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Tips and Ideas for Online Learning
In May 2021 we asked our members for their tips and ideas for online teaching. These are the ideas they came up with. Many thanks to these members for sharing.
Dita L.
Classes 7-9, 10-12 Classroom management

"To ensure that all students actively participate in the lesson and not sleep or do something else while I can't see that, I use Socrative short answer option. Students individually write their answers and I can see them on the screen. It is also possible to vote for the best answer afterwards (if the task has been more creative - writing topic sentences, introduction to an essay, etc.).

Socrative as a tool also solves ""I don't have access to chat"" situations, because all students need to respond is just the room name.

Socrative also has quizzes and an exit ticket option for feedback. This tool is free and the students' answers are saved to be accessed any time.''

Dita L.
Classes 7-9, 10-12 Testing

''While doing any kind of tests online, we can't be sure that the students are not exchanging with their work or doing the tasks together. I am not totally against students getting ready for tests by creating their own materials to cheat from because at least then they revise = learn something. What I don't want to see is someone not getting ready at all and copying the work from someone else. During my online testing I have developed my approach where students are more likely to use only their own knowledge / materials (of course I can't control family members or friends possibly hiding under or behind the desks.

1) For vocabulary - I use Socrative tests. We do the test together for a certain amount of time, with our cameras on. The questions and answers are randomized and it is not possible to return to the previous questions. Therefore, the exchange is practically impossible. If it is a multiple choice question - I give at least 4 choices, sometimes 5 or 6. If the student doesn't know the words, there is no time to Google them all. Socrative also gives the score immediately.

2) For grammar - I stick to writing on a piece of paper in an online lesson with the cameras on and then sending a photo of the work. I give traditional gap filling exercises and then also creative ones - where the class is divided in 3 or 4 random groups and each group has a slightly different input / task. Thus it is again more difficult to cheat. If the teacher suspects some students working together, it is possible to separate them this way. Also you can give a bit more challenging task for more capable students.''

Daria P.
Warming up

Sample materials: PowerPoint Slides pdf version

''I am teaching my primary students in MS Teams with the help of Jamboard.

Warming up

To acquaint students with the new vocabulary I help them to revise words they already know. I make a slide with a topic in the middle and ask kids to name all words which are relevant to the topic (example - slide 1). I put all their ideas as a sticky notes around the topic, so they would all see how much they already know. It makes them feel better.

I can ask students to group the words, because sticky notes are easy to arrange. (slide 1 - arranged already).

Introducing new vocabulary

Here - no magic. Just flashcards with the new vocabulary. Read, repeat. Try to see what is special about new vocabulary and group it (slide 3).

Well, this is the obvious way to group the words, but we can ask students to think of others options (outdoors / indoors, with extra equipment / no equipment, Olympic sport/ not Olympic, do in Latvia (our school) /don't do in Latvia (our school).

This will provoke students to repeat the words again and again and, hopefully to remember them.

Slides 4-9 are riddles with extra vocabulary. There are always few students in the class (or their parents) who would like to know a bit more. So these slides are 2 in 1: guess the sport + extra words which are connected with the certain sport.

Use of vocabulary in communication

Students already know how to make a sentence "I don't ... " or "I ...". Slides 10-18 are to make these statements about the picture. The same slides can be used as a homework task - revise the words and write the sentences in your exercise books.

Slides 19-20 are for speaking practice - students ask each other questions and answer. Students can be divided in groups (in MS Teams - rooms), or activity can be performed as a chain activity. This helps students to communicate with each other and see if they can use new vocabulary.

I usually download the Jamboard after the lesson and attach it in Mykoob (eklase) or the kids/parents to revise what was done during the lesson. When we were covering directions and places in town Jamboard was also a nice way to present a map and follow directions, as there is an option to show direction with a laser tag. Jamboard allows you to change words and pictures online, directly from Google.''

Silvija A.
Classes 10-12 and Adults

The following worked a treat with 94 students in October of 2020. I teach Academic Writing at the Riga Graduate School of Law (RGSL) so the students were 18 - 19 yrs old - 1st year undergraduates This would work well with upper secondary - Grade 10 - 12 students.

Task: To create a video CV

Length - 2 mins (or less)

Time to prepare: 2 weeks

Brief: The students are applying for admission to a prestigious university / internship at a law firm or a well-regarded business.

Aims:

  • This is an authentic activity. Nowadays applications for scholarships/ internships/jobs are increasingly asking for some sort of digital presentation.
  • to think about their strengths and of the best ways how to highlight them in an effective way i.e. to build self-confidence and self-awareness. This is very important these days when actually so many students have quite low self-esteem.
  • to practice their searching skills (this is an area which needs a great deal of attention) and their practical computer skills on a task which is both serious and creative.
  • to learn how to give meaningful, substantiated critiques and assessments of their peers (a skill which will be needed later both in an academic and job related context) and to accept critiques. -to learn how to be active listeners' and to get the most out of presentations/lectures etc rather than just scrolling through multiple sites and jumping from one thing to another.
  • to work independently on a project and to be responsible for the result. We tend to stress group work so much these days that we forget that students have to be trained to work independently and to take responsibility for their work.
  • to practice the 4 skills (especially speaking) in an authentic context - to get an idea of what works and what does not work in a presentation - I am a great believer in getting students to do as much work as possible.

