Aslı Saglam's Blog about CPD in ELT

EALTA Summer School 2012: Goteborg Diaries Day 3


What’s the relationship between storytelling and testing?

Norman (Verhelst)says that when testing we have a narrative but we need to be sceptical and critical towards the story and check whether the story we tell has any fallacies. In other words we need to check whether it’s trustable or not regardless of how beautiful the story is. Therefore, in order to check the narrative testers have to collect information.
So, on the 3rd day of the course we focused on ways of collecting information via one-dimensional and multi-dimensional models, likelihood and probability, Pascal’s triangle, joint maximum likelihood, conditional probability, and independence of probability.

But I would like to tell you another story here 🙂
The dinner we had at Pensionat Styrso Skaret…
It was such a lovely break after a hard day’s work.

2nd EALTA Summer School Dinner on PhotoPeach

EALTA Summer School 2012: Goteborg Diaries Day 2


I think the most difficult days were Day 2 and the following day- Day 3 because Jan-Eric Gustafsson carried out with classical measurement theory and we were introduced to ‘Item Response Theory’ by Norman Verhelst and both made me regret the days back at school when I tried (and unfortunately managed) to escape from the algebra lessons.

Jan Eric focused on Cronbach’s Alpha as a means to assess reliability score and outlined the assumptions of this measure which include; all components measuring the same underlying dimension, having the same relation to the underlying dimension and supposedly having same residual error variance. While constructing items in a test, if these assumptions are violated then there could be a reliability loss. Then, it was suggested that statistical tests, e.g. conducting a confirmatory factor analysis and checking inter-item correlation matrix and covariance matrix might act as a solution. We were also introduced to “a congeneric- Latent Variable Model”, “Path Analysis- Structural Equation Models (SEM)”, “Analysis of Moment Covariate Structures (AMOS) and Chi-Square Goodness of Fit Test”. Another point that Jan-Eric focused on was possibility of measuring a potential discrepancy between your data (what you observed in terms of test-scores) and your model, taking model complexity into consideration. Apparently the Root Mean Square Error of Approximation (RMSEA) test will yield whether your test has a good fit (if the value of the data analysis is less than 0.05).

As for validity Jan-Eric referred to Messick (1989) while defining ,exemplifying 3 classical forms of validity (content, criterion-related and construct)and conceptualising facets of validity as a “progressive matrix” taking evidential and consequential basis as well as test interpretation and test use into consideration. Then, as a final point that summed up the morning session, sources that can give information about construct validity and potential threats against construct validity were discussed. It was very informational and intense session and I am glad that we had the chance to be introduced to these analysis approaches and the underlying rationale. I felt that I would love to have more hands on tasks in the coming summer courses :)so that in the future we will be able to apply and transfer the course content fully in our local contexts.
I may have shunned from Math classes all through my education but there I was in our class of EALTA summer school, very happily and willingly pursue my professional development. Therefore I will give myself a bright star filled with the buzz words of the session.
ImageChef Word Mosaic - ImageChef.com


In the afternoon, Norman gave us a battery of programs involving OPLM that we used for Rasch Analysis and Item Response Analysis. OPLM is a non-profit product that could be downloadable from the internet.

Let me show you how it looks like;


Then when you run the program it gives you information about probabilities of a student with a certain level of skill in getting an item with a certain level of difficulty right together with anaalysis of items.



At the end of the second day, I was confused a lot but I was also I felt comfortable because I knew that there would be more support; internal (Norman & other participants) and external ( e.g. the free manual of the free program OPLM). This was just an introduction…

EALTA Summer School 2012: Goteborg Diaries Day 1


EALTA Summer School Diaries: Day 1 on PhotoPeach

EALTA’s Testing and Assessment summer school kicked off yesterday with 24 participants coming from various nationalities. Most of the participants got wet under the pouring rain but none of us minded this because the coordinator of the event Gudrun (Ericson) and Marianne (Demarret) and the course tutors Professors Norman Verhelst, John de Jong and Jan-Eric Gustafsson gave us a warm welcome.

After a short introduction and orientation to the course we were introduced to Classical Measurement Theory and we sought answers to essential questions for fair practice in testing including:

  • “Why should one measure?”
  • “What are the differences between modern theories of measurement- Item response theory (IRT) and classical theory?
  • “How to interpret correlation between items of a test?”
  • “How to maintain reliability of a test?
  • “How to measure reliability of a test?”
  • “What are the reasons for reliability loss?”
  • “What are the factors which may lead to sources of variance in test scores?”
  • “What’s the relationship between text length and reliability?

