18 Sep 2014, 1:20pm
Review speaking


  • REVIEW: Question Quest Photocopiable Resource

    A Useful Supplementary Resource

    question quest workbook

    R.I.C. Publications was kind enough to send me a review copy of their new supplementary material for the Question Quest card game. As I wrote in my review of the game, I like it as a fun way to practice simple conversational strategies with junior high school and above students.

    This new collection of photocopiable worksheets consists of:

    • some pages of background information about the world the game is set in and the characters (pretty high level English)
    • 74 worksheets, one for each of the question cards in the game
    • supplementary materials, including two versions of a fun collaborative ‘boss battle’ variation game

    The bulk of the resource is the worksheets, each of which includes some simple language practice first (grammar or vocabulary) followed by practicing the question as used in the game. The worksheets are visually appealing with some small pictures. Personally I found them a little crowded, but this is a reasonable compromise in order to fit all of the content onto one page. The language content is fairly simple and somewhat repetitive.

    I can see two main uses for the worksheets in my class. The first is as something to do regularly as a language supplement, alongside playing the game. Every class I’d give the students one sheet, working through them all over a period of almost two years.

    Another way to use them would be as a remedial resource: students who had trouble with a specific question card in the card game could be given the corresponding worksheet and a quick explanation.

    Ultimately this resource is not able to (or designed to!) stand on its own. If you use the game in your classes you may find this a useful supplement. If you don’t use the game I would recommend checking Question Quest out. I wouldn’t say the worksheets are essential or necessary, but some teachers and students may benefit from the deliberate practice they provide.

    You can see an example of one of the worksheets on the product page. It is similar to all the others.

    2 Sep 2014, 4:11pm
    school management


  • Exeunt Yoyogi

    empty shop

    Just a short update today, from the UK. The demographic and societal changes in Japan are also affecting the private educational sector. Here’s an article explaining what’s happening to Yoyogi Seminar (hint: they’ll be closing their Sendai branch).

    I wonder if this has any implications for English schools?

    Humans Need Not Apply

    The end of work… and not in a good way

    So I’ve been banging on about this for months now, but someone has made a very watchable video about it. Take a look and then think about the future.

    Pretty chilling stuff, eh.

    Everyone is weird

    Some are weirder than others

    bill gates

    This article (thanks Ryan) made a lot of sense to me. It’s basically talking about how incredibly successful self-taught people (like Mr. Gates, who is currently trying to remake education in his own image) may have a view of the world that is skewed towards their own experiences and abilities.

    I often find something similar in my teaching. I love reading and don’t enjoy deliberate study, so I often encourage my students to do the same. Invariably some of them don’t enjoy reading and do enjoy studying, and a few enjoy neither of those activities.

    I think it’s important for teachers to keep this in mind: we are not the same as our students, and their preferences are likely not the same as ours either. It’s easy to forget, but something I keep coming back to.

    IT education in Japan

    I was talking to teachers at a school this week and went on a bit of a rant about how Japanese junior and senior high school students don’t do enough to acquire useful computer skills in school.

    boys with computer

    During a conversation afterwards, there seems to be an impression among teachers that IT skills involve using tablets, e-textbooks, and other new-fangled resources that they don’t understand.

    That was not in the slightest what I was referring to.

    I believe all students should acquire the following skills and competencies at school:

    1. Familiarity with computers, keyboards, mice
    2. Ability to do basic operations (turn on and off, launch programs, find things on the computer)
    3. Basic touch typing
    4. Use of word processors, spreadsheets, presentation software
    5. Ability to do basic research on the internet
    6. Ability to share data and collaborate online (via email or the cloud)
    7. Basic use of email (including spam awareness)
    8. Basic web design (elementary HTML) and blog creation
    9. Awareness of online safety issues (including identity theft)

    Students should not only do this in their IT classes, but also practice and reinforce these skills in their other subject classes so that they come to see them as tools rather than content for a specific class.

    This may seem basic and obvious to some readers, but as far as I can tell is not happening consistently across the board in Japan.

    What do you think? Is anything missing from the list?


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