Here’s a selection of fun quizzes. Take each quiz to find out what kind of teacher you are and compare your results with your colleagues.
1. You send a child out – just out
I’ve done this a number of times; if you haven’t, you are doing well. A child enters your lesson with no intention of learning or showing you no modicum of respect. Instead of going through a series of sanctions and warnings, set down by some whole-school behaviour policy, you shout “Get out” with all the gusto you can muster. If he or she moves, you are lucky. You can leave them outside for five minutes while you figure out your next move.
If they won’t move, you have to call for a colleague or SLT and explain why you didn’t go through the normal sanctions system without saying, “I just wanted to get rid of this child without going through the normal sanctions system.”
Oh, another danger with this one, and I’ve done this before too; sending the child out and then forgetting about them. Thirty minutes later, a child in the class politely reminds you that their peer is still outside. Acting as though that was all part of the plan, you nonchalantly wander towards the door.
2. You threaten them with copying out
You know silent copying isn’t learning and you would like to think you would never do it. But sometimes, it’s just easier to control 30 non-compliant young people by resorting to one of the oldest tricks in the book. You feel guilty because you know that the minority who want to get on with things is also subjected to this medium, but your ability to single out the ringleaders suddenly becomes a lot easier. Nevertheless, you end the lesson feeling like a failure, knowing that you weren’t able to control them in any other way.
3. You blow up
It’s 10 minutes into a lesson and literally, no one is listening to a word you are saying from your carefully illustrated PowerPoint presentation and accompanying resource. You feel lost, frustrated and alone. You fall back on your old friend: the hysterical rant at the class.
You slam the board duster on a desk and shout as loud as you can: “This is not acceptable!” One of two things happens. One: the children are shocked into a stony silence. You can’t hear a pin drop. You lambast them for a solid five minutes and then tell them to get on with the work. Very gradually, noise levels go up, the sniggering starts again and the realisation that the joker in your pack has caused little more than temporary ripple dawn on you. Now, you might resort to seeking a colleague.
Or, two: the initial shock factor of your opening salvo fades so fast that one student says “Calm down”, to which the rest of the class start sniggering. You turn your attention to that child and in so doing, don’t see one of the students throwing a banana skin at another, who now complain loudly about this infringement that you failed to see. Meanwhile, conversations break out of all sorts as your theatrical villain piece is dismantled. Your cheeks are now red, the class are still ignoring you and you feel so small, it genuinely hurts.
4. You use the warning system like a machine gun
The wild soldier, suffering from shell-shock, wielding an AK47, firing it frantically in all directions with the thousand-yard stare on his face. That’s you as you recite the warning system at various children like a version of the Hail Mary. “First warning, second warning,” you say to one student. “Second warning,” you say to another. “Third warning,” to another. All the while, you’re relying on your power of memory to remember who has warnings and who doesn’t. Within minutes, students are arguing the toss over how many warnings they’re on.
While trying to maintain your veneer of control and surety, you proclaim “you have two” before realising you may have mistaken this particular student for their twin sister, sat adjacent to them. Staring at the two children, you wonder if you are seeing double or you have just cocked up. Either way, now that nearly everyone in the class has accumulated at least one warning and you have no record of their indiscretions to hand, you are lost in no man’s land, with no distinction between enemies and friends, and no ammunition left in the chamber.
5. You issue a whole-class detention
“Right, you’re all staying behind at the end.” I did this, once, back in 2009. I won’t forget it because a parent came in to make a complaint on behalf of their daughter because she had to pick some crayons up off the floor having done nothing wrong. I knew said the parent was right. It was a hard lesson, and one I didn’t repeat again. However, the allure of the whole-class sanction is like being George Bush with the little red button shimmering on your desk saying “push me”. The temptation is always there to just place the punishment blanket over the whole class. The consequences are never good in the short term, or long.
6. Mr Nice Guy
In a desperate attempt to be respected, you hatch an ill-conceived plan to make the children like you. “Can I go to the toilet sir?” is met with “Certainly”. “Can I sit next to my friend over there? (the one chewing gum and swinging on their chair) is met with “Absolutely – as long as you promise to work”. You smile reassuringly.
As requests become more and more ridiculous, you wander around the class, becoming a sycophantic slave to those whose influence you feel you need to win; the naughty kids. Everyone else takes a back seat as you pander to their every need and want, asking them if they need help every couple of minutes while they successfully engage you in conversations about anything other than the work for the majority of the lesson.
Soon, your presence resembles background noise – it’s as if you don’t exist. Your desire to be liked and avoid conflict has created a monster as children start to take the mick. Suddenly, your attention turns to the clock on the wall, as you count down the minutes until the bell rings and pray that nothing bad happens in the meantime because you sure as hell aren’t going to stop it.
I will freely admit, these scenarios aren’t foreign to me personally. I would beat myself up over much less, so when they played out, you can imagine the stress.
I can giggle now, but the serious story is that thousands of teachers are the “you” in this story, day after day, week after week. Whether its because they have particularly tough classes, they have little support from anyone or they just don’t know what they are doing because no one has told them how this is the reality for many. It shouldn’t be. Rather than judge or pity, support should be real, genuine and swift.
Over the past few years, you might have noticed a surfeit of articles covering current research on bilingualism. Some of them suggest that it sharpens the mind, while others are clearly intended to provoke more doubt than confidence, such as Maria Konnikova’s ‘Is Bilingualism Really an Advantage?’ (2015) in The New Yorker. The pendulum swing of the news cycle reflects a real debate in the cognitive science literature, wherein some groups have observed effects of bilingualism on non-linguistic skills, abilities and function, and others have been unable to replicate these findings.
