Tumblelog by Soup.io
Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.

November 18 2014


7 Strategies to Help Students Generate Creative Ideas

November 18, 2014

Here is a good infographic that grabbed my attention today as I was leafing through Debra's creativity Pinterest Board. The visual features some interesting tips to help in brainstorming creative ideas. I have gone through these ideas and I think these could be a useful resource to use with students. When students are working on a writing task or aclassroom project, these tips could probably help them generate some innovative ideas and boost their thinking process.

Here are the two tips I like the most:

1- Free writing

Take a blank sheet and set a timer and write down the goal you want to achieve in your writing and then jump write into the writing process jotting down every word that comes to your mind. When the time is off , take a break and go through what you have written, "the perfect idea may be hidden there".

2- Mind Maps

The visual talks about creating mind maps using paper.

"I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework."

and pen but there are now several digital tools that students can use to create attractive mind maps. Mind maps are good tools for visual thinkers. Students start with a central node with main idea in it from which they can branch out other sub-nodes for supporting ideas ...etc

Source of the visual: Best Essay Help

Brainstorming Techniques

I am generally willing to learn new things that helps me withEFL teaching exercises. Regardless if it is not closely related to it. That's the good thing about our career. All things are connected to it one way or another.

 Follow us on : Twitter, Facebook , Google plus, Pinterest .

November 15 2014


It's My Birthday, but the Present is For You!!!

It's my birthday weekend and I'm super excited because my husband came home with a great present for me - my own iPad mini!  Afterteaching with an iPad for 2 years, I have been a bit at a loss not to have one of my own this school year.  Since I in such a good mood, I decided to continue the birthday tradition that we have had for the past 3 years here at Raki's Rad Resources.  I will be providing all of my followers with one present from my store.  Last year when I did this giveaway, there were 440 items in my Teachers Pay Teachers store to choose from.  This year there are 582 items in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.! (It's been a busy year!)

Birthday giveaway at Raki's Rad Resources

"Well, I would not have guessed this. Normally I appreciate new concepts on old ideas as EFL exercises just isn't like doing something new each day. Certainly it isn't like making car seats the entire day yet there's always something to refresh somewhat. Even if you do not accept the beauty of life hides in the changes. Let's see how far we should get."

So, here is what you have to do in order to get your present:

1.)  Leave me a comment on THIS BLOG POST (not FB or TPT please) with your name and the e-mail address where you'd like me to send your present.

2.)  Tell me the name of the resource from my Teachers Pay Teachers store that you would like to receive.  Everything is up for grabs - EXCEPT .zip folder bundles, as these jam up my e-mail service.  If you can leave a link to the resource, that is even better and avoids confusion.  One resource per person please.

3.)  Sign up for my monthly newsletter to receive information about newly released.

"Games lubricate the body and http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/678/01/ the mind."

resources and upcoming giveaways.

4.)  Sit tight and check your e-mail on Monday, November 10, 2014.  We have a busy weekend planned, so I will most likely not get resources sent out until Monday morning around 7 a.m. EST.  When I start sending resources, I will stop accepting new requests, so please have your requests in by Monday at 7 a.m. 

5.)  Feel free to share this opportunity with your friends, colleagues and social media followers.


Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

October 19 2014


Immigration Policies in South-East Asia

by Urvi Tandon

Oct 5, 2014 Other 256 Views

Immigration has always posed a serious challenge for countries to deal with conflicts arising when infrastructure and facilities have to be shared between local residents ethnic to countries and immigrants from others who arrive to make a living.

Singapore has always had liberal policies concerning immigration; policies designed to support its growth and economy as an emerging power in South-East Asia and to offset its declining population and birth rate. In recent years, due to growing resentment against inflation, rising inequality and the strain exerted on infrastructure like accommodation and public spaces etc., the government has been forced to bring in new regulations to curb the flow of immigrants into Singapore.

Factors featured-in

Many thousands from other Asian as well as European countries choose Singapore as a destination to emigrate for many reasons; chief among them are 'because it a country extremely well run', 'personal hygiene and safety are of very high standards', and 'the economy is booming'.

An example can be taken out of Hong Kong where mainland Chinese who have lived for many years are unwilling to let more people in, because the country has virtually no space to create buildings for more residences.
"The hardest conviction to get into the mind of a beginner is that the education upon which he is engaged is not a college course, not a medical course, but a life course, for which the work of a few years under teachers is but a preparation."
Cramped living quarters at exorbitant rates have forced some to move elsewhere while others holding good job positions or with young children going to local schools are forced to deal with expensive living.

