Showing posts with label classroom practices. Show all posts
Showing posts with label classroom practices. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Seven Basic Steps to Write a Good Essay



Have you ever asked yourself why it is so difficult to make students interested in writing? Don’t you sometimes feel demotivated by the boredom you see on students’ faces when you announce a new writing task? So, why is it that students never seem to be in the mood for writing? If you ask them, you may get several different reasons, which will vary from the most vague ones to a few honest answers. In fact, quite a few may be related to the fact that students may not really know how to write and essay: how to plan it, how to start it, and what steps to follow. Therefore, take some time to show them how the work should be done. It is a matter of showing them that they can do it right. So have your students bear in mind that when it comes to writing an essay, seven basic steps will allow them to achieve the best outcome.

First of all, choose a topic you feel like writing about and brainstorm on it. What do you know about the subject you have chosen and its relevance to your audience? Make sure your choice is related to a subject which you are familiar with. The more you know about your topic, the better your essay will be. So, be assertive. Your readers need to trust you and to believe in what you write. In short, they need to feel like reading your text.
Secondly, designing an outline will help you make sure your text has unit and coherence. Don’t start writing your essay before you have ordered the principles of your text. Ask yourself what kind of essay it is going to be. Think of an effective thesis statement for your introduction, and also a topic sentence for each body paragraph. After that, make sure you have enough ideas, examples and facts to support your topic sentences, and come up with a good way of concluding your text. By organizing your ideas before writing your text you will more successfully tend to follow your original thoughts and the principles of your essay.
Also, make sure you share your piece of writing with a classmate. Revising your own text may be tricky. Even though it is imperative that you read your text a few times before posting, publishing, or turning it in to your teacher, having someone else read it will provide you with impartial feedback. Having your work read by a peer may allow you to see details you miss as you write your first draft.
Finally, you should always revise your text in detail and proofread your second draft. After you’ve had a peer read your essay and give you feedback on it, you are cleared to give it a second look and do your best to fix and enrich it. That’s the moment at which you should consider the suggestions given and improve your production. Writing a new version of your essay will have you check whether you have succeeded in being clear and making your point.

As you have seen, writing an effective essay takes nothing more than 7 simple steps to be followed. In brief, think before you write, organize your ideas and reasoning, and ask for a second opinion on it. In other words, just stick to the recipe and add your talent to it. So choose a topic you are familiar with and that you know in detail, and believe you are able to do it.

Friday, April 11, 2014

TESOL 2014 - Some iPad Tips





TESOL is definitely an overwhelming experience. One has so much to explore that is almost impossible to see everything you want. While I was there I learned a lot from the presentations or workshops I attended. I saw things I already knew through a new angle and I also discovered some new things that I think is worth sharing with our teaching community. So, let me tell you about some iPad tricks and apps worth exploring. 
Remote desktop access
                                   
There are solutions that allow you to control your desktop while walking around the class that do not rely on a wireless mouse. At TESOL, two teachers reported using two apps that have such affordances. One application that wirelessly mirrors your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch screens to any Mac or PC is Reflector.  To allow desktop control you will have to install it to your PC and your device. Besides that, one can connect multiple devices to the same screen. One license allows you to install it in up to five PCs.
Another one that has the same feature is Doceri. Doceri also lets you control your desktop from your device (iPad, iPhone, iPod) with the added feature of transforming it into a smart board once it allows you to draw and annotate any file that can be shown on your Mac or PC. The drawback being that licenses have a price, the good thing is that they help us get rid of the cumbersome cable and let us roam free around class while displaying whatever is being shown in our mobile devices’ screens.. Reflector and Doceri allow  free trials. So, you can download them and see how they work for you. 

Giving control to students


If you have a blue tooth keyboard that connects to your device, how about connecting it to your iPad and creating interactive activities. You can pass it around class and your students can perform some tasks displayed on the big screen if you mirror your iPad using a cable or one of the apps suggested above. You could create quizzes or have a competition to answer questions. If you have more than one keyboard, it becomes even more interesting. 

