August 25, 2005

PEDABLOGUE - Office Tips for Teachers

This looked interesting. I'm still clicking thru all the links, exploring. I especially liked this one
PEDABLOGUE - Office Tips for Teachers
I'm the sort of person who likes to learn new tips and tricks for using my word processor. As both a writer and a teacher, I spend a lot of time in front of the computer, so I find macros, shortcuts, and templates an invaluable resource for saving time and increasing efficiency....

Self-reflections and a teacher's contract with himself

An honest look. I recognize myself in this. And speaking of honest appraisals, there's another below. What's Worked, What Hasn't:
As I get closer to the end of my first semester at Thammasat, I have begun to assess my teaching to mine the good stuff and identify the catastrophes. Here's a brief summary.
What Has Not Worked For Me
*Conveying Low Expectations

And here's Steve's contract with himself (thanks to Bud the Teacher for the link)

August 24, 2005

VARK Questionnaire Results

Thanks to Sarolta and Nancy for the links
VARK Questionnaire Results: "Your scores were:
Visual: 5
Aural: 2
Read/Write: 2
Kinesthetic: 4
You can find more information about your learning preferences in our book:
How Do I Learn Best?
a student's guide to improved learning
More Information...

You have a multimodal (VK) learning preference.
Use the following helpsheets for study strategies that apply to your learning preferences:"

Hmm. I'm more Kinesthetic than I thought.
Altho I'm interested in learning styles (and Multiple Intelligences), I'm not convinced of how useful it is to know my students' learning styles (tho I do think it's potentially useful for them to realize at least there there ARE such things as different learning styles, and perhaps for them to begin to find out what their own style might be).

So I was happy to read this article by Prof of Education James Atherton, which tells me learning styles don't matter!

And here's a book that I found very interesting. That reminds me, I planned to visit the website and take the online survey. Hey, that was only 5 months ago!!

August 23, 2005

Independent Learning Association Conference in New Zealand

Tne next Independent Learning Association Conference is in Auckland, New Zealand, Sep 9-12, and my partner in crime and I will be attending, yeah, presenting even! Let us know if you're planning to go.


Thanks to a link on AJ's site, I've just spent 10 minutes or so exploring this rather intruiging site. It claims to teach written and spoken English entirely online. It includes a community blog, and uses downloaded mp3 files for off-line listening. The Linguist is Canadian Steve Kaufmann, who has his own blog, too. Check it out.
Learn advanced English, professional English at the The Linguist is a proven, fun system for learning fluent English online. Learn faster, learn better, and learn on your own time. Learn to speak and write English naturally. With your personal English tutor to guide your progress you will make a breakthrough in 3 months! Guaranteed.
My name is Steve Kaufmann and I speak 9 languages fluently. Take a look. The Linguist System is based on the language learning methods I developed. Read a free excerpt from my book. Before I developed these methods I had studied languages for years in a classroom with little success. The Linguist is not a conventional English course. It really works! Now you too can learn fluent English with The Linguist!

I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who has some experience of using this system (or knows someone who has).

My brief wander through the site revealed a number of "key" points:
a) a large online library of written texts with audio files (sounds excellent idea)
b) online consultation and speaking with "tutors" and communities of learners (pretty important and potentially valuable, but depends who they are and how it's organized)
c) online correction of written exercises (sounds like hard work for the tutors, but also useful for students)
d) a focus on goals, especially goals for vocabulary acquisition
e) a focus on learning "chunks" of language, not merely focussing on individual words, presumably for both listening and speaking (again, good, tho I was a little startled to read this in the forums: As Steve Kaufmann has discoved, people speak NOT word by word by word, but in Phrases, which suggests Kaufmann was the first to discover this, but I'm nit-picking).

August 22, 2005

Teacher-centred teaching works

Have been making my way through James Atherton's fascinating site on Teaching and Learning. Here are a few nuggets:
Teacher-centred teaching works:
So-called 'student-centred learning' is an oxymoron. It is about not trusting students to learn. It is a sophisticated manipulative game of getting them to jump through hoops of the faculty's devising.

Some people manage to talk in the same breath about being "student-centred" and the need to have clear objectives (even behavioural objectives) for their teaching. They may even be arrogant enough to want to specify the "outcomes" of their teaching. Formulation of objectives, particularly in its extreme form as "outcomes" is naive, objectionable and patronising.

There is a vast amount of current, sometimes contradictory, literature on "learning styles". What are you going to do with it? So some people are holists and some serialists, some activists, reflectors, theorists or pragmatists, some visual, auditory or kinaesthetic learners. And some are bright and some just plain thick. So what?....You can't tune in to all of them, so they have to tune in to you....Moreover, as the page on supporting students will argue, pandering to learning styles may be doing the students a disservice: they will benefit more from adapting and becoming versatile, more able to respond both to formal teaching and learning from experience, than they will from having everything made as easy as possible for them in your particular subject.

