Task 6d: Basic brain concepts, teaching and learning
How as teachers and learners can we maximize the chances of creating the right connections, lasting communication between all these multiple parts of our brains? There might be many answers to this question but I guess that for now it could be familiarity and repetition, the more a specific circuit, network or connection is fired, the higher the chances it would become automatic and imprinted in memory, and the more variation in stimulus, the higher the chances to establish different paths to strengthen the connection. I did not know some years ago, for example, that water was a much needed brain food and that drinking juice was not the same as drinking plain water. Since then, I am drinking more water and less liquids of other sources and have passed this info. to people around me, especially my students and family members, who very often just drink pop sodas all day and do not often see the relationship between nutrition, the brain and learning.
The Brain that changes itself
EVO 2013: Neuroscience in Education
Even if I am not formally teaching anymore, it is always great to meet colleagues in these wonderful sessions, learn tons, participate whenever I can and enjoy this special time of the year, every year. A perfect start for 2013 !!!
Task 5: The Technology Integration Matrix (TIM)
Excellent resource ... full of information. It will take me a while to explore. Love the videos I have seen so far with activities :-)
I would say that after some years of trying to set up the conditions to put many ideas into practice and get to an authentic-transformation, I sort of achieved it only because I created a specific course for it at the university I worked for; it was an elective EFL writing course with very few students and a lot of motivation. The research led to a promotion thesis to Full Professor. In the regular EST reading courses I taught where I had 30 freshman students -many with limited access to Internet- and a required set of goals, materials, tests, etc., I hardly got to a collaborative-adaptation level, if I was lucky. We cannot take "access to resources" for granted; it should not block us completely but it is a reality we have to deal with.
"The Technology Integration Matrix (TIM) illustrates how teachers can use technology to enhance learning for K-12 students. The TIM incorporates five interdependent characteristics of meaningful learning environments: active, constructive, goal directed (i.e., reflective), authentic, and collaborative (Jonassen, Howland, Moore, & Marra, 2003). The TIM associates five levels of technology integration (i.e., entry, adoption, adaptation, infusion, and transformation) with each of the five characteristics of meaningful learning environments. Together, the five levels of technology integration and the five characteristics of meaningful learning environments create a matrix of 25 cells as illustrated below."
Electronic Village Online 2012: Digitools with Purpose
This year I decided to register in the 'mother' session "Becoming a Webhead" but also decided to participate in Digitools with purpose in the classroom.
As part of assignments for week one, I created an introduction of myself using animoto and then transferred it to Youtube. The free account of Animoto only let's you make 30 second videos. But if you request an account for educators, they give you a free trial pro account for a year :-)
Here it is:
Not again ... I have not posted anything here in a year !!!
Yes, since I retired two years ago, I have not posted much in this, my first blog from BaW2006. There have been major changes in my life since then but I am glad I still keep this on, just in case :-)
Happy new year, everyone !!!
A new year, new beginnings :-)
On brain strokes
My Color Twin Webhead, Nina, has a very interesting post and video in her Wordpress blog, I recommend.
21st century skills: Empathy an important one
Empathy, such an important skill to have in the past, present and future, regardless of where the world is turning to ...
On social networks and my internet anxiety ...
In a world where people in their late twenties -like my children- cannot imagine how their parents could work in the past without Internet, mails, even a computer for writing a memo, and our grandchildren are born with an i-phone or a blackberry by their side, sliding pictures intuitively or by imitation with their tiny fingers ... we can't escape change and social networks have become an integral part of our lives, whether we like them or not.
Nowadays I don't blog as much as I used to, except when I set up class blogs or wikis for my students. I don't have time to be looking for new tools to be discussed in my personal blog anymore and I don' t want to be re-copying what others are finding to fill a space. I have not made an effort to make others follow my sites and prefer to quietly read what the "experts" in the area are into. When I have a specific need to help my students, I simply Google to find what I want, or so I think. I prefer to use fewer tools that I can handle well than the newest gadget that just came up into existence. But I am always suffering from FOAMS, fear of always missing something , and SONGCOP (just made it up), shame of not giving back to communities of practice where I have learned so much ...
