Showing posts with label tefl. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tefl. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

How to Help Adult Learners Deal with the Stress of Speaking


Have you ever had a student in your class struggling to survive until the class is over? Or having a blank when speaking even when they volunteered to participate?  How would you deal with it? This situation can be quite uncomfortable for everyone in class and can be a good reason for a student to definitely quit a project of learning a foreign language.

Having difficulties speaking in class or exposing your ideas in another language to others is not uncommon, but suffering almost the whole class period can hamper the learning process and influence the atmosphere of even a light and productive class.  It´s not easy, if not impossible, to measure the degree of stress one is going through, but there are some steps you can take to help students deal with this stress and feel more comfortable in class.

First, the problem has to be spotted.  Many times, what seems to be an ordinary difficulty is, in fact, a freezing sensation that blocks a student´s thoughts and exposes them to their peers. This happened by chance in one of my groups this semester.  A student of mine confessed at the end of a class that she had been suffering the whole class because she was afraid of speaking and that it was always a relief to see that the class was over. I was really surprised. I had noticed she had some difficulties expressing herself, but not that it was so painful. Helping her find the words that escaped from her mind while she was speaking wasn´t always enough to enable her to express her whole message, and adding comments to her broken speech to call the groups` attention to me and ”save” her from her long pauses and embarrassment wasn´t a solution to this problem either.  So, this situation became a challenge to me.

The next step is to approach the student and find out what is causing all the anxiety. This way, the student can not only become aware of the real sources of the problem and face it, but also see the teacher as a support they can count on. Most frequently, the fear of speaking to a group, being on the spot and being negatively evaluated are the causes for anxiety and stress.  The brain´s capacity to process ideas is affected and the situation gets even worse when the required oral production is in another language.  The result is long pauses, stuttering and difficulty in formulating a coherent speech. My student´s case was specifically related to speaking in English, for she had the preconceived idea that she wouldn´t be understood and that her pronunciation and vocabulary were worse than that of her colleagues. 

Finally, show the student concrete techniques to develop their speaking abilities so that they can become more confident and lower their anxiety of speaking.  One way is through improving their listening skills by doing exercises from specific sites, such as Breaking News English, BBC or English Central, watching movies and listening to songs.  Not being able to understand what is being said at normal speed or being afraid of mispronouncing words are barriers to effective communication and also food for failure and nervousness.  Ten to fifteen minutes of listening practice a day will certainly help improve speaking. Also, taking every opportunity in class to practice in pairs and in small groups before speaking to the whole class and changing partners frequently will help the student get used to different accents and speed, and to gain fluency and   confidence as well.  Another helpful tip is to control the speed of speech

When someone is on the spot, their breathing gets faster, they start perspiring, becoming nervous and speaking faster.  Speaking more slowly will provide better breathing and a chance to organize thoughts, hence lowering nervousness. The teacher´s role is crucial to set a light, sympathetic and supportive atmosphere in class, showing interest in and respect for each student´s challenges.  In the case involving my class, although my student was a bit of a perfectionist and took her performance very seriously, she ended up learning to laugh at her mistakes, becoming more relaxed and motivated.


These relatively minor attitudes can make a big difference in the learning process and should be addressed to the whole class in the beginning of the course and reinforced through the whole semester.  


Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Interaction and Learning: A reflection between the mediator teacher, the students and the knowledge




Albert Einstein once said, “I never teach my pupils, I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn”. We all know who Albert Einstein was, but why would he say those words? It is easy to understand when we look at it from a practical perspective. Teaching is not as powerful as creating and finding real opportunities for our students to develop their own knowledge. This is true for all kinds of learning, including English language learning. Among all the skills and contents to be learned, there is the facilitator teacher. Students of English benefit from a teacher-mediated focus on specific language forms, for example. 

Why is this true and what are the factual supports for that statement?

