Student Success Certificate Blog

The student Success Certificate is an introductory series of workshops to help instructors gain experience in 3 core areas and 1 elective area of instruction.  The certificate is earned after  instructors complete 11.5 hours of workshops and blog twice about two new strategies they have used repeatedly in the classroom.  Use this page to blog.  Each blog entry is worth 15-minutes of flex if you still require time.  You may blog more than twice.  All entries will be recorded.  You may want to leave this site and return to confirm that your entry was recorded after a few days.  Entries must be approved before they are posted.  Rob Jenkins receives an email alerting him to approve them.  The site saves all entires so your entry should not be lost.


400 thoughts on “Student Success Certificate Blog

  1. The corners activity is a favsorite of mine and of my students. Yesterday in class, at Torrance Adult School, I used it as a way to begin introductions for students on the first day of class. For example, one question was ‘How many siblings do you have?’ Each corner had a sign with, for example, ‘0’, 1-2, 3-5, and 6+. What conversation broke out as students from different corners wanted to ask each other about how many siblings were sisters vs. brothers, how many were still living, and how it feels to be ‘the only child’. Then I asked students in each corner to organize themselves in ways related to the topic, which required more conversation. In the 6+ corner, students lined themselves up by the number of siblings…it’s very visual and informative. Students were laughing and talking and seemed comfortable in their new class.
    Jennifer Gaudet : >

    1. This reply is in response to your Student Success workshop on Goals. I tried a Goals activity for the start of our Beginning 1 ESL class this semester, the students have written their goals on page 1 of their notebook/diaries. We will re-visit these goals next month and see how close we get to reaching them. . Among the goals we chose for Beg. 1 were:
      -passing to Beg 2 (of course!)
      -reading and speaking with their children or grandchildren (some vocab phrases)
      -communicating with their supervisors and clients at work (common work phrases)
      -reading traffic signs
      -understanding cash/credit transactions (receipts, lease/rental vocab)
      We wrote “Challenging, but not Impossible” under our goals. I thought it would help to motivate them. Thank you for your workshop! Sorry I was sick then, but still retained some great ideas! Thanks again!

      1. Wonderful idea! In Leadership class I challenged the students to write a list of 100 goals. Only 3 students did this and most students wrote 25-50 goals down on their “Bucket List”. Such a worthy thing to discuss with your class.

    2. I’m not sure if this is where I’m supposed to blog, but I hope it is. One of my favorite classroom activities is the magnet sentence board. I write words on cardstock and attach them to the whiteboard with magnets. The students take turns making different sentences from the words. I then add or take away words and they try it all over again. It is a great way to teach sentence structure and involve the students in a physical activity. Greg Whitman

      1. I have done this a few times with my class with the vocabulary especially when they are long words. I use the ‘Soul Train’ activity (a TV dance show for the youth with host Don Corneius back in the day) After the couple would decode the famous person’s name, they would start dancing to the music being played to show that they were finished. My class had a ball!

        Michelle Fells
        Beg. 1

      2. Thanks for this activity. I work in the high school subjects lab and I’m going to do a group lesson with this activity.

      3. In the beginning of the class I use this activity to refresh students’ minds on what they learned from the previous lesson. Students make their own vocabulary cards and when I dictate the sentences, they use their own vocabulary cards to make sentences. It is a great way to monitor students’ retention level and as an instructor you can also do an informal observation. Usually, in my class if students think that the material was too difficult then they talk to neighbors a lot.

      4. Hi Ivette,

        I also work in a high school subjects lab. I wonder if you could tell me how you plan on doing the group lesson. What steps do you think are the most important topics and what areas will you be focusing on?

        Will this be for a Reading or Writing class? Do you need think this is also applicable to the Social Studies and Science room?

        I will welcome any ideas and all feedback.

        Thank you,


    3. A technique that seems to be very effective with my students is to create power point presentations using pictures from the internet. There is a site called “Fotosearch” where most of the photos are free to use. I copy pictures from there and create word games, drills, dictations and tests. Greg Whitman Beg. 3

    4. Call me “old school” but I really like using the many items in the resource room. I have used many of the small books to great advantage for my Beginning 3 classes. We have a feeling of great accomplishment when we can go home to our families and tell them that we read “a whole book” tonight. Those small books also contain very useful lessons and activiites at the end of the book. I would recommend other resources that the room can offer for our students. Greg Whitman (Sorry about the blogs, Rob. I didn’t count properly and didn’t know I missed one.)

      1. I have gotten away from using those small books. Greg’s post reminded me of how fun those books were. Many of the stories are interesting and very easy to read. I am going to get back to using those book in my class again. Thanks Greg for the post,

    5. I like the activity for many reasons, but the best one is the conversation that ensues. I’ve used it with different music likes and dislikes. Also, different TV shows. It is always a good way to get students talking about a subject as well as have them move about the class. I usually have, at least, two different corners activities together so the students can recognize differences in tastes in different things.

  2. My favorite workshop ,that I have taken this week, was “Critical Thinking”. In this workshop we have practiced “Consequences and Results” strategy.I used that strategy before in my Intermediate High ESL level classes and had very good results. Students seem to be truly engaged in trying to come up with innivative ideas. A lot of speculation goes on, which allows them to practice the use of modal verbs as well. Students learn to cooperate with each other and be respectful of different opinions.This activity creates a very comfortable environment for students to master learned language structures.

  3. Great seminar. I loved the activities involving Bloom’s taxonomy. There was an issue with the laptop rebooted every 5 minutes but the seminar instructors handled it beautifully. I think the certificate program is a great idea and I look forward to more events like this.
    Scot Trodick

    1. I always do lessons that have variety. I try new teaching methods and techniques that keep them motivated and interested. This can be anything relevant to their lives or their education. I hope to see a spark in their eyes which helps me to see what their interests are. I try to get them to give opinions on many things including politics, culture, and family.

      1. I took test -Taking skills workshop this January.Test taking skills are very important to our students.In our lab F101 social sciences, Students fell a test beacuse they did not read the instructions.Others write something irrelavent if they dont read the essay question well or they missunderstand it all together.We have teach our students test -taking skill often .This was a good reminder that its one thing to teach them the course content its another thing to teach them to be good test takers.Its maked a huge difference.

  4. In order to keep my classes interesting and maintain a steady attendance pattern among my students I always try new teaching methods and techniques. In a recent workshop on cooperative learning we practiced various strategies for grouping students. I find them highly effective in getting all the students in my class to get to know each other, learn how to cooperate together and respect each other’s learning styles. Changing the pattern of grouping students for classroom assignments keeps them alert and motivated to do a good job. They start to buid a sense of community in the class and consequently feel more comfortable studying with the “friends” instead of nameless classmates.

    1. I find grouping to be a very interesting way to organize my lesson. The grouping is a great way to get students to work together. The strategy needs close monitoring as many students will use the time together to communicate in their native language. This I do not overtly discourage; however, I always encourgage them to use the time to practice what the learned using English. I also find that when I don’t dominate the classs the time goes faster and students are more engaged.

  5. After taking the three (3) core activities, I find the Learner-Centered Instruction to be very interesting, exciting and motivating course. Thanks to Terry, who completed the workshop for us.
    During the first week of term, learning student’s names under BSD classes somehow is more difficult compared to ESL classes. This is so because BSD classes meet only once a week compared to ESL’s 4 days a week schedule. It creates difficulty in developing a rapport between teacher and student on the first week. The workshop provided some activities that I could apply in class. Alliteration and ball toss are interesting activities I intend to use on my first week of teaching. I intend to develop the goal of learning and retaining student names during the first meeting with the students.

    1. Ball tossing sounds fun, but sometimes I think that the bashful students will look away and not want to catch the ball to speak, so I use the name cards to make sure, #1 everyone gets a turn and #2 they’re listening to the previous person’s anwer in case they’re next.

      1. I totally agree with your comment about bashful students looking away. Those are the ones that I would throw to first. I am also going to use this in class at the high school subjects lab for a group activity.

  6. On Friday, January 13, the first day of class, for a learner-centered activity, each student wrote their first and last name on a piece of paper and put it in a bag. I drew the first name and the student came in front of the class to give his name, where he is from and something good about himself. (I had already modeled the activity for the students.) The student then selected the next name and so on.

    The activity was effective because we hear the student’s name twice, the second time by the student which helps me remember who is who. The name drawing is good because no one knows if they will be the next one up, so it removes the “waiting for your turn” element when we go in order. Also, the students really take control of the activity (rather than having the teacher call on each one randomly from the the roster). We all enjoyed it! Also, I liked the idea of the student telling us something good about himself or herself. Almost everyone said, “I’m a good parent.” Three single students said they were good students. It was a great way to set the tone for the semester on the first day.

    1. I hope this activity doesnt make them uncomfortable. A low stress activity tends to build confidence and gradually increases their comfort level. Nobody likes the spotlight on them for too long. Even a professional speaker can be uncomfortable if they are put on the spot and forced to give a competent reply.

    2. Wow!!!I love this idea. Learing the names of all my students has always been a big challenge for me. Finally, I have all my students name fully memorized. One way that I force myself to learn my students names is to use the sign-in sheet all the way through the class. I use the sign-in sheets to determijne who I call on in the class. Soon I am able to associate a face with the name. The idea of the bag is great and I for sure will be using it at the beginning of the next semester.

  7. I like Malena’s idea of learning vocabulary every day. I’m also pushing my students to keep a vocabulary section in their notebook and add words each day. We also have a weekly dictation quiz covering some of the weekly words, but in short sentences, so they learn how to write a sentence.

    Another idea for the beginning of the semester is to divide into small groups and have each group make a short list of what a student will need to do to pass to the next level of English. Everyone agreed attendance is important, as much as possible. That is, some students have conflicting work schedules certain days and others have to arrive late or leave early due to other obligations. We did come up with a consensus, including:
    1. Have a notebook and pencil with eraser when you come to class.
    2. Attend class on time and as many days a week as you can.
    3. Pay attention in class.
    4. Participate in all activities and ask questions.
    5. You will pass to the next level of English!
    (The acronym also spells HAPPY, because this was a goal-setting activity that will make every student, and teacher, happy!)

    1. I wholeheartedly agree with Nancy’s approach to starting the semester with goals set at the beginning of the semester and the 5 “entry rules” for starting off the semester. In addition to these 5 obligations, I have also incorporated some more obligations which I give to students to add to their goal-setting:
      1. Have students exchange phone numbers or at least become familiar with each other well enough so that if a student misses a day, the lesson, assignment or handout can be given to that student during that week, while it is still fresh.
      2. Commit to making mistakes, from mistakes come improvements. Tell each student that he/she should be making mistakes daily in order to make progress (hopefully they won’t make the same mistakes again and again)
      3. Try to use the lessons (vocabulary, grammar, conversation strategies) in the real world. Survival in the community is the key goal in adult ESL.
      4. Try to talk to upper-level students to find out what they are covering.
      This will help become familiar with the “gap” between levels and de-mystifying the elusive, next level.
      5. Try to have fun while you are learning. This creates a positive learning environments and makes mistakes less severe and critical.
      These additional 5 obligations don’t spell anything (I tried), but I hope it helps.

      1. These are all excellent strategies to start the semester off on a positive note with clear cut goals and expectations for the class and students. I have always given students (including new students who come in later in the semester) a welcome letter/syllabus that lays out some basic expectations that I have for the students and the class as a whole. Some of the these include the requirement that they come to class on time every day (barring any extrenuous circumstances that they can discuss with me), purchase the textbooks as soon as possible, and do their homework and study/practice their English as much as possible outside of the classroom.

        What I would like to focus more on in the future is allowing the students to set their own goals, either individually or in small groups, as mentioned by others above. This would allow the students to have a stronger sense of ownership of the course, their learning goals, and foster a better sense of community within the classroom. I’m confident the end result would be greater student persistence and success in the long run.

    2. I was taught by Lesley Clear from UCI that learning needs to be fun. She is considered to be the “games teacher”. She published a list of 100 games activities to enhance learning. I have used this list for the last 10 years. She has commented that they dont realize they are learning when they are playing or participating in the games.

      1. I took a class with Lesley Clear at UCI called Culture and Cultural Diversity; what a great teacher. Where can I find that list; I would love to have a copy on hand. It is easy to stop being creative after we have taught for many years. Our students suffer when we become too set in our ways and stop looking for new and interesting ways to present our lessons. I have also come to discover that I too benefit by not burning out when I present interesting lesson that my students enjoy.

  8. Critical Thinking

    Categorize and classifying are two skills my students do all the time when they are learning computer applications. Assignment sheets have been developed using multiple selections, matching concepts, filling black spaces and concept hierarchy alignment. It allows students to remember their computer skills or to review concepts forgotten.

  9. Learned Center Instruction

    At the computer lab, activities you can do to create a Community Learning Environment are very limited. Learning names is a big challenge because we don’t take roll, students just type their ID number in the system and later they ask for a book. That’s the time I’ve been trying to welcome them by reading their names while I hope it let me know them. I will try to implement name tags to create a better interaction. In my other classes, I’ve been using BALL TOSS and it, in addition to be fun, encourages attention and retention.

  10. Goal settings

    At the computer lab, we started a new Certificate program based in some requirements students must complete to obtain a State Approved Certificate in different disciplines. During the student orientation we enforce the idea they should start working through one of the Certificate programs and with the help of our counselors they create a career path that is evaluated time by time. It has created more focus to the applications they want to learn and they feel more involved in their learning process.

    1. I just completed the EL Civics with my Intermediate ESL 3 class. One of the important sections of the instruction was to identify an educational or employment goal to achieve. They started out by identifying their class and area of instruction-ESL Department. They then had to identify an eductional path to follow to reach their goal. By far they were very knowledgeable with the various educational opportunities available to them and the educationa/career path they needed to follow. Group discussion also helped with understanding available educational opportunities. It was very interesting to see the aspiration my students have and what they have achieved thus far by continuing to plan, set goals, and completing parts of the steps to reach their main objective.

      1. This reply is for Joyce Basch. She wrote:

        Developing discussion about the EL Civics lessons is valuable because it enhances the understanding of the subject being taught. Since the EL Civics program is so important to our school funding as well as educating the students about civic and personal responsibility, this interaction among the students is important.

        Reply by Joyce Basch

      2. I have just completed the El Civics Crime project in my very large (35-40) combo class. It was successful as the subject matter related closely to students’ lives – crime, gangs, identity theft – and steps students could take to address these issues. A SA police officer came to my class & gave a 45-minute talk complete with video, handouts in English & Spanish, & a Q&A session which students really got into. The project generated much discussion before and after the officer’s visit. I make a big effort to have all the El Civics meaningful to students’ lives

      3. I love the idea of inviting experts into the class to speak to the EL Civics lesson. Having a law officer coming into the class to speak about crime and crime prevention was great. This could be extended to other disciplines such as nutrition and government.

    2. Orientations are a good start for new students; since they get very vualuable information about the services and the opportunities the computer lab offers. Setting goals is a good way to keep the students on track and with a realistic time frame to earn a certificate. Students get all the information about requierements to earn a State Cerfitificate. We (instructors) fill out a form that tells the student the classes they need to take and the semester in which they can take each class (Similar to what they do at community college and Cal State). Students have a define goal.

  11. On the first day of class I handed out a Round Table scenario. Students were instructed to continue adding to the first sentence to complete the story. The story began with, ” As I was walking to school today, I saw something very strange”. I handed out 5 pages with this senario- one for each row of students. I was amazed at how well they caught on to the exercise. The story continued to develop and the last student in the row was asked to include a conclusion to the story. Overall it went very well.

    Roger Barbosa Intermediate 3

    1. I also did the Round Table scenario in the High School Lab and it worked great. The students loved the idea of creating a story as a group. I had some pretty clever ones. I also had them do it on their own so they could get writing credit. I am definetly planning on doing it again because it was a success.

      1. writing scares some of our students.Doing it as a group makes it less intimidating and its a good way to get our students to warm up to writing.I really love the idea of creating a story together.Students get to learner from each otther and biuld on each others strengths.

    2. I also did this particular Round Table in a class with students taking GED or a vocabulary class (HSS). In each of these areas, the students are required to write and some struggle. This was a fun way to do some creative writing, and the students were so pleased with their work.

    3. Love this idea.It is true that one of the most intimidating exercisees in my Beginning 3 class is free write. I always encourge my students to write. On my first meeting for the week I ask them to write about three things that they did on the weekend. I first model this by writing on the board what I did on the weekend. I also encourage my students to write at home. I ask them to bring their writings to me for discussion and correction.

  12. I used the Facing Lines activity twice during the first two weeks of class since my classroom didn’t have enough space to accommodate the Inside/Outside Circle activity.This activity worked really well with my students. I first gave them each a handout of questions about themselves. The grammar was mostly on the present tense “be” verb. They had to write down the answers first and then I went over the questions orally with them. Then they did the Facing Lines activity using their handouts. My students enjoyed this activity and they were able to practice with more people instead of just the person sitting next to them. My goal is for them to not rely so much on their handouts when asking questions. I want it to be as authentic as possible. I know this will take time and a lot of practice. I plan on using this activity more often.

    1. This reply is for Joyce Basch. She wrote:

      I’ve used this valuable exercise many times over the years while teaching ESL. It works well with all levels of ESL. Giving all the students many opportunities to use English and repeat new English language lessons is essential to their feeling confident in oral communication.

      By Joyce Basch

  13. From the Learner Centered workshop, I realized that I would like to acknowledge the students as individuals more. We had discussed saying and learning names (teacher and classmates) as one way of doing that. Especially with open entry, sometimes the new arrivals do not receive enough attention.
    The first day of my ESL Literacy class, we tried a review of the months of the year which incorporated the students’ names. Each student received a post-it and wrote only his/her name and birth month on it. Then, the students lined up in “month order” (ie. those with birthdays in January were first in line, then Feb., etc.). I called out the name of the month, and the students and I said the names of those with that birth month. Then, the students recorded their names on a large calendar, each recording on their appropriate birth month.
    The calendar is posted in the classroom. The names can now be read off each month to” re-acknowledge” the individual students born in that month. Also, as new students enter the class, they will be added to the calendar.
    The students seemed to enjoy the birth month idea and learning something about each classmate. They actually brought more energy into the activity by wearing the post-its (like a badge) and making sure that any late arrivals that day were included on the calendar.

  14. I tried “Consensus” in my Intermediate 2 class twice last week.
    First time, we were reading a story about the world’s largest family.After working on vocabulary and comprehension, we proceeded to Discussion. The class was divided into 4 groups of 7-8 people at a round table. The task was to discuss and try to reach a consensus on an ideal-size family.A facilitator was assigned for each table to encourage everyone to participate and record the findings.After heated debates, all the tables but one managed to reach a consensus(with two children being an ideal number for the modern world).They cited all the reasons behind that decision.
    Second time, we were talking about the jury system in US courts.After introducing all the relevant vocabulary, I wrote down on the board all pieces of evidence against the defendant as well as some factors that might be viewed in his favor. I had 2 sets of jury(12 plus one alternate on each).A foreperson was elected for each. It was explained that a unanimous decision was necessary to convict or acquit the defendat.The deliberations began. After 15 minutes, one jury unanimously acquited the man, while the other was declared a hung jury (8 to 4).
    The students enjoyed the activity on both occasions. On top of learning new words,it was fun and was a true team work.

    Comment by Liliya Boshyan — January 26, 2012 @ 7:18 pm |Reply

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    1. I like lessons that bring about a debate. Even controversial topics can really good teaching tools. I did a lesson concerning consequences of your actions such as too much smoking or drinking or not enough sleep or not enough money. The debate was what i was expecting and new vocabulary was learned.

  15. Roundtable was quite a success in my Intermedite 1 class.
    During the last 20 minutes of class,when the energy was on decline, I offered it as a game to practice “Irregular Verbs”.We had 4 round tables with 6-7 people at each.
    The time was set for 15 minutes. The first student would write an irregular verb with 3 forms and pass on to the next one,who,in his/her turn would write a verb starting with the final letter of the previous one, and so on…
    The entire table was responsible for correct grammar and spelling.
    The table with the maximum number of correct verbs was declared winner.
    It was a fun way to practice grammar and ensured team work.
    Cooperative learning at its best! Indeed!

    1. Love this activity. This activity would work well in my class. The timing of it is also perfect. The last twenty minutes are always the hardest to get through. However, if we make it fun by turning the learning activity into a game, then the students don’t even realise that they are learning and by the time they look up it is time to go home.

  16. My students and I are working on goals; specifically academic and career goals. Last week students formed “Success Teams”. They received binders that included forms for them to write the goals of their team members and for tracking their goals. I’m looking forward to making this a weekly activity since I think this will help the students (and me!) stay on track and focused on their goals.

    1. For my Beginning 1 class, I ask students to highlight 4 communication skills (writing, reading, speaking, listening) as a reference point for their goal-setting tasks. I ask them at the start of the semester to keep track of their weak areas and what they would like to improve on the most. This serves 2 purposes for me: I can determine, at the start of the semester, specific student strengths and weaknesses and, throughout the semester, this reminds me to balance my activities to strengthen each of the communication skills.

  17. Ball toss was definitely a very active and lively activity done during the first week of instruction. Student’s retention soared to 100%. It was the first time I incorporated the system in my class and it definitely helped everyone. Each student will mention a computer term and the student who receives the ball would give a short definition of the word. The tossing of ball went on and on until everyone got familiar with each term.

    1. I also use the Ball Toss game in my Beginning 1 class for conversation starters and Q & A activities: the student asks a WH question and tosses the ball, whoever catches the ball has to answer with his/her personal information (who are you? what is your name? where do you live? How old are you? etc.). If you want to add more excitement to this activity, you can try adding another ball to the game so that the student who asks the question now has 2 balls to toss to 2 other students. This creates a type of friendly competition when the 2 students who catch the balls race to give their answers quickly and correctly. I find this friendly competition really helps to motivate them. All in good fun, of course.

  18. Project-Based Learning

    Our project’s goal was to wind up a unit comprised of learning numbers, money and drug store items with an everday application. We used our vocabulary and shopped at CVS Pharmacy using their weekly ad. I wanted to expand the lesson by using computers. For many, this was the students’ first use of computers. Our wonderful room has ten computers, so the students were able to have a buddy. They followed my written sheet finding the brand name and price for the same items found in their text. They learned to use the computer’s mouse, arrow, and the Internet’s Google. We always input the web address in Google because it is more forgiving of address typos. I also like to give computer instructions imbedded in a lesson topic so they focus on the words they have studied and don’t worry about the computer.
    The students gave a rousing “yes” when I asked them if they liked this lesson.
    We will be making receipts, checks and play money for the CVS items.

    Sue Pace

  19. Round tables

    1. To set up the round table concept, students first did an individual fill- in-the- blanks of the alphabet. Then we did a round table of each student adding a letter of the alphabet on a blank sheet of paper. My goal was to have students work together as a group and to find another way to practice the alphabet.

    2. At the end of class, I have the students think of the English words they have heard that day. The objective is to use it as a summary and show the students that they are leaning. I have done this as a round robin and a round table. For the round table, I had each table of students use the round table process to create a list. It was competitive between tables. They were much focused.

    Sue Pace

  20. Critical thinking strips

    1. I wanted an application to tie lessons of personal pronouns, “be verbs” and feelings together. The students cut up sentence strips into separate words. The sentences used personal pronouns, “be” verbs, and feelings. The students wrote down the different sentences that they could make with the word strips. They really liked the project. It was their first sentence strip lesson.

    2. Students picked a word strip of a drug store items. He/she then found the item listed on a receipt said the price. I could walk around and spot a student having a problem.

    3. Strips -Match a price with picture groupings of money. The students had to match strips of prices with a pile of money pictures. The idea is for them to count the money in each money picture before finding the correct one. It not only is another way to practice money terms but works on developing co-operative skills.

    1. I used an activity similar to Sue’s third strip activity about money: in my Beginning 1 class, I had students match word strips with number strips (cardinal and ordinal) to reinforce spelling of numbers: very good activity for beginners who have a difficult time with this vocabulary. I usually conduct the activity in 3 rounds. 1st round: strips and numbers are in numerical order. students match the strips. 2nd round: numbers are not in order, but words are. 3rd round: both numbers and words are not in order. For more excitement, I give them a time-limit to do the 3rd round and groups compete to be the fastest.

  21. On the first night of our class, I had each student write his/her name on the board as they entered the classroom. When class was ready to begin, each student came up to the board, pointed to his/her name, said “My name is _________. I am from __________. I want to learn English because_____________.” The name was erased and the next student came up. I might use this exercise again with slight alterations.

  22. Again from the “student centered” discussions, we tried another “learning about each other” activity early in this Spring session. Coupled with practicing past tense verbs in context, the ESL Beg. 1/2 students wrote their names and what they did over the holidays on large post-its. They put their completed post-its on the board. Then, I randomly handed out the completed post-its to the students (making sure they did not receive their own). The object was for each student to find the student (by name) who had written the redistributed post-it and then read it back (reading practice) to the original student. This seemed to get the learning energy going as it got everybody up and moving, searching for their classmates by name, and then reading past tense verbs in sentences that were student-generated.

    In the same class, we used the idea of identifying learning goals. We did the “goals in an envelope” application. Students wrote their English learning goal for the semester on an index card. The card was put into an envelope, but not sealed. Then, the envelopes were placed in their personal writing folders. In this way, the students can revisit their goals each week when they use the folder to practice writing. (During our flex week workshop which discussed “goals in an envelope”, one teacher said that she did not like this technique because it asked the students to seal the envelope. She felt that students needed to look at their goals frequently, revise, etc. I thought that really made sense, but I liked the idea of writing down the goal. As a result of her comment, I decided to leave the envelopes open for frequent goal checking.)

    We tried the technique of “four corners” also. We used it to review the four seasons of the year while reading together one of the National Geographic books on the seasons. Posters were put up in the four corners of the classroom. Each poster had a different season name on it. The students were to go to the poster that represented their favorite season. Then, in sequence, each favorite season group would read the section of the book corresponding to “their” season. I think I should have modeled this activity more as there were many confused faces, especially at first. In general, it went along ok, but not everyone wanted to participate. One student said from her seat that she liked winter the best, but she didn’t want to go to the winter corner. Another wanted to finish something else and didn’t really want to go to a corner either. So, maybe modeling and explaining the reason for the activity more (classmate interaction and reviewing the seasons) would have helped. Anyone else have students who “didn’t want to play”?? In the end, it was a good learning experience about trying this technique and it was fine for some to be involved, but from their seats.

  23. This semester I am teaching a Beg 3/ Int 1 combination class in ESL. After learning many techniques to use in Cooperative Learning, I chose an upper level biography of Martin Luther King Jr. online and made copies. I cut the story in half. Using a Think- Pair- Share and jig-saw combination I gave my Beginning 3 students the first half and the Int 1 students the second half. I gave them time to think while reading their half, then I gave them time to get partners at their same level and with their same half of the story to pair. They lastly had time to reorganize with an expert from each half and they taught each other their expert half to share and jig-saw. During each of these phases, I facilitated by moving around the room and helping groups with new vocabulary. We then went over the story in whole group and had volunteers read and explain each sentence.
    In conclusion, they all worked on a comprehensive question worksheet. This activity took almost the whole class time to complete, but all students were engaged. All agreed they understood MLK’s life and were surprised that they could read at that level of reading. It was probably equal to the level of the newspaper. I will use this activity with other reading material in future classes.

  24. I wanted my Int 2 students to practice critical thinking exercises. I decided to do 3 true/1 false sentence activity. The first time I wrote sentences about me. The students were new to me and I chose simple sentences that were easy to understand. They seemed to really enjoy getting to know me this way. The next time I had them write sentences about themselves in pairs and their partner was to guess which sentence was false. The third time I had them in groups. Each group had something in common. For example, in one group, they all worked for a hotel. All members of another group had kids, etc. This time each group wrote sentences about what their group shared and exchanged it with another group.

    This was a great exercise and practice in encouraging students to think for themselves as well as practice co-operative tasks and learning.

  25. I have learned so much from our Spring flex workshops. Among these workshops, I find the goal setting activity especially fitting for my students. As an Adult High School Diploma Program instructor, I noticed that students who don’t set clear goals in life are more likely to give up. As a matter of fact, they lose motivation to attend and complete assignment.

    During the month of January, I passed out the SMART goal setting sheet to my students and asked each one to carefully fill out the sheet. I emphasized on goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, resonable, and time bound. And I explained to them that I’d like to follow up on their progress. Since then, I’ve gotten many positive feedbacks and responses from my students.