I am always amazed at how certain social tools gain popularity and are widely used. Phenomena such as Twitter and Facebook are beyond imagination. Who would have guessed? I probably do not blog as much, for example, because Facebook has taken precedence in my personal life to stay connected with family and friends all over the world: a daughter in Canada, a son in Australia, a niece in Germany, another in London, one more in Illinois, and most important of all, a husband in Bogota while I am usually in Caracas ... so sharing pictures and keeping updated with the political situation in Venezuela seem to take most of my free time at the moment. I do not twitter much but follow a couple of lists, especially from the university student movement and their political actions, and national news.
All these networks seem to grow unpredictably beyond their original idea into monsters of what seems to be random information but with amazing possibilities to those who can see through it with their special glasses. As Vance Stevens says (although in a different context), it is fascinating "how a system so prone to chaos and entropy so often works through the wisdom of the crowds that populate it to keep the pieces loosely joined all heading in the same direction."
Just checked the tagging page for evomlit (spezify) and, wow, it looks quite nice. It seems like a combination of Pageflakes and a kind of tag reader :-)
Once again a meeting with old and new friends for six weeks, how exciting is that :-)
This time, Grandma matters will take away most of my time. I retired just 2 months ago from university after many years of teaching and now have a newborn granddaughter and a dear daughter who needs my help in this commonly stressful stage of life, more so as she lives abroad and away from her roots and family.
I decided to "lurk" in Becoming a Webhead, the mother group; and will try to be a bit active in Multiliteracies.
We'll see how it goes :-)
Long time, no post ...
Despite my crossover to Motime and Wordpress, I find Blogger has improved the most, it is still free and it is very easy to handle both for my students and myself :-)
I owe tons to the EVO organization and the caring and expert Webheads group. Not only have I been able to learn what teaching for the future of digital natives mean, but I have been able to do innovative work in my classroom which has been recognized in my workplace with three different awards (two university professor's awards in 2005 and 2008; and one professor's association teaching award in 2009).
I feel closer to my students, their way of life and definitely closer to my own son and daughter, and probably my future grand daughter. Last but not least, I have made great connections with mindlike friends all over the world and have worked collaborativey with some of them.
I am looking forward to the next EVO sessions in January 2010 ;-) I am excited to learn what has been going on in the past year and what I have missed and could be valuable in my students' future and mine too.
Three aspects in my teaching I find interesting
My young freshman engineering students starting a new phase in their lives at a very demanding university.
My creative, supportive and assertive colleagues always willing to try whatever will improve our courses.
My institution which requires me to combine teaching and research to the best of my abilities.
(Mini-saga, Week 3 task)
Response to Carla´s and Graham´s papers
First, their suggestion of having a mystery guest is always amusing to students. I remember that as a mystery guest Carla had Dennis Oliver from Arizona in one of her courses a couple of years back and it was a complete hit. Students were eager to ask questions and find out more about him and they all established a very tight and friendly relationship learning a lot from one another and being in contact with "real" people outside their classroom. I have not been a mystery guest but have written comments to almost all students from some Webhead classes such as Jane Petring, Nina Liakos, Jose Antonio, Erika and Susana Canelo, among others. It takes me a lot of time but I enjoy the exchanges, the fact that they get to meet a person from another country who might think similarly to them or simply who is interested in READING their posts and responding to their replies. It gives authenticity to their learning.
Second, I agree with Graham about correcting students´ work before they publish their posts or as data to be analyzed in class with students. In my particular case, I see blogging as an opportunity to let students express themselves freely so I would not correct anything they write in their personal blogs, unless the mistake interferes with meaning. In a student-teacher conference I would check with each student their posts and would take advantage of this time spent with them to revise and correct some.
Finally, using blogs in an educational setting takes a lot of time and dedication. To get the ball rolling, teachers have to read every post and leave comments for each student as fast as possible. Participants should also write comments on each others blogs but the teacher should model this task. Timing is a key element since immediate reinforcement makes students feel taken into consideration and can help establish a special bond between students and teacher. Comments should motivate students and should relate directly to what they wrote in the post to make them see their writing had an effect on readers and the message was understood.
