April 3-2-1

One more monthly summary is here! In this one, you can take a look at 3 blog posts which made me reflect on the way I teach and manage my classes. Make sure to check out 2 very useful websites that have been recommended to me by my students and feel free to read about the eye-opening, yet quite odd, teaching moment I experienced last month.

3 blog posts that made me reflect on my teaching

Given how many blogs I go through each day, choosing three posts was not an easy task. I chose these that immediately struck a chord with me and made me think about my own teaching: I visualised particular students, went back to particular situations that took place in class or imagined classes that were yet to come.

#1 A Matter of Confidence: Personalising by Fiona Mauchline

I have read and written about personalising tasks for the students a number of times but I guess Fiona’s post helped me get a clearer image of what kinds of questions such a personalised task might contain, what it might achieve, and why it is more likely to work than simply asking about our students’ life experience. Make sure to read it, especially if you teach teenagers.

#2 The best game ever! (How to increase student talking time) by Hana Tichá

Hana’s post is a wonderful example of adapting well-known activities to the dynamic classroom reality and ending up with a very  effective speaking task that is, on top of everything else, a chance for the students to speak their minds, be creative and make the language their own. What else could you expect from a classroom activity?

#3 One weird trick that will get your students talking by Michael Griffin

This is, by no means, a clickbait post! Mike outlines a brilliantly simple idea of getting his students to talk by giving them a real reason to exchange opinions and negotiate. A great example of how very often less is more when it comes to English lessons (something I often feel I need to work on!)

2 websites recommended to me by my students

My students often ask for my recommendations regarding online resources so I try really hard to keep up-to-date when it comes to the most useful and user-friendly tools. This, at times, gets overwhelming (there are too many to choose from, really!) That is why I always welcome my students’ own suggestions and recommendations. We later share our opinions and comments concerning particular websites or apps. Here are two of them

#1 How to Spell

Some time ago I started teaching a fairly advanced student who was struggling with English spelling. It was a very particular issue we had to tackle and my pro-active student didn’t waste much time coming up with this website suggestion. It was meant entirely as a self-study tool. What she liked about it:

  • plenty of different types of activities
  • oral dictations (something she wouldn’t want to spend time on in class but felt she needed to practice at home)
  • answer key provided
  • spelling tips provided (the site teaches and tests)

#2 WordHippo

My student suggested WordHippo as an alternative to Thesaurus. What did they like about it? The variety of categories to browse by (rhyming words!) and a user-friendly interface. I would say it is an all-purpose online dictionary worth knowing about.

1 eye-opening teaching moment

The time has finally come for me to … record one of my classes! I have been pondering about setting it up for quite some time and I finally decided to record one of my online lessons. One might say I chose an easy way out since I only recorded my and my student’s voices, skipping the whole awkward component of watching myself teach. Still, listening to the recording was an odd experience, to say the least. I have played this track many times and made some notes to self:

  • you talk too fast
  • wow, you’re loud
  • give the S more time to think !!!!
  • does correcting the same thing over and over again by interrupting the S really make sense?
  • too much rambling at the beginning?

Yes, I definitely might be my own worst critic. As excruciating as it was to listen to myself teach (well, at least the first couple of times!), I am glad I did. Now, I have a list of actionable points, my very own homework to do. On the plus side, it was clear from the audio that my student enjoyed the class, was interested in the topic, and my guidance helped her to use the new language correctly.

I am actually planning to record myself once more this month (the same student, thank God for open-minded people out there!) and compare both tracks. I am also in the process of choosing a lucky colleague who, I hope, becomes my second set of ears.

Have you ever recorded one of your own classes? If so, what did you think watching / listening to yourself?

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