  26. Besides applying the goal setting strategy to my Adult High School Diploma Program students, I have benefited from practicing learner-centered instruction. Whenever I communicate with a new student, I always try to find out what kind of learner he or she is and how he or she would like to be taught. For my math students, I would demonstrate how to solve equation and how to graph on the paper. They like it when they can see the whole process. When I need to explain a difficult concept, I make sure that I repeat what say and say it clearly. I encourage students to ask questions. I believe they appreciate it mroe when I try to accommodate and adapt to their way of learning. By doing it, students are more willing to come back and ask questions.

  27. Goal Setting Activity

    At the start of the semester, I have all of my students complete a goal setting activity. I explain what a goal is as well as other key terms, like short-term vs. long term goals, resources, skills and obstacles. The students identify their educational goals. Do they want their high school diploma? Do they want to improve their basic academic skills? The students then identify what resources they have to meet their goals, such as teachers and support from family members, as well as their own skills. The students must then identify the individual skills they will need to develop to meet their goals. Finally, I have my students identify the obstacles they must overcome to achieve their goals. I have done this activity multiple times, and my students find it very empowering.

  28. Crtical Thinking Activity

    A great critical thinking activity is having students list the characteristics they would want in a spouse. Most students enjoy this activity a great deal because they can relate to it. The students are given a worksheet with three columns: In one column they list positive (or “plus”) characteristics. This can include physical traits and personal values/characteristics. In another column they list negative (“con”) characteristics–traits they would not want in a spouse. They then list traits they would find “interesting” but that are not critical in a husband or wife. Next, the students number the traits from most to least important in each category. I then have students put stars next to the traits listed that are most like themselves. Most students enjoy the realization they want to have a spouse who is just like themselves!

  29. I have completed all the courses for the Student Success Certificate. One of the goals I’d selected for Learner-Centered Instruction was to help my Intermediate students become aware of their learning style and how they learn (metacognition). For this goal, I recently had my students take a Visual-Audio-Kinesthetic quiz to identify how they learned most effectively. The highest number of students turned out to be Visual-Kinesthetic learners. We discussed as a class what that means for students’ learning. One interesting we discovered was that writing was one area where everyone wanted to improve their skills. Writing was both visual and kinesthetic I showed students how they could do a mindmap or writing cluster to plan their paragraph. Then we each composed a paragraph in class that discussed the importance of knowing how to learn.

  30. Following up on my previous post, I’d also selected a Critical Thinking goal to work on this semester. My goal was to do a Consequences and Results activity where students considered the importance of class attendance and the results for their language development of being absent. Fortunately, this goal tied in well with the first EL CIVICS curriculum that we recently completed. In the curriculum, the students had to identify and list common reasons why students are absent from school. Afterward, they were asked to compose their own absence note to their teacher. When we did this activity, I was surprised at the number of legitimate reasons for absences that the students were able to write down. I had them work in pairs to generate the lists. Later, the students examined the model paragraph provided in EL CIVICS curriculum and then worked on their own drafts. Students used critical thinking skills to classify the reasons for absence by type. Then they evaluated what the long-term results of student persistence might be. I tried to connect the importance of personal goal-setting with the EL CIVICS curriculum. It proved to be an effective lesson in critical thinking.

  31. I tried line up a couple of times with my students. The first time, I had them line up alphabetically by first name. This helped them–and me–learn their names. The second time, I had them line up according to how long they have been living in California. It was fun on both occasions because the students got a chance to interact with a great number of their peers in a non-threatening activity and they learned a little bit more about each other. It also gave me the opportunity to get to know my students more,

    1. Love this idea and with your permission, I am going to steal it. It is always useful when we can get our students to work together. Because the enrollment is open, learning the names of our students is always challenging; I will be using this activity next semester

  32. Anne Koen here: During the first week of my class I made up a handout that called upon the students to work in groups. The first part of the handout was Survey Questions for Discussion. The second part was Designing an English Class and the third part of was a four zig saw activity where four groups were set up to discuss Reading, Grammar, Writing, and Conversation. The first disussion got the students to talk about what they liked to do in their classes. Then all of the groups put their answers on large sheets of paper which were posted around the room and discussed by the entire class. I used the same format as was used in the seminar. The second discussion was about their favorite ESL class. Why they like it so much. Most memorable moments etc. it was handeled the same way. The last four part jig saw was four discussions about What eah group wanted or needed the most from this class in the various categories. Then the members of the group were brought together to further discuss the subject and come to consensus on four ideas that they felt were the most important. It went smoothly and I learned a great deal about my class. I helped them with vocabulary along the way and went from table to table to offer my assistance but found that they really enjoyed working on their own. This is not new to me. I actually run a lot of my classes this way. But I do not do this too often least my class become redundant and boring. heaven forbid??
    The end result is that my class spoke English continually for two and a half hours and didn’t even realize what they had accomplished until it was over. I always learn new and helpful ideas in these seminars and also remember things I had forgotten. They are a nice shot in the arm so to speak. I will be glad to share this handout with anyone who would like to use it. Thanks again Rob. Sincerely, Anne Koen

  33. My students did a Roundtable activity where I gave each group of three students a laminated picture to describe. I told them to describe the pictures with the grammar that they have been studying in my Beg.3 class. I also showed them a list of questions on the projector screen that they could use as a guide to help them describe the pictures. I also gave them examples of sentences I wanted them to use. Overall, this activity went very well. They were able to write a lot of sentences. I walked around the room to check on their progress. I reminded them to look at the questions that I had posted on the screen to give them more ideas. They seemed really interested in this activity and they asked me a lot of questions about their grammar and content. I think this is a great activity to use towards the end of a grammar lesson.

  34. I try to use goal setting in every level I ever teach. However, it seems to be difficult keeping track of the students and their goals. This time I decided to try setting weekly goals. It seemed to be easier and to include more students than setting semester, or even monthly goals. I chose to set the same goal for all students. For example, last week’s goal was for everyone to watch TV in English for 30 minutes everyday. We set the goal on Tuesday (Monday was a holiday) and checked back on Thursday. Almost everyone had been able to keep it up. The week before, the goal was to speak for 5 minutes about a fun activity they had done during the weekend. This was a bit harder to do. However, they seem to be excited and come to class expecting to hear this week’s goal. I even had one student text me to ask me what the goal would be since he was sick at home. I think today I will let them discuss and choose what goal they want to set for this week🙂

    1. I really like this idea in addition to setting long-term goals at the beginning of the semester, which can be more challenging to continually follow up on and keep track of. I stated on a previous post that I want to focus more on encouraging the students to create long-term goals for their English learning at the beginning of each semester, but I believe that incorporating a weekly short-term goal strategy would allow the students to focus more on smaller successes, and give them a feeling of ongoing success which they can build on and use for motivation to continue studying and learning.

  35. I have commented earlier on how successful the technique of grouping students in my class is. I have tried various ways to put students to work by using their month of birth, the colors of their clothing and also the number of siblings they have. We always have a lot of fun when students try to find their partners. That seems to break the initial ice and they feel much more comfortable to work with people they have just joked with. I have used that strategy on various occassions; to introduce students on day one, to review irregular verbs, where they dictate each other different forms of the verbs, and to arrange newly learned vocabulary from the unit we just covered in different categories. For example , last week my students tried to arrange the information about popular electronic gadgets they use daily by focusing on their advantages and disadvantages in the use. They enjoyed exchanging their view-points and were able to come to mutual agreements. This activity was a true success. Despite the fear of working with “strangers” they soon see how muchh fun it is to get to know everybody in class. Nopw the students feel much more comfortable and excited about changing the sitting arrangement in class. They seem to quickly form new friendships.

    1. As I mentioned in my previous blog, I very much enjoyed taking the “Critical Thinking” workshop because I find that various techniques used to discuss the topic get my students truly involved in the learning process. Two weeks ago , in preparation for the EL Civics topic of “Employment” I asked my students to work in groups and discuss “Consequences and Results” of working in variuos professions. They had to use conditional sentences to predict what would happen if they worked in different positions. Students were able to clearly predict the consequences of their actions. On another occasion I used the same technique, this time I had my students discuss in groups the consequences and results of not living in a “green environment”. They had to foresee what would happen if we didn’t take the problem of global warming seriously. Some students gave very personal responds dealing with the conduct of their close family. Other students looked at the problem from more general prospective of our planet as a whole.They had chance to discuss their view-points first in the small groups, and then to prepare their short presentations on the forum of the whole class and submit it to further speculation. I was amazed how passionate they were in their discussions. It is a great technique to use in Intermediate High or Advanced levels.

    2. Love this grouping Idea. Mostly I have allowed students to chose their groups and usually they gravitate to that classmate that they have the best relationship with. Having read your blog, I think it would be useful to try some of the grouping methods that you have suggested

  36. Line Up – Learner Center Instruction

    On a nice day after the workshop, we went outside after going over the alphabet and learning last name first. We also practiced asking “What is your last name?”. The students had the space to line up according to their last names. When 2 or 3 students had the same last name, I realized it was time to teach them about first name order. After they completed the line, they took turns saying their names from A-Z then again from Z-A. It was fun and they enjoyed it.

    Preparing for EL Civics Lesson 2 Education

    The students first looked at the pictures provided and identified the ways people learn. We then added some to the list on the board. Then, they did the worksheets cooperatively. To help them remember and prepare for the test, they started with 2 ways and went around the room asking others how they learned. We returned to the worksheets. Finally, they were asked to list five without looking at the pictures and if they couldn’t it was o.k. because they would find out the answers from the other students as they went to 3 students and read their list. They had asked me to give the test on the same day we practiced because in lesson 1 I had spread out the lessons and then I gave them the test.

  37. I teach Beg. 2. I tried the activity “Find the Matching Card”, but with a twist. I typed up several two-sentence dialogues. I cut them apart. Each student received a sentence. Each sentence was to be matched with it’s “partner” sentence. Students walked around and read their sentences to each other, trying to find their own match. Even if the other student’s sentence does not match, he must read his back .They were searching for “sentences partners” for example, sentence 1 : “My first name is Mickey” was searching for the answer dialogue: “ My last name is Mouse”. I used familiar words and sentences they would be able to identify easily with. By the finish of the exercise all students have walked around the room to all tables and conversed and laughed. This is a good activity towards the end of the week when students need a “happy” break. They end up laughing with each other and practicing pronunciation and listening. I notice they correct each other if someone doesn’t pronounce a word correctly.

    1. This is a great activity and can be applied to almost any lesson. Having students reading back their sentences helps the student to practice pronunciation as well. It also means that 100% of the students will be involved.

  38. I try to use goal setting every year as part of the high school subjects class. However, it seems to be difficult keeping track of the students and their goals. Our classes are open-entry open-exit and thus students come and go during the year. This time I decided to talk about goals as part of a group lesson. It seemed to be easier to start with a smaller group rather than the whole class. I feel that once these students see all the goals come to reality they will share their accomplishments with others. I’m sure this will encourage other students to set goals as well. I see this as a great lesson were students are learning about goal setting and and at the same time talking more and more with each other. I love how this becomes a continuous learning experience.

    1. Some of our students whose goal is to get their High School Diploma this Spring are very motivated and exicited.They are counting down how many more classes they need and how much time they have left to do this.They are breaking it down to weeks ,Chapters and units.I like Spring because students who are close to achieving their goal come to look for us and we dont have to chase them around.Some students are getting encouraged just by seeing others achieve their goalI. It is encouraging for us as teachers too.Its so good to see this dream come true for them.I agree with Jorge that is hard to keep track of all our studen’s goals

  39. I enjoy hearing what other teachers do to keep the students interested and involved. I like anything to get my students talking to each other. The more they talk, the more they develop friendships. The more friendships they develop, the more they come to class. I have designed a worksheet giving each student four questions to interview four students. They may not interview their neighbor. It’s got to be someone across the classroom. I love to hear the laughter during this activity.

  40. I have always liked cooperative learning. With 4 people, it gives each member a role to play. It is also a good activity for a final lesson on a concept.
    I recently used cooperative learning for reviewing the present continuous tense. Groups of students were given magazine pictures and told to write sentences describing what was happening in the photos. They needed to work together and the structure of cooperative learning provides this. The presintation of reading the sentences to the class is the last part of this activity.

  41. I have found the round table practice to be very effective for developing cooperative learning. I put my students in groups of three (found out that four leaves too much idle time and two to be too restrictive) by “numbered heads. I begin a sentence with only a subject and the students finish that sentence one word at a time, passing the paper around until they finish their sentence. The group with the most words put in correct sequence wins. (usually a piece of candy,a pencil or just a happy face. The verb in each sentence is to be in the tense that we are studying in class at the time of the exercise.

  42. Today in my Beg 2/3 Combo class I incorporated a cooperative learning activity with an exercise from the class text. The students interviewed 5 different people in the class and asked about favorite types of movies, books, TV programs, etc. Once they had their information, students worked in groups to compile their information into a class chart. The chart showed the students the number of people that “liked” each category. It took the book exercise a step farther and enabled them to use the language in a more realistic setting.

  43. In my Beg 1-2 class we are currently working on family vocabulary. We are concentrating on the idea of brothers and sisters. After discussing the concept and illustrating with pictures I had my students stand in a circle and say how many brothers/sisters they have. The student next to them would give their information and then repeat what the students before them had said. We then made a chart on the board to illustrate who had large families vs. small families. The students loved to hear about one another!!

  44. I teach Beg. 2. An activity that I am gradually adopting more and more is dictation/conversation. I did it a few times, but students often ask for it now. It is the last ten to fifteen minutes before we go home. I dictate a question, then write it on the board. They compare how they wrote the question on their paper with how it was written on the board. There are questions like: Did you eat vegetables today? Do you have two brothers and two sisters? Does your grandmother have a red dress? Are you a twin? I usually write 5 to 8 sentences depending on the time. They then walk around the room asking those questions to each other. If a student answers “no”, they move on to another student. If the student answers “yes”, they write that student’s name down next to the question. Lately, as this has progressed, I am posing a few more difficult questions like: What letters do you add to the verb to make it present continuous? These are items we have been studying. The purpose of this activity is for practice conversation (rather than students trying to think up a topic), writing is involved and people are always surprised at what they learn about each other, depending on the question. When time is up, we repeat the questions written on the board and discuss who found somebody who ate vegetables today, or rode a bike, etc. and who those people were.
    Sharon Edwards

  45. On goal setting, I have always had my students during the first week of class set two or three SPECIFIC goals for the semester. First I ask them, “Today, what is your number one problem in English?” I write the possibilities on the board: reading, writing, listening, grammar, etc. I tell them they can only answer to one of these on a sheet of paper. Then I ask them how I can SPECIFICALLY help them with this problem, stressing that answers such as “Help me with my English” is not specific enough.

    Then they write the goals that they want to reach by the last day of class,collect them, and return them on the last day of class.

  46. Regarding Critical Thinking, I tried a “consequences and results” activity in connection with my Int. 2 class learning the use of the perfect modals “should have” and “shouldn’t have.”

    I divided the class into 8 groups and wrote consequences for actions on small pievces of paper. For example, one consequence was “He spent overnight in jail.” the group had to come up with a believable scenario and write two statements, one with “should have” and one with “shouldn’t have.”

    I then wrote the possible consequences on the board and had a member of each group come up and explain, using the two sentences the group had written. The other students shared other ideas and possible answers. It was a fun exercise and the students enjoyed it immensely.

  47. I have used the goal setting pages in the student handbooks to have sutdents write 6 month,1 year and 5 year ed,job, and personal goals.
    I have also created a handout of monthly academic goals which they staple in their student book. They contain 25 ideas for learning English outside of class, such as giong to an English speaking movie, talking to an English speaking store clerk, or helping their children with their homework. The class meets in groups every 3 week to exchange success stories, choose new academic goals,and then write them in their student handbooks.

    They especially enjoy reporting to each other how well their chosen activity went and recommending that one to the other students. They then choose new academic goals for the next month.

  48. I have used the 4 corners learning technique for my beg 2 class quite successfully for discussing the unit on jobs. I displayed magazine photos of people doing different careers, such as a doctor, a construction worker, a computer programmer, a pres-chool teacher, and bank teller. The students chose the job picture that they thought was the best suited for them.
    Not only did they need to talk about why they chose this career they had to write why they chose it . The team leader of each group presented these to the rest of the class.

  49. Our class really enjoys using the “Definitions” strategy. A word is put out to the class and asked to predict its meaning either from close association to other similar words or by just guessing. In fact, one of the words we investigated was the word “guessing.” They always express their appreciation for what we call “owning” a new word.

  50. Another strategy which is very effective in the classroom is “Popcorn Reading.”
    It is less intimidating than having the instructor call upon each student and sometimes results in some funny moments when two or three jump up at the same time. It is interesting to see what classroom dynamic comes into play at that time. I always encourage all to read and point out that this is their safe place because we are all in this room to learn together, including the instructor.

  51. I wanted to wait until I actually did a successful zig saw before I reported on it. Last night we came to a point in the class where reading about History fit into the program. Therefore I had the class read different chapters in Exploring American History Book 2 by Phil Le Faivre and Flo Decker. There is a class set of these books in our resource room. The lesson was to learn to write summaries, share information, and then report to the second group. I first taught the class what a summary was and how to write one. They they broke into five groups of three people each and read Chapters #8,#11,#14,#15, and #16. All of the readings were about modern history of the USA. Actually they are chapters they previously showed and interest in reading. After each group wrote a summary they then each went to the second group of five people each and told thier story to the rest of the group. That way everyone was able to learn a lot about the recent history of the USA in a brief time. Everyone spoke English to negociate the lesson and appeared to not only learning but enjoying themselves as well. They found the lesson interesting because they were learning about things that were new to them. Sometimes I am amazed at what they do not know regarding world affairs. The pre part of the lesson was a reading about the Challenger and a number of the students had never heard about the explosion. logistically I made up little pieces of paper with A1, A2, A3, BI, B2, B3, C1, C2, C3, D1, D2, D3, E1, E, E3, E4. All the A[s met and read one story etc. Then all of the 1’s formed a group of five people, all the 2’s and 3’s did the same. It took an hour but I should have allowed about an hour and a half. Hope this gives you an idea of a successful jig saw activity. Sincerely, Anne Koen

  52. This is a task based activity that I call an “oral cloze.” Like a written cloze, it reinforces grammar concepts but also allows students to practice speech and pronunciation. I first tried it teaching the Simple Present tense, where the key issue is addition of an “s” to the verb for 3rd person singular subjects.
    I wrote a list of subjects in a vertical column on the board, e.g., I, You, Maria, Juan, Juan and I, Juan and Maria, my friend, my friends, etc. Then, sequentially, I wrote a series of cloze sentences on the board with the verb in parenthesis following the sentence. For example:

    ________ ________ until 7:00 AM. (sleep)

    Then I went around the room alerting each student that they will be called on next to complete the sentence. Of course, for each student called on I wrote a different cloze sentence, erasing the one previously written.
    Next, with a red marker, I put a check next to a subject at random from the list on the board. The student called on completed the sentence orally, which if correct, I filled in the blanks on the board. When an incorrect answer was given, I politely asked the class as a whole: “Is that correct?” The more knowledgeable students made the correction and then I asked the student called on to repeat the sentence correctly.
    I also used this method in teaching personal object and possessive pronouns and plan on using it for other grammar areas as they arise. I find it to be useful not only to help students with grammar but also to give them an opportunity to practice speech and pronunciation.

  53. Cooerattive Learning (Expert Groups) by Tri Ly Lam, CEC
    I have used this for my ESL beg. 3 (about 30 students) for three times and the results as indicated.
    – Six groups each got different materials for 6 tenses (simple and continuous) as I taught Unit 1, Side By Side Plus 2. Most students enjoyed but there was a little problem as two students in a group went our home. So, I let three left to go to blackboard instead each went to a group. That’s fine.
    – Two weeks later, I delivered 6 materials dealing with count, noncount, plural nouns, how much, there is/there are, and some to six group. In a group, some members were too afraid of teaching to other groups, so I let the whole group teach the whole class – some talked and other wrote on the board and it worked well.

    It was fascinating for twice with this techniques.

  54. Critical Thinking (the question game) by Tri Ly Lam, ESL Instructor El Sol

    To me, the very basic and complex thing for ESL language learners is how to teach them the pattern sentence: Subject + Verb (together with tenses). The question game is my savior in teaching this pattern and I used it many times. Typical are here as indicatted.
    -Students in a round circle and gave statements. Each said a statement and another transformed it into a questions.
    – Students each said one sentence in a reading and another and we had time to correct the wrong questions.

    In fact, I thought that this technique was not different from the transformation drills of the Audio-Lingual Method. But they are different as this technique is not mechanical but of critical thinking.

    That’s great!

  55. Learner-centered instruction by Tri Ly Lam, CEC
    Of communicative language teaching it is, but this instruction is from the teaching concept focusing on ” the learner rather than the teacher” which was spoken by Noam Chomsky at a conference over twenty years ago.

    The concept of learner-centeredness has changed the concepts of communicatve competence by both Halliday and Hymes. When applying the techniques of learner-centered instruction, I focused on communicative competence individually.

    To me, the teaching of communicative competence must be based on the communicative competence of the learner I teach, not any others. It is hard for me to explain, but what I know in using this type of instruction is focusing on the learner.

    So, this type of instruction reminds me to focus on the learner rather texts or myself.

  56. Last Thursday I had my students work on another activity. This time as part of a group lesson I told my students to ask their assigned partners the following questions:

    1. First and last name
    2. Number of siblings
    3. Name of siblings
    4. Age of siblings

    I decided to also participate and found out some very interesting facts about my partner. I had not idea that my student had 9 siblings, 9, can you believe that! We had a great conversation about her family and mine. I was more than thrilled that the other students around me started talking amongst each other and kept up their conversations for a good 10 minutes.

    I really enjoyed seeing my students open up and make new friends. This will help our classroom become a friendlier and more welcoming environment for everyone.

    At first students may be a bit hesitant when it comes to talking to a “stranger”, but don’t despair, they will come to love these activities and even more so because they will make new friends.

  57. The Spring Leadership Class has started and Brainstorming was our 2nd Topic in the series of 10 classes. Looking back, I find that I use Cooperative Learning in many of my classes but I will talk about one topic this time; Brianstorming.

    After the lecture, The students are broken in to small groups and given the group roles. I have found to this first before giving the task to be done allows for the small group of students to know what each other are supposed to do rather than each student thinking they have to write everything down. Once they have determined who is doing what then we go into the task of writing all the ideas they have ‘Brainstormed on’ then they have to “Rank” them them in order of importance by coming to a concensus.
    This is where a potential challenge can come with students in the group is the concensus part. Many of the more shy students dont speak up so the consensus is not always true. As the Instructor, I find I have to walk around and make sure the more shy students are participating . In the begining of the course I have to remind the facilitator in the role to make sure everyone participates (because it is easy to let the stronger personalities take over). I have found by about the 4th class the students are bonding and they are more aware of each others needs. This is my favorite part of the class🙂

  58. Hello, we are well into to our Leadership series this spring 2012. We have completed 4 fridays and the 3 on the evening classes on thursdays . The whole series of these Leadership classes help me understand that we as the Instructors of this course have to be able to make these class and all of it’s topics understandable and applicable to our students lives. With that in mind we often use “Learner Centered Instruction ” within our topics. As most teachers who have taught here at CEC for any time length know that our Leadership Course offers 10 stand alone topics to recieve the Leadership Certificate and 5 Elective HS credits.

    Each class is 4 hours long. Yes that can be a daunting task if you think about it all at once but we break down the topic into bite size pieces by “meshing hypthesis”. We use Auditory (lecture and music), Visual (hand outs, smartboard, and pictures) and my favorite Tactile (games. role playing, having students take turns using Leadership roles in the class, having them teach each other in small groups, and having them continuing to do speaking (english of course) in front of the whole class. By using all of these Learning styles we hope to hit all the synapsis in their brains and get them fired up!

  59. Hi, I teach Beginning 2 class. I did the Cooperative Learning called “Round Table” several times in my class. I used the same story line that was given to us during the staff development. I grouped my students of 4 or 5. Each person in a group wrote one sentence and passed the paper to the next student. Each group continued to write until I, the teacher, tell them to stop.

    They had to continue the story: “As I was walking to school today, I saw something very strange.” I gave my class several examples before I let them start. I also gave them lists of vocabulary words: verbs, nouns, and adjectives. As a class, we discussed and acted out all the vocabulary words. I wanted to make sure they understood the vocabulary before they start the story.

    The stories turned out great! One person from each group had to present their stories to the class. A couple of the stories were funny. One group wrote a very simple story, which was wonderful! I love this activities because everyone in the class participated. As I circulated around the class, all the groups asked questions about sentences, pronunciations of words, vocabulary, and/or paragraphs. All the groups were active doing this activity. It created a wonderful, learning environment in the classroom.

  60. I tried a strategy from the “Learner-Centered Instruction” workshop. The activity was “Learning Student Names.” I got this idea from one of the instructors at the workshop. It is similar to four corners, except that I had written a letter of the alphabet on a post-it note and placed them all around the classroom. The students then gathered under the “initial” of their first name. The activity consisted of saying one’s own name first, and then repeat the names of the other students as they were provided in the following format: “My name is …..,” “Her name is……,” “His name is…….”

    The activity was successful except that the lower-level students had a hard time producing the sentences. They concentrated so much in the grammar that when it came to it (“she or he”), they forgot their classmates’ names. My Beginning 2 students loved it and did much better.

    For Beginning 1, I would do this activity leaving out “the sentence format.” For Beginning 2, it was a great activity.

  61. Another strategy I have found extremely successful is “Recognition,” which falls under “Learner Persistence, Strategy 3: Self-Efficacy.” At the beginning of every semester, I give each student two charts, one for Attendance and the other for Punctuality. Each chart is organized by rows and columns. Rows are for months; columns are for the days of the week the class meets. Every day, as we start the class, I give the students one sticker for being there (attendance) and another one for being on time (punctuality). At the end of the month, I check their charts and give very-simple certificates for “perfect attendance” and “perfect punctuality.” The students come to the front of the class to receive their certificates and a “small token” of appreciation to their hard work: a notebook, a folder, a pencil, a small candy bar, etc. The whole class claps.

    My students own this! They fight me for the sticker if I overlook to give them one.

    When I started doing this, I wasn’t convinced; I thought it was too childish. But it definitely works. Students love to get something tangible, and most importantly, they show their children at home they are being recognized at their own school. As an added bonus, then, it has served to inspire my students’ young children to also attend school and being on time.

  62. Learner-Centered Instruction – Lucy Sims

    In the Business Skills Lab most of the students did not know their classmate’s name. I suggested that we go around the room and find out each one’s name. Once we did that, the students opened up and felt more at ease in the class and felt connected to each other.

    Student Goal Setting – Lucy Sims

    I surveyed the students in the Business Skills Lab to find out their educational goals. The survey consisted of catergories such as: Are you taking the class to get a job, a better job, working toward earning a degree in the future or just taking the class to learn how to use the computer? The students had different goals and some chose two different categories. This survey helps me in guiding the students in reaching their goals. Most of the students wanted to continue their education.

  63. In my Intermediate-1 class students were learning to write Wh questions. Each student was given a card with only one question word on it, for eg. What, where, why etc. After they completed their question I collected the cards, shuffled and passed them out to other students. Each student had to write an appropriate answer to the question ( that was written by another student). It was interesting to watch how students started pointing out mistakes and correcting spelling errors and asking one another. After about 15 minutes each student read the question they got and the answer they wrote on their card.

  64. At the start of teaching the El Civics on Education, I had low class attendance. I thought this might be a time to use cooperative learning for the students. I taught them the first lesson and had them work on it. This is an I-2 level. I pre-warned them that they would be the instructors on this material the next day. I think in general it worked well. I certainly had less questions to answer the next day. I refered them to the other students at their table.
    I had divided them up into instructors and students at different tables. I was quite pleased with the results from that experiment. I will try it with the next El Civics on Nutrution.

  65. I used the corners activity during a lesson on different intelligences lesson from the book. I had more than four corners, but it worked well. I was surprised at how many students put themselves into the Kinesthetic/Athletic area. I know that generally that is about 20 percent on Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic. In my group I had about 25% in that group with 8 categories. However, I did feel that it went well. It gave the students a chance to move around and to see others who thought of their strengths as the same. I also gave them time to talk about why they had put themselves into this group. I have used corners as an ice breaker as well at the beginning of class to help students to get to know a little bit about each other. This has always worked well. It also gives them a chance to speak English in an easy relaxed atmosphere for them.

