Saturday, May 26, 2012

Book Review - Webinars: A Cookbook for Educators by Nicky Hockly

The Barcelona edtech community of The Round and close allies The Consultants E published their second ebook this week, Webinars:  A Cookbook for Educators by Nicky Hockly.  The author sets out to give the reader the recipe for great webinars and for the most part delivers on her promise.

The goal of The Round is to fill the gap between blogging and publishing, and here they have done just that.  By working with Ms. Hockly, perhaps the world's foremost expert on webinar language training, they have successfully given readers an affordable and convienent guide to running webinars without the hassle of chasing down her archive of blogs, interviews, and discussions.  The author draws nicely on her 20 years of experience as the ebook is laced with links to examples and activities, many from Ms. Hockly herself.

In fact, these are perhaps the most valueable parts of the book.  The videos clearly show the ingredients for making your online session a success.  Unfortunately, I read mine on a traditional B&W Kindle and had to transfer the links to my laptop.  IPad users will be able to benefit from the interactivity of the book.  It is nice to see the tech experts utilize the possibility of enhanced ebooks, something they largly neglected with their first title, 52.


Ms. Hockly begins her instructional guide by showing us around the technology.  She takes us back in time a bit and demonstrates how useful some of the older technology can be, like text chat and audio only.  For trainers who have never attended a webinar or run online training, this step-by-step approach is certainly worthwhile.  The end of each chapter includes 5, 10, and 30 minute activities to apply the lessons to real life.  When the book reaches video conferencing, she does a great job of evaluating the pros and cons of each platform.  Yet for business English trainers, especially those in-company, the absence of Cisco WebEx and Microsoft Live Meeting will be noticeable.  It is also clear from the author that she prefers Adobe Connect above the others.

The second half of the book builds on this platform knowledge and deals with organizing and running a webinar.  Of valuable note here is that the book does not appear to be directed at training language learners, rather to teacher trainers using webinars for professional development.  While her activities and structures can be used in the online classroom, her examples and descriptions are all from CPD situations.  Nonetheless, Ms. Hockly gives the reader a useful list of basic opening and closing activities to bookend a successful webinar.  For those who have never organized a webinar, her list of tasks for moderators and presenters is required reading.  She closes by giving us a nice range of one-liners from other experienced webinar warriors and you will no doubt recognize most of the names.  This certainly added the cherry on top of dessert.

In short, Cookbook is written for inexperienced trainers in online training.  It provides the reader with an excellently organized and easily affordable (€5.15) handbook for setting up and running professional webinars.  Old hands in the virtual environment can also benefit by benchmarking their current webinars against her nearly flawless examples.  However, for trainers who are currently struggling to adapt their face-to-face language training to the online environment, the real recipes are in her earlier work Teaching Online from Delta Publishing.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Busy Lives and Homework; Getting more than 90 min a week

Business English learners don't do homework.  Well, at least mine don't.  With only 60 or 90 minutes of English a week, making progress without self-study is like, well... you know. 

The root cause for this is misleading.  They will always say, "I don't have time because I am so busy."  But this is not actually true.  In reality, because English is a tool for work, studying English in their free time is the same as taking their work home.  At a time when everyone is talking about maintaining their work-life balance, English for work simply falls off the priority list.  But all hope is not lost.  By being open about homework and understanding how the student sees it, we can increase their involvement.

What can I say... I didn't do my homework either.
First, ask the learners sometime near the beginning of the course how much time they are willing to dedicate learning English outside of the the classroom. Enter some kind of informal agreement on dedication.

Then we need to understand the thinking of the learner. They will go through several stages...

1. They will test it. At this point, it is up to the trainer to say that this is a test. If the self-study experience feels like a burden or requirement with the corresponding negative emotions, it will not continue. The trainer should get feedback for the learner whether this type of self-study is enjoyable, challenging, and effective. Designing activities which fit learning styles is particularly important at this stage because they will find suitable activities more enjoyable.

