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20 Tips to Develop Thinking in the Classroom

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If you want to increase your effectiveness at teaching, the first thing you should do is to encourage your students to think, and then develop their thinking skills. Here, I would like to share with you some actions to do in the classroom to encourage students’ thinking and develop their thinking skills.

  1. Act the role of a facilitator or a guide not a lecturer or a preacher.
  2. Show enthusiasm for challenges and complex tasks that require students to think.
  3. Present your lessons in a logical and organized sequence.
  4. Use the kind of language that invites students to think (e.g. compare, classify, predict, suppose that, etc)
  5. Ask open-ended questions, wh-questions, why do you think so?, what if? and other kinds of questions of higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy that require students to think.
  6. Create problematic situations and encourage students to find creative solutions for them.
  7. Encourage students to ask and answer each other’s questions that provoke thinking.
  8. Encourage students to apply their past knowledge and experience to new situations.
  9. Move around the class and encourage students’ mobility.
  10. Encourage students to interact and cooperate in doing certain projects.
  11. Organize your class in various and different ways for different activities (e.g. pairs, groups, individuals and whole class)
  12. Value thinking and show creative works of students around the class.
  13. Use a variety of visual media to facilitate learning and encourage thinking (e.g. charts, wall sheets, videos, maps, pictures, flash cards, body language, etc)
  14. Encourage students to respond in any way without fearing of making mistakes and give supportive comments on incorrect responses.
  15. Create various and different evaluation activities.
  16. Always ask students to clarify and justify their answers.
  17. Always ask for alternatives or different points of view.
  18. Ask students to expand their answers adding more points.
  19. Encourage students to reflect on their thoughts or points of view.
  20. Ask students for clear and realistic ideas and asking about how to apply them to everyday life.

Hard but not impossible

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Learning a new language is not easy. It is hard for adults and busy people to learn a new language that sounds differently from their mother tongue and that they don’t use outside the classroom.

It is really hard, but not impossible. Recent studies suggest that you can get better at a foreign language simply by listening to it, without speaking it yourself.

In other words, if you listen regularly to podcasts in the language you’re trying to learn, you will learn it at the end.

One hour listening practice a day following with some simple tasks is a good start to improve your listening comprehension and increase your ability to distinguish sounds.

Also, it is recommended to watch TV shows or short video clips and read material written in the language you are learning.

The goal is to be surrounded by the target language at all times and immerse yourself in it. Still, you should be both passive and active when you learn a foreign language, that is to listen and speak, read and write. In other words you should receive and produce something in the language you are learning EVERY DAY.

 

Understanding Your Low-Achiever Students

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Who is the low-achiever student?

If the student doesn’t or achieves to a low extent the required objectives at the end of the lesson, unit or course, it is important to recognize and identify him/her as a low achiever. In this case, a remedial plan should be designed to allow him/her to learn the required knowledge and skills to achieve the established objectives.

Why are some students low achievers?

Some students are low achievers due to different and various reasons. Some of them are as follows:

  1. Perhaps the content is too difficult or the students must learn a large amount of it in a short time.
  2. Maybe there was no time for practice, revision or recycling the previous content.
  3. The students may use wrong or poor learning strategies or study habits when learning or studying their lessons.
  4. The students may suffer from stress, depression, physical illness or learning disability.
  5. The attitude of the students towards education may be negative. They may lack motivation to learn and study.
  6. The reasons may relate to the teachers and teaching. Teachers may be unclear concerning to the objectives their students should achieve. Teachers may use poor or inappropriate teaching or assessment techniques. Feedback and assistance that must be provided to low achievers may be totally absent or provided too late.

How to assist students to prevent their failure and ensure their achievement of objectives?

  1. Set the objectives that should be achieved at the end of learning sessions and prepare how to assess their achievement. Objectives should be SMART (specific, measurable, acceptable, realistic and timed) and be informed to the students orally at the beginning of each learning session.
  2. Diagnose the difficulties as soon as possible or anticipate them and prepare how to deal with and react to them.
  3. Observe the students and provide them with immediate feedback concerning to their points of weakness.
  4. Prepare some procedures the students should follow or design and implement a remedial plan to remedy your students’ points of weakness.
  5. Consult and get advice as early as possible from your colleagues, supervisor, psychological and social specialist regarding to learning issues of your students.

What to do if unable to prevent failure or remedy weakness?

  1. Never give a passing mark to the learner who doesn’t deserve it.
  2. Make professional judgments about your students’ performance.
  3. Document your judgments and let the school principal and parents be aware of them.
  4. Don’t feel “bad”. Failure in a course can be a signal for students to re-consider their choices of the kind of learning or specialization or at least it will mean that, unless they work hard, they won’t pass.

