Category Archives: multiliteracies

The uniqueness of the IATEFL experience

Sharing a short article I wrote for Voices after attending IATEFL for the first time.

As a teacher trainer from Buenos Aires, I devote a lot of time to ongoing personal and professional development. In the new era of collaboration and sharing, I have joined several social networks to enhance my learning opportunities. As a result, I was able to fulfill my purpose of connecting with like-minded teachers in a culturally sensitive way. Beyond getting great ideas for teaching and staying excited about my profession, I find that I am not alone in wanting to innovate, learn and grow. This required me to leave my comfort zone and become a life-long learner exploring ways to integrate digital tools to enhance teaching and learning.

Knowing that the future of education is not teaching but learning, teacher development is essential for our students’ success in order to keep up-to-date on the lastest trends in ELT. It is necessary to learn new methods, techniques and strategies so we can be better equipped to face 21st century challenges.

This year I was awarded the IATEFL BESIG facilitator scholarship to attend IATEFL in Glasgow. To be part of such a prestigious team as BESIG is truly a privilege. As a scholarship winner, there were several moments to celebrate this award. IATEFL invited all the scholarship winners to attend a tea party and there was a scholarship stand in the exhibition hall showing posters of all the scholarship winners.

Being a member of several social networks such as Twitter and Facebook has allowed me to understand that learning is a social process and it requires people to collaborate, share ideas, seek answers and build new insights throughout the process. Social media has become a valuable and free educational tool for my professional development. In recent years, I have been learning and sharing on-line experiences integrating technology with several teachers worldwide. This has been a key ingredient for me to constantly meet like-minded teachers.

My first day at IATEFL was at the BESIG PCE. Attending so many interesting sessions was really inspiring and overwhelming at the same time. At IATEFL I kept bumping into teachers I´ve been networking with for the last 2 or 3 years and from the beginning I felt instantly comfortable and at ease. There were no kilometers separating us. We all mingled immediately as a group to build relationships and connections worldwide.

How could a teacher that lived so many kilometers away from Glasgow feel at home in such an enormous conference? Bonds had already been established with many amazing people. There were more than 800 teachers attending this conference and I immediately felt I had known many of them for several years. The effect of social networking has been the most rewarding experience I´ve ever had as a teacher.

If I had to define my whole experience attending IATEFL, I would say that it has helped me reinforce my world-wide connections and has shown me how alike we all really are.

Are you ready to Integrate Technology?

60 Seconds - Things That Happen On Internet Every Sixty Seconds
Infographic by- Shanghai Web Designers
As a teacher are you feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information found on the Internet?

Teaching has changed dramatically in the 21st century with the advent of Web 2.0 tools like wikis, blogs and podcasts just to name a few. Technology has modified the landscape of information and knowledge. Learning in this scenario poses new questions for teachers. Anyone with access to Internet has the ability to create videos, text and audio that can be shared with a global audience.

How can teachers be inspired to gradually start incorporating technology in their daily teaching?
Internet has become a big challenge for teachers and if used correctly is an empowering phenomenon. But most teachers internally ask themselves why should I start using technology. My answer to this question is that technology is here to stay. Integrating technology is not putting computers in the classroom without teacher training. Technology should be used effectively and efficiently to allow students to learn how to apply computer skills in meaningful ways. Consider the power you have as a teacher to start sharing students work with a real audience that is considered to be any student from the world.
Recently ARCALL (Argentine Computer Assisted Language Learning) has been relaunched with the clear goal to help teachers integrate technology. We know that there are many compelling reasons to start integrating technology .

ARCALL is a group of innovative language teaching professionals from Argentina which aims to:
teaching professionals from Argentina which

• increase the use of educational technology in EFL (English as a Foreign Language),

• collaborate in the integration of ICT in Argentina in ways that are effective and appropriate,

• assist teachers in integrating ICT into their daily practices and as a means of developing themselves professionally,

• train teachers on using computers and the Internet in English language teaching,

Another possibility is to create your own blog and share your experience with other colleagues. As head of a blog, I should say that the journey on how to integrate technology in your classes is full of obstacles and rewards. If you are about I´d like to invite all teachers, who have not already incorporated technology in their classrooms, to give it a try.

I hope you enjoy the ride.

How EFL teachers are Integrating the Internet in Argentina


Changes in habits scare people. Certainly the advent of the telephone, as well as the arrival of the television, must have met some kind of resistance among generations already adapted to their own established lifestyles.