The reason why students of English benefit from a teacher-mediated focus is highly related to how our brains learn. It is interesting to notice that, according to James Zull, deep learning occurs when there is a sequence of experience, reflection, abstraction, and active testing. Whenever we are lecturing, we are not providing our students with the challenge to go through all these stages. To create opportunities for them to learn and deeply acquire the language, for example, is to have them experience it, reflect upon this experience, hypothesize and finally test their hypothesis in an active way. That means that they are doing the job, not us. What Einstein tried to say is that teaching is about exposing knowledge. Learning is about creating knowledge. 

However, if students can create their own knowledge, why would they need teachers?

Students need teachers because although awareness and ability are developed autonomously, there must be an interposing between the communication environment and the students. Only by designing favorable circumstances for the students to interact, they are able to learn. In an attempt to explain the language acquisition, Krashen has stated that it happens through interaction in an environment where the learner has lots of comprehensible input. However, as Vygotsky theorized, the language input must be one step beyond the learner’s proficiency stage. Both, Krashen and Vygotsky agree with the fact that the teacher is a mediator, and the teacher’s role is to provide this favorable learning environment. 

So, how can teachers deal with this situation?

In fact, teachers deal with language acquisition and mediation situations all the time. EFL teachers are not different from that. When EFL students are learning specific structure and use of language forms, for example, their focus might not be the language study itself. According to Harmer, it should take place in a lesson sequence. It is the teacher’s responsibility to design a lesson that supports all the learning opportunities, including the ones related to language forms. However, these opportunities are better designed when covered through interaction-based activities. That means that, although the lesson includes language forms, the structures are presented, practiced and produced along with well-designed activities that prioritize interaction.

            A good example to illustrate a situation where a language form is being comprised in a lesson sequence is the following. Last year, my group of adults was learning how to make questions with the verb be. They did not know that they were learning about this because the focus was not on the questioning itself, but on the fact that they had to know about each other's information in order to fill out a survey. Their objective was to complete the sentences:

____________ is married.
___________ is single.
 _____________ is an architect.
 __________ and __________ are from Rio. Etc.

In order to complete the sentences, they had to interview their classmates. To get the right answers, they were supposed to invert the be sequence and form questions. Although they were not aware of the syntax rules for question formation, they could follow a model and apply the logical conclusion to all the sentences. For example, the model on the board was:


Are you married?

With only that model, they could produce all the other questions, practice the new structure and grasp the rule by themselves. There was no deductive explanation and the focus was not on the structure, but on the task.

Every learning process benefits from a facilitator teacher that creates real opportunities for learning to happen. Being a facilitator means making appropriate stimuli available for interaction to take place. It is only by mediating the interaction between the content and the learner that deep learning takes place. Mediating knowledge is helping our students go beyond their proficiency stage. Although teachers may focus on specific structures, the lesson objective must be interaction. It is the teacher’s role to design effective lessons that build an invisible bridge between the structure and the students’ communication in class.

Juliana Canielo de A. Benedetti

Read more:
Jeremy Harmer ( 2007) The Practice of English Language Teaching.
James E. Zull (2002) The Art of Changing the Brain.
Stephen D. Krashen (1987) Principles and practice in Second Language Acquisition
Lev S. Vygotsky (1987) The collected Works


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Positive Psychology applied to EFL



Here I am again to talk about Positive Psychology and its application to our classrooms.  In 2006, a little before I began my Doctorate in Psychology from the University of Brasília, I heard that I should think twice before assuming such a decision because a Doctorate was a long term commitment and that it involved a lot of suffering.  Also, some people would come to me with stories of doctorate students losing hair, putting on many kilos, or even falling into a state of depression. Nevertheless, I was determined to be a candidate and if accepted, to carry on with my goal.
It turned out to be that I was accepted and very soon, I began to feel guilty for not suffering at all. Actually, I cherished every single moment of my being at University, doing research, having contact and discussions with knowledgeable people, and learning, learning a lot. So if you ask me what my story has to do with Positive Psychology, I will tell you that it is the very essence of this area of Psychology. Learning cannot and should never ever be related to suffering. Learning is discovering, expanding, flourishing. Then let´s see how Positive Psychology may be applied to EFL teaching and learning. Below, I will suggest three exercises I have already carried out with success, and I invite you to try with your own classes.
Gratitude
Research shows that gratitude can be trained and increased. Interventions may result in a positive state of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness, and energy. So I got my teen students into a circle to discuss the idea of Thanksgiving. Not everyone actually knew how and when it had begun and what individuals did in such a celebration. After showing them a video from YouTube, I asked each one to write a short paragraph about a person who has had a positive impact on their lives and who they were thankful to. When they had finished, I asked volunteers to telephone the person they had written about and to read the exact words on the paper. That´s when the magic occurred. There was a lot of emotion and tears involved. One of the girls preferred to write about a peer who was present in class.  As she read her beautiful and revealing statement, the whole class was involved in a unique and memorable exercise.

