Image courtesy of Sean Winters
This is week two of my #444ELT personal challenge. Here is a link to week one.
This week I spent time digging through articles on the use of portfolios in the classroom. This is something I already do and have done for a while, but I wanted to see what others were doing and to see if there was anything I could do better. I learned a great deal this week and I may keep on reading about portfolios as I feel there is some real value to it beyond what I am doing at the moment.
I invite all comments, suggestions, and even criticisms. Share below in the comments section or on Twitter.
Continue reading Collecting
Image courtesy of Keith Kissel
I have a feeling this is going to be a rather short post, but this thought has been taking up space in my brain for too long and needs to get out. I also have a feeling that this isn’t going to be as clear as it seems to be in my head at the moment. Here goes nothing.
I think we have become lazy when it comes to preparing lessons. Okay, that is a bit harsh, but I think there is at least an element of truth to that. When I became an English language instructor back in [date as been removed to protect the age of the writer], we didn’t have the internet; we had to make our lessons from scratch! Actually, that isn’t entirely true, we did have a shelf full of books with some lesson ideas and photocopiable activities (thanks, Jill Hadfield!). I remember spending hours planning, prepping, cutting, glueing, copying, stapling, etc., just to get ready for the next day (I even used stencils and clipart!). I wouldn’t say that my lessons were anything fabulous (actually, I shudder in horror at some of the things that I did), but I did attempt to tailor my lessons to the group I was teaching.
My fear at the moment is that we have become so reliant on the what and not on the why. Continue reading Considering
Image courtesy of Gary Cycles
Note: This post is my submission for the 2nd ELT Research Blog Carnival. The subject of this carnival is on learner autonomy and is hosted by Lizzie Pinard. If you are interested in knowing more about writing one yourself, please visit her website for more information.
For those who don’t know me, this isn’t the only blog I have. I also have an education technology site that was not really intended to be a education technology blog. Instead, it was meant to be a place where I could post things about language learning and teaching, but somehow evolved into a how-to type of site for those who are new to using technology in the classroom. As a result, I felt that I needed a place strictly for reflecting on what I was learning and doing as a language instructor. Hence, the need for this blog.
Reflection has always been the cornerstone of this site, but not just on what is happening in my day to day life as a teacher. It is also a place where I can share things I am learning about from what I am reading in areas of language education. In fact, my first post was on the integration of education technology and the work of Earl Stevick. Since my time in the MA TESOL program at Trinity Western University, I have been intrigued by the work of Dr. Stevick and his focus on the learner. This leads me to the research article I have chosen for this particular ELT Research Blog Carnival on learner autonomy. Continue reading Controlling
Image still from the movie Entre les murs
This weekend, I made the exceedingly long journey to Vancouver for the BC TEAL Lower Mainland Regional Conference. I had a great time and I will certainly blog about that soon, but that isn’t the purpose of my post today. On the plane back from the conference, I watched the movie Entre les murs, an intriguing movie about a teacher and his middle school class in Paris. Even though I am not a K-12 teacher, I found it to be a fascinating and quite convincingly realistic voyage through a typical school year. I think the thing that caught my attention the most was that I felt like it wasn’t contrived, a compelling story without the need of a storyline. Unlike many of films on schools put out by Hollywood, this story didn’t have a hero or villain, blatant agenda or mountain top experience. Instead, this story left me with more questions than answers. In the end, I didn’t find myself really liking or detesting either the teacher or the students. I felt a variety of emotions throughout the film, but none stayed consistent. Instead, it got me thinking about my classroom, my approaches to teaching and how I can learn from this situation. Here are my somewhat scattered thoughts: Continue reading Watching
Image courtesy of Katie Sayer
A little over a year ago, I went to a medical clinic in the city I was living in at the time as a follow up to a test that I had done six months earlier at the hospital. The situation was pretty routine in my mind. Go to the clinic, get the doctor to request a test, get the test done, and review the results together. The problem was that I had only been the in city for a short while and I didn’t have family doctor as of yet. That is why I was sitting in a walk-in clinic on a Sunday afternoon waiting approximately three hours to just get the call to go to one of the rooms where I could wait another 30 minutes for the doctor.
So, here I was sitting in the room, waiting (im)patiently. Looking around the room, I started to notice something strange. There wasn’t a single piece of current medical equipment to be found. The baby scale was a balance with a set of weights. There wasn’t a computer or screen around, only binders and clipboards. I started to wonder who was going to step through that door next. Then, with some struggle with the door first, entered the oldest doctor I had seen in a long while. He shuffled (literally) over to the nearest chair and plopped down. He took a moment to catch his breath while I looked on with a stunned expression. He lifted his glasses and pulled my chart within a nose length of his eyes and scanned the page. We talked for a bit about what I needed and he rose to open the door and bellowed to the nurse to bring him a form.
Supplied with the form, the doctor started to work his way down the paper. It went something like this:
“Do you have any allergies?”
“Are you on any prescription medication?”
“Are you pregnant?”
“Uhhhhh. Not to my knowledge.”
I have to say, that is the first time in my life that anyone, let alone a doctor, has asked me, a man, if I was pregnant. What was more surprising is that he didn’t miss a beat and continued his way down the form as if nothing was out of the ordinary. Needless to say, I was happy to get out of there, get the test done, and not have to return to the office since they found nothing wrong.
This situation is not unlike what I see with in the teaching field today. Continue reading Reflecting
Image courtesy of Dawn Huczek
Today was one of those days. A day in which you thought things were going really well until the rug was pulled out from under you in the most unexpected way. The kind of day that stings and sits with you for a while. I’m not angry or even sorry that it happened. I’m sorry that something precipitated it, but not the actual event. Continue reading Stinging
Image courtesy of Trevor Leyenhorst
One of my favourite television shows when I was a kid was a program by James Burke called Connections. For those of you who don’t know the series, it was a documentary style show that showed how one item could lead to a completely different thing through a series of ‘connections’. The show attempted to show how one item relied on a series of things happening in order for it to occur.
During my MA TESOL program, I was required to read and interact with the book Language Teaching Awareness: A Guide to Exploring Beliefs and Practices by Jerry G. Gebhard and Robert Oprandy (1999). In this book, the authors explore various ways in which teachers can become more aware of the way they approach their teaching. The process of reading and journalling about what I was learning was quite eye-opening. I became a more reflective teacher as a result and that has continued through the use of this blog and through other means.
In chapter seven of this book, Oprandy talks about ways in which we can reflect on the connections we make between our personal life and our teaching. He does this through a series of connecting questions that he wrote for himself. He encourages teachers to take time to write their own questions based on what they are experiencing. For the sake of this post, I have decided to summarize the responses to his own questions and then attempt to answer those same questions for myself. Here are his results: Continue reading Connecting