Saturday 8 June 2019

A Great Teacher Makes Puzzles

My finished product

Azul Terronez’s TED Talk, “What makes a good teacher great?” inspired this blog post title. In the talk, he recounts how every time he would ask his students this question and he shared a few of the interesting responses he’d collected over time. One that I really like that has stuck with me, which I now use is “A great teacher sings” but hey, this post is not about that talk so go and look for it and have a listen- right after you’re done reading this post of course LOL!

Anyways, “A great teacher makes puzzles” wasn't part of the responses Azul spoke about but I’ve added it because I successfully created jigsaw puzzles for an activity this week. Yayyyy.
So, this week the JTE asked me to plan for a lesson which wasn’t part of the topics I’ve been scheduled to teach and which was also kind of boring to teach. I took up the challenge, happy that she trusted that I could make something out of it and I put my thinking hat on and set to work. You see, I’m never one to shy away from lesson planning, though I work in a setting that has already-made lesson plans available for teachers still, most times I find myself tweaking and making my own stuff not because those plans are not good but because they weren’t designed specifically for MY OWN students.
So back to the lesson which was about the present perfect continuous tense with focus on Japan’s World Heritage sites! Wait a minute, I couldn’t understand why such a complex topic was included in JHS 3rd graders textbook when they clearly didn’t have enough English yet to grasp this but anyways. After much deliberation, I decided to make a jigsaw puzzle activity to keep my students interested especially because one of the classes was scheduled for right after lunchtime when the food is travelling around their body and making them sleepy.
The process
After making my lesson plan game tight, I began to wonder how to successfully make this puzzle business a reality. I searched all over the internet looking for apps or websites where I could create downloadable and printable puzzles but I didn’t find any. I knew I could’ve just printed the pictures and just cut them into jigsaw style pieces but I wanted actual, traditional jigsaw patterns. I finally got an idea and downloaded a 16 puzzle-piece pattern, printed it on one side of the paper and the picture on the other side, laminated and cut along the jigsaw pattern and that was it! It was very tasking to cut the pieces out as I had to do a lot but seeing my students actively participating and enjoying the activity made it worth the while. The activity woke them up and they worked in groups, competing to be the first to complete the puzzle. I realise that my method may be a “no-brainer” for very sharp-witted teachers but for someone like me who overthinks and over plans, it was a big deal, a kind of “Eureka” moment LOL! So, I’m putting this on here to make the job easier for overthinking teachers like me who might want to do a jigsaw puzzle activity. I hope you find this tip helpful.
I should also add that completing the puzzles wasn’t the main goal, it was just a fun activity I used to achieve my main aim. After completing the puzzles, they had to write four sentences about their picture, one of which was written in the present perfect continuous tense. Of course, I gave them questions to guide them and a model of what they were expected to do. 

To reiterate a very salient point, don’t do an activity if you have no way of using it to achieve the goal of the lesson. Can you justify why your students are drawing in an English lesson when they're supposed to be learning about “Imperatives”? And after they’re done drawing then what? 
Yes, a great teacher makes puzzles slash any other fun activity and uses it as a means to an end. I hope this post makes sense. Leave me a note to let me know if it does and please do share other ways of creating jigsaw puzzles if you know any. 

Ok, you may now go on YouTube and listen to the TED Talk I mentioned earlier! I would've posted a link on here but for copyright issues. 

 Thanks for stopping by, see you next post!

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