What went well ? Living positive education.
General well-being—how much positive emotion, how much meaning in life our students have is fundamental for the generation of success. Learning to value must start early and can be practiced in any educational environment. Students should have opportunities to speak about themselves and to open their souls and hearts to others. It provides synergy among class members a sense of togetherness, engagement and happiness. Finally, teachers should bear in mind that academic success is not only a function of academic knowledge or cognitive processing. Success is a function of the connections to self, others, and the world that shapes our brain.

The magic ball-making compliments
Students should be standing in a circle. Then, the teacher should start and throw the ball at a student and make a genuine compliment at him/her. The students would carry on with the activity until everyone has had the chance to throw the ball and hear impressions and compliments. The activity involves emotional strength, when students recognize the relationships, and applaud personal accomplishment.


So dear teacher, remember that teaching in joyful and supportive ways is the best means to learning. Thus, I am here to invite you to try differently and practice the conditions that nurture strengths that enable students to self-regulate. I invite you to assure students can find their own meaning in learning and distinguish between achievement and accomplishment. Build your students capacity to flourish

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Positive Psychology


Last year I first heard of Positive Psychology during a course I attended at UnB, and believe me, it was love at first sight. Just like its founder, Prof Martin Seligman, I found my motto and what was missing in Psychology. But let me begin from the beginning and explain what Positive Psychology is and is not.

For over 50 years, Psychology has had a pathology- based view on human functioning, which has proved to be really valid. A wide range of mental illnesses have been described and categorized. Psychologists can now not only identify, but treat and even cure one or another mental problem.  And psychologists and other experts have been able to produce a compendium of disorders, now the DSM- V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). But it is about time to shift interests and to get away from repairing damage or healing only, to developing positive qualities. What about the positive aspects of human experience? What is right in human beings that promote well being?

Positive Psychology is a relatively new field of Psychology that examines how people can become happier and more fulfilled. It is the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals to thrive. Human beings want to lead a meaningful life and enhance their experiences of love, work and play. Positive features that make life worth living, such as hope, wisdom, creativity, future mindedness, courage, spirituality, responsibility, and perseverance have been ignored or explained as transformations of more authentic negative impulses. Then positive psychology has been trying to understand and build factors that allow individuals and communities to flourish.
However, it should not be understood as the science of happiness. Nor should it be mistaken with self-help philosophies. It is based on a cumulative body of scientific research. 

Also, positive psychology is not only about thinking positively. To think so is really naive. Part of the misinterpretation comes from the book titles on happiness. According to Dr. Seligman, “a complete science and a complete practice of psychology should include an understanding of suffering and happiness, as well as their interaction, and validated interventions that both relieve suffering and increase happiness— two separable endeavors (Seligman et al., 2005).”  

Then how can we apply it to EFL? It is well known that a positive school climate predicts both the teacher and student satisfaction. If the teacher invests in positive psychology, he/she will have students in class who have a positive outlook, try hard, and help others, present fewer negative behaviors and greater motivation. So positive psychology teaches social and emotional learning skills that change how much -- and how well -- students learn by changing how they feel. In my next post, I will be describing a few exercises that teachers could do in the classrooms.

