ACEnglishteacher

Transforming teaching and learning for the 21st Century


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Motivated teens

Rather than “Motivating teens” I called this post “Motivated teens” as I am particularly interested in seeking out, building on and maintaining intrinsic motivation.

Providing teens with a quick fix of extrinsic motivation is not that difficult. Show me a teen that doesn’t like a Kahoot, a game of Bingo or some kind of reward (preferably one that improves their mark or tastes yummy…) The more difficult task is setting up and maintaining the conditions for learning where intrinsic motivation comes to the fore (bringing about more sustainable learning.)

On the Teaching English website read about an activity that I am using in class to try and do just this …

Motivated teens: A cross cultural digital exchange

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Bringing real life into the classroom

This will be a short but sweet one, but oh so very sweet!

If anyone isn’t aware, last night Liverpool FC left us all at a loss for words and wondering what the heck had just happened?

Liverpool faced a monumental task going into the second leg of the Champions League semi-final, having lost to Barcelona 3-0 in the first leg at the Camp Nou.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, star players got injured and it seemed like it had been good while it lasted…

However, while many were busy writing them off, some never lost hope (least of all the players and the manager) and Liverpool ended up beating Barcelona 4-0!  An incredible example of resolve, strength and belief; the shirts said it all “Don’t give up!” It’s hard for anyone not to admire what Liverpool managed to do last night (even a Barcelona fan!)

So off I toddled to class today ready to wind a few students up (who incidentally had been winding me up all week…) What I hadn’t considered was the potential that this surprising news had for learning opportunities (until they hit me in the face that is.) Continue reading


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Flipped learning meets cooperative learning #2: student-generated materials

One of the biggest considerations when you flip learning is how to best use class time. When I first started flipping classes, most of my attention was focused on the individual space (in my case the instructional videos my students watch and the accountability tasks they do)  Although it’s important that this side of FL is well thought out and presented, the group space is where all the magic happens…

It didn’t take me long to realise this and as soon as I did, I turned my attention to thinking about how best to make the most of it.

As a big fan of cooperative learning, I’ve been trying to incorporate some of the cooperative learning strategies my students are already familiar with to practise content delivered in the individual space.  Some of you will already know that one of my favourites involves nothing more than a ball of wool (no it’s not knitting, although I have been known to knit the odd thing) Flipped learning meets cooperative learning #1: the spider’s web  

I am also a fan of using student-generated material and when I heard Tatiana Golechkova’s talk on Using student-generated activities in class: problems and solutions at IATEFL 2018 I immediately thought “group space.”

Usually I post about tried and tested (by me) activities, but,  I have to admit I haven’t tried this one yet. However, I thought it was such a good idea for a group space activity that I’d share it anyway.

Task

Students create and share quizzes to practise target language.

Procedure

After checking understanding of content delivered in the individual space and clarifying any doubts in the group space, students work in teams to create a quiz based on the target content to test their peers’ understanding.

Students should be familiar with types of questions they can ask. You can provide models of questions depending on the content. You may want each team to prepare different kinds of quizzes e.g multiple choice, matching, closed test, true/false, fill in the blanks, open-ended questions…or all teams to prepare quizzes which include a variety of question types.

Your role will be to monitor, advise and guide students to create appropriate quiz questions.

When all teams are happy with their quiz, they can share with their peers.  I suggest setting up different stations for each quiz which teams move around, completing their classmates’ quizzes. You can set a time limit if time is limited or allow teams to work at their own pace.

For the answers, I suggest:

  • teams hand in their team answer sheet to the relevant station for correction at the end of the activity and each team member of that station can correct the other team’s answers

or

  • if you think it is more opportune that students receive immediate feedback, teams can prepare an answer sheet for their quiz which is made available when a team completes the quiz at that station.

Alternatives

One alternative is for students to create a digital quiz using a tool like Google Forms. Students can then create the quizzes in teams, pairs or individually and they can be easily shared with the class.  Think about how many different quizzes you will have for one content area!

Another alternative is for students to create quizzes on different content.  My idea is to use this activity to revise for the end of year exams.  One team, for example, creates a quiz on the present simple, one on the present continuous, one on the past simple etc… When teams have created the quizzes, they can move through the different stations revising content from the whole year.

Another option is to provide students with a rubric for creating the quizzes and to give them a mark for their quiz as part of their formative assessment. I think this is a good idea anyway even if you don’t grade their quizzes,  as clear guidelines (the rubric) help students to create high quality material.  Rubrics can also be used for peer evaluation of quizzes. Is the quiz too / very / quite easy/difficult? Are the instructions easy to understand? Are the examples clear?  etc…

I would also encourage students to leave their doubts/questions about the content at the station for their “expert” peers to resolve after the quizzes have been completed.

If you choose to set up this activity as a cooperative learning activity rather than a traditional group activity (as I intend to), students should be clear of their respective roles and responsibilities within the team and a rubric provided for self and peer evaluation not only of the final product (the quiz) but the effectiveness of their teamwork.  As a number of teachers at my school use cooperative learning strategies and activities in class, my students are already familiar with expectations regarding teamwork and the protocol for self and peer evaluation. Also the teams, and individual roles within teams are established at the beginning of every term.

If you choose to integrate  cooperative learning into your classes I highly recommend investing time in setting it up and preparing students for it in order to achieve optimal results. It is not something most students will do well without the appropriate “training.”

As I said, this activity is not tried and tested yet, but soon will be.  Stay posted for an update 😉 In the meantime I highly recommend Tatiana Golechkova’s talk which considers both the advantages and disadvantages of using student generated materials in class,  An evaluation of the use of student-generated materials by H Brown 2013 and Use of Student-Generated Questions in the Classroom teachingonpurpose.org 2016.

 


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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


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Awards, rewards… Friend or foe?

Those of you who have read my first post will know that I have an hour’s commute to work.  Recently I was looking for some new podcasts, to make the journey that bit less boring (after 10 years doing the same journey, there are only so many donkeys, cows, sheep and goats I can marvel at along the way…)

I came across TEFL commute  A podcast for English language teachers, a “light-hearted listen aimed at brightening your daily commute”  Lindsay Clanfield, Shaun Wilden and James Taylor (the creators).  It definitely does what it says on the packet! There’s a website to boot, where you can find the links to all the podcasts, related articles, discussion questions and resources.  If that’s not enough, there’s a Facebook page where you can get the latest news, or you can follow them on Twitter.  They’ve just completed their third series and and I’m looking forward to the fourth…

One episode which particularly caught my attention was Episode 8  in the final series, which was inspired by their nomination for this year’s ELTon awards. In this episode Continue reading