Saturday, February 1, 2014

Podcasts for the EFL Classroom

This year I am taking two courses from the ElectronicVillage Online (EVO2014). I learning how to make an e-Book in "CraftingthePerfect eTextbook" and also how to use podcasts for language instruction in "Podcasting for the EFL/ESL Classroom". In this post I will elaborate more on the second course. As part of my  assigments for week 2 and 3 I need to create a blog with 3 pages where I show info about me, my podcasts and my final project. Since I already have this blog, I will use the following table to show my productions during the lifecycle of this course. I hope you enjoy them and leave a comment.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Teaching lexically in 2013

Hello everyone. I´ve decided to follow @leoselivan´s advice on starting teaching lexically in 2013. I believe that the more we get deep into teaching with technology, web-based lexical resources will continue to pile up in our toolbox. I have come across some of these tools which I think may be of your interest if you want to embrace this lexical approach for teaching vocabulary and grammar.

  1. Compleat Lexical Tutor: This site provides a suite of tools for learners, researchers and teachers. In my opinion, one of the best options to create vocabulary activities based on a variety of corpuses.
  2. Flax: Interactive Language Learning:  Flax "aims to automate the production and delivery of practice exercises for overseas students who are learning English". 
  3. COCA: The Corpus of Contemporary American English allows you to create word lists, collocates, search phrases and N-grams.
Of course, there are many more out there. If you have a Diigo account I encourage you to search for "lexical tools" in the community search box. Or go to Leoxicon and surf through the collection he made available.

I have also found that Google´s Wild Card [ " * "] is very helpful for working with the lexical approach. The asterisk represents any 4 words. Lexical or grammar patterns can be "discovered" by using a combination of words + the * within the "" marks. For example, find what collocates with : "* success".

Friday, June 15, 2012

Week 10: Finish line or the starting point?

I really felt I have gained enough knowledge on technology in this course until I took the Loti-Digital survey. After that I found myself in the foothills of the Himalayas. That really means that this course gave us enough equipment to take that challenge…reaching the highest levels of Technology Integration in our teaching careers. This incorporation should be accompanied by students´ participation in the process of syllabus design and the consideration of our local community needs. 

Week 5 will remain my track record of challenge. As for the Project Based learning I still need to do some work. I would love to be able to create a motivating project for my students. ANVILL is the topnotch of my web tools; I will have time to explore it in details during the next weeks. Creating my own electronic worksheets was a wonderful thing I learned in this course as well.

In the final chapter of this course, I must say that this training have changed my life as a teacher. The tools and the knowledge that I have been exposed to were profoundly appreciated. I learned how to take better steps to meet the needs of students in terms of language learning and acquisition. I feel in the disposition to highly recommend the “WebKills” course from the University of Oregon. To them and to our instructor Janine, a BIG THANK YOU for their guidance and support. To my world-wide classmates, it has been the greatest pleasure to have worked together and learned from each other in our discussion forums and tasks. I will never forget this chapter of my life. Please, stop by this site once in a while; this will be my virtual “home”.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Week 9. Multiple Intelligences, LS and Tecnology.

This week we learned about Multiple Intelligences, Learning Styles and the use of technology. In 1999, Howard Gardner said that “already, it is possible to use technology to vary the presentation of important materials – from physics to musical composition” (1999:153).  In 2012, this is not only possible but a reality to achieve what he envisioned as an “Individually Configured Education”; that is, an education that is tailored according to the student´s learning style and needs. How do we as teachers meet these learning styles? There are multiple ways to get to know our students’ preferences, like quizzes and standardized tests, but, primarily, observation which is a simple tool that should never be overlooked. Today, we have the availability of catering most of our students’ styles by providing a rich syllabus and varied learning environments. Technology-wise, there is an application that will surely fit and fulfill every cognitive trait towards learning. We as teachers should take steps to be aware of this toolbox and act accordingly. 

As for the final project, this week was very rewarding in terms of completing an investigation that was done by a teacher. We followed specific outlines for an Action-Reseach Project and it gave positive results. What I have learned from this experience? Teachers are able to tackle issues that he or she may face in the teaching or learning process by taking basic scientific measures that will lead to a change or improvement of a particular situation. My project dealt with English pronunciation during reading. I went through several stages which included a pilot experiment for an expected result, adjustments and a final solution. I feel very satisfied with the results but my students are the ones that got most of the benefits. They have improved their English pronunciation and have gained self-confidence and above all they learned how to solve problems of that nature by themselves.

I cannot believe this is it; the end of this course is coming soon. However, I feel that a new staring point begins for our teaching career. I cannot possibly be the same teacher after this training so for me it´s a brand new start; a rebirth in my profession. A BIG THANK YOU  to the University of Oregon and to our mentor Janine.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Week 8: The craft of an exercise.

