Task 6d: Basic brain concepts, teaching and learning

No matter how many times one reads about the brain, one forgets how really complicated, yet simple, it can be. It is amazing how much we know about it, but how little at the same time. One can name the parts of a neuron, how it is supposed to work, how synapses happen and the role of neurotransmitters. Yet, as humans, we have not been able to replicate it and it has been almost impossible to create true artificial neural networks. Chemistry and electricity, impulses and signals, sodium and potassium,  firing, positively charged ions, networks, communication ... a jungle of circuits which make magic happen.

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

An interview with the author of this book Norman Doidge



EVO 2013: Neuroscience in Education

Here we are again, a new year, a new wonderful EVO session: NEUROSCIENCE IN EDUCATION at Edmodo PBworks and Pininterest.

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."

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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:

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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 :-)

Oh my, a full year has passed by and now I have been retired for a year and two months, ha ha. Beautiful grand daughter Andrea is now a year and in her way to daycare, my daughter is going back to work after maternity leave, my mom is 92 and still very active and three of us live in different cities: Bogotá, Sydney, and Toronto. I travel from place to place to visit all and spend some time in Caracas as well. It sounds great, and it is, but I cannot hold an academic activity anywhere so far, but I hope I will. That is why I am back at participating in Evo sessions once more. I have already registered for the mother-session Becoming a Webhead and Digital storytelling to get updated. I am curious to see what the facilitators of "creating vocabulary activities" will have participants do. I am sure all sessions will be as successful as ever. Let the learning begin next Monday :-)

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On brain strokes

Both my dad and one of my brothers had brain strokes with serious consequences. My dad ended up with aphasia and my brother died. I lived very closely to my dad for 6 years and experienced many of his daily struggles with words and communication.

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

I want to include this information here and perhaps go back to Sessums blog once in a while as he has interesting ideas and one of the best blogrolls I have seen with the experts in the area who are at the top of the education game nowadays. I think he is missing from the list one very important person who has had a tremendous effect on ESL/EFL educators all over the world for more than 10 years ;-)

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 ...

I have been very resistant to change most of my life. Since I know this, I always try very hard to be open, force myself to experiment, and embrace innovation desperately, especially in my teaching. On the other hand, I am a very private person and prefer to remain very low profile and social networks demand participation, socialization, sharing, communication, time ... but that's how knowledge is built, connected, created and re-created, right?

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."

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EVO multiliteracies

I am already three weeks behind in reading and activities, oopphhssss !!! But could not stop embedding this powerful video in the starting page of the Multiliteracies group. It summarizes in a visual way what students are going through today as educators want to keep things the way they were in our time and past, and the need to learn how to deal with and use technology to help our students in their future. So far I set up my Ning page and hopefully will participate in a meeting with Mark Pegrum, the author of the book From Blogs to Bombs this Sunday.

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 :-)

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EVO 2010

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 ...

This was one of my first blogs ever. I started it when I joined Becoming a Webhead and Collaborative Blogging in EVo 2006. I had participated in BaW in 2005 but just opened up a blog for trying it out and never went back to it, and another for administrative matters at work. Since then I have used class blogs every term for my EFL reading courses, have published an article with a coworker about the effectiveness of blogging to improve reading practice and have used wikis for EFL writing instruction and practice. This led to my latest research which I presented in my promotion thesis to full professor at Simon Bolivar University in Caracas.

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)

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Response to Carla´s and Graham´s papers

Excellent pieces by Carla and Graham, even if they were just one page each, they summarized neatly key ideas of what blogging is all about. They are both outstanding professionals who have become experts in online learning. I think Graham has geared more towards podcasting and second life while Carla is still an energetic and enthusiastic blogger who uses whatever resource is within her reach to make her lessons creative and fun. I will concentrate on three ideas from their 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.

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My introduction in EVO´s Collaborative Writing

I am Bertha/Berta Leiva from Venezuela where I have taught EFL English for about 30 years. I have a B.A in Modern Languages from Metropolitan University, Caracas, and a Master´s in Education (Policy, planning and administration) from Boston University, MA. I am also a certified public translator in my country.

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!!!

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Using Word Processors in the EFL classroom

By Sheila and Bertha

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.

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Changing my format to new Blogger

I started this blog in 2006 and there have been many changes from the times we had to edit the HTML code in the Blogs´templates to add widgets, widen spaces, embed in the sidebar and so forth. Now Blogger provides us with easy ways to achieve all this and more but what should I do with this old time friend? Will my old posts be messed up? Should I leave it as it is?

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 ;-)

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Last touches of my promotion thesis ...

I have been working persistently for the past years in my last promotion thesis to full professor. It is entitled "Socio-cultural theory and Web 2.0 tools in EFL writing: A case study".

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 ;-) !!!

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Show yourself Widget

I saw this nice widget in José Antonio´s blog, a WiA from Brazil and liked the idea of having shortcuts in my sidebar to the tools I use the most. I went to this page, set it up, created code and pasted it in the template to be placed in the sidebar of this old blogger blog that does not hold the new features because I have not upgraded it (I can definitely see how both versions of Blogger differ).

