Tag: Blog

#ELTbehindthescenes of ClaresELTCompendium

#ELTbehindthescenes of ClaresELTCompendium

Inspired by Joanna’s post and and this post by Tekhnologic, who have started using the Twitter hashtag #ELTbehindthescenes, I thought I’d share a little bit of background on

How I plan & write my blog posts

I’m not a super prolific blogger, I have to admit. My posts appear rather sporadically. I started my blog after recommendations from IATEFL colleagues, in a bid to ‘get my name known’ since I’m a budding ELT materials writer. So I use my blog to share materials that I have written and lesson plans and ideas for teaching English. These are the posts that the most thought and planning goes into. Having said that, the materials and ideas I share are not just invented for the blog – they are usually things I have developed for my own teaching, have tried out in my own classrooms, and think are worth sharing with other teachers.

When I write materials, I usually have a certain approach in mind, for example a new technique or theory that I have read about and want to apply in practice. I believe it is important for teachers to base their lessons on informed pedagogical decisions. Some of my posts, then, are more like summaries of published ideas and research, in an attempt to help other teachers understand why I do what I do in my materials. I also contribute to ELT Research Bites which provides bite-size summaries of published research in language teaching and applied linguistics. And then I post the materials. I put effort into formatting worksheets and other handouts so they are optically pleasing and also clear for learners. I spend time writing teachers’ notes with answers and suggested procedures for using my materials. This takes quite a lot of time, because I make an effort to write everything so that it will be clear for everyone, even novice teachers.I love reading comments from teachers who have tried out my materials, especially any feedback for potential edits.

Sometimes, though, I haven’t been writing any materials, for example during the semester break where I work. Often these are times when I’ve been more focussed on marking, planning or CPD. And so my posts sneakily deviate from what I originally intended for the blog, and include discussions or opinion pieces, book reviews, or posts on organisations I think other ELT teachers will benefit from. I’m glad, when I post this kind of thing, that I gave my blog a nicely broad title! Although, I do hope that teachers outside of ELT will be ‘lured’ to read these posts and not put off by the ‘ELT’ in the name! And I hope that readers aren’t disappointed when my posts do not provide useable materials, but rather more thought-provoking (hopefully!) pieces on other aspects of teaching!

I mostly share my posts on Twitter, since that’s why my PLN is concentrated. The posts do get automatically shared to Facebook, but I’m not sure my old school friends are so interested! On Twitter, I usually use the hashtags #ELT #EAP #teachers and also (for well-being and CPD stuff) #teacher5aday. I have to admit, I’m not really sure about how often it is good/OK to share posts, to raise the optimum amount of attention, but without bugging people by repeatedly spamming their feeds. I’m working on it! And I love it when people share my tweets, and comment on or re-blog my posts!  In general, I’m really excited when people engage with my blog; it makes it all a bit more worthwhile!

 

ELT Research Bites

ELT Research Bites

Followers of my blog will know that I believe we, as language teachers, all need to understand the pedagogical underpinnings of what we do in our language classrooms. That’s why I aim in my blog posts to provide information on theoretical backgrounds and lesson materials which apply them practically. I would also love for more teachers to read the research and background articles for themselves. But I know that teachers are all busy people, who may not have access to or time to access publications on the latest developments and findings from language education research.

ELT Research Bites is here to help!contributors.JPG

As the founder, Anthony Schmidt, explains: ELT Research Bites is a collaborative, multi-author website that publishes summaries of published, peer-reviewed research in a short, accessible and informative way. 

The core contributors are Anthony Schmidt, Mura Nuva, Stephen Bruce, and me!

 

Anthony describes the problem that inpsired ELT Research Bites: There’s a lot of great research out there: It ranges from empirically tested teaching activities to experiments that seek to understand the underlying mechanics of learning. The problem is, though, that this research doesn’t stand out like the latest headlines – you have to know where to look and what to look for as well as sift through a number of other articles. In addition, many of these articles are behind extremely expensive pay walls that only universities can afford. If you don’t have access to a university database, you are effectively cut off from a great deal of research. Even if you do find the research you want to read, you have to pour through pages and pages of what can be dense prose just to get to the most useful parts. Reading the abstract and jumping to the conclusion is often not enough. You have to look at the background information, the study design, the data, and the discussion, too. In other words, reading research takes precious resources and time, things teachers and students often lack.

And so ELT Research Bites was born!  

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The purpose of ELT Research Bites is to present interesting and relevant language and education research in an easily digestible format.

Anthony again:  By creating a site on which multiple authors are reading and writing about a range of articles, we hope to create for the teaching community a resource in which we share practical, peer-reviewed ideas in a way that fits their needs.

