written by Alistair Dickinson
Provoking Thought is a new resource book from Hall Houston, one of our article contributors. As the title suggests the activities are concerned with creativity & thought in the classroom. The book consists of the following sections:
4. Critical thinking
5. Organising ideas on paper
The Introduction clearly explains the aims of the book & various related aspects, plus the Overview of Chapters. Hall discusses what is involved in 'thinking' & thinking skills' & then goes on to talk of three main aims for the book, the first reflecting the philosophy behind the activities & approaches on Developing Teachers.com:
One aim of this book is to create a learner-centred atmosphere. These activities encourage students to share their thoughts, feelings, ideas & opinions. This can make learning more personalized & therefore more motivating than following a coursebook written for a mass audience which may not appeal to your students.
The other aims are to use real & meaningful topics in class & to develop academic skills.
At the beginning of each chapter there is an introduction followed by a series of classroom activities. The intros are brief & informative, sometimes containing pros & cons of the area, & the tasks set up uniformly for ease of access; title, aims, time, preparation, procedure & sometimes variations. Instructions in the procedures are precise & easy to follow.
To get a feel for the activities in the book, read Hall's article Sharing Thoughts in the Language Classroom.
The tasks there are similar to those of the book, stimulating & interesting. Students cannot fail to be motivated by the way each different area is dealt with. There are also several interviews with experts in these areas incorporated into the tasks.
The tasks can be used in isolation as warmers, fillers & coolers but the real use of the book is to help teachers to change the way they teach. By using the tasks, integrating them, the teacher will be stimulated to use the same procedures in other aspects of their teaching, making life in the classroom interesting & creative for both students & teachers.
The only very minor gripe with the book is the lack of an index at the start of the book. I wanted to keep referring to a chronological index. The index at the back of the book is useful as it is divided into classroom activity sections; brainstorming, discussion, guessing, reading etc. Both would be ideal.
If you’re any way interested in making your learners’ time in your classes more interesting & effective, you should get hold of the excellent Provoking Thought. Highly recommended.