domingo, 15 de diciembre de 2013

IATEFL LTSIG: Plan Ceibal English, with Mercedes Viola and Graham Stanley, Sunday 15th December 2013

Ceibo Tree Flower, the Argentinian National Flower

For those of you who don´t know me, I am from Argentina, and one of our neighbouring countries is Uruguay, very close to my own province of Santa Fe.  We feel, as Argentinians, very attached to Uruguay, even so that when we travel there, it seems that we are in our own country.  "Ceibal" means in Spanish "group of ceibos".  The "ceibo" is a tree, which flower happens to be our National Flower.  This is for you to take into account how intertwined our geography, topography and  and eventually our peoples are.  That is why listening to Mercedes and Graham talking about Plan Ceibal was an event I certainly did not want to miss.  Especially because our own government has been implementing a one netbook per child policy, which my own adolescent children have been benefited by, because they attend public schools.
The plan to implement the remote teaching of English in Uruguay was born on the need to compensate the shortage of teachers and the fact that English was not taught in primary school.  By establishing priorities of accessibility, quality (fiber optic) and the pairing of remote teachers with classroom teachers they undertook the task of finding and  qualifying English teachers whose profile had to include not only professional expertise but also the skills of being able to establish rapport and an atmosphere of trust and respect with the classroom teacher, who was the one actually in touch with the students.  In addition to this, the remote teacher should also possess ICT skills, creativity and flexibility to engage students and to deal with the unexpected changes of plans that technology usually makes us pursue.  Mercedes mentioned Histrionic Skills for the students to remain in focus during the online session, which is usually a challenge even in face to face classes when dealing with  primary school age groups.
Graham talked about the number of students and teachers involved and about the plan to make it gradually available to a larger population within the public school system.
The whole scheme seems to be implemented in a gradual way, with people learning on the road, with mentors supporting and coordinating in schools and with positive reactions from teachers, students and the community, as Graham stated. People working together like the ceibo flowers: separate but united at the same time by a common goal.  Judging by the happy faces of the children in Mercedes´ last slide we could only expect this plan to continue its steady way to success.  I am very proud that this is happening in my continent, our wider nation.  Keep on the great work!  

Flor de Ceibo Boy, by One Laptop per Child, Flickr

sábado, 14 de diciembre de 2013

Global Classroom Chat 2 Integrating Global Issues Across the Curricullum

My links from the Global Classroom Chat No 1

martes, 10 de diciembre de 2013

The teacher as content E-curator.

My notes on the Learning2gether session last Sunday with Phil Hubbard on Content Curation

The complete session with related material, by my friend Vance Stevens

Archive of TED talks

Check! Marissa Mayer, Yahoo CEO, recommended talk

Audio Editing tool

Curated Playlist: curated by interest even better than the archive!

By curating content and providing it to our students we are giving value added to the it using tech to help students have an idea of the level.

Lextutor helps us determine the level of challenge of each talk, or a teacher might as well judge it as in the examples of slide No. 19
Slides of the session

Curation is the future of content (recommended book)

Amy Tam´s talk

This session provided me with ideas as to what to do when you come across material with teaching potential.  The idea of classifying them according to level would be very useful since many times I receive students with different proficiency levels who are interested in conversation lessons and I find myself looking for material when I might as well make myself an archive of already tested resources.

My summary of last Sat Nov 30 1500 gmt IATEFL free Webinar with Scott Thornbury: Interlanguage Fossilization, no way out?

This is by no means a thourough report but a summary of the notes I took during the session which will be available online only for a short period before it becomes archived to be available only for IATEFL members. Link to the announcement

The L2 motivational self system helps us visualize our own ideal L2 speaker and aim at achieving that.  What is it I want to be able to do in the target language? By aligning my needs to that target, which is probably not to be functional at C1 or C2 level,  we allow ourselves to set realistic goals.

Advice to language learners: Work with whatever the level you have, but DO it!  The classroom is a good environment for the incidental learning that occurs naturally, and is important to develop communicative confidence in students.  Classroom practice is ok because it provides a space for us to experiment and take risks and get support from the teacher at the same time, interacting in a safe environment like this is an important confidence builder.

In order to make progress once one has achieved a certain level of proficiency, and because progress is less evident, we need to set up new scenarios for practice mainly for us to keep us motivated.  Social interaction proves a good ground for taking our progress a little bit higher.  Language is a social construct and as teachers we often tend to forget this when we overemphasize grammar or spelling.  My adult learners bring to class a high filter which is difficult to break so it is necessary for them to acknowledge that it is ok to make mistakes, because our interlocutors are not paying attention to them, they are focusing on the message and our willingness and persistence in communicating.  Silence would be the opposite option and it does not conduct to any kind of progress.  Silence is an outcome rooted in fear.

I liked this quote by Widdowson that Scott shared: "Make the target language your own, rather than simply submit to the dictates of its form."

I also liked the (to me new) acronym ELF : English as a Lingua Franca.

martes, 3 de diciembre de 2013

Our Skype session with Steve Sherman and Sebastian Panakal about Black Friday and other interesting topics.

