Showing posts with label edtech. Show all posts
Showing posts with label edtech. Show all posts

Friday, October 27, 2017

Belonging to a Global Tribe of Connected Educators

Last Friday, October 20, I had the pleasure to facilitate a session in the Braz-TESOL Brasília Half-Day Seminar. Fellow teacher Leonardo Sampaio partnered up with me in this session called “Become Google Certified Awesome!” The purpose of our session was to demonstrate a little bit of the impact that becoming Google Certified Educators has had in our classes. It was a hands-on session, which took some participants by surprise, for some of them might have been expecting to hear us talk about the Google certification process, hence the title of the session. But we like to surprise people, so off we went on a collaborative 45-minute journey. (Quick and intense! Phew!)


Participants worked in trios, and each trio had an Ipad. They went into a Google Classroom we created especially for the session and were asked to discuss what 21st-century is, in their view, and how digital tools may facilitate 21st-century learning in the EFL classroom. After discussing within their groups, they had to write down a summary of their thoughts in the discussion stream of the task. Groups were then invited to read what other groups wrote in the discussion (inside their Google Classroom) and respond by writing comments.


The next task enticed participants’ creativity, for they had to access a collaborative Google Slides presentation, locate their group’s slide containing a crazy and unique image, and discuss what they thought had not gone as expected in the image. They had to write down a statement in response to that question about their image. Once they were done with that, groups were invited to look at other groups’ slides and write down 3rd conditional sentences inspired by the situation statements.


We finished our 45-minute session with a great video about 21s Century Learning and the 4 C’s. We asked participants to reflect on the tasks and activities they had engaged throughout the session to identify whether the 4 C’s had come up in their experience together, to which they said “Yes!” At the end of the session, Leonardo and I shared our views on how becoming Google Certified Educators has impacted our teaching practices and the learning experiences we facilitate in our classrooms. We feel that the very process of studying the units in the Google Training Center, which were made by teachers for teachers, helped us get in touch with a million ways teachers all around the world have been applying these tools in their classrooms in order to enhance the 4 C’s.

And what’s more, for me, the most valuable thing in having become Google Certified Trainer is to become part of a community of educators who are committed to facilitating learning experiences that help our students become global collaborators and creators of knowledge. After all, it’s never about the tech, it’s about the learning. It’s never about the tool, it’s about the pedagogy and, above all, it’s ALWAYS about the people.



Thursday, August 10, 2017

Teens 6 Magazine Project

Making writing exciting

Whenever I get to a writing lesson, I picture my students complaining and moaning about having to write anything. It’s almost as if they had a radar that indicated “boring activity ahead”. These are, thus, the lessons that intrigue me the most just for the challenge of changing that regular pattern.

DSC06109.JPGTo do so, I am always reflecting on how relevant and interesting the writing can be for my young teenage students. The formula is not so hard: just take the genre of the piece of writing into account and think about how it could be applied to their realities. That is basically what I did for my Teens 6 group. Writing news reports was the goal, so I decided to take my students from the role of students to the role of reporters.

The students were obviously excited with the idea of becoming reporters and writing a story. The idea was that they would gather in pairs or trios and would each be assigned a certain page of our class magazine. Once I had a Google slide template of the magazine prepared and ready to be accessed through a shortened link (bit.ly/teens6magazine), I instructed my students and took them to the Resource Centre to make it happen.

DSC06129.JPGI had to do it in two classes. The first attempt wasn’t so good because some of my students messed around and interfered in other students’ slides. In the following class, I told them off and told them that they would be given a last chance to finish their reports. I also said that those who didn’t finish would have their pages taken out of the magazine. That gave them some encouragement. On the second day, then, they worked a lot better and behaved as expected.

After joining forces with the Resource Centre at the Main Branch, the magazine was printed out and the students were able to have their own copies. The gleam in my students’ eyes when they saw the magazines I had brought paid off all the effort and struggle I described in the previous paragraph.

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Maybe a magazine project cannot be carried out every semester, but something we can definitely do is plan our lessons every day wondering whether they will bore our students or excite them. Bearing that in mind and having some deal of willingness, we will be able to come up with many other ideas that can surprise our students and make a difference in their lives.

