Thursday, November 3, 2016

Flipping my EFL classroom at ÚNICA

Answering Bergmann and Sams' critical question when implementing flipped learning (2012) in EFL has brought me great discoveries and has given my students fabulous opportunities to live English as a foreign language and not just to study it. The question goes: what is the best use of my face-to-face time? Thinking of answers to this question in an EFL context is not easy, not because the answers are scarce, but because of the opposite reason, there are too many things one could be doing to make the best use of the "group learning space".

So, in order to optimize the time and space in my EFL course I decided to take explicit grammar instruction outside of the classroom by creating and assigning peer instruction videos to students (A post on this particular topic coming soon). In EFL contexts, time is usually spent going over grammar minutia leaving little room for language use and spontaneous production. So, what I did was to "get rid of" the grammar in the classroom and free up the space for experiential and active learning.

This semester, I have done several projects and activities in my English 3 class (an intermediate EFL course) to make the best possible use of the classroom time and to implement flipped learning and in-class flip purposefully. Some of these activities have been successful, others not so much. Below, I will describe some of my favorite tasks and I hope you can connect with these ideas and perhaps implement them in your EFL classrooms. If you do, don't doubt to leave a comment in the section below. 

It is worth mentioning that at Única, the teachers' college where I work, we use an EFL textbook (Life 5 by Cengage Learning) as a guide in our EFL courses and that the topics we have studied have been connected to the thematic units in the book.

1. Story creation with Storybird.com

Unit two dealt with storytelling. The book invited students to think about different aspects of storytelling and to "write a story" as part of the unit's contents. The supporting grammar structure for this unit was a review of past tenses. However, I wanted to take the unit a bit further and added a task: creating a story on Storybird (thanks @martharamirezco for the suggestion). 

In the interest of working in a flipped fashion, I had students read stories for homework to discuss their features in class. They did. We then worked on the grammar structure though a video and students started thinking about the topic they wanted for their story. We went to our computer lab to work on the pictures provided by Storybird. That's when we ran into our first roadblock. The internet connection was dreadful and students could not easily browse the site to find the images they wanted for their story. If you know storybird, you might be aware of the richness in imagery offered by this site. That's why I thought of working with the images first and then on building the story from the images chosen, but it didn't work quite well that day due to the internet glitches. Anyway, students prepared their story at home and posted them to our class website (Coursesites). 

Even though students liked the task and came up with really nice stories, I felt the whole activity was an epic failure. However, after asking students what they have like most from the course, the vast majority have mentioned the use of technology, especially tools like Storybird. Funny thing.

Here you have a couple of samples of students' finished products (stories shared with permission from the students):
1. A very tough life

2. Where fear ends

3. The tree of my life

Lessons learned
From this activity I learned a very important lesson about planning. I used to have much more technology where I worked before. My new workplace has limitations in connectivity, and that's okay (it is actually the situation in most of my country), so what I learned was to plan my computer lab time more thoroughly and never forget to have a plan B. I have to use that place for less connectivity demanding tasks like word processing. Also, I have learned to value what I'm doing since students like my work and that's all that matters after all. 

2. Cyberbullying workshop
The second activity I have been able to do thanks to the newly acquired free time in the classroom is the Cyberbully movie workshop. Unit 3 in the book invited us to think about Science and Technology. I thought as part of this great unit I could have my students reflect abput this hard and dangerous topic. My students are still young (17-20 years old) so I thought they could really benefit from reflecting about this issue.

As we took direct grammar explanations outside of the classroom in my flip, we have more time for discussions, debates and even movie workshops. We watched the short movie Cyberbully (2015), and solved some listening comprehension and critical thinking questions I prepared for my students in a workshop. We discussed the topic and students even shared terrible stories they have lived because of an irresponsible use of social networks.  The activity served the purpose of having students think about how responsible they need to be when making a comment, or sharing a photo via social networks. This far, students have assessed this workshop as one of the most interesting activities in the course.

Lessons learned
I had a great experience using this movie in class. I rarely did something like this because I thought movie watching in class was a waste of time. However, being able to stop the movie, talk about the plot as we went, comment on language use, and discussing the issue with my students made for a very productive class session. We would have not been able to make it if I had to explain grammar everyday in class as I had always done. 