(unfortunatelly no pictures, sorry about that!)
December 3rd, 2013
This morning we started the conversation class as usual talking about what happened in the city or in our lives during the weekend and somehow the conversation boiled down to Black Friday and other imported practices and traditions that we manage to import from abroad and pop up in Santa Fe, Argentina without anyone actually knowing the origin or reason for it.  I asked my student what her background knowledge was about this, and she informed me that she had received an email invitation from the local huge supermarket branch to pay a visit and take advantage of the convenient offers due for last Friday.  She did not go, but added that later on some of her clients commented that lots of people gathered at the shop to buy.  To shed some light on the subject I decided to invite my friends from Hello Little World and received some written feedback such as this:
Black Friday = big sales.  Enough of them so that the businesses, which much of the year supposedly run negative profit balances (or are 'in the red') begin their biggest month of profit so that now they are in positive balance (or 'in the black'). Hence the name: Black Friday!, by Janet Barnstable;
and this by Joe Mc Nulty:
Black Friday is always the Friday after Thanksgiving in the US.
Did you know President Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving in the 1930's to increase retail sales? during the great depression?
 We got a request to join in the discussion from our friend Sebastian Panakal, from Cochin, Kerala, India, who also wanted to learn about the subject and we were joined in the discussion by our friend Steve Sherman from Cape Town in South Africa.
Steve told us that crowds also gather in huge stores to take advantage of the sales in his country, he later commented that he does most of his purchases online and he introduced us to the term Cyber Monday which was coined by online stores to take advantage of this sales craze thing, so Cyber Monday would be the online version of Black Friday.  An amazing coincidence because my student is also into online shopping, which she uses  to find and purchase her antique tiles, a hobby she has pursued for a long time.  Steve then went on to recommend a site where my student will surely find bargains and the best thing is that that will be in English, so she will practice it without really noticing it!
We went on to talk about holidays and we learned that in South Africa the Summer holiday is shorter than in Argentina but they get several longish breaks during the year.  My student left the classroom happy to have met my friends Steve and Sebastian both of them friendly and ready to help.  Thank you for helping me bring the world into the classroom!  After the session we used Google Earth to visit both towns virtually by seeing some wonderful pictures of your cities.

viernes, 29 de noviembre de 2013

The Future of Storytelling: Creative Task of the Week No.4/5

My inspirational books:

Casa Tomada, Julio Cortázar (Casa Tomada , here´s the story that gives the name to the book)
Ficciones, Jorge Luis Borges Ficciones

Why do I like these books?  They are short story books, the writers play with the language and different situations, the stories are original and contain twists or novel points of views, the settings are not only in Argentina but in other (sometimes imaginary or not) countries.  Surprinsingly as it is with most things in life, everything is connected and I like the fact that these writers had the capacity to use the language in a playful way to tell stories and that Cortázar´s novel Hopscotch is designed in a way which could resemble the mechanics of game design in the sense that you can "hop" from here to there and you would always get a different story.  To discover different things everytime you approach it, that is a good piece of art.

What fascinated or impressed me most after listening and watching the material about Digital Games contained in Unit 5

Reluctant at first got bored first chapters didn´t connect not much impressed or interested in the example games, mainly because I have never played online games, or bought my children any xbox or PS2,3, x because 1: too expensive, 2: I wasn´t fascinated by the idea of having a child or myself sitting at the computer screen for such a long time.  However things got better when we arrived at the podcast and the numerous suggestions below the page.  What I liked was the graphics of the Flower and The Legend of Zelda, perfect for children and the idea of having an application that helps parents put children to bed is something I would have LOVED to have but 16 years ago, (mine are all adolescents now!): Nighty Night
I found the soundtrack from The Last Door  particularly beautiful, but I don´t know if I will ever play that game, however I have listened to the first three songs several times, congratulations to Carlos Viola!  This also made me acknowledge the amount of artists involved in the creative process of such a complex thing as a game.
I have to say that before sitting down to write this I decided to take a look at how my fellow moocers had decided to answer this creative task.  What I first came across was a review of this game: Journey and as I read the review my own reflection was affected.  Now I wanted to try out a game, just because this one was nothing like the ones which had been shown so far.
It would be fair to say that the only reason why I did not directly skip this chapter was because I intended to attend The MachinEVO session next January, 2014 and I thought that this chapter would provide me with relevant materials for my future plan.  As it is usually the case, being able to approach the industry of games in this way provided me with many clues as to what makes a good game, how they are made and played, what´s in fashion and the future of games.

jueves, 21 de noviembre de 2013

Global Ed Conf, Day 4

My session!!
Well, what to say!  This has been an amazing experience, so much learning with people who helped me during each and every step of the process, from submitting the proposal to the very time of the session.  It was such a thrill to see all my friends in the participant´s box! I felt at home while at the same time I passed to other teachers all the good things I have gained out of being connected for such a short time.

Link to MP4 Recording
(you will have to download this to watch)
Link to MP3 Recording
(you have to download this too, to enjoy while driving to work, perhaps, :))

Antonio Delgado´s Session

Modelo DRAP

Diseño de Ecologías de Aprendizaje

miércoles, 20 de noviembre de 2013

Global Ed Conference, Day 3

Emily Longenecker´s session

Complex World, Simple Strategies: Towards deeper global understanding in the classroom

I was drawn to the presentation of this session and found it so interesting that I will post the link to the recording because there´s just too much information and I want to have it handy!

Jennifer Russel, from IEarn USA.
The idea of video blogging is tempting and I have used it before with my friend Abby, a teacher of Spanish, but here the students examples were awesome!

Fabiana Casella´s Session
Fabiana talked about her experience as a teacher of Spanish in USA as an international exchange educator, and the challenges she had to face, how she overcame them and what she got from it.

Anne Mirtschin and Lorraine Leo´s session

Link to document with useful sites to get started with global projects.

An example of how collaboration works for the benefit of many. Key ingredients: enthusiasm, mutual support and respect. I´m so proud of these two ladies!

Global Ed Conf, Day 2.

Jorge Alberto Becerra

Academia de Tecnologías Libres y Social Media
Agenda de Conferencia Global en Español

Vance Steven´s Session
As usual my friend Vance amazed us by showing LIVE how to set up and run Google Hangout on Air, with all the possibilities of adding collaborative note taking and live broadcasting.  A daring enterprise which he successfully accomplished.

