This month: How to build and effective school-home link

Watch the video below for practical tips on how to create a strong link between the young learner English classroom and the home.


Click on a video to learn more about the topics from author and English language teacher, Kathleen Kampa, and teacher and teacher trainer, Veríssimo Toste. You'll need to login to the Oxford Teachers' Club to download the Teaching Tool PDFs.

Zarina Subhan-Brewer

Webinar

Teacher trainer, Zarina Subhan-Brewer, will share practical ideas for developing a strong link between the young learner English classroom and the home in a free webinar on 16 December.

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Next month: How to bring CLIL into your classroom

Come back next month for new tips on how to bring CLIL successfully into your classroom.

Learn more...

View the entire archive of video tips and teaching tools. All designed to help you teach 21st century skills with confidence in your classroom.

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Competition winners

Thank you to everyone who entered our competition!

We had many excellent answers to the question: What do you do to encourage your students' critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and/or communication skills? How do you think Oxford Discover will help?

Congratulations to our winners!

They have each won a trip to Oxford University to attend the Oxford Teachers' Academy Summer School 2014.

Winning entries

Ayokunle Oluwawehinmi, United Arab Emirates

First and foremost, as a teacher in the Gulf region, I would like to say that the task of teaching English Language here is huge. This is basically due to the sharp contrast between the Arabic Language; the first language of most students in the gulf and the English Language; the medium of instruction in western curriculum schools. For many students, learning this language is usually a nightmare. Therefore, every lesson has to be super interesting if their attention must be won.

First, I thought of starting every class with a pre-learning activity which lasts for about ten minutes. The idea is simple; for instance, I project a couple of pictures on the projector. These pictures generate questions which whet the students’ appetite for the lesson.

Secondly, to encourage critical thinking; for example, in a comprehension lesson titled “Civilization” I simply pop a question like this: “In a world without technology, how do you alert your friend when there is an emergency?” I divide students into teams; they put their heads together at the group level and choose their representatives. What I achieve using this method is always magical! At the end, I realize that I have succeeded in encouraging my students’ critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and communication skills using just one question.

On another dimension, for vocabulary, I engage my students in a game which I call “word play” I select a student, whisper a word in his ear, he tries to make other students in his team guess the hidden word by acting it. This goes round until we have studied every vocabulary word under the lesson.

With Oxford Discover’s vast resources I do not need to rack my brains anymore trying to source for materials. Now my students can enjoy a variety of enriched resources!

Norma Patricia Marcial Covarrubias, Mexico

Children from this generation demand a greatest effort to fulfil their learning needs. In order to do so, when planning my classes I integrate a series of activities carefully chosen and sequenced based on Bloom’s taxonomy trying to encourage students to participate actively during the lesson so as to involve them in their own learning process. Some of the activities that I include in my plan enhance critical thinking, such as: brainstorming, comparing previous information with new one, ask and answer questions expressing their own opinion.

Some of the strategies listed above, also encourage students to work collaboratively. Students work in pairs, teams or small groups to provide them with opportunities to interact with each other and to really use and apply what they learn, to discover, to infer, to predict facts based on previous information.

Creativity is also an important topic during English language classes, during my lessons I make students invent stories, change the ending of any given text, etc.

Communicative skills, during my English lessons have a preponderant place. That`s the reason why during class my students have many activities to enhance such skills; one of my favorite ones is role playing because it can be used to practice formal or informal speech and all the elements involved during the communication cycle.

When choosing a material to teach English, the activities mentioned above have to be adjusted to fit in the material. Oxford Discover is based on them. As to me, it will be more than helpful to have a set of material that provides me with all the elements that I considered to be necessary to teach an effective class and to enhance students the acquisition of skills that are important not only during the language class, but also in life.

Paul Keyworth, United States

First and foremost, for each new theme we cover in class, I try to introduce positive role models who have achieved historical or contemporary notoriety through thinking outside the box. This emphasizes the fact that creative thinking can really change the world around us!

In addition, I actively encourage an inquisitive learning environment which promotes creativity through asking off-the-wall and complex questions about what, why, who, where, how and why. Not only is societal heterogeneity an asset in the 21st Century, but also diversity of cognitive styles and attitudes is beneficial to the overall learning experience and outcomes.

In my classes we try to inculcate the target language through representation of ideas in fresh and exciting ways; that is, through visual, physical, verbal and philosophical modes of learning. I believe that this is the true strength of the Oxford Discover series. It challenges students to ask the most important questions rather than the banal. For example, "How can this be done better?"

By trying new approaches, learning from mistakes, and evaluating the relative strengths and weaknesses of their work, our students can become the creative entrepreneurs our world needs in the future.

Renal Bakr, Egypt

I can encourage my students' critical thinking skill by asking questions to express their opinions, helping my students to wonder out loud and to make connections e.g. in a list of words or in a story and helping my students to use new language/vocabulary in a context. I can encourage the collaboration skill by explaining a specific task , writing its details on board for students to refer to them, having students move into groups by numbering them off, developing listening skills(students can work in pairs or small groups to compare their answers in an exercise, brainstorm ideas together or they can have critical thinking activities). I can encourage my students' creativity to think outside the box and take risks by asking unusual and challenging questions, making new connections, representing ideas in different ways (visually , physically , verbally),introducing approaches and solutions to problems, critically evaluate new ideas and actions, expanding the possibilities, using imagination, creating visuals at their own words, personalize content, helping students to see what is good in their work and what can be improved upon (WWW) and teaching students to use what they know in new ways. I can encourage the communication skill to be clear and accurate by focusing on the students' ability to speak and write, focusing on using interesting words and the content of the message, helping to make their vocabulary more personal and their grammar points more useful, helping students to use their whole body to express themselves, focusing on the importance of body language, facial expressions and gestures (by giving examples and indicating their meanings) and focusing on the importance of why you are writing and who will read the message. Oxford Discover will help in developing such skills in students all over the world by giving teachers a clearer vision of how to work on promoting and developing such skills in students for a healthier, smarter and generally much better life and even it's a great opportunity for teachers all over the world to take a summer course in Oxford University which they can make the best use of in their career.

Shin-Ying Wang, Taiwan

The four skills should be connected with each other instead of separate.

Creativity

Creativity is connected with critical thinking and can be inspired during the communication. Allow students to finish the work with any possible methods as long as they are safe to them. For example, for the topic of “music” from Oxford Discover Book 3, students can form a band using anything they can find as instruments to play music.

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is an element of communication, and is also related with one’s creativity. Showing different aspects of a familiar story can help students practice looking at things from different points of view. Retelling the “Three Little Pigs” from the view of the wolf always creates a surprising sense of sympathy. Oxford Discover serial provides a lot of issues for students to rethink, build and share their own ideas.

Collaboration

Collaboration must be built through interactions between people while they communicate with each other, which can also arouse the critical thinking. Teamwork is always the best way in training collaboration. For Unit 3 of Oxford Discover Book 3, students must work together to find all the objects in the list and move them to the correct place as fast as possible. Teacher should only interfere in the arguments between students if it is necessary and allow them to solve the problems on their own if possible.

Communication

Communication requires the abilities of both expressing and listening, and the foundation of it is collaboration and creativity. Ask students to take notes in the class and allow them to exchange the ideas before asking questions. Oxford Discover provides many different situations and questions for students to practice, which allows teachers to assign interviewing homework or create real interviewing circumstances to help students experience non-classroom communication.

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