"You talk as if a god had made the Machine.. Men made it, do not forget that. Great men, but men. The Machine is much, but it is not everything. I see something like you in this plate, but I do not see you. I hear something like you through this telephone, but I do not hear you. That is why I want you to come. Pay me a visit, so that we can meet face to face, and talk about the hopes that are in my mind."The machine stops - 1909 - Forster

Saturday, October 30, 2010


This post is a response to Jason Renshaw's initiative "Meeting of the boards".
I really liked the idea of starting a lesson having students fill up the blackboard and so I tried it in two classes of same level, that is third year of Middle School ( lower A2 ). But I did it in a slightly different way.
In the first class I drew a line which divided the blackboard diagonally in two parts: at one end I wrote "September 13th" ( the first day of school ) and at the other end I wrote "Today".

The line might have worked as a sort of reminder of school time because they started writing headings related to topics we had been covering since the beginning of the term.

They went on this neutral path until a student wrote something more personal
( emoticons / sad-smiling day ).

At this point, quite interestingly, another student came up with a sort of "brainwave" and she wrote what you can see in the cloud.

This is the final risult: the blackboard is full of words related to activities, grammar and vocabulary covered in class in the previous months. Let's call it the Syllabus Blackboard.

With the other class the blackboard was completely empty: no words, no lines at all. At the beginning the students were quite surprised but after a few seconds one came to the blackboard and wrote "Hello": simple and safe...:)

They went on asking basic questions until a student wrote a sentence ( a question again ) taken from "Alice in Wonderland - A Mad Tea Party", a role play we had acted out the previous year.

After that they started "reflecting" on the whole process, and they asked two more questions, as if they really wanted to get answers and explanations.

Next a student provided his personal solution: "We are as mad as a hatter".

At this point a student gave some feedback and, using SMS English, he wrote "I like dizz"

And this is the final result : a blackboard full of questions, a creative and personal board, I would say. A student even modified " I like dizz" into "I like pizza".


* I enjoyed the activity and so did the students
* A line with dates seems to be a powerful way to direct students' attention to their linear learning progression
* A blank blackboard can appeal to students' need to communicate in a non-threatening, free, and light-hearted way and can help them express themselves creatively.

Really liked this idea of meeting of the boards!! :).Thank you!!


Jason Renshaw said...

Hi Daniela,

These boards are absolutely brilliant. I totally love the idea of the syllabus blackboard -- very original! -- and can't wait to try it out with my own classes.

You've taken excellent pics here as well, which really help to show exactly what went on with your classes.

One of the best contributions to the meeting of the board(s) yet, I daresay! Brilliant.

Thanks so much,

- Jason

DavidD said...


I second Jason's comments - two really well-thought out and executed lessons. I love the way the first student to take the plunge (inadvertently) sets the direction for the rest of the lesson with the majority of the following comments on a similar theme.

I shall also give the syllabus board a try. :)


Daniela Tomatis said...

Thank you. I've been learning a lot from you and your great posts! Please, keep on inspiring us..:)