Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Week 2: A meat week …. I guess!

While I was reading my colleagues’ posts on the Nicenet Website, my messenger alert told me that I had a new message. When I opened it, I found it from my dear instructor Deborah. It is about the start of the second week. I like the idea of giving us a brief overview of what we’re going to do before we start. I consider it as a way of organizing my work. First, you get an idea about your tasks as a whole, then you analyze them into pieces to be easier to accomplish. At last you reflect on what you have learned and what difficulties you faced. Actually it is a good framework.

Any way, I feel that this week is a little bit difficult and we need to use our imagination and creativity to accomplish its tasks. I think I’ll need to devote more time and effort to search on the web, read, analyze and comment on other colleagues’ posts.

For the tasks of this week, there are four. One of them is related to the project we’re going to do throughout this course. In this task, we’re asked to describe a class that would be benefit from making a technology-inspired change. Unfortunately, I’m on my summer holiday and I will not teach until the half of Sept. Thus, my task is just to do a plan for the project. I hope to apply it in the next school year with my students. I select this task to do first because I consider it as a basis on which I build the other tasks. I mean I can’t write smart objectives or use search engines unless I take my students’ characteristics and class setting into consideration. I described my students, their ages, levels, their computer skills and their motivation to use technology while learning. I also described the class setting and technology available for students and teacher.

Actually the task of describing a class provides me a good opportunity to have a closer look at all classes around the world. Through my colleagues’ descriptions, I got a thorough idea about what their classes look like and what technology they have access to. Of course, this is not for making some sort of a comparison. But I just want to analyze the situation in all countries.

How amazing is your visit to all classes around the world in minutes?
What do you think of this? Am I right?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Week 1: Am I On The Right Track?

I've read the learning objectives of the first week many times. Every day I checked them to know if something achieved or not. How wonderful is your work when it grows until to be a complete building?

Here is the list:
  1. Logging into Nicenet.
  2. Introducing each other.
  3. Filling out a needs analysis survey.
  4. Setting ground rules and rubrics for discussions and evaluation.
  5. Creating a blog and writing what we have done and learned in the 1st week.
Let me tell you my experience with these tasks:

1. Logging into Nicenet:

I created an account at the Nicenet website. First I felt a little bit confused and afraid of this new experience. You know it is a natural feeling. But, bit by bit I felt relaxed and happy while using this website.  

2. Introducing eath other:

I introduced myself to my new coursemates. Actually, it is amazing thing to know many people in a minute. You don’t know just persons but their cultures, thoughts, ideas, reflections, and many things in a short time. 

3. Filling out a needs analysis survey:

I filled out a needs analysis survey to help ensure that the course topics are appropriate. I completed this survey. Honestly, I found some areas which need to be improved. So, I hope this course will enrich all my skills and experiences. 

4. Setting ground rules and rubrics:

I collaborated with my coursemates to set some ground rules for our discussions and rubrics for evaluating our works.Thanks to Deborah for giving us this opportunity. She wanted to say: Please set some rules with me, then follow them. Some coursemates suggested other rules, like Stephen. Actually, his rule completed the list. The rubrics are fair. I suggested to use analytical one, and some coursemates liked the idea. I wanted to know Deborah’s viewpoint. May be she didn’t like it. Any way, I’ll follow these rules and rubrics perfectly as possible as I can.

5. Creating a blog:

I created my own blog and shared its URL with my colleagues. I don’t know how to express my excitement with this step. You know I deal with my blog as a baby. All the time I look after it and I want to make it attractive for all my coursemates. I think that people can know others through their works. So, when my coursemates visit my blog, they can get an idea about me. This doesn’t mean that I don’t care about the content. Actually, I write, rewrite , revise and edit many times before I publish. I care about both form and content. Any way, I wrote 4 posts and discussed them with my colleagues. All their comments are very valuable and constructive. Also I visited all my coursemates’ blogs and left comments. Thanks to Arjana for her explanation of how to make a blog list. It saved my time and effort. 

Now, I just want to know: Am I On The Right Track?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Week 1: My Objectives ..... Achieved or Not?

I don’t believe that the first week is about to finish. Through these days, I gained huge experiences and achieved many objectives. As any lesson from the very beginning of this course, I set some objectives; cognitive, psychomotor, and affective. Here are my objectives:

By the end of the first week, I’ll be able to :

  • Identify what is behind the interactive web and its tools (I mean a theoretical background about our course “Building Teaching Skills through the Interactive Web”).
  • Write and express my ideas and thoughts freely.
  • Read, analyze and evaluate other viewpoints.
  • Work collaboratively to accomplish tasks. 
  • Help and respect others.

Thanks to Deborah and my wonderful coursemates, I've achieved all these objectives. The process moves easily and smoothly. 

For the Cognitive Objectives:

Through reading the additional resources about blogging provided by Deborah, googling and yahooing the term and my colleagues' thoughts, I got a good theoretical background about blogging as an interactive web tool.


For the Psychomotor Objectives:

The discussion board and blog helped me a great deal to improve my higher order thinking skills and writing fluency. I have not read my colleagues' thoughts, but also I've analyzed and evaluated them. Then I've created my own. By doing this three types of thinking have improved: analytical, critical and creative.

