12 October 2018

Literacy - The News

You check your social media feed and news! news! news! abound. Not only updates from friends, family and all the other random/less random connections, but all the shared news of current events around the world. Some may affect you while others probably don't have a direct, apparent connection to your life. 

However, as you tread through this maze of updates and news, which are the ones that you can truly trust? 

In a world saturated with news and the fake news, this is an issue that students often need guidance with. 

The News Literacy Project is a great place to get started. 

Although geared for students between Grades 5 to 12, this is a source for possible lessons in other contexts as well, for example in ELT contexts. 

The News Literacy Project is yet another effort to guide students to think critically while helping them to improve their confidence in recognizing what is indeed fact and what is, regrettably, fake news/fiction.  There are resources for educators, a quiz on news literacy and more to explore. 

Another source which may be of interest for more mature learners, is PolitiFact . PolitiFact  focuses heavily on USA news and politics but does provide an interesting approach to the news with their Truth-O-Meter  and Pants On Fire sections. 

Being digitally capable is not enough. 

Being digitally literate includes a range of skills, including being able to read the news, analyzing facts, and thinking critically. 

Learning changes lives .

Empowering learners to be confident thinkers is an integral part of education. 

Further Suggestions:

7 October 2018

Field Related - EAP Writing

EAP students usually have different linguistic challenges ranging from note-taking in lectures to the crucial writing skills which are essential part of their studies.  Scaffolding vocabulary helps both oral and written work but how to encourage more learner autonomy when it comes to writing?

FieldRelated is a helpful tool for learners who need to check their written work.

Besides the word count, sentence count and average words per sentence, students can check how academic their writing is and find results for different fields of study. 

Different fields will also lead to different support exercises - for example, Tourism offers further vocabulary and a reading resource
while Applied Linguistics provides a listening and reading resource. Here you can find a more complete Vocabulary list which is divided into study fields

Often it is not so much a question that learners don't know the specific vocabulary of their study; the challenge is to express themselves in writing academically.

Sharing tools which may help students to check their own writing autonomously, is a step towards supporting autonomous learning.

Further Suggestions:

Inspecting Texts and English Levels

Sifting through Words

Evaluating Websites for EAP

Reading with Iris

3 October 2018

Exploring the World

Travelling, living and learning about other cultures, valuing what is different and unique, finding out what one has in common with the other - these have been elements deeply ingrained throughout my life. Sometimes threads of understanding are delicate and challenging; cultural differences may be visible at times, while other times, they may simply be opaque and difficult to really see/understand. It all takes time, patience, curiosity and a delight to learn. 

GeoGuessr is a fun way of exploring the world, either by one's own or in teams, challenging participants with their knowledge of geography and regions around the world. 

After signing up and logging in, there are maps and challenges, ranging from regions, countries and cities, as well as the opportunity to create your own map. 

One element that is easily found in every cultural setting, is the ritual of meals. These of course, differ tremendously, depending on the region, family income and even season of the year. Here are some examples of Breakfast around the world:

What an egg breakfast looks like in 10 places around the world

Here's What Breakfast Looks Like In 28 Countries Around The World

Breakfasts Around the World

These are mere examples. Learners can create their own stories and narratives about their home country's meals and/or around the world, then create short quizzes for each other. These quizzes may focus on language (if, for example, a foreign language class), or on geography and culture/s. Below is another source which may be used when developing lessons which share different characteristics of meals around the world. In this case, it is about Christmas but other celebrations may also be introduced for students to research into and produce a simple project which includes geography and traditions. 

This is what Christmas dinner looks like in 20 countries around the world

How do you incorporate cross cultural activities in your classroom practices?

Further Suggestions:

Absolutely Intercultural

Biographies and the Web Genie

Linking the Classroom Tribe

Activities for Raising Cross-Cultural Awareness

Where in the World? Awakening Geography

How I am using Lego to teach Arabic (with transcript

iEARN - Learn with the world, not just about it.

World Teacher Day 2018

In a previous post I mentioned Autumn celebrations, and this coming week there is WorldTeacher Day. World Teacher Day (or International Teacher Day) is a day for everyone to be more aware of what teachers do and how they contribute to society. Needless to say, education changes lives, no matter how little regard and appreciation educators receive. And despite the continuous friction between actual practitioners and researchers in education, both contribute equally towards the body of knowledge and practices within the field of education. 

Teachers' Day 2018 offers teachers  posters, decorations, lesson ideas and classroom ideas. 

Mostly geared towards younger learners, there is also the opportunity to introduce these items into teacher training/teacher development courses. 

There is no doubt that despite all the lip service paid by politicians to the value of education, that teachers all over the world continue facing a myriad of struggles - whether that be in classrooms with no electricity, students who cannot afford to buy books and food, low salaries and even safety. 

The Guardian – Teachers In America from George Shelbourn on Vimeo.

Nothing that I have mentioned above is new. However, it is when you experience first hand the very struggles of educators in different parts of the world (e.g. Nepal), one realizes how much energy and dedication teachers invest in their practices and learners.

