Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Videogames and Education (II part)

For the second part of this series, I would like to explain more about how to use video games at the school. So, teachers, you can use strategy games to develop high level skills on your students.
First of all, you have to choose a game, but before that, you must PLAY a game. And this is important because you can't teach, what you don't know. So, once you have chosen any game and played already, then you can continue. (It is a personal opinion, but I like the game "The Age of the Empires", because apart from just playing, you can learn about history or create your own scenario).
Then, you have to determine which are going to be the skills you are going to develop in your students, in relation with the game, and your own contents (Ex.: Finding vocabulary, choosing some options, exploring, socializing, problem resolutions, creating examples through sentences in English, etc.)
After that, you have to plan what you are going to do in class: the activities you will choose to do, the resources, type of evaluation, and the time you will use.
I have thought in this 4 activities:
  1. Students must describe who and how was William Wallace (character of the game "The Age of the Empires), using adjectives and then, creating simple sentences with the verb "To Be". Also, completion activities with simple tenses. (It will be 20% of the final mark and it must be done in 2 hours)
  2. Students must play on the game in the "learning campaign". They must win at least the first 4 campaigns and the teacher will give a paper with the Imperative form content. So students must find examples on the game. Finally, they get vocabulary from the "Technology Tree", which is one of the options of the game, in which you can learn more about the civilizations you are playing with. (It will be 30% of the final mark and it must be done in 3 hours)
  3. Students get information about the Future tense, and they must create sentences in English with the vocabulary they found previously. So they will express a strategy they will use, telling the steps they will take to win the last level. (It will be 30% of the final mark and it must be done in 3 hours)
  4. Then, they must finish by completing a paper about the "Celts" civilization, and then they will evaluate themselves. (It will be 20% of the final mark, and it must be done in 2 hours)
This is just an example to use strategy games at the school. And it is designed for teachers of English as a second language. But of course, you can adapt it, and it will work so well with teachers of history, teachers of art, teachers of maths, etc.
In the last part of this series, I will explain why it is important to use or, at least, to consider in using video games with your students, so nobody will think that you are just losing time in playing. (Which is really not true)

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

A classroom idea: "Verbs Windmill" (Last Part, the best part)

Well, the day came, and the students had to create their own version of the Verbs windmill, and let me tell you what happened.
First.. the problem of the materials. Not all the students came with their materials, and until the last time, they are trying to get some last resources. This brings the problem that some are asking permission to get what they need even on classes. I don't like this, but ok, I had to let them go for it. Second, the use of time. The time is valuable, and some are not using it wisely.
But among all, the balance is positive. They students got interested in this project, and they were trying to give their best to have a nice product. And the good part is when they make up new ideas and they are trying to improvise when they have problems with one part of the project. And this is what I like the best, their creativity. Because in here it is when they are free to imagine and create new things.
Let me show you some pictures of the projects.

Monday, 29 August 2011

I teach "Y", but they evaluate me "Z". I am a teacher, what do you want from me?

One of the problems we can find on education, is at the moment of evaluating. Evaluation is not the ending, but part of the process. And as such, it must be considered in the beginning of the process of planning. Having a clear goal, we can settle clear objectives and activities to get it, and therefore, a realistic process to evaluate the achievement. Although, we know that to create an objective tool of evaluation is not easy, we already know that it must be connected so well with the main goal and the teaching and learning process. As teachers, we have dealt with this problem.

But what happens if it is our work, the one being evaluated?

There is still a big gap between what we are supposed to teach, and the way how the Government is evaluating our work. We are supposed to teach the students how to talk and speak in English. How and when to use a specific kind of grammar and expressions in English. In other words, what they want from me, is that I help the students to face normal and common conversational situation. But look, most of the tests (including SIMCE* and TOEIC Bridge for SIMCE of English) evaluate grammar and sentence formation; and Listening comprenhension. But there is no oral expression.

And even more, the school has too many responsibilities, that among all of those, it is the fact that we must form good people for the society. Students must have all the good values (responsibility, honesty, punctuality, creativity, good manners, good citizen, etc.) But is there a test to evaluate that? No. All the tests just try to evaluate knowledge and some skills, but there is no evaluation for values.

We already know what we have to teach, or at least, try to develop in our students. But I think, if there is no clarity in what they want from us, as teachers, there won't be clarity in what is the product we are going to obtain. They want us to just teach content? or they want us to raise excellent and good people? Maybe both? Then we must be evaluated according to those standards and goals.

What do you think?


*SIMCE (System to measure the quality of the education)

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Videogames and Education (I part)

This is the first of three parts of the series "Videogames and Education". Have you noticed that you have a hard time trying that your students pay attention in your class, even for 15 minutes? And have you noticed that, magically, your students can stay hours and hours paying attention to a computer or a tv, playing videogames, and enjoying that time so much?

Well, this is truth that every teacher might have noticed. And this must call your attention, because there is something on the videogames that is producing that awesome effect of attracting the attention of your students for a long time. Because, even if they have to play the same level hundreds of time, they never get bored of trying and trying. Why they don't do that on the school too???

Nowadays, there must be hundreds of educational games on the market. And you might have considered in using a couple of them already. But, probably you must be afraid of them. It is a common belief that videogames don't get along with the school. Why? Because there are some teachers who still think that videogames are just a waste of time and that they don't teach anything, but violence.

