Zenned Up Powerpoint

Originally, I used this powerpoint in its simpler form to explore two questions about co-teaching. The first being the roles and responsibilities of the EAL (English as an additional language) teacher in an inclusive classroom. The second being what is needed for productive collaboration. As an institution with a growth mindset we are revisiting the way in which we support our ELLs (English language learners).

Our school has taken a systematic approach to improving the services, which has included, an audit (done by a respected practitioner in the field), the development of a strategic plan and an established framework of co-teaching that has a high success rate. As with any other new initiative, we are now at a place where we need to reflect on what we have accomplished so far and do some refining or recalculating the way we need to move forward.

This original presentation was made on my birthday, but, is NOT the reason for the cake analogy. In fact, I tried very hard to think of another analogy however, I had eaten some chocolate cake made by a colleague and fellow Cotailer Calley, which was downright delicious and left me focused on cake. Which is fortunate because, research shows that images of certain foods have a positive effect on how much people pay attention.

One of the difficulties of co-teaching for EAL is that, although co-teaching itself is not entirely new, co-teaching for the specific reason of supporting ELLs English language development is a relatively new field. So this powerpoint is focused on the specific roles each teacher needs to play in supporting development. The research behind inclusion is clear. Inclusion not only promotes faster language development, because ELLS have more models to follow, but it also, allows for ELLs to be exposed to a content rich environment. However, on the flip side ELLs in a mainstream classroom need additional scaffolding in order to access the content. They also need additional avenues in order to express what they can do and this is where the EAL specialist supports both the learner and the content teacher.

Feedback from the powerpoint was positive and every time I tried to explain not wanting to use the cake analogy, I am told that it was indeed very effective.

EAL Inclusive Services: Zenned Up

Language Learning in a More Dynamic Way

With my 8th grade students it is hard to help them to understand the amazing opportunity they have been given to learn English. Helping them to understand how beneficial knowing English will be in our increasingly global community will in turn motivate them in their English studies. Often turning to images and info-graphics are the easiest ways to bring about understanding.

The following info-graphic introduces alternative reasons for learning English, such as, English music, celebrities, TV shows, movies etc. Learning English through these mediums can make it more exciting and enjoyable for students and can be added motivation, as thinking intensely about their future is still far off at their age. I’m going to use this infographic to show that learning a language is less about learning grammar and linguistic complexity and more about vocabulary and using it in everyday situations. I think a secondary message that can be gleamed from the infographic is that if you engage in the target language using numerous media forms you are more likely to learn it. Everyday I encourage my language learners to speak English in non-academic situations, simply because, the 2,000 high frequency words used to connect the language and increase fluency are not academic words.


The first part of the infographic talks about traveling to an English speaking country as the best way to learn English, in our situation students are in an English speaking environment with other foreigners trying to learn English, spending at least 8 hours a day exposed to an English rich environment when they make the correct choices. Those choices include socializing at times with people who don’t speak their home language and themselves use English as a medium of communication.

Another effective way to learn the language is through Television. In conversation with some of my students I was told that they agree watching their favorite shows in English has definitely helped their language grow and so, I will continue to encourage students to look at shows in English and use English subtitles when possible. As a teacher I am not sure whether it really matters if students are more inclined to watch British or American English shows and that’s one question I would like to explore with my students.

Learning the lyrics of songs and really repeating them is such a stress free way to increase their productive vocabulary and pronunciation. Although, not all songs are made equally, there are still hundreds of well-crafted pieces of music that are accessible and enjoyed by students of Middle School age. The same argument can be used for computer games, because children are so absorbed in it. If they spend hours and hours of playing those games in English there is a high possibility for transference of a lot of the language. I wonder as a teacher how applicable how some of that language is to everyday life, but that too is one thing that I may have to investigate more, because I am not as familiar with video/computer games as some of my students.

Finally, I would like to expand the category of comics to include graphic novels, which are a favorite with middle school boys and some girls. I especially like, the fact that recently, I used a graphic novel with a small guided group of readers and one of my students was so engaged that he was making sound effects actually bringing the story to life. He genuinely enjoyed that book and through him, so did I. So, I will use this infographic to keep encouraging my students that by surrounding themselves in the target language they are more likely to reach their goal of becoming better English language learners.

Presentation Zen : An Overview is a fantastic teaching tool.

Presentation Zen : An Overview is a fantastic teaching tool. I make numerous presentations to my students and more recently to follow colleagues and it is my desire to leave them satisfied yet asking seeking more information.

Even though I thought that I would make an infographic as my final project and I am sitting in a room with some on my fellow coetailers doing just that, I really am excited about redoing a presentation I have recently presented entitled’ The Role of the EAL Specialist in Inclusion Services.’

