All posts by John Allan @mrpottz

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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Student Infographics

image source: John Allan

What is an infographic?

Infographics are a contemporary means of transmitting information on media platforms. They appear as printed or digital infographic displays at hospitals, airports, shopping malls and more, and deliver complex information in a visually concise format. The first infographics I remember were positioned in the corners of the USA Today newspaper.  They drew my eyes towards them and informed me about trends, recent events or celebrities in many sections of the newspaper.

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Choosing an App for your Lessons with the Padagogy Wheel

https://designingoutcomes.com/assets/PadWheelV5/PW_ENG_V5.0_Apple_iOS_PRINT.pdf

“There’s an app for that” ™ is a statement that is so common that Apple trademarked it. As consumers and instructors we all know that there are so many different mobile device applications or apps available to us through online stores. If you want to measure pollution in your location, download the Plume app.  Do you want to talk to a friend?  Use FaceTime. Order takeout? Just launch the Skip the Dishes app.  Some of us have been trying out different language learning apps for the purpose of language teaching. Many of us use apps designed for purposes other than language learning with our students to foster learning. If you think about it, you may have used Whatsapp to communicate with your students or Tinkercad to create real objects or Haikudeck to make a class presentation. There are so many apps available it is difficult to determine if you are making an informed choice when choosing an app for your lessons.

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TESOL’s Electronic Village Online

Boost your instruction with Free TESOL courses

Since 2001, the Electronic Village Online (EVO) has offered free, online courses starting in mid-January and finishing in mid-February. Facilitators and organizers volunteer their time and expertise to contribute to our profession.  Participants learn through lecture, activities and peer discussions on relevant TESOL topics.   Course facilitators and participants share fresh perspectives from their diverse experience and expertise. Continue reading

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