Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Dave Dodgson: A year in review. Three Quick Ideas to Start your 2015 Classes | TeachingEnglish | British Council | BBC

Idea 1 - R&R: Reflections and Resolutions
An obvious angle to go for at the start of the New Year is Resolutions. However, this lesson can often have the same problems as resolutions themselves – generic, hollow, and something that is quickly abandoned or forgotten.
However, a couple of years ago while focusing on reflective practice during my MA course, I decided to apply some of the principles of teacher reflection to a New Year’s lesson for my students and the results were much better and it has now become a recurring feature of my late December/early January teaching.
  1. First of all, I ask students to think about everything they did, were a part of, or witnessed in the year just gone. Their first task is to identify and list the three best things from the year. This is done as a silent individual activity with plenty of thinking time – it’s often harder for people to remember the good things than the bad!
  2. Next, the students pair up to compare their personal ‘best of’ lists with plenty of questions encouraged.
  3. To complete the T-P-S (Think-Pair-Share) cycle, each student shares what their partner told them with the rest of the class.
  4. Now time to focus on the things that could have gone better. Again, students get thinking time to consider what didn’t work out so well (whether through their own involvement or something beyond their control) but they must also identify why these events could have been better. I generally tell them to stick to one or two things so the overall tone of the lesson remains positive.
  5. Steps 2 and 3 are repeated as the students compare and discuss with a partner before sharing with the class.
  6. And now for the resolution part. Focusing on those things that could have been better, the students must decide what they can personally do in the New Year to address these shortcomings, solve these problems, or make these improvements. Their goal in this stage is to write out two specific and focused resolutions (with help from the teacher to modify and reformulate when necessary).
  7. These can then be shared either orally or through Post-Its on the wall or a class blog if you are into that kind of thing. Don’t forget that students will appreciate their teacher taking part in this process too!
Idea 2 - The best (and worst) of 2014
This is a more recent idea that I have used in the last couple of years as part of my game-based learning classes but it could just as easily be done with films, TV shows, music, or books if your students are not gamers.
Depending on what your class are interested in, before the lesson you should pick out one of the many ‘best of’ lists that circulate on websites and in the wider media at this time of year*. Try to keep it short – a top 5 is enough and it shouldn’t be more than a top 10. For low level classes, a simple list will do. Higher levels might be willing to get to grips with the write-ups that accompany the picks as well.
*There is an alternative to this, which is presented below.
The rest of this brief write-up will use games as an example but the principles are the same whatever media you choose.
  1. Start with a discussion question: What new games did you buy/play this year? Again, give some thinking time before asking the students to compare their ideas in pairs and groups. In the whole class discussion, direct the class to identify which games they enjoyed and which ones were disappointing (it might be a good idea to get some of the titles up on the board).
  2. Present each pair/group with the list you picked out before the lesson. Tell them which website/media source it is from and stress that it is just an opinion. Ask them to read through the choices and discuss whether or not they agree.
  3. Task each group with drawing up their own ‘best of’ list for the previous year. How they do so is up to them – they might try to reach a group consensus, they could each choose one or two titles to go on a list, or they could vote. They must be ready to explain their choices to the rest of the class afterwards.
  4. Higher level students could be asked to prepare an article introducing each game and explaining why it was chosen.
  5. At the end of the lesson, students can refer back to the games from the past year they didn’t like and make an alternative list of ‘the worst games of 2014’. If you have time, you could present them with another article to kick-start the activity (plenty of the same websites that present ‘best of’ lists also have ‘worst of’ round-ups).
*As an alternative, you could not pick out a list for students to look at before the lesson and instead ask each group to search online for a list of the ‘best games of 2014’ and present it to the class This is a nice way to hand control over to the students.
Idea 3 – Word of the Year
This is a new one I tried out just before Christmas when I read a news story that the ‘word of the year’ for 2014 (as chosen by the Oxford Dictionary of English) was ‘vape’ (as in the action of using e-cigarettes). This is a rough outline of how I did the lesson:
  1. Write the word ‘vape’ on the board and ask if anyone knows what it means. If they don’t (my students didn’t), ask them to first guess and then look it up (they will need to look it up online to find the meaning). If they do, great! Ask the person who knows to explain what it means and go to the next step.
  2. Ask the students if they can work out why you presented them with this word (if they had to look it up online in step 1, they may have found the answer while searching; if they already knew, they may have to get searching now). Invite discussion as to why this was chosen as the word of the year.
  3. Discuss with students how new words enter languages, especially their own native languages. Is it through common use? Featuring in a dictionary? Through an official establishment? (As many of my students are French speakers, we had an interesting discussion about the Académie Française and I also told them about the Turkish equivalent, the Türk Dil Kurumu).
  4. Get the students to research previous ‘words of the year’ (they may also find an American version, which makes for interesting comparison). Did they know any of these words already? Which ones did they find the most interesting/bizarre? Why do they think these words were chosen? (One interesting trend my students spotted were the number of words relating to economic problems like squeezed middle and credit crunch, as well as the environmentally themed words like carbon footprint and social media related phrases like selfie, which they felt reflected our times).
  5. Make a prediction – what words have been circulating in the media recently and could be the word of 2015?

