Prime your classes with Flipgrid


Here is a wonderful article by Michael J Shehane about using Flipgrid in the language classroom. The advice he gives is invaluable: for example, what pitfalls of making Flipgrid videos are the most likely and whether it makes sense to discuss them with students; how you encourage students to do their Flipgrid homework without any conflict or contention; how exactly Flipgrid videos can help you achieve the learning objectives. The best I’ve read about Flipgrid so far!

Could be worth exploring this kind of ‘priming’ for teacher training – what do you think?



Just a gentle nudge


Another great post from Mark Makino: an unusual type of homework he calls ‘nudgework’ which involves learners in communicative activities outside the classroom. Mark describes tasks typical of an ESL environment: take a tutor’s signature on the campus, spend 30 minutes at a local cafe without your phone (you’ll just have to talk to the barista or the other customers!). Low-prep and no marking involved – what’s not to like?

But now I’m thinking: is it even possible to emulate this in an EFL situation, where English speaking stops as soon as you leave the cosy environment of the language school?

The summer of self-studying


Here is a post by Gosia Kwiatkowska which maps out several self-study plans for English learners over the summer. What I particularly like about it is that she recommends focusing just on learning objective (e.g. systems, skills, exam prep) and has a checklist of questions to take you through the whole process. One of the most important questions: how do you want to check in on their work? Gosia even adds an example of a Google hyperdoc she prepared for one of her students: good stuff!

Homework to fire up minds


Here’s another installment in the series about homework and alternatives to it. This article from Global Digital Citizen recaps a chapter from a book by an educator (Kathleen Cushman’s Fires in the Mind) where students give advice to teachers about homework. The best source is the original chapter, but the article can save you some time. Speaking about time:

  • Students want to save time. Memory tricks, clever acronyms, and mnemonic devices to help remember something are always helpful. Even better if they can come up with them on their own!

This is just of the 16 tips. I also find ‘carving their own path’ and ‘knowing why they are learning something’ very useful – and you?

No-pressure homework

homework time

Is traditional homework the best use of students’ time, or just another drain on their resources, willpower and motivation? Gary Armida argues that there are better alternatives: inspire students, encourage their interests, or give them smart homework that will also develop useful life skills. You can read more about this in his article: On Homework…And Responsibility.

For my own part, I only split homework into regular tasks for ‘tonight’ and extra tasks for ‘the weekend’, to make it feel less threatening. Perhaps it’s time to try a new tack?