Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Yippee: A free continuing ed. cert. from!

You, too, can get a certificate like this from edWeb by watching and listening to the webinar recording: Error Correction: Tips and Techniques for Language Teachers.
Screenshot of PDF at

EdWeb is a free professional learning network. Its Browse and Search edWebinars pages listed 1564 webinars today (2019.03.06 [JST]) in, just a guess, hundreds of communities. 

Screenshot of Select Community menu

Please check it out, and leave comments on this post to let us know what you think.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Introducing the EIGO app

Introducing the EIGO app

A guest post by Mr. Robert Hirschel*

About the app.

The Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) has been promoting various English education initiatives to coincide with the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. New English curricula will see 5th and 6th grade elementary school students nationwide studying English as a mandatory subject with double the previous number of allocated classroom hours. Third and 4th grade students nationwide will study English as an ungraded foreign language activity. To be sure, many school districts and individual schools have already made significant increases in the provision of English education for their students.

Alongside these reforms, however, there is concern that many current and future elementary school teachers may lack sufficient proficiency and/or confidence to most effectively lead students in English language activities. Our app (see: Project team members, below) is an attempt to help teachers learn, practice, and become confident in speaking very basic classroom English language.

As we were already using the Moodle Learning Management System (LMS) at our institution, we decided to use this platform to create both a website and an app. We applied in 2014 for a MEXT grant and were awarded funds to begin our project in the following year. The process began with a needs analysis. We made observations at several elementary schools, recording and transcribing teachers’ use of Japanese and English. Based on analysis of this data and current teaching resources, we determined what language would be of greatest benefit to users of our app.

The next steps involved creating, piloting and revising content. Groups of teachers, administrators, and teachers-in training (PIGATE attendees included) provided us with valuable feedback that has influenced the final product. Several computer programmers have created and adapted plug-ins specifically for our app. There have been a lot of technical hurdles to overcome, too many to note here, but we are ultimately pleased with our product.

Some of the noteworthy features include animated videos with language in context, drag-and-drop interactive exercises, shadowing practice, and timed and recorded responses (see: Screen snapshots, below). Our greatest hope is that this app will be useful to teachers.

Screen snapshots

Animated videos
Drag-and-drop exercises
Shadowing practice
Timed and recorded responses

Project team members

Rob Hirschel
Jon Rowberry
Elton LaClare

About the author
Rob has had experience teaching English in elementary school, junior high school, university, and in specialized programs both in Japan and in the US. His research interests include computer-assisted language learning (CALL), vocabulary acquisition, and affective factors in the second language classroom.

Don't miss it!

Rob will be presenting the EIGO app. for elementary school English teachers at the PIGATE English language teacher development group's March Session:
  • Date: Saturday, March 9th, 2019
    • Starting at 13:30: Doors open at 13:00!
  • Venue: Seminar room 10, 5th floor,
    • Faculty of Administrative Studies office wing
    • The Prefectural University of Kumamoto (PUK)
Please see PIGATE Meeting Locations ( for site details and the PIGATE Calendar of Events ( for program details.


*With editorial embellishments by The PIGATE Blog administrator, Paul Beaufait

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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Differentiating instruction? Let's learn the ropes!

Ever wonder how to handle individual differences within a single class?

In the first of these EdWeek videos, "[v]eteran teachers Larry Ferlazzo and Katie Hull Synieski offer [a few] quick tips...."

Education Week, 2019.02.06, 2:48

In the second, Larry offers more ideas for differentiating instruction by adjusting content, processes, and products to suit learners' abilities, interests, and needs.

Education Week, 2018.09.11, 4:27

If there are other simple strategies that you enjoy using, please feel free to explain them in brief comments on this post.
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Monday, January 14, 2019

The Common Sense Media website: Goodies for parents and educators

Last Saturday, at a monthly gathering (2019.01.12), I mentioned a blog post I'd read recently:

In that post, one of the main points that Caroline Knorr (2019), Common Sense Media's parenting editor, made was that technological interventions work best in conjunction with ongoing conversations with young learners.

