Friday, December 12, 2014

Week 10: Wrap-up

So... We reached the end but our journey is just beginning. All the knowledge we've acquired needs to be transmitted. Now we just have to define the way to do it and start preparing. This was overall an excellent experience, and the process we are finishing made us better teachers, better professionals and much better learners.
I think the key to the success of this course lies within each of us, and the interest we each have in this kind of education will determine our progress and how much we'll achieve. In my case this was a fantastic experience, and coming from a country where this knowledge is not so far evolved, I think we just need to have the opportunity to learn from others and put it to practice. 


I have always believed in the strength of my people and how much we can accomplish when we really decide to do it. We have great examples throughout history which show us how much anyone can do with the right attitude and the determination to persevere. I think all we need is an opportunity, and if you take it, and face the challenge, you'll overcome anything that comes your way. And that's all I needed, A CHANCE. So I want to thank the people who have believed in me and the ones who gave me the opportunity to grow with this experience. I think I have not let them down and I hope this is a testimony to show others the benefits we can receive. 

Good resources and knowledge were transmitted during this 10 week course and the list of contents is endless, not only based on what we received as topics, but also the additional knowledge collected by each of us in the process. I want to begin with a special recollection of the 10 weeks taking this course.

Week 1:

A very important week, maybe the most important one due to all the information which made a difference in the learning process we were about to begin back then and certainly a week that helped us reassess our aims and goals. I created this blog and started my journey towards the final goal. The blogger is always a nice tool and I was happy to incorporate it to my course reflective activity.

Week 2:

The week of the ABCD objectives and the beginning of project related activities. I enjoyed that week because I had read about this objectives and I clearly understood how to handle them and the way to apply them. Important for every lesson plan, the ABCD objectives showed us how simple and precise it is to apply them in any necessary and related context. I also enjoyed describing my class to the rest of my peers but most of all reading about their own class settings. I found that many of them had large classes and I believe they are a big challenge. Based on the way they described them it made me wonder how useful the advice would be for many people in my country with a similar case.

Week 3:

Reading about previous projects, learning about oral/aural skills and the use of Delicious website. All these activities made my learning itch start to move around. I started to read more about the focus of this course so I did a little research and got more into independent learning and read about the importance of student motivation and cooperative learning. I realized that the guidelines we were following were meant to give us a taste of the learning process we were about to implement in our communities.

Week 4:

We began this week reading about Technology enhanced lesson plans and focused a lot on how our projects were supposed to be. We learned the best way to identify a problem in which technology could be applied to help with the solution. We explored some websites about reading and writing skills, and I particularly understood better the aim of an ABCD objective and thanks to Courtney I was able to improve my perception of how to precisely and accurately give such objectives.

Week 5:
The most important for my project, because I learned how to make Web Quests and the Project based learning. As soon as I finished  learning about this tool, I had already considered it to be one of the best options for the purpose I had regarding motivation. It was a very busy week due to the rubrics and alternative assessment that came along, but at the end it was fulfilling to have done everything because I realized how easy it was and how engaging it can be. This week I really noticed all the benefits I was receiving and I could start to tell how much I have been improving.

Week 6:
During the course of this week we developed our ability to redirect our classes in a different aim. We started to enhance our students centered classes and our way of using PPTs. The process we underwent showed us how important it is not to let students be listeners, quite the contrary, it taught us how to make them active participants. I have also been a student (like everyone else) so I started thinking about how I felt back when I was studying and how my teachers sometimes used to make my classes boring. So I decided to start criticizing my own teaching method and I noticed that my results were improving my students' behavior.

Week 7:
Learner autonomy WEEK!! It really paid off. I made a breakthrough this week. The topics and my past experiences as a learner had been on my mind all week and I wanted to determine quickly the process that would lead me to the right outcome. I realized that we had been assigned tasks in the exact way we are expected to replicate with our students. I noticed how learner autonomy can give each student the chance to explore on their own and to learn by doing instead of the old way, where they were just listeners.

