#CdnELTchat summary for September 29, 2020 (Supporting the Continuation of Learning and Teaching during COVID-19)

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#CdnELTchat summary for September 29, 2020
Jennifer Chow

For many of us, we are in our second term of remote learning. What are the successes and unique challenges #ELT instructors have had? How can we create and maintain a sense of community with our colleagues and students during this time? What kind of support do we need in order to foster a sense of well-being?

Thank-you to everyone who took time out of their busy schedules to participate in #CdnELTchat’s discussion on Supporting the Continuation of Learning and Teaching during COVID-19. 

We’ve collected the tweets from our chat in Wakelet, but here are some of the highlights from our discussion: 

  • It’s important for teachers and instructors to think about our mental health and sustainability, especially since the future is still uncertain. Creating online content while teaching is exhausting for many teachers, so we don’t need to perfect. Good enough is good enough.
  • Equity is still a big problem as some students don’t have access to the necessary technology and/or digital skills to engage in online learning. 
  • Focus on building relationships to establish trust between teachers and learners. Start with essential digital skills and add to them slowly over the term. 
  • Use ready-made online materials that are available on @TutelaCanada. Many teachers have embraced using @H5PTechnology
  • Respect student privacy by not forcing them to turn their cameras on. Use polls and breakout rooms to foster interaction. Provide prompt feedback, virtual office hours, and use Q & A forums to increase engagement.
  • Provide weekly drop-in times for colleagues to connect and socialize. Organize online reading or research groups for professional development. 

We encourage everyone to continue the conversation using the hashtag #CdnELTchat. Here are the questions that we used to guide our chat. 

The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.

During the chat, @KraseNetzel shared with us how @DawnTorvik started a WhatsApp teachers’ group and regularly inspires colleagues to share victories and problems. We hope #CdnELTchat can provide the space for #ELT educators across Canada and beyond to do that too. We’ll be doing some informal chats between our scheduled chats as a way to check in and support each other. 

#CdnELTchat is a collaborative effort that we hope will lead to more reflective practice for all of us involved in ELT. If you are interested in joining our team, or have any ideas for topics, please send @StanzaSL, @EALStories, @Jennifermchow, or @ELTAugusta a tweet. Our Padlet is also always open for your questions and comments. 

Use the hashtag #CdnELTchat anytime to connect and to share information of interest to the #CdnELT community. 

Jen Bio Pic

Jennifer is passionate about learning how technology can empower her students. After experiencing how technology enabled her to stay connected as an educator, a parent and an active citizen, she is motivated to find the same opportunities for her students. Twitter: @jennifermchow

 

#CdnELTchat Summary for September 15, 2020 (Welcome Back)

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#CdnELTchat summary for September 15, 2020

By Bonnie Nicholas

The #CdnELTchat community returned from our summer hiatus with a Welcome back! informal chat. 

These are the questions that guided our conversation during the hour-long chat:

Q1: What did you do in the summer to recharge?

Q2: What have you learned from the COVID pivot in March/April? How has that changed your approach to this school term/year? 

Q3: What challenges do you anticipate facing this year? What strategies can you use to manage these challenges?

Q4: What is something that you are looking forward to trying out this term/year? What is something that you want to stop doing this year?

Q5: How are you planning to develop your classroom community this school year?What professional learning are you planning to participate in this year?

We’ve collected the tweets in a collection on Wakelet (You’ll be able to read all the tweets from the evening’s conversation, even if you don’t have a Twitter account). 

Our conversation revolved around the challenges of finding work-life balance in the current situation. We talked of the challenge and importance of separating work from home life when work is at home, and of the increased workload because of the switch to online. Experienced online teachers confirmed that prepping for online teaching takes more time than for classroom teaching. We talked about how the shift to online has highlighted inequities in ELT. We also touched on the importance of teacher and social presence in online environments, and the very real phenomenon of Zoom fatigue. In these uncertain times, staying connected with our colleagues is more important than ever.     

There is a scheduled #CdnELTchat usually about every two weeks, with a posted topic and often a guest moderator with a special interest or expertise in the topic. Please let us know if you’re willing to be a guest moderator for a one-hour chat on a topic that you are especially interested in.

You can also reach out to the #CdnELTchat team: Augusta Avram (@ELTAugusta), Jennifer Chow (@JennifermChow), Svetlana Lupasco (@StanzaSL), or Bonnie Nicholas (@BonnieJNicholas). Our Padlet is also always open for your questions and comments. 

Use the hashtag #CdnELTchat anytime to connect and to share information of interest to the #CdnELT community. 

zAB6NaOy_400x400Bonnie Nicholas (@BonnieJNicholas) is an enthusiastic participant in the bi-monthly #CdnELTchat as well as a member of the #CdnELTchat team along with Svetlana Lupasco (@StanzaSL), Jennifer Chow (@jennifermchow), and Augusta Avram (@ELTAugusta). Bonnie teaches LINC at NorQuest College in Edmonton.

 

#CdnELTchat Summary for May 12, 2020 (eLearning Essentials: Using Instructional Design Principles for Online Language Training)

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#CdnELTchat summary for May 12, 2020

By Bonnie Nicholas

The #CdnELTchat community was happy to welcome Linda Manimtim, MEd (TESL) as our guest moderator for our chat on eLearning Essentials: Using Instructional Design Principles for Online Language Training. Linda (@lindamanimtim) is based in Winnipeg and is an Instructional Designer at Red River College in Winnipeg and an EAL Specialist with the Professional English Group (PEG) Canada. She is currently working on developing eSkills, a digital literacy course for newcomers.

