How Creative Are You in Teaching Your Class was a contest organised by Marshall Cavendish Education. Four winners from the contest were given an opportunity to attend the bi-annual conference, Redesigning Pedagogy International Conference 2017, organised by National Institute of Education Singapore (NIE). In this first instalment of the 4-part series, Simon Williams shares how he taught his pupils from a private school in Nakhon Sawan, Thailand to use the possessive pronouns to discuss ownership. Take Off with English was used in his lesson.
At a private school in Nakhon Sawan, Thailand, Mr Simon Williams and his students were studying unit 2 'Our Clothes' from Take Off with English. To complement the book activities, Mr Williams injected some creativity to the lesson to make learning more interesting – he planned a fashion show that met the following learning objectives:
- To deepen pupil's understanding and capacity to talk about clothes
- To use possessive pronouns to discuss ownership
In the process of this activity (i.e.: fashion show), students had to design their own clothes and make them using recycled items.
Step 1 – Planning for a Fashion Show
Pupils were required to design the clothing that they wish to create. This activity facilitated pupil-to-pupil talk about the clothing they wanted to create. In this process, pupils had opportunities using the language to name the items of clothing and revise the vocabulary that were taught, for example, the name of colours and other adjectives.
Step 2 – Parental Involvement
After the design process was completed, the class moved on to source for recycled items to create the clothings. A request for the donation of old clothes was sent to the parents of the children. In doing so, Mr Williams also achieved another learning objective. He helped children understand the concept of ‘resuse’ one of the 3 Rs (recycle, reuse, reduce) which forms part of the grade 2 science curriculum in Thailand. This has effectively shown that the learning of English Language is an independent study but also relevant and related to other areas of learning, in this instance, the topic of materials in science.
To actualise the designs by pupils, parents were invited to the school to help out in sewing. Pupils were highly motivated to be working alongside with their parents. This is supported by Dunmont, et al (2010), who states that the home is our first, and highly influential learning environment, hence, creating home-school partnerships are crucial to a learner's success because it builds connections between the home and school.
The sewing sessions also extended pupils' vocabulary, creating a demand for new words such as sewing, needle, and thread. It also created a real-life situation for practicing known words such as scissors, cutting and glue in the context of clothing.
Step 3 – The Real Thing: Walking Down the Fashion Runway
Finally, pupils were asked to present their newly designed clothes at a lunchtime fashion show.
As Alexander (2010) points out in his study, effective teaching which stimulates imagination and creativity encourages autonomy. Mr Williams gave pupils the choice of how they wanted to execute the fashion show. Pupils chose to present to both the school and their parents. The children formed pairs and decided that they would each introduce their friends, the clothes they were wearing and what they were made from.
It was also necessary and important to reinforce what was taught in this topic, so pupils were asked to incorporate the sentence structure from page 15 of the workbook 'Bill’s trousers are black' into their speech during the fashion show. Going a step further, Mr Williams also added the sentence structure ' his/her trousers are made from ...'
The fashion show also created opportunities for oral communication as the pupils had a genuine audience to speak to. This clearly showed a constructivist approach to English where a scaffold was provided for the language, but the outcomes were divergent and creative.
In conclusion and perhaps most importantly the children enjoyed the fashion show. On the day of the performance, every child in the class spoke English, impressing parents and themselves. They performed the whole event without adult intervention and walked away smiling. The quality and clarity of their speaking were excellent. This activity allowed a creative output for the content from the textbook and it was evident that the textbook provided a scaffold and structure for their expression in English.