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Very Cool Events: Free Online Conferences for Language Teachers

In the time I’ve been exploring online opportunities for teachers, I’ve come across a number of incredibly cool people who organize workshops and conferences, create tools, nurture groups, and try to make the world (both virtual and real) a better place for us all. Just in case you haven’t already met these people or heard about their efforts, this post begins a new series introducing them. I’m calling it ‘Very Cool’ because, well, that’s what they are and that’s how I actually talk :-). When I wrote the first draft of this post, I focused on the people who make everything happen. However, I realized that they usually choose to stay in the background and would much prefer to shine a spotlight on their heart-projects, and so I changed the focus. (more…)

What I did on my summer vacation…

Ohisashiburi!

That’s a Japanese greeting for when greeting friends after a long absence, and I certainly have been gone a long time!

Where I’ve been….

I actually planned on unplugging for a little while this summer. My daughter was home from college and I wanted time with her.

Then, we went to Maui, and most days I was in the water,

hanging out with the fish . . . .

. . . . and the turtles.

(If you can’t get enough of other people’s vacation photos, more of mine are here.)

Then, we returned to Japan. After helping friends buy furniture and move into their new apartment, I was inspired. After over a year and a half living here, I figured it was about time to unpack our books. (with a professor and a teacher who both write, books are an occupational hazard!) From there, events unfolded rather like one of my favorite picture books–

If you want to unpack the books, you’re going to have to buy some shelves.

Then, if you buy (relatively) inexpensive shelves, you’re going to have to put them together.

Before you can put up the shelves, you’re going to have to move all the boxes and clean the floor.

Then, you might as well wash the drapes.

And, while the drapes are off, you might as well wash the windows, too.

And the screens.

Finally, you can put the books on the shelves.

But, because you have way more books that you thought you had, you’re going to have to buy some more shelves :-)


And suddenly, it was September!

Where I’m going to be. . .

On Sunday, September 26th I’ll be at The Chubu Junior and Senior High School Teachers’ Seminar in Nagoya. The theme is “Collaborate to Motivate.” If you’re in the area, there’s a great line up of speakers (Chuck Sandy, Darren Elliott, Mark Kulek, Mike Stockton, and more!). It’s free, but you’ll need to pre-register.

I’ll be doing an online presentation/workshop sometime during the weekend of October 8th and 9th for the 3rd Virtual Round Table Conference. The theme for the conference is “Language Learning with Technology.” This will be my first online workshop, so fingers crossed! The conference schedule has not yet been finalized, but I’ll link to it as soon as it is.

November will be a busy month. First, there’s JALT 2010, the biggest gathering of language professionals in Japan. This year, JALT will be in Nagoya from November 19th through the 21st. The theme is “Creativity: Think Outside the Box” , and I’ll be doing two workshops. The first, High Tech Ideas for Low Tech Classrooms, will explore ways that teachers with limited technology access in the classroom can exploit the benefits of Web 2.0 technology and the social Internet. The second, Making phonics work for your student: from sounds to reading, will take a lighthearted journey through the history of phonics and the many ways we’ve taught children to read since the 16th century. Rather than adhering to any particular “brand” of phonics, teachers can pick and choose from among an array of approaches and techniques–some familiar, some not–in order to create a phonics programs as unique as their students. I’ll also be part of the OUP Experts forum, with Michael Swan and others (Sunday afternoon, sometime). If you are going to be in Nagoya for JALT, I hope you’ll let me know–I love meeting my online friends!

I’ll finish up this year with two workshops at ETJ Expos. On Sunday, November 28th, I’ll be in Osaka, for the Kansai Expo and on Sunday, December 5th I’ll be in Fukuoka for the Kyushu Expo.

What else I’ll be doing…

Blogging. I have several great guest posts for Teaching Village in the pipeline—great ideas on exploiting Power Point in the classroom from David Dodgson, more ideas for using mind mapping for writing from Hobie Swan, and another game makeover from Marco Brazil. Then, of course, there are my own posts, waiting in draft form. And, several interviews and guest posts that I’ve promised to others (and won’t jinx by mentioning specifics!).

Other writing projects. I write a monthly editorial for ELT News (sharing the duties with David Paul, Steven Herder and Theron Muller). I had an interesting, if unexpected experience trying to access my facebook account from a new computer in a different country—what happens when you can’t identify your friends from their pictures—and I’ll be sharing that experience in my next editorial.

I also write a column for the Teachers Learning with Children (from the JALT Teaching Children Special Interest Group). The next two issues will be online, so they’ll be easy to share. Or, you can join the TCSIG and get all of the issues :-)

I’m also going to start working on a series of easy, digital English readers to get some more mileage out of the photos I got on vacation–can anyone recommend a program to create online books that allows me to embed narration?

I had a great time offline, but it’s good to be back! See you around!

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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