Rliberni's Blog – Radical language

March 31, 2010

Passion in Education and How it can Drive Change

Passion in Education is truly alive and well!


    3-30-2010 – 18:00 CET 12 PM EST    

Yesterday’s edchat followed a slightly different format. In preparation for the webinar with Sir Ken Robinson hosted by The Future of Education and due to take place in the evening, it was decided that a discussion, as a lead in to the webinar would be held. The topic was on passion in education, a theme in Sir Ken’s book, The Element, which was going to be the basis of the webinar. As ever a crowd gathered at the appointed time (though there was still some confusion over clock changes!) and off we went! 

The discussion was lively and yes, well, passionate! 

Here are some of the emerging themes – there were so many: 

  • Passion is the love of something for its own sake.

  • Education needs to help people to find their passion (students, teachers, all involved in education)

  • Passion in education is about serving others.

  • How to sustain and maintain it? What causes it to go away?

  • Passion is a two-way street, both teachers and students can spark it.

  • How do pay & conditions, systems, testing etc.. affect passion?

  • PLNs can have a strong positive impact on nurturing and growing passion.

  • Does passion translate into vision?

  • Passion needs direction and guidance

  • Is passion the difference between great teachers and mediocre ones?

Here is a flavour of some of the comments.

MatthiasHeil: To me, passion is what makes us tick, and explore – even at great cost. Has to do with teaching, I guess…- 

 joe_bower:  Passion is a love for something for its own sake and someone couldn’t stop you from doing it if they tried. 

Malcolmbellamy: can we change passion to vision? I feel this is essential for change 

 Msmultipoint: Passion is what makes the world go around. Certainly in teaching, there has to be a HUGE amount of passion for serving others. 

 SECottrell: If you don’t have a passion to teach, you will end up wishing you were anywhere else. 

 cybraryman1: Passion is boundless enthusiasm 

 derrallg: Passion is the overiding drive backed by reason and emotion to accomplish what is more important than ourselves 

 Horizons93: PAssion is essential for learning. Most schools kill it. 

 tomwhitby: Is the amount of passion the difference between great teachers and mediocre teachers? 

 InspiringEd: Do you feel like passion is more of a goal of education (creating it in students) or a way of approaching the educating process? 

 Teachingwthsoul: But can we not continue “against all odds”? This is the key to never allowing the external systemic pieces to put out the fire 

tomwhitby: What drains the Passion from those who have it? #edchat Old ideas and habits from above 

 iangowans: If you think of YOUR favourite tchr growing up, one quality I’d bet you name about them was their passion. 

 rliberni: I think we see it when students begin to ask lots of questions when they hunger for more 

 akenuam: to inspire passion we need to show how our students are so much more capable than people give them credit, raise expectations. 

 Mamacita: All too often, truly passionate, dedicated teachers are targeted & disciplined for that very thing. Dangerous wavemakers! 

 Teachingwthsoul: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”~Eleanor Roosevelt 

jorech : The more I hear, the less I like the word “passionate.” Is “focused” better? I have known some “passionate” yet ineffective teachers 

 elanaleoni: #Education is the civil rights movement of our time. Without passion all hope for change is lost. 

To follow the complete discussion see here  

 For the stats on #edchat participation see here  

 As ever, there were some great links shared: 

@cybraryman1: Teaching is not a profession; it’s a passion.Ed. Quotes: http://bit.ly/EPRmh 

@joe_bower: I wrote this last night in anticipation of today’s passion/Sir Ken Robinson talk on #edchat http://bit.ly/9MREpU  I am passionate about this! 

@Edu4U: Good read on the changing face of the University http://budurl.com/q2kq 

@joe_bower: You have 2 convince the kids who hate school to become tchrs if you want it 2 change (@rrmurry) <–real change! http://bit.ly/cLcPeB 

@joe_bower: Wanna get ready for @Sirkenrobinson’s #edchat webinar? Read on! http://bit.ly/beKRyZ http://bit.ly/9FTZsY http://bit.ly/d0xD6q   

@DUMACORNELLUCIA: Web 2.0 and new tehnologies in education #edchat , #edtech20 http://web20ineducation2010.ning.com/  http://tweetphoto.com/16427534  

@R4RLA: Collaborate with professionals to renew your passion! Attend/present at our conferences http://bit.ly/ccP37Q 

@DeputyMitchell: Coveritlive has #edchat in one place here: http://bit.ly/9uOQrL 

@malcolmbellamy: for a short introduction to Sir Ken Robinson’s ideas see http://bit.ly/aXl6AQ 

@MikeGwaltney: Most people are more afraid of Failure than Mediocrity. It should be the reverse. http://bit.ly/9dhrUh @danielpink 

@akenuam: what teachers make: http://bit.ly/27oCDA 

@web20education: Teachers connect with other teacher @ShellTerrel – passion #edchat http://web20ineducation2010.ning.com/video/web-20-and-new-tehnologies-in 

@graingered: @joe_bower Yes, inspire mindful students #edchat @ http://tinyurl.com/yc58hyd 

@tomwhitby: Upon the conclusion of #edchat watcht this video on leadership. It fosters passion in followers. http://bit.ly/b9b6M4 

@isteconnects: ETAN needs teacher advocates to tell Congress their stories. Share your passion! http://bit.ly/9enJ8M 

joe_bower: Sometimes subversion is an act of professionalism to salvage passion in public edcuation http://bit.ly/bkDVoG 

@graingered: We (teachers) look far & wide 4 solutions in education… we R the SOLUTION! We need to find our passion! http://tinyurl.com/ydhkd8r 

@irishscott: Might read before the webinar: Sir Ken Robinson and The Element – http://bit.ly/w0Mdj 

@joe_bower: Studies show that behaviourism, extrinsic manipulators like rewards and punishment are corrosive to passion http://bit.ly/aK3fXG 

@DUMACORNELLUCIA: Our students learn more if they have a passionate teacher http://differentbutequaletwinning.blogspot.com/ 

@graingered: @rliberni Its OK to be wrong, right? http://tinyurl.com/yl6hhov 

@graingered: @TEFL Know your students! Create personal learning stories http://tinyurl.com/yjggtwo  Find their passion 

@DUMACORNELLUCIA: Web 20 and new thnologies can bring passion for teachers and for students http://teacherluciandumaweb20.blogspot.com/ 

@joe_bower: Here is a cool TEDtalk on passion in education. Very cool story from India http://bit.ly/9cFfR1 

New to Edchat?

