Is this the final raven appearance in an ELT workshop? A snapshot of my ‘teaching unplugged’ workshop (thanks very much to Daniel Craig for the pic!) at the KOTESOL National Conference in Daejeon, Korea, on May 14. Two of the participants very kindly agreed to write the guest post that follows.
As promised in my previous ‘the last hurrah’ post, here is the follow up account of my workshop on teaching unplugged. Somehow, if feels appropriate that the final post on this blog (at least for some time to come) not only focuses on the concept of teaching unplugged, but is written in the form of a guest post from two of the participants in the workshop.
Leanne Priestley and Kevin Arnold are two Brits teaching English to adults in a private language academy in Korea. Interestingly enough, they are working at the same chain school company I first started my time in Korea with all those years ago! I had already connected with Leanne and Kevin via Twitter prior to the conference, and at the event itself enjoyed a great chat with them and a number of other teachers over lunch.
Leanne and Kevin represent, to me, all that can be great about teachers and teaching. They are friendly, polite, down-to-earth, sensitive to their local context while looking for the very best ways to innovate and create positive change. They also have that absolutely essential ingredient for making the teaching/learning elixir actually work: MOTIVATION!
They attended my workshop on teaching unplugged in the afternoon, and in follow up correspondence very kindly indicated they would be happy to write this guest post about what they experienced and thought (think) of teaching unplugged.
So, over to you Leanne and Kevin!
A Workshop on Teaching Unplugged
by Leanne Priestley and Kevin Arnold
When we were first asked to write this guest post, it was terrifying but we saw it as an exciting new challenge as this is our first one, ever. We hope it’ll give others an idea of how Jason’s workshop at the National KOTESOL Conference in Daejeon, South Korea on May 14th helped two (and many, many more) ELT teachers.
Jason ended his plenary with an image that has now, for us at least, become synonymous with what his workshop was about. That image was of a plug, unplugged.
We’ve been very intrigued for a while by teaching unplugged, and were pleased to have the opportunity to find out more. And it didn’t disappoint! The workshop, all 90 minutes of it, although we honestly never even noticed the time, was thoroughly enjoyable and informative.
Our particular workshop began very simply with the question “Have you heard of teaching unplugged?” A few hands went up. Initially we hesitated. Should we put our hands up or not? After all we weren’t entirely too sure what it is, or isn’t for that matter.
The ‘lesson’ part of the workshop then began with Jason asking someone to leave. This was our very first introduction to the world of unplugged teaching and gathering content directly from the learners, which involved removing a learner from the classroom! A very intriguing technique, that was for sure.
Two participants, one now outside the room and one inside, chatted on the phone, while the rest of us listened to this one-sided conversation and wrote down as much of it as we could. The participant returned, and the part of the conversation we had heard was elicited and written on the board. Working in pairs with this emergent language, we guessed what the other side of the conversation might have been. Now we had our content/material for the rest of the session and there still wasn’t a course-book (or handout) in sight. After each pair had completed their own version of the call, a few groups role-played what they had produced. Needless to say there were some interesting variations. As a group we talked about these variations and what made each conversation unique. This was followed by brainstorming some further activities which could be used to continue working with this material. The ideas just kept coming, and we couldn’t help but smile, as this was why we were there – to exchange ideas.
The second half of our workshop took us in another direction. We were introduced to ‘live-reading’.
The quote in the picture was created with just a few simple questions – “Where are we? Why are we here?” Throughout the activity all the questions were very simple, but more importantly thought provoking, including “Are you sure?” and “Do we need this?” This was then followed by, as Jason calls it ‘Going, going, gone, (in)’ – a technique of reducing the text to mere lines to show where words once were. A technique we’ve already borrowed, since experiencing it firsthand and seeing how affective it can be. We can’t get that passage out of our heads!
If we were now asked “Have you heard of teaching unplugged?” Neither of us would hesitate to raise our hands. We won’t pretend for a second to know as much as we’d like to about this particular methodology, but we now have a better understanding. Thanks Jason for giving us this glimpse into the unplugged world and helping us discover a few new things.
One question still remains “How well can it work in Korea?” The only place this can be answered is in the classrooms of Korea. Korean classrooms are traditionally teacher centred and book based. So with our new-found confidence, techniques and ideas neither of us can wait to give it a go. The good thing is we’re pretty sure we’re not going to be the only ones in Korea trying it out. There was genuine excitement in the room about it and we look forward to hearing about other people’s experiences.
Thanks also to KOTESOL Daejeon for providing an opportunity for so many great people to come together and exchange ideas in Korea.
And once again thanks Jason for inviting us to write this guest post. All the best in the future with your new challenge.
No, thank YOU Leanne and Kevin! To your excellent account here, I would just like to add (from the presenter/facilitator point of view) how truly energising the workshop was based on all the creative contributions of the participants. The two 'students' who performed the impromptu telephone conversation were brilliant, and the follow up variations and teaching/learning suggestions from all the other participants were outstanding - much better than any quick list I could come up with on my own.
This was an absolutely fantastic way to finish up (this particular stint?) for me in ELT. Thanks so much to Leanne, Kevin and all the other wonderful people who contributed to the workshop.
And... erm, Leanne and Kevin? Methinks it's high time for you two to get that ELT blog happening!!!