Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Teaching Vocabulary


I share  another video with you. It is the same I showed you in the presentation of Teaching Vocabulary.




Tuesday, 18 October 2016


The Guardian



 The problem of perfectionism: five tips to help your students

Striving for perfection doesn’t only make young people unhappy – it also affects their development. Here are some ways to get your pupils to think differently.

It can be an ongoing battle to remind teenagers that no one’s life is as perfect as it might seem. We’ve all felt it: the desire to be perfect. Teenagers seem to experience this more keenly than most, seeking an imagined ideal in their looks, social status, friendship group or achievements. High standards are good – but perfectionism is a problem. I run workshops in schools, where many teachers say students have high levels of stress, anxiety and perfectionist traits, especially high-achieving females. Evidence suggests perfectionism is indeed more common in females , although both males and females are affected. A recent survey by the Department for Education also found that a third of teenage girls report issues around anxiety and depression.As well as affecting  general well-being to read, perfectionism can lead to  fear of failure.When your whole self-worth and identity are tied to your success, mistakes and setbacks are seen as a threat and you avoid taking risks.We need to talk about these issues – but where to begin? Here are some tips for students manage and.. overcome perfectionis




Foster understanding

Educate your students about perfectionism and its consequences. One study found that “a brief low-cost intervention is effective at decreasing the psychological distress in maladaptive perfectionists”. Talk to them in a helpful and non-judgmental manner, and make sure the environment is non-threatening. Try discussing hypothetical situations. Ask them to give advice to a hypothetical student who worries about being perfect in all aspects of life. Leave them time to reflect on how they could follow their own advice.

Strive for excellence, not perfection

Research suggests that teaching students about the difference between having an ethic of excellence and chasing unobtainable perfectionism will “enhance resilience and reduce levels of risk among perfectionists”.
Ron Berger, author of An Ethic of Excellence: Building a Culture of Craftsmanship with Students, suggests you set students long-term projects so they develop a sense of pride in their work, get high-quality regular feedback from teachers, and are encouraged to draft and re-draft their work before submitting it.
Teachers can help make the difference between an ethic of excellence and perfectionism. Excellence is focused on becoming as good as you can be and developing your skills; perfectionism focuses on not making any mistakes and avoiding looking bad. In an ethic of excellence, mistakes are viewed as possible learning opportunities and not something to be covered up, embarrassed by or judged on.

Develop a growth mindset

Unhealthy perfectionism is associated with a fixed mindset (the belief that your basic abilities are unchangeable). A growth mindset (believing abilities can be developed) shifts students towards improving their abilities rather than proving their abilities. The former is associated with learning and development, the latter with comparing yourself to others and a fear of failure. This is something Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford University, has spoken extensively about.
Focus on natural ability, avoid labels such as “smart” and “gifted and talented” and try asking students questions that encourage them to reflect on their mindset. This helps them see themselves as a constant work in progress and motivates them to get better instead of worrying about not being good enough and demotivated as a result.



Explain that no one is perfect

Many students suffer from what’s become known as FOMO (fear of missing out). It can be an ongoing battle to remind them that no one’s life is as perfect as it may appear on Facebook.
Get a discussion going about this issue using some real-life examples. The story of Essena O’Neill, an Australian teenager who had 612,000 Instagram followers but quit social media because of its “contrived perfection”, could be a starting point.
Only by understanding what’s going on behind the scenes with others, and developing skills such as self-compassion, can students have a healthy relationship with their own flaws and understand that this is part of what makes us all unique.

Build supportive relationships

Evidence suggests that positive statements by teachers have a direct impact on the number of positive statements students make about themselves. These comments from teachers were also found to have a positive impact on how the students perceived themselves as learners.
Trust is important, too, if pupils are to take your guidance on board. In one famous study on the ability to delay gratification (putting off short-term rewards for long-term gain), students who trusted the person giving them instructions were found to improve their performance considerably. Providing consistency and demonstrating you care will help build this trust and encourage your students to talk to you.

Bradley Busch is a registered psychologist and director at InnerDrive. Follow @Inner_Drive on Twitter.

The Guardian


 The problem of perfectionism: five tips to help your students

Striving for perfection doesn’t only make young people unhappy – it also affects their development. Here are some ways to get your pupils to think differently.

