Would you like to be in your classroom?

As we begin the home stretch in our last module on classroom management, think about what your classroom looks like, or think of how you felt as a student in your last EFL class. What do you most remember and why? Are your most memorable moments positive, or negative? As teachers and soon-to-be teachers, you might ask yourself, “Would you want to be in your class?”

In her blog, Edna analizes classroom rules and regulations. What has been your personal experience? Share her analysis at this post. Do you agree with her?

Now that we are in Module 3, we will delve into classroom management. Have you ever heard a song sung by Billie Holiday called, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it?” What teachers say and do will affect student learning outcomes more than any other factor in our passive students who are accustomed to traditional classrooms.

1. Read this article as a synopsis of the book Tools for Teaching by Dr. Fred Jones, often coined the King of Classroom Management, on how educators can use body language, calmness and silence to reduce back talking and other attitude interruptions. Remember that discipline management has to happen before academics can be learned.

While you read, think about the word discipline. What is its true definition? Who has or exercises discipline? Why would there be breaches of discipline?
2. Assignment: On your blog you will address these questions as you talk about a time you saw a student back talking in the classroom. What did the teacher do? What did the other students do? What could have happened? Write about your experience and how it could have been avoided on your blog. Read three other people’s stories and comment on their experiences.

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What my students really think of school

Since in my EFL classes we are studying a unit called “Education” I decided to ask my advanced students what words they associated with their lives as students. I gave them markers, cut papers and asked them to post words they associated with Student Life.
I was flabbergasted by the results. I asked them to classify the words they had posted into positive or negative categories. This is what they came up with:

Positive words:
party, intelligence, learning, party, having friends, conferences, really caring about learning (I love this student), vacation, fun.

Negative words:
responsibilities, books, junk food, projects, hunger, headaches, hard work, exams, more exams, studying, homework, tests, reading, writing, paying attention, studying, more homework, stress, questions, reading and not understanding, homework, no social life, sacrifice, tests, no sleeping.

putting the cards up

the cards on the wall
As I read their cards, my students noticed that I became more and more interested in their point of view. They quickly reassured me that they were referring to their life in general and that their class with me was the first time they had ever been able to express themselves with the truth.

My students have mostly been schooled in traditional settings in which the teachers own the knowledge and “transmit” this to the students in little controlled chunks.

Many traditional teachers (the majority) believe that our students in Mexico are accustomed to the traditional passive receptive learning model and that we should not change. What my students expressed voices just the opposite. I have been making baby steps towards change in classrooms in my area through this teacher training course, but we definitely need to spread the student’s point of view. We are no longer teaching them effectively. It is time to change.

student centered learning

Be active. Stand up. Create a real life context which begs answers.

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Classroom stories

Hello TKT candidates!

I just wanted to remind you that the following assignment is due before tomorrow.

Assignment: On your blog you will address these questions as you talk about a time you saw a student back talking in the classroom. What did the teacher do? What did the other students do? What could have happened? Write about your experience and how it could have been avoided on your blog. Read three other people’s stories and comment on their experiences.

It was on the “Would you like to be classroom?” post. See you tomorrow.

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Flipping Bloom’s Taxonomy

As one of my mentors, Shelley Wright has a lot to say and has done even more. Besides writing several books and organizing and promoting Connected Educators Month (August, 2013) and maintaining a Powerful Learning Practices site, she constantly is formulating ideas that make me think.

Since our foray into Bloom’s Taxonomy and your responses on your own blogs, I have felt that we had left Bloom with a lot more to investigate. During 2012, Shelley wrote a blog post that I would like to share with you here, so you can savor the flavor of new ways of thinking, of teaching and of learning.

Please note that Shelley’s post fomented 98 comments. Have a good read with less teacher, more student, Flipping Bloom’s Taxonomy.

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Annual Plans

What should an annual plan demonstrate?

An annual plan should share what the students learn through the evidence of learning outcomes, functions and competencies (as noted by the functions and competencies, and what the teacher will do. The accompanying plan covers two months.

Since very few candidates completed an annual plan that shows your competency in planning, please practice with this BIMONTHLY PLAN. It is a SEP-approved format and is currently in use in one of the largest secondary schools in the city.