3. Street art 

Unit 4 was about art, in general, but I emphasized on street art, hip-hop, rap, graffiti and related topics. My students live in backgrounds where walls are plagued with graffiti and murals, thus, this was a very meaningful topic for them. The class project was to create a street art video presentation. We had one class session for walking around the downtown area taking pictures of murals and graffiti on the walls. Students later used Power Point combined with Screencast-o-matic to create their videos and shared them with us in the class site.

What made this workshop flipped was that because of the freed class time and space we had, I had the opportunity of bringing a real muralist to our clas to talk to my students. Kaleto Taki, a local street artist came to my class to talk to my students about his painting techniques, his inspiration and the materials he uses.

We also had time to go to the Centro Colombo Americano Art Gallery, where my students had the opportunity to see a local photographer exhibit (for many of my students, this was their first visit to an art gallery ever).


This unit was very rich and students liked it a lot! It gave them opportunities to use English in very different contexts to the regular classroom, and gave them the chance to express their feelings towards art and its representations. 

Lessons learned
There's more than meets the eye. I learned how complex and rich my students' lives and contexts are and how much they have to bring to the classroom every day. They showed me their passions and what they are capable of when their likes, needs and realities are considered. 

Here's a sample of their street art videos (the rest are to shy to share).... 


In short, flipped learning has invited me to think about making the classes for my students more meaningful and rich every day. It is not only thinking about the videos that I will create or curate but about creating "fertile learning spaces" (Marshall, 2016) for them to flourish and exploit all of their learning potential!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Research belongs to researchers regardless of their work context

During the 51st ASOCOPI conference in Bogota, Colombia on October 13-15, professor Rocío Monguí from Abraham Lincoln School did an inspiring plenary where she presented the amazing work she and her research group TicALS are doing in order to strenghten the use of technology at her school. It was very inspiring to see how a school teacher is so engaged with research, and how she has managed to impact her community so strongly. They even have a scientific journal, Revista TicALS, where teachers are publishing their research reports and pedagogical reflections.

Teachers at Abraham Lincoln School are working on Flipped Classrooms in Math classes, Digital Citizenship, Using Clickers, Using multiple Web 2.0 tools (Classcraft, Classdojo, Mindmap, Bubbl.us, Goconqr, Chamilo LMS, Kahoot, Padlet, Wikispaces, MyEnglishLab, Video maker, Camtasia, etc --the list is long), they are also documenting the work and presenting it in academic events along the country.

I have no affiliation to Abraham Lincoln school or Professor Monguí, I just think as a Colombian teacher technologist engaged in the use of information and communication technologies in the classroom, I have to recognize the work of colleagues who are pursuing the same goal. Professor Monguí inspires me because she is working at a school, making a huge difference in a group of teachers and students and helping them grow and inserting the school in the discussion around technology that is happening mostly among Universities in the world. It is admirable how she would do all this from her school classroom and position.

In Colombia, research normally happens in Universities or it is somehow controlled by Universities (through MA and undergraduate thesis projects), but to see such a robust research group created and functioning merely within and for the school is rare. That is why I have decided to write this post, because I think it si a great and brave idea. Situating research in the school setting would really make a difference in our country's education.

We need more people like professor Monguí!


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

UNICA: Where the magic happens!

I have just embarked on a new academic and work adventure at a Colombian teachers' college called UNICA and these first couple of weeks have been a wild ride and have kicked me out of my comfort zone. I had already started at the beginning of July, but I was just planning, thinking and organizing myself. These last 2 and a half weeks, I started teaching and what that has done to me is amazing.

I can summarize the experience I've had these days with the image below... I had seen it many times, but it had never proven so true to me as now. Right now, I feel I'm in the zone where magic is supposed to happen.

Image link: http://outofcomfortzone.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/outofcomfortzone.jpg

Allow me to explain myself, I had been working as an online/blended learning MA professor for over 3 years and I had limited face 2 face contact with my students; only four times a semester. As a result, I had  forgotten what it was to walk in the classroom every day! I had forgotten the rush of lesson planning for a day's class every day. I had forgotten the need for attendance sheets, and warm-up activities thought on the spot. I had forgotten the urgency that having a class every day implies, and the need for an active mindset. I thought I was active and I thought I did new things every day, but I didn't. Even though I enjoy my online teaching a lot too, what I'm doing now really excites me!

