The HCT-Al Ain Women’s campus (AAW) hosted the first Al Ain campuses (AAC) Professional Development Day of 2019 on March 5, which was organized by the Foundations Program Coordinator, Mr. Stephen Aston.
The aim of the day was for Foundations faculty to share ideas during the non-teaching week between Cycle 3 exams and the beginning of Cycle 4. Mr. Stephen welcomed teachers from both Women’s and Men’s campuses to the proceedings, in the AAW Absher Room.
The first presentation was given by Mr. Eden Brough, with the title ‘How is our students’ motivation to use English?’ This was an academic presentation based on research done by Mr. Eden on the attitudes of Level 4 students who studied under the previous Foundations system, when all students were required to take the IELTS.
Ms. Nalini Malhotra suggested it would be beneficial to run similar research with our current students while Mr. Ayman Fareh added that new research on student motivation might be more informed on the ideas of investment and identity.
Ms. Nalini then conducted a practical session on ‘Ways to use Book Widgets’. These can be embedded in any Learning Management System and provide a wide variety of activities to enhance students’ learning. Participants enjoyed taking the role of students and completing activities on their laptops.
Ms. Basma Abdulla recommended that teachers using Book Widgets for the first time should initially use the ‘worksheet’ facility, while Ms. Corne Lotter added that they would be well advised to first create a bank of questions. Teachers were encouraged to take up the opportunity of doing the Book Widget training on the PD Dashboard in order to receive a license.
After this, it was the turn of Ms. Corne to facilitate a workshop on the theme of ‘Nearing success with Nearpod’, along with her colleague Ms. Toni McLaughlan. The audience was enthusiastic to learn about this online classroom tool for students to engage students with interactive lessons. The two presenters guided the audience, again in the role of students, through some of the numerous ways that they use this tool to provide fun learning and assessment activities for their learners. The attendees were particularly engaged by the ‘Draw it’ option, which enabled some of them to demonstrate hidden talents. As Ms. Corne said, “I find Nearpod to be particularly useful with my Level 1 students as it enables me to break a lesson down into a number of short activities.”
These presentations were followed by Mr. Jose Tena Villada who demonstrated ‘Blackboard item analysis for class feedback.’ This was particularly useful for those teachers who were unfamiliar with all aspects of the Grade Centre on BBLearn. Mr. Jose showed how, through the process of item analysis, he uses the results of practice tests to give both collective feedback to classes and provide personal revision activities for weaker students.
Finally, Ms. Marian Kamlin, introduced and explained the idea of ‘Educational escape rooms’. Based on work she had recently done as a result of her participation in the Electronic Village Online 2019, Ms. Marian revealed how the process of finding clues and solving a variety of puzzles can be employed to motivate English language learners. During this session she presented very imaginative ways to use both digital and live classroom escape rooms.
At the end, Mr. Stephen Aston thanked all the presenters as well as those who attended the event. “I hope you enjoyed the presentations and managed to pick up some interesting ideas for motivating our students and ourselves,” he said.
“I also look forward to more great AAC PD sessions in the future.”