Thursday, December 1, 2011

Week 10: Sharing my final reflection

After reflecting on what I have learned in the course during the previous weeks and on what I will use in my classes in the future, this is what I could do, and found most relevant:

a) adapt effective web searches, skill-building websites, project-based learning, and online teacher resources for my own purposes;

b) learn about writing behavior-based learning objectives, learning styles and technology tools for multiple intelligences, how to encourage greater learner autonomy in my classes, teaching student-centered large classes, creating a lesson for a one-computer classroom, and apply all these concepts to meet my own needs;

c) learn how to create technology-enhanced lesson plans, WebQuests, rubrics and an interactive PowerPoint, and how to bookmark with Delicious;

d) develop a formal plan for incorporating technology into my teaching in a completely new way through a teacher blog.

This course has been most successful for me because it has helped me improve understanding of and actively engage in the analysis and adoption of innovative materials and practices in my teaching setting. Since my classes are part of the Teacher Training Curriculum at my university, I have already started with dissemination actions so that colleagues also benefit from this excellent train-the-trainers opportunity I have had. For example, I have already shared what ANVILL can offer to be used in the Phonetics and Phonology classes.

In short, I have greatly benefited from being a participant in this course with Robert as our instructor. Learning about new tools and materials that can be implemented in the classroom, and gaining a deeper understanding of online teaching practices as well as sharing this experience with teachers from all over the world has been a real turning point in my professional career. So thanks so much to you all!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Week 9: Reflecting on how this course changed my attitude towards technology

As we can read in G. Dudeney and N. Hockly’s How to teach English with technology, the term “digital native” has been coined to refer to someone who grows up using technology, and who thus feels comfortable and confident with it – typically today’s children. Their parents, on the other hand, tend to be “digital immigrants” who have come late to the world of technology, if at all. In many cases, teachers are the digital immigrants and our younger students are the digital natives.

If I think about myself and my attitude towards technology, being a digital immigrant made me feel a lack of confidence and have a lack of training, resulting sometimes in an inability to see the benefit of using technology in the classroom.

I feel my lack of training has been wonderfully addressed by this online course we are finishing and this fantastic online teacher development group with Robert as a competent instructor, dedicated to exploring and teaching how to build teacher skills through the interactive web.

Throughout these weeks, I learned the use of technology in the classroom does not replace using traditional materials such as a black/whiteboard or a coursebook. Rather, technology tools are used to complement and enhance regular classroom work.

I feel I have awakened to a new and endless world of teaching and learning possibilities! I needed to be encouraged to get started by implementing simple technology with learners, such as the creation of a teacher blog I suggested as my Project Plan. With the lots of things I have learned these weeks, now I feel more motivated to try technology-related changes in my classes.

Week 9: Relating technology tools to learning styles

After reading about the way technology can help provide a range of learning styles in the classroom, I shared ideas on how to address them in my “Cultural Studies II” class. In groups, students have to prepare oral presentations and written reports on what I call “other English-speaking countries” which include Canada, Australia, South Africa, etc.

Students who have Verbal/Linguistic intelligence will enjoy organizing the group's text and putting the project together. As they like the researching, reading, and writing aspects of the research project, they will enjoy word processing, listing ideas, reading and interpreting web information.

Students who have Logical/Mathematical intelligence will be keen on the online data collection aspects of the research project, and logic, and critical thinking software on social issues, for example, will have a special appeal for them.

Students who have Visual/Spatial intelligence will enjoy illustrating and identifying the visuals of the research project. They will be good at timeline making, doing computer-generated charts, graphs, and tables, and using map making tools.

Since students who have Bodily/Kinesthetic and Musical/Rhythmic intelligences will learn best through physical activity and sounds respectively, they will enjoy performing typical dances as well as making sounds such as songs, rhythms, and other types of auditory expression of the countries being presented.

While students who have Intrapersonal intelligence are good at working independently toward a group goal and will like self paced Internet research, students with Interpersonal intelligence are good at teaching other members of the group and coordinating activities and wil enjoy chain writing, group editing, peer writing.

As students who have Naturalist intelligence learn best through the interactions with the natural world, they will like recording the flora and fauna of the different countries, and those with Existentialist intelligence will prefer the technology tools to help them address questions about the human existence there.

