by Walton Burns from Branford, CT, USA.
30 Goals Challenge for Educators: Make a Difference is on a world tour and I am happy to be your Inspire Leader for this part of the journey. So where in the world is the 30 goals? We are visiting Branford, CT I invite you to accomplish the following goal- Share a Page of Your Future Textbook.
To accomplish this goal:
- Pick a page from your textbook that you think could be improved and rewrite it to match your needs.OR
- Think about a textbook only you could create. What is your big idea about the best way to teach English? Create one page of that textbook. OR
- Take a lesson or activity that works well with students and re-imagine it as a part of a published book.
- Like any professional textbook, you might want to include any combination of discussion questions, a reading, a listening, pictures, grammar, vocabulary, cultural notes, speaking activities as well as design elements like titles, subtitles, diagrams, a color scheme and decorations.
Your students can:
- Rewrite a page of the textbook that they think could be better.
- Take a text and prepare a worksheet or presentation teaching this text to the class.
- Prepare their own practice worksheet to help students review a grammar point or vocabulary.
- I would also encourage them to think about the design and look of their products so that they end up with something professional looking.
This all started with a challenge from Jason Renshaw to create a unit of class material. It got me to thinking about why more teachers don’t create their own materials.
I can’t tell you how many times I have stayed up late googling “present perfect grammar practice”, trying to find the perfect worksheet for my students. And they are rarely exactly what I want so I give them to students with caveats: “Don’t do #5, we haven’t covered that usage yet. I don’t agree with #6 I think present simple works here too. Just conjugate the verbs, don’t do the other part.”
It would be so much easier (and satisfying) to just make my own worksheet to give my students. Obviously time is a big limitation but it would sometimes be faster to do something myself rather than search and search and then adapt. And then it would be exactly what my students want. And presenting my students with a nice well-thought out lesson or worksheet, maybe something with a bit of color and a clip art to make it look as nice as the textbook, might impress them. It would show the students how much time I put into prepping lessons for them. That might make a difference in how they perceive me and my class, and even how they perceive their own learning.
As I’ve been moving from teaching to writing, I’ve discovered that most of the coursebook writers are in fact teachers. And that some of the materials and ideas shared with me by my fellow teachers are just as good as those I’ve found in textbooks. So I challenge you to tap into your creative side and create just one page–although you may want to take it further and do a whole unit or even a whole book.
The teacher job gets a bad rap sometimes: teaching is more than babysitting and it’s more than just being fun in the classroom and kind outside it. Teachers know their material. Teachers are inventive and resourceful. Teachers know how to teach well and how to write well. I encourage you to not only see how well you can develop a page of activities and materials but also to make it look professional and well-laid out and attractive to learners, just like a professionally published textbook. It might change how you look at yourself, your job, and how you look at the textbook. Who knows, it might lead to a new career as an author!
About Branford, CT
Branford is not one of the more famous places in Connecticut and Connecticut is not one of the more famous states. But Branford was once the Strawberry Capital of Connecticut and our strawberries, raspberries and blueberries are excellent. It’s also home to the Lobster Shack which serves Connecticut style lobster rolls–no lettuce or mayo, just chunks of lobster sautéed in butter on a roll. The dossant (much better than a cronut) was invented here. Beyond food, this is where Yale University was founded and home of the famous Thimble Islands. So we may be a small town in a small state but we have our pride!
Thank you for dropping by! I hope you enjoyed your visit.
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