Sunday, November 4, 2012

Coherence. What are we talking about?

What do we mean when we talk about coherence?

Build a definition of what we understand by coherence. Can you think of words associated to this term? Let´s build a Word Cloud with the words we get.

Let´s watch the video and see what is wrong...


What question was she asked?

Do you understand her answer?

What is the problem?

Can you explain in your own words why is coherence important?

Adapted from: C is for Coherence

Monday, October 15, 2012

Reflecting on the significance of reading in the ESL Classroom

Many times we hear our students say they don´t read, they don´t enjoy reading. Let´s reflect on how we tackle reading in our classrooms, what our ideas are, how we try to develop this skill.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

It's revision time again...

Ok, so you´ve been teaching for a term, a month or a week and it is revision time. 
Nothing new under the sun you say... it´s part of the learning process. 

The author of the article we´ll be reading describes revision time as "an opportunity to consolidate everything you’ve taught into a cohesive language learning experience". For sure we all agree on the first part of the sentence, but... what about the "cohesive language learning experience" part?  is there anything we are overlooking? 

Let´s go to the article and read the author´s recommendations for creating a review lesson that is really useful to your students (and not just a way to buy time till they have the test)

7 Steps to Fail-proof Your ESL Review Lesson

What are your views regarding revision time?

But going back to revising and recycling, if you are teaching intermediate or advances students, take a look at this article, written by the same author, full of useful tips when planning our next revision time. 

8 mistakes your students should correct before the test

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Building stories

Everybody likes listening to a good story. Have you ever wondered why?

What do you think about this statement? Do you agree?
A story can put your whole brain to work.

This article may give you a few ideas on the power of storytelling. 

Which are, in your opinion, the main concepts?

What do you think about the suggestions for telling stories? Do you have any of your own?


There are a million ways in which we can tell a story. An interesting game to develop a number of skills is the following:

"This quasi experimental web site is designed to foster visual thinking and build stories. It draws upon collections of photos specified by a tag in flickr. You are dealt five random photos for each draw, and your task is to select one each time to add to a selection of images, that taken together as a final set of 5 images- tell a story in pictures."

Give it a try and then share your production. 


As you know many stories have been told in video format. Here we have one which tells a lovely story. 

La Luna is a Pixar computer-animated short film, directed and written by Enrico Casarosa. It was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film at the 84th Academy Awards.

Have a look at this beautiful short video. 

What is the story about? Is there a lesson to be learned?

Use one of the storytelling tools to tell the story, your way. It is a good opportunity to try a new tool

Friday, August 24, 2012

Peer Feedback: The Story of Austin's Butterfly

Building Excellence in Student Work Through Critique and Revision

What do you know about peer feedback?
Have you ever tried it in any of your classes?

Now let´s watch the following video.
"This six-minute video gives a clear picture of how student work can improve through focused critique. It shows the evolution of a scientific illustration of a butterfly through multiple drafts toward a high-quality final product."

Critique and Feedback: The Story of Austin's Butterfly from Expeditionary Learning on Vimeo.

So far so good, but.... is there anything we (teachers) can learn in relation to our own learning?
State 3 ideas you can pick from the video which describe the aspects you´d highlight. 

The following article provides some ideas particularly suitable for young learners. Have a look at the four ideas described and share your ideas with the group. 

Strategies to enhance peer feedback

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Guy Kawasaki: Don't Write a Mission Statement, Write a Mantra

(August 30, 1954) Graduated with B.A. in psychology from Stanford University in 1976. After attending Stanford, he went to law school at UC Davis, where he lasted one week before realizing that he hated law school. In 1977, he enrolled in the UCLA Anderson School of Management, from where he received his MBA
He is a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, bestselling author, and Apple Fellow. He was one of the Apple employees originally responsible for marketing Macintosh in 1984.
He is founding partner and currently a Managing Director of Garage Technology Ventures,  co-founder of Alltop as well as a husband, father, author, speaker, and hockey addict. He is also a well-known blogger.
"Alltop is an online magazine rack that I hope you’ll check out—you’ll probably enjoy Innovation.alltop. I’ve also written ten books. My latest is Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions. You can read about my other nine books here."

Guy explains why you don´t need a mission statement. Do you know what it is? 

Who may need to write one?

If you were to write your own mantra, what would it be like?

Have you ever hear about the Huffington Post?