  66. In the beginning of the semester, I talked to my students about setting goals. We used the red planner book to discuss the educational options available at CEC. Every semester I tell my students that “”Thoughts manage energy which creates reality.” Everything we see was an idea first. If you don’t have a goal you will never get there because there is no planning. We discussed this concept. I passed out 3×5 cards where they wrote out their goal(s); on the other side of the card they wrote their first and last names. Then they grouped together in each of the four corners of the room by alphabetical last names; A-H in one corner, I-O in the other. etc. They discussed their goals with each other. There were lots of lively conversations and the students were able to get to know each other. In retrospect, I realize that setting goals is particularly difficult for our students since so much of life is struggling with the basics of being able to pay the rent and have enough money for food, utilities, etc. For goal setting they need lots of examples on how to set goals that are specific and that can be measured for completion without a realistic time. Also, many are not able to think “big” allowing their imaginations to help them realize their dreams. Lots of time is needed to set goals.
    comment by Marti Guerra–March 6, 2012

  67. Early in the semester I had a disabled student in my class. She could not hear or talk. An interpreter sat in front of her signing my words. I was not told ahead of time, so it was a surprise and a new experience for me. She was a delightful student and we were all fascinated with her ability to communicate despite not being able to hear or talk. We learned to sign hello and good-by. She scored high on her pre-test with the interpreter’s help, and was promoted to a higher level. Never having a student with a disability in my classroom, I did not always think things through regarding my teaching her, though I realized I had to slow down my speech. (It was AFTER she had left that i received a letter explaining she would be in my classroom and outlining the things that one needs to modify to allow for the student’s disability..LOL) An example of my inexperience and lack of focus on her needs–too focused on the other student’s needs–was when we formed a circle and tossed a ball as we said the alphabet. How could she catch the ball and sign? We all laughed at the teacher’s faux pas. When we worked together in pairs, she did well. Instead of two people, there were three, the interpreter being the third person. When I called on her, the interpreter spoke her signing. She was an inspiration to us since she was still learning sign language and not in her language! We all signed a card for her wishing her luck in her new classroom.

  68. Re: Cooperative Learning. Sometimes it’s a blessing that more than 1/3 of my students do not have a textbook. The texts are expensive and some students say they just can’t afford them. Students with texts are asked to share theirs with those who don’t have them. Most students willingly agree. In my combo class I will frequently pair a Beg. 3 student with an Intermediate 1 one for optimal learning and sharing. The students get acquainted with each other while learning at the same time.

  69. At present, I have students from nine countries in my combo class – Beg. 3 & Inter. 1. I want them to get to know each other. To do this I take everyone’s photo & mount it on colored paper on the wall. This semester students have to answer the following questions in a neatly written statement which is pasted below their picture. 1- name; 2- country; 3- two activities they like to do; 4- one activity they can do well; 5- a goal to accomplish this semester – not just speak English better! I model the statements for them with my own plus a photo. Students have to read everyone’s statement. The “photo gallery” seems to have contributed to a cohesive class environment where students really care about each other. We also remind each other about our goals. It’s fun. Some goals have already been accomplished!

  70. Learner-Centered Instruction — Milly Chan

    I teach a Beginning1/2 combo class and found the round table activity to be very effective for pairing up my level-one and -two students. I used this activity for the like/dislike lesson on food and I appointed a level-two student to be the leader at each table. Students had to share about the likes and dislikes of food and the higher-level student became the teacher or expert at that table, helping his or her fellow students. I noticed that students are more talkative in round tables than in pairs as they have to interact with more classmates, and they could also get the help from their fellow students. This activity worked well in lower levels and this is an activity I am going to use very often from now on in order to encourage my students to talk more.

  71. Critical Thinking — Milly Chan

    This week I was teaching the EL Civics lesson on nutrition and applied the gallery walk activity into my lesson. I divided students into four groups and they were given big poster boards to classify the healthy and unhealthy food. Instead of having students group themselves, I numbered off students this time so that they could work with different classmates, not with the same students all the times. The four groups had to classify healthy/unhealthy food and write down their classifications on the paper boards. Then, they walked around to visit other groups’ classifications and one group even drew pictures of many of the food. Thus the gallery walk indeed became a mini artwork display. I like this strategy very much and it works really well in my class as it allows students to practice speaking and writing at the same time. They also tend to stay more focused and pay more attention as they need to do some physical activities by walking around the classroom–and it’s good exercise for them.

  72. Upon completing the cooperative learning workshop, I wanted to practice some student grouping strategies. I teach in the computer lab and find it challenging to apply group exercises. Most computer tasks require that each student must sit in front of their individual computers to complete the task. During an Internet workshop, I distributed handouts asking the students to rank the top 10 most popular internet sites. Instead of having students complete their handouts individually I broke the students into two groups and instructed them to work collectively on answering the questions. At first the students were reluctant to break into a group. They are used to working individually and being asked to work in a group was new and uncomfortable to them. By the end of the assignment, the students were noticeably more relaxed, laughing and having a good time. During the process, the students successfully began to bond and to form a cohesive group. Grouping the students allowed the students to experience a new way of learning, increased their sense of belonging in the workshop and increased their sense of community with fellow students.

  73. The experience in program was considerably pleasing, since they focused strongly on how to develop different methods through theory and practice

  74. I wanted to respond to Laura Billiter and her idea of stickers for attendance and punctuality. I think this is a great idea! I have used something similar in the past (raffle tickets) and I noticed a huge difference with my students arriving on time and coming more often. I have switched sites a few times over the past 2 years and I forgot to bring this back. I like your idea of using stickers and monthly awards… I will be incorporating this back into my class. Thanks for a great idea on learner persistence!

  75. We were learning to make sentences with the simple past tense and the past continuous tense with WHILE in my Int-1 class. I gave half the class sentences written in the simple past tense and the other half got sentences in the past continuous form. Their task was to find a match and then together decide which was the long action( past continuous ) and which sentence was the short action( simple past) . Once they decided that they had to add WHILE to the long action and then read it loud to the class. This activity worked very well in learning the two tenses and connecting the sentences with ‘while’. The students seemed to like getting out of their chairs and working with students other than the same partners around their tables.

  76. Cooperative Learning Exercise #2 – Barb Barone, Business Skills Instructor
    Upon completing a two week workshop on using the Windows XP Operating System, I advised my students that we would take review quiz on the same subject matter. These workshops are not official classes and students are not required to achieve levels of competencies; nor are students required to complete homework assignments. Therefore, asking the students to be accountable for learning the subject matter is a new concept to them. It can also cause them to be intimidated. On the other hand, I thought the students might enjoy confirming just how much they actually learned in the two weeks. Instead of asking each student to complete the quiz on their own, I decided to use a cooperative learning approach. I gave them the choice of taking the quiz individually, or breaking into two groups to work together as a team on answering the quiz. Overwhelmingly the students favored the group concept. They were very excited and animated with the idea. They suggested that the groups be defined by the “girls” versus the “guys”. I made sure that all students were in favor of this approach, which they were. Both groups had much fun playing the game. In the end, I asked for representatives from each group to share their answers and test scores. It turned out to be a tie. I will continue to incorporate cooperative learning approaches in my workshops. Coming from a career in the business world, there is a great deal of emphasis on cooperative learning. I want to engrain this concept with my students in order to prepare them for the business world. This also applies in their academic environment.

  77. In my Beg 2 class we do many cooperative learning projects. One thing that is consistantly popular was something that worked on both speaking and listening skills. I post simple present tense sentences around the room and put students in 2 person teams. One student is the speaker and one the writer. The speaker student walks around the classrrom and reports back to the partner the sentences he/she reads. The writing must listen carefully and write down the sentence he/she hears. The speaker cannot correct the sentence- they can just repeat what they have read. The students love it because they are all running around trying to read the cards and report back. At the end we write the sentences on the board and the teams correct their sentences. Any team with 100% gets candy.

  78. Line Up For CASAS

    I enlarge the vocabulary icons on the CASAS lesson sheets. Next, I write the definitions on separate papers. The students hunt for their icon and definition match. Then they line up and read them. As a warm up the next day, the students match the same icons and definitions on the white board .

    If you want to use an online game that my students made to practice Beginning One’s CASAS terms try’s:

    Activity: CASAS : Building Directory


    personal information—maria

  79. I tried ‘lines/inside/out’ several times using the ‘personal information’ content. Two lines (facing one another) were formed and students were armed with questions, 3 of which they could choose and ask their partner. After so many minutes, row one moved one person and on other days skipped two people. It worked out great. Loved that exercise. Students could use their speakinging skills and select their vocabulary.

    M. Fells
    Beginning 1 English

  80. I used ‘above the line’ activity. It was too confusing for my class. Having to find a person and ask a question was too much for them. I modified the game. On cards, personal information was written. Top line was the answer, bottom line was the question. The person with the answer to the first question on their top line must say it and then ask the question at the bottom of their card. Person with * card starts first. Example:
    card 1 card 2 card 3 etc.
    1 714 268 -3695 1 Pedro 1 92704
    * What is your first name? 2 What is your zip code? 2 phone #?

  81. I teach the GED Program and also HSS classes, such as; Vocabulary, Short Stories and Novel. These are open-entry/exit classes and all in one room, so difficult to do anything as a class. However, I am very aware that the students learn differently, so, as I learned in the Learner-Centered Instruction workshop, I tried to ‘push’ my students to find which way works best for them. They are able to use the computers, books, and worksheets in the class and I have found that most GED students like to use the computer and then they stay on that most of the time and never try the books or taking notes. So, I now start them off with setting up their notebooks to list new, key terms and write the definitions. I also have them make a bar graph of their attendance (as they need to understand graphs). I also have them set up some pages dedicated to grammar…when they learn a new rule they write it down and make some examples in their own words. I also start them off in the book ( and for students who always use the computer, I challenge them to use the book for a few days). I also talk about how everyone has a different way to learn and try and find what may work best for them or that using a combination can break up the monotony and be good. Many of my continuing students have been surprised about how much they like and learn better with the new ways. I have also done this with the Short Stories and Novel students. I now have them go on the computer to find summaries of the stories. I also make it ‘seem’ mandatory that they take notes on a worksheet that includes important terms and ideas to look for, such as; characters, setting, theme, etc. They all say it helps tremendously.
    Ann Bernal

  82. In my GED/HSS classes I have tried doing more on the white board. One lesson that I was going over with 2 GED students was on Genetics in Science. Only 2 students were doing Science at that time in the class although there were other GED students in there at the time—plus HSS students. So, quietly I took the 2 students to the board and I made a diagram of 1 example about how genetics worked in my family (I have 2 left-handed daughters and my husband and I are right-handed). Then I had them think of something in their family and they both came up with something that had puzzled them and we tried to ‘trace’ it in their family. They were so excited and it was fun. But the best part was when most of the class was trying to listen and when I noticed that, they all got involved. I am now doing some lessons that I think many of the students might like, even though the lessons might not be what they are studying at this time. It does bring our class together, lots of interaction, talking, and being friends. They’ve even told me they like coming to school more when they have some interaction with other students and the teacher, not just studying by themselves all the time. Learning in different ways is much more fun and for some students they learn a ‘new’ way to learn.

  83. I recently tried a new approach to teaching vocabulary in my Beginning 3 class, using a list of words with accompanying pictures.

    In the past I would display such a list on the Smartboard and have students open their books or picture dictionary to that page. I would go through the list of words (clarifying meaning if the pictures were ambiguous) and then pronounce each word, which the class would then repeat chorally. I found that this method, by itself, had limited success in learner vocabulary acquisition.

    Because learning a new English word involves not only knowing its meaning, but also how to pronounce and spell the word correctly, I therefore tried an approach in which meaning, pronunciation and spelling might act synergistically to enhance overall retention.

    First, I did what I had done in the past: display the list of words, clarifying meaning if necessary, and then pronounce each word, with the class chorally repeating my pronunciation. Then I turned off the Smartboard and had the students close their books. I dictated the words in a different order from that which was displayed and asked the students to write the words in the order dictated. After dictating the words I turned on the Smartboard and had the students open their books. I then wrote the list of words on the white board in the order in which I had dictated them, pausing after each word to allow students to correct any spelling errors.

    Finally, with the dictated list on the white board and spelling errors corrected, I sequentially called on individual students to pronounce a word from the written list on the board that I chose at random. If the word was pronounced correctly, I repeated the pronunciation and asked the class to chorally repeat it. If the word was not pronounced correctly, I corrected the pronunciation (gently!), asked the student to repeat the word and then had the class chorally repeat it. I did this for all the words in the list, erasing each word after it was pronounced. There were a sufficient number of words in the list so that every student in the class could participate.

    I hopeful that this type of multi-faceted approach will improve vocabulary retention and plan on using it each time I introduce new vocabulary.

  84. This is my second blog using strategies presented through the workshops taught in the Student Success Certificate Program. Since the workshops I have been using consensus in many situations in my classroom of ESL Beginning 3/ Intermediate 1. I have had the students working in groups of two or three in many different lessons which included worksheets where they had to agree on the correct answers as a group and a survey where they also had to reach consensus. I also had them answer comprehension questions in consensus.
    The ultimate happened in my class on Thursday. I had the students working on a St. Patrick’s Day worksheet where they had to put all the words in alphabetical order. This was challenging for them since some of the words had to go to third or fourth letter. When finished I asked volunteers to write the correct answers on the board. Usually when they volunteer for the board they each check with me first for accuracy. They do not want to be wrong on the board for all to see and correct them. On this day I was amazed to see the students checking with each other for consensus instead of coming to me. I was in ahh and expressed my admiration to them. I found that consensus can become a study habit !

  85. I recently completed the Critical Thinking workshop and started thinking about how to incorporate activities that would engender more critical thinking on the part of my students. Since I already dictate sentences on a regular basis, I decided to designate some of the students as editiors. So, after the students tasked with writing the sentences on the board have finished, the editiors look for errors. In this way, all the students are more engaged. I noticed that the editors take their role as seriously as the other students. Since they sometimes are mistaken, all the students check to see whether they agree with the suggested changes.

    1. One of the most effective and probably most fun activities that I have ever used in class that incorporates critical thinking is the one that uses “Dear Abby Letters”. I give the class the problem du jour, which is not a made-up human dilemma and each person comes up with a solution and of course a discussion follows after. It is amazing how students get so involved and at times do internalize the problems! It makes for a good conversation practice and what is really nice about this is that the materials are culled from real life situations.

    2. I love this Dear abby idea. I have some students that are from 50 -80 years old and they have a lot of experience to draw from. These students are grandparents and have much advice that they have given their children and grandchildren. Im not sure this would work with 18 -25 year old students who have limited life experience.

  86. After taking the Critical Thinking workshop, I introduced “The Question Game” to my Beg. 1 class. Students gave answers about their personal lives. Someone in the class had to guess the question. The students learned a lot about each other.

  87. In my Spanish Literacy class I have been using the Buddy System strategy since January 2012 for addressing learner persistance. This strategy is a success because in my multilevel class I am pairing students that are using the same books and they are helping each other addressing issues that are equally important for them. So, I have noticed that as a result my students are building a community in which they can discover the true meaning of teamwork and how this activity can solve problems.

  88. One of the techniques that works very well in my Interm. ESL 3 class is sentence writing with instant corrections. I pass out small strips of paper and ask the class to write a sentence using one of the words from the vocabulary that we go over each day. I then project each sentence on the smart board and help them understand how to make it better on the spot and live on the screen. They do not identify themselves on the paper and appreciate the instant feedback for their writing. Greg Whitman CEC

    1. I like this idea because it allows partners of different levels to correct each other and new vocabulary is reinforced. I have a beg 3/int 1 combo class which is even more multi level than the title suggests.

  89. In the Project-Based Learning workshop we practiced fun team activities to use in the classroom. I did the “Sentence Strips” activity in my Beg. 1 class.The class was divided into two teams. Each group got one-word strips. The first team that put the words in the correct grammatical order won.

  90. Re Learner Persistence: I liked the idea of giving students my district email address, so they could let me know about absences or questions. Unfortuneately, I forgot the following week, then my class was canceled! I just started a new class, and I did give them the email. They wrote it down, but it’s too early to see if they will use it.
    This new site has child care and is across from the elementary school. I have all young mothers, many of whom know each other already. Three difficulties solved, I hope!

  91. WIth the program, I have been able to to apply it in my GED writing class. We have created a group narrative, and using grammatical rules the students are able to create a group composition and narrative. This makes it easier for them to learn how to properly compose stories or narratives

  92. Cooperative learning-
    During my high school subjects “group lesson” I decided to use some of the strategies I learned from this in-service. The response was incredible! First we discussed 4 reading strategies: summarizing, context clues, predicting, and questioning. Next we read an article and divided into 4 groups. I asked the students to introduce themselves to each other before beginning. Many students did not know each other, so this was a great opportunity to meet and strike up conversation. Each poster had 1 reading strategy listed. The students charted how they used the strategies. The groups were instructed to read the responses and add their own. The lesson worked well because all of the students were engaged, walking around, and applying the reading strategies. I am glad I tried this lesson with my class.

  93. As I work in a very specific environment designed for individual self-guided instruction via computers (basically a lab situation), it is impractical to apply many of the ideas put forward in the Certificate workshops. But I have found that when a Math student requests help, it is useful to (a) work through the problem, and then (b) have her/him explain it back to me as though our teacher/learner roles are reversed. It’s an interesting spin on learner-centered instruction and critical thinking, requiring students to think sequentially and express clearly.

  94. I have had a great deal of success using the Smart Board when dictating.
    I go online and find free photos from Fotosearch and use them in conjunction with the ten sentences which I dictate to the students. It helps them to better understand the context of the sentences.

  95. In our ABE class at the OEC, we incorporate various group activities to build a sense of community and support. Each week I present a PowerPoint show focusing on a quote of the day with an inspirational theme. I also include a vocabulary word of the day. We discuss what events happened on that particular day in history as well as looking at current events. I always wrap up with a funny cartoon or joke and a photo of a landscape or a famous place in the world. I find that this activity really brings the class together with comments and shared anecdotes. We get to know one another in a lighter and congenial way. My co-teacher also plays games and does fun activities to bond the students. She frequently gives rewards like raffle tickets or a candy bar to make it even more fun and participatory. She focuses on goals such as finishing the course of earning a high school diploma.

  96. Asking a student who volunteers an answer to a problem, “Please tell us why you think that,” allows the person to work through the implications of his/her answer with the support of other students, regardless of the quality or accuracy of the answer that was offered. Mutual respect and encouragement in such exchanges can be modeled by the instructor. I find this useful in developing critical thinking, even in one-on-one situations. Cooperative learning in groups can also benefit.

  97. Enjoyed applying team based projects. Since students in business skills are each assigned computer stations, I had each partner in teams of two. Each was responsible for a different portion of the class exercise, then they had to piece together. This exercise helped improve working with multiple files and coordinating between computer flash drives and document folders. Noticed “stronger” students would guide their partners, which further facilitated learning.

  98. Last month in my Beg1/2 Combo class I incorporated a Project-Based Learning activity with an exercise from the class text. First, students were asked to brainstorm with the class places in our community (for example, a hair salon, Stater Bros on McFadden St.). Then I drew a simple map of four cross streets and drew in various places to illustrate prepositions of place. The students practiced prepositions to describe the locations. And they formed groups of 4 or 5 and were provided construction papers to create a simple map of the neighborhood around the school that includes all major cross streets. Students labeled each place on the map. They used these locations to make conversations about asking for directions. This activity enabled them to use the language in a more realistic setting and they liked it so much.

  99. What I did in my Beg1/2 Class was a story game having sequence as a Cooperative Learning Activity. I arranged the class into small groups of 4 or 5 and gave each group a worksheet having 5 sentences. The sentences were about ‘My Friend’s Daily Activities.’ Students cut the sentence strips into pieces and handed the strips out randomly in a group. They read the each strip several times to place sentences in order from beginning to end. Students were helping and teaching each other. They were so much engaged in the activity to make sentences in the right order. After they put them in order, students read aloud together in front of the class.

  100. In my class at SAHS, we did activities focusing on critical thinking. I have an INT2/INT3 class and we were studying food and nutrition. The students worked in small groups, over several class meetings. They listed foods that they believed were nutritious or not. They looked at such things as calories, salt, fat and sugar in food. Groups members asked many good questions. All of the students benefited from having to really think about what they were eating and how the food affected their health!

  101. Malena, I like the idea of the three goal settings. This might work in the high school lab. I will try it for my next group lesson and then at the end of the school year I will see who has accomplished one or more of them. Thanks for the idea.

  102. I’d like to share this activity that has worked well for me when trying to memorize students’ names from day one of a semester. It is an activity that usually elicits a lot of “oohs” and “aahs” from your audience and probably sets the tone for the term. Remember to do this on the very first meeting of the class! First, give each student a small index card. Without writing their names, tell the students to write one true statement about themselves. Avoid personal information such as age, address, favorite food, etcetera as these would undoubtedly create duplicates, hence rendering the exercise useless. For example they can write, “I went to Oregon last month.” When students are finished writing, collect all the index cards and put them in a little basket or box and mix them up. Pull a card and read the statement. Then ask who wrote it and tell the student to stand up. Tell the student to introduce himself or herself and then you go on from there. By associating each student with a special interest or experience, you commit their name to memory. After the exercise, see if you can name all the students in one fell swoop. This will even be more impressive! It has worked for me and I know it will work for you!

    1. In the beginning of the class I use this activity to refresh students’ minds on what they learned from the previous lesson. Students make their own vocabulary cards and when I dictate the sentences, they use their own vocabulary cards to make sentences. It is a great way to monitor students’ retention level and as an instructor you can also do an informal observation. Usually, in my class if students think that the material was too difficult then they talk to neighbors a lot.

  103. Today I attended the learner center instruction class. I particularly enjoyed the first activity. We were asked to write 1 thing about ourselves, but we were not to include our name. After everyone wrote something down, the cards were passed out randomely, and we had to search for the author of the card. I enjoyed this activity because it forced perfect strangers to interact with one another. I walked around asking, “Have you taught for 20 years?” After several attempts I found my partner. Many people walked up to me and asked me random questions such as, “Do you like opera?” It was a great ice-breaker and an excellent way to get to know one another.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Heather. It was a pleasure sharing a table at the workshop with you and the nude golden statue…ha ha.

  104. The Santa Ana College School of Continuing Education under the leadership of Rob Jenkins, is a pioneer implementing and adapting strategies proven to be effective and efficient linking our students’ success and our teaching. I am currently working with the critical thinking strategies and have found that in the Science Room “The plus, minus, interesting, strategies is assisting my students in finding key points on their reading.It helps them prioritize items that might be important when testing. Also, the CAF ( consider all factors) strategy, is great to brainstorm our pre-read in Physical Science and even in History.
    I am thrilled and thankful to see that these efforts are rendering magnificent results.

  105. Having my students work with someone that they know or that they feel confortable working with; has help me understand and find concepts or areas where they need extra help. After they have work on a project or assignment for about 15 minutes and that various of them encounter the same problems; I explain the concepts again and work on that particular project o assignment as a class.

  106. Thanks Evelyn. I struggle with memorizing my students names. It is too late in the semester to try this but I will sure to use the activity next fall.

  107. Here is a corperative activity that I use in my Beg 3 Class at CEC. 1. Students listen to a short story from the CD. 2. Students then repeat the conversation. 3. The conversation is scrambled on the Smartboard and students are encouraged to volunteer to come to the Smartboard and reassemble th conversation in the order that it took place. As many students as possible can participate. Students are encouraged to help each other.

  108. I like Greg’s idea of using the Smart Board to develop the writing skills of his students. I will try this next week in my Beg 3 class at CEC.

  109. It is important to create in the classroom an atmosphere that allows students to take risk. Encourage students to use the English they know. Let them understand that we as teachers don’t expect perfection. Encourage them to use as much English as possible in their interaction with each other.

  110. Critical thinking is a important skill that we use without knowing. Decision making, analysing information/data, and solving everyday problems is somthing that we do.

    1. Critical thinking: sstarted giving my students pracitce excersices to see where they need more instruction or review. When I introduce a new comcept of cover a new unit I show and explain how create and format their projects. At the same time if questions arise I answer as many questios as possible to make sure that they are understanding the material. later in the future I give them short assignments so that they can practice the concepts they have learn. I just give them a list steps they need to follow. Going back into their notes and trying to remember how to format a presentation or a word document or how to send/read/compose a message will get them to analyze, evaluate and decision making = critical thinking.

  111. I decided to try a team project. I’ve never been big on projects, maybe because they never seemed very successful somehow. So, as a group, we read the directions in Future 2 about how to proceed (they were making a poster advertisement for their favorite place to shop)and then I put them into groups. I tried to mix outgoing and quieter students together in each group. At first as I went from group to group I discovered that they hadn’t assigned roles to each person-captain, co-captain, assistant and spokesperson as per the instructions. In the past I didn’t think this was all that important but I found that it really is! Each student wanted to write the information elicited by the captains-including the captains. When I pointd out that writing was only one person’s job they were so surprised. I repeatedly had to ask, “What’s your job? Are you doing it?” The time limits given for the exercise seemed very short so the timekeeping aspect sort of went out the window but they all started working together so well that I didn’t mind. I know they’ll pick up the pace as we do more of these because they really enjoyed it. When they were finished with the posters, the spokespersons gave their presentations. They all did a great job. We talked about the experience afterwards-how they felt, what problems they had and how did they solve them, what did they like the most. I think they enjoyed just not sitting in a chair. Some were even on the floor drawing their ads, adding color, maps, pictures if items to purchase. They had a chance to be creative and work in a new way while using their English skills. It was a good day.

  112. I’m going to use the index cards to get to know my students better. I will be asking students to write their names, phone numbers, and their goals for the semester. This will help me learn their names, call on them in class, remind them and myself about their goals, and track their attendance. I’m also going to use these cards to call them when necessary.

    1. I use index cards for Beg 3/Int 1 to create questions in the past, present, and future. They create questions that interest them on different subjects. They pass cards to partners and answer the questions.

  113. I’ve been using these cards recently, and I found them to be very helpful. It’s been so easy to remind myself of their goals and who is attending and who is not. It’s not really easy to learn student’s names in an open entry/open exit class environment. Sometimes when I have difficulty remembering a student name, I try to draw a picture of him/her; or I just give them some kind of physical description like blonde hair…..

  114. I found the opening pre-assessment survey. very useful. It served as a useful reminder of things that I can do to make my lessons more interesting. I am from Jamaica and my students love when I share with them experiences that mirror their own life experiences.

  115. I got some great new ideas for ice breakers at the Learner Centered Instruction workshop. The activity in which we wrote an interesting item about ourselves on an index card and then tried to identify the person by walking around and asking questions was very fun. It led to many conversations and extended discussions. I also liked getting up and moving to a certain area of the classroom as we self-grouped ourselves into preferred learning styles. This was another great way to get to chat and learn more about one another. My biggest dilemma as an ABE/HSS teacher is figuring out ways to incorporate these activities into a lab setting that is not a teacher-directed whole class arrangement. I will try to find ways to work these ideas into my group lessons as an opening activity. One of the benefits of these workshops is getting to spend time with colleagues and sharing ideas and fellowship.

  116. Last night I tried the round table strategy for the first time. It was a lot of fun. My Beginning 3 class is very intimidated by the writing process and so I worked hard to make the assignment as non-threatening as possible. We are working on simple past tense. The topic was “What I did last Weekend”. I began by describing my weekend in simple terms. Before we broke out into groups I chose a group of five students to demonstrate the activity.We then broke up in groups of 5. Each group was given a sheet of paper with the starter sentence “This weekend I… The timer was set for 5 minutes. Each group chose one person to present to the entire class. I collected the work from each group and the sentences were examined with emphasis on the simple past tense format.

  117. Last week I tried some cooperative learning strategies. In the HSS room, the students already sit in tables so having them work together is very easy. I was doing a writing lesson and had the students brainstorm together about a few topics. They also chose three topics they were going to write about and shared with their table. The students were kind of nervous about it at first, but soon you could see they really liked bouncing ideas off each other. Plus, it gave them an opportunity to get to know each other better. It worked really well and plan to do it again.

  118. Goal setting:

    During my lesson I put students into groups of four. I asked them, “What are some problems you have coming to school?” In groups students wrote a list of problems that affected their attendance. Some groups stated that transportation, children, weather, and other responsibilities were barriers that did not allow them to attend class. As a class we wrote the most common barriers on the board. I gave each group a problem and had them list possible solutions. Students wrote their solutions and created a plan they would use to overcome the problem.

    Comment by Carlos Diaz – April 18, 2012

    1. I use something similiar lesson to this problem and solution. Using a hypothetical situation”What would you do and what would you say? I ask for possible solutions and what would be the best one for them. What would you do if you found a cell phone on the street? Try to find at least 3 solutions

  119. Critical Thinking:

    In groups students observed an image depicting a problem situation. The students brainstormed about the image and provided possible outcomes for the scene. The students selected one outcome and presented it to the class. Students used detailed vocabulary to explore the connections between images and words. They identified their image through interpretation. Students developed intellectual courage to use their imagination and speak out.

