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.
Over the pandemic, several instructors have commonly requested assistance with recording dialogues for PBLA activities, assessments, reading practice or listening activities. In this post, I have detailed the steps. These steps focus on preparing a listening dialogue for a class activity. I am sure that many instructors and students have devised their own hacks for this issue, so if you have invented better methods, please add them to the comments below.
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.
I blame the title on sitting in front of a computer day in and day out, setting up breakout rooms, and talking too many times into a dark screen divided into little squares, each one imprinted with names and hardly any faces; despite it all, there I was, on that particular day, hair fully brushed, looking good from the waist up, and full of burnt-out enthusiasm, ready for my lesson on “paraphrasing.”
On that morning, as I have been doing for a while (two years minus a few days), I turned on my computer before class time to make sure everything was in order and that my Google Jamboard was shareable and editable for my students to work in groups.
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.
With the new trend in education due to COVID-19, many language classrooms have been moved to hybrid, synchronous, or asynchronous modes of delivery online. This change has certainly impacted the socio-cultural aspects of our classroom dynamics in many different ways.
Approaches to building community and the related language interaction have been impacted by the move to online delivery, and educators have sought assistance by looking into various EdTech tools to make up for this gap. One of these tools that I have found helpful in my language classrooms is VoiceThread.
In this article, I am going to share some of my ideas about how to keep Google Classroom neat and organized, as well as how to use Jamboard as an effective whiteboard.
Tools and Tips
Google Classroom (GC) has become the primary instructional platform for most teachers in Ontario since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. I like it and I hate it. I like it because it is such a powerful platform for teachers to deliver content to students. I hate it because it can sometimes be messy and challenging when it comes to organizing content. It took me a while, but I found a way to organize it.
It is a new year and some of us may need some fresh ideas to add energy, motivation and tasks to our classes. One possible means of accomplishing this is to include relevant project work into the syllabus.
The tools listed below are just that – tools. As the instructor, you can guide the learners to themes as focal points for project content. These free, digital tools include how-to guides, an online example, and orientation blogs for the instructors to read and consider before embarking on a digital venture with their learners.
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.