These are the questions that guided our conversation during the hour-long chat:

Q1: In your mind, what is (or what isn’t) instructional design? 

Q2: How is instructional design implemented in your context? How can instructional design be injected into current practice as painlessly as possible?

Q3: Especially with the immediate and necessary push to e-learning, teachers must often assume the roles of instructional designer AND instructor; what challenges does this present and how can we approach them? 

Q4: The primary purposes of any instructional designer are to analyze learning needs and to systematically improve learning experiences. What best practices are key to improving the e-learning language learning experience? 

Q5: UDL or Universal Design for Learning, is a way of teaching and learning that seeks to give all learners equal opportunity to succeed, by varying representation, engagement, and expression. How can we incorporate UDL for our online language learners?

Q6: How has your experience been with e-learning so far? What else do you want to know about e-learning? What resources do you think are essential?

The consensus was that instructional design is more important than ever, as #ELT around the world continues online for the foreseeable future. Thanks to Linda and to all the participants for being willing to share ideas and promising practices for designing online learning environments. Here are some highlights from our hour-long chat:

  • Instructional Design simply means analyzing current and future needs and improving learning experiences.
  • #ELT professionals are likely already intuitively using instructional design (ID) in their teaching, but there is value in using the ADDIE model to explicitly identify and apply Merrill’s principles, Gagne’s events, Bloom’s taxonomy, or Garrison and Anderson’s community of inquiry.
  • The shift to emergency online teaching and learning has made instructional design more important than ever. There hasn’t been a focus on ID in #ELT, but that is changing.
  • Good ID means using outcome-driven activities that will drive learning. ID is like the framing of a house: it holds everything up but you don’t see it. ID informs decisions, supports content, and builds consistency.
  • Use check-ins to help keep learners on track; focus on building community, making connections, and nurturing a positive learning environment in your online space. 
  • Build courses for those with low bandwidth and limited access, but ensure keeners have extension activities to challenge themselves. Focus on accessibility and readability. 
  • Universal Design for Learning (UDL) suggests having multiple means of engagement, representation, and action and expression. Having choices is important, and shifts responsibility to the learner.
  • Remember that we are still in emergency mode as we transform to online teaching and learning. We need to be patient with ourselves and our learners. Go slow and low. Stay connected with colleagues in your workplace, your #PLN, and your #CommunityofPractice.

We’ve collected the tweets from the chat using Tweetdeck; you can view the collection on Twitter (You’ll be able to read all the tweets from the evening’s conversation, even if you don’t have a Twitter account). We had many more questions than we had time to discuss, so we’ll be asking Linda back for round two in the fall. 

There is a scheduled #CdnELTchat, usually about every two weeks, with a posted topic and often a guest moderator with a special interest or expertise in the topic. During this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have also been having weekly drop-in check-ins. We will start our summer hiatus in mid-June, but please continue to use the hashtag #CdnELTchat to connect and to share information of interest to the #CdnELT community. You can also reach out to the #CdnELTchat team: Augusta Avram (@ELTAugusta), Jennifer Chow (@JennifermChow), Svetlana Lupasco (@StanzaSL), or Bonnie Nicholas (@BonnieJNicholas). Our Padlet is also always open for your questions and comments. We’ll start regular chats again in the fall; please let us know if you’re willing to be a guest moderator for a one-hour chat on a topic that you are especially interested in.

zAB6NaOy_400x400Bonnie Nicholas (@BonnieJNicholas) is an enthusiastic participant in the bi-monthly #CdnELTchat as well as a member of the #CdnELTchat team along with Svetlana Lupasco (@StanzaSL), Jennifer Chow (@jennifermchow), and Augusta Avram (@ELTAugusta). Bonnie teaches LINC at NorQuest College in Edmonton.

 

 

 

Professional Self-Development for Teachers: Have a Plan, a Clear Intent, and a Way to Sustain

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by Li-Shih Huang, PhD

[This article was first printed in the Fall 2015 issue of TEAL News.]

“The best professional development is participatory and connectivist.”—Lee Bessette

The invitation to contribute a piece about professional development in this issue could not have been more opportune. Since taking the position of an elected director of professional development for TESL Canada this July [2015], I have noticed I am looking at the professional development of teachers with renewed interest and a different perspective. In my own work as an ELT professional on the one hand, and as a trainer of future ELT professionals on the other, my approach to professional development has been mainly through connecting at professional gatherings with like-minded researchers and practitioners who also have a strong interest in linking research to practice; engaging in practitioner research; attending webinars and conducting workshops; and devoting a portion of my writing to practitioners’ interests. But what about the majority of ELT professionals, who work in various institutions, schools, and cultural contexts where resources and opportunities might pose greater challenges for development?

