Teaching with technology training session

September 5, 2012

I’d like to share the ideas and the links that I used in a practical training session on how teachers can use technology to do 3 things:

  1. to build up and manage their PLN (personal learning network)
  2. to connect with their students outside of the classroom
  3. to supplement their class material / with web resources

The teachers had just finished a 200-hour in service teacher’s certificate course but some felt that the sessions on using technology had not been practical enough. So, this “hands on” technology session was organised (nice example of teachers taking responsibility for their own development!).

I set up a quick web page using the fantastic Check This  for the participants to use throughout the session – it was to be completely paperless, with the teachers working online during the 4 hours.

To get teachers started I had them set up accounts on Twitter  – the best place to start building an online PLN.  Once set up, the teachers then found 10 TEFLers to follow.

To help the teachers think about managing online PLNs, I had them take the first steps in setting up a Netvibes account. Netvibes, which is one of  most attractive and user friendly sites for receiving web feeds, will suggest dashboard links for you to follow, based on topics that you suggest, even if you are not registered a user.

We then found some TEFL blogs to follow via Twitter and the teachers added the links to their Netvibes dashboard.

We also briefly explored ways of using Evernote to store, produce and share (with students) teaching materials and web content, and Scoop It for book marking and finding online teaching and learning resources.

To show the teachers how simple setting up a class webpage can be, I had them make a Check This page for their students and then post there a resource for learning English that they’d found on Twitter. Check This is just so simple to use!

Finally, the group used a collaborative Google spreadsheet to make notes on ways to use 7 different web tools  in class. All the tools were ones that I’ve come across via my own online PLN, including Bombay TV, Animoto and the BYU Corpus of Contemporary American English.

Despite initial problems with web connections and setting up Twitter accounts, the session went quite well. The aim was really to help teachers see that using the web for teaching purposes needn’t be intimidating and that getting started is quite straight forward.

Note: If you were to do a session like this, I’d suggest getting the Twitter accounts set up beforehand, as it took longer than planned…but we got there in the end.

 

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UPTC 2012 Slides and Links

May 27, 2012

I was invited to give some talks at the annual teachers’ conference at La Universidad Panamericana in Aguascalientes, Mexico. The conference title was ENGLISH TEACHER DEVELOPMENT: A HUMANISTIC APPROACH.

The event was really well-organized and a real privilege to be part of. The teachers that attended were great fun too. It was also nice to meet one of my online PLN face-to-face for the first time and also great to extend my PLN further by making new connections.

I gave three sessions: one plenary titled Taking Responsibility for our Own Development; and two workshops, one on teaching using a Dogme framework, and another on using classroom observations as a tool for professional development. Prezi presentations and links for all three talks follow.

Plenary: Taking Responsibility For Our Own Development

In my plenary talk, after quickly looking at how humanistic approaches had found their way into our classrooms through various techniques, methods and approaches, and after considering the weaknesses of various models of teacher development, I argued that the best kind of teacher development would naturally be humanistic in nature. We explored a number of practical steps that teachers could take to kick start their own development, including conducting focused classroom observations and developing an online PLN. Participants were very responsive to the ideas proposed. You can see the Prezi presentation here:

Or see it on Prezi, here.

Web links:
Here’s Brian Tomlinson’s article on the dangers of in-service teacher training, from the Teacher Trainer journal.

And Tomlinson’s article on materials development TD sessions here, from Humanising Language Teaching Magazine.

Here’s a link to Russel Stannard’s Teacher Training Videos, which is where the original idea for using screencasts for grading students’ written work comes from. There are also plenty of other fantastic videos about using technology in the classroom on Russel’s site.

Here’s a link to the International Teacher Development Institute.

Links to books:

Here’s a link to Michael Wallace’s Training Foreign Language Teachers.

Ruth Wajnryb’s book on classroom observation provides a comprehensive, practical guide to using classroom observations as a teacher development tool.

Also, the first edition of Jim Scrivener’s Learning Teaching had an excellent collection of focused observation tasks, but I couldn’t find the observation tasks in the the latest edition, so I just tweeted him to find out why:

That’s what I was getting at in my talk when I said that the world is flat!

For an extensive overview of teaching methodology, read Richards and Schmidt.

I also mentioned that David Nunan’s Second Language Teaching and Learning was a must read for anybody want to their classes more student-focused.

Dogme ELT – Preparing Class Materials-Light
I ran a workshop on teaching using a Dogme framework. The first part of the session was a micro-lesson sequence involving a dictogloss task about an embarrassing travel experience. I read my anecdote out loud twice, allowing the he participants to take notes the second time. Participants then worked in small groups to reconstruct the text. We then briefly looked at the uses of the past progressive for providing background information, and finally students told each other about their own funny / embarrassing travel experiences.

In the second part of the session, we analysed the dictogloss sequence using the following criteria: Was is productive? Was it communicative? Did it integrate language skills? Was there a focus on form? We then moved on to look at the rationale and principals behind Dogme ELT and looked at Dale Coulter’s excellent ideas of using lesson skeletons to prepare for Dogme classes. The final stage required participants to design a lesson skeleton for an interaction-driven Dogme activity.

The participants really seemed to enjoy this session and I got a lot of good feedback.

See it in Prezi here. And you can click this link: Dogme Handouts, for the handout containing the interaction-driven tasks that I used in the final stage of the session.

Links:
Scott Thornbury on Dogme.

Thornbury and Meddings book,Teaching Unplugged – the link also has downloadable parts of the book in PDF.

Dale Coulter’s Language Moments blog.

Martin Sketchley’s e-book on incorporating Dogme into your teaching.

Initiating Classroom-Based Action Research Projects: Observation Tasks
The third talk was a workshop on using classroom observation as tool for professional development and it drew heavily on Ruth Wajnryb’s book on observation tasks.

The session started with the participants reflecting on their experiences of classroom observation before we brainstormed and discussed the different aspects of the learning and teaching process that could be the focus of observations. The participants then analysed a series of observation forms before planning their own observation plan.

The session went well but the participants initially struggled to see the idea of observation as anything other than an assessment tool. Hopefully by the end of the session, they were beginning to see the potential that observation tasks hold for teacher development! Here’s the Prezi slide show:

See it here on Prezi.

Links
Ruth Wajnrib’s Classroom Observation Tasks

Jim Scrivener’s Learning Teaching