Supporting International Women’s Day in the classroom and beyond

8th March is International Women’s Day. It is a day on which we celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness against bias and take action for equality, all with the aim of forging a gender equal world. Here at Pearson Spain and Portugal, we’d like to mark the day in a number of different ways.

Lesson materials

Firstly, we’ve prepared a reading lesson for your intermediate teens. The focus of the lesson is celebrating women’s achievements. Click to download the student worksheet  and the teacher’s notes. Feel free to adapt and use the material as you wish.

In the lesson, students will read about a scientist, a sports star, a billionaire business executive and an activist, all of whom are women. Unless we’ve been very careful as teachers, our students are likely to have been exposed to more male role models in these categories than female.

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Rising to the Challenge Part 2: sign up now!

We’re living through a time of great challenges. We’re being challenged personally and professionally and are having to regularly change and adapt and find new reserves of resilience. Teachers for example, have had to incorporate distance learning, social distancing and have had to deal with the emotional upheaval many students are facing.

But as well as a time of great challenges, it’s also been a time of great learning. And we’d like to celebrate this learning in our new series of upcoming webinars: Rising to the Challenge, Part 2. Across a variety of topics we’ll identify new ways of working which are useful for our present and for the future too.

What are the topics and who are the presenters? When are the webinars? Read on

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Squeezing the most out of songs: 10 ideas

This month we launch Pearson Music to learn to, our new Spotify account for teachers and students alike and its first playlist, Songs for St Valentine’s. To celebrate comes a blog post on using songs in the ELT classroom. Many and varied are the reasons for using songs in class and, equally, many and varied are the ways in which they can be used. Why might we use a song?

  • Songs contextualise grammar structures and vocabulary and include repetition and therefore repeated exposure to the same vocabulary and grammar structures…which can  mean remembering language!
  • Particularly If it’s a song they like, songs can be memorable for students…which can mean even more remembering of language!
  • As well as listening to songs, our students can sing them, even better if we go first (and even better with a guitar!). I think I have sung Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire to every class I’ve ever taught and can still picture a student by the name of Juan Cruz doing a cowboy lassoo gesture singing along. Another song I’ve had success singing with a class is Lemon Tree by Fool’s Garden. It inspired the name and picture of this post! And singing songs can help our students…you guessed it, remember language.
  • Many songs have a story behind them that invites interpretation and gets our students talking. A song therefore can be a springboard for discussion.

Next up, how can we squeeze the most out of songs in class? Read on for ten ideas

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Greatest Hits 2020: our five most-viewed posts from last year

This week, we take a look back at our five most-viewed posts of 2020: most-viewed as they’ve been shared a lot, and shared a lot because teachers found them useful (I hope!). And just as we use spaced-repetition to help our learners retain vocabulary they’re learning, a quick reminder of ideas we’ve already seen can help them become a permanent piece of our teaching repertoire!

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the unexpected events of 2020 – which are spilling into 2021 – influence our list, as two posts on online lessons and one post on classroom activities with masks made the cut. Teachers are still on the lookout for games to use in class, with a post on guessing games finding its way into the top five too. Our list is rounded out with a post on ways to get your students to keep up their learning in the holidays. Here we go!

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Teamwork is dreamwork: pushing the boundaries in breakout rooms

When I teach online lessons to groups of students from around the world on the Pearson & BBC Live Classes project, the breakout rooms are always my favourite bit. It’s wonderful to see the students working to make themselves understood, getting to know one another and learning about one another’s countries and cultures.

But if you’re teaching regular online lessons to the same group of students week in, week out you can really push the boundaries with breakout rooms, moving from simple speaking tasks to increasingly ambitious collaborative tasks. In this blog post, we’re going to consider setting up and managing tasks like these in breakout rooms. I’ve referenced the platform Zoom, but it’s not the only one with breakout rooms (BigBlueButton, Webex).

Let’s begin!

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10 ways to use short video in class

Using video in the language classroom was a thing when I was at school, though back then it involved wheeling in a big TV on a trolley to watch Run Lola Run and we didn’t do much besides watching. How things have changed! We now typically watch much shorter videos and we do more to exploit them.

The benefits of using short video to teach languages are many and varied. Students watch short video already (eg YouTube and TikTok), it’s a medium they’ve embraced. With the ubiquity of mobile devices, short video can be watched anywhere. Visual clues aid comprehension and give meaning to language: videos demonstrate paralinguistic features like gestures, facial expressions and intonation. We can broaden our students horizons with video: video can bring the wider world into the classroom and expose learners to different cultures, accents, people and ways of life. And of course, video can provide a meaningful context for grammar and vocabulary and it can also provide a speaking model for students. We could go on, but we’re here today to propose activities. Here are 10 of them:

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Assessment for learning: going digital

In spring many of us moved our teaching online. As we go to press, schools have thankfully reopened, though many are following a blended or hybrid approach and for some the threat of further closures looms large. Even when we are ‘back to normal’ most agree that the events of this year will have accelerated digitalization in education and much of what we’ve learned to do this year we’ll continue to do.

In this blog post lets have a look at some practical ways of going digital with our assessment for learning. We’ll look at four areas:

  1. Written feedback on written work
  2. Oral feedback on written work
  3. Peer feedback on presentations in online lessons
  4. Progress tracking with an LMS

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The Big Bumper Back to School Blog Post

Tuesday was my children’s first day back at school. There were barriers laid out and stickers on the ground to manage the flow of pupils and parents, registers, temperature checks, gel points and teamwork between teachers, volunteers and police at the gates: this must have taken some organising, and we’re not even in the classroom yet!

This is a back to school like no other. Besides the logistics mentioned above, from catching up on missed work to moving forward with this year’s curriculum, from preparing a socially-distanced classroom to planning for more remote learning, all the while considering the socio-emotional needs of their learners, teachers truly have their work cut out. In this blog post I’d like to propose ideas for the back to school period that speak to the (rather uncertain) ‘new normal’. In what is a huge topic topic I’ve gone for five sections

  1. Talking about our COVID experiences
  2. Analysing our remote teaching experience and planning for the future
  3. Looking to develop student autonomy
  4. Preparing socially distanced activities
  5. Catching up on missed work

Off we go!

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How have teachers adapted to distance learning?

This spring, teachers have had to transition to distance learning and have done so admirably, bringing all their considerable adaptability and creativity to bear. Now it’s time for a well-earned rest!

Let’s look back on the last few months. How did teachers find the distance learning context into which they were thrust? What were their challenges? What tools and platforms did they go for and what did they do when live online lessons were impossible?

This infographic shows the results of our survey carried out this May. Many thanks indeed to all teachers who took part!

Distance learning for schoolchildren: parents have their say

Distance learning for schoolchildren has become the new norm since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic this spring. Both teachers and pupils have been thrown in at the deep end, adapting to a new way of working from one day to the next. But what about the parents? How has this experience been for them? What teaching medium did their children’s schools adopt? What did they perceive as the greatest challenge?

We thought it made sense to hear what parents had to say on the matter. This infographic represents the results of a survey carried out this May: many thanks to all parents who took part!