Archive for category Presentations
It generally takes a couple of days to sink in, to put things into perspective. The two hectic days spent at the “II Jornadas de ELT – Challenges in the English Language classroom” at Universidad Nacional de Villa María left me with notes, materials to try out, concepts to revisit or to explore further, but, above all, with some genuine connections and reflections. Here’s a brief summary and my attempt to reflect on the experience I had the pleasure to share with my former high school classmate and colleague, Ana Miotti.
The conference featured two plenaries. The first one was on New Orientations in Language Learning Strategies by María Inés Valsecchi and María Celina Barbeito, who discussed Rebecca Oxford’s latest work. In her 2011 book, the American researcher re- examines her own theory to accommodate the socio-cultural interactive dimension to language learning strategies. This change, as Barbeito pointed out, is in line with similar shifts in the research fields of motivation and autonomy discussed by Ema Ushioda and David Little at FAAPI 2012.
The closing plenary was in charge of Charly López, who gave a very lively talk on classroom management, a crucial aspect that is, unfortunately, often overlooked in teacher training.
UNVM teachers also offered a number of interesting workshops. We attended one on “Language Intercomprehension and its Relevance in the Teaching of Reading-Comprehension Skills in the Foreign Language” and another one on “Empowering Students’ Writing Performance through Strategy Instruction”.
On the Teachers’ Forum and changing the state of knowledge
Probably the most challenging part for us was taking part in the Teachers’ Forum. Forum presentations were divided into two thematic areas: Forum A: Social Studies and Forum B: The Use of Technology in the Classroom. Ana and I were both presenting our classroom experiences in Forum B: English 2.0: A Blended Seminar for Secondary School Students at Escuela Superior de Comercio, UNR and Why and how you can use facebook at school. What we have done at EES N° 572 (Rosario, Argentina).
So, why taking the trouble to go all the way to another province to tell others what we are doing in our classrooms? When you prepare a presentation you have to go over the process you’ve been through, you have to conceptualize each step, to organize your experience to be shared in public. Then, you go through the jitters and last-minute uncertainties. Is my presentation clear enough? Have I covered the main points? Will my experience be relevant to other teachers? Will technology work?
Most importantly, by telling our experience to others we are taking responsibility for what we are doing and opening it up for reflection and discussion in wider professional circles. As Stephen Pinker, points out on the difference between individual and mutual knowledge , “explicit language is a great way of creating mutual knowledge” and he adds “by putting it “out there” we are changing the state of knowledge.”
I feel this is what happened with Ana’s presentation. She talked about her experience using Facebook with her students in a state-run school in the suburbs of Rosario as a way of building a closer relationship with them. “You can’t teach them if they don’t like you” she told me, as Oxford’s entire renewed theoretical framework came to life in her words. The human component. Facebook was then an integral part of Ana’s strategy to reach and build rapport with her students in that particular context. The great thing is that her presentation seemed to have a big impact on the audience, as other teachers said it encouraged them to try out a similar strategy with their students. The topic was mentioned in an article published on the UNVM website: Proponen enseñar inglés con Facebook en el aula and has also called the attention of a local newspaper. We cannot tell how far its influence will get, but I’m sure none of this would have happened if Ana had not decided to open up and share her experience.
Although teaching and learning are eminently social practices, we have to admit that all too often we are isolated in our classrooms. Institutional communication is not always as fluent as it should be and a number of personal and professional variables affect these types of exchanges. I firmly believe that fostering these types of forums both within and across institutions, on and offline, empowers teachers to develop a sense of ownership and responsibility towards their own practice. It is by listening to each other that we can build some kind of “contextual awareness”, learn about the specific challenges in Argentinian EFL classrooms and come up with both effective and relevant strategies to overcome them and refresh our practice.
All the presentations have been published at Profesorado en Lengua Inglesa – UNVM
We’ve just finished the English 2.0 Seminar! I’d like to thank the Languages Department and school authorities at Escuela Superior de Comercio for accepting this proposal. It was hard work and a real challenge but we succeeded thanks to the institutional support and, above all, to students’ commitment and enthusiasm.
According to the new school curriculum (2010), 3rd year students have to take two elective seminars, which are to be delivered throughout a semester mainly online, with a maximum of 5 face-to-face meetings.
The English 2.0 seminar is a blended learning experience of Academic English which focuses on the development of reading and listening skills through the use of web 2.0 resources and tools. It is carried out through Comunidades, the Moodle-based University virtual campus
The seminar aims at learning about other academic subjects through adapted and authentic online resources in English, as well as providing students with tools and strategies to use the web 2.0 autonomously to develop their own learning.
For the final assignment, students worked in pairs or small groups to design their own digital posters about a topic related to the academic subjects included in the seminar.
Update: Presentation: English 2.0: A Blended Seminar for Secondary School Students at II Jornadas ELT at Universidad Nacional de Villa María, May 23rd – 24th , 2013
This morning I had the pleasure of sharing the paper I presented at FAAPI with a group of local teachers at ARCI. Here’s the first part of the presentation:
During the second part of the presentation, I shared a summary of the sessions I attended as well as my personal reflections on the conference.
I’m sharing the presentation I gave at IPS last May during the school’s book fair. It was a real challenge to speak to an audience composed of almost a hundred teenagers. They didn’t take it seriously at first. Fiction? On Twitter? But the compelling pun on words, extreme brevity, multiple meanings and intertextuality did the trick! Far from being easy to read, these microstories required their full attention and language awareness. Amazing how much we can do with 140 characters!
User-generated content at the core of the Web 2.0, content for intercultural awareness and reflection, content across the curriculum, content that matters, the bare essentials of content, content as meaning…. as simple and as relevant as that!
Content for context: El inglés como lengua extranjera: perspectiva Intercultural y transversalidad
Content in the works…
Striving for Relevance – Content and Language Learning for secondary EFL students
This presentation aims at reflecting on the challenges and opportunities of teaching English in a secondary school setting and the importance of redefining learning goals, aiming at what students can do with and learn through the language rather than just how much they know about the language. The use of the web and other authentic resources to create learner-centered cross-curricular tasks and projects can help students find meaningful connections between English and other subjects as well as with their own needs and interests while preparing them to deal with real life situations in the foreign language.
Image Flickr CC: C Mosaic