The 27th Blog Carnival

Welcome to the latest ESL/EFL/ELL Blog Carnival. Enjoy!

Do your students ever enter ‘the zone’? Do you ever find that your dear learners enter that perfect environment in which their current skill level is perfectly matched to the task you’ve set them, such that they are totally and completely absorbed by the task they are performing? Congratulations! You’ve got your students to experience the phenomenon of ‘flow’.

The concept of flow was originally defined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Dr C. suggests that people are actually most happy when they are in a state of flow: a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation. People are so involved in an activity during flow that nothing else seems to matter.

The idea of flow is what professional sports people have often referred to as being in the zone. The flow state is actually an optimal state of intrinsic motivation, where the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing. This is a feeling everyone has at times, characterized by a feeling of great absorption, engagement, fulfillment, and skill, and during which temporal concerns – like the passage of time or the need to stop and have lunch – are typically ignored.

As you can imagine, flow states don’t just happen. This is especially true in the language classroom. Consequently, I was asking quite a lot for bloggers to be able to relay instances where they’d written about flow experiences in their classes. Nevertheless, a few brave souls have taken up the challenge. Here they are, in all their glory.

1. Dave Dodgson: Meet Pompiskotch

How can the drawing of a simple picture lead to myriad learning opportunities? Dave Dodgson shows us how:

‘In one of our first lessons this year, I asked my students to draw a picture of a person. I left all the details of age, appearance etc. up to them and just decided to go with what they produced.’

In this post Dave describes how this simple drawing activity led into many different, yet thoroughly engaging follow up lessons, including error correction and audio recordings. Dave writes eloquently about his experiences as a teacher of young learners, as well as offering valuable insights into what it’s like to be an MA student while working full time.

2. Sharon Turner: SHHH it’s a Secret!!! Secret Facebook Groups in the English Language Classroom

Geographically, Sharon Turner is perhaps the closest colleague I’ve ever had. Although we don’t actually work in the same office, her desk is on the other side of the wall in the office next to mine, meaning we work about two meters apart. Sharon’s entry into this blog carnival is a typically unique post from her ever interesting blog, ‘Sharonzspace: a place to share ideas and to create‘.

How can we get our learners to interact with one another in an environment in which they feel comfortable? How would developing such an environment allow for flow experiences? A practical educational application that Sharon is currently in the middle of researching is secret Facebook groups. This post is a preliminary look at the methodology and reasons for using Facebook, which also offers considerations about practicalities in setting up Facebook groups for classroom use and finishes with some raw data she has collected so far.

3. Tyson Seburn: ARC in practicum

Tyson Seburn deserves a massive thank you from so many of us bloggers for his support and comments. At times it has been his positivity that has kept me going here on Year in the Life of. What’s more, many of the ideas that he puts forth on his ‘4c’ blog are things that I can immediately put into practice in my classes.

This entry in the blog carnival is no exception. Tyson explains:

‘The 2nd in a series of 3 posts on Academic Reading Circles, this post demonstrates the flow of the class using them.’

For those of you who teach in an EAP context and who struggle to motivate your students while trying to exploit long reading texts in class, I implore you to check out Tyson’s flow-inducing series on how to engage learners in reading tasks. Also, please feel free to join us on Twitter and elsewhere in our recent joint venture: #EAPChat.

4. Charis Freiman-Mendel: Hummus from Scratch

Charis’ innovative blog ‘SAT Gourmet: Learning Vocabulary Is A Piece Of Cake’ combines the art of food with vocabulary acquisition. Charis explains the thinking behind this great blog:

‘I blog about food and words because cooking is a great projected-based learning tool.’

Charis’ recent blog post and the entry to the Blog Carnival, ‘Hummus from Scratch’ is a perfect example of this, which includes ten standardized test vocabulary words and a fun fact blurb from the book, Cook Your Way Through The S.A.T. This is such a unique and fascinating idea for a blog that I can only recommend you visit and take a look for yourself.

5. Larry Ferlazzo: Videos of Students Celebrating Making Mistakes

What does it mean to make a mistake? Is it something to be ashamed of, or is it a positive thing that you can learn from? Larry Ferlazzo shows us that mistakes are, in fact, something which we should celebrate, as this video clip exemplifies:

Larry Ferlazzo writes one of the most important and influential education blogs on the net: ‘Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…’ Indeed, Larry is the inspiration behind the Blog Carnival, so he’s who you should be thanking for this post!