For any ELT professional interested in professional development, a quick Google search of terms like “teacher training,” “teacher education,” “teacher development,” “(continued) professional development,” and “professional self-development,” to list just a few, will turn up an overwhelming number of articles and resources and amount of information on professional development, both within the context of ELT and in the broader field of education. Recent articles, such as “Do-It-Yourself ELT Professional Development” (from TESOL Connections’ special issue dedicated to professional development), “3 Ways for Teachers to Use Social Networks for PD,” and “3 More Ideas for PD on Social Networks,” have appeared just in July of this year alone. The 2012 handbook put together by the British Council, although situated in the U.K. context, contains applicable ideas about a wide range of continuing professional development activities, including conferences, groups, magazines, materials, membership, mentoring, observations, reflection, training, workshops, and so on.  Also, not a day goes by without mention on Twitter or Facebook of free or at-cost webinars, face-to-face workshops, or courses offered locally or across the globe. These sharings of highly practical tips about ways for practitioners to engage in professional self-development further highlight the need and importance of this aspect of our professional careers, no matter our career stage. Using social media such as Twitter, Google Hangouts, Facebook, webblogs, and the like to build PLNs (personal/professional/personalized learning networks), hold regular chats (common hashtags include #AusELT, #KELTChat, #ELTChat, #ELLChat) moderated and participated in by practitioners, and create teacher inquiry groups has also become a great means for practitioners to connect professionally in ways that transcend time and geographical boundaries.

Take one of the most commonly chosen PD activities—attending a free webinar. If you have attended one of these webinars in the last six months, let’s sit back a moment and take stock of what you have been doing PD-wise. Ask: To what extent did the content have an impact on your own day-to-day teaching practices? How transferable, with or without the facilitator’s help, have been those insights, whether from research or real-world teaching, to your own teaching contexts? As synthesized by Avalos (2011), at the core of PD “is the understanding that professional development is about teachers learning, learning how to learn, and transforming their knowledge into practice for the benefit of their students’ growth” (p. 10; emphasis mine).  The thing is, professional development, like anything worth pursuing in life, is personal and situated, complex and difficult to do well.

Rather than developing this piece as another article collecting a list of resources or ever-changing tools for PD (refer to the suggested open-access readings section for some recent coverage), I want instead to focus on a few personal reflections that have been percolating in my mind since they delve into the heart of issues about teachers’ professional self-development. In approaching my own professional development, I have asked myself: Do I have a PD plan that carefully considers what I get out of any PD activity in which I choose to participate? When I do decide to participate in a PD webinar or workshop, do I have a clear intent as to how the session will match my needs and, in turn, the follow-up action(s) I will need to take? Have I been able to sustain my PD endeavours consistently? If, like me, you have answered “no” to any one or all of these questions, then I invite you to read on.

1. What are the key modes of learning/PD in your plan? Help make your individualized plan more concrete with ingredients that meet your personal needs, career stage, and goals. Clearly, the multi-faceted, inter-related individual and contextual factors involved in PD mean that no single approach, method, or tool can determine what constitutes effective PD. Evaluate how each mode of learning helps you develop professionally, and be mindfully selective of tools that duplicate or serve the same or similar functions. Whether formal or informal, institution or teacher initiated, whether oriented to learning collaboratively or independently, each learning activity possesses affordances and constraints, and each takes place through different configurations of time, space, and people. What area of PD does the workshop attend to? Subject-matter knowledge related to English and language teaching? Pedagogical expertise? Self-awareness as a teacher? Understanding learners or curriculum and materials? Career advancement? (See Richards & Farrell, 2005, pp. 9-10; Farrell, 2014, pp. 18-19 for more.) The key is to figure out a combination of modes of learning or PD that will overcome relative constraints and create possibilities.

The following chart lists some examples:

Mode Function
Journal articles (e.g., ELT Journal, Language Teaching, and trade publications from professional associations) Discuss with colleagues or blog about how you can connect the readings with your own practice.
Social media Stay informed about free PD events, connect with other practitioners, and participate in ELT chats.
Attending/running PD events (online or in person) or professional gatherings Keep abreast of current issues and evidence-based best practices, connect with peers, and explore collaborative opportunities.
Engaging in practitioner research Empirically examine your own practices, share findings formally and/or informally.
Your turn

2. What do I hope to get out of a workshop I decide to attend? It’s important to attend workshops with a clear intent. Perhaps the most commonly chosen PD action is attending a one-time workshop, webinar, or conference to learn a new tool (or list of tools) or a new teaching method, but, as we all know well, impact beyond the session is often limited. Unless the tool or session is solving a specific problem that you can personally relate to in your teaching to make a difference to learner outcomes (Timperley, 2011), ownership of learning and subsumption and integration of what one has learned into one’s practical knowledge or teaching repertoire rarely occur. Upon reflection, is there one insight gained from attending the workshop that you could transfer to your own teaching and experiment with? If you are selecting from self-directed online workshops or courses, think about what you want to improve in your own classroom, and make a conscious effort to link what you are learning with practice through real-life experimenting that will help transform knowledge into practice. As Timperley (2011) put forward, for teachers to develop professionally requires a transformative, rather than an additive, change to teaching practice. Unlike teachers-in-training, for practicing professionals, Freeman’s questioning of how well a one-off workshop transfers still rings true more than two decades later: “Teaching is a social practice . . . where one cannot learn about it; one must learn through it” (Freeman, 1992, p. 16; emphasis mine). Individually and collectively working to examine our own practices, reflecting on outcomes, and articulating our experiences and learning to others can further provide the catalysis for transformative professional growth (Mezirow, 2000).

