Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Open Online Moodle Workshop

I´ll be co-facilitating an open, online Moodle workshop beginning January 4, 2010 and concluding January 31, 2010.   Check out the Moodle site, the general overview in Wikieducator, and our webinar scheduled this Saturday if you are interested.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Performance Task with English Language Learners

I just had a great conversation with Paty Corral, sharing her experience conducting a performance task with her English language learners:

Here's the complete video of the performance task:

Monday, November 23, 2009

Conquering Your Fear of Public Speaking

Certainly a fear not only for the native speaker but even more so for the non-native speaker.

Principle #1: Speaking in public is NOT inherently stressful

Priniciple #2: You don't have to be brilliant or perfect to succeed

Principle #3: All you need is two or three points

Principle #4: You need a purpose that is right for the task

Principle #5: Don't consider yourself a public speaker

Principle #6: Humility and humor can go a long way

Principle #7: When you speak in public, nothing "bad" can ever happen

Principle #8: You don't have to control the behavior of your audience

Principle #9: In general, the more you prepare, the worst you will do

Principle #10: Your audience truly wants you to succeed

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Open writing seminar for ELLs

A four-month, open writing seminar for English language learners is scheduled to begin the end of January and will conclude the end of May. To sign up, visit the Moodle main page and search for the course titled Writing Seminar (8th semester-BAELT).

Monday, November 9, 2009

Blended English Language Learning (BELL)

As I finish up this semester, I thought I'd share how I ended up blending a course I'm giving to pre-service English language educators studying in Mexico.  I say, "ended up blending a course" because I really had no idea at the beginning of the semester which technologies I would continue to use throughout the semester.  The class is a public speaking course for 5th semester students and meets face-to-face Monday (for two hours) and Wednesday (for one hour).

I created a group in LearnCentral that served as a central hub or meeting place (much like any learning management system might, like Moodle for example) where I mainly provided instructions that complemented what we did in class.  Since this was a public speaking class, I wanted to focus on two important aspects of public speaking: 1) reflecting on one's performance of giving a public speech, and 2) gaining confidence speaking English as a foreign language.  To address the former, I used BlipTV to host videos of the learners' performances in order for them to get used to seeing themselves speaking in front of an audience.  A playlist of all their performances follows:

To help learners gain more confidence in their speaking ability, they participated in a weekly language exchange whereby learners connected with Skype and had discussions with American native speakers - college students their same age.  Their American counterparts were learning Spanish, so each session learners spent half the class speaking English and half in Spanish.  After each weekly exchange, the English language learners were asked to submit reflections to VoiceThread either as an audio or video.  Moreover, learners were asked to reflect on their overall language exchange experience in written form by submitting comments to this blog.

In summation, technology was used to complement my face-to-face class as follows:

  • primary means for input (asynchronous communication): LearnCentral, Internet, VoiceThread, BlipTV
  • primary means for output (asynchronous communication): BlipTV, Voicethread, Blog
  • primary means to interact with others (sychronous communication): Skype, Internet 

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Language Exchange Reflections

English language learners in Mexico (UAA) who have been participating in a semester-long language exchange program with Marquette University have been asked to reflect on their experience.  To date, their weekly reflections have been spoken, using VoiceThread as a means of uploading public audio and video in the language learners' target language (i.e., English).

English language learners have been asked to reflect a bit deeper on the entire language exchange experience this semester in written form, either in their L1 (Spanish) or L2 (English) - their choice.  Their responses are the comments that follow this blog entry.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

CCK09: Connectivism and Culture

Connectivism offers the language learning community perhaps a new way of looking at what is learning, knowledge, and language acquisition. Let's take the notion of Intercultural Community Competency (ICC). A connectivist view on learning culture would approach it from both an epistemological (What is knowledge?) and ontological (Who am I?) perspective, among others. That is, the learning of culture would be the same as language learners making connections (i.e., at the biological, cognitive, and social level) as to the importance and relevance of culture and language within a given educational setting. This requires the language educator to facilitate the connective process through providing models and demonstrations (Downes) in order for language learners to "practice and reflect" to use Downes's words. In language learning, modeling and demonstrating does not (and should not in my view) come solely from the teacher. Technology now affords us a variety of ways at looking beyond the classroom in incorporating models and demonstrations that don't necessarily exclude didactic interventions as long as these interventions don't become the main source of "teaching" and "learning".

