Sunday, 31 January 2010

Here's the Animoto I created

2009: A fantastic year with Valen

My first year teaching English to Valen. Lots of dancing,singing and arts and crafts.Lots of fun!!!

End of Week 3

How to summarise this week?

A lot was done, yet not necessarily what the tasks instructed to. I used quite a few sites related to drawing, images and making things with them. I stayed up all of last night making a 30-second Animoto and a slideshow with photos I'd already taken. But I watched most of my classmates' videos and slideshows and I feasted on them. They were really good and interesting.

Now someone wasn't seeing much point in using Animoto for teaching and learning; I think it may be one of those tools you use occasionally, when the time is just right. It's not a tool that will save you time, or that you can keep under your sleeve an whisk off a lesson plan in a few minutes. Mine tried to be a wrapping off of 2009 with one particular student. I think it works that way.

I missed my Plurk friends this week because I wasn't able to spend much time with them...But from the time we did spend together my other blog (see my blogroll on the sidebar) Journey Journal began to take shape.

I'm still woking on a cool project with a colleague in Brazil, and this week was also positive in establishing human connections. And I don't mean "contacts". I mean finding rapport with people I perhaps hadn't had the chance to interact with previously.

I missed Mark Pegrum's talk -my heart was in the right place, but I was only deluding myself thinking I'd be able to get up on a Sunday for a 10 am talk, no matter how interesting it could be (and I'm sure it was). Especially since I stayed up all night working on other things -and trying to draw a cute secene for the Cute App in Sketchfu. What do you think? It's called: Can you see the giraffes yet?

I also stayed up most of Friday night designing my own avatar and characters for a comic strip, including a first strip. It was lots of fun and time flew by -later I noticed I'd spent 3 hours on it!

I also did some free writing to get some things out of my system; not because they were negative but, as my PC will often say I was having "low virtual memory capacity". I fed the text into Wordle and here's what came out:
Wordle: Free writing 1

For this version I chose not to leave out common English words. Apparently there was a lot of adding in my week!!! There was also a lot of misspelling and I decided to leave it in the Wordle because lately when I'm typing I have to delete and retype even the commonest of words -I tell myself it's because my typing speed's increasing. :)
Here's the other version, leaving out common English words:

Wordle: Free Writing2

Seeing, waiting, tweeting...(tagging would have appeared but I leftnospaceslikeI'm doing now so it looked like one word. It's interesting to see how what we can see changes if we tweak certain parameters/variables.
I'm just beginning Pegrum's first chapter From Blogs to Bombs, but I think this post, as I write it, brings home to me his concept of "lenses" -as I read his text the story of the blind men and the elphant also came to mind...

So this could perhaps be a beginning into the Multiliteracies course for me. I have to admit I've monitored the activity in it, but haven't got fully engaged yet.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Online presentations

It's just after 10.30 AM and I've just attended my very first Elluminate live presentation -it was great! Michael Coghlan discussed different features of Flickr, possible uses in the classroom, what "visual literacy" means in the context of language teaching as a subterm of multiliteracy or digital literacy and why it might be a good idea to use media like these in the classroom.

The highlights for me were:

  • The wonderful possibilities brought about through Tagging and Geotagging; their potential not only for searching and organizing but also for joining people up
  • Annotations -beyond the cute and into a richer visual experience
  • The possibilities of creating "mazes" or stories through annotating
  • CC Licensing as a teaching resource
  • The various possibilities all this offers to teaching and learning
Mike took us through a step-by-step journey of his experience using Flickr, which was very interesting, and made me think of something I posted a few days ago: how unplanned this experience is; you start using something without realising all of its potential at first but discover it as you use it. There lies, in my opinion, the value of experiencing things and not just being told. Something I hope to be doing in my classes.

Last week I attended another excellent Webinar, organised this time by English Central. Jeremy Harmer discussed teaching Advanced Learners. The highlights of this presentation for me had to do with putting the emphasis on the Learner and what s/he needs/wants to learn.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

FOAF project: making human connections

Uploaded by calmansi.
FOAF = Friend Of A Friend

Just made me thought of what we're learning on these courses -dmpt101, evomlit, images4education, participating in Nings, wikis, blogs, microblogging...

