Monday, February 20, 2006

Taking part...a motivating tool

As a teacher I´m always aware of how others motivate their students and try to learn from them.Here , in Santa Cruz de la Palma, there´s a School of Music which develops, I think, really motivating methods.They make their students take part in projects, performances...and make them feel main actors in their personal development: they are much more eager to learn music , but , at the same time, they develop other skills as persons. As they take part in group tasks, they learn how to deal with others, how to share , how to appreciate others work and efforts...Don´t you think the main point in teaching is to involve our students and make them take an active role in their learning process?
Ardiel, my eldest son, 14, is learning how to play the violin. He also belongs to the String Quartet and the Symphonic Orchestra in that school. Dailos,11, attends percussion lessons. He belongs to the Batucada group and the Symphonic Orchestra.Imagine how they feel when they are given the opportunity to play with proffesional musicians, as for example last year when they played with a tenor and a soprano; or when they are taken for a tour to other islands...Of course I know they have to learn a lot, but I also check that studying music is not a duty but a pleasure for them...Wish I could get that with my students!In addition, their teachers take advantage of that and try to develop some important attitudes in life. Last December , for example,the youngest students played in the streets, wearing football T-shirts...each one wore their favourite team´s and played their hymn...but at the end they all together played a beautiful song called " Friends forever" and changed their T-shirts...just a symbol?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Lord of the Rings

I´m a teacher of English in a secondary school in Spain. I try to make my students read books in English, but they are not fluent enough to read original versions, they have to read adaptations. However, I use fragments of novels both to introduce them to "real literature" and as a tool to improve writing or oral skills.
So, for example, I used a fragment of "The Lord of the Rings" to show how to make descriptions...they were really interested because the films were so popular at that moment.
You can listen to the recording of the text made by my colleague and friend Jenny Elliot.

The Lord of the Rings

Suddenly as they were talking a single clear bell rang out.” That is the warning bell for the Council of Elrond,”cried Gandalf.”Come along now! Both you and Bilbo are wanted.”
Frodo and Bilbo followed the wizard quickly along the winding path back to the house; behind them, uninvited and for the moment forgotten, trotted Sam.
Gandalf led them to the porch where Frodo had found his friends the evening before. The light of the clear autumn morning was now glowing in the valley. The noise of bubbling waters came up from the foaming river-bed. Birds were singing, and a wholesome peace lay on the land. To Frodo his dangerous flight, and the rumours of the darkness growing in the world outside, already seemed only the memories of a troubled dream; but the faces that were turned to meet them as they entered were grave.
Elrond was there, and several others were seated in silence about him. Frodo saw Glorfindel and Glóin; and in a corner alone Strider was sitting, clad in his old travel-worn clothes again. Elrond drew Frodo to a seat by his side, and presented him to the company, saying:
“Here, my friends, is the hobbit, Frodo son of Drogo. Few have ever come hither through greater peril or on an errand more urgent.”
He then pointed out and named those whom Frodo had not met before. There was a younger dwarf at Glóin´s side: his son Gimli. Beside Glorfindel there were several other counselors of Elrond´s household, of whom Erestor was the chief; and with him was Galdor, an Elf from the Grey Havens who had come on an errand from Círdan the Shipwright. There was also a strange Elf clad in green and brown, Legolas, a messenger from his father, Thranduil, the King of the Elves of Northern Mirkwood. And seated a little apart was a tall man with a fair and noble face, dark-haired and grey-eyed, proud and stern of glance.
He was cloaked and booted as if for a journey on horseback; and indeed though his garments were rich, and his cloak was lined with fur, they were stained with long travel. He had a collar of silver in which a single white stone was set; his locks were shorn about his shoulders. On a baldric he wore a great horn tipped with silver that now was laid upon his knees. He gazed at Frodo and Bilbo with sudden wonder.
“Here,” said Elrond, turning to Gandalf, ”is Boromir, a man from the South. He arrived in the grey morning, and seeks for counsel. I have bidden him to be present, for here his questions will be answered.”

(A fragment of The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien)



A-Have you read the book?
B-Have you seen any of the films based on the book?
C-Can you tell what the book is about?
D-Did you like it? Why? Why not?
E-Can you name the most important creatures in the story?


broad-shouldered - clever - bossy - arrogant - long-legged - sensible - down-to-earth - sociable - reliable - stubborn - honest - quarrelsome - warm-hearted - easy-going -

good-tempered - wise - cruel - rude - sensitive

Character(positive meaning) Character( negative meaning) Physical appearance





-Boromir is the only character fully described in this fragment.
-Read again all the words you have underlined to describe Boromir.
-Make sure you understand the meaning.


Ø Divide the class into groups .
Ø Give each group a creature , people ..( wizards, hobbits, elves..) from the book. Choose only the most important ones.
Ø Each group will look for information and describe the character given to the whole class.
Ø Each group will explain any new words they use in their speech.

Some notes on how to do the activity:


-Tell your students you are going to read a text, which is also a “pre-text” to describe a person or any other creature.
-Introduce the book and author.


-Help the students with names such as ELF/ELVES , DWARF , WIZARD , ENT , ORC , HOBBIT , BLACK RIDER …

If you prefer you can only read Boromir´s description. “And seated a little apart…… He gazed at Frodo and Bilbo with sudden wonder.”
Make the students aware of the fact that a person – almost any creature – can be also described through habits, likes and dislikes, clothes, tools and attitudes.

If you have enough time , make the groups do a project work. They can do some writing work to display on walls along with drawings , photos, perhaps they can see some parts of the films…