Showing posts with label reflection. Show all posts
Showing posts with label reflection. Show all posts

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Self-Reflective Piece on One of my EFL Classes with iPads

For the first time ever, I decided to try the book projects with iPads. Until that moment, doing book projects (Teens 6) always involved cardboard paper, colored pens and pencils, glue, ruler, magazines and all the other classroom material available for such a task. But what about classroom management? Would I be able to control my big group of restless teens? Could I trust them to handle the tablets for a specific purpose? Would they know how to get around the device and utilize the specific app proposed? In sum, there were many  questions and few answers.

Therefore, I had to get ready, and my first step was to undergo the iPad Training Session at Asa Norte. In our daily busy routine, it is hard to find the time to go through all the apps available for educational purposes, but I expected to have a better idea of the most used ones in the classroom. Of course, I am still far from mastering every single one of them, but I had the chance of browsing through and by the end of the section, select the most adequate app to offer students for the activity I had in mind. Since I wanted students to prepare posters, I asked them to use
Viz, but they had a second option which was Picollage.
 Students had been told of the date they were supposed to do the book report long in advance, so they had time to read their books and decide if they wanted to do the book project individually or in pairs. On the scheduled day, they were only supposed to bring the books they had read and nothing else.

With iPads in hand, I began the class by showing them the basic devices and the app that I wanted them to use. That was part of my organizational scheme. Students were warned of basic care needed and time available for the project, which was 50 minutes. Also, I wrote the questions I wanted them to answer in the project, which were:
1-What ´s the story about?
2-Who or what are the main characters?
3-How does the story end?
4-Would you recommend it to friends? Why? Why not?
Pictures and organization was up to them and they were free to use their creativity the way they wished. For my surprise and relief, they were acquainted with the app and did not have many doubts. And the ones who were not, had the help of more experienced peers. The student´s sense of collaboration and engagement was overwhelming. Then I was free to help with the English.

The result was superb, and I couldn’t have been happier. The following class, I projected their work in the classroom, and friends had the chance of judging and making comments on each other´s project. Finally, I could feel students were proud of the outcome, and I had the chance of proving iPads relevance for education.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Writing - From Dread to Love

Being a writer used to be one of my greatest passions when I was a child. I always looked forward to having writing classes at school and put great effort on the stories I wrote. Unfortunately, as I grew older, things changed. As pressure over writing became greater and greater, my willingness to write dwindled. Matters became worse when I was asked to write essays in English, for I had never really had a formal education on how to write an essay in that language. As a result, I gradually stopped practicing and, consequently, I found writing to be my weakest skill to the point of feeling really insecure. That was until I took the Teachers Development Course – Writing (TDCW). Taking that course brought my confidence back and taught me much more than I had expected. Reasons for that abound, but I will focus on the ones I consider to be the most important to me.
When people take up the TDCW, they expect to be writing a lot during the course, and that is precisely what happens. Part of the learning process is made through extensive writing, which makes people feel more comfortable and the process more natural. Much of my insecurity came from the fact that I had never really taken the time to practice my English writing. Once I started making that a routine, writing started to become a familiar process until I was accustomed to the methodologies. Moreover, I was taught the nuances and peculiarities of the different kinds of essays, which refined the various aspects of what is expected from a good writer. Therefore, through continuously writing, questioning my results and rewriting, I was able to polish and strengthen my skills.
Since the course is aimed to teachers, one of the most important aspects of the subject is peer correction, and I do believe it to be one of the most amazing facets of the TDCW. Peer correction in writing consists of students reviewing their classmates’ essays and giving suggestions and advices to the writer so he can improve his work. This is such a phenomenal way of learning, for you not only practice through your own essay, but have the chance of reading different styles and points of view on a similar subject. Also, you are able to check your peers’ content and structure, which allows you to work on your teaching skills. Hence, being able to analyze other essays is a superb manner of enhancing both your learning and teaching skills.
This course played a pivotal part in my personal development for so many other different reasons. Being in a blended course, I had to learn how to be more inquisitive and question the subjects I learned instead of being a passive learner who just received the information the teacher gave me. Self-study was essential for me to learn about independence and responsibility. I learned that writing is a personal process, there are different ways of generating ideas and I can find the best way for me to produce my work. A well-structured course and a present teacher who always showed commitment were essential for my development.
It is interesting to notice how my points of view changed in so little time. Two months in the TDCW were enough for me to realize how writing can be a very pleasing experience. I started the course feeling insecure and uncertain of how my development would unfold. I thought I would have so many overwhelming problems and difficulties. I am not saying that I have learned everything. I know that if I want to keep growing, I will have to continue practicing. For this reason, I have recently decided to start my own blog, where I can write about my work and other subjects that I find dear. That was the approach I found to do something that gives pleasure and, at the same time, learn and develop my capabilities. There is still a lot to learn, but there is no fear anymore, only enthusiasm.