Friday, 24 February 2012

A miscellaneous week

Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and help them become what they are capable of being. – Goethe

At the very beginning, I have to admit that the time is running out so fast. I cannot believe that we are almost at the end of Week 7. We still continue to upgrade our knowledge. There were some topics in this week. The first topic, I will write about, is learners’ autonomy. I will say that I always wonder about the meaning of *learners’ autonomy*. It is not that I do not understand the meaning, but I look for the ways how to make my students to become *autonomous learners*. In my opinion, it is one of wishes of every teacher. To tell the truth, I must say that I did my best in order to help my students to become independent learners. The first thing that made do this is that they have only English twice a week and a lesson lasts for 45 minutes, even if there are also additional classes. I am so interested in this topic and I think that the above mentioned facts are not enough. As this topic is to be discussed, I read the article *What Is Learner Autonomy and How Can It Be Fostered*? It is available at

 The first sentence that attracted my attention is that *autonomy is the ability to take charge of one’s learning*. I completely agree with this because students have to be conscious that they are active participators in learning. What I also like in the article is that there are seven main attributes characterizing autonomous learners:
1. Autonomous learners have insights into their learning styles and strategies;
2. take an active approach to the learning task at hand;
                                                      3. are willing to take risks, i.e., to communicate in the target language at all costs;
                                                      4. are good guessers;
                                                     5. attend to form as well as to content, that is, place importance on accuracy as well as appropriacy;
                                                    6. develop the target language into a separate reference system and are willing to revise and reject hypotheses and rules that do not apply;
                                                    7. have a tolerant and outgoing approach to the target language.

 Therefore, I really like the fourth attribute because I always encourage my students to communicate in English whether they make the mistakes or not. As we know that we all learn from mistakes. It is completely true. I say this because there are many students who are reticent and shy to pronounce any word in English during regular classes because they are afraid of being criticized.
It is mentioned that we should give our students a *helping hand* in this article. I like this so much. In this way, students can develop their self-confidence and they’ll try their best in order to become independent learners. The next thing that caught my eye, in this article, is a part about cognitive strategies. I have to admit that many of them are used in my classes. Learners may use any or all of cognitive strategies:
  • repetition, when imitating others' speech;
  • resourcing, i.e., having recourse to dictionaries and other materials;
  • translation, that is, using their mother tongue as a basis for understanding and/or producing the target language;
  • note-taking;
  • deduction, i.e., conscious application of L2 rules;
  • contextualisation, when embedding a word or phrase in a meaningful sequence;
  • transfer, that is, using knowledge acquired in the L1 to remember and understand facts and sequences in the L2;
  • inferencing, when matching an unfamiliar word against available information (a new word etc);
  • a question for clarification, when asking the teacher to explain, etc.
The other topic was to describe one-computer lesson. Regarding one-computer lesson, I have to say that I constantly use it in my school. As this topic is discussed this week, I read some available materials from our course site. The first material, I read, was How to Thrive--Not Just Survive--in a One Computer Classroom. It is available at I like this article a lot because many rewarding tips can be found. The fist thing that caught my eye is that to create *stations* or multiple activities, using the computer as only one of the tools necessary to complete assignments. Students can conduct research not only on the Internet but also through interviews and in bound encyclopedias, magazines, and books. Every 15 to 20 minutes, students rotate from one station to another. If the computer is used as a station, a strategy for moving students through that station is a necessity. Following are some possible traffic strategies:
  • Post a schedule. Allow a set amount of time for each student at the computer station. Students are responsible for getting to the station at the appointed time.
  • Draw Popsicle sticks. Write each student's name on a Popsicle stick. Place the can of Popsicle sticks at the computer station. Draw a stick at the start of the day. The person whose name is on the stick will start the day at the station. That student will draw a stick to determine who goes next.
  • Establish color-coded groups. Divide the class into five groups. Write the names of each group on a different sheet of colored paper, and post the papers by the computer station. The students in each group will spend time at the computer on a given day (for example, the students in the red group will have computer time on Mondays). The students within a group will go to the computer in assigned or random order.
I like these strategies because students’ motivation can be at great level and they tend to do their best. On the other hand, I completely agree with Lynne Heller’s statement, she is a teacher at P.S. 64 in Queens, New York. She says that "In a one-computer classroom, it is imperative to plan carefully and be extremely organized”. In my opinion, a teacher has to introduce the task to students. Then, students know exactly what their task is.
I also think that the students’ projects are also rewarding for a computer classroom, especially if the classroom has the internet connection. I prefer the suggestions which are given in this article:
  • Encourage Student Writing and publish work on the Web.
  • Have a student use a site such as ePALS to find a partner class in another school -- or on another continent. (That's what students in Jane Scaplen's class did!)