I am also excited about sharing this video with my students as they prepare for unit on speech delivery. As I listened to the presentation, I created a graphic organizer,a list of key vocabulary, which I will need to pre-teach, and a summary of the key points for my students. I teach a group of beginning ELLs and along with the captions and visual in this presentation I am confident these scaffolds will allow them fully access to the content which is so effectively prepared and served, it’s like dining at a fine restaurant.



This is a screen shot of a page attached to my Moodle. Originally, I created these self directed tasks so that my students will have the opportunity to pick and choose lessons based on need and interest while linking the learning to the self directed sessions done in class. In class, I use a set of grade level Evan Moor “Take to Your Seat” centers that give students practice and re enforcement in some basic fundamental language skills. One of my overarching concerns was being able to produce a menu that students can pick and choose from and Blendspace allows them to do exactly that. With Blendspace I can annotate, organize and share digital resources for the various units in a visually pleasing format with just one link.

In addition to organizing your lessons into a ‘canvas’, you can drag and drop in other resources such as videos, websites and documents. Blendspace features a built in search tools, which enables you to locate resources. Just type in the title or topic of your lesson in the search bar and Blendspace finds related video material. You can also search Google and Educreations for educational material. It is possible to use your content by dragging and dropping documents onto the canvas. You can also add rich text to help explain more complex topics. The canvas can then be annotated and shared. Best of all is it possible to create classes, auto grade assessments and track student progress and it’s all free! Get more information at

Thanks again Pryia for sharing.

The Construction Zone- Speak

Credits for picture: Priya Venugopal

This is actually something that I needed to get done. Doing it by using a visual had not crossed my mind but now that I think about it, not only is the visual more appealing , it is also less abrasive than me constantly reminding my students to practice their English in social as well as academic situations. The message I am sending is that language is for communication and the most common method of communication is speech therefore I want to remind my students to speak ( and yes they know I mean in English ) as often as possible so that their skills will grow. I will take the time to explain what the image represents and why is will serve as a reminder and then I will start every lesson with this image as my background . I will put this image on every document I share with them and I will also just have a hard copy to place on the whiteboard if the need arises during class time. Please don’t get me wrong, I do understand the value of using the mother tongue for clarification during class. However I am not helping my students learn and be successful in an English medium school if I do not actively support and encourage the development of habits that promote language learning. Learning another language opens up your world and it will be such a waste if ten years from now my students regret that they had not taken the opportunity presented to them previously to learn a new language.
Speaking about visual literacy I wanted to create an image that I had in mind and I searched all over the net. Unfortunately I could not find an image that suited me best. I knew exactly what I wanted but did not not how to create it. I collaborated with my colleague Priya and asked for her help. She sat along my side and as I described the image I had in my head she started creating an image using the drawing feature on Google drive. It took us an hour to create it and even thought isn’t 100 percent professional it does capture what I had in mind and it is original. I only need to give credit to her. Thank you to my colleague, Priya Venugopal for her help. I hope other EAL teachers out there are able to benefit from this and are also able to use this image in their classrooms.

Speak Up

Moodle and Me

tug of war
Photo Credit:

Maybe I am easy to please or is it that I have such limited knowledge of the diversity and versatility of what is available in visual media enhancement that I am pleased with my COETAIL Blog Settings. I do admit however that I have a great desire to redesign my Moodle Page. With fine examples of what can be achieved shown by my colleagues Calley C and Flor M, I am inspired to improve the experience my students will have when they access my page.I want a page that meet students needs as well as my need to share and encourage learning. Thinking outside of the box, my dream page to re adjust to reflective the needs of each individual user. If you are a visual learner who likes bold bright colours, then the page will provide that stimulation when you use it and if you were the opposite and needed more audio stimulation and less visual, then the page will provide that also. The same will do same for my students who need Bodily-Kinesthetic stimulation. I am feel that much of my dream is already available and I am fortunate to work with an incredibly patient Tech Integrator, with whom I feel comfortable and so I can ask her for all the guidance possible.
Many times as a teacher, I feel that students are ‘overstimulated’ by the amount of visual stimulation that they receive and this make it difficult for them to be engaged when that level of stimulation is not present. As an EAL teacher, I feel duty bound to each and every student of mine and I want to ensure that when a student walks in and walks out of my class my lessons have delivered to him what I had in my mind. In order for me to create an effective class with visuals and media I tend to spend a lot of time in it being appropriate and student friendly. The time invested versus the amount of times I will be using it in my class is what concerns me as my students keep changing. The thing that motivates me to keep going is that I hope to share my resources with other teachers and that it will save them their precious time in recreating something that i have already created.
My question to all of you out there is how much time do you think one should invest when they try to create a lesson that is visually appealing for students, stimulates their mind and is appropriate but to the right degree? Last but not the least I can attest to the fact that students appreciate the care and attention teachers invest in creating visually stimulating moodle pages and lessons. I say this from a personal perspective because my son Jannick loves Ms. Calley’s moodle page and thinks she is the rock star of Moodle.
Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 9.52.26 am

Getting Started Again.

