Awesome Alumni: Eve Sheppard!
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Eve Sheppard is an ESOL and functional maths teacher at Oldham College. She’s also a graduate of my Engaging Learners with Simple Drawings course and a regular #DrawingELT (see Twitter) participant.
I asked her a few questions about how she uses simple drawings in the classroom. Her response blew me away.
What attracted you to my course?
I wanted to do something creative for myself and for my teaching. Earlier in the year I’d been to a workshop on using comics to teach and had some success using hand-drawn cartoons in Functional Maths classes. I wanted to improve my drawing skills so that I could use them more confidently in the ESOL classroom.
How has your professional practice changed since my course?
Drawing has permeated every part of my professional practice. It is an incredibly useful tool for so many aspects of my work. When I’m planning how to communicate with students and colleagues it’s become a habit to think ‘how can I draw this?’. I’ve used drawing in student profiles, staff bulletins, templates for gathering action research reflections, event publicity and of course in my classroom.
What have you used your graphic facilitation skills for?
In classes I often use it to support speaking and writing activities. For example, in one lesson, students were practising using present simple to discuss culture. They talked with a partner to find similarities and differences in their lifestyles. I displayed a slide with lots of simple icons to help generate ideas. As they spoke they made a visual record of their conversations using a Venn diagram. Note taking is a skill that many of my students struggle with, but the Venn diagram and simple drawings allowed them to record their discussions without getting bogged down with lots of writing. They were able to use their notes to report back to the group and complete a writing activity. It worked so much better than written notes as the images were quick to copy and students were able to focus on the spoken element of the task.
I’ve also used drawings as a prompt for writing and to provide a context for grammar points, as in the examples below:
Aside from teaching, graphic facilitation has been invaluable for organising my thoughts and gathering data for action research. When I did an OTLA Action Research project, this visual template gave participants a clear understanding of the kind of information I wanted to capture:
On a personal level, when I was writing my reflective journal for Advanced Teacher Status (ATS), this hastily scribbled visual template stopped my head spinning and helped me to write coherently.
How are the students responding to your simple drawings and graphic facilitation tools?
They understand me more easily and tell me that they enjoy seeing my drawings. The drawings often make us smile and I think they make grammar topics feel more approachable. Students have more opportunities to speak, because I can communicate ideas quickly without unnecessary teacher talk. My students also appreciate opportunities to draw themselves and have said that it helps them to record and remember vocabulary.
Have you used graphic facilitation for any other aspects of your life?
Yes, it creeps into everything 😀. I created this visual to help my children tidy their bedroom and it actually worked!
What would you say to anyone thinking about doing my course?
Go for it! It’s so useful and doing something creative is great for well-being. It has enhanced my professional practice in so many ways and been a source of joy and pride in my work.
I think the feedback fairy says it all .
Isn’t Eve’s work just so incredibly inspiring? I absolutely LOVE all of it.
If you’d like to learn to use graphic facilitation skills like these in the English language classroom, check out my courses!