It can be an ongoing battle to remind teenagers that no one’s life is as perfect as it might seem. We’ve all felt it: the desire to be perfect. Teenagers seem to experience this more keenly than most, seeking an imagined ideal in their looks, social status, friendship group or achievements. High standards are good – but perfectionism is a problem. I run workshops in schools, where many teachers say students have high levels of stress, anxiety and perfectionist traits, especially high-achieving females. Evidence suggests perfectionism is indeed more common in females , although both males and females are affected. A recent survey by the Department for Education also found that a third of teenage girls report issues around anxiety and depression.As well as affecting  general well-being to read, perfectionism can lead to  fear of failure.When your whole self-worth and identity are tied to your success, mistakes and setbacks are seen as a threat and you avoid taking risks.We need to talk about these issues – but where to begin? Here are some tips for students manage and.. overcome perfectionis



Foster understanding

Educate your students about perfectionism and its consequences. One study found that “a brief low-cost intervention is effective at decreasing the psychological distress in maladaptive perfectionists”. Talk to them in a helpful and non-judgmental manner, and make sure the environment is non-threatening. Try discussing hypothetical situations. Ask them to give advice to a hypothetical student who worries about being perfect in all aspects of life. Leave them time to reflect on how they could follow their own advice.

Strive for excellence, not perfection

Research suggests that teaching students about the difference between having an ethic of excellence and chasing unobtainable perfectionism will “enhance resilience and reduce levels of risk among perfectionists”.
Ron Berger, author of An Ethic of Excellence: Building a Culture of Craftsmanship with Students, suggests you set students long-term projects so they develop a sense of pride in their work, get high-quality regular feedback from teachers, and are encouraged to draft and re-draft their work before submitting it.
Teachers can help make the difference between an ethic of excellence and perfectionism. Excellence is focused on becoming as good as you can be and developing your skills; perfectionism focuses on not making any mistakes and avoiding looking bad. In an ethic of excellence, mistakes are viewed as possible learning opportunities and not something to be covered up, embarrassed by or judged on.

Develop a growth mindset

Unhealthy perfectionism is associated with a fixed mindset (the belief that your basic abilities are unchangeable). A growth mindset (believing abilities can be developed) shifts students towards improving their abilities rather than proving their abilities. The former is associated with learning and development, the latter with comparing yourself to others and a fear of failure. This is something Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford University, has spoken extensively about.
Focus on natural ability, avoid labels such as “smart” and “gifted and talented” and try asking students questions that encourage them to reflect on their mindset. This helps them see themselves as a constant work in progress and motivates them to get better instead of worrying about not being good enough and demotivated as a result.


Explain that no one is perfect

Many students suffer from what’s become known as FOMO (fear of missing out). It can be an ongoing battle to remind them that no one’s life is as perfect as it may appear on Facebook.
Get a discussion going about this issue using some real-life examples. The story of Essena O’Neill, an Australian teenager who had 612,000 Instagram followers but quit social media because of its “contrived perfection”, could be a starting point.
Only by understanding what’s going on behind the scenes with others, and developing skills such as self-compassion, can students have a healthy relationship with their own flaws and understand that this is part of what makes us all unique.

Build supportive relationships

Evidence suggests that positive statements by teachers have a direct impact on the number of positive statements students make about themselves. These comments from teachers were also found to have a positive impact on how the students perceived themselves as learners.
Trust is important, too, if pupils are to take your guidance on board. In one famous study on the ability to delay gratification (putting off short-term rewards for long-term gain), students who trusted the person giving them instructions were found to improve their performance considerably. Providing consistency and demonstrating you care will help build this trust and encourage your students to talk to you.

Bradley Busch is a registered psychologist and director at InnerDrive. Follow @Inner_Drive on Twitter.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Active listening activities

Students are often asked to listen to audiotracks or to their teacher talking, but it can be just as useful to encourage them to listen to each other in a more active way.

Learning to listen to each other more carefully can build their ability and confidence in real-life situations, in which they will need to focus on both listening and speaking. The following activities are a fun way of getting students to concentrate more and to remember information.



  • Dual dictation. Ask students to get into pairs to write a dialogue. When student A is speaking, student B should write down what they are saying and vice versa. When they have finished the conversation, they should check what each other has written and put the two sides of the conversation together. You could then ask students to perform their dialogues again to the rest of the class, or to swap with other pairs.
    This activity works best if you give students a theme or role-play, for example:
    • A conversation between friends about holidays
    • An argument between siblings
    • An interview with a famous person
    • A scene from a film
  • Class memory quiz. Ask one student at a time to go to the front of the class. Ask the rest of the class to ask them any questions they like (as long as they are not too personal!),
    e.g.
    • What is your favourite colour/food/band?
    • What did you have for lunch?
    • Which country would you most like to visit?