2. They will look for reward. In the adult learning environment, this will be primarily peer respect. However, trainer respect can also go a long way. If the others see the respect they get for completing the homework, others will seek that reward. When one or two people complete self-study I like to give them the chance to shine in class. This could be simply by having the others congratulate (a little applause) them or by having the learners teach what they learned. It could be to set up activities which use the material to let these specific learners have an advantage (all will notice). The problem with this is that increasing levels of reward are needed. This is often where games and competitions come in.  Karl Dean has been kind enough to share some of the ways he builds rewards and games into his lessons and inspires self-study.  Please check out his accompanying blog post here.

3. They will expect to see progress.  At this point, the trainer's job is to build the self-study into the self-reflective process. This means including questions like, "What have you learned outside of class in the last two months?" It can also be done during a class feedback discussion if there is time. If the activities are not chosen well and the learners do not sense and acknowledge progress, they will abandon homework.

4. They will experiment further. Convinced now that homework can increase progress, they will begin to experiment. The trainer's role is to provide direction, acknowledge and spread this experimentation. Here it can be helpful to develop 'subject matter experts' (SMEs) within the group. For example, one student can be the verb tenses expert, one can be the financial vocab expert, etc. We can now beginning supporting this self-study by turning over parts of our lessons to our SMEs.
Each learner will move through or drop out of the stages at different speeds. One of the challenges I see is trying to adjust when the individual learners have different time committments and are at different steps in the process. I certainly haven't perfected homework, but I am getting better results using this theory.
By understanding these stages of thinking we can design and change our homework assignments.

Ah the horrible memories!  Grandfather helping the grandchildren
with their homework by Lukian Popov

This brings us to some general tips:
  • Start small, but with a concrete tasks.  Give them models of what should be done and guide them to completion.
  • Play with various types of homework to fit with learning style and preference.
    • Visual tasks (mind maps, pictures and colors, highlighting texts, graphically reworking class notes)
    • Auditory tasks (prepare a verbal review of the last lesson, podcasts, finding target language in listening files, writing dialogs)
    • Kinesthetic tasks (moving note cards, java exercises, going and 'finding' language, activities which make the language tangible)
    • 'The Old Guard' (gap fills, crosswords, matching, etc.)
  • Provide learners with a menu of homework.
  • Add a peer check to the homework, e.g. "Email all the participants your review of this article and five words you learned."
  • Do not make the next lesson hinge on their homework.  Always have a plan for zero completion.
  • Check the homework in class... this takes lesson time, don't underestimate the time.  For them the homework was more of a committment than attending the lesson.
  • Make homework a routine.  Perhaps not every lesson, but regularly (I prefer every other week).
  • Don't forget about the things we did 3-6 months ago.
  • Build buy-in with praise, attention, and demostrated progress.
These are certainly no magic bullet, but they are definitely more effective than simply handing out a worksheet with an answer key and hoping.  But who knows, maybe over time we can convince them that both of their personalities (work and personal) can benefit from speaking a second language.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Selected lesson ideas from my posts during Cert IBET

For the past 7 weeks, I have been participating in the Cert IBET course from The Consultants E moderated by Carl Dowse.  I cannot express how incredible the experience has been.  As I look back over the past weeks in our conferences and course discussions, I realized how much I had written.

So, I am posting a selection of lesson ideas I have contributed to the course.  I hope you find them useful.

Warmers

#1 Another way to do 10 Questions

Warmer idea based on the 10 Questions activity.  These questions come from Inside the Actor’s Studio a television show in the US.  Celebrity answers to these might add another element of fun to the lesson.  YouTube has an entire collection… simply search a celebrity.  For example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueDgkj0GI1I

·         What is your favorite word?

·         What is your least favorite word?

·         What turns you on?

·         What turns you off?

·         What sound or noise do you love?

·         What sound or noise do you hate?

·         What is your favorite curse word?

·         What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

·         What profession would you not like to do?

·         If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?