If you have never participated in an #Edchat discussion, these take place twice a day every Tuesday on Twitter. Over 800 educators participate in this discussion by just adding #edchat to their tweets. For tips on participating in the discussion, please check out these posts!   

More Edchat


If you’re new to hashtag discussions, then just show up on Twitter on any Tuesday and add just a few tweets on the topic with the hashtag #edchat.   

What do you think about passion in education? Leave a comment!

March 24, 2010

Getting more great teachers-leaders in education


 3-16-2010 – 18:00 CET 12 PM EST   

Gr8 teachers/leaders at #edchat!

Our thanks go to @colport for this week’s summary. @colport is an award winning teacher with a keen interest in edutech. He is a stalwart at edchat and always has great ideas to share! (see bio below)

This #edchat session focused on how the education sector could attract more great teachers/leaders into the sector.

Here are some of the main themes from the discussion: 

  • An improvement of teacher training
  • Educators perceived as professionals
  • Take away summative testing procedures – more teacher flexibility. 

Here is a selection of some of the comments: 

@TurklishTEFL:  Having administrators actually trust teachers. Also, eliminate exams as accountability

@rkiker:  Maybe we could compromise on certification requirements – would be great to have engineers teaching


@olafelch:  You can attract great candidates if the job is seen as being prestigious.

@rapsa:  Agree! RT @cristama: Supporting good teachers/good teaching so good teachers become great (hopefully creates viral effect)

@cybraryman1:  We need much better training of teachers so they can face the many challenges of teaching successfully.

@esinglet:  Educators need to be seen as professionals. More pay and respect from general public for field of education.

@daveandcori:  Give teachers some say over what they teach, and how, in their classroom. std testing has cut out creativity and spontaneity

@rliberni:  Many teachers have their hands tied too much, it’s hard to be creative

@saraebest:  In many countries tchers are held in high esteem, in US seems it’s looked down as lesser career & low req’s. Can we change the view?

@rapsa:  @rliberni Teaching is a gift that people want to share, to try to make an impact on their communities, to expand a love of learning.

@lhmiles2:  According to a guest speaker from India at my school, teachers are top 5 in respect totem pole.

@colport:  @rliberni I resent teachers who enter the profession because they think it’s the easy option

@JasonFlom:  @colport They are some of the main culprits giving the rest of us a bad name!

@rliberni:  @colport this is still a problem good holidays etc etc need to weed this out early

@ShellTerrell:  Yes! RT @wmchamberlain: You want to retain teachers, give them a vision that doesn’t include standards based testing!

@joe_bower:  We bully and fire tchrs and then we wonder why no one wants to be a tchr or over half quit inside of 5 years. http://bit.ly/bQSuik

@BrianStPierre:  @colport money may be2ndary, but lets not pretend it isnt a factor when trying to attract bright, creative people

@Mamacita:  Many administrators are frightened by dynamic, creative teachers; the rubber room is full of genuine artists w. unorthodox methods.

@VanessaSCassie:  People are trying to measure teaching with a formula when it should be approached as an art

@joe_bower:  If u think firing bad teachers is the answer, you r being reactive when u should be proactive. Focus on making more good tchrs

@BrandiJClark:  We are the only profession where beginning teachers are expected to perform at the same level as veterans.

@chrisjohnston:  Slow, organic, grassroots change is sometimes hard to sustain. People get tired, discouraged, waiting for results

@ktenkely:  Amen! RT @ShellTerrell If educators ran edu policy they wouldn’t fire the teachers, they’d fire the ones who created the roadblocks

@colport:  Is it too easy to become a teacher? I think the uni process is easy in UK!

@rliberni:  @colport I agree, and motivations are not asked

@rliberni:  I think many teachers are drowning in all the policy, an overblown curriculum and way too many targets applies to the kids too!

To follow the complete discussion see here 

 For the stats on #edchat participation see here 

 As ever, there were some great links shared:

mbcampbell360: According to Eric Hanushek (at Stanford) sdnts w good teachers learn 1 year more material in one school year http://bit.ly/cETrXB

joe_bower:  Alberta is not making more state mandated standardized tests. We are getting rid of them!! http://bit.ly/ddjpV3

joe_bower: Firing teachers only promotes lack of trust for tchrs and only scares off future tchrs from ever becoming tchr. http://bit.ly/cLkhqf

joe_bower: Finland respect and trust their teachers. They see #edreform as 3 paradoxes US policy makers simply doesn’t get http://bit.ly/a2SMxt

joe_bower: Teachers are being bullied into following an agenda that is not their own – and then fired for not following http://bit.ly/bQSuik

JasonFlom: @Adorabilly Kim Marshall has developed comprehensive tchr eval rubrics that are quite impressive. #edchat (http://bit.ly/3oREQW at bottom)

akenuam: anyone heard about http://www.betterlesson.org / for collaborating and sharing resources?

mbcampbell360: @StarrMatica apparently class size is not that big an issue http://bit.ly/9D2nLx

drewmca: watching #edchat via Google’s live update http://bit.ly/duI1xG – going by almost too fast for me to reply!

