Posts

Day 30: Whose future is it anyway?

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What would you do (as a teacher) if you weren’t afraid?
     So I read a blog post this morning (http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2014/sep/27/secret-teacher-parent-pressure-entrance-exams-grammar-schools?CMP=new_1194) , in which a teacher talks about what is wrong with education today.  It's about standardized tests, unrealistic expectations, parent pressure and children's unhappiness. All topics that are close to my heart.
     Then I moved on to the comments and found myself face to face with the opinion of someone who clearly has no idea what he is talking about. This person claims that teachers are being paid to make the students pass the (standardized) test and that's exactly what they should be doing.  Never mind the fact that not every child develops at the same pace, has the same talents, the same support system or the same background. Or the fact that teaching is about passing on passion, encouraging curiosity, awakening creativity, pushing fo…

Day 29: It's all history.

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How have you changed as an educator since you first started?
In the beginning there was...

- the textbook
- the blackboard
- the tape recorder
- the written test
- the lecture

     I even remember classes where there were no textbooks and I was the only language source available. Then I got swallowed up by the vortex of change and as my work environment developed, so did I. 
I have become much more student-centered, I see myself often more as a facilitator than a teacher. Access to target level material is everywhere and students have so much more opportunities to be creative, to practice and to share what they know with the world.
     Being an educator now is much more exciting, but also much more difficult. One of the most important things I have had to accept is that there are a lot of things I don't have the answer to. When I don't know I just tell the students we'll look for it together, because somewhere out there someone has the answer.
     It also has become much more fun…

Day 28: Ubiquitous, Seamless and Embedded

Respond: Should technology drive curriculum, or vice versa?     This is the wrong question. I believe our tech director has got the right idea: at ASW technology needs to be ubiquitous, seamless and embedded in our teaching and the students' learning. It's not a matter of one driving the other. We have a curriculum of which technology skills and digital citizenship are part and at the same time the seamless integration of technology enables our students to communicate and collaborate, to critically seek and learn new information, and to gain knowledge through the creation of media projects. 
     Is is self-evident that our curriculum changes as technology plays a more and more important role in the lives of our students, but it remains equally important to understand that technology should be a means to an end and that end is learning. 
     If I look at this in a more concrete classroom situation, for example, I would say that in my classes language acquisition remains the f…

Day 26: re-sourcing

What role do weekends and holidays play in your teaching?
     Nothing special about my weekends. By the time Friday rolls around I am out of juice, so I use my weekends like most people, to do what I don't have time for during the week. Housework, the necessary evil, but also spending time with my family, cooking, reading, watching movies and of course, preparing for the next week of learning.
    My holidays have a dual purpose: to explore new developments and materials for my teaching and to regain my energy for the school year to come. I spend most of my holidays in France, so I don't loose contact with the language and the culture. From time to time I go on a professional development course, or I travel with the family. Either way, my students benefit in the end, because they get me back re-sourced and full of new ideas.

Day 26: three sites

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What are your three favorite go-to sites for help/tips/resources in your teaching?     When you teach a language the best sites are often those in the target language. There are some excellent sites available for French teachers, but my number one site remains Youtube (and its French equivalent Dailymotion).  I select clips for my students, I can subtitle them, embed them in my website, share them via Google classroom, create videonot.es for them and they become a fantastic tool for learning. Many students already spend a lot of time watching Youtube videos and through selecting and sharing target language videos, they can discover new Youtubers and the target language.
     The second site that provides a substantial amount of resources for French learners is TV5.org. This is a website that supplement the TV channel TV5, sponsored by the most important francophone countries. It has a special section for learners of French with audiovisual resources that are accompanied by educational …

Day 25: cooperation

The ideal collaboration between students–what would it look like?
     Some kids love group work, some kids hate it. Group work is a bit like society, you take a bunch of people and throw them together, you set them a common goal and hope for the best. In every group there will be workers, jokers, whiners, slackers and wanderers, just like in real life and to make it work you need either a miracle or some excellent rules of collaboration.
     I have sat through my share of group meetings and have to admit that more often than not they are a complete waste of time unless the goal is very concrete, the team very focused and the rules of play very clear. The same, I believe goes for students. 
     So in my class, when we do group work, I make sure:
- the groups are made up of students with different strengths and weaknesses.
- the end product is very clearly defined, as is the process.
- the work is evenly distributed and deadlines are clear
- the norms of collaboration are posted clearly for…

Day 24: More fun and games.

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Which learning trend captures your attention the most, and why? 
Game based learning.

- because all of my students love a bit of competition.
- because it presents students with a challenge based on real-life situations.
- because games make it easy for any students to accept failure and motivate them to try again.
- because games engage students and are seldom boring.
- because they can interact and cooperate with other players.
- because it can create situations and opportunities that can't be created in real life, because of geographical or social restrictions.
- because games are fun.