Aslı Saglam's Blog about CPD in ELT

Blogging: An Adventure in Professional Development


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.

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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


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.

In sum, I think I learned a lot as a professional from reflective blog writing and I was happy to share my retrospective case study with other colleagues at IATEFL 2015.

You can find further details in my slides below.

Online Educational Comic 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 :) )

Teaching Ideas

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.

(Cross-posted at Scola CPD Blog)

Q & A with Participants of IATEFL Forum on Blogging


How can blogging support teacher development? 

Barbara Chamberlin, Angela Pickering and Paul Slater from The University of Brighton, Aysegul Salli from Eastern Mediterranean University and myself are intrigued by this question and we will explore affordances of academic blogging as a reflective tool in teachers’ professional development in a Forum on Blogging in IATEFL 2015 Convention in Manchester.

This will be the first time that I will participate in a Forum in IATEFL and I am looking forward to it. We will meet our audience- colleagues- friends on 13 April Monday at 17:25- 18:30 in Central 7.

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There will be three 15 minute presentations focusing on variety of aspects of blogging regarding; blogging and CPD of in-service English language teachers, teachers’ perspectives on the blogging process that is embedded in a teacher training program and pre-service teachers’ construction of teacher identities via blogging. In short, as presenters in IATEFL Forum will explore blogging for teacher development from a variety of perspectives in diverse educational contexts.

We are looking forward to meeting you at IATEFL 2015 in Manchester and exchanging ideas. Presentations will be followed with a group question and answer slot at the end and we really do hope that you join us.



Question & Answer with the Forum Presenters

Aysegul Sallı

aysegul1. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I have been working as a teacher of English at Eastern Mediterranean University since 1998. I have worked in the Department of English Language Teaching and English Preparatory School. I have also been working in the Teacher Training and development unit. I am a PhD candidate and planning to submit my dissertation by the end of this semester.

2. What are the main points that will be covered in your presentation in IATEFL?

At the IATEFL conference, my presentation will focus on the use of blogs and their contribution to the construction of teacher identities of pre-service English teachers.

3. Why are you interested in the area you’ll be presenting on?

I am very much interested in teacher identity and learning technologies. I attempted to merge these topics in my PhD research. I am curious how teacher candidates construct their teacher identities. The involved in this process are attracting my attention. My presentation involves a small part of my research. I am excited to share it on an international platform.

4. How might participants benefit from your session?

Well, I presume the participants will hear some theories about teacher identities and previous studies. They will have ideas about my research context and the results I gathered. I think they may be inspired to investigate whether using online tools really contribute to construction of teacher identities.

5. Can we find you on social media?

I am on social media, though I do not consider myself a frequent user. I am on twitter as @aysegul and on facebook as aysegul salli. I have a blog which has been inactive for a couple years. I think it is high time that I started to actively post on my blog.

Barbara Chamberlin

Barbara Chamberlin1. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a senior lecturer at the University of Brighton and the Course Leader for the postgraduate Diploma in TESOL. My teaching is largely teacher education on undergraduate and postgraduate courses, and I also contribute to modules on English Language. I am also the module leader on a module that teaches the reading and analysis of graphic novels and comics.

2. What are the main points that will be covered in your presentation in IATEFL?

Developments that have taken place on the Diploma in TESOL at the University of Brighton regarding teacher reflection and the use of technology, focusing on blogs as a mode for capturing reflection. Focus will be given to the voices of those who have finished the course or who are currently on the course, collected through focus groups and interviews.

3. Why are you interested in the area you’ll be presenting on?

Reflection is not only key to the Diploma, but crucial in terms of ongoing teacher development, therefore questions surrounding the reflective process, ways of capturing this reflection and embedding reflection for ongoing professional development are very important. The changes we have made already have had an impact from my / our tutor perspectives, and we wanted to explore the perceived impact from the teachers’ point of view.