andrewsams: Newer demos of augmented reality, imagine all the possibilities for instructional design! http://bit.ly/cY2H7Y

web20education: @dumacornellucia Teachers , other Elearning specialists are invited here http://bit.ly/b7TkoI to discover toghether new tehnologies

DeronDurflinger:  Reading: Its the Classroom Stupid: Where Reform Starts http://bit.ly/bxgUnv

mmiller7571: Google Apps http://bit.ly/9izlDN we already have some things in place

VanessaSCassie: @elanaleoni Here it is: http://bit.ly/4JY8qO

web20education: All of you are invited on facebook http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=110575425625346

hmundahl: Students and faculty tweet & blog on urban experiential learning project: @AssnforEE #edchat #NHSJUA http://bit.ly/16r1iD

elanaleoni: @TeachTec PBL can completely demonstrate achievement. Edutopia’s actually doing a 3yr study on it: http://bit.ly/dBxXpH

joe_bower: We must be the change we want to see in the world – teachers in the US likely don’t feel like they can 😦 http://bit.ly/bcqwpM

SmartEdServices: @ShellTerrell RT @tomwhitby: Many bad tchrs are a product of poor training. They need guidance not the boot. #edchat http://bit.ly/5KpNl7

joe_bower: @pepepacha tchng is a growth skill. I was a bully at the start of my career #edchat http://bit.ly/9azxlq  I’m good tchr now.

ksivick: WOW! RT @hadleyjf: New blog post: Japan in my Classroom via Skype. PLN connections via @barbsaka http://bit.ly/8GamLb

joe_bower: Finland’s education success is answered by seeing how they DID NOT subscribe to high-stakes testing account http://bit.ly/a2SMxt

joe_bower: Good teachers don’t become good teachers when crap like this defines our accountability measures http://bit.ly/cyPLRR

mjgormans: It’s True: I Teach Because I Can’t Do Anything Else:My tribute to educators! Enjoy/Share! http://wp.me/pBrsB-co

joe_bower: Controlling Teachers – Controlling stu will turn them off of lrning. Controlling tchrs will turn them off tchng http://bit.ly/9RMOM6

joe_bower:  John Wooden could teach us a lot about how to treat students and teachers and athletes and people in general http://bit.ly/bADnyT

Aaron_Eyler: The “Need It Now” Generation: http://bit.ly/92rYw9

tfteacher:  @joe_bower http://www.thefrustratedteacher.com/2008/06/teaching-science-or-art.html #edchat Teaching is an art! (maybe a craft?)

 Bio: Award Winning Teacher – KS2 in UK; ICT & Assessment Coordinator; Studying Ed.D.; Love of Technology supporting Education; Dad of 2.


New to Edchat?

If you have never participated in an #Edchat discussion, these take place twice a day every Tuesday on Twitter. Over 800 educators participate in this discussion by just adding #edchat to their tweets. For tips on participating in the discussion, please check out these posts!  

More Edchat


If you’re new to hashtag discussions, then just show up on Twitter on any Tuesday and add just a few tweets on the topic with the hashtag #edchat.  

What do you think about getting & keeping great teachers ? Leave a comment!

March 17, 2010

Making physical changes to schools to improve learning


 3-16-2010 – 18:00 CET 12 PM EST   

Variety, flexibilty and vision for our learning spaces!

Many thanks to Malcolm Bellamy, @malcolmbellamy, for providing the edchat summary this week. Malcolm is a regular ‘#edchatter’ and a very passionate educator. We had a two-hour session yesterday as Malcolm explains ! So, thank you again Malcolm for agreeing to condense two hours of thought and comment! (see bio below)

We live in strange, some might say, interesting times and time was a definite factor in today’s #edchat. The U.S. had gone onto daylight saving last weekend and Europe hasn’t done so yet. There was therefore the interesting situation of the chat starting at the usual 12 noon E.S.T. which would usually have been 5 p.m. G.M.T. in Britain and 6 p.m. C.E.T. but in fact was an hour earlier! Notwithstanding this the intrepid moderators were able to allow the discussion to go from its usual one hour slot to 2 hours to accommodate the Europeans for which we, this side of the pond, were very grateful.

I thought it was a very wide-ranging discussion which brought out some interesting observations on the state of our school buildings, their fitness (or otherwise) for today’s changed educational environment and just what would constitute the type of school environment that would fit our new technological age.

The points that were made by Sean Banville about student participation in school design certainly hit home. There were a number of people who talked about classroom organisation and getting away from the rows and centralised teacher giving out the great wisdom to the pupils.Many people considered the actual design of the buildings, the dark and old ones which many have to contend with and the bright and airy ones which allow for flexibility of grouping and collaboration which many saw as the way forward.

Like every #edchat I have participated in it was full of interesting points and heated debate. I especially liked vanessacassie’s tweet which said: “I’m going to go against the grain & say that sometimes desks need to be in rows-not all kids can handle collaboration w/o direction”.

This is what makes #edchat the joy that it is, a real participatory community with vibrant ideas and opinions which we managed to have for twice as long as usual… how good is that?

Here are some of the main themes from the discussion: 

  • Building adaptable communities in our schools
  • Room for flexibility and grouping
  • The student voice in school design
  • The adaptation of our schools to new technology
  • Environments to promote learning

