Post Delta module two

Language Leader

I know I have been writing randomly, and I am not a regular writer on my blog. But, I have decided to become a regular one. One post per week. I will use this space to reflect on my teaching practices after doing Delta module two.

After doing Delta module two. I felt that I have changed and become a new enlightened teacher. I am not sure how to keep this. I want to keep this improvement and improve myself more. I thought of posting reflections on my current practices and what I do in the class.


I was tutoring on the present simple verb to be and the student had a good knowledge about the rule. So, I started with giving her written exercises on verb to be to measure her abilities and then explain what  she does not understand.

Then, I wanted to give her question forms using verb to be (am I, is s/he…? etc..). So, I used a situation she was narrating before we start the class about the difficulty of her job. I asked her to use verb to be in questioning this situation, for example what she does with her subordinates, their attitudes towards her, etc.. At the beginning, she did not understand, but then she started to give examples from her job about them. She said ‘am I right in asking them to do…? Are they correct in asking for more money?… I am not sure what the best approach to teach verb to be in one-to-one classes.

What I improved on in my Delta is creating a context and integrating communicative purpose for the class. However, I could not do that with her.

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Then, another student joined in the next class. I taught them some vocabulary and after some time  I thought that this boring to give her random vocabulary without a text or integrating these words. So, I increased the situation worse by asking her to put them in a dialogue. While I was saying this to her, I knew that this is not educationally appropriate because I did not give them a function to use. So, they have some vocabulary and they have to use in a dialogue.

I think what I need to improve on this part is finding activities suitable for two students. Maybe I could have asked them to match their definitions first and then ….. I do not know…. I was just giving them random vocabulary on places in a city. This was the topic of the unit.

Actually, I have not prepared for this class. I depended that I taught this class several times and I know the content, however, it’s different to tutor!

BTW: I am using Language Leader by Longman 


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The First Reading

I read the first 18 pages of the assigned article: Teaching Listening and Speaking, From Theory to Practice for J. Richards. It is a real interesting article and it explains a lot about teaching listening, the part I read.I know that I have to give students background about what they should expect in the listening and provide them with certain tasks that they should do before, while, or after listening. I have always thought a lot about teaching listening and I think that most of the techniques that many teachers do especially in second language contexts is for answering questions and academic learning. We do not teach students how to ‘acquire’ language, we teach them how to ‘learn’ it. ‘Learning’ has to do with answering questions and getting them correct. However, ‘acquiring’ means using the language in many contexts. For me, as a second language teacher I find difficulty when I need to design activities for students to use  what they learn in the class in natural contexts. The article has given me some ideas that I would use in my classes.

I think the most important concept I got out of this article is processing  listening can be bottom- up and can be up-bottom.

The bottom-up is: understanding the words in that utterance to understand the meaning, dividing the words in chunks. This depends on the learners’ lexical and grammatical competence.


“I drove yesterday to buy some flowers to my sick friend, but I found the flower shop closed. So, I bought some a nice box of chocolate. ”

Understanding this sentence would just require the learner to have some background about grammar and vocabulary.

However, top-bottom depends on the background of that the listener has on the words mentioned in the context.

For example:  Some African countries have famine and droughts.

The listener has to understand the meaning first of famine and droughts to ask questions following that sentence, such as which countries and so on.

New online course

I am starting a new online course as part of the continual development for Access teachers. This course to help Access teachers in teaching listening and speaking  for students. I have many online classmates. They are from India and many countries. Our facilitator is from the U.S. I think I am going to enjoy this course. I’ll start the course by reading this article. J. Richards. Will read and update you on how I find this article.

Final project2

Finally I can say my mid-term vacation has just started!  I finished my project which was a Wiki about ESL. I chose this field because I  am an ESL teacher.I’ll divide this post into lessons learned from doing the wiki and plans for the future.

Lessons Learned:

Difficulties Faced:

1- Finding material to meet my needs

2- Finding Creative Commons pictures

3- Doing many things at the same time; reading books for the Wiki,  posting blog posts,  finalizing my proposal for my project of my masters, and of course my work.

4- The desire to create a good product

How did I get over the difficulties?

1- I tweeted my problems and my twitter network supported me, Jamie and Linda are wonderful classmates as they have supported me in my final project especially Linda.

2- I learned that to use pictures, I should have a permission to use them on my Wiki. Thus, I only used Creative Commons pictures.

3- I read books and articles to get the material

4- I followed many tweets to include in my Wiki

Future Plans:

This Wiki is just a start for me as a professional supporter for English teachers and learners. This is not the end. It might be the end of this term ECI831, but I think many of my colleagues will carry on what we learned in this class. We will “pay it forward”. My Wiki is my way to pay it forward to all those who did not have the chance to take such a course. I know this is a very laborious task, however, I am ready to do it because I have an aim and I really want to do this… as I said before I want English teachers to find most of what they need on my page. I would be proud to be this resourceful person who can help others when they are in need. I will carry on and do what I have to do because the things I know now should be spread to others.

Thanks to you all,

Thanks to all my colleagues and finally you Dr. Couros

Note:  I’ll still be your Egyptian distant student 🙂

pay it forward3

One of the good sessions I had was that of my instructor Dr. Alec Couros of Open and Networked Learning. In that session, I felt the importance of open education.

Open education means: Education sans boundaries, limitless education where I can breathe, look and wander freely without trespassing others because there are no limits. I know this is hard, but this is education for me.