    1. I have started a lesson called Irregular verb relay. Split the class into 2 groups and have them come to board to write the past tense when i give them the present tense only. Many have commented that this really helps cement the verbs in their mind. I have used only the verbs presented in their text, but sometimes include other verbs that are more common. I also used this for comparatives and superlatives

  120. Yesterday, in my Beginning 3 class at CEC, my students worked together to develop a list of verbs. They then worked together to separate them into two categories (regular and irregular). Students work in their groups using the verbs to write simple past tense sentences. Groups share their sentences with the class. Where necessary, we worked together to correct the sentences.

    1. I feel students really want verb work more than anything else. They really seem to have a high interest learning to communicate in all tenses. I try to reinforce the irregular verbs so they have a great understanding of them. The barrier to reaching Intermediate is learning proper use of verbs.

  121. Situation or Context is one of the five domains of Learner Centered Teaching (Lambert & McCombs, 2000). This domain states that learning is a social process and thus students learn more in a learner centered teaching environment that in a lecture environment. Let your student move. Give them opportunities to share and learn from each other. Allow them to find the answers for themselves. Don’t be too quick to always supply the correct answers. When my students are allowed to discover their mistakes the learning becomes more permanent. The social aspect involves them talking, laughing, and even reading and correction a piece of work together. The teacher can divide the class into groups or allow them to form their own groups. Give them a piece of work to collectively find the mistakes. Together the rewrite the piece and present the corrected version to the class.

  122. One strategy I thought was great that I learned from the Learner-Centered Instruction workshop was the Matching Cards to learn students’ names. It is a fun activity for students to get to know more about each other besides just their name. This is such a great activity that can be modified many others ways and used at many different levels. I can’t wait to use this in my classroom.

  123. Jennifer thank you for your blog. I have two different Beginning 3 classes. I am having difficulty, even at this late date, learning all the names of students in my CEC Wednesday/Thursday class. I am going to try this strategy this evening; I will blog on its effectiveness.

  124. Blog 1:

    On the first few days of the semester, my students and I set our goals and projects for the rest of the term. Our long-term goal is to produce a class workbook compiled with students own work while our short-term goals include taking many quizzes, memorizing at least 3 new words a day and some other achievable projects based on the lessons and the student needs. Students are happy and proud to receive their class workbook on the last day of class along with their class completion certificate.

    I have also used these class workbooks as a model and a lesson to encourage and to boost my student’s confidence. Our motto is, ‘We can achieve any goal that we set our minds to’. Unfortunately, this semester we did not finish our book because my class was canceled due to low enrollment. My students were disappointed that their semester goal was not realized.😦

    Blog 2:

    Even though the class workbook was not realized, we had our “Ah Ha” moment when we completed the EL Civics “Nutrition” packet. In this packet we learned how to write a letter of suggestion / complaint. Many of my students felt that we should have some kind of food, especially healthy food on campus, as the majority of them came to school without having eaten any dinner. We decided to write a letter to our school administrator requesting to have a food truck during break time, and we gave ourselves a week to complete this project. Sixteen / eighteen (16/18) students turned in their typed letters, which was given to Dr. Sotelo for consideration.

    Little that I know I have been using the “Smart Goal”, “Meshing Hypothesis”, “Pre-assessment”, “Learning Student Names”, etc. from the Student Success Certificate courses without realizing it. 😉

  125. With teaching Beginning 1, the hardest part of the class is to get the students to speak out loud in English. So, put them into smaller groups and have them talk about different fruit and vegetables (plastic) and clothes. With small groups they must participate and I can monitor their progress and vocabulary. With time I rotate out different students into other groups. Over time they feel more comfortable to speak out loud in class activities.

    1. I believe group speaking is difficult for most Beginning levels. Even a High Beg 3 student is reluctant to express all their opinions in a large group. I try pairs and if they feel comfortable I try to get them to express themselves in front of the group. Slowly but surely they can gain confidence.

  126. For my Citizenship class (ESLCivics), I have a list of personal questions for the students to answer. Then I call on different students to answer the questions and correct their answer. Next, using the Round Robin technique, I pair off students and have Student A read one answer, and Student B will provide the question to that answer. Student A will tell if the answer is correct. Thus students can practice the questions and their answers to the questions in the N-400 form. At the same time they practice their pronunciation, reading and listening skills. They like to work together and practice cooperative learning techniques. Especially, they get used to the interviewing process and feel less stressed.

  127. In my ESL 2 class, we were doing the Simple Present Tense. I used Numbered Heads to group students in 4. I gave them a paper, and had them write routine or habitual actions they do in class. One student wrote a sentence, then passed the paper to the next student. When they finished the sentences, they worked together together and corrected their mistakes. Then the reporter read their writing to the class.

  128. In the GED/English class I see only once a week, I established a pattern of having the students share their name and something about themselves that we might not know. The first time I did this, just after the Learner-Centered Instruction workshop held in February, I included the twelve who were present at the time. They really did have a good time learning about each other and sharing about themselves (musician, dancer, soccer player, swimmer, etc.). It seemed like the break from academics provided a real lift for them. This exercise also provided an important opportunity for me to learn their names. Since that time, I have repeated the exercise in smaller groups as new students have entered. Since we have students constantly coming and going, the feel of the classroom has become more inclusive, and new students seem pleased to feel part of the group upon entering.

  129. In the GED/English class I mentioned above, I also did a Round Table exercise. (Thank you Roger Barbosa [#14 above] for reminding me of this.) I explained how the story “As I was walking to school today, I saw something very strange” was to be written then gave the unfinished story to the first student. It was passed around from student to student. It took some time as students took their part in this exercise seriously and were having fun. When the last student finished, I asked if anyone would like to read it aloud, and the student who wrote the conclusion volunteered. The input from each student was so well thought out, I was impressed. They built a great story and the conclusion was perfect (and funny). The shared experience enlivened the class, and they were proud of what they had created. Many of the students are taking one of the vocabulary classes where sentence writing is required. Some struggle with writing and were inspired by what they could accomplish in creating a shared story.

  130. I teach a Photoshop workshop in a large computer lab. To foster a sense of community, I address the students by their first name, and encourage them to instruct their peers, and to learn from one another. Today, I asked them to share, one thing they had learned from Photoshop. I was pleasantly surprised when almost all of the students listed numerous things, with a big grins on their faces.

  131. I work in HSS (U.S. History/Government, Geography, etc.) and decided, after the Project-Based Learning workshop, to develop something to use with the U.S. History students. I passed out, randomly, questions and answers and had students take turns matching the items. I worked with a different group of four or five on two occasions in April. A few of the questions/answers led to some discussion like: why did the state of Virginia refuse to ratify the constituion until the Bill of Rights was in place and, after identifying the three branches of our federal government, what are their responsibilities. The students were pleased with what they did know and showed quite a lot of interest in what they did not. They were a little uncomfortable sharing their names and something about themselves before we started, but had fun sharing what they had learned about each other at the end. All in all, it was a good experience, and I would do it again. Thank you, Rob, for all the great ideas!

  132. In all of my classes this semester I used ‘Consensus’ technique from “75 Effective Activities” as a great way for students to get to know each at the beginning of the courses. Students were asked to introduce themselves by name and why they were personally taking the class. There task was to come up with all the most prevalent reasons for taking the course then deciding on the best three most people would benefit. All students were made more aware of all the practical applications of taking the courses and group leader were assigned sharing to the rest of the class. Thought this was a great way to get students involved in working together from day one, as well as, help students appreciate the value of learning new skills.

  133. Being in the Success Center has its unique challenges because most students are there to satisy an hourly requirement for a particular class. And those that are not there for that reason are working individually on various subjects and levels of reading, math and English; both native speakers and non-native speakers. However, this keeps me constantly on my toes because how we engage depends on their own unique need. A common thread that is shared with all students I come in contact with is making sure that they are on the right learning level and if they are not, I assist them in advocating for themselves to move forward. I also make the material they are learning relevant to personal experiences. Sometimes this is easier than others but I know it helps break the ice and create a sense of community.

  134. In beginning 1 I have my students work in groups of 4. In the group they work in round-robin and ask questions to each other and record the information that is given. They begin with simple informational questions such as “What is your name? What is your last name? What is your telephone number? Where are you from? After all are done we then rotate to a different group. During the semester we add other questions that help with their everyday work lives.

  135. Cooperative learning/four corners
    In my Beginning I class we have specifically dedicated time where we work on developing confidence, encouragement and support. In this particular lesson, we used a four corners approach to talk about those terms and what they mean. After listing/brain storming additional vocabulary terms related to the targeted language, I monitor their level of understanding of the vocabulary before proceeding to the next part of this exercise. I have the four corners labeled as follows; family, friend, peer and teacher. Next, the students are to walk to the corner/person who they identify with the most that they need support – confidence, encouragement. They share with their corner group “what” they need to hear from the person they have chosen. An extention of this exercise is to have them rank order their choices; e.g., #1, friend, #2 teacher, #3 family, #4 peer. Closure to this exercise consists of asking them to talk about their choices. It should be noted that it takes time to build rapport with the class and develop trust before they are comfortable with talking about this.

  136. Goal setting
    In my Beginning I class our approach to goal setting is a little more concrete than abstract and that’s due to obvious reasons -the students need to process smaller increments of information and their level is readiness is still developing and those are but two factors. We create “dream boards” to express their goals. To begin, we focus on three areas of goals, or as we label them, dreams. The goals/dreams are personal, academic and economic. I bring in varied materials; magazines, construction paper, scissors, crayons, etc. The students cut out pictures from the magazines which reflect or tell a story of what it is they want to achieve as a result of learning English. If a student can’t find a picture that reflects a personal, academic or economic dream/goal, they draw it. The whiteboard is loaded with lots of vocabulary before we even begin the process of cutting or drawing pictures. After completed, we debrief the exercise by asking them to rank their dreams/goals; e.g., “Which dream is your biggest, etc. The students take their boards home, but have to bring them to class everyday for one month. At the beginning of class as a sponge exercise, they visualize and read their dream boards to themselves and with their peers.

  137. In Workforce Readiness class, each student was asked to research a company/employer of interest before or during spring break. In order for students to retain more by teaching others, I asked students to communicate to the entire class something interesting about the company researched. Each student needed to reflect on what they learned about the company in order to communicate information to the entire class. Since the students come from more than 10 different countries and English is their second language, many students are hesitant to speak in front of the class. Last week half the students volunteered to talk and the other students applauded after each presentation. Today the other half will be communicating about their company of interest. I’ll let you know later how that goes today.

  138. I tried the round table in class, high school subjects, and the students enjoyed the writing. Many of my students have a hard time with writing, so this was a different and fun assignment for them. Also, they enjoyed working together.

  139. Goal Setting at the CLC (Community Learning Center)

    My classroom is different from a regular ESL classroom. We teach ESL through technology. Students go there to “learn more English”, to use the students own words. It is a supplement to the core ESL classroom and students come and study there on a very flexible schedule. There are not set days and times for them to come and stay and they can come and go as they please.

    In this kind of a setting, a teacher can lose his/her students fast if they have no reason to go to the class. This is where my co-teachers and I at the CLC employ goal setting to motivate students to continue coming to the CLC.

    Each student is given an orientation and interviewed by the teacher as to why they want to attend the CLC. Based on their answer and their English Level (their level at the core ESL class), the student is given a goal sheet complete or accomplish during their attendance there. The students’ progress are monitored by us, the instructors, with the help our TA.

    We have noticed that since we made it a requirement that a student complete their goal sheet, it made a very positive effect on our attendance. Students are fully aware of what’s required of them, realize that they are achievable and get focused on the task. They look forward to the Certificate they would get at the end of the semester.

    1. I love that idea that they need to have a goal sheet. Im sure it directs them more than an ESL class. I know some students have focused goals and some have general goals.

  140. I got a lot out of the Cooperative Learning workshop, and I was excited to try some of the techniques in HSS Language Arts. We had a writing lesson, and I tried the counting heads technique, as well as assigning roles and round table writing. The writing lessons in our class are supposed to generate a paragraph from each student, but I tweaked it a little so that each group would be writing a paragraph together, with one “reporter” reading each group’s paragraph to the class.

    First, we reviewed basic paragraph structure (topic sentence, supporting ideas and details, conclusion, etc.) Then I asked them to stand and counted heads, ending up with four groups of four students each. I asked them to introduce themselves to each other, to record the names of the people in their group, and select a reporter (we also discussed the role and characteristics of the reporter). I then handed out the assignment, which already had a different topic sentence written for each group. They were “I something funny on the way to school today,” “something scary,” “something inspiring,” and “something sad.” I had another option of “something that made me mad,” but that one didn’t make the cut.

    The first thing I observed was how they started chattering and laughing, which I took as a good sign. The other thing that happened that I had not expected, was that they really put their heads together to write this paragraph, brainstorming ideas and making sure their paragraphs followed the format. It took them about 30 minutes to put the paragraph together, and the end results were wonderful! The paragraphs did indeed follow the format, and I was especially happy to hear how much detail they included.

    A very successful exercise!

  141. Cooperative Learning

    The “buddy system” works well at the CLC. Some students are really fast at learning computer programs and lessons while others are really slow learners especially the elderly students.

    I make the slow ones sit with the fast learner and allow them to talk in their native tongue (the Vietnamese students especially) since I don’t know a word of their language.

    They teach each other and frees me up to deal with other students needing help. They cal me when they get into a snag but generally speaking, the students are more relaxed learning from their classmates. They laughed at their mistakes, they become friends and it’s another way they are encouraged to come to class. Whether they are doing a computer software program or sitting at the table doing the Brainchild lessons, the buddy system is a great cooperative learning technique.

    1. Working with a partner helps everyone involved. Lower students learn from higher students. Higher level students teach others and retain what they’ve learned. The higher ones sometimes don’t realize they are learning also. I try to couple different speaking levels together so they can improve their level together. They are forced to communicate as best as they can.

  142. I actually went back to an activity that I hadn’t used in years–Inside-Outside circles. I use double lines, since my classroom doesn’t work for the circles (and we can’t go outside–I’m offsite). I have been doing this with my Beg. 2/3 class. The first time they were a little hesitant. I made sure to give them specific questions or easy topics–once I gave them Family, and another time “What did you do last weekend?”. I did these directly after teaching these topics in class.
    As I said, they were a little self-conscious at first, but by the time I switched their partners twice, they were quite comfortable. It was really nice to hear so much chatter. They were no longer looking at me, but conversing with their partners. There was a little cross conversation between some pairs (mostly to help out a lower student), but they were on task. One thing Rita Serretti brought up in a workshop is that she has students move 2 places each time, so even if 4 people end up talking, they still get new partners. I’m planning on trying that next time (Thanks, Rita!)
    I definitely recommend revisiting some of these simple but effective activities if, like me, you’ve gotten away from them!

  143. One of the things I’ve always liked to do is Critical Thinking. It’s fairly easy in Intermediate, but I’ve been trying to incorporate it more into my Beg. class. I’ve been doing problem solving.
    One of the best ways I’ve found is actually grammar-based. Last week I taught “should” for giving advice. After the group practice with the examples I had given them, I gave them problems (in pairs). They had to read the problem, come up with the advice, and then tell the class. it was a little difficult, but they did well (and it’s interesting to see some of the advice that I never thought of!)

    1. I like what you did with the pair practice with “should” to involve students in Critical Thinking. This practice gives every student in the room an opportunity to propose real-life answers in a discussion and at the same time prepare to explain the solution to the class. I think this process could be used in other practice situations, taking many activities out of the book and into the personal realm. Because of your blog, I will think of new ways to use pair discussions in class. Thank you!

  144. I used the outside/inside circles in my class after we discussed the information from some people’s driver’s licenses from the book. The students practiced using “his”/”her” as they moved in the circles. Later,
    I asked them to personalize their questions, so they switched to “your”/”my”.
    There were a few who would reply with, “My is”. After some more practice, they were able to reply correctly, like…. “My hair is black.”

  145. Critical Thinking:
    Most of my students have a very hard time trying to decipher the step-by-step instructions of each lesson in our textbook. They have worked hard all day and by the time they get to class they their patience has been exhausted by the rigors of their day. I noticed that if they were left on their own to work at their own pace, many would quickly become frustrated and I would never see them in class again.
    Through the years, my approach to helping my students learn how to use MS Word 2003, has developed into a very hands-on and instructor led approach. I use a projector located on the teacher’s desk, and project the lesson on to the wall behind me. I can use my hand and have the shadow point to the object they need to need to manipulate according to the instructions in the textbook.
    Just before executing the command, I will ask, “What do you think is going to happen?” Most of the time there will be a few “interesting answers that are not the one for which I am looking”. I continue waiting until the correct response is offered. I then guide each move by counting in reverse, “3-2-1 click”. I can then check to see that each student’s monitor displays the same thing. I have noticed that by asking them to try to predict what will happen and then immediately reinforcing that prediction is helping my students to learn to think about all life’s situations and resolutions more critically; and more of my students are offering more predicitons more readily.

  146. One lesson i’ve had success with is called 2 truths and 1 lie. Students create 2 truths from their life such as I have 3 children, I have 2 dogs, or I’m a grandmother and 1 lie which isnt too far fetched. They seemed to like to discuss the different possibilities and what people would believe. One student said she had 22 sisters and it wasn’t a lie. She counted all her half sisters also which added up to 22

  147. I’ve looked for ways to encourage students to avoid sitting silently just filling in blanks when their book exercises ask them to generate new sentences or construct questions. I came up with a solution after the cooperative learning workshop. Dividing the class into groups, I had each table decide orally and then come to an agreement as to what a correct sentence or a good question could be for each of, say, 10 sentence completions or questions. Then each group, which had appointed a reporter, would be called upon to post one of its answers on the board. After the posting, the class would vote on a score for the posting. If any other group after consultation with its members thought the posting had an error, the reporter for that other group would have to come to the board and propose a correction.
    sometimes the corrections were right, but sometimes, entertainingly, they were not, and yet another group’s reporter would come to the board to set things right. This way everyone talked, paid extensive attention, thought hard, and became amusingly but not damagingly competitive. I’ve tried this new method several times since the cooperative learning workshop, and have found it highly popular with the students and am myself pleased to see them talking so eagerly and noisily during such grammar exercises.

  148. Cooperative learning is very important for students. When they work in groups, they learn more new things from each other, share their ideas. They start to know each other better. This week we were working on family members vocabulary. I asked them to bring their family pictures to class. They worked in pairs in front of other students. One student was asking such questions as: Who is she/he/they? What’s her/his/their name(s)? Where is she/he/they? What is she/he doing? What are they doing? At the same time we were practicing Present Cont. Tense. Everybody was participating. The students were very active. It was fun. They started to know each other’s family. The next day we had a spelling test on the same vocabulary. They corrected each other’s mistakes, came to the board and made sentences with new vocabulary. I asked my students to come to the board and write their sentences, so everybody could see the sentences and correct mistakes. It was very good practice for them. The students started asking additional questions about family: How many kids do you have? Are you married or single? etc.

  149. Student Retention:
    My students enjoy helping one another and follow my cardinal rules when helping a colleague: “1.Never touch another person’s mouse and, 2.never touch another person’s keyboard.” This forces the helper to point to the monitor and give verbal instructions to the person receiving the assistance. It also forces the person receiving the help to actually perform the operation, rather than having the helper perform the operation. It also encourages mutual respect and camaraderie. I am very fortunate to have a group of individuals who are very respectful to one another and very mindful of each other’s affective filter, and feelings. Hence, they continue to come to class.

  150. I had a lot of success with Cathy’s cards. The majority of students feel they want to improve speaking skills and feel they are lower than they need to be. Cathy’s cards have questions and situations for many different areas of life. I try to pair up a higher and lower level student together, so they help and they learn from each other. The lower level student may have more knowledge in cooking and the higher may have more knowledge in travel. I want my students to express their opinions freely.

  151. While I have already encouraged critical thinking in class, I found it interesting to really focus on it. I tried open-ended questions in the gallery walk method. One point that I believe made it more successful was I made sure the exercise occurred well into the semester (at least four weeks) because I wanted the students to be comfortable expressing themselves.
    When I tried classifying, many students presented answers which they were adament were correct (just like the teachers in the workshop)! I hope I got it through to the students that the exercise was ambiguous at times. A few students did distrust my explanation (they felt they deserved precise answers from me. I also did PMI , but I had mixed results. I found it difficult to convey the directions of the game. The reason may be that this exercise is better for students higher than Beg. 3 because it requires the ability to communicate more complex opinions.

  152. I tried the four-corner strategy with my class to encourage the students to interact with one another and to learn new vocabulary. We talked about the favorite place to live and my four corners were: the beach, the mountains, the city, and the countryside. Most of the students chose either the beach or the city, but we had students at each corner and had a very good time of discussion, exchanged ideas, generated pros and cons, and learned vocabulary about each place. Afterwards, some students expressed interest in doing more corner activity with very interesting topics. I thought that the activity was a success in that the students were talking more than some other activities and had a good time exchanging ideas.

    1. This sounds fun. I’m always trying to think of new ways to group and I haven’t done the four-corner strategy yet. I like anything that will get them talking to each other in English in a natural way.

  153. Since my computer class is 4 hours (Mon & Tue) and 3 hours (Wed & Th), I like to interrupt the monotony of students sitting in front of the computer by conducting warm-up activities. I find that such activities rejuvenate my students. When they return to the computer to continue their work, they appear to be more productive. At the Learner-Center Instruction workshop, I learned one activity from another instructor that I applied. The activity’s goal is to learn a student’s name by assigning a noise to their name. Even though, I already know all my student’s name I still did this activity for the very reason I cited at the beginning of this blog – to break the monotony. For example, I went around the room and asked each student to come up with a noise that would be associated with their name. Once every student had a noise, I periodically said a student’s name throughout the evening and noises were made. For example, when I called “Maria’s” name, everyone made a “beep beep” noise because that’s what she choose. This might sounds silly and it was but then again, that’s what makes this activity so great. We all have an inner child and our students are no different. I strongly encourage instructor’s to conduct this activity in class.

  154. In the Cooperative Learning workshop, I was reintroduced to the jigsaw method connecting students with each other and giving them the opportunity to be responsible for their own learning in a more dynamic educational experience. I have used this process with advanced ESL students in a content based class and it was a good experience.

  155. To give my Intermediate 3 ESL students more practice in listening comprehension, I sometimes play a half hour of a movie during the last part of Thursday’s class. Some students had much to say about what they’d heard after the half hour, but too many were silent to make me happy with the lesson. The Learner-Centered Workshop suggested to me that maybe it would be better to address different student skills and incorporate different learning styles. I tried an experiment, since it dawned on me that students, though all in Intermediate 3, still had radically different listening skills. Instead of just playing the English soundtrack, I also turned on the subtitles in English. Those whose hearing was not at the highest level were able to follow the film to a much greater degree by reading along with what was being spoken. The contributions to class discussion rose enormously after this experimental half hour, so it was clear that providing for different modes and levels of student skill or learning style was the way to go.

  156. I focused on Goal Setting with my Beg 3 class at CEC. I’ve used goal setting before but this time I wanted it to be more focused so I decided to use the Smart Goals method. Setting goals are usually so daunting for some students so I wanted to introduce a step-by-step process that made sure their goal was SMART.
    Specific- Being able to read and fill out a Job Application. The whole class agreed this is something they wanted to get comfortable doing.
    Measurable- Their goal was to be able to read and completely fill out a job application without help.
    Attainable- We started by practicing with blank applications in class which let them know with enough practice they could do it on their own.
    Reasonable- We decided that since we all need jobs this goal was reasonable.
    Time Bound- The class agreed that everyone would fill out 10 applications within a months time frame.

    Although the entire class didn’t completely fill out 10 applications within a month there were about half of my students who did. Of those half 3 got jobs within that month time frame. Very pleased!

  157. For the Learning-Centered Instruction workshop, I focused on exercises to learn students’ names. First, I tried self-introductions. Students worked in table groups first and then stepped up to entire class introductions. It worked well for me to remember their names. Second, I tried exchange tag of favorites and it flowed smoothly, though it was recommended for levels higher than Beg. 3. I felt it also developed better class cohesion. Third, I tried the name chain game. I was difficult to explain and some students were reluctant to participate. They seemed afraid to be creative. As far as my ability to remember students’ names, I found these exercises useful. However, I did still have difficult to remember new students entering the class randomly throughout the semester. Maybe there is a efficent way to remember a student’s name when they enter an open-enrollment class. Any ideas?

  158. I always do different activities with my students. One of them is memory game. They try to remember each other’s name. For example, we were practicing Present Cont. Tense. I started the game with such sentence: I am teaching now. The first student has to remember my name and say: Larisa is teaching now, and I am studying. Next student will say: Larisa is teaching, Mao is studying, and I am reading, etc. They try hard to remember each other’s name and activity at the same time. It’s like chain game. I always tell them how nice is to know each other. I use every student name every day, I ask questions in order to get to know my students. If we are practicing Simple Present, we do the following activity: Hoa, what do you do every day? I go to school. Another student: Anh, what do you do every morning? All students have to listen and remember the details. Then I ask: What does Hoa do every day? She goes to school. etc. Sometimes, they forget the details and everybody is laughing and having fun. This way they remember grammar and names.

  159. For a critical thinking activity, I divided the class into four groups and gave them some strips. Group 1 would only write possible singular and plural subjects; Group 2 … the present tense forms of the verb “to be”; Group 3 … adjectives and Group 4 … possible singular and plural objects. I then asked Group 1 to send somebody from the group to come in front with a strip. One from the other groups would follow with their strips to complete a sentence. They had to decide if the sentence formed each time was indeed, correct. They did not have a problem with the plural sentences. For example: “They are good students.” They noticed though, that in singular sentences, it did not look right if both Groups 3 and 4 were together. They would ask either one of them to sit down. For example: “Rosa is happy” and “Rosa is a teacher” were correct sentences. However, it didn’t seem right to have “Rosa is happy a teacher.” They soon figured out that to make that sentence correct, they would have to insert “happy” after the “a” in “a teacher” to read: “Rosa is a happy teacher.” There were times when I would ask one of the other groups to come to the front and the others would follow. They realized the importance of subject-verb-object agreement. They told me that they liked the activity and that they enjoyed working in groups.

  160. Each of my students gets a g-mail account during a lab session each semester. From the Learning Centered Instruction workshop, I was impressed by the emphasis on demonstrating to each student that I appreciate him or her as an individual. Accordingly, during the lab session I tried something new. I took each student’s picture, downloaded it, sent it to the student, and had the student forward it to another student’s g-mail account. This made for great class comaraderie; everyone felt he or she “belonged.”

    1. All of my students have an email account. Teaching them how to use manage and the benefits of having an email account; surprise most of the since many of them don’t have a computer at home or haven;t had the opportunity to use a computer before. We practice sending a messeges to every classmeate. There are numerous advantages by doing it this way: first they we practice accessing our email account to get familiarize with the commands and tools available. Second, they can get to know each other better to build a communitiy atmosphere to try to have a good learning enviroment. The more comfortable they feel the more they are focus on learing.

  161. Cooperative learning–My classroom was looking rather boring–lots of empty walls. While I was cleaning out some drawers at home I found a kit or packet that included three things–cards with the name of a country, the name of that country’s language, and the word ‘welcome’ in each language. Example: France–French–Bienvenue. There were about twenty countries represented. I thought about how I could use these materials for learning (and to dress up our room) and decided to do a cooperative learning matching exercise. I put the colorful cards with the word ‘welcome’ in the different languages all around the room on the walls. Then I grouped the students into groups of five. I gave each group only four country names and language names and instructed them to make a decision together about where to post their cards before doing so. I thought that if I gave them five cards, then they would each take one and do it on their own without consulting the rest of the group. Unfortunately that is what happened anyway. Four students each took a card and did their own thing, walking around the room trying to match their cards correctly to the ‘welcome’ words. The fifth person just sat still and did nothing. But…as I went around the room and pointed out the incorrect pairings, then the other students started to get involved and tried to help each other–even students from other groups. By the end, two students were still walking around looking for the correct word to label and the students were calling out the anwers from their seats directing them where to go. It became less a group cooperative activity and more of a whole room cooperative activity. But they seemed to enjoy the challenge. Afterwards. we tried to pronounce all of the foreign words–much laughter–and the countries and their languages.