The “Works every time” - Experts

I typically use an activity where the learners talk about something they know well. It brings up some great talents and experience and for my adult learner (not to mention they are colleagues) it helps get the course off on the right foot.
I pass out note cards and I tell them to write 5-6 things they can teach the class on the cards.

I put my 'card' on the board.
Here are some of the things I have used for me in the past:

  • How to speak English. (okay, maybe this is a bit too much)
  • How to make killer BBQ spare ribs with little effort.
  • How to make awesome guacamole.
  • How to diffuse a bomb. (yes, sometimes I use this)
  • How to build set a table for a formal dinner.
  • How to throw a curveball.
  • The French Revolution.

Here are some recent ones I have seen in my classes.

  • The names of all the Alps over 4000m (we tested her with Google images, she could really do it)
  • How to dance flamenco.
  • The best bike tour across northern Bavaria.
  • How to break a board with your fist.
  • How to raise children. (this was an interesting one)

As you can imagine, when partners change cards, the first question is "How do you know this?" It leads to all kinds of great conversations about personal history, hobbies, families, etc. The best part is, it causes lots of questions. Others I have used tend not to create as many.
As far as language goes, I am able to help them find some of the words they really want to have because they are so interested in these topics. I like this one.

Authentic Materials

Here is an example of how I build authentic resources into recent lessons. The two classes took the lesson in different directions so we used two different websites.

Aim: To familiarize learners with vocabulary for budgeting, including various types of revenues and expenses

Level: B1-B2

Context: Discussing the business of football (soccer) then equating this to the learner's business. It is budgeting time at the company and Bayern Munich also just reached the CL final.

1. General discussion about football.
Do you like it? If not, why not?
What is your favorite team? Why?
(cover some football vocabulary, e.g. tie, penalties, bandwagon, etc.)
Bayern Munich just reached the Champions League final... how much money will they get if they win?

2. Guide discussion into the business side of football.
Typically we start getting into more general business vocab (be in debt, licenses, etc.)

3. Authentic content
in one class, the discussion focused on player salaries and transfer fees. It was a lower level group so we looked at sites showing the payroll of Bundesliga clubs, practiced saying the numbers, talked about contract terms, etc.
In another class, the discussion went on to Spanish club debts and we read an article on how the authorities are handling the high debt figures. Standard structure... prediction, reading, comprehension questions, mine for key language (in this case I wanted to ignore football specific words and focus on things like be obliged to pay, and could be forced to.

4. Make a football club income statement
the students work in groups to list all the income and expenses. They can typically describe them, but lack the specific terms. I add the term to the explanation. We compile our lists.

Here is a sample of the board work/slide work.

Revenues
Expenses
Ticket sales
Salaries and wages
Merchandise
Facilities
Transfer fees
Travel expenses
Media rights
Equipment
Sponsorship
Transfer fees

5. Change the football club income statement to the company's income statement

Now that we have talked about all the inflows and outflows, the pairs 'change' the income statement to reflect the revenues and expenses for their company. Some things are the same, but some are much different. We typically start talking about the various components of overhead. For transfer fees, we changed the words to divestitures and acquisitions. And so on...

6. Learners rank the largest expenses in their company. Now that we have a nice complete list, the pairs much rank the expenses (largest to smallest) and say why they think so. This is a very difficult task because they do not have the figures. The final group discussion results in much agreeing/disagreeing and defending opinions. By the end of the lesson, I counted that the participants had used the target budget vocabulary about 5-6 times in the discussions.

There are many ways to go with a football lesson and there are plenty of authentic materials. In this case, the material was not the primary aim of the lesson, just support.

A Technology Wow Moment in the Classroom (Wordle)

In-company training, on site…
Level: B1
Class size on paper 14
Class size in reality 6
Never know who is going to show up, no materials, no syllabus... but training objectives.
Approach: Dogme or Just In Time Coaching whichever applies at the time
Lesson Aim: Take conversation into a language/skill direction (lexis, grammar, function, emails, presentations, etc.)

We started with a conversation about how they are doing... Is work stressful? How is everyone feeling? The company has seen drops in revenue and morale has been low. I know that they are entering budgeting time and must create forecasts for the next fiscal year. They are busy.