This week we had the chance to explore lots of sites to create our own exercises according to the goals of our class or the needs of our students. There were different creative sites; the ones where exercises were ready to go just print and give away. Others required more teachers crafting. However, the one that caught my attention was ANVILL. This one is a super tool. It is especially good for developing listening and speaking skills. It also allows you to create classes and lessons with embedded audio and videos plus make evaluations with multimedia. I will definitively explore and use this platform in my future classes. It has everything a language teacher can ask for in terms of enhancing aural abilities. 

As part of our training we had the great opportunity to have a live webinar from Oregon with the creator of ANVILL, Jeff Magoto who “walked us through” the application and gave us a general overview of the tool and how to set it for creating our classes. It was nice to see and listen to other classmates and get to see our instructor Janine on the screen. 

On the other hand, we finally gave in our first drafts of the projects. We are working based on peer reviewing, so everyone is checking everyone´s work. It feels so nice that this revision protocol has been laid out very well and we all know what to do next. At the moment most of my classmates are engaged in the polishing phase of our writings and joggling with other things like creating an interactive exercise; but we enjoy it. I tried a Google Docs survey that I used for my project and I have seen some other examples of my colleagues in Nicenet which are very creative.  

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Week 7: Autonomy and The One-computer classroom

This week I learned strategies to promote student´s autonomy and how to deal with a one-computer classroom for the benefit of learners. In our discussion forum, almost all of us have agreed that autonomy is not a concrete state that is learned in a single step but it is rather an ongoing process along the way of education. We also learned that the first step towards this transformation is assisting students in their own awareness of autonomy. Our education system has traditionally been very authoritarian and leaving a small space for students to develop their own interests and leaning goals in a manner that is consistent with their potentials and capacities. It is also true that this change of approach should also start with the educator. We as teachers need to see the possibility of teaching modification to enable a more autonomous learning environment. The promotion of this new aptitude towards leaning should come from the teacher’s trustful guidance and counseling and it may be expressed in the early stages by assigning seemly simple tasks like cleaning the tables, boards and any other classroom chore to initiate or promote mutual interdependency and autonomy. Others see independency when students engage in real world tasks like giving an address or explaining something in a second language, I do agree with this as well. As I see it is like a symbiosis between the teacher and students where the first lay out a propitious space for the others to develop their skills and abilities. This in turn, will benefit the teacher as to a sustainable teaching environment. 

Regarding the topic of the one-computer classroom, it may surprise some that there are still many places in the education world where technology is rare or of difficult access. We learned lots of ideas on how to promote learning with technology with such a shortage of resources. I particularly liked the combination of the Jigsaw group technique to work with a computer as a workstation and the colorary collaborative learning environment that results from this procedure. It is incredible the amount of ideas we learned this week for using just one computer. 

As for my final project, I chose and I was selected as a peer-reviewer of the first draft which is due next week. I have already started to type the first part of it. Last week I assigned a task to use a web-based tool to improve reading pronunciation. This week I sent a massive e-mail with a survey hoping to get some insights from my online students about their experience with the new voice recording tool. I am looking forward to seeing the results of that survey by this weekend.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Week 6: Engaging Presentations

Week 6 was another week full of treasures in terms of teaching ideas. Before, I thought of PowerPoint as a “One Way Only” presentation application, but, fortunately this old idea has been vanished. I learned that what seemed to be a boring, static, sleep-provoking media can be turned into an inspiring, moving, and motivating tool for engaging students during presentations. The benefits of using PPT in large classes were clearly discussed and we learned a lot from those teachers who deal with populated classrooms. Creating my first interactive presentation was an exciting experience; I learned new features like linkings, Conceptest, jumps, etc. As someone who runs a hybrid course, I need to learn more on how to deliver an interactive slide show for distance learning. PPT fits perfectly well for delivering content and language matters. This week we could also learn about PPT alternatives; for example, I tried an online-delivered presentation using Google Docs and some teachers in my course used Prezi for their purposes. We were fulfilled with the benefits of using such applications and for having learned about 36 interaction strategies.

As for my final project, week 6 represented the implementation phase. So, I have already assigned a small-scale project in which my students will make a recording of their readings using a web-based tool for it. This will be due in one week from today. They have to previously use a listening and speaking application to practice their pronunciation before doing the recording as a way to make comparisons, corrections, and improvements. The final product is the recording itself, but there is a whole process behind this scene. They have also been provided a rubric for self-evaluation; something I learned in this WebSkills training as well. I am very confident that this project will produce good results and my students will finally be able to modulate better English reading pronunciation thanks to technology.

There is a lot to be digested, processed and put into practice from this wonderful course. It will require time and dedication but I am sure we will learn more along the way. There is not destination point in technology training, there are just learning stop-overs in this journey.