Saturday, December 19, 2015

Speaking Club

have started a speaking club for my lower-level students who wanted to do extra speaking practice. This is the first one of the tasks that I prepared/compiled and will share here on a weekly basis.

The first time we met, I wanted the students to get to know each other because they came from different classes. Also, this first activity was an easy start for most of the students who had little experience in speaking English. 

Continue reading at Tech-savvy English

Follow this link to see more materials prepared for this speaking club.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

An integrated skills activity for telling the time

just wanted to share a practice teaching activity with you, which I got from one of my former TEFL students, Burcu Abbas. The topic was telling the time and her students were in the 6th grade. This focus of the activity was communicative practice, involving speaking, listening and writing. 

Everyone wore paper watches, walked around the class and asked each other for the time. Then, the students recorded the times that they heard from their friends on their handouts. The handouts had two columns; one column is for names and the other column is for time. Each student completed the activity communicatively.   Burcu took a picture to document the materials she developed for this activity.

This got me to thinking about applying a similar approach but using the smart phone as the prompt.  

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Digital Divide - The 'HAVEs' don't perform as well as the 'HAVE NOTs'

I've recently been perplexed by the fact that despite having access to a world of information at their fingertips via smart phones, many students today that I observe do not seem to be making any better progress than the students I had ten years ago.   In fact, the average performance seems to be getting worse and not better.   Is it just me?  Am I just romanticizing the past...the 'good old days' when students actually talked to each at the break, had eye-contact and used body language to communicate?

It seems that there is evidence that this trend is reflected in general in schools in the 'developed' countries that have invested heavily into technology.  In a recent report by the OECD on Students, Computers and Learning:  Making the Connection, students in schools that actually have less technology appear to outperform students whose schools provide more access to technology in the classroom.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Concentric Circles (Ice breaker/speaking activity)

Concentric Circles is a powerful bonding exercise because it gives individuals the opportunity to share their thoughts and experiences with others in one-on-one conversations. Because learners are given an ordered situation in which they have these conversations, they are able to build relationships with others without the pressure or awkwardness that is often part of social interactions, especially in L2. 

  • Have the group arrange their chairs so that they are facing each other in two circles, one inside the other as in the diagram below: (You can have the group count off by 2s [1, 2, 1, 2…]).

Continue reading at Tech-savvy English and download a PPT with sample questions/topics for the activity. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Oxford Dictionaries answer your English language questions on YouTube

The English language is evolving faster than ever mostly because of social media and instant messaging, causing many words and phrases to take on completely different meanings. This rapid change raises questions for many speakers of English about what is right or wrong:

Is it "between you and I" or "between you and me"?
Can we use literally in non-literal contexts?

To address such questions, Oxford Dictionaries have started publishing short videos on YouTube explaining how we can avoid misunderstandings and common mistakes.

Click here for the complete playlist.

Here is the video about how to use "literally":

Friday, June 5, 2015

Talk about a teacher's hang up...

In one of my classes, there was an activity to get students to write about one of their teachers.  The model given was about a person's reflection on one of his favourite teachers.  These sorts of activities can yield unexpected results, which is why many of us avoid them.  I decided to throw caution to the wind, and I was rewarded with a very sad and shocking tale of a primary school teacher's 'hang up'.

My student decided to write about a 'not-so-favourite' teacher (which, thankfully, wasn't me!)  I've included the original writing as a photograph below, in which he describes how his primary school teacher suspended the boys in his class from coat hooks on the wall for coming to class late.  Apparently, he left them hanging there for three periods!  Bear in mind that my student was 20 years old when he wrote this, so the event actually took place in the 21st Century! Thanks to my colleague, Erhan Güzel, for his sketch of the scene.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Plickers – Capturing multiple choice responses from students | Tech-savvy English

Are you looking for some simple student response alternatives that require minimal technology in the classroom?  This novel idea builds on the concept of scanning QR codes, but the codes have been cleverly designed to allow students to choose one of four options to any question posed by the teacher.  They simply hold up their PLICKER and the teachers scans the entire classroom with a smart phone to register their responses.

See Plickers – Capturing multiple choice responses from students | Tech-savvy English for a description of Plickers in practice.

Monday, January 5, 2015

EDPUZZLE - The TED-ED of the classroom

There are two great tools that help teachers build lessons around a YouTube video.  Perhaps the most well known is TED-ED - yes, you guessed it--the sister site to those great TED Talks.   What makes TED-ED special is that anyone (yes, that means the likes of you and me!) can create their own video-based lessons.  With TED-ED, you can also 'flip' other lessons, that is, you can take a lesson someone else has designed and customize it.

Here is a short video that illustrates the features of TED-ED:

While TED-ED has the ability to monitor the progress of people taking the lesson, it isn't that well set up for school use.  Users need to have a TED-ED account, and there is no way to segregate users taking one lesson.

That is where EDpuzzle comes in - they have taken the same TED-ED concept to 'build a lesson around a YouTube video'  and wrapped it in an interface that lets teachers create individual classes and deliver their own video lessons to their students.  But, what is more, EDpuzzle lets a teacher create a project in which students have to find their own videos and build their own lessons.  The interface is fairly straightforward and student projects uploaded are private between the teacher and the student.  At the moment, it isn't possible to upload videos there, so if you want to create your own video then you have to publish it on a media server somewhere, like Vimeo or YouTube.  However, you can make your video 'unlisted', so for all intents and purposes it is hidden.

If you want more ideas on how to use this with students, the folks at EDPUZZLE have provided some materials you can download from this DROPBOX folder.  Enjoy!