ELT Research Bites provides readers with the content and context of research articles, at a readable at the length, and with some ideas for practical implications. We hope, with these bite-size summaries of applied linguistics and pedagogy research, to allow all (language) teachers access to the insights gained through empirical published work, which teachers can adapt and apply in their own practice, whilst not taking too much of their time away from where it is needed most – the classroom.

CHECK OUT ELT Research Bites here:

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ResearchBites

 

7 Days 7 Ways: Continued Professional Deveopment – 1) BLOGS

Introduction

Continuous professional development, or CPD, is a term that seems to sounds so big. Some teachers think it is something beyond their reach, or at least something they haven’t got time to pursue.

Over the next seven days – the first week of March  – I’m going to post a series of blogs introducing seven different forms CPD might take, with the aim of encouraging more ELT, and other, teachers to get active in their CPD, and to blow out of the water some of the fears and myths surrounding what it is and can be. 

First of all, “continuous” does not have to mean non-stop and time-consuming! I see it as a reminder that we should/do not stop learning once we reach a certain age or stage in our career, but continue to learn throughout our lives or our careers through the wealth of experiences we gain. Regarding “professional” I think teachers collectively need to realise the scope of our profession and all or the factors that make for competence as a teacher – any of those factors, any aspect or your work, your profession, can be the focus or further learning and development. CPD activities can be any activity which enhances  (i.e. develop) your skills, knowledge, understanding or any aspect or your teaching work.

I like to think or four stages that a CPD activity would tend to have:

Reflection   —   Plan   —   Act   —   Evaluate

But please don’t think that CPD has to be in any way formalised! Over the next week, starting below, I’ll be listing ideas of things you can do, which don’t cost lots or money, take up too much time, or require any particular expertise. If you just keep in mind this reflective framework, all of the ideas I list will be valuable for you and your CPD journey!

 

·         Day 1 Way 1: Blogs

If you’re reading this, you are already doing CPD! And if you reflect and comment below, or post me a question, then you’re really letting engaged in my blog as part of your CPD. Reading articles and thinking about how these apply to your own teaching, or finding new activity ideas, or getting involved in debates on people’s blogs – all of that is helping you develop further insight and expertise – so CPD! A blog post might inspire you to think about/reflect a specific aspect of your teaching, to plan to try out something new (plan), try it out (act) and then evaluate it afterwards – and before you know it you’re learning and developing!

There are several pretty famous blogs you might like to read as a starting point, for example:

http://scottthornbury.wordpress.com

http://david-crystal.blogspot.de/

http://teacherrebootcamp.com/

https://jeremyharmer.wordpress.com/

But don’t worry about only reading blogs by ‘big names’ – find those that you enjoy reading and that are most relevant for your own work. Some of the above are very general, and there are plenty of teachers/researchers/academics blogging about more specific ELT, such as Business English, teaching YLs, ESP, etc. which might be more helpful for your teaching situation and own background/training.  A simple Google search will help you to find what you’re looking for. And once you’ve found a few that you like, make sure you “subscribe” to receive updates and links to all their new posts. 

You could also start your own blog! You don’t have to be famous to start a blog! (As, I suppose, my blog proves! 😉  Use your blog as your platform to document your own teaching, to share your thoughts and ideas with the ELT world, and engage with your readers and their comments, to further your professional development. For me, the blog has been one of the most important ways for me to reflect on my teaching and engage in online CPD; reading new articles, commenting and joining discussions. I definitely recommend reading blogs and blogging!!

Most blog hosting websites are free, as long as you don’t want a personalised URL. For example, I’m using WordPress (wordpress.com / wordpress.org), but there are plenty of others such as weebly.com,  blogger.com and plenty more! And if you are inspired to start your own blog, please post me the link in the comments below so I can have a read! Likewise, if you have any other comments, or indeed questions, about using Blogs and blogging as part of your CPD, please use the comments box below! I look forward to hearig from you, and being read by you tomorrow! 🙂 

 

Questions for Readers – Where are you coming from? Where are you going?

Once again, I’ve been inspired by Joanna Malefaki’s post with an idea for using my blog for a bit more active / interactive networking. So instead of just writing and putting my thoughts “out there”, I’m using this post to ask questions to get to know the wonderful people who read my blog…! Please post your answers in the comments section below, I look forward to hearing from you!

(And yes, this is a piece of unashamed “market research” so I know who I’m writing for in future!! 🙂 )

I would love to know…

… your current teaching context

… your teaching/career background

… what you like to read on my blog and what you do with the thoughts I share.

Continue reading “Questions for Readers – Where are you coming from? Where are you going?”