3. How do I sustain PD endeavours? Sustaining PD efforts is one of the greatest challenges in teachers’ professional self-development, especially while operating or competing against individual-, resource-, and context-related constraints. Look for inspiration within your unit and beyond by joining or forming professional learning networks tailored to your own needs or to shared needs and interests. PLNs are plentiful; the key is to find one where you feel a true sense of a community of learners (Rogoff, 1994), or a self-initiated, professional learning community with non-judgmental, shared support of each other’s professional development (Falk & Drayton, 2009; Kelly & Cherkowski, 2015) and where development is conceived “as transformation of participation rather than . . . either a product of transmission of knowledge from others or of acquisition or discovery of knowledge by oneself” (Rogoff, 1994, p. 209). Typically we board a bus because of where it is headed, but the path can often be unpredictable, and a change of direction can easily end a sense of belonging. If we get on a bus by first paying attention to who is on the bus, then the problem of fueling the bus to keep moving forward becomes less of an issue. Once you have carefully selected a network, take turns assuming a leadership role in your chosen network at the group, school, or association level, and find a framework for how and what the group wishes to develop in helping teachers come together to talk about and reflect on their work.

Taking the initiative to assume a leadership role in promoting a culture of professional inquiry will transform your own participation and empower you through empowering others. Many board members in our professional teaching associations are fine examples of practitioners who have taken on leadership roles to become agents of change. Within a professional learning community, one may draw on Reilly, Vartabedian, Felt, and Jenkins’s (2012) work about key principles that sustain a participatory culture: providing opportunities for (a) the exercise of creativity using a variety of tools, (b) co-learning where those involved pool their skills and knowledge, (c) heightened motivation and engagement through meaningful pedagogical experimentation, (d) learning that is deemed relevant to the interests of those involved, and (e) creation of a so-called “learning ecosystem”—that is, an “integrated learning system” that builds connections between home, school, community, and beyond (p. 5).

However one chooses to define “professional development” and what that entails (see Farrell, 2014), a teacher’s professional self-development becomes increasingly important at all stages of his or her teaching career. It’s a continuous and complex process, requiring the intellectual and emotional involvement of teachers both individually and collectively. Whichever mode(s) of learning teachers choose, depending on their needs and objectives, they must be willing to examine openly where they stand and actively pursue appropriate alternatives for change that are bound within a particular institutional culture that may or may not be conducive to learning. I echo Bessette’s statements that “the best professional development is participatory and connectivist,” and that it must be “driven by the needs and interests of those [participating] and allow for collaboration [among interactants] and beyond” (¶ 3). Whether you are at the receiving or giving end of a PD activity, an approach that is goal-oriented, purpose-driven, and people-centred will guide you through navigating the terrain of PD activities, resources, and tools available to you so that you can chart a course that suits your needs in any area or combination of PD areas, as first put forward by Richards and Farrell (2005).

What do you need to do, and to whom do you need to reach out to renew your PD endeavours? Do it now, and share your PD needs, discoveries, triumphs, and challenges here so that as members of our professional community, we can continue to energize one another and grow professionally.

References

Avalos, B. (2011). Teacher professional development in Teaching and Teacher Education over ten years. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27, 10-20.

Bessette, L. (2015, June 30). Arrested (professional) development [Blog post]. Retrieved from: http://learning.instructure.com/2015/06/arrested-professional-development/

Falk, J. K., & Drayton, B. (Eds.). (2009). Creating and sustaining online professional learning communities. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Farrell, T. S. C. (2014). Reflective practice in ESL teacher development groups: From practices to principles. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Freeman, D. (1992). Language teacher education, emerging discourse, and change in classroom practice. In J. Flowerdew, M. Brock, & S. Hsia (Eds.), Perspectives on language teacher education (pp. 1-21). Hong Kong: City Polytechnic of Hong Kong.

Kelley J., & Cherkowski, S. (2015). Collaboration, collegiality, and collective reflection: A case study of professional development for teachers. Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, 169. Retrieved from: https://www.umanitoba.ca/publications/cjeap/pdf_files/kelly_cherkowski.pdf

Mezirow, J. (2000). Learning as transformative: Critical perspectives on a theory in progress. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Reilly, E., Jenkins, H., Felt, L. J., & Vartabedian, V. (2012). Shall we PLAY? Los Angeles, CA: Annenberg Innovation Lab at University of Southern California.

Richards, J.C. & Farrell, T.S.C (2005). Professional development for language teachers. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Rogoff, B. (1994). Developing understanding of the idea of communities of learners. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 1(4), 209-229.

Timperley, H. (2011). Realizing the power of professional learning. New York, NY: Open University Press.

Suggested Open Access Readings on PD for ELT Professionals:

Breland, T. (2015, July 1). Do-it-yourself ELT professional development. TESOL Connections: Professional Development Special Issue, July 2015. Retrieved from http://newsmanager.commpartners.com/tesolc/issues/2015-07-01/2.html

Crowley, B. (2014, December 31). 3 steps for building a professional learning network. Education Week. Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2014/12/31/3-steps-for-building-a-professional-learning.html

Davidson, G., Dunlop, F., Soriano, D. H., Kennedy, L., & Phillips, T. (2012). Going forward: Continuing professional development for English language teachers in the UK. The British Council. Retrieved from http://englishagenda.britishcouncil.org/sites/ec/files/B413%20CPD%20for%20Teachers_v2_0.pdf

Haynes, J. (2015, July 2). 3 ways for teachers to use social networks for PD [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://blog.tesol.org/3-ways-for-teachers-to-use-social-networks-for-pd/

