Friday, October 28, 2011

Week 5: Assessment, Rubrics, PBL, and WebQuest

After working this whole week on the different given task, there is the final reflection on what has been done. This week has been as productive as the others; I feel I have learned a lot and had the chance to be introduced to different tools I did not even know existed.
Rubrics are an important part of the learning process because they evaluate and highlight the strengths of the students and make us aware of the aspects that need to be reinforced. What is more, students are aware of what we expect them to do. Moreover, they can evaluate themselves as well as their peers in a more objective way. RubiStar resembles a magic wand in this magic world of Building Teacher Skills though the Interactive Web. I have been touring different sites and tools since the first week of this course, and this one is just great.
Assessment is the perfect complement to project-based learning (PBL). If students work on activities that are appealing to them, they will not only learn but they will also enjoy the activity because that will be meaningful to them.
Narrowing my students’ needs and trying to focus on one did not seem an easy thing to do. However, considering that my class studies English as a Foreign Language, and they are exposed to the language for a very short amount of time, one of the most important needs they have is to have outside classroom activities to enhance their listening skills. Considering this, there are some sites I have considered to be used as guided activities, and I intend to use them first as homework and then for further discussion in classes.
I think WebQuests are also a wonderful tool to work with. It is a tool to be considered for some activities such as PBL, especially with young learners and adults.
A productive week again, but as our discussion goes on and tasks come, we are getting ready for hands-on our projects. We are on the way to fulfill this course’s goals which is to understand and use appropriate technology to enhance our students learning environments and outcomes for our students.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Week 4: CALL, my students' needs, and Lesson Plan

This week we briefly reminded all the participants of the characteristics of our class and that helped me focus on the needs of my class which are the needs of my institution as I said on my post. Learning English as a Foreign Language becomes a bit harder since students are not too exposed to the language and they lack of “authentic” material. However, that is something that can be overcome with the help of technology brought to the classroom or outside it considering the fact that nowadays most students are a step further with their web search and use of technology. They have become expert people working with internet in their houses and using different kinds of social network. What they need is to narrow they search and we are there to guide them find what is necessary for them to enhance their learning skills.

Using CALL to enhance our students reading and writing skills is important since students need more guided activities and opportunities to use the language in different contexts, such as e-mailing or being an e-pal. Not only that, but they can also read what is going on in the world and analyze and compare what they find out to their own reality. This is definitely an activity not to be done in a week, but it is the beginning of a new search and a new way to view things in the Teaching – Learning process.

Considering all the previous facts, we have also planned a class taking our students' needs into account and have suggested some sites that can be beneficial for our students. In my case, My Lesson Plan was designed in a way I think can be helpful for my students. I have suggested some sites to enhance my students’ reading and writing skills outside the classroom with a specific activity based on the lesson and objectives that were designed. I am looking forward to receiving your feedback because I think that one who observes something without being part of it will be more objective than one who is involved in a reality.

Best Regards,

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Week 3. Reflections

After a two-week vacation, this week has been hectic trying to keep up with the week’s tasks. Working 13 hours a day, it has been a bit harder to try to check all suggested sites and follow the discussions. However, I would say that the different tasks were a lot useful and fruitful.
About oral/aural skills, I have to admit I felt a bit skeptical at the very beginning with the pitch software. However, after reading the different discussions and reading materials, I can see how important the application of CALL is. Before that, voice analyzes software sounded like science fiction to me because we have never experimented with such tools, at least in my city. What is more, since English is taught in my country, Bolivia, as a foreign language, the most difficult skills to enhance have been listening and speaking. So, CALL applications seem to be the answer to our concerns. It still needs a lot of reflection and investigation to see how this can be used by our students.
Trying to enhance my students’ listening skills, I have visited some sites where there are dialogues and students can work on the activities. These activities can be done in and outside the classroom as long as there is an Internet connection. I am now experimenting with one of those activities outside the classroom, and next week, I will have some results and feedback from my students.
Reading a project report, gave some ideas about where I am, and what I am expected to do. It make me think that I am running out of time and still have to think about activities to be done in my classes that show a technology change, enhances students’ skills and meets their needs.
When I posted my comment to nicenet, my subject was “Delicious made my life sweeter” and that is totally true. Before using Delicious, I used to save some interesting links in a Word Document. Sometimes it was useless because I used to forget the document and the file. Funny, right!
Little by little, I think we are on our way to our final project and technology chances in our classrooms and lesson plans to enhance our students' language skills.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Week 2: Reflections

 There have been four tasks to work on this week. One of them has to do with the discussion and the reading materials about search engines. I have found visiting the different sites endless but useful because there are sites I will definitely use to plan my classes or suggest my students to use them. It was productive to check the different sites and think about the advantages and disadvantages of each one. Using NoodleTools is definitely not an activity to be done in a week, but enough to know that there is something else beyond Google, which was my main search engine before. I don’t mean I will stop using it though. I like IDEA, and iSeek helped me a lot with the second task, which was about sharing and learning to write objectives following the ABCD style since it narrowed my search.
I have found reading the posts with leaning objectives really absorbing and creating objectives for my class has been a challenging experience since I had to analyze the difference among the four components of Heinich’s ABCD model of writing objectives: Audience, Behavior, Condition, and Degree. I think that following this style will be useful to plan my classes better not only because I will be focused on my objectives, but also because this will help me create objectives that will fit my students’ needs and help them get a higher hierarchy on the Bloom’s Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain. As a teacher my purpose is to have students learn, use, and master the new language they learn.
Describing one of my classes has made me more aware of my students’ reality and their environment. It keeps me thinking about the possible technology changes that can be implemented and how we can access to them. It’s the beginning of a long way.
I also had the chance to use NoodleTools, Nicenet, Wikiclass, and Jupiter’s grades. All of them had been unknown by me before I took this course and I consider them amazing. I especially liked Jupiter’s grades because it gives a lot of information to parents and students about a person’s performance. It is just wonderful, especially for those parents who cannot go to school for many reasons and cannot keep track of their children’s performance. I would like to know how safe it is, and how I can up load my class’s information.
Week two has been a lot productive, just as the first week. It is true that we never end up learning.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Week 1: Reflections

I consider that using blogs in the English classroom is an important tool that can enhance students’ learning. Nowadays, the technology is becoming more and more common and we should take advantage of the benefits it provides us. What’s more, it gives students the chance to have additional practice and use the language in a real situation sharing information and opinions with peers as well as other people.
Using blogs in an EFL class will be a challenge that I am willing to overcome since this is the first time I post a note and use a blog. I think it will be interesting for all students, and especially for those who tend to be shy in a face to face class. Posting notes will let students gain confidence and have a positive feedback.

At the very beginning, creating a blog seemed to be very hard. I felt like a startled little girl in a huge amusement park without knowing where to go or how to start. However, if people can read this note and add comments to it, it means I’ve succeeded.