Emily Bryson ELT

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A graphic for goal setting.

At the beginning of the year, I find it helpful to think about my goals and ambitions for the year ahead. There’s tons of research out there showing that if you write down clear goals, you’re more likely to achieve them. Even more so if you actually draw them.

I created this visual template to help this process. You can use it for you, or with your classes. Write on the .jpg provided or draw your own. I recommend the latter as it will be more fun!

In the section with the target, add one goal for each arrow. Consider different aspects of life, e.g. family & friends, personal development, work, health, money, etc. Be mindful that goals should be flexible and acheivable. I often find my goals change with time.

The thought bubble with stars represents dreams or aspirational goals. These can be things that you or your participants don’t have as much chance to influence. For example, one of my aspirational goals is to visit friends in Spain in the summer, but this is covid dependent.

In class, once students have completed or drawn their own goals, ask them to share their goals and discuss how they might achieve them. You could use language such as ‘I want to..’, ‘I’d like to…’, ‘I hope to…’, ‘It’s my dream to…’, ‘I’d love it if,…’, ‘I’m going to…’, ‘I plan to…’, ‘I will…’ etc, depending on their level. Draw attention to any emergent language.

If you like this, I’m now running online courses in graphic facilitation for English language teaching professionals.  Click the image below for more information.

Feedback comes in many forms. But the best is a fairy!

Feedback is crucial for developing high quality learning experiences. As a materials writer, I value the editorial process because it helps me develop my content from first to final draft. As a teacher, I encourage my students to tell me how they feel about the content of my lessons, and what I can do to support their learning. As a teacher trainer, I am always keen to hear what participants thought of my session so I can make changes the next time I deliver it.

Feedback comes in many forms. Pun intended. It’s true, often feedback comes in the form of a form. Survey Monkey and Google Forms are the ‘go to’.

As a graphic facilitator, I can tell you that there are much more creative (and fun) ways of receiving feedback. In this post, I’d like to share with you to one of those methods.

Let me introduce the Feedback Fairy.

Visual capture sheet inspired by Martha Harding at Scottish Refugee Council.

I was first introduced to the Feedback Fairy by Martha Harding while I was on secondment at the Scottish Refugee Council. Martha had lots of cool ideas for facilitating sessions, and I added this one to my toolkit. I drew this version for the Sharing Lives Sharing Languages project that I was managing at the time.

The feedback fairy is best used as a flipchart, and participants add post-it comments in the various sections. You can do this online using the annotation tools in Zoom or using post-its in Jamboard. If you want individual feedback, you could photocopy one per participant.

Participants are guided to consider:

Heart – things they loved

Toolkit – tools, resources or activities they’d take away

Speech bubble – things they’d tell others

Brain – things they thought or learned

Wand – things they wished had been included

Bin – things they didn’t like

For my first cohort of Engaging Learners with Simple Drawings participants, it was a no-brainer to use the feedback fairy. But since the course focus was on drawings, I did something a little different.

I asked them to draw their own feedback fairies.

I’d like to share some of them here with you. I was blown away by the creativity, skill and imagination. And how much they all loved the course!

Credit: Annette Flavel

Credit: Eve Sheppard

Credit: Nergiz Kern

Credit: Cheryl Palin

Loved this? Want to learn more Graphic Facilitation techniques specifically for ELT professionals? Join my Online Course! Follow this link to find out more: www.emilybrysonelt.com/all-courses/

For updates: sign up to my mailing list, or follow me via this blog or on Twitter: @E_Bryson

Feel the fear, and draw anyway! Launching #drawingELT!

It is with great excitement that Clare Catchpole (of Express Yourself in English fame) and I launch the hashtag #drawingELT.

We are both firm believers in the power of drawing. It’s creative. It’s relaxing. It’s engaging. It’s supportive. It’s fun. It’s also great for checking understanding, aiding memory, supporting students to take notes and activating life skills such as critical thinking.

We know that there are many teachers out there who agree and who would like to develop their drawing skills. So we’d like to create a community of like-minded ELT professionals. All you need to do is use #drawingELT on Twitter or LinkedIn to share your lesson ideas, blogs, doodles, sketches and flashcards.

To inspire your drawings, we’ll post challenges. These will vary from ELT related topics, to vocabulary items to more complex concepts like grammar, metaphor or puzzlers such as how to draw inclusive pronouns or the difference between need and want. You can add your own suggestions here: https://www.menti.com/zp1ajaytg1

And before you say it, everyone CAN DRAW. Some of us are maybe just a bit rusty or haven’t had much practice. Drawing is a visual language, and as language teaching professionals we all know the best way to improve is regular practice. I have two mottos:

Feel the fear, and draw anyway!

