ACEnglishteacher

All things EFL… A collection of practical ideas, resources for the classroom and thoughts on EFL today

What makes a good teacher word cloud


Leave a comment

Anyone who read my very first post Blogging and the art of procrastination will know that, among other things, it took me a while to find a name for this blog.

Why ACE?  What can I say, I’m an 80’s kid… Everything that’s “awesome” now, was “ace” in the 80’s (where I was growing up) and it’s one of my all-time favourite words. Synonyms are; excellent, outstanding, first-class, first-rate, brilliant, expert

So, am I an ace English teacher? Not always.  Do I aspire to be?  Of course, hence this blog…

Advertisements


2 Comments

Flipped learning. And we’re off…

If you read my blog post back in February Why flipped learning has got me excited, you will know all about my new found enthusiasm for flipped learning.  After months of delving deeper, doing courses and webinars (including getting flipped learning certified) and connecting with people in the FL community, I’ve finally made a start 🙂

I decided to flip with one class to begin with as I neither have much free time nor much experience…

After getting the go-ahead from school in September, I started to plan out how I was going to introduce the idea of flipped learning to parents and students.

I had the idea of flipping from the off.  

There was a whole class parents’ evening mid September with tutors, to give general information for the school year ahead; expectations, assessment, a reminder of school rules, any new implementations etc…

I decided to put an informative document on the school webpage about flipped learning and send a note home to parents explaining my intention to introduce a new model of teaching and learning and directing them to the information about it. I asked them to read the document before they came to parents’ evening and bring with them any questions or doubts that they had about flipped learning, essentially flipping instruction! A stroke of genius I thought, however, the date was changed and I couldn’t make it.  As it turned out nobody seemed to have any doubts and they all thought it was a wonderful idea according to the tutor!  

flipped learning video

My idea however, had been to demonstrate flipping in action; the idea of accessing and engaging with the information at home and the importance of coming to class prepared (with your doubts and questions if you have any.)  I was kind of hoping that at least one parent wouldn’t have done their “prep” highlighting (in a light-hearted manner of course ;-)) the importance of coming to class prepared!  

As for the kids, I introduced the term “flipped classroom” in class without giving anything away.  I checked understanding of the word “flipped” and we did a think-pair-share to discuss what a flipped classroom might be…

Students then went home and watched the video to check if they were correct.  I embedded the video in a google form and uploaded it to our wiki.  After watching the video they completed the quiz questions in preparation for class.

Captura de pantalla (332)

When students came to class we checked understanding using the cooperative learning strategy “folio giratorio” (I don’t know what this activity is called in English.) In teams students passed a piece of paper round adding anything they remembered about flipped learning until I called time (if students can’t think of anything I generally allow them to pass and have more thinking time and they usually remember something by the time the piece of paper appears next time round.)  Teams shared their ideas in a whole class feedback session and any questions were answered.

Students then worked in their teams to come up with a kind of “protocol” (rules and guidelines) to ensure flipping our classroom would be successful.  We discussed and combined all the ideas to create our final list.

And so it all began, full of hope and optimism…

I’d love to say that it’s going swimmingly, however, I’ve already faced one of my biggest fears 😦  The next video and quiz I assigned for the preparation task at home was completed by 14 out of 25 students! Imagine my horror!  What happened to the “protocol”??? Protocol Schmotocol…. Needless to say there were issues addressed in class that day…

Now, I’d like to say there’s a happy ending to this story, however the story is just beginning…

Things are looking up though, I’ve just assigned the next video task and although the deadline isn’t for another 2 days, half the class have already done it (including some of my “no shows” from last time and it’s bank holiday!) so I’m feeling optimistic 😉

The only way is up…. (surely?)


Leave a comment

Flipped learning meets cooperative learning: #1 the spider’s web

September, the start of the new school year and time for reflection.  What worked last year? What didn’t? What can I do to improve learning in my classroom? What can my students do to become better learners?  What innovations in education might benefit my students? What’s working for other teachers and students?  These are some of the questions I’ve been asking myself over the last couple of weeks as I’ve been getting my teaching head back on (not that we ever really get it off, par for the course being a teacher!)

Back in June after reflecting upon the year and doing some self/student evaluations, I decided that the protagonists of my classroom this year (apart from my students of course) will be flipped learning and cooperative learning. Flipping in earnest will be new for my students this year, however cooperative learning is something we introduced last year. Students are finally getting used to this way of working and starting to understand (and reap) some of the benefits…

After doing a couple of courses at school, most of the teachers in my department have engaged with cooperative learning methods and students are now familiar with various CL strategies.  So, I’ve been thinking about how to incorporate some of these strategies to make the best use of the extra class time I’ll have when I start flipping learning with one of my classes this September.  

spider´s web

One of my favourite cooperative learning activities is the Tela de Araña (Spider’s web). I’ve also heard it called the “web of understanding.”

