Author Archives: goodoogasteve

Easy TESL Reward Systems

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Rewards are powerful motivators and can be used to increase your students’ productivity, behavior, study habits, and English skills. Everyone likes to receive a compliment, a shiny sticker, or even a high-five for a job well done. Your students are no exception to this. They love to see that you are paying attention to them and rewarding them for their efforts.

If you decide to use a Reward System for your students (and I highly recommend you do) here are some easy ones to get you started. I divided this list into two: Extrinsic and Intrinsic Rewards. The Extrinsic Rewards require some kind of effort or cost on your part – most are very affordable and easy to set up. The Intrinsic Rewards don’t cost you anything and most of them can be implemented with little to no prep at all.

I should also preface by saying that I have…

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Languages Open Doors

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Makes me wonder: What can three languages do?

learning-languages

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Using music in the EFL Classroom

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Learning to teach beginners.

Danny Gregory

sunday-on-6th
What is the role of feedback in learning? Especially when starting to do creative things, things that are ultimately pretty subjective? When there are no answers in the back of the book?

The biggest obstacle we need to overcome in learning to create is to believe that we can’t. That’s especially true when we learn as adults. We have spent our entire lives believing that we cannot do this thing, and now, unless we are convinced that we can, we will never get to a point of any sort of mastery.

The most difficult and crucial lesson for beginners is the importance of failure. You need to make a lot of mistakes. You need to feel good about those mistakes and recognize that they are opportunities to improve. You can’t allow those errors to overwhelm you and make you feel hopeless.

The reason that people struggle with failure is because they believe that their failures are reflections on who they…

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A positive learning environment: establishing expectations (Part 4)

Oxford University Press

Eager children in classThis is the last of a four-part series of articles from Verissimo Toste, an Oxford teacher trainer, about establishing a positive learning environment in the classroom. Here he shares some practical ways to minimise disruptions during classes. 

What do you expect from your students? Sit down for a few moments and think about your classes. Think about where you are as the class begins. What are you doing? Where are the students? What are they doing? As you think about the class, note down anything you would like to improve. Don’t worry if it’s easy or difficult. Just note it down. Then, look back at your notes and decide on 3 to 5 points you want to work on immediately.

After reflecting on my classes of about 25 teenagers, these were the four aims I came up with:

– The classroom is in order.

– Students are ready for class.

– Classes begin more efficiently.

– Students…

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A positive learning environment: establishing expectations (Part 3)

Oxford University Press

Eager children in classThis is the third of a four-part series of articles from Verissimo Toste, an Oxford teacher trainer, about establishing a positive learning environment in the classroom. Here he shares some exercises to help establish expectations of general behaviour from students. 

We have shown our students what kind of behaviour we expect from them as they enter the classroom. Now, let’s discuss what kind of behaviour we expect from them in general.

When I first walked into a class of 36 10-year-olds armed with my knowledge of EFL and many good intentions, I was not aware how completely unprepared I was for the experience. Looking back, I am happy to say, “I survived.” I can also say that I learned a lot. I went into that classroom as their English teacher, when I should have gone in as their teacher. I thought behaviour was someone else’s responsibility. It wasn’t. So, I needed to establish what I expected from my…

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A positive learning environment: the first 10 minutes (Part 2)

Oxford University Press

Eager children in classThis is the second of a four-part series of articles from Verissimo Toste, an Oxford teacher trainer, about establishing a positive learning environment in the classroom. Here he shares some exercises to engage students before the lesson begins. 

Following on from last week’s post, we have our students working on a simple exercise, in this case, simply writing words from the board whose letters have been scrambled. We have set the pace of their work and eventually, you can get them to do such a simple exercise within about 5 minutes. Once students have completed the exercise, you can use it to start working on their speaking skills at a very basic level.

Let’s use this exercise as an example. Students have a list of words that they have written correctly.  Usually I aim for a list of between 8 and 10 words to make it challenging.

  1. retrohb – brother
  2. tanu – aunt
  3. nusico…

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A positive learning environment: the first 10 minutes (Part 1)

Oxford University Press

Eager children in classVerissimo Toste, an Oxford teacher trainer, looks at some different ways to establish a positive learning environment in the classroom.

Behind every activity in the classroom is the question of behaviour. If you’re lucky, you don’t have to think about it, as your students are motivated to learn and behave accordingly. However, as the teaching of English as a foreign language moves beyond the smaller classes of private language schools into the larger classes of mainstream education, teachers know that student behaviour becomes a key aspect of every lesson and every activity. Mixed abilities, different learning preferences, intrinsic motivation, and varying attitudes towards learning become more important considerations for the teacher, and activities that would work in smaller classes don’t in larger ones.

