Eight Practical Steps to Teach Grammar Rules

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  1. Start with questions that lead to model sentences in which the grammatical rule is included.

E.g. How long have you been learning English?

How long have they been playing football?

How long has she been cooking pizza? Etc.

  1. Encouraging students to answer the questions in complete sentences using the grammatical rule and write the model sentences on the board.
  2. Read the sentences focusing on the main features of the rule (highlight the form with different colour or by underlining them).
  3. Tell students the function and the meaning of the grammatical rule, when to use it and how to apply it in communication.
  4. Encourage students to do some different and various exercises on the rule to familiarize them with it. Check understanding and involve as many students as possible.
  5. Elicit the form of the rule from students and write it on the board.
  6. Ask students to give more meaningful examples of the rule.
  7. Give more practice of the rule creating real-life situations for students to use the rule in.

Ten Simple Assessment Ideas for Everyday Use

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We always rely on written tests to assess our students. written tests cover little amount of  the learning material, so we should search for more ideas to show us that we are moving on, and whether our students have understood our explanation or they need more practice. I think the following ideas are useful to assess to what extent the students have learnt and what their weaknesses are:

  1. Ask open-ended questions starting with why and how.
  2. Ask for a summary of the lesson at the end.
  3. Use short tests/quizzes regularly and test one thing every time.
  4. Encourage role-play activities especially for conversations.
  5. Ask for comments from students on teaching procedures.
  6. Use mind map tools to encourage students to talk.
  7. Ask students to prepare something and talk about it.
  8. Encourage exchanging books among students to mark.
  9. Use rubrics and ask students to assess themselves.
  10. Exploit games and puzzles to assess language usage.

What else can you add? Write what you already do to assess your students daily.

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.

12 Tips to Control a Large Class.

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It’s difficult to control a large class which includes different abilities and speeds of learning. It’s not easy to give each student the attention he needs. In addition, students may not have the textbooks to write on, so they have the chance to make noise. The following 12 tips will help you to overcome the previous challenges and achieve a satisfied level of control on your large class so that your teaching will be effective.

  1. State a system for everything, e.g. speaking, turn taking, respect of others, test taking, answering questions, …… etc.
  2. Achieve an agreement with the students from the first beginning. Focus on praising frequently those who are committing to their promises.
  3. Be firm but warm. Use strict words but preserve the dignity of students and don’t humiliate them.
  4. Pursue the main source of disciplinary problems not symptoms and think and use various alternatives to solve them.
  5. Get used to call your students with their first and second names.
  6. Increase the amount of interaction activities during each lesson.
  7. Use pair-work or small group-work technique when doing the exercises considering the variation in ability levels.
  8. Use audio-visual aids to attract students’ attention and facilitate learning.
  9. Don’t bury yourself in the textbook or the preparation notes but always eye contact with students.
  10. Don’t plant your feet firmly in one place for the whole lesson but always move around the class.
  11. Dress appropriately and use effective facial and hand gestures.
  12. Arrange the chairs, organize the board, free the class from external noises, speak up to be heard and show yourself to all the students in the classroom.

Consider Six Main Points in your Assessment

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Before writing any examination questions or designing assessment exercises, you should keep in mind the following six points:

  1. Provide your students with the opportunity to show to what extent they have achieved the outcomes of learning of the whole syllabus or the lesson at hand. Accordingly, your assessment should differentiate between those who have already learned and those who need revision or more practice.
  1. Focus only on the most important aspects of the course and the objectives that you set for each lesson or unit, rather than other details.
  1. Provide feedback on performance as soon as possible so that students may improve themselves. Remember that the main aim of assessment is that students are able to learn through the process of assessment and view assessment as part of their learning process.
  1. Provide a means of encouragement by giving students the chance to see and sense their success and progress. It builds and increases their self-confidence as achievers.
  1. Design clear assessment criteria and marking guidance that allow differentiation and make students feel that you are fair.
  1. Meet all of your students’ styles of learning by using different and various assessment means and tools but assess one thing at a time.