Seven Tips for Teachers to Help Low-Achiever Learners

low achiever

1. Know well who low-achiever learners are. They are learners who usually:

* lack basic knowledge or skills.

* have difficulty in comprehension.

* lack concentration.

* confuse easily in the classroom.

2. Change your attitudes towards them.

3. Give them clear, step by step instructions.

4. Be ready to give them extra help or explanation.

5. Motivate them all the time using all possible ways.

6. Be aware of their learning or studying habits and try to improve them.

7. Know their leaning styles and adapt your teaching to them.

 

20 Tips to Foster Motivation in Your Students

motivate ur students

1. Create a supportive environment where students are respected and feel a sense of belonging.

2. Believe in the ability of each student to learn.

3. Set up clear classroom rules from the very beginning and appreciate who follow them.

4. Be aware of the strengths of each student and focus on them not on their weaknesses.

5. Use your students’ interests, talents and goals to encourage them to learn.

6. Maintain disciplined, organized and calm classroom to increase your students’ concentration.

7. Vary your teaching methods and make the lessons interesting and enjoyable.

8. Adapt your lessons to your students life and needs.

9. Let students be aware of the objectives of each lesson so that they can realize the feeling of achievement.

10. Teach your students how to prepare and study their lessons, help them acquire good study habits at home.

11. Always provide positive feedback. Never embarrass or ridicule a student.

12. Assign homework that is specific and clearly related to the objectives of each lesson.

13. Emphasize cooperation rather than competition; support pair work and group work to create opportunities for students to help each other.

14. Teach students how to find solutions to the problems they may face.

15. Avoid practices or exercises that can cause frustration, instead adapt them to students’ level.

16. Provide rewards for unusual effort and success.

17. Establish a close relationship with students’ parents to assist their children in forming good habits at home so that they will be ready to learn at school.

18. Give your students the chance to lead a classroom activity.

19. Treat each student fairly, show no favoritism.

20. Discover your strengths, learn from mistakes and concentrate on doing your best.

Learning Strategies & Learning Styles

strategies and stylesLearning strategies vs. learning styles:

* Broadly speaking, learning styles can be defined as general approaches to language learning, while learning strategies are specific ways learners choose to cope with language tasks in particular contexts.

* Learning strategies are the ways in which students learn, remember information and study for tests. They refer to the actions and behaviors students use to learn but learning styles refer to the general approaches that students use in acquiring a new language or in learning any other subject.

* The strategies a student uses to learn depend greatly on his/her own learning style.

Learning styles:

Each student has his/her own style of learning. As a result we have different students with different learning styles inside the classroom as shown below:

1. Visual or spatial learners:
They need to see things to fully understand them. They learn best from visual objects such as diagrams, charts, etc. They prefer to write things down.

2. Auditory or musical learners:
They learn mainly through listening so they learn best through discussions and talking. They benefit most from reading texts aloud and using a tape recorder.

3. Physical or kinesthetic or tactile learners:
They learn through using their body, hands and sense of touch. They tend to use their muscles so they can be used well in playing, tidying, cleaning the board, collecting activity books, etc. They learn best through using their hands making things, fitting things together or taking them apart so hands-on activities are ideal to help those students learn best.

4. Social or interpersonal learners:
They prefer to learn in groups or with other people. They have the ability to understand others’ feelings and intentions.

5. Solitary or intrapersonal learners:
They prefer to work alone and use self-study. They have the ability to understand well their feelings, strengths and weaknesses. They tend to write personal diary, achieve independent projects, discuss feelings about certain topics, express likes and dislikes, etc.

6. Verbal or linguistic learners:
They prefer using words, both in speech and writing.

7. Logical or mathematical:
They prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.

Learning strategies:

Many students use learning strategies automatically without any awareness of them. The role of teachers here is to:

* recognize their students’ learning strategies,

* make them explicit to students, bring them to their attention and talk about them.

* encourage students to use them in the classroom

* make them more effective to the learning process,

* base teaching process and techniques on these strategies.

Students use the following learning strategies most often when learning a language:

1. Cognitive strategies which enable the learner to manipulate the language material in direct ways, e.g. through reasoning, analysis, note-taking, and synthesizing

2. Metacognitive strategies which are used to manage the learning process overall, e.g. identifying preferences and the need for planning, monitoring mistakes, and evaluating task success.

3. Memory-related strategies which help learners link one item or concept with another but do not necessarily involve deep understanding, e.g. using acronyms, sound similarities, images, key words.

4. Compensatory strategies which help make up for missing knowledge, e.g. using gestures, miming or guessing the meaning from the context.