Recording of Vance´s Session, good to have as a tutorial reference.

martes, 19 de noviembre de 2013

Global Ed Conference, Day 1

Useful links to the conference day 1, Monday November 18th, 2013.

These are the links and brief notes I took while listening tot he sessions that I was able to attend, I couldn´t attend ALL of them but I will catch up with recording later on.

Todd Conaway

I arrived late to this session" target=

Mike Furdyk´s Session

Social network for social good.  Collaborative projects in over 13 languages created by educators and students.

Mike is someone who had to cope with something that was not taught at school.  Went to the web for help.

Highlight: "Speak up." Support for student´s ideas.  Grants for students´generated ideas to improve their schools.

Kate Sutton Jones´Session
Tips for community learning.
Choose learning goals.
Build a network.
Importance of safe environment!
Adult learners´characteristics, ie learning styles, preferences, etc.
Provide multiple varieties of participation, experiences, not only one way to do things.
ENJOY! That´s precisely what I do when I attend these kind of PD!
Where to start networking and learning

Twitter, Google+Communities, Online courses

Students without borders academy : Dave Fehr, from BC, Canada, offered to help teachers who want to collaborate on Global Education.

viernes, 25 de octubre de 2013

The future of storytelling, Creative Tasks

A story that impressed me.
This is an almost impossible task, because one of the reasons why I´m doing this course is because I am, and I have always been fascinated by stories, that´s why I have so many stories to talk about, in fact I have left several comments in my fellow moocers posts because I have also been influenced by the stories mentioned by them.
I will then reflect on the LAST story that made a powerful impact on me.  It is a film by female Argentinian director Lucía Puenzo, shortlisted for the Oscar academy awards.  However this was not the reason I went to see it.  In fact I had no expectations when I entered the cinema, because I had no clue as to what the film would be about.
The Story:  Wakolda.
The film is about a family who comes into contact with a stranger and decide to share the journey along a difficult road towards the city of Bariloche in the South of Argentina.  They later learn that this stranger, who is from Germany, is a scientist.  The scientist gets interested in the family and he goes to live with them in their newly restored guest house as a guest.  While living there he becomes interested in the younger child with whom he establishes a friendship.  The girl has developmental problems and he says he can help her grow by injecting some medicines.  He eventually does this with the concent of the mother.  At the same time he helps the father with his project of making dolls.  The story makes a powerful impact by using the parallelism of the dolls and the girl.  The search for perfection.
Why is this story special?
As a mother I felt identified with the female characters.  Both mother and child strive to fit to conformity and see no evil in the intentions of others.   Nazi genosides in South America, clandestine plastic surgery clinics, unofficial landing of planes in the Southern lakes and experiments with twins are used as inspiration for the making of a story where the canvas, mentioned by Cornelia Funke, of the Patagonian steppe with its empty wind washed vastness constitutes a character in itself, a metaphor of our own solitude.

Wakolda, trailer

martes, 15 de octubre de 2013

My musings about #RSCON4

     I had been warned before RSCON4 began: Prepare to be wowed, as well as Professional Development FOR teachers BY teachers, and everytime I wrote  the word "Wow!" in the chatbox, I remembered that.  A group of educators sharing what made them proud, what made them grow, what made them realize that they mattered.  That´s the way it should be.  I discovered that our roads as teachers have many things in common, that we feed on the same waters.  I discovered that the picture I have of the 21st century educator is shared by many.  Teachers helping other teachers realize their potential, teachers reaching out to other classes and finding out that we have so much in common,  enriching ourselves and our classes in our differences, teachers going out of their comfort zones for the sake of letting others know that there is a different way to do things, and that maybe that is the anwer to our present problems.  Teachers asking themselves: "Why not?"  or "What if...?"  Teachers who came up with simple yet daring practices to make the boring relevant and to give the students voices.
     I finally saw what Paul Seligson has been asking teachers for years: "Get off the silly buses!(sillabuses)"  take place and I liked the results.  An epiphany to me.
I was also moved to tears when Sonya VanSchaijic showed us a picture of one of the first users of "The hole in the wall" now turned into an educator herself.
     I also noted down, of course, some suggested sites and apps, which I recorded in previous blogposts for later quick referencing and checking, however this conference left me with a feeling of warmth that stays with me.  The presenters were all kind hearted people who were always keen to share and listen.
I am so happy with the evolution of seminars!  I am also happy to have been able to attend as many sessions as I could, and  as I am catching up with the ones I was not present  I am starting to look forward to the next RSCON.

sábado, 12 de octubre de 2013

RSCON4, Useful links Day 2

Tech/App Smack down

Interview with Michael Graffin

Nina Jeroncic

Viral Videos

Elizabeth Anne Teaching English to Scientists, the best of all worlds

The Forbidden Education

Jackie Gerstein

Educator as a  social networked  learner

Leo Selivan

Paula Naugle, Mystery Location Calls via Skype or Google Hangouts

Useful links from RSCON4 Day 1

Sugata Mitra at TED

Roseli Serra´s Session

Panel: Transforming Education with Technology

JACKIE GERSTEIN´s blog post Education 3.0

Camelot and the mists of Avalon

Six Degrees of Separation, Jennifer Smithers Marten

Survery google form to ask for volunteers to speak at classrooms


Urban Legends through digital story telling
Presentation of a session I wanted to attend but happened to be at the same time of the one above!