Turning your iPad into a Speaking Device


How about turning your iPad or iPhone into a speaking machine? To do this, you will just have to activate the text to speech feature. You will have to go to settings, general, accessibility, speak auto-text (turn it on), then choose the language. This will allow you to listen any text you select. It also reads out loud whatever you are typing. You can use to read your e-mails for you if you are busy doing something else. In class, you can use it for dictation or to improvise a listening comprehension task. By the way, you will have to adjust the speaking rate to turtle or hare on speak selection



Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Seating Arrangements?


Most species arrange themselves in juxtapositions which are indicative of purpose or customary convenience. A lone eagle grasps a rocky crag or high, bare branch: He takes a position which will offer the best vantage point from which to sight a salmon swimming upstream, a rabbit pausing in a clearing. A trio of lions hunting: Their proximity is guided by expediency, the strategy which will result in the separation of a slow calf, a lame elder, a single zebra in panic and tiring. Elephants circle for collective protection, penguins for warmth. 

What about people? When they are safe and comfortable, people are gregarious. They seek convivial exchange and the reassurance of belonging, similarity to each other. People congregate in various situations for specific purposes: In church, with each individual reflecting on a speaker’s words, people sit in pews. In a theater, attentive to a sequence of actions designed for their appreciation – not participation – people sit in rows. The arrangement is the same, expanded, at soccer and baseball games. Viewers are not in attendance to perform. But what about a business meeting? Each person present will be somehow judged according to their input, the timeliness of a suggestion, the interjection of pertinent wit. 

Many communal rituals, from primitive to pompous, take place in a circular conformation, with a common view of each face, each voice having equal value. A party? How do people situate themselves at a party where everybody’s having a good time? Do party-goers naturally convene in lines along the walls? Reiterating: people are naturally gregarious – i.e. social, companionable, tending to “flock” together. This characteristic relates to what is most inherent in humans – their dependence on communication. Language teachers study, among many things, strategies to propitiate communication – natural, spontaneous exchanges between humans of all ages. 



What are the most convenient conditions for these exchanges – the windswept rock, the dusty plain, dimly lit lines along the walls? Probably not. The vital potential of democratic communication lies in the equality of exposure, of being comfortably visible and audible. A neighborly livingroom, a table at a local eatery – these are situations propitious to communal communication; our classrooms, when they can, should emulate this companionable condition. So…. Are you planning class activities that maximize genuine communication? Think about it:  Shift your focus from “seating arrangements” to “speaking arrangements.”  

Katy Cox

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Role Playing to Prompt Writing Tasks


App: IMovie
Number of iPads: one per group 
Level Teens 4

I have a very creative and hectic group of teens, who is into technology and loves playing games. My students engage really easily in tasks that have a digital component, but they tend to disconnect whenever they have to deal with more traditional ones. I decided to bring some of their creativity into play and asked them to roleplay the dialogues in unit 5. I gave each group an iPad and asked them to record themselves roleplaying the dialogues. I played the video with the sound off, and asked students to write the dialogues down as a graded exercise. In the following classes, they asked me to watch the videos again and again. I believe this repetition helped them internalize the structure because they have all done really well in this part of the oral test this morning.

video

By teacher Dani Lyra


Friday, September 06, 2013

iPad Tip of the Week - Kids Apps

Many teachers report that they fear taking the iPads to use with their kids because they might get wild, ipads might get dirty, might break... In fact, from what I´ve observed, it is quite the opposite. With a good lesson plan and classroom management, iPad classes with kids are a tremendous success with engaged and excited kids.

iPadProject_ (51)
Teacher Fernanda Mello with a group of enthusiastic students using ipads for the first time

When teachers dare and take the iPads to class, they always mention how fun their classes were and how enthusiastic kids became with the mobile devices. Some of the little ones innocently even ask if they can take the iPads home!

 Did you know that we have a Kids folder in all iPads? We have apps to practice colors, the alphabet, shapes, stories, animals, numbers, transportation, food, besides the other ones for students to draw and write.