5. Affective strategies which help learners manage their emotions, such as identifying one’s mood and anxiety level, talking about feelings, rewarding oneself, and using deep breathing or positive self-talk.

6. Social strategies which enable the learner to learn via interaction with others and understand the target culture, e.g. asking questions, asking for clarification, asking for conversation help, talking with a native-speaking partner, and exploring cultural and social norms.

To be able to use the suitable strategies for you, you should know first your learning style BUT What is your learning style? Click and take a few minutes to do a quiz to be aware of your learning style.

Accuracy and Fluency Activities

fluency vs accuracy

When we focus on accuracy activities we:
* focus on forming correct examples of language use.
* produce language in a controlled way.
* deal with grammar explicitly.
* insist on receiving grammatically correct and complete sentences.
* practice language out of context.
* practice small samples of language.
* do not require authentic communication.

When we focus on fluency activities we:
* reflect natural language use
* deal with grammar implicitly.
* encourage free production of the language.
* reflect automatic performance.
* produce language that is not always predictable.
* require the use of improvising, paraphrasing, repair and reorganization.
* require real communication.

The focus on fluency activities would help learners develop communicative skills but those activities do nothing with linguistic competence. In other words the use of authentic communication particularly in the early stages of learning would help students often develop fluency at the expense of accuracy resulting in learners with good communication skills but a poor command of grammar.

To solve this problem the teacher should do the following during fluency activities:
1. get the learners’ attention to the presence of a linguistic feature in the input.
2. treat with grammatical features explicitly but within context.
3. focus on form but within task-based activities.
4. use various activities that develop the learners’ communicative skills and increase their attention to linguistic forms as well.

Ten Abilities & Skills Primary Teachers of English Need to Have & Develop

primary teachers

1. Understanding and deal well with young learners knowing well their characteristics.

2. Understanding the process of teaching and learning with young learners and overcoming any challenge that may occur sometimes.

3. Creating a relax atmosphere in the classroom and a friendly relationship with the young learners.

4. Speaking English fluently with the correct pronunciation.

5. Creating various & interesting activities and suitable learning environment to get their attention all the time.

6. Selecting & using well the most suitable teaching methods & materials for young learners.

7. Designing suitable assessment tools for young learners and following the right procedures to evaluate them during the language lesson.

8. Encourage, praising and giving a hand to low achievers of young learners.

9. Creating and implementing a remedial programme to raise the level of low achievers.

10. Being an actor, a story-teller, caretaker, mentor to achieve learning objectives with fun.

What else do you think primary teachers of English need to have & develop?

19 Tips to Develop Your Students’ Creativity

grow creativity

1. Model creativity:

Don’t tell students to be creative but show them how to be so.

2. Build the feeling of achievement:

Help students believe in their own ability to be creative. Give them the opportunity to experience making something new. Don’t put limits on their potential accomplishments.

3. Encourage questioning:

Make questioning a part of the daily classroom exchange. It is more important for students to learn what questions to ask and how to ask them than to learn the answers. Discourage the idea that only you ask questions and simply get the answers from them. We need to encourage students to ask first and then teach them how to ask the right questions (good, thought-provoking and interesting ones)

4. Encourage defining and solving problems:

Promote creative performance by encouraging your students to define and redefine problems and projects. Encourage creative thinking by having students choose their own topics for papers or presentations. Choose their own ways of solving problems.

5. Encourage generating ideas:

Once the problem is defined or redefined, it is time for students to generate ideas and solutions. The environment for generating ideas must be relatively free of criticism. Praise your students for generating many ideas, regardless of whether some are silly or unrelated, while encouraging them to identify and develop their best ideas into high-quality projects. Teaching students the value of generating numerous ideas enhances their creative-thinking ability.

6. Encourage integrating subjects:

Stimulate creativity by helping students to think across subjects and disciplines. Creative ideas and insights often result from integrating material across subject areas not from memorizing and reciting material.

7. Allow time for creative thinking:

Most creative insights do not happen in a rush. We need time to understand a problem and to toss it around. If we are asked to think creatively, we need time to do it well. If you stuff questions into your tests or give your students more homework than they can complete, then you are not allowing them time to think creatively.

8. Assess creativity:

If you want to encourage creativity, you need to include at least one task or exercise for creative thought in assignments and tests. Ask questions that require factual recall, analytic thinking, and creative thinking.

9. Reward creative ideas and products:

Reward creative efforts. For example, assign a project and remind students that you are looking for them to demonstrate their knowledge, analytical and writing skills, and creativity. Let them know that creativity does not depend on your agreement with what they write, only that they express ideas that represent a synthesis between existing ideas and their own thoughts. Some teachers complain that they cannot grade creative responses with as much objectivity as they can apply to multiple-choice or short-answer responses. However, research shows that evaluators are remarkably consistent in their assessments of’ creativity.

