Today there is no blog post… only a bedtime story, although maybe not suitable for little children 🙂 The story is by Howard Phillips Lovecraft and includes no blasphemous evil, no unspeakable terror lurking from the murky water… only cats.
If you want to read “The cats of Ulthar”, you will find it here.
I consider myself lucky, as I had been working as an online teacher for years before the massive switch online (aka Covid19) happened. I’m sure most of you already know what teaching online looks like, and you’re getting quite experienced in this field. However, as a teacher, and a DoS observing quite a lot of online lessons, I must admit there are some universal truths worth sharing.
Smile: nothing makes your students more at ease than your smile.
2. Use a camera: it’s way easier for your students to see you eye to eye 3. Crack a joke: we all need a little bit of laughter. 4. Dress up: it’s fun! Or, if you don’t feel like changing your style, remember to wear something bright and colourful to keep your students’ attention. 5. Pay attention to your background: it doesn’t have to be a blank wall, it may be your library, just make sure it’s tidy and clean. Sure, you can use an app-generated background, but you won’t look so natural, and it may also affect you connection. 6. Teach the way you’ve always taught: your students have their coursebooks and can use them. To be sure, the lesson pace will probably be slower, but your students don’t expect online madness, they just want to have a regular lesson with you. 7. Make your students move a bit: kids and teens quickly get restless in an online classroom, ask them to dance to a song or introduce a short activity where they can move. 8. Get to know each other better: the moment you switch online, you invite your students to your room – if you have anything your students might find amusing, use it. Cats, dogs, hamsters, children? I’m sure your students will love it.
I’d love to see my teacher online with his pet tarantula! One of the teachers I’ve trained asked me during a short chat ‘how are your cats?’ She explained she’d watched me so many times on my workshops, she felt like she knew my home and my pets. That was cute!
9. Be extra nice: you don’t know what’s happening on the other side of your screen. It’s more difficult to sense whether your students have some issues (not necessarily school-related). Being polite costs nothing. 10. Relax after each lesson: in an offline life you have a break. Be sure to have one online, as well. Get some hot coffee (yay, you may enjoy hot coffee nowadays!), dance for a while, play with a cat – chill before your next class, it will be easier to smile!
1. Panic: that’s the worse thing you can do. If a problem arises, be like Penguins of Madagascar:
2. Expect perfection: yes, there will be technical issues, there will be problems with cameras or audio, there will be cases when your presentation doesn’t work. Happens. You’ve probably worked with technology before, so you know, sometimes Murphy’s Law gets the better of you. 3. Make fuss about the background noise: if you’re not a professional online teacher it’s perfectly fine if your environment isn’t dead quiet. Accept it, and make sure your students realise the same – it isn’t a normal state, so relax a bit. 4. Forget to wear pants: there are some things you don’t want to experience, this may be one of them. If you think you’re safe as the camera only shows your top, you may be sorely mistaken. 5. Ignore the security issues: your class could get visited by a troll, it happens. The only thing you can do to prevent it is read carefully the security guidance of your teaching platform and act accordingly. 6. Come unprepared for your class: apart from your regular materials, have a short story ready to share when your students are still connecting, come up with a simple procedure what to do when someone gets disconnected (and practise it once in a while) 7. Neglect your appearance: working from home may sound nice when it comes to dress code, and sure you don’t have to wear a suit or waste time on full make-up. However, you really should take a shower before your lesson… and do brush your teeth! 8. Presume you’re alone with your students: because you probably are not. There are parents in the background, or siblings and maybe even grandparents, trying to be quiet, but ever watchful. Just think about your online lesson as a regular lesson only with the classroom door wide open. 9. Slurp, sigh, write on the keyboard: you’re using a microphone, which means all the unnecessary sounds will be perfectly audible. That includes sniffing, using your mobile phone, tapping the keyboard – try to limit them if you can 10. Forget to tell your students that you really do like them: and that you respect their ability to switch online so well, and to keep studying so hard!
These are my ideas… But I’m sure you’ve got yours! Share them and make our teaching a better experience!
The weather is getting more and more enjoyable, and the evenings are simply made to go out, breathe in the scent of spring flowers and listen to the birds clearly enjoying their human-free time. Unfortunately I can’t enjoy a nice evening walk… but I can still enjoy a May evening, with a great online course. And this May brings some really interesting courses you can also enjoy.
