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

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