Sunday, 30 March 2014

Project 52 Week 13

This week was super busy. The weather was unsettled, and quite cold to start with, and then turned bright and sunny.


The first of the trainee's files came in for marking. This is always an interesting time, especially for those who seem incapable of meeting deadlines. I stayed at work until quite late, and then was too tired to have dinner.
This set the pattern for the week and I have been living on junk food for the best part of the time. Chocolate has been a life-saver!


 More marking! Busy busy busy!!! I holed up in the room next door, so that I could work in peace, and just kept my head down. What the weather was doing, I have no idea. I didn't even look outside. I did remember to recruit someone else to moderate on Wednesday- thank goodness for social media.


The builder came to start demolishing the wall. He wasn't very complimentary about the original construction, thinking he could rubbish the builders,  but then he heard that it had been there for 160-odd years and stopped complaining. You can see the dustbin doing sterling work stopping people from falling into the hole.


Time to pick up the moderator from the airport. I had agreed it with him in an email last week. When I arrived, the plane was just landing and I waited for ages for him. Eventually there was no-one left in the airport, so I went to his hotel to check. He told me that he had just walked right past me and taken a taxi! This set the tone for the next couple of days- very stressful- and NOT impressed. This is the old 1937 arrivals hall, which is going to be knocked down. a) it contains asbestos, and b) it is in the way as the aircraft get bigger.


I went down to the harbour to pick the moderator up. The tide was out and I always like seeing the boats sitting in the mud in the harbour. It was the least difficult part of the day, so I went early to get my fill, before I had to start working :-)
In the evening I walked down the hill with my trainees to have dinner in a local restaurant. It was a nice evening to finish on, especially as everyone passed.


My in-laws are due back today to do some work on the boat they overwintered here.. They wanted to come last week, but I knew that they would be underfoot in a very busy week. We popped up to the airport-again, to pick them up. They were happy to arrive in 17 degrees of sunshine, as they had just left a very cold Scotland. I didn't see much of them as I was getting reacquainted with my bed, and doing laundry so that I could pack for IATEFL. It looks like Ebony found it first.


Mother's day. Cairis bought me some lovely vases to put my Sunday flowers in. Everyone, including M, went off to play with their respective boats and Cass went skating, leaving me in peace. I popped down to the fish shop and bought some lobsters for tonight's dinner, and some Jersey Royals. My visitors will be suitably impressed, I'm sure. Picture will be added when I have a moment.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Project 52 Week 12

Here we are at the start of week 13, and I'm looking back at the week just gone by. It was interesting- and jam-packed with paperwork and housework, among other things.
The weather was greatly improved from the previous week and the students at the college are now spending their free time outside, instead of looking to huddle round the nearest radiator. Lots of pictures of the sea this week- it looks different every day and is just so special.


Sunday we walked along the beach at low tide. The recent storms and super-high tides have changed the beaches. Some of them are more stony, some have more sand, and some are closed at the moment due to rockfalls. The sea goes out so far that it looks as though you could walk to the French Coast. I think you would get caught by the tide as it turns though:-)

The school was busy this morning- we had two groups of teenagers arriving at the same time. The only quiet place was at the back of the minibus, where the bank is covered in spring flowers. The trainees were preparing to do their final lessons before swapping classes, and it was nice to see them doing their planning in the fresh air. The free-class numbers have been very constant, which is unusual. Sometimes they only come in on their day off- or even NOT come in on their day off! It has meant that the continuity of lessons has been beneficial to the group. The trainees are getting lots of practice and the students are very willing guinea pigs.


I managed to escape down to the village for lunch today. Everyone was otherwise occupied, and so I walked down the hill to the shop. I decided to cross over to sit in the sun and took a lovely photo of the low tide. We decided to stop using the cabin for our lessons as it has become the favourite hang-out of the teens. It also meant that we had access to the main building WiFi, so technology lessons were the order of the day.


Still sunny , but a bit windy today. The view from my classroom shows how blue the water is. I am always surprised when I can see the sea from the top of the hill.
 The car park is full: teachers, minibuses, students and trainees have all parked there today. The old granite buildings on the left are being refurbished at the moment, hence the builder's lorries. I managed to convince one of my tutors to do the YL input session, which he is more qualified to teach than me. This freed me up to help Marisa moderate the ELTchat at lunchtime. I think she was grateful to not be left on her own, as no-one else was free.


