jueves, 23 de enero de 2014

On Rhizomatic Learning and Declaring

I have a problem with declaring.  The truth is that I don´t really know what I want to learn, I just try to enjoy what I see.  Eventually I will concentrate, focus on what I need.  Right now I am enjoying the ride. I have been learning by chaos ever since I started learning online.  As you can see from the picture, I´m up to many things at present and I am equally thrilled by all of them.
EVO sessions are instances of learning like no other I have ever had the chance to take part in.  I had been waiting all year for this one, because I would have all the time in the world to do the tasks and I have grown particularly skilled in most of the tools which would be used during the course of the sessions.  My plan was to squeeze as much knowledge as I could from my sessions while enjoying of the privilege of being on holidays.  However this Summer has proved to be particularly hot down here, making it quite hard for me to concentrate on any intellectual work! Plus my mother broke her wrist.  To sum up things didn´t quite go as planned.  Meanwhile a friend of mine asked me make a contribution in a PD session for teachers in Russia and a former friend-employer also asked me to submit a proposal for a brush up meeting about the use of tech in the English classroom for her teachers before classes begin here in March.  Needless to say that each of these instances of learning are events which I will also be looking forward to and enjoy preparing.
Last year, contrary to what a beginner should do I signed up for four sessions.  I need to make it clear that if I did it it was because I was so happy to have found the EVO that I was carried away by my own enthusiasm.  I lurked in three and was active only in one.  I not only lost my fear of audio files after completing most of the tasks in the Podcasting for the ESL/EFL classsroom session, I also dared to blog.  I cannot begin to name every aspect of my teaching that improved as a result of my participation here.  Every now and then I find myself relating things I remember having seen at one or other of these sessions. I ended up presenting a workshop in a teachers` conference under the guidance of my former moderator: Vance Stevens.  At the seminar I met face to face with another  EVO mod: Gabriel Díaz Maggioli.  I had not planned any of these amazing things.
This year`s session has started and I am trying to enjoy as much as I can from them.  I also wish I had more time to participate in the rhizo14 session too.  You can´t have everything in life!  As I turned the pages of my notebook I found an activity which related heavily to one suggested by my Becoming a Business Teacher mod Roy in his live session.  Rhizomatic implies connecting.  The connections a teacher makes between what she sees and what she can use now are personal and depend on many variables.  The fascinating thing is that these connections are in a constant state of flux, we don´t know what the future holds for us, what will happen when the door is opened on day one of any given class.  It would certainly be a good thing because this is the best time to be a teacher, let alone a teacher of English!

martes, 21 de enero de 2014

EVO Sessions, Developing Business English Teachers

Week 2 Task 1
Needs Analysis

 I will go on to reflect one experience with a student after reading the material outlined for this chapter.
Last September, Marcela called me with a very specific request.  She had recently started a job as a secretary at the Import/Export department in a car spare parts factory.  She wanted to have weekly one to one lessons to refresh her knowledge of the language because their German clients would arrive in December and she would have to deal with them.  Speaking and listening were the skills she said she needed more practice in since she had plenty of experience corresponding with clients and suppliers.  The classes would be held in my studio where I usually teach and have access to technology. (one pc with internet connection) and material. (books!)

I usually have an initial interview where I ask general questions about the kind of background of my student,  Where/when did you start learning English?; What do you usually use English for at work?; apart from work, What are you passionate about?  I now feel a bit shy to say this, but this is what I have actually been doing with her and with every student that came to me for help.  Up to now.  I liked the proposed chart by Charles Rei.  It would help both of us focus and evaluate tasks by displaying it visually.
A systematic approach to needs analysis could also provide an overview of the course objectives.  It will certainly help me stay stuned.

The Communicative Event, Charles Rei


miércoles, 15 de enero de 2014

EVO Sessions, 2014.

This is my list of favourite links I will probably use a LOT in the near future.  They come from my involvement in three sessions of the current EVO.  I have also included my responses to assigned tasks.

EVO Crafting the Perfect E-book Session

Creative Commons Resources

This is my creative commons license

This is the E-Book I need

The E-book I need to create is an interactive online book for my adult students with resources for them to practice English.  Ideally it could be something that they can have access to from home if they feel like practising what we have done in class or it could also be used as a flipped class material bank.  (ie. I could assign a task for them to pre-view/listen/read BEFORE we meet face to face).  However since IDEAL seldom happens, it can also serve as an online "place" for them to make comments, add content, etc when they are unable to attend the class.  (something that happens very frequently at least in my case!)

