"The Dog Ate My Internet"

...was the smart retort from one of my professors, Gary, today when I gave a reason for not being able to do my required Blackboard discussion homework on top of the articles we had to read. 


In the last few weeks I've been using a pay-as-you-go-dongle and its bytes were being chewed up at a very costly rate... which, on top of the life-changing move, is why I've not been around much in the last couple of weeks: not on the 'net, not writing emails, not FBing and all that.   It was all quick in and quick out.  Also, alas, my grandfather died recently and I'll be heading to his funeral on Friday.

But anyway, yay! The Internet is now installed at home, I have finally got my bed from Ikea although I haven't put it together yet, I have curtains up instead of propped up pieces of cardboard, I have a schedule, I have lightbulbs...  I know where my highlighter pens are although I think I may have lost my glasses.

The course tutors have been piling on the work, reams and reams of articles, 25 - 50 pages long plus book chapters to read and I swear that when they list out what else they recommend reading that there could well be an evil-grin-glint in their eyes.

That part, because I'm so keen :-) you know, trying to read it all, (even some referenced articles mentioned at the bottom of assigned) ...  all wound up becoming a bit overwhelming and on Monday I ran on over to the disability office (I'm dyslexic) to say I was freaking out.  

Nice counselor there told me it was normal to freak out and I instantly stopped freaking out.

I think I need to take a more eclectic approach - but oh,oh,  it's so hard to choose - what if I miss out on something truly groundbreaking... complain as I might about pages of stuff to read, the truth is by golly, even with the articles I don't really like, that I want to simplify and break down into you know, English, teach so much.   

This old dog is definitely picking up some new tricks.


Beyond Approaches, Methods and Techniques

The most interesting work for this module that I read last week was perhaps Diane Larsen Freeman's concluding chapter of Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching.  She has a really good voice - easy and clear, and warming - she's a really-have-been-there-and-done-that-author.   In this chapter she discussed the changes in methodology over the years and provided a really good overview of the different approaches.

I found this particularly interesting laid out, like this, as I can't say that before now I have never actually thought about how much the way that an adult learner might have been taught previously might well affect the way he learns now or how he wants to learn now.  

I thought her statement "What makes a method successful for some teachers is their investment in it" particularly interesting - I wonder if dogme works in my classroom because I simply believe it does.  

Two other phrases which really caught my eye were "learners are very versatile and can learn well sometimes despite a given method rather than because of it" and "teachers who teach as if their practice causes learning, while recognizing that they are not in control of all the relevant factors, and that at the least they are in partnership with their students in this enterprise, can be true managers of learning."

I am not fond of the term, managers, managers are a little too much like a throw-back to the top-down boss effect.  I like coaches better.  I wonder if that's a sign of the times, of these times, 2011 influenced as we are by the Business gurus and their pop psychology.  But, I tend to think that a coach encourages, motivates, builds his team.  And a classroom pulling together needs a strong, warm lead.



Psychology of Language Learning

I'm auditing this class which means I participate as a guest and have to do the assignments but won't get assessed at the end.

I really would wish it could be one of my core modules but I'm planning on doing an ISS in year two and I need to save the credits.   Our Dutch professor is a very interesting character... a coach.  

He gave us an article by Susana V. Rivera Mills and Luke Plonsky called Empowering students with language learning strategies.  This is probably the most marked up of all the texts I had to read last week and the only one I read through more than once and then reread the comments in the margins again, prior to class. 

In class this morning, Juup had us critique and analyze some of her core points and terminology  and it was jolly good fun to give it a (respectful) bashing.  I highly recommend reading it, looking out for phrases like "instructors whose students posses misconstrued notions about language learning need to provide guidance to avoid their tendency to use less effective strategies" but don't expect any real practical advice on how to do that.

In her introduction she repeated a vital question raised by Dick Allwright in 1984 - a question I have been asking for years "Why don't learners learn what teachers teach?"  But her article was pretty theoretical, so I didn't walk away with any 'a-ha' moments.

Still it discussed things like how good strategies affect motivation and wound up reminding me of my own questionings on whether or not, the term I probably incorrectly refer to as "peer-induced-motivation," has any influence over the end-"product."




Evaluation and Design of Educational Courseware

I thought I was going to wind up in the quagmire... blinded by statistics and non-educational examples and too-much-for-the-brain-to-take-in-lists of principles, on printer-costly chapters from Dix and Norman, in the random pursuit of a main point or two.

However, the briefer Wilson, in Raising the bar for instructional outcomes, did serve one up and that is this: 

e-materials need to be 

efficient, 

effective 

and engaging.

He also talked about mythic story structure in e-design, referencing Joseph Campbell's journey of the hero (usually used in Hollywood -see my dogme post).

I really suspect I'll be reading more of his work and that I may well have more to say on this subject in the coming weeks/months.


