Mark Barnes Interview

Student Centered Learning, Social Learning, and Twitter: An Interview with Mark Barnes

There was an article popping up in my various social media feeds the other day called, “Why Everyone Should Be On Twitter.” I then realized it was by Mark Barnes, another fellow presenter in the TTO MOOC. I then read some more of his stuff, asked him for an interview, and a couple of days later we met on Google Hangouts.

In the interview discussion we talk about student centered learning, narrative feedback, social learning, why teachers should be on Twitter and how best to use this platform.

Below the interview I break down what was discussed and relate this to ELT.

Here is the video interview:

What We Discussed

Mark was a teacher for 20 years, and left the classroom two years ago to focus more on his writing and professional development. Let’s start with..

Creating a Results Based Environment

Mark talks about how he was a “traditional teacher” for the first ten years of his career, but after taking some time to research motivation, he decided to do something different. His biggest focus for this was the final result: learning.

To achieve this he created what he calls a chaotic environment, one where kids are working on different things, have long-term projects, and use different technology to head towards a goal and learn whatever the objective is at that time.

“The most important thing of all was I eliminated traditional grading… I’m tired of measuring kids learning and punishing them if they don’t turn something in… that turned out to be something really exciting.”

Narrative Feedback

Mark talks about a system that he pulled from other systems called SE2R (Summarize, Explain, Redirect, and Resubmit). This is using descriptive feedback to eliminate subjectivity and comparisons. It gives the student to go back and revisit prior learning.

“I think that education should be about mastery learning and not punishing kids with grades.”

We then go on to discuss the tools that we can use to achieve this.

Social and Mobile Learning

Mark then goes on to talk about social and mobile learning and how we should find ways to incorporate the devices our students have into their learning.

“We are heading to a place, very soon, where every kid will have a mobile device.”

“Educators have to face it, and they have to prepare for it.. I have to be ready to use it myself.”

There is then some great advice given in terms of how to do this: watch online videos and actually use the devices and applications that you want to use. And learning how to use these tools will take less time than you think.

Twitter

Mark’s article went viral this week. And he gives a couple of reasons why everyone should be on Twitter (click here for the full list):

1. Free Professional Development: Twitter has an advantage in that it is very professional. Following other educators and following specific chats gives you access to advice and resources in your industry.

2. Kids are moving to Twitter from other platforms.

When joining Twitter, it is important to follow these discussions, find “How to Use Twitter Videos,” follow people in your industry (more specifically, find one person who you look up to and follow who they are following), and post with hashtags when first starting.

Relating this to ELT

Throughout the interview I related what Mark discussed to ELT. Here are some ideas I talked about and more on reflection.

Traditional Marking and feedback: The language schools that I worked in liked exams, and it seemed like half our time was spent on either studying for an exam, taking an exam, or reviewing an exam.

I really like the idea of trying to achieve mastery in learning, especially in our industry. Having running feedback, using Google Drive for example, means that we can ensure that our students stop making mistakes that seem to be engrained. This is something that I have implemented through creating audio resources for my learners.

Repetition is such an important part of learning a language. It is our job to make this fun and engaging.

Student Centered Learning: Although we didn’t talk about this too much, it is really important that we help our students find their intrinsic motivation. This is what I believe to be at the core of a results based classroom, especially when talking about online ELT.

An easy way to do this is to make the lessons centered around the interests of your learners. For example, I have one learner who is an athlete (running, rogaining, skiing, and biking!). The materials we use are centered around these topics. By doing this, we talk about things that she is interested in and she also learns the language that she needs to know.

I recently posted a video for my online learners that talks about how to read interesting things and how to subscribe to blogs (click here to watch it).

Social and Mobile Learning: As I mentioned in our discussion, I convince my students to change the language of their devices into English, and use these devices to read, listen, and watch things in English.

This really helps when it comes to getting the input needed to make progress in English. People are going to use these devices; as educators we need to think about ways to use this to our and our student’s advantage.

Twitter: Mark has given me the motivation to follow more discussions on Twitter and to use this platform for professional development. If you follow Marks advice, you will get so much out of this platform.

Resources Mentioned in Our Discussion

You can follow Mark on Twitter and check out his blog: Brilliant or Insane.