CTJ iPad Kids Folder 


Some classroom management tricks to work with ipads in a kids´ classroom:

- think of your pedagogical goal for the activity and check the choices of apps you are going to use
- test the app before your class

In class:
- Ask students to sit on the floor
- Give instructions and project on the board the steps to access the app 
- set the rules for good ipad use
- hand in the ipads
- carry out the activity
- consider the kind of follow up activity you will do with the students. It could be just asking questions and practicing with them, or if it is a drawing/project, there could be a show and tell moment. In this case, make sure everybody puts the ipads on the floor and close them as they listen to their peers. 

iPadProject_ iPadProject_ (48)


By taking these steps, your class will be a smashing hit!

So, I´d like to invite all of you to consider including an ipad activity the next time you prepare a class for your Kids, Kids Fun, Top Kids and Junior classes. Remember that the Ed Tech Monitors at your branch are ready to give you a hand to plan for an effective approach to using iPads in the classroom. 



Tuesday, September 03, 2013

App of the Week - Educreations


Educreations is one of those apps that are king in the classroom.
It is easy to use, really intuitive, and it gives a blank screen for students and teachers to record, draw, insert images.

Some activities that you can use Educreations for:

- students record examples of what they´ve learned
- students can talk about likes/dislikes, physical description of characters they draw...
- students can tell a story
- students can have a map in Educreations, one gives the directions, the other draws the way as they record the instructions to get to a place
- students can practice a dialogue
- students can interview each other and add images as they go along
- students can work on their book projects, drawing and recording a scene of the book
- teachers can use the app as an interactive whiteboard, even recording what they did as they explained something and then send it to the students
- teachers can record a lesson (explanations, tutorials) and send it to students

Learn how to use the tool and schedule some time during your lesson to add some Educreations fun to your classes:




Here are some examples of what teachers did with their students using educreations. Browse through the lessons our students and teachers have worked on in Educreations: http://www.educreations.com/profile/894009/?page=1

Browse through lessons from other teachers and students to get inspired at http://www.educreations.com/browse/

APPtivity of the Day - Using Dictionaries in the Classroom


Sometimes we think that we can only schedule to use the iPads when we feel confident enough, have practiced many times how to open, close, use the features in certain apps. We practice so much that we give up as insecurity increases exponentially when we give a thought about the students we have, the little time we have in our schedules, added to the responsibility of those devices in nervous hands.

WORRY NOT!

Ruben Puentedura´s model for tech incorporation can be a relief for teachers in the sense that it is OK to start with substitution practices that enhance the learning experience towards a more informed and bold move towards transformative uses of tech in the classroom.


So, instead of the distress of considering tech possibilities and never having the fearlessness to try it, start with a fun and very simple activity and then move on to more challenging activities. 

Did you know that in our CTJ iPads we have fantastic dictionaries you can use with your groups?
Here are some:

The first one on the list (LDOCE 5) is an expensive paid app which is worth every penny for the quality of its digital version - Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English 5th Edition. 


You can´t imagine how much fun my teen students have had with this app. We searched for some words they were studying, I asked them to check the pronunciation of American x British English and to see if there was any relevant difference. They could see the words in use, including collocations and idiomatic expressions. 
The activity was nothing new, but the teens spent some minutes having fun with the language and exploring the possibilities of use. We then played a game in which I´d say the word, they needed to check the meaning and come up with an example different from the dictionary´s. 
Later in the semester, when they had to write paragraphs, they asked me if they could look up for synonyms in the dictionary! 

Now, if it worked with a rambunctious group of teens, imagine exploring the wonders of the dictionary use with our adult groups! You could explore high frequency words (identified in red in the app); you could have a treasure hunt, pronunciation work, definition game. The world of possibilities using digital dictionaries in class is simply limitless...In addition to making your lessons more engaging, your students will start noticing the possibilities of the devices they use in their daily lives to learn English. 

So, the first part of your tech integration ladder is done: substitution activities using a dictionary app. 
Ready for the challenge?
What kinds of activities with dictionaries do you envision with your groups?
Let us know when you plan a lesson using the dictionary apps and what the outcomes were. 


Tip: Dictionary.com is a very good free app that your students can download to their smartphones and tablets.