 The next task was to find a partner for peer review. I can say that this was an interesting thing to do. My first partner is my dear friend from Paraguay. His name is Fernando Beconi. I am really happy to work with him because we both come from different settings and I think that we will learn a lot from each other. My second partner is also my dear friend from the class Davor Smolic. He is from Bosnia and Herzegovina. I also hope that I will learn a lot from Davor.

All in all, there are many ways which can be used in order to develop students’ independence. I have to say that we, as teachers, have to develop students’ autonomy in their early stages of learning and we have to encourage students to learn in every possible way. I also think that we should develop students' independence without any pressure. It should be done step by step. As there is an old saying *Still waters run deep*.

Friday, 17 February 2012

The project - A Nicenet classroom

"A man can succeed at almost anything for which he has unlimited enthusiasm" 
                                        Charles M. Schwab          

As I mentioned in my previous description of the 'class issue' that my school does not have the Internet in all classrooms, only the information technology classroom is covered with the Internet. The IT classroom can be used from time to time. Considering a technology-related change, I am thinking about creating the Nicenet classroom because 15 out of 17 students have regular access to the Internet at their homes. These two students, who do not have the Internet, will go to their classmates and they will jointly participate during the discussions. So, the students will be able to participate actively.
Inspired by our Nicenet classroom, I think that my students will be so motivated and they will be eager to learn more. Some of them think that they are not able to pronounce and write any word correctly. By creating this classroom, my students will also have an opportunity to interact with each other because it happens that they are sometimes shy to do it during the class. They will also be able to boost their skills of reading and writing which can lead them to achieve better goals in the future. My goal is to help them to understand grammar as much as possible so the students will be able to demonstrate their knowledge of grammar outside the class. When I create the class, I will give, e.g. five tenses with examples, where students will have the deadline to complete their tasks. I will also post some of rewarding web pages where my students can practice more. Students will also post comments about the web pages, e.g. what do they think about the web pages; is it a rewarding tool for them to improve their skills of reading, writing, speaking; is it suitable for them and so on.
The day has just come for creating my Nicnet classroom. Honestly, I felt very excited because this has been the first time for me to create such a classroom. On the other hand, I was worried because my students and I are on an enforced holiday because of snow. I worried whether I will be able to implement my project. Therefore, I created my classroom and I posted the topics for this week. Then, I decided to keep in touch with my students. So, I did it. I have to say that Facebook is also a good tool. As I have very diligent students in this class, I sent them the instructions how to log in on Nicenet. Luckily, they all managed to sign in the classroom at the first attempt. I was the happiest person in the world when I have seen them all on-line. Here is a photo of my classroom.

Classroom Internet Assistant
Rade Petricevic
Friday, February 17, 2012 7:13AM PST

My dear students

Personal Messages :
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Conferencing Topics

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After that, the first students’ task was to introduce themselves and it was successful. I noticed that my students were very enthusiastic about introducing. They also have to comment about ground rules. Then, students had their assignments (the present simple and the present continuous). Students have to fill the gaps with verbs from the brackets, using these two tenses. When they finished it, students’ task was to turn the sentences into interrogative and negative forms.  I also noticed that some students, who are shy during the regular classes, actively participated and they  astonished me. What to say about this?
I have no any word to describe students’ enthusiasm and participation. As this is just the beginning of the project, I will post more the next week.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Week 6 - Teaching large classes

