Thursday, November 11, 2010

Share, Learn, Connect

Last Friday, Erika and I had been totally taken out of our comfort zone. For the first time, we presented a Pecha Kucha. A presentation format in which we have 20 slides sliding through automatically in 20 seconds! In 6 minutes and 40 seconds, we were challenged to deliver our message. Even more demanding was the fact that once again we decided to present a Pecha Kucha together and with no slide sequence. I mean, I didn't present 10 slides, then Erika 10. We decided we would switch from one another according to the flow of ideas. Well, we did it after a lot of thought and preparation beforehand. It was fun and the adrenaline rush keeps pushing us forward!

Pluse, we learned a lot from the other Pecha Kuchas presented during the BrazTESOL Brasilia afternoon seminar. Very enriching afternoon, indeed! We are glad to be part of the revamping of our BrazTESOL regional chapter.

Here's the slideshow and our talk:

We are Carla and Erika from Casa Thomas Jefferson. Passionate learners. Today we want to show you that we and our learners do not to be learning inside a box. We can all reach the world, share and connect. Connect and learn, learn and share in a feeding cycle of learning.

What do we want from our students? Engagement, collaboration, independence, critical thinking, active participation, production, knowledge of their surroundings to be more respectful, tolerant.  We have our own dreams and ideas of what an ideal classroom is, and we are very demanding.

Are you the kind of educator who looks for ways to connect to other educators? Are you an active participant of teaching communities? Or the only interaction you have is in the teachers’ room, during coffee break? Do you know the ELT surroundings?

Some of us still look for institutional  backup for professional development. Is it the only way to go nowadays with all the connectivity we have and digital possibilities? NO. Now, we have the chance to develop our own PLEs and PLNs - Personal Learning Environments and Personal Learning Networks through digital media that has given us inifinite possibilities of connections. You can extend your own education through a self-structured and self-organized learning environment.

What are those possibilities? Inumerous. But we are going to focus on some simple ideas that can make a difference for you to start with and for your students as a consequence of your own development.

How many of you are in FB? How many of you are in FB groups to enhance your professional development? How many of you are in twitter? In twitter and FB do you follow just friends or do you follow like-minded professionals who tweet and post tips for the classroom, interesting resources and educational links? In one way or the other, you are already there, but are you using them to connect and power up your classroom practice?

Time to start our micro-revolution. Did you know that you have educators groups that you can follow in twitter? Did you know that you can ask a question in twitter and get many answers? I asked one simple question. Look how many answers I got from my network in just a few minutes.

8. Did you know that you could start you own network with a group of teachers or students using a safe social media tool called EDMODO, which is just like twitter but it is great for a group of like-minded people?

Did you know that Facebook has just launched a new space for groups? You can have a group of students, educators, administrators. You can even take and deliver online courses using FB groups? When you create a group in FB, there is a unique email for the group, the group can add docs, photos and videos. Group members can chat and they can discuss issues there. People are there. You just invite them to be with you in a group. For example, we’re just testing a space for online interaction for our next FREE online professional development, an online session on Digital storytelling. And now we have one for the BrazTESOL Brasilia. Join our group!

If you are still not sure how to start your PD microrevolution, if you need more guidance, if you need tutors, mentors to go beyond your comfort zone, there is one place you can get started. There, you’re going to find like-minded professionals and lots of practical ideas for your classroom.


Every January/feb, there are totally free online professional development opportunities for educators all over the globe. This project is called Electronic Village Online, EVO. There are sessions ranging from drama in the classroom to learning how to navigate and teach in SL. They are for English teachers. We’ve been volunteer online facilitators since 2007. Next year, we’re going  to facilitate a session on digital storytelling. Join us!

We talked about twitter, facebook, EVO – electronic village online. These are just some ways you can connect. A fantastic  and well-established community of practice you might consider joining is the webheads. They are a group of educators who share personal accomplishments but are also together to test new tools, collaborate on international exchange projects and discuss pedagogical issues.

Take advantage of it. To do that. Take action. Don’t wait for someone or your institution to tell you what to do. You are in charge of your own life, your own professional life. Share, gather and connect to construct, to build knowledge.  Amplify your educational possibilities.  Dive into self-directed professional development.

Why should I share, connect with others online if I have so much to do in my daily life? Why should I bother and spend my time connecting to people I don’t even know? Besides being globally networked, an engaged educators, a better person, a lifelong learner and a multiplier of good classroom practices, there’s much more to it.

One great example of why we should invest in pd and bother is the following. I got a retweet from somebody in my network whom I’ve never met asking for help for another teacher. I connected to this teacher who was developing  a project with her class about latin america.

16. Because of our connection, we created a voicethread, an excellent tool for the classroom, and now we simply have a mosaic of teens’ life in Brazil. Just because of my personal learning network in brazil. Just because of my online personal learning network plus my local one, the coffee break group.
Voicethread about Brazil: 

Teachers get really discouraged. They say the have little time, lots to do , a family to take care of. We sympathize with that because we have kids and husbands, tests, compositions, homework to check and correct. Plus, lessons to prepare. Still,  we started sharing a bit, connecting to others.

We went from isolated teachers who did things just with a feeling we were doing it right to networked global educators who can rely on the network to be informed decision-makers in the classroom. We are now connected and we connect our students. We have friends and wonderful connections all over the world. We’ve tremendously improved our cultural IQ with lots of cultural awareness, tolerance and communication using English.

How much time do we need to be considered a networked, 21st century educator? It depends on you. Start really small. Focus on one community you want to learn and explore to share and connect. From there, you’ll have lots of new possibilities. Soon, you'll become more and more ambitious!

We have started our own wiki to share and connect to other educators, Brazilbridges. You can find this presentation and the ones we’ve given since 2006 there. We’ve found our way to do what we’ve been asking our students to do, being active participants of a community of learning.


  1. Great work. And I liked you twist in the original Pecha Kucha presentation format.

  2. Carla...
    You know I can't help using songs in my comments and this time Streisand won't be around, though she could be. What comes to my mind is an old hit by Tina Turner "You're simply the best, better than all the rest...".
    Congrats for you and Erika!

  3. Carla,
    Great idea. I love your presentation. I have students presenting Pecha Kucha's this week about the Civil Rights movement in the U.S. Most people don't realize how much information you need to be able to talk for 6 minutes and 40 seconds. I've never heard of EVO, but I'm going to make sure that I'm part of it this year. Thanks!

  4. Carla,
    You know I follow your blog closely and that I don't usually leave a comment because I tell you all when me meet f2f. But now I had to leave the pile of compositions behind to WOW you guys... You are generous and kind. I love your going out there and just sharing fo the sake of improving education in our country.

  5. Dear Shelley, this is something I want to write about, how Pecha Kuchas can be used in the classroom by the students. It has taken much more preparation to do this one than others. It takes critical thinking, summarizing skills. It is very powerful. Join us in EVO. It is a fantastic multicultural experience.

    Dear Dani,
    Thanks for such kind words! I know you follow the blog and it is a pleasure. You´re right that our generosity is really our willingness to change the world and the world of education, or, at least, a small part of it...

  6. Great job! I like the Pecha Kucha style.

  7. Wow, Carla, you guys did a great job! It makes me really miss those ESL conference days with all the cameraderie and ideas. I've toyed with the idea of doing a Pecha Kucha myself, but I never thought of it in relation to teaching. What a great idea. I always incorporate blogging and social networking into my teaching as well, so the topic was close to my heart. I almost want to start teaching again!


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