Such has been and still is the nature of the reception computers have met worldwide. Yet, slowly but steadily, people are gradually realizing the vast array of information provided by the Web is unmatchable. The EFL classroom, however, has stayed relatively unchanged. Many teachers are already using Internet as a source of information, but most of them have been sceptic about the legitimacy of claims advocating the integration of CMC (Computer Mediation Communication) tools into Language Learning. And EFL Teachers in Argentina have not been the exception –not until 2011, when face-to-face and online seminars, as well as webinars are starting to be populated by dozens of English language teachers, including teachers of other languages as well.

Where to start?

The Internet is constantly generating opportunities to hone ICT (Information and Communication Technology) skills by allowing interaction between students and teachers using new programmes and applications which foster, not only individual production and growth of personal skills, but also the development of cohesive online Communities of Practice (CoP´s).
Unprecedented ways of getting to know like-minded people are being launched every day, allowing language teachers not only to meet other teachers of English anywhere in the world and socialize, but also to share views on common queries, problems, findings and experiences, using the English language.
We can now choose to join from a wide variety of Discussion Forums and Listservs, made up of teachers willing to carry out online projects with their students, both synchronous and asynchronously. And we can learn the how-to’s and techniques the use of different applications and programmes entail, becoming more and more ICT literate, so that by learning through doing ourselves, we can gain the necessary training to pioneer experiences in our own classrooms.

As members of Webheads in Action, Jennifer Verschoor and Rita Zeinstejer met online some five years ago, and decided to pool their knowledge and experience to work together from their respective cities –Jennifer in Buenos Aires, Rita in Rosario—to help their colleagues in their country integrate Internet tools into their classes.

Jennifer´s and Rita´s previous experience

Rita became interested in Technology and in exploring the tools it offers to educators after attending a course in Cambridge, England, on “The Use of Computers for Language Learning”, by Gavin Dudeney and Gary Motteram. From then on, she devoted her spare time attending seminars, both f2f and online, joining groups of colleagues worldwide, and doing research, until she decided to share her gains with colleagues in her home town, and to participate actively in Congresses in different countries, both as an attendee and as a presenter.

But Rita´s main concern has been putting her findings into practice, so she started integrating many tools into her own classes, as she worked with upper-intermediate students of English in a private Institute in Rosario, where both teachers and students have always directed their aims and methodology towards “learning English to sit for an international examination.”

Rita opened her first blog in the year 2006 at http://caeb2006.podomatic.com/ , where she motivated her students to participate using text, images and voice, also integrating some exam practice and some additional tools to enhance her first adventure. However, the richest experience was a Tandem project she organized with a teacher of Spanish in Ohio, USA, for their students to get together online using synchronous and asynchronous tools. The project was a big success, and all learners were delighted to learn about each other´s lifestyles, education and culture using English in Rita´s blog and Spanish in the blog opened by the teacher in the States.

As from 2006 on, Rita has tried different online spaces: blog hosts, wikis, virtual classrooms, to gather learners and help them realize that the language they have been studying for around ten years now gives them the chance to communicate with likeminded learners and teachers from all over the world.

In 1999 Rita opened the Multimedia Centre at ARCI for all teachers to have the necessary training to be able to integrate technology. The Centre is now a big success, catering for all levels, and aiming at the development of the fours skills.

These are some examples of online environments Rita has been housing her projects in:

  • http://caeb2007.podomatic.com/ with her 2007 group, where she carried out “The Serendipity Project”, which allowed her students to understand the potential of “Podcasting”, as well as the integration of moviemakers
  • http://ritamz.ning.com/ , a blog with 2008 students, where her project “Sharing Cultures” became one of the most memorable experiences as she plunged her students into the Korean culture

Jennifer became interested in the integration of technology while she was studying to become a University Professor at a local University in 2003. At that time the course was on distance learning and she joined the vibrant online community called Webheads in Action while doing a search online. The purpose of the community is to help learning professionals understand the potential benefits of the appropriate integration of available Internet technologies into their teaching practice by first experimenting and learning in a hands-on, low-risk online environment before engaging their own learners.

Jennifer created her first class blog in the year 2007 at http://colegioarmenio07.blogspot.com,
in order to show students a different way of learning English and with the main goal of stumbling the classroom doors by participating in International Project. Students participated in Learning Circles, a project-based partnership among a small number of schools located throughout the world, offered by IEARN International.

These are some examples of on-line environments Jennifer has been housing her projects in:

  • http://englishtraining.pbworks.com This wiki was created in 2008. Its purpose is to help Business English students to be able to continue learning online after their face-to-face class.
  •   http://arcall.pbworks.com The purpose of this wiki is to share and learn how to integrate technology in our classrooms to help increase the use of educational technology in EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teaching.
  • http://avealmec.org.ve/ First online conference offered by two Latin-American CALL associations building online communities and social networks.

