Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Week 2 - Declare, Where?

vintage apron hand dyed skeins
Photo Credit: madelinetosh via Compfight cc

I made a lot of rash promises in my last post. I said I was going to follow my 5 EVO sessions, plus the SEETA course, plus the OLDS MOOC. I said that, in this blog, I was going to give weekly digests of my learning progress. People even took me seriously. In the meantime I signed up for two more MOOCs on Coursera, which promise to be very interactive (EDC MOOC and Fundamentals of Online Education). At work, the week was hectic. And I have a presentation for a conference to write.

Still, I am here as promised. A little late, but I have definitely survived Week 2 in all my online environments. My level of participation was not the same everywhere at all times and I suppose I can say that in some of my groups I was sampling and browsing rather than studying seriously. And whether I do all my weekly tasks or not will depend on the amount of workload. OLDS MOOC, for example, is a fascinating course, but the workload is a bit too much for me at the moment. So, for this course I have a new plan - I will do what I can and curate the rest somewhere for further reference. I still might decide to share snippets from this course in my blog, but this definitely won't be enough to give you an idea about the scope of the MOOC. The same probably goes for my new Coursera MOOCs.

So, let's start with Neuroscience. This week we looked at the link between the emotional brain and motivation. I find the following video fascinating:

What it is saying, in a nutshell, is that the way we raise our children or teach our young students can influence how smart they are in ways much more direct than we thought it possible. Is it surprising, then, that adult students need so long to start believing that they can learn? People who come to my classroom have usually spent 12 (yes, twelve) years of their life sitting in English language classrooms, failing to learn the language. It takes quite a while to convince them that they are not going to fail again.

Several years ago I created this PowerPoint on learning and motivation:

Sorry for all the bullets and death-by-PowerPoint stuff. This was before my online days. One thing that I am especially interested in (and I believe this shows in the PowerPoint) is the supportive power of groups on an individual's learning.

It is good, then, that this week in Mentoring we read this text on scaffolding. I find the questions provided in the text very helpful, something that every teacher can use in his/her class.

And in OLDS MOOC we focused a lot on personas and scenarios. Thinking about who your learners are going to be even before you meet them is a useful starting point. Here's a PowerPoint explaining scenarios and here's the template we used. An important part of scenarios are personas. And the template for a persona card is here. One last snippet from last week in OLDS MOOC would be these cards. And here's a short video on how to use them.

Let's finish with Multiliteracies. This course is the glue that binds everything together, it is the reason why I am able to cope with multiple sessions. Multiliteracies has given me something essential - the method. You remember how at school your teachers told you that the most important thing to learn is how to learn? By learning about MOOCs through an environment similar to a MOOC, I have learnt that all this is not about curriculum and homework, but about me. And it is OK to forget where you are supposed to be and what you are supposed to do. It is OK to choose not to do something if you don't find it relevant at the moment. It is also OK to modify assignments and do them your way.

Last week in Multiliteracies was the week when we were supposed to declare, i.e. to state our own learning goals.

My goals this year are as follows:

1. to reflect on the course topics
2. to reflect on my past and present experience in various MOOCs
3. to reflect on my 2011 Multiliteracies posts

Reflect, where?

Well, here, of course. Where else?

I would like to finish this with a short Animoto video I created for my MachinEVO class:

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

My Blog is Five Years Old

It is my blog's fifth birthday today. What I usually do on this day is create a retrospective of sorts. I look back at the previous year and the blog posts that I believe are worth sharing again.

2012 was a strange year for me. At the beginning of the year I was awarded a scholarship for a course called Webskills. You can read about this here. I had to start another blog for the course and, consequently, I spent less time in this one. I still managed to follow two EVO sessions and even post occasionally. Here's a post about how to use five-card stories as writing prompts. Here's one about using video resources for listening, and another post about online tools that can be used for speaking. For my Podcasting course I created another blog and this post introduces both the new blog and the listening/speaking activities within it. In this post I am trying to summarize my Webskills experience.

Moving beyond the EVO sessions and Webskills, I made a collection of April Fools online clips and turned them into a lesson here. Here I talked about a platform called Nicenet.

