Week 8 – 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge

This post is week 8 of 8 in the #8WeeksofSummer Blog Challenge for educators.


I have gained knowledge in teaching English to speakers of other languages. I read and applied Paul Nation’s work in Teaching ESL/EFL Reading and Writing and Teaching ESL/EFL Speaking and Listening. I am working to apply the learnings in my tutoring and lesson preparation to focus on meaningful and attainable content, equally dividing instruction time between four areas:

  • meaning-focused input
  • meaning-focused output
  • language-focused learning
  • fluency practice


I had to learn so much technology last year. I have always been a leader in educational technology, but I, and all my colleagues, took leaps and bounds in our knowledge and application of technology resources to be able to continue teaching. I wrote a little more about technology skills learned here in Week 4.

In addition, I have grown in lots of other skills that have helped me stay grounded in all this at home time–poetry, sourdough bread baking, using spices, and blogging. I’ve even begun to crochet more.


I would like to think that my attitude softened, became more understanding and loving and patient with my students and the parents who have worked so hard during this long chapter. The corona virus has made us all fatigued. I hope and pray that I have become better and more empathetic. Of course, working part-time during the past year has probably made the most difference in my attitude!

Week 7 – 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge

This post is week 7 of 8 in the #8WeeksofSummer Blog Challenge for educators.

I think participating in this #8WeeksofSummer blog challenge over the years shows me how quickly the weeks peel off the calendar. I can’t believe it is already Week 7! Thank you, Penny, for hosting us again this year.

My situation is evolving. I know I will need more professional development as I continue working literacy to English language learners. I don’t know what I will be doing exactly when I move back to the U.S. in January, but I will keep my eyes and ears open for opportunities.

Week 6 – 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge

This post is week 6 of 8 in the #8WeeksofSummer Blog Challenge for educators.

I have to be planning for a school year like none other this year. The first semester, I will volunteer at the school where I’ve been for eight years. I will continue and expand the literacy screenings and tutoring I did last year. However, in January, inshallah, we will be moving from Bahrain to California.

When I saw the prompt I got nostalgic thinking of my time here and how it is coming to an end. I took time to do art–this Art Date with Ms. Kate was a grounding activity where we drew a tree in the style of Gustav Klimt’s Tree of Life.

Life’s Trees

I keep?

I will keep
my love and
prayers for
Al Raja School’s
children and my hope
for this School of Hope.
That they will grow into a
new chapter even richer and
fuller than all the ones that
came before. I will keep my friends
and family. I will keep my love for
lifelong learning and creating, along
with my zest for life. I will keep writing
and cooking and baking and being hospitable.
I will keep my faith in God and a commitment to


will I lose?

I will lose seeing my
friends daily, chatting on
WhatsApp like we aren’t in
a pandemic. I will lose the
Al Abraaj hamour dinner, sweet
mango juice and shawarmas on the
street. I will lose climbing to the
fifth floor and living in a diverse
culture which has become home.
I will lose our walks to the
souq. I’m afraid
I will
lose my
for a


will I try?
I will try to find
a new place. A place
where I can continue
to teach children English
and how to read and write.
I will try to make a home in
California after forty years of
living away. I will try to do my
part to fight injustice
and to dismantle
I will
to be.

Week 5 – 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge

This post is week 5 of 8 in the #8WeeksofSummer Blog Challenge for educators. The prompt today is “Describe what improved or challenged communication this year.”

I feel communication was challenged by pandemic living much more than it was improved. I live in a country where there are many languages spoken. Then to bring everyone together, either English or Arabic are used. Lots of different pronunciations and ability levels can make communication a challenge.

Communication is enhanced when we speak in person. When you can look someone in the face without a mask and speak to them, it really helps. When they (or I) see a blank look, they (or I) can try again, speaking more slowly or finding different vocabulary. When the pandemic started, we weren’t able to be together. Even when we do have face-to-face time to communicate, the masks are still there bringing barriers to communication.

But communication still happens with recorded voice messages or written text messages, mostly on WhatsApp.  And lots of emails.

However, there may be one area where communication was improved. Quick collaborative or clarifying meetings were so easy to have on Zoom. (I mentioned this in the collaboration reflection during Week 2 of the #8WeeksofSummer.) We have had many of these quick Zoom meetings over the last year.

Week 4 – 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge

This post is week 4 of 8 in the #8WeeksofSummer Blog Challenge for educators.

What a great prompt, Penny! I will look forward to hearing what tools others have mastered or experimented with this year!

New tools I discovered are more than ones I mastered, to be sure. It was a good year for new tools. Here are a few of the most significant tools I picked up.

  1. Zoom – Without a doubt in one year we went from amateurs floundering around in a foreign program to successfully running all kinds and sizes of virtual meetings. After a year, I’ve run Zoom meetings with one and two students for tutoring sessions to classes full of English learners to a hundred in church school general sessions. In addition, we have been to funerals, weddings, surprise birthday parties, going away celebrations, family gatherings, all staff meetings, and more. Really, when I think of the growth, not only in the ability level of myself and participants to use the program, but also in the growth and available features in the program itself, the difference is startling. I was able to work with first through eleventh grades this year. It was so fun to use annotation tools, the whiteboard, breakout rooms and more with all of the different age groups. It really was amazing what we all learned. I don’t believe our futures will ever be the same. We are not going back for a lot of our meetings; Zoom will stay with us after the pandemic.
  2. Flipgrid – It is hard for me to believe that my first assignment on Flipgrid was only in March 2020. It was the first assignment  gave after the lockdown began. I learned so much about this program, as did my students.
  3. Nearpod – When I did a long term sub position in high school this year, I used Nearpod, and made a mistake showing the teacher’s view instead of the student view on a slide that definitely would have been better to keep anonymous. That was an example where I definitely had not yet mastered a program.
  4. Google Classroom – I had only toyed with Google Classroom earlier. I had created a classroom for my second graders a few years ago, but I never learned enough or had reason enough to commit to really learning. Fast forward five years, and we were all thrown into learning how to use Google Classroom. KG to grade 12 students and every teacher in our school. That is one of the monumental tasks our Senior Leadership Team pulled off this year. Wow. They did it and we did it.
  5. Google Drive – We really polished our skills in using Slides, Forms, Sheets, and more. The students did too!

Those are the ones that come to mind right away. What about you?

What new tools did you discover and/or master this year?