The Huffington Post is an American online news aggregator and blog founded by Arianna Huffington. The site offers news, blogs, and original content and covers politics, business, entertainment, environment, technology, popular media, lifestyle, culture, comedy, healthy living, women's interests, and local news.
It was launched in 2005. On February 7, 2011, AOL acquired the mass market[8] Huffington Post for US$315 million, making Arianna Huffington editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group.[9][10] In 2012, The Huffington Post became the first commercially run United States digital media enterprise to win a Pulitzer Prize.[11]
In July 2012, The Huffington Post was ranked #1 on the 15 Most Popular Political Sites list by eBizMBA Rank.

Now read this article which appeared in the Huffington Post

5 Things About Owning a Start-Up They Don't Teach in Business School

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Teacher debate: Friendliness vs. Friendship in the classroom

Friendliness vs. Friendship in the classroom. What a topic!
Has it ever happened to you that one of your students or even group of students confuse these terms and expects from you attitudes or behaviours that make you feel uncomfortable?

Let´s start by getting some definitions: 

Friendliness: Warm; comforting.

Friendship: The quality or condition of being friends.

Evidently there is a big difference between both words. And even if it hasn´t happend to us, it is clear it is very difficult to be your student’s friend and maintain your teacher’s role

Dr. Stacia Levy, teaches writing and reading skills at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California to both native and nonnative speakers of English. She analyses and comes up with some interesting ideas regarding this topic. 

You Are NOT Your Students’ BFF (Best Friend Forever): Balancing “Friendliness” and “Friendship”

What do you think of the author´s Method to Maintain a Friendly attitude?

Another controversial topic related is Facebook, should we befriend our students?

We will have a debate on the topic, some of you will be putting forward a positive view to the topic and others against. Prepare the ideas and arguments you´ll bring. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Teachers using technology

Exploring Elt Teachers Reluctance Towards Technology

Jonathan Acuña is an ELT Instructor & Trainer. He was hired to train a group of teachers in Costa Rica. He starts by addressing an interesting question, Why were/are they so reluctant to using technology?

Read his blog post and go over some of the highlighted concepts: 
comfort zone 
develop technological competences 

1. What do you understand by "comfort zone"?

2. What type of "technological competences" do you think teachers need to develop?

3. Do you think it is possible to self-train in order to develop these competences? If not, how do you think this could be done?

4 Have a look at this image. What message do you think it is trying to convey? Do you agree?

5. What about you? How many hours of computer training did you receive?
What do you think about technology integration to classroom settings?

Looking for Inspiration? What about this?

A new year is starting. 
It is a time when energy is at the top, we are full of expectations, projects and ideas. 
It is also a good time to reflect, consider and share views. 

I´ve chosen 2 different inspirational videos from this site: Best Kickoff Videos

Choose one and generate your own video as a response. You can include your views on the topic, what you think, how it relates to your teaching situation. You can use your own photographs, images you get online, music... you can even record yourself!  

Making your own video is very simple, probably one of the easiest ways is using  Windows movie maker  (you can download it from this site if you don´t have it in your computer already)  once you have it ready you can upload it to youtube and share it. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Let´s do away with boring introductions.

Those of us who´ve been teaching for some time, know there are some typical 1st day activities; for example introducing yourself.

We can make good use of some excellent web 2.0 tools to do this.

If you want even more, here´s a whole lot more!

Here´s my choice.

Now it is your turn. Following the same structure, prepare an "About me" presentation. Which tool will you choose?

Once you have your Story, just include the link in a comment. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Vocabulary Craze!

Shall we start?
Let´s go over some vocabulary words.
Many of these words are related to different ways of speaking. 
Can you list them?
How many do you know and can explain?
Are there any you don´t know? 

All teachers know working on vocabulary is essential for ESL learners. Many times it is difficult to think of fun or creative ways in which to work on this area. Have a look at these sites: 

Here is Merriam Webster´s Word Central, a great site where you´ll find word definitions, games and teacher resources.

A great tool to present vocabulray is: Wordle used for the following image. 
You can also try Visuwords

Now fill in the blanks with words you´ll find in the 1st cloud. (You can make the font bigger by clicking on the letter A on the upper left hand)


Welcome to York´s Chatter Zone! This will be our space, let´s make it nice and cozy for us and all our visitors.

The idea is to share material which could be useful for your classes, reflect on our practices and learn together. If you are passionate about something, want to include some material, feel free to suggest it!  

You are all invited to share your notes, post your questions and comments too, your contribitions will help make this a really interactive space. 

See you all real soon!