An authentic activity that could be carried out through blogging is simply to have a sort of input (text to read, video, slideshow or picture on a specific topic, questions on a topic) and then have students react to it in a personal way relating it to their own experience. Here is an example In this particular one, it was a class blog to introduce students to blogging before they opened their own blogs but posts here were used for stirring up writing anyway.
My introduction in EVO´s Collaborative Writing
I have taught EFL English in different settings (in-company courses in Italy and Venezuela, to professionals at the training center of the national oil company and at three universities). For the past 16 years I have worked in the Language Department of Universidad Simon Bolivar where I have also held different administrative positions (Coordinator of Freshman studies, Head of Department, etc.) I think I already mentioned to the group that I am currently associate profesor but just submitted my promotion thesis to full profesor on socioculturally oriented EFL writing by means of web 2.0 tools. It is still under evaluation and I owe all I know about this research area to EVO, and especially to the Webheads in Action.
When I saw this session, I got really excited and immediately signed up. I expect to meet colleagues from all over the world who would like to take part in international projects where students from different cities could be able to practice writing in a collaborative environment and to learn together about new possibilities in EFL writing teaching and learning in a sociocultural environment.
The photos? Too many, right? I am very visual and love pictures. My office on the upper right, collage of reading and writing students (in computer lab) last July, our main library building, student protest in 2007 in favor of democracy and against the present government, and finally two students with me during consultation hours last term.
I am bleiva2003 in yahoo, gmail, skype, messenger, delicious, etc.
I am excited to be here with all of you. Let the learning begin!!!
I am excited to be here with all of you. Let the learning begin!!!
Using Word Processors in the EFL classroom
Having read both the articles, Vance Stevens and Renata Chylinski, the idea of teaching word processing and writing skills together is quite surprising, although it seems to be a valid idea.
As Kenan and Sedat have mentioned, students with no connection to Internet could benefit from word processing since it is an excellent way to handle collaborative writing and if the task is motivating to them, they will enjoy working together. However, in some cases if they don't have access to Internet, chances are they might not have access to a computer either, unless the institution provides them with space in a computer lab or if they work in the teacher's office. So it might not be very effective to use Microsoft Word in all cases.
With regard to Renata's piece, the same activities could be achieved with Hot Potatoes or any other tool where one can play around with graphics and words to fulfill a specific objective. The use of word processing for the particular tasks Renata mentions does not seem completely pertinent.
We both feel this approach is not relevant for our own students. Most of them are adult learners who use computers and so practice word processing in their native language at work all day. Their English is generally at the B2 level and above. We are convinced that they know already how to use the basic functions of Microsoft word or other word processing programs. They probably know more about them than we do, especially on German computers in the case of Sheila. In Bertha's case, her students have preferred Googledocs once they know it works online. In individual teacher-student conferences, she has learned a great deal from her students and has been able to enjoy sitting next to digital natives at work. They pick up everything related to technology really fast and use tools well.
There are nice activities in Vance's article that can be followed using Word as a tool. Vance's article, however, seems to have been more relevant for students in the late 90s or early 2000s. Students nowadays might not be so in need to be "taught" word processing skills while learning English. Of course each group of students is different and maybe it would be good to have them share their tips on how to use Word while writing collaboratively on a topic and sharing will probably come up naturally.
One or two of Vance Stevens ideas could be used, particularly the ones from Claire Bradin. (By the way Sheila could not get that link to work in Firefox). Students could work on the group's errors, though they would have to do this for homework as there are no computers in the classrooms. Peer correction is not popular with most of these groups as they do not like to criticize a fellow student, but if the errors were anonymous then they might be prepared to correct them.
Sheila can see a possibility of using cross class interviews especially across cultures if this were possible, this might work well in a blog.
Another exercise to use with exam classes might be jumbled texts where occasional sentences have to be replaced. This could replicate an exercise in the exam and could prove very useful, again for peer correction.
Having PC’s, especially with internet connection, in class is a dream for Sheila, the best they get is her laptop and her personal connection stick to give the students access to an online dictionary.
Some of the activities that could be assigned - either using Microsoft Word, Googledocs or any other collaborative tool- are the following:
- narrate an event where both students were present (another class, Election Day, a national celebration) mixing their experiences in the texts.
