Wacky teaching ideas

Wacky ideas: Success stories and flops!

As  teacher, I very often try to keep my students interested in the lessons by trying out weird but lovely ideas. The thing is that sometimes the weird ideas that pop into my head, turn out to be a great lesson but other times, well, they turn out to be a flop : p.

Wacky idea No.1
I had started teaching in the public sector. I had been assigned to a primary school in a village. My students were a group of ten 8 year olds so I thought,” What can I do to keep them interested? Love English?” I decided I would play a song. “Heads, shoulders, knees and toes” was the song I chose. I got them to repeat the body parts, they also showed me where their head, their shoulders etc were and then I played the song. We did the song’s moves and everything was going smoothly. They loved it. So, I had the brilliant idea to play it again. They were having a great time, weren’t they? I said to my students, ” Ok, since we all had fun, let’s do it again!” Then an eight year old boy stands up and in a heavy Cretan accent says,” No, we don’t want to do this again! Now, we want to do tsalimakia!Sirto!” and he started dancing and clapping. It took me ages to get him to stop dancing and go back to his seat and back to business. For all my non Greek readers, please press the link to see what he started dancing. Pay attention to the lead dancer and imagine a 8 year old trying this!


Wacky idea No.2
Authentic materials,,, I love using them. Back in the days, when MP3s were non existent (I know, I am quite old) I decided it was about time I used songs my students liked, in class. I asked them to bring in their favourite songs. We were going to do some listening based on the songs they chose. I ended up with ten CDs, bits of papers with scribbles on them and a big headache! I did not know where to begin?!? I had no track number, no song titles and no, no , no! I ended up (I am ashamed to admit this) losing some of the bits of paper and I never realized this oh, so brilliant idea. Next time round, I need to plan this better. Get them to bring in the single on their MP3 players, know the artist’s name and the title of the song. Then, I make a big file with everything and do some cool listening activities with music.

Wacky idea No.3
Adult learners and haribo gummy bears…. is that a Do or a Don’t?After being on the 7th week of an intensive pre sessional EAP course, and in the middle of drafting and redrafting a research paper, my students started to be a bit less motivated. They were mostly sleep deprived and without much energy (if you have taught on these courses, you will know what I am talking about).  Before I move on, I should let you know that during EAP courses I do tend to walk around with Haribo gummy bears  in my bag just to get a boost. So one day I said, ” I know you are all tired, but let’s do this, and then I will give you some Haribos” Most of my students were from China and did not know what a Haribo gummy bear was so that kinda added some extra incentive. Once we had finished, I passed around the bag of Haribo and they munched away happily. The next day, we were going through the material as normal, and then one of my students goes, ” So Joanna… no candy today?” I ended up being one of Haribo’s best customers in those final weeks.

                                        Picture credits: http://et.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilt:Packets_of_haribo.JPG

Wacky idea No.4 
Story telling and adult Business English students. Normally, when you teach business English students, your lessons have do with negotiating, email writing, telephoning and so on. I thought that when business people socialise, they do tend to talk about their lives and even tell stories.This gave me the green light to do a story telling lesson with some of my learners. I think that it is a good idea when your adult learner likes role playing, likes telling stories or is doing something that is creative. If they are not in any of the categories I described, then this can turn into a disaster especially when your learner does not want to use their imagination and is always asking you “So is this right? Am I close to the story?” ” So, the father was sick? “

Wacky Idea No. 5
It is carnival season. Wherever you look there is a mask, feathers, a costume! I always wear something festive and try to be in the carnival mood and every single year I say, ” Never again!” Seriously! Why do I do this? This year, I had the brilliant idea of wearing big tinted glasses and a hat with pom poms hanging off it. It is so hard to teach in those. So, yes, my lesson was planned, my materials were ready, we were going to talk about costumes and carnival. The only thing I had not included in the anticipated problems section of my lesson plan was flying pom poms. So, of course my lesson was more on the “Haha! Miss you look funny” side and not that much about grammar and vocabulary. Lesson to be learnt. ….next time I want to dress up… I won’t!

Picture taken from: http://www.iidudu.com/chic-crafty-pom-poms-for-party-and-home-decorating/cute-diy-pom-poms-with-striking-colors-for-cheerful-decoration/

Final thoughts
I like trying out new things. I think that sometimes I get caught up in the enthusiasm of something new, and my planning skills go down the drain. Some of my best lessons have been a result of trying out something new, something out of the ordinary. So, go ahead, plan a nutty lesson (emphasis on plan).

I enjoyed writing this post and I hope you liked reading it. Please do share some of the unusual stuff you have tried out in class. I would really like to hear some of your stories.

Till next time….


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