So, ICC as an emergent phenomenon is viewed as outcomes that cannot be reduced down to their individual parts. Language educators facilitate learners to make their own connections with regard to culture, utilizing technology and their social skills to foster this pursuit. This connectivist approach is quite different than the teacher providing most of the cultural information (mainly through didactic instruction) to the learner which is certainly to be biased in one form or the other. Stated another way, the learner recognizes cultural similarities and differences through a process of discovery that is provoked and supported by one or many language educators, peers, and/or subordinate learners.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC)

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the ANUPI 2009 conference with common themes that include ICC and learning competencies. After attending a couple of talks on the subject of ICC, I quickly realized how open-ended these discussions can be. Teacher evaluation and classroom instruction were both addressed in terms of ICC which led me to think how difficult it is to approach culture and language learning in any deterministic way (e.g., cultural antidotes typically found in textbooks). SimilarlyICC as an emergent phenomenon can have it's shortcomings depending on who is providing the input.  For example, if the teacher is the sole "provider" of cultural information, there is a likelihood that students will form both good and bad stereotypes.  Generalizing groups of people will certainly result in misunderstandings should the language learner ever come in contact with individuals with this perceived cultural background.

The way to foster ICC is to create opportunities for language learners to communicate with others, then provide the means for them to reflect on how others are similar and different than themselves.  Instead of generalizing a group of people, learners can articulate individual cultural attributes in an appreciative way.  Thus, the goal is to gain the understandings and dispositions necessary to communicate with others, recognizing the influences that culture has on people and how they communicate.  Ideally, the teacher's role is to facilitate this recognition process as opposed to supplying cultural information through didactic instruction.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009

My ESL (and EFL) Friends

Good session on providing tips (singing is option) on how to use WiZiQ with ESL/EFL learners...kind of a content course if you will for English language learners/educators.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

CCK09: The social dimension within connectivism

Miz Minh referred me to the book To think: in language, learning, and education (1), and as I was reading point #9 (on page 157), I saw a connection between what some would say as learning styles not existing to the present course on connectivism and connected knowledge, CCK09.  I would rephrase Smith's (1991) denial of "thinking in words" as follows:

The connections we form produce the visual images we perceive, or allow us to hear others in our "mind's ear".  So instead of looking at a "visual learner" as having a particular networked pattern in the brain, an educator, for example, would attempt to create an experience that allowed the learner to pursue the most salient cognitive, metacognitive, and social connections necessary, recognizing that each learner enters this same experience through a variety of "preferences and propensities" (Smith, 1991, 157).  

Reflecting on how I achieved this notion (granted, not all that profound), I recognize a variety of connective principles at play.  My own personal learning network - PLN - (Downes likes PLE) provided me with the connections necessary to reach this idea (i.e., a connection in itself).  There is a social element here which brought me in contact, to a degree, with Miz Minh, Smith, Willingham, and Downes.  Socially, I would say that I have more of a connection with Downes simply having participated in CCK08/09, even though I have not personally met any of these individuals. However, cognitively, the information that each of these individuals provides me takes on a different form.

Miz Minh afforded me the means for making cognitive connections between Smith, Willingham, and Downes that is distinct from the social connections previously mentioned.  Thus, I can have a stronger social connection with Downes - by taking the CCK08/09 courses - but might have a stronger cognitive connection with Willingham if I agree with his ideas over the other individuals mentioned here, for example.

Inge de Waard asks the question, Do you think Connectivism...should actively take part in society?

I think society provides the basis for making cognitive and biological connections.  It's not just about networking with people, it's what you do with the information you obtain from those people that makes the difference.  For example, I could set up a language exchange for language learners where they talk to native speakers in their respective target languages via Skype.  This alone might give the impression that this is a good social connection because they have contact with native speakers.  But this is just an affordance.  The potential is there for them to learn from a native speaker (through the development of cognitive connections) but it does not mean they will automatically do so.  Perhaps, the language educator will need to guide the learners through the experience in order to facilitate their learning, that is the social and technological dimensions of this experience provide an opportunity for action on the part of the language learner to cultivate cognitive/biological connections based on individual "preferences and propensities" (Smith, 1991, 157).

The social and technological dimensions of connectivism provide the affordances necessary to develop the cognitive and biological connections required for continued growth.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Language Exchange Webinar

I would like to invite everyone to a language exchange webinar designed to provide language educators opportunities to share experiences.

Friday, September 25, 2009

CCK09: DELL concept map

I've included here a concept map for distance English language learning (i.e., DELL), for a course I´m contemplating for English language learners that can be delivered 100% online. In fact, the same map would represent a blended course as well.

Always looking for collaborators, feedback, suggestions, comments, etc.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

CCK09: Knowledge is in the connection

...knowledge is IN the connections: This to me has more significance in that it's not just that there is a connection, but recognizing the tie (strong or weak) within the connection as well.

...knowledge IS the connections: This has less significance to me because it seems that the connection is all that matters, not so much the tie within the connection.

Regardless of the language, I think the point is that connectivism is based on the notion that what we know is a complexed arrangement of connections that is particular to the individual at a particular point in time. The arrangement of connections (e.g., knowledge) is in a constant state of flux; that is, it's either growing or diminishing on a continuous basis (it never stays the same). I equate this to learning a musical instrument. Back in the day, I used to practice the upright bass for hours, whether preparing for a concert or some music event somewhere. I was well aware that if I was playing - putting forth my best effort - I was improving. If I wasn't playing, I was becoming a worse bass player. I can say that I´m sure that no one in the rest of the world played the upright bass exactly the way I did (which is a good thing). The same goes for connective knowledge. My understanding of Paris is the capital of France is unique and unlike everyone else's understanding of the same.