Download and print the two-page plan and do the following:

1. Combining the competencies and learning evidences, write your ideas for three alternative assessments during this time period which could be used for evaluation, right on the pages themselves.

2. Add three more functions related to the ALTE can-do statements that relate to this level of language learner and to the material that is being covered.

We will compare your ideas in class first thing.


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Is lesson planning a part of Mexican culture? A question asked by disgruntled teachers doing lesson-planning every Sunday evening

Hofstede’s Five Intercultural Dimensions

Do you consider the activity of planning lessons to be especially difficult?  Put your idea

about lesson planning on this poll.

The idea of planning ahead might not be native to Mexican culture on the whole. Most people nowadays do not create the equivalent of IRAs for retirement; nor do most go on vacation creating an itinerary, nor do newlyweds start to put away savings for their future children’s college education. How many people actually make travel arrangements or hotel reservations months ahead of time? Have you ever considered that planning for the future might not be a large part of Mexican culture? Therefore, as teachers, planning lessons may be a difficult skill to acquire, but a necessary task to perform. Have you ever considered that lesson planning may be a cultural teaching skill imported from different educational cultures?

With the world becoming increasingly global and connected, it is important to develop cultural awareness and how that may enable or disable learning. Cultural awareness may be described as a person’s capability to function effectively in situations characterized by cultural diversity. This critical capability enhances effectiveness in learning as well as interpersonal interactions in a wide range of social contexts.

As an educator from one country (USA) living in another country (Mexico), I find myself in crosshairs of cultural diversity every day. Even my interest in facilitating online learning has sparked cultural diversity issues in my teaching situation where most people through fear of mistaking and avoidance of the unknown refuse to learn about incorporating technology into their classrooms or do so with reluctance. Most people working with cross-cultural communication and intercultural training and coaching have heard about Hofstede’s Five Intercultural Dimensions.

Culture may be likened to the “collective programming of the mind,” making distinctions from one group of people (nations, regions, religions, jobs, governments, ethnicities as examples) to another.

What Are  Hofstede’s Five Intercultural Dimensions?

Professor Hofstede’s five intercultural dimensions are

  1. Power Distance: Measures inequality
  2. Individualism: is the degree to which individuals are integrated into groups
  3. Uncertainty Avoidance: indicates to what extent people  feel either uncomfortable or comfortable in unstructured situations.
  4. Masculinity: Masculinity versus femininity, refers to the distribution of emotional roles between the genders
  5. Long-Term Orientation: Long-term oriented societies foster pragmatic virtues oriented towards future rewards, in particular, saving, persistence, and adapting to changing circumstances. Short-term oriented societies foster virtues related to the past and present such as national pride, respect for tradition, preservation of “face”,  and fulfilling social obligations.


It is important to understand that the tool developed by Hofstede is just a support which may be used to stimulate questions and help people from different cultures to share information and discuss meta-communication (communication about the communication process). It is not a way to judge since there are no good or bad intercultural dimensions. The tool may increase awareness about our own culture and others and help identify specific skills needed for candidates for expatriation or identify skills to develop to participate in means of communication inherent in other cultures.

So, does that help explain why lesson planning is so difficult to start doing when it is 7pm on a Sunday evening?

ClipArt by Alabama Learning Exchange


HOTS and LOTS and learning to learn

Here in Mexico, traditional teaching methods are still commonly found in most classrooms from kindergarten to university level. Student-centered classes are few and far between, and teachers who guide on the side are often called out by their principals to make less noise.

With teacher-centered classrooms still prevalent, students are given few opportunities to develop critical thinking skills. Many teacher trainees in Mexico know that they would like to help change the status quo, but have not had the experience to know how to make changes.

By relying on the HOTS of Bloom’s Taxonomy, teachers help students go beyond simple repetition to using target language and vocabulary in complex tasks which promote the use of critical thinking. The addition of reflection activities also provides many meta-cognitive experiences for learners. Find out more about Bloom’s Taxonomy in these Scoop it pages:

His life
A description of the taxonomy
learning outcomes and assessments

Teacher trainees in the Universidad Michoacana were given the task to design learning outcomes for the different levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. A great example of their work can be found on Yesy’s Blog, http://yesyhd.wordpress.com/ and and on Malena’s blog . Please have a look to see what we are doing.