And the potential of all that.

blogging3 by etutoria

blogging3, originally uploaded by etutoria.
I found this on Flickr by etutoria.

We're discussing multiliteracies, images, digital materials...Teens are living all that.
I do feel a bit sad for that discarded paper diary, though...

Visual Creativity

Today I played with images as part of the Images4education course I'm taking and it was great fun. I tried a collage that couldn't save but made me re-think some issues. I discovered the fun potential of Flickr Toys, BigHugeLabs.

I thought about my origins, which was very hard, but in the end managed to write a simple poem and select a picture that represents these. Task two looked to the future, and that was much easier. And i enjoyed reading and browsing my coursemates' photos and poems.

Yesterday I drew on sketchfu, and coloured one of the templates that some members create. I love to see the creation of the sketchfu drawings. I was coy at first and my first pictures were two black telephones. Yesterday I drew a sunburned pig (site's suggestion), a sleepy red frog (lost in cyberspace), a beach for one of my students and, with the template, I began to experiment with shades of colours and light. And had what felt an epiphany when I realised how to get the effect of erasing something -if the canvas is white and you paint it with the same shade of white, you can't see it. If you use white on top of other colours on a white canvas, you erase it. Simple -it took me at least a week to figure it out, though...

Saturday, 23 January 2010


This past week I learned.

This past week I lagged behind with assignments.

I stressed out fretting over assignments.

And I put 2 and 2 together. I experienced something I hardly ever experienced as a student in formal education. The need to complete the task no matter what.

In other words, I put product before progress (Freudian slip -meant process). A notion completely against my teaching beliefs. I don't intend to analyze why at the moment, but I did it. And it sucked -forgive the explicitness.

Especially because I was enjoying all the things that made me get behind. I engaged in different levels of communication and connection with various people;
                          I tried out new things and felt that cherished desire to improve for pleasure. I asked questions I'd  have never let myself ask -in the words of J.R (wonderful NLP Master Practitioner): I asked for my fried egg.

I received a few comments not intended to cheer me up, even though they did -simply a coincidence, serendipity, that brought me back to focus. From a team partner, from a tutor, from my inner voice, from someone in a website team, from my PLN, from some who will perhaps be part of my PLN (perhaps they already are).

I like process. I like pacing - wandering off - losing data that makes you revise and edit without intending to.

I like continuity and constancy in progress. I like fun. I like people.

                                                  And I could never enumerate all the things I learned this week.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Week 2

Twitter's up and running in my life, so is Plurk, and I'm almost there with the knowing what tasks I need to perform for each course this week. The only bit of this rollercoaster ride I need to sort out yet is the calendar, and remembering to pay more attention to Twibes.

So now I can sit back and relax for a while admiring all the photos we uploaded in the "Window view" discussion and start connecting to people more comfortable. I'm not very good with introductions. I recognise their value, but it feels like being on a rollercoaster ride within a tornado to me.

So now I can also pay attention to other activities (I hope to go to the pool and the gym soon), try out cool digital tools, and participate in other discussions. A fellow Ning educator set up a wiki to discuss new texts on education and I'm looking forward to taking part in it.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Reaching inside out

Another busy day, but in a different way. It started with a live chat about Instructional Design. There weren't as many rooms as in TappedIn, but again I got lost. The chat was being streamed on two sites and I was early so I wasn't able to see any familiar names for a while. Then there were some sound issues (the main speakers' speech came out too low) so that added to my difficulty to follow what was going on. Still: I learned the rudiments of two streaming sites, learned about weekly scheduled chats, and got my apetite whetted for the topic of Instructional Design.