Urban Legends

lunes, 7 de octubre de 2013

miércoles, 2 de octubre de 2013

On attending and presenting a workshop at FAAPI, 2013, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Things learned at FAAPI13
My friend María Bossa (@mariabossa) is presenting at RSCon13, on the 12th October, 11am Argentina Time!
Gabriel Díaz Maggioli taught us a a ToT is a Teacher of Teachers.  In the course of our lives as educators we all end up doing some "totting".  Those teachers are no longer the experts, but teachers who have been in the profession for a longer period of time and they all posess the Theory of Experience and they apply it by using common sense.  I liked the idea of learning together as a community, a subject also brought about by Fernanda Coelo Liberali in her experience with pre service teachers.  Collective practive finds validity in the community who has agreed to construct knowledge together by negociating, reflecting, changing based on informed decisions. Never alone or in isolation.  Learning as participation.  Learning is messy, you don´t have to tell me! I know that!  I also liked the term: Technology Mediated Teaching and Learning, which also needs a special pedagogy so that it REALLY stands as something innovating and not more of the same old stuff with most appealing design.  Laurillard´s plead to educators to know what is out there, to assess their potential for educational use, not just use just for the sake of using it.
As Leonardo, teachers have all the tools to foster curiosity, to try, to reflect, to share, and by doing this in a supportive way we pave the way for the ones to come, who will in turn take their own ways.  Gabriel urged us to generate local research, valid to our own scenarios.  We owe it to our students.  Change one thing, and see what happens, he said.  Wise words.  In a world driven by change our brains tend to repeat learned skills.  Unfortunately or luckily our classrooms are changing.  Some of us teach at home, others at institutions but our students change, so we should too.
I heard about a new variety of English: Estuary English, it was new for me.  I loved the physical exercises introduced by Helen Ashton, I can´t wait to put them into practice with my students!
The British Council Programme for connecting classrooms is something I would definitely check if I had a primary or secondary school class.  PD, Workshops.
I can´t wait to invite Fernanda Coelo Liberali to a Learning2gether session to learn more about her innovative practises at Pre-Service Teacher Education, because I believe that would be-teachers around the world would benefit from establishing connections with other student-teachers so that when the time comes to connect the bonds will already be there.

        Things I missed at FAAPI13

      My dear teachers from Santa Fe, especially those at Almirante Brown Teacher Trainning College, namely my Adscription teacher (Language II) Adriana Díaz, whose creative and inspiring work brought me to present at FAAPI and whose silent mission continued in their workplaces.  My dear teachers Daniel Fernández and María Isabel Recamán whose lively classes I was lucky to attend and who were there all the way.  One thing I am particularly proud of is also my two colleagues from the same institute who participated in a contest by the British Council, one of them the winner of the contest! Congratulations Letizia María Russo for winning, and  María Cristina Rivas for being selected too! You can check the projects here: ICT in Action.

     More twitter linked educators.  Guys, you are missing all the fun!
     More enthusiastic people like my friend Pía, who came alone, we found each other, again! Keep coming!  Or my friend Vance Stevens from EVO Webheads and Learning2gether another inspiring soul, who arranged the hangout (twice! because I had mischedulled the time!) so that people around the world would be able to join in a workshop about being connected!  Or Gabriel Díaz Maggioli´s sessions full of data, theory, inspiration.  Fun, facts and mentoring.  Such a thrill after having met both at the EVO Mentoring Sessions.  I was one of their EVOers last summer!
     I could not help to feel so sad for a teacher from a rural area whom, I was told later made a comment about not knowing what she was doing there, since her school lacked all the technology.  I wanted to find her and tell her that it was ALL about those teachers who are far away and technology brings us, human beings together and helps us not to feel alone anymore.  I couldn find her to tell her this, I wish I could.  I have one amazing educator from Australia.  Her name is Anne Mirtschin who is living in a rural area, and also Govinda Prasad Panthi from Nepal, who does not have electricity all day long, or Endang Palupi from Indonesia who are all strugling to bring their schools connected with very limited resources.  I wanted to tell her IT IS NOT ABOUT THE TOOLS, IT HAS NEVER BEEN ABOUT THE TOOLS, BUT ABOUT PEOPLE.  Gabriel Diaz Maggioli mentioned this in his session.
      More clapping (and why not dancing!) like the spontaneous one when Sao Pablo based teacher Fernanda Coelho Liberali shared this archetypical ( Sing along and dance even if you don´t know the lyrics! ) song at the closing ceremony urging us to put Freire´s proposed theory of Happiness into practice.  Though I am not fluent in Portuguese, I could not stop my tears from falling at: "...a vida e bonita, e bonita.."  After all we are in the best time to be a teacher of English, we have a lot to celebrate!
     More TeachMeet/Unconference time where teachers could share what they are proud to have achieved with their students.  As I was walking down the hallways I heard teachers commenting among groups of friends about this and that that they were doing.  However these comments never left the small circles of close educators, they never reached teachers from different circles who might as well benefit from the experience of others.  As requested by the organizers, I had previously uploaded my presentation on Slideshare and it had already been viewed by at least 50 people BEFORE the 5 (!) attendees had the chance to take a look at them during my workshop.  One teacher from Canada even asked me if she could use the presentation for the upcoming and now running Connected Educator´s Month.  I said yes, of course, that´s the spirit!  Another pleasant surprise was the amount of people requesting permission to share the documents attached to the post containing ALL the materials in my workshop, which of course I also shared.

I left Buenos Aires under a persistent drizzle, the post began to take shape, and,  as I was finishing I realized the sun was making his way through the clouds and I remembered Fernanda Coelo Liberali´s Brazilian proberb: "Everything ends in the Summer!"  Let´s teach as if it was Summer all year round!  Our students will not probably remember what we taught them, but how we made them feel.

My friend Anne Mirtschin´s blog, from rural Australia


lunes, 30 de septiembre de 2013

Materials for my workshop for #FAAPI13


This is the theoretical phramework submitted for the proposal.