Here are Mark’s books:

Role Reversal

The Five Minute Teacher

Teaching the iStudent

And, here is the website Learn it in 5.

I also mentioned the Twitter discussion #ELTchat, you can find out more information about this here.

Mark talked about Daniel Pink and his book Drive (I’ve just ordered it – I’ve been wanting to get this for a while now), and research from Alfie Kohn.

Over to You

I would love to hear your feedback on student centered learning, social and mobile learning, and narrative feedback. Here are some questions:

How do you keep a narrative feedback with your learners?
How are you incorporating devices into learning?
How are you bringing out your learners’ intrinsic motivation?

Please leave your comments below; I really appreciate them.

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Rich Kiker Interview

Using Google Products and Apps to Teach Online: An Interview with Rich Kiker

Rich Kiker was one of the presenters at the Teachers Teaching Online MOOC hosted over at WizIQ. I learned a lot watching his presentation, and as the number one voted Google Apps Trainer in the world, I was eager to interview him so he could share his knowledge and experience with us online English teachers.

In the interview I ask Rich about using free Google products and apps as a way to connect and collaborate with our learners. I have used many of these products and know how useful and effective they can be when teaching online.

There’s a lot of value in this interview, and below the video I summarize what we talk about, post some resources, and expand on the ideas.

Here is the video interview:

What We Discussed

We talked about several different Google products and applications during the interview. Let’s start with Hangouts.

Hangouts

We started by discussing how to connect with learners online using Hangouts. I was using Google Hangouts on Air (I wrote about this here) for the interview, and Rich talked about the distinction between Hangouts and Hangouts on Air.

Hangouts on Air are live events where you want to reach a big audience (or to record the interview like I did), while a private Hangout is what you need to teach your one-to-one or group lessons online.

Rich talked about the different features of Hangouts, especially how we can integrate Google Drive.

“What’s beautiful about Hangouts… it also has its own mini app platform. When you’re in a Hangout, on the left of the screen, you can see a range of tools.. you can share Youtube videos, and watch a Youtube video together in theatre view… there are screen sharing apps… I think, for this audience doing online instruction, the most powerful feature is the direct drive integration.”

Here is how to use Google Drive inside of a hangout:

 

Hangout Google Drive Integration

Google Drive

Rich talks about Google Drive and highlights two big picture features:

1. The anytime, anywhere access. The ability to use a cloud based application and work with students no matter where you are or what device you are using.

“The any time any place access is critical, especially when we have students using mobile devices.”

2. Using Google Drive as a way to collaborate with learners, both live and asynchronously. This is both for written and audio feedback.

“Online… is a better platform for delivering feedback and providing quality assessment to students to have second chance learning, and evaluate writing, and also to give them the opportunity to provide revisions.”

Here is the application that Rich mentioned so that you can leave audio feedback for your learners, and vice-versa: Kaizena. This is something that I’m going to start using with my students.

There are other add-ons that you can find through Google Drive. Here is how to find them:

Add ons Google Drive(1)

Google Plus

I then asked Rich about Google Plus and how an online teacher could use this platform to communicate with learners and attract students. He mentioned a guide from Eric Curts as an easy way to get started: click here to access this.

Rich gives a great tip about to to find those within your niche: search and go into communities that are already active and then…

“… like any other social network, like Twitter or LinkedIn, you gain value by adding value.”

You can build your network by adding people to your circles (like following/friending someone on Facebook). You can ask people to share their favourite circles, and start networking within this community.

Just like any platform, it’s all about becoming familiar with how it works, connecting with others, and adding value. Here is what Google Plus looks like (when searching for communities):

Google Plus Communities

Chromebooks

Rich was using a Chromebook for this interview, and said:

“I absolutely would recommend a Chromebook to anyone in an online space.. there’s no anti-virus, it turns on in eight seconds, there’s no versions, it’s always on the latest update and updates don’t cost anything.”

Rich goes onto to say that they are much more powerful than people give them credit for and he actually replaced his thousand dollar computer with a Chromebook..

I found it really interesting when he talked about the difference between local and cloud based applications, and how companies are moving their applications to the web. I feel that getting a Chromebook is a great option for those who want a low cost device as it has everything a teacher needs to teach online.

