Giving is Caring

Always remember:

The value of time, the success of perseverance, the worth of character, the power of kindness, the influence of example, and the obligation of duty.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

1st Pearson Annual Summit. October 6th, 2012



Living in a Switched-on world: Teaching and Learning in Hyper-connected Times

by Nick Perkins

Mr. Perkins started explaining connectivity using two videos from the Lean Team Flying Machine to see how the idea of connectivity had changed from 1945 ( to  2007 ( Hyper-connectivity is a synonym of interaction and now it is not only parts of the human body that are connected one to another but electronic devices are connected to expand interaction.

Mr. Perkins mentioned how in the past we all used our memory to store information we considered important personally and professionally speaking (home phone number, birthdays, anniversaries, etc.) Nowadays, there are few people who remember all this because they rely in the memory of electronic devices. Hyperxonnectivity provides extended cognition because it amplifies our own capabilities so we are no longer trapped by ignorance.
Some questions that may arise are: Does this mean that people have lost the power of their minds to store and retrieve information? Do we know less now than before? He replied that "The Internet has become a primary form of external or transactive memory where information is stored collectively outside ourselves."
Regarding education, he mentioned that students now have access to powerful sources of information that is neglected if we ask them to turn their mobiles off.
Some activities we can do to exploit the use of these devices are:
I-phones or mobile phones with videocameras can be used to record classes and upload them on Facebook (if the class has a Facebook) or in You Tube. Hence, if a student is absent s/he can catch up with the lesson without having to ask the teacher or another student.
Video-recording devices can be used to lighten up tasks and homework. For example, the typical topic of What you do on weekends? is transformed into a new experience by asking students to record a video on what they do and show it to their peers in a group discussion. The same may happen with a topic such as My home where students have more possibilities to develop their thinking skills and creativity. He showed the example of a student who recorded the description of her house as if it were through the eyes of her dog.
Text messages and Facebook can also be used to send homework or for real communication. He believes students and teachers should communicate using these networks since it is more unlikely that students fail to do the tasks as when they have to write texts on paper.
From his point of view, students should have the freedom to use these internet networks and the devices that make connectivity possible at all times since they will allow real communication even at simple levels. Students can send poems, songs, photos, anything that makes them use the target language.

He even commented on a situation where one student during an evaluation sent a text-message with the request to answer one question from the exam. In spite of the majority of the audience who would not reply the message, he is in favour of providing the information since in real life when we need it, we look for sources to acquire it and these sources are books, other people or the Internet. According to this, in my opinion, to go along with this hyperconnectivity what is needed to change is the way we evaluate students considering that the ability to retrieve from memory pieces of information is no longer evidence of knowledge but the real evaluation may be how to make use of this information.
To avoid the main disadvantage that is that students may use the internet in class to chat or check their mail or Facebook and not do the task, Mr. Perkins suggests the use of "technology islands": provide some time: four minutes for example, for students to use their devices for their own purpose. However, if during class time someone tries to use the devices for personal reasons, all the class is discounted minutes of the "technology island". As a consequence, next time any other student tries to do the same, the rest of the class will exert pressure on him/her not to lose their "island time" and the incident will not occur again.

Since more and more teachers are using electronic devices and the Internet, I believe we may need to change some paradigms about teaching, learning and evaluating to be coherent with the new tools and trends in education.

1st Pearson Annual Summit. October 6th, 2012


  Think again! Developing Competences for a new Language Learning Landscape

 by Jose Luis Morales

The talk started with the definition of thinking skills : learn, create, programme, adopt, adapt, relate positively to whoever people meet. I believe this is an interesting way to begin providing the basis for what we, teachers, need to help students to acquire.
Mr. Morales mentioned some important competences that were related to developing thinking skills which were all developed through inquiry. This is, to ask questions to ourselves and/or to our students to prompt them into looking for an answer that goes beyond a simple Yes-No answer.
Some of the competences that need to be developed, according to Mr. Morales are:

  1. Logical reasoning: the ability to connect ideas and draw conclusions
  2. Research skills: with the additional ability of assessing the reliability of the sources
  3. Problem Solving skills: related to the above when looking for information to solve a problem
  4. Understanding: organizing ideas using Venn diagrams, mind maps, etc.
  5. Thinking Creatively: related to problem solving skills and leading to..
  6. Thinking outside the box: to explore unusual points of view and strategies
  7. Understanding your emotion: developing interpersonal skills and
  8. Making and Testing Hypotheses: Using all of the above to understand and explain a situation.