It’s not art, it’s communication. 

As such, with #drawingELT, anything goes. You can share the most rudimentary stick person scribbled on the back of a napkin or a detailed illustration capable of making Da Vinci jealous. Mine will be closer to the former!

Here’s a fantastic little .gif that Clare made to get you in the mood!

I look forward to seeing your creations!

If you’d like to brush up on your drawing skills, why not join one of my online courses? You can find information here or join my mailing list to hear about the next dates. You could also follow me on Linkedin or Twitter: @E_Bryson

Welcoming whiteboards!

I can’t tell you how excited I was to be back in the classroom this week. I got to teach real live students! It was wonderful.

I also got to use a whiteboard. And a whiteboard marker! What a treat!

The beginning of term is a time for welcoming learners, getting to know them and double checking they know exactly where they are going and when.

This year, I’m teaching a beginner and a starter class. I tend to find that writing times, dates and room numbers on the board can lead to confusion. Drawing some simple icons can help make this information clearer.

I’d like to share the simple icons I use with you. You’ll notice that these are not works of art, that my whiteboard is a little smudged and that I probably wrote these in a hurry. That’s because I did. I’m a teacher. That’s how we roll!

Welcoming learners with simple drawings helps communicate information more clearly.
Keeping break time simple.

How do you welcome your learners? How do you make sure they understand their induction information? I’d love to hear your ideas, or to see your whiteboards!

If you like these ideas, and want to learn more about Engaging Learners with Simple Drawings, I’ve started running online courses. 

Sign up to my mailing list so I can update you, or follow me via this blog or on Twitter: @E_Bryson

You can find more information about my online courses here.

What is Graphic Facilitation (and why is it perfect for ELT)?

So you may have seen my previous blog posts, social media messages or attended one of my training sessions. You might have heard me say ‘I’m a Graphic Facilitator’ or ‘Graphic Facilitation is great for the English Language Classroom.’…. you then might have thought…

Well, Graphic Facilitation is the use of simple, hand-drawn, graphics to
support groups or individuals towards their goals. Traditionally, Graphic
Facilitators use large sheets of paper, flipcharts or whiteboards and markers
to engage participants. Online, Graphic Facilitators can do this using pre-drawn
visuals, a graphics tablet, drawing software or a visualiser.

Some examples of Graphic Facilitation techniques involve using very simple hand-drawn
icons, visual templates, graphic organisers, infographics, mindmaps and
sketchnotes. Having used Graphic Facilitation techniques for a few years now, I
can safely say that they work very well indeed in the language classroom.

Why? Here’s why…

It’s multisensory and aids critical thinking.

Learners can observe the visual, listen and understand its explanation or instructions, analyse
it, apply it, share their interpretations, write about it, or create their own.

It makes things memorable.

In my previous blog posts I’ve written about the drawing effect, which found
that drawing aids vocabulary retention. It also makes pages of notes, resources
and materials more distinct, which in turn makes them more memorable.

Here’s a quick sketchnote I made of Joan Kang Shin’s IATEFL 2021 talk on Visual Literacy.               Wouldn’t you agree it’s more memorable than a page of text?

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It aids understanding.

Adding a quick drawing, asking your learners to draw or using a visual as a concept check is an excellent way to find out if they have understood. 

It’s versatile.

It can be used to teach grammar, vocabulary, reading, writing, speaking,
listening and pronunciation. You can use it to plan out lessons, curriculums or
meeting agendas. I even used it to capture my students’ reflections at the end of term.  This template can be used in in various ways: 

  1. Photocopy it and use a pen or pencil.
  2. Online – share your screen and use annotation tools.
  3. Send them a copy and ask them to use digital drawing tools to complete it. 
  4. Ask them to draw their own. You could ask them to add their own sections (e.g. a cline for digital skills). 

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It’s quick and copyright free.

The visual capture sheet above took about ten minutes to draw. The same
document would probably have taken me about an hour fiddling about with tables in a word document or canva and searching for copyright free stock photos. Granted, it took me a while to learn to draw those icons quickly, but it’s a bit like learning the alphabet; it takes a bit of time but once you know it, you wonder how you ever lived without it.

It is my firm belief that Graphic Facilitation enhances and supports the language learning experience. I’d love ELT practitioners to gain confidence using it…

…so I’m now running online courses! Engaging Learners with Simple Drawings! 

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To find out more, or to read previous blog posts about how I’ve used Graphic Facilitation in my own classroom and training sessions, follow this link: https://emilybrysonelt.com/all-courses/

Sign up to my mailing list, or follow me via this blog or on Twitter: @E_Bryson