That post is just one of the Must Read items displayed in the For Parents section of the Common Sense Media website, which you can personalize to suit your family or the ages of students you teach.

There also is a For Educators section of the website that is worth exploring for additional age-appropriate recommendations and resources as well.


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Monday, December 3, 2018

A brilliant talk about TED talks

In this eight-minute talk, Anderson ... clearly [and concisely] spilled the beans about public speaking.


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Thursday, November 22, 2018

Humanizing screen time

Here is @kaiasays spending lazy summer time on precious #screentime on her new iPod touch.
Photo by Jabiz Raisdana, 2013.07.18, 
Some rights reserved (CC BY-NC 2.0)

In a recent post on The Principal of Change blog, George Couros highlighted recommendations for children's screen time (AAP, 2018.05.01), and posed three questions to frame thinking about ways to use technology both at home and at school:
When we look at how we are using technology, we have to ask:
  1. Is the way we are using technology building connections or severing them?
  2. Is this fostering deep learning as well as critical thought and creation, or promoting surface level thinking?
  3. Are we modeling our learning, balance, and human connection through our use of technology so we can effectively guide our students?

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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Blended Learning and Technology Integration: What's the diff.?!?

In this seven and a half minute, video Jen Jonson (2014) explained and illustrated crucial characteristics of blended learning environments. If her delivery is too fast to follow, toggling on the auto-generated transcripts at YouTube, by clicking on "..." at the foot of the display frame, and reading along may help.

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Friday, October 12, 2018

David Ockert's slides on Self-Determination Theory (SDT)

Many thanks to David Ockert for visiting Kumamoto in September and leading a workshop on SDT for PIGATE! He granted permission to publish his slides not long after the PIGATE newsletter went to print. There are 16 plain vanilla slides (line by line builds) in the Google slideshow below.

If you have comments or questions about any of the topics in his slides, or reflections on any of the tasks that David presented last month, please feel free either to spell them out in comments on this post, or to voice them at the next monthly PIGATE gathering–this coming Saturday, 13 October, 2018.

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Monday, September 3, 2018

Coming soon: Self-determination theory—for young learners and the young at heart!

Creating and implementing interactive tasks based on self-determination theory—for young learners and the young at heart!

By David Ockert, Toyo University

David Ockert’s teaching interests are in critical thinking, reading comprehension, and academic writing. He does research on the influence of technology on affective variables (motivation, confidence, anxiety, and willingness to communicate). 

David also enjoys creative lesson planning for communicative purposes, using a task-based language teaching (TBLT) approach via the three pillars of self-determination theory [SDT]: competence (mastery), relatedness, and autonomy. 

For this presentation, David will focus on self-determination theory-based EFL motives interconnected with competence, relatedness, and autonomy. He will show how all three can be incorporated easily into any level of pedagogy, with a focus on the junior high school level in Japan.

[UPDATE, 2018.09.10: This presentation will be a participatory event with very little lecture. David will lead participants through hands-on tasks, with evaluation of each afterwards, to provide a real-world experience of how and why SDT-based lessons work.]

Date & time

Saturday, September 15, 2018; 13:30–16:30


Seminar room 10, Faculty of Administrative Studies office wing, Prefectural University of Kumamoto (PUK): Please see PIGATE Meeting Locations ( for details.

Attendance plans

Hoping or planning to attend? Please let us know by filling out an attendance form: 
If you'd also like to attend an informal networking event afterwards (tentatively 18:30–20:30), please ... add, "Post-function: Yes!" (without quotation marks) along with your email address as Additional info. at the end of the form [2018.09.13: ... ask Paul in person on Saturday whether a seat is still available].
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Monday, August 6, 2018

Does seat-time matter?

Kaichi School, Matsumoto, JP, photographed May 31, 2013,
by Paul Beaufait. All rights reserved.

How much time do students spend in school?

"There is no consistent pattern ... among top-performing education systems. / This suggests that when it comes to student performance, more important than the amount of time students spend in class is how that time is spent" (Craw, 2018 [emphasis in original]).