Friday, July 14, 2006

Week 1 - Task 2 - Texts - Blogging Itinerary

Dear all,

Just like anything on the Internet nowadays, everything is fast paced and response can be immediate! Blogs are one of many tools that gives people the chance for a dialogue. Thanks for you who have already contributed to our discussion and seem so interested in the topic!

To move on, we need to understand some key concepts to order our thoughts and to structure our actions towards this fantastic Web tool.

The texts will let us choose the best "flight itinerary" for us and our students. We'll also provide you with a wealth of worth-reading resources suggested by Teresa Almeida d'Eça, a fantastic online tutor from Portugal.

So, get yourself comfortable and enjoy the readings.

Text 1 - Blogging for ELT
Graham Stanley, British Council, Barcelona

Text 2 - EFL/ESL Classroom Blogging: A Comparative Review

After exploring the texts,
  • Where would you like to start? Which bloghosts will you explore? Why?
  • Why blogging in the classroom?
  • What aspects should you consider when blogging?

Extra readings - Teresa's Suggestions:

Blogs of many Webheads

Different Resources on Blogs

See you around.

Carla and Erika


Carla said...

Dear LWCers,

I think the texts Carla and Erika chose very useful since they are short and to the point in discussing the main uses of blogs in ELT and the most important features of some bloghosts available. I was also impressed by the wide array of resources Teresa has compiled and I’m trying to choose some articles to start reading.

According to Aaron Campbell’s classification, I think the kind of blogs I have developed for my regular courses so far are Tutor’s Blogs. Have a look: and . However, in my case, rather than simply publishing course or syllabus information I have tried to develop topic-based multimedia activities by directing ss. to different web resources featuring listening, texts with extra information, maps, images and quizzes. I took them to the computer lab at the beginning of the year to show them what the blog was like and how to use the different features. Even though, they showed great enthusiasm, hardly any of them accessed the blog from home or posted any comments, except for some ss. who had been absent and wanted to keep up with their work. Therefore, I decided to take them to the lab to complete the tasks in pairs, since the activities usually imply discussing and making decisions. However, I still have to figure out how to encourage them to participate and use the blog for self access from home. That is, instead of being disappointed by the lack of participation, I am planning to take a new approach for the second semester. For example, I’m going to e-mail my students each time I post a new entry or activity, trying to provide easier access to the blog.

As regards the bloghost, I chose Edublogs, since it was especially created for educators and I wanted to avoid the spam that generally affects other popular hosts that are intended for the general public. Although it still lacks many social networking features, such as the possibility of sending automatic messages each time an entry is posted, I think it has a lot of potential and is constantly adding new features. Anyway, the next time I start a blog I would like to try other hosts and see how they work. Elgg seems to be a very interesting and challenging option.


Carla Raguseo

Erika Cruvinel said...

Hello Carla Raguseo
You pointed out something all of us should think about when we decide to blog. In my point of view, blogs should be used for interaction and it is not that simple to get students to interact in blogs. I also had a tutor blog this semester, mainly to inform parents about the activities their kids had been doing. I emailed parents everytime I added something new to our class blog. I had lots of feedback from parents saying that they loved the idea of being in touch with me through the blog and that they felt part of our classroom. However, only one parent wrote me a message in the blog. The others wrote me emails, but they did not interact in the blog! I mean, all of them were reading the posts, but they did not interact becasue they are not used to blogging and because they did not have interactive tasks in the blog, only information and photos of their kids.
On the other hand, I also blogged with two other classes in two international collaborative projects. One with Claudia Bellusci from Argentina and the other with Sharon, a webhead from Boston. Both blogs were really successful because the students had specific tasks. They had partners to reply, questions to answer, interesting things to learn about from their new friends. Many times, I also worked with the messages in the classroom. I printed the blog entries; took them to the class; worked with vocabulary and only then they went to the lab to write in the blog. They produced much more this way!
I've learned by practice that teachers are very important in this process. We have to push students; tease them every class; and some of them might start blogging on their own!

carla said...

Dear Carla,

You and Erika mentioned interesting points on the interactive aspect of blogging, and this is an issue that really interests me. I always ask myself how I can motivate my students to interact, going much beyond the classroom?

Well, in the past I had a tutor blog, but with no interactive tasks. I was simply replicating what I did in the classroom and could do by e-mail. It was mainly informative (we did this and that in class, we practiced..., the homework is...). How could I expect any kind of interaction if I weren't encouraging it?

Then, I started to find ways to promote interaction through the kinds of tasks and posts I published on the blog. Besides, I looked for international partners to interact with my groups, giving them the reason to interact in a meaningful and contextualized setting. If you want, take a look at Class Blog

Check the archives first to see how I started blogging and then how I changed the way I posted my messages.

Can you notice the difference?

