Saturday, November 28, 2015

Una Diagnosi per al Programa d'Immersió Lingüística

Amagadeta en un racó de la pàgina de la gencat m'he trobat amb aquesta Eina de diagnosi per reflexionar sobre l’aplicació del Programa d’Immersió Lingüística a les escoles, que és una autèntica meravella!

És una eina que es va publicar a l'octubre de 2014, elaborada per un grup de treball coordinat pel Servei d’Immersió i Acolliment Lingüístics, amb la finalitat d’oferir un instrument que facilités la reflexió a l’equip docent sobre l’aplicació del Programa d’Immersió Lingüística, amb l’objectiu d’identificar quins aspectes han de millorar. És una llàstima que no hi hagi una referència més explícita als seus autors, doncs es nota un bagatge lingüístic i professional molt potent al darrera.

L’instrument intenta donar resposta a les preguntes següents:
  • Què implica per a l’escola aplicar el Programa d’Immersió Lingüística (PIL)?
  • Què pot fer l’escola per afavorir l’aprenentatge d’una L2?
  • Quins aspectes del PIL podem millorar al nostre centre?
Es pot considerar doncs una eina de diagnosi, que serveix per detectar els punts forts i els punts febles de l’aplicació del Programa d’Immersió Lingüística en una escola.

A l’ensems, la mateixa eina presenta línies d’actuació perquè el centre pugui valorar i decidir si li convé incorporar canvis metodològics o organitzatius.

L’origen d’aquest instrument s’ha de situar en el Pla per a la Llengua i la Cohesió Social (2004-2011), en què es va definir un nou marc d’intervenció basat en la llengua, la interculturalitat i la cohesió social, que es concretava en l’aula d’acollida, el centre acollidor i el pla educatiu d’entorn: tres línies estratègiques per respondre d’una manera integrada als nous reptes de cohesió social i lingüística de la nostra societat.

És per això que estimo el català!
Des dels anys vuitanta, molts centres de bona part dels territoris de parla catalana apliquen programes d’immersió lingüística perquè els alumnes que no tenen el català com a llengua familiar l’aprenguin de manera integrada amb els continguts del currículum.

Aquesta aplicació per part d’alguns centres, però, ha esdevingut, a voltes, rutinària, sense la reflexió necessària que hauria d’haver comportat el canvi de la composició sociolingüística dels alumnes del nostre país, especialment durant la primera dècada del segle XXI.

És dins d’aquest nou context que es concretà el Pla per a l’actualització de la metodologia d’immersió en l’actual context sociolingüístic (2007-2013), ja que calia adaptar i potenciar la immersió lingüística, aprofitant el patrimoni pedagògic de tota l’experiència acumulada per la comunitat educativa de les terres de parla catalana.

Ens cal donar un nou impuls al català!


Saturday, November 21, 2015

La Gamificació a l'Aula de Llengües

What I like this week

Interessantíssima aquesta xerrada entre Francisco Herrera, Joan-Tomàs Pujolà y Victoria Castrillejo sobre els procesos de gamificació a l'aula de castellà (com a segona llengua) dins de "Encuentro Práctico International House".

En aquesta entrevista es parla sobre les relacions entre Joc i Aprenentatge, el concepte de gamificació i la qüestió de que s'ha de veure com una evolució o com una disrupció d'un enfocament lúdic més ampla.

En quins moments s'ha de gamificar i en quins no? En quin moment de la investigació ens trobem? Quines pràctiques docents s'estan portant a terme amb aquesta metodologia?





Joc i aprenentage han d'anar lligats, doncs el joc és una eina molt potent en l'aprenentatge de les llengües. El Joc desinhibeix, fa perdre la por a l'error, crea una atmosfera i un espai d'aprenentatge relaxat i fomenta la creativitat en un entorn molt motivador.

La gamificació te, precisament aquest poder de posar a la nostra disposició -els mestres- unes mecàniques de pensament crític i unes habilitats de pensament complexes (critical thinking and high thinking skills) que provoquen inevitablement l'aprenentatge.

De tota manera, amb la gamificació pot passar el mateix que passa amb la creativitat: creure que és una activitat reservada només als infants i que, en créixer, l'hem d'abandonar i mostrar una faceta menys "juganera".

Jo soc partidari més aviat de tot el contrari: de treure el jugador que portem a dins i de integrar-lo en l'aprenentatge de les llengües.


