Monday, December 23, 2013

A note to myself!

...Been away for long now! I had a state of inertia that kept me away from blogging. Reasons vary from simple to complex. I cannot state them all but I have to learn to adapt to the ups and downs of life. With every bleak thought, I cannot see clearly . Yet, what I am sure of, is this LOVE I have deep inside for my job. And this is how I can gather all my strength and have faith in a better future. 
  I shall overcome and I shall concentrate all my efforts conscientiously. 
Wishing all my friends and blog visitors the best during these holidays! May you shine from within to pave the way for hopeful and wise people! Stay blessed :-) 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Ed Inspire Honoree at RSCON 4 #RSCON4



Ed Inspire Honoree from Fate Romdhani

     This is the beginning  of a frutiful collaboration and the magic outcome of connecting with colleagues from all over the world. I've attended very inspiring sessions and acknowledged Great Teachers. I'm very imaptient to tell you more about these sessions in the coming posts. Don't forget to attend #RSCON4 , this is the last day of a great symposium connecting teachers from everywhere. I cannot thank enough all the moderators and the inspiring teachers who are helping in making it a successful event. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

My nomination for the EdInspire Award



  I cannot describe to you my feelings when I received this surprising and heart-warming piece of news. I was nominated by my colleague Chaouki M'kaddem  to this award. I do look forward to attending this symposium for the first time. So thrilled and excited to collaborate and learn a lot from my colleagues from all corners of the world. 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

New School Year Resolutions

   Every teacher probably agrees with me when I see every end-of-year or start of school year period both as tense and stressful moments, though very enthusiastic to start again. The never-ending cycle of challenges adds to the experience and expertise of every teacher wherever /she happens to teach. Every world has a set of challenges to face. You might say that change is slow, so sluggish even, in our developing world, but this does not exclude the fact that our teachers are learning new things each day, even though they are not of urgent need now, but who knows? Let us keep crossing our fingers for a better system everywhere in the world. However, let us remingd ourselves that the system cannot change if teachers , the icon of development and new learnings do not alter their ways of teaching and adapt ways that do conform to the age spirit. With all of this taken into consideration, I might seem a 
I do have many resolutions for this new year's start and I am willing to implement them. Nonetheless, I shall not forget to direct your attention to this article I have had such a joy reading and it has inspired me to translate my thoughts into words.Here is the link :  http://newteachers.tes.co.uk/content/get-best-start-your-teaching-career                  

Here are my resolutions. The order is at random. Hope they do ring many bells to you, too!
 1- Reflect, Rethink, Revise, Revisit : I do sincerely think of empowering my relfective practices by keeping a personal teaching journal where I can revisit my practices, my teaching style more objectively and scrutinize the way I teach, even if that means filming myself and asking my mentor's or my colleagues' advice.
2-Evaluate more. Evaluate my learners' progress and get more feedback from them whether directly or indirectly.
3-Smile more. Smiling does not only spread positivity but it also helps lighten the weight of stress on all.
4-Obliterate stress by learning through fun and funny activities.
5-Love my pupils and treat them warmly, equally and sensibly. Every learner is a wealth to discover. Wish my pupils' number per class would shrink.
6-Understand my learners, their needs, their motives, their ambitions and teach accordingly. 
7-Trial and error is  the key to success, but success is not final and every success is followed by a series of failures we must learn from in order to take steps forward.
8-Interest the learners more and more by tackling subjects and topics of interest to them. 
9-Overcome negative feelings. At some stressful periods, negative thoughts reign and as a teacher/ a learner, we do feel very low and we need that encouraging word that makes us move forward. We may pretend to be self-sustaining creatures, but we're more positive when others do appreciate what we are doing even with an appreciative smile. 
10-Nurture creativity in my pupils , whether tech creativity or non tech creativity. 
11-Sustain, support my learners, whether low achievers or high achievers during the learning progress.

   These are my resolutions. I am sure I will do my best to concretise most of them. Hindering blocks I would certainly meet every day, but with the aim in mind, I will work harder and overcome , hopefully, most of them. 
Visit language garden http://www.languagegarden.com/PlantMaker2/index.html to make beautiful plants :-)


   Wish every teacher/ learner a fresh start and Happy New school year. Enjoy every bit of your teaching/ learning and life will be merrier. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

My Favorite quotes

   Personally, I have a weakness for quotes. Do you share my weakness? I can read pages and pages of quotes without getting bored. I feel that they teach me a lot about the person, the matter, the subject am interested in. More than this, Whenever I read quotes, I do unconsciously switch to a reflective mode. Does this happen to you, too? 
Below,  I am sharing with you some of my favorite quotes, which are revolving around teaching. Whch one do you agree with? Which one do you think it is not YOU? Hope to hear your thoughts and comments! 
You can also add your favorite quotes ...