While I was doing my Wiki page, I was struck by the fact  that I have either to take permission from the sites I use their images or use Creative Commons images only. Of course I could not do the first one because that will take much time and will be repeated for every picture. The only solution is to go Creative Commons. The problem is Creative Commons pictures are not that diverse and they do not have all the themes.

I started to use Toondoo, it’s a nice website where I can draw my own images, but…..

Sorry for digression, the challenges that Dr. Couros  pointed out during his session were:

Learning in an open education environment obligates its users to learn the tools of certain medium which are now ; Internet applications. It also necessitates to have a computer with good specs. A contributer in an open education environment should be competent in using English because most education resources are in English. Thus, those who are not competent have no chance in  open education …. what a dilemma…

As for Networked learning, the optimum example for that is Youtube. This superb sharing video website taught me many things.  I always use YouTube to search for classroom material. It even taught me how to do a movie maker video for my final presentation.

Another great session was that of Dean Shareski. In that session I learned the term of digital identity. I literally cannot forget that session because I kept dreaming about my digital identity and that I should have a digital domain. Everything we put online is just public, no matter how much security we put around this information. There are no boundaries in terms of online environment. Anyone can reach anything in any place at any time.  Increasing number of emplyers search for their employees on social networks. It seems that social networks get the worst of us! We usually put pictures or comments for fun unknowing that this might be used against us someday…

This is a good video about digital identity

Pay it forward2

The session with Zoe Branigan-Pipe was one of the inspiring sessions. She  was trying various things to motivate her students ranging from based learning environment to constructivist approach. However, she and her students ended up bored.  She was so occupied with many attempts to engage her students. She used technology to engage them. She connected with other educators in many regions.

What she brings here is that she thinks out of the box and does not follow the “usual” way and this is great. We need more teachers to think how they can use technological tools to help keep their classes on their toes!

It’s a challenge to explain for parents some of the technological tools we use in our classroom and it’s not dangerous to use. It’s stressing sometimes to ask for parental permission to do a certain activity like using Facebook to set up a page about a topic. It’s not as easy as it seems to use 2.0 tools in classrooms.

It happened to me last Thursday especially when I teach phonology, students just got bored because it’s  full of rules. I really do not know how to get students into this excitement zone when I explain this because it ends up in the same choir practice! These are definitely one of my frustration moments because I cannot get students to be interested.

Teaching is a laborious task and teachers have to keep up with students and how to engage them.

When I think about that I find it very challenging to me to use technology in assignments or even in classroom. I tried to make students set a blog to correct their paragraphs online, but they did not. One of them did not have Internet at home so I could not ask that assignment from all students. The culture of online activities and using Internet to do assignments is not popular in Egypt. I want to apply what I took in this class, but I am hand cuffed.

Students should have a call in their learning process. I always do this when I try any new activity with my students. I ask them for feedback. Did you like this activity? a simple question…

I was doing this idioms exercise the other day and I wanted students to guess the right meaning of the one they have in front of them. One of them said spontaneously that it would be easier if we have a situation. She was absolutely right. I was challenged at that moment because after the activity I wanted them to use these idioms in situations and they could not! So, using situations would have been easier for students to fully grasp the meaning of the idiom.

Lessons I have learned:

1- Lessons can be changed according to students needs

2- Teachers have to be open and accept some criticism

3-  It’s the creativity of teachers that attract students

4- Feedback from students is important to improve  teaching methods

5- Constant search and learning makes a wonderful teacher

Pay it forward1

Couple of days ago while I was thinking about my project, I thought I want this wiki to help teachers around the world because I am amazed by the amount of teachers who help others on Twitter. I now have this spirit of sharing ( I had this before of course :). However, it’s now itching. I want to share what I have of information with everyone to learn. I think this is because Dr. Couros usage of sharing quotes:)

I have been thinking in what Dr. Couros did in the course, he got ones of the best educators  to contribute in our experience. The dedication and collaboration  they showed surprised me because they are people who believe in something. They believe in the power of education and we can change and improve.

Yes, we can do it! We are going to pay it forward to our students and colleagues. The course may be over, but our journey is not over.

We have learned how to use Twitter. I had an account on Twitter which I have never considered as a means of development, but here comes the day I am using Twitter and Tweetdeck.  I learned that Personal Learning Environments  are not what they called “personal”. It’s about sharing.  I find this class is an eye-opening experience because when I think about the tools I learned I find they where just in front of me and I did not use them such as delicious.

One of the most inspiring sessions we had is that of Sheryl Nussbaum. I adore the questions she posed in the session. She challenged us in integrating what we learn in our communities and asked very difficult questions many of them I have not thought of before.

The questions that I like and I can answer after this course are:

1- How does it mean to be a connected learner?

It’s a liberating experience to be connected to be working with others regardless of time, place, language, etc… It’s that language that gathers us all ( improvement). When I talk with my coworkers I feel the difference between what I have and what they have. I do not mean underestimating what they have, but everyday I grow with what I have. I just know more.  I am able to benefit students more in many aspects they want to learn about.

2- Definition of a community: it’s a place where I share and feel that my contributions are taken into consideration. It’s a place where I benefit from others’ expertise.

3-  What makes a healthy community?

A healthy community is  place where I move from a  consumer into a contributer. I see myself as a person who developed throughout this class. This is the first time to do a blog and I used to escape from that by writing papers, but having no option except doing that I had to explore it and just write…

I think that my posts developed throughout the whole class because I was getting feedback both fom my instructor and my classmates. I consider myself a contributer in my classes with my students because I am encoursging them to do what I am doing.