(Note: A Chromebook is a laptop that uses Chrome OS. Applications such as Skype, iTunes, and Photoshop can’t be used on this device. Any browser or cloud based applications can be used, including: Hangouts for teaching online, Pixlr for editing photos, and Google Drive for spreadsheets and documents.)

The Chromebook that Rich uses is currently available for under $300. Here is more information about this.

Conclusion and Discussion

Although Rich and I only talked about Google products and apps, I think this interview really highlights the progress in tools available to online teachers and learners in general.

Two points really stood out for me: firstly, the fact that applications and work in general is moving from the local space to the cloud, and secondly that collaborating with learners online through the tools mentioned is in many ways more effective than traditional teaching methods.

I would love to know your thoughts on these issues and the other things that we discussed. Also, if you have used any of these tools, then please let us know how you are using them and any tricks and tips that you have. For example, how would you use a tool such as Kaizena?

Leave your comments below.

You can connect with Rich through Twitter and Google Plus: @rkiker and +richkiker.

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ESLHIPHOP Guest Post

Three Ways to Use Hip Hop in Your Next English Lesson

ESLHIPHOP Guest Post

I love featuring teachers who are doing their own thing online, giving others an opportunity to share their story and and their ideas, inspiring us all as we strive to succeed.

Today I bring you Stephen Mayeux from ESLhiphop. I’ve known Steve for around a year now, and in that time we have connected on a monthly basis to share what we are working on and to help each other to grow and reach our respective goals.

Stephen is the perfect example of someone who knows the important of choosing a specific niche; he has built his teaching around this niche, using his enthusiasm, creativity, and love of what he is doing to help English learners improve.

It brings me great pleasure to introduce you all to Stephen. He has three very creative teaching ideas that all involve an online tool called Rap Stats. Take it away Stephen!

Three ELT Activities Using Rap Stats

Yo! I’m Stephen “Big Nasty” Mayeux, and I am in the house, or rather, on the homepage to spit some knowledge! Jack and I are very good friends, and he has been a supporter of ESLhiphop from the very beginning. Since I started that blog a year ago, there have been other exciting developments in hip-hop education which have legitimized the genre more and more for instructional purposes.

In 2013, GZA from the Wu-Tang Clan teamed up with a professor from Columbia University’s Teachers College to create Science Genius, an initiative to promote science education by having New York City students write science-themed rap songs. And earlier this year, data scientist Matt Daniels analyzed rap lyrics and classic literature and discovered that several contemporary hip-hop artists have better vocabulary than Shakespeare or Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

Now there’s another innovation in hip-hop education (ooh, I rhymed!) from the makers of Rap Genius, an online community that annotates rap songs. Rap Stats is an online tool that plots the frequency of words appearing in hip-hop lyrics from 1998 to present, and it’s also free to use and very addicting to language nerds! Simply enter one or more words and phrases in the search box, and Rap Stats will generate a color-coded line graph.

In this post, I am going to share three ideas for using Rap Stats to practice English. If you’re in a brick-and-mortar school, your classroom will need to have Internet access in order to use any of these activities. Other than that, everything that I am going to suggest requires very little preparation.

#1 — IELTS Writing Classes

In the Academic module of the IELTS, test takers must analyze and interpret a graph, diagram, or process and describe it in about 300 words. There are dozens of test-preparation books and even more free websites with sample writing prompts, but why not spice it up and make writing more fun? ETS (Education Testing Services) probably has no plans to include Rap Stats in the newest version of their exam, but your students can still have very useful writing practice by responding to frequency analysis reports. You could use the sample graph below in order to practice the language needed to:

  • make implications
  • describe positive and negative correlations
  • highlight trends over a period of time
  • predict future usage

 

Rap Stats Teaching English

#2 — Dictogloss <> Illustrate <> Check

This activity is similar to the one above, but the procedures have simply been reversed. (Secret ELT Trick: If you ever run out of ideas, just think of everything you’ve tried before and do it backwards!) Instead of producing text after seeing a graph, students will produce a graph after listening to and writing about the data. This is how I would set up and run the activity:

  1. Create a Rap Stats graph ahead of time and describe it to your students. You can either write a short paragraph before your lesson or just describe it on the fly. Whatever you decide to do, don’t let your students see the graph yet.
  2. As in a typical dictogloss activity, students must listen without taking any notes and then reconstruct your description in a short paragraph. Students can work either individually or in small groups.
  3. Students then produce graphs based on their own writing or from another group.
  4. Display the graph that was described in step 1 and have students compare their work to the original.

