This blog has been rather quiet of late, due to a perfect storm of a full work schedule (now happily coming to an end for the year), MA studies and some personal and professional upheaval. This is the first time I’ve really had to write for several weeks (and I even had to get up 15 minutes early to do this) but I thought it might be useful and interesting to share my first foray into teacher training and presenting.
A couple of months back I attended the annual team teaching seminar for our provinces native speaking teachers and our co-teachers. While I was there I met a teacher from the local city, who invited me to speak at the workshops that they have each semester. I was free to choose the topic, so I opted for something that was causing some heated debate at the training weekend. Korea is, not before time, changing the way that it examines English at school level. Finally there will be a writing and speaking component to English examinations here which should be fully rolled out by 2015. This is a matter of some concern to Korean teachers, who naturally enough are wondering how they are going to cope with the extra marking, and how to find time in class to practise. I believe that there is considerable scope for using technology to help them on both counts.
The theme of the workshop then, was a vision of the writing process with web 2.0 integrated at every stage to allow for ease of sharing, peer review, working in teams and working outside the classroom. I’ve posted a link to the Prezi, plus the handout that I made to go with it below. It’s probably worth tackling the two together, as the Prezi is fairly sparse, and the handout says more or less what I did in the workshop. (I’d have loved to embed the Prezi here, but I can’t seem to get it to word. I try the Gigya method but just get a message that the Prezi does not exist. I know the sharing settings are ‘public’ as I can access the Prezi when not signed in. If anyone has any ideas on what I’m doing wrong, please leave me a comment.)
The above was my first attempt at a Prezi, and was probably the most interesting thing about the workshop for the attendees. There were audible gasps from some of the audience, who had never seen it used before, so much so that I had to give an impromptu ten minute Prezi workshop at the end to those interested. Not easy for someone whose skills are at best “in development” in that area.
The workshop was mostly a success, but did suffer one fairly major disaster when Twitter refused to work. Only one of the attendees was able to sign up, and the rest were denied either sign up or sign in, due to what seemed to be a problem at Twitter’s end. I’ve had this happen before too with students trying to sign up. I guess the message is be aware that things could go wrong, and have a backup plan, especially for mass Twitter sign ups.
The backup plan was to use online noticeboards (Wallwisher in this case) which turned out to be a great success, and in fact far more efficient and effective than using Twitter (though there are still good reasons to use Twitter too). It really is a great way to get a lot of student ideas on to the board in a very short space of time, and then for everyone to be able to play around with them as they want. The best thing is the lack of chalky/inky hands, and tennis elbow for the teacher. You can have a look at the results here.
The other thing I want to point out in this post is the jigsaw writing activity. This was another real success, and given that I have never seen it done anywhere else I want to claim it for my own here. I really think that this is useful both for building cohesion skills, but also to get students to understand the structure of a successful paragraph, and what it takes to achieve it.
The only real disappointment of the workshop was not having enough time to tackle everything. In the end I only got half of what I wanted to do done. At first when I was asked to give a three hour workshop I wondered how I was going to fill all that time. It turns out I needn’t have worried, and much like teaching, presenting takes twice as long as you think it will.
I hope that you enjoy the Prezi and the handout, and find them useful. If there’s anything that you want more detail on, leave me a comment or get in touch and I’ll be happy to help you out.