Let me tell you that that belief is totally wrong. It is true that most of the games are not suitable for children, but you still have educational games.

Ok, but let me ask you something else. Do you think that your students really go running to their homes just to play "educational games"? Probably the answer is no, and it is because they actually don't like educational games. They are boring and it is like having a teacher at home. Students don't like that for sure.

But the good thing is that you don't need to use that kind of games to work with the students, and here it is where Strategy Games can help you a lot.

Last year, I had the chance to take an e-learning course called "videogames and education", mainly because I like videogames, and if I had to learn something, I would rather prefer to learn something I like. I will share with you some tips that will help you to work with videogames at the school.

Every subject has its own contents, strategies, methodologies and steps. But all subects share the same goal: developing skills on the students. I already mentioned that educational games are boring because they highlight contents only, ( I am not saying "don't use them, but if you do, probably you won't get want you want), while strategy games are really "motivating and addictive because, you need long time to finish one level, and it means you have to think and be wise to know which is the best step you must take.

Strategy games help the students to improve their skills in socializing, taking important decisions, gathering information and choosing the best, finding information on social networks, working as teams, among other high level skills that you might wish your students have.

I will be talking more about this in the second part of this series. Meanwhile check this video I found on internet, and you can comment your thoughts.



Source: youtube.com ( www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cX7bI5vkQA )

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Power Teaching: an effective method of teaching

Three years ago, I was searching for information about management, on internet. And I found something called "Power Teaching". It seemed to be a method of teaching and classroom management all in one. But, even if it seemed to be interesting and fun, I thought "this is just for children".

By now, you must be wondering what it is "power teaching". Well, it is a simple and really effective way to teach (no matter what subject) and to solve some problems related with bad behaviour.

I won't explain in detail, because you can check the Official Page, but in simple words, Power teaching is this:

The classroom becomes a fun and interesting place for students to learn and participate in every activity. As a teacher, you will teach a "scoreboard", in which the students will get positive or negative points (it will depend on you what score you will give, so you can control that). After that, you will teach the famous "Teach-Ok", in which you will give the chance to the students to teach their partners what they have learnt. (It is a really great way for them to express in their own words their knowledge, and in addition, they are strenghtening the contents).

Have you had problems trying to call the attention of every one of your students? How much time do you take to have all of your students ready to hear you and in silence? Probably minutes, right? Well, with power teaching, you just need 2 seconds. Just say "Class", and all your students will say "Yes", (and in silence, they will pay attention to you). And if you want to really be sure they are going to hear you, just say "Hands and Eyes", and they will do it.

This is just the beginning of this amazing way to have all your students working, interested and paying attention to your classes.

Ok, until now, it seems like "where is the camera?", because you can't believe it is so amazing. Well, let me tell you that it is really that way. It really works, and so much. And after three years, you must be thinking if I am still using Power teaching. Well, the answer is No, and I will tell you why.

This classroom management method is really excellent, even for higschool students, and I tell you it works because I tried it by myself. But after a time, students started getting a bit tired. Although the method is not boring at all, and actually it has already taken into account that the year is so long to continue doing the same activities, and for that reason, it has a lot of activities more; it is time consuming, and it needs a lot of previous preparation (I am not saying you have to know so much, no. But you need to be really prepared to work with this method).

For me it worked so well one semester, but then I noticed I had to do something new. But look, even after 3 years, I still have a student that every time he sees me, he says "Class", and I always reply "Yes".





Source: youtube.com (www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1kxpBPtqyI)

Friday, 26 August 2011

Cmaptools: Creating a concept map in the classroom

Cmaptools is not a new tool actually, it has been used since long time already by teachers who have understood that one of the best ways to summarize complex contents, is by using concept maps. And this is what Cmaptools does best.

Cmaptools is a program that allows the user to create concept maps. But not just that. You have the chance to change the fonts, the color, the lines, the charts, adding icons, connecting with other documents or internet links.

But, in which way can this be used at school? Well, many teachers use this tool to create a summary of the contents seen during the class. But one of my coworkers use concept maps to encourage the students to highlight the main concepts seen in the class. So, it is a good way that students re-study and explain in their own words, what they understood. And it is easy and attractive because students can innovate in the style of the concept map.

Cmaptools is a free program that you can use for your classes. (I have heard that some teachers are using concept maps to evaluate the knowledge of the students). You can check this video in order to know how to create concept maps, or check this other video to know how to add some resources to your presentation.

Once you have created your map, you can choose the way you want to store it. If you want as an image or as a web page, among other options. So, don't lose the chance to check this program, and you will see the potential of Cmaptools. But I am sure it will be a good tool for your students.

Here is one map I created with Cmaptools to teach the kind of sentences in English.


Thursday, 25 August 2011

Law of Attraction: any hidden secret for teachers?

There is no "secret" in the Secret. It is something so elementary and simple that more than being a "secret", it is just simple common sense.

A couple of years ago, when I read and watch videos about the "law of attraction", it seemed to me that there is nothing new on it, but it was presented so well, that I bought "The Secret" (the idea, not the film) and I just started practising. I don't come to try to sell this as a product, but in some way, it really works, it worked for me. And if you are still wondering what it is all about "The Secret" and "the Law of Attraction", then you can see this video in youtube of Jessica Harlow's channel, which is quite clear.

