reflections on evo 08

Time really flies when you are busy and so my reflections on the 08 smielt session is much later than the actual end.

I certainly learned a lot about moderating, as it was my first time doing it, and I would definitely do it again.  The role of moderator isn’t the same as of instructor, so I was confronted with people who had more experience in some areas than I did. This meant taking a guiding role rather than an authoritative role. The participants all had their experiences to share and so the profit was global and immense. This makes me think about the role of the teacher in the classroom. How much authority is necessary? How can we as educators include our pupils (YL) or students in the decision-making process of what they learn and how they learn it?

And, of course, there was the discovery of different tools and how they can be used. Twitter was especially interesting with quite a bit of scepticism, and at the same time enthusiasm. Like with blogging, I was reluctant to see any use for it, but in the meanwhile I enjoy using it and even keep up private contact through Twitter.

Flickr was another tool that was much discussed, with good ideas flying about. Much sharing and enthusiasm.

The end was Charles’ Hipbone game. Unfortunately, the enthusiasm seemed to taper out before the end of the game. Nevertheless, it was a highly enjoyable experience and a great brain-wracker.

Now a final thank you to all who contributed to the session! It’s been wonderful following your thoughts on your blogs and I hope to keep up the discussions 🙂

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Flickring away

I’ve been so busy reading other posts that my blog has become a bit neglected.

It’s also Fasnacht here (the equivalent to Carneval in Switzerland) and so I went to town to take some pictures for anyone interested. There is a slideshow you can watch if you click on the mask..

Fasnacht can be found in many places in Switzerland, but there the main places are in Lucerne and Basel. In Basel it is a bit different. There are pipers that parade down the street and at street corners and in the bars and restaurants they tell stories about what has happened politically and locally in rhyme. These are called ‘Schnitzelbank’. Most of the people on the street are dressed normally. Not so in Lucerne. Here everyone joins in the fun! In Lucerne it’s more of a cacophonic occassion. Scary masks are the rule, although this year there were many folkloristic themes. The music, also called Guugemusig, is loud and generally off key as a rule. There are usually horns and drums. But there are exceptions.

Here’s a video with one of the groups from last year.

Accountability in teaching with technology

I was just reflecting on Ann’s comment on my last post about using the internet with children and it came ot me that about a year ago there was an incident. A primary school teacher had her kids go to the computer and there were sexually explicit pictures on the screen. The kids went home and told their parents, of course. The result was that this teacher, sho was in no way to blame (it was the school filter, I believe) was accused of wrong-doing, and if I remember correctly, taken to court. I lost the thread, so I don’t know the outcome, but I was pretty taken by the events.

If anyone remembers or can find the link, please leave a comment.

Social media = open media

Sarah mentioned on her blog the following:

Social Media is not part of my culture. To me, it only makes sense when I am participating in a closed environment where I know people – like in this class. The start and stop times, and the built-in time and place to get to know each other makes a difference for me. The concept of joining an ongoing conversation and social group is not something I am comfortable with…yet.

I am well aware of this feeling and it is certainly for each person to decide for themselves. I have also gone through this stage, and perhaps I am now not cautious enough about my presence on the internet. A lot of what I do has to do with trust in others who are also using these tools. Of course, you also have to be aware that everyting you say is documented and can be called up. This must have implications. I would say that this kind of openness can also promote politeness and a more selective choice of expressions.

When using these tools with younger pupils, this is also a topic that needs to be addressed. It is not something the youth worries about, and yet, it is an essential part of training, and I believe strongly that this is our jobs as educators.  They are most certainly unaware of the possible problems that an unreflected statement can have in their later lives.

On being social and resolutions

This year my resolution is to help the school in a small village in Zimbabwe. A friend of mine from ETAS began a project to train teachers of the Matopo primary school and collect materials for this poor school. I was so moved by her dedication that I couldn’t help but want to contribute. The first contribution was the opening of the Matopo primary school blog. For every time this site is looked at, money from the advertisements will be sent to an account and then to the school.

However, this seems like dishearteningly little  compared to the need of the children. Therefore, I would like to get teachers using this project as a chance to offer their students a real purpose for using English, and at the same time collect materials for Matopo (see also etasblog). I think that much could be done for the needy in the world, and isn’t this also a way to be social?

It is clear to me that many other places in the world are in similar situations, and perhaps you, treasured reader, happen to know of such a project. Then I’d like to encourage you to start a similar project. In k-12 classes pupils learn about basic needs, other parts of the world and ethics. They see that the language they are learning can be put to use for a purpose, making the language come to life. At the same time another group of learners profit from basic school materials which they would otherwise have to do without. Paper, pencils, erasers, markers, pens, small blackboards, chalk. But if you look even further, then the vision grows as money is collected for laptops. Social awareness is not just a word. It is an action. I hope this post will inspire others of you to take part in a worthy cause, where ever you are.