And here´s the presentation featuring my own pictures (and some icons from Iconfinder)

This is a short handout with useful information

This video is the last part.
(Song by: Dokashi Teru, The Annual New England Xylophone Symposium. From CCmixter
Here´s a list of my newly acquired words

martes, 24 de septiembre de 2013

On presenting a workshop at FAAPI 2013, Buenos Aires, Argentina

As I am finishing the last requirements of the organization commitee, I am starting to ask myself why I am in this situation.  Tomorrow I travel to Buenos Aires, a five hours´ bus ride from my city to attend the congress that every year gathers teachers of English from all over the country.  It was all fine untill I decided to submit a paper and it was accepted, putting myself way beyond my comfort zone.  However I have never regretted having done it.
What I would like to share with my colleagues is the joy I have experienced during these last two years as I became more and more engaged in web based activities.  I have learned so much and yet I realize that there is still so much learning to do that I am looking forward to coming back and setting my schedule for my next month.  Apart from this, I have often been involved in activities which could have been more profitable to teachers who are in front of a regular school, institution class.  I often found myself  saying: "This would be perfect for a primary/secondary school teacher."  Hence this idea of presenting the workshop was born.  During my journey I had so much fun with other teacher´s students who were always respectful, curious, amusing, that I wished somebody else had the chance to experience it too.
On the whole this experience helped me get organised with my learning and I am excited at the possibility of adding more Argentinian friends to the connected world of teachers.
Wish me luck!

viernes, 20 de septiembre de 2013

Some reflections on my learning how to ski.

I am not an experienced skier.  Last year we decided to go to a ski destination so as to share a holiday with our three adolescent kids during the winter break.  This year I decided to take things easy and enjoy the experience as much as I could, given that last year I spent two valuable days trying to master the snowboard technique only to find myself full of bruises on my back and a severe pain in my neck.  The regular skis were my choice this year and it was like starting everything all over again.
Some observations:
Children:  Oh, the joy of being naive, light and fearless!
I used the same "bunny slope" where children were taken to give their first slides and I enjoyed watching them slide smoothly knowing that the instructor was there for them, encouraging, helping and praising them for every small accomplishment.  I secretly followed them and imagined that they were praising me! Well done,  María!  I like the way you did that turn!  Skiing was the most natural thing for them. How cute they looked in those outfits wearing the tiny helmets and pretending to fly like aeroplanes!
Adults: Fearful, clumsy and self concious, I struggled to master my equipment slowly and carefully.  Eventually I managed to go down the blue slope, but only when I was confident enough, and that was on the last day of our holiday.  What a bliss! The feeling of achievement, the pride of having accomplished something after mastering my own inner voice that warned me about invisible dangers.
I wonder does this have anything to do with teaching at all?  It made me a learner again, thank you for that!  I look forward to skiing next year and going back to teaching with a humble spirit.

viernes, 26 de julio de 2013

On The Flat Classroom Conference,Hawaii 2013

I met Theresa Allen around October, 2012.  She was the first person from the Hello Little World teachers skypers who agreed to have a short meeting to explain to me the mechanics of the group.  Then we realised we had many things in common. For example we were collaboration believers and mothers of three children.  However I am here to reflect on her sesion at the Flat Classroom Conference in Hawaii.
To begin with there are many opportunities for the English Language Teacher if they want to collaborate either asynchronously or synchronously, whether you have the technology or not, because it´s not about the technology anymore.  It begins with a teacher whose instinct tells her that there is a potential for learning in connecting her class to another one, and then the road begins with small steps, as the ones she made, first by trying to explain to the authorities of the institution where you work that there was nothing wrong with it, then by figuring out a way to find your partners and finally polishing out the details of implementing a project. You would say that my friend knows how to solve all the technology problems.  The truth is this:  Theresa believes in the power of doing things together, she goes around it with a curious mind and success finds her working hard.  By success I don´t mean, as she said "flashy" success, but the satisfaction of seeing your work done.  I know that the work of teachers like Theresa is done mostly in the silence of the time between family meals and going to bed when the house is quiet.  That´s how passionate educators find their way out of the daily problems.

Flat Classroom Conference ning.

Theresa´s session at the Flat Classroom Conference, Hawaii 2013

lunes, 15 de julio de 2013

What I learned in one hour during #globalclassroom chat

Someone showed us their edu interests
Collaborative Projects
Someone else shared this presentation about Social Media
International Peace Day
A teacher showed us what she did for International Dot Day
Skype Classroom, a place to meet world classrooms and post your project
Virtual Edcamp!
A site to find blog resources
Aurasma was mentioned, check this later!

On Saturday 6th July at 3 pm I joined the Global Classroom Project  monthly chat as I regularly do every first or second Saturday that I am available. I have become used to rushing to my computer to sit and chat with teachers from all over the world on different topics which I always find interesting.  Because the chats are open to a global audience there are three different times, for Argentina they are at 8am, 3pm or 11pm.  At the beginning of the post are the links I highlighted during this session.  I intend to give them a closer look during the week.
What I always find refreshing about these chats is the willingness to share and reflect.  If you ever find lonely in the teaching profession give tweetchats a try.  It´s like going back to the teacher training college when you met with friends and talked about the classroom experiences you had, the problems, what you did to solve them, and what it all felt like. Even better because there is an archive where you can go to in case you want to see if you missed anything, so everything said during the chat is recorded there.  Here´s the archive of the one I was in.

martes, 9 de julio de 2013

What happens when we mix teachers and social media?

