“Look to See” was the title of Roger House’s, Chair of TESOL Macedonia- Thrace, Northern Greece talk. In a crowded room Roger presented in a very interesting, engaging and humorous way how pictures can be used in teaching. He recommended some practical and easy-to-use and prepare activities that really excited the attendees.
Roger started his talk by showing a famous painting. He then went on to read a story, like a dictation. The task the students had to complete was to write down only the sentences that were true about the picture, but they had to be very observant and try to distinguish between the things they could see and the things they could imagine. In a real classroom situation, students can work in groups and compare what they have written down and then sequence them. They use past tenses and create a narrative.
The next activity Roger presented was based on a photograph depicting people. At first, the teacher dictates just some names without providing further information to the students who keep notes of the names. Then the teacher reads out a text with a description and the students have to guess who each person is. This is an excellent listening activity, but it also practices Present Continuous, speaking and students’ narrative abilities.
The third activity Roger showed was based on four different photos and a text turned into a word cloud. The teacher dictates a story and then the students try to reconstruct the story based on what they have heard and the photos. It is important to note that authentic material can be used in this activity.
Another idea suggested was to use a picture and ask students to create a blurb to describe a book cover. Roger, then, went on to show some photos on a theme. Students had to look at the photos, think of two of them that have stuck in their memories and then try to explain what connects these two photos.
The last two activities Roger demonstrated were “The Special Photo” activity and a short Pecha-Kucha-style presentation based on four photos of the student's choice. In the first of these two activities, students choose a photo they want and they show it to the rest of the class. Other students ask questions about the photos. This activity manipulates and exploits our natural curiosity and it is excellent for pair work. In the second activity, students choose four photos and they have to prepare short presentations explaining why they chose these four photos.
It was a great presentation, full of group work and many laughs as Roger presented all these activities in his own unique style and nobody should have missed it.
By Emmanuel Kontovas