  162. In the Cooperative Learning workshop I attended, we had to rank the issues in this strategy that proved the most challenging to least, most of the participants agreed that the most challenging is managing the groups, getting all to participate. Once the students are grouped, given instructions and assignments, everything seems to fall into place. In my conversation classes, the first hour we do a whole-class, more teacher-centered type of activity such as reading a short anecdote, go over some vocabulary, grammar from the story, read aloud for pronunciation work. Then, I have them break up into groups of 3 or 4 to go over comprehension questions and discusss conversation topics related to the story. Fifteen to twenty minutes before the end of class, we come back together as a whole class again and each group reports on 1-2 ideas they had discussed. For me, once the grouping is done, the conversation activities take off, but I often had a hard time getting my students to move from their seats, and I usually gave in and had them be in groups with whoever happens to be sitting near them. So, for the last couple of class sessions, I used some grouping strategies such as corners and line-up and by having those activities, it forced the students to get off their chairs and find a new group and for me I was able to allow more disorder in the classroom.

  163. I did a question and answer activity in my Beginning 2 class to practice both the present continuous and the present tense. The answers were separated from the questions and the students had to walk around to match the answers to the questions. What I wanted to do was for my students to really understand the difference between the situations when we used a certain verb tense. The students had fun talking and comparing answers to the questions and come up with the right match. Afterwards, we had a valuable time discussing grammar together.

  164. I used the Jahari Squares for my Beg 1 class at Santa Ana High. I actually just used the template we were given in our Student Success packet. The template was about food. In one box the students had to fill out the foods they ate during their favorite feast or holiday. Then they had to ask their partner the same question and record the answers. Then the students had to list the foods both of them eat during holidays or feasts. Finally they had to give foods they didn’t like to eat. After they answered the questions for themselves I made the groups of 2 start the process over with another group of 2 and then with a group of four and so on. Then we finally had a list of foods that the class ate and didn’t eat on holidays and feasts. The conversation was a bit challenging at first but by the end of class it seemed the students really enjoyed it.

  165. In the learner-centered Instruction workshop given by Janet Ennis I learned a very good activity using 3X5 cards. I adjusted the activity and it worked perfectly at the beginning of the term for a Literacy/Beginning I class when studying last name and first name. I gave each student one card and instructed them to write in big letters their first names.We went around the class practicing “My first name is _______” and then continued with “Her first name is ______ “or “His first name is ________”. After having taught the higher levels I’m a real sticker for complete sentences as well as the punctuation which perhaps some instructors might inform me that this is not necessary for this level since the language is so difficult for our older learners. I welcome any helpful feedback in that it’s been a while since I taught the beginning level.
    I repeated the same procedure for last name. The students did a line up activity conversing with one another–What’s your first name? What’s your last name? Afterwards I asked for volunteers who remembered their classmates’ names. It appeared to be a very enjoyable activity for my students.
    I was inspired to use the cards when studying the family.

  166. I tried out a new technique in class, where I record a video, while I’m teaching, and then upload this onto the server. Then I showed the students how they could download it, play the video, pause it and rewind it to any part they want to. They thought this was great. I thought it would help because we are doing multi-step projects, and while they had handouts, having the visual and audio might just make a difference. It seems to be addressing the needs of a greater majority of my students.

  167. So, I decided to try out a new technique in class, where I record a video, while I’m teaching, and then upload this onto the server. Afterwards, I showed the students how they could download it, play the video, pause it and rewind it to any part they want to. They thought this was great. I thought it would help because we are doing multi-step projects, and while they had handouts, having the visual and audio might just make a difference. It seems to be addressing the needs of a greater majority of my students. They were very excited to be able to replay the video as much as they want!

  168. Wow, it sure has been challenging to get my blog to post….I just wanted to say that….I tried out a new technique in class, where I record a video, while I’m teaching, and then upload this onto the server. Then I showed the students how they could download it, play the video, pause it and rewind it to any part they want to. They thought this was great. I thought it would help because we are doing multi-step projects, and while they had handouts, having the visual and audio might just make a difference. It seems to be addressing the needs of a greater majority of my students.

  169. Giving my students a list of steps to follow adn a list of changes they need to make on PPT presentation, help me identify where they need it extra help review of some concepts. I walk around to see who needs extra help and to identify if they are encountering the same problems. Listening to there comments and watching them helping each other allow me to better understand the concepts I need to review and explain in more detail.

  170. I like to use Inside-Outside Circle with my Beg.1 students as a way to practice introductions and personal questions. Each student intoduces him/herself and says where he/she is from.

  171. Attending the workshop on Friday was of great benefit to me. It reminded me that Critical Thinking is a skill that needs to be continually developed. Participating in the various excercises made the material useful and practical for classroom application.

  172. As a teacher in the HSDP department, especially in the evening, we do not have a lot of opportunity to do group activities. This is because all of the students are studying their own subjects at their own pace. So finding a group activity was somewhat of a challenge. Therefor, it thought I would start with something small. I chose #26 goals in an envelope. The way I rolled this out was simply to make an announcement, to give a small introduction to the value of setting goals, and then pass out envelopes ans 3×5 cards to each student. The each wrote down what they would like to have accomplished by the same time next year, at which time we will open them. I encouraged them to keep the envelopes in their student folders, as I believe their seeing them there from time to time will remind them to stay on track. The student response was varied. As I made the announcement, most of the students seemed a little inconvenienced, But, as I passed the material out, I found that there were a few who were kind of eager to participate; even some who are about to graduate tin the next month. I only go push back from one student. He felt as though I was bothering him because one the other teachers in the classroom had already done a “goals” actiivty.

    Phil Silva

  173. In addition to the goals in an envleope activity, I also used the Learner-Centered Istruction survey to improve my skills as a teacher. It was very useful to me to help me see both my strengths and weaknesses as a teacher. Even the things that I feel that I do well as a teacher, I reevaluated and found that I could still imporove. A few of the things that I have been focusing on are the ones that focus more on personal interest in the students. Because of this I have really grown to appreciate the studnents more and have become even more eager to help them succeed. One of the things that I really enjoy conversing with them about is their personal beliefs. So often these days, personal beliefs are pushed aside for fear that someone might become offended due to a disagreement. However, I find that many students are hungry to talk about the subject and to think about alternative perspectives.

    Phil Silva

  174. I recently did a goal setting activity in my class. I used Skip Downing’s DAPPS model:
    Dated: Motivating goals need specific deadlines
    Achievable: Motivating goals hsould be realistic
    Personal: Motivating goals must be your goals, not someone else’s
    Positive: Motivating goals focus on what you want to achieve rather than what you want to avoid
    Specific: Motivating goals state measurable outcomes.
    I used the following youtube clip to set up the activity and to help them see the power of having a positive attitude.

  175. A month ago a colleague and I had the honor and the privilege of presenting at The Westop Student Leadership Conference at UC Irvine. The goals of the conference were to:

    •Teach students about the history and significance of TRIO programs, as well as all education programs designed to help students succeed in college.
    •Teach students how to organize themselves and become agents of change in their communities.
    •Help student leaders to develop a comprehensive action plan that they will be able to implement in their communities to bring about change.

    We utilized the jig-saw activity to teach team building. We also incorporated Skip Downing’s Responsibility Model (Victims vs. Creators) and Self-Motivation Concepts (Motivation=Value x Expectation of Success) to help the participants understand how to overcome obstacles and effectively delegate tasks. The link to the presentation:

  176. I used the “buddy system” in my Beg 3 ESL class. Students were paired based on high/low criterion. The class was given several simple present sentences to convert into present continuous and simple past. I walked around to check students progress and give directions as needed. Each buddy group selected three sentences to type and present to the entire class. The activity took place in the computer lab; therefore, each student had access to a desk top computer. There was collaboration not only in the writing of the sentences but, also, in the use of the computer (Micrsoft Word and printing). Student loved the collaboration and the experience of typing and printing.

  177. I use cooperative learning with my Beg. 1 students by having them cut out pictures of food/drinks in containers from magazines, paste them on a large sheet of construction paper and label them. The students show the rest of the class their completed work and read the labels aloud.

  178. Following this semester’s workshop I tried a corner activity in my classroom. I did it 3 times using the following subjects: Science, Geography and Sports.
    I divided the students in 4 to 5 groups based on the number of students present in the classroom. I gave each group the same list of 6 questions related to the activity subject to be answered in a limited time (10 to 15 minutes). I used the grammar that I had just taught them in my questions. The students were free to use dictionaries or internet as supporting means.
    The group which scored the most points and the shortest time achieved the highest ranking.
    The students were very excited and worked enthusiastically in the classroom and they liked this type of corner activity very much.

  179. I especially enjoyed doing observations for the flex hours. I observed an instructor who teaches at my level and one that was higher. It was good to get an objective view about what it going in the program and it reminded me of some techniques I hadn’t used for a while.

    Janice Jensen

    1. I feel observing other instructors helps me a great deal. I’ve seen great ideas involving music, grammar, organization, and time management. even observing instructors at different levels gives me a great deal of help. I can see where a Beg 2 student progresses from and where an Int 2 level has reached their skill level. All levels have a wide range of ability, but students should be in a close range of speaking, listening, reading, and writing ability.

  180. I used the learning strategy of consensus in my pronunciation class. In groups of four, the students ranked the following issues in pronunciation–syllable stress, -s endings (plural, possessive, 3rd person singular, V-ed endings in , regular past tense, the individual consonant/vowel sounds such as b/v, sh/ch, a/e. from 1=the most to 5= the least important to communication and a second ranking of which errors have the most to least stigma i.e.. would a native speaker ever pronounce it that way? This exercise also helped the students reflect on their own pronunciation and helped me reflect on my teaching. We had a lively discussion in class. For example for the regular past tense pronunciation, it’s not so important to pronounce /t/ or /d/ for tapped or tabbed but it would be if they were pronounced with the extra syllable -ed. For the Vietnamese speakers, producing the sibilant sounds, -s endings was quite challenging. But, they became more aware and paid more attention to their utterances and were able to self-correct.

  181. On Wednesday, May 9, 2012 I had my morning computer students participate in an exercise. Only a handful of these 20 students had participated in the first exercise a few weeks ago since the attendance varies. Some new students attend, while others are returning. I asked my students to stand up and count off to 5 so I could break them away from the friends they normally sit next to. They then got into their respective groups. Next I handed them a paper with several questions and had them discuss them among themselves in there group. They all participated for about 10 minutes. I was great seeing them so cooperative and cheerful. Even the quiet students participated. One person took it upon himself/herself to facilitate the questions and the group discussions.
    As I walked around the class, I did notice that there were a couple of people mostly males that were dominating the groups in about half of the groups. But for the most part everyone participated.

    When it was over, I explained why I was doing it. I asked people to share what they thought of the exercise. Everyone liked the activity. They all got to know each other better and also got to know new people. I also promoted the upcoming leadership workshop at SAC the next day if anyone was interested where the could participate more and learn more about what we did. It was a very pleasant experience for everyone and it brought the students closer together.

  182. Learner Centered Instruction is really important to me. I learn the students’ names the first day by having them do an activity with extended name tags and then I write their names on a small notecard and write down anything I think is unique about them. (their country of origin or curly hair etc…) This is just for me and to review the first night before I return to teach the following day. It works and the students feel really special when I call them by their first name. I’ve heard them say, “You remembered my name?” I also demonstrate to each of the students that I appreciate him or her and I shake their hand either before class or after. (asking how their weekend went or what they learned in my class today) One thing that I took away from the Learner Centered Instruction Workshop was goal setting. I have the students write personal goals in the beginning of the semester, but this semester after attending the workshop, I wanted to do something different. I wanted them to clarify their goals, and revisit them halfway through the semester. So, first we discussed that goals need to be important to each one of us personally and that it has to be within ones power to make happen through our own actions. Next we created a chart with 5 columns, and I invited them to write “What exactly do you want to achieve within the next two months?” ” In 6 months?” ” In one year?” “What steps are you going to take to achieve these goals.” The last column is saved for checking off that the goal was achieved. We revisited this chart and the students were really happy to learn that they had reached their 2 month goal (most students) and were really excited to continue to work on their 6 month and 1 year goals. This was an amazing process. Each student is in charge of their own learning and they feel great about it. Also, it helps them to reflect on their own learning and thinking process too.

  183. In order to make the instruction in our math lab more learner centered and for me to try and learn our students names, I have a monthly calendar that I develop and personally issue to students on their first day. As part of the student-teacher orientation, I sit with the student and go over policies, procedures, and the study guide already in their folder. I issue them the monthly calendar and review the information such as lab hours and important dates. I let them know my hours and then ask them what their availability for class is. We try to agree on how many hours a day and times a week they can commit to coming to class. I make it a point to invite them to our lab at any of our available hours. I personally write their name on the calendar and other handouts, so that it will help me remember their name. For continuing students, the first week of each month I issue a new calendar and conference with each student. We talk about their progress each month and we discuss their availability again. By the second month,a lot of my students are more comfortable and they share more information about themselves and their lives.

  184. From the Learner-Persistence workshop, I wanted to focus on Strategy 6 with my students. Strategy 6 was clarity of purpose= The realistic and meaningful goals learners have set for themselves and an how education will help them achieve such goals.
    To incorporate goal setting, I focused in on setting monthly goals with my students. Each month I issue a calendar with important information such as important dates to note, lab hours, and website information. On that same calender page there is space at the bottom for students to place a goal for themselves for that month. We focus the goal on their math work. As a group, I go over with them what a realistic and measurable goal would be. I share with them how I personally like the idea of writing tasks/goals for myself to do because I make more of an effort to do something I have written down as oppose to just saying I’ll do it.
    To incorporate conferencing, I conference with each student individually to review their goal for the month, together we revise a goal that might not be realistic or measurable. Then I sign, on a designated space on the calendar, that I have met with the student that month and reviewed their goal. I let the students know I will have a new calendar the first week of the following month, and that we will at that time conference with each other again to review their progress and set a new goal.
    This has helped me and the students a lot. I find that they have sometimes gone beyond their first goal and that by week two we are already drafting a new goal. I get real excited and they do too when they can mark off their first goal.

  185. On Thursdays, we have our weekly dictations on the idioms we studied in class. The students will then either correct their own work, exchange with others, or write on the board. I find that the students enjoy this and it solidifies the idioms they have learned during the week..

    Elizabeth Albe

  186. When I see the students need focus and movement,we do a series of light exercises and stretching in class. The oxygen to the brain is great! The students have fun with it and they are ready for more English!!!


  187. I attended a cooperative learning class that I found beneficial. The textbook I have been using Step Forward, has many exercises using cooperative learning. They use group learning , i.e reporter, leader, timekeeper, record keeper, so I have the class grouped and primed for cooperative learning now it is using these effective activities to generate learning experiences.
    An area I have difficulty is getting the students to write so I am going to use the quick write and roundtable and round robin activities to stimulate writing in hopefully fun way

  188. In groups we designed and developed a community in which we explored different alternatives for placing certain civic, cultural place, buildings, roads, and other modern civilization amenities into a modern urban setting.
    This lesson was a lot of fun in the student centered learning class.
    I tried to use this lesson for discussing and learning directions and locations and civic names. The students also had a lot of fun designing their own communities however I need to be more specific in what I want the students to accomplish, such as having them explain why the town was designed this way or that way.

  189. I got quite a few good ideas from the cooperative learning class. One of my more challenging problems is having students write more. I picked-up a great idea to work with writing in a cooperative setting and it is a process called Roundtable in which everyone at the table contributes to the story and the writing process. I believe this activity encourages all to participate.

  190. After taking the 3 core activities I found the Learner-Centered Instruction to very motivating. I teach in the Interactive Language Center so the majority of my instruction is individualized. My ESL students range from transition to intermediate 3. Some also enroll in business classes, so their questions can be quite challenging at times. Since the students come from many different classes to use software for language acquisition and most do not attend four days a week, it is sometimes difficult to establish a rapport the first week. I always greet them by name on the first day and give them a chance to get settled at a computer. Then I approach each student, repeat their name, and assess their needs. The second week I sit again with each student and get to know a little bit about them (family, country, etc.). Then I introduce them to someone in the class from the same country or state in Mexico. This semester two of my students were thrilled to be able to speak their native Portuguese. They were in different classes and told me that it was very difficult to find others from Brazil at school. Once a week we have a 15-20 discussion on a topic of interest. Doing these and other activities have create a bond with my lab students.

  191. These seminars started me toward again rethinking the ways I need to incorporate my Ss in the classroom function, not just their individual progress in their English language acquisition. One of our first tasks in Jan was to become familiar with all the new Ss. I decided to have my Ss collect information from each other. One thing I have done every semester is have each S fill out an info card. This time I had Ss randomly paired and asked them to interview each other and fill out the 3×5 card. They had to stick to English as much as possible, Beg 3 is not always easy, but they did an excellent job. This was really successful and I continued with new Ss as they came in… chose one S to quietly collect this information for me. Many teaching possibilities and topics that can be used in a lesson plan, too.

  192. Toward the end of our Spg semester I wanted to push my class into more writing, but in the past this has been quite frustrating. Our book chapter at that point was a paragraph biography from new immigrants. This example listed only 4-6 sentences, each using a past tense form with simple cronological input.
    I gave each a blank, unlined 8.5 x 11 paper. They folded in half vertically, then half again, and again, making 8 squares. The first data box…where and when were they born. They had their textbook as an example, they cross edited for grammar and verb errors, then continued to use each box as a major event in their lives thus far. The final box was also to be in common, “now I am a student in ESL at CEC… e.g. They were focused, limited, confident, and used all the tools they had, such as irreg. verb lists. THE RESULTS ARE OUTSTANDING!! Never have I had such clear and concise as well as correct paragraphs, not even from my Int. 3 Ss. I had photo pages made for each S and they are now on display. I cannot praise them enough!
    The activity was certainly S-centered. Now they know they can write!

  193. From the Cooperative Learning, we did the JAHARI Squares acitivity in my class. The acivity had 4 squares with one sentence about food in each square. The four statements were:

    1. The foods I like to eat for my favorite feast.
    2. The foods my partner likes to eat for his or her favorite feast.
    3. The foods my partner and I both like to eat in a favorite feast.
    4. The foods my partner and I don’t like to eat in a favorite feast.

    It was a fun activity for them to learn about what their partners’ favorite foods were, and what foods their partners’ didn’t like. They also had to tell their partners what they like and didn’t like. In this activity, the students with partners were comparing and contrasting on the foods they like and didn’t like as their favorites. Each partner had to present what they had after completing the activity. It was a great lesson. They learned about each other in relation to foods, and they also learned the skills of comparison and contrasting.

    1. I like this idea a lot. I plan on using this as an icebreaker at the beginning of this fall semester. It works great because my returning students know how much I love talking about food, and now my new students will know as well.

  194. For a Learner Centered Activity, I used Corners. When my Beginning 2 class was practicing information about jobs, I asked them to go to the four corners of the room based on: Employed, Unemployed, Unemployed and not looking for a job, and Retired. There was no one in the Retired corner, and half the class was in the Unemployed and not looking for a job corner. The employed students shared their job information. The unemployed and not looking for a job students shared their reasons for not looking. My one and only student who is unemployed and looking for a job shared with me the type of work he was looking for. Then, each group shared with the whole class. They really enjoyed getting to know each other in this way, and practicing their English in the process. And, someone had a possible lead for a job for the unemployed student who was looking. It was awesome to see them enjoying one another, and all in English!

  195. At the end of class on a couple of occasions, I had the students play The Question Game, as a Critical Thinking activity. I began it by giving examples about myself on the board, then having a student work with me. Then, I allowed the students to play the game in groups at their tables. I stood back and observed. There was one group that had a hard time understanding the game, so I worked with them. They still didn’t understand, but they tried by giving an answer to the same exact question all around the group. For example, one student said “Vietnam”, and the one next to him said “Where are you from?” Then the next student said “Mexico”, and the next said “Where are you from?” Even though they were supposed to each give different answers to elicit different questions, this was their level, and they did it well, using a variety of questions anyway. Then, I noticed another group who were using a variety of answers to get the various questions, but they were doing it person by person instead of going around the whole group. For example, one student gave several answers, and the group members decided what the questions were, then the next student gave a variety of answers and the group gave the questions. I found this a very fun activity, even though these groups didn’t follow the instructions as I had given them. The important thing was they practiced thinking what questions are necessary for given answers, making them have to think critically, and practice English, both.

  196. My students in the language lab are often very insecure the first few days of attendance. Many have minimal or no experience in using a computer, so they need additional emotional support. I spend at least thirty minutes with new students the first day. I check back with them several times for the remainder of the class.The following 3-4 days I sit with them for approximately fifteen minutes so make sure they are comfortable. I also try to sit them next to a student who is using the same program and is more proficient. That way they get added support and make a new friend!

  197. I did the proximity game with my mixed Int 1-3 class to help the students learn each other’s names. The women in my class were by far the best at learning names. The Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese, French, Laotian, and Chinese students (men and women) all got 100% the second time we did the proximity game. However my Iranian men, even at the end of the term, didn’t the know the names of the other Asian students for some interesting reasons.

  198. The inside outside circle worked quite well for the conversation portion of my class. The quieter students could no longer hide in groups and were forced to speak. Several students who disliked it at the beginning reported that they got used to doing it and the activity gave them more confidence to use the English they learned outside of class.

  199. The gallery walk was a favorite and useful comparing results and presenting ideas for conversation. Students became quite competitive when creating posters and really used their English well in order to get the best group score.

  200. Students from the the OEC Workforce Readiness class were from at least 10 different countries, including China, Columbia, Iran, Israel, Mexico, Philippines, South Africa, and Sri Lanka. During the semester they networked with each other and discussed their employment goals. At the end of the spring semester, they planned an event where each student could bring a food item from their country and share information regarding their country.

  201. I have finished the certificate program and I found this to be a great way to do Flex. Some of the workshops were well organized and fun. I have learned a lot about how to make activities fun and educational for the students.

  202. During Flex week, I attended the Cooperative Learning workshop at OEC and learned a cooperative activity called “jigsaw reading.” I think this activity helps develop students’ cooperative reading skills when they are divided into home and expert groups. Students will be assigned a different paragraph in their home group, and will analyze their part in their expert groups. Then they will return to their home group as “experts” and share what is about their paragraph. I am always looking for some student-centered reading activities, and am ready to try this activity in the upcoming semester.

  203. I used the Goal Setting workshop at OEC. The goal of each student was to learn the 100 questions and answers to prepare them for the interview with immigration to become a U.S. Naturalized Citizen. These questions were broken down into the goal “I will learn 20 answers per week or 5 per day for for 4 days and take a test.” The students could write the questions and answers on 3 x 5 cards or cut out the preprinted ones. They made a booklet for U.S. History, U.S. Government and Civics. They liked this daily exercise and would quiz each other from their own booklets. Their friends would come into the classroom to see what they were doing or had done.

  204. In my Spanish Literacy class I practice the answers game with my students. First I explained them that I will be giving them the answers to some questions and that they would give me the questions. I gave them an example, but still they have hard time understanding the game. So, we start to do it with very easy answers like saying ” my name is Monica ” , then they can say “what is your name”. We spent like half hour and they didn’t come with the correct questions , but once they realize the dynamic of the game they enjoyed a lot . We do this game at least one time a month in the last semester and my students are very confident about they capabilities.

  205. I tried to work on goals with my beginning one students. We had a great start with a list of things they could do everyday to learn English. However, I think I’m so bad keeping my own goals that by the end of the semester we had totally abandoned our list and students were not reporting anything anymore. I think I desperately need help.

  206. The Four Corners activity is great, but can’t be used with every group. I’ve planned it a couple times, but the classes were so small that I knew it would be silly to do. Or, I have a group of all housewives, so “Where do you work?” is not a useful question.
    I’ve had fun with line ups–alpha order by first or last name, birthdates, etc.
    One of the best things about these workshops is that we appreciate how hard it is to sit so long! It’s good to think of activities and ways to get everybody up and moving.

  207. Well, I must admit when I first heard about this new certificate program I was frustrated and skeptical. Admittedly, Rob Jenkins is a total pro, but the changes to the program, as well as the increased strictness about it, made me groan. But now that I have completed several of the courses and I am just about ready to receive my certificate, I must say that my opionion has changed. I have indeed learned several new things I can use in my classes.

    I have worked for the college for well more than a decade, and I think I have taken every possible class I can take that can possibly be attributed to me. In the past my frustration has been about the fact that I had oodles of flex hours to complete, but since I don’t teach ESL there hasn’t been much to choose from. I have taken walking tours of Santa Ana, learned how to use the SmartBoard twice (shout out to Janet Ennis), learned Parliamentary Procedure (Parley Pro) from Phil Garnett, and outlined the figure of my body in the dark. To be honest, I have hated doing flex. It has been a chore. My feelings are evolving.

    I have now completed Goal Setting, Learner-Centered Instruction, Cooperative Learning, and Critical Thinking workshops. For me, the most pertinent workshop was the Cooperative Learning workshop. I have already used the round robin writing technique to teambuild within my class, and the students really responded to meeting and working with new people. I have always felt that things are going well when people are laughing. In addition, I plan to use some techniques this coming semester that I learned in Learner-Centered Instruction such as “card matching,” “corners” and “line-up.” I feel that these techniques, as well as many of the others presented in these workshops, can only enhance our teaching and benefit the students. And isn’t that the point?

    So good job, Rob. You have converted me. I am now a believer. I am still going to complain about the onerous hours that need to be completed, but I encourage all SAC teachers to partake of these new certificate programs.

  208. During the Spring Semester I decided to concentrate on developing community in the classroom. In the Pronunciation classroom, I found it very challenging to have the students work together. It’s a lab format. So the students are somewhat restricted in movement and are actually in “booths” physically removed from one another.

    We do a lot of choral practice and the students pair with one another. In the early days, they want to work with someone they know. I wanted to have them feel acquainted with several members of their class.

    So I asked them to choose a different partner. I suggest that they introduce themselves and chat for a few minutes. Then they can help each other constructively.

    Additionally, I greet each student by their first name when they enter. Eventually, they began to recognize each others names. And some of them actually called each other by name.

  209. Cooperative Learning – an exercise for workplace preparation. I have a flyer produced by McDonalds that lists 10 reasons why people should consider McDonalds for employment. I have students break into groups and work together to rank order the reasons from most important to least important. Students are encouraged to reach a consensus in each group. We then compare the results of each group and see where they agree and where they differ. I find that there is overall agreement among groups on the rank orderings, but some differences. In general, students rank “earn money” and “learn new skills” very high. Most rank “make new friends” and “work for the world’s number 1 quick service restaurant” near the bottom. Having students discuss rankings in small groups allows them to more readily speak out and express their opinions. We finish the lesson by discussing as a class some of the reasons for choosing one type of job over another.

  210. JIGSAW – This technique from the Co-operative Learning Workshop gives each student a way to contribute to the learning of the group. I have to look for readings that are divisible into four parts (e.g., paragraphs) that can stand alone. One topic I find lends itself to Jigsaw is student learning styles (auditory, visual, kinesthetic, etc). This builds student self-awareness, as well as awareness that their classmates learn different ways. I print each paragraph on its own page and create some guide questions at the bottom to help them elicit the important information.

    It can be difficult to explain how it works the first few times, so I came up with two ideas that help. The first is to take old wall calendar pictures and cut them into four “puzzle pieces”. I hand out one piece to each student and their first task is to create the “big picture” by finding the rest of their puzzle and assembling it. The students enjoy this a lot – it gets them out of their seats and talking with each other as they try to put their puzzle together.

    The four students that make a picture are then a home group for the jigsaw. You can label each piece A, B, C, D if you want to guide the students into their expert groups. You can even level the readings if you want to give easier or more difficult ones to lower or higher students by giving the pre-labeled original pieces to those students as appropriate.

    If you have a Smart Board in your classroom, the second way to explain how Jigsaw works is to draw a diagram showing the home groups. I make each home group a different color. If you set the marker down in the tray after drawing each square, you can drag them with your finger to illustrate the reformed expert groups, then back again to the home groups to teach each other what they learned in the expert groups.

  211. Critical Thinking workshop: This was an interesting workshop. First, because I was able to teach this workshop. The things that I learned were how to understand the Schiever’s 10 principles of ranking, matching, and round robin activities. I practiced ranking with the students. We created questions about their reasons for coming to ESL classes, then wrote them on the board and in small groups the students ranked which was the most important to the least important. Then they choose a leader to report their group’s responses. We recorded their answers on the board and discussed them as a class. The students enjoyed working together and sharing with the class. I found that the students really engaged themselves in the groups(3-4), and came up with more than 20 reasons why they attend ESL classes and why they are very important. Thank …

  212. As previously mentioned, I concentrated on developing a sense of community in the classroom during the Spring Semester in my Pronunciation Class. I also have a Conversation Class.