    Try to make a note of some of the answers. When all of the students (or half of the students, if you have a large group) have been interviewed, explain that you are going to hold a quiz about the class. Get the students into small teams and ask them to put their hand up if they know the answer to a question, for example:
    • Which student likes Oasis?
    • What is Marie's favourite food?
    • Which two students would like to be famous actors?

    Award a point to the first team to answer correctly. This game can be a lot of fun, and encourages students to listen to each other.
  • Listen for lies. Divide the class into two teams A and B. Ask one student at a time to come to the front of the class and read aloud a passage which you have chosen, e.g. a story or newspaper article. Then ask them to read it aloud again, but to make some changes. Each time a lie (or change) is read out, the students must stand up. The first team to stand up gets a point. This game requires students to listen carefully and encourages them to remember important information and details.
Author: Kate Joyce

Active listening activities

Students are often asked to listen to audiotracks or to their teacher talking, but it can be just as useful to encourage them to listen to each other in a more active way.

Learning to listen to each other more carefully can build their ability and confidence in real-life situations, in which they will need to focus on both listening and speaking. The following activities are a fun way of getting students to concentrate more and to remember information.



  • Dual dictation. Ask students to get into pairs to write a dialogue. When student A is speaking, student B should write down what they are saying and vice versa. When they have finished the conversation, they should check what each other has written and put the two sides of the conversation together. You could then ask students to perform their dialogues again to the rest of the class, or to swap with other pairs.
    This activity works best if you give students a theme or role-play, for example:
    • A conversation between friends about holidays
    • An argument between siblings
    • An interview with a famous person
    • A scene from a film
  • Class memory quiz. Ask one student at a time to go to the front of the class. Ask the rest of the class to ask them any questions they like (as long as they are not too personal!),
    e.g.
    • What is your favourite colour/food/band?
    • What did you have for lunch?
    • Which country would you most like to visit?

    Try to make a note of some of the answers. When all of the students (or half of the students, if you have a large group) have been interviewed, explain that you are going to hold a quiz about the class. Get the students into small teams and ask them to put their hand up if they know the answer to a question, for example:
    • Which student likes Oasis?
    • What is Marie's favourite food?
    • Which two students would like to be famous actors?

    Award a point to the first team to answer correctly. This game can be a lot of fun, and encourages students to listen to each other.
  • Listen for lies. Divide the class into two teams A and B. Ask one student at a time to come to the front of the class and read aloud a passage which you have chosen, e.g. a story or newspaper article. Then ask them to read it aloud again, but to make some changes. Each time a lie (or change) is read out, the students must stand up. The first team to stand up gets a point. This game requires students to listen carefully and encourages them to remember important information and details.
Author: Kate Joyce

Friday, 23 September 2016


Tips from Dyslexic Students for Dyslexic Students
by Nancy Hall
 Nobody can fully appreciate what it’s like to be a student with dyslexia in the way that another student with dyslexia can.  Tutors, teachers and parents have their advice, but here are some strategies from the real experts—kids with papers due, tests next week, and a project due on Friday.  How do they do it when they are struggling readers themselves?
getting on top of schoolwork

Tracking Time

Abbie, 14, says her best homework strategy is a simple one. "Nothing high-tech here,” she laughs.  “The most important tool for me is a big wall calendar I can write on so I know how much time I have to do what was needed.  I mean, because I’m dyslexic, I get extra time to spend on tests, right?  I finally realized that I should also use all the time available to me to work on regular homework assignments, too.  One thing I do is to mark not just the date when something has to be finished, but the date when I need to start on it, and break the project down into smaller steps in between.”
For dyslexics who read more slowly and who sometimes can’t even read their own handwriting, allowing enough time to do homework is a must.  Here are some tips:

  • Break a big project up into smaller, less intimidating pieces.  Have a three page paper due in a month?  Let a parent or a teacher help you to set dates for working on little tasks related to the paper, like picking a topic, doing research, and writing a first draft.  

  • Do what’s due first.  If you’re faced with a long list of short assignments, it’s easy just to grab them and do them in random order, but that’s not the most beneficial.  Take a minute to prioritze your work, not only by what’s due, but by what you need more or less time with.  Study tonight for the French test you have tomorrow, not the vocabulary test that’s coming up next week.