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Rss and aggregation are concepts sometimes hard to get. Bloglines and Technorati along with Googlereader are ways to place what we usually read updated in just one place.

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.

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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?

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Ning, pageflakes, 21classes ... which one?

In the past couple of months, more of my colleagues from WiA, BaW, B4Ed and LwC have been setting sites at Ning, Pageflakes and 21 Classes. All of them, of course, are free, require a registration, can hold links, video, audio and create a space for social networking.

Pageflakes is a little messy, it holds too much information at a glance, which might be ideal for certain learners, not others. It is a great place to follow what is going on in several sites, especially blogs from different services set up by students. It is like a page reader or aggregator such as Bloglines or Googlereader because it gets updated every time a blogger writes a new post. It can hold a message board, a to-do-list, tabs in the upper part for several pages that seem static but are not, has Technorati search box, in sum, lots of gadgets. I did not see any ads here. Here is a sample.

Ning is a bit more similar to a sort of simplified moodle. According to its developers: "You start by choosing a combination of features (videos, blogs, photos, forums, etc.) from an ever-growing list of options. Then customize how it looks, decide if it's public or private, and add your brand logo if you have one. People who join your network will automatically have a customizable profile page and will be able to message and friend each other". It has commercial ads. Here is a sample.

21 classes is a sort of blog portal where a course can be set up, students register but have a user name and password to get into certain spaces, especially their own blogs. The developers say that: "21Classes has an extended rights management for authoring and reading rights. This means that you and your students will be able to create teamblogs within the blog community to which all registered users can post or you can even create closed reader groups to restrict entry visibility to certain group members". It allows independent but interconnected accounts for students, spam protection, more privacy. I did not see ads here either. More on its features. Here is a sample and a tutorial from Brazilian friend Ronaldo.

Have you used any effectively in your ESL/EFL courses? I would love to know.

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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

Students give their opinions about the use of blogs in their courses. It is a bit long, 15 minutes, but it is worth every second.



Clocks, clocks, clocks ...

Australian Anna Koorey, from Learning with Computers, has recommended this interesting site to play with.
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

I had run into this site before, but have finally decided to start creating puzzles. This is for my 88-year old mom. She loves puzzles and hope she can handle this on line.
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.

Click to Mix and Solve




Experts like Nation, Laufer, Coady and Cummins emphasize the need to learn words to be able to function in a second or foreign language. As Nation says: "Vocabulary knowledge enables language use, language use enables the increase of vocabulary knowledge, knowledge of the world enables the increase of vocabulary knowledge and language use and so on".

I just found out about this site where one can play around with words ... there are sections for teachers, students and schools, wordlearner searches, online games, the possibility to create exercises that are printable and to find packets made by colleagues. Check it out.



A blog worth visiting ...

Nik Peachy shares his knowledge and finds in this blog with colleagues as his aim is to "aid English language teachers in their use of learning technology and web based materials". Check out his instructions on how to create audiovisual monologues, create animated movies or use videos from Youtube and Teachertube.

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A voice thread to embed in one´s blog

This is a nice tool to have an audio thread embedded in one´s blog. It is quite friendly to use. I hope to use it with students in the future. I do like the layout of Chinwsing, though, but it has to be linked to another page up to know.

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A must in education: shifting paradigms

This is a video recommended by Jennifer (a colleague from BaW, LwC, TPD) which is quite an eye-opener. I sent a mail to its author, jfitzpatri, to get the source of his statistics and predictions. The six minutes are worth it. It takes a while to start. You can also watch it directly here. This is the author´s blog.


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One hundred dollar computer

This computer has been designed by MIT Media lab with the purpose of offering it to children in underdeveloped countries in the non-profit project "One laptop per child" so that they can learn on their own. It will not be available to regular consumers.

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Wonderful treasures ... Joe Dale´s blog

There are many resources discussed in this blog by Joe Dale and I will include this one here for Keepvid a website which allows you to download videos directly from such sites as YouTube and Google Video and play them offline through a dedicated player, avoiding the chance students encounter inappropriate material. He explains its use step by step. These entries are for using Skype, photostory and podcasting, text to speech in language classes. Go visit ( Images from Joe´s blog)



Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us

This is a Youtube video I have ran into a few times in the last week. So here it is to enjoy



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?!?



For Horacio

Hi Horacio,

Here is the information you asked me about. Log in to Blogger by clicking on the orange icon on the upper left corner. Write the username and password (if using old version) or gmail address and password (if using updated new version) . Go to the section "edit my profile" on the right and in the area where it says "photo URL", paste this code:

Don´t forget to click on "save" at the very end of the page to save and update your profile.
I also even opened a site for you. There you will see your photo in the profile section: http://horaciovenezuela.blogspot.com/
Good luck, I hope it works, cariños, Berta



Slideshare ... trying it at Blogger

Craig, a friend from WOP, has recommended Slideshare to publish ppt presentations on blogs. I could not manage to do it in Wordpress but will try with Blogger right now to check if it works and later with Motime.

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.



Mindmapping ...

