Category Archives: Classroom Ideas

Ideas and suggestions to use in your classroom.

Effective Online Tools & Resources for Teachers and Learners

Education, distance education, internet studying, e-learning flat vector illustration. Online classes, training courses, tutorials, online education design for mobile and web graphics
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Over the past two years, I have been attending a lot of webinars, presentations, conferences, dialogues and online courses. I’ve also been reading blogs and articles as well as doing presentations and writing blogposts. I’ve gained knowledge and collected remarkable resources. Tools like the ones below can help us design tasks that will engage and motivate our 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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#CDNELTCHAT: JOIN THE CHAT ON TUESDAY!

@CdnELTchat January 26, 2021 chat. What should we leave behind in #ELT?
Image Source: #CdnELTChat Team

If you’re a Twitter user, join the next #CdnELTchat on Tuesday, February 9, when our topic will be: What should we keep doing in #ELT?  Below is a recap of the January 26 chat written by #CdnELTchat moderator Jennifer Chow.

Whether we were ready or not, since last spring COVID-19 has forced almost all of us to become online teachers. For many of us working in ELT, the move to online teaching was a giant leap out of our comfort zone. As the pandemic enters its second year and mostly-online teaching and learning continues, we have an opportunity to think critically about our practices and to reflect on what we should maybe leave behind. This was the theme for the January 26 #CdnELTchat; the follow-up chat is on what we should keep going forward.

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Haiku: a humble but mighty tool in ESL

photo: Sahil Pandita on Unsplash

Reduce, reduce, reduce. Make every word count. I repeat these instructions every day in my EAP classroom. Session after session, I hand out exercises to reduce wordiness and replace empty, abstract words with those that are strong and specific.  

And yet, the students have a hard time going “beyond the exercise” to apply these skills to their writing. They continue to fill their pages with in the event that, “as a result of,” and “in our society today” as well as abstracts such as “the meal was good,” “the lake was beautiful,” and “the people looked happy.”  

I needed to find an authentic writing form that would encourage rich, yet spare, prose. And then it struck me—the haiku. The Japanese poem is inherently concise and relies on specific, sensory words. A win-win! 

So, I initiated a “holiday haiku” activity. First, I explained the basic form: one line with five syllables, the next with seven, and the third with five. Secondly, I divided the class into small groups to brainstorm specific, image-worthy words that evoked their celebrations back home. This second stage worked beautifully. Not only did the words flow, but also the students enjoyed sharing their cultural traditions.  

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Social Presence in Online Learning

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In a virtual or distance learning environment, social presence is essentially the feeling of being together. It can be quite challenging for both learners and instructors to project emotional and/or physical experiences in online learning, and this is a much-studied phenomenon. However, if we as instructors can consider this dimension of online learning in how we conduct our courses and interact with our students, we can help mitigate the stress and uncertainties of the sudden changeover to online delivery. Continue reading

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Symbolic New Materialism: From Theory to Practice

A Brief Introduction to New Materialism

The interconnectedness of two people's stories symbolized through this unique artwork
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Consider how much time instructors and students spend in front of electronic screens and how essential technology has become within the last eight months. Meetings and lessons delivered via Zoom and other online platforms are the new normal. Given the challenging times that we are facing including new approaches to learning, living, and overcoming adversity, the idea of new materialism is gaining momentum.

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Organizing Teaching Materials in Google Classroom

E-learning graphic organizer depicting a computer screen.
Image by B_A from Pixabay

No matter how trivial it sounds, in an online class the organization of course content is absolutely essential. Let me share a few practical observations.

1. Materials and Assessments

The most basic organizational tenet of an online classroom stems from the platform itself: in my case it was Google Classroom which gives an opportunity to divide learning content into assignments, quiz assignments, questions, and materials within a section called Classwork. It is a slight deviation from the terminology usually employed in the LINC/ESL world, but one easy for learners to accept. Understanding the distinction between materials and the other options is primarily important for students.

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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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