blogging as a window – an extraordinary opportunity

I found this video on
a blog I regularly visit and can recommend for thought-provoking topics. It’s hosted by Andy Carvin.

Amanda Baggs is autistic. She has learned our language and communicates through her blog.
She has also made a film on youtube. In the first section she is communicating in her language. In the second part she translates her language for us.
Please watch the whole video (about 8 minutes). I was incredibly moved by this example of communication – a window to a place very few people have ever had the opportunity to experience.

What does this mean to me? Well, I need time to think about it, but I would be very interested in comments and reactions from others.

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First podcasting 2

I just tried my first podcast. It seemed like it would be easy, but I had all sorts of problems to deal with. The first was finding my old password (I signed up with podomatic a year ago:-0)
Then I tried recording, but the first couple of times it only recorded the first half second :-/.
So then I meandered off to odeo. No luck there. I got tired of waiting for it to download so I read through all the new blog posts. I reloaded it, tried again with podomatic while I was waiting – again! and was successful!!!
I got through and managed to log in to odeo, but now I’waiting for odeo to finish downloading my audio. I’ll try it out another time, I haven’t given up!!!
well, so much for first podcasting. I’d like to thank hubby for the musical background – it’s live!!

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My first podcast

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A week behind and feeling a bit overwhelmed.
However, I am diligently working to catch up. I also find myself hesitating to jump in and start podcasting and vlogging. why?
I guess this is the hesitation I know from my students. There seems to be so much to do and somehow other things distract me (like watching TV with the kids, family members generally being around and listening in).
However, the seed has been planted and I hope to make my first successful podcast soon. The idea has been watered and fertilized, and I know that as soon as it takes root, it will shoot to the sky!

And what does this mean for my teaching? sow them seeds and water them. Nurture them even when there is no apparent growth.

Come back next time to hear from me!

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Catching up – reflections on classroom blogging

I just finished reading an article by Aaron Campbell about approaches to classroom blogging. In it he describes 2 different approaches, the ‘crack the whip’ approach and the ‘facilitator’ approach.  Teaching styles described by Indiana State University go even further describe 4 different teaching styles.
This has led me to consider my own approach to blogging. There is one class that I regularly use blogging with – a class of adults who need to pass the CAE exam.
There are no grades outside the exam, and I expect the students to participate actively. My first aim was to get them acquainted with blogging. To do this, I had each person summarize the lesson on the blog. After showing them how it was done, they could choose to post their summaries themselves, send them to me for correction first, or e-mail them to me to post.
I suppose this is a bit of a ‘crack the whip’ approach.
Almost everyone contributed in some way, a result of the expectations from me and the others in the class who already had posted. There was also discussion about the usefulness of these posts, the resulting discussion showing that those who missed a lesson or more appreciated these summaries, and the others had to admit that it was a chance for them to reflect on the lesson and practice writing.

The second step was to have them introduce themselves to a future guest and ask this person a couple of questions. Nearly everyone sent their introductions, and half of them were posted directly by the students. The motivation to post to someone whom they would afterwards meet was highly motivating. This would be a successful mixture of facilitation and whip.

In between I offered topics in the form of texts and videos for the others to comment on, with sparce contributions.
Now one of the students is spending a month in another country. I asked her to send the class a message – which she did as e-mail, and encouraged the others to comment. There was only one comment for a while, but after a short discussion about how motivating it is to be answered, and a reminder that some of them would also shortly be away, the number of discussions went up a little bit, and I hope more will comment the next time one of the students sends a greeting. Here I tried to be a good model and motivator.

Time will tell if the last model was successful, but it seems to me that a clear framework, first an introduction, then a motivating and intrinsic factor can lead to increased use of the blog as a means of communicating with each other. I hope that at some point the interaction will move from being teacher-led to student-led interaction. However, if students are new to blogging and this form of communication, there will be some whip-cracking necessary, a clear raison d’ être, and motivational pay-backs.

My vision for the future is that my students will show more openness towards possibilities of communicating through blogging, that they will take the initiative in discussions, that they will perhaps even be interested enough to start their own blogs and begin their own discussions. I would like my students to find their voice and project it.

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Meme moved, comments lost -apologies- moving on, learning

I decided the Meme belonged on my self page. While trying to move it I deleted all the wonderful comments. I guess these things happen when learning, and now that it has, I think I’ve figured out how I could have done it differently. So, sorry to those of you who commented.

Now, my thoughts about what happened.

First, making mistakes is learning. Someone who is afraid of making mistakes won’t learn – a major problem in language classrooms, but also in using technology. Okay, some things can’t be fixed, like the comments – gone. But now I know that I need to make clearer decisions about what goes where.

I’ve learned something about pages versus posts. I’ve also reflected on what goes on the blog and how it may be used. Do I want it there? Can I control who reads it? Of course not. I don’t want to anyway because I want to encourage discussion, reflexion and an open community. But the strength of wordpress blogs is that you can place things, store things in certain places without leaving them to the chronological decay (into the archives) of the normal blogging process, or put them aside in their very own container of a page where you can leave them or take them away.