Thursday, March 15, 2012

Farewell reflections:Recollection of the highlights of this course through my eyes

This entry will be a test for me: What has remained as knowledge or skills? How has my attitude changed towards the use of technology in my teaching?

 I started with the basics; search engines (noodletoolsGooglescholar, infotopia, DuckDuckGo), good practices of seaching the web both leading to practical, useful, guaranteeing sustainable use of the web.

Then came my acquaintance with Blogger, delicious, scoopit, Nicenet. With Nicenet I had my classroom where I was able to discuss with my colleagues, exchange views, share ideas, questions. With Blogger I had my personal territory to reflect, write, share comments. Delicious and scoop.it to store, save or publish resources that can be of use to me and whoever might be concerned.

I had the tools but what for? I needed a purpose. Vague at start? It takes its distinct form with the ABCD method. How can I put this objective into practice? I had some tools available. Can they help? What literature has to say? Readings on CALL like  The pedagogy-technology interface in Computer Assisted Pronunciation Training or  E-mailing to improve EFL Learners' Reading and Writing Abilities: Taiwan Experience to mention just two and sites such as ESL Independent Study Lab , Many things , one-stop English  gave me a lot of ideas about what is on offer and how to use technology. My students need to be interested, their desire to learn is a prerequisite. How can they be motivated? PBL is a method that keeps most, if not all, students engaged and then I need clear guidelines and explicitly defined  assessment criteria that don't keep the target out of sight!
So much work and I haven't started, yet, poor me! Don't worry,  Rubistar will aleviate the anxiety derived from having to designing assessment rubrics and if a WebQuest can guide students with their research and easily lead them to the completion of a project zunal can be a helping hand and an interactive power point slide show can keep even a big class on edge. However the point is how I will make my students autonomous and independent learners and my teaching should address their different learning styles and give them opportunities to open up and discover the world. Skype, websites, wikis, virtual classrooms can stimulate students to move ahead. And there are resources to turn to if you are in search of activities to match to your students profile like Teacher Tap.

A fruitful journey in the world of webskills. I leave the course wiser, more knowledgeable, and grateful.

I am sorry, Robert, this time I can't answer your questions. I can't say what was most relevant, most useful, or what was missing. There may be things to learn, how else it could be, but I feel the water has taken its course. So I don't feel any awe anymore and I can move to discover many more about technology.

Thank you so much!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

"Learning styles" the focal point of the week

We are moving towards the end of this ten-week-course and my feelings are pretty mixed. On the one hand, I am quite satisfied with myself as I managed to meet deadlines and complete my assignments despite the big number of responsibilities I had and  kind of relieved from the stress that this endeavor entailed and on the other hand  I feel sad that this marvellous learning experience will be over soon. I have already started missing the interesting discussions I had with my colleagues on our Nicenet classroom and the encouragement I always received from Robert, our tireless and enthusiastic professor.
The main topic of this week's discussion was "learning styles". I was not unaware of  Gardner's theory and I always took into consideration that not all students learn in the same way. However, the readings of this week and the varied technology options suggested practically helped me in specific ways. First of all, I now know of the existance of on-line tests which can be used to discover the learning style of an individual. This is pretty useful for the teacher as they can indntify their personal learning style as well as the learning styles of the students and therefore the teaching can be designed appropriately. Thanks to Luisa,  I took a test to see my personal learning style and I intend to recommend it to my colleagues and students.

As I wrote on  Nicenet after clicking on eduscapes.com and after exploring the site which is so rich, I reached "Build A Project Select a topic and brainstorm outcomes and technology-rich activities that fit all the intelligences".| Verbal-Linguistic | Logical/Mathematical | Visual/Spatial | Bodily/Kinesthetic | Musical/Rhythmic | Intrapersonal | Interpersonal | Naturalist | Existentialist | at the bottom of the home page. I found the classification very useful and practical not only as a guide to designing appropriate activities for a multiple intelligences class but also to check whether a lesson or series of lessons one has designed includes activities that address different smartnesses.

Besides, I found particularly interesting the way the different learning styles were reflected in the postings, blogs, lessons and activities, as well as preferred readings and resources of the participants in this course. It is a common belief among us that we've learned a lot but it is so obvious that we reached the knowledge from different paths and although we all had at our disposal a bank of resources, each of us took advantage mostly of those that best suited their style. However, I saw that we all tried to experiment with new things and develop as many smart aspects of our brains as possible, but the preferences were clear especially in the outcomes or the products of our stydy.

What I feel sorry about is that I didn't manage to explore everything suggested in these 9 weeks. I have promised myself to go back and without the pressure of time I will revisit our discussion topics, sites recommended, resources suggested. And after delving into each aspect of TBL discussed here I hope I'll be able to disseminate this knowledge through seminars to English Teachers in my city and other subject teachers in my school.

I feel more than just grateful for the opportunity to do this course. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The highlights of this week's webskills experiences

This week has been the most difficult of all. I had to finish my draft project report and continue with the weekly tasks. The fact that the lessons for a Master's degree I am doing started two weeks ago in combination with the responsibilies at work which become more and more caused me to miss out on a exceptional experience to fully attend a webinar conducted by Jeff Magoto in the framework of the webskills course. However, I feel quite satisfied with what I accomplished.

Going back in time, I am trying to recall what I learned this week. A fascinating experience was that of the ANVILL virtual classroom I was acquainted with and the fact I managed to connect to the chatroom of the webinar and I, at least, exchanged a few words with the people I have been working with for eight weeks now at real time. I was so sad I was not able to attend the whole event. I would have learned so many things! However, I was impressed by the readiness of the connection. I had been given the http://tinyurl.com/uoregon-march2-webcast link and following simple and clear steps I was in, in a matter of seconds. I only had a 20- minute -break between classes at University. I had my laptop with me, I went out of the classroom to a quiet corner of the foyer and thanks to the wifi connection I immediately had access to the virtual classroom. It was amazing to hear Jeff and greet my friends. Unfortunately, I couldn't stay long.

 I also created an account as a teacher and I can use the facility of  ANVILL for my classes since it is free but I didn't have the time to explore how everything works. It is a pity, Jeff won't be with us any longer so if I have questions I will need to figure everything out by myself based on tutorials.

This week I also had to create an online course site or an exercise to use online or offline. I haven't done that, yet. I feel overwhelmed, I used to do my tasks well in advance. I have something ready a wiki I created for my students last semester, but I wish to experiment on something new. I started creating a classroom assistant on Nicenet but there is no content in it, yet. I wonder, is that enough?

What I appreciated a lot this week, is my reviewing of my colleagues project reports. Apart from my hopes of proving to be of some assistance to them, I had a better insight of the value of the assessment rubrics and the importance of giving them to students well in advance. To cross-ckeck your work with the help of the given criteria safely guides a student to self-development and learning autonomy.

I will be missing all my colleagues and my tutors, Robert in particular for his exceptional work with us, when when this course ends. I wish we could continue to communicate and create a network which will design projects, exchanges, webinars and whatever else we can come up with. Maybe we could start discussing projects on a European basis with Luisa, Ricard, Natasa, Sinnika and all the other european partners and then see for funds for international collaborations.

What do you think dear friends?