Teaching training: Which course would you like to take?

I have always been interested in learning how to engage students to the learning process, especially in my subject. So, how could I raise motivation during my lessons? Of course experience provides you the best tools, however as a teacher you always need to be updated and trying to improve your teaching skills, if what you want is getting better outcomes every year. We are continually on that never-ending journey of professional development.

Therefore, taking a training course is an option. If you ask me what kind of course I would like to take, I would say, ABP (Project based learning).  What is that? It is a didactic methodology which has been raising in popularity over the lasts decades. Students work in cooperative groups for an extended period of time to investigate about a specific topic. It could be a question, a problem or a challenge. This teaching method engages students and fosters motivation. Students can make their own decisions about the project under teacher guidance. Moreover it is focused on students learning goals, including content and skills such as critical thinking/problem solving, communication, collaboration and self-management.

So, I really believe that this methodology can be applied in a CLIL class since it helps improve cooperative work and communication. It has become super popular among primary schools, nevertheless it is not as well-known in secondary schools, for that reason I would like to apply it on high school too. However, teachers need some training on this method. ABP, needs collaboration between school departments, and teachers need to know how to create work teams, manage them, and how to utilize time during each lesson. Also, and even more important may be to know how to assess students’ work. Because usually there is no exam in this kind of teaching method. Teacher has to take notes and pay attention to the class work, to how students interact with each other and if they meet the task goal every day.

In order to make things easier for the educator community, the number of webpages, blogs and teaching platforms on the internet has been raising. Actually, there are a lot of materials available on the internet. Even though, teachers have access to some training courses, perhaps they have no the time to attend them. Therefore, having access to the internet resources gives teachers a significant opportunity to share opinions and experiences that may help other teachers to improve their teaching methodology. So, it is a way to get a lot of information, from teachers around the world who can enrich educational techniques from their successful and failed experiences when teaching and at the same time sharing your own experiences or ask for advices.

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What is biology? Is it just a science subject?

Biology is defined as a science which is in charge of the study of live. But, what is life? Scientists have create a definition for that question, even thought is complicated to explain.  The majority of people think biology is just about plants, insects and animals, but for me it is more than that. I have always been passionate about knowing more about the tiny little processes which keep us alive, and what we can do to improve our welfare.

So, what do I think that is more important to teach about biology? Lots of people hate this subject just because seems to be difficult. That could be true, because there are plenty of strange names in a simple process. Therefore, I honestly think that my work is to try to make it easy! If I want students to be passionate about my subject I will have to explain difficult thing in a simple way. So, the best way to do that is relating biological processes with their daily routines and real life.

For that reason, what I really love about biology is the fact that you can relate it with every single thing of our daily life. Think about it! Everything is related, all lives are connected with biologicals functions, with environment, even the products we buy at the supermarket come from nature, or are created in a lab where scientists are working to improve our life styles.

So, if had to choose a topic to teach I would pick wellness. Well-being is that positive of sense of self, and belonging that we feel when our cognitive, emotional, social and physical needs are being met. From my subject, biology, I can relate wellness with every single part of our anatomy and our daily routines.

For example, I can promote a healthy diet when we explain the digestive system. Moreover I can relate it with the imperium of food industry and how our diet have changed lately. Besides that is directly linked with an active life, so we create a debate about our current sedentary lifestyle, and how that influence our circulatory system, pulmonary system, or even our nervous system.

Futhermore, these days the number of teenager who find refuge in drugs have raise up. Promoting a positive mental health is a key component of well-being. From my subject I can promote awareness about how drugs impact the brain and what long-term effects could be caused by abusing of some specific substances.

To sum up, as far as I concerned, I believe that from my field I have a perfect scenario to provide an understanding of current well-being. Moreover, from biology subject we can identify conditions that promote well-being, and create a project to engage students to take part in it. Therefore my goal will be to move forward promoting well-being strategies throughout all my units, from human anatomy to environmental problems. Because everything is connected by a network, and that network is biology. 

How can I assess their learning in that specific topic?

How can I measure if they have achieved a healthy habits?

I would work this topic throughout a class project during the whole year. The final product will have a little research and a poster to explain.

Here you have a little table to explain it!

assesment table post 2

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Have you ever heard something about ELP?

If you have never heard anything about it, you should read this post!

First of all, what is the ELP?

The European Learning Portfolio is a personal document of a language learner, in which students can record and reflect their language learning and cultural experience at school and outside school. But, why is it useful for the learning progress?

The ELP contains a detailed personal biography which describes the owner’s experiences. Thus, learners collects evidences about their progress. Make it personal help students to planner their own learning progress and to determinate their future goals in their own ELP. Therefore students have a framework to make choices about what they need to improve. So, it is said that ELP promotes autonomy and responsibility and it also helps to engage students to the learning process.

Have you ever used it in yours lessons? What could be the benefits of using the ELP at school?

As it have been said, ELP helps learners to take responsibility for their own learning by helping them in planning, monitoring and evaluating their learning. But, how they can do it?

First of all, students have the six levels of communicative proficiency defined in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages in the ELP. Moreover, the levels are summarized for the five skills of listening, reading, spoken interaction, spoken production and writing in the self-assessment grid, and this is one of the key of ELP. With those supports students can check if they have accomplish the objectives inherent in the descriptors.

Pedagogically, the ELP makes the learning process transparent, enabling language learners to be more aware of the process. Also, ELP helps to develop capacity for self-assessment, reflection and allow learners to take control of their own learning. Because of it provides them a tool to understand what their strengths are and what they need to improve.

For those reasons ELP is a perfect clear tool to show language skills, because it is based on the international language descriptors.

Moreover, some people argue that ELP could help to promote tolerance and understanding among citizens of Europe. Why? The main reason is because students can write their own experiences at school and outside the school, which provides them a meaning of learning in their real life, so ELP does not just have an academic purpose.

Although, ELP has some disadvantages as well, one of the drawbacks would be that nobody says anything about using ELP in a non-language subject, like biology. Contents of the curriculum are really extensive. Therefore, it is complicated to work with this portfolio in class, because the schedule is very tight and would be difficult to manage time, contents, portfolio and all the students at the same time.

But, taking everything into consideration, ELP advantages overcome disadvantages, so I consider that it could be a fantastic tool to use during languages classes or CLIL lessons. Because, not only is ELP a perfect tool to develop language learning and self-assessment, but it is also a way to promote interculturality and engage students to a lifelong learning.