“Major Distraction”

Another article about a school ditching iPads. When surveyed, students indicated that they preferred physical books to digital ones, interestingly. The teachers said that the tablets were distracting and did not foster learning they way it had been hoped.

Activity: Gap Fill Gamble

Games make just about everything better. With this activity, you can turn that humble old workhorse, the gap fill, into a fun, easy game. Check out how on Teaching English.

Effective Note Taking

I ran across a great round-up of research on note-taking this morning, in Nik Peachey’s EdTech & ELT Newsletter. The author, Jennifer Gonzales at Cult of Pedagogy, goes through what seems to be the best practices in note-taking today, with links to studies to support her points. As you may suspect, students learn better when they take notes by hand, and they do even better when educators give them time to consolidate their notes, and when they provide students’ with guided note-taking pages. Scaffolding, peer-work, and other methods are also helpful.

The challenge, I’ve found, is in getting students to actually do note-taking. Guiding them through how to do it, showing them fun videos on the Cornell method, making note-taking a part of the participation grade, and so forth only go so far. The students coming through my classroom in the university ESL prep department seem to think taking a picture of the whiteboard with their phones counts as note-taking, if they even do that. When I used to teach elective classes in Seoul, I had great success with note-taking because I made all my tests open-note. For ESL classes, that’s a hard sell to the administration.

As always, the struggle continues.

Some Ships Might Disagree

An interesting way of illustrating what it takes to be successful. It’s like the old adage from stand-up comedy: It takes ten years to become an overnight success.


Image found on the Teacher Next Door Facebook page.


If it’s not one thing, it’s the copier.


Sighted on the First Grade Fun Times Facebook page.

Only the Beautiful Need Apply

hotforteacher.jpgAccording to this article, Iran is banning “ugly” teachers from the classroom. Unsightly moles, acne,¬†facial hair for women, even infertility, color blindness, and cancer can cause an applicant to be passed over or a in-service teacher to be sacked.

Another article says that the outcry about the list has led to fe

male-specific criteria to be removed and the rest of the list to be reviewed. Whew! Rest easy, my butterfaced comrades.



Me, reading student evaluation comments.

Or me, when students tell me the homework was hard.


What the…?

Google Translate keeps getting better and better, which makes pure gibberish less common while also making it harder to figure out if a student has copied his essay from somewhere online, gotten help from someone more fluent, or somehow jumped up three levels in writing skill overnight.


Pencil: 2, Laptop: 1

Taking notes the right way.

Despite the ubiquity of tech gadgets in the modern university classroom, the old pencil and notebook are still superior, at least when it comes to taking notes. A study looked at students’ ability to answer both simple fact questions (dates, names, that sort of thing) and more complicated conceptual or application questions (Why…? type queries, for instance). While laptop note-takers and longhanders did equally well with the basic factual questions, the tech-users performed significantly worse on conceptual ones.

It’s thought that the slower speed of pen-and-paper note-taking may be the key, according to the ‘encoding hypothesis‘. Writing longhand is much slower than typing, and because of that, students must process the information more while summarizing, finding only the key points, and so forth as they are writing. Laptop or tablet users, on the other hand, tend to type much more of what they hear, and in doing these verbatim transcriptions, use their brains less. Even when told explicitly not to take notes verbatim, the laptop-users still performed worse on the tests.

Of course, sometimes the challenge is to just get students to take notes at all…*sigh*

You can read more about this topic, and learn more about the science involved, at NPR.

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