Luke Meddings

'Here you go, you have a pen and a picture, now go and teach.' How would you feel if your coursebook and your photocopier were suddenly taken away? What would you do in class instead?

In this original and stimulating talk, Luke Meddings explains how you can find highly creative and unusual stimuli in everyday situations, that can be brought to class and used as teaching material.

Before you watch

How can ‘found objects’ – i.e. anything that you find around you in the real world - be used as the only stimulus for lesson content in the English language classroom?

If you are interested in getting a broader introduction on Teaching Unplugged before you watch this seminar, first watch Luke Meddings’ recorded seminar ‘20 Steps to Teaching Unplugged’.

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Introduction

 
Luke Meddings’ seminar outlined how objects might best be harnessed to aid classroom learning in relation to a ‘Teaching Unplugged’ ethos. Pinning his delivery to a mnemonic, Luke proceeded to work through the words ‘FOUND OBJECTS’.
 

F=Found

 
Luke encouraged tutors to keep their eyes open. Teachers are never off duty and should perpetually scan the environments they inhabit for potential classroom stimulus. 
 
Questioning the merits of tutors amassing ‘resource banks’, Luke argued that material works best when it is fresh to the teacher, helping ensure objects are presented to classes with an enthusiasm that will hopefully be mirrored. When tutors are engaged, learners will be engaged.
 

O=Objects

 
Luke defined an ‘object’ as anything that is tangible, with the additional possibility of it being digital media. 
 

U=Unusual

 
Objects that teachers use could be everyday items found around the home, items that take on a different property and become less ordinary in a classroom context. Alternatively, they may be wholly unusual. 
 

N=Narrative

 
Whilst stimulus could be selected to support syllabuses and coursebooks, (serving as connectors in a bottom-up approach to teaching and learning), tutors may alternatively elect to allow their students to independently build narratives around the object, the object itself acting as a springboard. In either case, objects used as stimulus provide a foothold for the learner from which they can scale the broader aims of the session.
 

D=Direction

 
Teachers will always need to direct proceedings to some extent. Considerations regarding how the use of the stimulus will influence the lesson’s flow and the benefits of a pair work/group work approach are important. Luke stated that the more tutors open up discussions, the more fruitful they will be and urged teachers to allow time for students to be creative.
 

O=Ownership

 
Coursebooks, Luke argued, are often overladen with text, preventing learners from gaining any sense of ownership in respect of the material. Inviting students to bring their own objects into class is a highly effective way of countering this.
 

B=Bull’s Head

 
Picasso’s ‘Bull’s Head’ was created by using two different parts from a bicycle. Tutors should be similarly experimental with the objects they use and look for alternative meaning. 
 

J=Juxtaposition

 
Illustrating the point, Luke displayed a photograph he had taken, coupling it with a picture of the view he got by spinning the camera 180°. The contrast was marked. Further pictures of discarded floppy disks by a litter bin and an open suitcase full of books were superb examples of images capable of generating much discussion.
 

E=Expression

 
Inviting students to take photos on their mobile phones that they could share in class provides an outlet for their creative expression and an opportunity for them to engage more directly with their learning.
 

C=Collaboration

 
Providing students space to explore their own creativity is an important way of fostering a collaborative teaching and learning experience. 
 

T=Tactile

 
Objects have a visual power. Tutors should, Luke contended, also channel their kinesthetic properties within the classroom.
 

S=Stimulus

 
Drawing to a close, Luke encouraged teachers to think of stimulus as something that is an aid to get learners talking, not something that has to be, in and of itself, loaded with content.
 

Final Thoughts

 
People, Luke reasoned, already know how to think in a language. Objects act as a classroom stimulus to get their creative juices flowing and talk in a language.
 
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