Why is technology so important in the classroom?

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DIGITAL LITERACY is a 21st century skill, as important as COLLABORATIVE WORK, PROBLEM SOLVING LANGUAGE COMPETENCES or CRITICAL THINKING. As a matter of fact, when using technology you tackle all the other and foster students’ motivation to engage in classroom tasks.
There’s no way we can withdraw technology from this Digital Native generation of students. Most of us are merely Dicassette-2025403_960_720gital Immigrants, i.e., we are part of a generation that was caught right in the middle of the technological revolution. I am a good example of that: back in the nineties, when I started, having a tape recorder in class was the highest you could get!

How far that is and how much things have changed. We came from nothing to ALL. No matter how scary this may seem it’s part of our job as Educators to keep up with the change. 6685782417_29e9f8b8da

I still hear a lot of talking around like I’ve always taught this way, why change? I also have team partners that still prefer CD players to PCs or Laptops. Others still struggle to use a USB stick or ask what a URL is. With all the information going round and all the free courses available online this shouldn’t be an issue.


WHY SHOULD WE CHANGE CLASSROOM PRACTICES?

WHAT ARE DIGITAL SKILLS?

 

DIGITAL LEARNING

 

 

 

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#Twinmooc – week 3 reflection

The question I am supposed to answer as a task for Unit 2 of Twinmooc is:

What needs or areas of improvement and learning have I detected in my teaching?

More than my own practice I believe that teaching as a whole needs improvement at several levels:

#1 Classroom display

No matter how many classrooms I walk in or where I do it  this is what I get. Despite swapping boards from black to white and chalk for markers, desks carry on  surgically aligned  in rows with the teacher on the stage.

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Lucklily I work at a school that supports and fosters innovation therefore any change or good idea is  welcome. As such, if I want to change my classroom when using it, I can do it.

Actually this happens quite often as I adopt PBL (Project based Learning) in many of my lessons which leads me to

#2 Project work

I started project work some years ago and haven’t stopped ever since. I find that my students engage more in the tasks and really like to work collaboratively.

 

Introducing Project-Based Learning in your Classroom

 My task for module #1 on INTRODUCING PROJECT- BASED LEARNING

What is PBL and why use it

P2P – Reflections on our current teaching practice

Let’s think about how PBL links to our current teaching approaches. Write a short Learning Diary entry reflecting on your own teaching strategies, classroom setup, students’ needs, etc.

 

My regular classroom is very interactive still I have the students sat in rows as it has traditionally been  for years. I started tying PBL 3 years ago and I’m still not happy with the outcomes:

  • anything that requires working collaboratively generates anxiety and frustration among the students if they don’t get to work with that specific colleague they envisaged working with. If I let tem choose there will always be a few out. Therefore I use TEAMUP and they know in advance that the program will generate their working group
  • I also notice that the groups have a lot of trouble organizing their working method and some don’t even reach that point. They inevitably tend to procrastinate. To avoid this I make a mid-project assessment using GOOGLE FORMS or SURVEYMONKEY so that they stop and think about what they are (not!) doing.
  • Then there’s the piggyback issue, mentioned in the vídeo. As this isn’t a regular teaching method, some students prefer to rely on their colleagues and lay back while someone else does the working. To prevent this I also give different grades to members of the same group. It’s the only possible way.
  • As such, assessment is not always easy especially if you’ve got 30 studnts classes like I do. Sometimes it’s really hard to know who is being productive and who isn’t. Some students even complain that they’d rather have a test since they were the ones to do the whole project.
  • I truly believe that what they get from their project will last longer than a mere lecture on the same subject. Right now I’m still struggling with the right methodologies to make good use of PBL

 

My favourite eTwinning project so far

This is a weekly task for the #twinmooc I am currently follwing in the eTwinning platform.
In  a, no more than,   140- charaters -tweet -post I had to define eTwinning. Easy. eTwinning is connecting my students and my school to the world!

What else could I say? Well, a lot.

#1 I came across wonderful people in the eTwinning platform, some of them I have even met face to face.