Lucas G. Silva

Friday, April 07, 2017

Thomas Innovation Mentors: Aligning views and probing into our teenage students' perceptions




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In our second innovation project session today we worked on investigating and aligning our views of our students’ classroom experiences. To that effect, we created our CSD Matrix (Matriz CSD in Portuguese), in which ‘C’ stands for certainties, ‘S’ for suppositions, and ‘D’ for doubts. We probed into our views and beliefs regarding the quality of the experience our students have in our classrooms. Individually, each team member wrote down their perceptions onto post-its (one perception per post-it) within a few minutes for each of the three categories. Once everyone was finished recording their views, it was time for us to process what we came up with. Going over everyone’s contributions generated some interesting conversations on our beliefs, and we concluded that we are pretty much aligned in our views of the kind of experience we think our students have in our classroom.


Team members were now ready to process a set of students’ responses to a brief questionnaire, a google form containing the following questions: 1. Tell us about a memorable English class you had at Thomas. Why was it a memorable experience?; 2. Considering all your trajectory at Thomas, in different levels with different teachers, what is it that you like the most about our classes?; 3. What is it that you like the least about our classes?; and 4. Write a word that represents your experience in your classes at Thomas. We managed to get responses from a mix of teenage students from different levels. We worked in two trios, and each trio looked at the responses to questions 1 and 2. What we did was go over students’ responses, which had been compiled into post-its, and try to identify patterns, tendencies or even categories that would emerge from their responses. The idea was to reach a more synthetic understanding of students’ perceptions and see if any insights would spring up in the process. As we shared our findings, we were able to make connections and identify some ideas which we felt were in the core of students’ responses. We took notes of those core findings so that they can inform actions ahead.


We wrapped up the session with some analysis and discussion around how our findings regarding students’ responses aligned with or somehow validated our own perceptions in our CSD Matrix, and we concluded that perceptions were quite aligned and coherent. As a result of this session, we were able to see a teenage student persona taking shape. A persona who has very specific perceptions of the classroom experience, who has particular needs and desires. The next step is to deepen the insights and prototype solutions to be tested in the classroom. This was quite a productive and inspiring session, and it feels like each one of us is gradually gaining a new sense that we go beyond being teachers, we are learning experience designers.

Would you like to know more about this project? Check out our site: bit.ly/thomasinnovationmentors


Friday, March 17, 2017

Thomas Innovation Mentors: Project Kick-off

Last Friday, March 10th, we launched the Thomas Innovation Mentors Project. We are a team of eight highly motivated and curious teachers eager to reflect on our students’ classroom experience. The idea is to look at everything that takes place within the classroom from the student’s perspective. We want to tap into the perceptions and emotions that our students experience during their time with us in order to gain new insights into possible paths to innovation.


We are adopting a Design Thinking (DT) approach, since its very definition reflects how we want to go about the project: DT is a human-centered design process. Therefore, in our first face-to-face session we facilitated a DT crash course put together by Stanford’s d.school. Throughout the session, team members worked with a partner to redesign a gift-giving experience. In the process, they were able to go through the DT cycle and apply the ‘mindfulnesses’ necessary to successfully engage in the co-creation process.



The 5-stage DT cycle  (Image by the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford)


The DT ‘mindfulnesses’  (Image by the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford)

Team members worked together to understand their partner’s profile and needs in order to design a new and impactful gift-giving experience for their partners. Massive interaction and dynamic collaboration naturally took place, and the energy level was high up throughout the session. Each team member then prototyped their ideas in order to see how their partners interacted with it. Every stage of the DT cycle was timed, which made the creative process challenging and quite fruitful.

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It was a very successful kick-off session! We reached our goal of getting primed for applying the DT process, both in practical terms as well as in mindful terms. We are now engaging in understanding the challenge ahead of us. The next step will be to empathize with our “user” - our students - in order to more clearly define the direction we are headed. We are certain that this is going to be a very rich (and fun!) learning experience for all our project collaborators - teachers and students.


Team members proudly exhibiting their prototypes.