  • Don’t fall into the “no homework tonight” trap.  Calendar clear for tonight?  Look ahead to see what’s coming up (an earth science quiz at the end of the week or a math worksheet due Thursday?) and use this free time to make a start on the work that’s due later.

  • Outline a task before you start.  For a science project on plant growth, what materials will you need to gather?  How many days will you have to allow for the beans to sprout?  How long will it take you to write up your results?  Think it through in your head and figure out what steps you’ll have to take so you know what you’ll need—and how much time to allow—to get it done.

Tech Tips
Thirteen-year-old Eli, for instance, has a friend who studies by making a Power Point presentation on her computer of the material she’ll be tested on.  She listens to it several times and takes notes.  “And if I did this on a Mac, I could even use the computer’s voice feature to read the material to me.  I’m already doing this to read material along with me while I study,” Eli says.  Eli also composes written work on his computer to save time, improve accuracy, and add interest to his written assignments when he’s typing them up.  “I use the voice-recognition program Dragon to dictate what I want to say,” he explains.  “It’s faster and my papers are neater, but best of all I’ve found I probably add over 50% more detail when I’m doing it this way.  It lets me be a lot more creative.”  It also allows him to capture crucial details that he might gloss over if he were doing it by handwriting the points on index cards and then arduously transferring them to the computer.

Here are some other high-tech tips from Eli and other kids:


  • After you complete a writing assignment, whether it’s a paragraph or a longer paper, record yourself or someone in your family reading it aloud.  Being able to listen to it as you read it over several times can help you to spot errors and things you’d like to change, and to understand and remember what you’ve learned.

  • Listen to assigned books on CD, reading along in your written copy.  Bonus?  You’ll feel much better prepared if you know you’re going to be called upon to read out loud in class the next day.

  • Ask your parents or a teacher to help you sign up for access to recorded books and other written materials.  An organization called Learning Ally (formerly Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic or RFB&D) makes tens of thousands of audio recordings of literature, textbooks, reference materials, magazines, and newspapers available on CD or by audio download to anyone who has trouble reading print.  Check their website for more information:  www.learningally.org.

  • Do written work at home and take notes in class on a laptop computer or a word processing keyboard like an Alphasmart. 

  • Find a computer that can read to you—Macs do this, but there’s lots of software available for both Macs and PCs that read along with you.

Managing Material

James gives himself plenty of breaks when he’s working on a tough assignment.  At 16 and in tenth grade, he has longer, more complicated assignments than he used to.  “If I have 20 pages of reading to do one night, I just can’t focus on it all at once,” he says.  “I concentrate better and remember more if I break it into two 10-page assignments or even four 5-page assignments, and take a break after completing each one.  I also give myself enough time so that I can work slowly and carefully, not hurrying or skipping any part of a task.  It takes longer, but I do a better job and comprehend the material better.”

 Other Ideas?

  • Don’t do more than you have to.  For instance, you don’t have to research everything on the Civil War to write a few paragraphs on "The Battle of Bull Run."

  • For many people, studying the most important material right before bed makes it easier to remember.

  • Work in a quiet place with few distractions.  Ear plugs or noise-canceling headphones can help to block out noises that compete for your attention.

  • Some students found that chewing gum while taking a test helped them to focus on their work.  Ask your teacher whether you can try this.  No popping bubbles!
  • Try to get enough sleep and eat a nutritious diet.  When you’re well rested and in good health, you’ll be able to focus better on your work.


Attitude Matters
Abbie told us, “Dyslexia teaches you to budget your time and work hard, and these are things that will help me no matter what I go on to do.”  Twelve-year-old Molly found inspiration in talking with dyslexic adults:  “Talking to some of my teachers who are dyslexic themselves has been really helpful,” she said.  "They had to work even harder than I do because there were no computers or books on CDs when they were my age.  If they could succeed, I can, too.”
We heard similar things from other kids and teens we spoke with:

  • I’ve never felt like there was something I had to do that I couldn’t.  It might take me longer, but I can do it.

  • It’s important to look back and see how far you’ve come.  In fourth grade there were things I couldn’t do as well as other kids, but now, as a seventh grader, I can do most of them just as well as everyone else—sometimes even better.

  • I used to feel embarrassed about having to work with reading specialists and a speech teacher, but I wouldn’t be where I am now without them.

