Personal Learning Philosophy- homework for may 17

Learning Philosophy

In the following lines I would like to paint a picture of my personal learning philosophy; now that in class we’ve been talking about background to language learning and teaching, my understanding of learning philosophy has changed and become clearer for myself. First I will begin with a description of my own preferences and then go on to what I would like to realize in class with students.

For me it is important to have a certain learning environment, which normally consist of open space, space around me to place papers, pencils, pictures, words, texts-everything I’m working with all around me to be able to take and use anything at anytime. Besides I need to have a calm environment, without television sounds, radio, music or people talking loudly; and – if possible – an open window nearby – fresh air helps me thinking.

I’m a naturalistic and intrapersonal but as well word smart and interpersonal multiple intelligence learner, and the way I learn best is repeating words, making notes, use words in different contexts, underline or mark in different colours and have somebody with whom to talk about what I am doing.

For sure I have got certain preferences and just cannot be watching and listening to the television while doing homework or reading a text; at the same time I continuously see pupils working exactly like that, and it seems possible and normal for them – which means that my students as well could be learning this way without any inconvenient for them.

But when the teacher just works the way he/she likes, prefers, knows it helped him/her to learn, he/she could be equivocated thinking that the students would feel the same, would have the same preferences. Talking with language learners makes me realize again and again how much variety exists concerning learning styles and intelligences. There are so many different possible combinations that while planning a lesson I have to reflect on all of them, or try it at least and have my planning be open for different learning styles by offering students various options to choose for learning a certain subject. It is like going a certain path and seeing all the others crossing and moving away from, going parallel or in zig zag. There are so many different ways to learn and teach.

Without knowing about the learners’ needs, how will we as teachers know which materials and topics are suitable for our learners; choosing the approach to teaching and assessment. To plan our lessons we might want to include interaction patterns, language and skills, learning strategies and as well pay some attention to the learners’ personal needs, to decide about the pace of lessons, the activities and the types of feedback e.g. (see: TKT Course. Modules 1,2 and 3, chapter 14, p.79ff). “Meeting the learners’ needs helps to motivate learners, making their course more relevant to them.” (ibid) The connection that needs to be made between teachers and language learners is the one that tells them about the others ways of learning. If I make Jeanny walk around in a mingle all day long and face her constantly with interactive activities training her reading subskills while she is a logical intelligence and likes to work on her own, I will just demotivate her in my classes – without even knowing why she would not respond positively to my lesson plan.

Instead what I want as a teacher is make students goal-orientated and working straight ahead on their own way, offering them a variety of activities from which to choose: Then they could feel like being a main part of the direction classes take. Besides as they get to know about the others’ learning styles and multiple intelligences. This is the metacognitive part of language learning and teaching. By the way teachers who are aware of their own learning preferences and their multiple intelligences and who discuss them in class can give an authentic example for students and as a conclusion are more transparent for students.

The essential part and characteristic of my learning philosophy is the way students work autonomously, working at stations, working project-based or project-orientated. They should learn to work in collaborative groups and I would like to make them communicate with each other, in the way that they could get a feeling of being responsible for the goal the group has in common: learning something new. And last I just want to mention rapidly some characteristics about learning intelligences; that could be helpful to know while making students working at stations; here below I’ll share a list with you that I found on Adrianas blog:

  • We can work in small groups (interpersonal) to do a variety of tasks such as gather information, organize what we already know, and brainstorm etc (verbal/linguistic, logical/mathematical)
  • We can research additional information using the internet, the library, books, multi-media centre and resources (verbal/linguistic)
  • We can classify, sort and organize the information according to a variety of attributes (logical/mathematical)
  • We can use software simulations and manipulatives and communicate our learning in written form (visual/spatial, verbal/linguistic)
  • We can work in groups to communicate the steps and processes involved to solve problems (verbal/linguistic, interpersonall)
  • We can create a musical selections and jingles to memorize key points and facts (musical/rhythmic/body/kinaesthetic)
  • We can reflect about learning tasks and think about the process involved (intrapersonal)

(found on Adrianas wordpress-blog; see: http://arh1980.wordpress.com/2014/05/06/learning-styles/#comments)

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Multiple intelligences and how we could deal with them – homework for may 17

As we’ve been talking in class about the different characteristics of pupils concerning learning and random conditions like classroom management and different learning styles, its mainly important to analyze who we, that’s to say, we as teachers are.  First of all we need to know a bit more about ourselves to be able to guide and accompaign students in their learning process in a constructive way. Just talking to and with them won’t be enough, and that’s what we can deduce reading Dörnyei for example; in his ten commandments for motivating language learners he includes several points dealing with the relationship between teacher and pupil, e.g. to set a personal example with our own behaviour or to develop a good relationship with the learners. But when I instead, in my role as a teacher could not tell them about my preferences, my own way of learning, how will I be able to set a personal example? And to develop a good relationship with them I need to be authentic and in a certain – limited- way, transparent for them: transparent concerning my language teaching and assessing.