En el podcast també trobareu algunes desavantatges de la gamificació: l'actitud de l'alumne a pensar que gamificar és "poc seriós", que no és útil. La dificultat de planificar completament una sessió, tot seguint una gamificació estructural. Que fomenta la competitivitat i que quasi sempre el guanyador o guanyadora espera una recompensa...

Crec que és molt important explicar als alumnes els objectius i les normes de joc abans de començar, explicar quin sentit té el joc en les nostres classes de castellà o d'anglès i què pretenem, quan s'acaba el joc, i que s'espera d'ells en acabar. Només amb una explicitació extensa i clara s'evitaran malentesos posteriors.

Si voleu saber més sobre “gamificació” aquí teniu una bibliografía comentada sobre la gamificació en l’aprenentatge.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Maker Pedagogy Or The Re-Birth Of Constructionism

What I like this week

Maker Pedagogy is an approach that utilizes the principles of ethical hacking (i.e., deconstructing existing technology for the purpose of creating knowledge), adapting (i.e., the freedom to use a technology for new purposes), designing (i.e., selecting components and ideas to solve problems), and creating (i.e., archiving contextual knowledge obtained through engaging in the process of making, as well as the actual tangible products) as part of an overall way of working with those interested in learning about science and technology. (Bullock, 2014) 

Photo: Manu Chamb

Seymour Papert's work on constructionism outlines the cognitive gain that occurs when we create something new rather than simply repeat knowledge that has already been acquired. They create strong mental models of their world by engaging directly in the process of construction. Learners who produce more than they consume are generally more aware of their own learning processes and can adapt more quickly to changing environments and demands on their skills.

"Terms such as collaborative learning, project-based learning, metacognition, inquiry-based learning, and so on, might be new to some audiences, but they have a relatively long and well-documented history for many educators. The most widely-known and promising pedagogical approach is constructivism grounded on the work of Piaget, Vygotsky, and Bruner. Constructionism brings creativity, tinkering, exploring, building, and presentation to the forefront of the learning process".

"Over the last decade my teaching has undergone a dramatic transformation as I played with many methods for getting my students to learn not only through doing, but also through creating. Initially this interest was sparked by a belief that targeting the highest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy (revised) would lead to mastery in all the other cognitive domains. Later it was bolstered by an interest in creating more collaborative learning opportunities for my students".

And, so do I!

I suggest you to read these three articles to know more about Maker pedagogy or the Maker Movement. Innovation and future are already here!

The Hybrid Pedagogy, a digital journal of learning, teaching and technology

Edutopia. How the Maker Movement Is Moving into Classrooms

Harvard Educational Review.The Maker Movement in Education: Designing, Creating, and Learning Across Contexts

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Trends Shaping Education

What I like this week

What does it mean for education that our societies are increasingly diverse?

How is global economic power shifting towards new countries?

In what ways are working patterns changing?



Trends Shaping Education 2013 brings evidence to give policy makers, researchers, educational leaders, administrators and teachers a robust, non-specialist source to inform strategic thinking and stimulate reflection on the challenges facing education, whether in schools, universities or programmes for older adults. It will also be of interest to students and the wider public, including parents.

The trends presented are based on high-quality international data, primarily from the OECD, the World Bank and the United Nations. The charts contain dynamic links so that readers can access the original data. Trends Shaping Education 2013 is organised around five broad themes, each with its own "Find out more" section: A global world, Living well, Labour and skill dynamics, Modern families and Infinite connection.

Trends Shaping Education 2013. Centre for Educational Research and Innovation

Monday, November 02, 2015

Competències Bàsiques de l'Àmbit Lingüístic (Llengües Estrangeres)

El proper dia 3 de novembre a les 18 h es presentaran, a l'Institut d’Educació Física de Catalunya, INEFC, diferents documents de competències bàsiques d'educació primària i d'educació secundària obligatòria, que el Departament d'Ensenyament ha estat elaborant aquests darrers mesos

La publicació del Nou Currículum i la necessitat d'adaptar les programacions a l'escola a les noves orientacions ha provocat aquesta publicació "en massa" dels documents que aporten orientacions per treballar de manera competencial l'àmbit d'Educació en Valors, Coneixement del Medi, àmbit Social (Geografia i Història) i els de les Competències bàsiques de l'àmbit lingüístic (llengües estrangeres) tant per primària com per secundària.

En aquests documents han estat treballant durant anys professionals reconeguts de l'àmbit pedagògic i especialistes en els diferents àmbits que es relaciones. És la primera vegada que un currículum ve acompanyat d'unes orientacions que, a més de redactar els Criteris d'Avaluació i exemplificar alguns "Indicadors" per a l'avaluació, inclou un exemple de treball competencial en cadascúna de les competències.

