Monday, January 9, 2017

Time to come back!

It's 2017 already and time does fly when one is having fun! I finished my MA in September last year and it seems like it was yesterday when I got the great news that I had got a Distinction. After that, it's all been really busy with new projects, courses, training, assessing, inspecting and examining! You name it!  I wanted to get on to a PhD, but it's all been so busy - enjoyable and challenging at the same time - that I have decided to have a short break and dedicate myself to all the different projects ahead of me.

I'm back now and looking forward to getting back into creating videos, trying out apps and tools and briefly writing about them so stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Slack - making communication easy

I came across Slack last year while working on my MA in Digital Technologies for Language Teaching and decided to give it a try with my peers on the course. Well, I signed up, created an account and then invited my classmates. It was easy and very quickly we started using it to keep up with our own lives, tasks and assignments for the course and above all to share resources, materials and encouragement before and through our dissertation writing months.

We quickly took to it and although we were using lots of the basic features, it really helped us get through it without losing touch. I've now started exploring the extra resources they offer e.g. video tutorials here and extra resources here as I've created a private group inside it for my school and we will be using it from next month to enhance communication between staff. I'm sure it will be as useful as it's been so far as it can be used on a web browser and mobiles devices both Android and IOs. I've got an iMac at home, an iPad and a desktop and Samsung laptop at school and Slack works wonderfully across all of them. 

You can create a free account which has worked wonders for me as an individual and want to see how it will work for me at school with a small number of colleagues. I'm sure it will be fine.  In any case, you can also get a paid for subscription and unleash its potential, which I think it's definitely worth it!  For the time being, as an individual teacher, I'm sticking to the free account but would highly recommend it based on my experience of it so far!


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

MA in Digital Technologies for Language Teaching? Done!

It's been just over a year since I last posted here and so I thought it was about time I came back.  As per my entries on the MA course tabs I created to track and help me reflect on my second MA studies, I finished the content modules in Dec 2015. This year has been dedicated to the dissertation and I'm now back posting here as I managed to finish it 2.5 month early.  No, I'm not a nerd - ok, maybe, a little! This is mainly because of my work load during the summer where I regularly act as Main Course Tutor on our full time CELTA courses and so I couldn't see myself writing am MA dissertation and working 10 hours a day on top of that, so I got very well organised from the beginning of the school year and managed to completed it in record time. It's now time to wait for the results and once they come out organising the trip to Nottingham for the graduation ceremony in Novemeber - I think.

Anyways, I wanted to bring everybody up to speed here and so I also wanted to share my dissertation topic.  Fro my previous MA in TESOL I researched a topic which is still very controversial: Pre-Teaching Vocabulary in Receptive Skills Lessons. Results showed that there is indeed a place for PTV but under specific circumstances.  Anyways, the topic for my second MA was: The Role of Social Media in the Continuing Professional Development of English Language Teacher Trainers and the results were very interesting.  As part of the program we were asked recently to prepare a quick presentation on the what, the why and the how of our dissertations and so I thought I'd share it here. I hope it helps you see it from my perspective.

What's next? Well, I'm doing soem research into another MA or as suggested by my tutors on both MAs, a PhD. I've attended a couple of PhD webinars and also looked for what's out there so I'm carefully considering the options. In order to keep me busy in the meantime though I'm doing a Level 5 CMI Management and Leadership course online with FutureLearn which I'm enjoying a lot as I'd like my future studies or research to go in that direction. We'll see what happens next!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I'm back with more Methodology Pills (No. 26 Planning a Speaking Skills Lesson and No. 27 Lesson Planning Quick Steps)

It's been almost two months since my last post on May 18 on Peer feedback in my MA in DTLT Reflective blog. It's been a hard year so far with lots of work and study, but very rewarding altogether! Since my last blog post above I've been very busy with MA work being completed and submitted before the summer break, examining like crazy all over the place and also preparing for our summer intensive CELTA and YL Extension to CELTA courses. We're now almost half way through the second full time CELTA and so I can say it's been tough.

Anyways, as usual one of the greatest things about being a teacher trainer is that you are the first learner in the room and so while trying to help trainees get their heads round the theory and practice of lesson planning, I came up with the following two Methodology Pills:

No. 26 Planning a Speaking Skills lesson and No. 27 Lesson Planning Quick Steps. These include  steps we were going through in assisted lesson planning sessions so I thought it made sense to recap and put them nicely together in two separate screen casts for trainees and anyone interested in watching or listening to them at leisure!