Frankly, I have to admit that it is very difficult and very challenging to teach large classes at the same time. I used to teach large classes and I still do. In my opinion, it is difficult to teach large classes because we cannot deal with every student individually. I employed many different methods in order to make my students feel motivated and more active during the lessons. During my five years of teaching, I concluded that students, in large classes, are very motivated when they work in groups, especially when they make the projects. In this ways, students could evaluate their knowledge of English.
On one hand, I must admit that it is very difficult to track the progress of large classes, especially when you are the only teacher of English in your school and you have many classes. Honestly, I have not used any certain assessment tool expect the ones which are available in the teachers’ books. In this tables, I can see all their grades from different skills (writing, speaking, reading and grammar), but it is not sufficient for me and for my students. The only self-evaluation and peers’ evaluation is when we practice for dictation. My students have never used any on-line resource in order to assess their work. As the extension of our skills in this course, this thread attracted my attention.
The first material I read was Using Technology in Teaching Large Classes from the University of Oregon's Teaching Effectiveness Program. On this site, I discovered many useful pieces of information which can help us to improve and build our skills of teaching in large classes. One of the titles that caught my eye is *Building a Relationship with your Audience*. When I opened it, I have found another title *Better Communication in Large Classes *. To tell the truth, I always wondered how to have better communication with many students in one class. In my previous experiences, I tried my best in order to keep all students active during the lessons, even those ones who have poor knowledge of English. They used to be motivated, but it happened that the motivation was not at the satisfactory level because some students feel rejected if we do not pay a lot of attention to them. But it is sometimes impossible because a lesson lasts for 45 minutes. 
What is appealing in this article is that we should make small places, i.e. we have to move to location that are closer to students and which are comfortable for communication. We also have to create a supportive climate and I like the methods for creating such a climate in this article, even I use all of them. Here are the methods:
  1. Making personal comments on student papers and exams, (i.e., notes of commendation on high-scoring papers or on those of students whose exam scores show dramatic improvement).
  2. Personally complimenting every student who receives an A on a paper or exam.
  3. Recognizing as many students as possible by name in class. The recognition of some students has benefits that spill over to all students.
  4. Get students involved in the communication process.
The next thing I found interesting for me in the article is the variety of ways to enhance students’ participation in a large class:

  • Encouraging students to submit written questions from which the instructor can choose the most relevant for response.
  • Identifying participant areas. This may be the lower left quadrant one period and the upper right another period. At an appropriate point in the lecture, the instructor may engage one quadrant of 20 or more students in discussion.
  • Giving class members a handout that lists each period and a group of students who can expect to be involved in discussion. The advance warning enables them to prepare.
  • Get personal.  
I prefer these ways of enhancing students’ participation, especially giving class members a handout that lists each period and a group of students who can expect to be involved in discussion. Students’ task will be to prepare different topic (each group with different thread). In this ways, students can be very, very motivated because they can prepare themselves ahead and they will also have more self-confidence. They can also collect many rewarding information which I also find motivating for students.
In my opinion, it is very rewarding to use technology in large classes. PBL is a fantastic way of teaching and learning in such classes. In this way, students can develop and improve their skills of writing, speaking, reading and grammar by doing the projects. They can also evaluate each others’ activities and this can also help them  more to be *independent learners*. This is also constructive for teachers because they can track students’ progress continuously and more easily and the lessons can be organized in better ways. A WebQuest can be also used in large classes because students can develop their teams’ skills. 

I also found a rewarding article about on-line assessment which can be very helpful for teachers who teach large classes. It is available at Online Assessment  (Online Assessment with Blackboard (PDF logo PDF File 591K)). I really prefer this way of Blackboard assessing because the assessments provide students with immediate feedback and students are automatically graded. On the other hand, teachers can use the Assessments to test students’ knowledge, measure students’ progress and gather information from students. What I also like is that Blackboard offers two assessment options:

1. Tests: Tests are created to check the knowledge and skill level
of students enrolled in the course. The tests option allows the
instructor to assign point value and feedback to each question.
When a student completes a test it is submitted for grading. The
results are recorded in the Grade Center automatically.
Surveys: Surveys are useful for polling purposes, evaluations,
and random checks of knowledge. They function in the same
way as tests and offer most of the same options.

2. Surveys cannot give feedback to the user, they cannot be graded, there
are no points associated with a survey, nor will a name be
associated with a submitted survey. The online Grade Center
will reflect that the survey has been taken and submitted by
issuing a check mark next to the user's name. Anonymous
survey results are collected in one location for easy viewing.

There are also many pros and cons about using Blackboard. I discovered many useful advantages and disadvantages in this article. At first, I will list the benefits of Blackboard, i.e. on-line assessment:

Increase student engagement in the curriculum - When students see their test results immediately, they are more likely to be interested in the outcome than when they have to wait days for a grade.

Provide detailed and immediate feedback - Students may be presented with scores and explanations immediately if desired. Marking for some types of assessment item can be automatic. Hinting can be implemented if appropriate.

A painless way to integrate technology - Often instructors are encouraged to use technology in the classroom but don't have the time or resources they need to implement their technology plans. Online assessment is an easy way to begin using technology on a regular basis- without using extra time or resources.

