Advanced Grammar and Scratch at EF – Education First by Jasmin B. Cowin


Advanced Grammar is a University Preparation (UP) course offered on a rolling basis at the University Preparation Program. The UP program prepares students for successful entry into US Universities and Colleges.


Course Description
Advanced Grammar and Scratch: 2 blocks at 80 minutes per week plus 15 minutes/monthly individual conferences.

This course introduces students to Advanced Grammar and Grammar-Based Teaching (GBT) and Scratch, block-based coding with a focus on the concept that the English language consists of predictable patterns of what we see, hear, speak and read. GBT helps learners discover the nature of language where students gain an understanding of Grammar concepts such as subordination and coordination; nouns and adjectives, subjects and verbs, clauses and phrases. Scratch, a block based, free coding program introduces computational and pattern thinking, analyzing subroutines, debugging, working in sequence, and creating unique projects. It is the most accessible tool teaching computational thinking for the modern problem solver. The Scratch component will introduce fundamental concepts of block-based programming, including variables and assignment, sequential execution, selection, repetition, control abstraction, and data organization.

Grammar is important not only for exemplary TOEIC, TOEFL, and SAT scores but also for “native” fluency and expression.

Course Goals
Learning Objectives
By the end of this course, students will be able to:

Think critically and analytically about language, rather than simply memorizing rules and lists
Analyze grammatical structures already studied
Recognize peripheral and borderline cases that are “exceptions to rules.”
Learn the procedures by which one can test one’s own grammatical hypotheses – or guesses – about language
Determine and understand the source of personal language difficulties
Make effective language choices
Parse and/or diagram sentences to prove that use dictates meaning
Identify the class to which a word belongs by using its form and function
Describe and explain a particular element of contemporary English in such a way that it is understandable and accessible to a universal audience by developing an online Scratch game.
Differentiate between the surface and deep structure meanings of word groups and parts of a sentence
Use fundamental concepts of block-based programming, including variables and assignment, sequential execution, selection, repetition, control abstraction, and data organization.
Create a unique Scratch presentation focused on one grammar point

Special Teacher Resources:

Grammar for the REAL classroom

Azar teacher resources



As a teacher and facilitator, I establish learning communities where we come to learn with each other and from each other in a collaborative process. Collaborative processes give rise to vibrant cultures of growth and development with the result of a harvest of student achievement filled with a growth mindset, mental flexibility, curiosity, risk taking and intrinsic motivation.  My approach to teaching is student-centered with the aim to open the doors of knowledge not only empirically but emotionally as well.  

By integrating Scratch and computational thinking into my Grammar course, I believe students will gain metacognitive process thinking which transcends route learning. Through computational thinking and exposure to Scratch students will learn to think recursively; reformulate a seemingly difficult problem into one which they know how to solve; reduct, embed, transform, and simulate; abstract and decompose by tackling a large complex task.

The notion of “literacy” was originally used to designate the ability to read and write, but its meaning was gradually extended. For example, UNESCO has used a wider definition, redefined by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) Consortium in 2006 (focusing on scientific literacy) to introduce the idea of knowledge use and transfer and its applications to life situations, problem solving, and influencing decision-making processes as an indispensable part of subject competence. This knowledge application is not limited to subject-internal questions and not even to school-related issues, but extends to any future problem in life and any new learning situation.”  

Technology is changing the context of education. Cultivating digital literacy is an important part of any L2 course. In today’s workplace, digital literacy is essential. But teaching and learning should go beyond access to basic tools. Students must learn to apply digital resources to creatively solve problems, produce innovative projects, and enhance communications to prepare for a career in any field. This grammar course encourages a dialogue between technological tools, computational thinking – Scratch and students to achieve grammatical and scientific literacy.

Scientific Literacy  

“is composed of at least three different areas of competence, namely knowledge (linked to language and epistemological competence), action (in terms of learning competence, procedural, communicative and social competence) and evaluation (aesthetic and ethical/moral competence). Based on this understanding of scientific literacy, the notion has developed across all subjects of a basic set of knowledge in a certain domain, of knowledge application, and a willingness to appropriate and follow the logic of each domain respectively. In that perspective, subject literacy becomes part of what is called Bildung in German, because the knowledge, skills, and attitudes, once acquired, can be linked and used in many different ways, while at the same time forming the material basis for individual development. This generalized notion of literacy in all subjects can help us understand the broad scope of what is meant by a “quality education” and particularly the role of language as a constitutive part of subject competence.”

The Experiential Learning Philosophy and authentic learning in a student-centered classroom are the cornerstones of my educational approach.  My primary goals in teaching writing are:  First, increasing students’ metacognitive awareness so that they better understand themselves as learners and enable students to take responsibility for their learning. Second, providing a clear lesson structure with objectives and aims for students. Third, improving students’ understanding of, and ability to use English accurately in speaking, writing and reading. My overarching goal is to develop communicative competence and modern problem-solving skills.

EF Showcase – Student Projects and E-Portfolios


E-portfolio and Presentation Skills – University Preparation, EF
Teaching Statement – Fall 2016
By Dr. Jasmin Bey Cowin

An E-Portfolio is a collection of materials that documents student accomplishments and may include reflections on the learning process and its outcomes.

Requires students to organize their thoughts and materials using an electronic interface similar to a personal web page.
Allows for the presentation and interlinking of various media types.
Easily shared and continuously edited.

Learning Objectives
After completing this course, learners will be able to:

Articulate the benefits of hosting and  E-Portfolio
Use an Eportfolio to showcase projects
Present research projects in various modes
Organize and insert different types of media to enrich the site
Assign visibility controls to site pages

Why use ePortfolios?

The learning purposes of ePortfolios include:
Reflecting upon learning processes and outcomes.
Organizing and presenting learning accomplishments.
Developing self-assessment skills.
Representing learning experiences.
Developing multimedia skills.
Creating electronic text for specific audiences.
Learning how to use technology to support lifelong learning.
The learning benefits of ePortfolios include:

For students:

Personalizing the learning experience.
Allowing students to draw connections between their various learning experiences over the semester and beyond.
Seeing progress over time.
Enhancing critical thinking.

For teachers:

Evaluating and assessing student products and processes.
Assessing course learning outcomes.
Gaining insight into how students experienced a curriculum.

What can be done with the final products?
Students can continue to develop them for their professional careers.
They can be displayed in a common space on campus.
They can be posted on a class website so students can view each other’s portfolios.
They can be shared, with students’ approval, on the teaching portfolio website, or shared with future classes.

A CHINESE GIRL IN NEW YORK a writing project using story book

Imene’s WordPress Website

Illia WordPress portfolio

Larissa – Video Project – Personal Essay

Johnson ePortfolio

Patty’s animated PowToon Project

What Thanksgiving is really about by Dr. J

Grace is not part of consciousness; it is the amount of light in our souls, not knowledge nor reason. Pope Francis

These are excellent guiding words to share Thanksgiving with grace & love and gift international students with an afternoon of that elusive “feeling at home.”    For all of us who have traveled far from our homelands for extended periods, we know about those moments of melancholy.

Yes, academic progress is imperative.  Yes, getting a good score on a TOEFL can be the “make or break” for a successful university application.  Nevertheless, I feel that there is more to teaching.  Teaching is not only planning and delivering the very best curriculum to our students, but it is also an opportunity to model grace, loving kindness and caring.

Every term, before my students go off on their journeys, I cook a meal in my home, and we spend the time to talk, laugh and sometimes make music.  Over the years, I received emails or letters on how important this experience was for them. How the meal, being at “home” was the “light” of their American experience.