The blog anniversary

LEAD-IN

1. Write the word “blog”. Elicit any words associated with it. Add the word “teach” or “teaching”. Have them come up with any connections they can think of.

2. Explain that a fellow blogger has celebrated her fourth anniversary by answering questions her readers had posed on Twitter, and that the result was fascinating.

3. Tell them that you have volunteered to follow the same Q&A format now that the teaching blog you write has turned 5 years old.

LISTENING

(Kamila: How did you start blogging?)

4. Have them listen to a short explanation about the origins of the blog. Before listening, read the sentences below and explain any unknown words. Listen and check the answers.

Decide whether the following statements are TRUE or FALSE. If FALSE, please provide the right information:

a. The writer first started a blog and then created a Facebook page.

b. He is not interested in content curation.

c. He started his own blog at the end of December.

5. Explain that you have been working as a teacher for over 20 years, work at a secondary school and don’t look to promote yourself or look for new career opportunities. In a way, you could say it’s part of your job, but it’s also somehow encouraged you to explore different ideas. How cool is it to share a few ideas with colleagues around the world? (And they sometimes like them!)

6. Allow time to answer any questions about this. You may want to consider giving extra credit to anyone coming up with words such as “comfort zone”, “risk-taking”, “confidence” or “excuses”. See this post for help with higher-order types of questions.

READING

(Vedrana: Which post would you recommend a potential subscriber read to give them a good idea (the best idea?) of what your blog is about?)

7. Say that it’s difficult to choose a post you would recommend since there are many different types of lessons on this blog, with different styles and serving different purposes. State that the most popular posts on your blog are not necessarily your favourite ones.

8. Have them read the following blog post, one of the first activities published on the blog and which remains the most visited as of today: Making the right choices: “Lean On Me”. Encourage them to answer the following questions:

a. Describe the activity in your own words. Use connectors to describe the different steps: “First..”, “Then…”, “After that…”, “Finally…”, etc.

b. What are the learning goals of the activity?

c. Would you use this in your classroom? Why (not)?

d. Why do you think this is an activity the writer is especially fond of (although probably not his favourite one)?

9. Have them choose two other blog posts at random and fill in a 3-ring Venn-diagram analysing at least 3 similarities and 3 differences. Think-Pair-Share: Are the posts as impersonal as intended? What’s the effect on the reader? Are they sometimes confusing or lacking basic information? How do you think the writer could improve these blog entries? Does the writer have a particular audience in mind?

SPEAKING

(Kamila: What activities/teaching trends are your favourite at the moment?)

10. Draw a web on the board:

Elicit different options and write up the ones that are true for you, such as “eclectic”, “communicative”, “task-based”, “cooperative”, “CLIL-y (because of teaching context)”, “whatever meets the students’ needs, interests and motivations”, and so on.


11. You may want to try and explain how you feel about the role of technology in education, definitely pivotal in the last few months, but still trying to come to terms with it when looking into the future. Refrain from revealing you have never used Genial.ly or created a Wordwall activity.


12. Check comprehension: elicit that you teach large groups of teenage students, which may help to understand some of the choices. Make sure you emphasise your interest (obsession?) in interactional patterns in the classroom due to classroom size and heterogeneity.


13. Discussion: encourage them to compare with their own preferences at the moment. To what extent are these determined by the teaching context? Why does the blogger often struggle with teachers who seem comfortable in one-to-one or virtual settings?

FOCUS ON GRAMMAR

(Martin: What keeps you going? How do you keep coming up with new ideas?)

14. Rewrite the following sentences using the word in capital letters so that they mean the same:

a. If I hadn’t started blogging, I wouldn’t have experimented with other types of activities or explored new ideas in the classroom”. NOT
Had I …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

b. Blogging does take some extra time, so I only blog when I have the time. DUE TO
I only ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
(I’m sure I’ve forgotten I had a blog at some point!)

c. Most new ideas come from actual classroom needs to reach specific objectives. RESULT
Actual classroom ………………………………………………………………………………………………………

d. Occasionally, I find some material I know my students will find appealing and design a lesson around it. HAPPEN
If I ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

e. Blogging has allowed me to connect with many other teachers worldwide. It is an extremely enriching experience. WHICH
Blogging …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

f. “Reading other blogs has helped me understand other types of contexts, teaching styles or teacher motivations. These are often the source of new ideas and plenty of inspiration,” he said. HAD
He said ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

PRE-WRITING

(Svetlana: What are your top three blog posts you haven’t written yet?)

15. Ask them to read the following options for future blog posts and to choose the one they would like to read. In pairs, have the students brainstorm ideas about different ways to hook the reader’s attention for the post they’ve chosen.

A. “I would like to write a blog post I could go back to and find no typos (or weird English), either in the activities or in the description!”.

B. “After a tough year, I may well be a bit fed up with anything to do with technology in the field of education. I firmly believe that pedagogy comes first, and although it looks as if it’s been understandably shadowed by the frenzy to use all the fancy apps out there, I panic every time I read things like ‘technology/remote learning is here to stay’. Don’t get me wrong, of course it’s a great aid and developing digital skills is essential. I also think I feel fairly comfortable using it (not an age thing… yet!). A blog post I’d write would analyse how we have finally learnt to incorporate technology into our post-pandemic face-to-face teaching in truly meaningful ways that do help our students develop that digital competence. It would also include a list of open-source, user-friendly learning management systems and apps in which students could finally work in safe virtual environments, without personal data (and teaching trends!) in the hands of a couple of tech firms.”

C. “I wouldn’t mind writing a short summary of an informal meeting with some bloggers I’ve been following for years in which we’d share our teaching practice, but also our motivations, goals, strengths and fears.”

(Wait, this was supposed to be related to materials writing, wasn’t it? I don’t know – perhaps a whole teaching unit rather than random lessons and activities? Definitely something that would really really help my students – and my readers’ students – with their learning.)

WRITING

16. Write a blog celebrating its fifth anniversary. Make sure you thank your readers as enthusiastically and honestly as you can.

11 thoughts on “The blog anniversary”

  1. What a very interesting, well-done, full of suspense, tongue-in-cheek, reader-friendly post. I discovered you recently and your ideas, take-a-step-back way of looking at teaching has renewed my interest in my job with my students! Thank you so much for sharing your ideas and helping us, as friends do, when we need help!

    Liked by 1 person

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