En el de primària s'ha utilitzat com a exemple un dels meus projectes (pàgina 57), que ja vaig publicar en el seu dia en aquest blog: "Illustrating a Song" i que exemplifica la competència número 6, dins l'àmbit de Comprensió Lectora : "Utilitzar eines de consulta per accedir a la comprensió de textos".

Aquí us deixo els enllaços dels dos documents (primària i secundària) i l'enllaç a l'ARC on es troba publicat.

"Illustrating a song" in ARC
 Primària                                SecundàriaCompetències bàsiques de l'àmbit lingüístic (llengües estrangeres). Educació primària                   Competències bàsiques de l'àmbit lingüístic (llengües estrangeres). Educació secundària obligatòria

Saturday, October 31, 2015

El Nou Currículum de Llengua Estrangera


Els especialistes d'anglès de l'escola hem posat "en ordre" el nou currículum de Llengua Estrangera perquè ens sigui més fàcil treballar-lo (analitzar-lo, distribuir-lo per nivells, treballar criteris d'avaluació...). Hem afegit les infografies que expliquen aquest nou model de currículum i el quadre de la Global Scale del CEFR. Per qui li interessi, aquí el teniu! 

 Per cert, després d'analitzar-lo en profunditat, hi ha alguns "gaps" importants. Ja en parlarem!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Time To Rethink Priorities...

Cockroaches and Ladybugs 2009-2015

I'm a teacher!

In the last 6 years I have invested a great amount of time and effort in Cockroaches and Ladybugs.

I have visited thousands of web pages, I have read many articles and posts from other blogs, I have known very interesting people engaged in Teaching English as a Second Language, passionate with their job and anxious to be good teachers.

I received lots of comments from teachers, educators, researches and pedagogues, congratulating, suggesting, pointing out, or encouraging going ahead...

I have written many posts about resources, theories, methodologies, opinions, experiences, projects... Everything with only one goal in mind: to spread out and to reveal those hidden "bits and bobs", that can be useful and innovative for our schools, in general, and for our job and English classrooms, in particular.

I've neither been silent nor neutral about those things I consider unacceptable in my job. But I also have congratulated "good teaching manners" and those "wonderful" things other teachers do in their classes.

I have also published my own experiences and projects done with my students. Innovative or not, thid blog has helped me to put my ideas in order, to improve in my profession and to grow up as a teacher.

I don't know if my time as a blogger is over, but I want to give myself a truce, a break, a time to relax... I want to devote some more time to my classroom and to my students... In short, I want to devote more time to self-care. The only thing I want is to do my job, Disconnect, do less, be single tasking..., I am only a teacher!

Six years... 235 posts... More than 175,000 visitors... More than 300 comments... That's nothing!

It is time to rethink our priorities and rethink the way we approach life and all thing in it. Thank you!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

You Are A Teacher, So Teach!

Some time ago, when knowledge was limited and made little progress, the teacher managed his own knowledge as he pleased and gave him authority.

Now that virtually all knowledge is in Internet and quickly becomes obsolete there are many students who know more about certain things that the teacher does, so his authority as a teacher cannot be based on what he learned in his Primary Teacher Training Programme and must be searched it in his ability to lead the learning process.


This is more complex situation and not all teachers have succeeded in adapting.

In the past (not long ago!), children had enough with work and determination; Now the school and the labour market make strong pressure on them for a long time, so teachers need to offer also motivation, because effort and will is not enough.

The solution is to listen to those who have to learn, to those who know what excites them and to those who handle so much information from young, because you can learn a lot from them.

The teacher's role has to change. We must give autonomy for learning and we must become the person who guides, who facilitates and who helps to discern the true from what is not.

The school has changed little in its conception of the classroom, teacher, student or type of learning, but society has changed dramatically and with it its raw materials, which are the kids.

“The school was designed in a society that childhood was an incomplete adulthood, whereas now adolescence has its own character and culture-authenticity, people skills, and so is socially dominant and copied and admired by many adults”. (Ismael Palacín, Fundació Jaume Bofill)

But let’s focus on English as a Second Language Teaching.
http://www.parenting.com/

What Young Learners Dislike in ESLT?
  • Any form of grammar or vocabulary exercises; 
  • Having no control over their learning; 
  • Having to read alone and quietly; 
  • Studying about topics with no immediate or necessary interest; and
  • Being told what to do.
Young learners appear to dislike any form of control or anything which constrains their ability to make autonomous decisions over their continuous guided learning of English. If you force them to complete activities, they will find any reason to not complete them.

