Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Dominant one strikes again!

               Classroom Déjà vu
I have been wondering the past few days about my online teaching style. I am actually starting to think that I am a softie online teacher, or am I just going with the flow?! For the past few weeks, I have been teaching a student who is the type of learner I fret...., the dominant one!

Blast from the past
About a year ago, I wrote a blog post about my Dominant Eap student. This is what I wrote:
We all have or have had one of them in our class. The student with all the answers, the one who happily shouts out the answer to the question sometimes before you even ask it! Now, in an EAP class, a class full of adults, who in my case are usually post grads students, dealing with the dominant student can be a tough cookie.
EFL tricks that may work in a classroom setting.
So, how do you deal with the dominant student?

  • Nomination: The easiest way is to actually nominate students when asking questions. Avoid addressing the whole class with classroom questions, and just use names.
  • Paperclips: The idea is you give each student some paper clips and tell them that they have to use the paper clips during an activity. Each time the student speaks, he hands in a paper clip. That way your dominating student will only speak a few times and the rest of the ss will also have to contribute to the conversation/task.If you do not like paper clips, then you can use pieces of paper, postit notes, or whatever you wish.
  • Paper boards: This is quite fun! In order to know everyone is on task, give your students a sheet of paper (a paperboard). ask a question and tell them to write the answer on their paperboard. When everyone has finished, ask them all to show you their board. That way everyone answers your question. The limitation here is that you cannot use this paper board when you are practicing a long turn and it is not very practical during speaking tasks.
  • Group/work/pair work: Group or pair work minimises the problem because your students are in pairs or groups so there are less chances of the dominant student to dominate the whole class.
  • Role reverse: Actually, you could always ask your dominant student to be the teacher for a few minutes and ask questions instead of answer them!
A 'thorny' issue

Back to the present
All these ideas worked. My dominant student was less dominant and my classes ran smoothly.
What happens when you are having a one to one session with a very dynamic/dominant student and this is online? To make matters worse, what happens when the dynamic teacher is paired with a dynamic learner? Well, then ,fellow teacher, welcome to my world!
When teaching online, not everything you do in your nomral class works, so scracth everything I said in the previous section. I cannot give paper clips, I cannot give paperboards, this is a one to one session so, well, there are no groups or pairs. My student is an adult. He is always interrupting me and speaking over me! This learner does not like instructions, and enjoys to jump into things and do the tasks... his way. What can I do? I can't exaclty mute this learner (although to be totally honest, this has crossed my mind : P).
In this online classroom this is my solution
The talk: Of course, I have had a discussion about how different online learning is and how turn-taking is very important etc, etc.
Other solutions:
Problem: Learner speaking over me-----> I let the learner say his piece, and then I repeat what I said. I sometimes even write some of the things I said in the chat box, just to make sure my learner is aware of what I am talking about. I also laugh it off, because talking over each other is frustrating, so  being a bit light hearted, good willed can help.
Problem: Jumping into tasks ----> Instead of letting the learner read the instructions of the tasks (like I normally do with all my other online learners). I do the reading and then I ask the instruction checking questions.
AND some more ideas
Lesson notes When I teach online, I make lesson notes of corrections, grammar points, vocabulary and important lesson-related topics. I always make sure that everything I want to correct or give suggestions on is in these lesson notes. I highlight the points I may not have been able to highlight during the lesson.
Politeness and hedging: I am assertive, polite and use a lot of hedging with this learner. I very often say, "You may like to..., I am just suggesting....... You could also...."

Out of all the challenges I have faced whilst teaching online, I think this has been the biggest one. In the online classroom your posture, your non-verbal communication cannot be effective and  the Elt tricks do not work. You need to be even more creative and very patient. One to one sessions are also more delicate cause if you lose the student, the class is lost as well. If you have any suggestions, please DO share in the comments section below.

Till next time......

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

ELT Calendar

Holiday Season ELT Calendar
Taken from dreamstime. Link found  here

It is my favourite time of the year! Christmas and New Year's is right around the corner, so time to start planning for the Holiday season. In this blog post you will find an ELT Christmas calendar. Why so early? Well, some of these tasks need a bit of preparation.I have suggested different types of activities which can be used with your students. Everything I have suggested can be accessed for free online. Some activities are short and others can take up a whole teaching hour! If you do not teach the same learners every day, then you can mix and match. If you do have the same learners, then you have an idea for each day of the week : D

Monday 1st of December
Christmas project. Get your learners to do research and make a project about Santa, Rudolph the red nosed Reindeer, Gingerbread men, the origin of the Christmas tree, the Holidays in different countires and so on. Put them in groups and give them ten days to complete their project. Once they have finished their project, they can give a poster presentation and you can decorate your class with the projects. If you or your students are tech savvy, why not make it a PowerPoint presentation? Don't forget to look at Tuesday the 11th.