This is why knowledge is not a thing. If it were, I could have found other upright bass players who played exactly the way I did. Wow, what a group that would have been!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

CCK09: I woke up finding Waldo

Although I hate to admit it, I woke up this morning "finding Waldo" by way of CCK09.

When I started CCK08, I wasn´t quite sure as to what I believed. The notion of the "The pipe is more important than the content within the pipe" had me thinking (which is always good :)) in the distinction between the what, how, why, with whom, to whom, for whom, etc. of education. Early on, I "sided" with Siemens in breaking down networked learning into neural, conceptual, and social components...but now this interpretation has shifted a bit.

This "change of heart" - which again, hit me as I was waking up this morning (I know, it' sick) - has to do more with the conceptual and social categories that involve connective knowledge. I view these two categories as being "artificial". In my own learning, the "data" that I draw from all originates from some human source (as opposed to a "non-human appliance") that are provided to me through an "operating system of the mind". When I read a book or read an article from the Internet, the information comes from a real live human being - at least they were alive when they decoded the information. Now, if I continue not to have any social interaction with the author(s) of this information, I view this as contributing primarily to my conceptual network. I say primarily, because I also view a professor giving me a lecture (and I'm taking on a passive role as a learner) as also contributing to my conceptual network. If I send an email or chat with the author, then it becomes some sort of mixture between conceptual and social network formations (as opposed to it being one or the other). Similarly, if I take that information from an author that is currently dead, and I begin discussing this information with someone else (through human interaction), then again the conceptual and social networks begin to intertwine.

The attributes of connectivism then are those ties (both strong and weak) with individuals (alive or dead) that affords us to merge conceptual and social connections in a way that best benefits the individual. Instead of looking at a concept map as solely a tool that forms conceptual networks, it should be seen as a tool that has the potential to form both conceptual and social networks (e.g., changing, adapting, or revising a personal conceptual map as a result of interacting with others). Or learning something on my own, then sharing this with someone else to get some feedback. The value of connecting knowledge is the merging of conceptual and social networks and realizing the effects that one has over the other.

My dissertation topic is beginning to!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Personal Philosophy of Education & CCK09

After taking the TPI, I have to say that I agree with the results. I scored considerably lower on the transmission section (i.e., 23) which to me makes sense. Part of my philosophy is the notion that learners who have a choice in the content, process, and product they are to be involved with will be more motivated and empowered to actively participate in the learning process. Although there are times when I take the lead, I am much more comfortable when I´m in a facilitative or coaching role, as Mortimer pointed out in his "Paideia Program" (1983).

I´m essentially dead even on the Apprenticeship, Developmental, and Nurturing scales (40, 41, & 40 respectively) while a little lower on the Social Reform scale, 36 points. As an English as a foreign language educator, much of my philosophy has to do with taking learners from where they are and building on prior knowledge and experiences. This typically involves the notion that "doing and learning are synonymous" (Larsen-Freeman, 2003, p. 14). In the same vein then, learning a new language also occurs at the same time that one is increasing understandings and individual dispositions or habits of mind.

Scoring slightly lower in the social reform scale, I recognize the importance of social context within language learning. But this can lead to a complicated pursuit in determining how much time to spend on the multitude of social contexts that a particular language learner might be exposed to in the future. I am careful at how much of my time is spent on instruction and assessment as they pertain to sociocultural discourse unless the learners request it, I see a particular need, or the situation presents itself whereby discussing such discourse leads to an interesting and motivating teachable moment.

Language learning within the principles of connectivism for me is quite interesting. Content as well as language is changing constantly, so I definitely see a need to focus on both ontology and epistemology within language education. I see great flexibility in what language learners are given the choice to learn, above and beyond just the language. Typically, syllabi are stated as behavioral objectives that typically are limited to language objectives embedded with "shallow" themes (i.e., health, family, etc.). My interests center on how understandings (for cognitivists) or connections can be formed as language and knowing about language are learned as well. In other words, understandings, knowledge, skills, and dispositions all become means and ends, which are typically stated in terms of expressive outcomes - that is as an "educational encounter" (Sergiovanni, 1999, p. 81).

I agree with Siemens when he states that connections are formed at the neural, conceptual, and social "levels". I think this serves the language learner well, especially in terms of the social aspect of network creation since now technology allows language learners from around the world to interact with each other to a much higher degree. This also opens up the "playing field" in that language learners now have at their disposal a wider range of "experts" to draw from.

Larsen-Freeman, D. (2003). Teaching language: From grammar to grammaring. Boston: Heinle.

Mortimer, A. (1982). The paideia proposal. New York: MacMillan.