I asked them about their budgeting forecasts. Are they finished? Are they still working on it? I am fishing for tenses (present pref. and cont., past, will future) we have seen in past lessons.

A woman says that she is having a really hard time creating forecasts because they have cancelled an agreement with a customer. All question why the company would stop selling to a customer. I thought of an example with a mobile provider in the US (Sprint) which fired over 1000 customers because they were unprofitable. I took the devil's advocate role and I said, "I don't know the whole situation, but I think it is okay to fire customers." (Note: I have fired BE customers because they demanded more than they were worth.) I asked them to brainstorm why a company would fire a customer while I found an article online about the mobile provider.

They came up with nothing.

Now came my moment of technical glory.

My computer was connected to the projector and they watched me copy the article into Wordle and create a word cloud. Ohhh! came from the crowd. I was thinking, "Yeah, that's right, this is cool." I changed the cloud so it appeared better on the screen. I set them the task of working in groups to define the words... starting largest first. I helped. The cloud was huge, but I was just trying to pre-teach vocab. I told them that we are going to read an article and the larger the word, the more often it appeared in the text.

Then we did a prediction exercise from the word cloud and I asked them to say what the company sells and why it fired customers. This was good.

Then we read the text... discussed and then talked about which of their customers monopolize resources (a collocation we identified). If I had had more time a great idea would be for them to write the email firing the customers... polite + bad news (I love this topic). Sadly the same group won't be back next week and we will have to find something else.

But for that wordle moment... It was amazing. They were in awe and I thought applause was coming.

Inter-cultural communication

I've only recently started dealing with culture in the classroom. Most of my learners have trouble with it in emails because fewer and fewer are travelling.

My approach is this... I teach the Germans German culture. It is unrealistic to try to teach all of them the dos and don'ts of all the countries they are dealing with. And I find the categories of high context and low context a bit unwieldy. We start getting into too many maybes and mights.

Here is my outline of German culture of German workers:

1.    Myths and Facts of German Culture

1.    Beer and Bratwurst (in reality, significant regional variety; stronger regional than national identity)

2.    Punctuality (true; skeptical of spontaneity)

3.    Order and Discipline (rules ensure equitable enjoyment of societies benefits; example jaywalking, subway tickets, autobahn; misconception about German humor, it is very sarcastic and satirical)

4.    A Nation of Engineers (what quality means in German; misconception about value of creative thinking, "You can't make a Porsche and not be creative!")

2.    Public vs. Private

1.    Highly organized public sphere (clubs, groups)

2.    Hobbies taken to a professional level

3.    Low internal migration

4.    The difference between friend and acquaintance in German

5.    Privacy as mutual respect

3.    Communication Styles

1.    Prefer to see the fact and draw their own conclusions (nations of experts; example 35 y.o. worker in Germany has 20 years job experience, often much less in US)

2.    Foreigner may experience information overload

3.    Direct vs. impolite (the power of the truth; examples, how customer service is evaluated; the value of complaints)

4.    Professional disagreement (separating the opinion from the person)

5.    Making a decision (plan first, decide, follow plan; when problems arise, try to change the situation, not the plan)

This outline is just a summary, but my participants love it! They comment afterwards that they can see why emails and presentations haven't worked in the past.

Negotiations

For example, most people see negotiations as two sides trying to hash out a multi-million dollar merger or similar situation. But people bargain all the time. So in the bargaining section, I just make the task relevant to their situation.

It could be:

  • Buying knock-offs in the Czech Republic.
  • Getting their teenager to clean their room.
  • "Your goal is to take Friday off... get your colleagues to do enough of your work to accomplish this."
  • Sell a product no one would want (I think this comes from The Business from MacMillan) e.g. a 1985 Chevy with 200,000 km, an apartment next to a chemical plant, a broken remote control, etc.

In this case, I also like to teach the skill of convincing. This is usually in three steps.