I got a very artistic photo of the abreuvoir at the back of the college. The water drips down constantly. I wouldn't want to be someone with a waterworks problem in the classes nearby, in the summer, when the windows are open:-) 


The high tide was on my way to work this morning. I saw a bit of spray coming over the sea wall, but it wasn't a real problem. The surf looks amazing as it rolls in on each wave.
Today the trainees had their language awareness test. They all passed with flying colours- but looked stressed while they were doing it. It is the final weekend of their course, so they will not be getting much sleep as they prepare the final paperwork for moderation.


I've been looking forward to today for ages. We invited Adrian Underhill over to do a CPD session with practical application on how to use his Demand-High meme. It was fantastic, and everyone left enthused. I then had to rush home to help Cairis with her costume for a Disney themed birthday party in the evening, and finally had to disappear off to play for a wedding on the other side of the island. The sun was struggling to appear today- and we had a few hail showers. I stopped to take this picture  in the morning, on the way to the session. The sunshine on the water looks odd with the rain clouds rolling in across the bay.

Next week is the final week of the course. Moderation at the weekend. I hope the builder will be coming to do our wall! Yes- it's still not agreed by the Insurance companies involved! and then-off to IATEFL. I'm really looking forward to catching up with everyone, and meeting some of my PLN face to face for the first time.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

project 52 week 11

I really don't know where the time is going:-) Maybe it's a sign of age :-)
This week has been very busy. Not only were my trainees teaching for the first time, and having meltdowns, I was also teaching Business in the afternoons. The weather was weird, and the days long.


Out and about today. The weather was glorious, and I spend some time in the garden. The weeds are now under control- and there is a large sack of garden waste to go to the recycling centre, where they will make it into compost- and sell it back to us :-) We had a walk along board-walk at St Brelade's, at low tide, and enjoyed the sun on the bay.


The start of a busy week at work. The alterations are coming on well, and I hope that the noise of the workmen will soon be finished. The TESOL trainees are in a room at the far end of the building, so we hear very little of the fuss, and our space is calm. I need to find some way to contain all the wires from the tech, though. It's very messy, but we use it all, so I'm not sure whether to box it in, or get some of those cable tidies. Had a walk at St Brelade's again- but this time in the park.


Today I handed over the control of the trainees to my Teaching Practice Tutors. They are a great team, and the trainees are in good hands. This allowed me to do a couple of hours of business English teaching for one of our proficiency students. It was nice to be back in the classroom. Afterwards, I had to wait for the first teaching sessions to end, so I decided to drive up to a local pub for coffee and a sandwich. The Old Portelet pub is not far from the college, and makes a nice place to sit in the summer. Today they had a fire roaring, and I needed all my willpower to go back down to work. We eventually went home after 7pm and I wasn't best pleased to find that no-one had done any shopping or cooking. By the time I was ready for bed it was the wee small hours of the morning. My disgruntlement paid off though, as I haven't had to cook for the rest of the week:)


#Eltchat day. I really enjoy the chats, but this week was a particularly useful one for my trainees too. We were looking at designing Instruction and Concept checking questions (ICQs and CCQs). I was co-moderating again and it was my turn to collect the transcript and put it on the wiki-thank goodness for Marisa, who sorted me out when it all went pear-shaped. Somehow I managed to lose all the formatting I had done on the spreadsheet. I must get some practice in before the next late one in a couple of weeks time. Another sunny day meant that the mogs were looking for somewhere to sit. This picture is unusual, as both cats can be seen. They don't often sit together. More typical is the fact that Maisie is in a puddle of sunshine, and Ebony is avoiding it. Maybe she gets hot in her long coat.


Fog!!!. The planes couldn't fly and people were taking their lives in their hands driving inland. The coast was bizarre. It looked like you could drop off the end of the world. I stopped to take a picture of the Fort- or at least where the fort ought to be. This was the pattern for the next couple of days. The fog blanketed the island for the best part of 36 hours. It felt damp and miserable- not helping my stressed-out trainees at all. Today was another late finish, as I had some paperwork to do before going home. H. sent me an email, questioning whether one of the trainees had plagiarised some work, and passed it off as their own. I asked my PLN for a plagiarism checking website- and was given the option of half a dozen. In the end, the language was very similar, and I had no choice but to ask for it to be redone. As if we don't have enough to do!


