In your hands

My life as a teacher of English and other curiosities

February 19, 2011
by annavarna

Getting Connected feels Good

I was looking forward to this PD event which would take place here in Larissa. First of all because it had been sometime I hadn’t presented in any conference or something like it, and I’m sure practice makes best, but mainly because it would be a great chance to meet with colleagues from other areas, to connect with more teachers. Sometime I feel I am more connected to teachers I haven’t met because I interact daily with them than with teachers in my town. So it was a great occasion.

The day dawned bleak and rainy but it seemed that it didn’t prevent anyone from coming. My friends were worried that maybe being the first presenter, some people would come late and miss it but at 9.30 it was almost a full room and I was happy to see familiar faces, my special mentor among them, friends from bookcrossing, teachers I had worked with many years ago and hadn’t seen since.

I gave my presentation and I think it went quite well. I talked about the necessity of getting connected. If you are reading this blog it is possible that another presentation under this topic will seem superfluous. It may seem that I’m speaking to the already converted. But this isn’t the case in my country. In my school none of the teachers have twitter or facebook accounts and if they have they hardly use them for educational purposes. And this is an average provincial school. So I am certain the presentation was eye-opening for some and as they remarked during the break they felt more confident to try new tools now. Of course the result will show if it was really successful or not. You can see it here, in any case.

The highlight of it was the already famous video by Shelly Terrell and all the other great educators who participated. You can watch the video here and see the rest of Shelly’s amazing resources. Thanks a lot friend, you are a treasure and I’m really happy to have met you!

And then it was time to attend other people’s sessions.

First  there was the presentation by Ms Vivi Hamilou about the project of creating a newspaper with her students. The fact that I had met Ms Hamilou in an eTwinning eTwinning event when I was an ambassador for eTwinning was another happy coincidence. Her project seemed beautiful and it showed that it was work made with enthusiasm and passion. You can find samples of her work at her blog here

The next presentation was by Mr Eleftherios Avramidis about a study that was conducted with 5th grade students in order to assess their writing strategies. The procedure and the outcomes of the study were interesting indeed and it’s always invigorating to see teachers wearing the researcher hat.

The presentation by Karditsa and Trikala School Advisor Ms Marina Kollatou on differentiated learning was one I had been looking forward. I had heard part of it and I wanted to see the whole, so this was a great chance. On top of that having to work with mixed ability classes every day and every hour in our school I was sure there would be some useful tips. She will soon put up the whole presentation on her blog too and you can benefit from it.

Next came what I thought was the best presentation of the event. It was by School Advisor in Achaia Ms Marianthi Kotadaki. This was a presentation of what we can do with You Tube in our lessons. It included samples of lesson plans and video clips with advertisements and how these can be exploited. It was a well rendered presentation, colourful and fresh. You can find more info about her work here.

The following presentation was a similar one as far as the topic, that is the use of video in the classroom but it was examined through a different point of view. It was a more theoretical presentation but it also included a sample of a video about the use of social media by teenagers.

The next presentation was by another two friends Ms Mintsidou and Ms Korpinurmi. The latter is an assistant teacher from Finland being hosted by the former in a Technical Vocational High School in Karditsa. Having worked in such a school or should I say having suffered for a year when I worked in such a school I was looking forward to listening to their presentation. And I was thrilled to see how many things they have achieved, how they try to engage this difficult target group and what great results they have! Just for working in such difficult environments you deserve a medal girls, let alone for doing all this great stuff you are doing!

The last piece of work was by Ms Apostolia Tsipra who is a primary school teacher in Karditsa. She was presenting part of her MA research related to innovation within innovation that is using a task based approach to train teachers.

The last part of the event was  short presentation of the Union that organized it. PEKADE is a Panhellenic teachers’ Union for teachers in State Education. It is an active union, organizing events like this all over Greece but also promoting English Language Teaching, publishing a quarterly magazine (Aspects Today) and in general doing its best to connect teachers of English and supporting them in their work.

So, overall it was a fantastic day for professional development, a day I connected with new people and refreshed some old connections. It was tiring all right but rewarding.

One last comment about the presentations in general: all of the people who gave presentations today had interesting things to share with us. They are passionate teachers who love what they are doing, kindred spirits, like-minded educators. My only objection is that they might have to work a bit on making a captivating powerpoint presentation. The fact that some of them were overloaded with information gave me the idea to prepare a webinar on how to present what you want to say in an aesthetically pleasing way. I’ll keep you posted!

For the people who attended my presentation and are looking for more resources I want to point them towards the video I mentioned during the session. If you are going to watch one educational video this week let it be this one. It is full of ideas and creative enthusiasm.

As for the #eltchat I mentioned in Twitter you can find all the info here. The quotation about “no shortcuts, no panaceas, no silver bullets in education is from the book by Diane Ravitch ” The Death and Life of the American School System”.

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