  • Dyslexia is something that will always be with me, but I don’t think it will ever keep me from doing what I want to do.

  • The things that support you while you’re learning to master reading and related skills can be as high tech as the latest ultra-sleek notebook computer or as down to earth as chewing gum and taking good care of yourself.  You’ll find that you’ll get other helpful ideas from friends, parents, and teachers, and some you’ll figure out for yourself.




Friday, 16 September 2016

Tests not only cause stress in the students, but may undermine learning

Tests + Stress = Problems For Students


test-stress
Anecdotal reports from educators, combined with a surge in prescriptions for such medications as Ritalin and Prozac, suggest that students are experiencing increased stress in the classroom. At the root of the problem, some researchers suggest, are schools that primarily rank students based on their test scores.

Our educational system is now relying more than ever on standardized tests that compare students to one another as the dominant assessment instrument. This tendency has forced teachers at all grade levels to “orient students to performance goals and comparative standards of excellence instead of internal mastery goals,” says Scott Paris, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan. The emphasis on external goals, Paris suggests, has created an unhealthy classroom scenario in which “standardized tests provoke considerable anxiety among students that seems to increase with their age and experience.”

How Does the Brain React to Stress in the Classroom? Stress is the body’s general response to any intense physical, emotional or mental demand placed on it. A student’s reaction, for example, to a teacher’s reminder that a final exam will be presented next week, may induce stress that triggers the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous and endocrine systems, according to Nicky Hayes, editor of Foundations of Psychology. Common responses to “exam stress,” as Hayes characterizes it, include disturbed sleep patterns, tiredness, worry, irregular eating habits, increased infections, and inability to concentrate.

In addition, researchers studying cognitive impairment report decreased memory capacity in stressed individuals. Studies employing Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technology also indicate that chronically stressful conditions correspond with selective atrophy in the human brain.

Where is stress processed in a person’s brain? Researchers have demonstrated at least three separate brain regions that play integral roles in the way someone processes stress in the form of fear. The prefrontal cortex, which specializes as a cognitive and emotional area, is thought to participate in the interpretation of sensory stimuli. Thus, it may be the site where the potential for danger is first assessed.

A second area involved in processing fear is the amygdala, which resides in a “primitive” area of the brain called the limbic system (that includes the hippocampus). Both the wider and more generalized limbic system and the smaller, more specialized amygdala are areas where anxiety is initiated and routed.

The third area, located at the base of the brain, is the hypothalamus. This area, in response to signals sent from the prefrontal cortex and amygdala, coordinates the release of hormones that drive a person’s motor responses to perceived threats.
In particular, the stress signals originating from the limbic system and other cortical regions cause the hypothalamus to secrete a corticotropin-releasing hormone. This liquid protein prompts the pituitary gland to emit adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). In turn, ACTH causes the adrenal gland to release corisol and, in so doing, prepares the body to defend itself.

High-Stakes Testing Takes a Toll
Skeptics question the notion that stress hurts students and their performance in the classroom. They claim that anxiety-provoking situations are a part of daily life that students, like all people, must learn to handle.

Nonetheless, some educational researchers have documented “acting out” behaviors exhibited by stressed out students that even go beyond the “exam stress” symptoms described earlier. “Stressed elementary students in grades two through four tend to show emotional stress behaviors such as crying, throwing tantrums, wetting themselves, and vomiting,” says Tim Urdan, an assistant professor of psychology at Santa Clara University. “The older kids, such as those in high school, are more likely to show ‘rebellious’ responses: refusal to participate, cutting class, and deliberately undermining the test by answering incorrectly on purpose.”

In Massachusetts, 220,000 high school students were scheduled in April 2000 to take the state’s required academic achievement test. Most dutifully took it, but 200 others instead staged protests, chanting “Be a hero! Take a zero!”

Intentionally answering questions incorrectly is of particular concern to educators because it indicates a decrease in student motivation. In this regard, Paris notes that students “learn to study information that will be tested and ignore or devalue other information.” After all, he adds, assessment in the form of tests is woven into the fabric of schooling from readiness tests for kindergarten students to competency examinations that high school students must pass in order to graduate.

The byproduct of years of testing has caused students to believe that good grades are more important than understanding—that high scores rather than the cultivation of the mind is the purpose of schooling.
Furthermore, students are well aware of the fact that test scores have become the basis for comparative social judgements. According to a recent study done by Paris, for instance, older students are increasingly more likely to agree with the following statement: 

 “I’m afraid that people will think I’m stupid if I get a low score on a test.” These students may worry about their low test scores becoming common knowledge, possibly lowering their esteem in the eyes of others."