It's the end of the working week, and we went down to the pub with the musicians for a relaxing session. We will be seeing a lot of each other this weekend. On Saturday there is a ceilidh, and on Sunday a St Patrick's Irish session in a local pub. We are certainly kept busy with our music. The tulips I bought at the weekend have been enjoying the warmth of the sun in the window. They are very pretty, but I think the petals look ready to fall off.


 We went down into town to buy Cairis some new work clothes. On the way back we found some Irish decorated cupcakes, which I thought would be nice with a cup of tea, but they got a bit squashed on the way home. 
Cairis was invited to a birthday afternoon tea at the L'Horizon hotel. I dropped her off, after a visit to the hairdresser, and took a wander along the cliff path at Noirmont, where I could see the tower in the bay. On returning home, I had just enough time for a shower and a change into my ceilidh gear. The evening was for a 60th Birthday party with family and friends of the birthday girl. They all turned up in cowboy outfits, with cacti and anatomically incorrect balloon cows as decoration!
I hope that next week will be easier, as the trainees will not be so stressed, and things will start to settle down for them as they hand their work in.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Project 52 Week 10

Ten weeks into the 52, and everything has changed. The sun is shining and it is warm enough to feel like summer rather than spring.


Last Sunday was spend preparing for the CertTESOl course. 
I think most of the day I spent working at my computer, but I got lots of work done with the help of my furry friend. Or at least, she wasn't too much of a hindrance- until she started attacking the paper as it came out of the computer. I chased her downstairs, and this is the baleful look you get when she is grumpy. Not a time to stroke her!


Chaos! that's the best description I can think of for today. We had the highest tide of the year at 14.4 metres. This, combined with the gale-force wind, closed roads all around the coast. Not too bad, until you realise that the high corresponded with rush-hour in the morning. It took me 1 h 45 minutes to travel a route which normally takes 15 minutes! I arrived at school, very apologetic and thinking that it didn't look great for the first day of my course, to find that most of my trainees hadn't yet made it in either. We started at 10 am instead of 9 am, which meant that I shaved a few minutes off  every session, lunch and coffee breaks, to send us all home at a reasonable time. Over the winter we had a wooden chalet built to increase the number of classrooms. This was used for the first time today as the school was full. There was even a lesson taking place in the staffroom while the new students were being tested.


The high winds so far this year meant that some of the island's trees were destabilised. One of the school trees, a bit too close to the new cabin for comfort, had a huge branch fall off. The boss called a tree surgeon who decided that it needed to be pollarded, (or cut right back). There was plenty of wood when it was done, but the noise of the wood cutters was a bit irritating. Never mind- at least it isn't going to fall down on anyone or anything. Today's High tide was an hour later than Monday's, slightly lower and with little wind , which meant that the roads weren't closed. This time I arrived at the bottom of the hill just as a monster wave drenched my car, causing it to aquaplane for several metres. It was quite scary, but as the sea rolled back it didn't last long, and I was able to get to work only slightly shaken.


I had to stop and take a photo of the sea this morning. It was flat calm and glittering in the sunlight of the  morning. Hard to believe that I had aquaplaned on the same stretch of road the day before. One of the wonderful things about working round the coast from my house is the fact that the tide is never the same two days running. At lunchtime I was able to take part in a really interesting #ELTChat with tips for beginning and ending lessons. This was unusual, as normally I'm in class at the time- but the trainees were having their Unknown Language session ( Korean) which freed me up to join in. I then had time to put the summary together as well- result :-) The summary is in the post below for anyone who is interested.


On Thursday Cairis's new skate wheels arrived. She had been complaining that hers were for beginners, and she wasn't one any more. She needed wheels which would grip less and travel faster, so we ordered them on Monday evening- and they arrived on Thursday. Good work from the post office:-). We spent the evening working out how to get the old ones off- and then how to put the new ones on! I even managed to go to the gym. That is what I miss most when I'm training. There never seems to be enough 'me' time.


The end of the week is in sight :-) Today the trainees did their first micro-teaching session. They were all very stressed, but actually did a very good job. Normally I would treat them to a beer in the Tenby (a very useful name when discussing assimilation!) at the end of the first week, but I had to rush off to a ceilidh in aid of the Philippines Disaster Fund. The Venue, a local hotel, was packed and the band donated their earnings for the evening to the total. We don't often play for ceilidhs on a Friday, but we do have quite a few in the pipeline.


