Thursday, 10 June 2010

Week 10

Here we are, almost finished with our wonderful course… I guess no good-byes should be expected since this is not the end but the beginning of our journey as better teachers!

Who do we have to thank for this? Deborah absolutely, for her wonderful guidance and all the others who, together with her, worked to make this a course to remember! And of course the US Department of State for this wonderful initiative and the American embassies through which we were nominated! But don`t forget our group! We are also to thank to each other for the ideas, the help, and the suggestions!

I found a very nice quotation from John W. Gardner which I would like to share here “Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants.”

When I read this and think about our course I can see why it has been such a success: we have really been taught how to grow our own plants, here! And furthermore, we have also been given the tools to do so with our students!!

I guess we are all aware that “Many children struggle in schools… because the way they are being taught is incompatible with the way they learn.” (Peter Senge), so it is up to us to bridge this divide by changing our way of teaching but also by taking what we have been learning here to our colleagues and fellow workers in our schools so they can profit from it as well!
Ours has been such a rich course that it will be impossible to pass all its content on all at once to other teachers, but I guess that little by little it will happen. Even in our daily practice we won`t do everything at the same time… but the future is ours to explore all this, and much more that is continuously being created.

Something I think we should do is, keep in touch and continue developing our course wiki with resources links and suggestions! Since we can`t create new topics on Nicenet, we should use our Google page to leave our comments and keep track of each other! We could even think of doing some projects together, especially those who have the same age level students, some kind of e- twinning!

I`ve really learned a lot with this course, what have I learned? All my participations on Nicenet show that a little, and all the time I spent reading the materials and everybody`s opinions show that as well, my project and everybody`s wonderful projects are the living proof of it!

As for an advice…, I guess that some advice to give would be: don`t stay alone at home desperate because you don`t know what to do in a certain situation, talk, write, collaborate, exchange your ideas, I think I can say we will all be here to listen and help each other!

I have grown a lot as a person and as a teacher thanks to my participation here. Just one thing comes to my mind right now: thank you for all my Learning, Unlearning and Relearning!

Friday, 4 June 2010

Week 9

The tools we came into contact this week almost sum up the entire course and I find them all to be of great use for our teaching activities since they can motivate our students and teach them to be responsible for their own learning and independent as well. I learned a lot while trying them out, except those I already knew how to: Blogs, Google sites and hot potatoes, of course, which I’ve already been using in class.

We in this course are the living proof that Nicenet, can promote students independence and autonomy by participating in forums and interacting with other students at our own pace and rhythm, learning by ourselves and at the same time cooperatively with our peers, while interacting. Just like our students will, if we use this tool in our classes!

Blogs and websites are two other tools that I know from experience can promote independence and autonomy: While participating students feel more important and feel like the others are also learning with what they are saying or writing, so they commit themselves more to these types of tasks. If co-authorship is given to them, then students will get even more involved and make a bigger effort to improve their language skills and to be careful with what they write or publish!

Of course there are constraints that can make it difficult to use these tools, we always need Internet access, and this may not be available at all times or the students may not have access to it a t home. To overcome these constrains I would try to use these tools inside the classroom, at school, to give everybody the same chance to access to them, this in case any of my students don`t have access to the Internet outside school! We must always try to bridge the digital divide, we know still exists! Giving extra credit or extra activities for this type of online work to those who have the possibility of using these tools at home is also a good possibility. Together with these three tools come those websites mentioned that make exercises online to use online, in this case the constraints will be the same, but I still find them very valuable, for example to, insert in our websites or blogs.

From my point of view the ideal would be to use tools like Hotpotatoes or Xword generator that allow you to use the exercises you create online and offline and even print them, this way we can hand them out to our students, install them on a intranet or insert them on our blog or webpage to use! Each of these possibilities promote the students` autonomy, of course the first possibility, handing the exercises out, would be the less interactive, but still effective because students, specially young learners, love games and puzzles, no matter the form. Using these on the computer would make students independent, let them learn at their own pace, repeat as much as they want, in many cases receive immediate feedback, and correct their own mistakes!

In fact, I think that we, English teachers, should also act out as technology teachers, since many of our students may not have the necessary knowledge to be able to use the tools we give them! It is therefore necessary for us not to be detained by our students` lack of technological knowledge, we should teach them the basics so they can be able to use the tools we want them too. Is this so bad? Being a technology teacher as well? I guess for us English teachers it shouldn`t be because we are lucky to be teaching the most common language on the Internet! English! And even when our students are learning how to work with these tools they are learning English! So we`re doubly teaching them and preparing them for life!

As for how I will continue to learn about technology after the course is over, well I guess I’ll continue to do as I have been doing up until now, participate in seminars and congresses about it, read articles and books, search the internet for new information and new tools, try them out and pass on the information to my fellow teachers when I’m giving my teacher courses, and at my school to the colleagues who work with me. I also expect to continue to talk to our group of teachers here from the course with whom I have learned so much!