March 2011


As a result of Critical thinking course,  I have found out the difference between assessment and evaluation. They are similar, but different. In my lesson plan I used to write both assessment and evaluation for giving the students marks for the lesson. However, I knew that there was a difference between them. Initially, I thought that the difference was in the way of grading their job. I found the right answer for this question. If you still doubt with your understanding of assessment and evaluation, keep further reading. If not, good for you!

Evaluation and assessment both are ways of evaluating the work done. However, assessment is a part of evaluation.Yes, not vice versa. Evaluation is a way of assessing by giving recommendations, suggestions, feedback and reflection. Also, one can evaluate people’s work by rating in numbers. It is called assessment. In its part, assessment also comprises such activities as checking comprehension skills, following different criteria, making judgements, tracking the progress, analyzing outcomes, but the most important is whatever you check or analyze you give grades. As you might have noticed, in evaluation the grading is not compulsory. That is the difference. What do we USUALLY do after the lesson is over? We give the students marks. So, what is better to write in your lesson plan then assessment or evaluation?

The process of assessment is one of the most difficult in teaching learning. The students are modern and modern nowadays and they won’t think for long in order to approach the teacher and ask the mark she/he got. They are not like Soviet students, who were afraid of their teachers or got shy to ask something inappropriate. They are not like Soviet time students, who, if they see a teacher in the street (shop, theater), will definitely find another way to go so that they won’t run across the teacher. That’s why it is important to pay attention to how assessment comes to one mark in the end of the lesson. What is the most interesting is that assessment should be done during the lesson, but not after or in the end of it. Mostly, I do assessing after the lesson and sometimes find it difficult to give one mark for the student. I think, if I do it during the lesson , it will be easier. Perhaps, most teachers know it and do assessment during the lesson, but for young and inexperienced teacher while-the-lesson assessment was a new thing. A teacher can assess everything the students do and don’t. Once you learn to do during-lesson assessment, you won’t face difficulties in the end of the lesson. Fair assessment can be carried by different methods as observation, role play, written tests, quizzes and so on.

It is another process if a teacher evaluates his/her own job. It can be done by reflection on the lesson, where the students can effectively help a teacher. Simply, give students tables or question papers so that they can write what they liked/disliked about the lesson. Or there are some students, who do not want to disappoint their teacher and simply write “I liked the lesson”. In this case, a teacher can give another set of questions asking what activities they want to do again and so on. Students’ feedback about the lesson plays an important role in teacher evaluation.

If you still wish to get as more feedback for your lesson as possible, you invite your colleagues to the lesson so that you can discuss your GOODs and BADs after the lesson. Peer evaluation isn’t less important one. I hope, you found something new from this post or you have something new for me to suggest, you can share with me. Good luck with your lessons!

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After today’s day activity I realized, how many teachers – so many lesson plans. Our main activity and task today was all with lesson plans. a Lesson plan sometimes becomes difficult for me to deal. Perhaps, that’s why the time passed so quickly. Being a teacher requires development and development. It is even impossible to know everything about teaching learning. I learned so many things from today’s activities, but the main thing that I have found out a guide to plan your lessons in a better way. A day before we were asked to bring one lesson plan that we practiced with our students. First, we analyzed our plans, commenting on each, offering suggestions. After a pair work discussion we were given deconstruction questions. It is a set of questions, which helps to reflect on your last lesson so that a teacher can find some mistakes and try not to make them again. All questions are helpful for they help to find an exact answer to the questions.These questions include:

How did it fit into the program?

What were the lesson objectives?

What activities did learners do?

What were the links to the previous lesson?

Was there differentiation?

How was assessment included?

Was there a plenary?

How did it promote independent learning?

As you work with deconstruction questions you can move and work with reconstruction questions for better lesson planning.By the way, for better understanding, I want to clarify the meaning of plenary. Plenary is the last ten minutes of the lesson students reflect on and remember. I think, the above mentioned questions will be helpful to the teachers, who still cannot find whether they do mistakes in planning the lesson. Moreover, the reconstruction questions makes your planning even better. It gives the answer to how you might reconstruct the lesson. It requires considering learning objectives, learner’s needs, activities, skills, resources, previous and extended learning. I am sure after working with these questions, all teachers will notice changes (improvements) in lesson planning.

