Friday, 28 May 2010

Week 8

Project draft already! Uau, time has gone by so quickly…! I guess it`s good when you don`t feel time pass by! I`ve already sent mine to Khang and have received his, now I’ll have to find some time to check it out and help him with some suggestions (I confess I’ve already taken a peek at it and it seems really complete and accurate!).

This week the readings on learner autonomy made me realize that it`s not just in Portugal that there is a real pressure to complete the English syllabus which corresponds with the textbooks! As a matter of fact most teachers I know tend just to do the tasks in the textbook because they think that is the only way they will achieve the objectives of learning English in the national curriculum made by the Ministry of Education! What a mistake! There are many ways to achieve those objectives, many of which comprise the use of new technologies and new strategies beyond the textbook. Of course students bought the book, so they should use it, but together with it the teacher can vary and innovate to try to promote students` autonomy, even if it is in a one computer classroom!

But the fact is that the teacher needs to have his own degree of autonomy to be able to use strategies and resources to try to promote students` autonomy!

A good way for me to promote student`s autonomy is through collaborative activities and by asking our students to do extra work, not related to class subjects, but about something they choose, which will make them grow as a person who takes decisions, reaches consensus (if it is a collaborative work), and produces something autonomously.

Strategies like setting up a class blog or website, creating a student journal, letting students choose the materials the teacher uses in class or the topics they want to write or talk about in class are other valuable strategies to promote the learners autonomy.

These strategies don`t need to be all related to technologies, and they shouldn`t be, since many of us and our students still have limited access to technology, and here enters the one-computer classroom!

In my school I don`t have a computer lab all to myself, as a matter of fact there are two rooms with 14 computers each that I can say are a “sort of” a computer lab, because they normally are taken by the computer science classes… so most of the time it`s as if I don`t have any at all! I guess I’m lucky to have one day a week when I can take my 10th graders there because one of the rooms, from 10 o`clock to 11.30, is free, but the rest of the time and days when I have my other classes it`s always full! (By the way this week in the project, my students are preparing their PPT presentations and have inserted their mind maps on the site, on the page each pair of students created for their final project!)

So I guess for me, most of the time it`s a one-computer class!

The possibilities to use one computer in the classroom are immense but I tend to value those which promote interactivity and student participation and autonomy! This week I really found some cool activities or possible strategies and activities when I went to the suggested site “101 activities for the one-computer classroom”, since I’m working with the webpage with my students the area about WebPages really caught my attention with some very good materials and websites. Go check it out!


  1. Dear Susana,

    as far as I could see from our colleagues in this course, many of us face the national curriculum problem - a program which must be ended on time, a book which must be also ended. But I can't help wondering: is it a crime if I don't finish the book, or some parts of the program were not reached? Instead, I try to concentrate on my students needs and makie them really understand wht I teach and make them become autonomous, as in life they must be so.

    Like you, I also involve my students in lots of extra-activities, mainly international projects. In this way, they realize that English is alive, it's not just a dead language to be found only in their textbooks and notebooks.

    I wish you all the best,

  2. Dear Susana,

    >"Is this so bad? Being a technology teacher as well?"
    Absolutely no! Actually, I believe both, teachers and students, should have the basic knowledge even before they come to the class. We are lucky to have these free, user-friendly tools available for us in the cyberspace. We should be concerned about the pedagogical objectives of the tool we choose to use with our students, prepare test or exams, mark or grade, etc. I believe, only the basic knowledge will do at this stage. Thus, having institutions which can provide free classes in advance or during the first freshman year will help in promoting we plan to do: teaching English with technology.