Some of my primary concerns about this current online world of teaching are the creation of community and how to effectively engage learners.
Like many of my colleagues, I was teaching online this summer using Zoom. My adult ESL class (CLB 4) had about 14 regular students. By the end, we had become quite close and it was sad to see them go. Along the way we had a few adventures related to online learning that I’d like to share with you.
When coronavirus hit, we all had to adjust. For many ESL teachers, this meant navigating uncharted territory – teaching online. Continue reading
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.
It’s the end of day and I have just finished writing an email update to my teaching partner about what students did in class. I have a sense of relief that I made it through the day, while at the same time I’m glad about what we have accomplished. I’m also delighted that I have someone to share my experiences with who knows the students, the content, and the design of the class. Team teaching works for me!Continue reading
by Bonnie Nicholas
On November 5, 2019, the #CdnELTchat team was happy to welcome Sandhya Ghai (@GhaiSandhya) of Mosaic BC (@mosaicbc) as our guest moderator for a discussion of Intercultural Fluency in the LINC Classroom. This chat was a follow-up to Sandhya’s Tutela webinar on the same topic. (Tutela members can log in to view the recorded webinar.) Thanks to Diane Ramanathan (@ramdiane), Tutela Community Coordinator, for facilitating this partnership between Tutela and #CdnELTchat.Continue reading
“There’s an app for that” ™ is a statement that is so common that Apple trademarked it. As consumers and instructors we all know that there are so many different mobile device applications or apps available to us through online stores. If you want to measure pollution in your location, download the Plume app. Do you want to talk to a friend? Use FaceTime. Order takeout? Just launch the Skip the Dishes app. Some of us have been trying out different language learning apps for the purpose of language teaching. Many of us use apps designed for purposes other than language learning with our students to foster learning. If you think about it, you may have used Whatsapp to communicate with your students or Tinkercad to create real objects or Haikudeck to make a class presentation. There are so many apps available it is difficult to determine if you are making an informed choice when choosing an app for your lessons.Continue reading
A new year is upon us, and as 2019 begins to unfold, so too, does our Strategic Plan for 2019-2021. What you normally see is the finalized plan, which is available on our website. But we wanted to take you behind the scenes of our process for strategic planning. Continue reading
October 1st marked the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week. But, what exactly is mental health and why does it need a special week?
Mental health is an important part of our overall health and well-being. In the same way we all experience physical health; we also all experience mental health. Continue reading
Ok, so aside from wearing shoes that make you feel amazing but won’t make your podiatrist cringe, this post will walk you through 5 tips that can send you off into the Fall semester strong and energized.
I know, I know, there are plenty of posts out there that are dedicated to giving you tips and hacks for getting ready for a new school year, but there’s a reason for that. We educators are planners (even when we think we’re flying off the seat of our pants), and we look forward to a new year and thinking about how we can make it incredible for us and our students. These tips are my go-to whenever I start a new semester and take inventory. Continue reading