I did. I have found out these questions helpful for I learned how to plan your lesson correctly with the possibility to evaluate your previous job. It is useful to analyze your lesson so that it could be more successful the next time. Looking at my two lesson plans: the one I brought with me to the lesson and the second one that I reconstructed following deconstruction/reconstruction activities. Though I thought the previous one was one of my good lesson plans, it looked like a draft in comparison with a new one. Mostly, I liked sharing ideas about planning with the other teachers. It was interesting to listen what mature and more experienced have to say about your particular lesson plan. The more people you ask, the more effectively you learn. Sharing what I learned with you, I hope you will learn something new for you too.

Perhaps, one of the most important days for each person is a birthday. Yesterday I became older for a year. A feeling of happiness overwhelmed me. Though the whole day I couldn’t answer to the phone calls for I was in my critical thinking classes. However, when the classes were over, there was no silence to the phone. It is my first year in Astana and most of my friends are either in Aktobe or in my native village. Struggling with getting to the dorm with my hands full, I somehow managed to speak with my friends as well. It was so nice to hear so many wishes and blessing to my address. Fortunately, I was not alone.

Having bought everything necessary for a small birthday party, I tried to have a rest a bit so I won’t look tired on the party. I was a bit tired for I had classes from morning till the evening.

Telling the truth, I didn’t expect so many people to come and congratulate me. It was pleasing. Most of them, of course, were my students from the dorm, exactly from my floor. We had a small tea party and played a game. Especially, I am grateful to my students and friends, who helped me to make that evening special. Thanks to my quest from Great Britain, who also was there and had fun with all of us. We played a game, joked, told about university life, took photos. In other words, I didn’t expect it to be so memorable. What I like most is that my students treat me as a friend, at the same time, do not forget I am their supervisor.

One year is left behind. I am growing. We sometimes say (jokingly) that till 25 a person is still growing, but after he is getting older.

I can guess that you are reading this post because of its title. Unusual, isn’t it?

The matter is just a week ago I enrolled into Critical Thinking course. Today was the first day. Critical thinking became so popular over the last few years especially. Right now it is one of the most important skills that can be applied into classroom activities. I didn’t study critical thinking skills before, so I expected and expect to enrich my knowledge about it. I hope that everybody will like critical thinking ‘for breakfast’. If you want to find out more about the skill, keep up reading further.

Critical thinking course is aimed to teach teachers critical thinking skills and apply the knowledge acquired into practice and try on their own experience. All in all, there are over 50 participants. The course, organized by Cambridge, consists of five stages, each lasting for five days. Right now we are in the first stage, which will last from March 28 till March 31. I have 25 people in my group and today we got acquainted with all of them. We managed to do through different activities our trainer from Cambridge University with 22 years of teaching background, prepared for us. 22 years! It means that our trainer began teaching languages when I was just born. Now in two ten-years time she teaches me.

If a teacher needs to introduce many students to each other, she/he can manage to do it through different activities as asking questions (Find someone, who speaks German/is Gemini, who studied abroad, etc.)  for better interaction. Also, a teacher can make students form a line according to their birthdays. Then she/he can give them letters to divide them into groups. (Letters=groups). Further, a teacher should enable each member of the group to feel responsibility for their team. She/he can do it by asking to design their emblem, group name, logo… Mutual collaborative work makes them know each other better. All these activities work well. That’s what our trainer did today.

We did many activities, but I liked the one called Critical thinking practical activity. The activity makes you use your inner critical thinking skills you don’t (didn’t) know about before. We were offered to think about a big purchase (house, car,…) we had done/will do. The method doesn’t present something innovative by itself, but what was new for me was stages of the procedure. It comprises:

Deconstruction

Reconstruction

Reflection

Communication

All these stages with definite questions help to think about your purchase thoroughly.

However, the most important thing was the connection between my previous course (Professional Development Program) and Critical Thinking. The last one establishes and shows strong connections between Critical thinking and Active learning. Active learning is student-centered learning on its part. A student centered learning is what I learned from my PDP teacher.This course proved again that “We cannot teach today’s students with yesterday’s way”. Though I was taught, mostly, a traditional way of teaching. When I had a practice at school, I used traditional and modern methods of teaching equally.

