A great class to watch

We can determine the identifying characteristics that make each class unique. In the process, we have even found several different methodologies in classrooms and lessons that might look just like yours.

In her post comparing a TEFL class online with her own suggestions, Adriana, a past TKT candidate, has shared a GREAT class that I recommend watching because it uses many motivational techniques that work. It is a task-based class, so the learning focus is centered on the students, not on the teacher, and involves the students on many levels.

Check out Adriana’s blog at http://arh1980.wordpress.com/

, , , , ,


Don’t Motivate your Students

You are probably wondering what that means…and I really mean it, don’t motivate your students. If you motivate your students, you are still doing work for them that THEY should be doing. Motivating. Instead, engage your students. Involve your students. Let them have control of their learning. How?

Let them make decisions about their knowledge. Let them set their own goals. Stop trying to control them, let them control their learning processes.

I recently took a good hard look at the typical school classroom in most schools in the town where  I live. In every classroom, the seats are lined up to face the front facing the teacher, the center of attention.

Students sit and listen while professors drone on, and once in a while students get to speak during pair work. Students in Mexican universities are required to study English in order to graduate, so they come in thousands (five thousand students registered this past semester in our Language Department and at times, hundreds are turned away!). There are no discipline problems, this is university level studies and they take it seriously.

So, what does engaging your students mean? This is what I think

Asking them

  • to reflect
  • to evaluate
  • to stand back and observe what they are doing
  • to learn not only from their product but also from their process. If we say that life is the journey you travel to get to your destination, and the fun is in how you get there, then why do we place so much emphasis on the product?

ASCD author and Annual Conference presenter Bob Sullo said that educators could be more successful with their teaching if they invited their students to be collaborators in their own learning.

Point in case: A secondary level teacher once gave the final bimester exam at the beginning of the bimester…but disguised as a diagnostic exam. The students got their exams back on the day of their bimester exam. Their task was to correct all of the mistakes they had made previously and based on their corrections, they got their exam grade…now isn’t that extraordinary? After the first time, the students caught on that what they were viewing was their study guide, which was given to them at the beginning of the marking period. The AHA moment was tangible as everyone learned what they were going to study at the beginning, and set new personal goals for themselves during the next bimester. Now that was engagement.

  • How would you place more emphasis on the process of learning?
  • Would you let your students design their own rubrics? Share expectations?
  • Give them a choice and so create ownership?
  • Go beyond the classroom walls?

What ideas do you have?

Original Toondo cartoon by author.

, , , , , ,


Literature Circles

literature circles

Reading is a complex activity and we know that many of our learners are not accustomed to reading in their first language, let alone reading in the target language. When we create a collaborative communicative context for students to work on subskills in the target language, we begin to promote not only reading subskills, but we also promote collaboration, speaking skills, writing skills and listening skills.

It is difficult to work with any language skill without integratiang it. Working with just one skill causes language to be unnatural and out of context with the other language skills. Literacy circles gives students authentic reasons to communicate, provides a supportive learning environment and breaks down the tasks that students must do in order to practice and become proficient at reading skills.

Look at the Literature_Circles written by past students of the TKT course.
What is your opinion of Literature Circles? Can they help promote reading in L1 or L2 in your learning/teaching situation? For foreign language learners are they especially helpful? Why? Think about these questions as you investigate more about Literature Circles. I recommend this video about L.Circles. The class that is represented in the video is in middle school and the students were not aware that they were being filmed.
Investigate the links included in the PPT for more information or conduct your own search.

And now the big question: How would you use them in your classes?

, , , , , , , , , ,


Alternative to Learning Apps: Kahoots

Kahoot is a game-based digital platform. It can be used both to introduce topics and to check on learners’ understanding of a topic. As a coach, you can create your own quizzes to use in class. There are also lots of public options you can use. It is really interactive and fun to use in your classroom. To do it, you need to create an account. Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Open the link on the platform or go to the suggested app.

  2. Tap sign up if you don’t have an account.

    3. Tap Use as a teacher. Sign up with your email. Google is a good option if you have an account. Follow the steps and fill out all the required information. You will now have access to a massive selection of public kahoots, and have the option to create your own quizzes.

    4. Tap New K to create your own kahoot and tap quiz. Give your quiz a title and complete all required information. Tap OK, go. Finally, start adding questions to your quiz.

    5. When you have added all the questions, tap Save and I’m done. When you are ready to use your quiz, tap Play, choose your mode (teams or individual), and project it so learners can see the Game PIN.  Learners will need to open the app, so add the game PIN and name.

Leave a comment

Lexis: Unit 2 Reflection and Application

Let’s reflect on what we saw in class. Learning terminology can be tricky, so follow these tips to make learning meaningful.

