Category Archives: Approaches

Sharing Languages, Sharing Realities

Photo by Porapak Apichodilok

As I scrambled to find an idea for today’s post, I mused about my classes over the last couple of weeks. Had any stood out in terms of student engagement? The answer hit me: our discussions on how language affects the way we see the world. Indeed, before we knew it, we had ventured into linguistic relativity, or the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. These discussions sprang from our “Language and Culture” unit, specifically a TED Talk by Lindsay Morcom, Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Language Revitalization and Decolonizing Education at Queen’s University.

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Incorporating Listening Activities Into Literacy Classes

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Literacy teachers emphasize reading and writing because those are the only two skills assessed at the literacy level. However, when does the attention given to those two skills become excessive? And, by devoting the bulk of class time to those two skills, do we do so at the expense of a holistic approach to teaching?

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Make Your Word-Processed Documents More Accessible

Most of us are aware of the importance of the issues around digital accessibility through our own disabilities and supporting our students in virtual and blended classrooms. Some organizations offer accessibility training for educators and learners. Due to accessibility legislation and policies, software vendors build accessibility features into their wares. This opportunity allows us to make our documents more accessible. This post suggests some features available in the Microsoft Word app that instructors may leverage to make their digital documents more accessible. Please be aware that this is not a comprehensive accessibility resource, but an introduction for interested educators.  Continue reading

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Smartphones can be a “Smart” Helper in the Classroom

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At first glance, smartphones may seem like the ultimate language roadblock for ESL learners. The alluring prospect of effortlessly translating any text with a simple tap can lead to a habit of overreliance, hindering genuine language absorption. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. When approached with a strategic mindset, smartphones can indeed become “smart” tools in the ESL learning arsenal, especially for those who find themselves grappling with the complexities of English at a foundational level. 

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Teaching To The Test

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I had planned on giving one of my classes a task every Friday. What’s that saying? Ah, yes. Even the best laid plans. . . My plan was running like a well-oiled machine until the final week of classes before the Christmas break. I’d scheduled a writing task on December 15, and the class did it. That was not the problem. Time was. I didn’t have enough of it to cover all the material, and so I decided to teach to the test, or task, as it were.

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Fun with AI: Day 1 Introductions and Boundaries

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This post is for those of us who are thinking of ways to introduce Dos and Don’ts about AI to our students from the very first day of classes. We can make this fun while ensuring that the task helps to establish our expectations of what constitutes appropriate AI use and what does not. For the following example, I used ChatGPT 3.5.

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Climbing Up and Sliding Down the AI Slope of Enlightenment

It has been a year since OpenAI released its generative chat app, ChatGPT. As an avid education technologist, I must confess that I jumped headfirst into the ChatGPT spectacle. This enthusiasm is documented by more than twenty professional development activities that have been facilitated or written over the past months. These are listed in the Resources section below. 

Recently, I have taken a breath to reflect on ChatGPT and how it has dominated the conversation in education technology in 2023. Within this reflection I have mapped my experience against Gartner’s Hype Cycle of new technologies to document how I am faring in relation to education’s adoption of generative chat technologies. 

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Reflections on my practice in the PBLA Prescribed System

A circle with words related to the text - learning, students, PBLA, assessments, etc.In the LINC/ESL class,  instructors “cross barriers of understanding, aptitudes, behaviours, desires, and knowledge” (Rappel, 2013) in hopes of helping newcomers successfully adapt to life in a multicultural community. In this context, I think that Knowle’s five assumptions of andragogy are as useful as ever: clear learning intents and expectation, teacher-student collaboration, student-student collaboration, timely feedback, and engagement in self-reflection.

I believe these practices can be helpful in creating a learning environment in which students take ownership of learning through mutual respect and co-operation. While these principles are also supported by PBLA guidelines, the application of it brings some challenges as well. Continue reading

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Learner’s Autonomy! Is it for all learners? 

Mark Van Doren quote: The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.
image source: Flickr-Venspired

As an ESL teacher with over a decade of progressive teaching experience, no notion in English language pedagogy was as mindblowing to me as the idea of learner autonomy. The way that learning and learners are seen as autonomous has always resonated highly with me; I always thought if anyone masters independent learning, they can learn almost anything with joy and efficiency. Recently, however, I’ve been thinking differently about this. Not because I am now a skeptic of this approach, but because I have been wondering if all learners want to be independent learners! Based on my recent encounters and experience at work, I now think maybe there are some learners who learn best without being independent. In this blog post, I’d like to share my own experience with this type of learner.   Continue reading

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Teacher Centred Literacy Classes

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I know the orthodoxy of education is for lessons to be student centred. But I’m going to risk excommunication here by suggesting that there are times when it’s absolutely essential that classes be teacher centred. Literacy classes are such instances.

To go against one’s training and instincts by shifting focus to oneself (the teacher) is one of the many challenges of teaching a literacy class. It doesn’t take long, however, to see that the lower the level of a student’s English, the more guidance, scaffolding, and support they need from their teacher. 

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