I won't say that this is a magical recipe to be happy, but I will say, that this works because it is you who starts thinking in a positive way. And that is it, just being positive.

When I started thinking positive in my life, it really changed for good. Most of my dreams and hopes, and even big projects, really worked perfectly. Every little thing I had imagine in my mind, I made it real. Now, my question is, how can this be applied at my work as a teacher? If in someway, I can share this way of thinking with my students.

The thing is that just making a little change in the way we see things, we really make a huge change in our lives. For example, how many times have you woken up in the morning feeling like you don't want to work? or how many times have you gone to a classroom, already thinking like... oh My God!, not again this class? And this happens so much, because we tend to think negative, when we are suppose to think positive. Always trying to find something good at any thing.

When we go to a class already thinking wrong, negative, just like everything will go wrong, then you are already predisposed to receive just negative things. And most of the times... yes, the class goes wrong. What you have to do is thinking that anytime you face an obstacle, it is not bad, it is just other opportunity to change for good...for better.

Try to start thinking positive, even things seem so hard to achieve. Don't give up and don't be mediocre. Because everytime you see that things are getting harder, it is just another chance to improve yourself. And every time you are being positive, you transfer that optimism to your students too. And believe me, they feel it.

Teacher, do you do this? ... then, don't do it again.

For me, my teachers were my heroes (and still they are). They were perfect in all ways, they didn't have any mistake at all. Now that I am a teacher, I know that they were not perfect, they were humans, they got tired, maybe, they lost motivation sometimes. The secret was that they kept in secret their mistakes, their humanity. They were really clever to do it, but I don't feel they were trying to deceive me or pretending to be someone different. I just think they were clever to know, that the only way to be professional, it is by putting aside the personal problems.

Teacher, if you do some of the following things, then please, don't do it more, or at least, be clever, don't show it to your students, and you will be a hero for them. (I repeat, it is not cheating or deceiving. It is being professional).

1.-You fail to your word. You say one thing, but you never do it, you promise and then you forget your it.

2.-You don't care about your presentation, if it is clean or neat.

3.- You come to the classroom late.

4.- You always forget some papers.

5.- You never give feedback on time, you never return the tests on time.

6.- You think you are God that knows everything.

7.- You always bring your personal problems to the classroom.

8.- You are lunatic. One day you are so friendly with them, the next you are like a monster.

9.- You never teach, you always talk and talk about different things, but you never do your class.

10.- You like improvising. Depending on the weather is what you are going to talk about.

11.- You never smile, you never enjoy your own class.

12.- You use the power of the marks to punish.

It is never late to change what we think it is not right. We have the chance to do it, everyday, and just we know ourselves. Don't repeat your mistakes again. Be a hero.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Pros and Cons of using a projector in the classroom

The use of the projector in class can be an excellent opportunity to improve the quality of your presentation, but it has some problems too.


Pros:

The best way to really make a change in the way you present your class is using a projector. If you want to leave behind the use of the whiteboard, which is really boring, then this is a good tool to do it.

You can use it to present the whole class, or just as a supporting tool for your work. In any case, you can have all your class prepared in advance, so you have time to make some adjustments, find a good material and even considering the possible problems that can occur in the classroom.

You can add not just texts, but also, images, music, videos, internet links, use all the possible tools and options in Microsoft Power Point if you want to present your class in slides. In addition, there is always a drop of uncertainty in the students, because they will never know what you can bring to suprise them. That produces curiosity and expectation.


Cons:

I think, the problem is not the use of projectors, the problem is that, as teachers, we tend to make the same mistakes over and over again.

The main problem is using the projector as a whiteboard. You project every single word you will say, using small and boring fonts (Times New Roman, black) no single image, and with hundreds of slides (boring for the students). Another problem is not considering all the potential of Microsoft Power Point (movement, color, video, music, sounds, etc.) or considering ONLY Microsoft Power Point. There are more interesting programs you can use (Cmaptools; to create brainstorms and diagrams, for example).

It is boring if you just use it to give information, if you dont consider in using it for activities, contests or make the student participate too.

It takes a bit of time to set all and be ready, and even though, sometimes, nothing works, or... what about a blackout? then what? whiteboard again? did you think in every possible problem it can bring just using projectors?

It is expensive, very expensive. And unless you have a classroom for yourself, you have to carry it all over the school. It is tiring, uncomfortable and risky (what if it falls?).

I think, Pros and Cons can continue on and on to create a longer list. But, the point is not considering the use of projectors as totally wrong, neither as the best tool in the world. The important thing is that you must know that this is another device that you can use at the classroom, but it is up to you to know how you will use it to get the best of it.

Monday, 22 August 2011

A classroom idea: "Verbs Windmill" (Second Part)

Do you remember my post about an idea to be worked with the students? Do you remember the "Verbs Windmill"? Well, I wanted to share with you my windmill to teach the verbs.

Next week, I will work this with the students, but first, I wanted to create my own version, so the students know what I want them to do.

The idea is to add lists of verbs in every blade (one for the infinitive, another for the past tense, another for the past participle, and another one for the translation in Spanish). This is what I did so far. Not the best, but I hope it can be useful for you too.

