Aslı Saglam's Blog about CPD in ELT

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)

Web Tools for Learning Vocabulary; Word Clouds and MindMapping Tools


Last week  I asked the students to revise the newly learned vocabulary by using some web tools such as Text2Mindmap, Wordle, and Image Chef . The idea was to get my students write vocabulary exercises using  Word clouds & Mind mapping Tools.

I wanted the students to work in groups to prepare vocabulary exercises and revise the newly learned words. Their task was to go over the units in student course book and supplementary materials and write a vocabulary revision in groups by following certain specifications outlined in a model exercise.

First students got into groups and I assigned units of our course book to groups. They were asked to choose 10-15 key words to test their classmates. After they decided on vocabulary items they showed me their lists. I introduced word cloud generators and mind-mapping tools and asked them;

1) to create word clouds of their chosen key words

2) group these words using mind-mapping tool. They could group target word list that they prepared based on meanings , antonyms, synonyms, word forms…etc

I showed them examples of vocabulary exercises and asked them to write word formation & fill in the blanks type exercises. It took some time and we couldn’t finish the task in one class hour. So after they were done,  one person in the group was assigned to e-mail their work to me. I brought outcome of the groups’ together and edited the document. The next day, our homemade vocabulary task was ready! Students were amazed by the outcome which consisted of everyone’s contribution.

In sum, Word clouds and mind-mapping could be useful for retention of the newly learned words and  I love when students work harder than me!!






Materials Design by for the Digital Generation; A webinar by Nik Peachey


Thanks to web providers such as Blackboard and Adobe, it’s possible to attend to on-line events that are done with participants from all around the world. These webinars disseminate info and expertise and reinforce the educational networks fostering more cooperation and collaboration.
I came across a webinar entitled “Developing materials and practices for the digital generation” by the glorious ELTon winner Nik Peachey and wanted to share it with you.

Here is the link that would take you to the webcast of the event.

Highlights from Beykent University ELT Conference Episode 2; Confessions of a Digital Immigrant by Teresa Doguelli


I was attracted by the title of the session because I am also a digital immigrant wanna be native. Marc Prensky coined these terms; digital native and digital immigrants in “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants” published in 2001  I was aware that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has been integrated into curriculum design and implementation, providing invaluable teaching/learning platforms and functions for both educators and learners. I also believe that integration of technology into teaching has transformed the learning paradigm and, consequently, face-to face learning has started to give way to web-enhanced instruction via internet based resources and systems. BUT I was caught unguarded. I mean I was not ready for this shift! In my pre-service training (14 years ago)we did not receive any training related to technology and there are meager opportunities for ICT training in terms of in-service training. I am still trying to adapt to and appropriate educational technologies in my teaching and it’s good to know that I am not alone 🙂

Leap-froging the digital divide

Teresa talked about her Google search about digital natives and outlined the characteristics such as “thrive on instant gratification”, “parallel processing and multi-tasking”. Then taking characteristics of net-generation into consideration her the major question was; “Do I have to go back to the beginning and re-learn about the new technology?”. Her answer to this questions is “No”. Teresa thinks that teachers can leapfrog the digital divide by researching and experimenting with Web 2.0 Tools. I asked the same question to myself and my answer was “Yes”. Transition is painful and it takes time (I still use pen and paper to take notes :))

I feel that in addition to all kinds of teacher knowledge  including content, pedagogical content, curriculum, general pedagogical, learners and their characteristics, educational contexts and educational aims, purposes and values (Shulman, 1987) now there is TECHNOLOGICAL pedagogical content knowledge (Mishra & Koehler, 2006).  When Teresa asked the audience whether they used snipping tool majority responded that they did not know about how to get a screen shot. (which is perfectly normal we had not been taught and there is certainly need for training to leap frog this digital divide). There was an excellent quotation in the presentation; “Learning is not compulsory neither is survival”


Whenever, Whatever, Where ever (WWW)

In her presentation Teresa exemplified how to make use of some web tools (Webquests, Glogster, TeacherTube) and introduced some teaching suggestions.