Patrícia Villa da Costa Ferreira-PhD


Wednesday, April 08, 2015

mLearning - Using iPads with Kids - Apps and Activities


Though it is clear nowadays that learning can be engaging and dynamic with the use of technology in the classroom, some teachers still resist using iPads with kids. Many of them still believe students might break the iPads, or feel afraid of losing control over the class.

DARE.
Take a small step by finding a simple, but fun activity. Establish some classroom management rules before handing in the iPads, and make sure you have a clear set of expectations in mind. Don´t be too demanding on yourself. Noise and movement are good. Enjoy monitoring your students as they create and practice English.

Here are some apps to get you in the groove. Enjoy the ride with your digital classes with kids. They will surprise you!



Monday, February 23, 2015

Tips for a Successful Semester Part 2

One of the best things about teaching is that we get to have a fresh start every semester with new groups of students. We can learn from mistakes made in the past with other groups and correct them, and we can incorporate advice from colleagues into our teaching. We have the chance to adapt new trends and ideas to our context and we have novel learning opportunities with the new people we meet in our classrooms.

Isabela Villas Boas

In order to guarantee a happy, peaceful, and fulfilling semester, some simple tips and rules can come in handy. In this sense, we asked CTJ teachers to write short tips for a successful semester. We hope you find them useful and that you have a wonderful experience with your new groups!


Haline Neiva

Let's try to say positive things to our students; give positive feedback; share positive ideas; create a positive environment; be polite to students, parents, and colleagues. This atitude will surely make the semester lighter and easier.

Daniela Lyra



An inspiring post by Katy Cox http://ctjconnected.blogspot.com.br/2015/02/reading-your-students.html - and her checklist to 'read' our learners reminded me of a document a dear colleague gave me many, many years ago. The document consists of a listo f pbservable aspects, and it could be a gret tool for teachers willing to concentrate on the learners and how they respond and behave in class. I will have it printed out and use it as a starting point for my reflecting back on my classes. 


Carolina Godoy

Be yourself - students are not looking for a carbon copy of other teachers, regardless of how much these teachers are appreciated. Network and collaborate. Try to exchange ideas with other teachers and look for solutions to the problems that may arise duting the semester together. As the saying goes, "two heads are better than one". And last but not least, have fun and learn to laugh at yourself. Being optimistic is a choice we can all make. 




Juliana Ulharuzo

Here are a few tips that have worked for me, personally. I don't bake for a reason. Still, maybe some of you will benefit from them.

- Being friendly and firm are not mutually exclusive events. 
- When planning a class remember to cater for your students. Cater for what they like, but prioritize what they need.
- We usually have a lot of exercises to correct (graded exercises, compositions, etc). Try to correct them as soon as students hand them in whenever possible. If you manage do this during your 'breaks' you will end up having more time for yourself on the weekend. 
- Depending on your group profile, sending one or more graded exercises to be finished home may cause you a lot of stress. You know that class when nobody is absent, you have managed to cover the topics being assessed and your graded exercise is already printed out? It does not happen by accident. Plan it, and when the time is right give them time to do the graded exercise in class. 
- Maybe you are an experienced teacher (or not). Regardless, if it is your first semester at the Casa or your first semester teaching a certain level/book, do not hesitate to find out who else in your branch or outpost is teaching the same level. Rely on this person to ask questions and share ideas, materials with. You both will benefit from it.


Patrícia Villa


Remember: connection is the key to a good class atmosphere and, as a result, a nice and smooth semester. Look your students in the eyes and establish genuine relationship.


Wellington Duarte


Make sure you establish very good rapport with your students. Have in mind that theyare the ones you are going to be with once or twice a week for the next 5 months!


Marcos Augusto


Make sure you don't overwhelm your students with dates and procedures right on the first day. Assess your group's profile first, so that you can choose the best course of action.
Juliana Benedetti

Foster students' autonomy. There are many ways to enhance learners' self-determination, and you can use 5 minutes of your class to teach them simple techniques. Ask simple questions and set them as goals.
- How can you improve your language learning?
- How do you manage your time?
- Do you know how to upgrade your memory?