  • Provide continuous opportunities for applying words in receptive and productive situations.
  • Recycle often.
  • Go for more than the basic vocabulary: gradual expansion is the key.
  • Organize words to help organize knowledge.
Be aware of
  • Cultural considerations with connotations.
  • Word changes through form.
Videos and articles:
Read this E-how Website where you can get ideas for learning vocabulary.
Watch this video (Cambridge University Press) for exposing vocabulary. Review this video by TEFL videos about teaching with timelines.
An extra outside of TKT: In our session, we touched upon the theme of sight words, also known as function words. 220 of them reside in the Dolch list, and most of these words are taught at beginning levels of English as a foreign language. We know that our students have great difficulty learning them. Why are they so difficult to keep straight? Are they easily memorized? Watch this video by Improve-Education which gives us some ideas of Sight Words and Function words.
Vocabulary is one of the foundations of learning language and it is just as important as grammar when learning a language. We learn and produce vocabulary by using words we learn in context.

Look at this Slideshare presentation, Teaching Vocabulary. is there anything we can take from here for our own use as learners and teachers?

The Internet is full of activities where learners of new terminology and vocabulary can practice and play. Look at the Slideshare presentation ICT Tools for Teaching Vocabulary.  What game, worksheet, interactive Web tool, or just plain fun activity can you use from this presentation or any other space? Set up your own game using the words that you must learn from the TKT glossary and create and play with your own game.

Challenge yourself: Create a game and send me the sharing link in an email. Give a short introduction about the tool you chose. Why do you recommend this tool? How would you use it with your learners? I will post it on this blog so everyone can benefit from interactive terminology practice, tips, strategies, and ideas. The sooner you post, the better everyone can practice in a timely fashion.

, , , ,


Fun ways to learn vocabulary

Do you remember memorizing lists of words, some of them with no apparent relationship? Friday came along, and it was test time! Not only did you have to know the word’s definition, you had to spell it correctly also.
Well, I think those days might be past history. There are so many different tools available on the Web 2.0 that memorizing is a thing of the past. You can premier a new way of learning and review all the glossary terms in a new, fun way.

Since part of this course is learning about the terminology that unites all the English teachers around the world, and some of you are advanced in your tech knowledge, I invite you to set up a section for TKT glossary vocabulary for public sharing on your blog. Any of the following activities can help you study: writing a mini-dictionary on Book Creator, creating a quiz on Kahoot, or even designing a crossword puzzle It could be a great way to study!

, , , ,


Great Tools: Movie Clips for Grammar and Vocabulary Goals

Ever get caught in the “explanation” game, where the teacher-centered explanation, the worksheets you supply, and the extra practice you give on drill exercises all together don’t seem to help all your students get the grammar point?

Sometimes you just have to use material outside the coursebook.
Teachers around the world who share ideas about waking up your classes through blogs have plenty of ideas. One amazing thing about blogs is the ability to empower ourselves together. So, our first sharing activity will be about sharing movie clips. Visit Using Movie Clips to add your ideas and see what others have to share. Maybe something will work for your students.



, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Welcome to the TKT Course

You made it! You are about to embark on a journey that will help you be not just a well-prepared teacher to take the TKT exams, but also a great teacher with lots of tricks, tools and toys up his or her sleeve.

Welcome to the TKT Preparation Course I am very excited about starting a fresh course with you.

TKT is a test about teaching English to speakers of other languages. In this course, you will not only be learning strategies to help you pass the test, but you will also discover strategies, techniques, and methods to improve your teaching.
You might end up shaking your foundations and at the very least, breaking your own traditions to let some new ones in.

Subscribe to the blog for any new posts or pages. In order to grow with this course you must participate in the post forums in an active and substantial manner. Please read the page Blogging Guidelines, located in a tab at the top of this page for details on how to post.

Substantial= 75 words initial post with a minimum amount of grammar and spelling mistakes. 25 words minimum to reply to someone. Posting, ”Good job!” is not enough.

Special Requirements:
80% attendance and participation
100% self-discovery work, essays, posts, and assignments, online or offline….you must embark on your learning journey
80% GPA  (grade point average) on the three module exams

As part of the class, you will create your own blog which you will use in this class as your interconnected b-portfolio. Recommended: WordPress.com. WordPress will walk you through the set-up process. Set up your blog before class starts; you may use the link on the right of this page entitled Teacher Challenge; this is a step-by-step procedural to help you set up your blog.

You may follow these steps from the Teacher Challenge. Although Edublogs is used in the challenge mentioned, please use WordPress.com

, ,


What to Do With Book Reports

So, we get our students to read books. It helps their vocabulary and grammar. But then we ask them to do a book report.