In this series of blog posts, I will focus on establishing a positive learning environment, taking into consideration the nature of larger classes in a mainstream environment, where…

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Measuring Progress in Academic ESL Classes

Oxford University Press

Measuring Progress in Academic ESL ClassesLawrence J. Zwier, testing expert and series advisor for Q: Skills for Success, Second Edition, looks at some strategies for measuring student progress in language learning.

Language teachers often discuss the difficulty of measuring how well their students are doing.  A typical comment goes something like, “When you’re testing in a history class (or biology, or law, etc.) it’s easy. They either remember the material or they don’t.” This oversimplifies the situation in “content classes,” where analysis might be just as highly valued as memory, but the frustrated ESL/EFL teacher has a point. Teaching in a language class does not aim to convey a body of knowledge but to develop skills—and skill development is notoriously hard to assess. It’s even harder when the skills are meant for use outside the language classroom, but the only venue in which you can measure IS the language classroom.

However, all is not…

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3 Classroom Management Tips That Changed My Life

By Meghan Everette on December 4, 2014
Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

Four young children look up at the camera while their hands are on their heads.
There are three simple tips that I was given that have come to dramatically change my classroom. They are not hard to follow or difficult to implement, but they have made life much simpler for me, and have reduced problematic behaviors. Around this time of the year, students are showing their true colors. Even the most disciplined of classrooms starts to fray around the edges when the holidays come. Here are three ways to get back on track for the New Year:

1. Number the Class

This may seem obvious. I know a great many teachers have given their students numbers. I bucked this trend for a long time, thinking I would be reducing my kids to numbers. Besides, what would happen when a child left or a new child came? Well, it’s simple. A child leaves and now I skip that number. A new child arrives and they go to the end of the line. I gave every child a number, working in alphabetic order by last name.

I have all my students write their number in the upper right hand part of their pages. This means that I can quickly and easily sort all the papers into numeric order. Then I put the numbers on their take-home folders. Now, when I want to put items in folders, they are all in the same order. I put a number line on the floor and students line up in that order, unless they are the line leader that week. No more fussing about the line, running to a spot, or getting next to a talkative friend. I draw numbers for volunteers, pair up even numbers, or use student numbers in math problems. Suddenly I know what papers are missing at a glance, what folder is left at home, and were everyone is in line.

Numbered papers Numbered folders Numberline on the floor

2. Five RulesClassroom Rules

I adopted the same five rules that my coworkers are using. They are from whole-brain teaching methods. We do little hand signals with them as we recite them. Having five rules cuts down on rule-overload and covers a multitude of sins. Here’s the real key: When students aren’t following the rules, I just ask, “What’s rule number two?” and suddenly they are back on track. I can whisper, “Rule four” as I pass by a desk and they know what to fix. I never have to yell, talk over students, or spend much time redirecting. Here are our rules:

Follow directions quickly (make a swimming motion with one hand)
Raise your hand to speak (raise hand and then make a talking motion with your hand)
Listen when your teacher is talking (cup ear and then make a talking motion with your hand)
Make smart choices (tap temple)
Respect others, respect yourself, and respect your school (open arms with palms up, point to self, point to ground)

3. Music Transitions

I was introduced to music transitions at MEMTA several years ago. The instructor played The Andy Griffith Show theme song to indicate when shoulder partners should stop talking. The cue gave everyone a few seconds to finish their conversation, and come together without fussing or yelling. I researched music transitions in the classroom and found great suggestions from Rick Morris at New Management. I adopted some of his ideas to work in my first grade classroom. When the music ends, so does the activity, and students know they are to be quiet and ready. I don’t yell over them, I don’t squelch their talk time during transitions, and I have happy bopping students. Music can be added to any device and used at any time without you saying a word.

When I want students to line up, I play the theme to Saved By The Bell. They can talk and dance while the song plays, but at the end of the time they are to stop and be in line (which is in number order of course!).

To get students to clean up, I play a two-minute Jeopardy theme. The musical cues indicate when the song will end. I have found that students have adapted to know how long they have internally. No more yelling for attention or trying to get students started on clean up!

I also have a “come to the carpet” song for moving to and from the floor. Students can chat as they move, as long as they are seated and in place when the music ends. I use the Bill Nye the Science Guy theme.

My music comes from Television Tunes, but because of copyrights, I substituted other tracks in the videos. You’ll still get the idea. Make sure you select a song you can stand to hear 100 times each week to avoid driving yourself nuts!

Other musical transitions can include:
Think time
Talk time — gives cues for when to end the conversation
Grab attention — I’ve used the NBC chime for this
Provide a time limit to an activity
A reminder
These three simple changes have made a huge impact in my classroom. I don’t have to yell or raise my voice. I’ve adopted a few great attention-getting techniques from fellow blogger Alycia Zimmerman, and some great organization to help things flow smoothly. I’m a fairly strict person with high expectations for my students, yet most of them say I’m “so nice” simply because the management tools do the work for me.

Get your musical tracks ready and start numbering. You’ll be ready for an efficient and calm classroom when you come back in January!

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