You could say that Lawrence Gibbons is a connoisseur of online teaching tools and resources. With 10 years of teaching experience, he's tried many of them. But with xTiles, he’s discovered one tool that helps him plan, organize, and present customized lessons on current topics and issues — tasks that used to require a combination of different tools.
“When there's something in the news that's interesting and I know it will be fun to discuss with a student, I develop a new lesson plan and use xTiles for that. There was a little bit of a learning curve, at first. But now I can make a nice series of slides every time I want to teach an up-to-date topic.”
Boosting Online Learning with Fun, Relevant Lessons
Winston Churchill once said, "I'm always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught."
His sentiments echo many students' mindsets toward education. So how do you maximize learning and stop making students feel like they're "being taught”?
Science has the answer. The more fun, relevant, and enjoyable a lesson is, the more engaged students become. The more engaged they are, the more they retain what they learn.Enter Lawrence's English lessons on current topics and issues.
Lawrence finds relevant topics in the news and uses xTiles to build a lesson plan surrounding that topic. Because these are usually events that are already top of mind for the students, they are more inclined to actively participate in the discussion.
Lawrence used to develop these lessons using a host of different tools. But using xTiles, he now only has to use one tool to create interactive lessons that encourage conversation and discussion.
First, he plans and organizes the progression of the lesson. Then he uses each xTiles tab like one slide. He then adds different resources to each "slide" to encourage conversation and dialogue.
Developing my lessons like this gives life and vitality to the story and makes it more interesting for the students. Instead of reading a wall of text, each tab is an opportunity to discuss a different aspect of the topic.
“Developing my lessons like this gives life and vitality to the story and makes it more interesting for the students. Instead of reading a wall of text, each tab is an opportunity to discuss a different aspect of the topic.”
Increasing Students' Confidence in their English Speaking Skills
Competition is stiff for online English teachers. If you want to command premium prices, you have to stand out by customizing your lessons to make students feel they're getting something they won't find anywhere else.
“I've spent a lot of money on textbooks and English teaching resources. But I have to use them sparingly because students can easily feel it's something they can do by themselves at home. xTiles helps me develop lessons that they can't just easily find in textbooks or other free English learning resources.”
But that's not all. Lawrence knows that students who are engaged during the lessons and participate in lively discussions are most satisfied with the lessons. They also gain more confidence speaking English and improve their speaking skills much quicker.
This is exactly what Lawrence wants his students to experience. Talking about current events in class is one way to turn the tables from passive to active learning. His students are not passively taking in information but are engaged in a conversation that they could easily have had at a cafe with friends or colleagues.
“I've used Microsoft Whiteboard but that limits me to using only sticky notes. I've used Powerpoint, too. With xTiles, I can make interactive lessons like drag-and-drop vocabulary practice. I share my screen with the student and I switch the words around as they try to guess the meaning of a word.”
Captivating Student Interest through Storyboarding
Using xTiles, Lawrence develops and organizes lessons that take students on a journey.Leaning on his artistic roots, Lawrence makes use of xTiles' tabs to develop a story arc. Each tab takes a student through a journey — learning more about the topic as the lesson progresses.
“I love xTiles’ tab progression feature. Once I've designed a lesson plan and I've figured out what questions I want to ask or how much text and resources I'm going to use, then each tab can show the progression of the event. I can then add gifs, videos, and links all in one place. This then helps develop the questions that I would ask during the lesson. I basically take the student on a journey for a whole hour.”
In addition, Lawrence can easily adapt lessons based on how students react to the lessons. When he teaches one student, he can gauge which questions or activities the student likes and which ones fall flat. Because it's easy to move things around on xTiles, the next time he teaches the lesson to another student, he can easily exclude the activities that were not as successful.
All this means that Lawrence is better able to encourage interaction and conversation during the lessons. As he takes his students through this journey, they get to practice reading, pronunciation, speaking, and comprehension — all things that students look for and value.
“Within each tab, there are also a lot of little cues that I can use to encourage interaction and conversations — which is what my students pay me for, at the end of the day.”