How do Argentinian EFL Teachers prefer to learn about Technology?

Belonging to a Community of Practice has enriched both our professional knowledge and personal lives. Both of us have learnt about new programs which allow us, teachers, to manipulate different tools to create different tasks, aiming at weaning teacher-dependent students. We have added the use of new, most effective strategies to our teaching procedures. We have shared projects with students of English living in Kuwait, Venezuela, the USA and Portugal, learnt about their needs, exchanged cultural differences and reached conclusions with their teachers. We have sung a “tango” from a home microphone on an Argentinian Sunday evening for Taiwanese students in their language laboratory on a Monday morning. We have answered questions from a Mexican board of accountants willing to understand and witness the marvels of voice chat and implement it in their school curricula. We have carried out project work with my CAE students in Argentina and Japanese students of English in Texas, with students and teachers in USA, in Korea, in Brazil. We have given them the chance to chat with EFL teachers from other countries, and have spurred them into using English in safe online environments, using resources that contain authentic rather than scripted speech.
We have participated in virtual presentations, conferences and congresses, for free, attending lectures and posing queries on the screen, using text and voice chat, with teachers from different countries, from home, and could even watch the conference and all other participants having their webcams on.

Unbelievably enough to many, we have built up our own office online in a “moo”, an online building lodging private and common cybernooks to share with other members in the community, and furnished it our way, with excerpts and quotes on walls, and an open door to visitors… We have provided instructions to newcomers as helpdesk, and showed the way to students, asking for directions. And we have shared our work with colleagues from all spots.

However, little is known about CoP´s in Argentina. Language Teachers prefer to attend f2f workshops, where experienced colleagues will show them the how-to´s, and where they will find a supportive environment, with personalized guidance in a collaborative style.

Joining Forces

Aware of the importance of having a paradigm shift in education in an era when the web has invaded all fields of knowledge, and when electronic devices are already extensions of our selves, both Jennifer and Rita decided to join forces working towards our aim together in a common environment, and thus opened http://techtools4educators1.blogspot.com/ , where we pool ideas and offer guidance and assistance to teachers –mainly in our country—and where we publish the dates and information about the webinars and workshops we offer in different regions in the country.

We have also been invited by SBS Argentina, a prestigious bookshop in our country, to give webinars, presentations and workshops in our area, and we opened this space https://sites.google.com/site/sbsworkshops/ , where we offer them for free. It is our main aim to meet teachers needs in everything connected with Technology and its integration into Language Learning, including the latest tools and gadgets online, and helping them become proficient in their use and implementation.

Both educators have won scholarships to attend Congresses, Jennifer in Japan and Rita in the USA, as shown in their respective CV´s.
Rita is also a Google Certified Teacher, after attending a Google Course in Manhattan in 2008, and is Steering for the CALL-IS  TESOL 2009-2012 Committee, which she was asked to join to share experiences with colleagues in the States.

We may wonder how our ancestors reacted when they replaced face-to-face meetings with the telephone, until they got to see differences and advantages. Most probably, they found fault with the change the new means of communication started to imply, and rejected the idea of shifting away from deeply ingrained habits.
In a country where authentic situations are rarely met by learners in the streets, teachers need to overcome resistance to appreciate and resort to the magic of Internet, and to furnish students with the necessary instruments to communicate with the world, exploiting free sources and resources for genuine interaction. Only by plunging into real situations will learners succeed in using the language effectively, meaningfully and accurately.

Jennifer Verschoor                                                         Rita Zeinstejer
www.jenniferverschoor.pbworks.com                                  www.zeinstejer.com

Writing Argumentative Essays

Currently I am teaching Language at a Bilingual school in Buenos Aires. My students prepared some really nice videos explaning what is an Argumentative essay. This is the first time they publish their work online.

I need your help to choose the best video and  to show my students the importance of having their work published even if there are some mistakes.

Please if you can take a few minutes to watch the three videos and choose the best one. Click in the link a the bottom of the four videos to cast your vote.

Thank you so much!!!

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

Video 4

Click on this link to vote for the best video

Online Reading Books

If kids are entertained by two letters, imagine the fun they’ll have with twenty-six.  Open your child’s imagination.  Open a book.

Author Unknown

I´ve been reading some of the many blogs I have online. Last year I used the links below with young learners at school and with my daughters.

Take a look at the endless possibilities you have with online books.