Here is a selection of some of the comments: 
cybraryman1   We need to build adaptable learning communities within schools. #edchat
MrR0g3rs   schools should invest in scalable and future proof technology infrastructure
colonelb   Flexible learning spaces. Even older buildings can be transformed. Start by getting rid of stuff piled in classrooms.
NMHS_Principal   Need a shift from traditional set-up; desks should not be in rows (not reflective/conducive to collab enviros #edchat
msmithpds    if you look at the Google headquarters – it is a relaxed environment that supports creativity – shouldn’t schools be like that? #edchat
vanessacassie   I’m going to go against the grain & say that sometimes desks need to be in rows-not all kids can handle collaboration w/o direction #edchat
MissCheska  #edchat How does the sitting reflect labs? Mostly large long desks get in the way of collaboration
worsttofirst   RT @ShellTerrell: Look at the differences btwn kindergarten & Univ. Why has classrm environment regressed as we get older? #Edchat
acmcdonaldgp  We used DESIGNSHARE http://bit.ly/9UV9J7 website as a resource for designing school. Some great ideas on this site #edchat
chamada    An interesting video on the “connection between where and how students learn in the 21st century.” http://ow.ly/1mX01 #edchat
ShellTerrell   RT @bethstill: Setting up room to invite students to move around instead of sit passively also good change in my room. #edchat
RonnieGonzalez   Also need to quit changing rooms every 50 min. How would you like to gather all your things & move every hour? #edchat
evmaiden   This really might be one of the areas that needs to be big picture and look at buildings and campuses #edchat
seanbanville   Do any schools ask students what kind of environments they like to learn in? #edchat
BradnDeedo  RT @ShellTerrell Many teachers don’t change the class environment because they are too comfortable. Change = discomfort (& work) #edchat
ToughLoveforX   I bet if the IKEA designers got involved, the could do amazing classrooms within even small budgets. #edchat
Parentella   We need more electrical outlets in classrooms. /via @tomwhitby <– not just on walls but also on floor so students can move about #edchat
Brian_Thomas   TCI Classrooms need to be built for the multiple intelligences #edchat
rliberni    RT @BradnDeedo: @TricomPR cloud computing provides that. It’s time we move teachers and students in that direction. #edchat
pgsimoes   Must read this gr8 article by @gsiemens about Portuguese Technology Plan – http://ow.ly/1lfdn #edchat
k_shelton   Thanks to this #edchat I will have my students design their ideal classroom using Google Sketchup. They’re doing workspace designs right now
RonnieGonzalez   Let’s do it! @tkraz will you take your students suggestion and change their learning environment? <-We might right now! #edchat
lemino  RT @olafelch: Having a groupwork layout is useless if the teacher still does only frontal teaching. #edchat
swalker2 21st Century classrroms don’t look a certain way – it’s about what the students do – not how the room looks! #edchat
marcnelson   So shouldn’t a 21st century classroom look like anywhere you are at? Learning shoudn’t be confined to a classroom. #edchat
colport   BTW My perfect classroom would have toilets near-by, so pupils don’t have to walk 4 miles during teaching and learning sessions 🙂

I would ask that the following question is added to the poll next week:

How can we promote greater internet use whilst keeping our students safe?

To follow the complete discussion see here 

For the stats on #edchat participation see here 

As ever, there were some great links shared: So many this week!!

stevefarber :  @johnccarver and the folks at Van Meter schools are changing the world of #education. Watch this: http://ow.ly/1mWeI

cristinaluminea:  Games and Learning http://bit.ly/1BvM25

cybraryman1:  have to run. On my Architecture pg I have links for redesigning/building schools for future http://bit.ly/a0zI0f

Openstudy: This is why there is confusion in the timing of #edchat today: http://www.timeanddate.com/news/time/ Lol!

mountainteacher: @jpsteltz we have been experimenting with solar tubes http://bit.ly/dpyV90 (just a sample site)

rkiker: @alexgfrancisco Check this video on tweetdeck http://bit.ly/3BSU4

acmcdonaldgp: We used DESIGNSHARE http://bit.ly/9UV9J7  website as a resource for designing school. Some great ideas on this site #edchat

chamada: An interesting video on the “connection between where and how students learn in the 21st century.” http://ow.ly/1mX01

esinglet: @MrR0g3rs: New blog post: More #Edchat Tips: Surviving the Maelstrom http://bit.ly/dx3Ayn

conweb: #edchat about classroom physical environment: links to research VERY important studies http://bit.ly/a00YdG

k_shelton: @ShellTerrell This whole #edchat fits loosely into something I studied in grad school. Human Performance Technology. http://bit.ly/bXSkbB

frankcalberg: I came across an interesting blog posting http://bit.ly/9NzUwh  What are your thoughts?

conweb: dramatic correlation between daylit school environments and student performance http://bit.ly/b5KDFt

pgsimoes: It’s the classroom model that needs rethinking, not computer use in classrooms. @gsiemens – http://ow.ly/1mXsD  #edchat – Last friday in PT

conweb: WINDOWS… daylighting… physical environment of classroom http://bit.ly/df0Y6j

SP24_7:  Two Texas Districts and 1:1 http://vimeo.com/8434559

pgsimoes:  Must read this gr8 article by @gsiemens about Portuguese Technology Plan – http://ow.ly/1lfdn

frankcalberg: The number of ideas increase when people stand up http://bit.ly/19glFz

ESLlibrary:  Good article: Redesigning the classroom environment http://bit.ly/dB7dqa

findingdulcinea:  Forest kindergarten classes spend 3 hrs/day outside, rain or shine. http://bit.ly/5D5wtt

mbteach:  Very conducive to Socratic discussion! RT @paulbogush: @tkraz We use this set-up http://tweetphoto.com/14617279

acmcdonaldgp:  IKEA-esque designs on designshare.com http://www.designshare.com/index.php/home @internet4classr re: write IKEA and ask them f/classroom designs

amghost: Preso on Learning Studios —> http://vimeo.com/5192313

pgsimoes:  Many students are helping teachers with setting up computers, using the whiteboards… @gsiemens – http://ow.ly/1mXRe

ShellTerrell:  Rita Dunn’s work w/ Learning Styles revolutionized the way I thought about classrm design! http://bit.ly/drNvWE

findingdulcinea:  Classrooms that have experimented with adjustable desks, no desks, beanbags, etc. http://bit.ly/a72znR

lemino: Oh, wow! 75 new #edchat twits in half a minute. I can’t hear you when you’re all speaking together 😉

malcolmbellamy:  good blog entry on schools for digital age http://bit.ly/8XfW4c

akenuam:  classroom architect http://classroom.4teachers.org/

pgsimoes: What will we learn in the future is largely irrelevant … How will we learn in the future is critical http://ow.ly/1mY4Z

acmcdonaldgp:  This is the school I was most recently principal of. When I can access portal, will post more pics of rooms http://bit.ly/9WyxTD

acmcdonaldgp:  Note the Learning Street entrance in pictures here http://bit.ly/9WyxTD  great for kids to work in bright day light and so inviting!