#3 — Discovering Recent and Outdated Slang

A few months ago, Business Insider ran a story on my blog, and one commenter wondered if listening to hip-hop would only introduce obscure and outdated slang words and idioms making English learners sound unusual. It’s a legitimate point to bring up, and it’s the basis behind this next activity aimed at helping students acquire recent slang words and avoid using ones that have died out.

  1. Create a list of slang words and idioms before the lesson begins. Have students decide which words are still used today and which ones are outdated and irrelevant.
  2. Have students group the words in a number of different categories. For example, you might have students group the words by part of speech.
  3. Students use Rap Stats themselves and run analysis reports on the list. In small groups, students examine the data together and determine which words and phrases are still used today.
  4. Review the words as a whole class, and then follow up with a speaking or listening activity.

Your Turn

I hope this blog post was helpful and interesting. Try it out with your students and let me know how it goes in the comments below. If you use Rap Stats in other ways, then I would love to hear about it. Connect with me on Facebook and Twitter, and tell me all about it!

This guest blog article was written by Stephen Mayeux, the founder of ESLhiphop.com. He teaches private English classes on Skype. He’s also a worldwide ambassador of peace, love, and hip-hop for Gallery Languages.

Peace, love, and hip-hop

Big Nasty Steve

—-

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Mau Buchler of Tripppin Drops In to Give Advice on Teaching Online

We love to feature people who are making a mark in the online world, and today I have another guest vlog from Mau Buchler. Mau recently launched his unique English learning platform Tripppin. To give you a taste of what this is like, take a look at the introductory video:

Speaking with Mau, I know how much work and passion he has put into this unique project. The platform is truly incredible and it’s fantastic to see something like this come to fruition.

So, I asked Mau if he could share his experiences of teaching online with everyone here at Teaching ESL Online.

In the following video you will learn about:

– Mau’s English teaching history.
– The similarities and differences of online teaching.
– The skills you need to teach online (the basics).
– Different approaches to English teaching (accents).
– The easiest way to get online students.
– Working your connections (go back to your ex-students).
– The advantages of online for students.
– General advice for pricing and converting new clients.
– How to use Tripppin to find students.
– How to approach students.

The Video

I love Mau’s approach to finding students. You should always work your connections and keep a record of the contact details of your current and ex-students. There are many great ways to do this, and I’ll go more into this technique in a later post.

I hope you enjoyed the video and got inspired about moving your teaching online.

More About Mau

Mau has been traveling since he was two, teaching since he was 17, and working with e-learning since 2004.

He hosted a radio show in Australia for three years on Eastside FM, has worked as a translator, and owned a bar in Brazil. He’s also done a Ted Talk.

Check out his work on Tripppin – a space for students and teachers to come together and learn in an interactive and fun environment.

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Online Learning and Group Lessons (Guest Vlog by Jason R Levine)

Today we welcome our second guest poster to the blog: Jason R Levine.

Jason and I have been collaborating on a few things recently, and I really wanted him to share his knowledge of online teaching here at TeachingESLOnline. So, below you’ll find a video that he kindly put together that gives some great advice for us online teachers.

A lot of you may already know about Jase (Fluency MC), especially if you connect with other teachers on social media. He is probably the most prolific poster I know, and his ESL raps and songs have had millions of views on Youtube. He has recently become an ambassador for Wiz IQ where he trains English language teachers.

In the video he talks about his transition to online teaching, why it is important to make real connections, the future of online learning and teaching, and much more.

More specifically, you’ll learn about:

– What he first thought about teaching online and why he now loves it.
– Why we should pay attention to how people are learning in social media spaces and how to take this to the next level.
– His first MOOC and what he learned from it.
– How to get started teaching online and the mind frame needed.
– Why it’s important to make real relationships and be open to people’s needs and interests.
– The difference between one-on-one and group lessons.
– The future of online language learning.

The Video

As I’m currently looking to build on what I already do by offering more than just one-to-one lessons, I took a lot from this.