Paris believes that the widespread use of tests comparing one group of students to another has made students feel increasingly more anxious and competitive. Lack of preparation is cited as another common reason for test anxiety, based on the failure of parents and children to spend adequate time together discussing class material. Parents may also not know how long they can expect their children to concentrate at one time—unaware, for example, that research indicates first and second graders can study no more than 15 minutes without needing a short break and third through six graders require a break after 20 to 30 minutes of studying.

In some places, students are beginning to express bitterness about having to take such high-stakes tests. In Massachusetts, 220,000 high school students were scheduled in April 2000 to take the state’s required academic achievement test. Most dutifully took it, but 200 others instead staged protests, chanting “Be a hero! Take a zero!”



Lessening the Importance of Standardized Tests
 Does an exaggerated emphasis on ranking students based on standardized test scores cause stress while discouraging the kind of open inquiry that fosters true intellectual growth?

Paris, along with Richard J. Stiggins, president of the Assessment Training Institute in Portland, Oregon, believes that more educators are now realizing how standardized tests provoke considerable anxiety—anxiety that increases with each year that students move through school. Furthermore, students do not necessarily become “test wise” as is commonly believed. Instead, older students report not checking their answers, filling in bubbles mindlessly, carelessly skimming passages for answers, and occasionally cheating. This “test pollution” encourages destructive habits that undermine genuine learning.

Paris and other researchers believe that potentially devastating consequences are in store for students who repeatedly receive low scores on standardized tests. They are left with few choices but to demean their own abilities, devalue the tests, or leave school altogether. But even the winners pay a price, as they come to value competitive success more than genuine learning.

Paris, echoing the thoughts of other educators and administrators, concludes: “The proliferation of high-stakes testing in our education system under the guise of accountability may raise test scores of students for the wrong reasons. Publishers and state departments may make newer and better achievement tests, students may exhibit higher test scores, and parents may be more satisfied with their local schools, but the price that is paid in the narrowing of the curriculum, the restricted definition of educational success, and the inculcation of test-wiseness and test-taking strategies may mortgage the future of children’s appreciation of school and their life-long learning habits.”

Friday, 9 September 2016

For: The teachers of the Teacher Training College Nº55

   
              
            Resultado de imagen para gifs pra teacher'sday         
                    
   Thanks for giving me the key to my future!!                            
                                           Resultado de imagen para gifs pra teacher'sday


Cockney is probably the second most famous British accent. It originated in the East End of London. The less educationally benefited people speak this accent. 

Wednesday, 24 August 2016



An innovative offering from the Office of English Language Programs, Shaping the Way We Teach English, is a 14-module teacher training video series developed and produced in cooperation with the University of Oregon.




The goal of teaching strategies is to create autonomous learners, learners who can learn by themselves inside and outside the classroom. Research and classroom practices are evolving in many directions to try to better understand and facilitate learning for students of all ages. In general, successful language learners tend to select strategies that work well together, according to the requirements of the language task. These learners can easily explain the strategies they use and why they use them.

Friday, 19 August 2016


"A child can always teach an adult three things: to be happy for no reason, to be always busy with something and know how to demand with all his might what you want" Paulo Coelho

British Council

How students can use mobiles to learn English


By Joanna Norton  

Mobile technology is everywhere, but do you restrict or encourage it in your classroom? Educator, multimedia author and editor Joanna Norton shares tips about how English language teachers can use technology to their learners’ benefit. 

Technology is transforming how we communicate, socialise, play, shop and conduct business. These profound changes place pressure on the traditional models of language learning, such as teaching in a formal classroom setting. They also present us with amazing opportunities to re-design the way we teach and learn English.

Teaching with desktop computers vs mobile devices
I still use desktops in my class to access language-based websites, and use Google Docs to allow students to work together. You can also connect a desktop computer to a whiteboard and project Google Images onto it. It’s an invaluable resource for language teaching.
However, mobile devices allow you and your learners to interact seamlessly with each other, in both formal and informal learning contexts. For example, a teacher can encourage students to create a personal visual story about their daily routine. The student can take a series of snapshots of moments in their day — for example, their alarm clock, a toothbrush, a cup of coffee, their walk to work, etc. — and describe the actions to the teacher. For example, ‘I take a shower and get dressed…’ This will often highlight aspects of language that require teacher input.

