Month: April 2016

Facilitating Peer Feedback on Essays

Facilitating Peer Feedback on Essays

Some teachers struggle with setting up Peer Feedback, especially getting learners used to and comfortable with giving and recieving feedback on their work from their peers! Research has looked into how teachers can increase students receptivity to peer review, and what kind of training and guidance can help to make it effective. 

Based on these insights, I designed these guidance worksheets and tested them with my C1-level, MA students on EAP programmes – the worksheets guide students to review a peer’s drafts of parts of a general academic essay and are easily adaptable or useable at other levels – exactly how to employ them in your context is up to you!

Peer Feedback Worksheet: For Introduction / Essay Outline: peer review introduction outline

Peer Feedback Worksheet: For Body Paragraph(s): peer review body paragraphs

Peer Feedback Worksheet: For Conclusion: peer review conclusion

Fact, Opinion & Stance: A lesson on Critical Thinking

Target learners: B1+ and upwards. Young adult/adult. Particularly EAP settings. Also suitable for teaching critical thinking skills in English-speaking HE settings.

Skills practised: Speaking: stating & defending own opinion. Reading: understanding academic texts. Vocabulary: reporting verbs.

Skills trained: Critical thinking, critical reading, appropriate reporting verbs, paraphrasing.

Timing: 60-90 minutes. Can be divided across lessons or as homework.

A speaking warm-up activity that allows learners to speak about themselves provides the input for them to start analysing the difference between facts, opinions and stances. The analysis is prompted by guiding questions, which avoid a too theoretical approach. The three terms are then introduced explicitly and students asked to match then up with their own analysis of different types of information.  In the following tassk, this understanding is applied to a reading text – an excerpt from an academic paper on English as a Lingua Franca, an interesting and relevant topic to most ESOL learners – where learners seek out facts and stance. After this, students are guided to decide which reporting verbs would be appropriate for reporting facts and stance information, and then find and correct mistakes with the reporting of facts and stance information from the English as a Lingua Franca text. (Note: These mistakes are taken from actual students’ work in my classes.) Finally, they are asked to paraphrase facts and stance statements from the ELF text, using reporting verbs appropriately.

Click here for the materials:

Fact Opinion Stance – Reading Skills Worksheet – detailed. (Students will be able to work through independently)

Fact Opinion Stance – Reading Skills Worksheet simple – simplified. (Students will do some tasks together, led by teacher)

Fact Opinion Stance – Reading Skills OHT (For teacher to lead students on some tasks)

Fact Opinion Stance – Reading Skills Worksheet with Answers.

 

Marking Writing: Feedback Strategies to Challenge the Red Pen’s Reign – IATEFL 2016

By popular demand…

My handout from my presentation held at IATEFL 2016 in Birmingham, with the above title.

Clare IATEFL 2016 presentation

Abstract:

This talk provides teachers with time-efficient alternatives to traditional ‘red-pen correction’, by demonstrating and evaluating several effective feedback strategies that are applicable to giving feedback on writing in diverse contexts, and presenting summaries of published research which explores their efficacy. Issues including learner autonomy, motivation, and the role of technology are also briefly discussed to underpin the practical ideas presented.

Handout can be downloaded here: IATEFL 2016 conference Clare Fielder Works Cited handout.

Clare IATEFL 2016 presentation 2

What does it mean to be a teacher of English?

This is a summary of a talk held by Jack C. Richards at IATEFL 2016 on Friday 15th April 2016. I’m afraid I’m not as hot-off-the-press as people who seem to the spend the entire conference tweeting and typing… but for those who couldn’t attend, here are the main tenet’s of the talk. Feel free to add your own ideas in the comments below!

So what does it take to be a teacher of English?

1. Expert language proficiency

Language competence needs to be strong, the must have the ability to produce accurate English spontaneously and improvise in the classroom. The teacher also needs to have a command of the specialised vocabulary of teaching, as well as being able to modify their language production for teaching purposes.

2. Content knowledge

This essential knowledge falls into two categories – disciplinary core knowledge, for example in linguistics, second language acquisition, etc., and also pedagogical knowledge to support teaching and learning, such as knowledge of methods, course design, testing.

3. A repertoire of teaching skills

This will include ways of opening a lesson, setting up group/pair work, and guiding a variety of effective practice tasks. With experience comes the ability and confidence to improvise more and integrate more creativity into the classroom activities, as the teacher becomes able to automatise small decisions about classroom management. Also, the ability to see the bigger picture of the lesson within the course framework will serve the teacher well.

