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 (https://docs.google.com/file/d/0Bxrfi4WnBTonOWRieFFlWDRVQTQ/edit?pli=1) . 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. (https://cuboulder.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_5ciU5FolfhxKfC5) 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!