For Affective Objectives:

I think that this online course with its ground rules provided a safe and encouraging atmosphere where we worked collaboratively and helped each other in order to achieve the tasks of the first week.

Now, I'm so happy to achieve my objectives. Let me ask you my dear coursemates: Have you achieved your objectives? If so, what are these objectives you wanted to achieve through the first week?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Week 1: A Framework For Using Blogs

Before doing my MA that deals with improving writing by using the task-based learning model, I didn’t like writing. Now I admire it. Do you know … Why? May be because I perceive it well: its definition, purposes, nature, types, approaches of teaching … etc.
Thus, all the time I search for new ways of teaching writing. One of these ways of teaching writing is the use of web 2.0 tools, such as blogs, wiki, … etc. To be frank, I like blogs more. I’ve read many books about “How to use them in EFL classrooms.” One of these books which I admire is: Blogs: Web Journals in Language Education by Camilleri, Ford, Leja & Sollars (2007). For more details, you can download it from the following link:

http://sites.google.com/site/webskillssu2010/shared-photos/Blogs.pdf?attredirects=0. If this link doesn't work, here is another link: http://www.ecml.at/mtp2/publications/D1_Blogs_E_internet.pdf or you can google the book title, you will find it the second result.

One of the articles that I’ve read in this book is: A feature set for an educational blogging platform by Camilleri. He suggests a wonderful workflow model for using blogs. Actually it is very applicable in the EFL classrooms. You can see it on p. 40. This model involves a drafting cycle. This cycle allows students to create a post and revise it many times before publishing. Also there is a moderation feature that the teachers could use or not as they like.

Any way to be successful, we should find specific frameworks or models that can help in framing our way of teaching.


Resources Used:
  • Camilleri, M.; Ford, P.; Leja, H.; & Sollars, V. (2007). Blogs: Web Journals in Language Education. Austria: Council of Europe Publishing.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Week 1: scaffolded Blogging

Following Deborah’s guide, the process of creating my blog moves smoothly. My colleagues also help me a great deal through their comments in the discussion board and through visiting their blogs. Actually, this is not the first time to blog. I created one before, but as I created it I stopped blogging. May be because there is no set goals for making use of it in my classrooms. Or because there are no clear instructions to create and use it effectively. This is what I found this time with Deborah. Sometimes, direct instruction is valuable as it builds a solid ground for doing tasks. Her scaffolding makes me on the right track.

The term Scaffolding was developed by Vygotsky. It is one of the social constructivism theory strategies. According to Peregoy & Boyle (1997: 80), scaffolds are “temporary supports, provided by capable people, that permit learners to participate in the complex process before they are able to do so unassisted. Once proficiency is achieved, the scaffold is no longer needed, and may be dropped.”

If we analyze this quotation, we will find that Deborah is our scaffolder. She gives us hand whenever we need it. As soon as we manage to do tasks individually, she leaves us to move alone.

This is related to the use of blogs in our classrooms. Through reading the course additional resources about blogs, I found three types: tutor blog, learner blog and class blog according to Campbell (2003). Available online at: http://iteslj/Techniques/Campbell-Weblogs.html.
I can create a tutor blog for my students. I can put some topics or links. I ask them to read these topics and analyze, evaluate and create their own ideas. I mean I can develop my students’ higher order thinking skills (HOTS). These skills are, according to revised Bloom’s taxonomy, analyzing, evaluating and creating (See Solomon & Schrum, 2007: 36). We focus a lot on LOTS (Lower order thinking skills – Remembering, Understanding and Applying) in our classrooms. Blogs provide students to practice the HOTS effectively.

Another area can be developed by bogs is writing. I can ask my students to work collaboratively and each group or pair creates a blog. They can write about their experiences, feelings, … etc. They can write, edit, and publish. I think it will be a great experience for them because they write for authentic audience, either their peers or other people.

Here is a video that emphasizes the need to more tools than just pencils and paper to teach writing in the 21 st century:


video


I’m sure that there are many areas in teaching English we can develop by blogs.I can see that in my coursemates blogs.


Resources Used:
  • Peregoy, S. & Boyle, F. (1997). Reading, Writing & Learning in ESL: A resource Book for K-12 Teachers. 2nd ed. New York: Longman.
  • Solomon, G. & Schrum, L. (2007). Web 2.0 new tools, new schools. Washington, DC: International Society for Technology in Education.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Week 1: Towards A New Experience

I’m so happy and excited to be one of this course members. Actually, I thank Deborah and all people who are responsible for conducting such online learning experience. It is not my first time to convey my ideas and thoughts through online spaces. I’m already a member of an Egyptian discussion board called “Developing the Egyptian Education”. Here is its address: www.egyscholars.com/vb. However, this online discussion is a little bit different. It includes many people with one goal and many minds thinking about one world “Teaching English”. All of us pour our ideas and imaginations in one pot that’s how to improve our teaching skills in order to produce independent and creative students.

Through reading the posts of all members, I noticed that they have great experiences and creative ideas about learning and teaching English. I’m not joking If I say that I have 250 years now (I just add all the experience years of all members). So, I’m sure this course will be beneficial for me.

And now let’s start blogging!