4. Contextual Knowledge

This means having an understanding of the social and physical context within which you are teaching. The culture of learning defines what is considered ‘good’ teaching in different places and societies, and teachers need to be aware of the norms and expectations of their context.

5. Identity as a language teacher

What it really means to be a language teacher is devolved from a sense of motivation and beliefs about the profession. It may be defined by the different roles the teacher sees themselves in, e.g. planner, facilitator, mentor, model. Personal attributes (who I am), social constructs (who I am right now) and a professional identity (who I am at work) come to form a language teacher’s overall sense of identity.

6.  Learner-focused outlook

This will be evident in teachers’ aim to reduce redundant teacher-talk from their lessons, letting input from the students to direct the lessons, and not having lessons slavishly riven by a lesson plan. Teachers with a learner-focused outlook view the subject material from the students’ perspective, and are able to re-shape their lessons based on learner feedback.

7. Specialised cognitive skills

Teachers think slightly different to people in other professions; with a key point being an understanding of how to pedagogicalise content. When given input to teach from, teachers identify its potential, define goals, assess potential difficulties, etc. and are able to make these decisions very quickly, as this has come to be a natural thought process for them.

8. Ability to theorise from practice

Teachers develop and modify a theoretical understanding of teaching/learning based on their own experience and practice: This is how we understand our own teaching, decisions and actions. From our experience and understanding, we develop teaching principles or  philosophies which drive our teaching practice.

9. Membership in community of practice

Within such a community, teachers can relate and interact to achieve shared goals, for example through team-teaching, peer observations, or other forms of collaboration.

10. Professionalism

This can be either institutionally prescribed, imposed in a top-down manner, or involve the teacher making independent decisions regarding their own CPD engagement (bottom up), but is essential for a career in ELT.

IMAG0723
Jack C Richard’s slide: My photo.
So what do you think? How strongly do you agree or disagree with his points? Are there any dimensions of our work that are not covered here? Please leave your comments below – I look forward to hearing your thoughts!
Clare

Note that a more thorough discussion of the points in this presentaiton can be found on: http://www.professorjackrichards.com and on the Cambridge English website:  http://iatefltalks.org/talk/mean-teacher-english

 

IATEFL 2016 Impressions

I’m writing this on a train taking me towards home from Birmingham, from the IATEFL 2016 conference. I can overhear energetic conversations that tell me I’m not the only IATEFLer on this train, and that I’m not the only one reflecting and pulling together the strands of thought and input I’ve gained this last week. The girls two rows behind me (it seems first-time attendees) are discussing preconceptions or beliefs they had that conference talks prompted them to question, and a guy I was talking to before he got off the train was trying to decide which of the plenaries is going to change his teaching the most this years. A colleague I parted ways with at New Street station left me with a very good question to contemplate on my journey home: What was IATEFL 2016 for you – in three words????

So I’m here writing this and wondering what three words I would use to sum up my take-home impressions from this week….
Hers were Community, Critical thinking, and Collaboration, by the way, after her first time at an IATEFL conference.

My first thought is to say
Hectic
… Is it just me, or did time just fly by?? I ran from Hall 9 to Executive room 1,2,whatever and back a few times, then before I knew it I was chanting “he he Bama” in Jan Blake’s touching final plenary, and it was all over!

But that’s not a take-home message or lasting impression, so I guess I need to try again…

Affirming. I feel integrated, welcomed, and appreciated in the ELT family; my belonging, as a valuable member of this professional community has been confirmed by the warm, inclusive & supportive atmosphere of the whole event.
I did give a talk this year, and was delighted to have a really good size audience and positive response, but that’s not even the main source of this affirming feeling, just the whole event has an atmosphere that reminds us all of our individual value to a professional community of ELTers. I hope that especially new teachers come to feel this as well as the big names.

As a second key term for me would be Cooperation &Collaboration. I went to Birmingham with one of my goals being to meet new colleagues and potential cooperation partners for materials writing projects, and I feel that I’ve made some good first steps in this direction. I suppose the real test will be how the contact pans out in future, but IATEFL has left me cautiously hopeful that I might have some really exciting collaborative probes in the offing!

What are you taking away from IATEFL 2016??
Share your impressions below! I look forward to hearing from you all!
Clare

IATEFL 2016 Birmingham – What I’m hoping for

I didn’t go to IATEFL’s annual conference last year.  I just somehow thought that I’d been to so many conferences and just wasn’t getting enough out of it; no value for money, so to speak. To be honest I think I felt a bit jaded: always trying to ‘make the most’ of attending conferences, writing copious notes, and scratching my brain for ways to include all of this new input into my teaching for the next term. I wanted to hear as many talks as possible, get as many inspection copies as possible, try to make as many “innovative” changes to my planned courses as possible, network, and of course at some point eat and sleep. Actually it was quite exhausting when I look back. Not only, but also. 

