How to mark online without… crashing

Nowadays a lot of marking is being done online. Marking online can be very effective.
  • Results and feedback do not get lost as it is stored in the world wide web’s cloud.
  • It is easier to highlight, add links and comments when the essay/ piece of work is being marked online.
  • It saves paper, so it is better for the trees.
Marking online can be quite stressful and tiring.
I get the benefits, but I do find it hard to mark online. That’s why I decided to dedicate a post to marking online. I have been teaching at various universities for the past few years and I have been and will be marking online quite a bit…..

My Top Tips for Survival

Be rested, calm, and relaxed

When technology (aka the pc) acts up, you need to be prepared to take a breath and find a solution to the problem. Panicking because you cannot save your comments does not help. You may also need coffee or tea.

Back up

Always keep some kind of trail of any kind of feedback that is important, grades for example. Sometimes things vanish or do not get saved and that may cause a lot of problems.
coffee break

Coffee time

Comment/ Feedback Bank

When you are marking online, it is a good idea to make your own feedback bank. A document where you can write generic comments which you can then add to wherever you think is necessary. You can keep a list of useful links which you can add as part of your feedback.

Check your settings

Make sure that when you are marking online everything is going as it should. Do you want your feedback to be private until a specific day/ time?

Two screens/ printouts?

Sometimes you have to mark a second draft of something. In that case it might be helpful to have a printout of the first draft or maybe a second screen which you can refer to whilst marking.
Finally, just remember the first 500 are the hard ones, it gets easier after that!!
Do you have any top tips? Feel free to leave them in the comments section below. Don’t forget to follow my blog is you liked what you read. Feel free to check out my beauty blog if you like… beauty.
Till next time…..

Online teaching journal: reflections ….

So, as I said in Wednesday’s post, today I will reflect (#weeklyreflections). I will reflect on this week’s sessions and make note of the things that went well, what didn’t work as planned, and whatever else pops into my mind.

Harvard referencing
I watched a very helpful video on Harvard referencing and did the exercise that accompanied the video as a classroom activity (the one where students shout out the answers). What I noticed though was that not everyone was shouting out answers.
Next time: do it in smaller groups/ pairs.
Teaching the conditionals
I went into my EAP class with the assumption that my students were familiar with the conditionals. They were not. I mean, they were able to form some sentences, but they were not able to understand and explain the meaning of the conditionals or new how to form the so called 3 conditionals. I was going to look at mixed conditionals, but decided to scrape that.
Note to self:don’t assume they know the grammar even if they have been learning English for ages or they have been here for months!
Phones in class
I ‘let’ my students use their phones in class when they want to look up a word. I also ask them to create WeChat groups, where they share things we do in class. I do wonder though when they are looking at their phones if they are actually looking up a word. I have seen a few turn their phones upside down when I get closer to them. I need to rethink this whole phones in class issue.
Summarising a lecture
My students had to summarise a lecture, but they used the exact words that the lecturer used. there was no real summarising.
Note to self: Summarising  lectures requires more scaffolding.
While I was writing this post, I checked Facebook and saw that a colleague shared a good website. Talk to books. I will use this in class as soon as possible. You need to check that website out!! You ask a question and you find the answers in books!Like talking to a book!!
So, how was your week? Anything you’d like to share? Go for it in the comments section or in your on blog post.
Till next time….

Reflection through journal-writing

I read an interesting article by Jack Richards on Creativity in Language Teaching and come across a section that inspired me, made me think and in the end prompted another…. ramble.

1 peristeria

As teachers, we are often asked to reflect. When we, as teachers, get observed, we often have to reflect on what went well during the session and what didn’t. As part of the Delta, teachers always reflect on a lesson as part of module 2.

When we are sitting in the staff room, or drinking coffee with colleagues, we reflect. We talk about a really good teaching moment or whine about something that went wrong. lose sleep over a bad moment, try to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it.

So, teachers do reflect. A lot.