We should rethink our approach to the classroom if we want to address different learning styles. I think celebrating diversity and complementing strengths can help us broaden the chances for an effective teaching.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Week 8: Exploring teacher resources online

I found ANVILL a fascinating tool for oral communication. However, in my Cultural Studies class I am more interested in helping students develop research and writing skills since they have the opportunity to enhance their speaking and listening skills in other classes of the Teacher Training Program.

After exploring the different teacher resources, I want to emphasize the usefulness of blogging in my own situation. Even when I have suggested the creation of a teacher blog as my technology-enhanced project, this week I reviewed the advantages of a class blog.

As Aaron Patric Campbell says in “Weblogs for Use with ESL Classes,” a class blog is the result of the collaborative effort of an entire class. With my intermediate and advanced learners, it can be useful for facilitating project-based language learning, where learners can be given the opportunity to develop their language skills by being asked to research and write on a given topic.

Apart from fostering students’ interest in using technology and promoting their independent learning, a class blog can be used as a virtual space for a class exchange. The entire exchange will then be transparent to all readers and can be followed and commented on by all learners.

What can make it difficult to use this tool is that reading posts and comments takes time, but for that I would try to look for another tutor’s help.

Thinking of my project, I used a Survey Results Sheet at to make my own surveys. I will use them at the beginning and end of the teacher blog implementation with my Cultural Studies students.

I think surveys are a great way to start a technology-enhanced project and also to ask students their opinions related to the change at the end of the term. The final survey results will let me know if the change encouraged learner autonomy.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Week 7: Learner autonomy, the one-computer classroom, and a partner for peer review of projects

Learner autonomy

This week I reflected that in a more learner-centered kind of learning, teachers have to foster learner autonomy. After reading the suggested articles, I think keeping students’ diaries for reflecting on their own learning, not only about what they learned, but how they learned it, is something teachers can do to help them manage their learning more effectively.

I commented in the discussion forum that I always provide my students with the necessary readings in advance for them to read before the lesson. That way, they already know a great deal when they come to class and have the ability to refashion that knowledge with the teacher’s, classmates’, and their own contributions.

I learned that concept is called “flipped instruction” that is being revisited with regards to technology. The flipped classroom is a technique that definitely works well for me. In my teaching context at university, giving materials for students to obtain information prior to coming to class allows me to use the classroom space for problem solving and critical thinking activities.

This, together with the need to continually evolve as a teacher, is what makes me feel the use of one blog for the class is a good way to make information available and to access an endless number of resources.

With a class blog, not only will students feel motivated to learn outside of the regular classroom through a variety of activities but also they will develop their ability for independent learning, feeling that their response to the different tasks is an important aspect of the learning process, thus building confidence and promoting more autonomous learning.

The one-computer classroom

After reading about strategies for the one-computer classroom, I created a sample activity with the following objective: "Given a timeline with the years of colonial settlements in America, Cultural Studies students will be able to identify the nationality of the different settlers while they watch a video at!."

Projecting the computer screen onto a larger screen that the entire class can see, I will do the activity after having checked students’ previous knowledge. They will identify the nationalities of settlers, adding them to the timeline given. They will work with a partner while watching the video once, and then there will be a comprehension check with the whole class.

Using this dynamic and creative technological tool in a one-computer classroom, I am sure students will be more prone to learn about American colonial settlements than if they just have to get the information from books.

Project draft

I will work with Alex in the peer reading of our project drafts. I am working on it.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Week 6: Creating student-centered classes and interactive PowerPoint

I admit I have used PowerPoint presentations before, but this is the first time I have created an interactive one. For that reason, it took me a long time to do it. I know it can be improved, but I have included the elements I learned this week to make the lesson a more learner-centered and interactive experience, even when classes are large ones:

• a question to activate students’ background knowledge at the beginning of the presentation
• a blank slide to make them focus on the topic, think and interact
• a video to illustrate the topic and increase students’ interest
• a quiz to check comprehension and discuss with jumps to other slides based on student responses
• a song to review and reinforce at the end

Thinking of the class blog as a technology-enhanced change for my Cultural Studies course, I will be able to post the PowerPoint presentation so that students can review and check their own notes against the exact slides I used in class, which turns the PPT into an even more useful resource.

Week 6: Adding more details about my project plan

I have made up my mind that a class blog, I mean a teacher blog that I maintain and students go to, is a nice and simple way to begin to add a technological change to my Cultural Studies class as an ongoing resource throughout the course.

