Six Ways to use Rubrics as Teaching Tools

I just completed teaching an online university course offered in the Spring semester.  One of the assessments included grading student participation in terms of their online postings each week.  A rubric was provided for this assessment so instead of just using it myself, I thought it would be useful for students to use this rubric as a self-assessment tool. For the most part, students graded themselves lower than I did.  Just a few students had what I thought were unrealistic and over-exaggerated beliefs of their participation (the online platform logs the number of visits by each student) so it is hard to argue with those numbers!  Many students actually thanked me for the opportunity to self-assess!

Getting back to rubrics…Rubrics may not be the most exciting topic in English teaching but I suspect that most teachers use them.  In Canada, rubrics are used as early as primary school.  Did you know that the word rubric comes from the...

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Reflections from the Field: ACPI-TESOL Costa Rica

I had the privilege of attending and presenting at the ACPI-TESOL National Conference in Costa Rica last week.  Although it was a relatively small conference (under 80 participants), the organizers were able to attract presenters from the U.S., Panama, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and UAE (and me from Canada). A special thank you to Ana Madrigal Rímola.

I believe that teachers can always learn something new no matter how many years we have been teaching.   This conference was no exception in that there were many new insights from the presentations about teaching English.  However before I provide some of the conference highlights, I wanted to talk about my experience trying to navigate in a Spanish-speaking country as a non-speaker of Spanish.  (I did take some lessons a few years ago but I didn't have enough language skills to function!)  I forgot how it feels to be unable to communicate – even a simple request!  The last time I...

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ESL Teachers as Filmmakers

Last week, I wrote about trying new things and pushing ourselves professionally.  I think that Gwen Zeldenrust and Lynn Schneider are great examples of this. As "teachers to teacherpreneurs", they demonstrate what happens when you combine an understanding of language learning, student needs, creativity and hard work.  Have you ever thought about making a film as an English language resource?  Find out how they did this and more about Impressions:  Making Positive Impressions in Conversation Video Program in my interview with Gwen and Lynn below. I hope you feel inspired to try something new!

July 1 - Canada Day Special!  20% Off!

Impressions:  Making Positive Impressions in Conversation Video Program is on sale if purchased on Canada Day!  It is available at https://patrice-palmer.mykajabi.com/store/GkrvN3x




The program contains a professionally produced video, Teacher's Guide, Student...

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What does confidence and courage have to do with teaching?

About two hours ago, I did something that I have never done before!  I was a webinar presenter on http://www.tutela.ca!  I presented a one hour webinar called "Planning Your Professional Development" to ESL teachers in Canada, including a teacher working in China.  In the last few years, I have signed up and watched many webinars but I have never been in a presenter role.  Was I nervous? Yes, but I was more excited than nervous. Why? Two reasons - confidence and courage.

When I decided to leave classroom teaching after 20 years last December,  I needed confidence because I had to believe that I could make a living using my skills outside of teaching ESL.  There is a certain comfort that comes from doing a job for many years but the downside for me was that there were few opportunities to challenge myself or have a creative outlet.  So trying new things as a teacherpreneur (e.g. learning how to use social...

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Growth Mindset and its Role in Second Language Acquisition

For the past two years, I have been very interested in grit, growth mindset and second language acquisition.  I have published an article in Contact (TESL Ontario) http://www.teslontario.net/uploads/publications/contact/ContactSummer2015.pdf and presented on this topic at four different TESL conferences (including in Moldava via Google Hangouts - the slideshare is available at http://www.slideshare.net/PatricePalmer/mindset-presentation-p-palmer-tesl-toronto-may-2015.  I am very excited to be in Costa Rica in July talking to teachers about growth mindset and SLA.   A few weeks ago, Brainology published blog post on their website http://community.mindsetworks.com/blog-page/home-blogs/entry/growth-mindset-and-second-language-acquisition.. You can click on the link to read the post or it is published below. 

 

Growth Mindset and Second Language Acquisition

If someone told me that it would take between three to ten...

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Assessment: That Time of Year!