Professor Gustafsson explained/defined/illustrated the answers by exemplifying the constructs, instruments, research design and efforts made to maintain reliability and validity of a large-scale  research study; IEA Reading literacy Study that was conducted in 1991 with 4500 Swedish students. Thanks to real life examples, statistical tables and figures it was easier to grasp the answers provided in response to the questions listed above.

In addition to the rich content of the course, background and profile of the participants also contributed to the summer school. Some of the colleagues are working for ministry of education of their countries, some of them are involved in EU projects that aim at portraying language competencies across Europe, some of them are conducting research into testing and assessment and all of them are eager to talk about their experiences.

In short, I feel lucky and amazed maybe  due to  EALTA network in terms of collegial support and professional development or maybe because of the gorgeous “Welcome Reception” that we were treated with at the end of a trying but fruitful day.

Talking Presentations: Reading Enrichment


“My students DO NOT READ”. Please leave a comment to this post if you have heard this statement or voiced it yourself. Unfortunately one of the common concerns of our modern day is that Turkish L2 learners of English often do not read very much.

My friend/colleague Amy (Erenay) conducted an action reserach to foster reading enrichment among a group of Turkish university students. She tried out a reading intervention which comprised of a battery of reading skills and strategy training to see whether this would lead to any difference in terms of reading comprehension. She kindly accepted to talk about this class-based research in the presentation below.
Enjoy 🙂

Teacher Development with or without Technology; The Teaching Unplugged Experience by Scott Thornbury


Today I attended Teacher development SIG and Learning technologies SIG joint confernece at Yeditepe University. The event has a very interesting theme, examining intercation of technology with teacher development.

The first keynote session of the conference “The Teaching Unplugged Experience” was given by Scott Thornbury.

He started off eliciting the perception of the audience about ‘Dogme’ and then listed what some people have said about it. There was a wide variety of comments; from ‘it doesn’t work for the beginners (non-natives/ advanced/ young learners…etc.)’ to ‘it doesn’t work in Japan’. However, according to Mr. Thornbury, heart of the matter is that; Dogme is a platform, an engine for teacher development since ‘it invites teachers to question some of the received wisdoms about language teaching’.

He stressed his discontent with the idea of reducing teachers’ role into knowledge transfer and someone who is serving and argues that Dogme, as a self-initiated teacher development initiative, can lead to new forms of teacher development ; colloborative networks. He named some blogs including ELT STEW and Unplugged Reflections which illustrated reflections of such collaborative teacher development endeavours.

Finally, in order to make a difference and ‘matter’ (instead of being just a cog in a machine), the following advice from Atul Gawande  (A surgeon’s Notes on Better Performance) might be adopted to ELT and these may help all of us;

  1. Don’t complain
  2. Ask an unscripted question
  3. Count something (e.g. class-based research)
  4. Write something
  5. CHANGE (not necessarily embracing all new trends but looking for the opportunity to change)

My favourite was the number 5…What do you think?


(Cross-posted at IATEFL events)

Highlights from Beykent University ELT Conference Episode 1;Developing Materials and Practices for the Digital Generation by Nik Peachey


This Saturday Elif, Burca, Sultan, Nurgul, Beyza and I attended Beykent University 6th International ELT Conference. Although it was too good a day (sunny & bright) to spend in doors and we needed a nice good break (because we are on the new module verge of a new teaching module and we spent the whole last week extremely busy; marking and getting prepared to teach our new levels and students, going over the syllabus, schedule, course materials, supplementary materials…etc.) we attended the conference.

There were many other teachers who were keen on their professional development and were interested in the theme of the event as well as the speakers (like us).









In the first plenary session Nik Peachey focused on the necessity of adapting our teaching to the needs and learning styles of “digital natives” and outlined some web applications and teaching suggestions that can impact on language learning and cater for the needs of the new generation. I will never ever forget this talk because for the first time as an audience I was able to interact with the speaker from where I was sitting thanks to TodaysMeet.


TodaysMeet is an application may help teachers or presenters in this case to deal with the backchannel and connect with your listeners/audience/students through the live stream by asking them to make comments, ask questions and engage in a virtual conversation. later on all these conversation could be used as feedback. So here is our conversation with Nik while he was presenting on the stage. So, a new era is coming: Multi-tasking audience and multi-tasking presenters…!!!