    The first day of class I had them stand in two lines. They greeted each other and then introduced themselves giving their name they prefer to use. Then we had one person change from the top to bottom , giving each other new partners. This was a very successful and they really enjoyed it.

    Later on during the semester I gave everyone a piece of paper and suggested that they write down something that makes them proud I thought they would bond over what makes them proud, i.e. their children. Then I collected and redistributed them. Surprisingly, this bombed.

    I’m not sure if it was this particular group of students, but other variations of this type of activity consistently bombed.

  213. One focus for the summer at the Community Learning Center was reading. The goal was to incorporate multiple learning styles in the reading process. I provided a great variety of reading material from graded readers of the classics to books with one-page stories, all with audio. As the students sat reading and listening, they were also using kinesthetic learning by writing the new vocab and using either dictionaries or Google translator. It was fabulous to watch the motivation as students chose their own books, returned to the stories until finished, and moved on to additional books. This worked well in the CLC where ESL, individual learning, and technology are interwoven. Some students proudly stated that they had never read a book before. Others stated that reading is fun!

  214. I got some great ideas from the cooperative learning workshops but one that I really like because it was fun for my students and for me was a game which I changed a little. I divided my beginning 1 class in groups of 4 and gave each group a bag with a total of 15 questions with their answers learned from day one in class. Students had to match the strips. All of them divided the strips so everyone was working and helping each other because they were so competitive and wanted to win. It was really fun and they learned to respond basic personal questions.

  215. Okay I’m trying this again because I probably messed up my last post.
    Last flex I attended the cooperative learning and it was the most memorable class ever because the fun:productive ratio was great! I had so much fun that I had to try it out on one of my health and safety classes. So, I set up a class discussion on brain health and split it up into 4 topics:diet, exercise, age effects, and environmental. Then I found 4 “volunteers” to learn one topic and become specialists on it. During class I split the class into 4 sections. Each of my 4 volunteers had about 7 minutes to teach their speciality to the 4 sections. During the next half hour or so it seemed like chaos, groups were talking, laughing, and it was loud. I think if any one walked in at that point they would think we were just goofing off. But, as I walked from group to group to check on them, I found they were mostly on task. After the volunteers got to each group we had a whole class discussion. Right away I noticed that there was more class participation than if I just lectured the classes ears off. Students who normally don’t participate in class discussions were active and other students were chiming in. Overall it was a dream come true. Typically in my discussion/lectures I get 3-5 students actively participating. When I tried this cooperative learning strategy it seemed like the whole class was in. Maybe everyone had some good coffee before class, or maybe they had their wheaties. Either way, I’m definitely going to set up more discussions like this.

  216. I used the Goal Setting workshop at OEC to enhance the goal setting lesson that had been used in my Citizenship class. My students would be specific on their 3 months, 6 months, 9 months or maybe 1 year goals. They would take a “Study Habits Survey” and check the “yes” or “no” boxes for such questions as “I come to class every day,”, “I speak only English in Class.” We would review how to reach their goals by talking about s or friend to quiz them for 10 minutes every day, etc.
    On their “Goal Setting worksheet,” they would state their specific goal, state how they will measure their success, why this goal is important, what actions are required to achieve their goal, what resources are required. Then they list the obstacles and how they think they will overcome them to meet their goal. In addition, the “Goals in an envelope” activity used periodically checks on their progress.
    Lastly, they list how they will reward themselves for achieving their goal. Some students are taken out to dinner for passing their interview.
    I have seen positive attitudes when they are striving to meet their goals and have heard students say that they had accomplished their goal right on time.

  217. I decided to use the Jahari Squares exercise from the Cooperative Learning workshop. My purpose was to encourage students to really get to know someone new in the classroom. The focus of the exercise was on favorite free-time and holiday activities. The squares were: A. The activities I like in my free time, B. The activities my partner and I both like on a holiday or day off, C. The activities my partner likes on his or her favorite holiday, and D. The activities my partner and I don’t like on a holiday or day off.

    After quietly filling out square A, students found a partner and started to discuss and write answers for the other 3 squares. I found that the students were quite interested and involved in their discussions, and also started to spread the discussion to other pairs to share and compare their answers. When we returned to a full-class discussion, everyone could contribute information. We found activities that everyone liked or didn’t like, and some told about the person they had interviewed. Some activities required new vocabulary and prompted additional conversation.

    As a follow-up activity the next day, we used the Jahari Square papers in our study of present tense. Students could tell about activities their partner did regularly on a day off or holiday. This worked so well, I’m sure I’ll adapt it again to encourage conversation, listening, writing, and then a follow-up application using a current grammar lesson. I liked the way the activities tied together, and the students seemed to enjoy the process because it was so personal.

  218. I have used the inside/outside successfully in my Beginning & Intermediate E.S.L. classes. It has gotten to be useful in introducing my students to each other. Will continue using it in the future.

  219. I also use the alternative to the inside/outside when I have space where two lines face each other and tell the student what is unusual about them, or something they’ve done that might interest the student they’re talking to. Then we rotate until all students have introduced themselves/or told something interesting about themselves.

  220. I have finally taken all 3 core courses and 1 elective for the Student Success Certificate. In the workshops, I learned a few new techniques and strategies to make English come alive for my students and create a fun and safe learning environment for both the students and the teacher. I also came to realize that I have been using many of the techniques and strategies all along, but it is always refreshing and fun to add some new ones to my repertoire. That is my goal – to continue what I have been doing that works and to add one or two new learner-centered, cooperative, or community-building activities to my lessons each week. I’ve selected my favorite techniques and strategies from the workshops (and the On Course I and II workshops) and written each one on an index card and put them into a recipe box. During the semester, I will go through my recipe box each week, as I would when making a weekly meal plan, and select the ones I wish to incorporate into my lesson plans for that week.

  221. I tried the Goal Setting workshop at OEC ,in my beginning 2 class. We talked about goals among students and came up with one goal all students agreed to try which is: I will learn 1 new word every day and pass weekly dictation sentences test. For a reward, I give stickers every Friday right after weekly dictation sentences test. So far students love the idea and they all are looking forward to the test:))

  222. I also tried to develop a sense of community by playing games in the first week of school. Students played Last Letter and Picnic games which I learned during flex. Those activities helped all students to get to know each other. After first week, I noticed all students know many classmates names and therefore feel comfortable in the classroom.

  223. On the first day of this semester, I incorporated several cooperative-learning activities, a few I have used for some time and a couple more I’ve picked up during recent professional development workshops. First, I asked my Beginning 2 students to make name cards using 4 x 6 index cards. On the front, they wrote their first and last names in big letters using bold-color markers (we used this opportunity to practice the names of the colors and share our favorite colors). On the back of the cards, they wrote answers to four personal questions such as, “How long have you been in the United States?” and “What do you like to do during your free time?” After completing their cards, the students arranged themselves in a circle in alphabetical order by first name. Next, they introduced themselves to the class saying their names and one piece of information written on their cards followed by “It’s nice to meet you” or “Glad to meet you.” Once this was done, I collected their cards and then redistributed them making sure each student was given a different student’s card. Students were instructed to find the person whose card they were given and pair up with that student for the final activity. They could either remain standing or sit down with their new partner. The dyad interviewed each other about the information they had written on their cards. After 3 minutes, I had the students pair up with a different classmate and do the same question and answer interview. Finally, the students returned to their desks and placed their name cards in front of them to help me learn their names. At the end of the class, I collected the cards to be used throughout the semester to find out who’s in class each day and to illicit participation from all of the students (I’ll read the name on the top card and after that student has been called upon to answer a question, write a sentence on the board, or read a passage, his card is placed on the bottom and the next student’s name is called inviting that student to make her contribution to the class).

  224. This week I tried out a cooperative reading activity (an activity that I learned from the Cooperative Learning Workshop) with my Beginning 1 students. This was a jigsaw reading activity, and I customized the contents to fit my students’ language proficiency. I divided students into four “home groups,” with four students in each groups. They were given pictures of a house, and they were further divided into “expert groups” in which they became experts of the living room, bathroom, kitchen, and the bedroom respectively. In the expert groups they talked about and wrote down about the items they saw, and returned to their home group to share about the items they wrote down. So students shared information from their experts groups, and I gave them a quiz as a follow-up activity.

    This was the first time I used a cooperative reading activity and found this to be successful. Students learned about household items in a cooperative way, which enhances their communication skill and is a vital skill that is transferrable from the classroom to the real-world context.

  225. During Flex week, I attended the Learning Persistence Workshop, and learned that successful learners are those who will not give up learning despite personal hardships (e.g. work, illness, or family issues) at some point in their lives. Students will keep coming to class if they feel secure, welcomed, and a sense of belonging to the classroom. I think verbal compliments (not to overuse, though) and tangible rewards (e.g. pencils) boost students’ sense of accomplishments. Group work and end-of-semester potluck will foster an invisible bond among students, which is important as it keeps motivating students to come to class.

  226. This is a great activity for students to keep up with their learning goals!
    I have modified it to fit our open entry-=open exit Science Center, but of course you can do whatever you see works in your room.
    First, I welcomed the students and went over the icebreaking activity. Once I had their attention I asked them how many of them knew what their class was really about, How long would it take them to finish it and how hard or easy was it for them.
    The students learned at that moment that each one of them was taking a different class! They have been classmates for sometime now and this is information we all share with them constantly! However, it took an activity like this to actually make them realize there are other students that share the same subject.
    Soon enough I passed out a handout with questions about their syllabus ( a variation of syllabi search activity), and asked them to give each answer a timeline for them to complete each task the best way possible (efficiency and affectivity)
    I’ve got back multiple ways students will accomplish their goals of finishing their class with all assignments turned in successfully!
    This was a great way to make them accountable for part of their learning but also an A-HA for them being in charge of their time and success in the class.
    Please let me know if you’d like to know anything else about this or any other activity to share with your students. I get ideas from many of you!

  227. Over the first three weeks of class, in the Language Arts Center we do safety lessons at different scheduled times to get the information to as many students as possible. We have a standard lesson that includes a map of the campus and exit routes, emergency procedures, emergency phone numbers, earthquake video, and parts of the campus safety brochure. This year before we began, we did a quick survey with the students to see what they know about our safety procedures and what they know about emergency procedures in general. We estimate that over 250 students participated in the safety lessons and because of the initial surveys we were able to tailor the information to what the students needed and wanted to know. Having the information from the survey made this lesson very effective in delivering relevant information.

  228. I have been able to incorporate the question game from the critical thinking workshop into a grammar group lesson about interrogative sentences. I tried to use the round robin question game to start with and realized that the students needed more preparation to be successful. The next time, I used strips of paper with 10 answers, and another 10 with questions. Each table got all 20 strips and as a group had to put the questions and answers together. We then used the same answers and each group made up their own questions. We were then able to do the round robin question game. The students really enjoyed the game and were very creative with the questions and answers. I will definitely do this again and use the warm up with the strips.

  229. 232. Like a few other ESL teachers, I used the round table story-starter from the cooperative learning workshop. Frankly, the success was mixed. The students counted off so that they were in groups of four, and they enjoyed meeting new classmates. With some of the groups, the stories flowed, but with a couple of the groups there wasn’t much cohesion in the writing. I gave a two-minute warning so that the groups could write a conclusion, and then a person from each group shared his/her group’s writing with the whole class. If we were to do this activity again, I would have them work in groups of three so that there would be less downtime.

  230. Even Intermediate 2 ESL students need to review how to form questions. As a class, we brainstormed the words that begin questions (how many, what kind, where, can, when, do, are, etc.) Working in groups of four, they came up with the right way to ask questions on a worksheet that begins “Please sign your name if you….” Half of the class did the first half, and the other students did the second half, and then as a class we discussed the right way to ask each question. After that, the students were free to walk around the room and gather signatures, knowing that they had properly asked each question.

    1. I’ve learned that grammar needs to be learned, repeated, and reinforced continually. Even Int 3 students may not have a complete grasp of the grammar they should if they have missed time in a class. Few students attend the maximum class days and can miss important lessons that shape their learning. I feel by continually assessing their progress greatly helps my teaching.

  231. While doing the El Civics Immigration lesson plan, I decided to combine “goal making” and Critical Thinking activities to make the contents of the immigration material more concrete rather than just another abstract lesson plan we march through to do the assessments by a certain timeframe. My goal was to individualize citizenship as a realistic possible goal even for my Beg. 2 students to aim for while working and coming to CEC to improve their English. So I had individual tables work as teams to list reasons in a chart format –some examples of heading I wrote on the board–both pro’s and con’s or advantages vs. disadvantages to citizenship to jump start the activity. One category: years living/working in the U.S.without citizen benefits. Another: Consequences of not acquiring citizenship. Another: What you need to apply for citizenship. Students discussed/conversed by applyng the “rights” and “responsibilities” of citizenship from the El Civics lesson plan when creating the chart. For instance, the “right of assembly” on their jobs to create or join a union for better working conditions/benefits/wages appeared on every table’s chart as a benefit of citizenship as opposed to not having a voice for fear of being deported or losing their job if they are taken advantage of in the workplace. After the charts were done and shared with the entire class table by table, students arranged in order which pro’s and con’s were the most important “rights and “duties” of a citizen–another critical thinking task. At the beginning of the class,I had asked for a show of hands as to whether anyone was considering becoming a U.S. citizen–one or two hands went up. After our goal making-critical thinking exercise, however, another more enthusiastic show of hands seemed to indicate students now thought becoming a U.S. citizen was a more realistic goal even for a Beg. 2 student to aim for.

  232. After the Cooperative Learning & Learner Persistence Workshops, I decided to up my game–the weakest part of my teaching–namely managing 30 plus students to more fully participate in executing the lesson at hand. Usually, I introduce the question/answer dialogue, then have students practice it in unison with me, then ask individual students to practice it with me, and finally have students partner with their table-mates. Sometimes, I finally ask individual student pairs to stand up at their tables to demonstrate the concept or come up to the front of the class and demonstrate mastery before I move on to the next concept.
    So at best we have about 5 practice rounds before we move to the next major question/answer dialogue. However, as an instructor I can see the weaker students still aren’t confident or don’t really own the material.
    So I tried the following sixth step which seems to really solve this problem–getting everyone up to speed without giving a written text because this is basically conversational skill one needs to master on one’s feet in day-to-day conversation where anything can come at you to address coherently.
    First, I get everyone up from their tables which is an immediate plus–
    making a huge circle around the room with two students paired up facing each other. The outer circle students ask the question while the inner circle student responds with the anwer to the question. I ring my mother’s little Dutch Girl’s dinner bell with a tinkling sound because this activity gets so envigorated the noise of real student engagement is over the top unlike the engagement of the prior 5-step approach. The tinkling bell is also used to signal directional changes such as time to change question/anwer partners so the students in either the inner or outer circles move one or two or more spaces to the right or left depending on my instructions of clockwise or counterclockwise which took some ironing out to understand at first.
    As I give the word prompts for a question to be formed like we did in the class lesson, and we move around the circle practicing one-on-one with a series of partners both the weaker students get up to speed as well as the middle range and higher range students. Stronger students seem to enjoy helping the weaker students with word phrasing order confusion; weaker students seem to blossom perhaps due to the increased number of opportunites to practice and a less stressful environment to form a question or answer than when put on the spot by the instructor or interacting with an equally weak student at their table that is just as much in the dark as they are trying to arrange word order phrasing. Meanwhile, I get to move around the circle listening to students getting a better handle on whether students are mastering the material and if not I can intervene accordingly.
    Then to keep the higher range students from getting too bored, I eventually start speeding up the word prompts in rapid fire mode as well as increasing the circle moves/instructions until we are all going so fast to execute the question and anwer dialogue everyone just starts laughing because the Little Dutch Girl bell is literally ringing off the wall.The most recent lesson I used this in was for: this/that and these/those usage in my Beg 2 class. First I gave students a front/back handout with 40 boxes with picture objects which we first labeled with the appropriate vocabulary: bathtube, faucets, shelves, tile, shower curtain, bathmat, towels, washclothes, etc. Then we framed question/answer dialogues with partners by varying the number of items by holding up our fingers and placing our hand on our chest or stretched out away from our bodies to indicate distance. Example: Bathtowel; 5 fingers; hand extended Questioner: How many bathtowels are those? Answerer: Those are five bathtowels. Example: one toothbrush on the sink with hand on chest. Questioner: How many toothbrushes are on the sink? Anwerer: This/there is one toothbrush –on the sink. For this exercise, I taped the handouts to various locations in the room and selected groups of students for each area and then moved every other student to the next group via bell so students had to interact with students of different skill levels. Here students were now able to make their own prompt choice/selections as well.

  233. For my Int 1 class, I focused on a learner centered activity that would help the students get to know each other at the beginning of the Fall semester. I divided the class into small groups of 4 to 6 six students. Then I let them know that we were going to interview each other and that we were going to brainstorm and write student generated questions on the board! The students really got into the activity and came up with interesting questions. I walked around the class to listen to their conversations and to answer questions. When everyone had asked their teammates questions, I asked each group to tell the whole class something interesting they had learned about a person in their group. Much fun was had by all! The students really enjoyed this activity and so did I!

  234. I try to use each student name every day, and at the same time I encourage students to learn each other’s names. One of the ways I do that is using name cards (thick, colored paper folded with the name written on both sides).
    When I attended the Learner-Centered Instruction workshop, a new way I discovered which facilitates the learning of names was the Line-Up. Here is what I did when I tried this activity/strategy in the classroom: I had students line up in alphabetical order according to their first names. Then they chose from a set of questions I had written on the board in order to introduce themselves and start a conversation. Students were engaged and eager to know more about each other. I also had them tell the class one interesting fact about the person they had the conversation with. Simin Jalali

  235. From the Goal Setting workshop, I learned the SMART method. When students expressed their need and desire to develop writing skills, I asked them to attempt to write four sentences (Specific). I corrected and returned their sentences and asked them to practice/memorize writing them with all the correct capitalization and punctuation in order to be tested one week later and to score 3 correct out of 4 (Measurable). Knowing my students’ capabilities and the quality of work they had done before, I determined that this goal is attainable (Attainable). I knew that these students are capable of achieving this task because many students in previous semesters had succeeded in doing this task (Reasonable). I gave the students one week to prepare to do the task of writing the sentences in the classroom with no help (Time Bound). Simin Jalali

  236. To apply what I learned in the Critical Thinking workshop, I tried the C&R activity (Consequences and Results). I asked my Beginning ESL 1 students to work in groups and tell me the positive results, the negative results, and the other results of group activities that require students to get out of their chairs. No one seemed to grasp the idea of “Other Results,” but I was happy to hear the feedback and write some answers for positive and negative results on the board. These answers served as examples to explain how the C&R activity works.
    Before the students did the C&R activity, they had done a group activity in which they moved around to learn about nouns and pronouns. Each member of a designated group had to go to the board and write one noun (agreed upon by the whole group) in the appropriate pronoun column. Not only were the students working in their own groups to choose a noun, but they were also interacting with many other classmates. Students from different groups were meeting and interacting at the whiteboard. They were helping each other with the spelling, or they were moving misplaced nouns to the appropriate pronoun columns. At the end of the Noun/Pronoun activity, groups began the C&R activity. They wrote statements in the
    3-column table (Negative, Positive, Other). Here are a few positive results from groups: “I like this activeties because the other People learnyng,” “I like the comonication in Group,” and “I like because practice exercises.” Some negative results were “shy don’t like it,” “don’t want to stand tired,” “don’t learn too much students talk more than teacher,” and “don’t have turn.” Reflecting on the negative and positive results allowed me to think of new ways to make the cooperative groups more efficient. I saw the importance of assigning roles, clarifying the procedures/rules involved in completing the task, and modifying the activity, if necessary. Carmen Atallah

  237. When my Beginning ESL 1 students participated in the C&R (Consequences and Results) activity, they were asked to state positive, negative, and other results of a Noun/Pronoun group activity they had done earlier and which had made them leave their seats to go to the board.
    Some negative results statements were that students were tired and didn’t want to walk around after a long day of work. When I looked at the positive and negative results reported in the C&R activity, I decided to modify the Noun/Pronoun group activity so that it wouldn’t require students to move around a lot. I made cards on which I wrote singular and plural nouns related to everyday life. I made piles of different colors (except blue) for different groups. The pronoun cards were big and blue but with different color writing on them for the different groups. Students worked in groups to place each noun card under the appropriate pronoun card labeled HE, SHE, IT, WE, or THEY.
    I had noticed that the card for the pronoun THEY had only names of people below it and that all the cards for the names of things (singular and plural) went below IT. By setting up this activity several times my students were able to adjust their understanding of nouns and pronouns. They are interested in doing this activity because it takes place at their own table, helps with vocabulary development, and promotes cooperation. My students have told me that they like this activity a lot, but I plan to use C&R to help them practice writing as they give their feedback in the 3-column table for Positive, Negative, and Other Results.

  238. Tonight I conducted a cooperative learning exercise in preparation for tomorrow’s Great California Shake Out. I created 10 sheets, each w/a question and 3 answer options taken from; I adapted the language for use w/my Beginning ESL 1 students. My students sit in groups of about 5 per table, so I provide each table w/two sheets. As a group, each table discussed their scenarios & through consensus agreed on the best answer. The questions present scenarios – you are at school when there is an earthquake … at the beach, at a park, at home asleep, driving, etc., what do you do? The table group discussions were very lively as some of the answer options are presented to correct prevalent misinformation. I called on each table to read their scenarios and present their selected answers. As a whole class we discussed each scenario including physically acting them out to critically think them out. To wrap it up, we reviewed a 7 step plan to prepare for an earthquake – can’t remember right now where I took it from. It was pretty fun & my students are better informed & prepared for tomorrow’s statewide drill & for an earthquake should they experience one.

  239. I teach a Beginning ESL 1 class. When we study the unit on community, I like to open a group conversation to brainstorm “what makes for a happy neighborhood/community?” The responses are varied and all meaningful – clean streets, markets w/healthy food, safety, good neighbors, access to parks, access to transportation, access to jobs, access to schools, etc. The process is evocative as it helps raise awareness of the elements already present that contribute to community well-being and it also leads to solution-finding to add the missing ones. During the conversation, we discuss why each nominated community attribute is important – who is affected & how. The exercise allows for substantial vocabulary building as well as language production – in addition to the critical thinking & cooperative learning aspects.

  240. On Behalf of Marcia Hackett:

    Marcia Wrote:
    My combination class – Beginning 3 & Intermediate 1 – meets four days each week on the SAC campus. In an effort to acquaint students with the many offerings available to them, I’ve taken students on two campus field trips. We walked both times.
    Two weeks ago, at a reduced fee, we visited the Tessman Planetarium and watched an excellent presentation by the director. I prepared students ahead of time with basic vocabulary. They were encouraged to bring their families on weekends.
    Secondly, on Oct. 9th, after showing them several newspaper clippings about the newly dedicated Cesar Chavez National Monument, we had a short lesson about Cesar Chavez and his work – about human rights, unions, boycotts, etc. We then walked across campus to view the Cesar Chavez mural in the CC Building. Students also saw the computer lab where they are allowed to use a computer with a SAC ID card.
    Both of these field trips generated good classroom discussion. A number of students are quite excited to eventually enroll in a “for credit” class on campus which is one of our ultimate goals.

    (Marcia Hackett)

  241. Hello Everyone, and Rob,
    I am now teaching the ESL Academic class Beg.3/Int-1 at SAC. For a warm up exercise, I decided to practice activity #47-Popcorn Reading.
    My objective is to have the student learn three(3) major skills: reading, writing, and pronunciation.
    First, I have the students writie the short story in there Journals. Next, they practice reading the story with a partner. Then, I read the story, so, they can hear the proper pronunciation. Then, I show then how the activity works. I pop up and read the title. Then , the student pop up and read one sentence of the story. We do this for about 5-7 mins. making sure all the students have had a chance to pop up.
    Student response: they love to do and some had to be encouraged to pop up, but after awhile they all were into it.
    Second, I give the students copies of the stories to practice their 20-min reading at home.
    The stories, I use are standardized reading stories for correct American English pronunciation.
    I hope that you all enjoy doing this activity with your students, i have so much fun!!!!

    By: Ms. Diana Rivers Senghor, M.ED.
    SAC-ESL Academic B-29

  242. One of my observations took place in the English and Composition classroom for the High School Subjects. I wanted to see what type of classroom set up they had and how the instructors interacted with the students. First, I really liked that they had the round tables, compared to our setting of rows (long tables). It seemed that students were able to better communicate with their classmates when necessary. It seemed ideal for small group instruction. I also liked that the instructors had an area with two smaller round tables where they could meet with one or two students for a more private or one to one meeting. I also noticed written on the board, a schedule of small group instruction for particular grammar mini lessons. I liked this idea because the students can plan their own schedule and attend these sessions as needed. Although this particular classroom was unusually large, the instructors and instructional assistants were very professional, caring and available to all students.

  243. The Learner-Centered Instruction workshop, I attended this fall, was one of the most valuable workshops so far. It was engaging with activities and strategies that I can immediately implements with my students. I definetly agree with the quote: “Learning is more meaningful when topics are relevant to student’s lives, needs , and interests and when students are actively engaged in creating, understanding, and connecting to knowledge”.
    The workshop began with the attendees (now we are the students) taking a pre-assessment survey. It is important to be honest and find those areas where we can improve. Our student’s success becomes our own success. I also liked the Goal Tracking Form we filled out. Just as we ask our students to set short and long term goals, we the instructors must also follow this path not only in our careers but in our personal lives as well. My teacher classroom practices have definetly improved because of the many wonderful and meaningful workshops I’ve attended.

  244. The Critical Thinking workshop was another class that I thought was so valuable. We revisited Schriever’s 10 Principals of ranking. In this activity my students responded well to the activity by meeting and working with new people. Although it is unusual to share personal information, they were all able to respond and relate to reasons on: Why is it important to learn English?. These were then ranked in small groups and then shared with the whole class. Working in groups of 4 seemed to work well. This hands-on activity worked well with my students . Other activities that were introduced were matching and round robin. These I have yet to implement.

  245. My favorite class lesson is to have a group write a story together..they brainstorm and choose a leader and a recorder and come up with a short story. The group needs to be about 5 or 6 students . They also must rewrite the story making any corrections in ideas or spelling and punctuation. The finished products are so amazingly varied and funny the the group must also choose a reader to read the story aloud to the class. We get a lot of laughs from the different groups. Peggy Patterson

  246. An interesting class lesson is to have the students discuss at their table how long they have studied English and how they have studied English. We discuss different ways of learning a language. The students then talk about how much more they plan to study English. This leads into a class discussion about educational goals. As a final assignment student are asked to write a short paragraph about their educational goals and where they are in the steps they see necessary to acheive their goals. Since this class has many students who are learning to write, I usually give them a template of a prewritten paragraph designed so that as they fill in the blanks they are writing a well-constructed paragraph about where they are in their personal educational goals and what step they will take next and when they will finish this immediate goal. It seems to anchor the students into goal setting and evaluating where they are now.
    Peggy Patterson

  247. In my very large Beg. 3 & Inter. 1 combo class there are students from at least nine countries. When we discuss specific cultural themes, I make an effort to have students tell how “they do it” in their country. Two months ago a couple from a Middle Eastern country joined the class. They had recently come to the US and were imminently expecting their first baby, and were naturally excited and worried. This generated much discussion from naming the baby to baby showers to the father’s role and that of the relatives to the best place to buy baby clothes, etc. My students really got into several discussions on these topics describing what’s done in their countries,
    and even planned a small class party for the couple. Many students are already parents themselves. They really enjoyed giving the young couple advice on how to take care of their baby. They wrote their messages on 3X5 cards which I collected and read aloud first. We got a lot of laughs from the advice. All the students really bonded because of these exercises. They also warmly welcomed the parent-to-be. Now, we’re waiting for the couple to bring their newborn to the class and show him off.

  248. Consequences and Results – Part 1:
    In my endeavors to lead by example and earn the Student Success Certificate, I attended a core workshop on Critical Thinking. In that workshop, I had an A-HA moment, and realized that one of the specific activities we experienced and discussed might be a useful way to streamline decision-making in our ABE and ASE monthly meetings. We have a heavy workload this semester on quadrennial review for curriculum, and we had been struggling with achieving balance between efficiency/getting decisions made about a lot of courses (we have 121 between the two departments- phew!) and allowing plenty of time in the face-to-face setting of departmental meetings for everyone to speak to each course as needed. I decided to attempt using the Consquences and Results template, adapting it into a table with all of our courses listed along the left-hand side column so we could focus our discussion on the whole set of courses to be decided upon. My first attempt made me realize that it was still too overwhelming — so I worked with existing data and other factors to determine how to narrow it down to a single page, two-sided document.

