29 June 2020

Writing Prompts and EAP Support


Learning does not happen in a vacuum, learning preferences depend so much on context and individuals, while writing skills demand constant refinement. 

How can educators help learners with writing?

Writing Exercises and Prompts  is a space where you can find writing prompts, such as 
random first lines, plots generators, creating a setting,  among other prompts to stimulate imagination into writing. 

Learners can use Writing Exercises on their own or educators can dip in and choose what exercise would be most useful for a particular lesson. 

However you use it, it will surely bring smiles to budding writers. (see more here)


As Summer 2020 proceeds in full swing, so too do many intensive EAP courses. Having had the experience of once working in a context where no syllabus existed and no appropriate materials were available for teachers, resorting to web sources was often the only option.  These web sources were to give extra support to learners, to help them become more independent and autonomous as learners.

Below is a selection of EAP sites which are practical for both teachers and EAP students.

If anyone who stumbles across here and knows of other good references for EAP, please feel welcome to share!
Made with Padlet

Further Suggestions: 


Choices when Searching

Field Related - EAP Writing

Sifting through Words

Visualise Anything You Want



Image: Unsplash

28 June 2020

Playing with Wordwall for Learning


Kahoot and Quizizz are popular, well known  tools to use when teaching F2F and online. Yet, sometimes, adding a bit of variety helps to spark more interest and attention with quick, simple learning activities. One of my favourite tools  is Wordwall

Wordwall offers teachers a range of templates to create pop quizzes and games. They can be shared, printed, and embedded. For single or multiplayers, for language learning or another content subject, there is a choice for everyone. 

One feature that I really liked was how Wordwall allows the user to create several activities,
and test them out before making a possible purchase (you can make 5 activities with a limited set of templates). 

Below is an example of an interactive activity which can be easily changed into a random spinning wheel, for example. 


Another example is a game show activity:



Lastly, there is a whole range of features to explore as well as a community of/for teachers. These features are worth spending some time over as they help the initial user with guidelines for making best use of Wordwall

What other digital games/activities have you found of interest for using when teaching online?

Further Suggestions:


Games and Learning

Learning with a Spoonful of Sugar - Games for Learning

Games for Learning

Kubbu, Five Card and a Learning Newspaper



Note:

The card game (above) is based on daily reflections by Cactus

21 June 2020

Live Polling for Collaboration and Sharing



It is no easy feat to transition quickly from F2F teaching to online remote emergency teaching as so many teachers now understand. There has been a lot of generous sharing of ideas, thoughts and recommendations though, and trying out these ideas and advice can only make us teachers more confident when teaching online while trying to simulate a F2F classroom. 

Nevertheless, things will be different. My focus here is on activities which may build social cohesion and rapport among learners (i.e. social cognition). One possible task is to have learners participate in a poll - and there are many different kinds of polls available. 

One that has recently caught my attention PopinNow
 - a crowdsourcing tool which may be used with learners as well.

There is a free version, and when sharing the question with students, you only need to give them the link and away they go!

Answers may be anonymous, peers may comment on replies, making it a simple procedure to carry out live surveys/polls and shared brainstorming.



It may not be beneficial asking learners to use all kinds of different tools at once, but as the saying goes, a bit of variety is the spice of life. PopinNow is merely another option which may be handy for teachers as well as learners who may want to start creating their own live surveys. 

Positive collaboration and sharing adds to the sweet spot of learning online. Wouldn't you agree?

Further Suggestions:

Webbing Words while Brainstorming


18 June 2020

Worlds of Words



How to encourage learner autonomy when it comes to learning vocabulary? How to inspire curiosity to learn more about certain words in English?

For every context there will be plenty of ideas which may be suitable for those particular learners. From the University of Nottingham, there is yet another option Words of the World. 


Words of the World is a delight world of words - and words which, once you click on, take you to a video which focuses on that particular word. 