Many new settlers, even the world's rich and famous who have moved here, feel that one of the reasons for Singapore's extraordinary growth and success as a nation has been its encouraging policies towards immigration, education and employment opportunities even for foreigners. Almost every second family is a first-generation or second-generation immigrant which has contributed to low unemployment rate and low taxes, thus impacting the economy positively.

It may speak well that Singapore ranks at the third richest country in the world which is in great measure due to the high per capita income of the country's work force, a large percentage of expats and immigrants, but it is not a success story all the way. Housing and real estate prices have gone through the roof and local wage earners have only seen marginal wage revisions. Added to this is the crucial issue of Singapore's demographics. With fertility and population rates at the lowest in the world, an ageing population and a fast diminishing workforce will soon bring in fresh problems unless immigration policies are relaxed.

Jim Rogers, a leading investment venture capitalist from the US who moved to Singapore with his family in the mid 2000s is quick to point out that if more qualified work force is not inducted into the country to meet the demands of industry, it may have to raise wages drastically which will give rise to inflation. Not only that; with no significant replacement to the current working population, which will grow old over the next 10-20 years, more resources will have to be spent to provide support and care for the elderly and the economy will not be able to sustain itself.

Going by geophysical and historical examples, every country in the world has at some point or the other, placed the root of their infrastructural problems with immigrants giving rise to inequality, suspicion and unrest which eventually leads to crumbling economies. If this continues, world economy may well go into decline.

Of all the countries in South-East Asia, Singapore is emerging as the hub of education with many international university campuses out of there. With excellent study opportunities, many qualified professionals are going to emerge in the next few years vying for jobs in all spheres. Already the expat community is a rapidly expanding one and they are extremely happy with the world class infrastructure and facilities that Singapore provides. The one downside here is that local domestic help is very hard to come by. Low-cost labor positions are filled by women from other Asian countries like Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Vietnam through positions advertised by best maid agencies in Singapore.

Article source: http://eslarticle.com/pub/other/108369-Immigration-Policies-in-South-East-Asia.html

Many thanks for staying with me in this piece. I hope you would not mind dedicating your energy regarding it. Should you really liked it there are more about EFLteaching activities as well as other issues on this site. Remember to have a look whenever you please and when you've any opinion on this share your ideas down below.

October 16 2014


151 Great Writing Websites

« How Well Do You Know English? | Main | When Does Slang Die? »

August 09, 2014

151 Great Writing Websites

If you are a writer or a teacher of writing, take a look at this website. It is a index of writing and publishing resources that you can use whether you are an experienced writer or...

...a beginner, or if you even just have the fantasy of writing.

The website is here - http://www.nownovel.com/blog/151-important-novel-writing-resources/?utm_content=buffer8170c&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer.

If you look at this site, you will see all kinds of sources for workshops, editing, writing screenplays, finding an agent and almost everything else you didn't know that you need to know about writing.

Here's just a few examples of what you can see on this website; http://www.shewrites.com/ - a blog with a focus on developing female writers, http://www.writersfm.com/writersfm/ - an online radio station with a focus on writers and writing, and don't neglect http://writingwhilethericeboils.blogspot.com/ with a primary focus on those of us who do other things, like cook rice, as we attempt to write.

There are hundreds of related links within most of these sites, so take a look and let us know which ones work best for you.


Also, Morf just might be available to visit your school or agency this coming September. With that said it is worth pondering around withEnglishteaching in the forefront. When you genuinely dig through it and keep this in view I'm sure it will make a difference over a long run.

I'm not telling anyone must stick with it no matter what nonetheless, accepting it as a harsh guidebook can make a difference. Let's get back in it .You can contact him at mmorf@mail.com. He's always interested in talking about words, films, music and language in general.

Posted by mmorf at August 9, 2014 10:31 PM

Post a comment

If you like to learn more about English as a second language you should check out here. It offers infinite source of great tips to look into. I would quite like to know your ideas on the matter when you've got something to share. Leave a comment or hit me up with an email whenever you prefer.

October 13 2014


What I learned in my visit to King Solomon Academy Part 1

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 20.05.15

Yesterday I wangled a visit to the latest ministerial touchstone for excellence in English education, King Solomon Academy just off the Edgware Road in Westminster. The Ark sponsored academy has the dubious privilege of being situated in the most deprived, socially disadvantaged ward in London. 12% are on the SEN register; 51% are in receipt of free school meals and 65% speak English as a second language. They can hardly be accused as cherry picking the most able. And yet it achieves some of most astonishing GCSE results recorded this summer with 93% of pupils getting 5 good grades including English and Maths and 75% obtaining the eBacc suite of subjects. So, clearly they’re doing something right.