Week 8:
This week was exciting, we had the chance to create firsthand the resources our instructor gave us during the course. We learned how to make a websites at Google, a Padlet, a Nicenet page, we made everything we were able to learn during the course. We had the privileage to learn from Mr. Jeff Magoto with his ANVILL Course Management System, which was great, and finally we made online resources for our students with the many sites available. I thought this week was really enhancing because aside from learning that these resources were good to integrate learning and foster learner autonomy, we also learned how to develop these tools, so we are now more than ready to apply them in the classroom experience. I was able to work with my partner Sasi Raj during the peer project review of the final draft of my project. He’s outstanding. I really admire him for the work he is doing with such a large class. His project was very interesting and I learned a lot from him as well.

Week 9:
This past week I felt the experience of this learning process, gave me a new vision towards my teaching, and I felt gladly satisfied with my personal results. I presented my Final Project and I felt confident doing so. I think all the knowledge transmitted to us and the entire experience was simply enlightening. Later I was able to enhance my knowledge on Learning Styles, which was particularly fulfilling, especially because the past experiences I had, talking about this topic and trying to make my peers (in my country) understand the importance of it, were a little disappointing. Back then I used to insist on it so that they would realize that not everyone learns in the same way, but they never wanted to listen. So now I can prove that this topic is not only important for me but it has significant importance everywhere and especially in this university.

Week 10:
Wrapping up the course. Finishing the process of learning with UOregon was fantastic. I learned so much, and I now have much more confidence in the way my teaching is presented in class but I wish to continue growing and improving. This final week evaluating my knowledge made me realize that this is not the end. We still have a lot of ground to cover and many people to influence. My best experience throughout this course was the part where I realized this kind of teaching/learning process makes the absolute difference in the educational purposes we try to reach and rises up to a point in which the only thing we’ll be able to discuss is “How are we going to continue applying technology?”

To finish, I want to thank the following people and institutions:

-      The U.S. Department of State
-      The U.S. Embassy in Bolivia
-      Courtney Cunningham
-      The University of Oregon
-      Fabiola Ibarnegaray from the U.S. Embassy

I want to make a special mention to my family and my current colleagues at SMART STEP for supporting me and encouraging me to show everyone my people’s capacity.

I’m certainly going to miss joining the course every week and reading the articles but I’m not going to stop there. I know I have a great responsibility on my hands to share this knowledge with my community and I have the commitment to do so.

Happy Holydays to Everyone and THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT.

Oruro, Bolivia

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Week 9: Learning Styles - Technology Connections

Near the end of the course and reflecting on how much I've grown, I came to the conclusion that, this course came to me at the right time and in the best of all possible ways, so I'd like to share with your my reflections about this week's topics, activities and results.

This mind refreshing week started reminding me the importance of Learning Styles and how we all are different in many ways, so we learn better with the strategies that relate to our own personal characteristics. We all continue learning and improving step by step but firmly towards our goals.

This week I had the chance to finish my Final Project which was a great experience. I had to make some corrections to the draft I made thanks to the suggestions of my friend SASI RAJ, who  had great insights and observations. I corrected the details mentioned and improved some sections based on what I had learned from checking his project, and I am really thankful with him for that. I feel really confident now more than ever with my own skills and I am hoping to transmit my knowledge to my colleagues and help them empower their skills as well. I have a vision for my country to have this quality of teachers where we all learn and continue growing and  where we can improve our students quality of learning.
Next I was able to read many articles about learning styles and each students personality. This topic which was familiar to me, became much more interesting while discussing with our guest Russell Moon. I remembered many things about learning styles and the ideas started flowing, so it was easier for me to think about the ways to implement technology change activities. I also took a Quiz at Edutopia which gave me a vision of how my learning style differs from the rest, and I was able to determine different steps to follow when I learn in that way. My result said I am a "Verbal Linguistic Learner", so I understood how I can learn in a better way and as a consequence I understand better that my students are affected in the same way and that the approach I choose will benefit or interfere in their learning process.
I saw a video and read an article of the very popular and most noticed English teaching program called "Shaping the Way we Teach". This video really started a particular interest in me and I wanted to learn much more so I joined this course at Coursera, where I'm going to be able to continue improving professionally and technically.