4. How might participants benefit from your session?

It may be useful to get a sense of how technologies are being used in our Diploma and see how teachers on this course experience and perceive both reflection and the use of technology.

Asli Saglam

KHV_61621. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am the owner of this blog, mother of two, an ELT teacher and a PhD candidate.

2. What are the main points that will be covered in your presentation in IATEFL?

My presentation will focus on how keeping an academic blog contributed to my professional development.

3. Why are you interested in the area you’ll be presenting on?

I think that being a part of a teacher is being a life-long learner. Therefore CPD gains a significant importance. I really think that blogging-as a reflective activity has great potential.

4. How might participants benefit from your session?

I think that the best part of the conferences is interaction between educators from all around the world. I am hoping that discussing my case- my adventure in blogging will bring about discussion into potential of using blogging in support of teacher development. I also hope that might inspire my colleagues to consider blogging as a transformative way of teacher development.

5. Can we find you on social media?

My twitter handle is @aslilidice and on facebook you can find me as Asli Lidice Gokturk Saglam

Wishing everyone a happy, fulfilling and enriching IATEFL experience. Hoping to learn with and from you.


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Blogging: An Adventure in Continuous Professional Development


I think academic blogging has great potential for promoting Continuous Professional Development of teachers as a transformative reflection tool. At least it helped me grow as a teacher on a large scale.

I will be talking about my journey as an avid blogger at IATEFL Annual Conference & Exhibition Manchester 2015 this April. I am looking forward to meeting colleagues & friends and making new friends at one of the greatest ELT Conferences. I will participate in a forum with other educators about academic blogging. My presentation is entitled “Blogging; an adventure in support of teacher development”. The forum will take place 17:25 – 18:30 on 13th April at Central 7 and each speaker will focus on different aspects. I am sure it will be a very insightful session since forum may bring about interaction between all participants, as the other thousands of scheduled sessions in the mighty IATEFL Annual Conference & Exhibition!

So, I reviewed my journey as an avid blogger and outlined this great adventure in an info-graphic. Hope you like it :)

Global Education Conference 2014 in Retrospect


Global Education Conference 2014 is over with an amazing number of presentations on a vast array of subjects given by numerous educators all around the world. I always look forward to this online event because I really find it very powerful in fostering ideas and bringing geographically dispersed educators together.

I was honored to be a part of this giant online CPD event. I gave a presentation entitled “ICT’osphere Surrounding ELT World: Reviewing Tools in Use”. In this presentation I talked about some of the educational technology that we use at my school and the web tools that I have experimented with. Link to my presentation as well as the the other are outlined below. I hope you would have the chance to take a look.

Happy to be a part of GEC 2014

All conference recordings are posted. Click here.

In addition conference keynote presentations are also published online on YouTube.


Global Education Conference kick-starts this Monday!!! Save the date.


The fifth annual Global Education Conference 2014 is just around the corner. It will kick start and be in full swing on Monday, November 17 and it will continue through Friday, November 21. This week long Global Education Conference is a free online event is expected to host more than 25 keynote speakers , more than 305 presenters and  educators and innovators from around the world. There will be a vast array of topics to be covered ranging from 21st Century skills, fostering international collaboration, globalizing the world through use of ICT in education, digital citizenship, communities of practice, social entrepreneurship, to continuous professional development, just to name a few.

The conference welcomes its participants with the following video

HOPE to CONNECT with YOU ONLINE in this great event!

Attendees may also want to check out the General Information below:

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Quality Research in ELT; Interview with Simon Borg



I first heard Professor Simon Borg in my ‘Teacher Education’ course at the university and, like the rest of my classmates, I was very impressed by the volume of his research and expertise . I then kept on reading his articles and blog The Joys of Being an Academic  and I learned so much from him.

I was honoured to interview him at 3rd  Malta ELT Conference where he gave a  workshop for IATEFL ReSIG couple of weeks ago and I thank him very much for his time!