Here’s what they say about themselves:

Climbing the mountain to University

Our mission is to ensure that every pupil achieves academic success and has the real option of going to university. We believe our pupils work hard towards this goal because we make it real for them. We name our classes after well-known university cities and we name each year group by the year in which they will graduate from sixth form. We have high expectations for all of our pupils, and believe that with greatteaching and a lot of love and care, every child here can fulfil their potential.


Respect, Excellence, Achievement, Collaboration and Hard work are at the core of everything children, staff and parents do. We believe that these values will be the keys that unlock the door to academic and lifelong success.

And the view from reception certainly supports that vision:

2014-09-10 13.37.23

But when I arrived there was a child having a meltdown in reception. This is a scene I’ve seen played out in dozens of different schools; the child had a coat over her head and was crying. Out of my eye-line, a teacher calmly said, “Go back to your lesson and then I’ll call your mum.” At this the pitch and volume of the wailing increased. But the teacher was adamant that she needed to return to lessons before any other action was taken. I reflected that kids are kids; they get upset and act out all the time. But in the overwhelming majority of schools I’ve worked in, teachers wouldn’t have insisted the pupil return to lessons first. They’d have left them in reception (or wherever) and then attempted to resolve the issue.

At the end of reception, just outside the dining hall, another teacher was remonstrating with a girl for refusing to eat the salad on her plate. “We care about what you eat,” he told her. And they also care deeply about seemingly trivial things like good manners. The dining hall was crammed with 120 Year 8 and 9 pupils and the air thrummed with the hubbub you’d expect. The children eat six to a table and each of them have clear roles; the lay the table, serve the food, clear away dirty plates, serve dessert, and clear it away again like a well-oiled machine. Chagrined, Deputy Head, Beth Humphreys told me that this was only the second day the two year groups had eaten together and apologised for the chaos. This ‘chaos’ was the most well-ordered school dining experienced I’ve ever witnessed. Form teachers eat with the tutees and share the same roles and responsibilities as well as supervising dinner table conversation across two tables.

I was a little late to eat and Year 9 pupil Urza whisked me to Miss Humphreys’ office to dump my bag, she chatted politely and articulately about the school – in assembly that morning pupils had been asked to start thinking about the legacy they wanted to leave – and she talked owlishly about some of the university choices she was considering. When we got back to the dining hall, most of the tables had been cleared away and pupils were being addressed by a head of year. She pointed out that 2020 9 (Year 8) had done a better job of clearing that 2019 (Year 9) and that… She stopped, a look of surprised outrage on her face and clapped out a quick rhythm which the pupils and other staff completed. Silence fell like a stone. What had happened? Well apparently someone had been talking when a teacher was talking! This does not happen at KSA. Pupils were reminded of this natural law before she calmly went on with her address. There were no further interruptions.

We then had shout-outs with each teacher describing who and what they had been impressed with over lunch and each piece of praise was followed by appreciative clicking. This is the ‘culty’ stuff that some visitors to the school get a bit upset about. I have to confess that my English reserve and rugged individualism bristled a bit at this; I certainly didn’t want to join in! I first encountered clicking like this many years ago when I was a jobbing performance poet on the slam circuit – clapping, cheering and whooping are distracting and disrespectful. Appreciation for an impressive piece of word-play is shown through clicking. Beth described this as ‘audible nodding’ – the idea being that an action or contribution is being quietly but publicly affirmed.

Beth then accompanied me on a tour of the school chatting about the ethos and vision of KSA and discussing what we saw as we made our way around the school. Behaviour in lessons is impeccable. I visited 6 or 7 different classrooms and in each pupils were uniformly attentive, respectful, considerate and quiet. There was a complete absence of off-task chatting. It just doesn’t happen.
"What did you ASK at school today? Richard Fenyman"
This was as much the case for the classes of 2  participants on the 3rd day of teaching as it was for Heads of Year and established teachers. I observed that anyone could teach here. You don’t need years hard-won wisdom on how to manage difficult behaviour because, as far as I could see, there wasn’t any. Teachers can just teach.