Cláudia Farias

Two basic and yet very important words: motivation and respect. If you are at ease and cheerful at what you´re doing, students will notice that and respond back positively. Respect has to do with being attentive and really interested in what your students are saying, thus making a connection with them. Who doesn´t want to be in a light, exciting and safe environment?


Victor Hugo Alves





My tip is that whatever happens, do not give up on your Sts. We inspire, we represent strengh and we make a difference in their lives. Let's do out best and I wish you all an amazing semester!




Inez Woortmann

What else can I add? Guess all the tips above have to do with 3 really important teacher characteristics that we strive to develop (in our own individual and very personal ways), and which contribute to a much more positive and effective teaching and learning environment: RESPECT - a non-judgmental regard for others; EMPATHY- being able to see things from the other's perspective, and AUTHENTICITY- being ourselves, without hiding behind masks, roles or job titles.









Thursday, February 19, 2015

Tips for a Successful Semester Part 1

One of the best things about teaching is that we get to have a fresh start every semester with new groups of students. We can learn from mistakes made in the past with other groups and correct them, and we can incorporate advice from colleagues into our teaching. We have the chance to adapt new trends and ideas to our context and we have novel learning opportunities with the new people we meet in our classrooms.


Isabela Villas Boas

In order to guarantee a happy, peaceful, and fulfilling semester, some simple tips and rules can come in handy. In this sense, we asked CTJ teachers to write short tips for a successful semester. We hope you find them useful and that you have a wonderful experience with your new groups!





José Antônio

If you happen to have a large group of teens, create a seating chart. Always write names of students on the board before the class begins, varying the chart arrangement to build a learning community. Inform them you will change the chart every two weeks. This helps you memorize students' names and see what combinations are problematic or productive. Have a wonderful semester.



Fransérgio Macedo


It's really worth taking a look at the students' progress in the previous books. This will make it possible for you to identify students that are likely to need your help more than the others in the group. You will also be able to assess in which areas he/she could improve more. This will work for all ages.



Derrick Mulder

Don't head straight for the teacher's room every break. Occasionally take the time to show interest in your students outside class time. Use what you learn about them in subsequent classes to grab their attention. Really pay attention to what they're saying and respond with thoughtfulness. Have fun with your students no matter what.




Eneida Coaracy

Try to ask negative questions more often! For example, after giving directions, ask “Is there anyone who doesn’t understand?” instead of asking “Are there any questions?” Why? Because the second type of question unintentionally targets more responsible students, who are more motivated and more likely to speak. Asking if anyone doesn’t know what to do, you are asking every student to consider your question. It’s a self-checking device that makes students productively uncomfortable.



Rita Avila

Take the first day to develop expectations. Students need to know what is expected of them. Although we don't want to set unrealistic goals that will belittle and frustrate students, we do want a cooperative and functional group, one that strives to do their best. I like to let them outline expectations and rules in small groups first. Then in plenary we put all our contributions together for a poster.



Carla Arena

Making a first great impression is the first step for a glorious semester. Icebreakers that surprise and engage can be an effective starting point for that matter. Check our post at http://ctjconnected.blogspot.com.br/2013/02/icbreakers.html. Take time to learn more about your students, to know their preferences and interests. By doing that, they will feel you really care and you can use what your learn from them during the semester when you give examples, for example.



Magda Mendes
Try to bring nice, beautiful material into class whenever possible. This material can be a video clip, a song, a picture or anything else, but it has to be something beautiful. For example, once I showed my Teens 4 group a video clip with a very talented and "different" violin player, Lindsey Sterling (link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0g9poWKKpbU). Two classes later, one of my students came to me and said he liked the video a lot and that he decided to resume playing the violin, as he had stopped playing it some time before. So, I guess we really never realize how a small thing can touch our students, but I think everyone is touched by beauty. Needless to say that something like this builds a connection between you and your students.


Pedro Tapajós

Don't fall behind with your bureaucracy. At the Casa, the rhythm is intense and non-stop. If you leave that memo or signing up for later, you'll inevitably forget it (or you'll get swamped in activities). Be diligent and get those papers in.