Monday, June 01, 2015

Google Hangouts: Not Your Regular Test Validation Meeting

An important component of the assessment design cycle is validating the instruments, and to that effect we count on the group of teachers working with that particular level/course. This collective validation process used to take place in the form of a traditional meeting which took place in our school’s Main Branch, usually in a room big enough to accommodate a group of around thirty teachers (sometimes more).
I’d already been adopting some group work dynamics in order to optimize the use of time, hopefully enabling teachers to make the best of the experience of collectively analyzing the test. In a nutshell, I wanted a productive, pleasant atmosphere where not only the outspoken individuals had a go at critiquing and sharing their views. I wanted all of them to feel comfortable enough to voice their concerns and suggestions to tweak the assessment instrument at hand. Teachers worked in small groups of five to six people, appointing a spokesperson who would be in charge of communicating the group’s opinions/suggestions regarding the test.
That had been working quite well. So, it occurred to me: they worked so well within their small groups, usually sitting with fellow teachers from the same branch, who have been sharing their experiences on a regular basis. I couldn’t help but wonder if we could make the validation process even more practical. That was when I had the idea to try out Google Hangouts for Test Validation Meetings. This is how we did it.
Let’s Hangout
Teachers were asked to attend the Validation Hangout at their branches; therefore, they worked with small groups of fellow teachers with whom they connect/exchange every day. They appointed their Hangout representative/spokesperson and went about their business of analyzing the test.
Adjustments along the way
The three Hangouts we had this semester were two-hour-long events. In the first Hangout, I took the groups through the test exercise by exercise, asking them to look at one part of the test at a time. That ended up being as time consuming and noisy as a regular meeting.
After getting some feedback from them, which they gave via a Google Form Survey, we decided it would be best if I gave them about 40 minutes to work on their own first, and only then start gathering their feedback. That worked better. (That and using the mute button to lessen the noise, of course!)
However, the third tine around was the best, indeed. We decided groups should be given even more time to look over the entire test before the feedback-giving stage. I gave them an entire hour, and it really paid off. The feedback stage ran more smoothly and rather fast.
Project Success
  • Convenience: teachers were free to attend the Hangout at a branch of their convenience, which most of the times meant the branch closest to their homes;
  • Capacity for collaborative self-management: teachers had to organize the analysis process themselves, preparing to report their impressions and suggestions to the Course Supervisor (yours truly) and the other branch groups in a clear and concise manner;
  • Agency and accountability: they worked hard to convey their opinions and provide pertinent suggestions, relying on the expertise of their own groups;
  • Voice: working with smaller groups of familiar faces made the more reserved people comfortable to speak their minds, something which tended not to happen with the large face-to-face traditional (very loud and somewhat messy) meetings;
And, last but not least,
  • Modeling innovation: teachers had the chance of trying out a new tool which they might find useful for other professional development opportunities.
This is an experience I would certainly like to replicate in the future, and which I would recommend other admins try out with their teaching staff.
What’s next?
Hangouts for Professional Development and innovating the adjacent possible.




Clarissa Bezerra

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

2nd Planning Hub - 3rd Ed Tech in Action


In our 3rd Ed Tech Training/2nd CTJ Planning Hub, we had the pleasure to share with teachers some simple, practical, but super effective tools that can enhance the learning experience and engage students in their English practice.

Here´s what our guest teachers shared with the group. Check the ideas that use a tech twist to help students work in their language production through creative approaches to pedagogical practices:

Friday, April 03, 2015

TESOL 2015 - Two Tools for the Flipped Classroom and Beyond

A convention is always an exciting experience for those who love teaching and learning. In fact, these two walk hand in hand and can take place any time and anywhere and, fortunately, are not restricted to conventions. I guess conventions are so exciting because it is like being in a huge learning ball in which you dance with so many partners. You just have access to lots of interesting people and ideas at a single venue. You pick yourself wishing it will never end despite being jet lagged and suffering with the weather. Other times, you wish you could stretch time and space to go to every session that catches your attention in the program book, that you could chat with the dozens of teachers you meet in hallways, escalators, in sessions, and in so many other places. You also  would like to go to every after hours hang out in breweries and restaurants, not just to drink or eat, but to learn more about teaching and learning and also to discover the humanity you share with those brilliant minds.
As you might have guessed, TESOL 2015 International Convention & English Language Expo was wonderful and I did not have time to see everything I wish I could. However, I have a few things I want to share with you. The Flipped Classroom was one of the hot topics of this convention. Flipping is a form of blended learning in which students learn content online at home and homework is done in class with teachers and students discussing and solving questions (Wikipedia). Flipping is not a new pedagogical concept or idea. Maybe what it is making a possibility so widely explored right now is the technological development that we have reached. If a couple of years ago, flipping was reduced to instructional videos that were supposed to be passively watched by students, currently there are tools that add interactivity to these learning objects. In Toronto I could see two tools that would add an interactive twist to a flipped video  allowing students to check understanding and give instructors feedback.
In the lines bellow I will describe tow of these  tools to you with some examples of my own. Hope you like them and get inspired to create some of your own.