Just a quick thank you to all my fellow Coetailers who have warmly welcomed me back. As many of you have experienced, there is a period of time that seems to get extremely ‘dense’ when changing from one school to another. On an already filled schedule, we search and find jobs, pack and move to another country, unpack, set up house and classroom, make new connection and get acclimatize all in what seems like a heartbeat! But atlas, it is all done and I am ready to start again!

Final Project Review

Attached are two Google Presentations. The shorter presentation is a Classroom Digital Citizenship Contract. It will be printed out and used to remind students of the promise they are making; the promise to be responsible digital citizens. Each page is signed by each of the students and then prominently displayed on the classroom walls as a yearlong reminder. Before signing the contract, the students will have at least two 45 minute lessons on each of the four aspects of the Classroom Digital Citizen Contract (CDCC). Much of the core of these lessons was found on the Common Sense Media (linked below). The Common Sense Media has tons of lessons, videos and links which I will remix to fit the needs of the population I serve.

The second Google Presentation is a lesson that we (Britt and I) created as our first lesson. Again while creating this lesson, we both realized that there is no need to re-invent the wheel. We had lots of opportunity to reinforce and practice our picture searching and abiding by copyright law skills…

We had to do some ‘Out of the Box’ thinking when it came to creating an AUP for our school. Our school, which is only six years old, is unique in that the school’s technology leader is not in the business of Education. He is the owner of the apartments, condos, townhouses and stand-alone homes on our compound. The residents and the companies they represent are his major business concerns. The school is just one of the magnets he uses to attract the core business. He maintains a server that provides internet access to most of residents as well as the school. The “use” agreement for the school is written in a punitive manner. Basically it says “abuse” x, y or z then you will be cut off. The threat is for all who live in this community. There is no room for correction if an error is made. There are no explanations as to why certain rules have been put in place and of course, very little room for dialogue.

With this in mind, Britt and I realized that the AUP documents that parents sign put the entire burden of creating digital citizens on the parent. We, as teachers who want to integrate technology, must take up that burden for ourselves.

The lesson that is shared below is the first technology lesson
that I plan to use next August here in Dalian. As an EAL Specialist, technology is becoming a tool that I am depending on to help make the curriculum more accessible to my students. We all need to be responsible digital citizens and as teachers we need to help create that awareness.

Re-examining Remix

Lawrence Lessig manages to be a dynamic presenter in an unassuming fashion.
His video presentation is one that I believe will evoke different reactions from a wide variety of audiences. I plan to watch this Ted Talk with my two children hoping that they will understand necessity of being responsible citizens in a digital age.
I looked at this Ted Talk a number of times. On one such occasion I drew a graphic organizer to help me respond to the big idea. The premise that remixing allows people to form fellowships and that these fellowships are essential in building communities, is only valid when the market allows for this sharing to occur. Lawrence Lessig made clear the distinction between having the power to share freely or having this power severely diminished or restricted by those who seek to control the economic rights to intellectual property as the key issue to the sustaining and advancement of this new cultural ecology. Without the essential free exchange, creativity is stunted.

One such example of this creativity is demonstrated in another TED video;Eric Whitacre: A choir as big as the Internet

“Eric Whitacre: A Virtual Choir 2000”. http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/eric_whitacre_a_virtual_choir_2_000_voices_strong.html
If you have a minute or two this is one TED talk that I would recommend.

Understanding and Respecting Copyright a Problem for Many

Last week I made my ‘Additional Language Learners’ a simple game to help frontload vocabulary for an upcoming unit. I used the definitions for the text and then searched the internet for images. The game was a hit and I am sure the images I used helped to make concrete some of the new concepts. Not once did I think of copyright of the images that I used.  I am by no means careless about acknowledging the intellectual property of others; however my knowledge and practices have not kept up with the access and tools that internet and www. have put within my reach. So now, just as we teach to use bibliographies, understanding Creative Commons as the guide for the next generation of re-users and re-mixers is essential.


I think of the images I use on my teaching website and now I remind myself to check and double check and to get explicit permission form parents even though I make sure that the kids I photograph or video tape are those whose parents have signed the forms giving the school permission to use their kids’ images. As a parent, when I give permission for the school to use my child’s image , does that really extend to teachers’ webpages?