Showing posts with label educators. Show all posts
Showing posts with label educators. Show all posts

Monday, June 01, 2015

Google Hangouts: Not Your Regular Test Validation Meeting

An important component of the assessment design cycle is validating the instruments, and to that effect we count on the group of teachers working with that particular level/course. This collective validation process used to take place in the form of a traditional meeting which took place in our school’s Main Branch, usually in a room big enough to accommodate a group of around thirty teachers (sometimes more).
I’d already been adopting some group work dynamics in order to optimize the use of time, hopefully enabling teachers to make the best of the experience of collectively analyzing the test. In a nutshell, I wanted a productive, pleasant atmosphere where not only the outspoken individuals had a go at critiquing and sharing their views. I wanted all of them to feel comfortable enough to voice their concerns and suggestions to tweak the assessment instrument at hand. Teachers worked in small groups of five to six people, appointing a spokesperson who would be in charge of communicating the group’s opinions/suggestions regarding the test.
That had been working quite well. So, it occurred to me: they worked so well within their small groups, usually sitting with fellow teachers from the same branch, who have been sharing their experiences on a regular basis. I couldn’t help but wonder if we could make the validation process even more practical. That was when I had the idea to try out Google Hangouts for Test Validation Meetings. This is how we did it.
Let’s Hangout
Teachers were asked to attend the Validation Hangout at their branches; therefore, they worked with small groups of fellow teachers with whom they connect/exchange every day. They appointed their Hangout representative/spokesperson and went about their business of analyzing the test.
Adjustments along the way
The three Hangouts we had this semester were two-hour-long events. In the first Hangout, I took the groups through the test exercise by exercise, asking them to look at one part of the test at a time. That ended up being as time consuming and noisy as a regular meeting.
After getting some feedback from them, which they gave via a Google Form Survey, we decided it would be best if I gave them about 40 minutes to work on their own first, and only then start gathering their feedback. That worked better. (That and using the mute button to lessen the noise, of course!)
However, the third tine around was the best, indeed. We decided groups should be given even more time to look over the entire test before the feedback-giving stage. I gave them an entire hour, and it really paid off. The feedback stage ran more smoothly and rather fast.
Project Success
  • Convenience: teachers were free to attend the Hangout at a branch of their convenience, which most of the times meant the branch closest to their homes;
  • Capacity for collaborative self-management: teachers had to organize the analysis process themselves, preparing to report their impressions and suggestions to the Course Supervisor (yours truly) and the other branch groups in a clear and concise manner;
  • Agency and accountability: they worked hard to convey their opinions and provide pertinent suggestions, relying on the expertise of their own groups;
  • Voice: working with smaller groups of familiar faces made the more reserved people comfortable to speak their minds, something which tended not to happen with the large face-to-face traditional (very loud and somewhat messy) meetings;
And, last but not least,
  • Modeling innovation: teachers had the chance of trying out a new tool which they might find useful for other professional development opportunities.
This is an experience I would certainly like to replicate in the future, and which I would recommend other admins try out with their teaching staff.
What’s next?
Hangouts for Professional Development and innovating the adjacent possible.




Clarissa Bezerra

Sunday, February 24, 2013

5 Ways You Can Use the Web for Professional Development in 2013


                                                                                                    www.photo-dictionary.com


It`s the end of a long day. After 2 plenary talks and 4 carefully chosen workshops, you are geared up with a set of incredible activities and ideas that will give a boost to your lessons and keep your students motivated and engaged throughout the next couple of  months. Then , after a while you inevitably start wondering when the next event will take place and whether you will be able to attend it or not. Well... does that ring you a bell? It certainly does if you have been a teacher for a while! Events such as one-day seminars, national and international conferences have ,for ages, been considered heaven for those who seek professional development. For the future generation of teachers, though, local workshops and international conferences will no longer be seen as the ultimate source of inspiration . A massive  movement towards the web is changing how people acquire knowledge and share it.
Well, let`s face it, it is undeniable how much technology has gained space in our lives and how virtually impossible it is to ignore it, specially in the professional scene. As a matter of fact, the academic year has just started in Brazil and we are still living that classic period  in the beginning of the term in which everyone  feels inspired to make a list of professional resolutions.  These lists are no secret to anyone, we actually enjoy sharing our aspirations and aims and sometimes even add a few more resolutions to our own lists based on what we hear from other colleagues. The lists are as colorful and diverse as the number of teachers, there is a myriad of goals, but from I have recently noticed, most resolutions, in a way or another, go around a common denominator: technology. Sometimes their resolutions are explicit as wanting to learn how to use a tablet in class effectively, which new web tools to be used for upcoming class activities, or as elementary as how to make and upload a slide presentation to the school`s wiki or  make a profile in a social network to interact with workmates and students. Some teaches have resolutions that apparently have no connection to technology itself, but sometimes they don`t realize that the answers to their worries might be found through technolgy.
As it has been aforementioned, there is a massive movement towards the web for both sharing and learning. Little by little teachers realize that the web has more to offer than just diversion. I have learned that the web has an unequaled power to re-design one`s academic and professional perspectives and it is my intention, here, to offer you a few suggestions I have tried  myself. This post is dedicated to those who want to learn more about educational technology, those who want to learn how to take more advantage of the web for academic and professional purposes and to those who apparently believe this post does not relate to any of their personal list of resolutions and are waiting for the next seminar in  town in the hope of attending a session that will  address their favorite issues.