I totally agree with her that technology brought about tools that have great potential to make classes rich and these technologies are tools to learn rather than something we learn from.





Shulman, LS. (1987). Knowledge and Teaching: foundations of the new reform. Harvard Edcautional Review 57(1):1-22.

Mishra, P & Koehler, M.J. (2006). Teachers College Record 108(6): 1017-1054.


Reporting Highlights of the 46th IATEFL Annual International Conference from Home!


It’s not an oxymoron; thanks to British Council,  I can literally follow the IATEFL Conference in my trainers, sitting on my sofa at home.

I have become a registered Glasgow on-line blogger (Of course it does not alleviate the pain of not being there, but still, I am thankful for the opportunity. I love technology!!!). See here is my badge;

I cannot attend IATEFL Glasgow this year but thanks to British Council’s Glasgow Online Website, I was (and will be) able to follow the conference events and stimulating talks given by the presenters on-line. The coverage of Glasgow online encompasses live and video webcasts of conference presentations and workshops, video interviews, moderated discussion forums, photos and conference reports.

I have listened to Jamie Keddie’s interview which focused on video telling, role of language teachers, patterns and limit of teacher talk and materials exploitation.

As far as I have understood video telling refers to an amalgam of visual materials-video and storytelling. I thought that combining these modalities could be very powerful for shifting the emphasis on “teaching” to an emphasis on learning. In my opinion this educational change is in the underlying difference between “talking to your students and telling your students” that the speakers focused on. Furthermore, as indicated in the video teacher talk should also be reconsidered to accommodate such a shift towards learner-centeredness. It should not be dominating and be in the form of a monologue. In contrast teachers should foster a dialogic interaction not only between teacher to students but also between students to students.

Jamie also commented about necessity of materials exploitation and encouraging students to analyse and synthesize class materials for better learning opportunities. At the end of the day pictures are worth a thousand words and when they are combined with anther modality-storytelling then, learners could be exchanging and sharing communication in a much more motivating and interesting way.

Another interesting pick for me was the notion of roles of teachers. Teaching present perfect could be on one side of the continuum and/or tapping critical thinking skills on the other.

Here is the interview. I hope that you enjoy 🙂


Web-Tool of The Day; Vocaroo


Vocaroo is a a very user-friendly tool for podcasting; all you need is to go to the link (http://vocaroo.com/ )and have a mike (some computers
have built in ones). Then you will be ready to make the whole world listen toyou!

I believe that podcasting can have great potential to foster motivation and enhance learning. I have asked my students to use vocaroo to practice their speaking and soe newly words phrases about reading and intrpreting charts and they embeded their voice in their posts.


And it’s not only me. There is some evidence from research. For example, Hew’s review (2009)  analyzed 8 studies which focused on effects of using podcasts through
participants’ self-reports, questionnaires and/ or interviews and concluded that use of podcast could enhance student learning.

So here are some ideas if you would liketo experiement with Vocaroo.

Some Suggestions:

  1. Vocaroo can be used as a learner diary to recycle newly learned vocabulary and grammar structures. You can ask
    students to tell the story of their day (or week).
  2.  Students can also be asked to present a graded reader, their favorite story, food…etc. to practice certain speaking skills.
  3. … (Open-ended for your suggestions :))

You should try it out. I am sure that you will love it. If you know any other podcasting providers please share…



Reference: Hew, K. F. 2009. Use of audio podcast in K-12 and higher education: A review of research topics and
methodologies. Education Tech Research Dev 57:333–357

Web Tool of the Day; StoryBird for Digital Story Telling


Do you like story telling? I love it! Very creative and motivating… StoryBird is a web application for digital story telling. It has a lot of positive side because it has highly-very very stimulating content to create and narrate stories without any materials preparation burden on the teacher. Since templates are ready on the web all you need to do is use creativity and encourage  students’ and engage in the exiting world of
telling stories. Also exhibiting the final product is easy because it would be on-line. If you have a projector in the class whole class can participate in it and see the final work. Storybird can be used as in class practice or it could be assigned as a project to be done outside of the class.

