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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…)

Tools for 21st Century Teachers (by Nour Alkhalidy)

Living in a complex, rapid, digital environment, and having a digital-savvy generation that has grown up in this environment, requires us as educators to be aware of changes and challenges and to bring new tools and technologies into our classrooms.

Implementing web 2.0 tools in the classroom can be the key to preparing our students and preparing ourselves as learners to be ready for these changes. (more…)

The Fun Theory in Language Learning

This morning, a friend shared this video on facebook. It’s one of the entries for the Fun Theory award, which recognizes ideas and inventions that prove that fun is the easiest way to change behavior for the better. Wouldn’t you want to take the stairs if they were this much fun?

Of course, I immediately shared the video with my friends on Facebook and Twitter :-)

I wasn’t the only one who thought about what the Fun Theory could do for English class.

Just think. No matter how you package it, it’s hard to gain much fluency in a foreign language without a lot of repetition, which students often see as the learning equivalent of taking the stairs. Given the chance, students will choose the escalator every time. But, if repetition were fun, would students beg for more? Probably.

Of course, in the back of my mind I was thinking that applying the Fun Theory to learning tasks could mean a lot more work for already busy teachers.

Kim Takeda came up with a wonderful solution:

What a brilliant idea! Let the students solve their own problems! The process itself could be an excellent language task. Students can identify which tasks they dislike, and suggest ways to make them more fun (but still as effective). It would be interesting to see how students and teachers see the same tasks.

Do you think your students would change anything? If so, what?

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…)

The Wonder of Contact! (by Hadley Ferguson)


More on Hadley’s adventures in online collaboration. If you’d like to read the beginning of this adventure, check out “New Friends”

It was a marvelous day for my students when we got to share the learning that went on in our classroom with people living in Japan. Because of the contacts that I made through Twitter with Barbara, the middle school teachers at my school decided to create a Japan Day, using interdisciplinary activities to enhance the connections that we had with people there. The Drama teacher created a lesson on Noh theater; the art teacher and a classroom teacher had a lesson on calligraphy and modern Japanese art; the music teacher led a session on the pentatonic scale and chanting. At another station, we planned for them to learn about the tea ceremony and to then watch a video of one as a silent meditation, with the students sitting silently on the floor, attentive to the sounds and movements of the woman conducting the ceremony. (more…)

Teaching High School in Croatia (by Arjana Blazic)

To teach is to touch a life forever.

I have been trying to enhance my teaching with the new technologies since 1997 when I created my first web page while attending a seminar on New Technologies in Modern Language Teaching in Finland. But everything I did over those twelve years was nothing compared to what I have been doing since I joined Twitter and built my PLN in April 2009.

Today my students and I use technology to connect with students and teachers from all over the world. We tweet, we ning, we skype, we glog, we wiki, we blog … we learn, we understand, we respect. (more…)

Tweet Travels

This morning, while enjoying my second cup of coffee, I saw a tweet from Kim McBrien in Canada (@indigodragonfly on Twitter). She wanted to show her students how far a message can travel on Twitter. The way her message spread throughout Twitter provides a great example of how retweeting works, and why hashtags matter. (more…)

What I’ve Learned From My PLN (September 1, 2009)

This week was about motivation–both mine and my students’. It started with an #edchat conversation on Twitter about the value of homework. Alfie Kohn (a man decidedly against homework!) shared an article from the journal Theory and Research in Education about self-determination theory as regards motivation. While the article was interesting enough, what really got me excited was discovering that ALL of the articles from the “Symposium on self-determination theory” were available for free download. I particularly enjoyed “Virtual worlds and the learner hero: how today’s video games can inform tomorrow’s learning environments.” In terms of motivation (at least from the self-determination point of view), the qualities that cause engagement in games–relatedness, autonomy and competence–can also create engagement in learning.

(more…)

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…)