In my own (German) classes, I tend to not discuss with students about their learning styles, nor the different types of intelligences existing. That’s to say that all in all, I haven’t talked to them about the background to language learning and teaching. But the more we talk about this in TKT class, the more I understand its importance for my own classes and will integrate this discourse.

Here is first of all my own multiple intelligences map that I do agree with a 100 percent. Inconsciously I have known about my preferences, about my needs and ways to learn but I never thought about making it colourful and in a graphic’s form.

my multiple intelligences

The next step for me will be to use these link of Birmingham’s Multiple Intelligences Test in my German class to make students be aware of the background to language learning. Make them feel more responsible and goal-oriented in their learning. And by this make my classes become more student centered.

By knowing their multiple intelligences we could make a needs’ analysis all together and could work on the different ways of language learning in class. And furthermore all the activities planned or offered can be divided into special experts’ groups, as e.g. a musical intelligence learner is more kind in working with music and could be working on a certain subject by music while somebody else that is logical-mathematical would prefer using numbers, scales, diagrams where from he/she could deduce meanings and present them afterwards to his group. The learner whose linguistic intelligence is very strong would prefer to read and write, listen perhaps to oral presentations such as debates e.g. on the internet. A project I would like to try with my group is the market place, also known as: working at stations, where each learner is asked to use the material offered to him at a special station and in the end have them all come together and present their results, that could be published then in the university’s floor.

 

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Theories on motivation – homework for april 12

After having worked in blended learning sessions in class and used the moodle platform on a variety of different materials in the internet I would like to briefly resume my results in the matrix you can find here below. It lists the different theorists, the theory’s name and the relation it has with what we do as teachers; in some rubrics I commented on the theorist’s definition and my own way of interpretating it.

Learning theories matrix

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Homework for april 12 – Venn Diagramm on a TEFL class comparison

Who should be the main actor in class? Student or teacher?

How do you explain vocabulary or integrate new vocabulary into your reading class?

What is the better way to organize your TEFL class, together with the students’ group?

According to the video on TEFL  I saw on youtube one way is to have the teacher draw, paint and perform new, unknown vocabulary – which, indeed, is a method applied by many teachers, me included. But furthermore there can be variations on how long the teacher will be the only one to explain. As there is a class full of different individuals in front, around us: the students, we should make a profit from this fact and have them explain vocabulary in communicative, kinastetic or visual exercices. One possibility could be making students perform vocabulary in a statue or painting it themselves. The students could be grouped to investigate certain new vocabulary so that each group then after a few minutes could represent, in the way they chose, their investigated vocabulary patterns. Or it could also become a competition between two or three groups; for this the teacher could prepare a list of possible significations out of which the pupils afterwards, have to choose the right signification/synonym, so that it becomes a competitive game for them

Form lexical settings, word families, find the anthonyms, make a visual representation and so on.

VENN DIAGRAMM TO COMPARE A TEFL CLASS

The TEFL-video I used as basis for my comparison in the venn diagramm above you can find beneath the following link on youtube:

 

Following the second link I found a video I liked and appreciated much more than the first one, as it’s about playing games in TEFL to reinforce class contents and goals: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtwDhKso2No. It’s main concern is getting students motivated by making them compete against each other to learn or better: repeat vocabulary concerning rooms in the house and its specific objects. It could as well be appropriate to play games like “I am packing my suitcase…” (otherwise known as “I’m going on a trip and I’m taking … with me.”) e.g.

I would perhaps just change one element: instead of being the teacher who’s giving pupils the words by whispering them to each one, this could be made by a student to be more student centered.