This week, I decided to write about assessment. Many of you are preparing your students for final exams/end-of-semester tests or are already marking piles of assessments. It is a stressful time of year for both teachers and students.

This semester, I am teaching an online course on Assessment as part of a TESL Certificate program at a local college in Canada. Teaching this course reminds me of how challenging and difficult it can be to design good tests and assessments for our students. I was trying to remember how I learned to design tests/assessments because it was not part of my TESL program 20 years ago. Like many aspects of teaching, we often learn these new skills as we go which is another reason why having a mentor is beneficial.

If you are new to writing tests, here is a brief overview/refresher for writing multiple choice questions (MCQ).

MCQs are probably the most commonly used format for tests.  Although these questions are harder to write than T/F, it does become...

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Mentorship for New Teachers: Meaningful Professional Development

Last week-end, I presented at the annual TESL Toronto conference. The topic for my workshop (I will call it Workshop 2) was How to Survive and Thrive as New ESL Teacher (http://www.slideshare.net/PatricePalmer/how-to-survive-and-thrive-as-a-new-esl-teacher). It was a revised/condensed version of a workshop (I will call that one Workshop 1) that I gave in April. In both workshops, I was inspired by the keen-spirited new teachers who attended.

If you read my blog post after Workshop 1, you will know that in the first activity, I asked teachers to complete the following sentence "Being a New Teacher is"...

These were their answers:


exciting
challenging
nerve wracking
a lot of work
intimidating
hard
daunting

I provided Workshop 2 participants with the above list and asked them to add to it. They agreed with everything on the list and added:


frightening
terrifying
overwhelming
rewarding
a joy ride


I am not sure about you, but I certainly wouldn’t want to go to work every day...

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Do you Practice "Mindful Listening" with your Students?

Have you ever had a conversation with someone where you were really being listened to and truly felt heard?  I believe it is rare but when it happens, it is can be a powerful experience. 

Last weekend, I attended a two day training session on coaching based in positive psychology.  My biggest take-away from the week-end was learning about “mindful listening” (and actually practicing it).  I had heard of "mindfulness" and “being mindful”, but hearing mindful together with the skill of listening intrigued me.

There were 50 people in the training session.  When the facilitator asked us if we practiced mindful listening, no one put their hand up.  Sadly, we all agreed that we do not listen well, and certainly do not practice mindful listening.  

 

Would you agree that you could be a better listener?  How often have you had a conversation with student and thought that you were paying attention only to realize...

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Six Ways to "Report Back" after Brainstorming

Last week, I wrote about brainstorming (if you missed that blog post/interview with Hall Houston & Gerhard Erasmus, click here https://patrice-palmer.mykajabi.com/blog/what-teachers-need-to-know-about-brainstorming). I learned some interesting things about brainstorming from my interview with them despite 20 years of teaching!  It just goes to show that being an ESL/EFL teacher can never get boring if you like learning, and want to continue to develop your teaching skills.  

So what happens after students have brainstormed?  A common teaching technique is to have students report back to the whole class.  As a teacher or trainer, do you know more than one way to have students report back or do you use the same technique again and again?  In order to keep things interesting for our students (and for us as teachers), it is important to try new techniques. 

Here are 6 different techniques for reporting back: 

1. The most...

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What Teachers Need to Know about Brainstorming

Uncategorized May 13, 2016

Having students "brainstorm" is a very common activity in the ESL/EFL classroom and in training courses/workshops.  However do you really know how to use brainstorming as an effective teaching and learning tool?  This week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Hall Houston and Gerhard Erasmus about their e-book - Brainstorming.  I have included several links at the end of the interview so you can purchase a copy.  It is important to support teacherpreneurs!

Thank you for doing this interview.  Let's start with information about you.  Where do you teach now? How long have you been teaching?
 
Hall Houston: I currently teach at Kainan University, located in Luzhu, Taiwan. I have been teaching EFL for over 15 years.

Gerhard Erasmus: I am the Director of Studies at a language school in Taipei, Taiwan and I do quite a bit of teacher training. My favorite has to be tutoring in Delta Module 2, mostly because of how clearly you...

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