Despite having been around for a while mobile devices are still rather slowly finding their niche in most of our classes. There are the rather obvious applications that many of us teachers have finally seen the usefulness of, like allowing students to use them to look up a word or research a language point or topic area. Many of us have started to add some fun and competition to our classes with the popular quiz tool Kahoot. And at long last language teachers are beginning to see the value of getting students to record their spoken output to share and analyze with the class. But using a mobile device does not necessarily translate to implementing mobile learning. So how can we use mobile tools to actually extend learning beyond the school and into the community at large?
Sometimes I feel like a treasure hunter when I travel. There are amazing educational jewels hidden in schools, and I love to find them.
It goes something like this: You visit a school and start to talk to a teacher or a headteacher. Nothing out of the ordinary so far. A normal school in a normal town. But suddenly you hear them say something that catches your attention, like the glimmer of a shiny jewel. Just follow it, ask the appropiate questions and…there it is!
A while ago I found one of these gems in a school called Betania-Patmos located in Barcelona. They had been asked by the regional governtment what kind of profile a teacher needs in this global era, but they didn’t rush to write down hasty conclusions as teachers. They did something smarter. They turned this into a task for their last year high school pupils. This is what they told them:
“Imagine you work in human resources and you have to hire a teacher. What profile would you be looking for?”
And those teenagers (you know, the ones everyone describes as being “lost”) worked in teams for a week, and then presented 11 ideas that demonstrate they might not be the ones who are lost after all, but the ones looking for someone who isn’t.
11 ideas about the Teacher profile required for a global era.
Recruiters: Last year High school students.
This first set of requirements had complete consensus amongst the group.
1.- Teachers commited to helping their pupils, who care for them, are close to them, and instill confidence through respect and generosity.
2.- Teachers with a deep, broad and up-to-date knowledge of their subject area.
3.- Teachers that can express themselves clearly and make themselves understood using structured methods.. Good communicators balanced and mentally organized
4.- Teachers that exude emotion about what they are explaining, and are enthusiastic and passionate about their subject and respectful of other disciplines.
Requirements with a very high level of consensus
5.- Teachers who have mastered different types of learning – from paper to the latest generation of technologies (drawing, writing, sound, image, and mixed media), following the idea of introduction not substitution.
6.- Teachers who have mastered different languages, with English being considered absolutely necessary.
7.- Teachers that teach critical thinking and promote alternative ways of doing things.
8.- Teachers with patience, modesty, energy and coherence.
9.- Teachers that promote participation, interactivity and practice.
10- Fun teachers, with a sense of humour that can make teaching and learning a pleasure.
Requirements sine qua non:
11.- Teachers that are punctual and don’t miss classes.
The first time that I read this I was struck by two things:
– When a teenager says that he is looking for someone stable and mentally organized…it makes you think about what he has seen
– Technology appears in a discreet second place. First people, then gadgets.
So, as you can see here, our youth are just looking for a stable reference in a confusing world. They are looking for educators that can teach their mind and their soul, someone who can maintain the essence of the educational experience even when all the elements keep changing. Because essencially our young generation is alone and we are letting them grow up alone with no tribe to guide them.
As usual Mafalda said it first and better: “Educating is harder than teaching. To teach you need to know, to educate you need to be” .
Bilingualism and multilingualism in schools are hot topics in different regions of Spain that are and have been implementing different plans in order to improve students skills, and all of them have chosen CLIL as the most appropiate approach.
CLIL is a challenging and exciting approach developed by David Marsh and his team studies. It aims at a broader objective than just learning a language. It shows us how to use the language to learn and learn to use languages.
I have had the chance to work for several years in a bilingual school that, thanks to its principal and faculty, has achieved great success in implementing this approach and demonstrating how reflection, planning, commitment, passion and profesionalism can make a difference.
During my stay as a teacher there, I actively collaborated introducing ICT in the project and after all these years and experiences I can really confirm that the symbiosis between CLIL and ICT works beautifully! Communicative Competence and Digital Competence is a perfect marriage.
Now, I’m collaborating with the “Marc per al Plurilingüisme a Catalunya”, a very ambitious plan that aims to use the communicative competence of their students as leverage. I have attended some meetings with the people in charge of the plan to set a common framework and It was very interesting to observe that they are not only focused on external exams but on a more profound methodological change.
I delivered this session in Tarragona and in CPR Navalmoral, and It was great to meet and share some of my experiences with such passionate teachers.
As promised to all the teachers attending the sessions, here you have my presentations. Hope you enjoy it, and if you do…don’t hesitate to comment and share it!
This first term of the school year I have been presenting a workshop called Learning Boxes.
The “Learning Boxes” idea comes from a conversation with a friend of mine called María Gonzalez, a great teacher now finishing her PhD. She has participated in a Comenius project with a Scandinavian school. They used boxes with learning stories inside where they could manipulate objects and discover facts. In the project, students would create and exchange boxes.
Soon after this conversation, in a TV3 program about teachers, I saw a great educational experience from a school called “El roure gros” located near Barcelona. They use the scientific approach based on questions, predictions, experiments, investigation, conclusions… and they also use boxes – in each box there is all the material needed to discover a scientific fact, and pupils explain their discoveries on a personal scientific portfolio.
That reminded how ten years ago we used to include learning corners in our classes presenting little boxes with materials such as word games, memory games, etc. and how this learning corneridea had evolved over the last few years.
Not long ago I also learned about the Learning Stories idea being developed in the iTEC project coordinated by the European Schoolnet which is framing and designing the future classroom.
So… I tried to join up the dots…what if we include learning stories in these learning boxes to train teachers in the use of the tools themselves and activities that can be done with them?
What if teachers could use those learning boxes to introduce PBL and IPBL in our daily sessions?
What if we include competence-based learning in each box?
And that´s how this workshop was born.
But then…I thought that since learning is so modular, I should publish it in separate boxes so that you can choose the learning story that best fits your needs and so we have created a section where we will put them all together, our own little Task-Based Learning space.
I was concerned about how to evaluate it, but my colleague Estrella López taught me how rubrics can help when assessing tasks and projects, so my next move is to include a Rubric in each box so as to help evaluate all this. I´ve been trying iRubric and I really like it since it offers embeding options.
The next move is now to create the rubrics first and then the box…but I’m going to wait until the new educational reform is published for that one 😉
All this has been a great learning journey! I hope you enjoy the results.