Category Archives: Engagement

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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How Practicing Self-Reflection Works for Both Teachers and Students

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Tseng Tzu said, “Every day I examine myself on three counts. In what I have undertaken on another’s behalf, have I failed to do my best? In my dealings with my friends have I failed to be trustworthy in what I say? Have I passed on to others anything that I have not tried out myself? (as cited in Confucius & Waley, 1938).

Self-reflection is an approach that allows you to have an opportunity to examine what you have done and what you can learn from your past. However, it is never an easy thing to do, as we are living in a fast-paced world full of “smart” devices. We may spot our mistakes and want to improve, but soon enough we will leave everything behind and move on to a new project. The problem is that we can never go anywhere without reflection. In this article, I am going to talk about how to take advantage of self-reflection to help us improve from both teacher and student perspectives.

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Ever just chat with your students?

I often hear students say they like any chance to have a casual conversation in English.  Literacy learners, however, are much more likely to avoid a conversation because they’re not confident enough to use the language yet. As ESL teachers, we prepare well-thought-out lessons that focus on grammar, composition, pronunciation, and structured activities, but we rarely foster a free flow of dialogue that encourages the students to just “use the language.”

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SAMR Says, Part II

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SAMR Says

Change is never comfortable, but, as we all know, it is necessary. The SAMR model is flexible and easy to use at all levels of education. To read about ‘Substitution’ and ‘Augmentation,’ please check out SAMR Says, Part I, where we discussed these stages of ‘Enhancement’ and some simple and fast tools you can find to help you move from paper to online without much stress or extra work. Using technology tools that enhance your class, as per the SAMR model, means that you are enhancing yourself, the material, and the students’ experience too.

In this blog, we will be discussing the stages of ‘Transformation’ and how to modify and redefine your approach to allow for more technology in your class.

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Summary of the #teslONchat Alternative Assessment discussion with Marlaina Riggio

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Post by Marlaina Riggio and Vanessa Nino

On June 29, 2021 we gathered on twitter to discuss alternative assessments and interactive activities for ELT. The guest moderator of the evening was Marlaina Riggio (@MarlainaTweets). You can also connect with Marlaina through LinkedIn

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Tools and Resources for Online Teaching (Part 2)

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Many of us have been teaching from home for more than a year. What a crazy milestone! While at home, we have all been trying our best to support our students by using various online and offline tools. It has been a tremendous learning journey for both teachers and students. However, often meaningful interaction is missing in our online class. Additionally, with lower-level students, introducing a new tool or online source can be challenging because of a lack of technological knowledge. This is where WhatsApp comes in handy.

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Create Visual Interactive Activities with Quizlet Diagrams

Quizlet Diagrams

image source: John Allan

A commonly used tool for teaching and learning vocabulary are labelled visuals. Labelled visuals are especially important for lower-level language learners when visual examples of concrete vocabulary items are essential for conveying meaning. They are also helpful in teaching English for Specific Purposes, such as studying the parts of an electric motor. However, learning parts of a scene, diagram, chart, illustration, photograph or a map is often boring and tedious for language learners, but the Quizlet Diagram feature can make this much more interesting for learners. 

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Summary of the #TeslOnChat’s Discussion on #Engagement with EdTech with Jen Artan

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Post by: Jen Artan and Vanessa Nino

On January 29th, 2021 we gathered on Twitter through the hashtag #teslONchat to discuss engagement strategies to utilize in our virtual classes. The guest moderator of the evening was Jen Artan ( @JenArtan). Jen is an experienced Continuing Education Instructor with the Thames Valley District School Board, Instructor with IWC Hamilton, and Materials Developer with LearnIT2Teach. A certified Google Educator (Level 2), TESL Ontario Webinar Presenter, TESL London Social Media Chair, and a recent Masters of Education graduate from the Ontario Technical University, she likes to keep current on educational technology for adult learners.

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