So, how does this happen? Does the school have a terrifyingly draconian exclusion system? Are children ruled with a rod of iron? Well, it doesn’t seem so. They use a payslip system where every pupil gets £15 a pay just for turning up. If they still have £75 at the end of the week they can take part in Friday afternoon enrichment, if not they’re in detention all afternoon. A merit is worth £2 and if pupils get a demerit, £2 is deducted from their account. An average balance of £100 or more entitles pupils to attend a week-long residential at the end of the year. (NB – this is not real money.) This is something school invests in heavily which parents asked only to make a nominal £50 contribution. But what, I persisted, happens to those students who don’t want to behave? Three demerits in a week results in a detention. This then escalates to ‘prep’ which involves internal isolation within the classroom. Persistent or serious misdemeanours mean pupils are withdrawn from the classroom and taught in isolation. But the real key is that there is an established culture in which children behave. This is the norm and going against this norm means letting down your ‘family’.

Family is very important at KSA. In part the school sees itself as compensating for the disadvantages of many of its pupils. They seek to culturally enrich and give pupils access to experiences they might not otherwise enjoy. And it’s a small school with just 60 pupils per year group. In the Middle School (Years 7-9) pupils are taught in mixed ability form groups and are encouraged to think of their peers as an extended family. So there’s nowhere to hide. And those who might otherwise want to misbehave to get their validation through support and collaboration rather than through slacking off and being rude.

In middle school, lessons are incredibly structured. The school has embraced the theory of cognitive load and every effort is made to ensure that no one becomes overloaded with too much information needing to be held at once in working memory. As a result, the curriculum is necessarily narrower than that taught in other schools. And the teaching is definitely traditional – lessons are introduced with learning objectives which are written down, teachers direct lessons and pupils spend a lot of time working individually in silence. But having said that, in a Year 8 English lesson pupils were having in-depth conversations about modality and tentativity that would have beyond many A level students I’ve encountered.

Towards the end of my visit I caught the end of Year 9 orchestra practice. The school provides either a cello, a violin or a viola for very child in the school. Orchestra is currently compulsory only in middle school, although the current Year 7 (most of whom have graduated from the KSA primary school) will continue right the way through sixth form. The dining hall had been transformed and it was quite something to see 60 pupils competently sawing away at their stringed instruments. This commitment to music was one of the most impressive things about the school; everyone is taught to read music and the school is very clear about the cognitive benefits of playing as well as the fact that it looks god on a UCAS form.

Is KSA perfect? Of course not but they’re surprisingly open to this and give staff incredible opportunities to improve their practice. Teachers are observed once a week followed by ah hour’s reflection and consideration on how the lesson might have been improved. Teachers also have an hour timetabled for co-planning. This, I was told, is sacrosanct. Their interview process ask potential teachers reflect on the lesson they teach and then reteach it to another group. Getting it right first time isn’t what matters, it’s the belief that you can be better and the willingness to improve that matters.

Clearly, this was a flying visit and these observations are a mixture of what I saw, what I was told and what I’ve inferred. If you’re interested in seeing ‘the magic’ for yourself I can whole heartedly recommend the experience.

But what about that question we should ask of every school: Would I want my own children to go there? I’ve been thinking about this a lot and the answer is, I’m just not sure. What KSA do is exactly right for the community they serve, but the culture is so very different from what I’ve learned to expect of a school. The results are astonishing and significantly better than many schools in leafy, affluent suburbs. (My local school for instance only achieved 55% A*-C including English and maths this year, but I know – or at least believe – that my children would be well within that 55%.) A lot of what the staff at KSA spend their time doing is what I already do with my children. Having said that, they might well love it. They often complain about lessons being disrupted by silly behaviour and my youngest daughter particularly is angered by other children chatting when teachers are talking. There’s no doubt that pupils at KSA are safe, happy and secure.

What is being achieved at KSA is extraordinary and they massively out-perform any of the schools I would like my daughters to attend! The question then becomes, what can other schools learn from KSA? How much are their remarkable results due to single-minded leadership and great teaching, and how much is due to their unique structure and idiosyncratic peculiarities? And crucially, can their success be scaled and replicated? Beth attributed much of what they’re able to do down to their size; in a larger school they wouldn’t be able to have the same kinds of relationships with children. Uncomfortable as the culture might make some observers, it’s incumbent on all school leaders to consider how their preferences can be said to serve their children better.

This year is the first year of their new 6th Form and the first year that Year 7 have been through KSA primary. Beth said that they’re just at the beginning of the journey and recognise that there’s still that mountain to climb. Only when the current Year 7 graduate from 6th Form will the story be complete. I’ve promised to return to visit them at that point.