I suppose that we have to concede that in a complex society, dedicated educational institutions are a necessity, although Illich (1970) argues cogently that they are not. Nevertheless, being taught something formally is never better than second-best. The mistake made by people who advocate ever more additions to the standard curriculum, such as "citizenship", "managing personal relations" and "parentcraft" ・and even some of the so-called "key skills" ・is their naive belief that these can be taught and learned out of context, at a time and place of the teachers' (or state's) choosing.

"Teachers should promote a positive and encouraging culture in the classroom." Why? It can apparently be demonstrated that contented cows yield more and better milk. However, it is by no means as clear that happy students learn more than unhappy ones. Indeed, a recent report suggests that indiscriminate use of praise in the classroom reduces student achievement because it leads them to believe that mediocre work is really excellent and lowers their aspirations.

Against formal education

As I have hinted in previous postings, I'm often struck by how difficult it is to "teach" (i.e. to stimulate learning) in an educational institutional setting. This thought is hardly original, and I was glad to see it raised also on AJ's site , and more cogently here: Against formal education:
I suppose that we have to concede that in a complex society, dedicated educational institutions are a necessity, although Illich (1970) argues cogently that they are not. Nevertheless, being taught something formally is never better than second-best. The mistake made by people who advocate ever more additions to the standard curriculum, such as 'citizenship', 'managing personal relations' and 'parentcraft' - and even some of the so-called 'key skills' - is their naive belief that these can be taught and learned out of context, at a time and place of the teachers' (or state's) choosing.
Lave and Wenger (1991) and more vividly Becker (1972) have demonstrated that to put learning into a formal educational context has a number of consequences, all of them negative.

James Atherton's website devoted to "Angles on learning and teaching at college, university and professional levels" is well worth investigating. Tip of the hat to Pedablogue for the link and reference to James Atherton.

A Series of Inconsequential Events: First week of school

I'm still on vacation (jus' rubbing it in!), AND I don't teach younger children. These are 2 reasons why I enjoy visiting this teacher's blog. A third reason is here fresh and funny writing style.A Series of Inconsequential Events:
Wow...this is probably the longest I have gone without posting in forever! This first week of school absolutely wiped me out. Whew! I'm almost recovered and ready for week two after sleeping nearly 12 hours both Friday and Saturday nights. Voila! I'm new again!

After four days of intense exposure and sleuthful observation, I think I have successfully determined this year's cast of characters in my class. We are featuring: One (1) turbo geek [bad...very, very unfortunate], One (1) non-reader [knows some of his letter sounds, though - yeah!], Fourteen (14) non-medicated hyperactive boys [just 'all boy' types, nice kids, need training], One (1) possible sociopath [will elaborate later], One (1) perfect angel [will save me later, I'm sure], Two (2) children suffering from severe diarrhea of the mouth, and One (1) big 'ol crybaby

August 21, 2005

Eide Neurolearning Blog: Unconscious and Unintentional (Implicit) Learning

This post includes comments which contain a link to this very interesting PowerPoint file on Grammar Learning Eide Neurolearning Blog: Unconscious and Unintentional (Implicit) Learning:
We take in enormous quantities of information through our senses and movements, but although a lot of information is filtered, what gets through is then sorted into conscious and unconscious patterns. So when we act on the unconscious patterns, we may not be completely aware of it.

Implicit learning refers to unintentional learning - and this can be powerfully manipulated in education. After first handling, experiencing, or playing with materials, guided questioning is used to make implicit learning explicit

comment:there's a ton of stuff on implicit and explicit language learning. Have you seen this nice Powerpoint presentation of Grammar Learning? Excellent teachers who guide their students to learn implicitly seem particularly gifted in their ability to organize information so the patterns are recognized, but not just 'told'. Also if you want to see more brain pics highlight differences in implicit vs. explicit category learning, look at the 2nd paper down here.

Very interesting ppt on Grammar Learning. "Implicit learning" sounds the same concept as "knowledge acquisition" (real, invisible learning) as opposed to "learning" (which is observable behaviour). Here's a quote from my report on a (2004) seminar on autonomy in Language Learning led by Henri Holec (NB: this definition of "acquisition" is a little different from Stephen Krashen's):

If learning cannot be said to be the direct result of teaching, then what is learning? One hypothesis was that true learning is invisible, and did not necessarily equate directly with learning behaviour, which is observable. To make the distinction between the observable behaviour which is the result of teaching and the invisible, mysterious, non-linear process of learning, the word “acquisition” was used to describe the latter, while “learning” was allowed to keep its definition as the result of teaching, i.e. observable manifest behaviour.