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Are you an English teacher? Are you interested in sharing ideas about teaching methods? Do you want to have fun? This is the right place for you to be!!! If you’re this kind of teacher, our blog is for you. It contains advice, tips and ideas to help you get the most out of your students. You’ll also find the latest information about tools, trends and research from the world of English Language Teaching (ELT).

As a teacher, you’re probably always looking for new and interesting ways to motivate and inspire your learners. Our blog provides some inspiration for creative lessons that target the four skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking. These ideas should help to relieve any boredom, increase motivation and stimulate progress.

With technology playing a more prominent role in the world of ELT, we dedicate an entire section to this subject with shared ideas about some of the hot topics associated with the benefits and challenges of using technology in the classroom to engage students. We also take a look at some of the most popular blogs for English teachers, the press from English speaking countries, to trends and fashions among students, films, fiction, food etc.

As this is meant to be OUR teachers’ blog, feel free to write anything you might find relevant. If you have any thoughts on how we can improve, complement or innovate, or would like us to cover a particular aspect of English language teaching, please let us know in the comments section. We’d love to hear from you. ❤

 

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A Cup of Teach, Teachers only

Does writing by hand still matter in the digital age?

handwriting puntolingueteachersclubblogTechnology is having an impact on children’s handwriting ability. But what does this mean for learning and development?

Cast your mind back to the most recent thing you’ve written. Maybe it was a document for work, a message to a friend, or a simple shopping list. Did you use a pen? Or did you type it? The decline of writing by hand – particularly among young people and children – has been in the news. Last month, paediatric doctors warned that children were finding it difficult to hold pencils due to excessive use of technology. Letters to Santa are increasingly sent by email, and Cambridge University is piloting the use of laptops instead of pen and paper for selected exams after requests from students. Some academics have noted the “downward trend” in students’ handwriting.

But what of the role that handwriting plays in learning and development? And with technology changing how we live and work, what place does handwriting have in the modern classroom? These were the questions put to the teachers, academics and specialists in education and technology at the Guardian’s roundtable event on 27 February. The roundtable was supported by the Write Your Future campaign from Berol and Paper Mate. The delegates noted with interest that everyone at the table had chosen to use pens, not laptops, to make notes. One reason for this could be that writing plays a social role in our lives, said Dominic Wyse, professor of early childhood and primary education at UCL and incoming vice-president, president-elect of the British Educational Research Association (BERA). Having a laptop open would be rude in such circumstances, he argued – and he would find it more difficult to engage.

The level of engagement involved in writing by hand is important, said Diana Strauss, co-founder of Write Dance Training, which helps children develop their handwriting skills through music. She pointed to recent research carried out in France in which one group of adult learners was told to write notes while another typed them. Those writing by hand were later found to have a deeper level of learning. Ros Wilson, the founder of Andrell Education’s Big Writing model for teaching writing, described the process of handwriting as “creating a mental picture of the world” and said computer processing did not create the same picture in the brain.

This is why teachers encourage children to draw in the sand or water, which embeds learning in the early years, noted Naveed Idress, headteacher of Feversham Primary Academy in Bradford. “You never know what an A is unless you’ve physically drawn it.” In terms of writing in schools, there was agreement that increasing use of computers in university assessments could have a knock-on effect lower down the education system. “One of the concerns is that if you put high-stakes tests onto a computer it changes what schools have to prepare children for,” said Jane Medwell, associate professor at the University of Nottingham and consultant for the Write Your Future campaign. Encouraging children to concentrate on using computers too early might not be in their best interests in terms of development. Angela Webb, a psychologist and chair of the National Handwriting Association, explained that engagement with the physical environment activated certain areas of the brain and stimulated cognitive development, so picking up a pen has a positive impact not just on literacy but on other disciplines too. One example of this is the way that it helps to develop the muscles needed to sit at a desk for long periods, said Strauss. She said learning to write by hand aided physical coordination, rhythm, stamina and posture. Secondary school students are at risk of physical problems later in life if not taught to sit and write properly.

Wyse said that while he would like to see children taught to touch-type early in school, it was rare to find children who had formed their first words on a keyboard. But educators should also be careful not to teach handwriting before students were physically ready, argued Jonathan Rodgers, a primary advisory teacher for the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education. He criticised the “rush to mark-make, or to write when they should be mark-making before they have actually been squeezing things and climbing things and hanging from things”. Idress agreed that handwriting should be part of children’s holistic development. One way his school helped itself out of special measures was by focusing on music, which helped build focus and readiness to learn in the children. He believes handwriting gives children similar skills to those gained through music – resilience, creativity and the ability to interact socially. “We are not just talking about mechanical skills here,” he said. “We are talking about how children learn. We are making them ready for life.”

