March 15, 2011

Never a Boring Classroom!

Only one thing will get me out of bed early on Saturday—an LCCT training for literacy instructors. Maybe you don’t kick off your weekend by getting up early to talk about the fascinating world of language acquisition, but there are some seriously smart and fun people who do. The volunteers and staff instructors I meet through LCCT never fail to impress me with their passion, insight, and ability. Yet what I enjoy most of all is how our classroom becomes a community.

We’re like-minded: we all care about literacy and the people we serve. We’re driven toward a common goal: to learn and share what we know about good teaching. We reject that a classroom should be boring, repetitive, or pointless. We pursue the prop or image that engages people, the lesson that builds on itself, and we want meaningful communication most of all. Here’s a look at last Saturday’s ESL Instructor Training!

Interest Inventory Cards let students look at images and make associations: they depict people at work, a doctor, a person holding a map, etc. Participants rank them based on what’s important to learn in class vs. what’s less important. I’m amazed at how many different associations one picture can produce.

One picture on the cards has a little blond kid holding a boombox. People in the training have said this image represents music, technology, dancing, childcare, entertainment, spending money, and Justin Bieber. Now that I think about it, I guess those are all related.

Authentic materials are props to represent the real world in the classroom. A volunteer, Ray, uses an authentic toy cellphone to make an authentic imaginary phone call.

Hard at work planning an ESL lesson—this group’s topic was “Housing” and they did a great job. If you need to find a new apartment on craigslist, I highly recommend them!

Another group hard at work planning… wait, is that a Toblerone? This group is hard at work planning a lesson and eating a Toblerone.

Classrooms don’t have to be boring, and with the people who show up for LCCT trainings, they never are. We had teachers, writers, gardening enthusiasts, musicians… and each person had a unique story that would make them great company on the weekend. I wish I could write here about how awesome all of these people were, but I’m out of space. So if you want to meet great people who make the classroom a fun place to be, get involved with literacy! Go to

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