Location and time independent - Students can take a test from anywhere that provides access to the Internet, during whatever time period you specify, using their own equipment if desired. Students can take tests while on vacation or home sick.

Automatic score recording - Blackboard scores tests (with the exception of essay questions) automatically. These scores are logged into the online Grade Center and are immediately visible for student access. This takes the responsibility of grading and recording off of the instructor or GTF.

More frequent assessments - Increased assessment may help instructors more accurately gauge student learning.

A time-saver - Online testing saves teachers grading time. More importantly, online testing saves instructional time, both in class and out. Often students can complete online tests in less time than it takes to complete pen-and-paper tests. The extra time can be used for higher-order thinking projects that apply the material on the tests!

Practice with technology-based test formats - Many standardized tests, such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), can now be taken on a computer. The skills necessary for taking tests digitally (whether using software or the Internet) are different from those required for pen-and-paper tests. Many computerized tests, for example, don't allow students to return to a question after submitting an answer. The first guess, therefore, must be the best guess. Using online assessment introduces students to those emerging test strategies.

Introduction of website and media - This can include sound, video, images, animation, and interactivity. These can be useful for problem-solving simulations, challenging critical thinking and for students with different learning styles.

Timeliness - When and how long the assessment is available is controlled by the instructor. If you are using the assessment as a learning check, the timing can be set up so that the assessment is available immediately following class time. Students can test themselves on material and if necessary access additional assistance while the content is still fresh in their minds.

Here are also some of the potential problems:

Accessibility - All students must have regular reliable access to computer hardware and a connection to the Internet without undue time restrictions.

Students require some technology skills - Students need to have at least baseline competencies in using the technologies. The opportunities to practice the skills needed for dealing with any time critical assessment item should be given.

Cheating - How do you know the person sitting at the computer is the student in your class? How do you know they don’t have their book open, or whether or not they are taking it with a buddy? The truth is, in most cases, you don’t. It is suggested that Blackboard assessments fall on the lower end of the assessment spectrum, should not carry a severe impact on students’ grades, and should not be the only measure of learning in the course.

Impersonality - Although students are getting feedback on their performance, the human touch is missing. Students may become excessively discouraged if they encounter frequent poor results.

Technology Problems - Technical problems (e.g. failed hardware, phone line outages etc.) may need to be allowed for, and participants should be encouraged to document these problems rather than just complain, "It doesn't work."

Time Commitment - Although online assessments can decrease your overall workload, building the assessments take time. As the instructor, you’ll need to find the time upfront to build the assessments. Also, while an online assessment may take less time on the student side as well, it cannot as easily be started and stopped if necessary. Once a student starts the assessment, they need to be sure to allocate enough time to finish the exam.
I prefer this way of assessing students’ knowledge because it is very motivating for students. In this way, students can also develop many skills which we mentioned during our previous discussions on Nicenet.
I would also recommend this following URL We can find many constructive video clips about interactive teaching methods.

A last thought is that we all must have a passion and a lot of enthusiasm for our work and our subject. When we posses these two things, we will teach large classes easily and we will achieve every possible goal.


Friday, 10 February 2012

PBL (project-based learning) and WebQuest

I am not a teacher, but an awakener.
Robert Frost

Week 5 was so constructive. We picked up many rewarding things which can help us with the teaching. It can also help our students to improve their knowledge of English and they can also acquire new knowledge which can be useful in the future.
Besides the rubrics and assessment tools which I mentioned in the previous post, there are two other components which can be incorporated with the technology to help our students to improve all skills that we mentioned during the discussions in the course. The first component is PBL (project-based learning). As I was not so much familiar with it, I have read some of the articles that are available on our course site The first article I read was a project-based learning activity. This article is available at The first sentence that caught my eye is that *the students work in groups to solve challenging problems that are authentic, curriculum-based, and often interdisciplinary*. I really like this way of learning where students can collaborate and they can improve their skills jointly. They also learn in depth. I also like that students can create their knowledge and they can understand their learning through activities they carry out. They can also demonstrate the knowledge and all skills they gained (skills of reading, writing, grammar, vocabulary). In my opinion, PBL can be incorporated with the technology because students can search for the information on the Internet and in this way they can also improve their skills no matter what level they are. By exploring, students gain learning habits and they are encouraged to go further to acquire new knowledge. What I really like is that all students participate in creating new knowledge and this is so motivating.

