Witchy says: "Can you imagine anything less poetic than grammar? Most probably this is the only thing on which my students would agree with me unconditionally… Today is the 15th April and looking out of the window of my classroom at the Magic Wood School, where I'm having a lesson on regular and irregular verbs, I can see that Spring is in full bloom but we (the students and I) have to ignore it and pretend it is winter. How can it be? Aren't we of the same stuff plants and wild animals are made of? Doesn’t nature come to life again in our bodies as it does in everything alive on earth?"

As usual, when I’m engrossed in problems too difficult to a poor witch’s mind, my friend Sunflowers happens to knock on the door.

Sunflower: “Hello everybody!”

As usual, as Sunflower appears on the threshold students jump out of their seats and I realize that…

 

“ Lesson is over, kids!” By saying that I can pretend that the situation is still under my control and it’s me who gives the orders…
Sunflower: “Hi Witchy! I was sure that you and your students were having a nice picnic in the Magic Wood on a beautiful warm sunny morning like today, but I can see you are still blocked in the classroom as if it were a dark gloomy winter day!”

“Oh Sunny! I wish I could relax on the meadows of the Magic Wood but exams are getting nearer and nearer and my pupils still can’t master regular and irregular verbs and have no idea of the difference between a modal verb and an ordinary one!”

Sunflower, caressing the top petal as she does when she is immersed in her thoughts: “Uhm… ok! If we are not free to go where Spring is reigning in all her splendour we can still invite her HERE!!!”

And jumping with suppleness on her one green leg she went to the

blackboard and drew this strange type of tree:

THE MAGIC TREE OF REGULAR AND IRREGULAR VERBS!!!

 

When the kids learn the structure of this tree, which actually is a magic mind map invented by Tony Buzan and some other old TEFL magician, they will grasp 50 or 60 pages of grammar rules. This way they will be able to spend their free time playing outside in the warm Spring weather and, when they come back to school, they will still retain all the rules concerning regular and irregular verbs in the English language!”
“ How can it be? Is it really a magic tree?”
Sunflower: “Almost! Let’s say it is a mind map”
“ What’s a mind map?”
Sunny: “A mind map is a technique invented by Tony Buzan to unlock the infinite creativity of the human mind. Mind Maps are a revolutionary thinking tool: they may be used as a visual and colorful form of note-taking that unleashes our creative and logical sides simultaneously. But now I want to show you introduce you to my gorgeous friend Miss Modal Verbs Daisy!

 
And suddenly a strikingly sexy yellow-petalled daisy appeared on the same threshold where Sunny was still standing, just beside her.
Miss Modal Verbs Daisy: “Hello everybody!” She said, blinking twice or thrice, swinging her slender stalk and caressing her white petals.
Sunny: “Miss Daisy is not as dumb as she looks: she is another magic tool that increases memory power by associating one or more concepts to a simple familiar image: in fact she is a graph organizer!”
 
Miss Daisy: Yes I was born in a family of Graphic Organizers. G.O. are one way for visual thinkers to arrange their ideas. Our characteristic is that we can have very different aspects as there are unlimited ways to express ideas visually. Graphic organizers can be used in all phases of learning from brainstorming ideas to presenting findings. We can be used individually or in large groups and are particularly useful in activities that require critical thinking skills. Oh I forgot, we are closely related to the Mind Maps and some people even think we belong to same family”.
“How impressing! I think I should take a photograph to show all students and the staff of the Magic Wood School, including the Farmer Headmaster or this time they will really think I’ve been hallucinating… ”
And so I took this beautiful photo of Miss Modal Verbs Daisy with my digital camera. I pasted the photo on the whiteboard so that students make a portrait of Miss Daisy on their exercise-books and then asked them to revise questions and modal verbs with the help of the visual aids: we spent no more than one hour and then…
 

Hello Spring! Here we are!! Ready for a picnic and all those pleasant activities which cold windy cloudy and snowy Winter had made us forget!!!!

For ever yours

P.S. The story of mind maps and graphic organizers is not over: visit Hazel's site during next days for the sequel...

A friend

 
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