Monday, April 22, 2013

IATEFL Conference 2013 Ed Tech Highlights

IATEFL was just some days ago, but things get so hectic when we get back that it seems that it was so long ago... The highlights of an international conference like IATEFL is always related to the people you meet and talk to and the networking that takes place everywhere, on the streets, on Twitter, in the Convention Center corridors, during break time. It's always time to connect, talk, discover, experience.

If you ask me about specific things I've paid attention to and took notes, here are they in my Notes:

Learning Technologies Pre-Conference Notes

Notes Day 1

Notes Day 2

Notes Day 3 and 4

Also, there were some amazing bloggers who would post the summaries of the presentations almost real time.

Graham Stanley's summaries mainly related to Learning Technologies.

Chia Suan Chong's summaries

And the grand finale with our wonderful App Swap. In the corridors of the Convention Center, we exchanged fun and serious apps for personal use and for the classroom. Ana Maria Menezes did a wonderful job compiling all of them!

Amazing days of learning and connections.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Brain-Friendly Activity - Instructions for a Bad Day

I've been teaching teens this semester. And I can feel their different states of mind, the introvert struggling, the extroverted always trying to shine, the quiet with so much to say, the lost with so many words to shout...There is so much going on with every single one of them that we, educators, have different reactions to it. Some do their best in trying to reach the learners in very unique ways, others just keep going with content, and there are those who just ignore the collective state of mind, telling themselves that students' personal lives are none of their business. They are there to teach, not to learn about students' lives, anxieties, or personal imbalances. Such a twisted approach to teaching... In fact, we all know that the brain learns and retains through positive emotional connections. If we, teachers, establish a pleasurable learning environment for our learners in which we talk about things that really matter to them, that touch them, that is related to what they are going through, chances are that we'll be nudging students toward their learning, helping them engage with English, you, and their own learning processes.

Today, I just came across this very interesting video, which was part of a project that involved students in a school in which teenagers were struggling with friends' losses, a poet and volunteers who worked for free to put this video together: Instructions for a Bad Day

It really touched me. So, I thought that what if we used this video to talk about something that happens more often than not in our teenage years, a bad day. There are so many ways we could work with it:

  • Asking students about their bad days
  • Encouraging them to give advice for their friends in relation to bad days
  • Asking them to watch the video and choosing the best pieces of advice
  • Creating a cartoon based on the video
  • Making a digital poster based on the main parts of the video

And here's the text:

More about this project, check Shayne Koyczan's page:

I thought this was just such an inspiring video to reach out to our students and to connect with them in a very meaningful way. Any other ideas to work with this video?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Manifesto for Conference Presenters

Dear presenters,

We are your audience.

We came from every corner of the globe to watch YOU. Not anyone else. From a comprehensive range of options, YOU were the elected.
Show confidence, even when you are shaking inside.
Say that you care by carefully preparing for your presentation. Be respectful to your audience.
Slides are powerful. Overloaded slides are distractors.
Think design. Instructional design and the pure beauty of good design.
One piece of information on a slide is great. With an image, even better.
Forget clipart! Most of it look unprofessional.
Bullets points? Dump them! A visual cue with just some words are powerful. Remember, we came to hear you talk with passion and encouragement. Reading slides? No way!
Background matters. In doubt, chose plain colors. White will do. Dark colors are fine. If you are on the audacious side, play with colorful ones, but watch out. What needs to stand out is your message, not the wrong colors.
We all have friends that are design-conscious. Asking for advice is OK for a long-lasting good impression.
Your content should faithfully reflect your professionalism. Rush not when time seems to speed.
"Running out of time?" Never mention it! Act naturally. Prepare for emergency exit, without letting your audience notice it. The secret? Have exit points that won't harm your carefully prepared presentation. 10 slides in a minute won't get you there. Playing videos, showing examples are fine. Trying to load 10-minute movie segments on spot is not. Time is a precious commodity for presenters. Don't waste it.
Content is king. A smooth transition between concepts and real-life application is essential. Surprise, engage, have a conversation with your audience. Connect.
Bring up something that WE, your audience, will take with us and carry it around the world in ripple effects within our educational circles. Inspire. Let us dream of a new classroom, a fresh approach to our pedagogical practices.
Simple is more. Why animations and transitions if you are the one to cheer up your audience and move from one concept to the next? Your plain well-designed slides will impress more than the slide show fireworks of sounds and movement.
We chose you to spend time with. Show us that you care. Make your presentation a unique experience to be remembered, to be retold, blogged and twitted.
Make your presentation last by being part of our memories.
Let it travel the world by being retold over and over again.
We chose to watch you for a reason. And the reason is you and all that you have to teach us.
Next time you present, bear this in mind and how your audience value your every word and move.

p.s.: This post was inspired by a great in-depth discussion during the IATEFL Conference 2013, in Liverpool, with great educators Mabel Castro, Vini Nobre and Paulo Machado.