ACEnglishteacher

Transforming teaching and learning for the 21st Century


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Teaching and learning with a wiki: Part 2 Google Sites

I recently updated a post from 2016 Learning and teaching using a wiki following the closure of Wikispaces (the platform I was using to host my wiki.)  When I heard about the impending closure of Wikispaces my first reaction was to panic!  What was I going to do? I had spent hours learning how to use it and hours adding content and, whatsmore, so had my students.

After the initial panic, I started to consider my options rationally.  Without a doubt I wanted to carry on using a wiki with my students so the next step was to research the alternatives on offer.   Continue reading


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Technology to reach more students, more often.

I am excited to have been accepted as a TeachingEnglish blogger on the British Council’s website www.teachingenglish.org.uk and to have published my first blog post there.  The topic I chose to write about this month is one that I feel passionate about, using technology to enhance the teaching and learning process.

What ICT tools or resources do you currently use in your classrooms and why? What are the pedagogical benefits of the tools you use and how do you evaluate their effectiveness as a learning resource?

Read about how I use Google Classroom and wikis to break down the classroom walls, making learning English more personal, relevant and engaging.

Technology to reach more students, more often.

 


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Increase productivity at school (and at home) with Google Keep…

It’s that time of year when we are busy making and breaking New Year’s resolutions.  I have to say that I have never been one for making resolutions only at the start of a new year,  I am constantly making (and breaking) them! However, there is one resolution I made a while ago that I try never to break… be productive and manage my time efficiently!

As a keen advocate of anything that can make life that bit easier and help me with my resolution, I added a page called Bright Ideas to my blog; a place to share these ideas and discoveries…

I found out about the latest Bright Idea whilst training to earn the Google Certified Educatator level 1 certificate. I learnt to use some Google tools that have made both my personal and working life more productive and helped me save lots of time. One of these is Google Keep, an online note-taking tool. Continue reading

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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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Tools to engage students and teachers

I’m finally back after an extended Christmas break. I would feel guilty about being neglectful (especially after all my good intentions) if I didn’t have a really good reason for my absence over the past few weeks…bett2017

I’ve been working on an exciting new project to help develop and accelerate learners’ speech and language skills in L2 with @hellochatta and was lucky enough to get invited to #Bett2017 to present it.  

Apart from meeting lots of amazing people involved in education and bumping into a few old faces (very small world,) I picked up some interesting ideas and learnt about some great tools to engage and inspire my students.  

There was so much going on, it was impossible to see everything, however these are some of the things that caught my eye over the four days: Continue reading


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Teaching and learning with a wiki: Part 1

This is an updated version of a post from October 2016 when I was using Wikipsaces to host my wiki.  Since the closure of Wikispaces I have started using new Google Sites and although much of the content in this post remains the same, I have made some modifications.  I have also renamed the post Learning and teaching with a wiki: Part 1 as I will dedicate Part 2 to setting up and using a wiki with new Google Sites.

One thing that remains the same, is that I am still convinced using a wiki is a great way to facilitate learning and provide students with so many more opportunties for learning than they would otherwise have and this is how it all began for me…

After watching a great session from the British Council “Teaching for Success” conference presented by my good friend and former colleague Jo Budden, Helping learners survive – and thrive – in the digital world, it got me thinking about how I help my students to survive and thrive in this digital world.  At my school, ICT resources are quite limited. There are no formal ICT classes and mobile devices are banned!  Faced with this situation and a determination to ensure my students leave school capable digital citizens, I needed a solution. The solution was a wiki… Continue reading

Powtoon


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Using Powtoon to enhance teaching and learning

I first started looking for online presentation and animation tools when I got interested in blended learning.  Looking for ways to give students access to information outside of class, I came across Powtoon.  I still use the free version, although there are paid options which give you access to more features, templates and greater flexibility.  With the free version you can still upload to YouTube, embed in your website, blog or wiki, download as a pdf or share your video on social media.

Some of the ways I have used this tool so far include:

To welcome students and set expectations

Continue reading


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Padlet, versatile and simple.

Ways to use PadletI have been using Padlet a lot recently.  What I like about it, is its versatility and simplicity.  For anyone who hasn’t used it before, Padlet is a digital canvas which works like a piece of blank paper where you can post text, links and upload images, video, audio, documents…

You can customise your canvas by changing the wallpaper (background) and the layout (free form, stream or grid.)  There are different privacy settings (useful when working with younger students), and the option to moderate posts before they appear on the canvas.  Padlet Backpack is a paid version which offers more control, privacy and extra security for schools.

I have only used group canvases that I have created in my own Padlet account, although students can create their own if they set up an account.  I then share the link or embed the canvas on the class wiki.  In this way students don’t need to log in and I have more control (a bonus if you aren’t using Padlet Backpack and working with teens!)

Ways I’ve used Padlet:

Continue reading


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5 ways to use “Wheel Decide”

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I first heard about Wheel Decide in a blog post on eltplanning.com.  A free online spinner tool that allows you to create your own digital wheels or use one of the many wheels which have already been created.  I have used it in all my classes since and it has gone down a storm.  There are so many ways you could use this in class but here are some which have worked for me. Continue reading