I am not the fount of all knowledge and after all they are the ones who are learning. Plus this is a no-preparation activity for the teacher and the assessment can be as simple or as complicated as you feel that you have time for. Win-win all round.

Instructions

Basically none. I told them to search the internet for some examples of video CVs. (I do talk about effective search techniques in my course.) To send me the finished product for marking/comments. My advice would be to tell the students to upload the video to You Tube as file sharing sites deny access after a certain time.

Assessment

In order to help my students to be 'active listeners' I assign roles to 2- 3 students in the following categories:

a) highlight positive comments

b) constructive criticism points

c) assessors (have speaking & content assessment criteria)

Students rotated through different tasks after 4- 5 videos.

They report back to the creator of the video/class.

In a f2f context I use different coloured post-it notes for each task. They write on these and give the notes to the student being critiqued after presenting their observations orally.

Online - I assigned roles to the students and sometimes we used breakout rooms. The final mark consisted of the peer assessment + my assessment. Of course the comments about the effectiveness of the video is what is actually the most important.

Upper secondary students:

  • could produce a video highlighting why they should get a scholarship in the sports/music/art/academic fields
  • gain admission to the school of their choice
  • why they should not be expelled from school.
  • other?

Comments / Things to note

After I had set the assignment I was horrified at the amount of marking that I would have to do. It turned out that watching the videos and marking them (good speaking criteria are readily available on the internet) took much less time than marking written work. Even when I decided to send the students' feedback via email it still did not take as much time as it would have to mark a piece of written work thoroughly.

There are many options for this assignment:

a) to do the whole activity as outlined with considerable involvement from class members If I opt to do this, I then spend some time each lesson looking at just a handful of videos.

b) Just do video + teacher feedback

c) Put students in groups and give each group a number of videos to critique & ask them to pick out one video for the whole class to discuss.

Our older students are very fond of talking about doing things 'out of their comfort zone' and of 'thinking out of the box'. It is almost a mantra.

Only 3 out of 94 students produced videos which could be described as original and which showed some more advanced computer skills. The majority of our students are not the 'digital natives' that we think they are.

My students said that they had never done anything like this before and had actually found it quite difficult to do both from a content and technical aspect. From their comments I understood that there had been quite a lot of consultation and sharing of different expertise, which was super. They enjoyed the activity and watching themselves on video helped them to understand how they come across to other people and what they could improve.

Irina S.
Classes 7-9 Presenting language
"I use Zoom instruments (drawing, highlighting, making gap-fill exercises right ON the learned texts in the books) that are extremely helpful to explain and which I lacked at school. Students also do all that, not only me. It's interactive. They learn by retelling the text - I cover the text and open line by line for students to recall it, retell, and remember. Break out rooms are a great thing."
Katrina L.
Classes 10-12 Competencies
https://ed.ted.com/lessons
''This is a great tool to use for senior high. Students watch a video and answer the questions and write their ideas.''
Ģirts J.

Classes 10-12
Pair/Group work
''A very useful tool that I have discovered and use quite often is breakout rooms. The procedure is as follows - I usually send them some speaking materials in e-class and put them into several breakout rooms. Children really enjoy this activity a lot. Firstly, they like to see each other and have a discussion about different things. And I really find it really useful and convenient so-called tool for teaching English.
One more thing that I really appreciate when working with Teams is possibility to upload different useful and interesting documents into folder called Class Materials. There they always will be at hand for pupils to use them.
''

My Language Portfolio [7-12 years]

Electronic YL Portfolio

You can watch a video on how to use the YL Electroinc Portfolio here or on LATE's YouTube site here.

My Language Portfolio Guide

Language Portfolio in English

Language Portfolio in Latvian

Crazy Animals- Young Learners Activity Book

Downloadable online for free on the British Council TeachingEnglish site here.

This is a book for primary school teachers of English written by primary school teachers of English. It brings together the experience and expertise of teachers from around the world to provide a range of stimulating and exciting classroom activities for the primary classroom.

There are 50 tried and trusted activities which have been refined and improved over the years by teachers working in diverse contexts and environments. Children will enjoy practicing their English through these stimulating and motivating activities.

This book grew out of an Aston University - British Council research project called 'Investigating Global Practices in Teaching English to Young Learners'.

Over 1,000 teachers were contacted and asked to send their favourite activities for teaching English to young learners. The most original and creative activities received were selected for this book.

Creativity in the English Language Classroom

Edited by Alan Maley and Nik Peachey

British Council 2015

Paperback ISBN 978 0 86355 767 5

Available as a free pdf download from: http://englishagenda.britishcouncil.org/books-resource-packs/creativity-english-language-classroom

A Case for Online English Language Teacher Education

Monterey, CA: TIRF – The International Research Foundation for English Language Education - released a report regarding online English language teacher education at the TESOL Convention in Dallas, Texas on March 21, 2013. The commissioned study, entitled A Case for Online English Language Teacher Education, investigates a range of online professional development opportunities offered by institutions around the world.

Download the free report here.

ECML Learning Through Languages Conference 2015

The free ECML Learning Through Languages Project resources are available here.

International Federation of Language Teacher Associations

Read the Nordic-Baltic Newsletter January 2017

© LATE 2011-17