Family ELT Travel Fun – “Paperback”, For Students too!

*Note: This is not a commercial post and I have no connection whatsoever to any company. Just sharing the joy.

The lookout
Naomi’s photos

Are you fond of games which require forming words in English?

Have you found that the younger generation prefers having extra “twists” to word games, such as cards with double letters (“ed” “en”) , cards that have powers to get you an extra card , replace or duplicate a card, and even earn you extra points?

Do you like games which can be less competitive and encourage the whole family to collaborate on figuring out a word with the hand dealt to one player?  Note: It can also be very competitive, it depends how you want to play it, despite Mom’s non-competitive bent…

Now bear with me for a moment.

A Smart Move
(Naomi’s Photos)

Our son taught us the board game “Paperback” and it’s a great thing at any age for a family to gather around a table to play together. Since this game is good for developing vocabulary in the English  language, I like the game even better.

But I didn’t think of traveling with it.

You know, space and weight in the suitcase, a table is needed and it takes some organizing of the piles of cards, etc.

Well, there’s an app for that.

For the first time in my life I bought a game app for the tablet.

And now the teacher-in-me is considering using the game, in app form, in class.

It turns out that the app solves more than the issue of making the game convenient to travel with ( we played on the airplane with the tablet in airplane mode) , it seems that it will also solve the following issues

* No precious lesson time wasted on setting up the game.

* The app basically teaches you the game as  you play, so no lengthy instructions or learning curve required. It tells you what kind of action is required next.

* It keeps score. That might sound obvious but since points determine all kinds of perks during the game, it’s important to know how to calculate the score. I’m very bad at score keeping in all games, sigh…

* The app won’t accept misspelled words or invented words. Your offspring or your students can play independently without you worrying that they are blithely giving themselves points for nonsense and reinforcing errors.

* There is a single player mode,  a student can play against a computer with three different levels of difficulty, thought frankly I haven’t explored this mode much yet.

In short, Paperback has won me over as a family game. I’m looking forward to trying it in class.

That is, if our English room ever gets those tablets we’ve been promised…

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday’s Poem: “The Armful” by Robert Frost

So many…
Naomi’s Photos

I received a phone call from someone I used to work with as part of my counseling job. It seems that a small box of papers of mine had been discovered in a cupboard that was being disposed of . The papers needed to be removed.

Among the papers from the late 90s and to around 2004, was a handout from a talk the amazing Aharona Gvaryahu had given. It must have been a talk on what it is like to live with learning disabilities but I don’t know for sure.  The only thing I kept  was this poem.

I hadn’t seen the poem since then and did not remember it existed.

But I immediately knew  why I had chosen to keep it.

It’s about me, isn’t it? It can be about you too, I don’t mind. Aren’t most of us in the same situation?

Enjoy!

The Armful by Robert Frost

For every parcel I stoop down to seize
I lose some other off my arms and knees,
And the whole pile is slipping, bottles, buns-
Extremes too hard to comprehend at once,
Yet nothing I should care to leave behind.
With all I have to hold with hand and mind
And heart, if need be, I will do my best
To keep their building balanced at my breast.
I crouch down to prevent them as they fall;
Then sit down in the middle of them all.
I had to drop the armful in the road
And try to stack them in a better load.

An Over-the-Counter “Treatment” for Excessive Note-Taking at ELT Conferences

Over and Over
Naomi’s Photos

Warning – Excessive note-taking at an awesome ELT conference may lead to undesirable side effects, ranging in severity and scope. The following “treatment” may be taken prior to the conference , as “preventive medicine”, or after the first conference day of several in order to alleviate existing symptoms.

Possible side effects of untreated excessive note-taking

Excessive note-taking  may seriously impair a teacher’s  ability to digest  new information. The act of keeping the eyes glued to the notebook /screen during an entire lecture can result in:

  • missing the fine points of nuance, which are expressed in mimicry and  body language
  • inability to properly take in visual materials, viewed at a brief glance.
  • constant tension – hyper-state of alertness due to trying to keep up with every word the speaker says.
  • inability to focus on the main idea to be implemented, not on the specific details (which cannot  be relevant for every class).
  • feelings of irritability.
  • exhaustion.
  • LOSS OF ABILITY TO ENJOY THE CONFERENCE!
Standing alone won’t help
Naomi’s Photos

The BUDDY METHOD of Treatment

Stage one – Find “a conference buddy”

If you haven’t arrived at the conference with one prepared in advance, simply introduce yourself (with a smile!) to the teachers sitting near you before the first session begins. The attendees are not a group of random people –  these are ELT teachers who made the effort to attend the conference because they want to benefit from it, just like you. Having several “conference buddies” works too.

Stage two – Talk Sessions

Arrange to meet with your “conference buddy” over lunch, on the commute home (if relevant) or perhaps skip a certain session slot. When you know you will be soon be briefly discussing what you just heard, you will find that jotting down key ideas, phrases, links will be enough. This matters because after you discuss what you heard, you “digest” it better and your brain can begin utilizing the information in order to make connections with your classroom reality.

Or in other words, you will probably never find (or bother to look at) all your conference notes three months from now. But if you discuss what you heard with someone it will leave a helpful “residue” in your brain.

Something will sink in
Naomi’s Photos

Stage Three – Division of Labor

If coming home from a conference with a file (handwritten or digital) of notes is important to you, divide the sessions with your “conference buddy”. In each session one of you slows down,  focuses on listening, looking (and feeling!) while the other takes notes. The “listener” can gently nudge the “note-taker” when there is a good visual stimulus he/she really must stop and look at. When you talk about the sessions afterwards, the one who was the note-taker can add information the listener took in and the note taker missed.

The “listener” is also in charge of prying the pen out of his/her buddy’s hand when the speaker has just given the link to where the  entire talk can be viewed at any time.

Division of labor
Naomi’s Photos

Stage Four – Let Your “Conference Buddy” Drag You to a Session You Didn’t plan on attending.

Obviously, you won’t want to take notes during a session which is, theoretically, not relevant for you (perhaps it focuses on teaching  younger learners than those you teach or is more suitable for private lessons while you teach classes). Focus on watching the speaker – what he/she said might not be particularly useful to you. However, how the material was presented to a roomful of adults and how the speaker drew the listeners into the topic might just spark some amazing ideas in your head as how to present something  to your own students.

All of that can happen in your head without writing down a single thing.

IMPORTANT DOSAGE NOTES:

The “BUDDY METHOD”  of treatment can be used repeatedly at multiple conferences without any negative side effects. It is free and available for ELT teachers around the world at all times. Frequent users of the method often exhibit tendencies to share the method, though the frequency of this phenomenon has not been documented.