Here's Pill No. 26 on Speaking Lessons...

And Pill No. 27, a short video (7.49') looking at the 5 quick steps you can focus on or follow when planning a receptive skills or language-based lesson while adopting a Guided Discovery or Text-based approach. Needless to say, this is just another way of approaching lessons and particulary suited for Guided Discovery or Text-based lessons because of the text at the core of the lesson and the approach we focus on during the course here at our centre. Of course, we also expose trainees to the other approaches e.g. TTT (Test-Teach-Test), TBL (Tsk-based Learning), PPP (Presentation Practice Production), etc. but focus on Guided Discovery when it comes to language work. OK, here it is then - enjoy!

Monday, January 26, 2015

MA in Digital Technologies for Language Teaching - My progress report

It's been over 2 months since I last posted anything here so I think it is long due! We just finished the first semester of my second MA in Digital Technologies for Language Teaching with the University of Nottingham and we're about to start the second one! So far, so good I'd say!  I'm really happy as the course has been challenging and also very interesting and above all practical. I'm hyper by nature so if it wasn't I would probably be bored out of my wits, but the tutors have been great, supportive and have also pushed me a little so I'm 100% satisfied about my decision to do this MA.

Now, as part of my studies we had to keep a reflective bloog which was initially private. I have now made it public so that if you feel like reading my reflections on the literature related to the world of technology and its assessment, integration, and implementation in language teaching then all you need to do is click here for my Reflective Blog.

Also, one of the aspects of the course so far that I have enjoyed the most is the creativity and flexibility - IMHO - as regards the work required. For instance, part of the assessment included writing an essay and part of the criteria against which we wanted to be assessed against. We were also encouraged to think outside the box and we were also allowed to choose how to present the essay beyond the traditional writing by incorporating media in as many forms as appropriate. I found this extremely motivating and so I presented in its traditional writen form, but also embedded it into a wiki while using Tellagami to introduce it, PodOmatic to present the Abstract and the main body of the assignment in the wiki to include video and links to different sources such as Dropbox, etc.  I wish I had had more times as I had other ideas which I think would have been great to include but doing it while working full time and wearing all the different hats I do proved limiting in many senses.  I can't wait to get onto the dissertation stage, which I have already started working on to save time!

Anyways, I hope you enjoy and find my reflections useful if you're considering to implement technology into your teaching in a more informed way.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Methodology Pill No. 25 Planning a Writing Skills Lesson

Hello again,

This entry is about how to plan a writing skills lesson and the reason for it and the accompanying videos is that often trainee teachers and sometimes also teachers cannot identify the main stages of a writing lesson. Writing, like all the other skills, needs to be approached by looking at what specific sub skill(s) we want to focus on in the classroom as simply saying 'We'll do some writing today' or 'We'll write a letter today' is enough.Needless to say, we need to exactly which are of writing we are going to focus on in that given lesson e.g. genre or text types, accuracy, fluency, coherence, cohesion, punctuation, layout, paragraphing, etc. Often when observing writing lessons either on teacher training courses or as part of the internal teacher training development program, stages are not clearly identified and this usually means there is not enough of clear scaffolding for students to complete the tasks successfully and benefit from going through the process.

Now, there are different ways to approach writing depending on what you want to achieve with your group of learners, what level they are, what their immediate writing needs are, the course syllabus and the time available.  Here I just want to offer a set of suggestions on what stages may be followed when approaching Writing skills in the ESOL classroom as found in the literature available.

I created both a longer video which addresses all the stages one by one and also give ideas for each stage - ideas which I have tried and tested over the years :-)...

and a shorter one using PowToon for those on the go and which may help you quickly revise those ideas you are already familiar with.

Bye for now and I hope your find this post helpful.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Methodology Pills No. 23 and 24 - Planning Receptive Skills and Language Focused Lessons

It's been almost 6 weeks since my last public post so I think it's time for one more before my few followers think I'm gone! I started my second MA in October and so I've been rather busy with work and study and family troubles :-(, but I'm back!

