This blog is aimed at professionals and learners who seek excellence and are tireless in learning more and more... Here you will find classroom management tips, teacher development issues, a myriad of class activities to enhance your lesson plan and useful vocabulary tips. Many thanks for your visit!!

segunda-feira, 28 de maio de 2012

Gap-filling exercises – new ways to use them in class!

Do you find gap-filling a useful activity? For sure it is! Gap-fills are an excellent way to reinforce vocabulary, and allow the student to encounter the vocabulary in a variety of contexts. The exercises can be worked on individually or in pairs in class, or can be assigned as homework to be quickly reviewed in class the next day.
But…what about giving it some high-tech spice and a personalized touch? Check these cool activities fostering vocabulary teaching, interaction and at the same time promoting learner’s autonomy!

1)   At learnquick.com it is possible to create cloze exercises and tests very quick. This way students can create their own exercises and exchange with the other classmates. A nice activity would be having students transcribing their own essays or any piece of writing activity into a gap-fill. A challenging variation I like the most is a gap-fill exercise in which the words which are gapped are presented in their root form. In this way, students have to choose the correct word from the contexts given, and supply the appropriate form of the word, such as a different derivation or different tense.
2)   Gap-fill exercises can be presented as crossword puzzles. Rather than presenting dictionary definitions as clues, use gap-fill sentences in context. An excellent crossword puzzle program is available free of charge from eclipsecrossword.com. The program allows you to make a crossword puzzle within minutes. All you have to do is type in the answer and the sentence clue, and the computer will generate the best configuration to fit all the words into the puzzle. To make it more interactive, this activity can be done  as a race between groups.
3)   At classtools.net teachers can create a variety of vocabulary gap-filling exercises. The basic program is available free of charge. Go to http://classtools.net/widgets/quiz_6/lYggq.htm and give it a try! This WordShoot game is very cool!

quarta-feira, 23 de maio de 2012

My after-class reflection guide

Every time I left a classroom after a lesson I tried to think of what it had been like, whether students were happy and willing to come back and more importantly, if they actually had a clear perception of learning. It was really hard to do it though, because I would underlie my assumptions on my impressions and it may be tricky, because we all know that judgements are only real if they are based on facts. Thinking of that, I list below some questions which aim at helping teachers make a reflection of their lessons based on facts, rather than impressions…

1)   Did the warm-up set the mood for the lesson?
2)   Were the transitions between activities smooth?
3)   Were students engaged in the activities?
4)   Have I addressed to all students in the classroom?
5)   Was tha time allotted for each activity good enough?
6)   Was my TTT appropriate? (warning: more than 30% is tricky!)
7)   Were the activities student-centered and varied? (focused on both practice and production)
8)   Were the classroom settings varied and facilitated interaction? (at leat 3 variations e.g pairwork, groupwork, individual work…)
9)   Was the time for wrap-up long enough to make the accountability of the lesson and check student’s satisfaction?
10)       Were the classroom management techniques used appropriate for the situations in the classroom?

quinta-feira, 17 de maio de 2012

Vocabulary hint # 20

TO MAKE TRACKS Meaning: to leave somewhere, usually to go home For example: It's getting a bit late. I think it's time to make tracks. In Portuguese: Está ficando tarde. Eu acho que está na hora de tomar rumo! From: englishclub.com

quarta-feira, 9 de maio de 2012

Have you ever considered Attention Blindness in your classroom?

Before starting talking about attention and the possible implications for the classroom I invite you to take two quick tests. Look carefully at the picture below.

Did you manage to find the solution? How long did it take you to get the answer? Now, go to the next one...

Were you able to see something different before getting to the end of the text? Probably not. Believe me, there is nothing wrong with it but you are probably wondering by now what these two tests have to do with education and my answer is EVERYTHING.
That’s precisely what Davidson illustrates in her book, Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn — a fascinating meditation on how “attention blindness,” the peculiar phenomenon illustrated by Harvard’s famous invisible gorilla experiment (the video is available on youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pK0BQ9CUHk&feature=fvst). The author points out that as long as we focus on the object we know, we will miss the new one we need to see.  She examines the nature and evolution of attention, noting that the educational system is driven by very rigid expectations of what “attention” is and how it reflects “intelligence”. Yet neuroscience is increasingly indicating that our minds pay attention in a myriad different ways, often non-linear and simultaneous, which means that the academy and the workplace will have to evolve in parallel and transcend the 20th-century linear assembly-line model for eduction and work. For that,   the process of unlearning in order to relearn demands a new concept of knowledge not as thing but as a process, not as a noun but as a verb.”
What about you fellow teacher? How are you dealing with students who can't take their eyes off their cells, or keeping texting other people while you are striving to keep them engaged in class. My feeling is that just saying cells phones are not allowed is not enough. We have have to go beyond and show them how our brain works. So, what about inviting them to take the quiz I suggested above and explaining the  implications why cell phones or other tech gadgets are not welcome. This way you will be showing your students that your main concern is not to control their cells and what really matters for is to set up the right environment so that learning can actually take place!

For further information about this fascinating topic visit natgeo site:( http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/brain-games/pay-attention-facts/)

quarta-feira, 2 de maio de 2012

The BaLL technique: Engaging students during Presentation moment

Whenever a teacher has to present a new content there will be two challenges: having students engaged and participating and avoiding too much TTT (Teacher Talking Time). This technique which I call the ball technique proved to be very efficient in order to face these challenges and it is quite simple! While you are explaining a new topic you should hold a small ball in your hands. All of a sudden you throw the ball at a student and ask him a question related to the topic you have been explaining. The student should answer the question and pass you the ball back. If the answer is right you take the ball and if the answer is wrong you throw the ball at another student who will try to answer the same question. You may use this technique as many times as you wish but I suggest 3 times. Students will surely be more engaged and will participate more and as a result, your TTT will be reduced. This technique can be used for all kinds of classroom settings and all levels. Have a try!