I have just written an article for an Argentinian magazine called “The Teacher’s Magazine” about Twitter. Since it’s been a long time, since the last time I wrote on this blog, I thought of reposting it here. Somebody may find it useful. Would love to hear your comments about it, or just a greeting! Kisses and hugs from lovely Panama… (I’m travelling around America at the moment, that’s why I’ve been so disconnected)
Everybody seems to be using twitter at the moment. Most celebrities, politicians, the city government, and some of your friends are twitting and retwitting. For that reason, you may find yourself wondering what this is all about. Or maybe you are already one step forward, and have started to ask how it can help you with your teaching.
I believe it will not only help you, it will open you a door to the whole world. You will be able to interact and connect with hundreds of other teachers from all over the world. Teachers coming from all walks of life, and from all sorts of different teaching contexts. You will have the opportunity of listening to and interacting with those professionals you admire – fellow teachers, teacher training specialists, authors, publishers, etc.- at a very personable level. Apart from that, you will get extremely fast up-to-date information about what is happening in your field, plus a great amount of links and recommendations for materials and teaching ideas. Even though at the beginning twitter may look a bit chaotic, once you start following educators that work in your field of expertise, everything starts to make sense. In this article we will provide you with a step by step tutorial on how to set up your account, and develop your PLN (personal learning network).
Setting up your account:
1) Enter www.twitter.com and register. You can use a nickname, if you prefer.
2) Upload a picture of you. People like looking at the person they are talking to.“Your profile picture defines who you are to the online world. It might be the first and only impression you get with people you meet online.” 
3) Write your biography. It should be 160 characters in length. Include your interests and your relevant expertise in teaching, so that others can get to know who you are and decide if they want to connect with you.
4) Now it is time to start following other twitter users. Following somebody in twitter means that you subscribe to their twits or updates, which will appear in your timeline (a list in real time of all the accounts you are following, which appears in you twitter homepage). To follow somebody, you can click on “Who to follow” and view the suggestions or make a search by name or topic.
Once you find a person of your interest, you click on follow and voila, you are already following them. If you do not have any clue on who to follow, you can start by following me. I am @sabridv. I will be glad to follow you back, and help you in whatever you need. If you enter my profile http://twitter.com/#!/sabridv and click on “following”, you will find all the educators I am already following http://twitter.com/#!/sabridv/following . You can browse through the list, and start following some. They are all very friendly and excellent professionals, who love learning collaboratively.
How to interact with other teachers:
1) The main way is by writing your own twits: write about your projects, ask for guidance to solve problems you encounter in you professional life, ask for ideas on how to deal with a specific grammar topic, share interesting links or useful resources, and many more.
2) You can also read other people’s twits, which appear in your timeline. Remember that you do not have to read every twit the second you see it appear on the screen. You can click on the star, and it will be sent to your profile “favourites” tab, so that you can read it when you have time.
3) You can also address a specific person by writing the @ sign in front of their name/handle at the start of the tweet. Beware that the message will still be public, and will therefore appear in your own timeline. The only difference with an ordinary twit is that this message will be sent to that person’s “@mentions” tab, and will be easy to find even if he is not online at the time you are writing. If you click on your “@mentions” tab, next to your “timeline” tab you will see all the twits that were aimed at you.
4) If you read an interesting twit and you want to share it with the rest of your followers, you should place the cursor over that tweet and click on “retweet”.
5) Finally, if you want to send a private message to someone, enter their profile and click on the envelope icon. To read your own private messages click on “messages” on the black bar.
To sum up, I truly recommend you to start building your professional learning network If alone we can get to do a simple and easy project, by being with others, we can always go a step further. I have learnt a lot by sharing ideas with others. I have been able to perfect my own creations by exchanging thoughts with colleagues. I am always refreshed and full of new ideas after a short trip over twitter. Being part of this online community of educators has made me realise how important it is the presence of others, who are undergoing the same learning journey, in order to motivate us and push us forward. Of course, we can learn on our own. However, by interacting and exchanging information with others, we can achieve a lot more and the trip becomes more fun.
The English Language Teacher’s Guide To Twitter, tech tip #11: http://kalinago.blogspot.com/2009/08/english-language-teachers-guide-to.html
Are you a fan of Dexter series? Is it worth watching? I’ve never seen it. However, I’ve found two videos on You Tube that are just perfect for an activity revising present simple for routines. First, let’s watch the videos, and start racking your brains to see what we can do with them…
The first thing that got to my mind when I watched them was: collaborative viewing. I’m sure you all know this activity, but it’s sometimes good to revisit old activities. I thought that students could work in pairs. One is watching the first video, and the other one is with his back to the screen. The first one has to retell what’s going on in the video, while the other one takes down notes. The objective would be to write Dexter’s morning routine. Then, they exchange roles to watch the second video. This time they would write the girl’s night routine.