1.    When someone objects or states an opinion you don't like, ask questions until you find a weak point. (question forms)

2.    Convert opinions into negative question forms. (simple to teach, often feel unnatural of learners at the beginning)

3.    Use hand-off questions to bring allies into the dialog. (lexical chunks)

All three have language elements, and when they are put together make a nearly unstoppable force.

Useful Language and ‘Phrasebook’ Training

I'm not sure if I am the first to use the term. It basically applies to those situations in which the trainer is given a set of materials for specific skills to teach useful phrases.  My thinking is, "Why don't we just send them a business English phrasebook and come back and test them in 6 months?" Hence the term.

Okay, I like models because I feel like they give the learner an idea of what right looks like. But I try to make the PPP model more interesting and personal. Today I taught a group of pre-int learners opening a presentation.

I used the content from BBC's Talking Business. I played the two presentations without any vocab prep and asked them to note the main subject of the presentations and two to three topics the presenter would be covering. They checked in pairs.

Then I played again and their task was to listen for discourse markers. They noted as many as they could find and again checked each other.

Next I pulled up the transcript on the projector in a word document. I gave them time to read and check. I noted the discourse markers and the use of "I'd like to" in the transcript. We talked a bit about why we would use discourse markers and the "would like" form.

Next, I had the marketing manager to come up, sit at the computer, and highlight (using the highlighter tool) any language from the text they would find useful for opening a presentation. His job was to elicit ideas from the group. I left the room.

Finally, I asked them to prepare an opening for a presentation. It could be a real scenario or simply a presentation about what they did last week. It was up to them. At this point, I purposely did not give them print outs of the text because the language transfer would take more effort from screen to paper. After 10 minutes of prep, they gave their openings in pairs and received peer/trainer feedback on clarity and organization. Most had written quite a bit and were using extensive notes to give their opening. So I had them switch partners and do it again without their notes.

So, this was a fairly straight forward lesson, but I like to allow them to choose the useful language they want. In the end, the presentations were very good, but the learners were not locked into a certain set of phrases. There's nothing crazy here, but it is an effective lesson with zero prep, a nice challenge, and clear takeaway for the participants.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Simple, No Prep, BE Skills Lesson

Just wanted to take a minute and share an easy-to-use skills lesson plan which is highly engaging and helpful for learners.  It can either be used as is, or more likely, adapted to fit your current course participants.

Aim:  Learners will practice the specific, everyday skills they need in their particular job and receive feedback to improve.  Goal is to practice lexical chunks and scripted sentences to make these simple tasks more fluent and natural.

Time:  4-6 learners - 90 min, 7-10 learners - 120 min (unless run in two groups simultaneously

Procedure:  Flexible depending on course makeup...  here is what I did.

I had 5 participants in an electrical components manufacturing company:
  • Sales Manager B2 - coordinates sales efforts of the division product lines with the regional sales force in South America.  Uses primarily web meetings and email.
  • Quality Assurance Project Manager B1/B2 - manages projects to ensure the quality of subcomponents from suppliers, particularly in China.  Rarely attends the lesson due to work load.  Travels to China roughly 4 times per year.  Writes reports and emails pertaining to specifications and technical standards.
  • Customer Support Specialist B1 - Handles calls and emails about technical issues with company products.  Short and simple correspondance (what is the problem, ask for details, troubleshoot, promise action, follow-up on action).
  • 2x Admin Assistants B1 - Typical secretarial work here, make and change appointments, handle travel plans, spread information mostly per telephone and email.
In this case, I was trying to help the weaker and less confident AAs and they were at the core of the lesson.  I set a series of one-to-one tasks around arranging a meeting, interrupted by trainer and peer feedback.  It looked like this:

Click on image to enlarge, to close click on 'x' in top right corner.



First, I spelled out what the tasks would be and went around and asked each one what they were expected to do to ensure understanding.  I purposely did not give them any more details.  Their job was to fill in the gaps (purpose of meeting, times, rooms, why people were out of the office, why the meeting must be changed, etc.) to create information gaps.

