Saturday, November 19, 2011

Weeks 7 & 8 Reflections

Hi dear group, week 8 is on its way to reaching an end and there is so much going on! A keyword that keeps constantly coming to my mind is : DIVERSITY. The more I learn about different tools and the more I see teachers experimenting with them the more i realize that one of the greatest benefits they can offer is diversity and the possibility to reach different people with different goals and needs. If I go 20 years in the past and reflect about how I learned English, it is not difficult to conclude that resources were very limited. If we wanted to practice reading or learn vocabulary, all we could do is visit the library and pick a book or magazine; if we wanted to have extra practice on listening, cassette tapes or VHS tapes were available; if I wanted to improve my writing skills, all I could do was hand in some extra compositions.
Now, when I enter classroom and look at the reality around me and all the technology-related advances that had taken place, I do get the impression that we are navigating a se of endless options and resources. The language learning experience nowadays is very rich and distance learning is being taken to a whole new level. The past two weeks we have been bombarded with amazing sites, tools and resources to improve our teaching. What is amazing is that each teacher here naturally picks a specific resource that he thinks might work better with their groups and posts the ideas and sometimes the products so that we can all get a taste of them.

Week 7 was dedicated to learning autonomy and what we see now is this vast number of ways students and teachers can work in situations that are not face-to-face. Learners , now can actually learn from their homes and still get the interaction portion of the class by accessing blogs, live chats, recording videos or audio files or via e-mail. It is amazing to notice how humans are creative and soon find strategies and techniques to incorporate those novelties into their classes. Now that web 2.0 is out there, teachers are able to create a lot of materials suitable to their realities and have students work on them independently because lots of these exercises can come with answer keys.
Unfortunately not all teachers can count on a school lab or a computer for every single student. Sometimes, there is not even an internet connection available and this means that teachers need to have some tricks in the back to overcome such adversities. During week 7 we were able to brainstorm some interesting ideas to use technology in a one computer classroom or even offline activities that could be developed. Very profitable week indeed!

Now in week 8 , we have had the chance to meet Jeff and all about his ANVILL resource. It is one of the many tools available in the web , but what is striking about it is the fact that it is designed by a teacher to be used by another teacher. Because of this, certain aspects can benefit a lot more the students. According to Jeff, the majority of users are language teachers, specially English and spanish ones. Certain tools in ANVILL are great to promote interaction among students as far as the speaking skills are concerned. Not all similar tools allow students to express ideas orally and ANVILL does that. In other words, students can leave recorded comments and work on some activities without having to write anything but rather speaking and improving pronunciation and oral delivery. A live chat room is also another interesting feature to get students talking.
In week 8 we also had the opportunity to learn about sites teachers can use to create their own online or offline exrecises. I tried and I absolutely loved it because we can create crosswords, puzzles, search puzzles and other kinds of very practical written exercises. They might not work for every kind of audience , but in my case, because I teach teens, this tool is totally useful!
A nice lesson I take from this week is that web resources are out there not only for online practice but also offline. Sometimes you do not have to get students connected in class to work on a task, but you, as a teacher, can take advantage of excellent online resources to create your own printed materials. In addition to that, I would like to mention something Jeff said about not using technology in class. I agree with his idea that technology is not to be necessarily used in class, but rather outside! We teachers should maybe remember that some quality time should be spent with students by promoting face-to-face interactions and that technology could aid the students outside class when they are at home and want extra practice or input. I am sure that for every need there will be a tool or web resource available. The options are as diverse as the needs.


  1. Hi Vinicius

    As you said, if we think of the way we learned English, there is no doubt the use of technology in the classroom has become increasingly important. In many cases, learners are growing up with technology and it is a natural part of their lives. For them the use of technology is a way to bring the outside world into the classroom.

    I agree with Jeff and you that technology is not to be necessarily used in the classroom, but rather outside of the regular class. Resources such as Nicenet and blogs can be used as virtual spaces for a class exchange. However, face-to-face interplay can also be fostered with the help of technology.


  2. Hello Vinicius:
    Great reflections about week-7 & 8. You are quite right that all teachers cannot count on a computer lab. In this case one computer classroom tips are effective. You have very nicely described how web resources can be used for online and offline activities. It is really interesting to see that learners can get many new authentic materials quite suitable for their age and level from the web. Teachers can browse many sites according to their choice and find what work best for them. I'd like to quote from your week-8 reflection, "I tried and I absolutely loved it because we can create crosswords, puzzles, search puzzles and other kinds of very practical written exercises. They might not work for every kind of audience , but in my case, because I teach teens, this tool is totally useful!" Websites help teachers say confidently what is important and useful for him or her.

    Nice reading your blog reflections.

  3. Hello Vinicius

    Detailed and insightful reflections of week 7 and 8!
    I’m in the one computer class situation and I thought that one computer class is not enough to apply technology into the class. However, passing through this course, I’ve realized that one computer class has also advantages of technology and teachers can do many things using various web skills with one computer. I also totally agree with you and Jeff. Technology is more necessarily used out of the class than in class. It is able to create another class out of the class.


  4. Hello Vinicius,

    I do agree with you that diversity is the key word through out this course. We all have been using diverse tools to experiment, some like me, for the first time. Indeed the past 8 weeks has been very challenging especially as I had to adapt my lessons and lesson plan each time I learned something new in the course. Most of my activities with my learners have been offline due to logistic limitations. I was happy this week to visit other sites where I could go online, create and print my material to be used in my case-offline.

    I do agree with you and Jeff that face-to-face interaction with the learners is very important and that technology helps the students more when used outside the class.


  5. Hi Vinicius,

    I do agree that especially during these two past weeks we have been navigating a sea of endless options and have been, as you say, bombarded with amazing sites, tools and resources to improve our teaching.

    In my opinion, this is a great advantage for the learners as well, because we as teachers,leaders or guides can identify and meet their needs, and help to improve their specific skills through this new way called "technology" that now-days is unavoidable.


  6. Excellent reflection Vinicious. I can say that if all teachers have our same willingness of learning new things in order to improve our teaching we can make great things with wathever tool we might have available. thanks for sharing.