Sunday, 10 October 2010

Feedback: #VRT10

Taking part in the 3rd Virtual Round Table Conference this weekend was an amazing experience and one which I thoroughly enjoyed. The array of guest presenters was fantastic and the choice of sessions was huge and varied. A very big thank you to all the organizers, Heike, Shelly and Berni. They did brilliantly! Below is a slideshare of my Phrasal Verbs presentation. Here is a link to the recorded sessions, which are currently being updated. Here is a link to a Google Docs with useful notes and further links to all the sessions. I have a lot of viewing to do over the next few days, as I wasn't able to view all of them. I hope you enjoy them as well.

You can see a recording of my talk, alongside Russell Stannard's excellent Web 20. Tools presentation, here. I have to add that most of my learning about new web tools has been entirely self taught from watching Russell's excellent step by step video tutorials. So it's a huge honour to be in the same recording as my virtual teacher!

3rd Virtual Round Table Conference 2010: Fun with Phrasal Verbs
View more presentations from Janet Bianchini.


I came across the word "entropy" recently and I had to look it up in the dictionary. Lo and behold, very shortly afterwards and by complete coincidence, entropy cropped up in a fascinating blog post by Terry Freedman, entitled "In Praise of Entropy".

My summary of last year's Virtual Round Table's Pecha Kucha event has been selected from the archives, with many thanks to

Here is a great post on ways of using Fotobabble in the classroom from iLearn Technology blog.

Here is Russell Stannard's fab step by step training video on Fotobabble.

Why don't you try one today and add it to your blog or wiki? It really is as easy as A-B-C!


Marisa said...

Hello Janet!
I totally agree with you about the enriching opportunity this VRT has been.And the possibility of watching the presentations we couldn't make is highly benefitial.

cecilialcoelho said...

Hi Janet,

I second what you'said about the 3rd Virtual Table being an amazing experience... Just like you, I have a lot of viewing to do these next days ;-) So many wonderful things happening at the same time!

And since I was part of the audience during your Phrasal Verbs presentation, I can say you did a fantastic job. It was fun, full of wonderful ideas!!! Thank you for sharing your work (and the slides)! I look forward to watching other presentations by you!

Thank you once again!

Janet Bianchini said...

Hi Marisa

Thank you so much for commenting here.

I would like to say that I enjoyed your fabulous presentation very much and it was lovely to see you and hear your voice for the first time!

Becoming a part of a sharing and learning community is indeed highly rewarding for us all.

Best wishes


Janet Bianchini said...

Hi Cecilia

You are too kind! Many thanks for attending my session on Saturday.

I am delighted that you enjoyed the presentation and that you found it useful. There is a link within Slideshare where you can access my other presentations.

Rather late in my career, I have only started to create PowerPoint shows this year. I am having lots of fun teaching myself about all the lovely features the programme contains:-)

Take care


Betty C. said...

Hi Janet,

I've just finished watching your fantastic presentation about phrasl verbs on VRT.

I was so impressed by your use of visual tools -- most of which I don't really know about, except for Wordle -- as well as your presentation style.

But I'm a critical thinker (and also on a search for "the secret" to teaching phrasal verbs) and one idea that kept going through my mind was that most of your activities seemed to pre-suppose a fairly good grasp of phrasal verbs to begin with.

I'll take as an example the T-shirt activity. I love it! But just where are your students pulling their phrasal verbs out from?

I feel like there must be some sort of preliminary learning step that your students have crossed that mine perhaps haven't...

FYI my students are French college/university students who have studied English for 7+ years and have varying levels, some quite strong, but who manage to get by (good phrasal verb) without having ever delved into the complex world of phrasal verbs.

I too love phrasal verbs and I would like to help them delve, but am not sure where to begin.

I would love a piece of advice from you.

Congratulations again on your great presentation.

Betty C. said...

This is just to get comment follow-up...

Janet Bianchini said...

Hi Betty

Great to read your comments and thank you for your constructive feedback.