The next thing I like in this article is that a classic based-project learning activity usually involves four basic elements: (1) an extended time frame; (2) collaboration; (3) inquiry, investigation, and research; and finally, (4) the construction of an artifact or performance of a consequential task.
In my second thought, I think that the students have the deadlines for finishing their projects. It is very motivating for them because when we give them the deadline for completing the project, then the students will tend to do their best in order to finish it at the right time.
In this process of learning we can also choose learning styles which match with the students we teach. This article contains four learning styles:
  • SPATIAL VISUAL LEARNER -- Needs and likes to visualize things; learns through images; enjoys art and drawing; reads maps, charts and diagrams well; fascinated with machines and inventions; plays with legos; likes mazes and puzzles. Often accused of being a daydreamer in class. MOTIVATING TIPS -- Use board games and memory devices to create visual patterns. In reading suggest visual clues. Offer picture books of all types; when reading chapter books together, encourage visualization of story and scenes at intervals. Promote writing via colored pens, computer or drawing.
  • KINETIC LEARNER -- Processes knowledge through physical sensations; highly active, not able to sit still long; communicates with body language and gestures. Shows you rather than tells you; needs to touch and feel world; good at mimicking others; likes scary amusement rides; naturally athletic and enjoys sports. Often labeled with attention deficient disorder. MOTIVATING TIPS -- Physical action is the key ingredient to stimulating this student. While reading, let child chew gum, walk around, rock or ride stationary bicycle. Use numerous hands-on activities and experiments, art projects, nature walks or acting out stories.
  • LANGUAGE-ORIENTED LEARNER -- Thinks in words, verbalizes concepts; spins tales and jokes; spells words accurately and easily. Can be a good reader or prefer the spoken word more; has excellent memory for names, dates and trivia; likes word games; enjoys using tape recorders and often musically talented. MOTIVATING TIPS -- Encourage creation of own word problems. Have child dictate a story to you and watch while you write it or type it out on a word processor -- then child can share it with you. Read aloud together and tape session for later playback. Consider purchasing some book/tape selections.
  • LOGICAL LEARNER -- Thinks conceptually, likes to explore patterns and relationships; enjoys puzzles and seeing how things work; constantly questions and wonders; capable of highly abstract forms of logical thinking at early age; computes math problems quickly in head; enjoys strategy games, computers and experiments with purpose; creates own designs to build with blocks/legos. MOTIVATING TIPS -- Do science experiments together and have child record results; use computer learning games and word puzzles. Offer context clues as a reading aid. Introduce non-fiction and rhyming books. When reading fiction, discuss relation of story to real-life situations and people.
So when we know our students, we can apply one of these learning styles and I think that the wanted goal will be achieved and the PBL will be successfully completed.
As this thread intrigued me, I continued reading another article. The second article is available at The sentence that attracted my attention is that * in the “old school” model the teacher was the task manager, but in the “new school” model the teacher becomes the facilitator*.  This is so, so appealing. In my experience, I noticed that students think that a teacher is the main leader and they are sometimes too shy to cooperate of being afraid that they can make a mistake.  In this way, students can become *autonomous learners* what is one of the goals of many teachers. Students can feel free to express their ideas and to help each other to understand the matter. In this article I also discovered that some teachers agreed that PBL exhibited the following characteristics:
  • Students make decisions within a prescribed framework.
  • There’s a problem or challenge without a predetermined solution.
  • Students design the process for reaching a solution.
  • Students are responsible for accessing and managing the information they gather.
  • Evaluation takes place continuously.
  • Students regularly reflect on what they’re doing.
  • A final product (not necessarily material) is produced and is evaluated for quality.
  • The classroom has an atmosphere that tolerates error and change.
These characteristics are so fantastic. Students are involved in solving the problem and they are looking for the best possible solution. On the other hand, students can do the evaluation continuously and they also have no worries whether they make the mistakes because they will be corrected. This is very motivating, and I think that my students will enjoy doing this.