    Did it work? Read on for Part 2 to see the end result!

  249. Critical Thinking: While working with students preparing for GED testing in Writing, Reading, Science, and Social Studies in the Language Lab, students often ask for help with correcting their mistakes and in understanding how to get the correct answer. When we go over their missed questions, I find that determining the correct answer is often not a direct answer found outright in the material they read and were tested on. The students seem to learn best if they understand that the answer is often implied, and they fare better on subsequent tests if they understand HOW to get the correct answer. This process includes critical thinking, asking themselves 1) how they got their incorrect answer and 2) where to find the implied material within the passage for the correct answer. They seem to come away with a better understanding of the critical thinking process.

  250. I teach at The Success Center at Santa Ana College. We are an academic computerized learning center serving mainly credit students. Each of these students come to us with individual assignment, be it in reading, ESL or math. We assist the student in finding the correct level for their assignment and make a plan of study for completion of the assignment which is for extra credit in many cases. We work with the students to get to know each other, work on assignments together and complete projects. We have group discussions and brainstorm possible outcomes. Great for vocabulary development and critical thinking.

  251. Consequences and Results – Part 2
    Having adapted the C&R template to the specific context of ABE and ASE Departmental decision making for quad review, I printed up a set and we used it as a guide for our discussion. We had 64 courses to make some decisions on, especially regarding which courses were no longer needed and could be deleted from our inventory. The C&R sheet, adapted, was amazing! Whereas in the past we would spend that much time discussing only one or two courses and reaching a decision, in that session we discussed all 64 courses and achieved decisionmaking on 91% of them, including specific guidance from the entire department on how the work should proceed. Drawbacks? To really have time to write down comments and fill in each column completely, it would be helpful to have dedicated time at the beginning for people to work independently prior to discussion and decision mkaing starting, but for our purposes that level of detail was not needed and only one person was needed as secretary to take notes course by course as decisions and future steps were determined. I will defintely use this tool again in the future!

  252. After presenting a group lesson about a workplace memo, students were asked several multiple-choice questions about the content of the memo. Often students would quickly choose one of the four multiple-choice answers that seemed correct; however, after reading further and eliminating two of the wrong multiple-choice answers, a more complete answer out of the four was revealed. When students realized this was the better answer of the two remaining, possibly correct answers, they had a better understanding of how to effectively think through this type of test for the correct answer.

  253. After attending the Student Success Certificate Class, I was inspired to try a new, fun icebreaker to instantly get the students to meet one another. This fall, we began the semester with a type of Cinderella game. As they entered the room, they were asked to place one shoe in a basket and take a seat. Once everyone was seated, I introduced myself (name, where I lived, and favorite animal) and then asked the students to find the individual whose shoe they possessed and introduce him or her self. This required each student to meet at least two new classmates (they one whose shoe he/she possessed and the one who had their shoe). Then the pair came up and introduced each other to the class. I liked the fun interaction amongst the students, the energy of the anticipation of what was going to happen with the shoes, the experience of meeting new people and the opportunity to speak individually and to the group.

    1. Funny icebreaker !!!!! I always start with a starter/icebreaker in class. I start early in the AM so i have to gauge where their level of attention is. Has their coffee kicked in? Have they had breakfast yet? I don’t start an important idea or lesson until we are warmed up and focused on the task at hand.

  254. The Success Center is a learning center where students work at their own pace on a multitude of subjects. There are also specific classes that meet in the lab at various times during the day. Because it is an individual learning lab, each student potentially is studying something different or they may be in the same course of math or english, but in a higher or lower section. This has been a great opportunity to promote cooperative learning and critical thinking. Often times, we find students communicating together to work through a particular math problem, or ESL students asking another for assistance with a translation or a confusing grammar concept (ie, today one student worked with another on identifying adjective clauses and relative pronouns, then correctly rewriting a sentence using the correct relative pronoun/rel adverb or preposition). Math students in our center also work through problem cooperatively and critically. They attempt by themselves. Critically work through the reasons why they may have missed a certain problem (redo, compare first attempt to second, find error). If he can not see the error, then he may use tools to work the problem on their own (video of concept, step by step example of this problem or a related one). Finally, the student will ask for assistance from the instructor or a neighboring student. It is a comprehensive learning environment for all.

  255. Everybody likes to talk about him/herself! An activity that I found useful in tracking the SLO speaking component is called “Spotlight: Three-Minute Interview.” The students are divided into groups of four or five. Each person in the group is given a handout with about a dozen questions on it, such as “What is the worst work that you have ever done for money?” and “If you go to the refrigerator for a late-night snack, what would you like to find there?”

    I tell the students that they have the option to not answer a particular question. I set the timer for three minutes. During that time, the teammates ask as many questions as they have time for and give their undivided attention to the person who is in the spotlight. There is a lot of fun involved.

    All the while, I’m walking around the room and taking note of the level of each student’s participation. The students enjoy learning little-known facts about their classmates and I get a good idea of each student’s speaking ability.

  256. In a Writing Lesson last week, students were asked to describe an on-campus student service they would like offered at Centennial Education Center. Many responses were very creative and quite detailed. Some even included illustrations and invitations to “Grand Openings.” These were fun to read and offered a lot of opportunity for students to write a full page rather than struggling to complete only a paragraph. All of the ideas were unique, practical, and even fun!

  257. One thing that I was reminded of during my workshop about Student Centered Learning is the importance of learning and remembering student names. Since I work in the CLC at CEC and we have over 275 students, I sometimes give up trying to remember many student names. Add to that, teaching there only twice a week, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed by names. However, Terry re-made the case for me and encouraged us all to make the effort. This became one of my personal goals as a teacher this Fall 2012. I knew and was reminded of various strategies that aid in memorizing and then learning names such as calling students by name each time I see them. I realized that talking to each student and making some connection by asking about their job, their children, asking them to show me photos online of their native city or country, helps me to remember their names. It takes a determined effort, however, and a neverending dialog with students as they enter or before they leave the CLC.

    I also have come to realize again, that most students seem to appreciate when I take a moment to speak with them as not only a student, but as a person with concerns. I have been teaching a very long time and it is sometimes easy to overlook the personal side of the profession, especially when I have many deadlines and responsibilities on my mind. The discussion I had with Terry and other teachers attending the workshop was helpful in refocusing some of my teaching time to individual students in my class. How I appreciate the reminder of its importance to them.

    Jennifer Gaudet

    1. Jennifer–I know you are a veteran teacher with years of experience and that you are an effective teacher. Nevertheless, we all need gentle reminders that students really appreciate the personal approach to teaching. Students will respond in positive ways when called by name and with respect.

      Thank you for articulating this point so well in your blog entry.

      Terry Tomlinson

  258. I attended the workshop on Cooperative Learning a few weeks ago. Group work, be it round table, jahari squares or jigsaw all has its place. The determining factor of which activity you use could be the level of your students, their comprehension and understanding of the assignment and their level of comfort within their group. I recently worked with a group of students on a problem solving activity. Working in groups of three, the students worked through each problem and came up with solutions. It was a good way of breaking-the-ice, so to speak, of this dreaded activity, brainstorming, critical thinking and problem solving. As a result, students felt more confident in their abilities and made some new friends in the process.

  259. The following posts are from Rosita Valencia:

    I use choral reading a lot in both my lower level class (Beg. ESL 2) and higher level class ( Int. ESL 1). I find that this is a very effective teaching method. For this purpose, I usually use stories that are not from
    the textbook.

    If it’s a new story, we read this story together for the first time, and then I discuss with the students the new words. After that, I ask them to discuss the story with their classmates, using the new words they have learned. After this discussion, we do again a choral reading of the story.

    The students say they like this process very much. They enjoy the stories, learn new words, and practice their pronunciation of many English words, all in one hour or less!!

    Rosita Valencia

  260. Submitted for Rosita Valencia: I find using songs as very effective in developing listening skills, both for the lower level and higher level students. However, the songs must have simple words and the melodies easy to remember.

    One song I taught early in the semester was ” Edelweiss,” a song from the “Sound of Music” track. First, I asked the students to listen to the song (about a couple of times), and then I gave them a “quiz.”
    This is a copy of the lyrics of the song with blanks. They must supply the missing words! After this, we compared their answers to the complete lyrics of the songs. Then we read the lyrics without the
    music. And then we sang the song together, with everybody participating.

    The students said that they like this exercise because it “forces” them to listen, and of course everybody enjoys singing a nice song!

    Rosita Valencia

  261. The Goal Setting Activity is a great activity to present to students. Students learn about goal setting, long and short term goals, and overcoming obstacles. Students first identify their goals. Students then identify their short term and their long term goals. We talk about what kinds of things that happen to keep students from meeting their goals. Students brainstorm about barriers that might occur and what could be done to overcome the challenges.

  262. Line-up is an activity that students seem to enjoy. Students line up according to the first letter of their last name. Students laugh and help each other with the line-up. This activity helps everyone to remember the names of the students in the class.

  263. Paired dictation- I have started this lesson recently. I feel this can be very beneficial to the students if they buy into it. Some students feel they want the teacher to speak the dictation and not the students. This lesson takes more motivation and concentration since the students are doing both the speaking and listening. I feel this mirrors real-life experiences and increases their learning curve, but they have tp put in the effort to improve.

  264. Today I observered Tim Chavez’s Beg. 2 class in the afternoon. I enjoyed his relaxed approach with all the students. They used the Stories Plus book for reading comprehension and writing practice. I think its great that he has a spelling word list that he will test the students on at the end of the week. He has a nice template for conjugating verbs in a variety of tenses. During class he played some Beatle songs that many of the students knew the words and just sang along with the music. Tim’s class was really nice.

  265. Last week I went to observe Malena Copeland’s Beginning 1 class. I didn’t have time to do this until now but my time spent in her class was enjoyable. I like the way she keeps the students engaged and motivated to participate in the class by handing out raffle tickets to those who volunteer to lead in an activity or some other learning exercise. Everyone wants to compete to be chosen first so they can collect the tickets that they will exchange later for some sort of prize, or just for the candy bar she had available that night. Another activity I enjoyed observing was a cooperative learing session of asking and answering questions already written out on a worksheet. One student would ask the questions and the other would answer. They would change partners while music played, like musical chairs, and when the music stopped they would sit down with a new partner and repeat the questions and answers. A really fun class.

  266. Our classroom had Thanksgiving with a new twist this year. The theme was how corn was related to Thanksgiving. I presented a PowerPoint covering the widespread use of corn, types of corn, history of corn, and its relationship to Thanksgiving. There was amazing student interest and response as they learned that corn is native to Mexico and one gift that Mexico has given the world. In fact, our Thanksgiving Native Americans passed this learned skill onto the Europeans thus allowing for survival and the first Thanksgiving. Student pride was very high! To accompany the PowerPoint and classroom discussion, I distributed simplified readings on the origin of corn. Our Thanksgiving feast was with popcorn since that is the first recorded type of corn. Great atmosphere in the classroom.

  267. Realia Alphabet Dice
    While waiting for the arrival of a few late students, I used the Realia Alphabet Dice as a class starter. Student groups were formed and one die was distributed to each group. I wrote a subject on the board (e.g. fruits and vegetables). I explained that the first student in each group rolls the die and should say the name of a fruit or vegetable that begins with the rolled letter. If the student rolled a “wild”, then he/she can say any name of a fruit or vegetable. Play continues with the student on the right. The students loved this activity and helped each other with the names of various fruits and vegetables. As an additional activity, I asked the students to tell me the letters that they had difficulty identifying appropriate names of fruits and vegetables. I wrote those letters on the board. As a class, the students suggested the names of fruits and vegetables for those letters.

  268. A Traditional Thanksgiving
    This year, in my Beg. 3/Inter. 1 class, we discussed the story of Thanksgiving, and decided to have a traditional Thanksgiving feast. The students had studied the EL Civics lessons on “Immigration”, so they were familiar with the idea of freedom of religion and the journey of the Pilgrims. As we discussed the first Thanksgiving, I explained the bountiful harvest and the feast with the Pilgrims and Native Americans. I listed the various foods that were eaten on the first Thanksgiving and still today. To follow that American tradition, the students planned a Thanksgiving menu. Each student contributed to the meal. Since a few students were assigned to bring dishes that they didn’t know how to prepare, we searched online for the recipes with our smart phones. As we ate our Thanksgiving meal together, we watched Molly’s Pilgrim. The Thanksgiving meal was a great success and the food was delicious too.

  269. In my Beg. 3/Inter.1 class, the students always request time for “conversation practice”. The questions and topics on Cathy’s Cards seem level appropriate and stimulate a great deal of discussion. Prior to the conversation activity, I present discussion strategies to the class. Student groups are formed and one card is distributed to each group. The students are given ample time to discuss their questions and the answers. The students are encouraged to use the discussion strategies. After completion of the group discussions, each group can read its question to the class and share their answers.

  270. To review “Wh-words”, I have students work in pairs and practice question formation. I place various types of pictures on a table and students choose 2 or 3 pictures. I write the “Wh-words” on the board. Using the pictures, one student forms questions and the other student answers the questions. After asking and answering the questions, the students should exchange pictures. As an additional activity, the students may write their questions and answers.

  271. This semester has been one of the best I’ve ever had for retention of students. From the very first week we had 25 students in a class that really only fit 20 comfortablly, but we made it work. I lost two students due to work and 2 more to (misc), but other than that I have had the same students the entire semester. I think me showing the students a waitlist of over 30 wanting beginning 1 might have let them know how lucky they were. In addition I held true to my rules at the beginning of the semester that I stated in my syllabus. If you miss a week of class without warning I will drop you. Two students did this and I followed through. I called up 2 new students on the waiting list and they were more than happy to join the class. The 2 students who missed came back a week or two later and I told them there spot had been filled. They were upset but understood and the rest of the class knew I was serious. I think in the past I have been too relaxed and in doing so I was taken advantage of. I think me being more stict also made the students respect the class more. And this was obvious as they would show up more prepared with their homework in hand and on time if not early. This also created a better since of community and trust among the students. I’m very grateful for this semester! In a small room with no technology and a very small white board with fold up chairs that we’d have to set up every day we made it work….and over 90% are promoting.

  272. This past week I administered the ESL Post-Test for my Beginning 3 ESL class at CEC. I immediately noticed the new changes in the format, especially the new booklet form the test comes in, the newly recorded audio for the listening portion of the exam, and the pre-numbered lines for the writing section (at my level the students must write one sentence for each visual prompt). I must say that these were effective, much-needed improvements. The new format allowed the administration of the exam to be more streamlined and efficient compared to the old one. The new exam format also seemed to ease the anxiety level of the students as well, as it was easier for them to follow along with the audio section and understand more clearly what to do in the writing section. Overall, the new format allowed for less anxiety and more efficiency in administering the exam, both for the students and myself. I am pleased with the changes and feel that the exam is now a more effective assessment tool that will help me in determining which students to promote to the next level.

  273. As a goal-setting assignment, students in Workforce Readiness class thought of a task on which they had been procrastinating. They set a goal to work 30 minutes sometime during the next week toward accomplishing the goal. The next week in class students reported back to a fellow student whether or not they spent 30 minutes toward accomplishing the goal. Students reported to the class that they felt a sense of accomplishment after tackling a task on which they had procrastinated.

  274. I recently taught and reviewed the simple past verb tense in my class, with an emphasis on the structure and usage of affirmative and negative statements, yes/no questions, and “wh-” information questions. We also reviewed the differences between regular and irregular verbs in the past tense. Although the emphasis of the lesson was not the “be” verb, I also briefly explained the difference in structure and usage between the “be” verb in the simple past and all other verbs. (A separate lesson and emphasis on the simple past “be” verb would follow the next day.) We initially started the lesson by reading a short story that was written in the simple past. I then had the students work in pairs to identify all the past tense verbs from the story. As a class, we further identified if the each verb was regular or irregular. I finished the lesson with a set of worksheets that had examples of simple past questions, regular verb “-ed” spelling rules, and the different pronunciations of the regular past tense verbs (‘t’ sound, ‘d’ sound, or ‘id’ sound). In all it was a great lesson and the students were very engaged and seemed to enjoy it a lot. Throughout the lesson, I tried to keep things in focus, reminding students how and why we use the simple past. Although teaching this verb tense can be challenging, it is one of my favorite lessons, especially since it’s such a vital and integral part of the process of learning the English language.

  275. Goal Setting
    For my Spanish class I made a Self-Assesment in 3 fases,one per week. First fase was to ask the students to think about Self Awareness. The ones in primaria and secundaria wrote the answers to three questions: What are your interests?, what are your skills and strengths and what are your weakness. For my literacy students I interviewed one by one verbally and I wrote their answers. Second fase was Goal Recognition. My students followed the same path than in the first fase and answered two questions: What is your specific goal ? and What skills do you need to accomplish this? The third and last fase was about time frame. I ask them to make a chart in which they put the starting point and the specific activity to see their goals come true. In the same chart they put the specific activities they would do in 3 and 6 months and in one year. I helped my literacy students to write their activities in their charts. My students are now aware of their goals and the time frame in which they should be working, I am very proud of them.

  276. I’ve always known goals and goal setting were an important part of student success and rentention, but I’ve had a hard time making them functional and accountable for the students. In my Beg 1 class I ask them the first week why they are learning English. Obvious reasons are work or to help their children with homework. Other reasons include wanting to go to college or to become a citizen. I then ask them how they can learn English. They say come to class. I break it down and say come to class on time, come to class prepared and come to class everyday. Then we come up with other activities outside of class. Study everyday for at least 20-30 minutes after class if possible (if not everyday 3-4 days a week). Do the assigned homework, if any. Watch tv in English 20-30 minutes 2-3 times a week. Listen to the radio in English, which most of them do already. I have them fill out 2 index cards, one for each of us so i can keep them accountable every week. I have found that for Beg 1 students that is hard though. I asked them every week about their goals and their plan of success but most of them just say they didn’t have time. It seems that having them learn study skills are also very important, as studying is a skill and most of my students have been out of school for many years. I guess I’m sharing this because I want to get better at this for my students. Encouraging them to understand that learning English is not all my responsibility and they have to take ownership in the learning process for them to find success…after all that’s all I really want for them.

  277. This is a cooperative learning strategy that I used for vocabulary and listening skills. I asked the students to group themselves in a group of 3 or 4. I gave each group 3 vocabulary words to look up. Some groups had the same words because I have a large class and only 12 words total. One person reads and spells the word, one or two students look up the word, and one person writes the definition on the paper I gave them. Once completed the students go to the board and write the vocabulary words on the board (at least one student per group).
    I chose the vocabulary words from a short (4 minute) dvd from Nat. Geo.
    The students then watched the dvd twice. I then asked the students to return to their group and talk about the dvd they had just watched. They then talked about the dvd and I asked them to use the vocabulary they had just looked up in their conversation. They could also use the vocabulary on the board if they’d like. The students were engaged in this lesson. The activities were varied and they were not bored. The dvd is also interesting as the topic was “Birds in Paradise”. I think I might try this with a you tube video or another dvd available in High School Subjects.

  278. Line up is a cooperative activity that is becoming very popular with my Lit/Beg I when used for short conversations or a question and answer activity. I did like Sandra’s and Loretta’s idea to line up alphabetically. Count the number of students in the class on that particular day. Students can reinforce their knowledge by counting for the teacher. Half of the students line up in front of the class and the other half pair up with the first line. If there is an even number of students, the teacher will be able to circulate to assess their understanding. If not you will take part in the activity. After a short time, enough for most of the students to finish the activity, have a signal (ex. turn off the music) and one line of students move down to pair up another pair of students. Repeat activity for maybe 10 or 15 minutes. the experts becam my teachers and help those who are not as efficient. It’s wonderful seeing the interaction between different cultures, the smiles, and even the laughter. I have learned that different factors can contribute to the activity not going well. Make sure you have a signal that informs students to move. Know your students–Do they need a prop to take part in the conversation?
    I learned another good idea from Phil Garnett’s “Demystifying the English Language.” Instead of having 6 verb conjugations that give the impression that they are all different, have only 3 for the verb “to be” and 2 for all the other verbs in the present tenses.
    to be

    I am
    He, she , it is
    You,we they are


    I ,you,we, they like No S
    He, she , it likes S

  279. After attending the Assessment Cert. workshop on Incorporating Rubrics into Instruction, I used and slightly changed the pdf Speaking Rubric for my Beginning 1 ESL class. The rubric has 4 categories:
    1)Expresses Needs
    3)Speaks Clearly and
    4)English Only.
    I plan to use these for our conversations in the books and basic questioning/answer practice with Wh & How question words. Using these rubrics with these 4 categories will make it easier for me to focus on covering the different requirements for passing/advancing in Beginning One (i.e. finishing the book, preparing for CASAS and EL CIVICS and improving SLOs). The categories have been slightly tweeked though and have been “renamed” to read (from 1 to 4):
    1)Grammar/Syntax (expresses needs through correct syntax)- even though understanding some grammar is hard for Beg. 1, I like to focus on basic grammar as a tool for my students to understand question form, imperatives and short answers.
    2) Vocabulary for EL CIVICS, CASAS and SLO question words.
    3) Pronunciation (clear speech-as best as they can for Beg. one) and
    4) Fluency (trying to use 100% English in their responses with some ease and control). I would like to add one more category that I may use later,
    5) Body Language, but I guess this would fall under the 4th category-Fluency.
    Thank you for the workshop.

  280. This is a comment by Joyce Basch posted by Rob Jenkins

    This cooperative learning experience revolved around the unit introducing food, shopping, containers for food, and measurements. These ESL Beginning 3 students gave their input on what was a “recipe”. After understanding what was a recipe and how it could be used, it was decided to create a recipe on “How to bake a cake”.The students gave suggestions for ingredients which I wrote on the board. Measurements, utensils, and timing of baking were discussed and taught.

    I divided the class into groups of four, giving each student an assignment as: Leader, Monitor, Secretary, and Reporter. Each group selected its own topic for description…….writing a recipe. In the groups with various ethnic population, the students enjoyed learning about food from another country. The reporter from each group read aloud to the class.

    Joyce Basch

    1. I recently attended the Test-taking Skills workshop. The workshop was taught by Terry Tomlinson and I thought he did a very good job and was well-prepared. Not only was the workshop informative, it was also very interesting. I especially liked the exercise on reading directions. When we are told we have three minutes to answer 20 questions, it creates a lot of anxiety, and we are apt to take shortcuts to give ourselves an edge. I know this is what I did and so did many others. As it turned out, I didn’t read the instructions and I went straight to the questions so I could have the best chance of completing the test. I failed the test because I had not read the instructions. I learned a lot about myself and my students by taking this workshop.

  281. #1)The activities shown in many of the workshops I have done in the past. However, time passes and I forget to them. So attending the workshops is a ” refresher course.”
    As an ice breaker, I used the 4 corners. The class was working on months and ordinal numbers. So I assigned each corner of the room 3 months. I asked the students to go to the corner that coincided with their birthday. Each student was to ask and remember the name and the birthday of 3 students. Upon finishing the questions, the student was to write what he/she remembered.
    #2) The class was divided into 5 groups of 3 students. They were given a portion of an article about dolphins. I asked the groups to decide what was the first paragraph and stand in the order of first though last. (Note: In an advance group, Beg 3 or higher, I wanted to know why? why the group believed this was paragraph 1 or 2 etc.) The class was shown the order of the article to verify the order of paragraphs.

  282. Having students interact and practice the language structures they are learning has always been very important to me. That is why I really liked the Under-the-Line activity presented at the Learner-Centered-Instruction workshop during this spring flex schedule. It seems a great way to review lists and vocabulary along with practicing previously learned structures. A great vocabulary memorization technique shared during the activity was visualizing the student’s name on his or her forehead. I tried it and it worked beautifully for me. All in all it was a great experience and definitely very useful.

  283. I teach in the High School Subjects program and decided to help my students plan their time better, so they can finish their classes in a timely manner. I only have worked with short-term goal-setting related to the particular class each student is taking. When a student first enters the program I try to explain how long each assignment takes, and help the student decide in what period of time they want to finish the class. Then we look at the assignments and the hours the student can definitely be here at school or work independently at home, and calculate about how many weeks it will take to complete the course. I also remind them to keep track of all the credits they need to graduate. For those close to graduation, I use the commencement ceremony as a motivator to work hard and not slack off. This semester I am going to try and use one of the planners with a few students and see whether writing particular assignments they want to finish on certain days will help. The workshop reminded me that what a person decides to do for him or herself is more powerful than anything.

    1. In the test-taking strategies workshop, Terry Tomlinson spoke about Memory Devices for Memorizing Material for a Test. This brought back many memories from when I took many tests in my college career. Even though I was familiar with a lot of these strategies, it was nice to have a refresher. It is also nice to share these strategies with our students. Rhyming was one technique, with the all too familiar i before e rhyme. Another strategy required the use of acronyms, i still remember many from elementary school, for example HOMES for the Great Lakes. And the last strategy that Terry talked about was creating simple sentences. I’ll never forget the lines on a music scale – Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge!

  284. Goal Setting-
    During the first week of class, I had my students identify and write down three educational and three personal goals on the “Goal Setting Tracking Forms”. I had them write their goals in the present tense, as though they already happened. I also explained that their goals do not have to be dreams or wishes, but they are reality.
    Also, success teams were formed and every week each team meets to review their goals and to share their successes and obstacles.

  285. Round Table Writing-
    I was hesitant to introduce this writing technique to low-beginning ESL students since it is not a guided writing practice. However, I modified this activity by providing students a vocabulary list in addition to the writing prompt.
    I used “Round Table Writing” to review a lesson on personal information. Students worked in small groups in order to write a story about a fictitious character using the vocabulary they had previously learned. At the end of this activity, a reporter from each group read their creative piece of writing.

  286. Thank you for the idea of forming success teams to review student goals and share successes and obstacles.

    In the first week of Workforce Readiness class, students wrote down short-term and long-term goals, including a 1-week goal that could be accomplished in 30 minutes. It could be something on which they had been procrastinating. They were to take action for 30 minutes during the next week to accomplish the goal and report back to a partner the following week in class. In week two, students who took action reported back to the class. The object of this activity was to allow students to accomplish a 1-week goal and share with others their accomplishment.

  287. GOAL SETTING ACTIVITY – Since I wanted to find out how many of my students set goals, I first introduced and modeled how to use a KWL chart. I divided the students into groups of 4 to fill out the KWL chart relating to goals. After 15 minutes, we discussed the results as a whole group. Next, I distributed the ESL Student Handbook and Planner to each student, and I used a scaffolding strategy to set goals. After four weeks of writing weekly goals in the student handbook, monthly goals were set. Finally, students wrote all of their goals after reviewing the examples in the student handbook (page 15) There were great examples of short term, long term, educational, family, personal and job goals. All students were interested and engaged in the various activities.

  288. LEARNER PERSISTENCE ACTIVITY – For a variety of reasons some students do not attend class on a regular basis, come in late, or leave early. To address this, I divided students into small groups and they answered the following questions on a large chart.
    Why don’t students attend class every day?
    What types of activities do students like the most?
    Next, we did a gallery walk, and each student had the opportunity to add comments (good idea, etc.) to the different charts with colored markers. Finally, we combined the information onto one large chart. We used this chart to set goals for the rest of the semester. The students enjoyed working together and the gallery walk.

  289. I have tried one of the interactive activities in class where students are in two circles/one inner, one outer/. We used questions in Simple Present Tense to find out information about other classmates. It was a fun activity as students were in movement motion and relaxed, so they could freely have a short conversation with each other. One challenge was the time of talking assigned for each partner as they were moving in the circles. Some students were finished much earlier than the others, so the students who finished earlier couldn’t move to the next partner and had to wait till the person in front of them was done. The way to resolve the problem was to give them a time limit: 30 sec or 45 sec. It helped to have the circles flow well. Another challenge for me was the number of students in each circle. We didn’t have the same number of students in the inner and the outer circle, so couple students had no partner. I just told them to stand next to the couple in front and listen.

  290. In order to help students set their classroom goals, I prepared a worksheet with a list of skills they would like to learn and improve. For example: I want to learn how to read faster, or I want to communicate better in English, or I would like to learn more vocabulary. Students were to put a checkmark on the one they wanted to set as their goals. Below I left space for them to write how they would like to achieve their goals. For example: I would like to read a passage from a magazine in English each week, or I will listen to TV news in English 10 min a day. To make it more meaningful and interactive, I asked students to talk in groups and have them share their goals. Other students in a group were asked to help with more ideas on how to achieve the goals. Students really enjoyed this activity, especially that they felt empowered helping each other with ideas.