Next, I gave them as much time as needed individully to think of the language they would need to complete the task and come up with details.  I walked around and checked, fixing any glaring grammar mistakes, adding specific lexis, and generally refining what I saw.

Finally, we began.  For each segment, I asked the next two in the chain to leave the room where they could chit-chat.  The student who was left and I would observe the task and offer some feedback.  The students would perform the task.  For the final task, he wrote the email on my computer in Word and I displayed it on the projector.  We ran short on time here, but it was still helpful for all.

For the feedback sessions, I would ask the students to come back in the room and without revealing any details of the events, would highlight good examples of language used and refine excessively long or confusing sentences.  The students would take notes, I would take questions, and we repeated the process.


Here is a sample of some the language examined:
  • Politeness and formality - nearly each conversation varied in tone and register.  We looked at the reasons for this.  Example: It would be great if you could do me a favor.  (From student)
  • Using shorter structures - Example:  changing What is the topic of the meeting? to What's it about? and drilling this phrase until it was natural.  Surprisingly, this simple sentence was new to all.
  • Changing I don't know to I'm not sure + about/if/question word then offering action.  At this point we also discussed with the QA project manager about Chinese culture and I don't know.
  • Summarizing and clarifying at the end of a call - one pair did this extremely well.  I wrote the phrases they used to do it, e.g. So, that's..., Let me get that straight...
  • -ing forms with have a problem, suggest, propose, and recommend.
  • Sentences to say why someone is out of the office, from specific to vague.  He's on a business trip.  She's in a meeting.  He's not at his desk.  He's out of the office (not He's not in the house.)
This is just an example of how multiple tasks can be done in one class.  Although only two students were performing a task at each time, they all found it highly informative and appreciated the simple recommendations and refinements to help them improve everyday fluency.  During the feedback sessions they were firing questions at me left and right, Can I say this...?, What do I say if...? because the situations were so tangible to them.

Good luck with the lesson and I would love to hear how it works for you.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A little refresher on Bloom's Taxonomy

I attended the weekend workshop from BESIG today and Michelle Hunter mentioned two points in her opening about coaching and ELT which really struck a chord with me.

First, she said that when attending conferences and workshops she found herself frustrated that she already 'knew' the information being presented.  She attributed this to the fact that she was drawn to subjects which were comfortable and in which she already possessed a high level of knowledge.  For me, I was nodding my head thinking, "Yes, that is what happened to me in Glasgow on the first two days."

However, her very next point brought home why we have to keep reflecting on our professional development and why sometimes hearing what we already know can be quite helpful.  She said that there is a difference between what we know in our mind and what we know on a deeper level.  For me, I have been exposed to so many ideas in such a short time and studied so much, the gap she mentioned is quite large.  I often get the feeling that the theories and concepts I have in my mind don't always seem to make it into my training.

So, the purpose of this post to look at one of those items I have learned in the last few years, but never seemed to reach that deeper level of knowledge; Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning.


Many of you have probably heard of this concept.  I originally learned about it in a university course on learning styles and methods.  But perhaps it warrants a little review both in the context of professional development and our learners.

Summary of Bloom's Taxonomy

Benjamin Bloom proposed that there are sequential cognitive abilities applied within the process of learning.  He pointed to three lower levels and three upper levels in the cognitive domain.  Primarily, these levels are used to develop assessments to establish which level of mastery has taken place.  Since he proposed the theory in the 1950s, the names of the levels have been changed to those you see above, but the general principles have remained in tact.  Putting the taxonomy into practice, Bloom outlined verbs which place assessment questions into the various levels.  For example, if you can 'give examples' of a learning point, you have successfully reached understading (or comprehension as Bloom called it).  If you can support or criticize a learning point, you have reached the evaluation level.

Here is a list of selected verbs associated with the various levels.