Nevertheless, it is going to be a starting point of my teaching way, which totally changed from teacher-centered to student-centered one. Anyway, it is better to be guide on the side than sage on the stage.

The film Click showcases the main character tr...

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Yesterday a good friend of mine invited me to the presentation of a project called “The history of soul: real life”. The project aimed to reflect person’s soul through poems, music, films and others. We had different speakers on each topic: poem speaker, music speaker and film speaker. Firstly, we listened to the music called “Simply”. A famous Russian singer A. Pugacheva sang it during the Soviet time and the song became very popular. However, we listened to more modern variant of the song. The song encourages you to live, not to exist. If I listened to it in other conditions, I can say that I wouldn’t have paid any attention to it. Then, we read a poem of a famous Russian writer S. Esenin. Finally, we watched a film called “Click” starred by A. Sandler. A workaholic architect finds a universal remote that allows him to fast-forward and rewind to different parts of his life. Complications arise when the remote starts to overrule his choices. Actually, the film made me think about our life. Fortunately, we do not have such device in real life. Otherwise, I cannot even imagine how our life will look like. I can only guess: we will end like the main character of the film did until he was given another chance.

The problem of time is becoming more and more essential in modern life. Sometimes, we don’t notice the days passing with a non-stop speed. I don’t know whether other people will agree with me or not, but the time is now imperceptible, though it is very important. I remember when I studied at school (I lived in the village that time), I had enough time to do reading, drawing ( I used to draw a lot, I even used to be an “editor” of school posters), to play volleyball at school and outside with my friends. In addition, I still had time to go swimming to the river with my family every day. There are many other things I managed to do in a day. However, now all these things seem to be difficult to do for me. Perhaps, the flow of life in the city cannot be compared with that in the village. (I ‘moved’ from village to the city about 5 years ago.) On the contrary, the life seems to be easier in the city: central heating, cold/hot running water, etc. The rush is strongly felt in the city. In the vanity of accomplishing different things at a time, people do not pay attention to the small staff. We think a lot about career opportunity, promotion or eking out a living for some people. All these things constitute an important part of part of our lives, but the most important remains to be your family, your friends. Even if you lose everything, they will remain.

There are many examples when a person is to choose between home and office, family and work. Some people make the right choice and become happy, other people make the right choice and become unhappy. It requires time for some people to understand it. It is what the character of “Click” did. He understand the importance of the family, laying in the hospital in a death breath (until he was given a chance to live better).

I know a person, who was forced to make that decision. Family or job? Despite a successful job opportunity in Kazakhstan, she left everything she began here to go back to America. It is the right choice that makes people happy.

Despite the things happening around us, we should try to accept them as a life. Dreaming about super career prosperity, don’t forget to call your mom in the afternoon or to have a walk along the street in the evening. Let your life be real in reality.

After Kazakhstan has celebrated Kazakh New Year – Nauryz, now it is time to continue what started before it. It seems to me that after Nauryz holiday, this year of my life can be divided to two parts: before Nauryz and after. I completed my PDP course, received my certificate and saw my teacher off to America. That was time full of something special and dear for me. Now I am back to the University after the holidays, but the things have changed. No more PDP classes, no more quest speakers and no more assignments on Moodle.

What I don’t like doing is doing nothing. If I am in nothing-to-do condition, I get bored. I hardly find place to stay. Fortunately, I am lucky to be enrolled to Critical Thinking course, organized by Cambridge and Orken administration. I like theories, which brings food for your dream. That is what I expect from critical thinking course. Telling the truth, I do know nothing about thinking from critical point of view. Of course, if not to consider, what I learned from my groupmate, who did research on critical thinking and my brother, who studied critical thinking course in Korea. According to my brother’s words, it is a very interesting subject, and it really makes your brain cells move actively. When I informed him that I enrolled into Critical Thinking course, he told me different riddles his teacher in Korea used to tell them. Some of them are easy to interpret, some of them – hard, but the answers are too simple. Simple . . . if you think correctly.