In Part 2 I’ll report on Doug Lemov’s lecture at KSA and consider how some of what he had to say casts light on what I saw.

Like this:

Like Loading...


Thank you for staying with me in this article. I hope you did not care devoting your energy on it. Should you taken pleasure in it there are more about ESL activities and similar matters on here. Don't forget to have a look whenever you see fit and if you've any thoughts on this share down below.

October 11 2014


Asia-Pacific Human Development Academic Fellowship, 2012

Asia-Pacific Human Development Academic Fellowship, 2012

PhD Fellowship in the field of social science, liberal arts, or management for the applicants of developing countries, 2012 Asia- Pacific

Study Subject (s): Embedding Environmental Concerns into Poverty Reduction and Inclusive Growth

Course Level: PhD

Scholarship Provider: UNDP

Scholarship can be taken at: Asia-Pacific

Eligibility: Be a citizen of a developing country in the Asia-Pacific region

Have a Master’s degree in a relevant discipline such as a social science, liberal arts, or management and be currently enrolled as a full time PhD student.

Scholarship Open for International Students: Yes (Developing countries)

Scholarship Description: The UNDP Asia-Pacific Human Development Academic Fellowship carries an award of US$10,000.
"Education is understanding relationships. George Washington Carver"
Students will be required to submit to UNDP a copy of their final approved dissertation. In addition, fellows may be expected to present their work in workshops, seminars, and other events arranged by UNDP (travel costs will be covered separately).

Scholarship Application Deadline: 15 September 2012

Further Scholarship Information and Application


Thank you for bearing with me in this piece. I hope you did not mind devoting your precious time to it. In case you taken pleasure in it there are way more about EFL activities as well as other topics on this site. Be sure to check them out as you see fit and whenever you may have any thoughts on this comment your ideas beneath.

October 09 2014


Creating our own restaurant

I have got a small pre-teens group this year and I'm finding very difficult to engage them in class. They want to play games all the time and don't like writing, so when I saw them working and enjoying this project, I couldn't believe my eyes!

Step 1 – Restaurant selection

What KIND OF RESTAURANT is it going to be? A Chinese restaurant? A Mexican restaurant? An English restaurant?

     Now you need a NAME and a LOGO for it so that people remember it.

Step 2 – Create your own menu.

o   Starters

o   Main courses

o   Side dishes

o   Drinks

o   Desserts

-     Brainstorm different dishes that you are going to include in your menu.

-    Include a short description of what each meal is (e.g.
I ought to keep this in mind considering EFL activities is my bread and butter. However, I would not tend treating something that it had been carved in stone nor should you. This is an interesting approach though and might be worth additional discussion. Let us get return to it to see how far we are going to get through moving this further. FISH AND CHIPS – an English meal made from fried potatoes and fish).

-        Include the price in pounds or dollars.

Step 3 – Create a radio ad.

Now that you have created your own menu, it’s time to advertise your restaurant to encourage customers to come in and enjoy a delicious meal there.


Step 4 – Dining Out. 

Create a short dialogue and act out a conversation in the restaurant. Two of you will be the customers and one will be the waiter or waitress.


Thanks for staying with me through this piece. I hope you did not mind spending your time on it. If you liked it there are far more about English as a second language and similar topics on here. Be sure to check them out when you remember and in case you've any opinion on this comment your ideas below.

October 05 2014



The Framework presents a holistic view of 21st century teaching and learning that combines a discrete focus on 21st century student outcomes(a blending of specific skills, content knowledge, expertise and literacies) with innovative support systems to help students master the multi-dimensional abilities required of them in the 21st century.

The key elements of 21st century learning are represented in the graphicand descriptions below. The graphic represents both 21st century skills student outcomes (as represented by the arches of the rainbow) and 21st century skills support systems (as represented by the pools at the bottom).

While the graphic represents each element distinctly for descriptive purposes, the Partnership views all the components as fully interconnected in the process of 21st century teaching and learning.

The elements described below are the critical systemsnecessary to ensure 21st century readiness for every student. Twenty-firstcentury standards, assessments, curriculum, instruction, professionaldevelopment and learning environments must be aligned to produce a supportsystem that produces 21st century outcomes for today’s students.

Twenty-First Century Student Outcomes and Support Systems

Twenty-First Century Student Outcomes

The elements described in this section as “21st centurystudent outcomes” (represented by the rainbow) are the skills, knowledge andexpertise students should master to succeed in work and life in the 21stcentury.