Why teachers should try to incorporate projects into lessons? And therefore, why is project so important for young learners?

I have been writing a lot on Project Working and PBL in this blog (you can have a look to some of my old posts about…). But I will give you a short draft on it.

Project work in the classroom, is related to a Task Based Learning (TBL), which evolved from Communicative Language Teaching (CLT). It encourages learners to work cooperatively in groups to solve a real problem. The goal of delivering a solution will inspire learners to use English while doing a ‘task’ at hand.

There are many advantages to use Project Working in your teaching strategies, such as:
  • The students have total autonomy over language production and must use all their linguistic resources to communicate their ideas or solutions to team-members. 
  • The natural context for Project Work develops personalised and more immediate language learning for the students. 
  • Exposure to language will be more varied with language emerging naturally from the context rather than students being told what they are or will study in the course book.
However, we are focusing on Project Work with Young Learners, so what do projects offer that tasks don’t? 

TBL focuses on the solution and communication of the task, while PBL focuses on the end project (either with a presentation or showing off their projects to the class or school).

I suggest incorporating a project based approach because we develop communication in a natural setting and we also motivate young learners to develop personal and immediate interest in a topic that they are studying.




But that’s not all! The project based approach would: 

  • Encourage learners to use L2 as and when required. However, there is understanding that to negotiate the task some learners will revert to their L1 to develop meta-knowledge and ideas of the project; 
  • Be completed either a shorter or longer period of time; 
  • Integrate language and develop social skills (a must for any young learner developing their L1 or L2);
  • Personalise the learning for the students and encourage a sense of achievement unmatched by any other pedagogical approach for language teaching for young learners; and 
  • Have a specific outcome so that learners are able to ‘show-off’ their final products to class, school or parents.
To learn more about...

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

It is worth to use textbooks, activity books and worksheets packets?

Some days ago a teacher from Nebraska sent me this old post written by a graduated high school student.

I cannot agree more with his complains and critics towards the use of textbooks and activity books. I don’t want to have a discussion with publishers but I’ve been working without textbooks for many years and I believe it is the best way to face children to the real language, to problem solving, to develope language arts, language creativity and, above all to develop the language skills in a whole!
From TESconnect

Give it a read and reflect about your reality!

“Hearing the phrase “Get out your textbooks” from a high school teacher makes me want to throw up, and it is something I have heard for the last four years in almost every class from almost every teacher. Textbooks are filled with valuable information but are often boring, outdated, and even physically damaged from past use. In this day and age of “21st Century Learning,” it is insane that we are using 19th and 20th Century teaching strategies.

Most students today do not respond to textbook learning, and yet it is one of the most common ways for teachers to dispense information. Teaching out of a textbook is easy. It does not require teachers to step out of their comfort zone and find new ways to connect with students who are so eager to learn something useful that they can actually apply to their lives. The stereotype of students today is that they are uninterested in anything the school system has to offer. However, that is a complete lie. Students simply become uninterested because each school day seems to them like they have woken up in the movie “Groundhog Day” and go through the exact same motions as the day before. There is not a problem with the students, but with the dreaded textbook that has been around for so long it has become the status quo of teaching tools.

I will agree that the information in textbooks can be valuable to students. The information is not the issue. The issue is that many teachers today will hand out a packet they did not even create, tell the students to look up the information in the textbooks and copy down the answers word for word, and then go back to their desks where they will get on their computers and check their Facebook and Twitter feeds. Sometimes they may even see one of their students tweeting about how bored in class they are, and yet they will go right on down the page hoping to find something that makes them laugh out loud instead of things that make them consider how well they are doing their job. I am afraid that this routine is something the next generation of teachers will find themselves well accustomed to.


Open your textbooks!
I want my classes to be interactive and exciting! I want to be moving around the room, working with other students to solve a real world problem that can eventually tie back into what we are actually learning in the class. Students should want every class to go on longer and be surprised when the bell rings because the period went by so fast. They should not be checking the clock every five minutes hoping for a random fire drill that will speed up the hour, and then waiting at the door for five minutes at the end of the period staring down the second hand as it travels endlessly around the clock. Textbook teaching allows these things to happen, and it is really a tragedy for both students and teachers.

