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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Unit 22:Choosing assessment activities

How you would prefer to be assess as a student?

In my case I hate to be tested with a formal assessment because it is too objective, unfortunately most of the schools test in this way. By the way, teachers have to assess students in a formal or informal assessment.

  • Formal assessment: through test and examinations
  • Informal assessment: During a lesson by monitoring and observing learners while they are doing ordinary classroom activities.

There is a huge list of different kind of assessment activities, let’s list some of them:

  1. Cloze test
  2. Gap-fill
  3. Jumbled sentences
  4. Sentence transformation
  5. Proofreading
  6. Multiple-choice questions
  7. True/False/Don’t know (T/F/DK) questions
  8. Information transfer
  9. Matching
  10. Sequencing
  11. Dictation
  12. Summary writing
  13. Guided discovery
  14. Interview
  15. Information-gap

Some of these are on the next Hot Potatoes exercise; find out their meaning by practicing them.

Choosing assessment activities

Even though some of these are easy to mark (e.g. numbers: 6, 7; those which test single items), these ones just can provide us information about some specific areas of the learners’ language knowledge. Some advantages are that these are very practical to design and can give us reliable results, and these are useful for assessing receptive skills, where we want to check that learners have understood a text.

On the other hand, those that are difficult to mark (e.g. 14, 12) focus on particular areas or learners’ performance. Activities that require learners to produce whole text, are far less practical to mark and the results may not be very reliable. But these activities help learners to produce language which is very similar to the language they need in the real life.

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Posted by on 30/05/2012 in UNIT 22

 

Unit 21:Planing an individual lesson or a sequence of lessons.

Do we have to base on some teaching approach while making our lesson plans? Yes, we do!

While planning our lesson we have to think about the next things, which are going to help us to achieve our goals:

  • Aims:  through the shape of the lesson, and the most appropriate techniques for learners
  • Technical approaches: Which technical approach I’m going to use: a TBL or a PPP?
  • Skills: for receptive skills, we can use activities to do before, while and after a reading or listening; for productive skills, we can use an introductory stage to set the scene, input language, and a feedback stage after the speaking or writing activity.
  • Procedures:  I can use available materials, the length of the lesson and the information we have about our learners.
  • Sequence: related lesson that develop language knowledge/language skills.

There is a thought-provoking tip from the TKT book:

“When planning lesson we may need to think about the needs of individual learners or groups of learners, e.g. those that always finish first, those that can’t concentrate for long, etc. A coursebook can’t provide material and activities for needs that are specific to our groups of learners. This means we may need to plan part of the lesson that adapt the coursebook or work with supplementary materials activities.”

YOU WILL FIND THE NEXT VOCABULARY ON THE FOLLOW EXERCISE:

SPECIFICATION RECYCLE SUPPLEMENTARY MATERIALS
SCHEME OF WORK EXTENSION TASK INPUT
SET THE SCENE PRODUCTIVE RECEPTIVE

FEATURES OF A LESSON PLAN

 
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Posted by on 30/05/2012 in UNIT 21

 

Unit 20:Identifying the different components of a lesson plan

A lesson plan help us to think what we are going to teach and how would do it along the term. But, our lesson plan contain different components that we must follow. Some of them are:

  1. Class profile
  2. Timetable fit
  3. Aims (which we have already seen in the unit 19.)
  4. Assumptions
  5. Anticipated problems
  6. Possible solutions
  7. Aids
  8. Procedures
  9. Timing
  10. Homework

This is a huge list, however some teachers don’t follow these rules and some lesson plans don’t’ have all of these components, which ones do you use?

Besides, I found some interesting tips” on the TKT coursebook, and I want to share them with you:

  • A lesson plan should be clear and easy to read during the lesson. Different colors, boxes, underlining, etc. are useful . It is often helpful to include drawings of the way the board will look at different stages.”
  • “…to keep lesson plans as simple as possible…”
  • “…younger learners need frequent changes of activity…”so as teachers we need to improve the variety of our activities.

I liked most the first one, I don’t know because I’m kind of a visual learner, but think about it and I hope these could help us as teachers now and in future.

