understand it if you had fantastic resources that you could give a copy of to the kids. But you say you can't even photocopy and there is no projector? It just sounds a bit like teaching in the Wild West, don't tell me that children have a piece of chalk and a mini blackboard to write as well.
  12. mpc


    Glad you said this, tortuman.
    Many useful suggestions here (and I agree that it's nice to have a change from technology) but the pressure you're being put under here is BARMY (IMHO).
    I'd be having a frank chat with my subject lead - your dept must have a budget of some kind. Textbooks are expensive so surely money 'saved' should be dedicated to copying.
    I really feel for you - good luck!
  13. Thanks to all for your suggestions, never though teaching in the wild (north-)west would be so challenging! Will definitely look at getting some of these games publications. To be honest, while I'm very used to the IWB and what it can do, I often find myself getting slowed down messing around changing between different slides/programs etc. So I think this will be welcome change and push me as well to experiment in different ways. There's not much I can do, so I may as well use this as a positive opportunity.

    I'd prefer it if people kept on throwing up suggestions as to ideas, game formats and activities, but I will say the following on the textbook issue.

    Seriously, there is no budget. I will be asking to be allowed to use the textbooks again. I was in favour of ditching textbooks in the first place after my 2nd training placement used EXPO religiously (1 unit per half term, no excuses) as I think they chain you to a structure that doesn't allow you the flexibility. That said, if you ditch them, you don't have to throw the baby out with the bath water as they do have good stuff in them. And I only agreed with the move on the understanding that there would be the resources available to make our own (ppts, worksheets etc.) but now it turns out there isn't.

    It is a lot of pressure, barmy certainly, but since I have started teaching languages after a career elsewhere I have loved it and I wouldn't do anything else. Things will improve, in the meanwhile 'necessity is the mother of invention' will be my motto!

  14. maa09

    maa09 New commenter

    Although I am fortunate to have an IWB I do try to introduce new vocabulary in a variety of ways. We reckon that flashcards are great as other departments in school have IWBs but don't use flashcards. Also you can do lots of games with them. I also introduce new vocab using actions and mimes. For some topics I have a bag of "realien" for example for school subjects I have objects that represent each subject such as a mini Eiffel tower, a protractor and a tennis ball.
  15. musiclover1

    musiclover1 New commenter

    At my first school you weren't supposed to use the textbook, otherwise you were judged to be uncreative (plus the books were fairly useless anyway). At my second school using the book was judged to be fine, and the pupils seemed to like the safety of a vocabulary list at the end of each chapter, and the sense of progression and achievement as you went through the book. Now, after a 10-year gap, I'm just finding my feet in a new school, and have just got marked down in my SSR for using the textbook too much. My professional development target is to use Smartboard etc etc.
    Have you still got the books? I really can't see why there's anything wrong with using a book - if nothing else it means the pupils have a resource with the vocabulary and structures that they need, spelt correctly.
    Other than that, I think that variety is the key. I have been told that if I don't use the Smartboard 'the pupils won't think it's a real lesson', and have felt very unconfident about this, but actually this hasn't been the case, and they've been absolutely fine with the odd OHP or flashcard lesson (the year 9's made a couple of sarky comments on the lines of 'is the smartboard broken then?'). I've spent hours preparing some lessons with a Smartboard, which have then met with very little interest from the pupils, and then at other times have spent 5minutes digging out a few flashcards or going to the shops to buy some food items, and the pupils have liked it a lot.
    And yes, I do feel that when I use the smartboard I'm constantly fiddling with my computer, so don't worry about using old-fashioned resources.
  16. Thanks mpc! we have a), but that's no good if you can't project! Will be pushing for assistance tomorrow, my department must have 50 years worth of teaching experience between them, so I'm sure they have some resources squirrelled away!

    The Oxford basics series look good (found a couple online), reckon I'll be ordering the VSO book too.
  17. tortuman

    tortuman New commenter

    It's funny what things some schools get fixated on. As somebody already mentioned, I see textbooks as a "manual" so you have the information there to revise or "find the right spelling". The lesson is different from the textbook, the texbook is where you have the info, the lesson is what your wonderful teacher prepares for you using whatever activities and/or resources s/he deems necessary and are applicable at that moment. What is wrong about using textbooks? At the end of the day handouts, photocopies and Power Points are the same as a textbook, but probably not as structured and they are easier to lose.
    I have attended courses in community settings where there was just a flipchart, and they've been wonderful courses, where I've learnt a lot. I have also attended courses with the latest technology, the presenter used it to show us "handouts" in the shape of "Power Point" presentations, what a waste of techonology, in my opinion.
  18. Gutted - asked if there was any ohp's knocking around but was told they were all chucked out over summer, including a new in the box one. The onward march of technology....

    One idea that worked really well was a running dictation, was really good for using all skills and y9s loved doing group work, something which I'd not "risked" before up to now in my first year of teaching. I also found the 'minimum prep, maximum effectiveness' techniques in resources good as well. Will post some links when I get a sec.
  19. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    Whereabouts are you based? We are in Cambridgeshire and you can have our OHP and some Coombers as well if you're prepared to come and collect. Please inbox me with your email if you want that.
  20. Thanks Noemie, that's a really kind offer, unfortunately I'm on the Wirral so that's probably too far for me (aside from the fact my tiredness levels at the mo mean I shouldn't really drive at weekends!)

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