Haynes, J. (2015, July 16).  3 more ideas for PD on social networks [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://blog.tesol.org/3-more-ideas-for-pd-on-social-networks/

Pascucci, A. (2015, July 1). 5 easy steps for creating an online PLN. TESOL Connections. Retrieved from http://newsmanager.commpartners.com/tesolc/issues/2015-07-01/3.html

Wilden, S. (2012, Spring). What is your CPD plan? International House Journal. 32. Retrieved from http://ihjournal.com/what-is-your-cpd-plan-by-shaun-wilden

Biographical Information

From the Fall 2015 issue of the BC TEAL newsletter:  Dr. Li-Shih Huang is an Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics in the Department of Linguistics, and Learning and Teaching Scholar-in-Residence, Learning and Teaching Centre, University of Victoria.

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This article is licensed under a

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Original reference information:

Huang, L. (2015, Fall). Professional Self-Development for Teachers: Have a Plan, a Clear Intent, and a Way to Sustain. TEAL News. Retrieved from https://www.bcteal.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/BCTeal-Newsletter-Fall-2015-Final-2.pdf

 

 

#CdnELTchat Summary for April 7, 2020 (The Digital Divide: Equity and Access in Emergency Online Learning)

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The Digital Divide: Equity and Access in Emergency Online Learning
#CdnELTchat Summary for April 7, 2020
By Bonnie Nicholas

Teachers across Canada and around the world have been asked to pivot at short notice to online classes as the COVID-19 pandemic has changed teaching and learning for the foreseeable future. John Allan (mrpottz) recently hosted a couple of well-received Tutela webinars on on Coping with COVID-19 using online instruction and generously offered to follow up by guest moderating a #CdnELTchat on The Digital Divide: Equity and access in emergency online learning

All of us who have moved to emergency online teaching and learning know that not all students have the tools and resources to continue their learning online now that schools and other service-providing organizations have closed their physical spaces. This chat was an opportunity to begin the conversation around these important issues of equity and access. We’ve collected the tweets from the chat using Wakelet.

There were some common themes that emerged from the evening’s conversation:

  • We know that not all students have devices or reliable internet, and may be working in small shared spaces.
  • We need to be aware that students did not ask to be in an online class, and that there may be children in the room while parents are trying to learn.
  • Many students are accessing online course materials on the small screens of their smartphones; teachers need to be aware of this and check what course materials look like on a phone.
  • There is a need to advocate for equitable access to learning tools and resources, and to find alternate learning paths for students who are unable to participate in synchronous online classes.
  • Transitions classes could help students make the leap from face-to-face to online classes.
  • At this point, self-care and meeting the emotional needs of students are more important considerations than curriculum. 
  • We all need to lower our expectations as we work through this crisis. 

And some positive outcomes:

  • Teachers are working hard to improve their digital skills to be able to meet students’ needs in this new fully-online environment. 
  • Service-providing organisations have stepped up to support learners and teachers. 

These are the questions that guided our discussion. 

Q1: What percentage of your learners do not have access to appropriate internet and hardware? Is it affecting your instruction? 

Q2: What ways are you and your institution remedying this disparity? 

Q3: How can we ensure that our courses materials are accessible to all students? 

Q4: What distance learning strategies, activities, resources are you using to include and engage students with limited access to the internet? 

Q5: Are you altering your assessments to accommodate students without WiFi or devices?  How are you doing this?  

#CdnELTchat is a collaborative effort that we hope will lead to more reflective practice for all of us. Questions are collected in advance of each chat on Padlet, and then 5 or 6 are chosen for the hour-long chat. The Padlet, Questions and Topics for #CdnELTchat, is always open for comments. If you have any ideas for topics or have comments about #CdnELTchat, please send @StanzaSL, @BonnieJNicholas, @Jennifermchow, or @ELTAugusta a tweet. Please connect with the team if you are are interested in guest moderating a future #CdnELTchat. 

And in these challenging times, take care of yourself and your loved ones. Let’s stay connected with each other and support one another. Feel free to reach out and check in anytime with your colleagues in #CdnELTchat.

zAB6NaOy_400x400Bonnie Nicholas (@BonnieJNicholas) is an enthusiastic participant in the bi-monthly #CdnELTchat as well as a member of the #CdnELTchat team along with Svetlana Lupasco (@StanzaSL), Jennifer Chow (@jennifermchow), and Augusta Avram (@ELTAugusta). Bonnie teaches LINC at NorQuest College in Edmonton.

 

 

 

#CdnELTchat Summary for March 17, 2020 (Emergency Preparedness: Moving a F2F Class Online)

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Emergency Preparedness: Moving a F2F Class Online
#CdnELTchat Summary for March 17, 2020
By Bonnie Nicholas

In mid-March, with concern deepening about the coronavirus pandemic, the #CdnELTchat team decided to offer a special chat for instructors who were looking at being forced by these emerging circumstances to pivot to online teaching and learning. Most of us had very little time to prepare for this unexpected change. Almost overnight, new phrases like social distance and flattening the curve have entered our lexicon. Teachers and learners were suddenly looking at their Learning Management Systems (LMS) not as a useful addition to their classroom, but as their virtual (and only) classroom and meeting place for students. Thanks to Nancy Van Dorp (@NancyVanDorp) for stepping up and agreeing to bring her expertise in online and distance learning as our guest moderator. 

