About the Reading task 1 in the EVO2022: Delivering best practices for distance and online and blended courses

I was to choose and read an article and write one paragraph. The one I chose was about the design process of blended learning which turned out to have some sub-articles. They were so interesting that I kept parts of them that resonated with me and wrote a touch more than one paragraph, so I decided to document it here.

I read this article about strategies for teaching blended learning courses

Found this definition here:

Blended learning, which combines face-to-face and online learning activities into a single course.

Blended learning strategies have a lot in common with the Flipped learning approach. At the planning stage, we too think about learning outcomes for students and ask big questions about what it’s in it for the student to learn and then work backwards from how the student will prove they have learnt it. I think the biggest obstacle is having a variety of modalities when it comes to designing your lessons and one of my hurdles is remembering all of these cool apps and website tools I have used over the years to reuse them when it is suitable.

I agree with the fact that you have to decide beforehand if your blended course is an online one with some face2face interaction or if it is a f2f course with some online interaction. I have a class where some students will not be attending face2face classes at all and have some students that will only be attending face2face classes. Here the design of their active learning always need to be well thought out and the choice of deliverables should vary where the use of digital deliverables or digital tools is mandatory.

What resonated with me from this article was the useful list of advice to make careful modality decisions. My biggest hurdle is considering beforehand how much work will be required of me to create each learning activity in comparison to the benefits to the learners. Sometimes I create a learning activity that takes too long to prepare versus the benefits the learners will take from that.

I agree with this: 

“In terms of integration, communication is the key, and I think if we can allow our students to communicate in meaningful ways—both online and face to face—that will help bridge the gap. … If students can understand that the professor is very interested in communication and the social interaction that necessarily has to occur for us to learn, then I think that the students will buy into the fact that they need to be active face to face and online,” Wegmann says.

And this:

“Just because a communication tool or technique is available does not mean that you have to use it, Thompson says. “When you’ve got a solution in search of a problem, that’s probably a bad thing. For example, if instructor X for whatever reason thought that she or he had to ‘have an online discussion’ in a blended course but didn’t really have a sense of why … if there’s no discernible connection between that activity and the learning outcomes, and if it’s not designed particularly well … it will be perceived as meaningless busywork.”

I have incorporated a bulletin board discussion forum in each class and when I started using it as a reflection tool, not all students bought into the idea. Eventually, when they realised it was important to me and not just busywork, they ended up collaborating and sharing their reflections and eventually began to enjoy it.

“Reinforce one modality in the other. Be explicit in making the connections between the two modalities by acknowledging and extending the interaction in each.” 

This is something I do anyway but hadn’t realised that it is so important. It took me time in getting students to do some things online because they feel it’s just busywork. When they understand that firstly, it is important to me and then that I feel it’s important for their own learning to do they get into the habit of doing some online activities more often.

“If you do not carefully think about and implement measures to integrate these two learning modes, students may perceive them as separate contexts that have very little to do with each other or they may consider parts of the course irrelevant or busywork.”

Even though I have been using a digital school platform for the past two years, it has just resonated with me that I do offer blended learning courses at my school. My courses are offered in conjunction with an online school platform which is an integration of an E-Class platform and an LMS. I have seen students (and some parents) consider that the online part of the course was not connected to the face2face part of the course and try to pull out of being part of it. Once they understood that it was part of the course and not just busywork, they eventually came round and made it part of their routine.

I think proper communication is key to its success. I will try to communicate this with my teachers, my students and parents more.

“When the online and face-to-face components complement each other as integrated activities in each setting, there is a clear purpose and students understand the relevance of both modes.”

Yes, a clear purpose makes both modes relevant.

In this reading, Veronica Diaz the associate director of the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative gives us some useful pointers on mistakes to avoid:

  • Don’t try to convert your course to an online course too because it will turn out to be a “course-and-a-half”.
  • Make sure there is a connection between what you teach in your f2f and what you put for them online.
  • Don’t convert your entire lecture into an online one. No one wants to sit and watch a lecture. these days there are too many distractions.

This article talks about the ADDIE Instructional design process 

(ADDIE which stands for Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation and Evaluation.)

I have been slowly moving from curriculum design to Instructional design of all my courses and classes. It is important for administrators and teachers to design in regards to what’s in it for the students than from what I need to teach in this lesson, by this week, by that month. 

Moving towards designing my blended courses will have to be my next step, so this really hit me and decided to document it to further take it in.

In short, ADDIE consists of these below steps:

Analysis:

  • Review prior course evaluations for guidance on where students struggle.
  • Identify the most difficult concepts for students and focus on those.

