“Webinars – a wonderful substitute for live seminars”
Pearson Professional Development Webinar Series

speech_teacups_blue_bannerIn October 2015, U.S. Pearson ELT conducted an idea-packed Professional Development Webinar series, consisting of 13 one-hour sessions. The goal of the webinar series was to provide thousands of instructors and administrators around the world with multiple opportunities to learn from English-language teaching experts. Topics included:

  • “Exploring the Potential of the Flipped Classroom” by Robyn Brinks Lockwood
  • “Teaching with Technology and 21st Century Skills” by Sara Davila
  • “Using Our Brains: Brain-based Approaches to Teaching” by Sarah Lynn
  • “Critical Thinking in English for Academic Purposes” by Ken Beatty
  • “Four Skills Teaching” by Sara Davila
  • “Critical Reading Skills for College and University Students” by Tania Pattison
  •  “Academic Writing Assignments: Teaching Discourse Synthesis” by Carol Numrich
  • “Creating Authenticity in the English Classroom” by Ken Beatty
  • “Addressing Learner Needs Around Spoken Academic English” by Ken Beatty
  • “Extend and Engage: Digital Learning” by Christina Cavage

An overwhelming number of teachers who attended commented that they were able to get ideas from the webinars that they could start using right away. One teacher commented: “Thank you for these past two weeks of webinars. I appreciate having plenty of new ideas to use in my classroom.” The recorded webinars are available in the US website (registration is required to view the recordings).

A total of 4,359 people registered for the webinars, and 2,120 people attended the sessions. Another teacher commented: “Really enjoyed this webinar; very useful content and explanations of how to utilize this information in the classroom.”­ A third teacher responded about the content of the webinars: “As usual, my ‘teacher’s imagination’ has been stimulated by ideas presented in this webinar. I especially appreciate the insights, too.”

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Teachers from 25 countries attended the webinar series.

Countries Represented (ranked by number of attendees)

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United States represented almost half the attendees. Other countries represented: Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Oman, Peru, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and Vietnam. Each of these countries represents less than 2% of the total attendees.

One participant summed it up perfectly: “Webinars are a wonderful substitute for live seminars, which cost time and money, and I commend you for organizing these amazing sessions! Already looking forward to the next ones!”

The U.S. ELT marketing team is already hard at work developing topics and scheduling for the next webinar series, possibly in spring 2016. Click here to receive updates on the next series of webinars.

G is for Games

Ken BeattyDr. Ken Beatty

“Why are they playing games and not learning something?”

Games are among the most misunderstood pedagogical strategies in the teachers’ toolbox. Parents, other teachers, and administrators can misinterpret students’ enjoyment of games as having fun at the expense of more serious and productive learning. But the opposite is often the case; the casual competitive nature of games suppresses students’ self-consciousness and helps them focus and learn more than during other classroom activities.

However, to be fair, sometimes teachers play games in the classroom without a perfect understanding of the benefits that games carry and the ways in which they can be tailored to better address student needs. In such cases, teachers may only use games as filler activities, as a way of keeping more able students busy while others catch up. Alternatively, games might only be used at the end of a class when there is extra time left.

Motivation

Because games are inherently motivating, they are useful as a reward or a break from other classroom activities. Some games add excitement, such as kinesthetic ones that require students to stand up and participate as a group. An example is Simon Says, in which students have to listen carefully and follow a leader’s directions as long as they are prefaced with the words, “Simon says (touch your nose).” If the words Simon says aren’t said by the leader, students have to remain stationary or find themselves out of the game.

The pedagogical purposes of Simon Says-type games are usually to encourage discrete listening and also to reinforce language students have already learned around actions related to identifying body parts (touch your knees), types of motion (shake your head; close your eyes), and actions (sit down; stand up). As with most games, there are opportunities to tailor the game to the target vocabulary students have recently covered. Reinforcement through a game is important because it stores the information in another part of the brain. Beyond reading, writing, listening, or speaking, the kinesthetic aspect helps make the vocabulary more memorable. Continue reading

Back to the Future: Still More Low-Tech Activities
for a High-Tech Classroom

2013_Heyer_Sandra Sandra Heyer

This is the last article in a four-part series on activities that foster physical activity in the classroom. I titled the series “Back to the Future” because my search for activities led me back to time-tested ones I began using years, even decades ago. At first I balked at reviving them; I confess that the razzle-dazzle of the new technology had a stronger pull on me. But when I saw how enthusiastically my class responded, I had to remind myself that although the interactive activities were old hat to me, they were novel to my students, who were accustomed to a teacher-centered learning environment, one in which they rarely, if ever, got out of their seats.

I chose the activities because they might benefit our physical health, but they may have improved our psychological health as well. I think we all enjoyed periodically taking our attention off the big screen at the front of the room and instead focusing on one another. After all, that people-to-people connection, not gliding desks or a high-tech console, is what makes a class great. It’s what has always mattered—and always will.

In previous newsletters, we took a look at six activities:

  1. The Moving Line
  2. Conversation Stations
  3. Walking Dictation
  4. Find Your Match
  5. Opinion, Please
  6. Line Up According To

Below are the final two activities, Find Someone Who and The One-Question Survey. Continue reading

NorthStar 4e is a Winner!

2014 EDD WINN LOGO (1)CVR_NS4e_RW_03-1

We are excited to announce that NorthStar, Reading and Writing, Level 3 was one of this year’s EDDIE award winners! The awards are run by ComputED Gazette, a valuable educational resource, which has been serving the online community for over 20 years. The Gazette sponsors two national awards The Best Educational Software Awards (BESSIES) in the spring, and the Education Software Review Awards (EDDIES) in the summer.

The Awards target innovative and content-rich programs (including apps for iPad and Android) and websites that augment the classroom curriculum and improve teacher productivity, providing parents and teachers with the technology to foster educational excellence. Some selection criteria were academic content, potential for broad classroom use, technical merit, subject approach, and management system.

Checkout the new edition of NorthStar, so you can see what all the excitement is about!