Every day teachers should be standing in the front of the room challenging their students to a higher level of thinking, and in return the teachers will be challenged themselves. Where is the challenge in handing out novel-sized textbook packets to students who will most likely not remember anything they copied down? To truly challenge the students, teachers must actually spend time outside of school researching new tools that help connect with students on a more personal level. The more teachers push themselves to connect and interact with their students in order to boost their ability to critical think and retain knowledge, the better the teacher will become. Over time, there is no limit to how good a teacher can become if they have that mindset and expect the most out of themselves. On the other hand, the more and more they use textbooks, which is the easy way to do things, the worse they will become at teaching and inspiring their students to actually want to learn. That is why textbooks have become the crutch of high school teachers. They are so incredibly easy to lean on, but if they were taken away many teachers would be absolutely lost because they have not challenged themselves to create more of a 21st Century learning environment in their classrooms.

The new job market requires students to have 21st Century learning skills, so it is not a surprise many students struggle when they get out of high school and college because they have been taught in a 19th and 20th Century learning environment. If schools want to create students that are competitive and indispensable in the job market they must ditch the textbooks and challenge their teachers to challenge themselves, and in return inspire students to achieve a love for learning, which can truly take them anywhere they want to go”.

After receiving this post, I found it in dangerouslyirrelevant.org . Hope you don’t mind I repost it…

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Let's Go... Shopping!

“The best way to learn a foreign language is to speak it”

Is this really true or is it only a myth? 

For most language teachers, the main goal is to have their students talking as early as possible and as much as possible. They believe that they should be quiet during their classes, while their students should have the opportunity to speak; students are expected to speak in class and write compositions almost from the first lesson, even though they have had almost no chance to absorb the grammar and vocabulary of English.

What is happening in our language classes is that we demand output from our students, but do nothing to ensure they have had enough input. A few hours of English classes every week, where the teacher tries to speak as little as possible (to give his students the opportunity to speak), are not nearly enough.

Yes, that’s right! Speaking is a very important skill and a very important aspect of the Language teaching performance... but not the only one!

It is obvious that, in order to talk like a native speaker, you have to listen to the things they say and read the things they write. So, students need more input from the very beginning. We should spend all of our time on reading and listening activities, in order to acquire the necessary vocabulary and grammar until they can write a few simple (but 100% correct!) sentences in English.

We should give lots of oral and writing inputs until the students will be able to produce simple and correct sentences without consulting the dictionary or “Mr. Google”!

And this is when they should start speaking, slowly and carefully, but still spending most of our teaching time on reading and listening activities, because input is the only way to develop vocabulary and grammar.

------

"Let's go shopping" is a short project made in my classes of grade 4 with the priceless help of our Language Assistants of the "Sharing to Learn" project.

Speaking was the main goal, but I had to previously work on some vocabulary, grammar structures, some writing, some reading and some listening... before they could speak in a proper way!


Monday, April 06, 2015

Driving Questions or the Amazing Process Of Divergent Thinking

Some time ago I posted some references about  the imprtance of "Driving Questions" in Project Based Teaching and Learning. In fact, to answer a Driving Question and create high-quality work, students need to do much more than remember information. They need to use higher-order thinking skills and learn to work as a team.   


"I really like Driving Questions. In fact, I like them so much more then Essential Questions. You might ask why? I think it just might be my affection for the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy. You may remember that in the revision the different levels were changed into action. In fact, I strongly believe that learning is a verb and is based on action. Take away the word “Question” and Driving is a verb loaded with action. The word “Essential” standing alone is only a word devoted to describing… a colorful but inactive adjective".

So do I!

Michael Gorman wrote this post in June 2012 in his blog "21st Century Educational Technology and Learning" (that I really recommend you).

If you are interested in PBL do not miss this post because the Driving Question is often the hardest concept to get across to teachers.




joedeegan.blogspot.com.es/2009/11/project-based-learning-in-3-steps.html
I also suggest you another post from Joe Deegan, "Project Based Learning in 3 steps" that can you enlighten the idea of how learners construct their own solutions through the development of projects rather than being told what the solution is through formal instruction. 


If you are much interested in PBL and Driving questions (as much as I am!) you can have a look at my old posts: 

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

How to Assess Speaking Skills

Speaking is probably the most complex skill of language acquisition.

“Speaking is a complex skill requiring the simultaneous use of different ability which often develops at different rates” (David P. Harris). 

The assessment of Speaking is not easy but it does not mean “speaking” cannot be measured in correct way.