- write a poem on a topic they agree or disagree with.
- write the editorial of a newspaper on top areas to be improved in their community, institution, country, the world, etc., and ways to achieve this.
- write an ad about their country trying to persuade readers to visit it.
- write about things they wish they had known about when they were children.
Changing my format to new Blogger
I noticed I cannot embed in the new Blogger the slideshow of 2006 participants because there is no function in the header of the new layout to write html codes, so I will probably lose the slides I love so much from participants in these two EVO sessions ... Maybe I should delete it completely ... We´ll see. I feel it holds dear memories from one of my first blogs. The first I ever opened (2005) only has one entry, ha, ha. I never wrote in it again. The second fulfilled important administrative purposes as the site for onlline institutional reflecttion on our university´s freshman programs. It was quite successfull at its time.
I have opened blogs in Motime and Wordpress but Blogger is still my favorite as it is the easiest to set up, it is free, has no limits as to the number of pictures or videos to upload, offers a lot of technical support, requires little skill for students or teachers to use them, it does not crash or is off service for long, and so many other advantages that one does not realize until one tries other services.
Although I had set up personal blogs, it was a year ago that I decided to have a class blog for my reading courses. Here is an example of the one my students and I are using at this very moment: http://usbreading2.blogspot.com/
I intend to post a couple of entries while I participate in some EVO sessions this year ;-)
Last touches of my promotion thesis ...
After having spent a sabbatical year as a visiting professor at the University of Toronto where I was surrounded by experts such as James Cummins, Merryl Swain and Alister Cumming, I became in contact with the Canadian view of Activity Theory and the sociocultural aspects of Vygotsky´s tenets, a broader view of constructivism.
On the other hand, in the past three years I have participated not only in the EVO Becoming a Webhead sessions but in many other groups that prepared me to handle wikis and blogs as well as other Web 2.0 tools in my courses. These sessions also allowed me to meet many colleagues from all over the World, an opportunity that made posible two international collaborations with students in Sacramento California and also in Nagasaki, Japan. I learned a lot from this experience and so did my students and theirs.
Now I am in the final stage of writing up the last chapters of my thesis about the online collaborative writing course I set up during the third term of the academic year (April-July 2008) where seven students actively participated to reflect on their EFL writing, what it means to write in a foreign language and ways to self-monitor and correct their own texts. This is an example of the activities and materials for our first week of class. My deadline to hand it in is October 15th and I think it will be ready, hooray, yippee, woo-hoo, yahoo ;-) !!!
Show yourself Widget
Now, I found in Bee´s Dekita.org site a tool called Gregarius which is said to be a web based RSS/RDF/ATOM aggregator which can be run from one´s web server in order to have access to the sites we want. This is how Dekita aggregates the blogs of students in different projects. I thought it was an interesting idea, but I am not 100% of how innovative it is yet.
Best sites of 2008
These were the winners in the 2008 Webware contest. Readers selected this 100 Web 2.0 application sites. Which ones have you used?
Ning, pageflakes, 21classes ... which one?
Have you used any effectively in your ESL/EFL courses? I would love to know.
Sonific ... adding a musical widget
I have been using pop and rock songs for more than 25 years successfully in my EFL classroom and this year I am participating in the music EVO session and just found sonific.com. It lets you select songs and generate html code to embed their widget in your blog. I could not find my favorite artists, though. Anyway, here is the one I just created. I hope you find it helpful too.
Latest news: Sonific is going off line in may 2008. A better source for embeddable songs is Radioclub. I have a post about it here.
Comments on blogging by students
Clocks, clocks, clocks ...
One can learn about one´s real age, life expectancy, world clock, etc. It is free, requires no membership, and contains no popup windows. One can create a home page with a search engine, dictionary, thesaurus, encyclopedia, maps, calculator, games, etc.
Here it is:
Jigzone ... puzzles
To create yours, go to jigzone and register, then create an album by uploading a photo from your computer files. I has many different formats and piece quantities. The page generates the code to embed the puzzle. Enjoy.
A blog worth visiting ...
