Our Educational Message

Hi, and welcome to our blog. This space is designed to share ideas and methodologies that we use to teach Turkish teenagers. In particular, there is a strong focus on ICT-ELT, which means if you like visual and technological support for your style of teaching, this blog is for you. My colleague, Brentson Ramsey, has been working alongside me for three years. He is also a big proponent of the ICT-ELT Paradigm, which means he will also be posting from his own teaching perspective on the blog.

2010 was the beginning of this new journey, and although there is no definitive ICT-ELT road map available for everyone to follow, it is exciting to explore the technological means to make teaching more fun and affective for students. Our main message is for teachers to ADOPT & ADAPT the paradigm shift for their own needs, and remember that

Saturday, 30 November 2013

A Viable Approach to (mandatory) Yearly Projects in Turkey

The Ministry of Education in Turkey (MEB) provides schools with state curricula and standards. One of the more exciting parts of that curriculum is the Yearly Project (Dönem Ödevi). I choose to use 'exciting', since it introduces students to genuine project work, creative thinking practices, research techniques and a whole host of academic skills that they can take with them throughout their educational lives.  For us, as English teachers, it further complements our project-based work and syllabus to give more credence and 'props' to our program as a whole.

We have found that by extending and including more parts to the whole, students give more importance to the project, and they can also grow as they learn and complete each stage with  more enthusiasm.  I will now describe each stage of the year-long project, and expectations therein.

Since we use ICT as a powerful support tool with our students, we decided to use electronic materials and platforms to develop each stage, which is based on close-reading and academic skills process writing to realize the project.

Students are given a list of e-readers from which they choose one title to read and work on for the next six months.  This reading is completely independent of the day-to-day reading materials they have to work on in and out of class.  We chose the readers from genres, such as thriller and escapist, because generally young ESL/EFL teens tend to baulk at period drama or historical 'literature classics'(dare I say it as an English teacher: on many levels, THEY ARE RIGHT!!).

Once they have chosen their title, it is downloaded to their mac, ipad and/or smart device, and it is then their responsibility to read the book in their free time. In addition to close-reading the book, the students are required to make a 250 word summary.  This summary requirement is possible because the students have already been taught how to summarize large texts in their preparatory school course. The SUMMARY PROCESS is in 

your eye-line now on the left, and a document we use is HERE. The students are given TWO MONTHS for the first part as they are also expected to take very detailed highlights and make annotations, which also correspond to another skill they are taught in the first quarter of the year in our Preparatory year.


The students have to make a list of the characters and write a brief description of their role, and what they get up to throughout the narrative. This task, for which the students are given a month, is an easy one you may think. However, it gives further evidence that they have actually read the book.  It shows how much they can identify with each character, and it also gives great process writing practice to each student.


Now the students, again with a deadline of a month, have to write about their favorite chapter, and why. This is to consolidate their Opinion-Writing Skill, which has been ongoing since the beginning of the second month of the year.  Here, we and the students, can see if they have fully grasped how to organise their ideas and opinions in English.  It also gives us further evidence to show they have proficient close-reading skills.


Since our high school requires its students to have proficient literary reading and writing skills, we also teach our Preparatory students how to analyse texts and make a written commentary.  This is a highly technical skill, and it is the reason it falls into the penultimate month of the project-calendar.  I have written a blog-post about the detailed process and methodology we apply in our classes, S.C.A.S.I. , and it can be seen HERE.  We really like this approach to such a difficult task in literay analysis, and it is also completely valid for speakers of any language, and the language of literature they are being faced with.  The students find it extremely useful because it breaks down the task into five smaller sections, which undoubtedly helps them complete this part of the yearly project.


The final stage is for the students to complete a presentation and share it with us and their class peers. To complete the collaborative nature of the yearly projct with our primary syllabus content, the students are expected to show each stage in a powerpoint by displaying quality content, but even more excitingly, the presentation skills they have become masters of over six months.  We have our students present each month one mini project to build self-confidence, self-awareness and show their 'semi-professional' presentation skills.

We know that this is a really comprehensive approach to the yearly project, but we believe by approaching the dönem ödevi in this way, the students get much more out of the experience than they do from completing an essay, a composition or a poster on the last weekend of April.  It teaches them responsibilty, time-management, academic process writing, close reading, note-taking, highlighting of important information, reflection, vocabulary building, character and narrative timeline awareness plus a sense of genuine self-achievement over a sustained time-period of six months.