Evania Netto

If you are a new teacher at the Casa, you will probably have questions about how things work. Don´t be afraid of asking questions. People here are really helpful and are always willing to explain how something works. Also, it can be an opportunity to make new friends. :) 



Ana Carenina

Every now and then, try and bring a song to work with your groups. Remember to choose a song with the target vocab / grammar / topic that you've been working with in class. It ends up pleasing all ages! Simple and nice.



Check part 2 tips

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

iPads in the English Classroom: Notability




After using IPads to produce short videos with my students, I became more excited and curious about the power of IPads in the language classroom.  If my students had got all excited about using a simple native app, the camera, what impact could other fascinating apps have on their learning? Therefore, I started attending IPad workshops to become more familiarized with other apps and to learn about other teachers’ experiences with them.  That was how I came across “Notability”, a fun user-friendly app that allows you to write texts through typing or by using “a pen”, to take  pictures and to record texts.  Playing with Notability was really fun, but how could I integrate it into a lesson? As I started a lesson on clothes, I could visualize an effective way to incorporate the use of technology through Notability into my lesson plan. To wrap up the lesson, the students developed a simple project on what their partners were wearing.  Each pair talked about what they were wearing and took each other’s pictures. Then, I showed them how to use notability by producing the model below. 





This is my student. He's Hemmanoel. He's wearing black shoes, jeans, a black belt and a beautiful striped shirt. He's so elegant!


They enjoyed “being  a model”, taking pictures and recording their texts. After they finished the task, they  presented it to the class.  In short, students were excited about working on the iPads and felt proud of their digital production.  Notability allowed them to practice the target structure in a fun and motivating way.




Roberta is wearing a pink
sweater, jeans and beige and
black shoes. She’s beautiful!





This is Eduardo. He's my English course friend. He's wearing gray and
blue sneakers, white socks, blue jeans, a brown belt, a purple shirt,
glasses and a watch.




Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Flying Higher with the iTDI Summer School MOOC for English Teachers

At the end of July (July 20th - August 17th), the iTDI (International Teachers Development Institute) Summer School MOOC for English Teachers offered  four weeks of daily on-line immersion in TEFL teacher development training, delivering one session at a time by the faculty, mentors, associates, and leading community members of iTDI.

This MOOC was my first step on an exciting journey taken with teachers from over 90 countries, learning to be better teachers together.  In the beginning, I felt lost getting started, especially when downloading the course program into my iPAD (Thank you so much, Cláudio Fleury and Danny Lyra, for your precious help!) and handling the initial session details, especially the necessary audio adjustments. Sometimes, I felt as if I were drowning while I was watching the live discussions and struggled to follow the different types of information I’d get on the screen: listening to the presenters who were usually shown in the right upper corner of the screen; viewing the slides display in a larger portion of the screen; and following the comments in the chat room in the lower right corner of the screen. That seemed too demanding for me! I felt like my brain would go out of orbit and burn! But it didn’t.  Thank god, experiencing the so much celebrated plasticity of brain became a concrete reality to me – sometimes at a high energy cost, I must admit.  However, I’ve learned some strategies and now I know I can do it faster and more comfortably next summer.

All sessions were one hour long, live, conducted in a virtual classroom in Wiziq, and included a pre-session task and a post-session quiz. In accordance with the number of sessions one attended, different certificate participation credits were available.  This year’s program included a wide range of topics such as ‘Teaching English Through Art’, ‘Preflective Lesson Prep: Ideas and Inspirations’, and some curiosity-raising ones, such as ‘#Flashmob ELT’. A variety of inspiring teaching specialists - such as Michael Griffin, Anna Loseva, Matthew Noble, Vicky Loras, Rosely Serra and Ana Menezes - were invited to present in one of the 29 daily sessions in this year’s program.

