Since late March, many of our courses have been moved online, and synchronous sessions through Zoom have become a new part of our teaching lives. While testing various features offered by Zoom, I have realized that I really miss my classroom whiteboard, which was used for writing the agenda, teaching notes, upcoming coursework, classroom instructions, and conducting student interactive writing, editing, and speaking activities.
Although Zoom has a Whiteboard feature, I find it limiting, so I have replaced it with Google Docs. I have found this practice quite sustainable and a user-friendly approach to an online whiteboard. Here is how and why I combine Zoom and Google Docs.
Sharing: I have created a Google Doc, named it “Whiteboard” and shared it with my students by placing its link on my Learning Management System (LMS). In every class, my students can click on the same link and find their class notes there.
Organizing: I have organized my notes on the Google Doc by creating a table of contents, and the table of contents is organized by date of the class, list of planned activities, and by placing the newest notes at the top.
Navigation: This way of content organization through a table of contents makes navigation absolutely efficient for both students and instructors.
Agenda: My table of contents also plays the role of an agenda. As an instructor, I place my list of planned activities on the Doc right before the class starts just like when I used to step into my physical classroom welcoming early arrivers and writing my agenda. Now, my table of contents displays my agenda.
Class Notes: Once the class starts on Zoom, and after I greet my students for a few minutes, I start teaching by sharing my screen and displaying my Google Doc “Whiteboard”. Since my list of activities has already been shared, I ask students to locate a certain activity. When I have my students’ attention on that activity, I can add more teaching notes to it, just as we used to utilize our whiteboards/ blackboards and share information.
Interaction: Leading a more sedentary lifestyle at this time, it is now more important than ever to create an interactive learning environment for our students, who might be staring at screens for long hours every day. Therefore, for every assignment, I have a short teaching moment, and then ask my students to work on the activity.
Watching: In the case of showing a video, I place the video link right in front of the planned activity, which has two benefits: It is quick for the instructor to locate the video link and play it right there, and it is already shared with my students for their own future reference.
Reading: The same goes for sharing an article and having students read it. With Zoom’s Breakout Room feature, it is easy to place students in different groups to read and speak about an article. I can assign certain paragraphs to each group, or I can assign a different article to every group. Having all the links shared on one page for the whole semester makes navigating content a highly efficient practice. A little side note: I also use the Zoom’s chat box or the broadcast feature to share a quick spontaneous link or a message when conducting breakout rooms.
Writing: In terms of writing, I can follow the same practice of assigning a page to a breakout room group, where students can write and edit their work. I am writing a whole blog post on writing and editing, coming up soon.
Announcements: Finally, I share reminders, coursework due dates, and announcements right at the top of every class’s list of activities, which makes it easy for students to plan upcoming activities and assignments.
This combination of Zoom sessions with a consistent Google Doc link has been a well-received practice with my students. By placing your whole class on a Google Doc, teaching, learning, note sharing, and storing have become sustainable, organized, and efficient. I highly recommend it to all the educators out there who are trying to make their lives and their students’ lives easier, stay efficient, and make learning more accessible.
Stress! As an educator I feel it. Meeting tight deadlines, converting to online learning due to COVID-19, finding appropriate learning resources, marking assignments, and addressing student needs can contribute to my stress levels.
Noticing theory in the
context of cognitive linguistics seems to offer an interesting insight into the
processes accompanying second language acquisition focusing on the problems of
attention, awareness and memory. “Noticing” – despite disagreements in defining
the term – seems to function as a gateway into these processes in Richard
Schmidt’s (1995) deliberations. An ESL instructor “in the field,” might have burning
questions such as these: How is noticing initiated? Is it totally subjective
and personalized, or does it have some regularities that could be exploited in
the classroom? If the latter is true, then what are the stimulants? How can one
effectively manage the process of transforming “comprehensible input” into
Since Extensive Reading (ER) is a crucial part of language
learning, I have compiled some important ER resources to help you promote ER in
your classroom. ER can build learners’ confidence, enjoyment and autonomy.
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.
does being a skillful teacher mean to you? Is it the same as or similar to
being a powerful teacher? Are there any expectations inherent in unravelling
any difference between these two perceptions?
Stephen Brookfield, a scholar in adult
education, is someone I look up to because his focus is on helping adults learn
how to critically think about internalized ideologies. He believes that we teach to change the world
and that being a sincere and reflective educator can be complex but that we
need to be aware of those complexities in order to learn and empower our
students (Brookfield, 2015). I have always enjoyed learning about his perspective
and determining how I can use it in my teaching techniques.
One way to promote student engagement is by providing students with real-world hands-on learning experiences. An excellent way to do this is through student-produced video projects.
In 2008, Mary Anne Peters, Julianne Burgess, Elizabeth Sadler, and Zachary Arlow created the LINC for Youth Photography Project and LINC for Youth Video Project at Mohawk College to help newcomer youth learn English in a collaborative environment. The foundation of these unique classes is grounded in multiliteracies theory, youth culture, and technology. At the College, I teach in LINC Youth Video Project (LYVP) with my teaching partner, Emily Imbrogno, and media technician, Zachary Arlow. LYVP is targeted to newcomers ages 18-25, with Canadian Language Benchmarks 4-5. LYVP has students create video projects on topics connected to newcomer youth experiences and interests.
If you’re on Twitter, join the next #CdnELTchat on Tuesday, February 25 – on the topic of Practical Gamification in the Classroom with Cindy Liebel. You can access the #CdnELTChat Padlet at this link: Questions and Topics for #CdnELTchat. Below is a recap of the February 11 chat.
I’m looking forward to the summer
months. Even though there’s still snow on the ground, I recall my adventures teaching
ESL at a children’s summer camp. I learned a lot, as I do every year. I enjoyed
adapting existing material and creating my own instead of working strictly from
a textbook. It was challenging and time consuming, but I would argue better, more
student-centered, and fun.
Why is extensive reading important for
language learning? And how can students be motivated to read for pleasure?
As an international student and immigrant, I
know how difficult it is to read extensively in English. Diverse backgrounds
and school experiences can create different profiles of reading strengths and
needs. As an experienced
EAP/ESL/EFL instructor, I did a case study about Extensive Reading (ER) for my
MA, and I learned things I wished I had known much earlier! Now I would like to
share that knowledge with other instructors because ER touches every skill we
teach (Reading, Writing, Grammar, Speaking and Listening).