If we ask them to review the plot, they are sure to be copying from online versions of Wikipedia or Amazon reviews. There are tons of places where they can copy and paste information and finish their book report within five minutes, many times without even reading the book.

A list of student interactives can be found on this page With these graphic organizers, thought-provoking questions accompany each graphic organizer in each sub-theme that students explore.
But what about if we set up their graphic organizers beforehand so they know what is expected of them? I’d like to share a wonderful lesson plan I came across while studying in the Electronic Village Online Courses offered by TESOL for free the first five weeks of every year. This particular course was called Classdigitools, a well-named thoroughly enjoyable course geared towards the exploration of Internet tools to use in the classroom in the four skills areas.

Here are some samples:

Gone are the copy and paste days. Hello critical thinking and creative processes!


Tips for Success in the TKT class

From the e-zine Faculty Focus, Edition September 24, 2012, I’d like to share a letter that Dr. Dawn Kaiser, a faculty manager and fulltime online teacher  for American Intercontinental University shares with her adult students. When I read it I said, aha! that is exactly like my students and me.

Many TKT candidates feel so nervous about returning to study, about using new technologies, or about achieving their educational goals that they do not even know where to begin. Like Dawn, I feel luck to be able to work with adult students who are going back to school or continuing their preparation for a myriad of reasons. Some people need help following writing guidelines, preparing an academic essay, or using online tools, thus affecting their self-esteem or even academic achievement.

Dawn began sharing a letter of advice to her students, and the result has been positive, opening dialogue and preparing the way towards hard work and commitment. Like Dawn, I want my students to learn that I care about my them and am here to help them succeed. I would also like to remind them that it is going to take hard work, and that they are the ones who are ultimately responsible for their learning. So, as Dawn’s letter invited to do, I adapted it to meet our TKT needs to let our learning and self-esteem grow. Here it is with changes made to adapt the letter to our situation.

Dear Students:

You made the choice to work towards a TKT certificate and are taking classes which invite you to work online. Now what? It does not matter when you begin your journey, as any time you begin to reach your educational goals is the perfect time. You are looking at a long road ahead of you, and I will not lie, it will not be easy. Committing to your educational endeavor is like a lifestyle change that will take just that, a commitment, and it is a big one that will take a lot of work. However, believe me, as I am speaking from experience, when I say to you, it will be worth it!

Although you have the option of working on paper-based portfolios and products, I know you can beat the steep learning curve and learn online techniques; and I have shared four tips to help you get on a smart track in order to reach the finish line and get certified and prepared for today’s teaching world.

1. Guard Against Self-Destructive Behaviors — You made the first step by applying to to this course and signing up for class. Now, the real work begins. We all have the ability to choose our paths, to reach our goals, and build the life of our dreams. The challenge is in believing in yourself.

Next look at how your behavior, emotions, and thoughts are affecting your study habits. Are you procrastinating reading your assigned work, thinking you can just pull whatever information you need from the Internet, not starting your assignments until the last minute, etc.? Examine your self-destructive behaviors. What can you do differently to be more positive and to gain the best experience out of each and every class?

2. Set Attainable Goals — What is your vision of your future? Look at next week, next month, your current class, and each class after right up to the end of your degree. Include goals for all the roles in your life. What is important in attaining those goals you have set? To make a permanent change in how you study, and balance school with the other roles in your life, you will need to set short-term goals — what is due this week? How much time do I need to set aside to complete this assignment? Then look at long-term goals, the class as a whole, and every class you need to take. Once you set your goals, continue to track them so you can see the progress you are making. Tracking your goals will keep you motivated as you check off each task you accomplish.

3. Set up a Support System — You are responsible for your own success, but we all get by with a little help from our friends and family. That is why it is important to build a healthy support system. Share your educational goals and how you are planning to accomplish them. Let others know how important this is to you to have their support. Enlist coworkers, as you never know you may find yourself a study-buddy. Do you have school-age children? Study with them. I actually spent an hour every evening with my son studying. It was a great bonding time between us, and he saw just how important learning was for the both of us. Lean on the people in your network when you feel discouraged or ready to give up due to a difficult subject, and celebrate with them when you reach your goals.

4. Ask Questions — This is your education, and you will get out of it what you put into it. Any time you find yourself struggling to figure out a specific problem, an assignment, or even just not sure what a term means, ASK. I am here to help. If you do not ask, I will not know that you are struggling. I am part of your support system, and I want to see you succeed in the class just as much as you do.

Going back to school may not be easy, but with the right mindset, motivation, and support system you can do it. Believe in yourself, and your ability to learn, and you will succeed!

Thank you Dr. Dawn Kaiser for putting it so well.

, , , , , , ,