I have been using Mindmanager for some time now, especially in my graduate courses. It was always hard to require students to buy the program so I used to lend mine for educational purposes only. Some of them show initial resistance to adapt to this way of summarizing and visualizing information, but I have had great surprises later on when I have seen some of their work in the following courses where they decide to mindmap on their own!!!
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

I tried Google video (see my previous efforts at Motime Oct. 17) but find Photobucket easier. Just sign up and then decide to upload photos or videos. After uploading, generate the html code and paste it to post. Here is a test I just made:

I have to learn to change the settings in my camera to make lighter videos. Mine take too long to upload. There seems to be conflict posting Google videos when Blogger already has Bubbleshare albums: the albums disappear and then re-appear when Google videos are taken out.



Using picturetrail to make a photo cube

I discovered this site where a cube can be created with one´s own pictures. Here is how it is done: 1) go to http://www.picturetrail.com/, 2) sign up, 3) go to "manage photos", 4) create album, 5) name album, 6) click on "upload photos" (you can upload 5 at a time). The pictures will take some time to upload depending on how heavy they are and internet speed connection. I particularly dowloaded 3 at a time. 7) click on "create a photoclick" on the right side of the screen, 8) select "acrobat cube", 9) click "continue" at the bottom of that window, 10) select the 6 photos you want in the cube ... wait patiently while the cube is created ... 11) select size and opacity (solid or transparent) , 12) copy the html code at the bottom of that window, 13) paste it in a new post in your blog and you will have your personal photo cube. Here is a sample. Enjoy!



Sabbatical blues

I have not posted anything on this blog in a long long long time. Many changes going on, the main one being that I will be in Toronto until July 2007 as a visiting professor at UofT during my sabbatical leave. At the moment I am participating in two graduate courses and two seminars, reading lots of material and sharing experiences with an amazingly interesting multicultural, multiracial and multilingual community. So what´s wrong with me? Why do I feel so blue ... ?
For one, I have abandoned Blogs, Wikis, Podcasting and Videos. I just follow some discussions in the Webhead Community where I lurk whene
ver 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"

In our Argumentation Unit, my EFL/EST reading students had to select three topics out of five, agree or disagree with them and then state reasons to support their point of view. Not all students selected this particular topic but here are some of their responses.
Girls who agree said: Each woman has the right to decide what to do with her life and if staying at home makes her happy, so be it. There are women who don't need to work. Most social problems are family-related and women can take care of their children staying home. They can have a job they can do from home which benefits them while having more time to dedicate to themselves. They can avoid job-related stress by staying home. There are women who like to be home and if their husbands work, why not take advantage of that and simply manage their households? In spite of living in a society where women can work and manage themselves outside their homes, there are some who prefer to work at home.
Boys who agree said: Women who don't work can be happy at home. They like to be economically supported by their husbands. Women are better at housekeeping than men. If they are housewives, they can be their own boss. Women are happy because they can spend more time with their children. They are happy because many women don't like to work. They like to cook, iron, wash clothes and do household shores. They are happy because they can dedicate more time to themselves.
Girls who disagree said: As women, we study and prepare ourselves to work and serve our country, not to stay home. In the world of women, everything is not just home. In the last years, there have been more women who have gone out to look for a job. Women who don't stay home have the possibility to study and fulfill their objectives. If they stay home they lose direct contact with the social reality they are in. If they liked being home, when women liberation started they would not have gone to work but would have stayed at home. There are women who leave their children and husband because they lack the maternal instinct or the sense of home. There are women who are physically or verbally abused because they don't do what their husbands demand like having dinner on time, among other things; they are treated as servants.
Boys who disagree said: Women have massively joined the job market. There are fewer housewives each day. Technology allows women to do the same job in less time. Many women have to work nowadays.



Women in Venezuela

Finally, my very first Bubbleshare audio album. I hope you find this information interesting or useful.



Weather and clothing in Venezuela

In spite of having almost the same weather conditions all year round, there are certain peculiarities about the way we dress. Listen to my audiomessage to find out about it.
When my husband and I were doing our graduate work in Boston, many professors and classmates wore shorts and sandals during the summer and s
ome even took their shoes off in class (in the streets, in parks, on buses). For us it was a complete cultural shock!!!
If you look closely at these two photos of youngters taken near the beach, most are wearing blue jeans or long pants even if it is probably a quite hot day. Is there an implicit dress code in your country too? Do you have to wear special clothes depending on the season or do you wear something similar and just add layers on top? I´d love to know.



... sunny almost all year round

No big surprises. But when there are, they are terrible indeed like the mudslides in December 1999 from which we have not totally recovered. It is commonly thought that Venezuela has an overall hot climate because of its relatively closeness to the equator. However, its climate varies considerably and temperature depends on altitude above sea level. The tropical heat at low lands gives way to cooler are as at higher altitudes, and seasonal degree variations at sea level are replaced by year-round constant averages in the higher parts of the mountains. Caracas, at an altitude a little over 3,000 feet, has an average of 22° C (74° F), being comfortably cool throughout the year, warm in July and a little chilly on January mornings. There are only two seasons in the country: the rainy season from mid-May to October (Winter) and the dry season, but showers may fall any moment. See today´s weather. (Photo: View from The Avila to the Caribbean Sea)



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.

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