For instance, by click on "cuisine", the following video is there to further explain/discuss the word "cuisine:


Word of the World is a wonderful site for learners  (EAP learners for example) to find out more about vocabulary in their own time. Possible self study activities may include :

(a) learners select 3 new words per week

(b) learners share their favourite/most surprising word once a week with peers (with a Padlet for instance)

(c) every second week learners can "pop test" other learners to see how many vocabulary items they have learnt

Learning vocabulary doesn't have to be a memory marathon. Inspiring curiosity in the English language (with the help of videos, for example) is another approach to broadening learners' vocabulary and learner autonomy skills. 

Further Suggestions:

Conquering Learning when Revising

Are You Writing Writefully?

The Future Belongs to Learners


17 June 2020

Webbing Words while Brainstorming


One of the questions often raised in regard to online learning, is how to establish rapport among learners and more critically, how can learners feel rapport among themselves. While it is usually easy to organise learners into pairs or small groups when teaching F2F, finding activities which may help pair/group work in online environments may become more challenging at times. 

Word Web  is a free tool for brainstorming. 

Learners can share their brainstorming activity (by sharing their screens with the web conferencing tool they are using, e.g. Skype or Zoom etc) and collaborate together, give each other feedback (peer feedback is often the most relevant to learners!) 

Another included feature of Word Web is the ability to save words
and for the user to take notes on the side of their word webs.

Brainstorming words/concepts doesn't need to take endless time; on the contrary, it makes a quick, snappy activity to get learners focused and involved in their learning tasks - with the additional visual delight.

Collaboration, rapport, empathy and connection don't happen in a void. Like most other educational activities, learners need guidance, suggestions and learning tasks which interest them. Collaborative brainstorming and/or sharing their brainstorming visual results may be an interesting bridge towards curiosity, empathy towards peers and fostering the much needed collaborative skills required. 

Further Suggestions:

Brainstorming and Collaborating

Sketchboard and Other Web Boards for Collaboration

Digital Sticky Notes

Student Narratives in Modern Times

Digital Delights - Connecting Online Education  - with plenty of suggestions for online teaching

El Mago Georges from Kati Egely on Vimeo.



12 June 2020

Beyond Zoomtopia?



And so it. Living, working, socialising through a seemingly, never ending Zoomtopia.

There are options though, and as always, not every alternative may be suited to everyone's needs and contexts. Below are some suggestions to try out:

Brave Together is one possible option, (free).

















Meet Up Online is another option waiting to be used.




My last suggestion as an alternative in the Zoom universe is Whereby - which is free for 1 user and up to 4 participants and includes:

"Up to 4 meeting participants

Easy-to-read meeting room links

Custom and unique links for your meeting rooms.

whereby.com/yourname

Desktop & mobile access

Secure conversations

Screen sharing

Lock rooms

YouTube integration

Open YouTube videos to play for everyone in the room."


And finally, for those interested in VR, there is MeetinVr:

'
Where lies our present?

Where lies our future?


Further Suggestions:


Do You Have a Digital Office?

Is this Your Fortune Cookie for Connecting?

Connecting to Web Conferencing

How Do I Communicate with Thee?

Connect. Ask. Learn.

Hello? Is Anyone Out There?


Digital Delights - Digital Tribes - Zoom and articles on Virtual Classrooms


Dolly Said No To Elvis (official music video) from Heather Colbert on Vimeo.

8 June 2020

Three Suggestions for ELT

https://unsplash.com/photos/eBkEJ9cH5b4


Learning a new language is always overwhelming, confusing, frustrating. 

Then, there comes a point when magic happens, connections spring into life and one knows the language. 

Or so I sometimes think. 

Until I can no longer improve those fragile linguistic connections. Waves of frustration settles in.  

This is how ELT learners often feel - that although they understand so much of English, they still struggle with improving and perfecting their English language skills. 

English Exercises offers interactive grammar games for low level learners of English, while also offering another site for more advance learners which focuses on writing. 