By the way, the wheel really turns with the wind, you just have to bend a bit the blades, and voilà!










Sunday, 21 August 2011

How to create a lesson plan?

The same way, an architect creates a plan of the house before building it, teachers must create a good lesson plan before going to the classroom. And this is really important, because if we don't see the value of a good lesson plan, then, probably, we will have to pay very much in the future for that mistake.

Every country has different standards, contents, methodologies and strategies to teach their subjects. But at least, a good lesson plan must have the following aspects:

1.- Annual Plan: it must contain general aspects for the whole year like; information of the teacher and the class, skills and expected learnings, units, schedule, resources, and bibliography.

2.- Monthly plan: Here we are going to be more specific, and we must write down the name of the teacher, subject, unit and lessons, the skills we are pretending to develop in our students, the level of the class and the month. But at the same time it can contain the daily plan.

3.- Daily plan: And in here, again we must specify the unit we are working with, the date, the quantity of hours we are going to work, the content (concepts, procedure and values), the expected learnings for the day, activities explained step by step, the resources we will need and the type and date of evaluation.

As a teacher of English, I try to be very detailed in all the activities I will work during the day. And even it can sound redundant, but being very specific, we will have the whole work done already. After that, we have to find the material to create the class. The more specific we are, the better.

This is a process that never ends, and as teachers, we are always changing and fixing our lesson plans in order to be updated and connected with the reality.

If you want, you can share other aspects that a good lesson plan must have, so we make it even better.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

I am becoming an old teacher

The thing is that ... yes... I am becoming old. Even though, some people still see me young, I already have white hair since long ago. But more than the physical aspect, it is inside where I feel I am getting old.

Today, going to the mall with my girlfriend, I had the chance to meet like 5 ex-students. This is normal for me, everytime I go out, I usually come across with some students. But today, I saw 5 different ex-students, from different years, with different backgrounds, living different lives.

And then I felt old again. It is silly, because I have just 7 years of being a teacher. But then I saw them and everyone is living a nice life, probably with problems as everyone, but they looked so different from those children who were asking me questions, or showing me their homeworks to be checked. Too many things came to my mind, too many experiences, moments, minutes that will never come back, but they will last forever in my heart.

But the real question is ... did I do something for them? did I change their lives in someway? was I important for them? I hope the answer is yes, but I won't know, I just want to think that during all the years they were studying with me, that one of my actions or words really meant something for them, so they still remember me. I hope I meant something in their lives, like some of my teachers did on me.

I always think myself as a gardener, but a gardener who received the plant already grown up, and what it is sadder, a gardener who will never see the fruits of that plant. This can sound frustrating, because we don't know what plant and in what condition we will receive it, and we won't know if the fruits will be abundant or not. As teachers, we have to be happy and blessed to be part of the growing of that plant and give as much as we can to be sure that it will grow high and strong, giving a lot of good fruits. And who knows, as the time is passing by so fast, if we are good gardeners, then we will see how great and robust is the forest.

Meanwhile, I am still getting older and older.

Friday, 19 August 2011

The 5 biggest problems in teaching a foreign language

Every subject has issues and problems. Every teacher has complex situations that must deal with. It is normal, but sometimes, those situations just really make you feel upset, angry or just giving up. Well, don't worry, it is part of teaching. I myself, have dealt with many difficulties in teaching English as a foreign language. But I will share with you which, in my opinion, are the biggest problems in teaching a foreign language as English. And I will tell you some possible solutions.

1.-Lack of Motivation: The first problem is trying to deal with the apathy of the students. Most of them are really not interested in learning a new language. Actually, they don't see the point in learning another different language. And this is obvious, if my students speak Spanish, and we don't have English speaking countries as neighbors, big chances are that they won't feel motivated to study it.

Solution: Forget in teaching English, just to speak English. It is a lost battle. What you have to do is teach the usefulness of learning English. After all, it is the students who will know how they will use the language and its purpose.

2.-Being away from the source: And by this, what I mean to say is the problem of just seeing the language in the class, and from then on, nothing. Students don't have the chances of practicing the language outside of the classroom.

Solution: Use other ways, like music, movies, chat, internet. Some students like listening to music in English, so use that to continue practicing English. My experience says that homework doesn't work, it is an obligation, and they don't enjoy it.

3.-Behavior: Bad behavior brings distractions and causes a messy class.

Solution: Conduct that behavior in other ways of releasing energy, like activities, games, contests. Students will enjoy competing.

4.-Mother Tongue: It is too strong to deal with a new language. Students tend to think in their native tongues, so the result is a kind of Spanglish grammar.

Solution: This is really hard, but one way is giving them the steps, the form, the patterns of the grammar. So, even if it sounds a bit boring, they will follow the steps to write a sentence correctly.

5.-The isolation: It seems that English subject is like an island, away from the rest of subjects which tend to share something in common, Spanish language.

Solution: Create networks with other teachers, even if the subject seems to be so different, do it, because you can use their contents to be worked with the English language. It will seem more relevant because the students will be studying the same twice.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Just teachers teach?

Most of the responsibilities about teaching is given to the teachers. It is true though, that we give the content to the students. But, as I have said before, education starts at home. And not just teachers teach, no. Everyone who is in contact with the school life can, and must teach, not content, but values.

