Blogging: An adventure in professional development- IATEFL 2015 Presentation by Asli Saglam

At the IATEFL 2015 Annual Conference I gave a presentation about potential contribution of blogging to professional development in a forum. It was the first time that I participated in a forum and it was a very enriching experience because all presenters focused on blogging from different perspectives.

ScreenHunter_03 Jun. 12 13.16Background

With the advance of technology and proliferation of Online Communities of Practice blogging has become a promising form of continuous professional development for the networked educators. Many researchers, educators and bloggers concur blogging may bring about opportunities for cooperative learning, connecting, sharing, and reflecting. I have been an avid blogger for more than 5 years and my blog had witnessed and accumulated accounts of my journey as a learning teacher. This presentation described a case study which explored posts of an academic blogger who had been utilising blogging as a form of professional learning and presented an approach which other educators might employ as a means for their professional development.

Affordances of Academic Blogging

Potential opportunities afforded by academic blogging involve exposure to insights and experiences of others in the blogging community, engagement with professional learning and networking. Blogs are instrumental for professional development because they enable networking which is an important asset in the digital age. It is often remarked that sharing-dissemination of information- is an important responsibility of the modern educator. In addition, blogs can support professional identity development by making one’s particular values and perspectives and thinking public and explicit (de Moor & Efimova, 2004 in Luehman, 2008) and by developing social alliances and affinity groups. Networked educators bond through shared practices, goals, endeavours, and interactions that support identity development (Gee, 2001, in Luehman, 2008). Furthermore, blogs provide opportunities for reflective practice which is characterised as “a process of internal dialogue facilitated by thinking or writing and through external dialogues and reflection together with others” (Gee, 2001, in Luehman, 2008).

Reflective writing was considered the major form of reflective action within reflection-on-action, that is reflection before or after teaching. The 5Rs Framework is suggested as an effective implementation strategy guiding reflective practices and triggering reflective writing (Bain, 2002).

Table 1

The 5Rs Framework for Reflection

5R Framework What is it? Critical Questions to Ask
Reporting A brief descriptive account of a situation / issue (ie. the reflective trigger) What happened, what the situation and issue involved
Responding Your emotional / personal response to the situation / issue etc Your observations, feelings, questions about the situation
Relating Personal and/or theoretical understandings relevant to the situation / issue Making connections between the situation and your experience, skills, knowledge and understanding
Reasoning Your explanation of the situation / issue Explaining the situation in terms of the significant factors, relevant theory and/or experience
Reconstructing Drawing conclusions and developing a future action plan Your deeper level of understanding about the situation- issue that is used to reframe reconstruct your future practice and further develop your understanding of professional practice


My study

Using a case study approach, my study aimed to examine the content of 30 blog posts to ascertain the role of written reflection in improving my professional knowledge and my teaching. Guided by Hatton and Smiths’ framework (1995) for Levels of Reflection, content analysis traced verbal manifestations highlighting hints of change in pedagogical beliefs and practices.

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Figure 1 Hatton and Smiths’ Framework; Levels of Reflection (1995)


Blog posts which were categorised under “descriptive reflection” usually listed reasons why topic of the writing could be a challenge, referred to relevant literature, explored own professional practices and portrayed professional and personal reasons to instigate action. Blog posts bearing qualities of “dialogic reflection” often highlighted the process of making deliberate connections between my pedagogical beliefs and classroom practices. Some blog posts were identified as “critical reflection” because they triggered constructing and reconstruction of my understanding of realities of teaching and thus leading to a development of a deeper understanding of my own teaching as well as devising future action plans.


Blogging appears to offer a potentially rich and transformative means of continuous professional development since it may empower critical analysis for reflection. Consequently this dialogic reflection, sharing and cooperative learning may transform pedagogical beliefs and practices.

You can find further details in my slides below.

Audio feedback in writing: Can it help chronically dissatisfied learners? IATEFL 2015 Presentation by Petek Sirin

Petek gave a very interesting session about potential of giving students audio feedback.