Speaking performance can be done by different activities in Primary:

• Role playing
• Brainstorming
• Reading with partners
• “Show and tell”
• Oral reporting to the whole class
• Retelling stories with visual supports
• Giving descriptions or instructions using visual or written prompts
• Completing a dialogue or a conversation through written prompts
• Completing incomplete stories
• Playing games
• And, even, “karaokeing”!

But, the most important thing is to establish clear and fair criteria from the beginning. It might be helpful to develop these criteria in conjunction with other teachers or even with the students that will take an active role in their own assessment.

What a Rubric is?
A Rubric is a great assessment tool both for teacher and student. The rubric lets them know exactly what is expected in each step of the oral test and what each step is worth. It provides the student a visual guide for them to use when completing an assignment or doing a presentation.

Here you are an example of an Oral Scoring Rubric:


It is common accepted that an oral test should be divided into five elements:

  • pronunciation
  • grammar
  • vocabulary
  • fluency
  • and comprehension 

Each element characteristics are then defined into four or five short behavioural statements as stated in the frames above. This helps to make the test reliable, since it avoids subjectivity because it provides clear, precise and mutually exclusive behavioural statements for each point of the scale. The writer will objectively see the characteristics of each student. Speaking ability whether they achieve 1,2,3,4 or 5 score. Then, it can easily calculate the score. The amount of maximum scores gained is 20 or 25 depending on the number of statements.

Some other examples of rubrics to assess oral skills:



Some good stuff to start with Rubrics...



Wednesday, March 18, 2015

I'm an Animal!

This is our last project about animals made in grade 4 in the School Pau Vila (Esparreguera).

With our Language Assistants of the Sharing to Learn Project (good English speakers students from our nearest High Schools), children spoke a lot about classification of animals, animal groups, characteristics, habitats, abilities, etc.

We did a lot of activities around it: we played games, we watched animal videos, we sung songs, we drew and colored, we wrote descriptions,  ... but, above all we spoke a lot in English, and we recorded our voices!

The final display is still in the school corridor!

Hope you like it!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

How to celebrate St Patrick's day in the School

March the 17th. St Patrick's day. 


Are you thinking of celebrating this Irish festivity in the school but you need some quick ideas?

Some arts and crafts? or word games? Decorations?

Why don't you try this page? I've been using this for long and it is great!





But if you want to extend a little bit more here I give you some other possibilities ... 


St Patrick's Day is a fun holiday which is celebrated by the Irish people around the world. How much do you know about the history of St Patrick's day?

Saturday, March 07, 2015

How Children Learn Language

I was amazed by this short lecture by Professor Steven Pinker in which he deduces the nature of language acquisition by examining the generative use of grammar in children.

Some of the ideas you will find here are:
  • Children are Hard-Wired with Universal Grammar 
  • Children create sentences unheard from adults 
  • As an example: the way of how children assimilate rules of grammar unconsciously from the moment they begin to speak, by the use of the past tense rule. 
  • Chomsky claimed that children solved the problem of language acquisition by having the general design of language already wired into them in the form of a universal grammar, a spec sheet for what the rules of any language have to look like.
Steven Pinker calls Noam Chomsky 'a pen and paper theoretician', while Chomsky criticises Pinker's 'terrible reasoning'. Pinker is further testing Chomsky's controversial language theory on children.


From the video

The controversy is there! What do you think about?

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Australian Animals: A Short Project in the English Class

This project was carried out during the second term of the school year 2014-2015 in the school Pau Vila (Esparreguera – Barcelona) by the students of grade 6.

In this project the following subjects where directly involved:
  • English as a second language (third language in Catalonia!) 
  • Art 
  • Geography 
  • Social studies 
  • Sport 
  • Literacy 
The linguistic goals of this project were mainly focused on productive communicative skills (writing and speaking), as well as on one of the receptive skills (reading comprehension).

But we considered other “social skills” such as how to work with other people, how to share work, how to appreciate the work of others, how to work alone… To use scissors, to design a neat page, to use a variety of ICT tools or dictionaries, creativity, structure and organization …

Have a look at the Power Point to know a little bit more about the Outcome on Australian Animals.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Being Bilingual

Is the phenomenon that researchers call the “bilingual advantage” overstated?

Is the statement “When we learn to speak a different language, we learn to see a bigger world” really true?




Is Bilingualism Really an Advantage? 

This is a very interesting article by Maria Konnikova, published in The New Yorker (January 22, 2015) with some very good points for discussion and reflection.