Hope you enjoy reading the interview in which Professor Borg offers some valuable insights for teachers interested in research.

How can research contribute to teacher knowledge? What are the benefits of teacher research in ELT?

I have worked with many teachers who have done teacher research and they always have much to say about the benefits they experience. It helps them understand themselves and their learners better, gives them new practical ideas to work with, and also improves their critical skills, motivation and autonomy. There are many other potential benefits too, for teachers, students and schools.

At times it’s stated that there is a gap between research and teaching. A frequently voiced concern is that research and research findings can not be related to real classrooms and daily instruction. Whose responsibility is it to bridge the gap between research and teaching?

In teacher research this gap does not exist because teachers carry out systematic inquiry into their own classrooms. Teachers study their own work and so teacher research is by definition a practical activity.

What are some of the difficulties that might be encountered in teacher research? What would be your advice to overcome these problems?

Teachers may need to support to understand what teacher research is and to develop the skills and knowledge required to do it well. In such cases it is useful to provide teachers with training and mentoring from a more experienced colleague or someone external. Another challenge can be the time that doing teacher research requires. To avoid being overwhelmed, teachers should make sure that their projects are feasible. Schools who are serious about teacher research should also support teachers by giving them a small time allocation for their projects.

I would recommend that teachers and others interested in teacher research start by reading this simple introductory article:


Heartfelt thanks Professor Borg!

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Teachers as researchers: A strategy for professional development


Kenan (Dikilitas) and Koray (Akyazi) are language teachers and teacher trainers at Gediz University. They are advocates of teacher research as a professional development strategy and they gave a workshop on different forms of teacher research at the 3rd ELT Malta Conference. I couldn’t attend the conference and I was very curious about their session. Luckily Kenan kindly agreed to answer my questions in the following interview regarding their workshop.


1.       In your opinion how can teacher research contribute to the continuous professional development of teachers?

I should absolutely say yes to this question. Depending on my 4-year experience of conducting teacher research with teachers from varying degrees of experience, it seems that they benefit from engagement in research. There are concrete evidences for teacher development. The teachers generally report that they promote deeper understanding of the research focus they study and can talk about the problem under research very confidently.

This is related to the long engagement and deeper involvement in planning research, discussing critical issues, writing up an account of the research and sharing it with a wider audience in a conference.  Areas of development they highlight in the interviews are:

  • general professional development
  • experience in research skills
  • developing a critical eye
  • promoting reflecting skills
  • improving classroom practices
  • gaining insight into teaching
  • learning how to optimize student learning
  • evaluating the context they work in

Though it is demanding and challenging process and leads to development slowly and in the long run, conducting teacher research is a strong and well-established way of creating deeper impact on one’s understanding and teaching.


2.       In your institution you apply teacher research as a form of professional development. Could you please give some background about this project? How did you started off? What alternative applications of teacher research do you use in your context?

I started to conduct teacher research projects in 2010. Having seen busy schedule and intensive work teachers were doing, I opted for a flexible professional development program.


Other reasons for choosing teacher research  are that it is;

  • practice-based
  • classroom-oriented
  • student-focused
  • process-based
  • reflection-integrated
  • exploration-oriented

When the teachers are going through so much cognitive activities such as thinking, understanding, exploring, deciding, creating knowledge, sharing and discussing, it is inevitable that they process new knowledge in a way that will have impact on them.

The project I am conducting also involves planning, conducting and writing up research as well as presenting it at the annual conference held in June in the institution.  These conferences, though they started as an institutional event, turned into national and international ones in four years where other teacher researchers and academics as well as project participants come together. This year I am helping more than 30 teachers in the project who are aiming for writing up and presenting their teacher research studies. Although it may seem an easy activity from how it is written here, teachers’ personal commitment play the key role in the accomplishment of the project.


3.       In 3rd ELT Malta Conference, your workshop focused on different forms of teacher research. Could you please give some information about different forms of teacher research?