EVO Developing Business English Teachers Session
Tasks for Week 1

Former teachers who motivated me and what was so special about them that they inspired me

During my 20 (OMG!) year old career I´ve been inspired by many teachers I was lucky enough to come across.
Two of them during my trainning years (unfortunatelly both have passed away) María Isabel Recamán, my phonetics/diction teacher, Daniel Fernández, my methodology/applied linguistics teacher.
After I graduated I did an Adscription to Language II at the Teacher Training College and Adriana Diaz was the teacher there.
Lately I have come across so many AMAZING educators that I can´t begin to name them: Vance Stevens(https://twitter.com/VanceS), Elizabeth Anne (https://twitter.com/eannegrenoble), Anne Mirtschin( https://twitter.com/murcha) and all the people from Hello Little World Teachers Skypers http://hlwskypers.pbworks.com/w/page/36437388/HLWSkypers%20wiki.

Why was I inspired by them? What is special about them?  

Basically their enthusiasm about what they do for a living, what Sir Ken Robinson describes as having found their element, and a feeling I have when I come across these kind of individuals that in spite of being VERY good at what they do, they just don´t brag about their accomplishments, but seek to share what they know.  Another common quality is having a sense of humour, I have laughed a lot when I was in contact with them.  Their capacity to work a lot and stay calm when faced with problems, such as technical ones is also something I also admire in them.

Motivating the Unmotivated, By Jeremy Harmer
My reactions to this article.
Building a successful rapport with my students is KEY for any learning to take place in the classroom.  I have been concentrating on teaching adults lately and take it as a rule to find out what it is that they are passionate about, what their background is, as well as where they hope to or are required to use the language.  Once in the classroom I take special care to choose material that has the right level of challenge and praise their accomplishments.  I am always looking for opportunities for them to do things with the language in a meaningful way.

Roy, talking about reflection in Language Teaching

I was intruduced to the concept of reflection on our practice by Vance Stevens, but before that I was encouraged to write in a blog by Miguel Mendoza and his crew of the Podcasting EVO session in 2013.  Before that I thought I had nothing to reflect about!
Visiting Sonya´s ( https://twitter.com/vanschaijik )blog where she reflected on her learning using the SAMAR model was an eye opener.  I later applied it to my own pathway from a zero beginner in IT to whatever it is that I am now.  Reflection lets you know where you are and where you want to go.  It also helps you focus as Roy very clearly stated in the video.

Two Statements on Reflective Practice, By Roy

Reflecting in Action
Too many times I found myself wondering: Why are you doing this task which is obviously NOT relevant?!  Simply because it was in the coursebook! And the institution I worked in mandated that I should follow the book. The funny thing is that my poor students endured the tasks stoically!   When I started working freelance I noticed this and raised my filters to prevent this from happening.  It was difficult for me at first to question things on coursebooks (that was not a thing I was taught to do in the teacher training college!), until I started to trust my teacher instinct: there was simply no point in doing certain things just because they were there.

Reflecting on Action
Once I had the opportunity to pair up one of my adult students with three adolescents in a skype session.  Skyping with native speakers had proved on many occations to be  a very powerful tool to boost my students´confidence and add a little spice to our classes.    My student would benefit from the interaction and I assumed that she would enjoy the talk being a mother of a 12 year old boy.  However she later expressed that she felt more comfortable talking to adults.  I took notice and nobody died!  I mean: well, I made certain assumptions, took the risk, did the task, evaluated it and will later on take her preferences into account before scheduling another session.  That´s it!  We had enough confience to talk to each other in order to make things better.
We should strive to create in our classrooms an atmosphere of trust where our students know that we are all learning, and that learning is a complex process, could be chaotic but the teacher will be there for them, learning too.

Feedback and Motivation

One thing I have realised after reading about student´s feedback is that I don´t like it!  Why?  Well, it could be because I stopped having it the minute I left the teacher training college.  I am simply not used to having it!  Once you go freelance if a student`s feedback is not taken into account, he simply doesn´t come any more, so I am constantly asking for feedback from my students because not acknowledging my student`s views would mean that I´m not doing things right.