This entry is about Planning Receptive Skills (reading/listening) and Language Focused (Grammar, Vocabulary or Functions) lessons while on a CELTA course, but the suggested stages and ideas given here are certainly applicable to receptive skills lessons in general and beyond the course. The main idea behind this entry and accompanying video is that of supporting my trainees on the course by offering a few ideas for each of the different stages. It became more evident than ever on my last course that if we want to get the message across and we want our students to 'see' what we mean, then the best way to do it is by 'showing' them what we mean.  With this in mind and a few questions posed by my trainees, I created this Methodology Pill No. 23 so I trust it will be useful not only while on the course but after it.  The video is also up on my YouTube channel and it is public so I'm simply linking it here for ease of access.

The Methodology Pill No. 24 Planning Language Focused lessons aims at showing different ideas and examples for the different stages of any of these lessons. Something to take into account is that all the suggestions made are while adopting a Guided Discovery approach so very different from the traditional PPP (Presentation Practice Production). Again, the reason for this video was also in response to my trainees' request for extra ideas and a way to be able to access these ideas other than through their notes.

I hope you find both screen casts useful.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

University of Nottingham MA in Digital Technologies for Language Teaching - Here we go!

I have started a second MA, this time on Digital Technologies for Language Teaching with the University of Nottingham and the course program the tutors and the online facilities are excellent.  We're using the latest version of Moodle which is pretty slick and I love it already. I'm also using it on the course I tutor on, the Cert ICT by TheConsultants-e and it's great to be able to use it both as a students on the MA course and as a tutor on the CertICT program as this gave me an enhanced understanding of the Moodle platform when I first did it a couple of years ago first when I did the CertICT myself and then when I started tutoring.

Anyways, we've started with socialisation tasks using Popplet, and it's great to do this because I hadn't used it for over 6 months now so it's great to get back to it and see how much such a simple tool can be used to establish relationships, build group rapport and all done in the spirit of technology being harnessed to reach a very clear pedagogical aim.  I love it already and can't wait to get into the nitty-gritty of my course program.

Needless to say, my posts from now on will be heavily influenced by my studies while on the course. All the same, this doesn't mean that my Methodology Pills will stop from coming along!  On the contrary, I hope they will get even better with all the new stuff I will be reading about and studying and learning!  Yay!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Methodology Pill No. 22 Lead-ins & Warmers

It's been a month since my last post so time does fly fast! It's now two weeks since the Aug CELTA course finished and although it's by no means less hectic than before, I've managed to set some time aside to do this Methodology Pill which became evident on the last course my future and now ex-trainees would appreciate.

The idea is that of giving a few ideas and examples of lead-ins and warmers via examples built around a real text found in a popular course book, in this case - Cutting Edge Elementary page 21. I've used this text before and thought it would make sense to use a real teaching text as an example.  Now, I don't claim to own any of these ideas as some I've picked up through my 20-year long teacher career in 8 different countries and from different colleagues so I just put them all together in this video as examples of what can be done. Of course, there are lots of possibilities and combinations so the sole aim is to get you started with some tried and tested examples which can enhance the learning experience of your students.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Adobe Voice - storytelling in minutes

It's been a while since my last post, but it's been a hectic summer with our summer intensive CELTA courses going on, finishing and completing the admin for the Trinity CertICT I moderate and getting started on my second MA (in Digital Technologies for Language Teaching with the  University of Nottingham :-) which rocks big time :-) so here we go again...

I've got AppsGoneFree in my iPad and it's great because every day you get a short listing of apps that are free for the day. I always make sure I take a few minutes to browse through to see if there's anything that would capture my interest for the classroom for students,  trainee teachers or my own professional development. One very nice and super easy to use app I came across recently was Adobe Voice. I initially thought it looked cool but I didn't give it much attention until last week when I was trying to find a way to make a quick video to help my trainees with the Guided Discovery and Receptive Skills Frameworks, which they always struggle with at the beginning.  I decided to give it a look and so I went and watched their tutorial video and voila, I realised it was easier that I thought.  In minutes I created two 3 and 4 min videos for the topics above:

The feature I liked the most is the simplicity with which you can choose your images and record the audio. All you have to do is type in a key word and lots of options come up. For the audio, press the record button and then say what you want to say. I must admit that I had to record several times so that I would have clear and complete thought groups on what I wanted to say but the fact that each stage is individual means you don't have to worry about editing the audio as you can re-record each time your slide from scratch and when the app puts the whole video together it does it seamlessly!  OK, I think it's now for you to go and enjoy using it!