Sergiovanni, T. (1999). Building community in schools. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Monday, September 14, 2009

CCK09: Getting started…

Well, today officially kicks off the second MOOC on Connectivism. I posted earlier how I would set up my own PLN, and have pretty much decided to stick with that except for one exception: using Google Reader (GR). Although there is a Moodle forum set up for the course, I will be using GR as my main aggregator, or a way to bring related information to me through the use of a tag: CCK09.

The reason I´m taking this course is to pursue related research interests, specifically as they pertain to English language learning. As I´m finalizing my doctoral coursework, I am now in the process of narrowing down a topic that by year's end will be the basis of my dissertation. My hopes are that this "second round" at CCK09 (previously CCK08) will shed more light on the practicality of the theoretical concepts being covered.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Bloom's Taxonomy vs. UbD

In reading Bloom's Taxonomy 2.0, I quickly thought of posting an alternative that I believe is more representative of how one learns today. The taxonomy revision (i.e., relabeling, changing nouns to verbs, etc.) does little to change how it's being used in the classroom: mainly to establish pre-determined outcomes. For example, many course objectives are expressed as the following: "By the end of the course the learner will be able to apply this, or analyze that, etc. Since the new taxonomy is still hierarchical, teachers, I feel, still tend to think linear in that they begin considering the lower order of thinking skills first.

Churches (2009) answers the following question:

Is it important where you start? Must I start with remembering?

I don't think it is. The learning can start at any point, but inherent in that learning is going to be the prior elements and stages.

But in practice, I wonder how much of the lower levels of the taxonomy are explicitly being taught in the classroom, and how much the learner actually brings to the learning experience on their own (either through prior experiences or through the classroom experience itself). Also, is it possible to develop "prior elements" (i.e., "remembering" and "understanding") at the same time as developing "later elements", such as "evaluating" and "creating"?

An alternative that is more conducive to learning as an emergent phenomenon, based more on chaos theory is Wiggins and McTighe's (2005) notion of building understandings, a term quite different than the way the term is being defined in the new taxonomy. Understandings are expressed in terms of "six facets":

With this alternative, objectives are stated in terms of understandings whereby the teacher facilitates the development of these six facets according to the teaching context. In other words, learners gain understandings (i.e., information and ideas that relate to the learner) through their own personal journey that is certain to be unique for each individual.

Take the following understanding for example, often seen in a thematic unit on friendship in a foreign language class: Learners will understand that friendship requires give and take. Imagine how learners can provide their own understanding of what constitutes a friendship without working typically through a hierarchical process that adheres solely to the cognitive domain. The empathy facet, for example, includes an affective aspect of learning and is seen as just as important as being able to explain, apply, interpret, etc. Understandings thus become the cultivation of six, equal, aspects of learning that emerge from the learning experience as opposed to being dictated to the learner on the first day of class.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Public speaking through integrated technologies

This semester I´m teaching a public speaking class to pre-service English language educators in Mexico and have signed up again to participate in a series of language exchange sessions with Marquette University. When approaching which technology to use for this class - in hopes of enhancing the learning experience - I opted out of using Moodle at one end (i.e., a CMS that tends to be a more closed off learning environment) and wikis, blogs, etc. at the other (i.e., totally open learning environment). In an effort to provide a quasi-open learning environment for learners, I decided to integrate technologies that mainly include the following: LearnCentral, BlipTV, VoiceThread, Skype, and Engrade.

I'm using LearnCentral as our main hub; that is, a place where most of our asynchronous interaction takes place. Students join an open group where other LearnCentral members can join and participate as well. So it ends up being open to other educators and learners but limited to the members within LearnCentral. The objective is to expose learners to a variety of experts on the subject of public speaking that serves as a complement of what they are doing in class.

Also, we record video presentations and upload to BlipTV so students can see and hear themselves speak. This gives them a chance to reflect on their linguistic and paralinguistic skills as well as to reflect on the performances of their classmates. The assessment aspect of public speaking thus becomes a distributed effort among the teacher, peers, and self.

Each week, Skype and VoiceThread are used to conduct weekly exchanges and reflections which both serve as an additional tool to help with the development of public speaking skills: last semester reflections and this semester reflections. See here to view a language exchange project we implemented last year.

Finally, Engrade is used to post attendance, assignments, and grades. This allows students to know at all times how they are being assessed for the class.

So, the integration of these technologies is a mixture of closed and open learning environments and is integrated in a way that helps students move in and out of each one. Learning resources are added to the LearnCentral group in order to link and embed relevant and meaningful web content and voicethreads and videos are embedded within LearnCentral as well so in effect, LearnCentral becomes a space where input and output come together.

How are others integrating technologies currently in their classrooms?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I think critically, therefore I am

Just as important as the article itself is the path it took to get here!

OLDaily>Critical Thinking blog post>I think critically, therefore I am - original blog post

Who says we don't learn differently than we did, say 20 years ago! In less than 24 hours, this single idea has been exposed to four different readerships: Times Higher Education, elearnspace (George Siemens), OLDaily (Stephen Downes)> and of course to the Collaborative Understandings blog!