The purpose of the blog will be to inform students about objectives, contents, bibliograghy, web resources, assessment, class work, home assignments. Visiting links I post and doing the suggested tasks will help them develop their ability for independent learning.

The other question is students’ motivation to learn outside of the regular classroom. I think most of my students will feel motivated by the blog because it will give them the opportunity to learn much more through a variety of activities.

We are finishing the term next week so I can not create the blog for this class. Thinking of the blog for next year, I can suggest a number of websites for the first unit on American history I would like to post in the blog:
for students to identify the possible migration routes of the first Americans;!
for students to watch a video on the colonization of America and then draw a timeline with the different European settlements. For that, I could also suggest online applications that will make a timeline, such as;
for students to summarize the distinct characteristics of each colonial region in the settlement of North America, including religious, social, political, and economic differences.

After having learned and discussed about interactive PPT this week, I found a very nice one for this unit at which gives place to the think-pair-share technique to check comprehension and review at the end of the presentation.

The topics and activities suggested in the blog will be mostly checked in the face-to-face class.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Week 5: Learning about PBL, WebQuests, Alternative Assessment and Rubrics. Technology-enhanced change

Project-based learning

First I read about project-based instruction in “Less Teaching and More Learning” and really enjoyed getting information about different ways of helping students develop language skills while conducting a meaningful project while the teacher is just a facilitator, providing students with the necessary instructions and resources for them to do their project successfully.

The class discussion helped me reflect on the need for students to see value in the project and for teachers to give them a rationale. In that sense, it is very important for my Cultural Studies students to embark on a project on history with the idea that grasping the past will help them understand the present more fully.


In relation to the new kinds of learning opportunities and new tools for assessment the web provides, I found that, as inquiry-oriented activities, WebQuests offer an excellent pattern of project-based learning for my Cultural Studies class. Since they are most likely to be group activities, they would help students achieve the course goal of developing their collaborative skills.

Alternative assessment

In the article “Practical ideas on alternative assessment for ESL students,” I was happy to find good techniques for teachers to create meaningful and effective assessment experiences. One that would be particularly useful in my Cultural Studies class is the K-W-L chart (what I know/what I want to know/what I've learned) to begin and end a unit of study because it would help to keep students focused and interested during the unit and eventually give them a sense of accomplishment.

In contrast to traditional testing, alternative assessment procedures such as oral presentations help me evaluate my students on comprehension and thinking skills rather than on what they are just able to remember.


I came to know about the importance of letting students learn in advance what is expected from them in a given task when the first week in this course we were given the guidelines for discussions and rubrics. They are a kind of contract between Robert and the participants which facilitates our progress toward required standards. In the same way we could collaborate in the design of the course rubrics by adding suggestions, now I feel the need to let my students have their share in the design of assessment criteria for them to get involved in their learning process.

I created with rubistar, which is a fantastic tool, a rubric intended to be used with my Cultural Studies students for making a timeline, something they are required to do quite often. However, just like Robert, I still like the control of creating my own. So I created one for writing assignments with the help of the following website: which is as follows:

10-9 points: the response shows understanding of the content, question, and/or problem, is insightful, integrates knowledge, shows powerful evidence of critical thinking skills, is accurate and well supported, is entirely clear.
8-7 points: the response shows some understanding of the content, question, and/or problem, demonstrates some evidence of critical thinking skills, is accurate and supported, is mostly clear.
6-4 points: the response shows knowledge of the content, question, and/or problem, is acceptable with some key ideas, provides little support, is somewhat clear.
3-1 points: the response shows minimal knowledge of the content, question, and/or problem, provides no support, is unclear.
0 points: the response is completely incorrect or irrelevant, there is no response.

Technology-related change

Based on the need to motivate students to learn outside the regular classroom and to develop their ability for independent learning, I described a technology-related change. I thought the use of one blog for the whole class would give me the chance to have a better control of students' responses and participation since I have never tried to incorporate a technological component in my classes before.