Design:

  • Create detailed learning objectives. Use strong action verbs and avoid terms like “know,” “understand,” and “learn.”
  • Divide course into F2F and online components.
  • Match learning objectives with technology.

Development

  • Start early – at least a semester, preferably a year, in advance.
  • Create an ideal course then start with the most important elements in the next step.
  • Create a shell with the intention of refining and improving over several semesters.

Implementation

  • Start with a smaller course if possible (summer is a good time).
  • Launch the entire course once completely designed rather than piecemeal.

Evaluation

  • Assessment is critical for course improvement and accreditation.
  • Leverage technology to collect data (think about this in the design stage).
  • Utilize evaluation data to ‘close the loop’ to improve the course for next time.

“Shibley explained how to divide your course content in a way that creates opportunities for learning before class, during class and after class; how to assess student learning; and how to use technology to support learning”

These bullets sum up the design of blended learning:

  • Establish clear learning goals for the topic.
  • Design activities to help students meet the learning goals.
  • Sort the activities into two categories: online and face-to-face.

Found these steps worth highlighting:

 In considering each step, the following questions might help:

  • What do I really want students to learn?
  • How can I ensure that students read the book prior to class?
  • What lower-level activities can student complete online prior to class?
  • What higher-level activities can be accomplished during class?
  • What higher-level activities can students complete after a topic has been discussed face-to-face?
  • Which activities require a grade and which activities will students do because they can immediately see the link to other graded activities?

When talking to administrators, point out that blended learning…

  • impacts the entire institution.
  • offers a learner-centered pedagogy.
  • may integrate with the strategic plan.
  • improves classroom utilization.
  • can help match delivery to academic need.
  • can help fill under-enrolled courses and programs.

When talking to faculty, point out that blended learning….

  • gives them access to new resources.
  • introduces them to online learning.
  • is an opportunity for faculty development and lets them experiment with new pedagogies and techniques.
  • helps meet student expectations and build student skills.
  • allows for more flexible scheduling.
  • retains the face-to-face aspect faculty may cherish.

When talking to students, point out blended learning…

  • meets their expectations for utilizing technology.
  • develops independent learning skills.
  • offers increased flexibility and convenience.
  • provides better access to those with job, family, or distance barriers.
  • helps reduce educational costs.

“Offering blended learning requires more than just setting up an LMS and telling the faculty to integrate it into their curriculum.”

  • “Interactive” looks different. I have found the Google suite to be extremely helpful for interactive work in my HyFlex classroom. I use Google docs, slides, and Jamboard daily to discuss readings and do group activities. I’ve taken to setting up a Google Doc ahead of class with a table of questions for discussion (rows are pre-labeled with student names). I can see exactly who is participating in real time. (Side note: I set up a shared Google Drive for our class. This makes it possible to make new Google Docs or Slides on the fly during class if necessary and have them immediately accessible to all students in the class).
  • Community looks different. I make a conscious effort to speak directly to students attending virtually as well as those in the room. As I see them sign into Zoom, I greet individuals and chat with them. One of my in-person students mentioned how surprising it was to hear me apparently talking to no one before she realized I was speaking to a student on Zoom. She appreciated that the class is not split into “participators” in the classroom and “observers” on Zoom.
  • Group work looks different. I like to use Zoom breakout rooms, but the in-class component adds complexity. I’ve kept my pre-assigned breakout rooms, but I added a fifth breakout room just for in-class students. I manually re-assign this group each day based on who is in class. Those in the classroom can talk directly to each other, making the most of the in-class context.
  • My role with groups looks different. In the classroom, I like to move around and interact with each group. With HyFlex, this is more difficult. I’ve had to give up some control over the groups (I can’t “see” them in the breakout rooms), but I’ve found that the Google collaboration helps me keep tabs on the work they are doing. If I assign each group a Google Slide in a shared slide deck. I can have the slides open on my laptop and can see at a glance which slides the students are looking at and what they are writing. I’ve also built-in more time for each group to report out, and I use that time for the kinds of probing questions I would normally ask during the group work. The whole class benefits from our interactions in ways they probably missed during previous in-person semesters.
  • Connecting with students looks different. After my disappointing first week, I arranged to meet with each of my 25 students individually in 10-minute time slots on Zoom. It made a world of difference in my own attitude. Those short, one-on-one conversations helped restore some of what I was missing in my HyFlex classroom–the opportunity to get to know students and connect with them. I realize not everyone can do this, but perhaps even in larger classes faculty could meet with students in groups of five or six. For me, it was an important way to preserve one part of teaching I find most satisfying.