After that, strange things started happening. First, in June, I joined DS106 on a whim. DS106 was a perfect summer course for a teacher who is on a long holiday. I used this blog to post, but posts got stranger and stranger. Still, I believe those posts contain potentially good lesson ideas. Sometimes I even wrote about the ways to use a particular digital storytelling exercise in an EFL classroom. For example, here I turned a short clip featuring Kurt Vonnegut into a speaking exercise. This image illustrates an idiom, but it can be a good speaking and writing prompt. I created a lot of crazy images during the course and most of them are CC licenced, so if you find them useful, go ahead. There are some nice ones here and here. The Creative Commons poster from this post can be used to explain the CC concept to students. My Autobiography Cover could be developed into a nice speaking activity. Similar to this are Alternative Book Covers and the post already contains instructions for EFL teachers. In Wrapping Up Loose Ends there are three digital stories, but for use in the classroom I particularly recommend Mood Inversion. The Sound Effect Story  is accompanied by instructions for EFL teachers. Taking Back Spam was one of my favourite DS106 activities and it too has an application in an EFL classroom.

Once the holiday was over, I was preparing for the next school year. Activities for the First Class contains some nice warmers.

In 2012 I attended a Coursera course on modern poetry. It was a life-changing experience and you can read about it here.

If I try to summarise 2012, I would say that I had to step out of my comfort zone a lot. I attended a couple of courses that were not created for EFL teachers exclusively, I blogged about matters that were not TEFL-related, I created new blogs. It was a useful and refreshing experience.

I will finish with one of my DS106 movies. It is appropriate for this occasion because it is about number 5.

Thank you for being a part of my PLN in 2012.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Time to Fess Up

Five Ball
Photo Credit: timailius via Compfight cc

It is that time of the year again and we are nearing the end of the first week of EVO sessions. Every year I sign up for too many and then I have to do a lot of juggling. You might be wondering how many I have signed up for.

OK, there's Neuroscience in Education , an exciting new course with Carla Arena and her team. It promises to be very interactive and fun and, on top of everything, we will learn a lot about the brain and learning. Then there's Developing Mentoring Skills. There's MachinEVO, a very challenging course on how to create educational videos in Second Life. My Second Life skills are a bit rusty (though they never were great), but the course looks very interesting. Oh, my poor neglected avatar!

Natalija Strikes Again

There are two courses which I have done before - Multiliteracies and BaW. When it comes to BaW, I have signed up to catch up with old friends and meet new people (after all, this is their 10th anniversary). I will probably not be able to do much more in this session. I am keen on Multiliteracies. In fact I need Multiliteracies in order to organise my learning.

I will try to explain. I am not sure my juggling metaphor from the beginning is correct. In connected learning, the five balls would not be seen as five separate online courses. Rather, forming connections among them would be what would keep all of them in the air. I am sure there will be a lot in common among the five sessions. I especially expect parallels between Multiliteracies and Neuroscience in Education. As Carla Arena explains in this post, it is important to make connections both within our brain and with other participants.

I will be using this blog as my eportfolio for these courses. Rather than look at each session separately, I will try to condense my 5-workshop experience within a single weekly post.

Ahem. I haven't told you everything. I am also doing OLDS MOOC, which is a MOOC on learning design. I'd signed up a long time ago and I didn't intend to participate when it started, but it looked so interesting. And it is. The workload is scary, but I don't have to do everything. Do I? I know next to nothing about learning design. Surely after the course is over I will know more than I do now? Also, I have an idea about a learning design project for English teachers and it is going to happen right here, in this blog. Stay tuned.

P.S. I am also doing a workshop on how to teach writing on SEETA.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Welcome, Readers Old and New

red door

Photo Credit: Sukanto Debnath via Compfight cc

At the moment I am attending a couple of EVO sessions, so there is a possibility that some of my EVO classmates have followed the link to my blog and found themselves here.

If you are reading this blog for the first time, welcome. You can find out more about me here. Or visit my e-portfolio here.

Or, if you have a couple of minutes, you can find out more about me by watching this:


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