Have you ever had one of those days during which everybody in class has understood the grammar taught (even commented on how easy it has been), but one or some of your learners seem unable to put it into practice, as they do not remember when to use what? Well, in the public school context, cases like that are normally approached during the break, where learners can be guided individulally and introduced to various ways that will assist their learning (graphs that help them remember, course book pages that present grammar, worksheets for extra practice, links to related online interactive games, etc). If we are lucky, the learners that need our guidance stay at school until 4pm, like we do, and we can work on their problematic areas at their own pace, through role plays, songs, even crafts that will make their learning life easier and more pleasant!
Having said (and done) all these things, right when you think you are a cool teacher that helps her learners get better at English, you see something cooler than what you have been doing all this time! In the afore mentioned challenging case, the cooler approach seems to be far more attractive and bears an attractive name: an interactive notebook! Have you seen these wonderful, colourful, flippable, removable notebook pages that not only present things in English, but also allow you to interact with them and practice? Google search “interactive notebooks” and you will be flooded with articles on their theoretical background, templates, printable patterns and exemplary ideas that will blow your (and your learners’) minds!
Having read all about them and trusting colleagues who have repeatedly used them (Aphro Gkiouris, for instance, who has been a warm supporter of this approach), the first attempt took place at home, as an experiment, exploiting my niece’s aversion towards demonstratives (this, that, these, those). Although she had clearly understood the difference among them, she had been having difficulty in using the correct demostrative while producing the target language! That was when she was invited to take advantage of the … super powers of her own notebook!
Having prepared cardboard cut-outs and printed everything we needed, I glued everything on her notebook which looked like that:
She had the opportunity to visualize the rules by … opening the purple windows:
When we opened the lilac envelope, she found colourful pieces of cardboard paper, showing an object or objects with hands pointing at them from near or far away from them:
And, then, she could play and interact, by placing each object in the correct envelope, based on its number and distance from the hand:
Answering potential questions that may arise after this presentation it is worth noting that: * Yes, it was time-consuming to prepare, but paper-crafting was fun to do, as my daughter kindly offered to help!
* No, it does not cost a lot, as cardboard paper and glue are not expensive. If you do not have a printer, you can always employ your art skills which may give a more personal style to the end-product! * Yes, she got everything right, and, no, we did not have to refer to the grammar rules again! * Yes, she loved it! She clearly stated it and also expressed her willingness to go home and play some more with it! * Yes, it seems addictive! I cannot stop thinking on ways I could adopt this approach in a public primary school classroom with about 20 learners per class (a highly challenging task, all ideas and suggestions are welcomed!!!)