These readings were really valuable, and I explicitly the kept parts I feel have helped me come to understand the ideas behind blended learning. hopefully, over time these principles and guidance will become ingrained in my work more.

Back again! Happy New year everyone!

Has been a while since my last post. I suppose so much has happened during the pandemic, don’t know where to start, really. Well, firstly, I want to wish everyone (or anyone!) reading this a happy new year full of health, laughter and happiness.

I suppose what got me coming back here is me signing up as a participant, for an Electronic Village Online session (more here EVO2021) after a long time since I am also a moderator in the Flipped Learning in language teaching session too (more info here ). Personally, I have a thirst for knwoledge for anything that has to do with making learning fun and more interesting, including gamification. Therfore I have wanted to advance my knowledge in Minecraftand and this free EVO session from well-known global educators is my chance. Here’s a link (here) if you are also interested!

Luckily, I have done some prior research so I do have a Mojang Minecraft account and a discord account. So not much to do before we start on Sunday, I believe. The only concern I have is if the live sessions are going to clash with our Flipped sessions, but not to worry because recordings are cool too…

Categories CPD

Mock exams, are they worth it?

“You can learn more in one hour of taking a test than in one hour of studying”, I haven’t only seen this in my students myself, but it has been proven by science too[Belluck, 2011]. I learnt so much about my students on Saturday after they took their first mock exam for this season, most of them were from the B1 Level but it does apply to all of our Cambridge assessment English language examinations.

Some background information before the mock. During the past week in our lessons, we set a date to meet up at our school on Saturday morning. The date was set at 10:30am. When I arrived at school early (10:07am!). I found the photocopier broken and I had to fix it. That’s not something that is unusual at our school but the problem was that this lost us time from when we were scheduled to start. This made students uneasy and as students, they became quite restless which in turn would lead them to have difficulties in focusing on what they came to class to do…take the exam! Most of the students ended up starting just twenty minutes later in time than what was planned originally. I have to admit, ‘just’ here is not used properly because this was one of the main factors that caused early tiredness and unfocused students in the end.

Continue reading “Mock exams, are they worth it?”

A week before EVO Flipped learning for Language teaching.

I am so excited. This is the week where we get enrolments for the Electronic Village Online (EVO) session called Flipped Learning for Language teaching. So far, the journey as a co-moderator (or just a general helper) has been really interesting. It started sometime in November 2019 where I was contacted by Carolina Rodrigues Buitrago to be invited to their team which I jumped at the chance to be able to help out. Just last year I was a participant of their session in Flipped learning. So why did they invite me, I certainly didn’t become an expert in flipped learning in just one year. Yet, I did really enjoy the course and really to a liking to the idea of flipping and creating active learning environments, but found it needs time to sink in and believe in it. Therefore, I suppose it was because of my enthusiasm in the course and live sessions and obviously in the area of flipped learning.

Continue reading “A week before EVO Flipped learning for Language teaching.”

Beliefs about language learning.

Studying Motivation in L2 acquisition has genuinely touched me. I moved to Greece when I was 18 with about an A2 level of Greek in my pocket and had quite a few problems presenting myself to friends and acquaintances which I couldn’t really explain at that time, some people even found me simplistic and ‘silly’ at times which really affected my selfconfidence at that time. This, Elaine Horwitz, mentions as a logical reaction and as often a case with an L2 in her literature. I can’t believe how I can now connect my own life experiences to classroom motivational strategy techniques.
I also was impressed about how Elaine states that although in a communicative classroom we tell students that we want to communicate with them, we want to know what they are thinking and that we really want to listen to them, we end up putting them in a situation where they can’t do this really which can sometimes be frustrating for them if we don’t acknowledge this fact with them beforehand.
I found the Elaine Horwitz model called the BALLI – Beliefs About Language Learning Inventory model in the book Motivational Strategies by Zoltan Dornyei which led me to some of her research papers and this video from a teacher training session here:

This Youtube video led me some more of her workshops at the University of Austin which is under CC trademarks presenting in depth practical solutions on Methods and Anxiety in L2 learning. See here

And here is a link to one of her original works .

And here is a newer paper about validity of her work

HyperDocs Handbook: a review that turned out to be a detailed outline of core pedagogical principles which cause Hyperdocs to be invaluable to all educators..