ESLlibrary:  Cool elementary classroom designs: http://bit.ly/VK6sE

daveandcori: Student design of dream classroom wins award – http://goo.gl/ywUL

mbteach:  Awesome Bill Maher article: Don’t Fire the Teachers When Students Don’t Learn http://bit.ly/9ih0DI  HE GETS IT!

jdthomas7:  Driveby culture and the endless search for wow ( http://bit.ly/cMfXWB  )

heoj:  here’s a NYT Learning Network lesson plan for students to design a playground: http://nyti.ms/dhxFZv

growupwithbooks:  You CAN #makeadifference with books! http://bit.ly/cobxXq

heoj:  and here’s a lesson plan in which students design their own work spaces: http://nyti.ms/aQiQwf

ShellTerrell: One of the best posts I’ve read on this subj- I’m Getting Rid of My Teacher’s Desk http://bit.ly/9rLv6l via @russgoerend

baldy7:  This is about photography, but it translates to #edreform well, esp. part on innovation http://bit.ly/9pB6yu

olafelch:  @fernandocassola Here http://www.uni-bielefeld.de/LS/laborschule_neu/dieschule_en.htm l they have several classes in the same room.

MZimmer557:  @ShellTerrell I discussed it in a Blog post Most Influential Teacher: http://bit.ly/b3oL6H

ejulez:  this is the kind of seat I’m imagining: http://bit.ly/9oVHXj

KimMcGill:  Do we have to wait 4 the reconstruction of physical space before we change? Moved desks+wireless/mac cart= http://bit.ly/aMGVMT

I am a Teaching and learning Consultant and ex Primary school headteacher. I work for Southend-On-Sea Borough Council, Essex, U.K.  and specialise in Primary mathematics. I have a real interest and concern for the promotion of new technology in education and have recently become a blogger with my site “Malcolm Bellamy’s learning Blog” (www.malbell.wordpress.com) where I have tried to show my own personal journey in learning using the internet. It has been a really intersting one so far and I have been greatly helped by Twitter, The Educators PLN and of course my weekly visits to #edchat.

New to Edchat?

If you have never participated in an #Edchat discussion, these take place twice a day every Tuesday on Twitter. Over 800 educators participate in this discussion by just adding #edchat to their tweets. For tips on participating in the discussion, please check out these posts!  

More Edchat


If you’re new to hashtag discussions, then just show up on Twitter on any Tuesday and add just a few tweets on the topic with the hashtag #edchat.  

What do you think about physical learning spaces? Leave a comment!

March 11, 2010

Advanced Students – Case Study 4

This is my fourth case-study in the series. Like the others it illustrates a journey we both took to reach a particular language goal. Like the others the benefit gained was mutual but unlike the others, this one was a very scary journey.

See the other posts:

Case Study one – Mehmet

Case Study two – Stepan

Case Study three – Maria

Case Study four – Takeshi

My fourth student was still in Japan when I was approached. He was an eminent doctor, well-known in his field both in Japan and internationally. He was coming to the UK to take up an appointment in a large London hospital. There was, however, a problem, he had to have a score of 7 in each of the IELTS papers and he had taken the test twice in Japan and not achieved this.

The hospital had decided that he should come to London, study, be immersed in the language, visit the hospital and get to know people there and then re-take the exam in London. This made sense but there were two further problems

  • I was about to move house
  • We had exactly one month to prepare, take and achieve the result or Takeshi would be unable to take up the post!

So, no pressure there then!

The first lesson

I accepted the challenge and so on a cold, blustery January 2nd I arrived at the hospital to meet Takeshi.

He asked me if he was my first student of the year. I replied that he was, he was happy about this and presented me with a bottle of very good champagne!

The first thing I noticed about Takeshi was how very organised he was in his learning. He had approached everything very systematically and his study folders were meticulous. We went through an example of each part of the exam noting down everything that was incorrect or not fully understood. At the end of this process we had a list of areas to  develop.

And so we set to work.

We decided to concentrate on the following areas in particular:

  • Listening – we would concentrate on tuning his ear into English sounds, look for nuance and deal with listening passages in small chunks.
  • Writing – the task here was to get the writing to flow better and give it  bit more of a natural feel
  • Speaking – work on pronunciation and making the speech flow more naturally

His attention to detail was amazing. His surgical training helped here. He dissected the reading passages and rarely got a question wrong. His speaking was very precise and showed a very wide range of vocabulary and good use of structure. His writing was well organised and developed but needed some work. It was his listening skills that needed the most work.

 In the case of Takeshi there weren’t really any specific breakthroughs just sheer dedication and hard work.

We both ‘rolled up our sleeves’ and got on with it!

The study plan

We met every day for 2 hours in the morning. We worked through all the tasks, building vocabulary, confidence and honing skills. At the end of each session I assigned work and Takeshi then spent the afternoon and evening studying. At the beginning of each day we went over everything and then continued learning and checking and checking and learning. He even spent most of the weekend studying too. For this one month nothing else mattered!

I have rarely seen such absolute dedication to a task. He lived, ate and slept English and IELTS. Every grammar error was followed by more practice until it was clear. I was in danger of running out of material! 

Each mistake had to be understood, corrected and practised until Takeshi was sure he had eliminated it. The process was not boring or in any way onerous – on the contrary it was like nurturing a plant and seeing it grow day by day.