Today, I had one of those experiences that I won't forget for many years. I had learnt something not from a teacher, but from an honest and simple singer. A singer who infused in me the passion of doing things for other people.

Fernando Leiva, a chilean catholic singer, to whom I had the chance to know and hear his words today, really taught me an enormous lesson.

He shared many things about his life, but I can say two things that really touched my heart.

One is, that no matter what or how, God will provide all you need. And when you feel like down or almost giving up, just relax and leave all in the hands of God. He knows it all. But be patient.

A second point is that he was not just words, he was also actions. Actually, I could say he was just actions, because he is the kind of person that is not just happy with saying things, but also, doing what he is saying. I liked his passion for his belief in God. But as a teacher, what I won't forget is that, this life is so short to be complaining, that instead of doing that, I must do things, move, change, love, improve, and really put passion in my work.

After I had that meeting, while I was teaching to my students, I could feel that I was the teacher I wanted to be since so long. I really felt happy teaching and I saw myself complete, and loving my profession. Thanks Mister Fernado Leiva for his teaching of passion. Thanks for teaching me to be a better teacher.





source of the video: youtube

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

am I a boring teacher?

I have found (more than "a couple of times") some students who are sleeping in my class. It has become less common than years ago, but I still find students sleeping on the table.

I feel a bit a awkard about that situation, I don't know if waking them up, or just letting them sleep (they must be really tired to do so).

Then I think, something must be wrong. Because beyond the fact I can be really tired, or maybe sick, the respect they must have in class must be strong in enough to avoid doing such things.

Ok, let's say they are really tired, or maybe they can be sick. It can be. But what if they are not tired or sick. Does it mean that I am really such a boring teacher? Is my class so boring to hypnotize them? I don't think I am boring, as a person I mean. Then, what is it the problem?

I think the problem is that my interests are completely different from the interests of the students. What I am teaching has a goal, that in most of the cases, is really against the goals of the students, or it seems to be against their goals.

If what I am teaching, or the way I teach is against the students' interests, then I am really doing my work badly. It is true that we have to teach certain contents, grammar, vocabulary, rules, etc. But it is really useless, if I don't give a real purpose, a real meaning to all that content. What students see is a bunch of nonsenses that kills any motivation.

Something is wrong, I am not considering the interest of everyone of my students. And this is the hard part, because, how can I deal with the likes of everyone of my students? Probably, I won't do it. I can't. The content, the vocabulary, all the nonsenses are still strong to deal with every student. That is why I still have some students who are coming to sleep. After all, dreams are nicer than the boring reality.

But what do you think? Can I really get the attention, motivation and the interest of everyone of my students? There must be a way.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Teacher: learn a lesson of solidarity

This is the week of the solidarity. So we had the visit of a friend priest to talk about Solidarity and Youngsters. Father Rafael talked about solidarity in present times, and how it must fight against the injustices and consumerism.

But as teachers, we know that we have to be supportive with our students, and motivate our students to be supporitve too. I will share with you what Father Rafael told us about it.

The first point is welcoming. We have to welcome the person who needs our help. We have to welcome our students when they need us. Here, time is key. We need to give space on our busy schedule to our students.

A second point is hearing. And this is, probably, the hardest part. As teacher, we tend to have in our mind too many things, that even if we can give that time to our studetns, it is hard to concentrate, and really hearing what they have to say. And it is even harder to really put ourselves in the shoes of the other.

And the third point is building. Because inside every problem, there must be a solution. So, we have to start working, building solutions together, really going to the actions.

We are clearly in a consumerist world, And we have to know which is priority: the materials?resources? methods? evaluations?

I think we all know the answer. we all know which is the priority: the students.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Huawei modem at the schools

Nowadays, most of the schools have internet connection, but it doesn't mean that it is reaching the students' computers.

Even though, wifi is an option already, there is a fear that students won't use the wireless connection properly. That is why, it is still not available for a big quantity of students. Another reason is the speed of the connection, which is slow in many cases.But students are moving faster than us on this, and they find the way to use wireless connection.

The use of Huawei modems is getting very common among the students nowadays. Not just because it is available wherever you go, but also, because it is cheap and affordable for the families.

A Huawei modem is a little device, similar to a pendrive, that allows you to connect your computer to any cellphone network around the position you are. This gives you the chance to be connected even the school is not giving you the access to wifi.

It is very easy to use, you just load money on it, just like a cellphone. So you control the money you spend. You pay when you use it. This device costs around 20 dollars, depending on the country and the store. But it is much cheaper compared with a huawei cellphone.

I think this is a good way for the students, in order to connect and use internet at any time and wherever they are .

Sunday, 14 August 2011

10 tips to be an awesome teacher

I will share with you 10 tips to be... not just a great... but an AWESOME Teacher:

1.-You are the teacher, not a friend. Remember that students appreciate who you are, and not what you prentend to be.

2.-Dress properly. Students want a neat teacher.

3.-Get a binder for everything. Students appreciate that you take care of every paper they give you.

4.-Plan ahead. Students detect immediately if you are improvising or not.

5.-Use proper language. Students won't respect you if you don't respect them first.