Twenty-First Century Support Systems

The elements described below are the critical systemsnecessary to ensure student mastery of 21st century skills. 21st centurystandards, assessments, curriculum, instruction, professional development andlearning environments must be aligned to produce a support system that produces21st century outcomes for today’s students.

  Go to p21.org

"When one teaches, two learn."

Educational Comments:

The International school I work with has adopted the P21.org framework and modified to fit within the Common Core State Standards.


If you like to explore more about EFL teaching exercises you should check out here. It offers countless supply of great tips to look into. I'd absolutely like to learn your thoughts on the topic when you've got things to share. Leave a comment or hit me up with an message anytime you want.

October 03 2014


What my kids teach me about elearning design

Articulate Games Skylanders and Frozen


I reflected (or, more accurately, quipped) recently on social media about the benefits of being a learning designer for dads, as a follow up to the sharing of an elearning game I rapidly tossed together on a public holiday.

It was a quick sight words activity designed to help my 5-year-old daughter develop her reading skills, drawing on her passionate interest in the movie Frozen (and in particular her admiration for Princess Elsa and the song 'Let it Go!'). You can access the web version of the Frozen Sight Words game here.

This isn't the first interactive, media-rich game I've thrown together for my kids (my son, being a little older than his sister, has been lucky enough to get a few different customised Skylanders-themed games developed for him - one of which he did all the writing, image sourcing and audio-recording for and then blew his classmates away by presenting it at school for show and tell!). And, based on the fact that these applications were put together very rapidly (usually on a Sunday or holiday), in many ways I wouldn't be willing to say they represent my best work. The animations and media aren't always as high quality, smooth and as consistent as I would like, for example.

But then again, in other (perhaps more important) ways, these sample games for the kids may actually be some of my best work. I got to thinking about this recently, and here's why these quick home-grown elearning applications may have a lot more going for them than say the glossy, highly developed elearning activities I've developed as part of formal employment duties.

1. It knows its audience

You (hopefully) know your kids better than most other people in your life, and you know what makes them tick. Using themes like favourite console games and recent movies, the learning games are customised to their specific passions and they can't wait to try them.

2. It's rapid

Developed in less than a day, utilising media and themes popular this month, addressing learning needs and existing skills evaluated this week.

3. It's iterative

These applications are rapidly prototyped and tested and redeveloped several times in the course of a day or two. It's amazing what you can fix or add with such rapid here-and-now iteration.

4. It's personal

That might seem obvious in a game designed for a specific person - how can it not be highly personalised? And how could commercial, scalable elearning activities for large, diverse audiences hope to complete with that? Well, for the scalability factor (in terms of appeal), remember also that potentially (see next...)

5. It's social

What appealed to my son, and was developed personally for and with him, was a huge hit with his entire class. He not only promoted it to his 'network', based on their relationship with him they wanted to see and be a part of it as well. The Princess Elsa application also went slightly ballistic in a networked sense, using my social media circles. Via Facebook, Linked In and Twitter, it was surprising how many of my contacts jumped on the game and thought it would be great for a little girl (or little girls) in their lives.

6. Scores and grades don't matter

Take away the extrinsic motivational factors like getting a pass or a grade and it's quite interesting to see what makes a learner 'tick' and want to continue with an activity. It's also interesting to consider how much harder you have to think, plan and execute as a learning designer. In the case of the Princess Elsa game above, my daughter was caught up in the initial theme, but it was the gradual unlayering of a semi-secret (as in, she knew what it would be, but couldn't quite see it and desperately wanted to see it!) background picture that kept her guessing at each round of sight word prompts. The video of the theme song at the end was an unexpected but hugely satisfying reward for her. She wanted to play the game again, and again.

"Correction does much, but encouragement does more. Goethe"

If you've followed the links above to the Skylanders and Frozen/Princess Elsa games, I'll bet more than a few of you will have thought one or more of the following:

- The microphone/recording quality could do with some improvement (bear in mind for the Skylanders game that my 6-year-old son at the time had no front teeth - an interesting challenge for any microphone!)

- Some of the question animations and formats are too monotonous

- It needs a lot more editing before I'd release this publicly

Hey, I know. Those were exactly my initial criticisms/concerns as well - as someone who 'does' the elearning thing for a living.

What's hopefully more than a little intriguing is that those criticisms haven't even remotely occured to my kids and their respective peer networks. They're too engaged to care.