Here are a few suggestions how you can revamp your carreer in 2013:

1.  Join a Facebook group
Did you know that besides keeping you connected to your friends and updated with what is going on in their  lives , Facebook also offers great opportunities to interact with  other professionals who share similar interests? Just go to the search area at the center top of your profile page and type in an area or topic of interest. Facebook will instantly show you many options of groups, pages and profiles that relate to your search. Visit a few and join in the one you like best. In these groups, teachers share interesting links, articles, news about upcoming events, great Youtube vídeos, etc. Here are five great suggestions to get started:

Mobile Learning
Online Teaching and Learning



2. Use Twitter to follow well-known successful professional and institutions

Nowadays top notch professional and institutions have a profile on Twitter. There, they share articles and blog posts, give tips,  advertise courses and inform  us on upcoming relevant events. So, go to the search space and check if those professionals you`ve always admired have a Twitter account and start following them. Tip: don`t forget to take a look at the list of users who follow and are followed by that profile. You might  even discover profiles that are more interesting than the ones you were originally looking for!
Here are 10 profiles worth following:

ShellyTerrell
@edutopia
@MyWeb4Ed
@Marisa_C
@VanceS
@hopreah
@NikPeachey
@carlaarena


3. Attend webinars

Also known as virtual conferences or online workshops, webinars are a fantastic way to invest in your professional recycling. They are usually free, last between 30 and 60 minutes and are delivered by the same incredible speakers you usually meet in important events. Webinars are highly interactive: you can write messages and questions in a chat box and some even allow you to speak using your microphone. Many sessions are recorded, allowing you to view them later as many times as you wish and presenters usually make their slides available for downloading. Isn`t it awesome? Give webinars a try , you shall be positively surprised!
For EdTech lovers:

Upcoming webinars delivered by Shelly Terrell every Friday (6:00 p.m Brasilia time): http://www.livebinders.com/play/play/292127
(Don`t forget  to check the recordings of past webinars. Fantastic material!)

2013 TESOL virtual seminars (paid for non-members). Check out the schedule:

Serendipity and Fine Focus Webinars
 There is no list of upcoming session topics once many of them are decided by the users the moment the webinar starts. I tried it once and I was very surprised that the whole session was on the topic I had suggested. It was a very nice experience and learning took place through the interaction among participants and moderators.

4. Take an online course

If you are looking for a more in-depth professional development experience on the web, consider taking an online course. You don`t need to be a tech expert to take these courses but they require a good deal of self-discipline and dedication, specially when you do it for the first time.  So, my tip is to start with a free course that lasts for a few weeks only and then, after you get the hang of it, go for the ones that are paid or require commitment for longer periods.

Coursera
You may have heard of MOOCs before: Massive Open Online Courses. In a partnership with top universities around the globe, Coursera offers many courses for anyone to take for free. Unique experience for those willing to take courses offered by prestigious institutions , such as University of Michigan, Columbia, Princeton, Stanford, just to name a few. Check out the link for courses in the area of education:


SEETA
SEETA stands for Southeastern Europe Teachers Association and gathers several professional from around the globe interested in professional development. It is a very active association that, from time to time, starts forums and discussions on relevant themes and offers webinars and online courses, all for free!  In order to have access to everything, SEETA requires that you sign up as a member ,which, by the way, can be done at no cost. 

TESOL
TESOL is one of the largest and widely known associations for English teachers with ramifications all over the world. This means that what they offer to the teaching community is definitely reliable and of good quality. Their courses are not very cheap but are delivered by the top professionals in the field.

For those who are not willing to spend cash but still want to take courses supported by TESOL, the Electronic Village Online (EVO) is a great alternative. The free courses are offered every January and last for 5 weeks. Take a look at what was offered this year! Don`t forget to join their mailing list so that you can get a reminder for next year`s sessions!

The Consultants-E
Nickly Hockly, Shelly Terrell, Gavin Dudeney and Lindsay Clandfield  are some of the names that you will find in this stellar team of professionals. The Consultants-E probably offers the best online courses in the field of educational technology. If that is your area of interest, then you must know about these guys and take one of the courses they offer. They are definitely worth the investment! 
Here is a nice tip: for some courses, you can apply for a full-tuition scholarship!