Then to support digital study skills, web research and interacting with the text, Nik introduced Scrible and Storify. The best part of these tools are that they lead themselves to further exploitation because they can operate with generic tasks such as summarizing, responding to the text..etc.) and help teachers to plan their activities by benefiting form vast internet resources. He suggested couple of web applications for video communication including VYou and Keek and demonstrated how he used these in order to communicate with his students. To be honest, VYou terrified me a bit; when a student wants to ask you a question s/he sends you an e-mail, iphone application accompanying Vyou sends you a warning message, and you can click on the record icon on your i-phone and respond to your student, giving the message “your teachers is available any time any where”.

On the whole I learned a lot from this talk and it gave me lots of ideas and web applications to experiment with. He also curated a collection of articles about educational technology and its best uses which can be seen at this link.

You can access the presentation of this plenary session by clicking here.


Also, many thanks go to Beykent University for this beautiful and smoothly running organisation as well as their hospitality.


Research Papers in Language Teaching and Learning (RPLTL) – Special Issue on assessment and testing‏


Third volume of Research Papers in Language Teaching and Learning (RPLTL) has devoted its special volume to “Language Testing and Assessment Issues in the Greek Educational Context”. All articles in this special volume are written by practicing language teachers. Topics involve a variety of issues ranging from language assessment and testing in Europe and in Greece, a number of research accounts regarding high-stakes examinations in Greece, the role of the teacher, the function of courseware, the status, reactions to and beliefs about high-stakes examinations, and classroom-based assessment practices, to alternative assessment with respect to self-assessment, peer-assessment and ICT-enhanced assessment, It is edited by Dr Dina Tsagari (University of Cyprus) and Dr Spiros Papageorgiou (Educational Testing Service). You can access the entire volume freely by clicking the following link:

Link to reserach articles on testing and assessment
Many thanks go to Greek colleagues for sharing their brainchild and hard work with us-the readers world wide.

WebTool of the Day; Museum Box


Web Tool of the Day: Museum Box

“If you could put a number of items into a box that described your life, what would you include?”

Museum box makes this happen. Museum Box is a very interesting and stimulating web application which provides virtual boxes for you and on-line tools (sound, files, pictures…etc.) for building up and showcasing your ideas, or describing a person or an event or a problem by placing items in the virtual boxes.


You can take a look at some examples provided on the site before experimenting.

For instance you will find a museum box about photography here:

Teaching Suggestions

For the tech-savvy student profile: Let’s say that you focused on environment in your course materials and/or asked students to do an on-line search. Then you can ask the students to present their findings about environmental problems and suggested solutions by placing these into their museum boxes. For beginners in educational technology: You can also build a museum box with your students; you can be in charge of bringing realia and artifacts together but students can be in charge of finding what to display in the museum boxes.

Museum box also provides some guidance for the teachers.

You can also find tutorials on Youtube:


I hope that you enjoy it. Please let me know what you think…

How NOT to Learn English


How NOT to Learn English

We had a lucky draw for the New Year with my students and we bought presents to one another to celebrate this new beginning. One of my students bought a book for his friend who was a very nice kid but he did not enjoy being in the class and  learning English at all. The name of the book was “Nasil Ingilizce  and Ogrenilmez”- How Not to Learn English.  We cracked over the present laughing, and suddenly everyone was very interested about ways and approaches to learning English that proved to be inefficient for the students. We had talked about ways of learning English effectively previously, but never about “How not to Learn”!

This idea lingered in my mind, acting like a foil for all strategies that help learners to learn better. Then I shared this anecdote and a colleague of mine responded to the question. These are what she said (Thank you Caitlin!!):

How NOT to Learn English:

  1. Tell the teacher she is “selfish”  because you can’t talk on the phone in class
  2. Use your jacket to make a Bed on the floor so teacher can’t see you- she then marks you absent and you don’t learn a thing at all.
  3. Do another student’s homework so you also are punished for cheating
The on the Blogathon 2012 organised by British Council I posted about ways of not learning English and some  fellow blogger colleagues responded suggesting more items on the list such as ;
  • ” only listen, never speak …
  • Only speak, never listen …
  •  Drink lots of water before lesson and go to bathroom for at least two or three times. So, you can spend at least ten minutes out of classroom and have a chance of missing some activities.
  • Don’t bring your books to school and so you can have opportunity not to follow and do the activities in the book.
  • Find a weak point of your teacher and open that subject and get teacher to tell her experiences or thoughts about this subject. So, for some time she will talk about it and don’t teach anything.”