I would design a class blog with a very simple and easy-to-follow layout as an online resource to review and reinforce class contents as independent work. I think most of my students would feel very motivated by a class blog because it would give them the opportunity to learn much more through varied activities as well as to practice their language skills by posting reflections on their own learning and progress.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Week 4: Developing reading and writing skills and creating a technology-enhanced lesson plan

I was away on a training course for most part of this week so my tasks were necessarily postponed. When I read “Using the Internet in ESL Writing Instruction,” I agreed with Jarek Krajka that especially in non-English speaking countries, such as Argentina where I am from, the web is an invaluable source of information for teachers of English to get classroom materials and, with the help of selected websites and other on-line techniques, writing instruction can be made much more interesting, appealing and motivating.

The lessons with the use of the Internet serve best the goal of my own Cultural Studies course which is to increase students' cultural awareness since they can enhance my intermediate-advanced college students’ writing skill by means of websites, serving students with information they need, to be later used in writing and web publishing.

In “Three Extensive Reading Activities for ESL/EFL Students Using E-books,” I learned about an online extensive reading lesson for intermediate and advanced students. I felt really interested in the objectives of this lesson, which are to guide students to read authentic e-texts outside the classroom and to improve their overall reading, writing and thinking skills by synthesizing and evaluating online materials with peers, because they fit into the syllabus of my Cultural Studies course.

So I created a technology enhanced lesson plan for that course, taking into account the need to develop students´ intercultural competence as an important aspect of language and improve their language skills in general.

My project goals are to motivate students to learn more outside the classroom, to reinforce their knowledge through a variety of online resources, to contribute to their independent learning and critical thinking skills, and to develop their collaborative skills and their computer skills by learning, for example, how to use class blogs.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Week 3: Developing listening skills, creating a Delicious page and discussing a sample project report

First I read Lindsay Miller's article “Developing Listening Skills with Authentic Materials” which helped me reflect about the importance of teachers’ choice of methods and materials to help learners develop their listening skills.

When taking a look at some of the lesson plans provided, I found some activities that fit my Cultural Studies class and students. I looked at all the skill-building websites suggested but could not find anything that would work in my class. So I searched for alternative websites and found good lesson materials that would enhance my college students’ listening skills.

I am also glad to have created a Delicious page to store all the sites to use with my students and for my professional development, something I had never been able to do before, with the advantage that now I can access my saved websites from any computer and I can have them classified, find them easily and of course share them. This social aspect of the page is what I like most because everyone can collaborate and contribute to other people’s professional needs and interests.

I chose Aleyda Linares’ Project Report because her class was very similar to the one I have selected to work my project on: undergraduate students, mostly women, learning English as a Foreign Language at a National University in a Latin American country (Honduras), whose ages ranged between 19-30 and all of them having Spanish as their mother tongue.

Even when her first course goal was to develop students´ grammatical competence and mine is to develop students´ intercultural competence, I share another main course goal with her: to develop students’ ability for independent learning as well as critical and creative thinking.

The issue that gave origin to her technology-related change project, which I share in my own teaching situation, was the need to motivate students to learn outside the classroom and at the same time develop their ability to learn how to learn. As in my case, that was the first time she had the opportunity to include a technology-enhanced project in one of her classes.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Week 2: Searching the web and writing learning objectives

So far Google had been the only choice for my web searches. I looked at Noodletools' “Choose the Best Search for your Information Needs” where I could learn about such a big variety of search engines. I found ways to improve search at the link “Web Searching Tech Tip,” like the use of quotes to narrow it down.

I searched for “the fall of the Berlin Wall” for my Cultural Studies class. I tried several search engines and I found sites with vast amounts of information on that topic, including timelines, photographs, videos, etc.

Also, I found the ABCD method of writing objectives very useful. I am convinced clear objectives serve a valuable function for teachers to design better lessons. Reading examples of well-written objectives was very helpful to be able to write the learning objective for my class. I learned that the choice of verbs determines the expected learning level.

In short, I feel I am in a much better position for teaching now that I have learned how to expand web search and write well-defined objectives for my classes.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Week 1: Creating an academic blog

I managed to create my self reflective teaching blog successfully following the given instructions. I had been helped to create a blog before, but now I am really happy because I have been able to do it on my own.

I think blogs are a great language learning tool nowadays. For example, in my Cultural Studies lessons, there is much discussion all the time, so I find a class blog is an ideal space for students to reflect more deeply on themes touched upon in class.

Now I have to learn how to take the best advantage of this tool to encourage students to participate and keep them interested in using it. The ultimate goal is to enhance their learning and I believe this tool can help a great deal!