But what about teaching journals? How many of you keep a journal where you reflect on your teaching? A diary or notebook where you write in once a week and reflect on issues that cropped up, good teaching ideas, what went well what didn’t? A kind of reference book which you can look at later on and get inspired… or warned?

So, this week, on Friday, I will share my online weekly journal and I invite you, to do the same. One week, thoughts and reflections. What went well, what didn’t. Something I used and liked, something I want to learn more about. Feel free to tag me if you as a blogger and do the same. Feel free to comment with your weekly reflections (is that a hashtag? #weeklyreflections) in the comments section below.

Don’t forget to ‘like’ my Facebook page (see sidebar) or ‘follow’ my blog.

Till Friday…..



I can use a ROCK and teach an amazing lesson… or can I?

Can you make a lesson where your only prop is a rock? Yes? No? If yes, what would that lesson be? If no, why not?
How important are materials in your class. How important are flashy/ super duper handouts/materials in your class? If you had nothing but a rock to use in your lesson, would you be overwhelmed and have a meltdown, or would your creative juices just flow? Would that make for an amazing lesson or a flop?
I often wonder,
How important is the material we use in the classroom? Do they make or break a lesson?
So, I have rambled quite a bit (bear with me folks, if you have been following my blog for a while, you will know that I haven’t rambled for quite a bit, so let me be) and I am going to get to my point.
I think that materials are important, but they are not the most important part of the lesson. If the material you use in class is bad/poor, you can still teach a good lesson. You could have the most amazing materials, the most up to date technology and still have a bad lesson. Is the material to blame? Are you (the teacher) to blame? Are the students to blame? Who is responsible for a bad lesson? A good one?
I think (eye roll coming), the teacher makes for a good lesson. It doesn’t have to be a well-seasoned teacher, it just has to be a teacher who has ideas and “has it”. You know, the teacher gene…….

Back to the ROCK

So, let’s challenge ourselves, shall we?
How would you use a rock in your class?
Idea 1
Ask your students:
Imagine the rock is a desert island and you need to live on it, what would you take with you? You go through how to write a plan for a story, the features of a story and so on.
Idea 2
Write a poem about a rock. Again, you go through the features of a poem and then get them cracking on.
Idea 3
One rock for each student, they draw faces on them and write the script for a play. The rocks are the characters. Again, go through what needs to be in a play, features of direct speech and so on.
Idea 4
Think about words that have to do with rocks. You can look at all kinds of vocabulary, (derivatives etc), make sentences, write a story, find adjectives to describe a rock, find the opposites of these adjectives, and so on.
Idea 5
EAP twist….. Your students take part in a seminar, they have to have arguments, good arguments. When a student finishes analysing their own argument, they hand the rock to another student who needs to provide a counterargument or something along those lines. All arguments need to be as solid as a …. rock.
Idea 6
Your turn.
How would you use a rock in your classroom?
Where do you stand on this topic. I am counting on you PLN.
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Till next time…..

Last minute (academic) essay check list lesson

Hi everyone!

In today’s post I am going to share with you my last minute (academic) essay check list. This check list is for an argumentative essay which would be about 2000 words long and would require using sources. I use this PowerPoint check list as a last minute revision. This would be part of a last revision before submission. It is supposed to be used as a self check/ evaluation PowerPoint, but could also be used as a Peer evaluation check list. This can be used for a 90 minute session. You can spend about 15 minutes on each slide or go through the whole PPT and check/ monitor as students work through the questions.


Material/ props

Students will need to bring in their laptops or paper copies of their drafts.

Essay checklist PowerPoint

Last minute essay checklist

The Checklist

I have focused on different areas. I look at:

  • what should be in an introduction/ conclusion
  • what should be in a paragraph/ argument
  • what a counterargument is and its rebuttal
  • Sources and reference list (we are using the Harvard Style, so that is what is on my slides)
  • language (academic vs. non academic)
  • plagiarism

Useful online tools (to be used during the session)

Academic word list pdf

Academic word list highlighter (I would suggest ticking number 10, so as to get as many ‘academic words’ as possible).

Anglia Ruskin Harvard Referencing page (although most university libraries do have their own helpful information page when it comes to referencing systems).