I was lucky enough to be in the audience that day. It was a very impressive and forward looking presentation which affected the audience and created a very positive vibe among educators that came to IATEFL Manchester from different educational contexts in various parts of the world.

I would like to share the write-up of Petek’s session written by one of the participants of her session. Here is the LINK to the blog post reporting the session.

Petek kindly shared her presentation slides. So, if you would like to get more information regarding her research in audio feedback you can take a look at her presentation.



Any Volunteers? No…! Then, Fun Ways of Nominating Students

I think it happens to all of us from time to time when we ask a question in the class there might be silence in the class. Then, we ask “Any volunteers?”, and go one step further and say “common guys…!” :)

I came across a variety of fun ways of picking students in Ozge Karaoglu’s blog which is one of the blogs I really like reading because it’s full of creative teaching ideas and suggestions. I decided to try out some of the apps to see how they look and to examine whether they are user-friendly.

Dart Board Selector

The first one is Dart-Board Selector. It’s free and all you need to do is to sign up with your e-mail.

ScreenHunter_08 Apr. 04 17.45You need is typing in your class list and once you do that if you would like to try out another app in BarryFunEnglish, your class list will be directly copied onto the next one.

Then, after you are done, you need to hit create and you end up with a dart board which bears the name of your learners.

All you need to do is hit the target and choose one of your students to respond to questions or do the next exercise.

Fruit Machine

If you would like to have something noisy then you may wish to try out the Fruit Machine.

ScreenHunter_09 Apr. 04 18.14It’s an enjoyable app which would put the names of your learners on to a Fruit Machine. All you need to do is wait and see the “lucky one”.

For more apps and ideas you can visit the following links:

More Name Generators 

Students Selectors and Grouping Tools

Team Teaching Story

This academic year has started very well for me because I not only teach students which I love a lot but also provide workshops to teachers in ScoLa, especially to the ones who have been recruited this year. I have seen that there is a great interest in these workshops which I hadn’t expected because we have a great bunch of experienced teachers.

I thought we would only get interest from the new staff but surprisingly we also hear a lot of positive remarks from experienced teachers.  This is not my first experience of teacher training because I have worked in several occasions in programs involving training and development of teachers. For example, INGED (English Language Teachers Association) is like my little baby because I have been doing INGED trainings with English language teachers all over Turkey and believe that I have contributed a lot to the importance of English language teaching. In fact, I have received a lot of nice feedback from those teachers. Also, some of those teachers have made great moves in their careers. My first training experience had started in Hacettepe University in 1996 where I also organised the pre-service trainings and in-service trainings. That was a great learning tool for me. It all started in that year and continued with INGED programs. I am very lucky to be part of INGED.

Now, at Özyeğin University, at the Teacher Development Unit, we have started to share our expertise and knowledge with our enthusiastic SCoLa teachers by providing workshops, reading clubs and ICT workshops. While I was delivering those weekly workshops in the previous semester, I heard many teachers asking about what team teaching was and that they were interested in knowing more about it. So, towards the end of the first semester ( 2014-2015 academic year), we decided to plan our team teaching workshop with Bahar and afterwards we would ask teachers who would be interested in implementing a team teaching lesson in our classes. We had planned that the Team Teaching workshop would be based on Loop Input in which teachers would be able to see the actual way of doing team teaching even if it was a training workshop. When we put the team teaching workshop on the schedule, we saw that many teachers were interested and attended the session. We all had great fun learning more about team teaching since it also included team building activities. For example, one of these activities was the “Blindfolded Walk”. It was a “Trust building Activity” in which partners had to walk with their blindfolded eyes from one end to the other end with a partner. Their partners had to guide them so well so that they wouldn’t step on the “mines” which were plastic glasses turned upside down on the floors.

