Kalinago English in the Cloud (guest post by Henrick Oprea)

What was I thinking when I decided to accept Karenne’s ice-cream-topped invitation to create a word cloud from her blog for her and quickly analyse it?   Just in case you don’t know, Karenne was one of the main motivators I had to start blogging, and she didn’t have to do anything for that – her sharing and caring for other teachers did it for her. She’s well known as the über-blogger in ELT, and, if she allows for the geek in me to say it, “Quite a challenge it is to analyse a word cloud from her blog!”

Looking on the bright side, it’s also a chance for me to play around with the words from one of my favourite blogs, and probably the very first one I started following on a regular basis. Let’s get down to business then, shall we?
The big words come as no surprise at all.

If you’ve been on twitter for a while, you knowKarenne loves helping new people. Let’s face it, folks, pretty much all English teachers out there will benefit immensely from having Karenne in his or her PLN. Now, if we have a closer look at the bits and pieces of the cloud, this is what we have:



If you’ve ever had the idea to start your PLN, you may start off by thinking about the number of your followers. However, you’ll soon find out that having many followers is not the right way to go. The idea of having a PLN requires a network of connected educators if it is to be successful. And if you need something to help you get started, look no further! Have a look at what the next bit has got to tell you:



We all sometimes need a little help to come across interesting people from our field, and we all certainly enjoy doing so. We are all social beings. Fortunately, instead of trying hard to find these people on our own, WW (or, better, #WW) has just been introduced to us. All you have to do is recommend and welcome a new teacher you happen to see on twitterville.




Now, this is something that those who have been on twitter for a while probably know – building a reliable PLN is difficult. Well, at least I think it’s difficult.

It took me a while to finally build one for myself – but don’t lose focus. Just like when you try to learn new words, you should know that practice is required (who was born knowing how to express his or her thoughts in 140 characters???).


But suddenly you’ll realise that less may, at times, be way more.  
 
Use fewer characters and write a post (in this case a tweet) that means something rather than waffle on and on and communicate nothing. In education, content matters more than big words – being concise and straightforward is sometimes the best thing you can do.

But why should we use our free time to participate in talks with those from our PLNs? Well, as a teacher I think all who do it want to go from good to great. We engage in talks on education bearing our students and their interests in mind. We take our time to tweet because we strive to be better teachers.



Just have no doubt that you need to work for your eCommunities to be worth the while. And this is one of the best things about PLNs – they are what you make of them. If you look for a virtual PLN because your real PLN is not fruitful to your professional development, there is hope for you – you’ll actually see there’s a lot of people out there just like you – people who are looking for ways to grow professionally.


With time you probably want to say more than twitter allows you to – that’s the time less won’t mean more. Then it’s possible you’ll turn to blogs, and perhaps will even feel like writing your own blog. This doesn’t mean that your writing will never be bad, but only if you’re a fool you’ll assume you can only write if you’re an expert. One of the reasons we blog is because it’s a way we, as a community, have found to share our experiences and have someone commenting on them.

It’s a way for us to keep connected with a network of like-minded educators. Of course we all disagree on this or that, but this is what makes it all so real. We all have our styles – just quickly read the other posts on this blog to see how my style and Karenne’s are different. This, however, doesn’t mean we cannot learn from one another. And boy, oh, have we been a helping hand to one another.

Karenne’s word cloud is a reflection of her latest posts, folks. There are many teachers we meet in real life who feel they’ve got no one to talk to. This is the beauty of online PLNs for me: we’re all willing to share and help other educators in need.

No, it’s not all a bed of roses and it’s not what’s going to bring home the bacon, but it can certainly help you in what you do.

Many, many thanks, Karenne, for helping me reflect a bit more on PLNs, all based on your latest blog posts that generated such a word cloud. Thanks also to David Dodgson, who actually was the one who posed this challenge. It’s been a fun ride so far, and, even if nothing had come out of it, this has helped me think of yet a different way to use word clouds in my lessons. Another example of how your PLN may help you.





This post was written by Henrick Oprea of one of the most reflective ELT blogs in the 'sphere, Doing Some Thinking.  Rick is a teacher in Brazil and you can become a part of his PLN on Twitter by clicking here.





Thank you so much Rick for doing this for me, you really made my day! And you also gave me much to reflect on, so much so that I'll have an announcement to make tomorrow.  I also think this incredible exercise of going deeper and deeper into a wordle would make a brilliant activity for EAP or ESP students with articles or weighty texts.

1 Response to “Kalinago English in the Cloud (guest post by Henrick Oprea)”

 

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