Because that is what keeps teachers going - their caring, their belief of how education and empowering learners does make a difference. This takes drive and engagement. This takes agility and flexibility. And this takes the ability to be constantly open to new ideas, new approaches and practices to meet learners' needs, hopes and expectations.

If nothing else. education is not static.
A constant flow of learning, of sharing, of collaborating.
A consistency in belief towards constructive change.

To all colleagues who I have worked with and so appreciated their sense of humour, their endless endeavour to provide worthwhile lessons, creative classroom practices, real collaboration and so much more - thank you!

To teachers everywhere, Happy Teacher Day!

Further Suggestions:

World Teachers' Day 2018 International Conference

How the humanities can deliver for the fourth industrial revolution

How the humanities can equip students for the fourth industrial revolution

To Those I Used to Know

What Difference Do You Make?

Guardian US teacher takeover


The British Council is  celebrating World Teachers’ Day by offering a 50% discount on all their online self-access training modules during the whole of this week, ending this Friday on 5 October And here’s how to take advantage of the offer:

💥 Go to any of their training modules listed here http://bit.ly/TeachingEnglishTrainingModules click on ‘Purchase’, then on ‘Apply Coupon’ and paste this – WTD2018 – into the box.
💥 You may well like one of their moderated training courses. Find out the details here: http://bit.ly/TeachingEnglishTrainingCourses

With thanks to Ann Foreman who manages the British Council Teaching English page!

1 October 2018

Playing with Creativity

How do you foster creativity? 

I am not entirely certain that I can speak of "teaching" creativity  in every lesson, but certainly  believe in the need to encourage and nourish creativity in teaching. Creative practices need to be embedded in one's practice/s and not only kept for a "fun" afternoon at the end of the week. 

The map above, with its hectic flow of representation, reminds me of how often creativity is missed in regular teaching. So many missed opportunities for the sake of following the curriculum, the syllabus, the fear of stretching minds and talents of our learners. Creative learning needs space, prodding, and time for creative conception. It does not happen necessarily in a vacuum (nothing much happens in vacuums anyway) and like gardens, should have constant and regular care. 

Two apps which offer this encouragement for creative 
thought are Brainsparker and Wonder  Workouts - Connect the Dots . 

Both are great to use in class or outside of the classroom, both can be used in different ways as well, e.g. as a warm up in class or at the end of a lesson. (so much depends on the teaching context; however, anyone who dares is able to incorporate them in lessons). 

Speaking of creativity, a wonderful book to help fostering creativity in the classroom is by Amy Burvall and Dan Ryder - Intention: Critical Creativity in the Classroom 

With ready made lessons, formative and summative assessments, it certainly is a key book for educators who are keen in developing creativity in their classroom practices. 

Further Suggestions:

Learning, Creativity and Amy

Free Resources for Reading

Creativity and Writing

Drops of Creativity

An A-Z Guide to Turbo Boosting Your Creativity

RapScript - Random words to Freestyle

Creative Writing Made Easy

Video source 

22 September 2018

Inspecting Texts and English Levels

unsplash-logoOliver Cole

As much as one would like, not all texts are written equally. There are different genres, styles and levels of language - and that is just on the surface to begin with!

To help EAP (or any student studying in English), Text Inspector  
is an interesting tool to use when analysing texts in English. 

You can try pasting up to 250 words for free, click on "Analyse"  and Text Inspector will give you a statistics of language and readability as well as lexical diversity. 

Text Inspector also will analyse reading and listening - one only needs to change the mode to obtain the results. 

Not entirely free, but there are subscription options. 

As for linguistic equality, let me leave you with this short video:

unsplash-logoSøren Astrup Jørgensen

Further Suggestions:

Elements of Leadership in Education

International Women's Day 2016

A Homage to Girls, to Women, to All

International Women's Day 2018

Search Engines and Digital Footsteps

Cascades of shimmering red under Autumn skies.

Cascades of digital footprints in the never ending, ever winding digital life.

How to keep learners safe in this digital space, where every light footstep is digitally recorded and digitally imprinted? There are two search engines which help.

DinoSearch  is a search engine designed for young learners and may be used safely in classroom.

Another option is using Duckduckgo
as a search engine which doesn't leave tracks.

The Web For Classrooms is yet another alternative; not free, but worth looking into.

Your Digital Footprint: Leaving a Mark - Teacher Video from NCTA on Vimeo.

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Common Sense Education also offers three great lessons regarding  digital identity and using digital media in healthy ways:

How can I cultivate my digital identity in ways that are responsible and empowering?

How can we help students use media in healthy ways?

How can I communicate effectively and positively to build relationships?

If you are interested in other search engines, why not browse through the list on this blog (on the left had side)?

How do you keep learners safe when online?

Further Suggestions:

How Do You Search? Let Me Count the Ways

Carrot2 and Behold

Visual Search Engines

Search Engines