Experiencing doing this MOOC course was certainly a turning point in my career.  Actually, I’m looking forward to watching the recording of the sessions I’ve missed due to the natural rush and usual demands with coachees and related issues in the beginning of the semester. The fact that the sessions were on a daily basis forced me to miss some of them. The good point about this MOOC is that I can catch up and do the rest of the viewing and tasks at my own pace now at the end of our school semester. Yes.  I highly recommend this MOOC for English Teachers. Fly high with iTDI!


Eneida Coaracy

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Daring and doing: the first decade


Professional development is a big deal for us here at the Casa. So much so that we hold our very own yearly seminars, which are attended not only by our local TEFL community but also by professionals coming from different cities and states in Brazil. It is an amazing opportunity to strengthen our "PD muscle" and connect with amazing professionals and individuals from all over the globe. The 2014 edition of the CTJ TEFL Seminar was no different, and yet, it had a special flavor of accomplishment to it, since this year we celebrated its 10th anniversary.

The day began with ESL professor Rob Jenkins' plenary on a topic which never gets old - motivation. Rob reminded us of the importance of successfully developing an atmosphere that fosters student confidence, and that we should always be deeply aware of the difference between teaching and learning. That teaching has to be regarded as a byproduct of learning, and that it is our role as teachers to be deeply aware that what may seem to be great, solid teaching may not necessarily result in learning, especially if we find ourselves teaching lessons in spite of the learners and their individual learning styles, cognitive abilities, and unique personalities.

Later on, I had the pleasure of engaging a group of ten fellow teachers and professionals in my Seminar presentation "On wearing two hats: Teaching and responding to writing". I began my talk explaining how the idea for that session had come up. That it had actually sprung up from a training session I had delivered earlier this year, and from the connections and the contributions made by this group of pre-service teachers who were absolutely motivated to learn more about teaching effective writing lessons, as well as providing effective corrective feedback on students' writings. I also mentioned the fact that I'd begun blogging earlier this year, sharing with them the one feature of blogging that I appreciate the most (other than the fact that I simply love writing), which is the possibility of connecting with others. It was a very productive session, thanks to the amazing contributions made by my colleagues throughout. We got to discuss extremely important concepts when it comes to teaching writing. The first one is how fostering a sense of audience in our students is critical in actually motivating them to write. The second, the awareness that our students are in a quest for finding their voice and that we teachers need to nurture that.

After a lovely lunch (some delicious feijoada) by the Paranoá lake with a dear friend, I had the pleasure of attending an ever so useful session called "Mobile devices in the EFL classroom: What's App 101", delivered/facilitated by fellow teachers Daniela LyraLeonardo Sampaio and Paola Barbieri Hanna. The session began with some very pertinent discussion on the topic of cell phone use in the classroom, and how we deal with excessive student texting during lessons, for example. We also had the chance of clarifying any doubts we had regarding the use and the functions of What's App, followed by some discussion on sensible social media use policy in schools. Daniela Lyra took us through the SAMR model, explaining each of its stages with some practical classroom examples. The session progressed into a more hands-on stage, with each of the facilitators working separately with smaller groups, sharing some extremely engaging activities in which students use What's App in so many effective ways for learning and practicing the language.

It was then time for the last plenary of the Seminar, a virtual plenary delivered by RELOBrazil EFL consultant Heather Benucci. The title of the plenary says it all: "Care and feeding required: Sustaining your personal learning network (PLN)". Heather shared with us some smart strategies for building and sustaining a strong PLN, as well as the countless possibilities of achieving professional development goals with the support of a solid PLN. One particular aspect she discussed called my attention. The fact that, after a while, and after you have managed to build a good PLN, we need to beware of the echo chamber effect. We need to try and diversify our connections by finding professionals and individuals who may not have similar views as our own, and from whom we may actually learn new things and broaden our perspectives, stepping out of the comfort zone. Another highlight of her plenary was an amazing video by Derek Sivers. It reminded me of how I felt before I began blogging and building my beloved PLN.



So, I leave you with this bit:

Maybe what's obvious to you is amazing to someone else.

Ponder that for a while.

Clarissa Bezerra