A shot of learning!


A shot of learning!

10×10 EFLtalks TESOL MTh

One rainy Saturday evening close to 100 educators gathered around their computers and laptops in order to be part of 10×10 EFLtalks TESOL MTh web-event. Its title “Teacher teaching Teachers” perfectly matched its mission. This 100 minute long session was open to anyone who was keen on learning from their peers in a unique presentation style. Each presenter, located in different parts of the world, had to give a ten-minutes talk with only 10 powerpoint slides. TESOL MTh had a strong presence at this event, with 3 of its board members presenting on different topics. As promised, this web-based event gave us an opportunity to learn from our colleagues’ short high-impact presentation on a variety of topics.

Anne Margaret Smith, an inclusive reading teacher and Dyslexia assessor, made a presentation titled “Untangling the Reading Knot” which focused on the stages and processes of reading. She explained that as educators we must understand the barriers specific students might face as reading is broken into two stages, fluency and comprehension. Fluency has to do with phonic and word decoding, blending, and combining, and spelling patterns whereas  comprehension involves word, sentence and whole text meaning, as well as critical thinking. Therefore, ESL readers who struggle to follow the text’s narrative, must be assessed at all the different stages and types of reading in order to pinpoint the underlying factors hindering their performance.

Kathy Salonikidis gave a presentation titled “Turning Reading into an Artbook”, which detailed a specific method of incorporating and integrating art and creativity into reading and writing activities. This method would be ideal for A2 level English language learners. Students are given parts of a story without any visual aides. They then have to read the parts and create a corresponding artwork to accompany the text. The texts are then connected in order and the picture storybook is recreated. Cory Koby, an educator from Japan, provided us with a fantastic approach to reading.His presentation titled “How did you learn to read?” offered participants a short overview of a particular approach to reading instruction called extensive reading. Extensive reading, as we learned, allows readers to read in a stress free and natural environment without the stress of assessment. This constant exposure to texts allows readers to read more quickly and understand more, as evident in improved test scores.

Our very own TESOL MTh board member, Emmanuel Kontovas, an educator, joined the presenters, sharing with us how educators can use creativity as a teaching tool to improve reading comprehension. His suggested method is DARTS, Directed Activities Related to Texts. DARTS gives readers a chance to interact with texts in different ways and to create real life applications of what they are reading. A variety of activities were offered, such as putting sentences and paragraphs in the correct order, filling in missing words, creating diagrams of the important information in stories, writing summaries and creating presentations based on the read text. Maria Vangeloglou, another TESOL MTh board member, presented on the topic of “Why do I have to read?”.  Maria focused on the underlying processes of reading a text, such as idiom and hidden meaning analysis. Maria then went on explaining how to motivate students to become intrigued by what they are reading by engaging them in tasks such as chunking assignments and small group reading activities.

With only a few presentations left, the e-seminar changed gears and Spyridoula Kokkali, an educator and driving force behind the “Healthy Little Eaters” organisation, demonstrated an alternative, creative and appetising way to entice children into rediscovering reading. Currently, her project and programs are developing the naturalistic intelligence of children at 70 different schools whilst providing them with experiential language learning experiences. A great sample of the wonderful work they are doing is the creation of the “Healthy Little Eaters Cookbook”, a joined effort showcasing children’s gastronomic creations. Natassa Manitsa, another presenter, focused on using readers as a tool to promote reading in language learners. She proposed that by using graded readers in all three stages of reading, every language area such as acquisition, motivation, and critical thinking could be promoted. In the pre-reading stage readers can be used in a “Talk about the author” activity, in the reading stage in a “In the character’s shoes activity” and in the post reading stage in a quiz time activity.

Following,Maria Sachpazian, the TESOL MTh chair, captivated us by discussing “ The riddle of reading and tips for comprehension”. Maria’s presentation focused on the future of reading, as digital narratives nowadays seem to have made books appear as two-dimensional to young readers. In order to promote engagement, Maria suggested that blended learning and video need to come into play as strategies to address readers’ attitudes, motivations and goals. Finally, as Maria explained teaching readers comprehension strategies such as self-reflection, will not only increase their overall understanding but promote their reading independence as well. Finally, Magdalena Wasilewska presented a talk on creative reading techniques and strategies for exam classes. Specifically, Magdalena explained that as there are usually three different types of questions during an exam or test, multiple choice, gapped text and multiple matching. In preparation, teachers, as Magdalena explained, can introduce fun and creative activities in their lessons to entice students. Such activities can include “read and tweet”, where students read a story and then create a short summary in the form of a tweet. Magdalena also stressed the importance of time limits, as in her experience this was always an issue for students. Unfortunately, Georgios Kormpas was unable to present his talk on IELTS Reading. A few technical difficulties will not stop him though from bringing his message across, and his presentation will be recorded and shared with the participants.

Overall, this e-seminar was another greatly successful event organised and presented by TESOL MTh. And although, the 10×10 EFL talks lasted for under two hours, we received a wide variety of information and insights that we can now, as educators, incorporate into our teaching styles, techniques and methodologies. It was a digital room filled with positive energy and a lot of enthusiasm which provided us with a rich professional development opportunity. – Ms. Alexandra Valtzidou

Learning Specialist

Pinewood American International School