Start: open Duration: 3 weeks Recommended for: educators, teachers, lecturers, and trainers who have to rapidly move from face-to-face to online teaching in response to the COVID-19 pandemic You will learn:
how to adapt your practice to the online context
how to manage the personal impact of teaching online
how to create and share approaches and techniques for maintaining continuity while moving teaching and learning online
how to collect, review and evaluate student feedback on your new approaches
Start: open Duration: 10 weeks Recommended for: people with an interest in learning and its future You will learn:
how to define your personal theory of learning
what leadership looks like in different learning environments
how an organization’s structure reflects its theories of learning
how neuroscience will affect the future of learning
And for now – stay safe!
I hope you’ll find the courses interesting and enjoyable. Hopefully it’s the last month of self-isolation – I do realise life won’t be the same for a while, but I would love to switch offline for a week or so…
Self-quarantine. Week 4. With the weather getting nicer with every passing day, it’s more and more difficult to stay in. I generally love staying home, but even for me there’s a limit to delicious tea, good books and cosy blankets. I feel like I need something extra to keep me at home, and fortunately there’s Netflix!
I think almost every language teacher recommends watching films and documentaries in the target language, as it helps develop listening comprehension skills. Naturally, Netflix is really helpful with giving us access to the material of various genres, languages and accents. I’m sure everyone has their favourite type of TV series or films, so I’m not even trying to recommend any. No, this post is about something else.
Last month I had a webinar about funny ways you may work on your English at home, and one of those ways is obviously watching Netflix with LNN. And I was really surprised when I realised nobody has yet heard about it – so I’ve decided to write about it on my blog.
LLN is a Chrome extension that gives you new learning opportunities with Netflix. It makes studying languages with films/series more effective. The subtitles can now be adjusted to your needs. The machine translation is the literal one which will help you understand the structure of the sentence in the language you are studying, and the human translation focuses more on expressions and idioms.
The LNN offers a catalogue to help you find Netflix titles with high-quality subtitles in the language you study. More than this, LNN has some study tips that will help you use the extension best depending on your linguistic level, so everyone can use it.
Another good thing about LNN is that it’s not only about English – you may now learn Spanish while watching La casa de papel or even Polish, if you’re brave enough! There are many languages available, so feel free to use it – because the best thing about LNN is that it’s free!
I want to recommend this solution to everyone, both teachers and students, as it may help you watch Netflix with a proper excuse – after all you’re going to learn a language, not only waste your time watching TV series! I hope you’ll have fun and it’ll make your self-quarantined times easier. Remember, every day brings us closer to the happier days!
Self-isolation, week 3. Do you also have the feeling that you’d like the good, old times back? And only a month ago I was travelling, having fun and definitely not thinking about expressions like covid, self-isolation, quarantine, social distancing. What I need at the moment is an illusion that nothing has changed – and I know that my favourite online courses will help. Just learning something new will help me feel better. If you also want to escape into the world of education, feel free to join me. I know you must be pretty tired, so I carefully left out all the courses on teaching online.
Start: 06/04/2020 Duration: 3 weeks Recommended for: teachers delivering cybersecurity lessons in the classroom You will learn:
how to explain the meanings of terms describing common cyberattacks, such as phishing, pharming, shoulder surfing and blagging
about the protections offered to users by the Misuse of Computer Act
how “anti-virus” software works
I hope you’ll like the courses I found for you – they are all quite short and easy to take up, so I’m sure they’ll give your brain the time to relax and focus on something new, rather than, well, quite grim reality. Stay safe, and stay home!
You know I like activities requiring as little preparation as possible (no, I have never been a lazy teacher, I just need time to plan taking over the world). One of the areas that needed much preparation is explaining comparatives and superlatives, especially when the only language you’re using in the classroom is English, and you don’t want to translate the adjectives – you’d rather make your students create mental images of the English words.
I used to prepare some pictures that I could use to present the adjectives along with their comparative and superlative forms, but when it comes to some words, their meaning is quite arbitrary – like beautiful, bad or happy.
The internet somewhat helps, but sometimes you can’t trust it…
When a friendly neighbourhood Teacher’s Corner introduced a new game called Memome, I thought oh, it’s basically just a typical memo activity. And to be honest, I was right… but it turns out to be much more versatile. First things first, though: what is Memome?
A set of 30 illustrated cardboard cards with 15 English adjectives and 15 corresponding comparatives. It comes with an instruction how to play memo and basically you’re ready to use it. Simple? Definitely, yet you may use it in various ways!