Children´s storybooks

Reading Sites for the Primary Grades: A list of readers for all levels

Starfall Readers: Fiction and Non-Fiction

Storynory: Free Audio Stories

BBC-CBeebies-Story

Online Audio Stories

MeeGenius

Storyline online

Storycove

Using technology in the classroom can be quite hard

It took me one year to finally feel it was the right moment to write this blog post. Exactly one year ago I was fired from my job. I was teaching Business English when unexpectedly my boss came into the company to announce that I had been promoted. Due to the fact that I was teaching Business English using Technology I was promoted to work in another company teaching with technology. I was kindly invited to pick up all my things and leave the company and wait at home until this new job started ( if it really ever existed) in two months time. This was not the kind of position one can call a promotion!

The truth behind all this story is that I was a threat for this person because I was using technology with my students. Students loved learning with technology using a wiki I created full of interesting and updated information that we discussed in class. This boss kept telling me not to use the computer because students were already exposed too many hours in front of the computer!!! My idea was never to replace her business. As a teacher I was looking for a way to motivate my students and I found it through technology.

As a teacher trainer when I tell participants that I was fired because I used technology everybody at the beginning is shocked and then tells me that this person will regret this the rest of her life. It is hard to innovate and even more if you find resistance from your superiors. Technology will not replace teachers, technology is just another tool we can use in the classroom that is really engaging and motivating for our students.

If you are planning to start using technology, do not feel overwhelmed by the amount of web tools you find online but just focus on which is the best tool for your educational purpose. I am a strong believer that technology has to be integrated using a blended approach that has to meet your students’ needs.

Luckily I was offered a much better job where I am currently coordinating an ICT lab and teaching young learners with technology. My current boss truly believes in me and in what I am implementing and this makes all the difference.

Nowadays using technology in the classroom is the most rewarding experience I have ever had.

Becoming a constant learner


 


It is high time to start showing all the different tools I learn daily. I´ve created an online calendar where I will write a very short description on every new Web 2.0 tool I learn. By the end of the year this will be a very big collection of tools.

If you click on the image below you will be taken to the online calendar.

Have fun exploring!

Cool websites for Interactive Whiteboards

“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”

Albert Einstein

Creativity and innovation are key factors that allow teachers to transform and improve. It is not the tool that makes a difference but choosing and using the best tool for your educational purpose. Teachers are scared to innovate using technology but there are really simple ways of motivating your students. Today I would like to share some nice websites you can easily integrate in your classrooms. The biggest advantage is that they are very visual and interactive.

Have fun exploring these new websites and please share the ones you use with your classroom.

EcoZoo is one of the best Pop-up books I´ve seen. The sound is perfect and the images are really engaging.

Kids Interactive Whales allows student to discovery and learn more about whales and dolphins.

Life size whale Have you ever been near a whale? If you haven´t this is an incredible website that transports you to be near a life size whale.

iboard is a superb educational website. I used this well designed website with very young learners the whole year.

Talking calculator allows students to learn Math in a different way.

Save the words is a new website from Oxford University Press that seeks to prevent the extinction of words that are endangered.

Learn a word a day

“Live as if your were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
Gandhi (1869-1948), Indian spiritual and political leader, called Mahatma “great soul”.

 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/danielmorrison/2856564450/

Below you will find a list of interesting websites that will help you learn a word a day. There are many different options therefore choose the one that suits your need and start improving your vocabulary.

English Daily choose from a wide variety of resources to improve your English daily. This site offers free online exercises, daily grammar, abbreviations, idioms, business excercises and many other options.

The magic of words allows you to learn a word a day delivered to your inbox. Suscribe freely to receive a daily newsletter.

The Free Dictionary.com is a wonderful way of creating your own personal webpage. Follow the word of the day via RSS.

Transparent Language select the language you want to learn. Embed a widget to your webpage and learn a new word everyday.

Dictionary.com offers a very complete  section to learn the Word of the Day. Use the free email sign up option to get a the Word of the Day. You can also suscribe via

Save the words are words that are endangered due to the their lack of use. This web site from Oxford University press allows you to “adopt a word” and use it at least once a day.

Weboword build your vocabulary visually. Learn new words with a cartoon.

Vocabulary Building Games allows you to build your own vocabulary games. Create your own vocabulary list based on the different words a day you learnt and choose the online game to review the new words. It´s fun and easy to use. Must give it a try!

 

 

Back-to-school links shared by my Twitter PLN

http://www.flickr.com/photos/52636849@N00/204934333/

What we want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the child.

George Bernard Shaw

5 Sites To Explore This School Year

The Top Five Back-to-School Online Safety Questions Every Parent Should Ask

Parents as Partners

Reflections on the First week

Build A PLN: A Newbie’s Guide

How to do 11 Techy things int the new school year

Back-to-School Guide: Jump Start Learning With New Media

The Responsibility of the Open School

Back-to-school 2010:9 collaboration and management tools for students

Activities for the first days of school


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