First you need to go to the site of StoryBird .

Then, hit “Start a storyBird now”. You can either choose art work that inspires you or select and click on the listed themes. Look for the icon on the right hand side of the screen which says: “Start a storyBird” with this art, be bold click on that again. You can drag and
drop pictures and write your story. The template also allows you to add pagesand order them.

Virtual story telling can have numerous teaching implications including grammar practice and vocabulary practice. If
you ask your students to read other stories or present theirs, then it could tap speaking and reading skills.

Do you make use of story telling in your classes? What would you think about digital story telling?

Dogus ELT Conference; Notes from Day 1


Dogus University is holding their first ELT conference today and tomorrow and I also participated as a presenter. Before talking about my reflections and my take home at the end of the day, I would like to say that it a very well organised event. 

The first day started with two plenaries given by David Crystal (on electronically mediated communication and the lingusitic challenges that  accompany EMC) and George Pickering (on latest developments in psychology that can help us in turning challenges into opportunities, reflecting the theme of the conference).

I would like to talk about two sessions that I attended before giving my presentation.

Ozge Karaoglu Ergen presented some web tools including;

  • Delicious  which is a social bookmarking service that can be used for professional development, networking, suggesting reosurces for students and parents.
  • “Me on the Web” – a Google service which helps you to monitor your identity on-line by sending you alert(s) whenever there is some information and you are mentioned on the web. Also if you like you can delete the unwanted content. After the session I was so inspired that I followed the steps on the Google dashboard and set up the necessary notifications. 
  • Posterous  blogs the content that you send them via e-mail. So, everyone who can write and send an e-mail can blog.
  • Visual CV and Linkedin were suggested as web tools that can help in building a professional portfolio and an on-line CV which would show case your profesional efforts.
  • QR code me as  a very interesting application which could also be used in ELT. It was usggested that teachers can make use of them to promote mobile learning (putting posters in QR codes all around the school and/or presenting the answer key of a worksheet in QR codes for students to scan the code and get the answers later on)
  • RSS can help blog readers to check their favourite blogs all at once because through RSS readers, such as Google reader and/or bloglines , all info from other sources come to your RSS page.

I really think that it is important to introduce RSS to stduents especailly if you want them to to be involved in a blogging or a  podcasting project. The first step could be explaining what RSS is. This video explains RSS in Plain English 🙂

  • Twitter – I was very interested in the idea of using Twitter for professional development (i.e. following conferences on Tweeter, gathering teacher development ideas and flagging hands on activities which call for students’ participation). I will definitely try to learn more about Twitter after this session.



Gavin Dudeney’s session took us on a journey in history of technology in teaching and it was a very interesting presentation. His mentioned his early contact with technology and we all remembered the era where computers were huge, heavy and used two different operating sytems Dos & Windows with laughter (Also we remembered huge mobile phones with handles to carry like a suitcase :)). He asked us to think about our defining moments in our own experience with educational technologies . I was sitting together with my friends Zeynep (Urkun) and Burcu (Tezcan Unal) and Zeynep could remember wordster and word perfect before using windows and she recalled writing her very first e-mail in 1996.

Gavin outlined the history of technology in education and talked about Hype Cycles of technology adaptation, Normalisation, Obsolensce, approches to educational technologies in the 80s (behavioursitic & restrictive), 90s (communicative, openness in terms of having multiple layers of feedback, integrative, integrated), and our age (constructivist, principled eclecticism, connectivism) and concluded by remarking the concept “the Sharepocalypse”. It was a very informative session and I am really grlad that I did not miss it. Thanks a lot!!!

My presentation was about using techology in education as well. Many thanks go to my participants.

 The final pleneary of the day was given by Philip Kerr. It was about translation and use of L1 in learning L2 (which is still perceived as a taboo because language teachers are often advised to refrain from relying on L1 use). He kindly provided the audience with digital handouts of his presentation here.  The content was very interesting for me and I would like to focus on L1- L2 transfer and current reserach findings in another blog post as my response to his presentation.