That doesn't mean those sorts of issues ought to be overlooked or glossed over in professional elearning production. But it should prompt us to consider what really matters when it comes to genuinely effective elearning design.

I'm just thankful that, as a learning designer, I have such fabulous teachers right here at home!



If you like to learn more about EFL news you might check out http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/teaching-english/. It has infinite source of wonderful ideas to explore. I'd really enjoy to see your ideas on the topic when you've got things to share. Leave a comment whenever you fancy.

October 01 2014


Forget about assessing learning after lessons

2014-09-18 20.28.47

Today I not only have my first ever article published by the TES, it’s made the front page!

Those of you familiar with my output will recognise the arguments and be familiar with the thinking that’s led to these conclusions. But for anyone new to the blog, a little background wouldn’t go amiss.

The first and perhaps most important brick in the teetering edifice I’ve been constructing over the past couple of years is the idea that learning and performance are not the same thing. Maybe this sounds obvious, but it rocked my world to its rotten foundations. Read this post if you want to find out more.

Then, I started trying to get my head around the concept of ‘desirable difficulties’ and Robert Bjork’s work on memory, learning and forgetting. Again, maybe this all sounds a bit trite now but when I first encountered the ideas they took my breath away. This is the first post I wrote on the subject.

And so, with no further ado, here’s my TES piece: Classroom practice – Forget about assessing learning after lessons.

Naturally it’s undergone the brutal process of sub-editing, but it still retains a solid kernel of what I think. And if you’re interested in Dylan Wiliam’s response, he very kindly went to the trouble of commenting on my blog here.

"All who have meditated on the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth. Aristotle"

Like this:

Like Loading...


If you'd prefer to learn more about teaching news you might check out http://www.tes.co.uk/. It has got countless supply of wonderful tips to explore. I'd quite love to see your thoughts on the topic when you have things to write about. Leave a comment or hit me up with an e-mail anytime you fancy.

September 29 2014


A change by design


It's been a while between thinks, it seems.

'Public' ones, in any case. 

In one respect that ought to be slightly alarming, considering that, not long after the latest post in March this year, I left a blended role of classroom + eLearning to take up a position as a Learning Designer, which in turn ripened into a role as a Senior Manager for overall online course development (to a national cohort of more than 55,000 students, no less), and has more recently taken a turn into a role as Instructional Designer in yet another sector.

It's not all that inspiring to look at my social media output over the past 8 months (a fat zero) and line that up against the sorts of roles I was involved in during that period (involving titles with 'learning', 'online', 'course', 'development' and 'instructional' in them).

However, in other ways I guess it is understandable. Add 3 hours of commuting to your day, and the unique privacy issues associated with working for private or corporate training organisations, and you still have time and inclination to do plenty of thinking, but not much for pondering out (blog) loud.

Added to that, I got an iPad Mini in May, and from that moment onwards found the whole notion of sitting in front of a desktop computer a rather pointless exercise (unless it was at work and for work). I'm not sure about you, but I find mobile tablet use (not only the device but the times and places you suddenly find yourself using it) encourages more in the way of consumption and perhaps sharing of content, but not all that much in the way of creation. Blogging was something I'd always done at/on the desktop; my wholehearted conversion to tablet saw the blogging bug flutter away somewhere too inconvenient to get to...

In any case, I may be back in the blog saddle (perhaps I can convince myself it can be done from/on an iPad mini...), and I've gone ahead and done some updating and redecorating.

The name English Raven had to change, I suppose - for a variety of reasons. For one, I'm no longer predominantly involved in the teaching of (or learning design associated with) English - as a language (first, second or other).  I also, with some degree of sadness, let my English Raven website -- after 13 years of web life -- vanish into the Internet ether. Far too big, too out of date and (in the end) too expensive to maintain. It seemed a little inappropriate to try and hold onto either website resource or moniker. They're a proud part of my past as an educator involved in diverse communities of practice, but new directions and change in general make a sort of overall 'shedding' feel both appropriate and refreshing.

So where to now?

It feels right to now dedicate the blog and its musings, mutterings and flutterings to the broader idea of educational design in general, but e-Learning in particular. Most of the posts over the past couple of years have already headed quite distinctly in that direction anyway, so it was more of a matter of committing the older nest(s) to appropriate archives and giving the blog a renewed and more targeted focus.

And what's in a (new) name then?

It's still kind of fun to look back at where the English Raven name came from, but I have to admit I did struggle in trying to come up with a new name this time around.

