Showing posts with label TESOL 2014. Show all posts
Showing posts with label TESOL 2014. Show all posts

Saturday, April 12, 2014

TESOL 2014 Through Gamification and Complexity Theory

Going to the TESOL Convention in Portland last March made me feel realized as an English teacher for two reasons: first, that was the second time I had the pleasure of attending an international convention; second, I was there as a presenter! Last year, my friend and co-worker Carolina Barreto and I decided to submit our workshop and, fortunately,  it was accepted to the TESOL 2014. Both of us were anxious to be presenters in a foreign country to an audience from all over the world. The result could not be better - the spectators were engaged for 1h45 minutes, actively participating in the hands-on activities we were demonstrating in the workshop named BREAKING THE ICE - Going beyond simple icebreakers through motivation.

I am a teacher who loves creating games to use in class with my students, so the topics that caught my attention were the ones related to the use of technology or practical games. I have to confess that I did not see many innovations in terms of technologies in the classroom. For this reason, I have to admit that the work we do at the Casa may be considered at par with the most recent trends in terms of Mobile Learning.

One of the presentations I attended drew my attention because it was called The Gamification Of Learning Outcomes  ( . In that presentation, 3 professors from Colorado first clarified that gamification is not game. After briefly mentioning some theoretical aspects of language and technology, they exemplified with their work with foreign students, using facts, statistics and results.  They ended their presentation showing the survey they did with those students about that work, and, at that time, did another survey with the audience. ( Each person had to use his/her own mobile phone to send his/her opinion about the presentation.  The results were shown on the screen. It was dynamic, easy and interesting.

Attending  the session Think like a Video Game Designer to Build Better Courses, by Josh Wilson, from the Kansai Gaidai University, I became aware of many concepts about games that I had never realized before, such as: games are fail positive environments; games escape from the real world; games are learning tools and learning platforms; games design the experience for choice and to be won; and some others. These concepts are certainly going to help my reflection upon the games I create to use in class.

In my opinion, the top presentation was the one by the famous linguist Diane Larsen-Freeman, Complexity Theory: Renewing Our Understanding of language, Learning, and Teaching. Besides admiring her ideas and her culture for a long time, I liked the fact that she spoke for about an hour about how language changes day-by-day, and we, teachers, have to be aware of those evolutions and adopt them in our classes. In her words, she manages to introduce some humor to make the audience feel comfortable and engaged in her lecture. It was a blast!

Friday, April 11, 2014

TESOL 2014 - Some iPad Tips

TESOL is definitely an overwhelming experience. One has so much to explore that is almost impossible to see everything you want. While I was there I learned a lot from the presentations or workshops I attended. I saw things I already knew through a new angle and I also discovered some new things that I think is worth sharing with our teaching community. So, let me tell you about some iPad tricks and apps worth exploring. 
Remote desktop access
There are solutions that allow you to control your desktop while walking around the class that do not rely on a wireless mouse. At TESOL, two teachers reported using two apps that have such affordances. One application that wirelessly mirrors your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch screens to any Mac or PC is Reflector.  To allow desktop control you will have to install it to your PC and your device. Besides that, one can connect multiple devices to the same screen. One license allows you to install it in up to five PCs.
Another one that has the same feature is Doceri. Doceri also lets you control your desktop from your device (iPad, iPhone, iPod) with the added feature of transforming it into a smart board once it allows you to draw and annotate any file that can be shown on your Mac or PC. The drawback being that licenses have a price, the good thing is that they help us get rid of the cumbersome cable and let us roam free around class while displaying whatever is being shown in our mobile devices’ screens.. Reflector and Doceri allow  free trials. So, you can download them and see how they work for you. 

Giving control to students

If you have a blue tooth keyboard that connects to your device, how about connecting it to your iPad and creating interactive activities. You can pass it around class and your students can perform some tasks displayed on the big screen if you mirror your iPad using a cable or one of the apps suggested above. You could create quizzes or have a competition to answer questions. If you have more than one keyboard, it becomes even more interesting. 

Turning your iPad into a Speaking Device

How about turning your iPad or iPhone into a speaking machine? To do this, you will just have to activate the text to speech feature. You will have to go to settings, general, accessibility, speak auto-text (turn it on), then choose the language. This will allow you to listen any text you select. It also reads out loud whatever you are typing. You can use to read your e-mails for you if you are busy doing something else. In class, you can use it for dictation or to improvise a listening comprehension task. By the way, you will have to adjust the speaking rate to turtle or hare on speak selection