I think that discussing the other side of the coin, things that may block learning, may bring about useful insights and I wanted to share the reflections of some of us-teachers.

Would you like to contribute to the list?  🙂

Teaching Motivation


A Challenge toEmbrace

One of the most frequently encountered challenges that I have to embrace is the absence of students’ motivation. I don’t know if you would agree with me, but I feel that with each passing year, it becomes increasingly more difficult to maintain students’ motivation to read and improve reading comprehension. Research says that it is teachable and it would be a false
assumption to expect that if a student is good in literacy skills in her native language then these will transfer to learning a second language. Grabe (2009) offers a review of current literature and some interesting insights provided by recent research on the subject. For example, did you know that…

•Reading skills and motivation correlate: Students with higher reading motivation performed significantly better in reading

•Students with high intrinsic motivation also used comprehension strategies more frequently.

•Students who were taught effective comprehension strategies also increased their self-efficacy.

For further research findings and background information about motivation you may want to click on the links below:

John Guthrie (2001) on Contexts for Engagement and Motivation in Reading

C.T.McClure (2008) on Motivation and Reading

Implications of Research for Teaching

Grabe (2009, 192) provided a long and very insightful list of teaching suggestions in his book, and I will share some of my favorites:

  • Encourage students to read extensively, both in school and at home
  •  Promote effective goal setting and expected outcomes
  • Promote effective strategies
  • Provide motivating feedback on tasks and learning progress
  •  Create communities of learners who support each other.

Quest to Foster Readıng: CORI

It sounds like a newly found planet in the solar system, right? But, no it is something far more luminous than that. Guthrie and Cox (2001) outlined their thinking about engagement-motivation in reading and they stated that their research to find ways of increasing long-term reading engagement in class began where they (as teachers) began inside a single
classroom and ended with a model of context which they named CORI.

Instructional Framework

CORI represents the four phases of teaching that comprised the basis of their research study;

  • Observe and Personalize (e.g. using a hand-on activity, observing something/concept, asking questions about it, posting them on class walls for the others to read)
  • Search and Retrieve (e.g. using other resources (books, the internet, ideas of other people…etc.)
  • Comprehend and Integrate (search for info, summarize and monitor comprehension)
  • Communicate to others (posters, letters, piece of writing…etc.)

Guthrie and Cox (2001) suggested that CORI can be used as a framework- a blueprint for planning and implementing classroom teaching.

Teaching Ideas

In their article they offered a roadmap/ a questionnaire/ a criteria for the teachers to plan for a variety of contextual factors and assess class practices. I would like to give some examples. They state that
teachers can focus on the areas listed below and screen their practices against the descriptors.

1. Learning and knowledge goals

  • I organize my reading lessons around a theme and embed skills and strategies to tap skills training
  • My students read about a theme using different kinds of resources..etc.

2. Autonomy support

  • Class activities are guided by students’ questions…etc.

3. Strategy Instruction

  • I teach students how to use self-questioning techniques (Where did I find the answer? What helped me?)
  • My students work in teams to discuss reading strategies that will help them.

  4. Collaboration support

  • I ask students to form interest groups to read and write about a topic
  • I use different grouping patterns including partners, small groups, teams and whole class in the course of materials exploitation.

5. Autonomy Support

  • Reading time in class revolves around thematic projects that students help design

6. Evaluation

  • I use group reporting activities in which students work as a team
  • My students use their writing as a way of communicating content knowledge to other students

I think that the factors they listed and the descriptors charted under these are very helpful in generating class activities to teach motivation.

Finally Guthrie and Cox (2001) stated that their research concluded that students who were instructed through CORI were significantly more motivated than other students. They say that there are “no quick fixes” but Long-term reading motivation can be built by building a sustained context in which goals are identifies, cognitive strategies are taught explicitly, and
students are given choices, multiple sources to read from, chances of social collaboration and evaluation of students’ work within the context taking
objectives into consideration.

So, all right there are no quick fixes but it is still do-able!!

And here comes the most important question: HOW? Please share…

How do you teach motivation?



Guthrie & Cox (2001). Classroom Conditions for Motivation and Engagement in Reading, Educational Psychology Review, 13 (3), 283-301.

Grabe, W.(2009). Reading in a Second Language Moving From Theory to Practice, Cambridge University Press, New York.


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