18/100: Reflecting on Penny Ur’s Teaching Tips – 2. The Right Answer

Multiple lines Naomi's photos
Multiple lines
Naomi’s photos

This is part two of my blogging challenge.

As a veteran teacher it is easy to fall into the trap of doing things a certain way just because I’ve done them that way for years, without remembering the reason why. 

I’ve decided to set myself a blogging challenge – reflect on one tip from each of the 18 sections that compose Penny Ur’s latest book: “100 Teaching Tips”, so as to dust off old practices that may have remained unexamined for too long.

Tip Number 9: “Allow lots of right answers” 

Clarification – in this section the author is referring to coursebook grammar and vocabulary exercises, which usually have one right answer for each item. She suggest ways in which to change the exercises to allow several right answers.

I may fall back on Penny Ur’s statement in the introductory section of the book: “…be aware that not all {tips} may be right for you” .  I think this one falls under that category.

I don’t use coursebooks very much. That has a lot to do with teaching in the format of a learning center. But when I do have the students do the grammar and vocabulary exercises from a book, they do them on their own, in class, while I work with some other students.

In that situation I’m happy that there is one right answer for each item, so I can quickly pop over, see what the students are doing and then let them continue.

In addition (and I think this bothers me the most), is the crazy complexity of having the students ignore the instructions in the book and do the exercise in a different way (even though it is more fun and provides more practice!). When working with deaf and hard of hearing students, getting students to pay attention to the existence of instructions, to read the instructions and actually follow the instructions is an ongoing “battle”. Case in point: the drawback of my entire “fun/enrichment” corner in the learning center is the time wasted by students who will not read instructions for an activity, even if they are in mother tongue! Note: that’s the advantage of having a multi-grade classroom, one can always send an older student over to give them a nudge in the right direction…

The comforting thing about those grammar and vocabulary exercises in the coursebooks is that what is expected of the student is usually familiar and then the students get working right away, on their own.

Not going to adopt this tip at this stage, but at least now that I have thought about it, I know why! What about you?

2 thoughts on “18/100: Reflecting on Penny Ur’s Teaching Tips – 2. The Right Answer”

  1. Where can I get Penny Ur’s new book?

    Allowing lots of right answers is almost natural. Very often, things can be said in different ways, including different tenses for the same sente
    nce.

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