Recommendations:

Besides I would like to share with you the following links I found and that are of a main interest for me: The following articles are about project-oriented or project-based learning and the main part is students’ collaboration, students making their learning real and getting it connected to real world-experiences as well as making them be the teachers and, as explained below, the teacher being a guide and making students feel comfortable and worth it. Please just have a look at these links. I for myself feel just inspired and would love to realize teaching like they do without teaching.

http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/03/what-keeps-students-them-motivated-to-learn/

http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/01/what-project-based-learning-is-and-isnt/

http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2011/12/life-in-a-21st-century-english-class/

http://www.symbaloo.com/

 

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Commentary on motivation and the modalities of online or distance education – homework for april 12

As we have been seeing and working on motivation in class I would like to summarize briefly my thoughts:

Motivation is the key concept for an outworking education in my opinion. Thinking about why to learn a language and what to learn about it, everything has to do with motivation. It’s a central pattern in education in general and forgotten by several teachers. Perhaps I could begin talking a bit about my own situation here in the university, where I’m employeed to teach students in language learning and over and over could notice the importance of motivation. This inner movement that you cannot (always) see in the person’s face; that’s something to do with the intrinsic and extrinsic factors of influence.

For me it was quite important to read about the pedagogical concepts concerning several steps to increase a student’s motivation that are mentioned by Dörnyei (compare anthology page 63) as:

– Set a personal example with your own behaviour

– Create a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere in the classroom

– Present the task properly

– Develop a good relationship with the learners

– Increase the learners’ linguistic self-confidence

– Make the language classes interesting

– Promote learner autonomy

– Personalize the learning process

– Increase the learners’ goal-orientedness

– Familiarize learners with the target language culture

All these 10 statements are essential in motivating language learners – nevertheless I want to have a closer look at only some of them, as there are: create a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere in the classroom where anybody can feel comfortable, respected and able to think and express his/her thoughts without any fear of disrespect from any other classmate or the teacher.

More over, to be able to answer to certain tasks teachers have to get trained in presenting the task properly to be able to increase the learners’ goal-orientedness that is to say there way of setting themselves goals. Moreover what Dörnyei mentions about task presentation and its impact on the fulfilment by setting realistic goals and offering effective strategies to the students is understandable but has to be repeated again and again I think, as many times students don’t understand what to do or what for to do it.

When learners then take responsibility for their own learning and learn how to collaborate with other students in cooperative groups, then autonomous learning is being created. Autonomous in the way that students motivate one another meanwhile the teacher “just” facilitates or problematizes so that they can work together.

Every lesson could end up with a small feedback-round in which every student – who wants to – could comment the ongoing during that class and perhaps note down in his/her portfolio the themes he/she didn’t liked, would have changed or could try to do in another way next time as well as underline the good elements during class time that he/she would like to work on or with in further classes.

For sure this takes time and perhaps won’t be possible after each class (well, I’m not so sure about this point; probably you can manage to do it after every session, just need to organize yourself and the class) but anyway could be applied after every second or third day of classes. Students then feel that their opinion is important for the class and the way or direction classes will take.

Some students could even feel better in distance or blended education and could get their motivation risen up even more by getting feedback from persons not present in his face to face group but commenting his productions on the internet e.g. on a blog or a forum.

According to me these modalities provide useful learning experiences, as they realize productive learning skills in online education and could also be mixed up like seen in blended education where students are engaged in distance education as well as in face to face classes which for me seems a great opportunity to give them. Then it’s up to them to feel free to access different materials offered in the www and afterwards exchange ideas with his classmates or group members face to face.

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Commenting on On-line speaking

This post is all about speaking and interacting via internet, exchanging connected speech.

What I find really interesting about techtefl and his list of links is the following program of Voxopop: http://blog.voxopop.com/

I think this could be a very good oportunity to prepare and work on oral skills; it’s all about speaking and communicating by connected speech; so each group member can apply subskills like intonation, stress, coherence by using his/her own voice and get trained in using oral language. For sure that it’s in a way similar to “normal” recordings, in which you neither can’t percieve body language, which in fact forms a great part of oral communication. But unlike traditional recordings on CD’s where you cannot ask the recorded person afterwards, you could in this case perhaps do so: In case you opened a group on Voxopop with a students’ group, you could afterwards in class refer to the recordings and the bodylanguage like gestures.

As Ian James himself posted in the power point presentation on his blog, using this app you can make debates, give opinions, build up stories, recommend books, films, music.

mailVU as well seems to be interesting as it deals principally with the student-teacher communication.

For my own lessons I would like to try using Voxopop and Voice Thread and I’m looking forward to apply it for German classes or French as well.

In this special case of English I would want to go back to my post on the lesson plan and the specific subject of “How to find the right Job” as I’m convinced students have a lot to say, discuss, debate and share about this topic; it’s a topic everyone can talk about and it might be a good opportunity in my case to just apply it as a following exercise in a future lesson; so that students build up a talk group and go on commenting and exchanging new experiences, after having spoken to their parents perhaps or having done further research on their own.

 

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