For MALTA ELT Professional conference, I collaborated with one of the skillful teacher researchers and prepared a workshop. Our major purpose was raising teachers’ awareness towards understanding teacher research as an umbrella term which includes exploratory practice, reflective practice and action research. The workshop introduced these concepts with hands-on activities by focusing on the following key characteristics:

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4. What could be the criteria or points to consider when thinking about selecting an appropriate form of research and applying it to a local context? What should be considered?

These three forms of teacher research are complimentary though they seem as different research activities because teachers generally start with an exploration process where they try to understand the context they are teaching and clarify the issues they want to understand. Following this they think about the specific issues they explored and theorize from their experiences. These two initial stages may help them develop a research plan especially when they identify a problem in their teaching and a practice they want to change or improve. This is where they decide on a particular action research by which to solve particular problem they have in mind.

My suggestion could be for them to decide whether they have a question in mind or problem. If they have the former, they can carry out an exploratory practice combined with a reflective practice. However, if they have a problem in teaching, they should also conduct an action research.

For those who are interested in any of these forms can contact me for further questions and help.


Thanks for the interview and valuable information.


Reflections on IATEFL ReSIG Workshop; “Quality Research in ELT” by Simon Borg


1Professor Simon Borg gave a pre-conference workshop entitled “Doing Quality ELT Research” at the onset of 3rd ELT Malta Conference “The Learning ELT Professional”. I was fortunate enough to attend it in sunny and beautiful Malta with more than 50 participants. It was great to see that many educators are into research. The workshop had a 360-degree look at the research process and focused on traits of a good researcher, dimensions maintaining quality in research, essentials steps to be considered in planning the research, objectives and research questions, points to consider while conducting research, analysing data and reporting.Throughout the workshop Professor Borg challenged participants’ preconceptions  about conducting research and encouraged reflection on assessing research quality through a criteria. I have to say that I really enjoyed being in the audience and benefitted a lot from the workshop. I would like to reflect on some highlights accompanied by some quotations that lingered in my mind at the end of the day.

What counts as data, what’s research and who is a good researcher?

We started off by framing our own questions that we hope to be answered in the workshop at the end of the day. Mine was about having a framework or a blueprint for conducting research. I mean, where do you start from? What aspects need to be examined and monitored?

2We worked in groups shared our views about what counts as data. One example was a research study which examined impact of pre-service English language teacher education on trainees’ beliefs through an innovative visual methods study at the University of Barcelona. Discovering alternative kinds of data that could be used in a study, including photos and drawings, was very beneficial because being aware of the full range of data can enable researchers to make informed choices among a greater spectrum of data collection.

“You can be subjective as long as you can support it in an objective way”

Also, we discussed traits that a good researcher should have such as being self-critical, patience, and perseverance in addition to the ones outlined by Zoltan Dornyeri (2007) such as experience, academic expertise, curiosity, common sense, good ideas, discipline, reliability and social responsibility. In the end, the researcher sounded like a Marvel character with super powers but it’s all in the name of maintaining quality in research and it’s definitely worth the try.

One area that we talked about was the concept of objectivity. Is it possible for the researcher to be objective in a research study? The overall conclusion was that researchers need to be disciplined about subjectivity since it’s very difficult to completely divorce the personal dimension and human element from research. In other words there is always an element of subjectivity but it should be controlled and monitored in order not to direct the research and findings towards the results you were hoping for as the researcher. Therefore the cure is “disciplined subjectivity” as Professor Borg stated.

“You don’t fall out of bed and say I’ll do research”

As for what research is Professor Borg suggests a generic definition which states that research is planned, systematic, purposeful, empirical, analytic and made public. During our discussions planning stage received the utmost attention because as Levine says: ‘There is nothing more practical than a good theory,’ (1952).  These characteristics are important because these differentiate research from reflective practice.