Best,
Karenne

p.s.  For the next two years, Tuesdays are now going to be taken up with my self-reflective, what did I learn on my MA-EdTech&TESOL.  I hope you don't mind the diary style sort of entries and I might well waffle on a bit...  if you want to skip these, then Thursdays will be for the more lesson oriented stuff and Sundays will be the EdTech-SocialMedia comments/tips posts.  

p.p.s. For all you amazing folk who've sent your good wishes via blog and FB and Twitter and for your interesting comments here on the blog last week, so sorry - the dog ate my internet - I'll respond this week :-).


References
Freeman-Larsen, D.  (2000) Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.  Ch.12.
Rivera-Mills, S.V & Plonsky, L. (2007) Empowering students with language learning strategies: a critical review of current issues.  Foreign Language Annals, 40(3):535-548 
Wilson, B. Parrish, P. & Veletsianos, G (2008).  Raising the bar for instructional outcomes: Towards transformative learning experiences. Educational Technology. 48(3), 39-44

Image credit
Caught surfing flickr by derekGavey on Flickr.com

11 Responses to “"The Dog Ate My Internet"”

  • David Warr says:
    October 05, 2011

    Sorry to hear about your grandad. Was he a Kalinago?

  • KALINAGO ENGLISH says:
    October 05, 2011

    Hi David,
    No, it was my British grandfather.
    Thanks,
    Karenne

  • Lisa Ritchie says:
    October 08, 2011

    Great post, Karenne. Glad to hear that your home is starting to take shape and you've stopped freaking out - for the time being anyway. Wish I'd had a councillor. I once freaked out at my most admired professor, which was a tad embarrassing. His response was the same as your councillor's. :) Your subjects sound fascinating and I look forward to reading more. Sorry to hear about your Grandad.
    Big hugs from Stuttie!
    Lisa xxx

  • KALINAGO ENGLISH says:
    October 08, 2011

    Thank you lovely Lisa, for sharing your story about freaking out too - I was beginning to wonder if that was a bit weird of me, putting it on the page like that - but I aim to use this space to self-reflect and record what I go through, not just in terms of learning but also changing -to see the path backwards - so thus, it's definitely not gonna be all roses on Tuesdays!

    But yes, this is the most amazing adventure! The subject choices battle against each other for priority -it was well difficult deciding which to do (they all scream pickme! pickme!) - I think because the University professors have very much aimed for a practical MA.

    Anyway, my best news is that I googled "how to read academic articles properly" and done some practice - am feeling well psyched to know that I'd been reading them wrong (straight-through like a blog post) so am now taking a new approach.

    Thanks for the note about G'dad -it was his time, he was 91. A fine amazing life - he'd been Lieutenant Commander in the Navy and in intelligence, very proud to have had him as an ancestor.

    Big hugs back from wet and rainy Manchester,
    Karenne

  • Saeed Mubarak says:
    October 10, 2011

    Could I ask you something .It is out of your post topic.How could I get sense of humor while I am teaching teenagers English language?
    Thanks

  • Anne Hodgson says:
    October 15, 2011

    Thanks for posting about the psychology of learning & sharing the Rivera-Mills/Plonsky - I really appreciated that! That's the part of your studies that interests me most. I think that cahllenging learners to do things differently than they are used to doing them in general is a pretty good method in and of itself. I'm curious about whether we can engineer the social environment of the classroom in the short time we have to the point where students are really coaxing and challlenging and coaching each other.

  • Clare says:
    October 17, 2011

    Wow Karenne - I've been under a rock and didn't even know you were studying in Manchester! Great to catch up with all your blog posts.
    Clare
    PS My grandfather was also a Lt Cmdr in the Navy, and also in intelligence! Small world x

  • KALINAGO ENGLISH says:
    October 18, 2011

    Hi ya Clare,
    Lovely to see you again! Yup, took the plunge to go back to school and am loving it :)

    - that's really mad about your grandfather doing the same, I wonder if they knew each other?

    Isn't it a shame we can't find that out... just in case, my granddad was Arthur Saunders - if your granddad is still around to ask!

  • KALINAGO ENGLISH says:
    October 18, 2011

    Hi ya Anne,
    I am really loving the psychology module - it is so intriguing how the mind works or why it doesn't work when it comes to language acquisition.

    The prof for this course is really interesting, he has, you know the standard powerpoints and paper handouts but he also goes off on mad tangents - giving all kinds of back-story - e.g. today we were doing a Krashen article (I'll blog on this later - it deals with what you were talking about in your comment) and he explained the dynamics between the characters mentioned in the piece and battled against - hinted at the relationships, saying who was a student of who and who was defending what stance and what happened to that person - that sort of thing, also what was going on in the world of TEFL at the time... it really, really makes the text come alive in context.

    Dreadfully exciting stuff for TESOL geeks!

  • KALINAGO ENGLISH says:
    October 18, 2011

    Hi Saeed,
    That is a bit off topic but I really don't know how to answer! I think you just have to have the same sense of humour in your L1? Trouble is, of course, that humour often doesn't translate culturally. Sorry, not sure how helpful that is!
    K

  • Clare says:
    October 19, 2011

    Hi Karenne - DM'd you...

    Really glad you're enjoying the course so much. (And glad you're getting the academic gossip, er I mean "backstory"!)

 

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