Well, what to say about this session.  It´s like being born again and live my childhood this time with computers!!  Lost and brand newbie in the land of Second Life I had a brief experience in an online tour before my computer crashed or something,  however I REALLY enjoyed the ride to Renaissance Island.  So funny to wait until the world is loaded (the WORLD!) and my clothes are downloaded!  Several of us are waiting for Carol, our moderator to teletransport us! OMG, this is so much fun! And we have barely started!

lunes, 6 de enero de 2014

Why you should register for the TESOL Electronic Village Online (EVO) 2014 today!

Last year I was a complete ignorant of all the benefits of online PD opportunities available on the web.  I don´t remember how I came across the TESOL EVO sessions, I just remember that I registered for attending right on the day of the start of the course.  I followed my instincts and signed up for four sessions, something I strongly recommend NOT to do, but to focus on only one and take advantage of the many opportunities for learning offered that that one, which is what I ended up doing.  However, I also profited from the sessions I just lurked or got lost trying to catch up with.  I lost my fear of  audio files as I was patiently tutored by the Podcasting for the ESL/EFL Classroom moderators, I met my friend Vance Stevens from the Multimooc session, I heard the great Gabriel Diaz Maggioli giving a talk during the Mentoring Session and had the fortune of meeting him in person later in Buenos Aires for the FAAPI conference of Argentinian teachers of English.  All this happened during the course of four weeks of hard work since I had to figure out how to navigate wikis, tutorials, web tools, etc.  However the memories of the kind help of the EVO moderators and the other participants made me look forward to the next one.  Registration begins today.  Please consider signing up.  Be a lurker.  Get involved as much as you can.  You will never regret it!
See you there!

You will have a dilema, though: Which session to attend, they are all SO interesting!

TESOL EVO Sessions, 2014. Everything you need to know is here! 

Slam! Session, EdcampHOME, Saturday 4th, 2014

Lucid Press

Link to sessions videos

Google Maps Engine, ie: Google Maps on Steroids! :)


These apps or sites were suggested by people who felt they had something good in their hands and wanted to share it with other educators.  The Slam! session was unprepared and anyone with a good idea could  sign up to speak.  Those brave enough to volunteer were:
 Jon Samuelson introducing the free presentation tool called Life Slide;
Laura Robertson, introduced PRISM, which she said was great for English Teachers;
Dan (couldn´t get his name, sorry!) introduced us to Google maps Engine, which he described as "Google Maps on Steroids, (I liked this description!) and he went on to show us how he used it for introducing National Parks;
Robert Pronovost talked about the Makerbot Academy and how they use 3D printers in the classroom;
Someone with a sportsteam woolly cap, sorry I didn´t get the name either, presented Snagit , a tool which allows you to highlight/mark a text for later sharing it with the url;
Lucid Press was introduced as an alternative to Glogster;
Susan Spellman-Cann, who had been with us at the Haiku Deck session talked about the potential of this tool for pedagogic as well as sharing purposes, which we later that that put into practice by exchanging our own creations via Twitter:

Susan made this specially for my students!

And I shared my first attempt at using Haiku Deck.

The idea of joining a Professional Development event during my Summer vacation is my kind of thing for a hot summer morning/afternoon/evening.  The fact that free online PD opportunities come in virtual format is for me sometimes daunting and I have to say that I often sign up without knowing the protocol or the things we have to do before or during the event.  Last year for example I arrived to the EdcampHOME experience a little late so I was unable to attend in person.  This year I managed to get into a session, missed the second one (no worries! there are recordings!) and attended and took notes of the Slam! session.  I was also actively participating in the twitter chats that went on during the whole event, met wonderful educators and learned about their experiences that worked for their students.  What else can a teacher from Argentina ask for?  THANK YOU EDCAMPHOME!

Check out this amazing video by one of the Edcamphomers!

sábado, 4 de enero de 2014

EdcampHOME 2.0, Saturday 4th January, 2014

Haiku Deck in the Classroom Session 1

Uses of Haiku Deck in the classroom, Livebinder

by Susan Spellman-Cann

Susan´s councellor´s page, examples of Haiku Deck by a councellor.

also by Susan Spellman-Cann

Robert´s students examples of Haiku Deck use for classroom tasks.

Featured in the classroom blog, by Robert Hockberg also known as our Gooogle Hangout Host!

Haiku Deck Tutorials, Examples, etc

I loved the idea Robert had of pretending to have the Haiku Deck and making the students draw papers like haikudeck slides by copying it from the comp screen while they didn´t have any device in the classroom.  They called it 19th C Haiku Deck! :))