Despite all the fuss that has been made about the bilingual advantage, most researchers have moved on from the simplistic ‘is there an advantage or not’ debate. Rather than asking whether bilingualism per se confers a cognitive advantage, researchers are now taking a more nuanced approach by exploring the various aspects of bilingualism to better understand their individual effects.
To give an idea of the nuances I am talking about, consider this: there is more than one type of bilingualism. A simultaneous bilingual learn two languages from birth; an early sequential bilingual might speak one language at home but learn to speak the community language at school, and a late sequential bilingual might grow up with one language and then move to a country that speaks another. The differences between these three types are not trivial – they often lead to different levels of proficiency and fluency in multiple aspects of language, from pronunciation to reading comprehension.
In a recent study, Patricia Kuhl of the University of Washington and colleagues studied the effects of two ways in which a second language is used: listening and speaking. They used a technique called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), which tracks the flow of water through the brain, to measure white matter differences between Spanish-English bilinguals and English monolinguals currently living in the United States. The researchers used that data, in combination with bilinguals’ self-reported measurements of listening and speaking their second language, to analyse the effect of each of these experiences on the brain’s white matter.
Studying white matter – which is primarily composed of axons, the long, slender projectiles shunting signals across a nerve cell – is a way to measure connectivity between brain regions. If we think of the human brain as water in a cup (the cup being our skull), then the white matter is like a straw in that cup: it constricts water flow in the direction that the axons are travelling. One common DTI measure, fractional anisotropy (FA), maps the overall shape of water flow in the brain. Another more specific measure, radial diffusivity (RD), helps researchers to pinpoint weak spots on the side of the straw, places where water might ‘leak’ out. In the healthy brain, researchers have long held, the white matter will show high FA (flow in a single direction) and low RD (leaking of water in other directions).
Yet Kuhl and colleagues found that the monolinguals in their study had higher FA and lower RD in multiple white-matter tracts than the bilinguals – a seeming disadvantage for bilinguals. But the picture was not that simple. When they examined the effect of actual bilingual experience, or the estimated amount of time spent listening to and speaking the second language, they found that more bilingual experience lessened the differences between the bilinguals and monolinguals.
Specifically, more time spent listening to the second language was associated with lower RD in regions associated with language production (the anterior portion of the inferior frontal-occipital fasciculus). More time spent speaking the second language was associated with higher FA in regions of the brain associated with language comprehension. In fact, when the researchers did a follow-up analysis comparing more and less experienced bilinguals to monolinguals, they found that bilinguals with at least four years immersion in the US had similar white-matter levels compared with the monolinguals. It was only the bilinguals with two years or less immersion in the US who showed significantly differing patterns from the monolinguals.
The results of this study should remind us that bilingualism is only one of many factors that can affect the brain. In this study, the unmentioned factor is that nearly all the bilinguals were immigrants, whereas none of the monolinguals was. There might be a whole range of factors that differ between countries to affect baseline white-matter levels, such as early nutrition and stress. Consequently, the comparison the authors made between immigrant bilinguals and non-immigrant monolinguals is not ideal, and we must interpret the overall difference between monolinguals and bilinguals in this study with caution. I believe the critical contribution here is not the overall difference between monolinguals and bilinguals, but the effect of bilingual experience: one where the active use of your second language leads to healthier white matter.
The study reminds us how important it is to consider the experience of being bilingual; it is not terribly constructive to lump all bilingual studies together and make generalised evaluations. If you do want to lump them together, it’s worth remembering that regardless of proclaimed cognitive or anatomical advantages, bilinguals have twice as many communities to interact with, cultures to experience, and newspapers to read. And if that isn’t an advantage, what is? Millions of people study English as a second language every year for precisely these reasons (in fact, there are approximately three times as many non-native as native English speakers).
Even as a native English speaker, if I had never studied Spanish, I would likely not be writing this piece right now: my experiences as a language learner led directly to my interests in language and cognitive science. So let’s rewrite the story in the media. Bilingualism is an advantage. How it affects the brain, well, that’s a question we are still working on.
Angela Grant from Aaeon
Who said that we have to watch films with dubbing? Who said that we have to watch films with any words? Silent films were popular at the beginning of the XX century and they made people laugh. While watching so many short films over this week, I discovered that I didn’t show you one technique that could be really creative for students and could help to develop their imagination.
TECHNIQUE: SCRIPT WRITING
AGE: – any
LEVEL: elementary +
AIM: to develop students creativity and imagination, to improve writing skills
Divide your students into groups of 3-4. Tell them that they are going to watch a silent film carefully. They have to remember what it is about and imagine what the characters are talking about.
Ask students to retell the story in the groups. They have to try to put all the facts together. Group discussion.
The aim of the activity is to write the script to the film. The groups have to decide what they want to write about, who is going to be The Snowman, who The Reindeer and who The Narrator. Revise Past Tenses that they can use while writing briefly. It helps when they imagine that they are telling it to a blind person so every detail is crucial – the weather, the feelings, the background etc. Of course, you can use any other silent cartoon.
Each group gets the link to the film and can have one mobile phone to watch the cartoon again and again in order to complete the task. Give them about 20 min. Then you play the film and they read the script. Although it seems to be time-consuming, it’s a great fun.
This activity can be used at various levels and it is the biggest advantage of it. What’s more, the film doesn’t have to be English:) Students at higher levels will use more sophisticated vocabulary than those at lower levels. But both can show their creativity. Hope you enjoyed the tips and ideas.
teacher blogger Magdalena Wasilewska