Another aspect that has challenged me these days and has made me reflect is my love for active learning and the need to make my classes different every day. As a flipped learning enthusiast, I can't conceive classes where students are not active at all times, and where I'm not the "guide on the side". That's pretty easy to do when you have only 4 classes a semester.  However, now that I have class every day, it is not that simple! I have struggled to plan my classes and make them active, student centered, energetic, and on top of that, to create the videos that have to go with my lessons. I have had to start to think differently, and to use different resources (other than videos) to give instruction to my students. I have had to reinvent myself in order to flip. I have been talking the talk for some years now, and now it is time to walk the walk.

I'm not complaining, don't get me wrong.  I'm just saying that now I can really say I'm flipping! And now I appreciate the work of my fellow flippers in the world much more. Aaron Sams, Jon Bergmann,  Crystal Kirch, Ken Bauer, Kate Baker, Brian Bennett, Laine Marshall, Robyn Brinks Lockwood and all the other flippers I have heard of or read about are really amazing! It takes a lot of planning and hard work to pull this off on a daily basis. Crystal Kirch's book, Flipping with Kirch, has been a great tool to stay focused and motivated through these harsh days. Reading her book has inspired me to write this post and the ones to come as a way to examine my own flipped learning/teaching practices and why not, come up with my own book!

Another challenge I have experienced these days is the lack of technology I'm facing. I mean, I have spent the last 9 years or so of my life learning how to teach with technology, but I hadn't devoted that much time to thinking about how to teach without it. Surprise! There are plenty of contexts where technology is not pervasive and where it is actually a luxury of a few, now I belong to one of those contexts. I've had to use my technology mindset to think outside the box and come up with solutions to my classes without the use of devices but still with lots of collaboration, cooperative work and active learning. I can now relate closely to my MA students, and tell them that all the things I said in class actually work, even though you don't have the resources! More posts to come about that aspect.

I have been tremendously challenged these weeks. I feel somewhat overwhelmed, but the feeling that all of what I'm experiencing will just energize my mind and make me come up with interesting ways to handle the difficulties I'm now going through is a motivation booster! I'm out of my comfort zone and I love it! Because as portrayed in the image I chose to illustrate this post, the magic happens outside of your comfort zone. I know I'm struggling now, but I know it is because I had already managed to live through the day with the certainty of what to do. Now that I don't know what's going to happen, or how I will make it happen, I feel uneasy. But energized!

Monday, July 25, 2016

I'm an active teacher/professor. Period.

It'a weird how lately I have felt my teaching style attacked. Indirectly, of course, and not by students, of course.

I'm planning my new course "Pedagogy and Second Language Acquisition" and reading through the course content, I came across an article called "a letter to my freshmen students". Even though, the article's intention is good: make freshmen awarene of the difference between high-school and college, fine, it also makes the case for the I-won't-change-my-ways-just-because-students-are-bored type of professor. He actually mentions he is not paid to make sure students learn, or well, that he'd actually be paid even if thry don't learn. I see his point, but I digress. And he goes on saying that because these uninterested students refuse to work whereas they are entertained, flipped learning is a buzzword favoring activity over the boring lecture. Yeah. True. His problem with flipped learning is that he thinks listening skills developed by lecture listening are disregarded.

Well, I have heard it a couple of times now. It is not only in that article. "I'm not here to entertain students", a friend said. "They have to learn to listen to lectures", said another. "Oh, no, I'm not going to have them jump up and dows, this is not kindergarten", said another teacher friend. And my favorite, "they can't have fun, this is an academic program"...All of these comments have been responses to my enthusiastic sharing of x or y flipped learning reading. So, why does it have tp be like that?

I'm not in the classroom to entertain students, that's true. But also, I'm not there to bore them to death and to give them the indirect message that teaching/learning are painful, horrible endeavors. Teaching and learning are the most life-changing activities for me, and for that reason, and perhaps because of my own learning style, I'm all about active learning. Students are not expecting clowns, but either tyrants.