Cameras and microphones are useful for learning English
Camera phones provide a great way to ask learners to ‘notice’ grammar around them. You can encourage students to take photos of street signs, menus, advertisements, or other examples of written English that they see around them. Spotting the misuse of apostrophes (‘s) or noticing incorrect spelling are my favourites.
Another useful tool is the recording function on mobile devices. Here are three examples:
  1. Learners can record themselves speaking English and share it with friends, who can offer feedback. This is a great opportunity to practise pronunciation.
  2. Learners can record conversations with native speakers on a range of topics and integrate them into projects.
  3. Learners can use the microphone creatively, and incorporate voice recordings into edited videos.
Mobile technology turns the question ‘What did you do last weekend?’ into a personal story, as learners can share with the group photos or videos of what they did, where they went, and how they felt. They can also share their social media activity, providing an opportunity to explore what their friends thought of the weekend.

Two apps I am using, and why
I’m interested in ways to personalise the learning experience, and encourage English language students of all ages to create and share their own learning content. Two apps that help me do this are Vine and FiftyThree. Vine is a mobile app that allows its users to create and post short looping video clips. FiftyThree allows users to sketch, write, draw, outline and colour on the screen.
You could use Vine for a getting-to-know-you activity. Ask your students to create a funny or quirky video about themselves, and the rest of the group have to guess who it is.
You could use FiftyThree as a visual vocabulary notebook and encourage learners to draw an image of a word and store it for later use. I also use the app as a mobile sketchbook, primarily for the generation of ideas.

Seven tips for using mobile technology with success
Integrating technology into the classroom is a long-term strategy. If it’s to be sustainable, the following points should be considered.
  1. As a teacher, you need to engage with mobile technology yourself, before you can start to implement it into classroom practice.
  2. To make sure students don’t get distracted by social media, set clear learning objectives.  Find creative ways to use social media within lesson plans. Consider how mobile technology can be used for extension activities. ‘Why don’t you post an image of your work on your Facebook page?’, is more engaging than ‘We don’t use Facebook in this class’.
  3. If your school does not have a mobile learning policy, you need one for your class before you begin.
  4. Do some research. It takes a lot of time to find relevant, suitable apps. There is no moderation process in place, so even with paid apps, it is difficult to know whether or not they are suitable.
  5. Don’t overwhelm your class with technology. Learners often fail to recognise the benefits of technology for language learning. So it helps to introduce apps and mobile learning activities one at a time. Then, as a group, you can reflect on whether they are useful.
  6. If you do not have enough time to use mobile devices in class, think how they could be used for informal learning outside the classroom. Your students will benefit from the results of this extra practice when they’re back in the formal classroom.
  7. Read point number 1 again.
Mobile devices have helped me to create an inclusive, personalised learning environment. My learners are now active researchers, and my classes are more in tune with their needs. Mobile technology also helps me use my lesson planning time more effectively. It has pushed the boundaries of my own professional development, and I continue to share these models of learning in class.
Some of the Twitter exercises below are a great way to begin to use social media for language learning. You can provide hashtags to allow students to search for and follow the conversation.
  • Tweet a summary
In pairs or small groups, ask students to summarise a piece of text in 140 characters or less. Provide students with a hashtag, so the whole class can follow the conversation on Twitter and discuss it at the end.
  • What did you did at the weekend?
Ask students to tweet photos of their weekend. Provide a hashtag for all the tweets. They could include photos of interesting people they met, a funny sign, or a meal they enjoyed. This will provide students plenty of material for discussion on a Monday morning.
  • Describing people
Ask students to describe someone they are following on Twitter, in English. What were the reasons for following them? Do they read their tweets daily? Do they follow them on other social media channels? Is there anything in particular they admire about them?

                                                                                                  Let's try it!    
  

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

10 benefits of reading

 

           Why You Should Read Every Day

 
 Do your daily reading habits center around tweets, Facebook updates, or the directions on your instant oatmeal packet? If you’re one of countless people who don’t make a habit of reading regularly, you might be missing out: reading has a significant number of benefits, and just a few benefits of reading are listed below.

d3885b003c725f07b6f1a434dfe4dbbe1. Mental Stimulation

Studies have shown that staying mentally stimulated can slow the progress of (or possibly even prevent) Alzheimer’s and Dementia, since keeping your brain active and engaged prevents it from losing power. Just like any other muscle in the body, the brain requires exercise to keep it strong and healthy, so the phrase “use it or lose it” is particularly apt when it comes to your mind. Doing puzzles and playing games such as chess have also been found to be helpful with cognitive stimulation.