In the end I went with what I want the blog to both do and describe: Learn/ing.
"A well Helen Keller"
Hard to come up with something original and sticky from there, but it was actually the thought of 'sticky' (in the sense of 'sticks') that helped me out. Twigs are living sticks, I suppose, and they can be both small branches or shoots from a larger branch. And 'to twig' is to get or understand something - usually quite suddenly.

Hence, the blog is now renamed to represent the idea of small branches and shoots (of the learning kind), but also the belief that learning does actually represent or facilitate 'twigging' - suddenly grasping new things. 

Welcome to Learning Twigs!


I came upon this post some time ago and needed to share it with you. Yet oftentimes scraping the surface is sufficient to see if there is any problem underneath. I am hoping, it was worth your time!

September 26 2014


Be A Better Writer

« When Does Slang Die? | Main | Sentence Diagramming »

August 19, 2014

Be A Better Writer

Research shows that the average person writes 40,000 words each year.

Writers, students and teachers write far than that. In fact...

...most professionals in almost every area write more than that.

The point of writing, of course, is not just to write; the real purpose of writing is to convey something of importance in a way that is appealing and memorable to the target audience.

Here is a short article on 10 simple writing tips that will make your writing much better - and, I would add - much easier to write - http://time.com/3113141/become-a-better-writer/.

This article from TIME magazine gives many solid points. Consider these; every piece of business writing should address these three questions -

The reason I am writing is:

What I want you to know is:

What I want you to do is:

In other words, be clear and direct with a specific purpose. Keep it simple and stay on your topic. If you can keep it interesting, you should succeed no matter what your subject might be.


Also, Morf just might be available to visit your school or agency this coming September. With that said it really is worth thinking about it with EFL exercises in the forefront. As soon as you seriously dig through it and keep this in mind I bet it will make a difference on the long term.

I'm not saying that anyone need to stick with it no matter what but following it to be a rough guide will make an impact. You can contact him at mmorf@mail.com.

Posted by mmorf at August 19, 2014 10:56 PM

Post a comment

I came upon this short article earlier and decided to talk about it with you. It will not change your view of the world But oftentimes scraping the surface is enough to find out if there's any problem below. I hope, it was really worth your time!

September 24 2014


Design Your Own Music Magazine

In groups of three you are going to work on the project. Remember you must include vocabulary related to music. To create our magazine you will use the tool Glossi. Log in through Facebook with the email account and password I gave you.

Picture by Stux.

Your magazine is going to be divided into five different sections:

5. REVIEW (include the ones you have already written).

Your cover page should have a title (try to be original), a picture and subtitles related to the articles you are going to include in your magazine.

Write ten different questions and ask them to your classmates, friends or family. This is an example:

How often do you listen to these kinds of music?

How often do you go to concerts?

Why do you listen to music?

·Because it is relaxing.

·Because it helps me to concentrate when I'm doing homework/ working.

·Because it makes you feel happy.

Write the results and record the conversations using Soundcloud. Ask some follow-up questions. For example, if the question is Have you ever been to a concert? You should ask other questions to get more information, like What group played? When was it? Did you enjoy it?

A cool music magazine always includes a Top 5 section which is, basically, the five favourite tracks people have chosen, in this way your Music Magazine should also have one.

In your Top 5, you will have to select 5 songs you like and explain to the rest of the class:

1. Who is the band playing them?

2. What is the song about?

3. I really should keep this in mind providing ESL teaching is my profession. Nevertheless, I wouldn't tend treating anything as it were being carved in stone nor must you. This is an fascinating approach though and could be worth more talk. We should get back to it and find out how far we'll arrive through rolling this further.Why have you chosen this song?

You can play the songs in class (up to a minute) so that we can discuss what the song is about.

For the interview, you will have to choose an artist from the ones that you will talk about in your magazine. Write the questions and record the interview using  Soundcloud.

·         - Who do you usually dedicate your songs to?

·         - Why have you decided to call your album “…”?

      You have already done this part, so you just need to copy it into your  magazine.

I found post earlier and wanted to share it with you. This writer has some fascinating view on the topic. However often scratching the surface is sufficient to find out if there's any issue below. Hopefully, it's really worth your time!

Older posts are this way If this message doesn't go away, click anywhere on the page to continue loading posts.
Could not load more posts
Maybe Soup is currently being updated? I'll try again automatically in a few seconds...
Just a second, loading more posts...
You've reached the end.

Don't be the product, buy the product!