Sunday, August 2, 2009


About a year ago, the CCK08 course was labeled as a massive open online course (MOOC) by some. As people prepare for CCK09 in September, I wonder if it'll be more or less "massive" than last year. And what makes a course "massive"? How many participants need to sign up or participate that warrants a name like MOOC?

What's more important is the course design in that there are many entry points to choose from as an active participant. The level of participation can vary as well, that is it's open as each person can decide how much time to invest. Except for a few credit-seeking students, the only thing that resembles a "course" really is the fact there are beginning and ending dates. Actually, a MOOC is more like an open, online workshop, and this year it appears that it might even resemble various workshops in that various online conferences are planned to be implemented. Thus, a "MOOC" ends up becoming a different thing for different people which bears the question, Is there a more accurate name for this type of learning experience?

Other interesting notions that come to mind in getting started with CCK09:
  • How many participants who signed up for CCK09 also signed up for CCK08?
  • How many participants who actively participated in CCK08, also actively participated in CCK09? (however one decides to define "active participation")
  • How many participants continued their learning of the content from the end of CCK08 to the beginning of CCK08? What content in particular did they focus on and how was this achieved?
  • Is a 12-week presentation and discussion of CCK-related content the best way to conduct interactions? Another option is to create an infrastructure (say Google Wave when it's up-and-running) that promotes ongoing dialog on the topic.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


In getting geared up for the next CCK09 course on connectivism and connected knowledge, I plan to use primarily blogs as a means for exchanging ideas. My hope is to find a variety of interesting blogs that share common and interesting perspectives that for me are more likely to extend beyond the course itself. There will also be a Moodle site for the course where many discussions take place, so I may "dip in" there from time-to-time as well. There also is a course wiki and a Facebook group where the former is definely useful whereas the latter not so much as far as my own PLN goes.

I also will be feeding my blog to my twitter and friendfeed but am not sure really how helpful these two will be yet. Time will tell.

Oh, and I will use NetVibes as my main aggregator as well as the The Daily in order to attempt to organize the huge amounts of information that this type of course generates.

Well, this is what I have in mind at this point.

Here is how someone else plans to develop their PLN for the upcoming course.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Assessment in language learning

I enjoyed reading Ending the semester, Lessons Learned (Part 4: Assessment) as it gives some helpful insight into the assessment process from the perspective of the language learner. Having learners set out their own goals, articulate how they are to achieve those goals, then self-assess at the end is a good way for learners to be more autonomous and more active in the learning process. I would add that implementing this type of exercise also depends on the sociocultural background of the learner since some may not be used to taking on this new role.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

UVM Final Projects

UVM teachers conducting their final projects:

Great job everyone!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)

How do or could you use the principles of ZPD and scaffolding in your own teaching practice?

Related sites:

Other sites:

What Teachers Make

The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life. One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued, “What’s a kid going to learn from someone who decided the best option in life was to become a teacher?”

He reminded the other dinner guests what they say about teachers: “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.”

To stress his point he said to another guest: “You’re a teacher, Bonnie. Be honest, what do you make?”

Bonnie, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness, replied: “You want to know what I make?” She paused for a second, then began…

“Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could. I make a 6.0 feel like the Congressional Medal of Honour. I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents can’t make them sit for 5 without an ipod, Game Cube or movie rental…

You want to know what I make?” She paused again and looked at each and every person at the table.

“I make kids wonder. I make them question. I make them criticize, I make them apologize and mean it. I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions. I teach them to write and then I make them write. I make them read, read, read. I make them show all their work in maths. I make my students from other countries learn everything they need to know in English while preserving their unique cultural identity. I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe. I make my students stand to sing the Mexican National Anthem, because we live in Mexico. Finally, I make them understand that if they use the gifts they were given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life.”

Bonnie paused one last time and then continued.

“Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, I can hold my head up high and pay no attention because they are ignorant. You want to know what I make? I MAKE A DIFFERENCE. What do you make?”

By Taylor Mali

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Prescriptive vs. Descriptive English

Activity 1

Read over Morford's blog pertaining prescriptive and descriptive English. Reflect on your own CLIL teaching and

Activity 2

Listen to the following blog talk radio episode on Keys to the classroom: Navigating your way through challenging moments


Here is an example of using Wordle from responses to this blog:





The e-learning gap

I like this presentation but I agree with Downes in that the title is misleading. For example, in slide two he puts instruction and assessment (i.e., formative and summative) in separate categories, when they are really general terms that refer to many of the other terms mentioned in the same slide. Moreover, instruction and assessment often overlap as well.

The title of this slide reminds me of similar, "empty" phrases that are meant to capture the attention of the audience, but are really open to a wide variety of interpretation: no child left behind, teaching the whole child, etc.