Following up on this, in the second semester, I had the opportunity to deliver a team teaching lesson with one of our colleagues, Wasfiyah. We had great fun while we were planning our lesson. So, we had planned carefully about how we would apply the lesson (NLL 9.3) and videotaped it so that teachers would have a chance to watch the recording on video. This was a great experience for both of us as we had to plan every detail in order to make it as efficient as possible. The class said they loved it and that we should repeat this more often. Even though it was a joint lesson, we had similar responsibilities and students were all involved in the lesson. Here is the lesson plan in case you would like to apply the same schedule:

ScreenHunter_03 Apr. 06 08.46


Aim: By the end of the lesson students will have learned some vocabulary items related to the unit. They will also have taught those vocabulary items to each other (in pairs) which will give them a chance to remember the vocabulary items later.

They will have accomplished reading a short text for getting the gist. And they will have done a jig-saw reading activity. At the end of the lesson, they will also be able to answer the questions related to the 3 short texts.


Warm-Up: Two teachers sit in front of the class and show the photos of two engineering projects. They talk about the two projects, one in Turkey (Marmaray) and one in Dubai (Burj El Khalifa). Students listen to them and they try to remember the information about those engineering projects. Afterwards, they answer 3 questions about those two projects. (10 mins)

  1. 1. What is it?
  2. Why was it built?
  3. What was the challenge?

ScreenHunter_02 Apr. 06 08.46

  1. Vocabulary Teaching: Students sit in two circles. Each teacher joins one group and they teach the relevant vocabulary items which students will come across in the text to their groups. One teacher teaches 6 words, the other one teaches other 6 words. Then, students in both groups are given a number which they will pair up with from the other group. So, number 1 pairs up with number 1 from the other group. Finally, students stand up and teach each other their own 6 words that they have learned from their teacher. So, in total the whole class will have learned 12 words. ( 15 mins)


  1. Jigsaw reading: At this stage, the class is divided into groups of three. In each group, each person reads a different text from the book and underlines the important parts from their text. Afterwards, they talk about their own text. While talking about their text, they can use the previous 3 questions to guide them in their talk. (10 mins)

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  1. If time: Answering the reading questions on the worksheet. (10 mins) This might be done in the next lesson.

I would like to thank my colleague Wasfiyah for all her effort to do a team teaching lesson with me. It was a great pleasure working with her.

by Nazan Ozcınar


Online Educational Comic Strip Generator; MakeBeliefComix

Do you like comic strips? I love’em!

I discovered Make Belief Comics which is a web tool which enables users to create entertaining comic strips. It’s free and it is very user friendly. You can write your story in a variety of languages. Basically all you need to do is selecting panels, choosing characters and using your imagination to create your story. I experimented with it and ended up with the cartoon below (I know not very funny haah! But I enjoyed creating it :) )

I really think that using comic strips in the lesson might about the fun element into learning. Students can come up with their stories and practice the use of newly learned vocabulary items and/or grammar structures while they are telling their stories on-line.

Make Belief Comics also suggest some great ideas regarding how this tool can be used. One of them is entitled: “A Day at School”. I thought that it could be an excellent activity to try out in class. It reads as:

“MAKE BELIEVE that you’re in school. Your teacher is talking to the students in your class, and you have the power to read the hidden thoughts and daydreams of your fellow students as the teacher lectures. Choose a character to be the teacher who is speaking to students. What are his or her words? Now, what is going on in students’ heads? Place thought balloons over students’ heads and in them write their secret thoughts. If you wish, you can use talk balloons to have students respond to teacher’s words.”

Also I loved the idea of having the students create daily (or weekly?) comic strip diaries in which they portray and reflect what they learned and experienced.

For more ideas you can visit this link. I think that adding fun element in tothe lesson is necessary and telling stories online by using comic strips is a great way. Hope you like it.

by Asli Lidice Gokturk Saglam

How to Use Educational Technology?: Tips from ICT Workshop Participants of ScOLa in an E-book

beyzaICT workshops are in full swing  in ScOLa land thanks to Beyza (Yılmaz).

