Category Archives: creativity

TESOL France Colloquium Reflections: Teaching with Springpad


And yes, although it has almost been a month since the TESOL France 2012 Colloquium, I’m still flicking through my notes and testing the little ‘nuggets’ that I found there. This post is about Springpad, a tool I discovered in Hakan Senturk’s presentation that you can read more about here. As a teacher who is enthusiastic about technology and its potential to increase student autonomy and connect them when they are outside the classroom, I thought that this was something I should try. I have always had a tendency to find many different online resources to use in class with students. What appeals to me about Springpad is that it allows me to bring it all into one place and create a ‘Scapbook’, if you like, allowing students to access, comment on and contribute to resources. I had toyed with other tools like evernote before, but found them less user-friendly.

I am currently using Springpad with one student who is following a general English course. So far I have only used it for online resources, although I think it would be useful for me to upload the class notes into the same notebook to encourage my student to access it more often.

And so with any great teaching tool that endeavours to maximize student autonomy and online interaction, I believe the challenge lies in getting students to use it. So far we’ve looked at it together in class and I’ve added extra resources that are related to what we’ve covered together. Perhaps it would be a good idea to set some specific homework tasks. I would love to hear from any other teachers who have experimented with Springpad and what kind of feedback they’ve had from students.

Check out Hakan’s Blog here

Advanced Business English Video Lesson Plan – Start-ups

This is a little lesson idea I came up with when working with a student who is thinking about starting his own business. It uses part of a Dragons Den episode, a reality television show from the UK where start-ups present their businesses to a panel of ‘Dragons’ in a bid to have them invest. It provides an excellent opportunity to talk about whether a company or product is worth investing in, making predictions about a market and looking at the use of the present perfect when talking about a company’s performance.

Time: 1:30-2 hours

1. Brainstorm

What factors do investors take into account when looking to invest in companies?

2. Pre-teach ‘Nuisance phone call’
3. Watch the pitch and stop video before the questions (Begins at 44:09)

4. Have the student talk you through how the product works (watch again if necessary)

5. Rate product according to factors thought about in brainstorm

6. Think about some questions that you’d like to ask the inventor about the product and the business

7. Watch the questions, see if you came up with any that were similar to the Dragons’

8. Watch the final part again, focus on where the inventor gives updates on what he has sold so far. Evaluate his responses and look at why he uses the present perfect

9. Think about some other potential answers to the questions which might not have had such a positive response

This model could easily be followed using many different Dragons Den’ pitches, depending on the industry and specialization of the student. It could also be followed up with different tasks including a student’s presentation of their future company and a Q&A session.