Speaking became more natural (not only due to me, but also to the time he spent with his colleagues) Listening skills blossomed until, like the reading, there was rarely an error. His writing flowed more and, especially in task one, he was almost writing better than me!

As the month drew to a close I felt satisfied that we had ‘all the balls in the air’ and Takeshi felt more confident about taking the exam again. He had chosen a centre that would be easy to get to and not pose any travel problems.

He took the exam and flew back to Japan the next day. I did not get the chance I usually have with my students of discussing the exam afterwards.

I heard nothing more until a few weeks later when I had a very excited telephone call from Japan! Success – we were both relieved! He had scored a mix of 7s and 8s but that wasn’t important, he had what he needed and was now making preparations to move his family and take up the post at the hospital.

Some months later I was contacted by the hospital again. This time to teach Takeshi’s wife.

What I learnt most from this student is that dedication, hard work and a systematic approach to language learning pay off especially when you have a clear goal. Of course there’s nothing like a bit of external pressure to get the adrenaline flowing!!

March 10, 2010

If we could focus the discussion on education reform, what would be the first issue?


 3-9-2010 – 18:00 CET 12 PM EST   

Education Reform - First things

Our thanks for this week’s edchat summary go to @openstudy who, I think you’ll agree, has done a fantastic job! Openstudy is a regular participant at edchat and has provided us with many of our links to relevant reading material! (See bio below)

Education reform is a persistently complex subject; there are so many moving parts with numerous agendas. Tuesday’s #edchat is from the teacher’s perspective. Many ideas, complaints, suggestions, and confirmations were made in today’s hour. 

 Here are some of the main themes from the discussion: 

Education reform comprises of many aspects. The following themes were the ones that resonated with the #edchat community.

– Class size is a cause of concern.
– Which current education institutions/organizations are leading the charge in education reform?
– Teacher compensation should reflect our value.
– Current assessment of students is flawed.
– Parent engagement is something to focus on.
– Study habits have a wide range of opinions (ex: giving homework)

Here is a selection of some of the comments: 

 With such a vibrant discussion, it’s almost impossible to do it justice in a summary, but I’ve picked out some of the comments that caught my eye.

I  would ask that the following question is added to the poll next week:

How does Social Media change the way students engage with teachers and other students?

To follow the complete discussion see here 

For the stats on #edchat participation see here 

 As ever, there were some great links shared:

openstudy: Education reform is robust topic. Here are 50 great blogs on education reform. http://bit.ly/a1BKKZ

@phsprincipal:  The dissonance between the reform we need and the change we voted for is aggravating! http://bit.ly/cg5Mjc

bjnichols: 1 way to get more involved in driving policy & reform is to become an Educator Advocate http://bit.ly/99aka6

@Aaron_Eyler:  Teacher Professionalism? http://bit.ly/bT9W7u

openstudy: “Building a Better Teacher” article in the NYT Magazine? http://nyti.ms/c1mu1l

Nashua_Online: eLearning: Interesting Weekly Finds #14 http://bit.ly/dvFNvs

@cgseibel: “Wide Web of diversions gets laptops evicted from lecture halls” http://tinyurl.com/yzqoxbj Progress??

joe_bower: My passion for educational reform starts with abolishing grades: http://bit.ly/dyVl9t

joe_bower: I also want to reform traditional assessment by abolishing multiple choice exams forever and ever. http://bit.ly/cqpMXf

joe_bower: After I abolish multiple choice tests, grades and behaviorism, I am going to abolish homework: http://bit.ly/9jlA34

dannymaas: StoryJumper now has a (free) classroom edition! Woo hoo! http://ow.ly/1g9T7

When you have time this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fW8amMCVAJQ  is an outstanding video on leadership.

joe_bower: re: standardized testing. Are u familiar with Campbell’s Law? Standardized Testing’s Kryptonite: http://bit.ly/cItpQ5

rliberni: Diane Ravitch on Edu Reform http://bit.ly/8Zqzna

roxanneglaser:  Have you seen Chat Roulette? This post by Sarita Yardi interesting to think about. http://bit.ly/9PweS6

joe_bower: Just blogged: Do you think merit pay is a new idea? Think again: http://bit.ly/cvT3vr Hilarious story on this 123 year old idea!

cybraryman1: Some Ed Reform sites (top left column) Ed page: http://bit.ly/6PtsC

cybraryman1: See: #ecosys chat on Mondays where they are working on policy: http://bit.ly/7w7P59

ESLlibrary: Do you use student interest surveys? http://tinyurl.com/yjqw5b5

shellterrell:  Here’s my beginning to Edu Reform, Goal- get maj of tchrs a PLN. Plz contribute, http://bit.ly/deG7BA

jpsteltz:  I LOVE teachers…I really do. Pls read and enjoy http://wp.me/pN3x8-3O

TheNerdyTeacher: http://bit.ly/aJKrFB Check out how I reforming my classroom and my building.

bjnichols: Aligning 21C Learning with 21C Learners http://bit.ly/9w4NJx

joe_bower:  Yong Zhao blogged about that Tech Report. Very interesting. Perhaps optimism? http://zhao.educ.msu.edu/

storyjumper: Special sneak preview of Classroom Edition for teachers that follow @storyjumper http://bit.ly/b3yYaB

daveandcori: New blog post- Free Educational Technology Journals – http://trunc.it/689ks

joe_bower:  Alfie Kohn writes about the ‘Better Get Used To It’ theory of education in The Homework Myth

rliberni:  Article on primary testing (UK) Too much testing has hit primary school standards http://bit.ly/bh6gkp

OpenStudy.com is an e-Learning startup headquartered in Atlanta’s Technology Square. Our team consists of professors, grad students, and other people who care about the future of education. Look for our private-alpha launch in April. If you are an educator that wants to test our product in the alpha launch please email oliver.lancaster@openstudy.com

New to Edchat?