Last week the session was on e-publishing and distinguished participants (Selda Gümüş, Nurgül Keskin, Merve Elbirlik Tülek, Mahir Mulasmajic, Mina Layegh) have prepared an e-book while experimenting with on-line publishing as a part of their weekly session.

The participants created their first e-book using Issuu and kindly shared tips for ICT integration.

Looking forward to other e-books encompassing tips regarding ICT tools.

Teachers learning from teachers: The Butterfly Effect

Dear All,

I would like to share an activity which I have learned from Petek Şirin who posted on ScOLa CPD Blog recently. After having read her post “The Ugly Truth”on the TDU blog (please read it if you have time- here is the link to Petek’s post on the blog) I wanted to apply what she had done with her advanced students in the 1st module with my lovely intermediate students.

Letter 3This is what I did:

Yesterday I bought very fancy letter papers and “luck pencils” with “nazar boncuğu” devil eye on them for my students. Today was the last day of the first week so I handed out the pencils and the letter papers to my students and asked them to draw the pictures of their faces and finish this sentence:

This is how I feel: Today is the last day of the first week and I feel….. because…..

After this part, they had to write a letter to themselves starting with “Dear Me” and answer the following questions:

  1. What are your ideas about the 1st week?
  2. What would you like to achieve in this module?
  3. What are your plans for this module ? or What are your future plans?


While they were writing their letters, there was soft music in the background.

Thank you very much Petek! My students were very much interested and loved the activity.

Written by: Nazan Ozcinar


Motivation Blog Challenge: Our PRECİOUSSSSS

Gollum 1Our students face many challenges when it comes to academic writing and this may lead to a certain level of motivational issues in class. Although some might find ways to tackle those,most fail doing so and have lower levels of motivation. Having taught Intermediate essay writing for long enough, I was always in search of ways that would lead to encourage our students to improve their content. As most of us would agree, improving content is the most challenging part of teaching writing since the students do not tend to talk about reasons in their daily lives .

Last module, I had the chance to teach Pre-Intermediate level for the first time, where students learn to write opinion paragraphs. I took it as an opportunity to look for ways to teach them to talk about reasons rather than just mentioning simple facts. So, here comes a simplified version of my lesson plan that I used to improve the content of the students’ writing via exploiting speaking questions in their coursebooks and level objectives.

In this post, I would like to focus on how I exploited our course book’s “Speaking Questions” to revise our objective; writing an opinion paragraph, and to improve content.

In the first two weeks, writing objectives were new to our students so we made use of every opportunity to revise and teach them.


  1. There are 6 questions in this exercise. I chose only 3 of them which can be possible writing questions for them.

ScreenHunter_06 Jan. 30 10.192. I simplified the last question:

ScreenHunter_07 Jan. 30 10.22

3. I asked 5 students to stand up and choose their team mates. 5 students volunteered. They chose 2 more people for the group work, so we had 3 groups of 3 and 2 groups of 4 (I had 17 students).

ScreenHunter_08 Jan. 30 10.23

4. They had 10 minutes to discuss the questions in their groups while I was monitoring and listening to them. I sometimes joined the discussions to elicit some ideas for REASONING.

ScreenHunter_09 Jan. 30 10.26For instance, a group couldn’t come up with any reasons for the 2nd question. They were repeating the sentence: “It is better to live in a hot country.” as I insisted on asking WHY? Their only answer was “because it is hot.” I guided them to think about the activities they could do in summer. Then they were able to find some reasons. (They can go out with their friends/ It is enjoyable because they can swim).

5. After 10 mins, I divided the white board into three columns and wrote the questions there.

6. Then, the students started sharing their ideas, and we took notes on the board.

7. Lastly, I chose the last question to practice writing a paragraph together with the students. We had all the brainstorming ideas ready on the board and it was easy to group those ideas with the REASONS because students already mentioned those reasons.