Another blogging educator from Melbourne, Australia just published an interesting post on her blog. I invite you to read Edna’s post at http://whatedsaid.wordpress.com/2012/05/23/learning-isnt-linear/. Please read and share what you feel about the development of critical thinking skills today in Mexico. We welcome your comments.

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Module 2: Lesson Planning

Supposedly it all comes together in one place: the classroom.
We take our planned lesson, enrich it with materials, use aids in the classroom and research using resources to bring more resources for our students. Everything we do has a purpose. Lesson planning does not have to be difficult. Check out Writing lesson plans does not have to be difficult document for help.

Many people often leave out the assessment or evaluation from the lesson plan, thinking that it refers to formal evaluation. Summative, or formative, you need to make sure that your students have achieved the lesson aims and specific objectives. Plan to gather some evidence in the form of student work. You may include a rubric based on the lesson aims. Students might repeat some activities from the lesson without the teacher’s guidance as assessment. Evidence doesn’t always need to be a quiz.

Writing lesson plans is an integral part of teaching. Too many beginning teachers and veterans consider lesson plans a tedious and unnecessary chore which they must do for their supervisors. Once they are working, they resort to lesson plans only when they will be observed or if asked to produce them for revision.

Frustration with lesson plans results from three sources:
1. They do not understand the need: the purpose and rationale, although explained to them, is not felt or shared.
2. Trainees find it difficult to write measurable objectives.
3. Trainees find formats vague or of little help. They struggle to make the plan fit the format instead of the other way around.

To address these frustrations, this post will address these sources.
What will well-planned lessons do for you?
1. Focus you.
2. Provide you with a plan and a back-up plan.
3. Force you to consider the purpose of the lesson and reason for each step.
4. Establish clear goals for the lesson that are understood by you and the learner.
5. Allow you to predict potential problems.
6. Help you design a coherent and cohesive lesson within a framework of a unit or annual plan.
7. Help you make a smooth transition from one activity to the next.
8. Provide you with a written record of the course.
9. Encourage you to examine the lessons critically and make improvements.
10. Added by Luis Felipe from Maravatio: Having the lesson plan in place helps you to stop worrying about what comes next and helps you focus on observing and monitoring to know better how your students are progressing.
11. Add your own in a comment……

Clip Art and photo courtesy of wiki.itap.purdue.edu


The new year: how I think and how I used to think.

To start the new year off on the right foot, I would like to share this post originally written by Shelley Wright in November 2012. As a high school educator in the US, Shelley has developed some pretty powerful learning practices you can investigate further on her blog.

This post is one taken from the 13 most read posts from 2012. All the posts listed on this page have been read by more than 4,000 people. They are all well worth reading. This particular featured post can be found at http://plpnetwork.com/2012/11/08/think/

In the post, Shelley discusses several important points:

  • homework
  • student compliance
  • student attitudes
  • evaluation politics
  • content and critical thinking skills
  • exams and marks,
  • use of technology

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How does knowing about your learning styles help you to be a better teacher?

Hello TKT Candidates,

If we look back at the different sections we have studied in our diploma course, we can see that we have progressed from a very wide knowledge base about how people learn language to how to teach language. On the way we have had a moment or two to do some self-study about our own learning preferences so we can understand better how our students process the information we share with them.Captura de pantalla 2015-11-27 a las 6.28.16 AM

Our next task will be to examine and compare the many different approaches we can use to help our students learn.

Before we can really do that in depth, I would like to be able to have all of you compare your own learning styles and intelligences and reflect about how you learn. I am looking forward to seeing your test results and reflections on your blogs.

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Who is the learner anyway?

Among the uses of a blog is to reflect upon the process of teaching and learning. As we hear the catch words of the day: teacher centered classes, students centered classes, shifting the learning, taking control, and any other catch phrase that has found its way into our teaching vernacular, we might question what is really happening here. Kathy Fagan shares a reflection that we as teachers might all need to think about in our world of changing paradigms. in her blog Free Range ELT.

Read and keep thinking…and learning.

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