Originally this post was supposed to be another book review. A book review on the Hyperdocs Handbook by Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton and Sarah Landis which offers in-depth knowledge of the what, why and how to use Hyperdocs to flip your classroom. Yet, as I was progressing through the book, I understood that I was lacking some fundamental knowledge on a few terms that were used extensively. Therefore this post as it turned out is more of a memorandum of research and analysis of terms found in the book and less of an overall review of the book which I will rewrite as a separate post eventually!
In general, Hyperdocs relies on the philosophy of the Flipped learning model. I believe in the fundamentals of the flipped learning model but have been inert to fully implement this method as the main pedagogy in my classroom (yet!). Mostly due to not having a fully comprehensive conception of all the principles relating to the use of flexible learning spaces to implement this concept. Flipped learning is a pedagogy that takes out the instruction stage from the classroom along with the ‘sage on the stage’ bit of the that too, and leaves time to challenge students through flexible learning spaces for real collaborative and flexible learning to happen in class changing the teacher role into a ‘guide on the side’. This all sounds astounding and having used many times in my classes; it does have excellent results in the way students get empowered to look at their learning, but there is a lot of fundamentals involved in respect to knowing about these flexible learning spaces and switching to this type of teaching in your classroom. Fundamentals which need to be looked at in-depth and understood to be able to design and implement lesson plans that are based on solid foundations. Fundamentals, which I have found deciphered in this book and found to be both analytical and clear.
Firstly, the book runs through some basic definitions and clarifies to its readers how Hyperdocs can help implement some of these distinct pedagogical strategies. Hyperdocs promote the use of a variety of strategies to deliver instruction in a classroom setting. One of these strategies is personalized learning which is possible through Hyperdocs as you can use Hyperdocs to design self-paced differentiated instruction that “promotes high expectations, use flexible methods and materials, and accurately assess student progress” and this is (stated to be) achieved through the use of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) model. UDL? This influenced me to investigate the UDL framework. This eventually directed my search to cast.org which in short is an educational research organization around since 1984 investigating the use of UDL in education. UDL is an instructional framework which guides you to design your curriculum based on differentiation because it believes that each student is “Universal”. That is, students with different strengths, needs and interests and this needs to be manifested in your curriculum providing authentic learning opportunities for all students. UDL also maintains that learning is based on three main brain networks playing different roles.

The Recognition network is how we identify and categorise what we see, hear and read or simply the “what” of learning. The Skill and Strategies network which is how we organise and express our ideas, the “how” of learning. And finally, the Caring and Prioritising or Affective networks which are how students are engaged and motivated to learn or the “why” of learning. It’s this kind of flexible paths that should be designed in your flexible curriculum targeting all students and this is where the UDL framework helps out. The 3 core principles of UDL which need to be taken into consideration when designing the curriculum are:

Source: https://www.ahead.ie/udl-framework

So as you can understand… UDL is not something you can throw around and not know much about!

Hyperdocs also incorporates other learning strategies when used in the classroom. A few that were stated and adhered to me are Flexible grouping which can be used by the use of Hyperdocs. Grouping like:

  • Whole class on one doc – “All students one doc”
  • Partnerships – “Brainstorm with your partner on this…”
  • Small groups – “With your team create…”
  • Individual – “On your own, show..”
  • Global partnership – “Connect with student A via a digital tool”\

This alone provokes collaboration through out all instruction.

Hyperdocs also supports delivering instruction for Project-based learning. Project-Based Learning (PBL) is a teaching method in which students learn by actively engaging in real-world and personally meaningful projects (source: https://www.pblworks.org/what-is-pbl). Hyperdocs allows for building background knowledge to become a task and not a lecture, improving both collaboration and expectation setting.

Another pedagogical strategy Hyperdocs provides the basis to deliver instruction for is the Inquiry-based Method. This method is strictly student-centred probing the teacher to be the guide on the side empowering students to ask questions and find the answers themselves relying on each other and their research. More information here: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/what-heck-inquiry-based-learning-heather-wolpert-gawron

Other pedagogical strategies mentioned for supporting the use of Hyperdocs are blended learning and distance learning which are supported by the use of Hyperdocs by providing a home base where students come and get their tailor-made guidance at their own time. 

In this part of the book, Innovative learning spaces were also mentioned as being the design of space as a more student-centred classroom in which traditional instruction has no place and the use of Hyperdocs bridge the gap between the space people use to learn and the instructional methods by which they learn.

In short (too late for that!), Hyperdocs are based on core pedagogical principles which cause them to be invaluable to all educators. Next step now is to reflect on how they are designed and implemented in (my) classrooms!

