This post was inspired by a short post and a great idea by Zhenya whose blog I enjoy reading and highly recommend.
Zhenya’s questions about blogging, or writing in general, [habits, routines, tips] are:
- What are your 2-3 favorite writing habits/rituals you find helpful?
- What are 1-2 writing habits you find less helpful, (and would like to get rid of in the new year?)
- What is one new idea (tip, habit) you would like to start in 2015, and why?
I think that talking about our blogging style or our writing habits is a very interesting idea, and our practical tips might be very useful for some new bloggers.
Blogging, for me, is an amazing way of learning through writing and reflecting. It helps me a lot to clarify my thoughts on teaching/learning, because I usually understand some things much better after writing them down.
I love listening carefully to other people (students, or ELT bloggers and teachers on Twitter) and reading some wonderful, inspirational blogs where I find a lot of interesting ideas, and I enjoy reflecting deeply on what I’ve heard or read (usually in solitude, while listening to music). When I find a topic interesting or intriguing, I usually spend a lot of time musing about it and exploring it in books, on the Net, and not until I get a complete idea what I’m going to write in my post, do I begin writing it. When I finish the post, I check it a few times (for grammar, vocabulary, or spelling errors), and when I hit publish, I’m usually very happy and relaxed.
Before writing a post I brainstorm some ideas and thoughts that spring to my mind. I write notes on my computer (in word document), or my notebook/planner, sometimes on pieces of paper that I put in the box, etc. I find this habit very helpful because I used to forget some (maybe interesting) ideas because I didn’t jot them down.
Blogging is really enjoyable, but it can be at the same time very demanding and time-consuming. I’m still struggling to choose the correct word in order to convey my thoughts and ideas while writing my posts. I’d like to get rid of the habit of feeling still (after almost two years of blogging) as a newbie because I’m a non-native English speaker who will never write so well as a native English speaking teacher.
My idea for 2015 is to improve my writing (especially my vocabulary), and to find more time for blogging and commenting on other blogs I like.
I’m looking forward to reading other comments or posts on your blogging style, habits or some useful tips.
Thank you for reading 🙂
We judge others every day and whether we admit it or not, we all make snap judgments within a matter of seconds. We think that we know our students, and in some ways, perhaps we do. But do we really know them (do we really know anybody) if we do not know struggles they face, their true potential, their personal stories, or dreams they pursue…
Do grades (marks) really express an evaluation of the quality and quantity of learning? Why do we obstinately continue with the perverted practice of grading?
Our insistence on attempting to evaluate students’ performance through a system of grades or marks is the most unfair and tyrannical of all the practices in our schools. Grading and labelling tend to punish the less able students, who may be trying very hard. Arthur E. Lean, an American professor and educational philosopher in his essay “The Farce Called Grading” (1976) claims that the reason people hold on to them is because they are familiar and they act as an incentive that pushes students to work hard, while they actually make students pessimistic. Lean argues that grades are unfair and extremely subjective, and provides many examples of real life situations where grading varies drastically, and where it may be influenced by many factors outside the student’s educational status. In addition, Lean provides an alternative to the grading system, which is written reports that give in-depth information on a student’s status, and parent-teacher meetings.
In his essay Lean quotes Louis T. Benezet (an American educator, education administrator and multiple U.S. university president):
“A sustained effort should be made to throw out false inducements to learning. In one way or another most of these refer to our obsession with grades…. As a system for evaluating attainment of broad educational aims, it remains a failure. Few teachers have any systematic idea of how to grade fairly. Grading is also the chief villain behind the scandal of college cheating.” Read the rest of this entry
The world is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Reflecting on the way our students learn and the methods we use as teachers to motivate them to learn on their own is the best way of measuring the quality of our teaching.
Students should be encouraged to think for themselves, to discover, to try out new things and not to repeat what they heard in class. Exploring and finding the ways to arouse kids’ curiosity and interest them in learning is the most important.
What is the purpose of education? is the first question teachers should ponder and try to find an answer.
According to Noam Chomsky, the world-renowned linguist and philosopher, “highest goal in life is to inquire and create. The purpose of education is just to help people to learn on their own. It’s you the learner who is going to achieve in the course of education and it’s really up to you to determine how you’re going to master and use it.” An essential part of this kind of education is fostering the impulse to think critically, create alternatives to well-worn models, and challenge authority.
Chomsky defines the opposing concept of education as indoctrination. Under this model, “People have the idea that, from childhood, young people have to be placed into a framework where they’re going to follow orders. This is often quite explicit.” For Chomsky, this model of education imposes “a debt which traps students, young people, into a life of conformity.”
We live in an extremely orderly society and our schools are organized the same way. Traditional educational system fosters conformity, and people who do not conform, who are different from a group, are punished one way or the other.
I think that one of the most important goals of education is to create independent thinkers who are willing to challenge authority, and who are not interested only in “fitting in” and conforming in order to be likeable and avoid conflict within the group. Read the rest of this entry
I have been snowed under with work lately, so I am daydreaming at the moment of travelling to a beautiful sunny and peaceful place like this one in the picture above (the photo was taken last summer in Varadero, Cuba by my friend Milena M.).