In answer to your very valid question about preliminary learning steps. I really should have mentioned the fact that a lot of the activities I showed were used to recycle / review phrasals already taught previously, mostly at Intermediate level plus.

So, for example, the T-shirt activity would only be done after a fairly extensive presentation, and practice of a selection of common phrasals, which would have come up in class and noted down by students. Extensive practice such as dialogue building, story writing, communicative games, would all help to contextualise and provide memorable examples.

I have devised my own lessons and materials based around the common particles eg "up", "off", "down" and ""out". I use authentic materials such as newspaper articles / headlines (as demonstrated in my presentation), cartoons. I also collect realia such as beer mats, which contain fab examples of phrasals.

I completely forgot to hold one of my beer mats up as an example to show everyone. "Show off your adventurous side with Morgan's Spiced" is a great visual one.

I also use Martin Shovel's "Making Sense of Phrasal Verbs", an excellent resource book full of fabulous cartoon-type images, demonstrating phrasals in a really unique and humorous way. The images are very memorable and set in an excellent context. I always recommend this book to my teachers.

I could go on but I should stop at this point.

I would love to hear how other teachers go about teaching this very tricky area of English!

Thank you Betty for your thought-provoking comment. I hope I have helped a little bit.

Betty C. said...

Yes, Janet, indeed it does. You did use the word recycle once or twice, but now the context of your presentation is much clearer to me.

Maybe you could plan a future presentation about those preliminary steps!

Just one more question as I do want to do some good phrasal verb work with my 3rd year business school students: do you treat the subject separately, as in "Time to Work on Phrasal Verbs Now" or just kind of make it a leitmotif to all your classes?

It seems like since they "come up" all the time, it could almost be a constant theme, but there would need to be some way to centralize them.

At any rate, it is a vast subject -- I have heard that in some universities, there are entire courses that focus only on phrasal verbs!

And I will definitely buy the book you recommend.

Thanks again and have a good Sunday!

Janet Bianchini said...

Hi Betty

Nice to hear from you again. In answer to your question re how to deal with phrasal verbs. It all depends on the level of the class and area they are involved in.

For example, with exam classes (FCE /CAE etc), I would usually focus on a particular group as a complete lesson (eg "get" 7 "put" etc, phrasals are very common), at least once a week, on top of any that just come up in class time.

All these verbs would be centralised on one sheet eg on a daily "Class Scribe" sheet. One student is responsible for writing up all incidental language that comes up in class. The next day another student would be responsible and so on. At the end of the week, you the teacher have a sheet (or more) of paper which contains a record of all extra vocabulary which would include phrasals, idioms etc. Then you do recycling activities, tests etc. with this information. That way, the students are responsible for helping you.

That's great you are going to buy the book I recommended. It really is very useful!

Have a nice Sunday!


Ps Teaching phrasals is my favourite subject and I would love to do more presentations in the future.

Betty C. said...

Hey, I just love the "Class Scribe" idea. It seems like a no-brainer, it's probably a frequent practice! But I struggle with trying to get students to note the incidental vocabulary, but then again feel like it kind of slows things down to have everyone noting it. Sometimes I note it myself...anyway, one big issue instantly solved for me!

Do you use a particular template or just let the scribe use his or her own style?

Great exchange, thanks.

Janet Bianchini said...

Hi Betty

Great to see you again. I actually replied to your last comment earlier on, but it got deleted in error, for some reason.

In answer to your question re template, yes it's good for you to set up a model template on a Word doc for example, with a few details such as:

day and date
name of scribe
something unique about the day eg what's the weather like today?

Of course, once you have established a regular pattern of the "Class Scribe" noting down all the incidentals, you could ask the student responsible for taking down notes to create their own individual version to work on for that day / lesson / period.

This fairly simple idea has always been used with great success and keen students often request a copy at the end of the week, because it is indeed a very accurate summary of lots of new words which have occured outside the usual textbook content.

If you do experiment with this system, please let me know as I'd be interested to know how your students adapt to it.