Since questions are needed to prompt students to develop thinking skills, Mr.Morales finished his presentation with the features of good questions.
Good Questions should:
  • invite reflections
  • be short
  • be focused
  • be contextualized
  • be riddle-like
  • challenge
  • provide scaffolding
  • be open-ended
  • be personalized
  • provide language opportunities
  • provide content opportunities
  • invite creativity


Friday, 5 October 2012

On October 3rd 2012, SM and University of Dayton Publishing presented Ready, Steady, Grow, a presentation for Primary teachers whose presenter was Ms. Izabella Hearn.
Izabella´s presentation was really a workshop since it was full of practical ideas for teaching but not only that, it also provided the rationale behind the activities which is an issue that is sometimes forgotten in other such events. I truly believe that a good presentation is more than to keep people entertained, the coffee break and the freebies that are given at the end. It is the personal and professional quality of the presenter that allows us, attendees to take away inspiring ideas and urge us to try these out in the classroom adapting them to suit our own contexts. In other words, it is not what the publisher or the organizer gives us, it is what we take away with us that matters and Izabella gave plenty of opportunities to do so.
Since the workshop was intended for pre-primary and primary students most of the activities were geared to using CLIL, VAKOG (sensory learning), MI (multiple intelligences) and using both brain hemispheres.
Chants were provided that had to be sung with movement and rhythm, endlessly repeated since little kids love the safety of familiarity. There was room for exploiting pictures to create stories, to allow children to create their own stories, to sing after that. Izabelle provided ideas to practice pronunciation by asking students to imagine that the back of one of their peers is an imaginary board and to draw the morpheme of the sound while producing it and writing the letter in the air at the same time students repeat the sound so as to activate learning. For the same purpose, a song can be chosen to practise the critical sound and by dividing the class in two groups teachers can ask one half to stand up and the other to sit down any time they listen to the sound.
For VAKOG, she added olfactory and gustatory input to the already known visual, auditory and kinesthetic and mentioned the power of visualization so if the lesson is on fruits, it is not always necessary to bring realia to the class every time you teach that topic but to ask students to imagine the fruit, imagine (or remember) the smell, the colour, the weight, etc. until they complete the picture in their minds. Additionally, students can create their own fruits and teachers can empower them by making them experts in their invented fruits.
One of the most interesting activities, in my opinion, was to ask students to stand in pairs and for one minute Student A would ask as many questions as possible bearing in mind that they should be content questions not Yes-No. For instance, What sports do you practice? When was the last time you read a book? What is your favourite kind of films?, etc. Student B would just listen and when the minute is over, S/he had to remember some of the questions and answer them or - and I love this part- s/he could choose to answer only one question in as much detail as s/he wished. Brilliant! Intended listening, real communication and a better atmosphere was created during and after the activity. Since the questions asked are personal, students get to know each other better and the likelihood of bullying or any other classroom disturb is avoided because it is human nature not to hurt people you know or you have things in common.
Time was really short for all the activities she presented in spite of starting at 4:30 and finishing at around 8:00 p.m. but it certainly was worth every single minute. I would like to finish with this quote that, I believe, sums up the aim of her presentation: "If the child is not learning the way you are teaching, then teach the way children are learning".


Monday, 1 October 2012

It works, Try it out!!


For practising conditional clauses with intermediate students.
Write on the board:
If you were a vehicle, which vehicle would you be?
If you were a colour, which colour would you be?
If you were a fruit, which fruit would you be?
(and other categories, such as season, flower, plant, song, country, animal, insect, building,etc., depending on the students´level of proficiency).

Ask students to answer these questions, explaining their choices, for example:

If I were a vehicle, I´dbe a motorbike as I´m rather noisy.
I´d be red because I´m very hot tempered.
I´d be a papaya because I love the sun.

Then ask students to describe themselves in terms of these categories, not as they are but as they would like to be. Are their answers different? Ask them to compare and discuss their choices in pairs or groups.

(Contributed by Naashia Mohamed from Auckland, New Zealand in English Teaching Professional. issue Twenty July 2001.)



On Values and Teaching


I read the article: ExploringValues in English Language Teaching: teacher beliefs, reflection and practice by Graham Hall, UK in The Teacher Trainer vol 24 No. 2, I would like to share this extract with you:

What do we mean by values?

The beliefs which help a person decide what is good and what is bad, what is right and what is wrong. Beliefs are both individual and social. they are individual in that all values are expresssed by and through particular people... but strong social forces affect individual beliefs. As a result, values only become interesting when they are put into practice in social settings- when our inner beliefs are converted into actions that affect others.

Exploring teacher´s values

A simple starting point for teachers and teacher educators to investigate values are the following three questions:

  1. What values do you think teachers should have?
  2. What values do you think English language teachers should have? Are there any which are different to those for teachers in general?
  3. What values do you think English language teacher trainers should have? Are there any which are different to those for English teachers?

I believe these are interesting questions we should reflect on and as teachers and global citizens keep control on the way these values are addressed in our personal and professional lives