In order to be innovative, we must set our standards high, think differently, and have a hearty appetite for knowledge.
Today’s featured books will take us into multi-media & film, mobile learning, becoming a writer & setting goals.
While I read from diverse sources of interest, including psychology & literature, I tend to prioritise books to do with my profession because they keep my working life interesting and meaningful.
Despite that, of course, psychology and literature feed into my approaches for teaching. By reading widely from richer and deeper perspectives we can move beyond the narrow limits that can trap us in traditional teaching mindsets.
Although these reviews are focused upon professional development, there’s no point in reading them if you’re not going to enjoy the process. Creativity, technology and community always inspire me, however, so I hope these topics will do the same for you.
As Dr.Seuss says,
One of the best ways to stay informed, inspired and empowered as a teacher is to invest in professional development, whether that be through conferences, webinars, online networks or through reading books.
Professional development is important, not only for keeping up with changes in education, but even more importantly, there’s the pleasure principle and enjoyment to be derived from reading about new developments in one’s field, reading about special interests, or learning how to transform your working life.
It’s also nice to have a beautiful library, whether it’s in paperback on your bookshelves or on one of your ereading devices.
Who are the authors currently challenging us, sharing facts, ideas, and blazing new trails for teachers everywhere?
Well, today I’ll quickly review some books that have recently be published or are about to be published.
1) Going Mobile: Teaching with handheld devices:
by Nicky Hockly and Gavin Dudeney.
It’s time we got comfortable with mobile learning and all that it entails. The beauty of this book is that it speaks to teachers who haven’t worked with technology before as well as to the more tech-savvy educator. It provides simple steps for incorporating mobile devices into the classroom and continuing to influence students beyond the classroom. Even those of us who have experimented with mobiles in class will benefit greatly from reading this book as it can help us to avoid pitfalls or hit & miss affairs.
It starts off with the big picture of mobile learning and then zones in on its practical applications, from using simple text, to image, audio & video. Each section describes the technology itself, provides case studies of teachers around the world who have experimented with mobiles in class, and then provides lots of teaching ideas and lessons plans. Useful websites and apps are also recommended along the way.
Section C goes further in building upon short lesson plans and exploring project-based activities beyond the classroom itself, through whole-school policies, collaboration and real world experiences. The special features of smart devices are explored, such a geolocation and augmented reality.
There is such a wealth of practical advice and inspiring ideas in this book that I believe it’s a must-read for teachers everywhere, especially those of us who want to keep one step ahead of our students, continuing to surprise and challenge them in the process.
You can find the book on amazon here:
2) Film in Action by Kieran Donaghy
Kieran Donaghy, author of the award winning website, Film English, is publishing a book called Film in Action, which takes us through the theory, activities and longer term projects involved in teaching through film.
I was very surprised when I got my first glimpse of the content Kieran has put into the book. He shared a preview of his material with me so that I could feature his book for you here. I must say that it’s the first of its kind in English language teaching. From narratives to voice-overs & images, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re not reading a language teacher’s methodology book at all, but that you are, in fact, enrolled in a film maker’s course. Both despite and because of the enticing presentation, you’ll find creative methodologies expertly embedded into each theory, activity and longer-term project.
If you want to seduce your students into playing with language through multi-media learning environments & film, then this book will blast you into a whole new world of possibilities.
Light, camera, action.
It’s all about action, from watching actively to actively producing. It’s about getting your students to create their own movies clips after they’ve learnt to appreciate the finer aspects of multi-media literacy and the language it involves.
Last but not least, what has always struck me about Film English is the heart behind it, the choice of films Kieran uses to teach English, and the fact that these films share messages that go deeper than the language being learnt. That’s the power of film, story and the storyteller. In this case, Kieran Donaghy is the storyteller, transforming film into inspirational educational content and projects that can reach our students socially, emotionally and intellectually.
The real accomplishment is when our students become storytellers. Aren’t you tempted to take this to the next level?
3) The ELT Teacher 2 Writer collection.
There comes a time after many years of teaching, blogging and designing materials that your ambitions escalate to something even more substantial. You are a teacher who wants to be a published author.