Finally I reflected on the result and really recognize the value of learning styles and following our students steps to understand better how they could learn better and define the best way to make them interact with technology and really focus on the purpose of each tool.

So thanks again for everything, all the knowledge and the experience. I am proud to be part of this group and feel happy to have met so many nice people and excellent professionals.

Have A Great Week!!!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Week 8: Teacher Resources Online

Learning about ADVILL and how to use it, finding more and more resources, checking my partners Draft Project and making my own Draft Project were really interesting things for this week. I keep on getting surprised every week with more new information and better quality resources which we can all have access to. This is great!

This week I started off by making my Draft Project and I was so limited on time, due to some trips I had to make, that I felt I wasn't going to make it. But when it comes to organizing my time I'm pretty good, so I set out to prepare a set of well ordered steps to follow and here I am finishing my tasks on a Saturday. Couldn't be happier! 

Making my Draft was kind of easy because we already did it all throughout these past few weeks and we also wrote about it in our previous posts, so I didn't have much problems with that. I though I had another activity to make (the online discussion on Nicenet) for Wednesday but learning that this week we had a little more tolerance really helped me. I was able to focus and highlight the most important aspects of my project. I'm still waiting to see if I did it alright and I hope my partner's feedback will come in handy at the right time. I write mainly about how I started my project and then how I applied it in class with my students, as I wrote before they loved the changes and they keep in asking me what are we going to do next or when are we going to use something similar again and before I would have told them "We'll see", now I can tell them "All the time" and they love that idea. The school year finishes today in my country and most of them were really overwhelmed with their activities there, lucky for us since my institution is private, we have students the whole year and we don't need to stop. We will continue to have classes with more intensity now that they are free from other obligations, which is exciting for me because I don't have to stop implementing change.

Later in the week I was able to check the ADVILL from the great Mr. Jeff Magoto. This idea is great I especially liked how the Japanese teacher is applying it and how his vision of students interaction with no borders is oriented towards the same goals I wanted to reach. This gave me lots of ideas on how to implement it with my students here and with the members of my community. Guided on the same path towards international student interaction, I have created an International Community called ICEP, which is available on facebook and whose main goal is to develop strong bonds and relations between international students, teachers and professionals, hoping to establish mutual cooperation among the participants and contributing with each other in any language educational purposes possible. This community’s purpose is to help international students develop their English abilities and improve their analytic and communicative skills. We also encourage our students around the globe to participate in both increasing their English level and understanding of global issues in all our countries. We strongly feel the need for them to interact with their peers in different parts of the world, so they can get to know more about each other’s lives and the reality of each country. With these initiative we can work on applying these resources such as the ADVILL and make it beneficiary for them as well. I am really excited about this idea, though my only concern is time, I'm sure we're going to make it happen. 

I was able to read, check and give feedback to my partner regarding his Draft Project. This experience was also interesting because it made me realize how I had done my own project draft. I had a few suggestions for SASI RAJ and I hope he can find them constructive. I think what he's doing is admirable because he not only works with 55 students (which is a lot) but he also find time and focuses an interest on making them successful. I wish him the best!

Then I made my test on the Easy Test Maker where I was able to prepare a quiz personalized for my lower intermediate students who are finishing the unit with a small quiz about Basic Simple Past
Grammar. I was also able to make a PPT presentation but completely different from a simple exposition tool, I was able to turn it instead into an interactive student friendly tool, thanks to The Mouse Mischief by Microsoft. This tool is meant to be used with my beginner class students, as an end of the class activity for practicing after the written assignments. Both resources I created are just a sample of how I'm changing my teaching style and how I'm trying to evolve step by step (or as my company says SMART STEP BY SMART STEP). 