If I am walking with two other men, each of them will serve as my teacher. I will pick out the good points of the one and imitate them, and the bad points of the other and correct them in myself.





One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.





Most of us end up with no more than five or six people who remember us. Teachers have thousands of people who remember them for the rest of their lives.




I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.





There are two kinds of teachers: the kind that fill you with so much quail shot that you can't move, and the kind that just gives you a little prod behind and you jump to the skies.



A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on cold iron.




One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.




The teacher is the one who gets the most out of the lessons, and the true teacher is the learner.




It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.




I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework.
 

Happy Reading Great Teachers:-) 


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

My A-Z Top favorite tech tools

   Being techy savvy ,these days, is an absolute must for all teachers everywhere in the world. (Un) Fortunately, the responsibility lies on the teachers' shoulders (especially in the developing world)  to explore, learn, unlearn, discover and share knowledge. In this post, I am including the A to Z list of the in vogue techy words that every teacher can have some fun exploring and why not exploiting these tools in one's teaching for the benefit of all the learners, who can be more or less digitally conscious or unconscious.
Enjoy discovering these online tools, web apps or websites and I would be happy to hear back from you about your top favorite tools.
A-
Audacity:Free audio editor and recorder. 


Audiboo: You can record and share audio files with anyone.



Animoto: It makes it simple to create video-based lessons or presentations for the classroom and to share them with students or anyone else.


B-
Blog : an interesting tool that help teachers connect with the world and themselves

Box.net: a useful tool to share documents in a blog.


Bitstrips: to create funny cartoons starring you and your friends and share them.



C-
Creaza Education: A nice storytelling tool.



D-
Domo Animate:  Interesting to let the learners create their own stories.



Dropbox: Dropbox is a personal cloud storage service that is frequently used for file sharing and collaboration.




E-

Edmodo: It provides a safe and easy way for us , as teachers and our class ( in the future) to connect and collaborate.


F-
Faceyourmanga: to create your own avatar (MangaAtar) and recieve it via e-mail. This is fun and engaging.


G-
Glogster:  An internet tool that allows users to create and share interactive posters. 


Goqr me: A QR code generator . @ (http://goqr.me/)

H-
How stuff works : http://www.howstuffworks.com/



I-
Instagram: Take a picture or a video and share them with your friends on social networking sites.


Ipiccy: Free online photo editor.(http://ipiccy.com/)

J-
J-clic: Is a platform for the creation, playing and evaluation of multimedia educational activities.

K-
Kidblog:   
Create safe and simple blogs for your students.


L-
Language garden plant maker:   Make creative word 

plants using this online tool and save them as pictures. (@ http://www.languagegarden.com/PlantMaker2/index.html)





Learnoutloud.com: Browse over 3000 educational vide
os, audio files,podcasts,etc..  @( http://www.learnoutloud.com/Catalog/Languages)


M-
Mind Mapping tool: Mind42: This is an online mind mapping tool.@ (http://mind42.com/)

N-

P-
Photopeach: Make your own free slide show in seconds.It could be used as a storytelling tool
.


Pinterest: You can pin just about any image you find interseting. Many teachers are using this site as a place to collect lesson ideas; plans, etc..


Popplet: You can use popplet to brainstorm ideas, create mindmaps, share and collaborate.


Prezi: is a cloud based presentation software. 


Pixlr: Free online photo editor.


Q-
Q R codes : Qrstuff.com: Generate QR codes and download them.



R-
Ribbet: Online photo editor.


S-
Scoopit: a wonderful curation tool. Have a profile and start following topics of interest to you.


Storybird: Create, read and share visual stories. 

T-
Tagul:  Create beautiful looking tag clouds and embed them.


V-
Voicethread: a digital storytelling video making it possible for colleagues, friends to collaborate on the same project, whether a story to tell, a video to make, a narration to share.