This year I have decided to attend, and present at IATEFL again. Because it is now clear to me that I was lacking a focus. And that is why I’m making this ‘list’ if you like, of my aims for IATEFL 2016 in Birmingham, so that I can use my time more effectively and start moving towards some of my longer-term goals. And maybe some you will join me along the way!

So what is it that I’m hoping for from IATEFL 2016?

  • A successful presentation

My talk is on Friday 15th April, 11am, in Hall 10a: “Marking writing: feedback strategies to challenge the red pen’s reign.”

I’m hoping for a good level of interest, no matter how many or few people are in the audience, and I hope that at least one thing in my talk will be new to them, inspire them, get them thinking, and open up space for conversations on the topic of correcting EFL students’ written work. I would love for this to lead to in-depth discussion, exchange and networking, and maybe even research collaboration beyond the conference week.

  • Meeting publishers

I have come to realise that I love writing materials, worksheets, lesson ideas, teachers guides, etc., and that one of my longer-term goals would be to do some paid work in this area. I’d love to engage with publishers’ representatives in Birmingham (or otherwise!), to hear about what kinds of directions their companies are moving in regarding future publications/materials, what kinds of  writers they’d be looking for, and just in general how I might start to make a move into writing for publication.

If any publishers are reading this: I’ll be at IATEFL with my CV and would love to meet you! My areas of expertise include EAP, academic/essay writing, presentation skills, grammar, and translation (German-English).

  • Meeting materials writers

As is clear from the bullet point above, I’m looking to start getting into writing  for publication, and would love to get to know fellow teachers who have made this move or somehow got their foot in the door, so to speak! I’d love to hear about your experiences, and (maybe… if I ply you with coffee/wine/beverage of your choice) your secrets and tips on how I could follow in your footsteps!!

  • Meetings new EAP contacts and friends

One of the biggest benefits of attending conferences like IATEFL is all the networking! I have made some good friends and contacts by striking up a conversation after a presentation, or over the free tea & coffee! And I hope to continue this tradition and expand my circle of friends and colleagues, and my online PLN. I’m particularly looking forward to sharing experiences and stories about EAP in different contexts, or from budding academics like myself, and just in general enjoying the evenings in Birmingham in a nice relaxed manner with colleagues and friends on a similar wave-length!  So please do say “hi” if/when we see each other next week!

So, all that’s left to say is…

Have a safe journey, and I hope to see you in Birmingham!

Help! Overwhelmed by research!

This is a short, rather personal post; a bit of a call for help! In my head, thoughts are flying around: researching, compiling bibliographies, literature reviews, not having enough time in the day to read everything properly, wasting time reading the ‘wrong’ things, and feeling swapmed and out-of-touch with the latest state of affairs…. And this is going to (hopefully) be an outlet that gets these thoughts out of my head and onto “paper” so that I can concentrate… Oh, and maybe get some tips from readers while I’m at it!!

IMAG0494
What my brain feels like. An art installation on the Moselle river made by Trier Art Academy (Kunstakademie) 2015. 

 

So, I like to think that I’m pretty good at keeping up with the research regarding my areas of ELT. I subscribe to a couple of journals, am active on twitter and I read lots of blogs, so I feel like I’m in touch with big debates and what’s generally going on in the ELT world. 

But now I’m trying to get together some of the ‘best’ literature on the topic of correcting (EAP) students’ writing. I want to summarise the main work and findings in this area. But there is JUST SO MUCH!! I’ve got some key names and some meta-study articles have also been helpful. But I feel like I might be missing out on some other definitive contributions, key strands of work, relevant studies, contaversial issues, etc.  When I search my university’s library databases, the lists are endless of articles on peer review, using technology, to correct or not to correct, learner autonomy, and so on and on and on.

I can’t possibly read everything. I thought about reading through the Works Cited lists and trying to find sources that seem to be cited a lot… but even that would be so much work. 

And I wonder how anyone ever manages to keep up with it all. Whenever I think I’ve “finished” and have a suitable bibliography together, so another blog post alerts me to a new perspective on the discussion, or Google Scholar pops up with a few hundred more published articles… When is enough enough? When can I stop? It’s never going to be  truly finished, is it?!