Saturday, April 28, 2012

Unmissable Social Learning Summit

Last weekend, I had the honor to present and participate in a wonderful whole-day web conference in which participants hopped from one virtual room to the next to learn more from what educators have been doing around the world. Snippets of social learning at its best! All very organized by social media whiz and educator Steve Hargadon.

Now, the recordings are available and you can watch the sessions whenever you feel you have 30 minutes to learn and make an impact on your teaching practice.

Recordings are available at

What are you planning to watch?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Online Teaching Videos

Curt Bonk is on my list of inspiration when it comes to online teaching and learning. I've gotten some neat ideas for my online classes from his book Empowering Online Learning: 100+ activities for reading, reflecting, displaying and doing.

If you are really interested in becoming more proficient in you online teaching/tutoring/mentoring skills, you might want to take a closer look to Bonk's series of 27 videos on the topic at

Sunday, April 22, 2012

What do you LOVE

Use Google app What do you Love to check for information and resources in a very visual way.
You get the results from a variety of Google sources, which is helpful for you to see what is out there in terms of videos, images, books, all different resources.

Have you ever tried What do you LOVE?

Some ideas for the classroom to encourage critical thinking:

Ask your students to look for information on a certain topic. let's say "World Population". 
First, this is a good chance to teach students a bit on how to better search on a certain topic. 
Then, ask them to analyze the results they got: 
  • What are the main trends?
  • What are people talking about in relation to this topic?
  • What do the images tell you about the topic?
  • Find one video that is really powerful
  • Which book would you read about this topic? Why?
  • State 5 interesting findings you had on the topic because of your search results. 
  • Is there something that was not shown in the search results that you find really relevant to the topic?
One follow up task would be for students to build a webpage with their main findings and thoughts.
They could use a wiki page, a blog post, Linoit, Popplet or any other authoring tool to explore the subject.

Any other ideas for What do you LOVE?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Posts of the Week Worth Reading

Here are two of the posts of the week that are really worth reading and reflecting upon

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Guinness Superlatives

Though a common way to teach Superlatives, I felt like sharing this Power Point I prepared for my class to practice the superlatives in a fun and lively way. Feel free to use it.
View more presentations from Carla Arena.

After introducing the topic, I'll have this quick superlative quiz with students. First, they have to take a wild guess and compare answers. Then, they will use their cellphones to look for the answers. Finally, they can create their own quiz for the class.

Simple, but fun!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Explosive Present Perfect Collaboration in POPPLET

Present perfect or Past Perfect are not phrases that reflect the thrilling lesson planning moment I had in collaboration with Tweet mates and my Facebook network.

Collaboration is part of my perfect world of learning mixed with a bit of chaos and fun in which everyone involved has a lot to contribute to the whole, and the final outcome goes much beyond of what was initially envisioned. So, this is what really happened when I was preparing a class for my hybrid class (50% face to face, 50% online) last week. I wanted to do something different and exciting with my students, who are high school teachers. I've been trying to teach English, but also a bit of digital skills for them as I'm sure that their learners will profit from it.

So, as I just got back from the TESOL Conference with some new tricks and tools in my teaching treasure cloud (not box, for it is not self-contained!), I've realized it was time to test what I had heard about.
I went for the web tool and iPad app called POPPLET, presented in the APP fair in the Electronic Village by Suzan Stamper. I'll never be able to thank her enough, for this was the final result created collaboratively in a matter of minutes with my network collaborating from all over the world just because of a simple CALL:

More than words to show how simple, fun, collaborative and inspiring POPPLET is, here's the final PRESENT PERFECT wall we've created:

And here's the one my student has just started after our class:

My idea for them as a follow-up is that each one creates his own POPPLET with their learning highlights for the unit they are studying and invites peers to collaborate with them.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Art of Critical Thinking with Store Receipts

Today, after being back from the TESOL Conference in Philly, I was organizing things, throwing out papers. Though I've been trying to be less and less attached to my old teacher voice that reminds me of keeping all the papers, recipes, booklets, brochures when I travel abroad, I simply can't resist it! When I get back home, I always have to clean up and get back to the new paradigm of going digital and avoiding clutter.

