ACEnglishteacher

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

google classroom


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Flip learning with Google Classroom

This post is kind of the 3rd installment in my flipped learning “diary.”  Some of you will know back in February last year, I got very excited about flipped learning (Why flipped learning has got me excited.) after completing the EVO sessions.  I consequently started to dip my toes in and test out the water until last September when I decided to flip learning in earnest with one class.

At this point, I was feeling pretty pleased with myself, brimming with confidence and enthusiasm, having done lots of background reading and completing the Flipped Learning Certified 1 course.  I was all “badged up” and ready to go…

In October I wrote a post about getting started, Flipped learning and we’re off…  I worked hard to get students on board and got in touch with parents to explain how flipped learning worked, the benefits for teachers and students and their role as parents in the flipped learning model.  I received no opposition from parents or kids, so far so good 😉   

Then came the dreaded slap in the face.  I knew it would probably happen but I wasn’t prepared for it to happen on such a large scale.  First assignment, only 14 out of 25 students did their prep for class (and despite my optimism, things didn’t get much better.)

This is how that post ended back in October…

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 ….. so I’m feeling optimistic 😉
The only way is up…. (surely?)

Unfortunately it wasn’t.  I continued to struggle to get students to do the prep on time.  I tried to find out what the problem was…

  • Were the videos too difficult, easy, boring…? No.
  • Were the tasks to check understanding/accountability tasks too difficult, easy, boring…? No.

I came to the conclusion that the majority of the students not doing the prep just weren’t used to doing their homework (copying their classmates’ exercises at breaktime before class wasn’t an option anymore!) For some students it was a case of being so disorganised they were forgetting what they needed to do or where the task was, and if on the slight off chance they remembered and decided to do it, they couldn’t because they’d forgotten their one of many logins for different classes/platforms/apps etc…

I have to admit I was feeling pretty defeated.  Week after week of the same thing happening was getting exhausting and I was feeling alone and miserable (I’m a lone flipper at my school.)   I talked to some colleagues and asked for advice.  Would they continue in my situation?  Was it a lost cause?  Should I just go back to traditional methods after the Christmas holidays?  The one response that really resonated (and which was probably meant to steer me in the opposite direction) was Is it really worth it?  That’s when I was finally able to pick myself up, dust myself down and get on with the job…

Yes, it was!  I just needed to find a solution to the problem…

Fortunately I’d just received news from Google that our application for an upgrade to Google for Education had been successful.  That meant that I could now use Google Classroom.  Could this be the solution I was looking for?

And so a new chapter began… Continue reading

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wheel decide


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3 more ways to use Wheel Decide

Back in 2016, I wrote a post about using Wheel Decide, a free online spinner tool.  This tool has proved to be a favourite amongst my students and makes a frequent appearance in class.  It has the power to transform something quite mundane (like a gap fill exercise) into something quite exciting.  

In my original post I shared 5 ways which I am using Wheel Decide to enhance teaching and learning in the classroom.  In this post I’ll share 3 more ways that I have used this tool successfully with my students. Continue reading


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Look what you missed in 2017!

The end of a year/beginning of a new one is often a time for reflection when we look back at our triumphs and failures…

A common post I see around now is “My most popular posts in “insert year” “My top 10 posts of “insert year”
I thought about doing the same but then felt kind of sorry for the not-so-fortunate ones. So I’ve dragged my least popular posts of 2017 out of hibernation to give them another chance in 2018.

Here’s what you might have missed …

Word Art 23

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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.   Continue reading


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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…

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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

Flip writing


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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