YOU WILL FIND THE NEXT VOCABULARY ON THE FOLLOW EXERCISE:

DIFFERENTIATION VARIETY RATIONALE
MONITORS WORKSHEET TRANSCRIPTS
INTERACTION PATTERNS ANTICIPATED PROBLEMS TIMETABLE FIT
CLASS /LEARNER PROFILE

IDENTIFYING THE DIFFERENT COMPONENTS OF A LESSON PLAN

 
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Posted by on 30/05/2012 in UNIT 20

 

Unit 19:IDENTIFYING AND SELECTING AIMS

In this unit we learned that a lesson plan needs more than one simple thing, is not just to copy and paste the same things according to your coursebook, it involves more than just that.

For example we learned that a lesson plan contains the next aims:

  • A main aim: this is the most important aim.
  • Subsidiary aims: these aims usually contain language that is already known to the learners.
  • Personal aims: these show what we would like to improve or focus on in our teaching.

Furthermore, we found that the main and subsidiary aims have something in common: the stage aims, in which we can see how the lesson should be developed.

  • Stage aims: these aims should contain a clear purpose for each activity that we plan. Moreover, it helps us to check that the activities in the lesson are relevant to our main aim.

We can find helpful the next simple steps in order to make a lesson plan:

  1. Identify and select the main and subsidiary aims
  2. Design or select the most appropriate stage aims and activities
  3. Choose the most suitable teaching aids and materials

In my humble opinion, the most important thing while planning a lesson is to think about our learners needs and abilities, it is not easy for students try to keep up with the syllabus of our coursebook. What I want to mean is that when we are teachers, sometimes we just try to stick to the coursebook materials, and we forget that learners could do it by their own at home. Let’s make the difference between a teacher lesson and a coursebook lesson!

So, go on and think about extra information with could be worth not only for our learners, but also for our personal aims.

YOU WILL FIND THE NEXT VOCABULARY ON THE FOLLOW EXERCISE:

Subsidiary Stage Outcome
Exponent Procedure Aids
Sequence Syllabus Aim
Timing Timetible Personal
Main

IDENTIFYING AND SELECTING AIMS.

 
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Posted by on 30/05/2012 in UNIT 19

 

The Bloom’s Taxonomy!!!

In order to help students to understand in a widely way the items to be taught as teachers we can use the Bloom’s Taxonomy.

But, what is the Bloom’s Taxonomy?

This “taxonomy” or “classification” provides a useful structure of categorized test questions, these are organized in levels but at the same time they are organized from the hots to the lots (HOTS is an abbreviation for Higher Order Thinking Skills and LOTS for Lower Order Thinking Skills). L2 learners need to be asked questions with all of these levels, these are going to help them to improve their cognitive skills. This Taxonomy has been revised and it has changed in some aspects but with huge differences, here there is the old version and the new one:

As you can see, it has their own steps in order to help students to understand the taught material.Furthermore, each step has its own questions, in order to help us as teachers to asked students about any topic.

QUESTIONS FOR THE REVISED BLOOM‘S TAXONOMY.

I’ve been reading that some teachers forget to use  this excellent tool in teaching because they used to apply the rubrics or just they allow to be guided by the book’s instructions. However, using this fantastic approach we can extend not only our knowledge but also our student’s knowledge. In my case, I would have liked to be taught in this way because I could have learned better. But, for now it’s my turn to learn it and then practicing it with my future students.

On the link that Ellen gave us, there was an excellent example of how we can use the Bloom’s Taxonomy with everything. It is not a complex thing, you can use a simple Pen and that’s it, you will have a huge resource to make your students speak and analyze! Amazing!

At the beginning I didn’t have an idea about how I could use it, but once your planning your lesson you will have an excellent idea for it!

I haven’t planned any lesson yet, but I hope to follow my own steps once I’ll do it.

Now, let me show you a sample of how I could apply this Bloom’s Taxonomy on my own way, I took an example from a course book that Ellen provided us.

“WHAT IS THE STREET ART?”

Street art is art on the streets. It has lots of different forms: graffiti tags (the artist’s name), spray-paint pictures, stencils, and sticker art. Sometimes street art has words. Sometimes it only has pictures. Often street art has a political message and bright colors.

