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JALT

Little teacher me in the big ELT World (by Yitzha Sarwono)

Note from Barb: I know that attending an international conference is a major decision for teachers — big conferences tend to require a serious investment of both time and money. Since some of you may be facing similar decisions, I thought you might appreciate Yitzha’s reflections about her first international conference experience. (more…)

What is a PLN, anyway?

A  good friend (and a great teacher) e-mailed me after my last post. “Great links,” she said. “But what’s a PLN?”

A good reminder about why I try to avoid acronyms and jargon in my writing.

PLN is an acronym for Personal Learning Network. The acronym is relatively new, but the idea is not. Teachers have always had learning networks—people we learn from and share with. Teachers are information junkies. We’re also social. Put the two together and you have a personal learning network. (more…)

Bringing Happiness to the Classroom (by Vladimira Michalkova)

What is the meaning of life? To be happy and useful.

- Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

happiness newA real authentic smile of a student is worth every single minute you spend on giving them a reason for it. (more…)

2011 Challenge: Become a Beginner (again)

A few of the things that gave me that beginner feeling

 

This year

Try something that makes you feel foolish.

Something that guarantees you’ll make mistakes.

Something that frustrates and overwhelms you.

In other words, do something that helps you remember what it feels like to be a beginner. (more…)

Very Cool! Meeting online friends face-to-face

Last year, I had my first ever “Tweet Up” at the JALT Conference in Shizuoka. For those not familiar with Twitter, a Tweet Up is when people who know each other through Twitter have a chance to meet face-to-face. Even though we were still a relatively small group of Twitter-using teachers, the excitement was huge. It added an entirely new dimension to the conference for me, and for others. Because the conversation began before the conference did, and continued long after it ended, the conference “high” lasted longer, too! (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!

How to Create a Jazz Chant by Carolyn Graham

Part of the series: Stuff All EFL Teachers Should Know

Last November, Carolyn Graham did a workshop at the JALT National Conference in Shizuoka, Japan, on how to make a Jazz Chant. I taped her workshop, and with her permission am sharing the part of it where she demonstrates her technique.

One of the many things I love about Carolyn is that she spends most of her time giving away her secrets. In this short video, Carolyn shows teachers how easy it is for them to create their own chants to reinforce vocabulary or grammar. (more…)

Flap Books: A Simple Secret for Student Support! (by Lesley Ito)

I think what every teacher needs to know is this simple secret to successful ESL/EFL classes: Students can accomplish so much more if the lesson has proper support. It is very difficult for students, particularly at the EFL level, to stand up in front of the class and spontaneously tell a story or talk about their lives. One great way to provide support is with a simple, versatile craft called a Flap Book. Students can use these as a prop for communication as they hold their Flap Books and then lift the flaps as needed to remind them of what they want to say.

(more…)

An invitation to participate in academic publication (by Theron Muller)

I fell into the world of academic publishing a bit accidentally. After finishing my MA in TEFL/TESL I was interested in maintaining familiarity with what I had learned and was worried that if I didn’t actively maintain my participation in the discourse of the profession, then the MA would become little more than another piece of paper and set of letters on my resume. With that in mind, I joined the staff of JALT‘s The Language Teacher (TLT) as a proofreader, and over the course of the past six years have moved through various roles at the publication, including Coeditor. As part of my involvement with TLT I was invited to work with the JALT Conference Proceedings team, where I have most recently served as vetting coordinator. There are a number of other publications that I have been or am involved in, including The Asian ESP Journal. (more…)