Emily Bryson ELT

Month: December 2021

It’s not a snowman! It’s not a Christmas tree either!

I got this idea from twitter. I was browsing and noticed the hashtag #NotAGingerBreadMan.

Students are given what looks like half a gingerbread man, and asked to colour it in and draw something else with it. If you search for this hashtag, you’ll see all sorts of cool creations – faces, dinosaurs, cats, football players.

The #DrawingELT theme for the next fortnight is ‘festive’ and I was instantly inspired to draw these festive themed ‘half pictures’.

In class, I’d ask students to turn the image around a few times and discuss ideas with a partner. Then give students time to draw or colour in their creations. Once they’ve finished, I’d display them around the room and ask students to explain what they drew and why.

Here’s a link to the PDFs: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1fEc1Yl6XTGHNu8riqnIwnnxMKjsktUG3/view?usp=sharing

I’d love to see your work. If you do this with your class, or by yourself just for fun, share your work using #DrawingELT and copy me in. It would make my day!

Love this idea? I have literally tons of super-simple ways to use hand drawn graphics in the ELT classroom. My next course starts soon. Click on the image below to find out more:

Lesson idea: using graphs to tell a story

Telling a story is a great way to get students communicating. But often when I student hears ‘tell a story’, they are at a loss for ideas or find it hard to remember all the key incidents. This lesson idea simplifies this process immensely. Stories can be told with just one line.

For example, here’s an example of a story of someone’s fitness levels. Draw it for the students and ask them what they think the person was doing at each point of the line. Here, they can use their critical thinking skills to figure out that perhaps the peaks were races the person had been training for while the troughs were periods when they were quite sedentary. In the early part of the graph, the person’s fitness yoyos while in the later part they have got a bit more routine about their fitness. Then, ask students to draw their own fitness over time. This could be over the past year or over their lifetime. Ask them to explain their graph to another student, then write about it.

Here’s another example of a story using just one line. In this example, students can discuss why this person’s drawing skills reduced after high school, and what made them increase their skills. They can then reflect on whether their story would be similar, and draw their own. Again, ask students to describe their ‘story in a line’ to another student, then write about it.

NB: This is my drawing journey over time. Dr Neil Cohn found that many people stop drawing after high school.

You can create stories using one line for all sorts of topics. For example:

  • My language learning journey.
  • My confidence with [speaking in English].
  • My interest in [cooking].
  • Time spent [shopping].
  • My [digital skills] over time.

You could, of course, use multiple lines and compare. For example, you could ask students to reflect on their progress so far with each skill in English, and have them represent each skill as a different colour. Give them a blank graph to get them started.

How would you use this idea in class? I’d love to hear in the comments.

Love this idea? Why not join one of my online courses? Click the image below to find out more:

How graphic facilitation rejuvenated my teaching mojo!

Learning Graphic Facilitation skills rejuvenated my teaching mojo and has been the single best thing I’ve done for my personal and professional development.

In my 20 years as a teacher I think it’s pretty safe (and very natural) to say that there have been highs and lows. I suspect I’m not the only teacher to get bored at times. Overall, I love my job. The students are amazing. They have taught me a lot about the world, we’ve shared a lot of laughs, and they have fed me well! My colleagues are fantastic too. We’ve supported each other, learned from each other and enjoyed a fair few nights on the town. Plus, I teach English, so I essentially get paid to chat to learners, write conversational emails and play games. Yet somehow I do occasionally lose my mojo.

This concept of ‘teaching mojo’ came to me when reading a blog by Geraldine Ubeda. She wrote about how she had a bit of a teaching slump, but got her it back by getting involved with the TEFL Development Hub, reading and doing DELTA module 1. Essentially, CPD helped her find her ‘mojo, spark, zest’ as she puts it.

In many ways, it’s the same for me. Here’s a graph of how I’d visualise my teaching mojo over time:

You’ll notice that every time I was learning something shiny and new, my teaching mojo spiked, but when things got a bit too easy, my mojo waned.

Then I did my first course in graphic facilitation. My teaching mojo has been on fire ever since! Every day in class I get to trial a new technique or tool. Each week I learn to draw new icons and add them to my visual dictionary. I am continuously developing my visual vocabulary, my ability to communicate, my teaching skills and my own learners’ abilities to communicate. I now have an instantly accessible bank of visual tools which I can use at any time. I use my skills for making language points more understandable, telling stories, and adding fun to my lessons. I also use them to stand out from the crowd on social media and make my teacher training sessions more interactive and memorable. Plus it gets me away from a screen and lets me call playing with felt tips pens ‘work’!

As it turns out, I’m not the only who has experienced this. One of my previous course participants shared this testimonial:

I’d really love to share this superpower and help ELT professionals to find their lost mojos. If you’d like to know more, why not join my online course? You can find information here or join my mailing list to hear about the next dates. You could also follow me on Linkedin, Instagram or Twitter: @E_Bryson.

Here’s a link to Geraldine’s blog post (which has very cool visuals): https://geraldineubeda.wordpress.com/2021/09/19/lost-and-found-my-teaching-mojo/ 

Click for information about my online course.