Critical thinking course will start a new stage in my educational life. Thinking about everything, happening with me, I even sometimes wonder how I managed to achieve it. I mean to do it for I know many achievements await me in future. Sometimes, I feel proud of myself. I have nothing to tell about my parents’, friends’ and relatives’ impressions.

What I know for sure is that with such luggage of knowledge, I won’t stay in one place. Actually, I hate being in one place every time. Boring, isn’t it?!

Sometimes, I get disappointed because of school practice duration, translations and uncertainty of staying in Astana, but after thinking about everything thoroughly I realize that I am surrounded with great possibilities. I mean, after thinking critically…

Thank to everyone, who has helped, helps and will help me to accomplish what I am doing now.

What did PDP gave me? A lot. When I asked this question to myself, I didn’t want to answer it in a pell-mell way. The reason I have much to say about the program is its contribution and influence to my professional skills. During these 20 weeks I enriched my knowledge twice both as a teacher and an individual.  Now the program is over, but the changes are still ahead. The following facts about our program prove the changes will come.

We accomplished and went through many things and events from the very beginning of the program. The course was a real journey to the modern and active world in both meanings. We dived with our heads to the modern methods and teaching devices and went to no less useful trips in Astana and even outside. We visited Eagilik, Astana art gallery,  ALZHIR camp, American Corner Astana, went to the U.S. Embassy Information center. The last one was a memorable one for it happened with me for the first time and left a chance to visit Embassy independently on my own.

Ebscohost, Oxford journals, Moodle, WordPress, Survey monkey, Web Survey master, Citation builder, Ted.com, voki, quia … It is not a simple enumeration of the strange-sounding words, it is a meaningful and considerable set of words that do mean something very important for me. In addition, I learned and still use different URLs that program gave to me. I have low musical intelligence, but it doesn’t prevent me from learning a song with Lyricstraining. Aha, intelligences, it is another thing I learned from my lessons. It is a really interesting theory and worth of trying it with my students. There are no people with the same hand lines, and there are no people with absolutely same intelligences.

However, the main impact to my knowledge was what I learned from the course from methodological point of view. I had a great opportunity to improve my academic writing. I learned to write an essay, to do citations, to build correct thesis statements, to make a clear outline, to differentiate between working bibliography and references. I was taught tips of an eye-catching essays and blog entries. Moreover, I managed to switch from prepared paper-writing to spontaneous quick-writing. That is one of the most important achievements that came from practicing wordpress several times. My English writing proficiency went effectively higher.

Further on, we watched films and short video clips. We did watching and speaking and listening and writing at a time. Now if you ask about such topics as human trafficking, freedom, addiction, perfection, etc. you may be sure all of us have something to tell about these issues for we had a thoughtful set of philosophical and psychological short clips. The importance of these clips was active thinking abilities. At first, there is nothing to make you think except “What is out of it?” Storming your brain for awhile, you find even more than you expected.

We found even more we expected from our quest speakers. Looking back now, I remember Marinka Franulovic, Glen and Mary Tosaya, Josh Lange, Chad Harris, Alan Ruby, Annemarie Bechert, Ann Lonsdale, Jon Larsen, Hanaa Singer, Joan Ordway, Harold Samuels, Martha and others. That was one of the memorable events from my PDP courses.

Nevertheless, all these events were because of the teacher we had. Everything is up to the teacher for she is a motivator, an inspirer for her students. Russian people have a saying “Tell me who your friend is and I’ll tell you who you are”, but I want to say “Tell me who your teacher is and I’ll tell what kind of student you are”. Yesterday, on the graduation ceremony and Nu and Orken administration praised us a lot. We couldn’t have accomplished it without Kristina, could we? My deep and endless gratitude to a person, who made a difference in all of us and prepared change agents for Kazakhstani schools.

I wish the program to continue the next and next years. We accomplished the pioneer year without any papers and, unfortunately, without any computers of our own. I want the program to get developed and expand all over Kazakhstan, especially in the villages. I wish more student-centered teachers to educate our young generation. Finally, I wish my teacher to come back to Kazakhstan for she has even more to give us.

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