2. Stress Reduction

No matter how much stress you have at work, in your personal relationships, or countless other issues faced in daily life, it all just slips away when you lose yourself in a great story. A well-written novel can transport you to other realms, while an engaging article will distract you and keep you in the present moment, letting tensions drain away and allowing you to relax.

3. Knowledge

a813c72bba7e23ba0dc5c67baa803e30
 Everything you read fills your head with new bits of information, and you never know when it might come in handy. The more knowledge you have, the better-equipped you are to tackle any challenge you’ll ever face.
Additionally, here’s a bit of food for thought: should you ever find yourself in dire circumstances, remember that although you might lose everything else—your job, your possessions, your money, even your health—knowledge can never be taken from you.

4. Vocabulary Expansion

This goes with the above topic: the more you read, the more words you gain exposure to, and they’ll inevitably make their way into your everyday vocabulary. Being articulate and well-spoken is of great help in any profession, and knowing that you can speak to higher-ups with self-confidence can be an enormous boost to your self-esteem. It could even aid in your career, as those who are well-read, well-spoken, and knowledgeable on a variety of topics tend to get promotions more quickly (and more often) than those with smaller vocabularies and lack of awareness of literature, scientific breakthroughs, and global events.
Reading books is also vital for learning new languages, as non-native speakers gain exposure to words used in context, which will ameliorate their own speaking and writing fluency.

5. Memory Improvement

cae2117e5e90d19b152a65ecd73c4b3d
When you read a book, you have to remember an assortment of characters, their backgrounds, ambitions, history, and nuances, as well as the various arcs and sub-plots that weave their way through every story. That’s a fair bit to remember, but brains are marvellous things and can remember these things with relative ease. Amazingly enough, every new memory you create forges new synapses (brain pathways)and strengthens existing ones, which assists in short-term memory recall as well as stabilizing moods. How cool is that?

6. Stronger Analytical Thinking Skills

Have you ever read an amazing mystery novel, and solved the mystery yourself before finishing the book? If so, you were able to put critical and analytical thinking to work by taking note of all the details provided and sorting them out to determine  “whodunnit”.
That same ability to analyze details also comes in handy when it comes to critiquing the plot; determining whether it was a well-written piece, if the characters were properly developed, if the storyline ran smoothly, etc. Should you ever have an opportunity to discuss the book with others, you’ll be able to state your opinions clearly, as you’ve taken the time to really consider all the aspects involved.

7. Improved Focus and Concentration

3ce743bddc6fee4cbb7c530c1a9f9cf4

In our internet-crazed world, attention is drawn in a million different directions at once as we multi-task through every day. In a single 5-minute span, the average person will divide their time between working on a task, checking email, chatting with a couple of people (via gchat, skype, etc.), keeping an eye on twitter, monitoring their smartphone, and interacting with co-workers. This type of ADD-like behaviour causes stress levels to rise, and lowers our productivity.
When you read a book, all of your attention is focused on the story—the rest of the world just falls away, and you can immerse yourself in every fine detail you’re absorbing. Try reading for 15-20 minutes before work (i.e. on your morning commute, if you take public transit), and you’ll be surprised at how much more focused you are once you get to the office.

 8. Better Writing Skills

This goes hand-in-hand with the expansion of your vocabulary: exposure to published, well-written work has a noted effect on one’s own writing, as observing the cadence, fluidity, and writing styles of other authors will invariably influence your own work. In the same way that musicians influence one another, and painters use techniques established by previous masters, so do writers learn how to craft prose by reading the works of others.

9. Tranquility

5d487c0f8aefd2191a6e62c84610d9d5
In addition to the relaxation that accompanies reading a good book, it’s possible that the subject you read about can bring about immense inner peace and tranquility.While reading self-help books has been shown to help people suffering from certain mood disorders and  mental illnesses.

10. Free Entertainment

There’s a reading genre for every literate person on the planet, and whether your tastes lie in classical literature, poetry, fashion magazines, biographies, religious texts, young adult books, self-help guides, street lit, or romance novels, there’s something out there to capture your curiosity and imagination. Step away from your computer for a little while, crack open a book, and replenish your soul for a little while.