10. Tolerate unusual ideas:

A creative idea tends to come in bits and pieces and develops over time. But the period in which the idea is developing tends to be uncomfortable. When a student has almost the right topic for a paper or almost the right science project, it’s tempting to accept the near miss. To help students become creative, encourage them to accept and extend the period in which their ideas do not quite converge. Ultimately, they may come up with better ideas.

11. Allow mistakes:

Great thinkers made contributions because they allowed themselves and their collaborators to take risks and make mistakes. Schools are often unforgiving of mistakes. Errors on schoolwork are often marked with a large and pronounced X. When your students make mistakes, ask them to analyze and discuss these mistakes. Often, mistakes or weak ideas contain the germ of correct answers or good ideas. For the teacher who wants to make a difference, exploring mistakes can be learning and growing opportunity.

12. Encourage identifying and confronting obstacles:

When a student attempts to surmount an obstacle, praise the effort, whether or not the student is entirely successful. Point out aspects of the student’s attack that were successful and why, and then suggest other ways to confront similar obstacles. You can also tactfully critique counterproductive approaches by describing a better approach, as long as you praise the attempt. Ask the class to brainstorm about ways to confront a given obstacle to get them think about the many strategies we can use to confront problems; a procedure which develops problem- solving skills.

13. Teach Self-Responsibility

Part of teaching students to be creative is teaching them to take responsibility for both success and failure. Teaching students how to take responsibility means teaching students to (1) understand their creative process, (2) criticize themselves, and (3) take pride in their best creative work.

14. Delay Gratification

Part of being creative means being able to work on a project or task for a long time without immediate or interim rewards. Students must learn rewards are not always immediate and that there are benefits to delaying gratification. Many people believe that they should reward children immediately for good performance, and that children should expect rewards. This style of teaching and parenting emphasizes the here and now and often comes at the expense of what is best in the long term. Projects are clearly superior in meeting this goal.

15. Encourage Creative Collaboration

Collaboration can spur creativity. Encourage your students to collaborate with creative people because we all learn by example. Students benefit from seeing the techniques, strategies, and approaches that others use in the creative process. So, it is worthwhile to give students the chance to work collaboratively and to make the process of collaboration more creative.

16. Imagine Other Viewpoints

An essential aspect of working with other people and getting the most out of collaborative creative activity is to imagine ourselves in other people’s shoes. We broaden our perspective by learning to see the world from a different point of view, and that experience enhances our creative thinking and contributions. Encourage your students to see the importance of understanding, respecting, and responding to other people’s points of view.

17. Find Excitement

To unleash your students’ best creative performances, you must help them find what excites them. Remember that it may not be what really excites you. People who truly excel in a pursuit,  almost always genuinely love what they do. Certainly the most creative people are intrinsically motivated in their work.

18. Seek Stimulating Environments

Help your students develop the ability to choose environments that stimulate their creativity. Choose some environments for the class to explore and help your students connect the environments with the experiences, creative growth, and accomplishment. Plan a field trip to a nearby museum, historical building, town hall, or other location with interesting displays and ask your students to generate and examine creative ideas for reports. Get students involved in role-playing.

19. Play to Strengths

Show students how to play to their strengths. Describe your strengths to your students and ask them to declare their strengths. Any teacher can help students play to their strengths. All you need is flexibility in assignments and a willingness to help reluctant students determine the nature of their interests and strengths.

11 things to do before teaching a lesson

things to do

A Successful Teacher of English should do the Following before getting into the class to teach a lesson:

  1. Be aware of the aims of teaching English in his country and in the educational stage he works in.
  2. Read the lesson on SB and answer the exercises on it on WB
  3. Prepare the lesson in writing knowing what to do exactly and how to do that.
  4. Prepare at least one teaching aid (e.g. word & picture cards) to facilitate learning and activate students.
  5. Read the learning outcomes of the whole unit.
  6. Set two or three behavioral objectives for students to achieve at the end of the lesson.
  7. Listen to and prepare the audio files beforehand checking the pronunciation of each word in the lesson.
  8. Be aware of the specifications for the exams and prepare related questions to train students.
  9. Be aware of the monthly distribution of the syllabus and cover it.
  10.  Get a look at the teacher’s book to know the guidelines for teaching the lesson.
  11.  Have an assessment sheet to assess students by marks in each lesson.

What else should the teacher do before going ahead to the class to teach a lesson? Waiting for More Suggestions from YOU.

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