Saturday, 18 December 2010

Follow the Yellow Brick Flow Chart

I’ve blogged a lot this semester about the split speaking and writing classes I’ve been doing but not so much about the other lessons I do with the entire class in which we are required to do two things we language teachers love to hate: exam prep (for the Cambridge Young Learners Movers test) and graded readers (at present, The Wizard of Oz). I blog about the split classes because there is no fixed programme so I have the chance to experiment and try out new ideas and blogging has become an important part of the process of reflecting on the lessons and evaluating them. As the other classes I do are more specific, I haven’t blogged about them much before.


yellowbrick

However, I’m always on the look out for ideas to add a bit of creativity to the lessons I do with the full class - much needed at times when you have 30+ ten year-olds and very dry, dull books to use. We recently read a chapter in The Wizard of Oz in which Dorothy and the others finally make it to the Emerald City and meet the mysterious Wizard. The students often find this chapter confusing as each character goes to see the Wizard separately and is greeted by a different sight. They find this difficult to follow especially if they are familiar with the classic 1939 film in which all the characters see the Wizard together.

With young learners, I’ve found that flow charts are a great way to display the sequence of events in a narrative so I thought it would be an ideal way to show the experiences of each different character. Rather than have it all written it out on the board and in notebooks (which in itself would take an entire lesson), I decided to make use of bubbl.us on the projection screen. Prior to the lesson, I prepared an outline of empty bubbles with a few question prompts at the side and in class I asked the students to read through the chapter in groups and find the missing information:




They then came to the computer (unfortunately, just one computer in the classroom) and filled in each bubble until we had a completed class version, which looked something like this:



We were then able to print out the finished product for them to stick in their notebooks (we have yet to reach the point of class email accounts, blogs or wikis to keep the lesson paperless). Breaking down the chapter like this helped them visualise the events much more clearly and got them involved in a comprehension activity that went deeper than just a few questions.

To finish, we watched the meeting with the Wizard from the film and did one more flow chart highlighting the differences when compared to the book, again printed and put side-by-side with the other flow chart in their books:


For more ideas on using graphic organisers in class, check out these links:
Here's Shelly's recent webinar for American TESOL on using graphic organisers. Well worth a look!



I'd love to hear about how you use flowcharts, mind-mapping tools and other graphic organisers in class!

6 comments:

  1. Hello Dave!

    You've managed to add creativity to your lesson on this chapter of the book. I believe your students will remember the information. I agree with you that the use of graphics and mind-maps is essential for students to make connections in their own brains. I also use mind-maps in my classes, especially when students are supposed to remember lots of information.
    Regards from Argentina,
    Marisa (@Mtranslator)

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  2. David, another great site to add to my collection of great sites! I've noticed my Smart Bookmarks Bar plugin for Firefox is nearly completely full now!

    You've shown a very meaningful use for flow charts. I teach (basically) EAP students at the moment and encourage the use of graphic organisers. In reading circles (http://www.eflliteraturecircles.com/howandwhylit.pdf) it most naturally seems to help out the Summariser, but in modified roles, the Leader can do so well.

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  3. Hi Marisa!

    I always ask myself when preparing post-reading activities what purpose they will serve and I try to avoid ones that just check they have understood. I think activities that help them understand are more important and I also want my students to be able to go back to their notebooks to get a quick reminder of the key events of the chapter. As you said, the flow chart/mind map is a great way to help them remember!

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    Hi Tyson!

    Welcome to my blog! :) There are so many great blogs out there, I often find it hard to keep track as well. :p I also enjoy using these charts for a variety of activities and I think it's useful for young kids as they can be adapted throughout their learning lives.

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  4. Hi Dave! Finally getting to comment on your latest posts!!! I rarely use charts or other graphic organizers, and always ask myself why whenever I come across great classes using them like this one you shared. I'll make a note of planning something with them next semester.

    I especially like how you were able to help your students overcome a difficulty they had (probably due to their intellectual maturity level) in such an easy way, and then having them print it out and stick to their notebooks for reference was great. ;-)

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  5. Hi Cecilia! Always nice to see you here. :)

    I love organising things in this way. To give another example, I've used flow charts to clearly show the sequence of events when analysing a narrative with past simple and perfect tenses. They are good for sorting out those 'this how chocolate is made' texts that are always favoured in coursebooks when covering the passive. ;)

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  6. Oh my. I love the way you used a flow charts. I also use it and kids like it. I like to make mindmap presentations for my students as well?
    What do you use to draw it? I have a set of tools from ConceptDraw - you can make flow charts, org charts and mindmaps with it.
    Cheers.

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