     On Monday 7th July we had a very interesting meeting at Learning2gether as part of the regular sessions Vance Stevens hosts either on Sundays or Mondays with educators from all around the world to talk about different topics regarding the use of technology in education.  I have already mentioned how I met Vance.  He was the first one of many teachers willing to share, and help, and listen, and learn with you. By you I mean anyone interested in whatever the topic at hand.  The topic today was Social Media Management and the special guest was  József Horváth, from Hungary, who has given his classes a special twist so that his students wouldn´t look at the clock to see how long it is till the bell rings.
1. Picnic in the Punctuation Park How many times did we glance out of the window on a glorious Summer/Spring day wishing we could all be outside enjoying the outdoors?  József takes his students outside to teach a topic which suffers from a bad reputation among them and pretends he is not teaching, but having a picnic instead. (which they actually do because they bring food and drinks and everything else)
2. Befriend your students on Facebook.  József is in touch with his students through Facebook, and by doing so he learns a lot about them.
3. József gives his students the possibility to write for a global audience.  By using Feedbook his students´ work is available for everyone to read. The original work includes the book cover design as well. Mind you, students are not required to write a book, however most of them do!
4. Emphasis on freedom.  His students usually have a range of ten tasks to choose from and they end up choosing three or four.
5. Collaborative work.  The writing of the book is done in pairs and each student has the chance to be a writer and an editor as well.
6. Evaluation is provided by the student and the teacher, the teacher being the one who usually assigns higher marks!
What I reflected about when I heard about all these techniques and practices had to do with why I did not attempt to do any of those! I was missing all the fun in the world!  The freedom given to students has to do with acknowledging their part in the learning process and recognising that they have something to say and there are people out there who are willing to listen. (or read in this case)
A few years ago I was isolated as a teacher. I did not have access to proper internet until a 2 years ago.  Methodology books have always been extremely expensive, and the Teacher´s Seminars full of theory oriented lectures.
Fortunately things have changed.  If you ask me what I like best about being a connected educator it is the contact with teachers like József whose enthusiasm is contagious because you can tell that he is enjoying his teaching.  After all as good old Paul Seligson says it all comes down to that: "Enjoy your teaching, if you  don´t, who will?"  So eventually it´s not about what technology you use or don´t use in your class, after all as Jozsef put it very simply: "The most important app is the person´s mind.", but rather it´s about making us all want to be there!

Szia!      See you!    ¡Nos vemos!

Check out for the latest podcasts by József Horváth!

jueves, 30 de mayo de 2013

My life on Flickr!
Éste es un módulo Flickr que muestra fotos o videos públicos de Maria Colussa. Crea tu propio módulo aquí.

sábado, 11 de mayo de 2013

On how assessment has evolved

Assesment has evolved from the old times when we got a test back with a grade which we would never know where it came from.
I will concentrate on a particular assesment I did to evaluate my latest student´s ability to communicate with a native speaker.  Pressed for time since I only had two months to get her ready to establish meaningful interactions with strangers in English, I came up with the idea to set up a virtual meeting via Skype with my good friend David Karnorcak. (I blogged about this meeting in my last entry)
In my teacher training college years I would not have dreamed of having a student assesed in the way I will describe below.  I am happy to be a teacher today because technology enables us to strech our brains as to how to make assessment more meaningful and less stressful for our students.
The following is part of an assignment for the LTMOOC I´m doing these days.

     What are the outcomes to be assessed?
I wanted to check if she was able to communicate in English, given the fact that she said she didn´t know a word in English.  I knew this was not true.  

      What are the capabilities/skills (implicit or explicit) in the outcomes?
The skill was oral communication

      Is the method of assessment chosen consonant with the outcomes and skills?
The method was chosen because the social interactions that she wanted to do would share the same nature.

      Is the method relatively efficient in terms of student time and staff time?
The method was efficient in that it gave the student the chance to experience what social interactions during her trip would imply. 

     What alternatives are there? What are their advantages and disadvantages?
The "safe" alternative would have been to play a CD with a listening activity for her to do a given excersise from a book, in a highly artificial environment, and with vocabulary which she would probably not encounter later on.  The disadvantage was that she was angry with me for putting her in the position to talk to a stranger , which implied taking her out of her comfort zone. (This lasted just a few minutes) 
      Does the specific assessment task match the outcomes and skills?
The assessment was not only a sample of what she would encounter, it was useful in order to determine the weaker points to be dealt with in future classes.

     Are the marking schemes or criteria appropriate?
There was no marking scheme.  After the chat the class was based on how to improve the communicative skills providing vocabulary and structures.

    Who should make judgements about student learning – the teacher, the student, the student’s peers or others?
In this case we received the feedback of the interlocutor who provided ideas as to what she could say and how and also praised her on her performance.  This made a major positive impact on my student´s self esteem. The re-listening of the recorded version of the interview from the part of the student allowed her to focus on what she would like to be able to say better. The teacher highlighted language for later practice.

miércoles, 1 de mayo de 2013

On "I want to learn English asap!"

      I sometimes come across this individual: the middle aged adult who for several reasons wants to enroll on an English course and wants to acquire the language the fast way. They approach us as if we, teachers, were the guardians of the Holy Grail of language learning. They say: "I want to learn English, I don´t have time for homework, I need it because I realized that it is important during my last trip abroad. Oh, and I don´t want to write, after all I just want to be able to talk." Fine, I take the challenge. I start building from what they bring to class I find it fascinating when they start remembering vocabulary and structures. Eventually, they have the chance to try their knowledge out in their next trip and they come to class with renewed energy after being able to successfully interact in English.
     Nevertheless I found myself questioning my own teaching lately. I have this student who goes on a trip next month. Ok, let´s put her knowledge at work. I asked my good friends of Hello Little World Teachers Skypers if anyone would be available for a short chat with one of my students. The great David Karnoscak accepted the invitation and there was Monica in front of the computer screen face to face with a native speaker! Of course I did the arrangements without her knowing about the interview, because had I asked if she would like to do it, guess what? She would refuse and ask to do it later when she´s better prepared. When the time came, she would be too nervous to do it. The conversation started and David was friendly, chose the correct words and reformulated the sentences to make things easier for Monica to understand, I often translated.  Sometimes I remained silent. I wrote down all the sentences my student didn´t know how to say and all the vocabulary she couldn´t produce. I filled two pages. We thanked Mr David for the wonderful chat and then the class started. I gave my student the English version of all the things she wanted to ask or was unsure about. She was reassured by the fact that she understood most of what David said.
      However the most important achievement was in a level you can´t see. The renewed confidence. The magic of communication took place and I felt proud to have facilitated it. That´s after all why I became a teacher twenty years ago.