I have also read it everywhere, we can't teach 21st century students with old, boring ways. We just have to accept that. We can't tie them up to the chair and habe them "really listen", nope. Not in my class. They will have plenty of classes with boring teachers who will help.them with their "listening skills". In my class, they'll have to think, to act, to move, to breathe, to create, to apply, to select, to work, to solve, to ressolve...they'll have to learn by doing.

They'll listen to me, sure, in small group work, in writing conferences, in videos, in podcasts... but even though the author of the article for freshmen mocks it, I have to and will be the "guide on the side", not the "sage on the stage". Not because it is a trend, or because I want to be on the hype of flipped learning, but because I believe learning is active, and because me, as a learner, will just jump of a bridge if I had to go through 8 hours of daily lectures ever again.

Learning is active! Period.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Training foreign fellows to teach English in my country

Last week I had a great opportunity to participate in a training session for foreign fellows (FF) in our country. It felt nice to be a part of such a big project and of something that promises to "change students' lives the country over". I have some thoughts about the general idea behind this initiative (that I will share here), but I also learned a lot about the people behind the project in the past few days.

The National Ministry od Education has put the "Foreign Fellowship Program" in place in order to support the teaching and learning of English in the country. It consists of bringing foreigners (not necessarily native speakers) to co-teach with Colombian teachers in targeted urban and rural schools located in different regions of the country. They travel to the different cities and towns and make a life there for four months (which they can extend to a year if they want to).
In general, I think there is a great place for foreigners in our classrooms. After cillege graduation, I participated in a foreign fellowship program myself. I was a FF for 1 year at a University in the States and the whole.experience really changed me. I can imagine how the lives of the FF visiting Colombia will change after this experience.

Last week, I "taught" them about vocabulary teaching, a book use and warm-up activities. While in the classroom, they were really interested in learning about teaching, but also about Colombian kids, our culture, and tips to make a good relationship with their co-teacher.
I tried to share my expertise with them during these days, and one of the things I'm the most proud of sharing was respect. I know that the whole idea of bringing foreigners to practice English is very motivating and interesting for students. However, I can only imagine how intimidated might teachers in the schools feel when they see the tall  blue-eyed, blonde and young fellow that will support them for four months. I can just imagine their hearts breaking at the sight of their students running towards the FF and their great activities and games. So, I thought it was convenient to advice them to walk carefully and respectfully in front of teachers.

They were really concerned about their co-teacher not liking them or not getting along with them. So, I adviced setting off on the right foot by showing them respect and appreciation for the job they've done for the past 25 or more years. I really liked the fellows' receptivity towards this suggestion. It is good to see they value what teachers have tried to do with their students in very poor conditions. 
I can only wish the best of luck to all the fellows. I know most of their lives will change, but I seriously hope the lives of their stusents and co-teachers also change positively. I wish they see the reality of our country and they experience first hand the recently signed peace. I also hope the co-teachers take advantage of these kids and teach them lots! Because even though the fellows can "teach" English to the co-teachers and hopefully to the students, the co-teachers can definitely teach the fellows about life, about struggling and about thriving.

During this past week I had lots of fun, I taught one or two strategies to the fellows, but I also reflected a lot about my role in this project. About how as an English teacher and a teacher trainer I can help my country, and about how good my decision was. I'm experiencing new things,

Friday, May 20, 2016

Book review: 101ways to flip your online class

101 ways to flip your online class by Barbi Honeycutt, PhD and Sarah Glova was the last book I read. I thought of writing a post on it since it connects smoothly with the topics I talk so much about now: flipped learning and online learning.

The book is rather simple. The author presents 101 short and concise ideas of how to "flip" an online classroom. In this particular book, the flip is understood as a space where student engagement and involvement is at the essence.

The 101 ideas are simple but effective. I had personally tried most of them in my own courses. Creating welcome videos, appealing to the person, introducing IMing and creating a course syllabus scavenger hunt for students to find crucial information about the course are just a few of the 101 ideas mentioned in the book.

However, the activities are not completely explained. The author mentions them but doesn't give much detail as to how they could be set up and implemented (a flaw in my opinion, I would have liked more detail in some of the activities). If you want more of a cookbook full of recipes, this is not quite the book for you.

Anyway, the book makes you reflect on how to construct interactive spaces within the online classroom and gives you ideas as to how to connect to your online students satisfactorily. Besides, it is a tremendously fast read.