I love the island at this time of year. Just a few days of sunshine and every bank on the island is awash with golden daffodils. My colleague lives on one of my favourite lanes. The farmer and his workers planted millions of bulbs down the lane to the farm and at this time of year it is stunningly beautiful. The sea is glittering in the sunshine, M is off racing in his boat, Cairis is out shopping for a birthday gift for a friend, and I am going to work in the garden for a while.
St Clement

Thursday, 6 March 2014

ELTchat Summary Entrances and Exits , The Importance of Beginning and Ending well.

Entering and Exiting: 

The Importance of Beginning and Ending Lessons Well.

#ELTchat Summary for Wednesday 5th March 2014.

This was a lovely structured topic, as the writer had prepared a series of questions he wanted answered.
Marisa_Constantinides started us off by asking where we were, what time it was and what we had just been doing. As we were based in a variety of different countries and time zones, this was an interesting exercise. It showed the value of a simple question to set the ball rolling- and demonstrated a small talk technique which can quickly include the students.

Adi_Rajan mentioned research which suggested that students are at their most attentive at the beginning and end of lessons. This was reiterated by Marisa, who also included the mid-point of the lesson when she quoted Nigel Barlow. It stands to reason that teachers should be made aware of this, and could then exploit the fact and plan their strategy accordingly.                                                                                         

Do you like to be in your classroom when the students arrive? Why, why not?

The point was made that although this is the ideal, it isn't always possible, due to schedules and other commitments. When it can be done, the teacher is in place to meet and greet the students as they arrive. teacherphili mentioned that working with classroom layout made it preferable to arrive first. Others agreed with this point of view, and suggested that the time before the students arrived was ideal for moving the furniture around (bealer81) Shaunwilden and joannacre like the horseshoe –shaped class setting, while teacherphili prefers to establish his class with islands.
kevchanwow had some fun ideas. He said that he was then able to direct the students to their seats. He used ideas such as: people wearing blue sit on the left, stripes next to skirts, in a circle from tallest to shortest, or telling one student the rule and getting them to coordinate the others. He suggested that it made a warm-up as well. adi_rajan used playing cards and organised students to sit in suits of cards. patrickelt sat his students according to their birthdays, or how many languages they could say hello in.                     

Do you write your lesson topic on the board at the start of the lesson?

I asked whether the others wrote their lesson topic on the board. I have colleagues who do, and some who don’t. The answers were mixed: adi_rajan wanted to know what the topic would be. The context of the lesson or the language item you're teaching?                                                                                       
OUPELTGlobal: Topic or task or what students will learn how to do.    
 HadaLitim: I used to when teaching YLs but not any more
bealer81: Not a big fan of writing the topic on the board. It can often be met with a rolling of the eyes or a collective sigh! BobK99 agreed.                                   
OUPELTGlobal: A good idea with adult learners especially –they like to know what is going on           
Teflgeek: lesson menus can help keep focus and demonstrate goals    
bealer81: I prefer periodic recaps and a spectacular summary at the end.
HadaLitim: With EAP and IELTS classes I find it's good to have the aims on the board          
adi_rajan:  That might not give you much scope for eliciting the topic from students.

How and when do you do the roll call/registration?

Teacherphili: Always seems too formal at the beginning, but necessary.
OUPELTGlobal: Registration? Do you mean roll call? I send around a piece of paper if large class, if small, just look round and note                      
Michaelegriffin: Is it necessary? If so, why? And can it be done during other moments?                                                                                                                           
SueAnnan: Unless you have an enormous class, you should know your students' names, so why do you need a roll call?      
patrickelt: Yes but what if it is a new class or you are covering for someone. Shaunwilden: To get the paperwork out the way? 

What if the students are late?      

Joannacre was interested in the others policies for accepting latecomers. There appeared to be a difference in reasons for lateness. Some students came at the end of their working day and others used spurious excuses to explain their reasons for not arriving on time. Saudi women have difficulty as they are not permitted to drive. HadaLitim works around the problem as well as she can. As bealer81 said, his students pay for lessons and do their best to turn up, even if it is 45 minutes late.  OUPELTGlobal thought that rules on what would be acceptable could be negotiated with the class, or the establishment. She lets her students in, but marks them as missing if they are later than 15 minutes. adi_rajan uses punctuality raffles, where he gives the students a ticket each time they arrive on time, and then does a lucky draw at some point.

