Archive for ‘EVO08’

February 14, 2008

Walking into

My students at school travel quite a lot. Usually around September or October. As in the English classes they are grouped according to their language level, we have a collection of students from different classes; classes which travel at different times. You can imagine how hard it is to organize those periods. One week you have half of your students and two weeks later the other half (this if you’re lucky enough to have students from only two different classes). And all that taking place at the end of the year when we are all tired and anxious to start holidays; really messy.

I think that one way to profit from this seemingly unprofitable situation could be to plan an activity in Community Walk. That’s certainly what they do: walk out of my class. They could mark the traces of their trip, upload photos, write comments. I could even ask other EFL teachers to send their students to comment. Double profit? Maybe another teacher also gets engaged. (Will I remember about this next October? Who knows…)

c-w.jpg

Thanks Barbara for pulling me into the map.

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February 5, 2008

Learning and Teaching

I’ve been working with different Social Media in my SMiELT workshop, and I’ve been constantly asked how to use those tools for teaching EFL. I’ve been unable to answer that question. I AM unable. The thing is I’m on holidays, I’m not teaching at the moment. I’m not in contact with students. I simply cannot think of activities for anyone. I need real students for inspiration, I need real objectives, a real context. Moreover, I need to use the tools for some time.

I haven’t got much experience using web tools in my classes, but I’ve got some. If this happens to me, I can understand how difficult it must be for teachers who have never used blogs or wikis or podcasts or social bookmarking to see the value in those tools.

Some months ago I participated in an online workshop on ICT for teachers (as a teacher, don’t laugh). One of the things I constantly stressed was the what for, they wanted to know the how. I got mad, kept my hands off the keyboard and my mouth off the mic, and got mad alone, disconnected. Now I understand them. How could they see the value of a tool they had never used?

Some tools cover needs you had before they existed. For example, I’ve always asked my students to rewrite, I think it’s impossible to write something valuable without editing and reediting. Consequently, when I discovered wikis, I immediately got hooked on them. They also allowed me to to something I couldn’t do in paper: I could write suggestions without messing the students writings, the discussion page was an extra I only saw when I started to use wikis with my students.

However, this is not the same for every application, how can you imagine the value of twitter before using it? or Delicious? or Facebook? The possibilities they offer are as new as the applications are.

For years we have remarked that education should be student centered. What if education becomes learning centered. (just as Diego Leal cleverly points out somewhere in this post in Spanish).

It’s difficult for me to see which activities my prospective students could get engaged with by using Social Media. It’s easy and obvious how I –as a learner– can benefit from Social Media. Our students are learners, just as we are.

To teachers who are starting:

  • learn how to use the tools quickly, learn on your own, new tools are developed constantly, you cannot have someone tutoring you all the time.
  • use those tools to learn. Think of yourself as a learner, not a teacher; because if you cannot forget you are teacher, your students run a serious risk:
I found this video through Jose Luis, (Twitter, one day I might love you). It shows one of my nightmares.

By the way, didn’t we become teachers because we loved learning?

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