#2 I engaged in several simple projects which contributed to my students growing as pupils and as citizens of the world

#3 I started  exchange student projects with different countries such as Hungary, France and Belgium

#4 I even started an Erasmus+ project with fantastic people whom I will never forget and hope to work further in the future

#5 I had the chance to attend a PDW (Professional Development Worshop) in Guimarães, Portugal, where I met a colleague from Luxemburg who rapidly became a friend. Together with some others from Croatia, Germany and Norway we started a project with our 6th graders. My favourite eTwinning Project:

Share the tale

Starting in Luxemburg, the students from the 5 countries involved had to write a chapter for a story whose characters they had previously been introduced to. They had to use Simple Present, write a pre-defined number of words, make sketches to illustrate their episode and include a monument from the city they lived in. At the end the book was turned into an audio book and later printed as paperback. As so, the students were able to buy it for a really affordable price and can now be used in class!

The book’s name: THE MAGIC RING

Very proud of it. 🙂

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Letter to my students

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Dear students,

Some of you may have heard this story before as I make no secret about it. I’ve told it as a way to encourage and show you that life isn’t always as linear as it seems. Things change and people too. Don’t ever regret your choices. You made them for a reason. Don’t be scared of changing your route. Taking risks is what makes the world go around.

I never wanted to be a teacher. I had nightmares imagining myself in front of a class of mocking teenagers, not knowing what to say, exposing my failures. That seemed so terrifying. Hence, I took a decision: I would be a Translator.

That seemed the best choice. How safer could it be? I sat secluded behind a computer screen with no eager little eyes inspecting and scanning me every minute. How safer could it be?

And so it was. For some time. I used to sit at my desk and perform the tasks irreprehensibly.  One after another. Day in, day out. Alone. Secluded.

The work was scarce but the payment was excellent. What else could I want? I sat at my computer alone and away from those flipping through little eyes, immersed in routine…

How dull could it be?

One day I had to say enough. I mean, I am a communicator. I love to talk , I love people and I love interacting with them. Laboratories were not made for me. I need eye and physical contact with HUMANS! I felt abandoned and away from the most important thing in life: us!

And so I made a huge turn in my life. I never, ever regreted the decision I took: nor the first or the second. I had to follow the course of things but there is no doubt I was right the second time.

Where else could I feel I make the difference in someone’s life? Where else do I get the chance to Learn everyday sipping from eternal youth. Students are eternally young. They are always the same age and I feel rejuvenated just to be around You!

You make me laugh, you teach me about simple things in life, you make me cry. You say goodbye and you come back to visit me years after.

You remember me!

You make me feel so important when you recall moments we had together, secrets you shared with me.

I am so deeply proud when you thank me for doing what is right: listen, guide, support you.

How empty my life would be without you.

Thank you for being part of my life and making it so much better.

I  have always wanted to be a teacher.

Yours sincerely

Cristina Silva

Teacher’s Survival Kit- Revisited

Last school year was quite hard for me. I engaged in  several projects at the same time. I was away with students or teachers for longer than my family deserved. I was on a plane for 17 times. I prepared workshops, conferences and webinars. I worked all weekends with no exception. I lost my Head teacher who had been working with me for the past 20 years. Ufff. You name it.

At the end I was  a complete wreck but still strong enough to go to Oxford again and attend Exeter College’s Teacher Seminar for 2 weeks. It was so hard to get started. I hadn’t been sleeping much and my memory was really affected. It seemed impossible to focus during lectures and yet they were incredibly interesting. I felt so bad, irritaded, moody. Not even pills seemed to help me get through. Anxiety always takes the best over me.

This year I decided I would do things differently. I did.

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Here’s how my kit works

  • Expand week time work so that weekend is left (rather) free to rest and enjoy family activities. Who wants to have a crumpy mum complaining about her work misfortune?
  • Refrain from working after 9pm as it troubles the sleep and stirs your brain in a way it does not let you relax
  • Control anxiety to avoid wanting everything done NOW. It kills you and the others. There won’t be much damage if THE worksheet is not done for tomorrow.
  • Do not despair if you’ve left something  unbelievably and undescrivably important at home.  There are sure other alternatives. Teachers are the best to find a Plan B.
  • Stop thinking abot work  everytime you’re with friends. Going for a walk does not have to mean you will be looking for nice quotes or realia. Leave resource hunting for some other time
  • Do not take work with you if you’ve arranged a weekend out. You won’t have your head free to be with the people who love you,  and work will not be productive either
  • Do not drink too much coffee. It provides fake energy which will leave much more tired after the cafein effect is gone.

 

🙂  It was really important to revisit this 30 Goal Challenge and get a badge!

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APPI Conference – ISCTE Lisbon 2015

This is the presentation I made for APPI on the subject : 21st century skills in ELT

 

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Also set up a blog with tutorials on some of the tools.