Shortcut to Success. Eight hotkeys making Zoom classes a breeze

Are you a victim of cumbersome cutting and slow screen switches in your online lessons? Perhaps you’re doing lots more clicking than you need to. And I’ve got some simple solutions to mute the madness.

There are a vast number of hotkeys in Zoom, each with its own very particular function. I’ve picked out the eight hotkeys that have made my online lessons a great deal smoother and more efficient, enabling me to move seamlessly around an activity and from one part of the lesson to another.

Continue reading

Speaking and collaboration activities in a socially distanced primary classroom

Photo credit: Kelly Sikkema 

The year 2020 has brought with it new challenges in our primary classrooms regarding communicating well with masks on and working with partners while maintaining social distances. This blog will give you some ideas for how to overcome these challenges with your students and to keep on enjoying learning English together.

Continue reading

How to Hybrid. Part 2: Hybrid Hacks and Activities

 

What’s been the biggest hurdle for you since switching to hybrid teaching? In my experience the big four are tech issues, dividing your time and attention between two sets of students, students not interacting properly and lesson planning.

Now, there is no quick fix for all of these issues; much like when we went online back in March there is a period of adaptation having some students face-to-face and others online, but once you and your students have fully adapted to hybrid classes you could have the best of both worlds. In this blog post, I’m going to explain ways to achieve this.

Continue reading

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!

Continue reading

How to Hybrid: Part 1, The Set Up

With new, essential, restrictions coming into place at a daily rate it seems our classrooms are quite a long way from returning to the old normal. For some of us our new normal, like it or not, appears to be leaning towards a Hybrid classroom. A class with students both online and face-to-face.

In today’s post I’m going to go over the different types of hybrid classes I’ve come across and look at ways in which you can set up your classroom. I’ll also consider how to deal with potential challenges that may pop up with some hybrid hacks. In part two of the blog, there will be sample activities to help facilitate interaction in a hybrid environment.

For those wishing to delve deeper, a webinar I delivered on the topic  can be found at the Teacher Training Hub.

Continue reading

How to bring reading to life in class and beyond

“A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t read.” Wise words from Mr Mark Twain, American writer, who neatly summed up the pleasure, knowledge and power one gets when reading. In this day and age where social media and video platforms are often the preferred go-to choice for people of all ages to have fun,  it’s now more important than ever for us to be introducing literature into our classrooms, not only to bridge the gap between hearing dialogue from videos and reading the words from books, but also to help our students learn a second language faster and more successfully.

Yet, among the millions and millions of books out there, how do we know which ones are the right choice and level for our students? A bit like the story of Goldilocks, they should neither be too hard nor too easy, but just right. Plus, how can we make the experience lots of fun, and add communicative and collaborative elements to help our students use the language they will pick up from reading? Below, I will explain some ideas for how to select the book, help get your students interested in it, and activities to do during and after reading that can be applied to every story – whether you´re teaching primary, secondary or adult students.

Continue reading

Zooming Around: 17 Tried and Tested Activities for Your Online Classroom

How many of us would’ve considered ourselves proficient in online teaching a year ago? Not that many I don’t imagine. I remember in September 2019 I downloaded Zoom so I could be part of a teaching podcast with a former colleague of mine. It was the first time I’d even heard of the platform. I’d taught people through Skype and even WebEx but these were normally 1-to-1 lessons. The time spent in confinement and the rise of Zoom allowing for full online classes is a whole new world. That said, life is an unpredictable and let’s be honest it’s been a very steep learning curve for all of us.   

A couple of weeks back, I wrote a blog a about The Masked Classroom and the importance of harking back to some of the activities us teachers did in yesteryear, when we could move around the classroom and students could properly interact. Today’s blog is quite the opposite because I’m going to run through 17 of my favourite and most successful games to keep our Zoom Rooms as engaging as possible. Not simply an endless stream of PowerPoints and Kahoots.   

Continue reading

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:

Continue reading

The Masked Classroom: 13 engaging activities you can still use

 

There are no questions about it, the landscape of the classroom has changed. No matter which way you look at it, teaching may never be the same again. From one day to the next we went from face-to-face teaching to being stuck at home trying to figure out just how to get our ideas across to our students through a computer screen.

We’ve since been thrown back onto the front line and a great number of us are back in the classroom. Only now we’ve got brand new issues to deal with. In this blog post I’m going to provide you with 13 activites that will keep your classes active and engaging despite these essential restrictions which have been put into place 

Continue reading

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

Continue reading