Some time ago now, I was quite driven with the idea of producing resource kits for the English Raven website: collections of activity ideas that were highly adaptable within general teaching areas (for example phonics and vocabulary skills and grammar games). The third kit in that series was going to be something called The Wizard English Grid. Major academic coordination duties intervened, along with an offer to write 20 coursebooks for Longman, and web 2.0 as a teaching tool seemed to explode and take over a lot of my attention. The Wizard English Grid was something I was using and believing in a lot in my general teaching, but presenting it to other teachers outside my immediate environment got put on the backburner.
I did ressurect and present the idea as part of a plenary presentation at the Korea TESOL Young Learners and Teenagers Conference in 2007 (with the focus of that conference being about designing materials for young learner and teenage classrooms), but it was only in passing and in order to elaborate a broader point about the importance of making highly flexible and adaptable materials for genuinely communicative language learning.
Well, I've decided this blog could be a good platform for having yet another shot at getting the English Wizard Grid out there!
I'm going to show you an image of this highly sophistocated and technically brilliant teaching resource. It represents the culmination of decades of materials design and tens of thousands of hours of classroom teaching expertise. Teams of hundreds of highly experienced ELT experts funded liberally by all the major publishers have so far failed to come up with anything that can remotely compete with it... Don't worry if the first glance overwhelms your eyes and leaves you with an impression of "OMG, this is far too expert and detailed for me to use in a classroom." Try to resist the inevitable temptation to rush to your nearest NASA outlet to tell them you've potentially found a solution to the problem of mapping the outer universe. Here it comes...
Sophistocated and complicated, isn't it? Don't say I didn't warn you...
Sarcasm and silliness aside, this does represent (by far) the most useful paper-based resource I have ever used for language teaching, at probably all ages, at any level of proficiency, in any setting. Yes - a plain old grid.
You see, this sort of resource represents freedom - plain and simple. I call it a "Wizard Grid" because it allows magic to happen within and around (and because of) it. At last count, I had about 450 different language-learning related applications for this simple grid, and the ideas were/are still flowing. As I said at that materials design conference, you could make a couple of thousand photocopies of this one grid, and potentially not need to make or print any more worksheets for your classes for the next couple of years.
Have I sold you on it yet? Well, with heaving reluctance - considering the 1 minute and 45 seconds of precious time it took to create a 4 X 5 square grid - I am going to give you permission to download and use this ultra-elite resource, completely free of charge:
In future posts on this blog, I'll start presenting just some of the many, many ways I use this Wizard English Grid.
And please, if you are reeling in awe and wondering why you've never been able to come up with a resource or worksheet that can even remotely compare with the Wizard English Grid, remember that I'd built an ELT site with more than 3000 pages of resources, completed about 15,000 classroom hours, designed approximately 500 different workbooks for in-house use at schools with up to 1,000 students, and made 20 coursebooks for the world's biggest educational publisher, before I was able to come out with this. Okay, the idea did occur to me very early in that process, and was used countless times in my own teaching. The delay in presenting it more widely at an earlier stage was because I was just so darned busy doing and making a whole heap of stuff that was infinitely less effective...