Browsing Category Teaching

Why We Need Deep Learning

I did something radical in 2008. I waited in line for an entire week at the flagship Apple Store in New York City to buy an iPhone. It was part of a PR stunt. My friends and I were the first people in line because we knew that mobile devices were going change how people worked. However, I had no idea, at the time, the considerable impact mobile devices would have on education. Will Richardson has written extensively about the impact technology has had on education. In his book Why School? he explains that the role of the teacher is changing. A teacher…

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The Secret to Educational Innovation

For as long as I can remember, I have learned better in groups. I got started with connected learning early. I cheated my way through seventh-grade biology. By cheating, I mean used my classmates to help me complete my homework assignments. I often traded a Snickers bar in exchange for help. By today’s standards, I think this is called collaboration with an incentive. Many educators are discussing how connections and collaborations are important to education. Will Richardson writes about this in his book Personal Learning Networks. He goes in-depth about teachers and students building a PLN to harness the power of the…

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Don’t Be Fooled By Knowing Things

While teaching English in Japan, I was asked to give a group of young Japanese junior high school students a crash course in American table manners. We pushed a group of desks together to form a makeshift table, and I created a mock table setting using books for plates and plastic tableware. I began modeling how to use a knife and fork to eat. About 30 seconds into my demonstration, a young Japanese boy raised his hand and asked, “Why do we have to lean over our plate to eat?  We can pick up the plate and bring it to our face.…

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How to Make Your Classroom Innovative

I think most teachers agree that education needs to change. The things as they are, top-down, teacher-centered classes are not working. This feeling has many educators talking about innovation. What does it look like in the classroom? There are a few teachers out there leading the charge. AJ Juliani has created “A framework for Innovation in the Classroom.” His simple framework outlines key areas that teachers can consider and use for guidance. My takeaway from this is giving learners the space to be autonomous learners. If students have choices, innovation will follow. Another educator, George Couros, outlines eight steps towards…

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Do You Engage Students or Empower Them?

Where are you on your teaching journey? What big lesson have you recently learned from teaching? I’m currently wrestling with the idea of student engagement versus student empowerment. For years, I thought student engagement was the greatest goal a teacher could aim for.  I went to great lengths to engage students. I wanted their undivided attention. Recently, I’ve been contemplating that empowerment can take engagement one step further. I want to give my students more choices and options in hopes that it will ignite their own passions and interests and drive them to learn on their own. If I could make…

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How roadblocks can help you be a better teacher.

As a teacher or learner, what’s holding you back from accomplishing your goals? What obstacles keep you from progressing? What are your biggest struggles? For me, there are few obstacles and roadblocks that hold me back from being a better teacher. First, my school does not promote any professional development. I do not get any time off to attend conferences or seminars and if I miss a class due to absence, I have to make it up at a later date, which is very inconvenient. Plus, my school’s Faculty Development department was just dissolved. No kidding. Second, I feel like…

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How I’m Reclaiming My Life From My Phone

Do you ever find yourself walking down a busy sidewalk while typing messages on your phone? Do you ever use your phone while crossing the street? I used to do both of these things. Over the past couple years, I’ve been thinking a lot about my phone usage, and how I spend too much time staring at its screen. I realized that I need to rein in my phone usage and reclaim my life. While I began thinking about how to do this, I came across several others sharing helpful ideas about the same thing. This quick 3 minute TED…

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How Basketball Teaches ESL Students to Give Feedback

I recently played a silly game of basketball with my students to demonstrate how to give meaningful feedback. It worked remarkably well, and I want to share it with you. I work with ESL students at an art university. One of the most important things they need to learn is how to give feedback to one another, so they can improve their artwork. This may seem like a simple task, but I assure you, for them, it is not. Students will often say nothing, or they will simply compliment each other for doing a good job. I believe this is…

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ESL Pronunciation Practice with Google Voice

I have used several Google products in my classroom for the past few years. I started out slowly with Google Drive, and I’ve been slowly testing out other services to see what works in my ESL classroom setting. I started using Google Voice at the beginning of this Spring Semester, and now that we’re at the halfway point, I want to reflect on how I’m using it and how it’s working for me and my students. Initially, I was looking for a way to visually show my students their pronunciation errors. I looked into various services and apps that would allow my students to…

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Easy Way to Organize Student’s Presentations & Essays

Do your students give presentations or write essays that are scattered? Do they jump from one idea to another? Do they talk around and around a subject, only to get to the main idea at the end? I created this simple Outline Template to help students better organize their ideas. It is color coded to help students visualize the grouping and breakdown of their ideas. The dark boxes on the left are for students’ main ideas. The middle gray boxes are the explanations of those ideas. The white boxes on the right are for examples. These boxes are easily adapted to fit PIE…

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