Remember
list, label, name, define, describe, locate, select, match, tell, who?, what?, when?, where?, and how?
Understand
summarize, contrast, differentiate, discuss, explain, give examples, restate, rewrite, translate, illustrate
Apply
apply, modify, predict, model, sketch, prepare, use, draw, solve
Analyze
distinguish, arrange, prioritize, categorize, compare, sequence, connect
Evaluate
decide, rank, recommend, defend, support, predict, justify, convince
Create
compose, design, write, role play, imagine, develop, invent, arrange


The Taxonomy in Professional Development

I am guessing that if you are reading this blog, you are passionate about professional development.  The problem with the blogosphere and twitterati method of professional development is that it does not expicitly enable reaching the higher levels of ability.  For example, I can name probably 100 different ways to use technology in the classroom.  I can give examples of activities in which they can be used.  I can even explain the learning benefits which can be achieved (following my verbs?).  But I cannot distinquish which are right for my learners, justify using them, or develop lesson plans around them.

So, where do I go from here?  Without the structure of formal education, I need to use my self-reflection sessions and lesson logs to achieve these higher levels.  In short, I need to reflect with a purpose.  It could look something like this...

Focus:  Approach
"Okay, today I introduced 15 new lexical items.  Which method did I use?  Was it effective?  How would this activity look using Dogme, the Lexical Approach, Discovery, the Silent Way, TBL, etc.?  Which of these would have been (or will be) best for my learners?  Why?  How would I defend my choice against Scott Thornbury or Michael Lewis?  Finally, what can I create from this decision?"

Focus:  Technology
"Okay, today I introduced 15 new lexical items.  What technology did I use?  Was it effective?  How would this activity look using an app, a mindmap, a website, media, a java/flash applet?  Which of these would have been (or will be) best for my learners?  Why?  How would I defend my choice against the Consultants-E or the publisher techies?  Finally, what can I create from this decision?"

I think this focused self-reflection will enable me to finally reach those higher levels.

The Taxonomy in Our Training

This topic in second language acqusition is nothing new and a simple google search will reveal many resources.

However, I would like to highlight two points.

One:  Pushing learners up the taxonomy is high demand teaching

Prepared teaching plans typically follow the flow from low to high ability.  This is also the essence of PPP.  For example, first the learners identify a word, then they understand it, then they apply it into a structured activity.  Then poof, there is a discussion activity in which they must create it in the correct context.  However, without the trainer really ensuring the learners have full command of the word, most are inclined to stay in their comfort zone.

Jim Scrivener's talk about swimming in the language mentioned using activities to 'linger'.  In his examples he was essentially asking the students to analyze, evaluate, and create using the language point.  It could be grammar, lexis, functions, skills... it doesn't matter.

The point is that in BE classrooms we spend a lot of time asking our learners to user their higher thinking skills to process the content/situation (something they can already do) and less time asking them to really analyze, evaluate, and create the target language.  This leads to the second point.

Two:  Integrate the taxonomy into own materials

For us to ensure learners are using high cognitive skills on the lanuage, we need to be certain our materials are correct.  Course books get it right sometimes but when using a course book we should certainly view the activities to see what is missing.  But for our self-made materials, we need to double check that we are driving learning.  Let's look at how Bloom's Taxonomy can help us improve our self-made materials.  Here are some ideas:

1.  Matching and crosswords are not enough.  After this, we could ask them to connect the target lexis with other words in the same context.  Or connect the list together into some kind of diagram (flow chart, mindmap, etc.)
2.  In a cloze exercize, don't provide all the answers in a word box.  Ask them to predict which words come next and then defend why to a partner or the class.
3.  In error correction activities, place a line under the question asking them to defend why it is wrong and why their version is correct.
4.  Give them three of four examples of sentences with various grammar forms which are all correct.  Ask them to build a dialog or situation in which the different sentences could be used.
5.  At the end of a lesson, with all the 'stumbled upon' lexis on the board, ask the learners to rank them by frequency.  Which will they use more often, sometimes, never?  Then have them support their ranking with clear reasons.

I would love to hear more ideas.

In conclusion, I understood exactly what Michelle was talking about in her webinar, it is something I battle with constantly.  Perhaps a structure like Bloom's Taxonomy can help.