The New Yorker

Food for Thought:

In 1922, in “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus” the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote: “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”

Monday, February 16, 2015

Idea Generator

Idea generator is an app that trains students’ brains to be more language creative through the use of multiple combinations of words. It is a really fun and curious prompt for creative writing with more or less complexity.

 You can generate random words and images then use them in a variety of activities to help their creativity flow. Move the items around, resize them, refresh them and let it guide your mind as it wonders.

Here are a few ideas to get you started with Idea Generator:

• Brain training creativity games

• Freestyle story telling - quite funny.

• Brainstorming • Word games

• Wordle like word clouds from random words

• Charades • Pictionary

• Freestyle rap practice

• Flash Fiction writing ideas

As there are no rules you can use Idea Generator however you like.


Monday, February 09, 2015

Way Down Deep in the Deep Blue Sea


Some people asked me to make a revision of this post. Thank you for your interest!

Long time ago I had the chance to hear Beatriz Caballero (a wonderful teacher in the Autonomous University of Barcelona) telling this story to a group of English teacher trainers.

It was a Magical Moment full of sea animals, great pictures, language repetition, droning, popular children plays and a surprising ending... It has everything a primary school teacher could desire from a picture book.

Some time later, I found this book in a small second hand book shop in Barcelona and I was happy to introduce it to my Y2 students in my new school. 

With a little preparation of new vocabulary flashcards, with the book on my knees, the students sat on the floor, and taking benefit of the extra motivation that always means talking about animals, I told the story.

My surprise was when, at the end, THEY propose me to do something else: “Why don’t we do a play? Why don’t we make a book? Why don’t we draw the illustrations? Why don’t we ...” (you know sometimes children are such a pain in the neck!)

And off we went! We found some empty boxes in the box room of the school (where else?) and they decided (with a little help!) to make some dioramas. They painted the inside boxes as the deep blue sea (colours, tones, waves). They took some photos (movements, poses, right and left...). They drew, coloured and cut out sea animals (sea horse, starfish, octopus, swordfish...). They added sand, shells, seaweed and coral.   They imagined a pirate treasure with marbles, bracelets and chocolate coins... They stuck everything and we hung all the dioramas in the school corridor in a big display. 

But, it wasn’t the end! As the other children in the school asked what was that, they wanted to tell them the story. So, they needed to practice a lot. We used an mp3 voice recorder and Audacity to “polish” pronunciation and intonation. They organized themselves and, for one day, they became storytellers.

Finally, they wanted to show to parents through the school blog. So, It was my turn to make a short video (Windows Movie Maker) with the photographs of the dioramas and the children voices, and I uploaded in Vimeo.

And that’s all! Hope you enjoy it!


Way down deep in the deep blue sea from Enric Calvet on Vimeo.


Do you know what are these children plays?
"Do si do", "Giddy up", "Hitch a ride", "Touché", "Gimme eight", "Sing along"

Monday, February 02, 2015

Get Ready for St. Valentine!

Every year Valentine’s Day falls on the fourteenth of February; although it is celebrated in many different countries around the world, it remains a work day rather than a public holiday. It began as a celebration of a Christian saint named Valentinus, with many different stories invented around him.
The day was first associated with romantic love by Geoffrey Chaucer’s circle when the tradition of 'courtly love’ flourished in the High Middle Ages. In the eighteenth century in England, it evolved into a day where people express their love for each other, often by giving flowers, confectionaries and valentines; greeting cards. Handwritten valentines have since passed, mass-produced greeting cards taking their place since the nineteenth century. 

Although I am not especially motivated to celebrate St. Valentines in my Primary classes, here you are a compilation of activities about Valentine's Day for Primary, Secondary and High Schools:  

                                                                       

 

Hope you've got enough if you want to prepare two or three sessions about this festivity.

Wishing You Peace and Love!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Video Gaming and Education

From www.wallstreetotc.com/
Is video gaming a passing fashion? Is it only useful at home for entertainment? Have video games a more implicit educative values like developing new skills for future learning?

Some interesting facts and misconceptions about video games and education in this infography.

Really impressive!

. Video Games and Education
Via: Online Colleges Guide

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Times in Plain English

I have just discovered this resource and it is simply GREAT!

I've been trying to read English newspapers for a long time feeling a sense of a frustrating experience! (And I know some English native speakers feel the same, too!).    

