Category Archives: Creativity

An Epic Battle of the Imagination

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

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(Carroll, L. 1865. Alice in Wonderland)

Introduction

 I wrote this piece about three years ago, reflecting on an old lesson and the role imagination plays in our ESL curricula.  I believe this activity could be modified for an online classroom. If you give it a go, please let me know how it works out!

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Brain Breaks Essential when Teaching Online

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In general, teachers have an unwavering commitment to their profession and an unparalleled work ethic; when COVID-19 hit, they applied this to online learning. However, the hours spent learning how to teach in this new environment have taken a toll on both their mental and physical health. Many teachers have had to strike a whole new work-life balance.

During an in-person lesson, it is natural to take a break, whether that be leaving the room briefly or stepping into more casual conversation between teachers and students. But what happens in the online classroom when we take a break? For most of us, continuing our work is the norm. How does this ultimately make us feel? Are we better off working through our breaks for the benefit of our students? Continue reading

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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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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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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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I fell off my chair during my online class!

Happy Asian woman in hijab raising arms and stretching body while working with laptop in cozy cafe
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Teachers have always been associated with having a lot of movement in their workplace. The nature of teaching and checking on students always allowed teachers to be ambulant and move around the classroom. However, COVID-19 has sent most ESL teachers home and behind their laptops all day long. Besides physical issues that sedentary behaviour can bring to everyone, it can affect the creativity and eagerness of teachers despite their good intentions. Here are five tips for those at home who feel the pain in their back and knees and want a change!

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Maintaining Balance & Thriving During COVID-19

Painted rocks, creative outlet, message of hope.
Image source: Gonul Turkdogan

What can EAP/ESL/EFL instructors do if they are laid off or have much reduced hours during COVID-19? This question concerns most of us. Like many others, I was laid off. I believe that with persistence and creativity we can stay positive. As examples to stimulate discussion, here are several things that I have found beneficial.  

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How to Approach Creative Writing!

Writing is an art, and art is supposed to be creative. But how come there’s a course called “Creative Writing?” How is this different from any conventional “Writing Course?” To be even more specific, should we have a course called – Creative Writing – in ESL, or can a conventional “Writing Course” do the job?

As an ESL teacher, I think that in the world of language pedagogy every piece of writing should be creative and therefore whether the course is called “Writing” or “Creative Writing,” creativity is an inherent part.

In this article, I’d like to share with you what happens when I teach a Writing course, which to me is no different than a Creative Writing course.

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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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