Category Archives: Values

Reflections on a Course: Post 5 (Week 6)-On Engagement and Innovation

This week’s post has a slightly different approach: I wanted to talk about engagement, as it derives from the tasks we’ve being taking up this week, but due to the news that are constantly pouring out about the world situation and the scope things are taking, I am morally forced to give this post a layer of criticism embedded into a wrapping of sadness.

I was planning to talk about the importance of engagement in the dynamics of a class. New resources, new approaches and new methodologies are extremely relevant for a better teaching performance. But the real element that drives our students’ commitment and engagement is seeing the person in front of them truly believing in what he or she is doing. As I have mentioned in a comment in one of my posts, one of my best remembered teachers was an old literature teacher who would have us stuck into our chairs as he talked about the Spanish authors and their works. Just word and chalk!

If we really believe in what we do, in those projects we want to enrol our students, in those interchanges with schools across the world, in those plays and those sketches… our students will perceive our enthusiasm and they will get quickly engaged.

Moreover, we are the lucky ones to have this huge array of elements that help us “decorate” that passion we feel for our job (thanks, Luisa!). They will bridge the gap between us and those students eagerly looking for engagement in interesting things to fill their life most of the time so full of stimuli but so void of commitment.

In the end, I talked about what I was planning to talk, but I can’t escape a very worrying fact that is teasing me these days.

This week I got to watch the video you can watch below:

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As I was watching it, I realised that all this innovation might come to nothing very easily if things don’t change dramatically. We have spent the last years talking about innovation and the incorporation of cutting edge technology in education. Nowadays, budgets are being dramatically reduced, and families are quickly losing their purchasing power. Who will be able to support them if we want to introduce the use of elements such as mobile devices or powerful hardware in education. Will the state subsidise… the states are broke! Will families be able to take in extra expenses for hardware… I’m pretty sure most will not. I’m afraid that innovation might turn into a grand experience for a dwindling minority, and that makes me sad.

But I still feel passionate for what I do!!

Reflection… Still so much to do!

This article from la Vanguardia dwells on the permanent issue of using English in the classroom… why should it still be an issue? If we deprive our students of one of the possibilities to increase their imput of English language (In most cases the most relevant), what are our expectations as professionals? I still learn about cases where the teacher constantly uses his/her native language to teach… English. Sometimes they justify themselves by saying many/some/most/a few students do not understand… and they will stay like that if we don’t give them the chance to get in contact with the language!!! And even though those students had those problems of understanding… what about the rest of the class who eventually understands what the teacher is saying. I don’t understand what process these pseudoprofessionals have undergone which does not let them see the plain truth: Oral imput is paramount in the communicative language acquisition process. Of course I say “communicative”! If we only try to teach them how to differenciate past perfect from simple past and how to say all irregular verbs by heart (nice drill to help them find their way in the middle of London), then why bother?

Still so much to do!!!

Welcome Back!

Holidays are almost over, and a new schoolyear is around the corner. I’ll be ready to post new ideas and thoughts that may help you in your lessons.

Here’s a video for a start: Vicki Davis, a teacher in Georgia, USA, talks about the way she uses new media and new 2.0 applications in her classroom. It’s a short video from Edutopia, really worth watching. She’s not an English teacher, but she shows us the way into using all those tools and applications in our lessons. I would specially point out what she says about teaching these new tools: Sometimes she’s learning from her students as she’s teaching. This give-and-take concept can’t be neglected nowadays when it comes to building new projects. We can’t expect our students to ellicit everything out of inspiration or sheer practice, many things will still be in the teacher’s hands, but we can’t escape the fact that the future of project work in education and knowledge acquisition will be also based upon the process whereby teachers and students share the experience of learning.

Have a nice summer!!

Posting will become scarce in the following weeks… summetime has come!
Here’s my last post, just to show you that we still must work really hard if we want this country of ours to show some reasonable level in the use of English… and still harder if we want it to show some style and good taste!!
Bon estiu!!

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A Counterpoint… Always Welcome!

This video from the Escapist portraits the negative effects of a too-game-biased environment. Everybody talks abouts games in education (I do!!!), games in everyday life, serious games, alternate reality games… maybe it’s time to stop and see the drawbacks as well! No need to mention that it is only a warning to over-users!! Games are a wonderful tool for our job!

Bullying: Let’s get something out of it!

Ed Tech Ideas has published a very interesting post which we could easily turn into a very good activity for the English classroom.

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Starting out with a very nice poster on student bullying in the U.S., some questions are placed, as well as some advice to students… very clear statements that can be easily discussed in class. Try to elicit other ideas and opinions out of the data which appear in the graphic poster. Data are shown really clear and can be easily understood.

The Path of Protest (The Conflict of Middle East)

The Guardian have produced an interactive timeline showing the most relevant milestones which have arisen in the Middle East uprisings. A good tool to work time in English, and, of course, to foster oral skills… students can describe the “path” followed by events in these countries where people have risen against dictatorships in the last months.

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You can navigate through time and see the different relevant events by country and category: People’s protests, political moves, regime changes and international responses.
Use it in class, or pass it to social science teachers who want to use English in their lessons.

The Story of Stuff

If you think we must use our classrooms to spread the idea of a different approach towards our environment, have a look at this site

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 The Story of Stuff is basically a 20-minute videoclip where Annie Leonard shows how we are deteriorating our planet. Clear animations and a very good narrative for a cross-curricular approach. The only drawback is the absence of transcript. It shows the process of overuse of our natural resources, their transformation into products and their latter change into pure rubbish which increasingly fills our planet. Specially adequate for advanced/Batxillerat students.