A street art usually only works in one area, but some put the same tag, stencil or sticker in lots of different cities around the world.

Street art is usually against the law. Artists use buildings, walls or trains-and these usually belong to other people. People often think graffiti is ugly and messy. They don’t think is art.

Sometimes there are special classes for young street artists, like the Youth Together project in Oakland, California. Students learn to create their own style. They tell stories and write messages on walls in the city. They communicate through their art.

This reading belongs to:
(Brookement English Language teaching, Unit 3D, pag28.)
www.brookement-elt.co.uk

After reading the article:

1.Remembering:

  • -Can you recall the different kinds of forms that graffiti has?
  • -Where you can find Street Art?
  • -What is the meaning of some Street Arts?

2.Understanding:

  • -What is the difference between stencils and sticker art?
  • -Explain: why do people think that Street Art is ugly?
  • -Is it valid to use people’s belongings as a place for the Street Art?

3.Applying:

  • -Tell what would happen if Street Artists were given a place to draw?
  • -Identify the differences between the Street Art on a special place and on the streets.
  • -Which factors would you change if you were a Street Artist?

4.Analyzing:

  • -Why do you think Street Art is against the politics?
  • -Why do you think Street Artist communicate through this way?
  • -Is there something that justify the Street Artists’ actions?
  • – What are some of the problems of the Street Art?

5.Evaluating:

  • -Judge the value of the Street Art; do you think it is good or bad thing?
  • -Is there any consequence about providing classes for the Street Artists?
  • -Along the time, who do you think that will gain, the Street Artists who are against the Law or the Law?

6.Creating:

  • -What changes would you make to solve the Street Art on your country or local area?
  • -If you were given an Art class for Street Artists, would you give them some advice?
  • -Would you contribute to change something in the Art Street? How?

I’m in love with the Bloom’s Taxonomy because it helps me to develop the material one-by one. I would like to keep up with this approach while teaching; I hope not to fall in the same way as other teachers. I know, it could be difficult but each time you would have the chance to help your students think more and practice as much as they can, you would never feel disappointed about your hard work with them, because at the end they would not only pass an exam but also they would remember the most things that their teacher taught them through the term! It is encouraging when you help students and they never forget that you were one of those teachers who made their best teaching them!

 
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Posted by on 22/05/2012 in TKT HOMEWORK

 

Unit 17: Practice activities and tasks for language and skills development.

HELLO THERE!

While studying this course we learned that there are more than one way to teach through different activities and tasks, such as:

  • new vocabulary
  • functional structures
  • grammatical structures
  • subskills
But, in this unit we focused on three different types of activities:
  1. Controlled activities
  2. Free activities
  3. Freer activities
Is there any difference between the two last ones? you will look for the answer in the Hot potatoes‘ exercise.
However, we should know that is not always possible try to categorize each activity into only one among the three ones below.
Keep on mind that: “Using several kinds of activities in our lessons adds variety. This helps to keep lessons more interesting and motivating(TKT tips).
Now, just review some of the vocabulary from the Unit 17.
YOU WILL FIND THE NEXT VOCABULARY ON THE FOLLOW EXERCISE:
Freer activities Controlled activities Filler
Rank ordering Drills Jigsaw listening/reading
Free activities Open-ended (tasks, questions) Freer, free, less controlled practice

PRACTICE ACTIVITIES AND TASKS…

 
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Posted by on 18/05/2012 in UNIT 17

 

Unit 18: How you were tested while you were learning?


This part of our learning process has been one of the most difficult for me!

During my entire life I have been tested in some few ways, some of them were with these kind of tests:

  • an achievement tests: is used to see how ell learners have learned the language and skills taught in class, are often at the end of the term or year and test the main points.
  • an objective test : is marked without using the examiner’s opinion, e.g. tru/false questions, multiple-choice questions. There is a clear answer.
  • a summative test: are designed in such a way that the questions, conditions for administering, scoring procedures, and interpretations are consistent and are administered and scored in a predetermined, standard manner.
Even though there are more than these tests, I just had the chance to practice these ones, let me show you some pictures about these different kinds of tests:
  • PROFICIENCY TEST: is used to see how good learners are at using the target language.
  • PROGRESS TEST: is use during a course in order to assess the learning up to a particular point in the course.