6.-Be a "Gadget Teacher". Students love teachers who are bringing cool and new stuff to the classroom. Surprise them.

7.-Be a busy teacher, but do it all in time. Students will consider that even you have many things to do, you are a professional and responsible with all your tasks.

8.-Never lie. Students hate that. If you don't know something, or you can't do something, say it, and they will appreciate your honesty.

9.-Don't be so serious. Students will want to be happy with you, if you laugh with them.

10.-Always be positive. Students will understand that nothing is impossible.

If you want to add more tips, you are welcome to do it.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

How to organize the time of the class?

The time in the classroom is essential to organize the activities you want to work with the students. You don't want to extend the time for a certain activity because they will get bored, and if you go so fast, students will get lost.

In the same way you have a lesson plan with the contents, you need a plan for the time of every class. This is what I personally do:

1.- Administrative time: It is the time given to wait the students in the classroom, let them take and organize their own material, I check the attendance, and I set my own material too.

2.-Introduction: I explain what we will do and how, the kind of evaluation, and the most important thing... the goal of the class. They must know that if they will do an activity, it is because there is a clear reason for it. (I told my students that they have the right to do nothing if they don't know the goal of the class).

3.-Content and activities: As a teacher of English, this is the time I use to work with the students. Starting with a listening comprehension activity, then, reading comprehension, writing and at the end, as a way to show what they did, oral activities. They must speak in English.

4.-The reinforcement: Actually the Oral activity is the one I choose to reinforce all the previous work done in the class.

5.-Summary Tip: Students must write the summary of the class or summary of the unit.

I know there must be different ways to organize the time. But it is important to have a clear plan to use every minute wisely. So, don't forget to have a clock or watch at your side.

Friday, 12 August 2011

In the school, where is the family?

Most of what I am comes from what my mother taught me. My values and the way to treat other people comes from her. I think without her teaching, I wouldn't be the teacher I am now.

Students try to do their best for their own future, and we, as teachers, try to give the best of us to help them in doing so. But I feel that the role of the parents has lost strenght during the last years.

We can see that most of the parents want the best for their pupils, of course, they are the sons and the daughters. But sometimes, they give too much responsibility to the school in taking care of the children, thinking that schools must do all the job. But the main education doesn't come from an institution, it comes from home, when they are growing up.

Parents have a responsibilty that it must be done. They have to come and claim their position in the triangle of education.

If parents are keeping the children for at least 5 years before entering into the school, and they continue taking care of them during the rest of years while they are studying, then it means they are the foundation of the education, and it is their duty to shape the children to be good people.

I think, "hey!, he is your son, she is your daughter. Not mine" So, parents must start and lead the process of learning and getting good values.

Parents must give the real education and teachers must support them. But not the other way.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

how can I fit in the world of the students?

For a long time I was a bit scared to share my cell phone number with my students. I thought that they could do a prank on me, like calling at 4 o'clock in the morning. So, for a long time, I have been away from them, like, disconnected from them.Now, I think that even if I give my phone number, it won't work, at least, not for the purpose I want.

What I mean to say, with all the technologies around us, how can I fit in their world? I think that if I really want to be a 24/7 teacher, I must find new ways to stay connected with the students, and probably, using cellphones, it will be outdated.

Nowadays, students use facebook to stay connected with their friends. They can even spend hours surfing on internet trying to find more information about their relatives or friends. What I feel is that, even I am a bit foreigner in their worlds, I still have the chance to fit in their technological reality.

But we must be cautious. We don't have to invade their circle of friends. We just want to settle our store of teacher stuff, to give them the chance to come and inform about their homeworks, their marks, results, and all related with the school, nothing more. We won't find a space in their lives as friends. We will just come to say "hey, here I am, your teacher, and if you need my help, count on me".

The key is just asking and getting informed about all the new technologies and social networks, because in that way, we will see how we can build a bridge to the "student country". We need to create an account of email just for them. A webpage, blog, wikispace, or any other way to show our work to them. Probably, we need to create accounts in social networks too.

See, there are many ways to fit in the world of the students.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

A good page for you teacher

If you are an English Language Teacher, and you speak Spanish, then I share with you an excellent page I have found.

Most of the times, I lose a lot of time and effort trying to find a good page where to get information concerning of grammar.

Well, this page is great. It is not just a page actually, it is also a course where you can improve your English. It has vocabulary games, videos, activities to improve the pronunciation showing the difference between American and British accent. In addition it has 4 levels of English, to start from easy elements going through more complex aspects of the English grammar.

What I liked about this page, it is the presentation. It is very complete but so simple, with pictures and examples to understand every lesson.

I leave the link, and I hope you like this page called Wlingua as much as I do.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Debate: Students evaluating the teachers?

Is it convenient that students evaluate teachers' performance? Is it objective and truthful? Do you agree with it? Are you scared of being evaluated by your own students?

I can share to you that it has become a common institutional practice of my school delivering satisfaction surveys among the students, so they can evaluate the performance of every teacher. We are evaluated in different aspects: personal presentation, knowledge of the subject, classroom management, time management, etc.

For me, it is essential to know what is the opinion of my students in relation with my work, because they are the ones receiving all I produce and do as a teacher.