This has been overall a really hard and stressful week due to my high demanding obligations but I proved myself that I can handle all these things and that despite having to do so much work, I was able to carry out this course successfully. I just want to tell everyone who reads this, that all we need to achieve something is just motivation, and this gives us a clear perspective on how we need to approach our students, so they can feel the same way we do. It's been a great week and I'm happy I had the chance to prove myself wrong.



Friday, November 21, 2014

Week 7: Learner Autonomy, the One-computer Classroom, and Mobile Devices

The new educational techniques which show us how easy and fun technology application can be.

I started my week with lots of reading material and an enriched mind through every word that passed through my eyes. I felt the need to continue researching more about the given topics and I realized I am a living proof of how interactive and technology enhanced education can change your perspective towards education.  It helps you become more confident and at the same time you develop a sense of responsibility towards your goals and the ones of your peers. I then came to the conclusion that "The way I'm learning, is the way I have to teach". Every word that came to my mind during this whole entire process came back to remind me how reflective this experience is and above all how great it feels to understand that you have already learned what you were seeking.

The first task.

I started reading about learner autonomy and I understood that the main focus of motivating students and making them more eager to learn, is to teach them something they can apply right away, and so I did. I started to prepare a Sample Activity / Lesson Plan which meant to create all this effects in my students. Primarily considering the recommendations that both Robert Godwin-Jones from Virginia Commonwealth University and Hayo reinDers Head of Language and Learning Support at Middlesex University in London give in their articles, I clearly understood that using mobile phones in the classroom ."gives students control over their own learning" It all sound great to me. 

I had used mobile devices in the development of mainly receptive skills and sometimes throughout productive skill building, but after I had read and understood all the points carefully mentioned in the articles, the ideas just started popping out of my head and I decided to apply them right away.

The Padlet.
Learning about the existence of a tool like Padlet, gave me better ideas to implement in my final project. I started searching for new related articles and realized that I was doing what the reading had told me students should do, I was becoming practicing and developing Learner Autonomy. I felt more motivated, I was eager to continue reading and learning. This tool helped me realize how to create this same response in my students.

Finding a Partner.
This was an easy task, of course all we needed to do was pair up, but at the end I started reading more about my peers and finding similarities between some of them and myself. I decided to go with Sasi Raj from India (A Smart Choice). While I visited her blog and read her posted tasks, I found our common goals and I saw we share similar views towards our Final Project. 

Technology Related Change in Process.
Classes at Smart Step, my current work place.
This week was fantastic, I am actually seeing motivation increase. It was amazing. We finished our Web Quest and everything came out as planned. The only special situation was that, one of my students hadn't understood the purpose of the lesson initially, but as soon as we clarified it, she was ready to go and our group helped her understand, which was one of the purposes of my project. So today I can say that the method I'm willing to implement can effectively enhance motivation and foster cooperative and collaborative learning environments.

Great Week and Excellent Results.

Regards and Best Wishes.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Week 6: Creating Student-centered Classes and Interactive PowerPoint

The activities this week made me feel proud and satisfied with the results I am having with my students. I try to apply everything I learn here in class and I try to evaluate the result afterwards. I think my students really like these new changes. They are becoming more interested in all these new resources they have and this benefits not only my but them as well.

This week I started by reading the material regarding "Making Classrooms More Interactive" which I agree and I think it's the focus of this course. I thought to myself "This is why I got into this course in the first place". I understood many new things, like the fact that students feel more bored and unmotivated in class due to the lack of interaction with the teachers. The reading material from the website was really interesting. I really related to many aspects they mentioned and I felt that I'm not the only one, nor is my school the only place where we are encountering these problems. I'm really looking forward to the following readings.