Then, you need to find the bloghost that best fits your pedagogical needs. For example, I love the Dynamic Pages in Edublogs in which you can have a post, but it becomes a separate page from your main post page, just like you and Núria worked with your project. It's a great tool for group work.

Brazil-Argentina Blog

So, look back at what you've done so far. Did your post lead to interaction? Did you encourage a dialogue with your students and among them?

That's exactly what we should ask ourselves!

Carla Arena

Carla said...

Dear Carla and Erika,

Thanks a lot for your feedback! It is a pleasure to be able to have this kind of discussion with you. In my opinion, reflecting on our practice and discussing methodological views with colleagues is just as important as learning to use the tools themselves.

As regards your class blog, Carla, I can see the difference in your approach and how students reacted enthusiastically to it. So far, I’ve published activities related to the topics we were dealing with in class. I that sense, the blog has been a solution, a platform to place lessons for them to work at the lab. However, if I want them to interact beyond the classroom, I should be able to encourage them to produce things at a more personal level.

On a more formal aspect, Erika, I’ve worked with mistakes in the same way. I printed a copy of their comments and had them work in groups to find and correct the mistakes they had made. It was absolutely rewarding to see how engaged they were in the error correction task. It proved much more effective and memorable than working with ready made exercises since we were dealing with problems relevant to their own level of language development.

Again, girls, I feel most fortunate to be able to share ideas with you.
I hope to hear from more colleagues soon.

Carla R.

Mary Hillis said...

Dear all,
I've really enjoyed reading your posts about making blogs more interactive. This is something that we can all strive for as we begin blogging with our students!
The sites that you chose for us to read were very informative. A few months ago, I was struggling to insert a Bubbleshare album into Yahoo 360, but I learned from one of the articles that Flickr would probably have been the better photo sharing tool to use, since they are working together. Has anyone tried this yet?
I still need to take a look at the recommended reading from Teresa. There is so much to discover and learn. I'm having a great time sharing this experience with you!


carla said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
carla said...

Dear Carla,

It's our pleasure to be sharing with you the little we learned in the past year.

As for my class blog, I still work with it using topics and grammar points from the book. However, as you mentioned, I try to personalize the tasks and to establish a dialogue with the students, which is the reason for blogging, having a conversation with someone or a group, giving voice to your thoughts and ideas. The grammar is still there, but they have a free writing space to practice and supplement what they see in the classroom. And you know what? What they learn while blogging, they use in the classroom (vocabulary, expressions, structure)! I think it could be a topic for a Master's degree!

Mary, I haven't tried flickr in Yahoo 360o, but I assume it must be an easy task. I insert a lot of albums in my blogger blogs using bubbleshare. Why bubbleshare? Because some time ago I found out that in my Flickr free account I had the limit of 200 photos! Bubbleshare is very user-friendly, lets us use audio (a photocast), and I haven't got to any photo limit!

My own Examples:

Connect to Interact - Erika's and my presentation

World Cup photos in Brazil

Just some ideas on how I included the photo albums, but this we will discuss in the following weeks.

Mary, we are delighted to share a bit of what we've been learning online with our virtual partners!

Keep on asking and I'll check the possibilities for Flickr and Yahoo 360o.

More later.


Mary Hillis said...

Dear Carla,
Your Bubbleshare albums were great! It is so wonderful that we can view your experiences at Brazil TESOL. The participants must have enjoyed your presentation very much, just as we are enjoying this week with you!! Thanks


Illya said...

Having just tried out bubbleshare, your examples of how to use them within a blog have opened further doors! The examples are great (btw- I came home from Berlin with an Argentina jacket for me, a Brazil jacket for my middle son, and a Germany shirt for my youngest!)
Now I'm looking forward to seeing new blogs from all you others out there:-)


carla said...

Dear Mary and Illya,

I'm glad you enjoyed the examples for the use you can give to Bubbleshare and Flickr. They are great photo-sharing tools and are part of this new Internet trend of online social spaces.

Illya, I loved your Bubbleshare about your trip to Berlin!

Now, can you imagine the possibilities those photo-sharing tool plus blogs can give us in the classroom? Can you imagine how motivating this could be to our students? Can you think of interactive tasks you could devise to your future groups?

Food for thought! I could give you my own examples here, but I'd love to hear from you all first! I'm sure you can come up with very creative online activities. Illya, when I saw your Berlin photos, I could picture some nice class work!

Dying to hear more from you!


Anonymous said...

Your are Nice. And so is your site! Maybe you need some more pictures. Will return in the near future.

Nina said...

Dear LWC members,

I took an attempt to create my blog devoted to collaborating of HAWAII-Tesol and TESOL-Ukraine sister affiliates. Though, I have some problems with Blogging. I really don't know how to manage frames inside the blog. I managed to add Bubbleshow of this Summer Institute and our TESOL-Ukraine Convention successfully.

Anyone can help?

Thanks in advance,