Teaching with Technology: Week 1

What does teaching with technology mean to you?
To me teaching with technology means development of my approaches. 
Making my classes more challenging and more exciting was my reason to search for the different methods.
After over thirty years of teaching, I felt bored with my traditional technics and wanted 
to find some inspiration, as well as improvement.
Happiness is when... You Learn with Technology ?

Teaching with Technology

Teachers will Learn to Blend and Flip your Classes with Technology. The course is available from January 5 – December 4, 2015.
The course offers new, veteran, and future teachers theoretical and practical knowledge on how to teach and learn using technology. The topics of the course will focus on applying the science of learning, ways to transform teachers, promote a learning partnership with students, will how to set up team and motivate students to become lifelong learners, and finally to teach small chunks in a live online class or micro teaching in pairs. Teachers will develop a philosophy of education statement and learn how to share it with the world.
By Dr. Nellie Deutsch

Teaching to Learners of all Styles - Official WizIQ Teach Blog

Teaching to Learners of all Styles - Official WizIQ Teach Blog
Teaching to Learners of all Styles at Traditional Schools
When I think of learning, I do not think of school. I think of reading a book in a library, listening to audible (recordings of books) in the car, or sitting in the garden with a book or an iPad. I do not think of school. My learning styles involve out of the classroom experiences.

School Curriculum and Learning

Schools are complex organizations with a top-down management system that aims to promote learning. Every school has a written curriculum that binds all the stakeholders of the school. However, a school curriculum may have more in it than meets the eye.

Information for ALL

Society is continually changing as a result of the fast moving pace of technology. The Internet is now a major provider of information. Information is now available at the click of a finger. Teachers are no longer the sole providers of knowledge and  information. Learning is no longer limited to space or time. Learning can take place online at any time or from any location. Schools may lose their place unless they advance with the times. They do not need to mirror an outdated social structure. They can now integrate technology and open their doors to new and more challenging curriculums.

School Curriculum

A school curriculum is an organized framework that guides teachers and students in the required learning. It is similar to a contract between society, the state and educational professionals with regard to the educational experiences that learners should undergo during a certain phase of their lives. Both the school and the community have a say in the development of the written and unwritten or hidden school curriculum.

Hidden Curriculum

There are differences between written and hidden curriculums. Teachers teach and students learn implicit concepts and patterns. Some of these are written in the curriculum while others are not. Teachers may not be as aware as their students that they are transmitting unwritten or hidden curriculum ideas. Students may sense it much faster because some of these ideas force the students to behave in ways they do not always like. Students learn quickly that they have to conform to the rules of the school if they want approval.
Hidden Curricula serve a purpose:
  • Indoctrination to maintain social status
  • Set the stage for formal education
  • Rules to complete formal education
Students acquire these and other hidden ideas while attending school. Many schools promote social norms and values that such as being punctual, competitive, waiting one’s turn, learning to accept hierarchy of authority, patience and other goals and functions of  society.
School promoted socializing codes of behavior may adversely affect students. Teachers convey many messages to learners from the outset of school. Some kindergarten teachers go as far as to control the children’s behavior and perception of the world in negative and often inappropriate ways. Apparently, youngsters adjust their emotional responses to conform to those considered appropriate by the teacher and school . Youngsters do not always feel at ease with being quiet and not being able to express their feelings. The hidden curriculum sometimes determines limitations to student behaviour in the classroom that may hinder learning.
On the one hand, the hidden curriculum may limit teachers’ instruction because it forces them to teach students how to behave in ways that may not enhance learning instead of devoting time to content and other skills that could facilitate life long learning. This takes time away from the written curriculum’s plan for learning. In addition, teachers do not always feel comfortable instructing students on socialization. They feel that these are things parents should be doing at home.