2 myths and 1 lesson plan: proof that drawing online is quick and simple.

I recently sent out a survey (click here to take it, there’s still time) on how English Language Teachers use drawings in the classroom. I was a little surprised to discover a belief that drawings work best in live classes. I would like to lay this myth to rest.

There are a few ways you can draw online.

  1. Draw before class. Scan the image with your phone (I use Camscanner). Send to your students.
  2. Stick some A3 paper on your wall (I make paper tape less sticky by sticking it to my clothes first). Point your webcam at it.
  3. Pin a flipchart to your wall (I used two panel pins). Point your webcam at the flipchart.
  4. Buy a visualiser and display a video stream of you drawing on a notebook at your desk. Mine is an Ipevo.
A visualiser is basically what we’d once have called an overhead projector. It displays a live image on to a whiteboard, interactive whiteboard or on a shared screen in a video conferencing platform.

Another myth is that using drawings in an online class takes time. I’d argue it actually saves time by reducing preparation time.

To prove it, here’s a quick lesson I did recently. It took zero prep (well, a tiny bit of thinking time before class). It was the first week back after holidays and we were revising past tense word order in questions. The aim was to get students talking about their holidays to prepare them for writing about it at home.

Step 1: Draw some simple icons to represent each question you want them to discuss. Display the simple visual prompts. Students can later use these icons as prompts for writing.

Step 1: draw simple visual prompts

Step 2: Discuss with students what each prompt might mean. Ask students to match where, when, what and who to each icon. Once they’ve matched the more obvious icons, support them to add ‘Did’ and ‘How’.

Step 2: elicit/give vocabulary prompts

Step 3: Ask students to write a question for each icon, starting with the question words. You could ask them to write their answers in the chatroom, collaborate in a Google Doc or to work together in breakout rooms. Feedback and write up the questions as a whole class. Discuss grammatical features of past tense word order in questions.

Step 3: elicit questions

Step 4: Ask students to discuss the questions in breakout rooms. Feedback as a whole class. Discuss new vocabulary.

Step 5: Show students a model text about what someone did in their holidays (e.g. an email or social media post), or collaboratively create one using the language experience approach. Ask students to write about their holidays for homework.

This is just one of many quick and simple techniques I use to engage my learners online and build their visual vocabulary.

It’s basically four steps: visual prompts, written prompts, elicit questions, discuss questions.

You can use this technique for various topics and grammatical points simply by changing the icons. It’s a great way to stimulate learners, give visual clues and get them talking. It can be used face to face or online. I’d love to know if you use it or have ideas of other ways to use it.

Loved this? Want to learn more Graphic Facilitation techniques for your classroom? Join one of my Online Courses! Follow this link to find out more: www.emilybrysonelt.com/online-courses/

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