Thanks as well to all the participants for their openness in sharing their worries and their hopes. Many ELT professionals with experience in online and blended learning shared advice, resources, and tips for instructors who were new to remote learning. We’ve collected the tweets using Wakelet, so they’re easier to read if you’re not on Twitter: Emergency Preparedness: Moving a F2F Class Online. (There are over 350 tweets!) We’ve also created a resources list; this is an open, editable Google Doc, so please continue adding links to useful websites and resources: Resources for Emergency Preparedness: Moving a F2F Class Online

If there was an overarching theme to the discussion, it was this: 

  • Lower your expectations. We are all just trying to make the best of an emergent situation. We are not trying to create the perfect online class. We will make mistakes. Technology will fail. This adjustment will take time.

Other suggestions from experienced online instructors that emerged during the chat:

  • Start by making sure to maintain connections with your students.
  • Think of the learning curve for students as they prepare for online learning.
  • Use the tools and resources you have and that your students know how to use.
  • Think about access and accessibility; some ISPs may be offering free or increased data capabilities during this challenging time.
  • Keep it simple; now is not the time to try everything. 
  • Reconsider mandatory synchronous sessions; explore asynchronous options instead. 
  • Plan but be flexible; circumstances will change and plans will need to be adjusted.
  • Maintain a strong online teacher presence but set clear boundaries.
  • Practice good self-care: exercise, eat well, spend (virtual) time with family and friends.

These are the questions that guided our discussion: 

Q1: What are the primary things we have to think about in relation to our ELLs and moving a F2F class online?

Q2: How can I prepare myself and my students to teach/learn remotely on short notice?

Q3: What are some good ways to make remote learning accessible for our ELLs?

Q4: If I can do only one thing well in online teaching, what should it be?

Q5: I’m going to be using online teaching/learning tools for the first time. What do you recommend?

Q6: There is a massive amount of information here on Twitter and elsewhere about moving from F2F to online / remote / distance learning. What is the best advice for teachers who are new to this kind of teaching and learning?

#CdnELTchat is a collaborative effort on Twitter, with a goal of leading to more connected, reflective practice for everyone involved in English language teaching in Canada. Are you passionate about a topic in ELT? Interested in being a guest moderator? Contact one of the team members: Jennifer Chow (@jennifermchow), Augusta Avram (@ELTAugusta), Bonnie Nicholas (@BonnieJNicholas), or Svetlana Lupasco (@StanzaSL).

zAB6NaOy_400x400Bonnie Nicholas (@BonnieJNicholas) is an enthusiastic participant in the bi-monthly #CdnELTchat as well as a member of the #CdnELTchat team along with Svetlana Lupasco (@StanzaSL), Jennifer Chow (@jennifermchow), and Augusta Avram (@ELTAugusta). Bonnie teaches LINC at NorQuest College in Edmonton.

 

 

 

#CdnELTchat Summary for March 10, 2020 (Fake News? Misinformation and critical information literacy in #ELT)

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#CdnELTchat Summary for March 10, 2020
Fake News? Misinformation and critical information literacy in #ELT
Jennifer Chow

The mainstream media is not our only news source anymore. The way we consume information has changed. Many of our students get their news from Facebook, Twitter, WeChat, WhatsApp, YouTube news shows etc. On top of that, political leaders warn against trusting the mainstream media making it even more difficult to distinguish between real and fake news. With events such as the coronavirus outbreak, the result of misinformation or fake news can provoke serious consequences. What skills and tools do students need in order to evaluate the reliability of news sources? 

These are the questions that guided our discussion:

Q1: How important are information literacy skills to English language learners?
Q2: What skills do students need to become information literate?
Q3: How can we embed information literacy skills into the curriculum?
Q4: Many students get their news information from sources in their L1. How can we teach them information literacy skills that transcend language? 

You can read all the tweets from the chat on Wakelet, Fake News? Misinformation and critical information literacy in #ELT. I highly recommend reading the tweets because there were a number of useful resources that were shared. Thank-you to everyone who participated and shared resources. 

Here are some of the key takeaways from the chat:

  • critical thinking is in the Essential Skills framework and is a key part of information literacy
  • information literacy skills are required for full participation as an active citizen
  • it’s a skill for everyone, not just ELLs, but some key indicators might be harder for them
  • better information practices lead to better immigrant settlement outcomes
  • teach students how to use a tool like the CRAAP test (Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose) to evaluate sources as a starting point
  • help students look at the design, spelling, grammar, bias, motivation etc.
  • critical information literacy could be embedded in the curriculum, but it could also be an explicit unit and then tied in to any theme/topic 
  • the fundamental information literacy skills are language independent 
  • humour and satire can also be used to teach information literacy in a way that transcends language

We encourage everyone to continue the conversation using the hashtag #CdnELTchat. Here are all the great questions that we didn’t have time to discuss during the live one-hour chat: 

Misinformation Extra Questions

#CdnELTchat is a collaborative effort that we hope will lead to more reflective practice for all of us involved in ELT. If you have any ideas for topics or have comments about #CdnELTchat, please send @StanzaSL, @BonnieJNicholas, @Jennifermchow, or @ELTAugusta a tweet. We are also looking for guest moderators who are interested in leading a future #CdnELTchat. Send us a message with a topic of interest. 