Well, I was about to throw away all the receipts I collected during my trip when I had this idea of using them for a critical thinking lesson plan mixed with digital storytelling. I took the photos of the receipts, having this idea in mind:

1. Distribute the receipts to different groups.
2. Give them some time to check the receipts.
3. Warm-up questions:
  • Where was the item bought? (Teacher can encourage sts to look for the city in google maps)
  • What did the person buy?
  • Was it a recent purchase?
  • How much did the person pay for the purchase?

3. Food for thought:

  • How do you imagine the person who bought the item is?
  • Why do you think the person bought the item?
  • Who do you think the person bought the item to? To himself/herself or to another person?
  • Do you think the person paid a fair price for it? Why or Why not?
  • Do you think that the person lived in the city where the item was bought or was the person just visiting town?
4. Students then exchange information with members from the other groups.
5. They get back to their groups and recreate the story behind that purchase, specifying who bought it, who was he/she buying the item to, where they were...The story should be told up to the moment the receipt is given to the client. 
6. To help them prepare their stories, show them sample introductions:

"Mario was a witty, funny teen that loved video games. In fact, it was hard for him to decide for the right balance between study, play, family time, hanging out with friends...All he knew was that video games gave him that adrenaline rush of moving from one easier stage to that of a bigger challenge. So, that day he decided that it was time for..."

B. "Pampering yourself. That's the key for a happier life. That day she decided to do something different..."

C. "He has just arrived from a very tiring trip in which she couldn't close his eyes because of a crying baby. He longed for home already..."

D. "Her boyfriend moved to another country to study German. She was devastated. However, that day she decided to be happier and more connected to him. She went out to..."

For the stories, the students could draw and record it using the iPad app educreations or show me.
They can also use movie maker (Windows) or iMovie (Mac) to tell the story.
Another idea would be to record a video using images and voice and post it to youtube.

Going Beyond:
If the teacher has the chance to connect to other groups around the world, a neat cultural project would be to compare prices for the items in different countries, using a common currency. So, for example, how much would a PS3 game cost in different countries? Is it the same price? What is the price variation in terms of percentage? Is the item found anywhere in the world or is it harder to find in certain countries?

Any other suggestions to improve this lesson plan?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Making Waves and Culture Gone Digital

It is pure redundancy to say it, but the best part of joining a Conference like TESOL is really weaving and threading what you want to learn, your curious mind to the connections and networking that take place.

This TESOL was no different. Besides meeting my dear old Webheads community, I had the chance to revolve around the Electronic Village wonderful ideas and people excitedly presenting about their projects, ideas, developments and apps they've been trying out.

Also, it gave me immense pleasure to present twice in totally different topics that converged, though, into one idea: the idea of Culture.

In Cultural Expeditions Gone Digital, part of the Intersections colloquium,  I tried to explore with the audience some ways in which educators could enhance their culturally-smart classes through the wonders of cultural richness provided by exciting digital possibilities. Besides the cultural immersion through digital resources, I've shared some practical ideas for the classroom.

Here's the slideshow and all the references are available at

In an another session, I've explored the idea of the new paradigms of the culture of Professional Development, not institutionally-bound anymore, but, in fact, self-directed and self-assembled through the possibilities provided by the digital world in a sustainable model of continuous evolvement of our own PD. All of that in big waves of micro-revolutions, those that we are the holders of our own professional destiny in a connected realm of people, networks, and nodes of learning. 

All the references are at

Tesol12 Making Waves Through Online Circles of Learning
View more PowerPoint from Carla Arena

All in all, it was inspiring to be at TESOL to see what other professionals are up to. I just wish some would take more time learning about how to best present their messages...but this would be for another post!