Quality in Planning, Conducting and Reporting Research


A number of tasks were mentioned as prerequisite agenda items for the planning stage. These tasks involve defining the focus of the study, developing a rationale for research, conducting a literature review, specifying research objectives and questions as well as design of the study. We were presented with common critical comments made by journal reviewers when papers were rejected and these comments highlight some common deficiencies that stem from lack of a critical literature review. It was stressed that literature review should provide a theoretical context rather than a historical one. Professor Borg provided couple of on-line resources as well. On-line resources for language education research 

“Original doesn’t mean no one in the universe has ever thought about it before”

Choice of topic is of vital importance for a quality research and discussion about writing good research questions provided good insights. It was concluded that topics should be;

  • timely (aligned with the current ELT trends and/or current school policies and strategies),
  • focused, original (understudied),
  • relevant, and
  • practical (value of the topic with respect to offering practical solutions to educational world).

“Why do weak students get low scores?”

After examining the suggested criteria to assess quality of research questions we went over example research questions and screened them against the given criteria.

It was concluded that research questions should be clear, specific, and answerable, interconnected, linked to previous research, worth of the effort and knowledge extending in order to contribute one drop of water to the knowledge ocean.

Conducting the study

Regarding research design the workshop stimulated quality discussion about dimensions of research that should be taken into consideration. These range from determining the research philosophy, methodology (qualitative, quantitative, mixed method), research approach (case study, experiment…etc.), participants, ethics, data collection methods, time (longitudinal, cross sectional …etc.) to approach to data analysis. Some of the buzz words that guided our discussion were validity, reliability, generalizability, and objectivity. Then, Professor Borg introduced certain ways in enhancing quality in collecting and analyzing data such as being aware of data collection methods in terms of their strengths and weaknesses, evaluating methods in relation to the purposes of the study and devising strategies such as prolonged engagement, triangulation, member checks, inter-reliability and avoiding poor coding of qualitative data among many others to overcome validity threats.

Reporting Research

In this section of the workshop we delved into strategies to make research public, maintain and increase credibility as researchers by providing thick description regarding how the research was conducted and having a good discussion session critically weaving previous research with findings and extending knowledge in some way rather than repeating previous findings.

Fourteen Steps to Writing an Effective Discussion Section  

Writing a research article: advice to beginners 

As a wrap up, we were asked to revisit the initial question we had in mind at the beginning and reflect on ‘to what extent it had been answered’. Mine was answered comprehensively.

Now, I wonder how widespread research is as a professional development strategy. I mean, how many of us in our own context conduct research or are asked to carry out research as a strategy for professional development. How can research contribute to teaching practices?

I really wish that teacher research will flourish as a strategy for continuous teacher development…

Other Resources that could be helpful


Dornyei, Z. (2007). Research methods in applied linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Lewin, K. (1952). Field theory in social science: Selected theoretical papers by Kurt Lewin.

London: Tavistock

Being a Digital Educator and a Citizen


I am getting really excited about our presentation on “Digital Citizenship and it’s applications in ELT” at TESOL Greece in 13 days. And we have all the motives to be excited because it seems that it’s going to be an excellent event!

Nil (Bilen) and I will share our ideas and we will be pitch firing many questions to our audience such as;  

What does it mean to be an educator and digital citizen?

What is our special role in preparing our learners to be digital citizens in blended learning environment

Which activities can be used in class?

In the end we hope to have a mutually enriching workshop experience with colleagues coming from a variety of educational settings and backgrounds. We really hope that our colleagues would join us on Saturday March 30 2013 at 17:40 – 18:25 and share their ideas about how to be a digital educator and a citizen.

In the meantime, you may want to take a look at a special tree of  links related to this subject that I have curated on PearlTree  

Digital Citizenship in Asli (aslilidice)

Please join us on Saturday or on-line :)



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The EduBlog Awards 2014 Finalist

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GEC 2014 Presenter

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