If you have never participated in an #Edchat discussion, these take place twice a day every Tuesday on Twitter. Over 800 educators participate in this discussion by just adding #edchat to their tweets. For tips on participating in the discussion, please check out these posts!  

More Edchat


If you’re new to hashtag discussions, then just show up on Twitter on any Tuesday and add just a few tweets on the topic with the hashtag #edchat.  

What do you think? Leave a comment!

March 3, 2010

Can tech be used incorrectly?


 3-2-2010 – 18:00 CET 12 PM EST   

Amazing Tech Tools!

Thank you to Sue Lyon-Jones @esolcourses  for this week’s edchat summary (see bio at the end of the post). Sue is a regular participant in edchat and was also our guest moderator at edchat yesterday! 

This was a lively, fast moving edchat session, with many interesting and thought-provoking views put forward. 

Here are some of the main themes from the discussion: 

  •  Is there a wrong way to use technology in the classroom?
  • How do we define good use of technology?
  • How do we define bad or improper use of technology?
  • Is bad use of technology better or worse than no technology at all?
  • How can technology be used effectively to enhance learning?
  • How can educators ensure that students don’t misuse technology?

Here is a selection of some of the comments:  

With such a vibrant discussion, it’s almost impossible to do it justice in a summary, but I’ve picked out some of the comments that caught my eye. 

 @jswiatek I believe that if teachers are using tech as a “time-filler”, it’s being used incorrectly 

@AtomiClint When learning is done well, the technology becomes transparent 

@olafelch Tech is only useful if it adds to the learning experience 

@rliberni Are we in danger of ‘showing off’ sometimes because we have lots of tech knowledge? 

@UltimateTeacher the teacher should ask, what’s the purpose of this tech – before lesson designing 

@bjnichols The task has to come first & then you choose the tool that best fits the task 

@colport So we have to be careful we don’t use technology for the sake of it. It may not be suitable

  When teachers aren’t given proper support 2 integrate tech, but are expected to use them, tools often aren’t used well 

@daveandcori Technology can teach skills, act as a tutor, offer opportunities, & help extend learning. Teachers just need time to learn tech 

@spedteacher One wrong way to use tech is to limit student access to it because it *might* be used the “wrong way” 

@andycinek Limiting technology and access is equivalent to burning books or ripping out pages. We can not limit information 

@colport But we do, by blocking what they access outside? We need to coach using technology responsibly 

@Parentella it is up to teachers to guide the students to use tech in right way and check any fradulent use 

@bjnichols With the wrong tool….use of tech. becomes an electronic worksheet. Saves paper but doesn’t inspire learning 

@mzmacky To me, tech is best used to inquire, discover and create… not for filling in the blanks 

@rliberni Are stds necessarily absorbed in the task or the tech – do we know? 

@daveandcori I use technology to show them things I can’t show for real, virtual labs, and to differentiate learning activities 

@mrlukach I don’t see anything wrong with students teaching teachers how to learn the technology. In fact, I see a lot right in that 

@openstudy How do you test and evaluate collaboration? A major problem with traditional testing system 

@cybraryman1 Administrators have to start becoming more aware of the proper use of tech & how it enhances learning in their schools 

I would ask that the following question is added to the poll next week: 

How can technology be used to support collaborative learning?

To follow the complete discussion see here  

For the stats on #edchat participation see here  

As ever, there were some great links shared: 

openstudy  I found this very insightful. The importance of Good Teaching to Good Technology Use http://www.mrkeenan.com/?p=363 

Parentella  have been reading an interesting article re: evaluating tech in the classroom. http://bit.ly/9QPXxM 

AtomiClint  When learning is done well, the technology becomes transparent. http://bit.ly/9dITAg 

Cnansen  Over 100 ideas for using Twitter in the Classroom – http://tinyurl.com/yf576x3 

Readtoday   Let’s join the Dept of Education Innovation portal! http://bit.ly/bArYGV 

daveandcori  Technology can help save money – http://trunc.it/5zovc 

daveandcori  Project Based Learning resources – http://goo.gl/kCqy – don’t teach to test, teach critical thinking. 

daveandcori  Students as tech support – a great resource for schools – http://goo.gl/9d1b – many students are already tech experts 

Parantella  Reading 1 teachers reaction to tech use in his classroom: http://bit.ly/cyii78 

daveandcori  then internet resources, projects, and much more. resources to help get stared with edtech: http://goo.gl/kpX0,  http://goo.gl/1KLM 

PreKlanguages  Educational TV programmes for young children ‘may cause more harm than good’ http://bit.ly/cyo5rT 

bhsprincipal  I blogged on tech being fully integrated a while ago. http://bit.ly/6hUYDT 

TEFL  In case you haven’t seen this video about Digital Learners and what they want: http://my.englishclub.com/video/digital-learners 

sharnon007  I like wordpress, glogster, gamemakers- http://bit.ly/9f24c0 

lizditz  here’s another resource on #edchat http://edupln.ning.com/group/edchat 

joe_bower  Here is how a student of mine used Prezi http://bit.ly/cjn0tg 

sharnon007   this is an updated game maker list- http://bit.ly/9f24c0  has some really gr8 stuff u probably haven’t seen! 

TeachTCI  Thinking positively. What good things are happening in your classroom? http://bit.ly/cr7tnO 

NMHS_Principal   More educators seeking guidance on social-media contact w/ students http://bit.ly/bkxOiK 

cybraryman1  Web 2.0 Tools: http://bit.ly/Q4alB 

daveandcori  My fav tech tools- Evernote, blogs, internet, Google and more – http://goo.gl/hrko 

hdiblasi   Web 2.0 in Instruction: Adding Spice to Math Education http://bit.ly/csbcLh 

 Our favourite Tech tools!