  • STANDARIZED TEST:are designed in such a way that the questions, conditions for administering, scoring procedures, and interpretations are consistent and are administered and scored in a predetermined, standard manner.
  •  PLACEMENT TEST: is often used at the beginning of a course in a language school in order to identify a learner’s level of language and find the best class for them.
  •  SUBJECTIVE TEST: is marked using the examiner’s opinion about the quality of the answer. The answer is not simply right or wrong, e.g. marking written stories, compositions, conversation, story-telling. 
*Some of the pictures are illegibly, so click on the image and you will see it in a full size,moreover I’m so sorry because I couldn’t paste the URL below some images .

During this period of time I used to get a lot of stress because most of these test are graded, so I wanted to pass not to fail. There are some disadvantages about these kind of test:

  • in order to get a great grade, students can feel forced to cheat
  • some students can just memorize what they were taught during that time
  • students are graded only on superficial knowledge
  • teachers can’t notice their students’ needs

So, instead to feel excited about being tested most of the students feel exasperated because of it and the fear to fail the exam.

But, the main question, why most of our teachers test students through this way? Probably because in this way they have some advantages besides they have a period of time to grade more than forty students in only a few months, that’s why our teachers could be in a rush while testing students. Let’s see some opinions about why teachers use these methods of graded test:

  • Convenient
  • Can be adopted and implemented quickly
  • Are scored objectively
  • Can test large numbers of students
  • Curriculum needs to be fulfilled
  • Most of the teachers test in the same way

Even though there are plenty of these opinions, students got bored with the same test’s way. On the other hand, I learned that there are some other ways to assess students during their learning, let me show you some of them:

  • Continuous assessment
  • Diagnostic assessment
  • Formal assessment
  • Formative assessment
  • Informal assessment
  • Peer assessment
  • Performance assessment
  • Portfolio assessment
  • Self-assessment
  • Summative assessment

The ones that are highlighted are the most I would have liked to be tested. These are aimed to grade students through a course, involves feedback and peer feedback, moreover these ways to assess students let the teachers to notice their learners’ needs and if they are progressing well or not. Nevertheless, some of these assessments have disadvantages that could be like the next ones:

  • Time consuming and challenging to evaluate
  • Space and ownership challenges make evaluation difficult
  • Content may vary widely among students
  • Costly in terms of evaluator time and effort

While learning about these assessments I understood why it’s very difficult for some teachers try to achieve their goals while teaching. I understood why most of the teachers use the same techniques while grade.  It’s difficult when teachers have to follow a curriculum and time it is not enough to teach. However, I have had great teachers, even though time’s up, they got a new idea to leave an interesting way to do homework, to practice at home, and to review items on school. Our work as teachers depends on what and how much we what our learners keep on mind instead of learning items by heart before the tests. Unfortunately, some teachers forget to feedback learners through their course or once they have been graded, and this is so important for students that it could change the way they expect their tests.

If I were a teacher I would like to test students along the way, while using different kinds of exercises or activities, practicing by a speaking activity or writing an essay, using rubrics or test them the Informal assessment. Well, it’s the way I would like to test students instead of pressure them to get a good grade because if they not they would fail the course. I really know how much uncomfortable or worried students could feel before the exams and after them, until they receive their grades.

In my opinion, if it’s necessary to apply an exam or a grade in a Summative assessment, because of the curriculum, so go on, but don’t forget the progress during the course that your students have been doing, well or not, you have been part of it!

Now, let’s practice about these assessments’ definitions, click on the next icons!

YOU WILL FIND THE NEXT VOCABULARY ON THE FOLLOW EXERCISE:

Assesmentes tasks: Subjective Assesmentes tasks: Objective Self-assessment Summative assessment
Performance assessment Diagnostic assessment Assessment criteria Peer assessment
Portfolio assessment Continuous assessment Formative assessment Formal assessment
Informal assessment Assessments Subjective test Placement test
Objective test Diagnostic test Progress test Proficiency test
Summative test Achievement test

ASSESSMENTS DEFINITIONS

TESTS DEFINITIONS

 
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Posted by on 17/05/2012 in TKT HOMEWORK, UNIT 18