Nina Iles, head of EdTech at the British Educational Suppliers Association, said it was important to balance digital and written awareness and for children to be able to express themselves creatively through technology and writing. “The key is learning to do it well,” she said. “Sometimes if a child is struggling with their handwriting, that can be a barrier to them being able to use it effectively to inform and express themselves.” Delegates agreed it was important to achieve “automaticity” – the ability to get letters down automatically – to free up the brain to focus on creativity. But for Guy Merchant, professor of literacy in education at Sheffield Hallam University, this can take place with a keyboard or touchscreen just as well as with a pen. Helen Boden, chief executive of the British Dyslexia Association, said touch-typing can give dyslexic children the kind of automaticity they struggle with when learning to write by hand. Some are wary of putting marks on paper that would be a permanent symbol of their difficulties and are more comfortable with a tablet or computer where making corrections is easier.

Technology can also help those with little or no English to interact with their classmates, said Hana Emami, primary school project manager at the National Literacy Trust. Yet she warned that not all young people have good access to computers in their schools or at home, meaning too much emphasis on technology could set up educational inequalities. Teachers can sometimes be wary of technology because it doesn’t always fit with their idea of what educational success is, said Boden. But Merchant insisted digital literacy was essential, especially in a world where means of communication are rapidly diversifying. So is there a balance to be struck in how we teach children to write? For Idress, this is key: making sure we help children choose the right tool for the task in hand – whether that’s a pen, a laptop, or something else.

the Guardian

Let's get Digital

Awesome apps for teachers recommended by teachers #1

For teaching students how to present, create and code

TEDEd-TopicsUnit

TED-Ed
More than 250,000 teachers use TED education tools to spark student curiosity and explore presentation literacy skills. “TED-Ed is an outstanding resource in my classroom,” says TED-Ed Innovative Educator Jennifer Hesseltine. “I use the online platform to add engaging content to topics that we are studying. I have also given students the opportunities to help in the process of creating TED-Ed Lessons by choosing videos and creating questions to include.”

haiku-deck-logo-large

Haikudeck
Students can create beautiful presentations with this app. “It’s great for pairing short poems and images,” says TED-Ed community member Jessica Dawn Kaiser.

utenti-duolingo-adesso-arriva-versione-premium-v4-290660-1280x720-696x392Duolingo
If the benefits of a bilingual brain motivate your students, try this app. “Duolingo revolutionized the way people learn languages,” says TED-Ed community member Dhruv G. Menon.

Continue reading “Awesome apps for teachers recommended by teachers #1”

Reading in the Station, Uncategorized

Sites from where to download books for free (and legally)

download-free-books

 

eBooks did not upset the publishing system as was thought when the first Readers were put on the market. Yet it is undoubted – and those who have one can confirm it – that it is a useful and comfortable tool. In addition, there is one thing that not everyone knows: eBooks downloadable for free (and legally) from the web are many. Of course, you can also read them without an eBook Reader, on your mobile phone, tablet and computer. Of course, you will not find the latest books out in the bookstore, but the interesting titles are many, especially among the classics. Here are some sites from which you can download free eBooks.

Google eBookstore

google bookstore puntolingue teachers club blog

In the free section of the Google eBookstore, you’ll find a ton of free books from a variety of genres. Look here for bestsellers, favourite classics and more. Books are available in several formats, and you can also check out ratings and reviews from other users. Continue reading “Sites from where to download books for free (and legally)”

Teachers only

Reasons Today’s Kids Are Bored At School, Feel Entitled, Have Little Patience & Few Real Friends

Young Children Watching Television at Home

Victoria Prooday, Occupational Therapist with years of experience working with children, parents and teachers, finds today’s kids come to school emotionally unavailable for learning. There are many factors in our modern lifestyle that contribute to this. She writes:

I completely agree that our children are getting worse and worse in many aspects. I hear the same consistent message from every teacher I meet. Clearly, throughout my time as an Occupational Therapist, I have seen and continue to see a decline in kids’ social, emotional, and academic functioning, as well as a sharp increase in learning disabilities and other diagnoses. As we know, the brain is malleable. Through environment, we can make the brain “stronger” or make it “weaker”. I truly believe that, despite all our greatest intentions, we, unfortunately, remould our children’s brains in the wrong direction. Here is why: Continue reading “Reasons Today’s Kids Are Bored At School, Feel Entitled, Have Little Patience & Few Real Friends”