Bear in mind that essays may differ and you may not need all the elements I have focused on in my check list. Feel free to adapt and tailor based on your students needs.

Do you have any suggestions? Let me know how this went. Don’t forget to follow my blog or like my Facebook page, so you can get notifications about when I post. I have a few more checklist/ self evaluation posts coming soon.

Till next time….


A Video-based Lesson: Travelling

Hi everyone!

Today I am going to share a video based session I made on the topic of travelling. I used this with B1 level students. This lesson is a listening/ speaking session. Students will be asked to do a lot of group discussions and they will have to come up with a lot of vocabulary themselves. At the end of the lesson, students will also be asked to be a bit  reflective and self evaluate their performance (in my lesson,I also encouraged them to come up with an action plan). This was a 90 minute session.

The lesson

Task 1: Discussing the difference between travelling/ traveling

Task 2: Looking at pictures and naming the means of transport.

Task 3: Thinking about words related to travelling

Task 4: Mini presentation about how the student got to where the lesson is held (sts must use vocabulary covered so far).

Task 5: Dictogloss

Task 6: Watch a video and answer questions (answers follow the questions).

Task 7: Reflecting on how students did in today’s session. Creating an action plan for the next video-based session.

Listening task idea:

You can either ask students take notes and then show them the questions or give them the questions and ask them to take notes for the questions. I guess this depends on the level of the learners.

Vocabulary task idea:

You can give your students worksheets with vocabulary related to travelling or ask them to look for the vocabulary themselves. I  chose the latter.

The materials

The PPT  Travelling

The listening questions Lauren’s Trip to China


I hope you enjoy this lesson. Let me know how it goes.

Oh! Don’t forget to follow my blog or ‘like’ my Facebook page.

Till next time…..

The one about the observation……

I got observed the other day and one of the suggestions the person who observed me gave had to do with group discussions, so that’s what I am going to talk about today, but first I am going to build up some suspension……… (not going to spill the beans about what she said yet….).

Beach in Chania

Grab your coffee, sit comfy and let’s chat, like the good old days (when I blogged almost every single day).
So, group discussions…….. How do you set them up?
I put students in groups without really thinking about who goes where. It’s just a quick, you go here, you go there. I put my students in groups of three or four. Before, I go on rambling, my students are university students and this particular group was a group of post grads
Seminars vs. discussions
In my context group discussions are often called seminars. I usually give students information which is based on a text, texts, a video or videos. You get it. They get a lot of input before the actual seminar starts.
Who’s the leader?
There is always a leader in these groups. Again, someone chosen randomly, although I do tend to pick a more quiet student, just to make sure they they will be more engaged in the convo.
Back to the observed session
So, part of my lesson had little group discussion which were leading up to a longer seminar. I set everything up and then monitored. Here’s the thing. Monitoring a group discussion is hard.I mean, how can you monitor 4 groups at the same time? Well, you can get them to record themselves and then listen to the recordings, but who does that on a daily basis? So, in my mind it is impossible to do, so I end up walking around and listening to their discussions and giving feedback if I hear some mistake. Interrupt the group discussion if I hear a pronunciation mistake or just nod and say, ” Yeap! Good point!” or “Really?”. I then may give some general feedback at the end of the group discussion.
Why don’t you ask more questions. Listen to them and ask something. You may make them think of something they hadn’t thought of before. Start a conversation.
Huh? Yes! Why don’t i? That is such an obvious suggestion and so important!
So, why does my monitoring stop at, ” Really?” or “Good point!”?
I guess I think it is a time issue. It is also hard to go in and out of conversations. I am also insecure and think that if I stay longer in a group, the other groups might start talking about a TV show or sports! But, I need to work on this because it makes sense. I need to scaffold these conversations more! I need to actively participate in them and even interrupt my students (it may show them a good example of interrupting!).
I liked this observation. It made me reflect and learn. Now I need to improve!
Thanks for stopping by. Don’t forget to follow my blog. Let me know what you think in the comments below.
Till next time…