The finale  of the day came from Henry Bothers and it was GRAND!!! I had so much fun in their interactive paper theatre. How did they make everybody in the room stand up, move their arms, hands, kick an imaginary football and raise a cup??? It was magic- magic of story telling. I missed that…

They gave us a present -a poem from Taylor Mali and it nearly made me cry! You should listen to it. I once more felt how lucky and happy I was because I became a teacher. Thank you Henry Bothers you ROCK!!


Many of my friends were presenting today (and they will tomorrow). I am sure that their presentations were (and will be) inspiring. It was very good to see them.


Adam (Simpson) was instantly following the events (taing pictures, tweeting, writing posts) and making my head spin 🙂

If you also attended the event please share your reflection…

That’s all for now.



Presenting at a Virtual Conference Episode 1; A small step for the world but a giant one for me


Today is a very big day in my personal and professional history because I will deliver my first virtual session at the 2011


Global Education Conference. I am terribly excited and I hope that everything goes well. Here is the link to the sessions. Please visit my session if you are available at 20:00 tonite! I am looking forward to talking about my experience using Blackboard and meeting with others all around the world. Wish me luck!! Lots of love.

Podcasts in Language Class


“We onlystudy for exams and I don’t enjoy learning English” commented one of my students today. I understand this comment and agree with it to a certain extend but on the other hand I have a weekly outline that I need to follow. I need to cover some certain objectives and materials as a teacher!! Students do not like listening to lectures and recorded listening of the course book and then having discussions about the topic they listened to all the time. At times they resist to speak in English, and shift back to Turkish. But, then… Can there be more enjoyable way(s) of catering for the needs of the students and the curriculum?

There is a need for an alternative, supplementary resource for listening and speaking skills

 I think that using podcasts has the potential of expanding the borders of the classroom and developing learners’ speaking and listening skills. Usually there are either teacher (or other teaching parties)-created or student-created podcasts. Last year I had the chance to work in podcasting projects with students who created their own podcast pages.  And it was really fun.

our class

our class

 I and my teaching partner Nil Bilen asked my students to create their own podcasts (Click here) and use and revise language functions and lexis covered in lessons. I would like to say that posting/publishing/ presenting the students’ outcome on a podcast to real audience for feedback and evaluation lead students to do their best instead of simply fulfilling an assignment. Therefore, I believe that students’ attitudes and motivation towards working with podcasts are very positive. I observed that students were deeply into the task of creating their own podcast.

This was my first experience working with podcasts and at the beginning I had to work a lot on my own to discover ways of making use of the provider; podomatic. I discovered how to publish an episode, upload a picture and personalise my podcast. Also, I decided to record episodes in class as students were discussing the topics given. The rationale behind this was to familiarise students with podomatic as well as to save time. I asked the groups to assign the rest of class a task  (E.g. Listen and decide: Who do you agree with?). Some students wrote some parts of their dialogues down saying that felt safer and comfortable. After this lesson we had a second round of posting and I encouraged students to discuss naturally (they could have notes but asked them not to write a transcript). Next step was assigning students to podcast and publish on their own outside class. We promoted our class podcast page and I really think that authenticity (real world!!) was better maintained this way. At this point I would also like to say that advanced students’ conversations/podcasts can set a good example for students at lower levels. They may benefit from these podcasts.

In addition, asking students to listen to podcasts that are already available could be beneficial and enjoyable. I would like to share some that could be used for English for academic purposes (EAP). Here comes my list. 

 Listen to English and learn English with podcasts in English

INSEAD Knowledge – Best of business research

Online video and audio: programmes and multimedia | The Economist

Podcasts – Learn at Any Time – The Open University

ScienceLive – Podcasts

PodcastAlley.com — The place to find Podcasts

Video — Animals, Travel, Kids — National Geographic

Naked Scientists Science Podcasts and Science Radio Shows

LearnEnglish Podcasts Themes Archive

 Do you have any other sites in mind? Please share…

Happy listening to us all…

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