eduCanon


Educanon is a tool that allows you to import videos from several channels on the web. You can get videos from Vimeo, YouTube, Teacher Tube, and many more. Besides that, you can also use your own. To do this, you will just have to upload it to one of these services and then use it to build your lesson. Once you choose a video, eduCanon allows you to crop it if you wish. Once you have the video at the size you want, you can add questions to it. When you are done, you can share it with your students or colleagues via e-mail or you can embed it to your website or blog as I did here. For this post, I generated an embed code that did not need registration. If you want to try it out, just provide the requested information. Hope you enjoy it. 






EDpuzlle

Very similar to the previous one, EDpuzzle  also allows you to add videos from many sources. However, it gives educators some more possibilities. You can add voice over to videos or power point presentations. The free version also allows you to add open ended questions. In the Toronto TESOL Convention, a teacher showed us how he used EDpuzzle to have his students create video quizzes at home using open ended questions and bring them to class to engage students in conversation. I have just created a similar activity using TED ED to give a glimpse of what you can do using the tool. Hope you enjoy it.







Not just thinking about flipping and its potential use in your teaching context, I thought these tools might be useful to engage your students in your traditional class set up. I really liked the fact that they allow teachers to personalize content by uploading their own videos or power point presentations or by choosing videos that their students can relate to.

If you happen to be interested in learning more about the Flipped Classroom, feel free to check my Pinterest board

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Google Classroom - The New Classroom

In the first semester of 2014, Casa Thomas Jefferson gained access to Google Apps For Education (GAFE). In August, 2014, Google released the Classroom App as part of GAFE, and so our journey began. 

In the month following this release, we started phase 1 of our New Classroom project. With the help and support of our EdTech Department Head, Carla Arena, and her team, we began using Classroom in two of our Advanced Course groups. We decided we would have our Advanced Course teenagers use it to write their compositions throughout the semester. Once the semester came to a close, we sat together and shared our experiences. We decided it was worth continuing the project the following semester, so we thought about getting more teachers involved and using Classroom. 

Phase 2 of our New Classroom project has been named 'Classroom Gurus' project. One of our goals for this next stage is to create and strengthen a core group of teachers who will become multipliers of the knowledge and skills they will acquire during their engagement with their students, using Google Classroom to optimize the writing process that Advanced students engage in throughout the semester. 
Our first Classroom Gurus meeting

A group of fourteen teachers were invited to join the project this semester, and just yesterday we had the chance of sitting together for a couple of hours to launch phase 2 and get the "Classroom Gurus" inspired and motivated with the project. Our main goal was for them to get a feel for the platform, the new possibilities, the challenges and opportunities ahead through a change to a paper-free paradigm for the compositions students write in the semester with a focus on feedback rather than on the bureaucratic aspects of the writing process, as now this is going to be taken care by Google Classroom. In the platform, much of the back and forth of papers are automatically handled by the system with the automatized creation of students´ papers in Google Docs and the creation of folders for each assignment.






Here are the teachers´ first impressions:




It is a brave new world ahead where we know adjustments, failure and new learning will take place as we move forward. We feel, though,  that it is time to experiment and move on. Another point of the project is to value the human resources we so highly consider in our Institution, Casa Thomas Jefferson. We have a very potent humanware, educators who are ready for the edgy jump into pedagogical innovations when they are recognized, treasured and supported in new edtech endeavors.

Last but not least, there´s the learner spectrum. By promoting a new type of process not only are we reaching them in different ways, but also helping them enhance their own digital literacies that will be so essentially demanded from them in their educational and professional contexts. We, as an educational institution, feel responsible for students´ success in their language learning and life in general.




Monday, September 08, 2014

Whatsapp and Education - is it feasible?

Social networks have surely opened up new ways of communication, new opportunities of interaction and collaboration, and teachers can take advantage of these tools by including them into their lesson plans. 

One of the most popular social networks nowadays is WhatsApp. It is basically an instant messaging application for smart phones. Everyone uses it, everyone has it. Many times, teachers can see students' phones constantly receiving WhatsApp messages or notifications during classes. In addition to text messaging, users can send each other images, videos, and audio messages.