It's not only a skills gap but an understanding gap as well, understanding how current technologies can contribute to curriculum, assessment, and instruction. As a teacher and student, it's also about how technologies can serve as "teacher", "tutor", and "student" when defining roles within educational contexts.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Needs analysis

Reflect on what we discussed today regarding the importance of doing a needs analysis in your own teaching context. Create a needs analysis that would be most appropriate for your own CLIL course. Some things that you might consider follow.

Teacher perspective:

  • Name of your class (teacher perspective)

  • Brief description of your class (teacher perspective)

  • Class objectives (teacher perspective)

  • Your expectations for your class (teacher perspective)

Student perspective (source):

  • Personal Details:



    Main Language:

    Date of Birth:


    Contact telephone number/email address:

    Professional Details:

    Current Job Title:

    Basic Duties:

    English Language:

    Number of years you've studied English:

    Rate your skills in the following (1-10, 1 being poor, and 10 being excellent)







    Which of the following would you like to improve:







    What is your main goal in studying English?

    Is there anything that you'd like to focus on specifically?

    Other comments:

Feel free to adapt this needs analysis as you see fit! Submit your needs analysis by responding to this post (comment section).

helpful sites:

Needs analysis

Needs analysis 2

Monday, July 20, 2009

Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL)

Visit the following three websites and add what you learned, what you already knew, and what you would like to know more about as they all pertain to CLIL:

CLIL Consortium
Isabel's ESL Site

Respond to this blog entry, one post per each of the above sites (three total).

Related sites:
BBC Learning English
One-stop CLIL

CLIL Debate



In your own words, paraphrase the most important points mentioned
in this video and explain them in terms of your own teaching context.


Click here to go directly to the voicethread.


Friday, July 17, 2009

UVM-Aguascalientes teachers’ blogs

Here are some blogs from teachers at UVM-Aguascalientes:

Jorge Gallegos
Alejandro Padilla
David Arellano's blog
MiSs GaBee'S bLoG
Agustin Padilla takemyclass
Bertha Castillo
Luz MarĂ­a Carrillo
Leonel Gonzalez Blog's Site
Arturo Mejia
Eduardo Guerrero M.
Monica Marquez

Hector GarciaEveryone's doing a great job getting their blogs up and running!

Wetpaint adds news feeds

Wetpaint just added a great new feature to their site…news feeds.

I particularly like how readers can insert comments under each feed. Also, I´m posting to this blog using Windows Live Writer.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Computer mediated communication

Today's session will focus on computer mediated communication: VLE, PLE, PLN, LMS, etc. We will particularly be looking at Moodle and how this platform can be an option for complementing what you do face-to-face (f2f). Check out NineHub - a free Moodle hosting site - if you're interested in setting up your own Moodle page.

See how other UVM teachers are developing their pages:

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sclipo web meeting

This web meeting will address the following:

* How to use Sclipo to teach
* All about courses, your library, live web classes, and live web meetings
* How you can make money teaching on Sclipo
* And anything else you'd like to ask me

To attend this live web class, just click here (feel free to share this link with your friends and colleagues).

See you in the live web class!

Authentic materials and technology

Review the following resources available for implementing internet-based activities within your own teaching context:

  1. wikis
  2. blogs
  3. podcasts/videocasts
  4. webquests
Which of these resources would be most appropriate in your own teaching context? Find examples of how other teachers are using these resources in their own classes (including the link to these pages), and state what you like about these sites (i.e., organization, content, design, etc.). Include at least five examples (along with their respective links).


Top 100 educational blogs

Educational wikis

The Education Podcast Network (EPN)

Podcasts Videocasts Wiki

Zunal (examples of webquests)

Collecta (real-time search engine)

UVM Training Blogs

Check out what other UVM trainers are doing throughout Mexico:

UVM RedNova Summer Course blog created by Sam Mace, RedNova consultant in Lomas Verdes

UVM RedNova Monterrey blog created by Steve Edmunds, RedNova consultant in Monterrey

As we learn together as a group, so too do we learn from what others are doing. In a learning community (as a community of practice), participants openly share ideas and experiences in a way that suits both the individual and the group.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Balancing Blended Learning

Today we are continuing our discussion on blended learning and the different web 2.0 tools that can be used in your own classroom: PowerPoint, internet, video, audio, podcasts/iTunes/twitter, chatrooms, social networks, wikis/blogs, and smart boards. Since PowerPoint presentations are used quite a bit in the classroom, I thought it appropriate to include a humorous "tutorial" on what not to do when creating your own.

In a prior class, we videotaped ourselves:

Here are the notes generated by each group:

Session 6 Group Feedback Notes

To embed this video to this blog, I did the following:
  1. Downloaded the video to my computer
  2. Converted the video to flash (I used Free Studio Manager)
  3. Uploaded flash video to BlipTV
  4. Copied the embed code from BlipTV
  5. Pasted the embed code to the blog
One of the key concepts in blended learning is understanding when to use synchronous and asychronous communication, both from a technological and non-technological perspective.