viernes, 26 de abril de 2013

Content Based Instruction Revisited

     After reading Fredricka Stoller´s article on Content Based Instruction I remembered my teacher trainning years, when we were first introduced to the key principles of this methodology.  I actually planned classes based on it, which I later delivered with great enthusiasm.
     CBI would be my ideal approach for a lawyer who comes to me for one to one lessons to help him brush up his English for a presentation he has to deliver in English in seven month´s time.  In this case where I know the learner has some basic grammar knowledge and a specific learning need I could use all the ideas clearly presented in the article.  Technology would certainly facilitate the planning process as well as the production of student generated material.
     As regards the general English courses I am asked to deliver I don´t see myself using CBI, simply because I consider you need to have the knowledge of the content and I am not a science teacher for example.  Concentrating on one particular topic, may have the drawback of not catering for the variety of all students interests.
     Lower level students pose another challenge when trying to implement this methodology.  Charts and diagrams are appropriate here, as well as comprehensible chunks of language for students to use and practice and build from there.
     We always use content to teach languages.  After all the purpose of communication is meaningful interaction, that´s what most of my students are after when they enroll in my classes.

domingo, 14 de abril de 2013

LTMOOC ACTIVITY: Introducing myself

     My name is Maria del Carmen Colussa and I am from Argentina.  I live in a quite small town called Santo Tomé, where I started learning English at the age of 13.  I graduated from Instituto del Profesorado Almirante Brown in Santa Fe city, which is about 14 kilometres away from my city separated by the Salado River.
     After I graduated in 1993, I started teaching English non stop at Liceo Municipal de Santo Tomé Faustino San Juan,  so I returned as a teacher right where I had begun studying several years before.
Back in February 2012 I started exploring the possibilities of using ICT tools in my language teaching practice and I  have been doing that since then.  Always learning something new and meeting likeminded teachers.  As time went by I became interested in the possibilities of working together with other teachers and classes all over the world.  The Skype Community in Edmodo is an attempt to do just that.  I have been having Skype chats (either Mystery or not) with several classes around the world, so my family is used to my  meetings over the internet.  I am also a member of the Hello Little World Teachers Skypers.
     I have concentrated on teaching English to adults for the last 3 or 4 years and I do it as a freelance teacher from home.  However, I have discovered  through my Skype chats that people are interested in learning Spanish and also things about my country, so I found myself sharing those in my native language as well.
     By joining this LTMOOC I hope to get new tools to use in my teaching and I also hope to share practices and experiences with other teachers.   As I stated in the discussion group I am here because of Vance Stevens one of the moderators at the MultiMOOC EVO session last February 2013.  He encouraged several of us to be here and I only have kind words for teachers like him or Miguel Mendoza and his Venezuelan crew, who introduced me to the world of Podcasting during the same sessions. (this blog also contains part of the work produced then)
    As regards my hobbies, I have 3 adolescent children and a husband so I can say that I used to love cooking before I had to do it in large quantities and on a daily basis.  As a result of so much time spent sitting in front of the computer and in order to compensate this, I practice several outdoor activities which vary with the seasons.  These could be: bicycle riding, and an afternoon walk in Winter and wakeboarding and early walks in the Summer. All year round I read (at the moment "What I talk about when I talk about running", by Haruki Murakami), I usually keep about 5 books on my bedside table by Latin American writers (my favourite: García Márquez) or Argentinian ones.(Borges or Cortázar´s short story books)  Several years ago I discovered that I also like photography, so I enrolled on a course and learned a few photo editing techniques.

Here´s my flickr page.
Hello Little World Wiki

jueves, 11 de abril de 2013

On MOOCing. /mu:kin/ 

      Many times I found myself envying my children´s gatherings at home with the excuse of the production of some creative piece for school. I tried to recall when was the last time I gathered with student friends in order to produce a creative piece. It was over twenty years ago in the Teacher Training College. The subject was Language and Communication Workshop. We had decided to record TV programmes: there was a weather report, a newsflash, commercials, music (rap), soap opera, weather forecast. It was an exhausting experience but I still remember how much fun we had.  Teachers and students working together, making original creative things for an audience, which was the rest of the teachers and fellow students. It did not feel like work, we were engaged, we were having fun. It was a success. Then we got our degrees, we got serious and stopped having fun.
      When was the last time I did something just for the sake of enjoying the ride? I have recently signed up in a Language Teaching MOOC in order to look for some fun by sharing teacher stuff with others and in so doing recovering that feeling of togetherness lost in the rush of everyday teaching. We are supposed to teach communication skills. I want to put mine into practice. However I am open to the unexpected. I know I will receive more than what I am expecting to get. We will see. This morning I heard that in order to learn your brain should be engaged.  I am very curious about language teaching.  There is so much going on out there that I will take this opportunity to catch up with what other teachers are doing or struggling with to find myself in others to recover the togetherness lost somewhere between my student years and today.