Six Tips to Make Testing More Productive

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Although testing has many positive effects on education and learning, it has some negative aspects that we should take into account and try to minimize them. By doing the following, teachers can make testing more productive and not a negative experience for learners:

  1. Explain to students the purpose of the test and stress the positive effects it has.
  2. Give students a lot of notices and revise the previous lessons before the test.
  3. Tell students that you will take into account their work in the classroom beside the test result.
  4. During the test time, go through the questions giving clear instructions and clarifying any specific areas of difficulty.
  5. Be fair and objective when marking the test and hand out the results as quickly as possible.
  6. Emphasize that an individual should compare their results with their own previous scores not with others in the class.

Questions to Consider Before Starting a Reading Lesson

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Before staring your reading lesson, you should think about the following questions:

  1. What is the purpose of the reading passage? Is it to improve your students’ reading skill or to reinforce structure or a kind of vocabulary or is it only for pleasure?
  2. On average, how many new words are included in the passage and how will you deal with them?
  3. When introducing the text, who will read? You, students aloud or students silently?
  4. In the textbooks which you use, are there questions checking your students’ comprehension of the reading passage?
  5. Are the questions in any sort of order? e.g. from easy to difficult or ordered according to the parts of the reading passage?
  6. Do the parts of the reading passage, which provide the answer to the questions, follow the same order as the questions themselves?
  7. Are the questions you will use, general or specific?

* General questions check your students understanding of the central idea of the whole text.  Usually students have to read most of the text to be able to answer the general question.

* Specific questions, however, focus on some points of detail.  Students can answer these questions by reading one sentence or one part, for example.

Assessment Literacy. Topic 3. Dynamic Assessment

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What is Dynamic Assessment? Do you know the basis of it?

There are four main methods of dynamic assessment. They are :
1.Testing the Limits.
2.Clinical Interview.
3.Graduating Prompting.
4.Test – Teach – Retest.

How to apply them when you design your test?

You can know the answers of these questions when you attend “Topic 3 Dynamic Assessment” which is the third topic of my FREE online course “Assessment Literacy” on Edmodo.com

To Follow the Course, you should:
1. Create a free account on Edmodo.com
2. Login to your account.
3. Join my group “Assessment Literacy”
* Join Group URL is https://edmo.do/j/ud25fi

A Quiz on “Types of Assessment”

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How much knowledge do you have about assessment? Do you know how many types of assessment there are? Can you differentiate between formative & summative assessment? Do you know the importance of diagnostic assessment? What is integrative assessment?

To assess to what extent your knowledge about assessment is good, you can do that quiz on https://edmo.do/j/ud25fi on “Types of Assessment” which is a topic of six-topic course on “Assessment Literacy”.

To Follow the Course, you should:
1. Create a free account on edmodo.com
2. Login to your account.
3. Join my group “Assessment Literacy”
* Join Group URL is https://edmo.do/j/ud25fi

Four Necessary Characteristics of a Good Test

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Creating a good language test demand great care and responsibility on the part of the teachers. Most teachers don’t plan for writing their tests. As a result they often puzzle the students with these tests and reflect only their  own expectations. The most important characteristics of a good test are reliability, validity and practicality.

* A reliable test produces the same result under the same circumstances.
* A valid test tests what it is supposed to test.
* A practical test is as economical as possible in time and in cost.

Additionally, there are four more necessary characteristics of a good language test:

1. Based on what students should know and can do according to the learning outcomes of the syllabus.

2. Enable the teacher to find out which parts of the language program cause difficulty for the class.

3. Without any traps for students but provide opportunities for them to show their ability to perform certain language tasks.

4. Designed to be a valuable teaching & learning tool, that’s to benefit the teachers to adjust their teaching to match students’ achievement level and to benefit students to learn from their mistakes.

Teachers charged to prepare a test should put in their minds that each test is not an end in itself, but a means to reach effective language mastery.

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