Then I went on to making my power point presentation which was also great, because I learned new things (Hyperlinks) and I was happy to know that the things I focus on during a lecture or presentation are the appropriate ones according to the reading material. I go to seminars and congresses all the time and I was able to notice these mentioned aspects in all the places and events I've been, so as a conclusion I was really able to relate with most of these problem often presented and with the lack of knowledge that many colleagues possess, mainly because unlike me, they had never had the opportunity to learn what I have and what I'm learning now.

Finally I put my project plan / Technology Related Change into motion. And  as I mentioned in the previews post, IT WAS FANTASTIC. I still have some parts to finish and some resources to try but I could see the difference in their faces which made me very happy. I found a new way to interact with them and understand their need in a more accurate way.

I wish I can continue surprising myself and my students in class. I'm really thankful with the U. S. State Department and the U. S. Embassy in my county for trusting me and giving me the opportunity to learn all these things. I really just expect to transmit my knowledge with my colleagues soon and let them know about all the resources available and often easy to access.



This week I started implementing my technology related idea. As I mentioned before the best option for me was to implement the Web Quests with my students in the classroom. So this is what I did and here are my results.

The first thing I did was teach them about the use and benefits of a Web Quest, teach them what it's used for and how to use it.

I first noticed they were surprised and somewhat confused because they had never heard of something like that before. So I tried to make them understand the best way of having results and using this as a benefit and motivation for them. I also told them that Web Quests are a very popular way of learning in other countries and I noticed immediately a change in their attitude so I think they were attracted by that idea.

Then we made groups and discussed the pros and cons of using this technique in class and by the end I felt everyone loved it. I was greatly amazed and happy because that was one of the problems I felt they had, motivation.

My Web Quest at Zunal.
The next class we made a trial together with the Web Quest I created for this e-teacher course which is about Latin American Writers and we went step by step together. We divided into pairs and worked like that in all the following classes. We are half way there and so I gave them some homework and I'm planning to make a survey on our next class which can give me a better feedback of the results and the opinion of my students.

I am really enthusiastic to see what my following result are going to be. I can already notice their excitement when we are having classes and they come to me more motivated.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

WEEK 5 - PBL, Rubrics, Alternative Assessment and WebQuests!


This week, finding a new way to work in the classroom, became something real.

I found myself reading a lot about these topics and at first I thought it wasn't going to be useful because I have already used some of them in the past, but after reading the articles and visiting the websites, I opened my eyes and realized "I could have don it better".

First reinforcing my thoughts on the usage of rubrics made me realize how incredible effective they are if they are used correctly, and the alternative assessment article showed me and my students that the process of evaluation can also be improved and we can all enjoy the ride without worrying only on our final result, because effectively they will learn the purpose of the class.

Then creating my rubric online and being able to share it with others gave me the chance to understand how well and clear all your parameters have to be in order to have successful results with your students. Better and clearer rubrics equal better and improved students. This is what we in soccer call "a goaaaaal!" when we do something right.

Starting with using WebQuests for the very first time, I was able to learn how clear the learning process can become for students with such am easy, user-friendly, integrating tool. I was amazed on how well we can accomplish results if we follow the steps in creating a WebQuest appropriately. Some parts of it were confusing at first but then I got it and I was able to create my own always following rules and focusing on the best resources available.

And finally being able to understand better a possible solution for my problem was satisfying, mainly because I now have a tool available for addressing lack of motivation and peer work cooperation in my students. I will continue learning and learning everyday, and probably my mind will change, but I feel happy so far with WebQuests as my potential problem solving tool.

Wish you the best as usual and hope to get your feedback and comments soon.

Greeting From Lovely Oruro City, Bolivia. The Capital of my country's Cultural Heritage"

Carnival dance called "Pujllay", participating in the first rehearsal dance for the 2015 Carnival of Oruro. Nov/09/2014 - 3:00 p.m.