Showing posts with label braztesol. Show all posts
Showing posts with label braztesol. Show all posts

Thursday, May 15, 2014

BRAZTESOL Conference - Different Generations: A common Goal

We, Carolina Piacenti and Evania Netto have just attended the Braz-Tesol Conference in João Pessoa, AL. It was a great conference: well organized, in a great site (Escola Internacional Cidade Viva) and in a beautiful city. Furthermore, the quality of the presentations were fantastic and there wasn´t a single talk or workshop that we didn´t like or regretted attending.


However, as the topic of our own presentation was “generations” and the way that different generations of teachers can benefit by working together, we started paying attention to the mix of generations that could be seen and heard in the event. To start with, we browsed through the program and realized we could choose from a workshop given by one of the most renowned ELT senior representatives from Brasília-Sara Walker, watch the plenary session given by the brilliant Jeremy Harmer or feel touched by the emotional session about getting older given by Jane Revell. It was not only the senior generation that made presence in the conference, though. Looking again at the program, we could easily verify that the Baby Boomers and the members of Generation X were also active, bringing innumerous contributions to the field with names such as Ben Goldstein, Paul Seligson and Jeff Stranks. 

On the other hand, if one preferred to see the newer generation of speakers, they would not be disappointed as they would be able to check CTJ world-wide technology expert Carla Arena, an academic session about gaming and gamification used in teaching and learning a second language given by Janaína Weissheimer or the fantastic J.J. Wilson talk about teacher development. Nevertheless, due to the amount and variety of choices, one would not be able to see everything and would have to choose something related to their own field of interests which would turn out not to make attendees less enthusiastic but to enhance their social networking and ability to reflect upon their careers as they could see themselves working in pairs with Scott Thurnbury, Steve Taylore-Knowles, Élcio Souza or just a novice teacher who had just graduated from college.


So, as you can see, Braz-Tesol was a fruitful and enriching professional experience where different identities met to form a mosaic of generations that by collaborating could help each other achieve the goal that the older, the middle or the younger generations of teachers  have in common - to teach English in effective ways. 
 








Friday, March 21, 2014

The Art of Designing eTasks

There are at least two different ways to help teachers who are designing iPad activities with students to evaluate the tasks they create. The  SAMR  model helps a  teacher/task designer become aware of what stage the task falls into in terms of the use of tech.  The Bloom Taxonomy applied to apps helps teachers think about the kind of questions we ask students and how we should vary the tasks we offer. By delivering the workshop From Image to Deep Learning, I started to understand that  teachers can also look into the learning cycle as a whole, and how the human learning brain works to promote deep learning. The ideas I share here were inspired by the book The Art of Changing the Brain, which is a must read for any educator willing to take a look into the biology behind learning.




In the workshop, I asked the audience how to teach questions with does to teens, and develop tasks having the learning cycle in mind. After a quick debriefing, I showed a simple iPad activity I carried out in class of 11-year-olds, talked about my take in the lesson, and expanded on why I think this task pleases the learning brain. Now, I post my ideas here to help me reflect on my practice, having the learning cycle described in the aforementioned book in mind.




I showed students a quiz about a famous person I knew they would be interested in. Students took the quiz, and I inductively helped them notice how to make questions about a third person`s likes and dislikes. Then, I asked them to gather information about a celebrity they follow to make a quiz of their own.
I was afraid that I`d have no pictures to work with on the following class, but to my surprise, students had bought the idea and had pictures and lots of information to work with. I was ready to go, so I set the iPad activity and monitored students. Here is what two pairs produced using a wonderful app called visualize.




In the art of changing the brain, Zull talks about phase 1 - concrete experience. In this phase, there is activity in the sensory cortex, where we receive, gather and begin to process the visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, and gustatory information. Phase 2 - reflexive observation, seems to describe an activity that takes place in the integrative cortex. It is time to connect sensory images to prior experience in one`s neural network or schemas. In class, passing from phase 1 to phase 2 might take time as learners need to relate new information to what they already know. We cannot rush. We must allow time for thinking/recalling as well as time to reflect upon the learning experience.

In the activity I proposed, my students were exposed to a visually appealing quiz about a person they were genuinely interested in, and took the quiz themselves to find out how much they knew about the person. As I see it, students went through stage one and two of the learning cycle before we started the second part of the activity.

In phase 3 - abstract hypothesizing, the front integrative cortex is at work. Students start to prepare to do something with the recently acquired knowledge. In the iPad activity, I asked students to get the information about their favorite celebrities and start to put it in the format of a quiz for the other students in class. And by asking students to make these quizzes to communicate their recently acquired knowledge, teachers allow students time to test their hypothesis and think. In phase 4 - active testing, students shared their quizzes, and by doing so, provided peers with concrete experiences, so the whole class was back to phase 1. Learning becomes cyclical and on going, and hopefully they will remember the language point long after the day of the test.

In conclusion, instead of asking students to pay attention, it is better when we can engage students in tasks in which they  are supposed to reach outcomes, or ask them to look at the topics from different angles. Instead of sitting still, learners could be asked to move around to see the details. In other words, by making learning more concrete, we might reach concrete outcomes.