Struggling Writers? Let Them Speak!

Which do you find easier, speaking or writing?

I think most people would unequivocally answer speaking.

Writing is not easy. In fact, it can often be painful. I was having lunch with a friend the other day who lamented on the difficulty he had writing a paper for a course he is taking. Even for me, someone who writes fairly regularly, writing can be quite the task, especially a first draft.

But what if I told you writing a first draft could be as easy as speaking?

Great news! It can! Continue reading “Struggling Writers? Let Them Speak!”

My First Google Hangout English Tutoring Session

So… it’s week 2 of my summer vacation, and I already miss teaching.

Thankfully, it’s 2017 and I don’t need a school to get my teaching fix. I can just teach online from home!

Online teaching has become a very popular option for teachers who are looking to reach more students outside of a classroom. And programs such as Skype, Zoom, and Google Hangouts have never made it easier to connect with people anywhere.

One problem though… despite its popularity, I have never done any English teaching online.

Today, I braved into this new world. Two of my former students and I took the leap online by doing a 30-minute class together on Google Hangouts.

This post is about my experience.

***SPOILER ALERT- IT WAS A DISASTER!*** Continue reading “My First Google Hangout English Tutoring Session”

3 Things I Learned About EFL Education from ‘B’ Group

The school year has ended. Summer is here. And all the teachers are rejoicing and singing for the new beginning.

Now that the dust has settled from the school year and I have rejuvenated myself on my Icelandic adventure (yes, you should definitely go), I thought now would be a good time to reflect on the school year that has passed.

I am not ashamed to say publicly that this has been the most difficult year of teaching in my career. I never thought anything could beat my year teaching on the east side of Austin, but it seems my students this year certainly achieved something (less hair on my head and a higher blood pressure that even daily meditation could not prevent).

Despite the challenges and frustrations, this experience has taught me a lot about EFL education, and I would like to share with you 3 things I have learned.

Continue reading “3 Things I Learned About EFL Education from ‘B’ Group”

What is a Reading Portfolio?

Learning to read is a journey.

Take a moment to think back to your school days. What evidence do you have of that special journey?

A test? A book report? Maybe a diorama?

Perhaps you answered yes to all of those, but how meaningful were these to you?

(I know…your diorama was the bomb…got it)

And did you ever set them all out at the end of the year to reflect on and celebrate the journey?

I suspect both questions would elicit negative answers (except for the diorama…I know).

So how can we as teachers create meaningful reading experiences for our students that give them an opportunity to look back on the journey and reflect on the success and celebrate it?

One possible way is a reading portfolio.

Continue reading “What is a Reading Portfolio?”

Why Arizona (and Other States) Are Wrong About Teacher Hiring

Arizona is the latest state to sign into law that people with 5 years of “relevant” field experience may enter the teaching profession without teaching training and credentials. (Washington Post)

Why would they do this?

Teacher shortage is a problem in many states and this allows a fast track to fill vacancies.

While many may see this as a solution to the problem, I feel this policy is faulty and may result in causing more problems than it fixes.

Here are three reasons why this is a bad idea.

Continue reading “Why Arizona (and Other States) Are Wrong About Teacher Hiring”

Reading Response- Disrupting Thinking (Part 2)

In Part 2 of Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters, Beers and Probst discuss how teachers can develop responsive, responsible, and compassionate readers. The authors have created the BHH Framework to help cultivate the kind of readers we want. Below, I will briefly introduce the BHH Framework along with the accompanying questions:

  • (B)ook: What’s this about? / What did I notice?
  • (H)ead: What surprised me? / What confused me?
  • (H)eartWhat life lessons did I learn?

As this post is a “Reading Response,” I will be responding to selected questions that appear at the end of each chapter.

I’d also like to encourage you to read the book along with me and respond to the selected questions in the comment section. Continue reading “Reading Response- Disrupting Thinking (Part 2)”

It Takes a School to Change a (10) Child

A friend of mine shared with me a huge choice he made at the end of last school year.

He volunteered to teach a remedial grade 6 class with a long history of behavior problems.

Their behavior problems are so bad that many (and I mean many) of their former teachers have moved on to other schools, specifically citing behavior issues as the reason.

Sounds exciting, right?

More like “What was he thinking?”

In this post, I want to reflect on the experiences he shared with me and discuss my take on the solution. Continue reading “It Takes a School to Change a (10) Child”

Research Spotlight- Effective teacher talk: A threshold concept in TESOL

Teachers talk in the classroom every day.

Seems like such an obvious statement, so much so that it wouldn’t be worth writing about.

But an important question arises from this well-known fact: when teachers talk, is their talk always effective?

Barbara Skinner has concerns that the answer is ‘no’ and that teacher preparation programs should put more focus on what is known as “teacher talk” and how to make it more effective. Continue reading “Research Spotlight- Effective teacher talk: A threshold concept in TESOL”

Reading Response- Disrupting Thinking (Part 1)

Student apathy.

This problem, identified as the biggest problem teachers face in the classroom, is the motivation behind the book Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters.

The Goal: Get students excited about learning by helping students connect to their reading in a personal way, not for the sake of a multiple choice test.

In part 1, Beers and Probst define the readers they believe teachers want to develop. The readers are:

  1. Tomorrow’s Leaders
  2. The Responsive Reader
  3. The Responsible Reader
  4. The Compassionate Reader

As this post is a “Reading Response,” I will be responding to selected questions that appear at the end of each chapter.

I’d also like to encourage you to read the book along with me and respond to the selected questions in the comment sections.

Continue reading “Reading Response- Disrupting Thinking (Part 1)”