Treasure hunt for kids
The thing that I like most about Memome is that it’s made of nice, thick cardboard, which means you can use the cards in various games and they won’t get destroyed in those clammy paws of our youngest students. For a while now I’ve been observing lessons for children and I must admit that quite a lot of teachers don’t let them move as much as they need to. Memome can be a great solution here, because all you need to do is to hide all the comparative cards in your classroom, divide your students into groups, give them the cards with the basic forms and ask them to find the corresponding cards somewhere in the classroom. The group that finds their set first is the winner. Simple, easy and makes kids have fun – they love treasure hunts.
15 questions contest for teens
One might think illustrated cards won’t be useful when working with teenagers – which is nonsense, as teenagers will accept literally anything that will give them an opportunity to banter with one another. So the activity goes like this:
Divide students into groups
Distribute 15 random cards evenly among the groups.
Ask them 15 questions revising grammar or vocabulary. The group that answers first (and correctly) gets another random card from the remaining ones.
Once you run out of cards, each group has to make pairs of adjectives and their comparative forms. If they have matching cards – great! If not, they will have to make a sentence with a missing adjective (in its missing form) to replace the card.
The group that finishes first wins.
It’s a simple activity, but it makes your students revise, communicate and have fun at the same time.
Philosophical statements for adults
I find Paolo Coelho and similar coaching-style mottoes an invaluable source of inspiration in my classroom. First, they are usually simply silly (one of the reasons they’re so hard to forget). I’m sure you know what I’m talking about, your Facebook wall is probably full of your friends posting stuff like this:
Do you see my idea for the exercise? Ask your adult students to practice basic and comparative forms by drawing two random cards and making a motivational quotes a’la Paolo Coelho. You know, like taking bigger and more beautiful and transforming them into:
The bigger the tears on your face, the more beautiful my grave is.
or something like this
You may divide your students into groups, give them dictionaries and observe the chaotic flood of hilarious quotes!
But wait! There is more! make your own superlatives!
As you can see, simple 30 cards can be used in various activities… but since there are only comparative forms here, you may encourage your students to come up with their superlative forms. With children, I could do a project when they make some extra cards by themselves. With teenagers and adults, I would probably use some sentence-building, like:
Anna was the youngest in her family until her younger sister was born, however, they died young as their parents didn’t vaccinate them.
Anyhow, I’m sure you’ll have fun with Memome. Enjoy!
I received this product for free, courtesy of IceBreaker.
My favourite colour is red, however every year, mid-February, I’m somewhat sick of it – you know, all those hearts, roses, ribbons, hearts… Did I mention hearts? Yes, it’s the dreadful Valentine’s Day!
Personally I had never celebrated this day until one day I told my then-boyfriend we’re skipping the date and I made an appointment with a guy who was supposed to lend me a film (Rurouni Kenshin OVA, not really overly romantic thing). Long story short, I met the guy who turned out to be pretty much into RPGs and proper metal music… and we’ve been together for nineteen years. And still not celebrating Valentine’s Day, as you can probably guess.
So here it goes, if your preferred shade of red is rouge de Tarantino and you do appreciate love stories with a little bit of a twist, I’ve got something for you – a collection of evil (well, sometimes not so evil, just a tiny bit malicious) Valentine’s songs I collected on Spotify. To bring a wide variety of music genres I asked my friends to collaborate, so as a result you have the opportunity to listen to many various songs with only one thing in common: the twist.
I made sure all of the songs have lyrics you can easily find on the net (just Google the artist, song + lyrics) and quickly make your own fill in the blanks activity by removing some key words. And then you can have a lot of fun with your students, celebrating Valentine’s Day in a new, refreshing way.
Before you go full enthusiastic (never go full enthusiastic around Valentine’s Day!), let me be clear that my collection includes some songs that with quite explicit lyrics (child-friendly Spotify marks them with a letter E, you can’t miss it). You may also find some songs offensive which is definitely not my intention, however I’m the Evil Mistress of the World (in the Making), so I don’t think you could expect anything else from me.
Where to find my Spotify playlist? Just follow the link to my Facebook page (click!) and enjoy! And if you want to fill my little black and rotten heart with warmth, do like my page to keep me motivated, as the motivation of a blogger is fuelled with likes and positive feedback.
Which basically is quite sad, but here it goes, we all like counting our likes and shares.
Enjoy your Valentine’s Day however you celebrate it!