How I plan and write my blog posts

Blog posts

Hi everyone,

This post was inspired by Tekhnologic who wrote his 100th post (if you have not read his blog, you really need to check it out. It is amazing). He actually tweeted me and I felt like this could turn into a kind of tag, so after reading his thought process and everything that goes into his blog posts, I thought I’d share my blogging process. So, here goes.

First, let me start by saying that when I look at other teacher bloggers’ blog posts, I often feel like my blog is a bit different. My language is often very informal and my posts are often borderline personal. I actually have a girlie side of ELT tab, remember?As no one has told me off or sent me any ‘ you are a loser/ teacher blogger’ hate comment yet, I stick to it because I love it. For me,

this space is more like a teacher journal and less like a place where a teacher would go to learn. Sure I may provoke a thought or two from time to time, but there are other blogs that are much more informative than mine.

having said that, I do need to say that I love blogging, I really enjoy sharing my thoughts with you guys and when from time time (very rarely :p), I share something that can be useful in the classroom, I love getting the lovely comments from you guys.

Why I started blogging

Marisa, my Delta tutor, suggested I start blogging as a way to reflect (as part of my Delta) and a monster (aka me, the blogger) was born.

My blog post thought process

There is none. I mean, I don’t plan blog posts, I do not schedule, and in general, my blogging is all over the place. That’s something you probably already know if you have been following me for a while.That is why some times I publish a zillion posts some months and others, just 2. You see most of my blog posts are me sharing thoughts. These thoughts pop into my little brain, and then I feel the urge to share, and I do. I share and share (yeah, sometimes I overshare).

BUT

I do have some more serious posts where I share lesson plans or other teacher related materials. Those take more time. Those I kinda plan, as in, I actually do research in order to write. I see what is out there in the blogosphere. I find sources. I make handouts.  I draft, redraft etc.I want them to be more ‘professional’ and of course more useful for you.

Let’s Share

So, the blogging part (writing) does not really take much time cause it’s ideas and thoughts that are bursting to come out. The sharing takes more time. I share my posts mostly on Facebook. I also share on Twitter (I use hashtags like #elt #eap #businessenglish #edchat #eltchat), Pinterest and Stumbleupon.

My blog in numbers

I have written about 205 blog posts (and some guest posts). My most popular blog post is the Amy Cuddy TED Talk lesson plan (even unis have used it :)). My most successful post, in my view, is the #youngerteacherself blog post, which became a tag, and many teachers wrote their own post.(if you have a blog and want to join the tag, do do so. I’d love to hear your advice).

So, I that’s my thought process. Let me know what yours is. Thanks to T. for the inspo. There is a hashtag #ELTbehindthescenes

If you are in Athens, join me at the TESOL Greece convention on the 18th/ 19th of March. I will be talking about drawings in the classroom (Saturday 18th at 12:30). How a teacher can use different drawings in order to teach different concepts.

Connect with me on Twitter/ Facebook/ Instagram 

That’s all for now.

talk soon.

xxx

J.

The girlie side of ELT: planner reviews

Hi everyone,

I have officially gone…… nuts and, yeap, I made a YouTube channel (prepare yourselves for what follows).

One of my first videos is about planners because I love planning, organising, planners and pretty stuff. So, pour yourself some coffee, get some pop corn and watch me chat about planners.

If you want to, you can subscribe to my channel, but there will be a lot of makeup talk there , so consider yourself warned. Having said that, any support is appreciated….

So, here is a post about different planners and how I use them. You may get some ideas.

Thanks for stopping by.

xxx

Jo

I love to hate formal observations

I mentioned in one of my previous posts that my next post was going to be about formal observations cause well, loads of people are talking about them, and I thought, I’d join in. Now, loads of time has gone by since I said that, and this post has been sitting in my drafts section for quite a while now, but now is the time. Let’s talk about observations and formal observations (observations that are assessed).

So here is what I think. Formal observations are necessary, but evil (tell us how you really feel Jo). Now, evil is used for dramatic purposes. Before I go all full on about what I dislike about formal observations, I will start off with what I like about observations in general. You learn. You get constructive feedback and you see your teaching through someone else’s eyes. If you are a stronger personality, you may even ask the person observing you to pay attention to one of your weaknesses and give you tips on how to deal with that weakness. They help you improve, think out of the box, and maybe even approach a lesson differently next time. Anyone can observe you. A new teacher can give you fresh ideas a more seasoned teacher may give you practical tips and vice versa.

BUT as I said earlier, formal observations are not my cup of tea. Why? Cause even if you are the best eva prepared and qualified teacher, there is someone who is there looking at you,assessing you,  and this is stressful.

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Assessment and formal observations

In cases where formal observations are part of a diploma/certificate, they become a ‘tool’ of assessment.Someone is  assessing you based on what? Criteria. Criteria set by whom? Do these criteria fit all teaching contexts, situations, learners and teachers?

