The IKEA effect

This is one takeaway I have from the last training day we had where Mike Griffin came here to present to us. More info the event is here

The IKEA effect

We like it better if we make it ourselves.

In the back of the “Finding Out” teacher’s book there are photocopiable cards that we can use for games. Recently I decided to let my students personalize them. I usually copy them and cut them without adding anything else to them to save time. Look at the photo. It takes time away from the lesson to get them made but it got my students more invested in the lesson and had them wanting to use them more in the classroom and lobby. A class of 8 will get everything taken care of in less than 10 minutes.

These cards come from “Finding Out 4”. They were made by year 4 primary school students.

Final tip, if you use regular laminating film for these the corners will be dangerously sharp. You can get a tool from Daiso to cut off the corners or use card style laminating film.

Students are more invested in these cards and choose to play with them more often because they made the cards themselves.

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Changing my mindset – Silence

(Me)                    – “What is it?

(Students)         –
(silence)

(Me)                    – “Do you know what is it?

(Students)         – (silence)

A very familiar situation, isn’t it? Regardless of the situation, whether it’s a language school classroom or our day-to-day life, not getting an answer to your question is upsetting, annoying and, truth be told, sometimes infuriating. Especially in a teacher-centered classroom not receiving an answer can be seen as straight up disrespectful and rude, or worse – as a sign that your students are absolutely clueless.

Or are they? That’s what I noticed when I joined MY. Sometimes,
after presenting a new topic I realised that instead of a wave of different
responses and answers I got only silence. And, as human beings, we hate when
silence falls upon us. Have you ever been on a date that suddenly went silent
and you wished that you were anywhere but there? At first, that’s exactly how I
felt. Thinking that this grammar target is the easiest in the world I hadn’t
been prepared for my students’ silence. Upon encountering this, our first
instinct is to avoid the situation – scrap the activity, move on to something
else, hoping that the second attempt later in the class would me more
successful.

However, after several months at MY I noticed that sometimes I
used to get a different kind of silence. Not the desperate, students trying to
avoid looking in your eye’s kind of silence (“not Slytherin!”). No, there was
something special. This was a curious, hungry silence of someone who knew
exactly what was going on, but wasn’t sure how to express their feelings.

Allow me to give you an example.

In one of my elementary school 2nd grade classes we started to study occupations, and the first question we were supposed to learn is “What do you do?”. Excited, I sat down with my students and “accidentally” asked them “What do you do?”. Being MY’s loyal students, my kids immediately asked me “What do you do, Alina?”, to which I proudly announced “I’m a teacher! “.

And then silence fell upon us.

Concerned, at first, I felt that maybe they didn’t understand the
question, and maybe I should either make myself clearer or do another activity,
allowing them to think over this new mysterious grammar point. But a few second
later I saw that students, instead of avoiding my eyes, were actively looking
for answers by looking at me and at each other curiously. That second a very
simple truth for an experienced teacher suddenly hit me.

What if they don’t know how to say “student” in English?

What I did was I gave them several examples. Smiling
mischievously, I asked my students

(Me)- “What’s “hon” in English?

(Students)- “It’s book”.

(Me) – “Hm, I see. What’s baggu in English?”

(Students) – “It’s bag.”

(Me)-” Hm, I see. What’s….

(Students)- “ALINA WHAT’S GAKUSEI IN ENGLISH??”

And at that moment I felt badass like never before. And, because this knowledge was obtained through a hard thinking process where students were allowed to think things through, and got the answer only after asking other follow-up questions, I realised several months later that this knowledge was retained by them. Even last year, when I just joined MY, some of my classes didn’t keep this knowledge and we had to recycle it way more frequently than I’d wished, and yet with this class even after a long time they were still able to ping-pong “I’m a student” to your “What do you do?”.

Becoming more comfortable with silence is one of the most
fundamental changes I’ve experienced since joining MY. In fact, I might say
that I Mia Wallaced myself – now I’m able to shut up for a minute and
comfortably share silence knowing that my students are figuring out the answer,
making sure that this knowledge gained after some elbow grease will stay with
them and go into their long term memory.