Category Archives: Classroom Ideas

Ideas and suggestions to use in your classroom.

Peer Feedback: Not the Sandwich, but Sunny-Side-Up, Please

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Peer feedback (otherwise known as peer assessment) can be useful to both the receiver and the giver of the feedback as long as the feedback is meaningful. For this to happen, peer feedback needs to be constructive; it should start with a positive observation before pointing to an area or areas for improvement; and it should include a suggestion on how to improve, which means that the focus needs to be procedural. This is not the case in the sandwich feedback approach.

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Online Teaching Reflections

Fast forward and rewind symbols on either side of zen stone, pause reflect and rewind
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Some of my primary concerns about this current online world of teaching are the creation of community and how to effectively engage learners.

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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.   

Advantages of using customized crafted learning objects include: 

  • appropriate language level and content for students  
  • learning objects will be relevant to the flow of an instructional unit 
  • new learning objects will add to your instructional tool chest for next term 
  • student motivation may improve as they engage with relevant activities 
  • instructor’s education technology skill set will improve 
  • contributions to and from educational peers will strengthen your professional learning network  

While creating paper-based learning materials is routine for language instructors, creating digital learning objects is not exactly the norm.  Generating learning opportunities on a daily basis for impending lessons leaves educators open to potential awkwardness –  typo here, a logic flow gap there, and technology issues that could not have been predicted as the activity worked perfectly on the teacher’s computer on the previous evening.  Many teachers have no choice; they learn a tool such as Socrative and immediately start creating activities that can be used to encourage more engagement through learner interactions.  Without the luxury of time, digital learning objects are shared with students without proofreading, peer input or pilot testing.  

Teaching with fresh and untested learning objects is risky but necessary during these trying times. We do not want to lose our students’ respect, but we need to have them engaged while they are learning online.  Below are a few suggestions to help avoid embarrassment while teaching with wet paint.  

  1. Join an appropriate collective.  Fortunately, the CIC, now IRCC, moved forward with recommendations suggested in the Fast Forward report (Kelly, M. et. al. (2007)). This report resulted in a learning object collection, Tutela, and an open source learning management solution, the LearnIT2teach project, now Avenue.  CLB-aligned language learning courses, learning objects, instructor training and mentoring are available to those in the settlement and language teaching sector.  Learning objects sourced from these projects are professionally created, vetted and organized for Canadian instructors to download and use with their online classes.   
  2. Locate tools that generate multiple activities from a language corpus.  The corpus can be a list of words, a list of terms with definitions and images or a logical block of text.  An example of this is Quizlet, which generates a set of flashcards, an adaptive learning activity, a spelling activity, a test, and three games including Quizlet Live, which involves all of the learners in a synchronous game.  By creating online learning objects with efficiency, teachers will have more time to take care with their data entry and testing of the learning objects. 
  3. Collaborate with peers. Instructors can invite other instructors at their institution or those from other schools across Canada to create and share learning objects.  Tutela already performs this function, but teachers are developing for the next day. It might be sensible to cooperate with a web of instructors who are willing to create, share and give feedback on learning objects.  These learning objects can be contributed to Tutela in the future after they are refined.  
  4. Organization of learning objects.  It is very important to name and categorize your digital files consistently.  This is more imperative if you are sharing these with others or are intending on using them in upcoming termsOnline learning objects such as Quizlet, Kahoot or Quizizz store learning objects on their websites.  It is still important to be diligent with naming and categorizing these learning objects. I learned this with Quizlet and H5P. After a few terms, it was difficult to find learning objects without a naming system.  Have a look at my old H5P account. What a mess!
  5. Keep a Learning Objects Journal.  Keep a record of the experience with each digital learning object.  You can learn from shared live activity, reported scores, access logs and discrete item data if learning objects have issues. Also, solicit feedback from the learners and other instructors. Their feedback can pinpoint problematic issues. These can be remedied later on, if you have time during term breaks.    

If you have any additional suggestions to improve the digital experience for our language teaching community, please add your idea(s) in the comment box below this post.  

 

References

Allan, John (2020). Reconsidering Quizlet. https://www.eflmagazine.com/reconsidering-quizlet 
 
Allan, John (2017). Add Fun to Your Vocabulary Lessons with Quizlet Live http://blog.teslontario.org/add-fun-to-your-vocabulary-lessons-with-quizlet-live/ 

Allan, John (2015). Create Learning Objects Quickly with Quizlet, http://blog.teslontario.org/create-learning-objects-quickly-with-quizlet/ 

Kelly, M., Kennell, T., McBride, R., & Sturm, M. (2007). Fast Forward: An Analysis of Online and Distance Education Language Training – Settlement at Work. New Media Language Training. Retrievable from: http://wiki.settlementatwork.org/index.php?title=Fast_Forward:_An_Analysis_of_Online_and_Distance_Education_Language_Training 

 Resources 

Aveune. Online settlement language training solutions for adult newcomers and teaching professionals. https://avenue.ca 

H5P. https://h5p.org 

Hot Potatoes. https://hotpot.uvic.ca 

Kahoot. https://kahoot.com 

LearnIT2teach. An Internet portal for LINC professionals wanting to get started with online blended learning. http://learnit2teach.ca 

Screencastify. https://www.screencastify.com 

SettlementAtWork Wiki. http://wiki.settlementatwork.org/index.php?title=Main_Page 

Socrative. https://www.socrative.com 

Tutela. The online community for ESL/FSL professionals! https://tutela.ca 

Quizlet. https://quizlet.com 

Quizizz. https://quizizz.com 

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#CdnELTchat: Join the Chat on Tuesday!

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If you’re a Twitter user, join the next #CdnELTchat on Tuesday, September 29. Below is a recap of the September 15 chat written by #CdnELTchat moderator Bonnie Nicholas.


The #CdnELTchat community returned from our summer hiatus with a Welcome back! informal chat. 

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From Day One to Year Ten

TEACHER Think Bubble word cloud education concept on blackboard
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When I first started out as a teacher, I was terrified, as I’m sure anyone would be. I had always wanted to be a teacher, but the way I’d imagined the experience wasn’t exactly how it turned out to be. 

I’ve worked in after-school programs teaching English as a Second Language and I’ve been a substitute teacher, but when I got my first college teaching job, it was intimidating to say the least. I was going to teach adults in a more formal environment, and that word, “adults,” had always scared me because although I was a 22-year-old adult at the time, most of my students were older than I was! 

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Music for the Mind, Body, and Soul

Music recording concept. Creative process of writing a song
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I recently created an online listening and speaking module about music. The idea came to mind as a way to make online learning fun, interesting, and engaging for students.

           The module was broken down into four weekly sessions and accessed by students via Canvas, Padlet, Zoom, PowerPoint, Word, voice recording apps, and email.

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Spring and Online Learning and Poetry anyone?

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In these strange and isolating times, many ESL instructors have navigated a truly steep learning curve of technical knowledge to teach online. Whether your online class looks the way you want it to or not, I applaud your efforts. I bet learners in your class are also very thankful for you!

Some of you might know that April is national poetry month. The theme this year is A World of Poetry. What a great opportunity to create poetry with your online class! Below are some resources and ideas to get you on your way.

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Extensive Reading Resources

Hands with books. People holding and reading book and magazine, public library literature reader. Academic knowledge vector learning information in opening textbook concept
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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.

If you missed my first blog post, The Role of Extensive Reading in Language Learning, please read it when you get a chance so that the resources below will be most helpful.

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