This gallery contains 2 photos.
The aim of the activities described in this post is to encourage the habit of reading books and to kindle imagination and creativity in your students.
This blog post was inspired by a great idea of writing about our personal theme song by Shelly Terrell and Vicky Loras. As I found it very difficult to choose just one personal theme song, I decided to write about a few songs or compositions I love listening to, either for pleasure, or because they remind me of some interesting moments in my life.
I have always loved music and languages, and I have always been interested in the correlation between music training and learning languages. The languages that I love most because of their intonation and rhythm are English and Italian. In fact, they have a very different sound system and prosody, but both languages are very melodious and sound really wonderful to me.
The first song I would like to mention here is the Italian song ‘Donna con te’. I was fascinated by the song the first time I heard it, about twenty years ago. It was because of Anna Oxa’s amazing performance and her beautiful voice, and, also, because I was studying Italian then and was in love with the Italian music, culture, and really beautiful language..
Quanti ricordi dietro me
li segnerò nel diario della vita…
These four months I’ve been reading many wonderful blogs and thinking a lot about what makes a good teacher. The thing is that all teachers who really love teaching English spend a lot of time reflecting on their teaching and pondering the new methods that will be more useful and motivating for their students.
You may find this post a little ridiculous or silly, but I enjoyed a lot writing this recipe for a good teacher. Actually, I was inspired by a great activity from an amazing book Teaching Grammar Creatively by Gunter Gerngross, Herbert Puchta and Scott Thornbury. It was about the teacher’s favourite cocktail – Cosmic Cocktail for which he got the recipe from a magician many years ago. Students should guess the ingredients (e.g. milky way, comet, stars, galaxies, planets, honey).
You write the following model text on the board (it’s not the same as in the book, I slightly changed it), and afterwards they create their own texts based on that model.
I have blended everything nicely,
a bit of the milky way,
and four galaxies.
I have added honey
(I like it sweet you know)
I have boiled it for half an hour
and stirred it carefully.
Maybe you would like to taste it:
my wonderful cosmic cocktail.
The ingredients of my recipe for a good teacher are: understanding, patience, imagination and creativity, kindness, ordered mind and consistency
I have blended everything nicely,
1 Head full of understanding
2 Heaped cups of patience
1 Heart full of love.
I have added ordered mind and consistency
Sprinkled generously with kindness
And plenty of imagination and creativity.
I have boiled it for half an hour
and stirred it carefully.
Maybe you would like to taste it:
my wonderful teacher cocktail.
As I have been blogging for four months now I‘d like to say as I am reflecting on the results of my PLN that I am much more confident and contented as a teacher now. Firstly, I enjoy the fact that I’m in the company of a host of great teachers who are enthusiastic about teaching and sharing knowledge and that feeling of sharing and learning is absolutely wonderful. Secondly, I feel much better when I see that teachers all over the world have the same concerns, dilemmas or uncertainties as I do, and that motivates me to continue my growth as a teacher.
These four months I have learnt a lot and these are some impressions and experiences I would like to share with teachers who love learning and teaching English as I do, and particularly with my colleagues in Serbia.
1. Teaching is a lifelong learning process – Teachers should be willing to learn and constantly develop, and to open their mind and heart to the diversity of ideas in the world. Computer literacy and ability to work collaboratively with others are the skills that are necessary for competency in today’s international market. You can find a lot of very interesting and useful ideas in the recent Ceri Jones’ post about the use of technology in the ELT classroom.
There is also an amazing Ady Rajan’s chat summary – Coursebook authors fight back #ELTchat Summary 01/05/2013. The topic of the chat was inspired by two IATEFL sessions The ELTJ Debate (a debate about whether coursebooks reflect students’ lives and needs with Scott Thornbury vs Catherine Walters) and The decline and fall of coursebooks (a talk by Simon Greenall).
2. Reflective teaching – Teachers should constantly reflect on their lessons in order to improve their teaching methods and create a positive learning environment. Talking to students and getting feedback occasionally can strengthen the bond between teacher and student. However, I couldn’t agree more with Hugh Dellar’s opinion in his excellent post on teaching General English students ‘sometimes teachers should be confident enough to explain why what their students think they need may not actually be what’s best for them, and to guide them towards ways of more fruitfully using the little time they have available for the study of English.’
3. Developing critical and creative thinking – Good teachers are not those who cram the most content into their lectures, but those who balance teaching content with teaching students how to think with and about that content. They encourage new ideas and create environment where people feel comfortable in expressing new ideas, they are not judgmental, and they engage and believe in every student.
4. Apart from mastering blogging these four months, I had the opportunity to attend some great presentations at ELTA conference on 10th and 11th May in Belgrade and to listen to Jeanne Perret, Roisin O’Farrel, Julie King, Steve Lever, Alastair Lane, Suzanne Panferov, Zoltan Rezmuves, just to mention some of many other high quality speakers. It was a very fruitful conference with a lot of buzzing and sharing; you can see below just a little of the exciting and cheerful atmosphere during the conference (it was an enjoyable activity from the Opening Plenary by Jeanne Perret on Context, content and emotion in language learning in which we were flying and dancing on a magic carpet).