 The second component is WebQuest. At the very beginning, I have to admit that I feel confused  about the WebQuest and its usage. But I hope that I will recognize its usage as the time goes by. I was not familiar with this before, so I read an article from our weekly assignment. The article is available at .
As I noticed that this is also useful tool for students to work in groups and that everything is sorted in one place. In this article, I read a sentence which says that a WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented online tool for learning, says workshop expert Bernie Dodge. 
This means that it is a classroom-based lesson in which most or all of the information that students explore and evaluate comes from the World Wide Web. What I like about this tool is that the students spend their time using information, but not looking for it. It means that the information is preselected by the teacher, so students have to do a certain task by using the available pieces of information. As I concluded that this tool helps students to develop their teams’ skills which are very important for their future work. Students collaborate and work in groups. This is also rewarding for teachers because if one is busy with his/her teaching and preparing the lessons, she/he doesn’t need to worry about the lesson plans. 

I also created my WebQuest. The URL of my WebQuest  is:

Consequently, I want to say that  students can benefit a lot by using these two constructive tools. On one hand, they can develop their skills of writing, reading, vocabulary and grammar which are very necessary. The learning environment can be so motivating and students will tend to achieve better goals. On the other hand, students can become *independent learners*.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The middle of the course....

"Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up."
- Bible: Ecclesiastes

I cannot believe that we have just come to the middle of our fantastic course. The time is running so fast whether we admit it or not. In this week we have many new challenges. The first thing I am going to write about will be assessing learning/alternative assessment. At the very beginning, I want to say that the assessment and tracking of our students’ progress are very important parts in learning because in this way we can see the strengths and weaknesses of our students in the language performance. As I used some of the assessment practices, I have always wondered whether if there is any other way to assess my students' learning. In the weekly assignment, one of the tasks was to read about the Rubric/Assessment tools which can be used in our everyday teaching and learning. The first article, I read, is available at I prefer four features that are mentioned in the article:
  • Assessment is based on authentic tasks that demonstrate learners' ability to accomplish communication goals
  • Instructor and learners focus on communication, not on right and wrong answers
  • Learners help to set the criteria for successful completion of communication tasks
  • Learners have opportunities to assess themselves and their peers 
In my opinion, this is so motivating way for students to actively participate. In this way, students can benefit a lot because they can learn from each other and they can make better interactive communication between themselves. I say this because it is common to have a bad interactive communication within the class

The assessment tools can be used for different types of lessons where the instructor (a teacher) can evaluate individually or students can evaluate their own tasks or their peers’ activities. I especially like setting and designing of criteria which is also important for assessment. In this article, I also found useful criteria which can be used in almost every class:
  • They are built around topics or issues of interest to the students
  • They replicate real-world communication contexts and situations
  • They involve multi-stage tasks and real problems that require creative use of language rather than simple repetition
  • They require learners to produce a quality product or performance
  • Their evaluation criteria and standards are known to the student
  • They involve interaction between assessor (instructor, peers, self) and person assessed
  • They allow for self-evaluation and self-correction as they proceed
In the criteria, every step is clear and defined well, so students can actively participate and they can evaluate themselves as well as their peers. Students do not need to remember every step clearly, but they can keep it in their minds and they can share it with their classmates, too.
As there are methods how to assess something, the checklists and rubrics are commonly used. At first, I like checklists because they can be used to track students’ progress and work over time. Checklists are also rewarding because they can be easily constructed and they in conjunction with a certain task.
On the other hand, there are four kinds of rubrics. There are:

  • Holistic rubrics
  • Analytic rubrics
  • Primary trait rubrics
  • Multi-trait rubrics
The three rubrics I like the most are analytic, primary trait and multi-trait rubrics. In the analytic rubrics, there are the categories which can be assessed, e.g. content, organization, vocabulary and grammar. So, students can see their weakness and I think that they will be encouraged to overcome the obstacles and the weaknesses will become the strengths. Simply, they can see where they make common mistakes. 

Considering the primary trait rubrics, the advantage of this rubric is that allows teachers and students to focus on one aspect of language performance. This is rewarding for assessing the skills of writing and speaking. These rubrics can also help students to boost their skills of writing and speaking. The last multi-trait rubrics are also constructive. What I like about these rubrics is that they allow rating performances on three or four dimensions (e.g. description, fluency, language control).

All in all, the assessment tools are very rewarding because they help both teachers and students to track the progress jointly. It also helps students to develop their independent learning and to build their cognitive thinking.  

Friday, 3 February 2012

An amazing Week 4

A single conversation with a wise man is better than ten years of study.  ~Chinese Proverb

Wow, wow!!! What a lot of constructive tips and instructions we got during Week 4. As the continuation of CALL in teaching, we had to go through the materials for improving students’ skills of reading and writing, vocabulary and grammar. I have to admit that I am really, really fascinated with all rewarding web pages I discovered. As this topic was in our weekly assignment, I  have read the available material. The first instructions and tips I read were at . This document is so great because many rewarding tips can be found. The things I like about this are three elements that are included: web pages, e-mail connection and creating class web sites. 