Try using ‘The Times in Plain English’.
The Times in Plain English brings you important news from America’s best sources of information. The writing is in clear, readable English.  It’s great for learners of the English language because it avoids:
  • Complex sentences
  • Compound sentences
  • Distractions from the main thought
  • Comparisons
  • Metaphors, similes and analogies
  • Argot, slang and idiomatic words
  • Contractions
  • Adjectives


This is a great reading resource for teachers and advanced learners of English!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Feed the Dingo - A Fun Game About a Desert Ecosystem

Feed the Dingo is a fun game about the importance of creating and maintaining a balanced desert ecosystem.

Students have to add animals and plants and other nature items. Each animal un the game has enough food to survive over a period of 12 days, so players see how the different species of plants and animals in a desert depend on one another. They also experiment with how changing the amount of one resource affects the whole ecosystem.

Each day students have to add more elements in order to maintain balance in the ecosystem. At the end of each day students are given feedback as to which plants and animals are healthy, which are in danger, and which have died.
From Education Dynamics
Feed theDingo is a Plumb Landing PBS Learning Media game. Some suggested activities for teachers are provided in the web including a series of food web games.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Best blogs for Teaching English to Very Young Learners

It always makes me very proud (and really happy!) when someone mentions “Cockroaches and ladybugs” in his or her blog. Today it has been defined of a “good finding of resources of teachers around the world”.

Rosa Amelia Oropeza, blog publisher of ESL/EFL Preschool Teachers, has written  a new entry about her Favourite Blogs for Preschool and Kindergarten English Language Teachers.

And “cockroaches” is one of them! 


Her blog is a compilation of resources for the teaching of English in Preschool and Kindergarten. With more than 150,000 visits and 79 followers, is a must in the net.

She also has a Facebook Group: ESL/EFL Preschool Teachers with more than 1400 members in which you can find lots of Preschool Teachers sharing their thoughts and visions about teaching English as a second language to very young children.

I’m very happy to participate in it and to share part of me as an English teacher.

Do not miss this post! I really recommend you to have a look to these 10 best ESL blogs, according to Rosa Amelia.

 Thank you very much indeed!

Monday, January 05, 2015

Working With Images

Today’s learners are image-oriented, more visually literate; they are able to access and manipulate digital images as never before. So, in a sense we owe it to them to make the image an integral part of our teaching practice, to work with images in their own right and encourage a critical and creative reading of them” Goldstein, 2008

Some years ago teachers of English (or any other Second Language) used to build up a set of photos and flashcards as vocabulary teaching and practice aids, and at the best prompts for speaking, show&tell activities or writing. 

But today’s learner’s, as Goldstein mentioned, are more “techy”, more visually educated, so it would be wise to make use of on-line graphic material which may deeply impact on their acceptance in class. 

One of my last projects developed with my ESL students of grade 6 has been to introduce a “real” character for a creative speaking activity. I presented a letter from my “imaginary friend” and a set of images (see image below) from his life and I invited children to write a caption for each photo following the model of the letter. Then, they had to piece the story together by putting the images in order and decide what happened in the story. 

In this sample activity children have clear opportunities for speaking and creative writing, with both written and speaking follow up activities. 

But, what about the construction of “personalised fictions” by the learners? There are lots of sites where photos can be retouched or collaged to make alternate realities. They can be used in a variety of ways to bring some creative language practice to the classroom. 

Just have a go, take your time and you will see!



Fun Photo Box. 

One of the best site with tons of photo effects, collages and gift animations.

PhotoFunia.


If you don’t get what you want from Fun Photo Box, you reallly need to check out this site.



Photo505. 

We’d say, with Photo505, Fun Photo Box and Photofunia you’ll be buzy for days.


Loonapix

Make funny photos by embedding your face from the photo to the various templates.

Anymaking. 

Allows you to upload any photo and create "old photo", "wanted" and "puzzle" effects out of it. Why am I wanted dead or alive?

Imagechef. 

Lots of ways for you to customize your photos and express them wherever you want.

Yearbook Yourself.

Turn your face photo into yearbook alike black & white old school photo, and start speaking or writing about "your" past, vintage gadgets, old fashion, music, old styles...


Hairmixer. 

Choose a photo for the left and right side and start mixing their hairs up. What about mixing you with an animal? You can create a "fantastic" character wih lots of imaginary features!

Hollywood Hair Makeover.

Love those celebrities’ hair? Wear them instantly and see how you look. Play with your "new syle" and "pretend to be" someone else!


Big Huge Labs. 

This is a great combination of many types of photo fun. From puzzles to a badge maker, there are lots of possibilities to be creative with your photos. But my favorite is the cube option! This lets you pick 6 images and then print a template with folding directions for turning the set into a 3-dimensional cube... a talking dice, maybe?