Writing Exercises 
has a wealth of interesting, interactive activities which help learners focus on their writing process. From prompts for a story plot, creating a character,  to generating prompts for a What If...? scenario, Writing Exercises is a treat of delights for ELT teachers and learners alike. 



Looking for something more than just ELT focus but still interesting for ELT learners?

Then Quick Quiz offers short quizzes on a range of topics which, often being familiar to ELT learners in their own native language, helps them to succeed in these quizzes in English. 

Topics are varied - from General Knowledge to the Natural World, from People and Places to Science and Health, there is something for everyone. 


Learning takes time, practice, dedication. 

As frustrating as it may appear at times, language learning does happen. 




Further Suggestions:








https://unsplash.com/photos/78yR8o55EJY

A Reading Suggestion:




Suggestions for Blogging


https://unsplash.com/photos/O_CLjxjzN3M


Writing. 

Creativity. 

Time. 

Lot and lots and lots of time. 

Simply because there is more free time now, does not mean that everyone is going to be super productive and amazingly creative - regardless of the pressures from social media.

It does mean, though, that learners may be given the opportunity to explore more outlets for their future studies,  projects and the opportunity to focus on their own interests.  
https://unsplash.com/photos/NZNFY_g6ong

Additionally, writing digitally, sharing blog posts, helps advance learners' digital fluency skills at different levels, as well as establishing their own voice online -shared, public and with the awareness of developing their digital identity. 

Two recent blogging platforms which could be of interest to both educators and learners to explore are 
Imprint

and
Webstraw










Both are simple to use and free. Both are open to exploration. 

As intensive EAP courses begin, many online this year, giving learners the opportunity to blog, share their writing among peers and receive peer feedback, is a real learning experience for students. 

Why not give them that chance to learn a skill which will develop their digital fluency/ies and digital identity?



How to Write an Essay Like the Pros (Infographic)

Source: www.grammarcheck.net







5 June 2020

A Jazzed Up Message

https://unsplash.com/photos/JAHdPHMoaEA



Asking students for feedback/reflection at the end of a lesson or project is common practice in many settings.

What if learners could express their feedback with music?

JazzKeys  is free and adds jazz as one types. There are 5 tunes to play - and you really should listen to what happens when you type "waves"!  Learners can then share their jazzy piece of writing by sharing the link in a Padlet (or similar sharing tool ) and even use JazzKeys for their social media for a bit of fun. 

A short, jazzy bit of writing, expressing what learners have learnt or still wish to learn - a simple musical twist to any online lesson!

How do you include musical surprises in your lessons?

https://unsplash.com/photos/vSws0g1KjxI






Fact, Fake, Spin? Information Literacy

https://unsplash.com/photos/2TS23o0-pUc


And so go the days, weeks, months. Inundated by daily news, counter news, fake news, real news, updated news. A whole wide world of news where one needs to find facts instead of rumours and fictions. 

Certainly not a simple task. 

This also proves challenging for our learners. 

A murky, overlapping world of facts, fictions and spins. 

https://unsplash.com/photos/idbBOa-MQ-I

A dam is built. A population rejoices. Have they been told that the population on the other side of the border will lose its land, its way of living and become completely dispossessed? How will it matter?

Will it matter at all while the world keeps spinning, journalists are silenced and the news spinners remain unstoppable?

News. Finding the facts and understanding the whole picture, devoid of political perspective is never simple. 

News Defenders is a game which challenges players to distinguish between facts and fiction: 

" a fictional social media site focused on news and information. Your mission? Maintain the site, grow traffic, and watch out! You'll also need to spot fake posts that try to sneak in through hidden ads, viral deception, and false reporting. "

Educators can find further resources for lessons and learning activities for their students here


Created by the News Literacy ProjectInformable is a free App (both for Apple and Android) which tests the player to sort out facts from fiction; there are 3 levels of difficulty and 4 modes of information. 