Though, I agree with this kind of evaluation, sometimes I wonder if it is objective or not, if the student hates or not so they can evaluate me with less mark, if just one bad experience is generating adversion against me, and many different factors that can affect this kind of evaluation. But I think, this can be just a small percentage.

The important thing, is that we give the students the chance to evaluate us, in different aspects, so they can express their own ideas and opinions. And I am sure, most of the times, they are right in many of their thoughts.

And what about you? do your students evaluate you? do you have a personal template of evaluation that you share with your students? What is your opinion about these kind of tests?

Monday, 8 August 2011

A classroom idea: "Tip Resumen" (How to end the class!)


One of my weaknesses is the ending of the class. How to end the class? Because most of the times, students are just ready to go running out of the classroom, even 5 minutes in advance.

I tried different things, talking with them, summarizing the main points, but it seems that all I can do, it really won't work.

So, I have planned a different idea.

I have already mentioned the concept of working in teams with contest activities to participate and getting points. Well, another way to get points is by doing the "Tip Resumen" or "Summary Tip".

About 5 minutes before the ending of the class, I present one slide in power point with my projector. That slide is called "Tip Resumen" and I present on it a summary of the class, or part of the content that we will see within the unit, or just grammatical content. The students will write the tip in special papers that will be stored in folders. So after writing the tip on the paper and putting it on the folder, I will give an extra point, and I will keep the folder until the next class.

In addition, at the end of the semester, I will check all the folders to know if they are complete or not. Because their folders will become their Portfolio with the main content of the semester. But this time, the students will get a mark for it.

Until now, students are working until the last minute of the class, and I hope they won't lose their motivation doing this activity.

If you still have some doubts about my idea, you can comment or leave your own opinion. Let's share knowledge.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

How do I get motivation to teach to difficult students?


One of the main problems we have as teachers, is when we teach to difficult students.

My experience has told me, that it is not a problem of the students. There are good and bad days. Some people say it is going to rain that is why students are hyper, I don't know.

But one thing is true, the perfect day doesn't exist.

If you are a teacher, can you imagine how amazing you are Yes, you teacher. You are really so great. because even you have one of the hardest jobs in the world, you get up everyday with energy, addressing to the school to teach.

You, teacher, are really great. You must be proud of yourself.

Most of the times, we receive critics from different people, we feel dissapointed and we just want to give up. But for some reason, we find the inner motivation to continue, because we know that what we are doing is one of the noblest and most honorable careers, and we know that what we are doing is not for us, it is for our students who will receive the benefit of our work.

I think there is just one way to get motivation to do our job. And the motivation is there, in the eyes of our students that are waiting to see what we are going to give to them in exchange of nothing. Because our work is based on the love.

Be positive, because everyday is different. Today was a bad day, but tomorrow, maybe it is a great day. Always go to every classroom being positive and do the best you can do for your students.

I want to share with you part of a series I watched long time ago. It is a japanese series called Gokusen. Maybe after watching a bit, you will undesrtand how do I get motivation to teach everyday.






Saturday, 6 August 2011

Why some teachers don't have education?


The other day, I posted why do I hate some teachers? in relation with the irresponsibility of some leaders of teachers, that instead of finding a final solution, they are calling for more protests and strikes to improve the education in Chile.

Today, I was reading a post of Humberto Maturana in relation with the same topic, and I would like to share with you some of his thoughts.

Humberto Maturana, who is a prominent Chilean biologist and well-known philosopher, says in his post called "¡Queremos mejor educación! (We want a better education!):

"When I ask for something, I need that the soul of the person who can satisfy my petition, can agree with my soul and welcome me"

"When I demand (...) I doubt that the wishes of that person will agree with my wishes, and I turn to a hidden or a explicit threat, trusting that the right or the force can assist me"

"If we are honest to declare that we want to improve the education within the country, what we have to do is talking, generating spaces to settle agreement between the wishes (...)"

(You can check his complete post in Spanish here. Or you can check his page in English here.)

I agreed with his words, and I feel that the only way to really make a change in education, is by talking without the violence that some arrogant people think it is the right way.

Again I say, how can we promote values, respect and responsibility in our students, if we, as teachers, don't show that way first? That is why I say that some teachers don't have education.

Talking about the problems is the way we have to solve them and get a final solution. By the reason, not by the force.

Friday, 5 August 2011

A teachers' network

When my students are working in groups, I prefer to call them "Teams", do you know why? Because, being a team means that everyone does his part to get a common goal that will benefit all equally. Since, I started posting on my blog, I have tried to search for other teachers to whom I can share ideas and experiences.

And I have done that, because I am so conviced that the only way to prosper and really improve my performance is by getting more knowledge from other teachers.

But to do so, I need a network of teachers. I will share with you what I have found so far:

http://teacherlingo.com/ It is a community to connect teachers from different levels.

http://busyteacher.org/ Excellent page full of material, resources and teaching ideas.

http://teachingenglish.org.uk/ Great page with excellent material, tips and ideas.

http://edublogs.org/ Page to create educational blogs, highly recommended for teachers.

http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/ My favourite blog with the lastest trendy news about innovation in the classroom.

http://rpi.educarchile.cl/ Network of innovative chilean teachers (Spanish language)

I hope to continue enlarging this list through the time, and I hope to create my own network of friend teachers to support and help each other.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

why do I hate some teachers?

