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.