Friday, 23 January 2009

Message from the Lake School of English, Oxford

I'm in Oxford and this is what my lovely colleagues sent me.

I'll be back soon!

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

"Web 2.0" Videos

I am currently doing an online workshop with EVO (Electronic Village Online) on "Digifolios and Personal Spaces". I came across this site when delving deep into my "Sidebar Gurus" blog postings and I found the information in a comment. I must admit, that I followed the link to the course and got so excited by it, that I lost track of where I found it. I will amend as soon as I retrieve my steps!!

Anyway, the course is fantastic and I am learning lots. The course is hosted on "ning", which is a new Social Networking site for me. I was amazed that the CEO of Ning is Gina BIANCHINI. However, she isn't related to me as far as I know. I will ask her somehow or other about her background as I'd love to know where her Bianchini roots originate from!

Here is a video about "Ning" presented by Gina Bianchini.

I'm onto a "roll" this evening concerning embedding videos. It's very good practice for me as I'm not very good at it!! Anyway, here goes.

In my "Digifolios" course, I have just come across a really useful video called "Web 2.0 in just under 5 Minutes". It was made by Assistant Professor Michael Wesch, (the coolest man on the planet) working alone from his house in St George, Kansas. He used CamStudio for the screen captures and Sony Vegas for the panning/cropping/zooming animations.

The Machine is US/ing US

What do you think of the two videos I have shared with you?
As always, I'd really appreciate your comments...

Bye for now.

View my page on Digifolios and Personal Learning Spaces

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Guest Blogger: Steve Dembo fromTeach42?

Hi everyone!

As you know, my "Virtual Classroom" that I have created for my PLN consists of sites from my "Sidebar Gurus". The past few weeks, I have been conscientiously studying and reading all the information which appears every day. My pedagogical life has changed dramatically since setting up my very own, unique PLN. For me, it's an excellent concept.

I re-read Steve Dembo's Teach42 Day Seven Challenge re inviting a Guest Blogger and I decided I would like to invite him to be my very first "Guest Blogger" especially as the idea originated from reading his posting on the subject. Of course, I had no idea whether he would be able to accept my invitation or not, and so, with a herd of proverbial butterflies tripping the light fantastic all over the inside of my stomach (or in plain English, "with butterflies in my stomach"), my hand hovered over the "Submit" button for a few seconds. I asked myself "Do I do it or not? If he says yes, that would be wonderful. If he says no, then no problem. I would understand completely as I can imagine he has such a busy schedule". So with these thoughts rushing through my mind, I DID it. I pressed that button. Is the rest history???

I will leave you now to guess what Steve's answer was. I think you'll have to read my next posting to find out.....

The picture of me above shows me at home in Italy at an academic meeting via Skype with the Lake School of English based in Oxford , England.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

The Era of "I.E."?

I have just read a very interesting article which discusses the value of ePortfolios. These words really struck a chord: "ePortfolio is about: learning with and from our don't get to pull out your lecture notes you've been teaching from for the last twenty-five years. You have to change what you are doing. Every time you go back to the classroom it's new. It's different. It's evolving". The key word for me is "EVOLVING".

Does the above mean my 30 years of teaching count for nothing unless I keep up with everyone here and now, in the era of "I.E." - "Instant Everything"? It could be indeed a scary thought for someone like me who has been a "traditional" teacher for so long. I have never wished to rest on my laurels. In fact the opposite is true. I am striving to keep up with modern trends in order to "survive" in the educational field, but the word "evolving" here means constant change and development within modern technology.

So from teaching English in the late 1970s (modern technology involved using a "Banda Machine" - does anyone remember it?) to teaching English in 2009 , what has evolved for me in terms of my goals and aspirations? I think the answer is they remain the same as always: to do the best I can, and then some. My objectives have always been the following:
  • 100% commitment to my students
  • set high standards
  • adapt to the needs of the students
  • keep up with new trends
In the past , the pace of change was much more "gentle" and leisurely, in my opinion. Nowadays, "evolution" is happening so rapidly that you could easily miss out on a new trend unless you are constantly "on the ball", so to speak. Thus a teacher is left with no choice in this digital age of "I.E." but to learn as rapidly as the new concepts and tools are coming out. Suddenly, it seems that we teachers are all becoming "virtual" students in order to keep up with the new "Thumb Generation" of "Digital Natives" who were born surrounded by Youtube, Facebook, Ning, Twitter, Ipods etc. The list seems to be endless...

My question to all of you out there in the "blogosphere" is this one. Do you like the constant change or do you wish somehow it would just slow down a bit to allow for assimilation?? I would love to hear your views.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

"Lost for Words"

I have just finished reading a very entertaining book called "Lost for Words" by the distinguished British broadcaster John Humphreys. (If you are reading this, cheers, Marilena!). He obviously cares a lot about the future of the English language. For example, how would you feel if you overheard the following ?