Back to the classics…Motivational strategies in the language classroom.

Lately, in my school I have been noticing that some students are motivated more than others, some classes are higly motivated to learn but choose not to be part of our school culture and others don’t get on well with each other. This was concerning me and I wanted to understand the why and the how this can change. As a scholar, an experienced language teacher and a long time school owner, I knew the one place where I could turn to find answers other than my PLN… was a good book. Um…2020 guys! Not really, I just asked Mr Google and he pointed me towards a few good instructional videos and some articles where eventually I stumbled accross a good book! Motivational strategies in the language classroom by Zoltan Dornyei.

So when my book arrived, I did what every passinate and busy proffessional would do. Put it on my book shelf for six months! Really. But eventually I felt the need to sit back down and read and this is where my adventure begins.

Basically, it’s a book about motivational strategies and how it is explained by scholars of the field. I find it quite practical also because it higlights and explains why students act the way they act in class. It does touch on frameworks and research which gets a bit heavy at times with a lot of psychologists names being thrown here and there, but overall it is practical.

A few keypoints I have read about so far.

  1. Enthusiasm works! “students might make fun of this dedication but deep inside, argues Csikszentmihayli, they admire that passion. Such commitment towards the subject matter then becomes ‘infectuous’, instilly in students a similar willingness to pursue knowledge.”

However, Dornyei stresses the fact that enthusiasm is not putting on an engaging song and dance performance worthy of a Broadway award, it’s showing authentic reasons of why a topic is of interest to you using “low-key, sincere statements”.

2. Believe in all your students! Another point that caught my interest is something I believed in by experience and by having gut-feeling inside that I am right. Dornyei states by research, scientists have found if you believe in your student’s ability to reach achievement, in the long run there is a good chance that they will too and even impress you by their abilities to reach their learning goals. Also, something else that I found interesting is the why I have insisted in having mixed level ability classes together and not seperate classes by levels of achievement. If you have weak students in a class together, it’s the teacher that will be influenced by this knowledge which unconsciously might send the students on a “downward spiral of low achievement and low expectations”. Putting weak with the strong makes the strong, stronger, especially if they are given secondary roles in prepping and explaining material to the weaker ones. I believe by now, every good teacher has heard of this quote:

3.Practical ideas, most of which we do know and use in our classes. See pic below:

4. Found his explainations on the ideal class climate and creating a cohesive learner group to be most informative. He states in his book, something that I believe to be true myself, “It’s easy to tell when there is the ‘pleasant-and-supportive-classroom-atmosphere’ – you can sense it after only a few minutes of being in the classroom. So true, but what happens when this doesn’t happen and when not to often a time students are mean to each other which can make a huge difference to student’s attitudes towards learning? He goes on to state that this cohesiveness is not a matter of luck and that he suggests ten (10) important factors of how to get this feeling happening in all your classes. A quick summary of factors that help in building cohesiveness in a group are:

  1. Time will help.
  2. Use activities that will allow students learn about each other. e.x ice-breaking activities at the start of a course.
  3. Proximity, contact and interaction is a super important factor (says me too!) To prevent the emergence of rigid seating patterns move your students around from time to time, use pairwork, small group work, role play and project work allowing people to come into contact with each other. Overall, teachers should watch out for rigid seating arrangements among students because this could trigger negative effects on learning. getting the stronger students in the front all the time and having the weaker students at the back all the time could hinder their learning and motivation to participate in a ‘protected’ learning enviroment in which mistakes are the norm to learning.
  4. Cooperation between members for common goals something of which would create a single ‘group product’.
  5. Emphasize the rewarding nature of the group experience often.
  6. Celebrate the succesful completion of a whole-group task!
  7. Use Intragroup competition to promote intermember relationships.
  8. Take advantage of the ‘common threat’. The fact that they’re all in the same boat or suffering a joint hardship of taking an exam should be used to strengthen bonds.
  9. Build group legends, by emphasizing how their group will leave their mark in history as being special and Dornyei takes it to another level by even suggesting making the group come up with a group name, rituals, group objects and to event invent characteristics for these.
  10. Investing in the group as a teacher

Not bad a reflection considering I am only a third of the way through the book. Obvioulsy, this is a very interesting topic for me and will be reflecting on it again soon… *I hope

“Keep it magical” and “Make a racket”, workshop by Sophia Papadeli…

The sketchnote featured in this blog pretty much sums up what I experienced at a workshop on Sunday the 1st of December at the Megaro Mousikis complex in Athens. When I first heard about Sophia Papadeli’s workshop  over on social media I said to myself, “This is something I definitely have to experience..”. Even though I feel that I have known Sophia forever, I’ve only been following her for a few years now and have met up with her in Athens only once before. She is a very talented and motivated educator who is so passionate about her work that she has advanced her niche in ELT to the extent that she can undoubtedly help others find their own path in the ELT field too.