Tuesday 2nd of December 
Christmas gingerbread men streamers. Get a string of paper and get each student to draw a ginger bread man. Then cut out the men and make a hole on the top of the paper and hang it in the class. 

Picture from www.enchantedlearning.com. Found here

Wednesday 3rd  of December
Time to make a Chritmas/ Happy Holiday card and write greetings in the card. Your students can make their own cards from scratch so bring out the paper, tinsel, colouring pens and the scissors. The sky is your student's limit. You can also find a website and use the templates there.

Thursday 4th December
HO-HO-HO  Time to write a letter to Santa or get your students to write their New Year's resolutions! 

Friday 5th December
 Play Chritsmas Picture or word Bingo. There are many websites to go to and make your  own different set of bingo cards


Monday 8th December 
Time for some Christmas songs/ carols. Find a Christmas song you like, search for the lyrics and start singing with your students. My suggestion: Santa Claus is coming to town.

                              You better watch out

                                  You better not cry

                                          Better not pout

                                                   I'm telling you why

                                                               Santa Claus is coming to town

Tuesday 9th December 
Secret Santa time. Write all your students' names and put them in a little bag. Then, ask each student to pull out a piece of paper. They must not reveal the name of the person that is on that piece of paper. Each student is that student's secret Santa.This means they must buy or make a present for their classmate. I would suggest you make some sort of guidelines. You can either suggest students buy something but give them a price limit or that all students make something for their classmate. Allow your students at least a week to make or buy the presents. Once all the presents are bought or made, the Secret Santa needs to put the recipient's name on the present ( also see December 19th).

Wednesday 10th December
Christmas word search. Get your learners to look for and find words related to Christmas. Depending on their age, you can choose hard or easy word searches. You can even give them a time limit to make it even more challenging for them.


Thursday 11th December
Poster presentation Day/ Powerpoint presentation Day (also see Monday the 1st).

Friday 12th December
Time for some Christmas songs/ carols. Find a Christmas song you like, search for the lyrics and start singing with your students. Suggestion: Rudolph the red nosed reindeer
                  Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (reindeer)

                            Had a very shiny nose (like a light bulb)

                              And if you ever saw it (saw it)
                                 You would even say it glows (like a flashlight)
                                       And all of the other reindeer (reindeer) 

Monday 15th December
Pin the nose on Rudolph. How do you play? Your students have to pin Rudolph's red nose onto his face. If you want to make it more fun, you can blindfold your students and tell them to turn round in circles for a few seconds. Once they are twirling for 6 seconds they can then pin Rudolph's red nose. 

Tuesday 16th December
Christmas word snake. How is this played? Each student takes turns to write a word connected to holiday season on the board. The final letter of student A's word is the first letter of student B's word.


Wednesday 17th December
Holiday Season hangman. Time to play hangman with your students! The words again have to be related to the holiday season.

Thursday 18th December
How about watching a movie with your students? What you choose depends on their age and level.
Holiday season movie suggestions:
The Polar Express 
Home Alone
Frosty the Snowman
Miracle on 34th Street
The Muppet Christmas Carol
A Charlie Brown Christmas
It is a wonderful life

Friday 19th December
Secret Santa Day (also see December 9th).  The teacher has collected the presents and starts handing them out. The recipient student then guesses who bought/ made him the pressie. 

Any other teaching days:
Carols+ Party= Happy teacher+ Happy students

Keep in mind that you students get to practice their English whilst doing all of these activities. If you want to add 'EFL' twists to the activities, you could make the Christmas carol singing activities into gap filling tasks. You can also ask your students to use the bingo words in the email they send to Santa or make them write a summary after they watch the video. The Secret Santa can be the production stage of a lesson on hypothesising and the ginger bread man can help you teach vocabulary connected to body parts or clothes.What you choose to do with this ELT calendar is up to you!!! 

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. If you have any other suggestions, please add them in the comments section below so other teachers can read them!!!

You can download everything here
It is my favourite time of the year.docx

 Dear reader, if you do any of the activities and have comments or pictures, please let me know. Some of my teacher friends have already shared pics of some of the activities on facebook and I will be making a post about them later on this month!! I would be really interested in seeing how these tasks went for you.

Till next time..........