"wot u up 2 l8tr? Nice day, innit? You see, like, I woz wondring, like, I mean, innit, dunno, really, like, I wanna do summat, but ya know......."

I have actually overheard youngsters speak in such a way and it makes my blood boil from a linguistic and pedagogical point of view. I have had to stop myself from correcting their incorrect but socially acceptable spoken "argot". It's a form of "street cred", innit? I would hate the English language to go down this desultory path. The book questions who is responsible for this sorry state of affairs.

Well, actually, to tell you the truth, if you ask me, as far as I see it, it's a dead cert that educators and parents should take the rap. Again, I have just deliberately used some very common expressions that tend to be overused in the English language.

Look at "BBC Learning English" for some excellent lessons on words such as "innit" and "be like"which are gradually infiltrating the language.

I would really love some feedback on what you think about this topic. Is the English language going to the dogs?? Please feel free to comment!

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

La Befana

The elderly lady above, who somehow came down our chimney last night, is sitting nice and comfortably in front of our fireplace today. She is known in Italy as "La Befana". Every year on 6th January she appears in houses all over the country delivering gifts to good children and pieces of coal to naughty ones. Here is a link to the history of La Befana in Italy. January 6th is also the Feast of the Epiphany.
Photo taken by lljb

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Raining cats and dogs

I thought we would escape the vagraries of the English weather tucked away in the Abruzzo countryside, but it seems I was wrong. It is indeed raining "cats and dogs" today. This odd expression is considered rather old-fashioned nowadays and maybe even "naff". It is an idiom to describe heavy rainfall. While I am writing this post I have a lovely view of olive trees and bushes (Viburnum Tinus and Pyracantha) and the fire is roaring away, so I can't complain really. Believe it or not, originally coming from a maritime climate, I'm not too fond of rain. In fact, I can't stand it!

The "downpour" outside has set me thinking about all the songs which mention the rain. Do you know "I can't stand the rain" sung by Tina Turner? This particular song brings back memories of a journey by motorbike from England to Italy one year when it "bucketed down" for hours on end and this song was blaring away on the intercom system. I felt rather nervous as it was "tipping it down" but K was riding very carefully and expertly and my initial worries were assuaged. It was also the first time I had gone on the back of a motorbike for a journey which was 1300 miles long. I was also "motorbike phobic"in those days, so you can imagine it took a bit of courage to convince myself I was doing the right thing. Since that epic journey I have travelled from England to Italy and back by motorbike a further two times and I can honestly say that it was a character-forming experience for me. I was scared of doing it but I tried it and it turned out ok. I love the expression "feel the fear and do it anyway!" It's come in handy quite a few times in my life....

The photo above was taken last summer while out exploring the beautiful Abruzzo countryside. The motorbike is an Aprilia Caponord.

I have just found an excellent lesson - "Londoners offered BLT for SAD" - in Breaking News English which makes a passing reference to "rain cats and dogs". The article is about "S.A.D" (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and "B.L.T." (Bright Light Therapy). If I had a class to teach on Monday and it was raining, I would definitely use this lesson plan with my hypothetical students! However, as I do not have a class at the moment, I will dutifully file it in my computer and keep it for future lesson exploitation under the themes of weather vocabulary / health vocabulary/discussion topics.

Well, I have amused myself on this thoroughly wet and miserable day by writing this posting and I feel so much better now. I hope the weather wherever you are is as good as you want it to be.

Buona giornata! Have a nice day!

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Buon Anno Nuovo 2009

A happy New Year to anyone reading my blog today. New Year's Eve was spent in the splendid company of Italian relatives and a traditional "Capodanno" meal including a delicious "Panettone" was greatly enjoyed.

As always, I made some resolutions for the New Year which I thought that by writing them here, would encourage me to keep them. So here goes!

My New Year Resolutions relating to CPD:

  • learn about podcasting
  • learn about wikis
  • expand my PLN (Personal Learning Network)
  • get on top of "Twitter" - see Free Technology for Teachers
  • develop my avatar in "Second Life"
  • create more Xtranormal videos
  • learn more from my blog's "sidebar gurus"
  • continue writing and developing my blog

So, not a lot then, eh?!? We'll see how I get on....

2008 was a year of great changes for me. Leaving England, my family, friends and job, to set up a new life in Abruzzo was a huge step and a voyage into the unknown. The path I am following is a very positive one so far and I have no regrets. A new chapter of my life beckons.....

I hope 2009 will be a vintage year for everyone - full of happiness, good health and good fortune.