I’ve bought quite a few books published by ELT Teacher 2 Writer, though they’re always coming out with new ones, such as “How to write for digital media”. As my work involves digital media, I’ll be sure to get this book too, but for now, I’ll share some titles I already have that deserve a mention.
a) How To Write Critical Thinking Activities by Paul Dumett.
What I like about this book is that it starts out by focusing on mindset and then goes into the whats, whys and wherefores of true critical thinking as opposed to what it is not. It describes different types of critical thinking activities and helps you to ask yourself the right questions and recognise the criteria that should guide the activities you create. It looks closely at cognitive thinking and guided discovery. It also discusses how critical thinking is really about re-interpreting the linear model of Bloom’s taxonomy, as it would be harmful to assume that lower levels of language learners also think at lower levels.
All in all, a very practical book that will make you feel more confident about writing activities for your learners.
b) How ELT publishing Works by Janet Aitschison
This book is essential for those of you whose next step may well be publishing a book. Aitschison gives us insider’s knowledge into everything from pitfalls, royalties, copyright, and collaboration tools to what publishers really want from a writer. It may surprise us to know that publishers are more interested in real teaching experience than in qualifications, and the most important criteria publishers cite in the search for a writer is talent and originality. Those who can truly engage learners with compelling content are more likely to find publishers. Communication skills, personality, and openness are also desirable attributes for writers who wish to be published.
This book is essential for those of us who have little experience in the world of publishing but who have the talent to go for it.
c) How to write graded readers by Sue Leather.
This is something that interests me greatly, albeit in a multi-media sense, as well as in traditional book format. These days the two are almost inseparable anyway. The author takes us through writing authentic, creative stories for students that are appropriate to their learning levels. Learner literature promotes extensive reading, natural language acquisition and creative thinking that will serve students well beyond the mere language being learnt. This is something I’m fascinated with through the additional media of comics, storytelling and the visual arts.
If we are to invest time in writing books, I believe it’s wise to arm oneself with knowledge first, that’s why this book is very important for the storytellers amongst us.
d) How to write ESP materials by Ros Wright
ESP is something that most experienced ELT professionals have been involved in at some time in their careers. Specialising in certain areas with language students forces us to create more original content and forces us to tailor our courses to meet specific needs. As an online teacher, I’ve found that almost everything has to be created from scratch, and luckily, I’ve discovered a passion for designing multi-media materials in the process.
What happens to all of these great materials once the courses are over or you move onto something else? Are they gathering dust in your hard drive?
This book shows you how to publish your work by fine-tuning your methodologies, designing activities, developing your niche, creating real-world tasks, and implementing strategy training for client-focused professions. This is just a brief taster of what is included in a very rich book indeed. Essential for Business English teachers, Teachers of English for specific purposes, freelance teachers, language schools and online teachers.
You can find these books and many more at the newly designed ELT Teacher 2 Writer website.
4) The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers by Shelly Terrell.
This is more than a book, it’s a living, breathing community of teachers around the world who are part of a movement to support each other in achieving their goals. Although this book was first published last year, I’ve just got my hard copy and it came at a time when I needed it most. No matter where you are in your career, whether you are scaling the heights of success, just starting out, or simply changing direction, you still need moral support, the power of community and knowing that there are more important things in life than individualism, competition and ego.
It’s a very intelligent, caring book full of personal stories about achievements and challenges. Most importantly, it’s designed with ingenius goals that are so deceptively simple that they’re easy to achieve but make a great difference to who you are and what you dare to do in your career. This book is full of support, ideas, challenges and lots of tech-savvy, social-savvy information that can transform your experience of teaching from the inside out.
As an online teacher I’m very much community-oriented. The Edugoal community is very important to me and I can’t imagine working without my inspiring colleagues or without this book.
You can find the book here on amazon.
Of course there are other great new books I haven’t read yet, and when I do I may publish more reviews.
For now, if you have any books you’d like to recommend or if you’ve written any books you’d like to tell us about, please comment below.
I hope you enjoyed these reviews and will also enjoy reading some of the books.
I’ll leave you with another quote that may be a little cryptic, but it might make you think;)