Try out these riddles and see if you can answer them.
1. A woman shoots her husband. Then she holds him under water for over five minutes. Finally, she hangs him.
Five minutes later, they both go out for a meal together. How can this be?
2. Children aged between 4 and 6 can solve this problem in 5 minutes. 95% of adults can’t. Can you?
4500=? The answers to both riddles are at the back of this book on page 314.
I must confess. I didn’t get either of them. Was it because I think in a certain way without seeing other possibilities? Is it because I don’t spend enough time problem solving with riddles and brain teasers? It could well be. I would feel confident after seeing the answers that I would not be caught out with these types of riddles again.
The question is; do the students in our care deserve the same platform of thinking? They have been born on the cusp of a century that has seen three technological leaps. These are:
1. Long distance communication: a faster postal service, the telephone and the mobile phone.
2. Transport: the car, the engine-powered ship and the airplane.
3. The storing of knowledge on computers; the modern phones are more powerful than the best computer available to George Bush Sr.
They are going to have to work in a century which will see nine or more. The modern workplace shall need students who are problem solvers, who interact well with others and who are creative and open minded about huge changes in both the workplace and society.
Bearing this in mind, ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’ is designed to rise to the challenges thrown down by the introduction of technology. More and more, students are asking how class lessons are relevant to them.
This Teachers’ Guide hopes to make life as easy as possible for the teachers who use it. This will benefit the students by having structured, interesting and comprehensive monthly modules for them to enjoy. The first 2 months of lesson plans are completed as are the first 11 poetry lessons. The other lesson plans may be filled in by the teacher with the minimum of fuss. Each pre-planned lesson should only take 5-10 minutes to fill in. Furthermore, most lessons have a recommended site to visit in order to provide an extra visual/aural stimulation.
I am well aware that each teacher has his/her own, unique brand of magic to a classroom. That is why the lesson content is designed to focus in on the paradigms of English that all students should know. There are personal statements, success maps, Latin phrases on living life well, a points reward system for descriptions, grammar lessons and even a formula for poetry. The pre-planned structure gives the teacher a great opportunity. They can discuss with their students the modules that will be covered in the month, the term and the year ahead. This strategy gives the students a sense of ownership in the process. There are also revision exercises at the end of each monthly module designed to keep the students on their toes!
There are nine characteristics that good learners share. This book attempts to fuse as many of them as possible into its content and its lesson plans. The nine characteristics are:
1. Open-mindedness. 2. Self-awareness. 3. Tolerance. 4. An alert mind. 5. Good energy levels. 6. An ability to set goals. 7. A willingness to take risks. 8. Self-discipline. 9. The capacity to value, accept and undergo change.
Points 4 and 5 are interesting. That is why diet and nutrition are covered in a manner where the students can subtly discover for themselves the benefits of healthy eating. This is a book which encourages paired/team work also. It is student-friendly yet it will also challenge them in so many ways. It is a book which requires rigour from the students and a degree of flexibility and imagination from the teacher. I hope you and your students enjoy the challenge ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’ throws at you. Hopefully, the Teachers’ Guide will make it pleasurable.
Finally, I am mindful that some teachers may have 6 periods of English a week whereas others may have anything between 3 and 5. The class duration may be 30 minutes to one hour. That is why there are more than enough lessons per month to accommodate everyone. If you feel there are too many lesson plans for you to cover in a given month, there are templates on pages 309-312 to make out your own Monthly and Yearly Plans. You may simply pick which weekly units you would like to use and put them in.
Note from author: I strongly recommend that you read pages 278-285 before using this book. It explains how the learning styles of your students may be guided by their multiple intelligence strengths and weaknesses. I hope it will be of invaluable assistance to you.
“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we hit it.” Michelangelo
SEPTEMBER MONTHLY PLAN
INTRODUCTION: how aiming high is beneficial: discuss wellbeing, mindfulness, empathy and why you need to get on with classmates
Read page 1 : how spellings are earned, not learned: spelling P45: pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis
Discuss patterns in descriptive writing: fill in 1st grid as a class
Rules for full stops in writing: Latin abbreviations: discuss project work and the importance of portfolios
Fill in 2nd grid: making up a story from words in grid: Pele quote
I had a little difficulty making out the plan for the structure of this book. I tried to envision a way that the students could come into the class and know their roles yet still feel energised by the freshness of a new topic to explore. I have already used the grid system for ‘Writing with Stardust’ and the feedback is very promising.
This is not the type of book that I wish to ‘paint words by numbers’, however. It is a book that explores patterns and structures in many areas but it is not supposed to be formulaic. It is meant to provide the base from which the students can mentally scaffold their way to building a creative, questing and fertile mind. I want the students to be able to discuss life, investigate issues, channel their creative energy, plan for the future and still have a technical platform for success.
To that end, the grid system tries to distil their writing towards clarity of thought and an appreciation of the 5 senses. I picture a teacher who walks into the class and the students are working in pairs to test one another’s spellings. A ‘mental challenge’ takes place, either written or oral, and a dictionary is used to find any new words occurring in the class that day. I cannot stress enough how important dictionary/thesaurus work is for the students, especially the weaker ones. Dictionary work (i.e. with regular prizes) will instil a love for ‘the bible of English’ and helps their alphabetical, verbal and neural pathways to flourish. The class then discusses the Latin quote and how relevant it may be to their development as students of life.
When the grids are filled in and the score is added up, the following ideas may be considered:
1) Make up a story using a specified number of words from the grid.
2) Make up a story using synonyms for the words in the grid (i.e. thesaurus work).
3) Use a ‘story-fizzer’ (page 22) to make up a plot involving the words in the grid.
4) Divide the class into 2/3 groups. Challenge them to build a rich plot using the words.
5) Use the whole class and create a ‘storychain’. Everyone has to contribute one sentence.
6) Make posters of the scene from the word grids. Attach herbs, spices and flowers to them.
7) Search Google for the scene that best captures the words in the grid. Then make a word cloud using words not mentioned in the grids.
8) Make up an imaginary dialogue between two people they can visualise in the scene.
9) Pick a word from the grid. Give the students 10 minutes in pairs or teams to see how many words they can make from it. Solverscrabble.com can make 77 from the word ‘garden’!
10) Explore concepts of ‘rising tension’ and ‘climax’ by inserting a sinister character.
Finally, type in ‘Word Games’ to: americanenglish.state.gov for a fertile hunting ground of word games made up on worksheets. It gives a remarkable range of ideas and styles.