We believe that the use of WhatsApp might encourage students to get more engaged in their own learning process, which might lead to a better long-term retention of structures and vocabulary. Teachers are able to work with all four skills, and should consider designing different tasks and activities in order to cater various learning styles.

Thus, to improve reading skills, the teacher can send the group a text (i.e. a short story). Then, as a follow-up, the teacher can ask comprehension questions about it , and also questions on specific vocabulary presented in the text. It is also possible to ask students to come up with a different endings for the story they've read.

Teachers can also create several writing activities by proposing a topic for discussion, for instance. Students can also write descriptions of a place, based on an image sent by the teacher. 


An interesting function in this application is voice recording to practice speaking skills. Students can record their voices to present their ideas/opinions about a certain topic, or answer specific questions based on a text or image sent by the teacher. Furthermore, the teacher can also record his voice and send to the student and work on listening comprehension. There is also the possibility of sending a video and then ask questions about it. 

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Some practical examples now.

1. I designed two slides on PowerPoint and saved them as images. Then, I sent them to students and asked them to perform a simple task: write sentences using the passive voice.

       







2. This is another very simple activity that can be done using WhatsApp. I used it with a group of teenagers to practice adjectives. After having explained the meaning of the adjectives from the lesson, I made a numbered list of the adjectives on the board. I, then, asked them to pick up their cell phones and log into our WhatsApp group. I gave them 3 minutes to find an emoticon for each adjective from the board. They would have to make the whole list and only hit send when they had finished. The following class we performed the activity a bit differently. First, I sent the adjective and they had to find an emoticon to show they remembered its meaning. Finally, I sent the emoticon and the students had to type the adjective (in order to practice spelling).  It became a competition. We had a blast!













        3. Another activity I developed using emoticons was concerning 'if clauses'. I prepared the if clause in advance and the main clause should be provided by the students. However, they had to create this main clause using a key word that I provided using and emoticon. For example: "If I get a book on my birthday, :) ". They were supposed to say something like "I will be happy."  Although I included the emoticon to control their answers, they had different and funny ideas.













       4. This activity was done with an advanced group. I just wanted to check their pronunciation of certain words. I sent the word to the group and they had to send the a recording of their voice pronouncing the word.


















5. A PIECE OF ME FOR SALE
Ask students to choose an object they own to put up for sale. They got to take a picture of the chosen object and add a description saying the story behind it and why it is special for them. Students can then bid on each others items and justify why they'd want to buy a certain object and not the other. I have used this activity in class with my 5B group and it has worked quite well. 

6. ADJECTIVE TREE
This is a fun game which  can be done with any group or age. Teacher starts the game by saying a random adjective, for example the color "red". Then students have to type up as many combinations as possible using the word red. Ex. red lipstick, red light, red dress.

7. I'M TENSE
As the title already gives away, it's a verb tense game. Teacher starts by typing up a verb in the base form and students gotta type it up in the past simple or past participle. Students can also join in adding verbs and competing amongst themselves. The points can double when the teacher adds a talking face Emoji and the students record a voice message pronouncing the word accurately. 

8. RIGHT OR WRONG?
The teacher send a sentence and students have to decide if its right or wrong. That can also be done to practice pronunciation. 

9. WHAT - WHO AM I?
Teacher sends part of a picture (you can easily use your own phone's camera to take a picture of a pic) then students have to guess wha or who it is by saying "It might/can't/may/could/must be..." . It's great to practice modals. 

10. WHAT DID YOU ASK?
The teacher writes the answer to a question and students have to guess what question was asked. Ex. Answer: Hardly ever. Possible questions: How often do you...? Do you still see each other? Do you go dancing? Did you use to go to the beach? etc...

11. SING ALONG
The players send part of a song and the others have to sing the following bit. 

12. PHRASAL VERBS
The game starts with a description of a phrasal verb and students have to write a sentence using the corresponding phrasal verb. Extra points if they know if its separable, inseparable or always separated. 

13. STORY TIME
One assigned student at a time has to to narrate (using the voice message) an impromptu  part of a story using the words the teacher types up. The other assigned students follow the story line trying to give sequence to it. Ex. Anna - gold, chest, gun, shoot, man, get away. Pedro - robber, blue eyed, charming, laughter, dream. etc. 



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Have you tried using this app with your students? If not, would you be willing to give it a try? Let us know about your outcomes! 

Cheers,


        Paola Hanna                      Tatiana Severo                  Lilian Marchesoni