Two years ago, we started our project in Puciosa, a small town in Romania. I didn’t know what was expecting us. I didn’t know what I should expect. Yet I had a feeling that everything would be great …
We were in Lamia from April 14th to 19th. Our partner is a Music school so we all knew the meeting would have some music in it.
On Sunday, Our Greek friends took us from the bus stop. Kids went with their hosts and we headed to our hotel. Our Greek friends were warm and friendly and very generous. Moreover they were very kind.
Lamia is a little city and on a sunny Sunday morning I fell in love with it. Seeing the orange trees, smelling the flowers filled us with joy. Life was good.
On Monday we were in the school and it was an excellent opening ceremony for the project meeting. A concert was waiting for us. And it was a real concert… The students and the teachers performed with their various orchestras. It was a sheer bliss. Then we watched the wonderful presentation of the beautiful Lamia. A student on his bike toured the city going up and down the hills, the steps and wait … They said ”We assigned the students and they came up with this”.
During the week, we worked hard as usual but we also had chance to see magnificent places. Greece, the land of philosophers, writers, historians… Greece, the land of proud, humble people… Everybody in the Music School of Lamia worked hard to make the event unforgettable; the teachers, parents and the students. Words are not enough to explain my feelings. I’m glad that my eyes have seen… I know the smell of honeysuckles will remind me of the friendly people and the beautiful days we spent in Lamia.
Even a week before the conference I was excited as I knew what was expecting me… Two days of professional Development with people I admire, with people I share a lot.
The day came with an extraordinary opening: A show of drawing pictures with sand and my mind already focused on P.D was telling me that “Aren’t we all sand artists, drawing pictures throwing san to the air.”
The theme of the conference was ‘Through Their Eyes’. It was a privilege for the participants to listen to inspirational Sugata Mitra. A few years ago I had watched a documentary on his experiment ‘Hole in the Wall’ and I was mesmerized with the thought. How on earth could a person think such an incredible idea? And how lucky he was that what he started has worked and led us to see education from other perspectives.
Listening to Herbert Puchta talk has always been a great chance and Zeynep Urkun’s talk became one of my favourites from the conference. Could a boring subject like assessment be dealt as interesting as Ms Urkun did. And what a final was there to surprise the whole audience and left us with smiling faces.
Concurrent Keynote/ Saturday:
I attended Daniel Bank’s session entitled How Teaching Less Can Help Your Students to Learn More.
Daniel shared how he helped his students to take responsibility in their own learning and had the chance to watch his student teachers in action.
He suggested that teachers remove themselves from the front of the classroom and delegate responsibility. He told us to sit back and let them go, let them teach. This way, he said, they will be able to fill in the gaps in their own knowledge.
He also suggested the followings
- Flip the classroom
- Invite guest teachers, older students to be guest speakers
- Let them debate ( but assign the roles carefully so that all benefit from the process)
- Class Dojo to check homework
After a long but fruitful day 1, we started day 2 with another inspiring show. Jeremy Harmer reading stories and Steve Bingham playing the violin. My mind, again playing teacher, was telling me “can this be a reading club project for my students next year?’
JJ Wilson’s plenary was packed with strategies for learning vocabulary and dealing with errors and as always it was a great opportunity to see Jan Blake telling her stories involving the audience in the story and the songs. Even days later I still catch myself humming the tunes I learned from her on Sunday.
Concurrent Keynote / Sunday
Nina lauder’s session entitled Creating Curiosity in the Classroom was on my list when I got the programme of the conference. It was an amazing session full of great activities and thought provoking moments. Nina reminded us how curiosity is important for motivating students and said if we kill curiosity, we will kill the need to learn. She suggested we teachers build up curiosity before the lessons begin. For instance, using props, costumes, images and realia will help the teacher to evoke curiosity among students. We discussed how to use project work, riddles, quests, drama, songs, close-ups, brainstorming in the classroom. Nina Lauder suggested that we give the clues for the riddles one by one and invite students to make guesses after each clue is given. She also reminded that a relaxed learning environment is a must.
A very important lesson learned from Nina’s session
Keep in mind: different students are curious about different things.
Congratulations to Burcu Akyol and the conference organizing team for this wonderful event. We are all looking forward to the next conference.
Some more ideas on my blog on using songs and music in the classroom
Technology has changed our lives dramatically. We, even the people from the past, can’t remember how life was without our smart gadgets.
Prensky used the term ‘Digital Natives’ and described this new generation and for him we were the digital immigrants. “Those of us who were not born into the digital world but have, at some later point in our lives, become fascinated by and adopted many or most aspects of the new technology are, and always will be compared to them, Digital Immigrants.” (Prensky, 2001)
I started using social media quite late. It was in 2009 with an introductory course to web 2.0 tools. Shortly after that I found myself on twitter, blogosphere and facebook. Meanwhile I was discovering new tools, which would add some spice to the tasks I assigned in the class.
However, there was a very important issue – being safe online. Before I introduced a tool to my students, I was trying to be careful to keep their identity safe. Moreover, my kids were growing up and they were asking my permission for a Facebook account. I was worried and I didn’t know what to do and how to guide them. It was then I had a chat with Joel Josephson at a conference in Istanbul and he told me it was not correct to keep the kids away from FB or similar social networking sites as they were the realities of their era. However; we, the parents, had to be a guide and tell them how to start as advised.
‘Tell them …
not to use their full names’
not to share photos until 13’
not to share their passwords with others’
not to share where they live and where they study’
That was how the idea of this project emerged.
In September, when the schools started I told my headmaster that I wanted to organize a conference for the parents on e-safety. Then we gathered a project team of 11 teachers who volunteered to work. First we created posters and put them everywhere in the school and we announced that we needed students to work on this project because my idea was to make the students the presenters. 15 students arrived but we ended up with 12 very enthusiastic teenagers.
After our meetings, we decided to do it as a series of seminars
a) for the parents of 6-10 year old kids
b) for 4-8th graders
c) for the parents and the students of the high school
We also decided to talk about the followings
1) Defining the net generation and the digital era
3) Advantages and disadvantages of games
4) Dangers waiting for the kids and teenagers on the net
We did surveys, we read articles, we even talk to psychologists on addictions, we created animations, videos, brochures, a conference blog, event on facebook J , we used facebook videos and told the parents “You never let your children walk in the street alone until s/he is ready to protect himself/herself but you leave them in front of the screens with total strangers. Instead of opening your doors to the unknown dangers, hold your kids’ hands in the early years of internet surfing. Teach them how to stay safe online.”
I think we managed to raise awareness among some parents.
My students will also present at a symposium at a very well-known state university in Istanbul (ITU). The symposium is organized by the guidance counseling team of the university.