This was the first idea that came to my mind. However, I believe there are plenty more things we can do with these two videos, since they are so visual. Why not sharing your ideas? We’d all be very grateful…
Yesterday I started a course called: “Clown como estrategia didáctica” (clown as a didactic strategy). I had a lot of fun, and felt like a child again enjoying the freedom of just playing around and not thinking or worrying about anything else. We should never loose that innocence, and if we have already lost it, recover it by all means. I can assure you it is worth the effort.
While I was there, I revisited two old activities, I haven’t used for a long time, that are perfect for getting to know each other. It was wonderful, having looked at them from a new perspective. There I was the student, and not the teacher, and could have fun without paying attention to anything else (timing, students who were not connected with what was going on in the class, minding students didn’t get hurt, or run wildly out of control). I was free to relax and enjoy myself.
However, at one point we have to come back to reality and face the truth: I’m still a grown-up adult and a teacher of kids, teenagers and adults. I remembered about Eva’s carnival and decided to share these two activities that are very useful for the first week of classes:
A Chain of Hands: At first, the teacher asked us to start walking around the room. Then, she told us to make eye contact with the people we encountered, while we kept on walking. After that, when we encountered a person we were supposed to give him/her a highfive and say a word or make a sound (whatever came to our mind at that moment). The following step was to hold hands and introduce ourselves (Hi, I’m Sabrina). And finally the best part, we had to hold a person’s hand and introduce ourselves, but we couldn’t stop holding hands till we found another person to hold hands with. It was very funny, because sometimes you found yourself holding hands with two people at the same time, as your previous partner had not yet found a person to hold hands with. We ended up with some strange hand chains. I’m not sure whether I’ve been clear enough, you know you can always ask for more details in the comments section.
You are what you do!: This is a super simple activity but it always spreads a roar of laughter. The participants have to make a circle, and one of them introduces himself and makes a movement, or uses a strange tone of voice, or both at the same time. The rest of them, have to observe him closely and repeat everything he’s said and done. They have to mirror his introduction. I just love this activity, and students really become creative once they understand what they are supposed to do.
That’s all for now falks! Hope I have inspired you for your beginning of classes. If you want to find another idea, have a look at this post. As here in Argentina we are starting the second semester, and therefore, I cannot try these activities in my classes, I’m looking forward to hearing about your experience. =)
RSCON3 is over… is it really over? Of course not, there are still a lot of presentations I would like to watch. But wasn’t it on 29 / 07 you may be wondering… Yeah, but that’s the magic of an online conference. If you could not attend, don’t worry you can always watch the recordings. I strongly advice you to do so, if you haven’t yet. You can find all the recordings here.
Fortunately, this time, appart from attending this wonderful conference, I was able to give my own presentation. I really enjoyed it. Even though at the beginning I was a bit nervous ( it was my first presentation ever), I managed to relax and have fun. I would like to thank @davedodgson for having helped me by doing a wonderful job as a moderator. I love learning collaborately, so I am very thankful for having had this opportunity of giving a bit back to my PLN, after so much taking. If you haven’t attended my presentation, and you’d like to see me in action: here you can watch the recording, and here you can find the powerpoint I’ve used during it. I would love to know your opinion about it, get some advice on how I can improve my presentation skills or whatever comment you may want to do.
But let’s stop talking about me and let’s pass on to the important thing: my reflection about the conference. I don’t have a lot of things to say, apart from the fact that it was a wonderful experience, I’ve added a lot of new memebers / friends to my PLN, and I’ve learned a lot. However, what struck me the most, was that I have attended many sessions about completely different topics, and we all ended up speaking about the same: our students. Our students were the main protagonists of the whole conference. That shows how much passion we all put into our profession. We are all trying to improve and to find the best way in which we can teach them. We may not have found the answer yet, but the fact that we are treading this path, looking for it together, is more than enough. We are already reforming education, by making little (?) changes in our classrooms. Let’s keep on walking along this path, let’s meet again in RSCON4. See you there! =)
In a few days, nearly 8000 educators from over 40 different countries are expected to attend a free 3 day virtual conference, The Reform Symposium, #RSCON3. This free award-nominated e-conference is going to take place on July 29-31st, 2011. Participants can attend this online conference from the comfort of their homes or anywhere that has Internet access. This amazing conference provides educators new or currently active on social networks the opportunity to connect with educators and professionals in the field of education worldwide. With over 12 Keynotes, 80 presenters, and 3 keynote panel discussions you are bound to be inspired!
I am very proud to count myself among the 80 presenters and I would like to invite you all to attend my session. It is really important for me to receive your support… I would appreciate if you can invite the people you know to attend and spread the word…
Here you can have a preview of what my presentation will be about… Hope you like it…
I think this video to be totally self-explanatory. I believe that the most important conclusion we can derive from it is not to let the fear of the unknown paralised us. We should open our minds, explore, stop complaining and try to find a way out. Sometimes the most implausible of the solutions is the key that will get us out of the box. Narrowmindess emprisons us, let’s liberate our minds and our students’ too.