  • Discuss the following by responding to this thread: a) your content course, b) synchronous, non-technological ways to deliver information, c) asynchronous, non-technological ways to deliver information, d) synchronous, technological ways to deliver information, and e) asynchronous, technological ways to deliver information. Which of these will be use the most and the least? Why?


"Love your audience and they'll love you back."

"Instead of focusing on self, [focus] on the beauty of the audience and the whole event..."

"I never let that leave me. I would start with that. I would start with loving my students. And it's striking how much my teaching has changed in five years, as a result of that. It's basically about shifting form getting people to love you,. to you loving them. It has four parts (Fromm, 1956):
- caring
- responsibility
- respect
- knowledge"

"Interesting example: compare the 'expert' (me, 34 years of life experience, been to 10 countries) and my students (4000 years of life experience, been to 50 countries). You become a learner among learners, just a part of the community. Kevin kelly: "Nobody is as smart as everybody."

These quotes really stuck with me when I read this summary of a talk by Michael Wesch. Enjoy!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Blended Learning

Today we are discussing blended learning. Some sites we'll be using this week are the following:

Here are some sites we will be using this week:
  • Wikispaces
  • This blog
  • Sites from your colleagues (to be listed in our wikispaces site)

After watching this video, review some of the following sites to determine which would best serve your own content class:

  1. How do you feel blended learning can improve instruction and assessment within your own teaching context? What technologies would and wouldn't work? (include your name when submitting post.)
  2. Go to our wikispaces and add any links to websites that you currently use, both as a learner and educator.
  3. As a separate post, but posting to this same thread, answer the questions to the project found in lesson three, exercise six (unit 1).

Friday, July 10, 2009

Literature Circles

Watch the following video:

Considering your content courses, what ways have you or could you implement a similar technique in your own class. Start off by explaining the context of the course and then a detailed discussion as to what this activity would look like (at least 250 words).


Watch the following video (the one we saw in class):

In reflecting on what you learned this week, discuss what you knew before, what you learned, and what you would like to learn in terms of English skills (i.e., reading, writing, listening, and speaking), grammar, teaching techniques, strategies, activities, and key concepts.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Tools for reading, writing, and thinking

Visit Tools for Reading, Writing, and Thinking and find those graphic organizers that you feel are most appropriate for English language learners taking your content course. Explain your content course and your rationale for choosing these graphic organizers. (Reply to this blog entry.)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Voicethread for CLIL Teacher Reflections

This VoiceThread can be accessed either from this blog or directly from VoiceThread itself.

Promoting creativity in schools

Sir Ken Robinson presents a great talk on creativity:

Think about the content course that you teach and how teaching this same content now in English will change your teaching approach. Describe this change and explain how you will promote creativity in your class.
Current traffic map for the Collaborative Understandings blog:

PMELT Presentations

This performance task was designed for pre-service Mexican English language teachers - PMELTs - (Freshmen in college) and integrated the following technologies: Ted Videos, PowerPoint, video, BlipTV, and Wetpaint. Additionally, one group demonstrated a software application with their own computer as part of their presentation. PMELTs were given the choice of selecting their TED video (approximately 20 minutes in length) and determining how they would present it to the class (e.g., everyone choice to use PowerPoint as opposed to it being a requirement). The criteria for doing this performance task was as follows:
  1. Everyone must speak about the same amount of time, using cue cards but in their own words. (pronunciation, fluency, accuracy, vocabulary, grammar, non-verbal communication, etc.)
  2. The group should articulate the "moral of the presentation". That is, what was the "lesson" learned by watching the TED video.
  3. The group was to explain the most interesting details of the TED video.
  4. The group was to provide supporting information that was relevant to the video but was not included in the video itself. (This requires them to research the topic.)
  5. The group was to include some personal experience related to the TED video. They were also encouraged to create a dialog with their audience, having their audience discuss an experience related to the TED video as well.
To see the TED video with the corresponding presentation, click here.

Comments/suggestions are appreciated, either here or in Wetpaint!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Differentiated Instruction

Handling a classroom of learners who share mixed abilities can be a challenge. Differentiated instruction is a good way to meet this challenge. Take a look at the following videos:

Teaching content courses to English language learners will require a great deal of differentiated instruction.

Question: When reflecting on your own experience in the classroom, how have you differentiated content, process, or product, taking into account the learners readiness, interests, and learning preference? As content teachers, how might this change when teaching content language as a foreign language?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Did you Know?

Check out this video:

How will this impact what you do in your classes?

Getting Started (UVM summer course)

I just want to welcome everyone to day one of our three-week, sixty-hour summer course. We covered a lot of information today and everyone was very patient in getting started.

Here are a few sites that you might find useful (courtesy of Sam Mace):

A resource bank for CLIL

Site where you are to complete your online work for the course

Blog for CLIL trainees


Don't forget to complete the following homework for tomorrow (July 7, 2009):

1. This course will be a success if…

2. Something I would not like to experience in this course is…

3. Something I would like the trainer to know about me is…

4. Something I am particularly worried about is...

5. By the end of this course, I expect to...

Please also include your full name and username and password of MEC and either email ( it to me or hand it in to me personally.