Yesterday I spent a lot of time sorting out my emails into their appropriate boxes; today I began to do that and, as it happens, I got an update on a site I like and clicked on it. That's how I discovered Tumblr (the streaming sites were ustream and edtechtalk). I saw that it was a blogging space and thought-well, nothing really special there, right? It's mostly a matter of taste and technological sophistication. So I went on to see the blog for Storybird on Tumblr. I love their illustrations, and I've tried to write a story in their site (actually wrote a terrible one but enjoyed reading other people's). I saw a "follow" button -by then I'd already registered in the site so I was able to follow. The process in order to get there was long: I kept being prompted to write my first post, to set up my profile, choose a title, a theme and whatnot. I don't know why I went along. But after having set up all that, I decided to do some browsing and see where I'd opened yet another account. I liked it. It's relatively low-key, but you can use it to share all kinds of things. Many people upload their photos and art; you can simply add quotes, or text and video and I think it's the only site that allows you to add audio on its own. So I have another blog, called Musings .There's not much there yet, but from the theme you'll see it belongs to a different side of myself. Just like Journey Journal here on Blogger.

And that's what I've noticed about the means I use to communicate with my PLN: I use Twitter, which I enjoy, but it's very different from the kind of feeling and interaction I get in Plurk. I like belonging to both, and it was actually a person I follow on Twitter that was kind enough to introduce me to her group of plurkers -just like a teacher I'd met through the Ning network was very kind to guide me step by step into the world of Twitter, both technically and socially.

In microblogging, I've also joined two Twibes groups. That was new. Another thing I tried yesterday was Diigo. At first I didn't know why (I mean, it's all part of the course so I give things a try) but as I was filling in my profile with the reasons (and this goes to any of my students that happen to read this: free writing helps) I realised I wanted to use Diigo; I wanted to share with other people the websites I like. I wanted to be able to interact with like-minded people like that. And discover new sites through them.

So that was new as well. But familiar, because I always end up enriching my PLN, which in turn makes me happier in lots of ways.

The penny dropped when I read earlier today a comment from one of my fellow teachers on the Multiliteracies group. She'd managed to share her links through Google Reader, inspired by the Evomlit Bundle of blogs the course made (of which this blog is a part). I've been using Google Reader for a while now and just a few days ago Istarted clicking the share option in posts I really liked. I tweeted some of them but it became a bit of a hassle. I kept wondering where those shared links were going. So I visited this teacher's shared links page. And I realised that my links had probably ended up on a similar page. I was already more than half-way over what I wanted to do! So I set up my profile and read some guidelines and now you can see my shared links on Google Reader .So where does the penny come in? When I started mumbling about Diigo and what a waste of time that had been given that I already had a tool that did the job and I was familiar with. Well, not so much...

I won't get now into the things you can do with one that you can't do with the other; suffice it to say that, just like my various blogs, they all have something special. Just like Twibes are not the same as Twitter lists.

Just like I don't always behave and feel the same way. There is a core and I think it's quite safe to call it wanting to connect.

That's what I like about being here; not having read yet any of the assigned texts I'd like to put forward a working definition of multiliteracies, and I think this post begins to explain it -what multiliteracies mean to me.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Getting to grips with Multiliteracies (with a capital m?)

Once again, it's late and I wasn't going to blog today...but after supper I started to explain to my mum how I felt about the courses I'm taking. Yesterday I picniked my first photo (it's already uploaded in Flickr) and was thrilled about it and I also took part for the first time in a chat at TappedIn. I like the idea of moving from the old chat rooms into offices on different floors of a building (and I got lost, just like in a real building!). On the way out I stumbled upon other offices and joined an Arts group.

That's more or less how my multiliteracy's been being built, I think. Very unplanned yet following a discernable path.

Back to supper and my mum -I said I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by the course on Multiliteracy because it seemed to be happenning everywhere and I didn't know where to start. And as I was sayig that I realised that one of the reasons I've been a bit reluctant to read the suggested bibliography and to get more involved has to do with the concept of multiliteracies. I can picture and feel a concept like that in English, but in my mother tongue (Spanish) it just loses all flexibility. I was trying to define what I understand by multiliteracies at the moment and at the same time looking for a word in Spanish that my mum would understand. And all I could come up with was "multialfabetización", which is the sum of multi- (so far so good) + literacy (alfabetización). But it just doesn't add up. In Spanish, both to me and my mum, the concept is too firmly tied up to having basic reading and writing skills. I can reason that that is definitely not the whole picture -and it hasn't been for a while- but deep down inside -in whatever nooks and crannies of the body one feels language, I cannot.