” You are out of jail, out of the cage; you can open your wings and the whole sky is yours. All the stars and the moon and the sun belong to you. You can disappear into the blueness of the beyond….Just drop clinging to this cage, move out of the cage and the whole sky is yours. Open your wings and fly across the sun like an eagle.” Osho Christianity, the Deadliest Poison and Zen… Chapter 6
Understanding that the cage has always been open, or that the world has always been there outside the box for us to explore, can make us feel a little shaky at first. It’s fine, and natural to feel like that, but we shouldn’t let it prevent us from enjoying all the blessings living outside the box has to offer us.
A few questions to reflect about this: what are the implications of this video for education? And for the use of new technologies in education? And most important of all, how can we apply it to life in general?. I have already talked about the importance of developing critical thinking and thinking outside the box in this post, if you want to keep on reading. Your opinions in Spanish or English will be more than welcome… Have a nice weekend!
I’ve been away for so long! Sorry, but I’ve been very busy with some personal issues and now, trying to come back to the blogosphere! As I’ve told you in my previous post , this year, I’m also devoting some time to literature in my classes. I have even started a project: “Myths, Legends and Folktales from Around the World”, which is going great.
In that project, as you can imagine, we are reading stories from different parts of the world. When the time came for England, what legend do you imagine I’ve shared with them? Yeah, :
I always try to present the stories in different ways. And by this time of the year, I was already running out of ideas. At that moment, I remembered something I hadn’t tried much in my classes, but I love: DRAMA! This story was perfect for it, because it is full of actions. There was the answer then. Answer and movement were the keys.
I wrote the story in a simplified way and divided my students in 4 groups. You can read my simplified story version here. I gave each group one part of the story and asked them to perform it to the rest of class. They would just have to concentrate on the actions, as I was going to read the story while they perform. It was a wonderful experience, as students really had to work hard on understanding the story. Furthermore, by moving and doing the actions they internalised lots of verbs and vocabulary. It became memorable to them.
When we finished the activity, they were so excited and eager to keep on working with the story, that I’m planning to ask them to write short dialogues in order to write a mini-play. I’ll soon share with you their productions. What do you think? Are they going to be interested in it? Do you have any other ideas or suggestions on how I can continue working with this story? Looking forward to your comments. I’ve missed you so much!
You may all know by now that since last year, I’ve been trying to incorporate literature in my classroom. Last year I worked with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (you can see some activities related to it here and here). This year I started a project called “Myths, Legends and Folktales from Around the World”. I have started a wiki for the project here.
In both cases, I thought that a good way of checking understanding and having fun at the same time was by creating photostories. At first, I thought of using voicethread, and I even wrote a tutorial to explain my students how to use it. However, as soon as I started explaining them what we were going to do, one of my students said “Why don’t we just use powerpoint instead?”. He really had a point there. He made me realise that sometimes the simpler, the better. If they already know how to use powerpoint, why not just let them use that programme, and forget about spending a lot of time trying to teach them how to use another application that would serve the same purpose.
Another lesson they taught me on that day, is that whenever we want our students to start doing something totally new for them, we have to allow them some time to toy around, to get acquainted with the idea, to get the point of what they are expected to do. The first time I asked them to create a photostory, they spent ages to create just the first slide. You can imagine I was walking up the walls. However, the next class they all managed to finish the other 5 slides in just one hour. We, teachers, have to relax sometimes, lots of things are going on inside our students minds that we can’t even imagine.
My two experiences with photostories were very rewarding. The students final productions were great. Here you can see the ones about The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and here the ones about an Asian folktale called Who Will Marry Mousie? Hope you like them.
Classes have finally started here in Argentina. First classes are always difficult to plan for me, because I believe that the focus should be on getting to know each other in a fun and interesting way. I’m always short of ideas, and for one reason or another I don’t want to do the same I did the previous year with my new classes. However, this year, I’m very happy with how everything turned out (hopefully next year I will still be as glad as I am today with the results and will be eager to repeat the experience).
I started the classes with a very simple activity; an activity I bet you have done several times: throwing a ball and asking the one who has caught it to tell us their name. This time, however, I gave it a little twist. The person who had the ball was asked to introduce the person sitting next to them. They had to talk about the things they like, don’t like, personality, and whatever came to their mind. This was a great warm up and preparation for the last activity I was planning to do on that day.
Then, as they didn’t know me. I prepared an anagram with my name and words related to me in some way. I gave them a clue and they had to guess the word. For example, the first word is my favourite sport (SWIMMING). Once they guessed the word, I gave them some details about the topic to make it more fun. For example, in fact, it is not that it is my favourite sport, I hate sports, and that’s the only one I can at least do (LOL). Here, you can see my anagram. CHALLENGE: Would you like to guess in what way the other words relate to me?
Finally, I asked them to create crosswords about them in small groups. The words that would form the crosswords would be their names. They had to create the crosswords and write the references. At the end of the class, we exchanged the crosswords and they had to solve them. It was great fun, student centered, students created content, by them and about them, and I managed to make them write without complaining in the first class. Proud with the results, here you can see some of them (the photos quality is not very good, sorry):
If you want some more ideas for your first week classes, have a look at this post.