All posts by John Allan @mrpottz

Good Habits for Managing Learning Material

Image taken from: Unsplash

Introduction

Over the past months, thousands of language instructors across Canada have been unwittingly or intentionally taking on instructional developer responsibilities. They have been cobbling together, rearranging, and refining digital resources and activities from various sources to meet the needs of their students. Many instructors have been generating original learning resources to fill in gaps that appear while teaching online.

Usually, learning materials are prepared ‘on-the-fly’ to anticipate or adapt to challenges that arise from our classroom lessons. What happens to these documents? Often, they are forgotten on a computer drive and discovered on a slow day when you are considering which files to remove to free up hard drive space. These files are hastily named, filed, and saved, so they are lost.  Sometimes, it is too much trouble to save and properly file a document that is created just before your online class is about to start. If you are currently teaching online, I am sure you will agree with this! Continue reading

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Google Earth in your class? (Part Two)

Photo Taken by: John Allan

Last week, I talked about the application Google Earth and explained how it works. Check it out if you haven’t already! Today, I will discuss several possible activities and examples of ways to incorporate Google Earth into your language or immigration classes.
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Google Earth in your class? (Part One)

Photo by: John Allan

Google Earth is an application that some of us may have heard about or used for personal purposes. Unless you are a social science teacher, it is a sure bet that you have not tried integrating Google Earth into your language or settlement lessons. Whether it is used on the web or on a device, Google Earth is a very intuitive tool, and I thought it might be a good idea to raise awareness of some possibilities it can offer language instructors teaching fully online. Today, I will go over what Google Earth is and how to navigate the application, and in my next blog post, I will go more in-depth with ways to use Google Earth in your lesson plans. Continue reading

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Create Visual Interactive Activities with Quizlet Diagrams

Quizlet Diagrams

image source: John Allan

A commonly used tool for teaching and learning vocabulary are labelled visuals. Labelled visuals are especially important for lower-level language learners when visual examples of concrete vocabulary items are essential for conveying meaning. They are also helpful in teaching English for Specific Purposes, such as studying the parts of an electric motor. However, learning parts of a scene, diagram, chart, illustration, photograph or a map is often boring and tedious for language learners, but the Quizlet Diagram feature can make this much more interesting for learners. 

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Student Projects to Promote Creativity

It is a new year and some of us may need some fresh ideas to add energy, motivation and tasks to our classes.  One possible means of accomplishing this is to include relevant project work into the syllabus.   

The tools listed below are just that – tools.  As the instructor, you can guide the learners to themes as focal points for project content.  These free, digital tools include how-to guides, an online example, and orientation blogs for the instructors to read and consider before embarking on a digital venture with their learners.  

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Looking at 2020 through Rose-Coloured Glasses

image source: John Allan

In spite of all of the negative effects of the COVID-19 crisis, do you think you could find some positive events that you experienced in 2020?   It is difficult to imagine, as we are still in the eye of this storm.  Over the winter break, however, I started a brainstorm sketch about the positive effects that have come during the pandemic in order to reframe my focus for 2021. This is my list below; possibly you might try the same exercise to reset your expectations for your teaching and personal life in 2021. 

Teaching

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Teaching with Wet Paint

image source: unsplash.com Amauri Mejia

As the transformation to full online teaching continues, many instructors are unwittingly becoming instructional design-developers.  Some are adding study sets to Quizlet, others are hastily making Kahoots, while still others are using more ambitious tools such as H5P, Hot Potatoes and ScreenCastify to create more complicated learning experiences that enhance their online lessons. To generate timely, interactive, engaging and diverse learning opportunities for our students, many of us are creating digital learning objects on the fly.   

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Perfect Timing: Avenue.ca

I am currently part of the team working on Avenue, an online portal that is the right thing at the right time!  It has been a pleasure to work with an amazing team of Canadian educators, administrators and developers to create Avenue under the management of New Language Solutions charity.  This IRCC sponsored Avenue national learning repository for adult newcomers and language instructors launched in mid-August.  The majority of Avenue’s courses, learning activities, resources, and training are focused on fully online teaching and training.  Avenue is a timely solution for language and settlement instructors and students as LINC classes continue online. I consider Avenue the principle online resource for IRCC language instructors across Canada.

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Even more creativity in the classroom

Inspiration

At the recent TESL Toronto’s T4T mini conference at York University, I was inspired to take 4C integration into my instruction to a new level.  Specifically, I was spurred on by James Papple and Tabitha Lewis’s session called Connections to Learning through Makerspaces. They provided a myriad of potential activities that extend and enhance learning beyond what is expected in a language learning class.  Tabitha and Jim highlighted resources that are available through the Brock University’s Makerspace room.

Makerspaces Technologies

In Brock’s Makerspace, learning opportunities include tools to create high quality audio, shoot and edit digital video, create and edit images, print 3D models, create moving LEGO structures, scan objects into digital 3D models, cut materials with lasers, interact with virtual reality, record video against a green screen, control a Sphere ball with a smartphone app, build robots, paint 3D objects, and more. 

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Keeping Online Language Learners Engaged

Photo by Emma Matthews Digital Content Production on Unsplash

Most of us are teaching our students in online mode.  As the weeks pass, learners and instructors will experience emotions associated with their isolation.  This will manifest as fatigue, boredom, depression, and apathy.  In order to combat these, we, as instructional professionals must rise to the challenge to ensure that learning endures.  Our efforts will provide our students with a sense of normalcy and purpose, and routine to make these troubled times less arduous.

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