One thing that really stands out for me is the point Jase made about building real relationships and learning from your students (see my last post on connections about my thoughts on this).

I see my current students as the ones that are dictating what is going to be included in my future courses. This is because as I learn more about those in my niche, I can better shape my courses to meet their needs.

I would love to know your thoughts on what Jason discusses, so whatever you have on your mind, leave us a comment below.

More About Jason

Jason R Levine (Jase, for short) has fifteen years of experience in ELT as a teacher, teacher trainer, and materials writer. He is the creator of ColloLearn, an approach to English language learning based on the songs he writes and performs as Fluency MC.

Online, Jase maintains the ColloLearn YouTube channel and the Fluency MC Facebook page.

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TurksLearnEnglish

Five Barriers to Break Down Through Online Teaching (Guest Post by Turks Learn English)

TurksLearnEnglish

A great looking site: TurksLearnEnglish.com

Note from Jack: Today we have a special guest post from TurksLearnEnglish.com. When Kris left a comment on one of my posts pointing back to his new website, I was immediately impressed with the design and the message.

Kris and his co-founder James have done a great job of finding a solution to a specific problem. The niche that they chose is one that they have experience with.

Talking with Kris about their initial success, it is obvious that their content resonates with their audience, and that they are doing a great job helping English learners from Turkey.

I hope you enjoy this post and get inspired by TurksLearnEnglish.com!

 

TurksLearnEnglish.com is delighted to craft our first guest article for Teaching ESL Online!

When we chat with educators considering whether to take a leap and begin teaching online, we often hear reservations. Will my private students really get the same value in an online setting? Will they really want to pay my full private rate for online classes?

We (TurksLearnEnglish.com) launched a site dedicated to conversation classes for Turkish speakers in May 2013. So far, we’ve found that the online experience can actually be more powerful than the in-person traditional English lesson.

For any teachers humming and hawing whether to take their business online, we present to you five barriers that are removed when teaching online:

1: Kill the commute:

As urbanization grows across the world, the commutes in many of the world’s largest cities can be hellish. Many students learning English as a second language are also young professionals working long hours.

If a young professional leaves work at 6:00 pm they may not arrive to a centrally located language school until 7:30pm.

Three hours of class later and they are lucky to arrive home by midnight. This cycle is not sustainable. Offering online classes in large cities removes hours of unnecessary travel time. In rural or remote areas, you are offering a service that is simply not available in person.

2: Focus on conversation

Most adult students do not need another grammar lesson; they need communication confidence. As any online teacher knows, the virtual world is a great platform for developing language communication ability.

When a student pops on their headphones, they are able to focus with concentration that is rarely seen in a physical classroom. Better yet, the online classroom does not inhibit students in the way that a traditional classroom does.

Fewer students and the webcam somehow boost a student’s willingness to take risks and make the mistakes every learner needs to advance in a language.

3: Between classes

Video self-study lessons for outside of classroom reading and listening are extremely powerful. These video lessons can enrich your students’ experience and provide them with an additional way of connecting with you as a teacher.

At TurksLearnEnglish.com we’ve created a series of videos called İngilizce Dersleri where we read current event articles related to Turkey and introduce new vocabulary. So far they are a big hit with our students.

4: Location flexibility

Your students likely travel. If they are working in a competitive field, sometimes they’ll have to travel without much notice. Even if they don’t travel, they often have to stay late at work and do not have time to get away to an 8pm class.

We’ve all seen this in the past; a busy student misses two weeks of class in a row and suddenly drops off, partly due to embarrassment. Online lessons give your students they ability to stay up to speed with their lessons even if they need to skip town for a week or work late.

5: Additional tools

There are many things that can be done online that cannot be replicated in the real classroom. Running games and quizzes using pre-developed lesson plans and screen sharing is more natural online and can be great for motivation. Using the chat function to help a student while conversing is also a great tool.

Recording lessons can also be powerful. We’ve found that many of our students like to go back to lessons they found challenging and review them.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our story. We would love to hear your thoughts!

James and Kris are co-founders of TurksLearnEnglish, a site dedicated to getting Turkish speakers to build communication confidence. For any online educators out there, feel free to take a look at and use our online-self study videos in our İngilizce Dersleri library. You can get in touch with them through the contact form on our site or email info@turkslearnenglish.com.  

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