Cell phones 





Amazon book reviews 





Mind maps 

The kids in @’jswiatek’s class voted forPrezi, Twitter, Photoshop, SlideRocket, Glogster as their favourites!

Sue Lyon Jones: I’m a freelance ICT consultant, materials developer and ESOL with ICT tutor, based in the UK. I run two free lesson resource sites, http://www.esolcourses.com and http://esolcourses.blogspot.com/ , and also have a teaching blog, The PLN Staff Lounge http://the-pln-staff-lounge.blogspot.com/.

New to Edchat?

If you have never participated in an #Edchat discussion, these take place twice a day every Tuesday on Twitter. Over 800 educators participate in this discussion by just adding #edchat to their tweets. For tips on participating in the discussion, please check out these posts!  

More Edchat


If you’re new to hashtag discussions, then just show up on Twitter on any Tuesday and add just a few tweets on the topic with the hashtag #edchat.  

What do you think? Leave a comment!

March 2, 2010

How to keep motivated in language learning.

How can you keep motivated when learning a language? This is a million dollar question! If everybody was highly motivated then we would all be multi-lingual! Whenever I attend an event and we do the round robin exercise of ‘Who are you?’ and ‘What do you do?’  the discussion following my ‘bit’  inevitably moves on to the number of ‘tapes in the car for Italian, Spanish French etc., the number of course books at home, how many online course started and not finished and even, how many evening classes started and not finished!’ It is very clear that there is a desire for language learning but what happens to all those good intentions?

I have to come clean myself, I’m learning Chinese and I am not being a very good student! I did two lessons and then stopped for two weeks and haven’t done my homework! In fact the thought of writing this post has made me book up my next 4 lessons IN ADVANCE!!

Why did I need this external motivation? I enjoy languages, it’s my field, I know what to expect and I really do want to learn this. Here are my excuses:

  • It was half term, kids at home and I had a busy week (first miss)
  • Actually I was ill which accounted for the second miss but I could have done my own study
  • I haven’t had much time
  • As a beginner it is quite hard!

I’ve heard them all from students and they are valid and understandable.

I hope that I am now back on track and won’t need to write another confession on this blog!! But…..

What is it that makes some people motivated to keep going and others fail at the first hurdle?

I think there are 4 main factors in this.

  • Expectation
  • Approach
  • Curiosity
  • Reward


Learning a language takes time, patience and perseverance (rather like learning a musical instrument). There are no quick fixes or magic bullets. You are in it for the long haul. I think this has to be accepted.

Some examples: of unrealistic expectations

  • I once had a student wanting to learn a new language before he left to take up a new post in that country. It turned out that he had 4 days before departure plus all that a move of this nature entailed to organise! He had pencilled in one afternoon for language training.
  • A second student wanted to learn French, Italian and German all at once having never studied a language before!

Making sure expectations are realistic is a key factor in success. If you don’t know what you are in for you’ll be disappointed.


One of the problems I have with my Chinese is I’m not organised yet. I haven’t got a folder where I can keep my crib sheets etc. I don’t have a notebook or dictionary and I haven’t got my head around a personal study schedule.

Some common problems:

  • Students turn up to lessons without paper, notebook or even a pen!
  • Each lesson is seen in isolation and no reference is made to past activity or future study.

Learning a language involves a lot of recycling! When I taught French in a primary school I was teaching colours ‘We’ve already done this.’ the children refrained. Languages don’t work like that, learning is more cyclical.

The basic toolkit for a language learner is a notebook/folder organised by skill type (reading, writing etc..) or date to enable revision or referencing, a dictionary, a grammar book and whatever coursebook or materials are being used. It is possible to have ‘off the cuff’ and impromptu lessons – these can wonderful but unless you are at a quite advanced level, they will be ephemeral if you don’t have some sort of record to refer to. (see my post on choosing books)


For me this is a key factor in any learning. It is the ‘What if…’ and ‘How about…’ questions that lead you beyond the classroom and into your own learning which will move you further towards your goal and provide the incentive to learn more.

If you have this curiosity factor it will help to keep you motivated. You will want to re-work sentences and find other synonyms. You’ll be interested in how everyday notions and functions work in the target language. You’ll look for patterns and use these to build and test new sentences and you’ll want ultimately to get out there and use what you’ve learned.

When this curiosity is lacking or absent you may hear:

  • I’ve been through all the practice books for the exam, when is the next one going to be available?
  • I haven’t got time to read that poem, listen to that discussion… I have to learn more vocabulary.

Without curiosity learning a language can become a very dull and dry exercise. Languages aren’t academic subjects they are living, breathing entities and only there by virtue of the people who speak and write them.


Rewards in learning are very important and take many different guises, from small personal rewards for mastering irregular verbs for example, to success in examinations. Rewards are motivating but the level and nature of the motivation differs with level and nature of the reward.

  • External rewards such as exam grades, promotion, even a potential love interest make the language learning a vehicle for something else. While this can be very motivating indeed, it is often short-lived. How many people learnt a language at school which is now long forgotten?
  • Internal rewards – those we set ourselves are more effective and last longer. How many things are we good at and remember because of the sheer love we have of learning and doing it?

This may all sound a bit ‘airy-fairy’ or ‘wishy-washy’ I’m not suggesting you have to fall in love with your English learning in order to make progress. What I am saying, though, is that with some committment you will come to enjoy it and become expert in it so that your language skill may, in turn, become the vehicle for the things you really do love!

An extension to this in a learning sense is that when we are immersed in a task or topic we are really interested in we often absorb the language without realising it. So, don’t eschew literature, jokes, songs or other ‘frivolous’ activities,  throw yourself into them and enjoy them – the language development often happens by osmosis!

Some jokes to conjur with!

Here are some other posts with similar topics:

Are some people better at learning languages than others?

Making progress as an advanced learner

Thinking in English – how to make it happen

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