Over the past months, thousands of language instructors across Canada have been unwittingly or intentionally taking on instructional developer responsibilities. They have been cobbling together, rearranging, and refining digital resources and activities from various sources to meet the needs of their students. Many instructors have been generating original learning resources to fill in gaps that appear while teaching online.
Usually, learning materials are prepared ‘on-the-fly’ to anticipate or adapt to challenges that arise from our classroom lessons. What happens to these documents? Often, they are forgotten on a computer drive and discovered on a slow day when you are considering which files to remove to free up hard drive space. These files are hastily named, filed, and saved, so they are lost. Sometimes, it is too much trouble to save and properly file a document that is created just before your online class is about to start. If you are currently teaching online, I am sure you will agree with this! Continue reading →
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.
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!
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.
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.
Awkward silence and staring at the screen while not knowing what happens next are what students may experience during an online session. On the other side, however, the instructor is trying hard to pull up a file for the next activity. You may think naming the activities of the day will do the job, but perhaps a bit of visual aid helps keeping the plan in mind both for the students and teachers. This is where an electronic version of a lesson plan might play a role.
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.
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.
Quilting and knitting circles have existed
for a long time for the purposes of pleasure and producing a useful final
product, but how did a handicraft project for a group of Master of Education
students turn into a feel-good, emotional learning journey? It was an
assignment for a research methodology course, but it was so much more than that.
It was also collaboration, self-discovery and an emotional roller coaster all
rolled into some highly memorable academic presentations. At least that was my
observation, if not quite my personal experience.