Perhaps after this post I'll be able to unlock my nooks and crannies and begin to absorb what multiliteracies are about.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Learning, learning everywhere

It's rather late and I wasn't going to blog today, but I've just had a look at the "practice wiki" we use on the course I'm taking (Digital Materials Preparation Techniques) and a smile flashed across my face. We started on Saturday/Sunday, and Tuesday's just gone but I've already achieved a lot! There's lots more to learn, of course, but it amazed me how different it felt to read the introductions this time. There were already a number of them the first time I saw it, when I wrote mine, and I remember feeling a bit daunted. Now I felt at ease and from the Voicethread introductions I was able to put some faces and voices to some names...

I'm also taking Images4Education, which is what I devoted the most time to today -that can be seen in the fact that I now have a Flickr account -with photos!

I still need to get to grips with the third course on Multiliteracy (I'm supposed to tag a post evomlit by the end of this week...this one would be cheating, right?). I'll tag it but not make it count.

It's all actually very exciting. And today I also had a mini exchange in Russian again! (I had to frantically look up words and go back to check which character comes first, but my interlocutors were patient. I hope to meet them again). That's another tool I found on the Web this week: Russian keyboard online . I've been searching for Cyrillic fonts on and off for years now and just this week I find a much simpler way to use the characters and people to use them with!

Let's end it with one of the photos I took today:

Monday, 11 January 2010

Busy Beek (I know it's a lame pun!)

A New Year's begun and with it, new courses...It's summer and I've joined 3 online courses that link technology and education. It's no surprise to anyone who knows me that I enjoy learning new things, and the last few months have had quite a lot of it.

Courses were supposed to start officially today (Monday) but the tasks and meeting areas were available at least since the weekend, which is when I joined and after nomore thana few seconds freaked out. I actually had to draw a plan with the names of the courses and what kinds of tools and resources and spaces would each be using! I think that was Saturday evening -when I also applied for membership where it was required. On Sunday, plan in my hands, I started taking care of my profiles and printed out the syllabuses and tasks for week 1. I caught the freaking out phase just in time and reminded myself that I had the whole week to carry out the tasks. Anxiety began to subside. My PLN also helped a lot. I'm not used to having a solid one, and the one I'm building now seems to be going that way, which makes me terribly happy.

Today things actually began to be fun. I feel a lot better with printouts. I commented, greeted, introduced myself, bookmarked like crazy, took some photos...And even ran into someone I met at a conference in September. That was very nice.

So now I'm tired, but happy (and for more of this, if you're in your 30s like me, you'll remember Alanis).

And I almost forgot the highlight (well there were many) -the language highlight of the day: I introduced myself to a Russian plurker, in Russian and using the Cyrillic alphabet. How's that for a Monday?

And let me add a photo of today at dusk (not great, but not too bad either, I think). Let's hope to get better ones in days to come

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

While I was gone

It's been a while since I last wrote here. I've been enjoying and strengthening my PLN and also trying to process some of the situations I went through this (well, last) year.

A couple of months ago I couldn't picture what a PLN was. Now I'm happy I'm aware of mine. I've met many wonderful people online and we're gradually building up relationships, and I've also strengthened bonds with people I already knew. I suppose we all live and experience our PLN's in different ways, but probably the core is the same: it's composed by those you care for, that are there for you and care for you, those you can share a good laugh about something trivial and also discuss more serious issues with. Some of the people in my PLN have very different day-to-day activities and responsibilities, but I feel it's our identity and feeling for others, our beliefs and values that bring us closer. I'm happy even just knowing they're out there.

So I've been tweeting, and plurking, and exchanging ecards and emails, participating in other kinds of online social networking, and building projects.