ACEnglishteacher

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

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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

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Google like a pro: 12 top tips

Although my digital natives are a dab hand at whatsapping, instagramming, snapchatting… (not facebooking however, that’s just for oldies like me apparently!) some of their other digital skills are pretty basic.

In my blog post Developing digital competence , I looked at The European Framework for digital competence which identifies 5 key areas considered necessary to be a successful digital citizen.  The first one is informationIdentify, locate, retrieve, store and analyse digital information, judging its relevance and purpose.  This is definitely one skill area that my students need to improve in. 

Whilst they are able to eventually locate the information they are looking for, they are not efficient “searchers” and often end up wading through tonnes of irrelevant information and taking far too long. This can be frustrating enough in your own language, but identifying and locating information in a language which isn’t your mother tongue, can be even more so (especially if you have a low level of proficiency.)

Tweaking search terms however, can narrow down the search; saving time and making the task that little bit easier. Introduce students to these simple tweaks to encourage them to become more efficient “searchers” and more competent digital citizens.

Google like a pro (PDF)

 

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Using celebrations to engage students

Add dates of “International days” to your calendar and set a notification for a week before.

Using official celebrations are a great way to engage students and discuss topics which might not be covered in your textbook/curriculum. There are plenty of them, from serious topics and recognised International Days to semi serious and downright bizarre worldwide events, festivals and celebrations …

The problem I had, was finding out about them (usually on the day), leaving no time to prepare something for class.  Then, I had the bright idea of adding them as new events to my google calendar and setting a repeat notification for every year one week before the event.  Now I never miss Grammar Day (!?), No selfies Day or Cheese Doodle Day (today!)

For officially recognised International Days check out the United nations International Days page and if you fancy something a bit more light-hearted go to www.daysoftheyear.com (serious stuff too)

Thanks to the notification I received this week (thanks google calendar), I’ll be celebrating International Women’s Day on the 8th of March with my students.  

I’ve created a Padlet wall (a great easy to use tool for giving students a voice, see my blog post for more ideas how to use Padlet) for students to post a description of the achievements of a woman they would like to celebrate… (see below)

Looking forward to Chocolate Mousse Day, World Wish Day and No Housework Day next month…;-)

Made with Padlet