If you are an online instructor who feels blocked about what to do in your course and want to get some quick tips on how to engage students further, this book is a great point of departure. However, if you are more of a flipped learning expert, or a "curious" online instructor, this book might be too basic for you. Anyhow, it is worth reading. I assure you, you will find at least 5 new ideas to take to your online classroom as soon as possible.

Friday, April 15, 2016

My favorite 8 tools for flipping

I have been thinking more and more about flipped learning these days. Also, I have identified my favorite tools for flipping. Here they are!

1. My smartphone: My old Samsung S5 is one of the best tools I have for working, learning and teaching. I don't know what I would do without it since in it I check my Twitter account, I have my Linkedin profile, I watch YouTube videos and more! Also, I have apps like my QR code reader, my dictionary.com, planner, Google docs, and of course Blogger! My smarphone is the "school in my pocket" as someone said today in a training session I attended. My smartphone allows me to learn on the go. I flip with my smartphone because I plan lessons in it and I ask my students to use it as a learning tool as well.

2. Screencast-o-matic: This is my favorite screencasting tool. I bet there are many other tools that allow for much more elaborated screencasts, but I frequently ask myself the question that Aaron Sams usually asks: " Do I want the video to be perfect or by Monday?". As I'm regularly in a hurry and trying to juggle a myriad of other tasks as well as screencasting, this tool helps me to easily create my input videos based on previously prepared Power Points, my feedback sessions using an annotated word document and my videos using just the webcam option. Screencastomatic is easy to use and it allows me to create 15 minute videos and upload them to my YouTube channel right away. It's very user-friendly and it's free. For those reasons, screencastomatic.com is my favorite tool for creating my flipped class instructional materials.

3. Movenote: Just as Screencastomatic, movenote.com is an easy-to-use presentation making tool. I know sometimes students get tired of seeing the same tool and they want us to use some variety. Thus, having Movenote as a second option for input video creation is  really good. Movenote has its limitations, though. It allows me to share slides, which is good but not the screen. Anyway, there are tools to do that. So, if you are thinking of a tool to create very nice presentantions, Movenote is your site.

4. Zaption: What would be a video with no interactivity in it? Before Zaption, I used to write questions on my slides and hoped for students to hit the pause button when I said so abd a swer the questions on my slide. However, I rarely went back to check the answers to those questions: who has time in an online class that just has 1 synchornous hour a week? So, I just hope my students did what I asked them to and trusted. Now, I have a way to make all that and still be able to check who watched the video, how many times and to read the answers to the questions I ask for every video. Zaption adds great interactivity to your videos and even though there might be other fabulous tools, Zaption is easy to use and doesn't require you to create a class to put your videos in. It generates a direct link you can just share with students. Flipping learning with Zaption makes your input videos interactive and the data the platform offers helps you set the ground for instruction the following day.

5. Google Docs: I know GDocs is not a new tool, and you might already be using it in an amazing way, but as this post is about my favorite tools for flipping, I have to include it. Gdocs allows me to create active learning opportunities for students. I set up a chart, or a template so while in class, students can just go in and collaborate. I offer input outside of class so when they go to the classroom (or the virtual space), time can be well spent thinking, negotiating, solving problems, doing simulations, etc. GDocs rules!

6. PowerPoint: Not the most innovative tool of all times, but I wouldn't be able.to flip without my PowerPoint slides. They allow me to share informatio  with my students in a visually appealing and academic way. As my students are graduate ones, I don't think more attractive/animated tools are appropriate for them. Thus, I've decided to stick to PPTs minimalistic style for my presentations.

7. Kahoot: How do I hold my students accountable for watching the videos? By using Zaption and Kahoot quizzes. Immediate response systems like Kahoot really add a cool tone to class. Students love the competition. Also, I will explore Kahoot's new team work feature in future classes to promote collaboration and inclusion (Those who didn't watch the video might benefit from working in teams).

8. Google Hangouts: I have decided to offer different input materials for students in the MA program where I currently teach. One of those input materials are interviews with experts in the fields of CALL, Self-regulated learning, Academic Writing, MOOCs, Instructional design, Blended learning, etc. I decided to record the interviews using Google Hangouts on Air so they are uploaded to YouTube directly and students can access them through my channel. This idea was shared by Ken Bauer, who uses this strategy in his MOOC on Flipped Learning.