How do you make your entrance each day?

This set off the ‘all the world’s a stage’ gags. Actually we weren't quite sure what was meant here. 
teacherphili offered us the monologue "All the world's a stage..." from Shakespeare’s As You Like It  
bealer81 and BobK99 agreed that we should enter with a smile, head up, shoulders back….            We agreed that it doesn't do any harm to be a bit of an actor, using the classroom as our stage. 
As joannacre said: Gotta keep the audience engaged!                                                                      

What does the start of your lesson look like?

OUPELTGlobal: students come in, get the vocabulary box and start flipping through, testing each other on vocabulary.         
Teflgeek: I always chat to my students, big or small, about their lives when they come into the room.                                                    
mary28sou: Students search Google images for thought for the day
teacherphili: music can be a useful way to set the tone of the day.  
Though ShaunWilden suggested being aware that not everyone will like it.         
SueAnnan: I often start with a question, sometimes rhetorical to get students thinking.
bealer81: I always get them to recap the last lesson. Slow going but it gets them thinking.           
Joannacre: a bit of small talk like : what have you been up to guys?" Then they ask me.                                              
HadaLitim: I work with pictures and videos - that sets the tone well too
adi_rajan: I was inspired by @Shaunwilden to ask students to share an Instagram or Vine vid or picture they took on their mobiles 
bealer81: Jeremy Harmer talks about writing a weather forecast and displaying that for the students. Describing your day, thoughts and feelings. Students read, react, ask Qs and then do the same.
jas_thor: Nice idea to start with the weather and How is your day? It's conversationally useful.                                                                                              
HadaLitim: I like spending the first 5 minutes going over useful real-life vocabulary based on the day/context such as: someone's sick - what do we say?                                                                                                                                                                    

Has anyone tried Scent?

An interesting aside here. Aromatherapy oils on the radiator. The negatives are the cost of the oils, and the possibility of interference from cosmetics worn by other students. However, there was some anecdotal evidence that students were more relaxed in class and better able to concentrate.

Shall we move to the end now?

Are you the last one out of your classroom?

If the teacher has time to chat to the students at the end of the lesson that’s a bonus. Some have to run to their next class, or have other commitments to honour. Often the students hang around chatting, but the teacher doesn't always have that luxury.

How do you wrap up?

Some of us (OUPELTGlobal, AbdullahAlger, mary28sou) like to recap structure or vocabulary with a game, a quiz, or a song.
Others prefer to summarise the lesson. This works particularly well if the students do the summarising. Marisa told us that, as a beginner in Turkish, she loved the 5-minute written reflection she was asked to do at the end of each lesson. The discipline helps students to vocalise what they have achieved and can provide feedback about what they enjoyed, or didn't like about the lesson.  This provides teachers with a means to modify future sessions to suit the learning styles and preferences of their students. Learners can offer topics they would like to work on, and teachers can give advance notice of future lessons, or give notice of homework tasks that students could carry out in preparation for the next lesson. This could whet their appetite for the session, or allow them to bring material to class.
We have to remember that this could be conceptually difficult for young learners, but they would certainly be able to draw their feedback.
If setting homework, time needs to be set aside to organise the information correctly. Writing down the details in their notebooks rather than quickly circling the pages is preferable, but requires more than the usual rushed few minutes at the end of the lesson..
Marisa suggested asking the students to rate their course book, or to advise the author on ways to improve a future version. This makes them revisit the page too, which is sneaky J
Finally, kevchanhow always ends by thanking his students and telling them about one thing he particularly enjoyed, learned or had occasion to be grateful for because of the class. This is something we could all do easily, and it will leave our students feeling that we value them as members of the group.


Marisa_C: Nigel Barlow in PET Vol 1 No 2 1980 - oldie but goodie "Memory and the Language Teacher"                              
Lot’s of good ice-breaker activities here
adi_rajan: I've also used  in my business English classes to kick-off by discussing trending news items.
Adi was thinking about using whatsapp as a means of getting feedback. Shaun suggested  the socrative app as it has an inbuilt feedback questionnaire.
Teflgeek: try , as recommended by @NikPeachey

Marisa_C Couldn't find the article on memory but found this one on pattern notes - nice for an end of lesson summary