For ELT teachers, a well known site for news is News in Levels - mostly for ELT students, it
 can be adapted to any context if appropriate.



How are you coping with so much contradictory news?

How do your learners deal with so much contradiction in their worlds?



Further suggestions:













Open Lecture: 2018 Steve Wheeler- Literacies and competencies for learning in the digital age from Greenwich Learning & Teaching on Vimeo.

3 June 2020

A Shared World - Free Resource for Educators

Photo by Dzenina Lukac from Pexels

My world. 

Your world. 

Our World. 

A world of stories, resonating around the globe, among different people, different cultures. Stories unite our world. Narratives may also divide the world and its people - but that too is learning, i.e. how to read, how to listen, how to watch the news today and understand where facts may cross the lines into fiction and manipulation. 

But let us return to stories and how they enrich our ever more fragile world, how stories bring us strength, clarity and open discussions. 

The Global Oneness Project  offers educators choices in stories to share with learners. Not only stories, but lesson plans which are divided into specific subjects, in both English and Spanish as well as being accompanied by different media such as articles (e.g. Learning and Teaching from the Heart in Troubled Times) to photos and videos (e.g. The Man is the Music). 


Lessons are also categorised by different standards; and though these standards may not make sense in all teaching contexts, Global Oneness Project allows each lesson to  be tailored and tweak to one's learners needs, levels and interests. 
Explore The Global Oneness Project from Go Project Films on Vimeo.

Cyberbullying

Photo by Elina Krima from Pexels

While parts of the world reel and burn, while countries quietly or more willingly shrug off social outrage, while most of the world still struggles to contain a lethal virus, students need to keep on learning. 

Equality. 
Equity. 
Noble and humane values;  both equality and equity should be, can be, must be embedded practices in learning and teaching. 

Yet, as most teachers and learners know, neither equality nor equity are often present in their learning experiences.

Parents too need to be involved in the process - not least in regard to possible bullying online.

The Parent's Guide to Cyberbullying

There is bullying at schools, higher education, training centres and workplaces - and there is plenty of bullying online. Safeguarding learners from bullying is important; not only for their current safety and peace of mind, but also also as a learning experience for their futures. Workplaces where professional bullying thrives are neither optimal nor conducive to positive change, positive creativity nor for professional satisfaction.

In a world crying out for so much, education needs to begin with equality, equity and safety for all. Not only on days dedicated to cybersafety. Not only on days dedicated to children. Not only today.

Every.Single.Day.

Be bold. 

Break the cycles of bullying.

Be bold - and break the vicious cycles, be they bullying at the workplace, cyberbullying or infinite news cycles. 


Further Suggestions:









1 June 2020

Learning Collaboratively with Bubblus

Photo by Startup Stock Photos from Pexels


While sitting around in libraries, campus parks and study rooms may not be possible for so many learners right now, there is still the need for students to collaborate - especially when learning online. Among the many ways to encourage collaborative practices among learners, having students collaborate on a mind map is one approach that they may enjoy. 

While some digital tools remain popular (e.g. Padlet), many others have fallen from grace, either by ending their services or simply because other tools have become more popular.
Bubble.us is still up and running, allows 3 free mind maps and is simple to use.

Students can be asked to work either individually or in small groups, sharing their mind map when researching a specific topic, for instance. They can brainstorm together and create a visual representation of their working process in a more collaborative manner, than just sitting alone in front of a screen. 

As a follow up activity, learners can design their own infographic based on the ideas they have generated with their mind map, summarising and highlighting their main points of their research topic. By sharing their end product with their peers, further collaboration is opened to them,  as well as giving learners the opportunity for peer feedback and even, peer assessment. The last stage of this process would be reflection - how much did they learn, how did the collaborative process go, what would they improve in future (these are merely some suggestions). 


How do you get learners collaborating online?




Further suggestions:






Mind Maps - Digital Delights for Learners  (a curation of mind mapping)