Tuesday, June 21, 2011

follow your dreams

Hi, guys,
The end of the course coincided with another memorable event in my life - the concert of Sting along with the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra on 7th June. That would never been  possible if the world had not changed so dramatically 20 years ago. 
I love the feeling of completeness which engulfs me when I listen to Sting, he is undoubtedly a musical genius, but I also admire his talent as a writer - do read Broken Music - it is a  revelatory book, and a real treat to people who love the English language. There you can almost physically experience his life as a student and a teacher. We are lucky that the world has changed beyond comparison.
Here is a song for all who chance upon the blogs.

 Hope you will enjoy it :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

A real find!!!

Hi guys,
Look what I have found!!! http://www.voki.com/ 
Can't stop myself from playing with it - it's such fun! And it can " talk" in different accents, male and female, and can be embedded in blogs, Moodle in my case :) 

And that is what I found on their facebook page:
Youth is not a time of life, it is a state of mind. It is a temper of the will; a quality of the imagination; a vigor of the emotions; it is a freshness of the deep springs of life. Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over a life of ease. Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years; people grow old by deserting their ideals.
Samuel Ullman, 1840-1924
Enjoy :) Ellie

Friday, June 10, 2011

Final week 10 - not good bye

Sadly this great experience is over. Sharing thoughts with people around the globe  in this very way was unthinkable just a couple of years ago. Teaching the way we did a couple of years ago will fall flat among a generation raised on computers and the internet. This amazing course more than met my expectations - I got a lot more than I could possibly imagine, and not only in the field of technology. Actually I regard the concepts of Project Based Learning, Multiple Intelligences, Alternative Assessment as the ones which would make the differences in my teaching, assisted by the technological tools.
I learned also how to manage time, to learn from others, to share. And this is also the first time I feel some people so close without even meeting you. I cannot fathom that this great community is going to end now. 
I suggest we continue posting in our blogs and share ideas on teaching and life. Thus we would miss each other less and the spirit of the community would be retained. We'll also share  if we are climbing up the LoTI scale. 

I am not saying ""Good bye", only "Chat to you soon"

Friday, June 3, 2011

Week 9 - drawing to a close :(

Time has flown in the blink of an eye. Before we even have time to notice, the course is over. It seems like yesterday when the panic seized me when I read the schedule and  thought I wouldn't be able to keep to it, because of the trip. Just to think what I could have missed:
  • meeting and discussing issues with Donna, Helo, Eldin, Mariangel, Katty, Ale, Ili, Mariah, Laye,  Eve,  Gilmar, Marci, Gabi,  Kafa, Alex,  Fernando, Luis, Annie, Harold, Galo,  etc
  • the mystery of interactive PP, Hot Potatoes, ANVILL, ABCD objectives, etc.
  • the stress when creating delicious pages, a blog, the interactive Power Point!!!! and the crash of the Internet when you mostly need it :(
  • the pleasure of creating the webquest and seeing the concentrated faces of my students;
  • the pride of having accomplished something new on my own - i.e. submitting the project report before the deadline despite the crashing Internet;
  • the feeling of having developed all kinds of intelligences, even the existential one,  in no time :D
I could compare the course to a good book or a film - at certain times you are stunned by the  sudden revelation that somebody out there can word the truths that we have sensed but never been able to express so clearly and profoundly. Here I mean the ideas of Alternative Assessment, the Multiple Intelligence Theory, and above - our ultimate objective - Learner Autonomy!
Teaching will never be as it was for me. Maybe in a small way but on a daily basis I will be using the things I have learned.

 If you do not believe me, you can come and check on me, and then we'll have a beer in the park.
 Love you guys

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Week 8 - tired........experts :)

We hardly realize what a great part of our brain this course has occupied. Whatever I do, working on it comes first on the list. And now that I see......6 days till the project, I wonder what will occupy the niche. One thing on the agenda is a three-day crash course on this course for my colleagues:) They feel envious (in the good sense) and want to have at least part of it. The other thing I have set my heart to learn is the interactive PP - I want to master it as well as all of you! Hot Potatoes (thanks to Alex) is another thing on the list. And also the other fun-creating engines - tools for educators, and so forth.
But this week's magic is the Voiceboard in ANVILL! This is what has been missing in our distance learning and would be a great tool for all the kids living far from enthusiastic teachers. 
But anyway, at first glance ANVILL is over my head  and have to show it and discuss it with "the Master of Disasters"- our school's admin. It is really amazing how far technology can take us teachers. Yet, there are some who wouldn't even bother to learn how to enter a pasword, or attach a file. We will be literally thrown overboard if we don't keep up. My students needed three seconds to see how zunal or quia work, and the next moment they were using them for the project. 
The Project! We are working hard on it. The first quest is under way and on Monday there will be a presentation and the assessment. There is some agitation, but maybe triggered by extrinsic motivation (end-of-year grades). 
As they say, changes don't happen overnight!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Week 7 - Autonomy, Freedom, Independence, Dreams :)

This week is seemingly more relaxed - we  have less to read and less to discuss, possibly with a view to the coming project deadline. However, the issue at the core of our discussion is Learner Autonomy - can it be fostered? Is it a bird in the hand, or a bird in the sky above?And what can we do about it? I found some support here
Effective learning can take place and independence fostered when there is "... warm-hearted interaction between teachers and learners, as well as among learners themselves." Learners become independent in an atmosphere:
  1. ... which encourages people to be active;
  2. ... that facilitates the individual's discovery of the personal meaning of ideas;
  3. ... that emphasises the uniquely personal and subjective nature of learning;
  4. ... in which difference is good and desirable;
  5. ... that consistently recognises the right to make mistakes;
  6. ... that tolerates ambiguity;
  7. ... in which evaluation is a co-operative process with emphasis on self-evaluation;
  8. ... which encourages openness of self rather than concealment of self;
  9. ... in which people are encouraged to trust in themselves as well as in external sources;
  10. ... in which people feel they are respected;
  11. ... in which people feel they are accepted;
  12. ... which permits confrontation.
  13. ... in which the teacher creates conditions by which he loses the teaching function.
  14. ... in which instruction is carefully personalised in an attempt to meet the individual needs, interests, and abilities of students.

The treatise was possibly written before the advent of technologies in the classroom otherwise it would have mentioned that  in  implementing the ideas especially under items 13 and 14 a teacher has a new set of tools, i.e. the computer and specifically Internet. 
We had a very fruitful discussions on autonomy, and the use of one computer in the classroom. It is amazing to see how teachers from all parts of the world share the same concerns, students enjoy the same pranks and
suffer from the same lack of organization and willingness to  "walk the extra mile".
We are likely to be busy with our projects a lot during the following weeks. There is some agitation among the students. Not as much as I expected, but it is again a week off school and besides they have a lot of final tests to do. It is slavish work, inevitable but necessary. Compared to it, the webquests might be seen as a breath of freshness. Hopefully!!!

Extrinsic Motivation