Stimulating Small-Group Discussion Activity 5: Very, Very, Very Smart Children vs. Creative Ones

(This posting includes a handout which you are welcome to use with your students.)

Some reasons why students seemed stimulated by this discussion:

1) Before reading this article, many just assumed that very smart children (prodigies) would become the most successful as adults.

2) They seemed interested to hear about prodigies that their classmates knew or that were in each other’s countries.

3) They were surprised by how important or unimportant approval by their parents was to their classmates.

4) They enjoyed comparing how creative they were and how much each of them was a conformist and/or non-conformist.

5) They liked to talk about their passions.

Here is the basis for this discussion: In his book, Originals, Adam Grant explains how many people believe that life would be easier and people would admire us if we were very, very smart. Actually, though, being creative improves people’s lives more.

This and future discussion activities include four parts:

1) A one-page article usually including a brief summary of a high-interest research study.

2) Ten true-false comprehension questions.

3) Pre-Discussion Exercise in which students read and think about several questions about their own experiences about the topic.

4) Small-group discussions of the article in which each student is given a paper with different questions in the form of Student A, B or C.   

About Discussion Activity 5: Very, Very, Very Smart Children vs. Creative Ones (and the handout).

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Enjoyable and Effective Awareness Activity for Changing ESL Students Classroom Behavior

Cover skits Shot

Most ESL students don’t do goofy things just to irritate the teacher. Usually, they are unaware of how they are coming across or not aware that they are acting differently from the other students or even what is expected of them.  These are some of the habits students tend to bring to our classes:

  • Chronically arriving to class late
  • Text messaging during class
  • Not paying attention
  • Chatting with classmate
  • Not participating in a group
  • Calling out answer before others get a chance
  • Sitting in the back of the room day-dreaming
  • No eye contact to teacher or classmates in a group
  • Speaking own language in a group
  • And more

To circumvent these habits and help students develop an awareness of expectations, in the two most recent ESL programs that I’ve taught in, we included some skits during our orientation of new students or during a workshop for students after the term had started. Not only did the students seem to enjoy them, but also we noticed far fewer students come to our classes with these behaviors.

Here is how we did it.

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Powerful Tool for ESL Writers: Giving Examples in Essays.

Cover Examples shot

(This posting includes a handout which you are welcome to use with your students.)

A researcher asked people in a retirement home what they regret.  He found that older people regret not the things that they did, but rather the things they didn’t do, for example, never learning to salsa dance, never traveling the world or never learning to play a musical instrument.

That paragraph, from Brain Briefs by Markman and Duke, I think illustrates the importance of examples. Imagine what we’d wonder about had they not included three examples.

I have found a great improvement in the clarity of my students’ writing and in my enjoyment of reading their papers after they’ve practiced using examples and then applied that tool. I’ve often noticed that they seem liberated by this tool. If they are struggling with how to explain something, they can almost always come up with an example to do it.

In this post, I’ll include:

  • Samples of places in a paper where an example would be helpful.
  • Samples of how students at different writing-skill levels successfully used examples to explain everything from simple ideas to abstract ones.
  • Effective and simple ways for teachers to indicate to students where to include them in their papers and to encourage their use.
  • Exercises to help students develop this tool that you can use with your students.
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5th Free Reading Unit.  Why It’s Hard to Ask People to Help You

Excerpt from article (Paragraphs 1 & 4)
1 Thinking about asking someone to help us is painful.   Researchers have found that when we feel physical pain, for example, if we hurt our leg, an area of our brain becomes active.  Surprisingly, that same area of the brain becomes active when we think about asking someone to help us.

4 According to Heidi Grant, a social psychologist and author of Reinforcements: How To Get People to Help You, there is no evidence that people will think less of us if we ask for help.  In fact, according to research, people will actually like us more if we do and like us more after they have helped us.

(This posting includes handouts which you are welcome to use with your students.)

See Select Category > ESL Reading Units Free: Reading for Insights (Introduction) for an introduction to these reading units.

Article & Study Guide for  Why It’s Hard to Ask People to Help You? (and excerpts)

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