So, my next question now is, if you have a 3-4 formal observation, will they really showcase how good or bad a teacher you are? And before you say… ”that’s not why formal observations take place Joanna”. I will ask you, “so why assess then?” That’s why, for me, the assessment part of formal observations shouldn’t exist. In my little brain, the sole purpose of an observation should be to help you find ways to become a better teacher. Does assessment take that away? Yes, when you are box ticking.

Now you may say, “Yes, but in order to get a certificate/diploma, we need to formally observe you and assess you.” Sure you do, but just cause I pass the assessment criteria, doesn’t mean I know how to teach. I could have read all the criteria and made a lesson that fits these crtieria, couldn’t I? Or I could be teaching this way to pass the criteria but in real life, I neva, eva teach like that.

And anyway, what is a perfect/ good lesson? Who defines good or bad? Finally, (this is just a question that will probably piss you off) but isn’t the person assessing you, assessing you the way s/he thinks the lesson should be because the criteria have become embedded in their brain?

So what do I suggest?

Of course I am in a position to make decisions, but in my perfect little pink world this would happen. Observations wouldn’t be assessed. Period.There would be no box ticking.

I would observe, but not assess.

I would ask the teacher being observed to tell me what they want me to focus on (some people to do that). I would then make suggestions. Not assess.

I would ask for lesson plans after the observation. I would give the teacher the time to sit down and write a lesson plan after the observed lesson. Don’t get me wrong, the teacher can make a little lesson plan prior to his/her lesson, but, I, the observer would get it after the lesson. Why? Cause for me, one of the hardest and most stressful part of a formal observation was sticking to my lp.

Final thoughts

I have had some very enlightening and helpful observations in my teaching career. I have gained a lot from them. How should teachers be assessed in order to get a diploma? I dunno. That’s not the purpose of this post!

Feel free to leave a comment in the section below. It’s all yours.

Till next time ………

The girlie side of ELT: organising your desk

Hi!!

Today I am going to show you a happy place on my desk and give you ideas on how to store your pens and all your stationery. I will also show you a few things on my amazon wish list and maybe inspire you (please keep in mind that I am using amazon affiliate links, so if you choose to buy something, I will get a small commission. You do not pay extra though). So, without further ado, here is how I keep my desk… a bit organised.

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Mugs to keep your pens and pencils

I think mugs are so pretty and I have two in which I put pens and pencils. I am going through a stationery addiction at the moment and buying all these pretty little pens. I am trying to have more white and soft colours instead of black. I have a transparent glass mug with flowers and a white mug with zigzags. As I wanted it to be a bit more pretty I put some small flowers bouquets in the mugs.

Jewelry box

You know that nowadays you can find loads of jewelry boxes with draws. I got one with roses and polka dots. In the drawers I store little bits and bobs I need.

jewelry box

 

One drawer erasers, liquid paper, paper clips etc. I have another draw for chewies, pills I need to take everyday and a lighter. I have a drawer with hair ties, elastic bands etc, and my final drawer has all my usb sticks (FYI: I am an online teacher and well, a face to face teacher , so I need all this stuff lying around on my desk). I also have a few small notebooks next to the jewelery box/stationery organiser and of course my lovely Kawai erasers.

 

My wish list (amazon links)

Pretty mugs

Royal Albert China New Country Roses Cheeky Modern Mug, White/Pink . You can find it here.

Roayl albert mug.png

Paperproducts Design Gold Rose 11-Ounce Porcelain Mug, Set of 2 . You can get this here. I like how this has 2 mugs and it comes with a case which you can use to store envelopes, bills, notebooks etc.Mug set.png

Jewelry box

Jewelry Accessories Box – Colorful Flowers With Drawers. You can get it here.

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Cute pens

Rbenxia Gel Ink Roller Ball Pens Plastic Cartoon Pin Type Office Students Pen Pack of 10pcs  You can get them here.

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Amazon screenshot

 

Cute erasers

Sweet Treat Erasers Bakery 4 Pack . You can get them here.

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Amazon screenshot

 

 

These are some of the things I like. You can go and check out similar things on Amazon, Etsy stores or your local stores.

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Don’t forget to ‘pin’ this 😀

 

 

Subscribe to my blog if you like what I have to say. If you don’t, gimme another chance. Connect with me on Pinterest/ Instagram.Maybe even give my Facebook page some TLC?  Remember the comments section is all yours.

Till next time……

My day in four skills: #4skills1day

I posted this on my 2nd blog (cause one blog is not enough) and I had so much fun. So, here is my day in the four skills (cleva eh? toot toot. Tooting my own horn). This should become a #hashtag.  #4skills1day (There I even made it!!!Dunno if anyone will write something similar but you know me. I ❤ chains).

Listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Welcome to my day guys, or should I say my class?!? Yeap! Yeap! Me being random once again!!!!