These are just some of the most common tools I've used to flip my lessons. What about you? Which ones have you used? Do you agree with me about the ones I mention? 

CRB

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

My first Pecha Kucha presentation



This post recycles an old Pecha Kucha presentation I did as part of the Residential Sessions for our MA program in 2014-II. I'm sharing here the practice round I did for the actual presentation. I recorded this version using Screencast-o-matic.

I found it when I was searching for something else, as it always happens, but I thought it would make a nice post for my blog since I've been quiet for a while.

Click on the link to hear my Pecha Kucha presentation.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Freaking out as a sign of bravery!

I was invited to give a webinar on Flipping CLIL by Letizia Cinganotto from TECHNO-CLIL. It was a great opportunity to talk a little bit more about flipped learning, to get to meet many interesting people, and to get to use a new platform, WizIQ. However, like 10 minutes into the session I started to notice people's comments about my audio... to my eyes it was something like this:

Sound is terrible.
Sound doesn't work
I'm missing the session
Bad sound
:(
Bad
Terrible
Sound problems
Bad sound
No sound
Will the recording be better? 
:(
Terrible
I'm hearing ECHO
There are people talking in the background! 
Terrible sound
No Sound
Bad!!!
HELP!!!!!!!

I wanted to yell, too... H-E-L-P!!!!! 
I know I wasn't supposed to be looking at the chat all the time, but I just couldn't help it! I never want to be one of those teachers who ignores students' cries and just goes on with the content. I don't want to be one of those people for whom the only important thing is what they are saying! I wanted to make sure people were listening to me, so I PANICKED!!! I FREAKED OUT! But my freaking out was a sign of bravery! 
I freaked out because I tried something new. 
I freaked out because I wanted to give my best to the people listening to me. 
I freaked out because I didn't want to disappoint Letizia!
I freaked out because I care!

So, who cares! I'm willing to keep freaking out all the time! I want to always freak out if it means to learn something and to have an amazing learning experience. 

Thanks a lot to the participants of the webinar for their patience and for their willingness to stay connected! 
Oh, and don't be afraid to freak out when flipping! If you panic, it's because you are learning and making a diffrence to your students!

Just for those interested in following up with the session, here's the link to the recording!

Thanks Techno-CLIL EVO session. 


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Our story of flipping in the Flipped Learning Network


I follow the Flipped Learning Network on Twitter (@flippedlearning), and a couple of weeks ago they posted an invitation to share flipping stories from around the globe. The tweet read something like "Do you want to write a blog post about flipping? Contact Brian Bennett" So, I contacted him and briefly outlined our story at Universidad de La Sabana. The international nature of our story was immediately appealing to Brian, and he told me to go ahead and write it! I know we have to work on a more formal article soon. However, this opportunity to reach our immediate community couldn't be missed! I had to go ahead and seize it.

Here's the blog post if you want to read it!