8.    I suggested them that we should choose an “umbrella term” for each supporting idea. Looking at the brainstorming ideas, we decided to talk about physical (sick/ energetic/ young) and psychological (depressed/ bored/ moody) effects of climate on people.

9. We wrote the topic sentence and first supporting idea together with its reasons, further explanation and examples and I gave the 2nd supporting idea as homework.

Having written the first part together in guided fashion, students were much more motivated to produce their own draft. They felt more enthusiastic.. In sum, our precious in boosting motivation was generating ideas and enriching content.

How do you exploit the books to increase the motivation of students? What is your precious?

 By İlknur Sarıoglu




Motivation Blog Challenge: The Ugly Truth

Teaching for diverse abilities is a huge challenge and, very often, we find ourselves retrofitting certain components of a course to cater for the needs of these different profiles. On one hand, we have high achieving and gifted students who are purely mastery-oriented and on the other hand, we have unfocused and less attentive students who constantly grouse about the system and do nothing at all. The ugly truth is that the number of students who belong to the second category is gradually escalating.

Mirror Cards

One of the motivating activities that we can apply at the very beginning of the semester is to give them ‘mirror cards’ and ask them to write whatever they feel now and draw a smiley face that clearly displays these feelings. The final thing to do is write a future message about where they would like to be and what they would like to achieve at the end of the semester/module. Once the course finishes, give them their mirror cards back and generate an open class discussion about their feelings. In my case, all the learners forgot that they had written such cards before and they were really moved when they received them after 4 months.

petek 2   Coaching

Another solution to accommodate the needs of these learners and thus increase their motivation could be learning coaching sessions during office hours. Together with the students we can set realistic short term goals and closely track the improvement of them.

As for the weak learners who have low language learning aptitude, these sessions can turn into language coaching ones where they specifically work on grammar and vocabulary  and use the target structures in a productive way.

Revisiting mastered concepts with which they once had problems can refresh their confidence and increase their motivation. Once all the goals are achieved, it is time to celebrate them!


Learner Certificates

petek 1

This semester, I prepared them special certificates and gave them ‘good luck’ pencils to celebrate their success and they were truly happy.

You can visit for free printable certificates.



Students in Charge

My last suggestion is handing over some control to students. If they take ownership of what is done in class, they have less room to endlessly criticize the system. For instance, Fridays can be open-format days and they can decide on the type of the activities they would like to do or select topics& materials they would like to cover.

petek 3By Petek Sirin


Motivation Blog Challenge: Students are bored all the time?

Our students get bored easily, and this is one of the comments I keep hearing from my colleagues. I could offer some suggestions to overcome this conception. As our personality varies, our tone of voice changes. I could hear that some of my colleagues keep using the same tone of voice. If there is not any variation, audio lingual students may not pay attention to us as an instructor. Additionally, we may forget relating everything we teach to students. Once we do not touch upon students’ feelings, it seems complicated to retrieve and use information. As a result, it is of great importance to associate feelings with the material and what is being taught in class.

erayAs instructors, we may reflect on whether learners see any value in learning English or coming to prep classes. From time to time, how learning matters or how grasping any language moves students forward should be articulated in class. If necessary, we could conduct sessions inviting professionals from variety of sectors on how learning languages makes a difference in one’s personal and professional life. Another aspect to focus on is learner frustration. We, as instructors, know how to deal with a module from scratch. In other words, we have the grasp of everything we are going to cover and how we are going to cover each item. However, when it comes to students, they feel frustrated once we overload them with all the items to be covered in class. We may not let them express their level of frustration as well. What if we could follow a step-by-step approach and force ourselves not to cause any more frustration for our learners? We may ask learner opinions after some sessions, reflect on problems together or we may make use of our tutoring sessions to let learners speak up about the source of frustration and how it spreads throughout any classroom environment. In any learning environment, learner outbursts about motivation are worth discussing and taking actions.

Here are some links that may help:


Eray Sevingil Bilici