The main event

Walking towards the conference room entrance, you could already feel the sparks of interest and tension of innovation firing up. There were quite a few of Sophia’s associates there willing to help you out in any way. I arrived a touch late (but not late enough to miss the start of the seminar) and had to sit towards the back of the room. Alas though, a dear friend and colleague (@Effie Pant) kept me a seat in the front row, which was dearly appreciated because the front row is where I love to sit willingly in order to be able to interact with the speaker.

So the magic began, Sophia started talking to the audience, explaining her ideas on motivation and how important connecting with your students is, touching on ideas from growth-mindset and how we should always have the learner in mind when we design our lesson plans – diversity and differentiation etc, etc. Things you have probably heard in seminars and from reading articles in education before, right? Wrong… Sophia didn’t just keep in theoretical, she showed us activities and events she has used in her school to keep her students motivated and alert in times when her students preferred to be distant and disconnected from learning. And by all means were they different, in all activities shown you could see the detail that a movie director ask for in their most challenging films.

Keep it magical..be a risk taker

If you follow my featured sketchnote around, I tried to document the feeling of the seminar with keywords. Most of them were connected to being a motivator for kids and making connections with them by keeping your activities interesting and as Sophia puts it, “Keeping it magical”.  Taking a risk, going out of your way to make it different and thus giving it meaning to your students. When you do these types of activities in class, you as the teacher should keep “faith” in these by showing your anticipation and passion. She showed us ideas for activities which could be used in class, I won’t go into any specific activities here due to some restrictions she has put on us for not publicizing her ideas. However, I can say that any activities you do design as teachers, make sure you make a big deal over it by involving your learners in the preparation procress by asking them to have prepare or do something for you by their next session. In addition, she emphasised the need of getting all involved in their learning. For example, ask students (or ask the parents to get students ) to wear something specific to their next class, to bring in something personal from home for their next class, all these preactions help build curiosiry for the lesson, therefore excitement and maybe some authentic interest on your student’s part. She even asked us to wear something white to this event. To tell you the truth, I didn’t. I didn’t catch on to her idea when she first asked us to do this via social media. I now realise how important this was for that event especially if you wanted to be immersed in her ideas to get the maximum experience, so if you are to immerse your students into a new experience maybe get them to wear something special (e.g. all black clothes, some gloves and a beanie) for you next activity. This will inevitibly be understood by parents who will have to help in chosing appropriate clothes or props for their child’s lesson which means at home they will make a racket about their childs learning helping to motivate them. Here before closing this paragraph, I just want to add that when your students arrive to class and you have prepared your classroom for a specific acitivty, don’t let them in to see what you have prepared! Keep them curious until all your students have arrived at the door of the classroom and then suprise them! Keep it magical…

All these little twerks towards learning wasn’t shown to us to add an element of a game, because we as educators are not entertainers. This is to make our students (and us for that matter) understand that there is an underlying need of having an deep interest to detail in what you do in life and that sometimes when asked for, you have to be able to comply in order to be immersed in a task.

Other subtle suprises

Sophia went on to talk about bringing your own talent into your classroom. For example, she likes to draw and direct (like a moive director, and obviously being good at it she had set the stage!), but what she presented to us and developed was that whatever you do that makes you happy bring it into the classroom for your students. Do you like photography bring in this ideas and create something. Do you dance? Put some song and dance into your activities..

She then went on and presented Nikos Galinis who brought in video production into a state school and got his students to produce social messages using use of youtube video as his means. Get out of your comfort zone was the message, don’t let your inner conscience (or the the Joker card) drag you down, become masters of the unexpected was her message.

We also had the privelege to view presentations from other presenters too. I particularly enjoyed the presentation on Inquiry based learning activities from Theodora Vogiou, where she presented an activity which her students created the problem and found solutions to. Well thought out and structured activity. Most informative. Aswell as, Rania Lamprou on using STEAM in Engish language activities. Very motivating for me having an engineering background. Also, last but not least we saw the teacher trainer, Ioanna Ntaidou using NLP methodologies in her activities too, but most of all some song and dance too.

Overall, it was a really interesting event which motivated me to get out of my comfort zone and try new things in my school.