6. Muralee Navaratnam: Reflections on using Interactive Fiction 9.05

Mura’s blog, ‘ESL Notes: Random commentary on teaching English as a second language’ is full of fabulous post revolving around the use of technology in language teaching. The world of Interactive Fiction (IF) is a fascinating one which deserves the level of exploration it is currently receiving. Mura explains:

‘Explaining what Interactive Fiction (IF) is to students is an essential first step. Instead of using Interactive Fiction I decided to go with the term Adventure Game, then added the modifier Text-Based. Most of the group (whose average age is 18/19) knew the concept of an adventure game but few about text-based ones. Only then did I add that nowadays these are called Interactive Fiction.’

This is one of the blogs I’ve only discovered as a result of hosting the Blog Carnival, so I recommend here that you sign up to host a future event; it will bring you many new great blogs to read!

7. David Deubelbeiss: Language “Starters”

David’s blog is constantly full of good ideas. What’s more, he is one of the most giving people in the world of ELT. This quote gives you some idea about what this post is about:

‘One of the major skill sets of a great language teacher is the ability to “prompt” students so they will generate language. It isn’t easy and with time a teacher becomes better at replying, prompting, leaving unfinished their utterances so that students are put into a position of “having to communicate”. It is a skill that even gets more refined as the teacher adapts and scaffolds at just the right level/language. Teachers also get better at moving things along – the big challenge of pacing.’

David’s ‘EFL 2.0 – Teacher Talk’ is constantly great and should be one of your first stops on the ever burgeoning ELT blog merry-go-round.

8. Karenne Sylvester: Pinboards and Timelines – talking our way through their lives

Karenne Sylvester’s ‘Kalinago English’ blog is full of fantastic ideas and, much to my delight, occasional rants against the ills of our profession. Her post for this carnival focuses on the former, with an investigation into how to use pinboards and timelines in a way that engages learners. Karenne explains:

‘While browsing through my photograph albums, I found this one of pinboards… and as it’s a real favourite for getting students talking and talking, thought I’d post it for you. It’s called … the wondrous Pinboards & Timelines game. And by the way, this is one of those games that really works whether you’re dogme with virtually no materials or if you’re a let’s step out of that-coursebook-for-a-bit-shall-we teacher…on the hunt for a speaking activity to supplement the course book’s review of the pasts or futures.’

9. Joe Pereira: How to introduce and use Interactive Fiction in a lesson

You wait for ages for a Blog Carnival to feature a post on IF and then two come along at the same time! Joe’s fabulous ‘IF Only‘ blog is borne of his love of video games, going back to the era of Asteroids and Pac-man. This passion has extended into the language classroom, where he is doing great work in the use of IF.

His blog is quite new, but already features many great ideas on how to incorporate interactive fiction activities into language learning.

In this post Joe suggests ‘a framework for introducing and exploiting IF in a lesson (language learning in this case, but mostly transferable to other disciplines as well).’

10. Merve Oflaz: Tea or coffee?

Merve is someone that I’ve gotten to know through blogging and tweeting. I’m very glad to have made her acquaintance and find her blog a great source of inspiration.

In this post, which I’m honored to say was written specifically with this Blog Carnival in mind, looks at a fantastic way of incorporating the cultural phenomenon of tea into a truly engaging lesson.

Merve describes how the activity went:

‘I tried it with my Grade 8 students last year and they were so happy to take a break after all the studies they have for the national exam, SBS. The students enjoyed each process of the lesson. The reading lessons which usually described as “boring” (by them) has become fun and even took place as the top priority on their weekend worksheeet. Students mentioned that they do not have fear or anxiety before reading a text anymore. I believe it was not only an integrated lesson (including reading, writing, listening, and speaking) but also very productive and creative.’

That’s it!

Thanks to all those who contributed their posts. I wish it could have been more, but I appreciate that this was one Hell of a challenge. I hope to see all of you at the 28th Blog Carnival, which will be hosted by Dani Lyra. Until then…

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7 thoughts on “The 27th Blog Carnival

  1. Dear Adam,
    I’m so happy to take part at the blog carnival. It’s great to be involved in it with all the other astonishing blog posts side by side. Thank you very much for gathering us all here:) The way you introduced each post is really nice and cathcy.
    Cheers,
    Merve OFLAZ

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Merve. I wanted to do more than just link to each post and felt that it was important to show that I’d not only read each entry but that I’d also tried to find the essence of the individual blog.

      Actually, if you’re thinking of hosting the carnival in the future, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this extremely time-consuming method!

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