In this material, many interesting and useful web pages can be found but which are so rewarding for boosting students’ skills of writing and speaking. I also visited two multi-skill web sites.

The first one is available at . I like this site so much and I would recommend this site to my colleagues to share it with their students. Firstly, when we open the site there is a flower and all activities are sorted on it. The students can choose which activity they want to do. For instance, when we click ‘grammar’ activity and when it opens there are two ‘easy’ and ‘hard’ exercises with explanations and quizzes. The students can do the exercises and they can see the results immediately. This site can be suitable from beginner to advanced level and students can improve all skills which are necessary for better knowledge of English.
The second multi-skill web site is available at It is ESL Independent Study Lab. This site is so, so wonderful and constructive because it contains over 250 of the best Internet resources for EFL/ESL students. All web sites are clearly annotated and it is organized by language level. The site also includes all activities for developing and improving students’ skills of writing, speaking, listening, grammar and vocabulary. All levels are taken into account:
Level 100 = beginner/advanced beginner
Level 200 = intermediate
Level 300 = upper intermediate
Level 400 = advanced.

Our second task was to choose one of the lessons from our curriculum and to write a lesson plan by using the template from the University of South Carolina. If someone wants to down load the template, here it is as a word document (Word .doc file). This was a great experience by adopting a new way of writing my lesson plan.

The third task was to describe some issues concerning the technology which might help with a new way of teaching and learning in and out of the class. I will present you my class and some issues in this post.
I will describe 9th grade. There are seventeen students in this class and they are all so wonderful. I must admit that I am happy when I enter into this class. Many students have a great knowledge of English while others have lower, but they are very active during the lessons and they are always ready to take part in challenges. They are also willing to help each other in order to achieve better goals. Some of them also participate in different competitions (e.g. municipal, regional). There are many of them who also attend the additional classes of English because they want to gain more knowledge.

These students have got regular access to the Internet when they are in IT classroom, especially when they need something for their school-works or home-works. They also use IT technology for watching some movies from certain subjects (e.g. History) in the information technology classroom.
It is very difficult to carry out the other lectures in IT classroom because students have the lessons from this subject, too. The majority of students also have regular access to the Internet at their homes, but two students do not have it at all. As they are very cooperative, they are always willing to help those students who do not have the Internet at home.
As I mentioned previously that the whole school is not covered with the Internet network, it is very hard to incorporate the technology in active teaching in my school. Therefore, my classroom is not furnished with all necessary tools for teaching and learning. The class I described is very enthusiastic about learning and they are interested into the group works, but from my point of view the course books look so dull and are not motivating ones. In some cases, the students are not motivated by this ordinary way of teaching and learning. On the other hand, they have English lessons twice a week (a lesson lasts for 45 minutes) and it is not enough to complete every task. Consequently, they need something new that would encourage them to achieve better goals and to gain more knowledge. They are also eager and willing to discover the new ways of learning and to apply it in every life situation.
On the other hand, it is also difficult for me to track students’ progress because I am the only teacher of English in my school. It means that I teach English from the third to the ninth class and I have many lessons per-week. Therefore, I also have some difficulties of finding and organizing the material for my teaching, because it takes a lot of time. I have to write lesson plans almost everyday, because it’s the rule of the school. Honestly speaking, I cannot always catch up with all things because I have to prepare every lesson carefully and to make it motivating for my students and I am always busy thinking ahead how to prepare the lessons.

To conclude, I am very interested into e-mailing. In the future, my idea is to create an e-mailing community where I would also take part because I want to help my students to improve their skills of writing and reading. I also think about creating a class web page where students can actively collaborate and discuss about different topics concerning their development of writing and speaking skills.  
This way of improving writing, speaking and vocabulary can be of a great advantage. In this way, students can collaborate and discuss about different topics. They can also develop their creative skills. Students can also make the connections with the international key-pals. By meeting the international key-pals, the students can find out more about each other and their cultures, customs and so on. Building skills of writing and reading through the Internet can help students to feel released from an ordinary way of writing and reading.
The site can be a constructive tool where students can also improve their skills of writing, reading and they can build their vocabulary. The site can also build their *self-confidence* and *learners’ autonomy*.