Monday, January 4, 2016

EVO changed my professional life

Have you ever blindly followed a recommendation someone made? Last year, Christine Bauer-Ramazani (who I like to call my tech angel) recommended EVO. EVO stands for Electronic Village Online, a professional development opportunity launched by the CALL interest section of TESOL International. I was surprised to hear of a group of altruistic ELT professionals who would just share knowledge for the sake of doing so. I had to enroll! Even though there were like 15 sessions, they offered a particularly interesting one in Flipped Learning. I decided to take that one because of my growing interest in the subject. This far, enrolling in that course has been one of the best decisions I've made in my career.
I enrolled and realized there were 237+ participants from all around the globe. The moderators were unknown to me at the time, but then I realized they were all very experienced professionals in the field of Educational Technology and English Language Teaching.  I enjoyed every minute of the session, participated in the weekly webcast, posted my comments in the weekly forum discussions, did my assignments thoroughly. In general terms, I enjoyed the course very much. During week 5 of the course, they had a guest speaker, Robyn Brinks Lockwood, the author of Flip it! Strategies for the ESL classroom. She was amazing and as soon as the session finished, I went to amazon.com and bought the book! It's a must-read for anybody interested in Flipped Learning.
One of the best parts of it was that I was going to the TESOL conference in Toronto last year, so I knew I would be able to meet the people in the course face to face. I was really excited! After the course I was definitely convinced that flipped learning was going to be my point of focus from then on.
Then, I went to Toronto and met them all! Helaine Marshall, John Graney, Robyn Brinks Lockwood and what's more important I realized there are a lot of people for whom flipped learning was as important as it is for me. They made me feel as part of something big!
After the conference, I kept in touch with them all and joined the CALL listserv. I have been receiving information about events, readings, webcasts, etc. From them since the moment I joined.
I also met Kevin Coleman, another flipped learning session moderator in our own TESOL Colombia. I invited him to come and do a presentation on FL, he came down to Bogotá and gave a killer presentation interesting more and more people in the subject.
Then, in October, Kevin invited me to become a moderator for the Flipped Learning EVO session this year. ME! I couldn't believe him! But there I was, one more stepping stone towards my "burning desire" (as Napoleon Hill would call it)...oh, and that's a secret for now 😉
I then took the Moderator Training with Nina Liakos, Vance Stevens, Elizabeth (I don't remember her last name) and a lot of very experienced EVO moderators. I learned so much. And now, I'm co-moderating the session with an awesome team (Jeff, Kevin, Khalid and John: The rolling stones of flipping) a combination of experience, energy, patience and perseverance. What an awesome team!!! We have over 300 participants and so far the experience has been fantastic !
EVO has shown me a couple of great things:
1. There are "intense" professionals out there who are willing to go the extra mile to make education happen.
2. There is room for my ideas! Somewhere around the globe there are people who care about nd connect with my thinking and that's awesome!
3. We all have something to share! And we are all called to contribute to the improvement of ELT, EFL, and education in general the world over.
4. It's okay to be opinionated! You just need to find a platform to share your opinions with people who care.
5. There are no limitations to learning!
EVO has changed my professional life because it has become the platform I can use to share and learn!
What are you waiting for? Join us at http://evosessions.pbworks.com
Let EVO change you!
Oh and I will be forever grateful to Christine-Bauer Ramazani for introducing me to technology back in 2009! 😊

Google+ and Twitter: two powerful PD tools

Some time ago, in 2010, I read a thesis paper about the use of Twitter for teachers' professional development and it got me interested in learning about this social networking tool. In that moment, I opened my Twitter account and started using it clumsily. I started to follow some people and Twitting about silly things. However, nowadays, Twitter and G+ have become my greatest Professional Development allies and in this post I'm going to share how they got to be so with you....

1. By following the "stars":
I'm not talking about Hollywood stars, I'm talking about the academic "celebrities" that make us want to be better professionals every day. Be it @chemicalsams @JeffGoins or @skrashen, now it is easy for any teacher to follow the authorities in different fields and to see the academic world through their eyes. By following experts in my fields (ELT, flipped learning, Educational Technology, Writing, etc.) I have been able to learn about their ideas and positions about current topics, to read their blogs, to find texts they recommend, to know about different world events (by @OzMark17) or simply to know where they are. Some of these experts are fabulous curators, as well, helping the regular teacher look in the right direction when interested in reading about the latest trends in education, teaching and learning. 

2. By learning about tools every day:
As a member of the global Educational Technology community, it is my responsibility to stay up-to-date with the latest technologies and their uses in education. It is shameful not to know what's hot now in terms of technology. But, how can a teacher learn about the latest tools to teach English when she is not teaching it? I mean, as a teacher trainer and without having students constantly ask about tools it is really hard to know what "kids are using these days". However, following sites like @Edutopia and Mindshift (@MindShiftKQED) on Twitter and Google apps for Education on G+ have really helped me stay tuned with the latest trends and the most useful learning tools available. They even inspired me to work on this blog!

3. By hyperlinking and hypelearning:
Even though it might turn a bit hectic, hyperlinking is one of the best qualities of online reading (in my opinion). It is important to learn to take advantage of the myriad of readings available out there. For that reason, following your interests will spark your curiosity and take you in a non-return way to constant learning (or as I like to call it: hyperlearning).

In my opinion, Twitter and G+ are two great professional development tools. They have ignited my curiosity and taken me through paths I wouldn’t have found otherwise.  Have you found other ways these two social networks potentialize your teaching?