  291. I have been using the goal setting activity with students trying to get them to recognize the value in writng down goals, specifically SMART goals. In High School Subjects, we have each new student write a specific goal as it relates to attendance and the number of courses they plan to complete in the current term. Additionally, if a student is struggling to complete assignments, or appears to have lost motivation to achieve their goals, I will meet with them again and go over their goals and perhaps revise them. Some students tell me that they have never written down any goals before, so for many it is a new concept. I think that teaching students to set realistic goals and to follow up on them is such a valuable life skill.

  292. In Learner Centered Instruction, the importance of learning students’ names was reinforced. We learned several techniques which were very practical, and they actually worked. I can still remember the names of the other participants in the class. I am trying to incorporate some of the ideas into my High School Subjects classroom. In the past, I have had difficulty learning everyone’s name because of our format, and the fact that I am only here two days a week. I have been making an effort to commit new students’ names to memory. I have also been trying to say a student’s name when I greet them or speak to them. I certainly haven’t mastered this yet, but I will continue trying to improve in this area.

  293. This comment is for Joyce Basch. Joyce wrote:

    After the lesson on cardinal numbers, ordinal numbers, and months of the year, I engage the students in a lineup exercise. According to their birth month and birth date, the students must line up in order. The exercise is a fun and educational way to end the class. They may not leave the class until everyone is in the correct month and date order. The exercise causes much talking among the students. Before leaving, each student must say the month and date of his/her birthday.

    By Joyce Basch

  294. I took test -Taking skills workshop this January.Test taking skills are very important to our students.In our lab F101 social sciences, Students fell a test beacuse they did not read the instructions.Others write something irrelavent if they dont read the essay question well or they missunderstand it all together.We have teach our students test -taking skill often .This was a good reminder that its one thing to teach them the course content its another thing to teach them to be good test takers.Its maked a huge difference.

    1. Before the post-CASAS test I taught a brief lesson to my Beg. 3/Int. 1 combo class in test-taking skills. The students practiced skimming chunks of text quickly using their fingers to pick up important details for answers. They also briefly reviewed all the questions on the CASAS worksheets to get an idea first of what to skim for. I encouraged them to read all answers before marking their answer. I have narrowed usage of CASAS worksheets to ones where students often have difficulty – paycheck stubs, maps, and warranties.

  295. Incorporating Rubrics into instruction is another workshop I did this January.We use rubrics alot in our HSS lab F101.All our essay questions are well done if we use rubrics and students know what is expected of them right from the beggining. Students can do practice draft which helps them to get a better grade.It also helps us as teachers to grade them in the standards.This is a very helpful workshop for HSS teachers and I encouarge others to take it

  296. February,2013
    This Feb., I got to observe a Beg. 2 class at SAHS. The teacher begins the class by writing a message on the board in scrambled letters. The teacher has developed this cryptogram on his own as a device to help the students to learn the alphabet. It is very clever and the students eagerly try to figure out the hidden message. Next the students worked in pairs to practice pronouns and possessive pronouns. Then they practiced writing sentences with the pronouns. When they finished, they all got a chance to share the sentences with the class.

  297. Feb.,2013
    For my second observation at SAHS, the teacher wrote the agenda on the board and then welcomed the students. She explained that they were going to read and discuss a Valentine story. Before reading, the students looked at the pictures and discussed what they saw. Then they scanned the story to see if they needed any help with the vocabulary. Next, they read the story together and there was much laughter because the story had a surprise ending. Students answered comprehension questions and then retold the story to their partners. After that, the teacher chose words from the story for the students to use in sentences. Finally, the students wrote sentences with the vocabulary words and shared them with class!

  298. Follow-up blog-2 re Classroom Research Outcomes: After Beg 2 students read and discussed all the suggested out-side the classroom study habits with interest and enthusiasm and took the survey there was confusion with the instructions namely: checking those study habits you presently practice; circling those you wish to practice starting with 5-10 minutes daily or several times a week on your work breaks, lunch or over the weekend. About 3/4 of students didn’t check any item suggesting students do not practice any out-of-class study habits to learn English faster or to help retain lessons learned in class. However, all students circled several or all suggested study habits to begin practicing outside class. I plan to do a post-survey to find out how successful students have been in actually being able to incorporate the 5-10 minutes of study outside the classroom with 1-2 of the study habits.

  299. A rubric lets students know what is expected of them, how they are doing as they are working on a project and how they did when they are done. In essence, they can determine their own grade. My students have a weekly contract that they themselves fill in every Monday with me.
    This contract allows them to self-evaluate, self-direct, self-monitor, focus on their learning, chart their own progress, and go fast or slow.

    With the weekly postings, they feel empowered and proud seeing their names as one of students who have turned in the most contracts to date. They love competition, praise and recognition. The contract is modified for slow learners to share in the success also.

    In our test taking course we learned that it is better to have the answers written vertically rather than horizontally. On the practice pages in our textbooks, the answers are sometimes written horizontally, so I point and say, “Is it A or B?” “A or B?”. If there are ABCD, I’ll do the same; point and repeat. I can tell they understand better because they are no longer circling
    the answer below (vertically).

    Another test taking strategy we love to use in Beg. 1 for our Spelling word or sentence dictation is to have the book opened to a certain page. The students hear the dictated word or sentence. They know it’s there on the page, but they must find it and copy it. It sounds simple, but some have a hard time copying what they see. This is something they need to learn for the CIVICS test which emphasizes copying correctly.

    Michelle Fells
    Beg. 1

    1. I’d love to see an example of your weekly contract! It sounds like it’s a very effective way to help students focus on their progress and accomplishments. Sounds great that it is modified for “slow learners to share in the success also”. Don’t know if there’s some place you can post it or maybe you can email me a sample? .

      Great advice, too, for spelling and dictation for Beginning 1. I always look for new ideas and reminders of how to balance out the activities for multi-level classes. I teach Beginning 1 and Beginning 2 combo. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

  300. In our test taking course we learned that it is better to have the answers written vertically rather than horizontally. On the practice pages in our textbooks, the answers are sometimes written horizontally, so I point and say, “Is it A or B?” “A or B?”. If there are ABCD, I’ll do the same; point and repeat. I can tell they understand better because they are no longer circling
    the answer below (vertically).

    Another test taking strategy we love to use in Beg. 1 for our Spelling word or sentence dictation is to have the book opened to a certain page. The students hear the dictated word or sentence. They know it’s there on the page, but they must find it and copy it. It sounds simple, but some have a hard time copying what they see. This is something they need to learn for the CIVICS test which emphasizes copying correctly.

    Sorry. This should have been blog 2 and not a part of blog 1.

    Michelle Fells
    Beg. 1

  301. Recently, for “ESL Connections” and the ACCE Journal, Rob and Jarek asked me to write articles about the March 8th “Naturalization 101” workshop that I coordinated for FLEX. I thought I would post what I wrote in case you did not get a chance to read my article in the most recent ESL Connection. I also wanted to add something that I had not included in my article and that is having officers from U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (the EXPERTS on the naturalization process and preparation for the interview and tests) conduct the naturalization workshop for both our ESL students and teachers brought me a great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. I intend to coordinate another naturalization workshop again in spring of 2014 because this one was so beneficial to all that attended it.

    “On Friday, March 8, 2013, over 60 ESL Civics students, teachers, and guests attended a citizenship workshop called “Naturalization 101” which was sponsored by Santa Ana College School of Continuing Education and conducted by three U.S.
    Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers. Held in the afternoon at Santa Ana Towers Apartments, this workshop was tremendously informative and beneficial to both the students and the teachers, the later receiving FLEX credit for attending. Some of the topics that were covered were the naturalization process and eligibility requirements, rights and responsibilities of US citizenship, an overview of the USCIS website, and an introduction of the USCIS Santa Ana Field Office and officers via a slide show. After a brief intermission to stretch their legs and enjoy a snack of cookies, coffee, and lemonade, workshop attendees returned to their seats for a lively Q & A session. The highlight of the workshop for the students was a mock naturalization interview featuring USCIS officers. Finally, at the end of the workshop, free naturalization test preparation materials were handed out, and a few attendees remained to get their personal naturalization questions answered by the officials. Everyone walked away feeling extremely satisfied with the information they had received that afternoon. Needless to say, it was a very successful workshop!”

  302. For this blog, I was reviewing the materials that I received during the Student Success Assessment Certificate workshops I took this spring. Among them, I reread a handout from Terry Tomlinson titled, “Test-Taking Skills: A Summary of the Important Ideas.” I agree that to become an effective student it is necessary to master the skills of test preparation and test taking. I believe most teachers take these skills for granted either because test-preparation and test-taking skills became second-nature after being students in high school and college so many years or because their days of being students themselves took place long ago. However, I think our students would benefit if we teachers took the time to teach them how to prepare for and take tests because many of our students might not have had the opportunity to develop effective these strategies in their own countries. Before giving a test, we go over what they need to study and a few tips on HOW to study for the test. We can also give examples of the different kinds of test questions that might appear on the test and explain how to answer them. After passing out a test, we can have the students read the instructions to themselves and then invite them to raise their hands if they are not sure how do answer a particular question type. We explain it to them individually or as a group in case others have confusion about the same thing. These are a few thoughts that came up as I was reading Terry’s handout on test-taking skills.

  303. I learned a lot of good strategies for doing Classroom Assessment Techiques (CATs) from Rob during FLEX in January and put a couple to practice in my Beg 2 class right away. One that I have used several times since then is called “5-Fingers.” I have each student hold up a hand showing me from 1 to 5 fingers indicating how well they learned a concept, how well they felt they did on a dictation, or how much they liked an activity. For example, after a dictation, I will ask, “How do you think you did on this dictation? Hold up 5 fingers if you did really well, 4 fingers if you did well, 3 fingers if you did just “so so,” 2 if you did poorly, and 1 if you couldn’t write anything on your dictation. Okay, everyone, show me how you think you did on the dictation!” By doing this CAT, I can scan the room quickly and get a feeling of how they did on the dictation and how they felt about it. Another CAT I tested in my classroom was having students write a couple of new vocabulary words or concepts they learned during the class period down on a Post-It note and adhere that to a poster on the wall at the end of class. After the students left, I was able to read the Post-It notes to see what they learned that evening. Both of these CATs are “instant feedback strategies,” and I prefer this type because I can get feedback from students right away and they take no time to prepare. Another instant feedback strategy that I have tried in my Beg 2 class is using colored paper to see if students learned a concept or if we need to spend more time clarifying and practicing applying the concept before moving on to another learning activity. I’ll have students hold up a green square of paper if they are clear about a concept and we can move on, a yellow paper if they are fairly clear but may need a little more clarification, or a red paper if they “don’t get it” and need to spend more time learning and practicing the concept. This has been helpful feedback to me. The last CAT I did this semester is have the students right a journal about what they like to do in class. We listed on the whiteboard the things we have done in our class and then they chose 3 or 4 activities they have enjoyed doing the most. By reading their journals, not only could I tell that they were enjoying my class, but I could also learn which activities were most popular. This journal exercise was a good opportunity for the students to see how many things they had actually been doing so far this semester and decide which ones they preferred doing in class.

    1. I like your ideas, Kathy. Holding up colored papers to indicate understanding could be done with three fingers as well, but I like the visual addition of the colors, each of which has a significance attached (red, yellow and green). There’s something, too, about holding something up which makes it feel sort of like voting, and is empowering for the students to have input on the flow of the class. This could be done even after explaining a task to see if students were ready to embark on their practice or if further explanation was needed. By seeing who is red and who is green, we could select “green” students to explain what they understand so the “red” students might better get it. Or likewise after some practice had been completed, students could be paired up for the additional practice according to the color of their paper.

      The Post-it notes also sound like a great visual for the students and gives you quick written feedback. One other idea (which maybe you do) is to have the students write a copy of their Post-it comments in their own notebook so they have a record.

  304. Last Friday, I took the Classroom Research workshop with Terry Tomlinson. While I doubt I will find the time and discipline to do classroom research that is “ongoing and cumulative” in my own classrooms in the near future, I did find Terry’s findings from the classroom research he did in the High School Subjects room at the OEC very enlightening because I am presently working in the High School Subjects room B-109 at the CEC. He did classroom research to find out why some students often wasted their first thirty minutes in the HSS room by not getting anything done or even getting started on their individual projects. As a result of his research, he was able to help some students use their time more wisely once they identified their three biggest time wasters. Another classroom research project Terry performed helped him learn why certain students in the HSS room avoided going up to the teachers’ table to get help. As a result of his findings, he implemented small pull-out groups of students studying the same areas of math. The smaller group setting made students more comfortable to ask the teacher questions and get the assistance they needed. Since I have observed students wasting time in the HSS room I work in, I got valuable insight into why they might have trouble getting started or staying on task from Terry’s finding. Furthermore, I will spend more time wondering around the HSS room rather than sitting at the teachers’ desk waiting for students to come to me to ask for assistance so that I can be more assessable to students who might be too embarrassed or think it isn’t cool to go up to the front of the room to ask for help in front of their peers.

  305. I attended the certificate workshop, Classroom Assessment Techniques, led by Rob Jenkins. As always, his workshop was engaging and utlized the very techniques we were there to learn. The Monday after the workshop I implemented the Focused Listening and Numbered Pictures technique. This is a technique for practicing or reviewing vocabulary words. This works well when there are a set of pictures in the textbook, for example. We were working on the vocabulary for job titles (nurse, mechanic, etc.), and I used this technique. There are 6 pictures in the book of different professions. I had the students write a number (1-6) in order next to the pictures. Initially, I would say one of the job titles, and the students would hold up the number of fingers corresponding to the picture number. At first they wanted to say the number in addition to holding up their fingers, but I explained that by not saying the number out loud it actually gives other students more time to think and give their own answer. The next step was to tell a short description about each job, such as what the person does or where they work, and have the students indicate which job I was describing. Then I told a short “story” that had to do with each job title and the students showed whether they understood or not. I had the students work in pairs, switching roles between either S1 saying the word and S2 showing the number of fingers, or S1 showing fingers and S2 saying the job title.

    My students liked this version of practice. It was fun the next day because during warm-up/review when I asked which number was a particular job (and I was expecting they’d say the number), several students right away raised the number of fingers without saying the number out loud.

  306. Another instant feedback strategy that I implemented in my Beg. 1/Beg. 2 class after attending Rob Jenkins Classroom Assessment Techniques workshop is exit interviews. We’ve been having fun with this one particular question/statement every day since, and it’s provided an outstanding example of how we learn something through repetition and when we actually need to use it in our life.

    Of course this can occur any day of the week, but in particular on Wednesdays a number of students have to leave class early so they can pick up their kids from early dismissal at school. “Me go” just wasn’t cutting it (LOL) so we practiced saying “I need to leave early today”, followed by “I need to leave now.” (I also used this as another opportunity to explain the structure of the sentence when using “need”.) Students were eager to try it, and soon came time for someone to leave. Naturally I dramatically made my way over to the door, locked it and blocked the exit, waiting expectantly for the student to use what we had learned. If they “successfully” made their point, I unlocked the door and waved my hand with a flourish to indicate the way out. . It became hilarious as a number of students got up to leave over the course of the class, and each time with the same reaction from me.

    This turned into an ideal “multi-level” learning opportunity. For the most advanced students, they would say “I need to leave now.” First I (then eventually the whole class chiming in) would ask “Why?” The students respond, “Because I need to pick up my son.” “Because I need to go to the doctor.” etc. Then I would let them leave. For the mid-level students I would simply let them say the sentence and leave, without having to give the reason. One day a more advanced student was leaving and a very beginning level student was going to take advantage of that and leave at the same time, on the coat-tails of that student (thinking she wouldn’t have to repeat the whole sentence that she hadn’t quite mastered yet.). So, the first student said, “Excuse me, I need to leave now.” The whole class looked with anticipation at the second student, and she said…..”Me, too!” We laughed and applauded as they left the room.

    Students modify it as much as they can to use it for different situations (the most obvious.. “Excuse me I need to go to the restroom.” I have one student who can only be in class for about 1/2 hour while her son is in school, so her exiting line is “I need to leave early every day.”

    We’re working on integrating a variety of other questions/statements that we can use in class nearly every day that have direct relevance to the English we need outside of class. If anyone has suggestions about useful questions/statements like this I’d love to hear them.

    1. I use exit interviews every day too. Each day,I let them choose one of the following sentences,( it depends on the days of the week) when they leave the classroom; Have a good day, See you tomorrow, I will be absent tomorrow, Have a good weekend, and so on..Yes, repetition is the key when it comes to learn the new language.

  307. A final blog before I retire from teaching in Continuing Education. One of the concepts emphasized in Learner-Centered Instruction is the idea and value of learning each student’s name. I recently had that concept and practice reinforced as I conducted my last pull-out math group. As is my custom, I write each student’s name on the white board–to acknowledge the student’s presence and also to show that I have learned each student’s name in the group. As I went to write the names, the thought crossed my mind, “This is my last math pullout group. Do I really need to write down the students’ names?” My answer to myself: “Self, sure you do! This personalizes the lesson and acknowledges that each individual student is important to me and to the group.” As the class concluded, each student thanked me for making the math group “fun” and informative. I know one of the reasons why they had that positive reaction was I took the time to give individual attention to each student–I could call each one my name and I knew something about each student. This is no substitute for personal concern for each student.

  308. I’m so sad to hear you are retiring.

    I was also reminded today of the importance of learning each student’s name early in the semester. Today I observed Jon Haverstick substitute teaching in a business skills class at SCC. It was the first day of the summer session and Jon asked students their names and mentioned student names while teaching the class. I was extremely impressed that Jon took the time to learn student names and include them as part of the lesson, even though he was the substitute instructor.

  309. After the lessons on present tense, present continuous and
    past tense, I thought of introducing my students to a modified rubric.
    I divided the class into groups. In their groups, they were to
    choose a verb outside of verb to be and use it to write a
    present tense sentence. They were then to change that
    particular sentence to the different tenses that we had discussed.
    After writing their sentences on a big piece of paper, they were to
    do a presentation as a group. They would be given points on
    how they did the presentation. Points would be given for unity,
    confidence, knowledge, and clarity of presentation.

    I wrote the following modified rubric on the board:

    A = 91 – 100
    B = 81 – 90
    C = 71 – 80
    D = 61 – 70
    E = 51 – 60

    Give score for: Unity, Confidence, Knowledge, and Clarity of Presentation.

    Before each presentation, I gave each student
    a 3 x 6 card in order to write the group number
    and the score (A – E). I collected the cards and tallied
    the scores. The groups received their scores and thought
    it was a great experience.

    Next time, I would use a rubric where there would be
    points for each category instead of this one.

    1. Emerita, I like what you did with this exercise. I work with points in my rubrics. I think students need a rubric to gauge themselves, but also they need an explanation of what they need to do in order to earn those points. I teach an Int 3 class and we do a lot of writing. In the prompt, I don’t just include the question, but I also tell them exactly what I am looking for. For example, I ask them to give me two examples and two details for each example, or I ask them to include two sentences combined with FANBOYS. I usually assign points for everything I ask, so normally a paragraph has 50 points and a sentence with one FANBOYS is worth 2-3 points. When they write their paragraph, they can check the rubric and see how many points they earn or lose. I think this gives students more confidence to write. So many times, they are just afraid because they don’t know what is expected of them. I imagine that for many, picking up a pen to write is synonymous with diving into the big abyss! I hope that by giving them as many tools as possible to write and as much information as necessary in the rubric, I can make the students feel more comfortable, or at least less dreadful, with the writing process. I would really be interested to see what were the results of your points rubric. Please share when you are ready.

  310. I have used Terry Tomlinson’s technique of writing letters to students who have met a goal. This is a very powerful technique to motivate students. One student commented that even after 2 years, they still have the letter. Another technique that I have adopted from Terry is learning all my students’ names. This is also an excellent tool for student retention.

  311. In Another class that I took from Terry Tomlinson, I learned about classroom research techniques. I have had questions regarding revalence of topic related to the lesson(s) I’ve taught. This has been another wonderful tool that is very effective. The feedback from my research has been most helpful.

  312. Regarding Rob Jenkin’s tri folded brochure about Teacher Professionalism: Two month ago I had the pleasure of re-reading this real gem of a pamplet. It discusses guidelines of how to conduct ourselves as teachers in the classroom. Even though it was written many years ago, there is a need to revisit the items pointed out in this brochure to refresh our memory on presenting our lessons effectively.

  313. I took a class on reaching concensus as an activity in the classroom. I have used it at least once a week. It is a great learning tool. Students compare their responses and then explain how they arrived at the correct answers. Each group then goes to the board and presents and shares out. It goes hand in hand with cooperative learning.

  314. I recently completed the listening SLO. I compiled the data and found that 15% of the class had difficulty comprehending parts of the lesson. I attributed this to students who have difficulty with listening skills and who may have difficulty focussing. I have yet to determine whether the students have a specfic learning disorder or a lack of focus.

  315. I think that writing a class schedule has been very helpful to my students. First, it informs students of the lesson objective(s). Secondly, it keeps both myself and my students on task. Lastly, it gives students a sense of accomplishment. They leave knowing that there is a label for what they learned and how it fits their level of English learning.

  316. One of our recent EL Civics projects was Employment. Students are always requesting this type of information. We discussed networking, filling out a job application, oral interview, appropriate dress, sample dialogs and do’s and don’ts. I will continue to incorporate this theme sometime each semester.

  317. Today I learned to blog. It is a unique way to communicate with other instructors as a PLC community. It is good to see the postings and reflect on how one could improve on being more effective in the classroom. There are a lot of new changes coming to our department. I am now interested in participating in the Classroom Assessment techniques.

  318. Students are always asking for more excercises with oral communication. They say that they can understand what is being said to them but they can verbally respond. I have developed a series of lessons that integrate dialog interaction on a daily basis in order to meet the students’ needs. We need incorporate dialogs that are relevant to their everyday needs.

  319. I am taking a workshop offered by the District about how to be alert to potential safety threats and how to respond. It is now apparent that this is a real issue. Many students have mentioned about how they have been victimized at CEC park or by fellow students. We need to know the warning signs and teach students what to do in a dangerous situation including assults.

  320. I’ve never seen Rob Jenkins’ brochure on Teacher Professionalism and didn’t know it exists. How about a copy, Rob? This is my 16th year teaching ESL. I do hope I meet your standards!

  321. (BLOG 1 – For Student Success Certificate – Getting to Know You)
    Using an idea from a workshop, I call this activity- “Getting to know you”. Students can learn each other’s names and a little about each other so as to further encourage a community spirit for learning, as well as to help make new friends.
    The first time I used this, was with my ESL Int. 2/3 combo class in January, 2012. It was about the second or third week of class. These students had let me know previously, that they did not really like ESL games or too many group activities. They felt that they were too advanced for games. They enjoyed working alone, or with a neighbor primarily, and we occasionally did small group activities.
    When I told them to all stand up, there were a few groans and suspicious looks. Although the classroom was crowded with desks and chairs, there was a middle aisle wide enough for 2 lines of students to face each other. I explained the activity and I said we would face each other and exchange names and few bits of information about each other. I said that we would do this for 30 seconds, and then the lines would move, and the end people would have to go to the other side. It took a couple of rounds to get used to, but it worked great. Nobody wanted to move after 30 seconds, so I extended it to 1 minute. I still had to tear them away from each other. I was very pleased with the animated conversations that took place, and I definitely felt more of a community spirit in the classroom from this day forward.

    1. Blog 2 – For Student Success Certificate – Getting to Know You using an Elevator Speech)
      One of the SLOs for my Employability Skills class is for students to develop an effective Elevator Speech. Every other class meeting, I ask students to stand up and introduce themselves to the person next to them by reciting his or her elevator speech. One student starts, and upon completion, the next student turns to the student next to him or her and recites their elevator speech. Not only do students develop an effective elevator speech, but students get to know each other, learn the proper method of shaking hands, giving eye contact, and smiling – all important workplace communication skills. Students are reluctant at first. If a student is really uncomfortable, I don’t force them. But, with time, and by watching and listening to their classmates, even these students give it a try and become successful at giving an elevator speech.

  322. (BLOG 2 – “Getting to know you” – activity with my new Int. 1 class – Student Success Certificate)
    I use this activity at the beginning of each semester. The last time I used it was the first week of fall semester, 2013, with my ESL Int. 1 group. On the first night, I asked them all to stand at the front of the room to do a fun activity. These students are not very confident with their English skills, so they were a little nervous about sharing in English on the first night.
    I had 2 rows of students face each other and they had 1 minute to share with the person opposite them. After a minute, everyone moves down, and the person on the end crosses to the other side.
    Mostly the results were excellent as everyone did speak and learn a few classmate’s names. We did 1 minute intervals and while some students couldn’t finish their exchanges, others started looking at me after about 45 seconds. I noticed that a few students made very strong connections and it was difficult to get them to move on. The activity was a success once again, and, as always, this loosens up students and they feel more comfortable working together after this ice breaker.

    1. (BLOG 1 – “Networking” – activity with my Employability Skills class – Student Success Certificate
      “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” I teach my students that by building their social network of connections, they will increase their chances of success at school, at work and in their professional life. In turn, this can help increase their opportunities of being hired or even promoted in a job.
      The class activity objective is for students to build their professional network. People require a social network in order to be successful. They need connections with other people (classmates, co-workers, friends, etc.)
      I use this early on in my class to teach students the value of networking in the job search process, workplace, social encounters and at school. Through this class activity students also become more acquainted with each other, and discover they have a lot more in common than just being classmates.
      Students are provided with a list of 7 questions ranging from “Where were you born?” to “If you could take a vacation right now, where would you go?” Each student must pair up and interview 3 of their classmates and ask each of the 3 students to answer the questions on the list. Each pair of students reverse roles, and the interviewer now becomes the interviewee. Upon completion of this activity, students go to the front of the class and introduce the 3 people that they interviewed.
      This activity enables students to get to know each other better, and connect with their classmates by finding out things that they have in common with each person.

      In addition to learning networking skills, students bond as a class. This activity also teaches and reinforces other employability skills including teamwork, interacting professionally, and presentation skills.

  323. The interactive activity that I’ve used most frequently over the years is the conversation line-up, in which students face each other in two parallel lines or in concentric circles, and rotate partners every couple of minutes. I love this activity for a number of reasons. It promotes a sense of community, as students get the opportunity to interact with many of their classmates in a safe environment. (It nearly always produces a lot of smiles.) I also like that if there are an odd number of students present, I get to become a conversation partner in the line-up, which gives me a chance to get to know my students a little better and allows them to feel more comfortable talking to me. It’s a good energy booster to do after doing a hard lesson or test, or even just when students seem tired. There are infinite ways to vary it to reinforce various curricular objectives, and it allows students to practice what they’ve learned in a more natural way.

    Recently, after each partner rotation, I’ve been having students introduce themselves to their new partner as they would at a party. They shake hands, and ask each other a couple of general questions before beginning the task they’re to focus on. I ring a bell to signify that it’s time to change partners, and before they make the shift, I call on somebody to introduce their partner. That incentivizes them to remember their partner’s name and the details they learned about them during the introductions.

  324. “Messenger and Scribe” is another collaborative activity that I’ve had good results with. I often use it on the first or second day of a new semester as a fun way of presenting my “What You Need for This Class” list. I tape copies of the list of around the room so that they’re more or less equidistant from each dyad/team. The Messengers run, read the list, then run back and dictate as much as they can remember to the Scribes. The Scribes record what the Messengers tell them, and this continues until they’ve completed Part 1 of the list. Then they switch roles and do the same for Part 2 (and 3 if applicable). I often add the role of Supervisor who has to ensure that neither the Messenger nor Scribe made a mistake in the final product. (We talk about the importance of quality control in the workplace.)

    I teach a multilevel class, and one thing I like about this activity is that I can put the students in homogenous groups and adapt the level of difficulty of the task. For example, my low group would get sentences like “My aunt and uncle are nice.”, while my high group would get something like “My aunt and uncle didn’t go to work yesterday because they were sick.”

    Our students usually love dictation~ having them dictate to one another and work together to edit and create a final product not only gives them enhanced practice, it makes the dictation a lot more fun. Sometimes I need to remind myself that fun can be an important element in lowering the affective filter and in increasing student retention.

  325. The student success certificate is such a wonderful program. I see so much progress in all of our students. They are so energized by the exercises that you do with them. It is lovely to see their confidence bloom as they become excellent speakers.

    This program does so much to build a community of future leaders and involved voters. I especially love their presentations after they have attended a city council meeting. Thank you so much for continuing to make this program the success that it is.

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