A voice thread to embed in one´s blog
A must in education: shifting paradigms
One hundred dollar computer
Wonderful treasures ... Joe Dale´s blog
Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us
Siemens presentation on Feb. 15th
Finally some snow in Toronto
Saturday I attended a Colloquium at Victoria College and decided to take some pictures around. I come out so seldom that had not realized snow had gradually accumulated, especially in the past two days.
The place I live in has a subway station downstairs and OISE, at University of Toronto, has a subway station entrance at the basement too, how convenient is that for a person from the tropics, eh?!?
Slideshare ... trying it at Blogger
This is a presentation about Brain-based learning I gave at Ventesol 2005 in Maracaibo, Venezuela. Please give me the deserved credit if you ever use it in front of an audience or class. Thanks.
I Didn't Know You Could Do That with Free Web Tools
I found this Wiki by Alan Levine, where he gives ideas on adding notes inside flickr photos (thus creating a potential pictionary), drawing with Gliffy and using Slideshare.
This picture was taken by Teacher Dude in Greece, and he made it into a sort of pictionary here using flickr.
I am glad to find there is a page where one can download FREEMIND for free. These are some of the uses listed in its Wiki:
1) Keeping track of projects, including subtasks, state of subtasks and time recording
2) Project workplace, including links to necessary files, executables, source of information and of course information
3) Workplace for internet research using Google and other sources
4) Keeping a collection of small or middle sized notes with links on some area which expands as needed. Such a collection of notes is sometimes called knowledge base.
5) Essay writing and brainstorming, using colors to show which essays are open, completed, not yet started etc, using size of nodes to indicate size of essays. I don't have one map for one essay, I have one map for all essays. I move parts of some essays to other when it seems appropriate.
6) Keeping a small database of something with structure that is either very dynamic or not known in advance. The main disadvantage of such approach when compared to traditional database applications are poor query possibilities, but I use it that way anyway - contacts, recipes, medical records etc. You learn about the structure from the additional data items you enter. For example, different medical records use different structure and you do not have to analyze all the possible structures before you enter the first medical record.
7) Commented internet favorites or bookmarks, with colors and fonts having the meaning you want.
Posting video: Photobucket
Using picturetrail to make a photo cube
For one, I have abandoned Blogs, Wikis, Podcasting and Videos. I just follow some discussions in the Webhead Community where I lurk whenever I can. My most active cyberfriends have progressed tremendously as shown by their contributions to the group and the quality of their sites. I thank them for their continuous generous support and ever kind words of encouragement ... Uhhhh, I have a lot of catching up to do.
Recently I came across a blog by a fellow university professor on sabbatical , mj, who described exactly the uneasiness I have had for the past month, a feeling of not doing enough. "There are good days and bad days, even on sabbatical" she says and her word of wisdom is "sabbaticals aren't that different, at base, from ordinary life ... there are the same number of productive and unproductive days as before". I hope too high expectations don´t make me lose track of my goals and end up spoiling a once in a lifetime opportunity.
"A lot of women are happy to stay home and be housewives"
Women in Venezuela
Weather and clothing in Venezuela
When my husband and I were doing our graduate work in Boston, many professors and classmates wore shorts and sandals during the summer and some even took their shoes off in class (in the streets, in parks, on buses). For us it was a complete cultural shock!!!
... sunny almost all year round
What you see is not always what you get ...
This is the magnificent view I wake up to every morning. Rain or shine, the imposing and majestic Avila Mountain is always there, even if hidden behind dense clouds. In a city of five million people full of high-rise buildings, rush-hour traffic jams, permanent political conflict and surrounded by slums, it is a natural oasis where multicolor butterflies dance in the air, turpial birds are in tune with swinging bamboo clusters and large tall trees waltz to the cool breeze that embraces this natural giant.
El Avila is part of the northern coastal mountain range that separates the Caracas Valley from the seaside. It rises from the Caribbean Sea to 9,124 feet (2,765 meters). It is a national park that extends 45,000 km2 –an area around the size of Manhattan. Few cities of five million have a national park so close and pristine where you find dense vegetation and crystalline waterfalls and can momentarily leave noise and crowds behind, hike a variety of trails, breathe fresh air and enjoy nature while looking at the scenic view of a complex city of extreme socioeconomic contrasts.