5. Browse through the web

In the past , if you wanted to read articles or learn content in your areas of interest, you had to buy books or subscribe to journals and magazines. Now, you can go to a search engine, type in a few words and discover  a whole new world. There are excellent  blogs, pages and online journals with fantastic reading material. If you can`t find any blogs in your area of interest, how about starting one? Here are a few of my favorite picks for your appreciation:


As you can see, you don`t need to wait days, weeks or months to attend the next seminar or  spend lots of money to invest in the next move towards your carreer development. The web offers countless opportunities for continuing learning and sharing experiences like never seen before.  These five suggestions cater to  different professionals with different interests. If technology itself is not your goal, you can still use it to find people, groups, communities, blogs, pages and  networks of professional with similar quests. As a matter of fact, most of my own PLN (Personal Learning Network) comes from the sources mentioned in this blog post. How did I learn about their existence?  By chance while networking with different professionals in Twitter and Facebook.If you are thinking about ways of revamping your professional life in 2013, consider taking advantage of all the web can offer! 

Vinicius Lemos


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Reading Recommendations for English Teachers



Dear teachers,

I strongly recommend two articles I've recently read in the Times. One is about how British English is more and more present in conversations in the USA. Very funny and, after all, pertinent to our discussions regarding whose English we speak after all.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/11/fashion/americans-are-barmy-over-britishisms.html?pagewanted=all
 
The other article refers to teachers' evaluations in the USA and how this issue has gained importance lately.

Hope you enjoy them!

Monday, October 01, 2012

Roaming Mode & Productivity Tools for Busy Educators

Educators are are always on the move. In many different ways.

In class, we move around to connect to our learners and assess their activity during the tasks.  We ask our students to do the same, moving, standing up, connecting to peers for the sake of keeping them attentive and interactive.

Many English teachers have more than one job, so they need to constantly commute to go from one class to the other, sometimes even going from one part of the city to the other extreme. Even when educators are full-time teachers in an institution, they have to move from one class to the other, one break time to the next. Circulating is part of an educator´s daily job. An itinerant life at its best.

Peseux calibre 320 movement Not to mention our roaming mode, trying to juggle the intensity of school work and our personal lives. There´s no need to say that the golden asset for an educator is time. The currency that we always lack and long for more. As there´s no magic trick to extend the number of hours we have in a day, the only viable solution is to find ways to enhance our productivity and efficiency. Educators need to realize they should be managers of their own time, and good ones!

If somebody asked me the toolkit that could optimize an educator´s urgency to better manage his life, I´d start by exploring four! Four seems to be a manageable number for exploration.
An educator´s toolkit should be composed of tools that are cross-platform, working in different devices and operational systems. So here´s a basic toolkit to get started:


EVERNOTE - Your virtual notebook. You create your notes, to-do lists, lesson plans and aggregate them in one single place. Once you download the app to your cellphone, desktop computer, laptop, and you create an account in Evernote, all your notes are automatically synchronized, which means that important moments, documents, ideas, and visuals are kept portable. Wherever you go, you can access them. Evernote is a powerful tool to organize your main resources, be it professional or personal, and easily retrieve them.
Check the Epic Experiment the Nerdy Teacher is doing with his students using Evernote: http://www.thenerdyteacher.com/2012/07/epic-evernote-experiment-edchat.html



DROPBOX - Your virtual flashdrive. Dropbox, just like Evernote, works in the cloud, synchronizing all the files you add to it with all your devices (cellphones, laptops, desktops). When I want to open any file in my iPad, for example, I just add it to my dropbox and open it in my iPad, using the Dropbox app. It stores all my main files and you can share folders and files with whomever you want, including your students and family members! You can share files and folders.
Here´s an example of some questions I used in class with my students: https://www.dropbox.com/s/6oy4ssy65mkf7iq/Indirect%20questions.doc



FLIPBOARD - Your virtual newsstand. My favorite app ever! It works on cellphones and tablets. What makes it a very special tool is that in one single place, you can aggregate all your social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader...), and you can subscribe to specific news feeds, specialized sites, interesting magazines to follow the latest updates. On top of it, the user experience is simply amazing. Though it can add to your productivity and keep you updated on the latest news, you can lose yourself in so many interesting, serendipitous resources that can be a drain to your lack of time. The good thing is that you can always save an article to read it later or email it to yourself and share it with friends and students.



PINTEREST - Your virtual visually-enhanced bookmark. Organize your boards by topic, start following people, grow your personal networks and let the platform and the people behind it filter relevant information for you. You can "repin" relevant resources to your own boards, you can pin interesting links and digital treasures as you browse the Net. Instead of relying on you computer´s favorites, you can now take bookmarking to a more social and fun level.
Here are my Pinterest boards for you to have an idea of how it works: http://pinterest.com/carlaarena/

An educator´s life is always in shifting mode, but with the mobile possibilities we have in our hands, we can better manage our routine on the go and add a more enterprising and enthusiastic feel to the many daily tasks we carry out.

I know, I know... The question is always, "From where do I start?"
First, stop lamenting the time you don´t have! Start by signing up for an account in those platforms, click and touch fearlessly, watch youtube tutorials, ask around or ask me. I´d be more than glad to give you the push you need to be a happier and more productive educator! I´m sure once you dig into this digital exploration, you´ll have a smile on your face to have worked on your own personal and professional survival toolkit.



Cross-posted at http://collablogatorium.blogspot.com