Category Archives: Classroom Ideas

Ideas and suggestions to use in your classroom.

Daily Small Talk

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As a person and as a language instructor, I hear the words ‘small talk’ and I shudder. However, I have learned – after teaching online for nearly three years now – not to underestimate the opportunities and utility of focusing specifically on Small Talk in class. Focusing on Small Talk has always been successful. When surveyed, learners consistently report that they want more Small Talk rather than less. 

I started teaching virtually with a fairly small class (CLB 7) who really responded to Small Talk. For one thing, I found the class needed to deal with mental health issues – near the beginning of COVID – and needed to feel as social as possible in a virtual environment. That’s when I started to develop Small Talk as an integral activity. Most recently, I had a much larger class that also responded very well to the Small Talk activities. This activity is not a one-off lesson but rather focuses on best practices, routine, feedback, and refinement.

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Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Class through Critical Texts, Talks, and Tasks

I asked TESL Ontario educators to record their thoughts on the question “What are one or two ways that you incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion in your teaching practice?” This post shares their recordings (see link below) and synthesizes their responses, which highlight the importance of infusing criticality in classroom texts, talks, and tasks. 

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Building Student Agency and Autonomy

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Providing students with various platforms and activities where they can voice their learning helps create an engaging learning environment where students feel autonomous in their learning journey. As Gao (2013) suggests, educators can be involved in their learners’ reflective thinking, where they together assess prioritizing students’ “concerns, desires, and visions” (p.236) and examine further “learning paths” (p.236) in order to promote students’ autonomous language learning. 

I’d like to suggest a few ways we can create an environment where students can thrive while strengthening their agency and autonomy: 

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Keep Things Organized – Tips for Organizing Google Drive

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Organizing Google Drive for you and your students can be challenging. When assessments and assignments are assigned through Google Classroom, you may get lost in the mountain of documents. For your students – especially for those who aren’t tech savvy – it’s even more challenging. As we approach the end of the school year, here are a few lessons I’ve learned from online teaching about how organizing your Google Drive early saves you time and effort.

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Seven motivational quotes for language learners

Motivation is one of the key challenges for successful language learning, but sometimes instructors don’t sufficiently utilize motivation. Some teachers even think they cannot play a major role in student motivation, but I believe we can motivate our students in many ways. For example, motivational quotes are a great device to inspire our students. While teaching last summer at Niagara College, I shared biweekly motivational quotes to boost my students’ ambition. They truly enjoyed them! Below are the seven motivational quotes that my students voted as their favourites.

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Advanced Moodle Activities

Image source: Pixaby by janjf93

Since the pandemic learning management systems have become a common means of hosting online content.  Beyond content, LMS provide security, accountability, feedback and various opportunities for collective and individualized learning.  The Avenue project is hosted on the Moodle learning management system.  Moodle arrives with a set of core activities that include:   Continue reading

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Students in Charge: Ideas for Reading and Listening Activities

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Recently, I did a small experiment with my students. Instead of me assigning reading and listening tasks, I asked them to read an article and watch a YouTube video, and then make their own questions as if they were teachers. The results and feedback were quite astonishing.

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Humor in the ESL Classroom

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Learning English (or any new language) requires student focus, repetition, and practice, so it’s easy to see why students may often feel disengaged or even bored in the classroom. This is why ESL teachers love to try off-the-wall ways to liven up their classes and infuse some enthusiasm into the topic. Continue reading

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Up and Down the Ladder of Abstraction: Praxis in Motion

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Praxis, the process of enacting theory, has played a significant role in my teaching practice, especially whenever my adult learners have a difficult time grasping a concept or feel like they are not learning as fast as they should. I find that when students begin to ask “why” and “how” questions or err repeatedly, I can rely on theory to explain and demonstrate the issue at hand. This methodology (Seabury, 1991) has worked for me and my adult learners, whose problem-solving curiosity is driven by their andragogical needs (Knowles, 1971).

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Quick Tips for Teaching Literacy – Part Three of Three

Colourful Letter Tiles
Photo by Surendran MP on Unsplash

Guest Contributor: Zainab Almutawali

In Part One and Part Two of this series I’ve talked about issues that may affect attendance for literacy learners, as well as some best practices I’ve picked up over the years.  In this post, I’ll pass along some more effective teaching practices for literacy learners and tips on PBLA.

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