To use this strategy you’ll need a ball of wool (and a bit of patience if you’re working with younger learners!)

Students sit or stand in a circle and the ball of wool is passed to and fro to create “a spider’s web.”

Although our course leader demonstrated the spider’s web as a team-building, getting to know you activity, it can used in many more ways, from storytelling to checking understanding to recalling facts, summarising… It’s as versatile as you are creative…

Continue reading


5 Comments

Making videos: Flipped learning

Feeling inspired this week as I’ve just got my Flipped Learning level 1 certification (Flipped Learning Global Initiative) and I’m ready to take up the challenge offered at the end of the course. I know Why flipped learning makes sense, I know How to do it (the theory) now all that remains (the challenge) is to DO it!

I’ve already dabbled in FL Flip writing in the EFL classroom, Why flipped learning has got me excited but have yet to make my first video and flip in earnest. Although I have learnt that flipping is not all about the videos, they will be an integral part of flipping vocabulary and grammar in my classes.  My aim this summer then, is to get to grips with some of the video making options and tools, lose my inhibitions (!?) and make some videos…

Clapperboard

Apart from some great advice offered on the course, I’ve also been getting inspiration from other educators who are already flipping their teaching. Continue reading

light bulb


Leave a comment

Save time planning lessons with Google Docs

It’s that time of year again…almost but not quite there! In some respects these are the most difficult days to plan for.  There’s no new content to be taught, exams are over and students are waiting for their reports, daydreaming about the summer holidays…  Unfortunately whilst students are in mode “relax,”  teachers are definitely not! There’s still class and you’re running around like a headless chicken: correcting exams, writing reports, preparing resits and planning lessons!

Over the years, teachers build up a large bank of resources. My problem is that over these years as my memory has suffered the effects of ageing, remembering and retrieving this information has become increasingly difficult.  Around this time last year while juggling everything else and desperately trying to remember “that great activity” I had done at the end of the summer term the year before (yes my memory is that short) I had a bright idea.  Once again my old friend Google had a hand to play (I make no apologies for being a Google enthusiast, I know it knows everything about me, but it makes my life a whole lot easier…)

Anyone already familiar with my blog may know that I am a huge fan of maximising time. I want to do my job well, however, I also want enough free time to re-energise and avoid burn out! I believe by making small changes we can save huge amounts of time (minimising frustration and stress) without compromising the quality of our classes. This is one of the reasons I created the page Bright ideas to share some of these small changes which have made a difference. Continue reading

Quote determination


1 Comment

Blogging and the art of determination

This post is a “Happy Birthday” message to my blogging self and a kind of sequel to my very first blog post Blogging and the art of procrastination.  It may have taken me a while to get going, but I’m still here one year on (along with my handful of followers, thank you!)

When I realised I’d been blogging for nearly a year, I decided to look back at my first post in which I list my initial doubts and reservations about becoming a blogger (the reasons for my procrastination.)  So, one year on, what have I learned?  What have I still got to learn and how did procrastination become determination? Continue reading

Flip writing


1 Comment

Flip writing in the EFL classroom

For too many years I’ve been complaining about the standard of my students’ writing, the lack of effort they put into it (some don’t even bother to do it such is their lack of effort!) and the disregard for the personalised comments I painstakingly write on each and every writing task (I teach 12-16 year olds by the way.) I have been known to make clear my resulting feelings of frustration and disappointment quite vociferously, none of which makes for a positive classroom atmosphere…

Enough was enough!   After speaking to my students I came to the conclusion that a lot of them don’t write well in English because:

  • They find it difficult
  • They find some of the topics uninspiring
  • They take shortcuts and don’t follow my “steps to success”
  • They don’t reflect on the writing process
  • They are only interested in knowing their mark

So, how to ensure they find it less difficult, more engaging, follow the
necessary steps, reflect on the task and my comments to get better at writing?  How to set them up for success?

Flip it!

Anyone who read my recent blog post Why flipped learning as got me excited will know that I am as much a newbie to flipped learning as I am an enthusiast.  Since participating in the EVO sessions back in February, I have been trying to incorporate (little by little) flipped learning into my teaching practice and the “writing dilemma” seemed to be a perfect opportunity to try out some flipping… Continue reading