Voki: Create customized avatars and add them to your profile. @ (http://www.voki.com/)


W-
Wallwisher: Easily create some sticky notes ( by sending a text, an image or a video ) and make your profile public or private.


Wordle: Generate word clouds. This is wonderful word art. 


X-
Y-
Youtube: Share your videos with friends, family and the world and exlpore a wealth of videos. 


Z-
Zondle: Create, play and share games to support teaching/ learning.



Hopefully, all that starts well ends well. In fact, while looking for effective tech tools, I have searched the net for more confirmation from experts in the field. That's why I am including links to articles, blogs and sites that have been of immense help in my search. Below are the links I have flipped through. With all my due respect. 
Happy Blogging :-) 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Teaching with CEFR

    After such a long period of hibernation,  (ironically) though it is summer, I'm back to my blog and my weekly-basis writing, hopefully. I am back with some good news : we attended a national seminar on the 5th and 6th of July about teaching with CEFR. The seminar was held at the CREFOC of Nabeul area, under the assistance of Mr.Najjar Rachid and Mr.Khlifi Slaheddine .We worked in two groups, each group was under the assistance of a different inspector. With great pleasure, we worked with Mr.Najjar. And as we were  from different areas, the meeting in itself was such a rich and joyful experience. Many discussions were taking place and we learned much from the experienced colleagues and their fruitful exchange. What really amazed me is the great tact and expertise of Mr.Najjar. 
 Below are the notes I took from the workshop given by Mr.Najjar and I truly cannot express enough my gratitude for the wealth shared with us all . Moreover, I should not forget to mention with an elated heart, the positive spirit that reigned and the willingness I felt from approximately all the colleagues to collaborate, share and learn from each other. 
As the title of this post suggests the workshop was about teaching with CEFR. 
Many thanks to my colleague Adnane Ferdjany for sharing !

    
          
            What is the CEFR? 
 It is a Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment,[1] 
abbreviated as CEFR, is a guideline used to describe achievements of learners of foreign languages across Europe and, increasingly, in other countries (for example, Colombia and the Philippines). It was put together by the Council of Europe as the main part of the project "Language Learning for European Citizenship" between 1989 and 1996. Its main aim is to provide a method of learning, teaching and assessing which applies to all languages in Europe. In November 2001 a European Union Council Resolution recommended using the CEFR to set up systems of validation of language ability. The six reference levels (see below) are becoming widely accepted as the European standard for grading an individual's language proficiency. ( Wikipedia

And as Mr.Najjar put it :" In order to discuss language education, 
we need standard terminology." Then with precise definitions of 
each level, we can describe what learners can do in meaningful 
terms. And some advantages of the CEFR are: 


  • It's not prescriptive . " we do not set out to tell practitioners what to do, or how to do it."
  • It's not neutral : the CEFR supports methods which help build attitudes, knowledge and skills they need to : become more independent in thought and action. 
We, as teachers, have to bear in mind that the CEFR is :
  • A process
  • It is action-oriented : the aim of language education is to achieve communicative competence ( ie. being able to carry out activities and processes for the reception and production of texts, being able to construct discourse to fulfil tasks in the domain of social existence) 
  • It is learner-centered : the learner is at the centre ( their needs, motivations and characteristics/ what will they need to do with the language? / What will they need to learn in order to do what they want? / What makes them want to learn? / What kind of people are they? / What access do they have to resources? / How much time can they afford to spend?
The CEFR defines language proficiency at six levels arranged in three bands: 
  1. A1 and A2 ( Basic User) 
  2. B1 and B2 ( Independent User) 
  3. C1 and C2 ( Proficient User) 
Therof, we can use these comon reference levels as a starting point for : 
  • The elaboration of language syllabuses and curriculum guidelines 
  • The design of learning materials and activities 
  • The assessment of learning outcomes 
Scales and References : 

There are levels : the framework is underpinned and illustrated by the descriptor scales ( the global scales, 15 scales describing competences, 41 scales describing activities and over 1000 can do statements in the portfolio) and other resources ( a self-assessment grid, a range of rating grids, a table of domains of use, a taxonomy of competences and tasks) 
   