I´m excited to be your facilitator for the course and look forward to hearing your insights as we all learn together!

Here is my Wikieducator user page should you want to know more about me.

And here is our class Wiki that we'll use later on during the course.

Question for you: What websites are you using or would like to use that you feel would help you in your classes? (I encourage you to post a comment to this thread!)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Language Exchange

The American School in Aguascalientes is looking for schools who are interested in participating in language exchanges via Skype. If you're interested, please contact them directly.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Calling all English language stakeholders!!

"I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as
long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can." –
George Bernard Shaw

This quote by George Bernard Shaw, I think, sums up how most of those who participate in WE and their commitment to OERs. In an attempt to do something for the community, I’ve
created the beginnings of an open course in English language learning
with the intent of bringing together English-language speakers (of all levels and
ages) in a way that fosters interaction. Although it may appear a bit
structured, the idea (as I have it at the moment) is to bring those
along the “long tailinto the heart of a discussion that brings about various cross-
cultural perspectives. In other words, I´m interested in not only
bringing together English language educators and ELLs, but any English
speaker that has an interest in interacting with big ideas, understandings, etc. as well as guiding ELLs
through the language learning process.

Recognizing that I will never develop such a project as well alone as
I could with others, I invite you to the wiki in order to have an
idea as to what I´m proposing. If it is of any interest to you
(regardless of your education, experience, or English level), please
feel free to leave comments in the “discussion” tab or contact me
directly (I prefer the “discussion” tab over putting comments directly in the
page itself, please). If anyone would like to discuss this in real-
time, we can certainly do that as well. I´m actually more interested
in receiving comments that explain why a project of this type would
not work, or how in its current form the course would fall short in
achieving its objective (i.e., constructive criticism).

Thanking you for taking the time to read this post, I am.


Friday, April 10, 2009

Web2.0 Classrooms versus learning

Web 2.0 Classrooms Versus Learning?

Here´s an interesting discussion about using technology as a tool and the process of learning. There are many for and against this issue, two videos in particular are mentioned: 1) Networked Student and 2)From Questions to Concepts. However, I don´t see this as much of a debate. I think most would agree that technology has a place in most educational experiences, but that it depends a lot on the course, teacher, student, and technology available. These videos show a variety of ways that technology could be used or adapted to different types of classes, but the real issue has more to do with pedagogical development and less to do with technological development.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

All things Wiki

Lately it's been all things wiki - I'm just finishing up an online workshop on wikieducator (WE) in pursuit of becoming a wikimaster sometime down the road (smile). I'd highly recommend looking at WE for those who wish to collaborate with other educators and who are interested in contributing to open educational resources. My efforts are still a work in process but it's fun learning the code and figuring out how it all works.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Assessment Validity

In gathering evidence to measure student achievement, classroom teachers, course designers, and administrators have a variety of ways to incorporate validity. Popham (2008) describes three types of validity evidence related to “content, criterion, and construct”.

Content related validity is especially important for classroom teachers in assuring that formative and summative assessments are aligned to curricular aims. Once assessment evidence is determined, instruction should align with assessment through a “backward design” (Wiggins and McTighe, 2005) so that all classroom activities remain on target. Besides classroom teachers, instructional leaders can use “walkthroughs” (Downey, Steffy, English, Frase, and Poston, 2004) as a means of bringing alignment of curriculum, assessment, and instruction to the forefront as well. That is, content related validity involves all stakeholders working together through a community of practice in assuring that the taught curriculum aligns to the written curriculum.

Criterion related validity deals with using assessment to predict future behaviors. Aptitude exams are a good example. When students take the ACT or SAT exam, they are measured on how likely they are to succeed academically in the future. Although assessment experts carefully consider criterion related validity in these exams, “only about 25% of academic success in college is associated with a high school student’s performance on [these exams]” (Popham, 2008, p. 301). Perhaps a reason why it is difficult to use assessment measures to predict future behavior is due to the uncertainty of how people will apply themselves under new circumstances (e.g., attending college, a new school, etc.). Criterion related validity typically involves assessment outside the classroom setting.

Like content related validity, construct related validity entails all stakeholders, classroom teachers particularly taking on an important role. Interventions, differential-population, and related-measures studies (Popham, 2008, pp. 63-65) are three types of content related validity that assessment designers use to hypothesize, test, and infer information and behaviors. For example, assessments should measure a progression of improved student understandings, knowledge, skills, and dispositions (i.e., intervention study). Assessments should be free of bias based on the student’s social-economic status, background, etc. (i.e., differential-population study). And assessments should be consistent between teachers teaching the same level of content (i.e., related-measures study). Like content related validity, the efforts of all stakeholders are needed in order to address construct related validity within a school in order to create assessments that are as accurate and fair.