To clarify, I am not talking about my coworkers, which I really respect and value a lot (I have learnt a lot from them during all these years), I am not talking about my own teachers, because I am here due to their help and support when I was a student.

I am talking about those teachers who are supposed to be our leaders, and instead of showing us "the way", they just really lost their own way.

Since too many days, strikes and protests have moved the foundation of our education in Chile. And I agree that we have to fight to get a better education, and the rights of the teachers, and all of that. It is just. for me, and talking with a really personal view, ... for me it is really enough.

It is impossible that after a long time, there is no solution to the problem of the quality in education. I feel it is so much absurd, that the leaders of the teachers continue calling for more strikes and protests, and when they are not allowed, they say that they will use the law to fight against that ban. Isn't it so stupid? (Sorry, my foul language). It is just... I really think it is so stupid to continue wanting more and more strikes and protests that just bring destruction and a huge loss, instead of just gathering for two or three days, to really talk with the government and finding a real and final solution.

It is so unbelievable that those teachers call for more protests, and they say they won't be responsible if there are "infiltrates" that are destroying all, even knowing that protests will just bring more loss. What kind of teachers are those?

I feel that we, as teachers, have a huge responsibility in wanting a better education, but we can't commit the sin of teaching about respect to our students, when we don't respect others.

I'm sorry to say, but I feel that some teachers really need more education.

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Wednesday, 3 August 2011

What students really love!

During all the years I have been working as a teacher, I have tried different strategies to work with my students. Some were really a success, others... were a complete failure. And some times, when I go with a negative thought that things won't work, students surprise me reacting in a positive way, working so well, cooperating, and really doing all so great. But sometimes, when I bring a nice activity (what I thought it would be a great idea)... then things go wrong. I don't get it.

But I have noticed, that the activities that never go wrong, are those related with the competition. Well. I won't say that students love competitions so much, but they really enjoy having a nice time, trying to be the first in the tasks.

Have you noticed that some of the students, those who are misbehaving, are just trying to call the attention of the rest of the class? And have you noticed that when you win in a competition, you call the attention of the rest of the people?

Now, I am working like that with my students. They are working in groups (I prefer to call them "Teams") in which, they have to participate in simple contests, and competing to get positive points. And it works. Because they know that the best team will get the best mark. So, during the class, I am doing different "contest activities" to make them work in teams, help each other, and compete in a fair way. I know it can sound unfair too, because every team will get a different score, but it is a way to promote the team work and that is the way they will learn how life is. They have to fight for what they want, and they must be the best to get it. In this case, in the classroom, as teams.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Debate: The problems of connecting the school to real life

I admit that I am a fan of technology and I am always investigating and trying to know and learn more about this topic. And for the same reason, everything I have. I try to use it for me, and for my work.
Watching the excellent presentation of Lisa Nielsen related with Connecting School life to Real life, which I thought it is a really relevant point if we really want to have students prepared for the future life.

I have always thought, that we are preparing students who will be working and living for many years, and what we do in a couple of years (School), it will be really important to make a change in their lives.

For me, technology and all the new inventions that are appearing everyday, must be considered as part of the process of learning. And when I read on the presentation of Lisa Nielsen, about that guy who thought that the use of cellphones on the classroom could be an excellent tool... I was like... wow!, that is what I think too.

It is really important to put at the reach of the students' hands all these technologies, because that is real life (internet, smartphones, facebook, twitter, etc.) or at least, that is the life we are living in today. But what I don't agree is.. if it is really possible to give all of this to our students, as a way to give them freedom to learn. Because, at least, some of my students don't understand the potential of these devices.

To give an example. For my students. a cellphone is a device to hear music, to watch videos, to store pictures and photos, and at the end, a device to call other people. Considering this, a cellphone is a device to have fun and it is not a tool to learn.
I can create activities to use a cellphone for learning purposes, but after some minutes, it becomes a distractor more than a tool.
I don't want to generalize. But most of my students still don't have a clear vision of their own future, or in many cases, their thoughts are not put still on their future. So it is still hard to make them understand, that in real life, technology is not just for fun, but a mean of connectivity, part of my future work, part of a tool to continue growing up in this life.

And maybe, that will be our role as teachers. To show them that reality.

Monday, 1 August 2011

What is the future of the teacher?

The other day, I was reading on the newspapers about a robot that was teaching on the classroom. Most of the students were happy to have this teacher helping them in different subjects. The robot was controlled at distance by a person, who already had the lesson plan and all the activities in advance. So, the robot was more realistic and could interact with the students.


For me, this is was a really interesting news, and it made me think about the future of the teacher. I know that in order to solve a need of the society, teachers (people) won't disappear.

But I was imagining the future, how will be the teacher of the future. And with so many technologies, gadgets, internet and all ... which will be the kind of teachers who will exist in ten or twenty years more? But the thing that worries me the most... is the fact that having so many tools to study and learn new things... the role of the teacher, probably won't have the same importance than years ago.


In order words, if I have all the chances to do all by myself... do I really need a teacher? Probably yes, to tell me what to do, how to do it, when to do, and the reason why I must do it. But I have the feeling that teachers will become just another tool in the process of learning, and they won't have the relevance that they must have.
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