Our Padlet, Questions and Topics for #CdnELTchat, is always open for sharing questions, ideas, and resources. We create our promo images using Canva and collect the tweets using Wakelet

Jen Bio PicJennifer is passionate about learning how technology can empower her students. After experiencing how technology enabled her to stay connected as an educator, a parent and an active citizen, she is motivated to find the same opportunities for her students. Twitter: @jennifermchow

 

#CdnELTchat Summary for February 25, 2020 (Practical Gamification in the Classroom)

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#CdnELTchat Summary for February 25, 2020
Practical Gamification in the Classroom
Jennifer Chow

Recently, I downloaded a fitness app that tracks my steps, gives me encouragement when I reach my daily goal, rewards me with badges for reaching milestones, and challenges me to beat other participants in my group. Gamifying exercise motivated me to be more active and reach my fitness goals. I was excited to learn how I could do something similar in my classroom.

On February 25, Cindy Leibel (@CindyLeibel) joined us to talk about Practical Gamification in the Classroom. Cindy has been exploring gamification and how to use it effectively in an ELT context since she started teaching EAL over 11 years ago. Thank-you, Cindy, for sharing your gamification expertise with #CdnELTchat! 

These are the questions that guided our discussion:

Q1: What does gamification mean?
Q2: What are the benefits of gamification?
Q3: What are the challenges of gamifying? How do we change perceptions that learning shouldn’t be gamified?
Q4: What are elements of gamification that I can easily apply in my classroom?
Q5: What guidelines should we follow to gamify learning in the ELT classroom?
Q6: How can you assess if your gamification is working? 

You can read all the tweets from the chat on Wakelet, Practical Gamification in the Classroom

Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • Gamification can mean making minor tweaks to an activity by using the mechanics that make games engaging. It doesn’t require a radical transformation in the way you teach. 
  • Use research by game developers who know how to motivate players to complete “boring” tasks and apply these principles to our lessons. 
  • We can introduce some of the more engaging elements of gamification into our teaching without making a big announcement, and just gauge learners’ responses.
  • Elements of gamification that we can easily apply in our classrooms include providing choice, making social rules, adding a chance element, providing time constraints, restrictions and scarcity, rewarding achievements, and using challenge to modulate flow. 
  • Guidelines to consider include increasing one mechanic at a time, using elements that appeal to your teaching style, creating a safe environment, and embedding reflection and self-assessment.
  • Ways to assess gamification include evaluation of learning outcomes, assessing student immersion in the task, and gathering student feedback. 

We encourage everyone to continue the conversation using the hashtag #CdnELTchat. Here are all the great questions that we didn’t have time to discuss during the live one-hour chat: 

Gamification questions

#CdnELTchat is a collaborative effort that we hope will lead to more reflective practice for all of us involved in ELT. If you have any ideas for topics or have comments about #CdnELTchat, please send @StanzaSL, @BonnieJNicholas, @Jennifermchow, or @ELTAugusta a tweet. We are also looking for guest moderators who are interested in leading a future #CdnELTchat. Send us a message with a topic of interest. 

Our Padlet, Questions and Topics for #CdnELTchat, is always open for sharing questions, ideas, and resources. We create our promo images using Canva and collect the tweets using Wakelet

 

Jen Bio PicJennifer is passionate about learning how technology can empower her students. After experiencing how technology enabled her to stay connected as an educator, a parent and an active citizen, she is motivated to find the same opportunities for her students. Twitter: @jennifermchow

 

#CdnELTchat Summary for February 11, 2020 (Ways to Bring Aboriginal Perspectives into the Classroom)

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#CdnELTchat Summary for February 11, 2020
Ways to Bring Aboriginal Perspectives into the Classroom
by Bonnie Nicholas

On February 11, #CdnELTchat community gathered on Twitter to talk about Ways to bring Aboriginal Perspectives into the Classroom. Sharon Jarvis (@romans1v17) was the guest moderator and shared her perspective as a Metis educator. In her words: “Sharon is a Métis from Mânatow Sakahikanihk (Spirit Lake in Nehiyaw- Lac St. Anne) who has been an educator for over 15 years. She has a MEd from UBC with three concentrations. Her work mainly focuses on an Indigenous framework that emerged while completing her graduating paper: wâhkôhtowin (all my relations), otipemisiwak (selves governing) and ekichinantak (respectfulness) (2017; 2018; 2019).”

These are the questions we discussed:

Q1: As non-indigenous people working in #ELT, how can we bring an authentic Indigenous perspective into our classes, without appropriation or presuming to speak for Indigenous people? 

Q2: Are there specific themes or topics that could be introduced at each level in settlement language classes? 

Q3: What resources are available for instructors in ELT? 

Q4: What are the First People’s Principles of Learning, and how can we use these in our teaching?

Q5: How important is it that international students and those studying in #EAP programs learn about Indigenous history in Canada?

The tweets from this conversation are collected here using Wakelet, Ways to bring Aboriginal Perspectives into the Classroom. Here are some key takeaways from the chat:

  • Know on whose land we reside: nativeland.ca
  • Consider incorporating First Peoples Principles of Learning in our teaching.
  • Choose reputable resources; be aware of representation and misrepresentation. 
  • Remember that bringing Aboriginal perspectives into our classrooms is about social justice and reconciliation.
  • Some specific topics recommended by Sharon include “loss of identity and affirmation of identity, tradition, healing, role of family, importance of Elders, connection to the land, the nature and place of spirituality as an aspect of wisdom, the relationships between individual and community, the importance of oral tradition, the experience of colonization and decolonization.”