Interview with Jeremy Harmer
Here´s the schedule in case you want to peep.

martes, 12 de marzo de 2013

On tweetchat and moderating

Last Saturday 9th March I  agreed to co-moderate a chat of teachers over Twitter.  I had never done anything like it before, so I felt I would give it a try as a way to expand my horizons in the Twitter world.  My Australian friend Michael Graffin had promised to send a sort of guide and he also promised to pair me with an experienced teacher.  He did both.
The 2nd session of the Global Classroom tweetchat was scheduled for Saturday from 19 to 20 GMT (4pm Argentina).  I usually do something completelly different on a hot Saturday afternoon like that one, but I felt I owed it to Michael who was responsible for introducing me to Hello Little World teachers skypers group.
Before the chat I contacted all my circles and introduced the upcoming chat, by doing so I made a friend to sign up for twitter.  One more convert!  I looked into some tutorials so as to learn a little bit more about the subject and these readings resulted in my opening my TweetDeck account, the mechanics of which I fully understood later on a second chat I participated on Sunday and  proved to be quite good for displaying all the chatflow as it developed.  Delayed Eureka effect.
An hour before the event was due I virtually met the moderator: Sonya Van Schaijick, who happened to be from New Zealand.  She patiently endured my mistakes and gave me a few ideas, and did most of the work!
 During the chat we learned about the work of teachers who try to bring down the classroom walls by  inviting experts to talk to students, we learned about someone who offered to provide experts and we also heard about a teacher with an innovative way to teach science through crime scene investigation.  As regards networks of teachers Edmodo was mentioned as well as Skype in the classroom.  Of course I mentioned my  dear Hello Little World teachers skypers.
As the conversation came to an end we were left with a feeling for more Global Classroom Chat.  We will have to wait until next month.

See all the chat details tidily outlined in this blog entry

martes, 5 de febrero de 2013

On Not Knowing

(This blog was inspired by several web sessions and a video, all links I will do my best to embed at the end)

The first time I came across the word MOOC, perhaps because I am from Argentina, I thought it had to do with cows! (Mooooc!)  Later Dave Cormier made the meaning clear to me: Massive Open Online Course.  Very clear, and happy to have added another word to my notepad dictionary of newly acquired words.  Still this word did not mean anything to me until I had the chance to participate in a MOOC.  Here are the phases I went through while being involved in such a course.
1) I got lost.  The wiki pages, the links, the different platforms, the amount of information, the new people.  It was just too much, and I wanted to understand everything and click on every link.  Frustration was the feeling, and I got angry.  Until I understood that it was up to me.  Noone had forced me to be here.  Learning was my responsibility.  When hasn´t it been?
2)  I asked questions.  After all I did not know.  I relaxed.  I thanked the help.
3) I went on getting lost, eventually finding my way around, determined to keep my spirits high no matter what.
4) I used information and seeked for inspiration.  Sir Ken Robinson never fails me!
5) I achieved something.  I used my intuition and embraced uncertainty.
6) I made connections, I cooperated with my connections.  I shared!
7) I had renewed energy.  I am in my element!
   This is something  I never did:
   I never checked how many people had dropped the course, because throughout the process I always had in mind that learning is ultimately up to me!
  Was I lucky?  Who knows? In my short life as a connected educator I only came across creative (Krissy Venosdale), cooperative (Hello Little World), friendly (Lana Rovenskikh), professional (EVO2013 moderators) individuals, so even though the title of this entry is "On Not Knowing" there is something I know:  I want to continue feeding myself with inspiration from likeminded teachers (see My Podcast Project),  I want to help people to learn (my students) and I will continue being grateful to the people who concentrate on the positive.

Video: The School of Life, Sunday Sermon

About Dave Cormier

Curtis J. Bonk

My friend Svetlana, from Russia.

Krissy´s Flickr Page

My teachers skypers friends

jueves, 31 de enero de 2013

On how small the world is

I would like to share with you an interview with my friend Lana  I had commented Lana that it had been a very hot day here the day before so she prepared a pot full of  spongy fresh white snow from her garden just to show to me!  They make snowmen with it.  She also introduced me to her daughter who is 10 years old.
We also have other things in common: a black cat! (only that mine is not as sociable as hers!)
But the most amazing thing was that we had been part of a group of skyping teachers without having met before, and here is the moment when we realized that!

sábado, 26 de enero de 2013


In answer to Vance Stevens question as part of the MultiMOOC EVO session.
     Why am I here?  Good question!  Why am I immersed in a completely new experience which I have never heard of before in my life during my Summer holidays trying to overcome feelings of guilt for not being able to comply with the homework, arriving late or not being able to attend live sessions, carrying around the house different notetaking devices in order to record ideas, feelings, sites, tools, names or my jumping flow of consciousness?  Well, I will try to give form to an attempt of an answer.  First of all, I have to say I´m curious, and the name EVO, MultiMOOC /maltimu:c/, called my attention.   Secondly, I heard someone say at the opening session "If it is your first time in EVO don´t register for more than one session."  I am a disobedient girl.  I signed up for four!    Last but not least, a certain Mr Vance Stevens took his time to answer one of my questions and I felt special.  A MOOC was not so massive after all,  this teacher who is probably very busy teaching somewhere in Asia, was interested in me!   Dave Cormier also played an important part in my staying aboard this brainwrecking experience.  His enthusiasm is something I need to become near of right now.  To me he sounded like a subversive rebellious teacher.  I felt identified with the picture of his angry little boy, I was there, angry with it all.  Feeling I just could not cope with so much new (to me) information.  Nevertheless, I decided to continue taking things more easily so that I could enjoy the experience. And I am!


     Little did I know of the things that were ahead of me for the following year when I first came in touch with ICT tools back in February 2012.  Back then I had no idea that internet was there to help teachers.  I was the ordinary paper and pen (sometimes red pen!) teacher.  I remember now one of my friends writing the word "Prezi" for me in my handout since I didn´t know how to spell it.  I also remember Paul Seligson mentioning E-Portfolios in one of his talks and I thought of them as something like paper folders but in word format.
    I hardly knew back then later in my first "Becoming an E-Teacher" online course, that I was just beginning to scratch the surface of the great potential the internet had to offer to a teacher of English as a foreign language.