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August, 2009:

Play With a Purpose–Projects in Children’s EFL

Natsuru, Iroha, Kokomi 1My students and I love projects. For them, projects are the reward for working hard. For me, they’re the payoff for all the baby steps leading up to them, and a chance to see if my students can use English in “authentic” ways.

My kindergarten class just finished their first project. I’ve had these 5 and 6 year olds since April, meeting once each week for 45 minutes. Our weekly class is their only exposure to English. Play is a big part of our lessons because play is a big part of their lives–and it’s a very effective way of getting them to practice a lot of English.

We just finished learning the names of shapes. We made the shapes with our bodies, drew them on each other’s backs, counted them, combined them with colors and actions, sang songs about them–typical practice activities for young learners. The reward? Getting to play with the shapes to create pictures. Three triangles make a lovely tree, two circles and two hearts become a butterfly, hearts, circles, and triangles can all create colorful flowers.

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What I’ve Learned from My PLN (August 22, 2009)

Showing is better than telling. So, for teachers trying to decide whether having an online personal learning network (PLN) is worth the effort, I thought it might be useful to show some of what I learned this week from mine. (more…)

Life in the Virtual Teacher’s Lounge

Part of the series Giving Second Life a Second Chance

The virtual teacher's lounge

The virtual teacher's lounge

I love teacher’s lounges in the same way I love coffee breaks at conferences. They’re great places to make friends and build professional networks (same people, different roles). The people I meet become my partners in learning.

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Exploration for Personal and Professional Gain

Part of the series Giving Second Life a Second Chance

Professional development in Second Life is generally one of two types: using Second Life as a place to learn about things, and learning how to use tools in Second Life to do things (like teach). In both cases, it’s the people you meet who matter most–they will teach you, learn with you, and challenge you. Without people, Second Life is just a pretty computer graphic with some spiffy special effects. 

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International Conferences You Can Attend in Your Jammies

Part of the series Giving Second Life a Second Chance

Once you feel comfortable moving around and interacting with objects (getting things, finding them in your inventory and using them), it’s time to enjoy some of the professional development opportunities available in Second Life. Again, I’m not trying to list all of the groups that host speakers, conferences, or tours in Second Life–this would be a book, not a blog post. I’m only attempting to show the potential of virtual worlds for professional development.

I’ve separated these by the skill level required to participate.

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Giving Second Life a Second Chance

In an earlier post, I suggested that all language teachers would benefit from being in Second Life. Gavin Dudeney made a similar (albeit more articulate) argument as a guest writer on Burcu Akyol’s EFL Blog

So, let’s say you’re convinced, and have decided to give Second Life a try (or another try). What’s next?

You’ll probably go through several growth stages in your second life, just like you did in your first. I’ll talk about each in a separate post.

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