February 12, 2012

Writing poetry to reflect on learning

To reflect on what they have learnt during the lesson, my students sometimes spend the last part of the lesson writing a short poem, the cinquin.

The cinquin consists of five lines which don't rhyme. I first explain how to write each line:

  • name the subject (usually one noun)

  • describe the subject in two words (two adjectives)

  • three verbs that describe actions related to the subject

  • a phrase consisting of four words that express the student's feeling about the subject

  • one word which is a synonym for the subject and summarizes once again the topic

The form of the poem looks simple but to write a good cinquin you have to reflect and analyze critically what you have learnt and how you feel about it. To create your poem, you go throughthe notes, think about them and search for the right words – you only need a few of the most important.

I usually do the activity in pairs. First, each student works on his or her version for approximately five minutes, then they share their poems with partners. In pairs, they talk about their creations, discuss the reasons for using different words and create together one poem, using the parts of the poems they first had. When they finish the poems, they share them with the group.

This is a cinquin I wrote about British Council’s Bogathon, a very interesting event that took most of my free time during last four weeks. Just like my students during the last part of the lesson, I tried to express my thoughts and feelings about this event. This cinquin was born in the first hour of the last day of Blogathon:

Creative, up-to-date
reading, writing, reflecting.
Great Teachers All Win.

February 3, 2012

Keen on professional development ? Play this game!

There are games for all possible situations in the life and for all kinds of players. People gamify their reality for all sorts of reasons: for the feeling of happiness games give , intrinsic reward, a purpose… Why not play a game and work on our professional development?

“The School“ is a game to help encourage continuing professional development for EFL teachers and it offers some serious possibilities for all aspects of efficient professional development.

The author, Paul Braddock, organized the contents of the game in five “Rooms“, plus the Staffroom and the Resources room. You start in Room 1 and win points going through a series of real-life and online challenges and gain access to new classrooms and new challenges. Just as all other games, this game has a goal: to work your way through all the rooms in one academic year and win the respect of your colleagues.

The resources room is a room where you find a lot of useful tools for teachers to use and learn about. Of course, you gain points for adding to the collection. The Staffroom is a place where you find regularly updated links to relevant articles, discussions, blog posts – every teacher's dream-come-true staffroom.

The registration is free. I like the goal and the rules. My plan is to join and I hope to collaborate with some of you in some projects, webinars, peer observation tasks and other challenges of the game.

February 2, 2012

My first QuizStar quiz

I've tried a new online tool for creating quizzes and tests - http://quizstar.4teachers.org/

QuizStar is a free site for teachers by teachers. You can register as a teacher or student. Teachers can create classes and assign them quizzes. Classes can be public or private, teachers can register their students or students can register themselves to take quizzes. If your class is private, you have to accept every student in it, if it is public, everybody can enrol. The site offers the teacher the possibility to view every student’s performance, to edit the quizzes and to import other teachers' quizzes with their permission.

When you register, everything is simple. You click on Class Manager icon to create a class. I decided to call my first class after the name of my school, Hribar 7, so that students can find it easily. I left it public. My students will register to take the quiz. The quota is 25 students.

In Quiz Manager I created a new quiz. It is done by filling in forms. The questions can be multiple choice, true/false, or short answer questions. In my first attempt I did not add any media or hints with the questions. I might edit the quiz later.

The title of my quiz is “Taking a Break“, because it tests some vocabulary about holidays. My students will register and search my name, the name of the class or the title of the quiz to take it.
Let's see if they like it.

February 1, 2012

ProProfs Quizzes for students

My students often say that everything online looks better than on paper, even tests. That's why I started writing online quizzes and tests. We still write paper tests, of course, but a quiz from time to time is a nice change. There are a lot of free and easy to use online quiz creators and one of them is ProProfs (http://www.proprofs.com/)

You need to register to create a scored or a personality quiz.
A scored quiz can be one of various different types:
- Multiple choice
- Checkboxes
- True/false
- Fill in the blanks
- Essay type
- Matching
You can include media or other supplementary teaching material and import questions from other quizzes.

Once created, your quiz can be embedded, you can link to it , email it or just print it and use the paper version.

The free version of the account gives you 10 reports of your students' attempts, including time taken and their score. If you want more reports stored for you, you can always upgrade your account.

I created this simple quiz last year. Now I think about editing it to use with a new group of students. It is very simple, with the purpose to check if the students have acquired some basic vocabulary before going on with the topic. If you like quizzes, you can take it:

After you finish the quiz, you can print a certificate with your name and score, or share it on facebook or twitter. Students like it:)

Language acuisition is a form od ecsasy

Two days ago I listened to Stephen Krashen's live presentations in Adobe Connect. Mr Krashen is an Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of California. He is best known for his theory of second language acquisition and as the co-inventor of the Natural Approach to foreign language teaching.

The first presentation, “The Comprehension Hypothesis vs. The Skill-Building Hypothesis: Why accept a delayed gratification when the gratification never comes?“, was very interesting.

The two ideas are quite opposite. According to the skill-building hypothesis, you learn about the language and practice grammar and vocabulary. Hard work and discipline pay off after some time.
Stephen Krashen claims that we acquire language when we understand it. His suggestion for learning a second language is: relax, listen to stories, read good books, the result of all the comprehensible input is learning the language. Learning is a pleasant experience.

He added some proof in the form of research results which show that in tests related to communication, comprehensive approach gives better results, in grammar tests, the results are equal or better. His papers can be found on his website: www.sdkrashen.com

Mr Krashen talked more about reading and his speech was music to my ears. Reading is the source of our reading and writing ability, vocabulary, spelling and grammar competence, he said. The most powerful form is free voluntary reading.

A lot of food for thought.