Listening

So this tune played over and over today. Seriously, if you play it once, you will play it over and over again!!!! It reminds me of the good old pop songs. 80s? nice. Nice and nicer.

Reading

I read this article with my learners. It is sad. Disturbing and really makes you wonder about how much we are polluting the atmosphere and crazy ‘selling’ ideas. Full article can be found here.

Speaking

I had a speaking lesson and my learner said that s/he enjoyed the session cause we were speaking and it didn’t feel like I was a teacher. Hmmmmmmm dunno how I feel about that.

Writing

Well, I am writing this blog post. I have already written another one and I wanna write one more for my edu blog. So writing x3

So there you have it. All four skills in one post. Can you describe your day in the same way? Let me know if you do (hashtag remember?)

Till next time……..

L1 vs. L2: where L1 wins

Many say that the learner’s L1 should not be used unless necessary, others say it should never be used, while there are those who use the L1 without really thinking that much about it. I would say that I am in the last category. I use English and Greek. The higher level the learner is, the less I use Greek, but with lower level learners I use Greek to give instructions, feedback, to explain grammar or concepts. I sometimes translate to show the difference between L1/l2. My students do end up speaking English well. They do become proficient and all is good in Joanna’s land. BUT what happens when you do not speak the learner’s L1 and the lesson is online?

You see, giving instructions during face to face lessons where you can point to things and show your learner, even take the learner by the hand and explain something, is easy. You can do it. If the lesson is online though, yes, you can use your camera, paraphrase, use the pointer (mouse), you can even draw, but you cannot do much if the learner still doesn’t get your instructions. Today I was trying to explain a writing tool in my virtual classroom, but my learner did not understand the word “type” and could not understand the term “press the button with the letter ‘T'”, so I got frustrated, my learner got frustrated. If I was in the classroom, I would have just pointed in the book or given an example and typed using these features.

I cannot do that when I teach online. The other thing I cannot do is speak French. I paraphrased, drew, paraphrased more, used the ‘T’ button myself, but nothing.

What did I end up doing? I asked someone to call the learner and explain some of the features and maybe even use French. So, everything is going to be OK, but I wish I could speak French cause in this case I wouldn’t have wasted valuable time explaining something that ended up not being explainable!

So, have any of you had sistuations where you wished you could speak the student’s L1? Let me know in the comments section below.

coffee break

I need coffee

Till next time……

 

Video Based session- The hot coffee case

Today, I am sharing with you a lesson I made for my B2 adult learners. They wanted a few video- based sessions that would get them to practise their listening and speaking. I designed a lesson that focused mainly on those two skills, but I also added an optional email writing task that can be done in class or as homework (in my classes email writing had been covered so I was able to link it with previous sessions).The video is approximately 12 minutes long.

My Context/ How I carry out these sessions

I call these lessons conversational/chit chat sessions as the main reason I do them is to get the learners to talk as much as possible. While they talk, I make notes of any errors they make and then we do a bit of error correction towards the end of the session. If the errors are impeding communication or re-occurring, then I correct on the spot. I also ask them to do a bit of intensive listening and answer listening comprehension questions. After the listening tasks, the students talk again and answer some more general follow up questions which allow them to share their views. If I have time I ask them to write something based on what they watched/talked about.

Screen shot from the New York Times video. Link found here

Screen shot from the New York Times video. Link found here

Below you will find a brief lesson plan, the video, and a PPT.

Brief lesson plan ( for a 45-60 minute session)

  • Aims of the lesson (2-3 mins).
  • Lead in. General discussion about McDonald’s and ‘predictions’ on what can happen there (5 mins).
  • Students create a story based on the words and the pictures they see on the PPT slide (slide 4).
  • Students read the listening comprehension questions (2-3 mins).
  • Students watch the video (approx. 12 mins).
  • Students discuss with their partner/teacher what actually happened in the story and discuss if their predictions were correct (5-8 mins).
  • Students check listening answers ( slide 6 2-3 mins).
  • Follow up questions (5-8 mins)
  • Email writing. This depends on your time. You can assign it as hoemwork or do it in class.

PPT

Video Based session-Stella Liebeck (2)

The Video

Final thoughts

I use this lesson when I teach one to one online. If you have bigger classes, you may need to spend more time. You can do the activities in pairs. You can also do a jigsaw listening task where half the students watch up to minute 6 and the others the rest. You then ask them to share the information, answer the questions and make the story again. There are also loads of articles written about this story, so you may want to look for those as well.

You can adapt and change the ideas here as much as you like. Make the lesson yours. I can assure you that they story is very interesting and whenever I use it, my students really enjoy it! You may need to warn the students that there are pictures of Stella’s burns in the video.

You can use this with adults and university students studying journalism or law as well.

Let me know how it goes. Feel free to leave a comment below and add your own twist to the session. remember no lesson is written in stone 🙂

Till next time.