Thanks to Sharon and our participants for sharing so many useful resources. These have been collected these in a Google Doc, Resources for Indigenous Education in ELT; there are resources for exploring many of the specific topics listed above. 

#CdnELTchat is a collaborative effort that we hope will lead to more reflective practice for all of us involved in ELT. If you have any ideas for topics or have comments about #CdnELTchat, please send @StanzaSL, @BonnieJNicholas, @Jennifermchow, or @ELTAugusta a tweet. We are also looking for guest moderators who are interested in leading a future #CdnELTchat. Send us a message with a topic of interest. 

Our Padlet, Questions and Topics for #CdnELTchat, is always open for sharing questions, ideas, and resources. We create our promo images using Canva and collect the tweets using Wakelet

zAB6NaOy_400x400Bonnie Nicholas (@BonnieJNicholas) is an enthusiastic participant in the bi-monthly #CdnELTchat as well as a member of the #CdnELTchat team along with Svetlana Lupasco (@StanzaSL), Jennifer Chow (@jennifermchow), and Augusta Avram (@ELTAugusta). Bonnie teaches LINC at NorQuest College in Edmonton.

 

 

 

#CdnELTchat Summary for January 28, 2020 (Authentic Listening Materials)

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#CdnELTchat Summary for January 28, 2020
Authentic Listening Materials
Jennifer Chow

Happy 75th to #CdnELTchat! When Nathan Hall (@nathanghall) and Svetlana Lupasco (@StanzaSL) started #CdnELTchat (also known as #LINCchat) in 2015, I taught evenings as a LINC instructor, and I had been feeling a bit isolated at the time. #CdnELTchat gave me a chance to connect with other Canadian ELT educators. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to be a part of the #CdnELTchat team and community of practice. 

I would like to echo my gratitude to #CdnELTchat enthusiasts by quoting Claudie’s (@thespreadingoak) tweet, “Thanks ALL the dedicated generous participants who made this a viable authentic place 2 share EAL/ELT/ESL knowhow, enhance practice, give moral support.Onward and upward.”

If you are interested, take a look at the topics #CdnELTchat has covered in the previous 75 chats: #CdnELTchat Topics (2015 to present). What topics are you interested in discussing for the next 75 chats? Help us out by sharing your ideas on our Padlet: Questions and Comments for future #CdnELTchats

We were fortunate to have Nathan Hall (@nathanghall) join us for the 75th edition of #CdnELTchat to talk about Authentic Listening Materials. Nathan is an EAP instructor and teacher trainer at Douglas College (@douglascollege). Visit his fantastic website (https://nathanghall.wordpress.com) for a variety of resources and ideas. Nathan started the discussion by sharing Morrow’s definition of an authentic text: “a stretch of real language, produced by a real speaker or writer for a real audience and designed to carry a real message of some sort.” (Morrow, 1977). 

Here are the questions we used to guide our discussion:

Q1: What are the advantages of using authentic listening materials? #CdnELTchat

Q2: What guidelines should we follow when we choose authentic listening materials to use with our class? For example, what should the optimal length be for an authentic audio or video clip at different proficiency levels? #CdnELTchat

Q3: What kind of tasks work well with authentic listening materials?  #CdnELTchat

Q4: How can we use authentic listening materials for assessment? #CdnELTchat

Q5: What specific listening strategies should we teach students before we use authentic listening materials?  #CdnELTchat

It was a busy chat with participants from across Canada and beyond sharing almost 200 tweets. You can read all the tweets from the chat on Wakelet, but here are some highlights from the discussion:

  • Advantages to using authentic materials: exposure to messy language that learners will encounter in their lives including reductions, connected speech, different voices and accents, natural interruptions, unfinished thoughts etc., reinforcement that language is for real communication
  • When using authentic listening materials, the length and complexity depends on the task. Longer listening texts can be used for tasks such as getting the gist or familiarizing students to the rhythm and flow of English. Shorter listening texts are better for bottom-up tasks. Scaffolding is needed to build confidence. Another option might be to slow down the audio and provide learners with options.
  • Suggested tasks for authentic listening materials: decoding natural streams of speech and connecting that to pronunciation, recognizing turn-taking signals, interruptions, and functional language, following recipes, reacting to and applying what you hear; for EAP – note-taking, summarizing, and synthesizing, comparing how media platforms report the same news story
  • Suggested ways to use authentic listening materials for assessment: note-taking tasks and group discussion on main points, assessing summarization skills over a period of time, assessing based on the type of listening, assessing specific skills/strategies (inferring from tone, inferring intent, summarizing, selective attention), avoiding summative testing and focusing on progression, observation of student ability instead of formal assessments
  • Suggested listening strategies: exposure to certain types of skills with guided questions, strategies that help them cope with anxiety, strategies to help determine essential information, noticing tone of voice and speech patterns, recognizing purpose

We encourage everyone to continue the conversation using the hashtag #CdnELTchat. Here are all the great questions that we didn’t have time to discuss during the live one-hour chat: 

Jan 28 extra questions

Jen Bio PicJennifer is passionate about learning how technology can empower her students. After experiencing how technology enabled her to stay connected as an educator, a parent and an active citizen, she is motivated to find the same opportunities for her students. Twitter: @jennifermchow