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.