      The global scale is : 
  • All positive 
  • In a sequence ( Reception ------- Production -------- Interaction ------- Mediation
  • Can be reduced or extended 
  • Can be "Tunisified"
Charcteristics of can do descriptors: 
  1. Positiveness : descriptors should be formulated using positive descriptions of what the learners are able to do, negatively worded descriptions tend to be demotivating and more difficult to scale.
  2. Definiteness: Descriptors should describe concrete tasks and / or concrete degrees of skills in performing tasks.
  3. Clarity: descriptors should be transparent and non-technical- written in very simple syntax, comprehensible without explanation, usable without training. 
  4. Brevity: descriptors should be short.
  5. Independence: descriptors should stand on their own, their interpretation should not depend on other descriptors. 
System Requirements: 
  •  Comprehensive: It covers a full range of possible knowledge, skills and uses/ it covers all dimensions on which proficiency is described / Needs a range of reference points on which progress can be calibrated.
  • Transparent: Clearly formulated/ explicit/ readily comprehensible.
  • Coherent: with harmonious relation between uses:  identification of needs, determination of objectives, definition of content, selection or creation of material, establishment of teaching and learning programs, teaching and learning methods employed, evaluation,testing and assessment .
  • Multi-purpose: Usable for a full variety of purposes 
  • Flexible: Adaptable for different circumstances
  • Open: capable of extension and refinement 
  • Dynamic: continuous evolution.
  • User-friendly ( readily understandable) 
  • Non-dogmatic ( apply it to any teaching method) 
Challenges: 
  • To pedagogy: - to promote learner autonomy ; by stimulating reflection on Content and Process of learning ( My priority is .... help me my teacher overcome my weakness...) by assigning central role to self-assessment. 
  • To curricula : It is often felt as an additional effort not related to curriculum.
  • To assessment: CEFR opens possibility to bring curriculum pedagogy and assessment into closer interaction.
How can the CEFR be used? 


  1. As a basis for curriculum development : It provides a common basis for setting targets for all languages that all the stakeholders can understand and relate to. It also sets signposts for the different steps to competence and  defines cut off points for different levels of language needed. Hence, it is a more multi-faceted description. 
  2. As a basis for designing syllabi : The scales and descriptors can generate content for specific languages, eg B.C Equals. 
Does the CEFR impose a methodology? 
  • The CEFR emphasizes learners'  "communicative needs"- everyday life, exchanging information...
  • The CEFR urges teachers to base language teaching and learning "on the needs, motivations, characteristics and resources of learners and defining worthwhile and realistic objectives as explicitly as possible." 
     To end this post, this is not the end because I believe much 
effort  has to be devoted to put the CEFR to the test from the part 
of everyone, including stakeholders, teachers, trainers, inspectors, 
curriculum designers , etc.. But above all teachers have to have the 
final say in the applicability of the CEFR and by sharing 
experiences, we can certainly learn from each other. To be positive, 
let us try it and see what are the repercussions of its application on 
our teaching and on the learners. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Reading Initiative Workshop Notes - By Fitch O'Connell

      As a follow up to my previous blog post, I would like to share the interesting notes I got from attending the Initiative Reading workshop , given by Mr.O'Connell at the British Council with everyone of you.
   In the beginning, Mr.O'Connell stressed the importance of affective learning. By increasing the pupils' affective learning, we can trigger the learners' love for reading. And since children use their cognitive and affective skills equally, it's the teacher's responsibility to accentuate the leaners' love for reading. Reading is not only a data-driven activity ie. taking specific data from the text, it's asking them to respond to the story. Learners are much more engaged with critical thinking activities. As a matter of fact, the power of reading is beneficial to the power of memory. More importantly, learners feel a sense of ownership, they can design videos after reading the short narrative exemplfying the story or building up new events to the story. Hence, the learner is not a mere reader, but also, affectively engaged and becomes himself an owner, so proud of what he accomplished as a reader.
Here comes a good question: why should we use narratives, not any other literary form?
Narratives , as the format of constructing our lessons, are built on : binary opposition- conflict- resolution- conclusion.
However, we should distinguish between 7 different plots:
1- The quest: a lot of fairy tales ( such as: the Lord of the Rings, Apocalypse Now, Raiders of the Lost Ark)
These fairy tales revolve around a mythical world.
2-Voyage and Return:
The main character usually witnesses transformation after a journey such as : ( Alice in Wonderland, Gulliver's Travels, Back to the future)
3-Rebirth:
A Christmas Carol, Beauty and the Beast ...
4-Comedy:
Comedy does not mean funny. Rather the weaknesses of the heroes are exploited.
5-Tragedy:
The internal problem of the main character that creates the tragedy.
Hamlet, Macbeth,
6-Overcoming the monster:
Dracula, Jaws, Hansel and Gretel, The silence of the lambs, Frankstein
7-Rags to Riches:
Aladdin, Cindrella, Great expectations
        After having a clear view of the theoretical background of the workshop, we had the pleasure of living the joyful moment of reading ourselves by stepping into the shoes of our learners.       
Personally, the prereading activities were so engaging and motivating that we were so motivated to know more about the stories. Mr.Fitch knew very well how to whet our appetite and gave us clear pictures of how teachers should make the reading activity a joyful moment taking  the learners to a stroll in the realms of imagination.

