3. What are the best learning resources?

Google images, YouTube videos and iPhone apps light up lessons

Two sources, more than any others, will save you time in planning, captivate your classes and make your life easier in lessons.

 

Youtube videos and Google images. Free, plentiful, easily searchable, and exponentially expanding, these are possibly the most untapped resources available to all teachers.

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Why are they so untapped? Possibly, it’s because most teachers don’t know how to make the most of them. This blog post shows you how – in two simple steps.

 

Find the spark

Whatever content you are teaching, there will be an image or a video that links to or sparks off from it. The trick is to be imaginative. As an English teacher, reading skills can be introduced by using a video of BBC’s Sherlock: how is reading like detective work? Teaching any biography works well with trailers: for example, try The Colour of Freedom on Mandela. Persuasive writing? How does Eminem win over the crowd in the 8 Mile rap battle? Moving on to Shakespeare? Film companies have done the hard work for you with trailers, brilliantly combining visual pyrotechnics, virtuoso music, visceral sound effects, the best language and key themes. Multimedia module or creative stories? Try The Guardian’s Three Little Pigs adaptation. The beauty is, it takes just 5-10 minutes to find the best three options.  The only limit is your imagination.

 

Ask for questions

Choosing is the easy part. But how can you use them in class? The best way is to get the class to generate their own questions. Ask routinely: ‘What do you want to ask?’ Distilling the best questions – and asking why they work – sharpens their skills of enquiry.

 

I’ve found that a lesson that starts with a powerful audio-visual stimulus often captures the attention of the toughest teenage audiences.

 

There’s an app for that…

Lastly, here’s a resource I designed to give students a snapshot of the big picture. Display the English curriculum visually as apps on an iPhone. Whenever you start a lesson, the learning aim can show the apps you want them to focus on – for example, reading and questioning. Choose your own apps – I chose focusing, remembering, questioning and coaching.

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