  1. Prereading Activities:

-Harnessing students creativity
-All paths are potentially viable
-There are no wrong answers- though some may be better than others!
         * Must : 

  • Motivate
  • exlpore
  • engage
  • provide a framework

         *Mustn't: 

  • be negative
  • block enquire
  • be prescriptive
  • be assessable
  • demand written work          
  1.    2-While -Reading Activities :
  • Encourage speculation through open-ended questions
  • Avoid direct questions
  • Develop imagination
  • Support comprehension rather than test it
  • Don't disturb "Ownership"
  • Mix narrative delivery with silent reading
  1. 3-After Reading :
  • Explore general themes
  • Use different student skills
  • Link to the syllabus
  • Maybe more traditional in design
  • Assess overall understanding
  • Bring a sense of closure
  • Revise grammar points
  • Kids designing a book cover

Hope you enjoyed reading this blog post and got much from it to implement in your classrooms. Let us help our learners enjoy reading and love it . We have to help them by designing the proper engaging, motivating activities. (Un)Fortunately, much of the responsibility lies on the teachers' shoulders.Happy Reading! 


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Reading Initiative Workshop- By Fitch O'Connell

No matter what we do, practically, to evlove, nothing is more exciting, enriching , in my point of view, as meeting colleagues , learning from them, especially when an ELT Luminary as: Mr.Fitch O'Connell is guiding our steps.
We attended a workshop entitled the Reading Initiative Workshop at the British Council from the 21st till the 23rd of April. During these three days, Mr. Fitch O'Connell reawakened in us the love of reading narratives, poetry. Such love for reading, though very deep in each one of us as teachers, is reborn from the ashes. Truly, Mr.O'Connell dazzled us and triggered our imagination with his sparkling performance. Many times, the Artist persona took hold of the teacher and the teacher trainer and we were very delighted seeing the Artist on the stage. No wonder he has had a deep impact on us all, in such a short period of time. He fascinated us by alternating between theory and practice in such a light, joyful , humble and impressive way. 
More impressive is the idea of buliding up a digital library where teachers can get short narratives with the ready made (pre/ while/ post) reading activities.
This experience has pushed me to ponder more on our teaching practices. As a matter of fact, we are missing a lot , for we are not instilling this love of reading in our learners, reading all sorts of literary works whether novels, plays or poems.How could our learners use the language beautifully, effectively if they do not have any idea about the wealth of novels, short narratives written by inspiring native and non-native speakers. Truly, it is not an easy job, but if handled with a lot of care and love , we might succeeed in helping them love to read. Reading for pleasure should  be taken into consideration in our syllabi. Thereof, proper , practical, joyful, engaging ways should be set to meet this challenge and succeeed in  the thirst for reading into learners from an early age. 
Actually, we enjoyed preparing the pre/ while/ and post reading activities to these short creative and wonderful narratives :Survival (by Chaouki M'Kaddem), The Land of Dreams (by Olfa Guesmi), Joha and the End of the World (by Fitch O'Connell), The Emergency Call (by Zeineb Evren) ... 
All of these short narratives do match our learners' interest and could be well fit in our syllabi. So why don't we try to plan them in our yearly schedule and part of our reading for pleasure unit, which must be included (though, unfortunately, our books fail to teach this love for reading to our learners.
Last but not least, I would like to express my best regards to Mr.O'Connell for the wealth he shared with us, to the British Council staff for making this happen and for their warm welcome, to my dear colleagues and friends who , without fail, cooperated warmly, shared insights with us all and I learned much from them all. 
Below are some links that might be of great use for all of you dear ELTs wherever you are! Stay tuned :-) 

Me and Mr.O'Connell