Rliberni's Blog – Radical language

December 30, 2010

Playing role-play games online – how these can develop language.

Role play games can be fun learning tools for developing language. They give you an opportunity for free expression and great speaking practice. Yet because you are not being yourself, it also allows you to create a completely different character which helps to take away any fear of speaking and lets you perform as someone else! This can be very powerful especially if you are shy or worried about making mistakes.

I often use role-play games in the classroom and as well as practising speaking, we always have a great time! It isn’t surprising then that a role-play game was the first collaborative exercise I wanted to have on my E-learning site Gapfillers. We are currently running our 3rd game and each time there is a lot to learn both as a materials developer and a teacher! Each game is very different and very surprising.

I’d like to explain something about the game, how it works and how it helps with English language learning.

Our Gapfillers murder mystery game – The Art of Murder – revolves around the murder of an Art Gallery owner. The players are all connected with this man in some way and it is their individual relationships with him which form the substance of the story and provide the clues. The investigation is led by a detective and a criminologist acts as moderator. The players are given role cards and other information. The detective will then send out clues and the players have to send each other messages to find the answers and solve the murder. Players can also build relationships with other characters and use these to make it more difficult for other players to get information. We ask that if information is requested it is given out but how this is disseminated depends on the individual group of players. If anybody gets stuck then they can go to either the detective or criminologist for help. These two (they are teachers) are also in the game and will message, encourage and provide a commentary where appropriate.

The game has been written by a writer/poet connected with Gapfillers and not a teacher so the language is not modified or graded. There is a deal of irony and sophisticated language included in the information so the players have a lot to contend with while playing the game. The game is further supported by a series of newspaper articles, a vocabulary and grammar bank of useful language and a weekly blog post which follows the progress of the game.

The very first time we played the game we were expecting players to use the opportunity to practice their reading and writing skills and also to explore topical vocabulary. We also hoped that they would discover some of the nuances in the language of the game and above all have a good time. What surprised us the most about this first game, and also subsequent games, is the way in which the players ‘clothed’ themselves in the personality of their character!

The characters include a countess, thwarted lovers, a journalist, art dealer and artist all of whom have, each time, taken on fully rounded personalities in the hands of our student players. I have collected some of the messages to give you a flavour of this.

These are in no particular order.

  • I have no idea who this ‘guitarman’ is (why can’t he give his ordinary name, like anyone else?), but I find the suggestion we might meet again sinister. Call me hyper-sensitive, but that’s how it strikes me.


  • After a good night’s sleep I’m thinkking I’d be glad never to see any of you again in my life…….


  • oooooh!
    would that be a good nights sleep… in jail?


  • I guess you are right  – i am stressed out


  • no i arent accusing them of murder, just that they dont reply to mails


  • i shall go have a glass of wine and calm down


  • i so wish this was over 😦


  • Hello everybody– I am somewhat late with my introduction but hope you don’t mind under the circumstances.


  • My name is M T Hart and I am (was?) R T Guy’s girlfiend. We’ve been in a relationship for 3 years now and was hoping something will come out of it:) What now?


  • Oh dear! Poor you. You must be feeling very unhappy at the moment we all feel for your sadness.   


  • Thank you for your condolences. I’ll try to stay strong


  • We all understand.Youwill need take thimgs slowly


  • Yes, I have already asked Gugenheim about the cat but he told me that he had never heard about a cat…..So one of you is lying…..I want the truth!!!!!!!! and quickly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ve just sent an email to him, so if I learn something I’ll let you know…..


  • I am shocked! I thought I was trying to help. Why do yiu think I’m lying and not Gugenheim after all he sold you the forged painting. Hasn’t he proved that he is a liar?


  • its very strange that i was unaware of this phobia of his, especially as we were so close


  • were you working in the office on the night of the murder? 
  • did you LOCK the door? 
  • or worse, did you let someone in?
  • or perhaps you were IN the office with R T?


  • well, Trudy, everyone is a suspect!
  • many are accusing me of killing him, i dont understand why, i would not benefit from this at all
    i would only benefit from marrying him, which never happened


  • strange you mentioned his temper, it got worse and worse leading up to the murder
  • any idea why that would be?


  • I´m sorry there must be a mistake, in fact I hate pets.


  • Well, well, well!!! Gugenheim finally show he’s capable of keeping information from us. You know who you can trust in this game, don’t you?? Maybe my dear wife Tik would now like to look to her conscience and come clean about her infidelity, and with whom!


  • Funny, isn’t it? I worked with so many of you for so long, including Guy, and now discover I didn’t know you at all. Than kgoodness for the friendship of MT Hart; she has been like a breah of fresh air compared with the rest of you rogues, and she’s lost more than the rest of us!


  • So, Gugenheim, what ELSE are you keeping from us??


  • Shouldn’t you be more interested in publishing your knowlegde than in trying to make moneay out of it – and possibly landing on the murderer’s “unwanted” list???


  • So, what do you know, and what is your price?


  • Obviously, I’m extremely interested in your extra information.
    I was just wondering what you mean for ‘price’…
    Anyway we can arrange a fair barter…


  • I’d be really grateful if you kept my lover’s name secret.


  • I’ve just to stop for a moment and think quietly about it.
    I need to collect my evidence. Right now my I’m quite confused.


  • I’m waiting for result, too. No one has already found out the killer. Probably they are afraid. In reality, I think we should be careful. At this point, everyone is likely to be involved in this murder.
    Let’s wait and try to find the solution.


  • I have come back – any news??? Holidays without my wife were great…


  • Haha very funny!
    Hope the hols were good. I thought you’d taken the money and run away!


  • Been talking to your lovely wife – she’s as confused as the rest of us!


  • People kep going away & then coming back very strange!!


  • You are joking – I had thought the murderer had already been found and guillotined…


  • Dear Mr Wragg,
    Much as I would like to help you, I´m afraid that I know little more than what you have already published in your newspaper. As far as I know, the Tofts’ relationship with Guy was simply a business one.
    Sorry I can’t be of more help.
  • Dear Mr Wragg,
    I’ve been doing some thinking since my previous message and I think that I MIGHT be able to help you somehow.
    Of course, this will cost you nothing but it could help if I got to know the name of the victim of a certain “incident” in which Gugenheim was involved.
    I’m sure you will understand that, like you, I want to get to the bottom of this hideous affair.


  • Thanks for your message. I’m not skipped town. I have been ill with problems about ciatic nerve. I will grateful your offered information. Bye.


  • Lies lies lies, I do not know which paintings you’re talking about – surely La Scala knows the paintings she has hanging on her walls!


  • It seems that you want to know more about my grandparents…. first you need to know that they are of great importance to me, I love them more than anybody else and I don’t want them to be involved in this scam. So please don’t write anything about them in your articles… They are pretty old and they deserve to live peacefully. I trust you…I hope I’m not mistaken…

I hope that this demonstrates the kind of language that ‘comes out’ when students are playing such games. They become involved and engrossed in the game itself and somehow the language flows more naturally. They also feed off the language of the other players and the language involved in the game itself  which results in very real and sophisticated usage. Admittedly the players here have quite an advanced level of language but the ability to take on a character and then sustain that throughout the game (which lasts about 5/6 weeks) is not an easy thing to do. As everything is written then there is time to consider and correct but the language being used and learned by our players is amazing!

Games, far from being frivolous, allow students to push their own language to its limits but also, and more importantly, give them the opportunity to draw from the language around them (other players and the language used in the game) to develop and enhance their own.

Gapfillers The Art of Murder is played twice a year within the Gapfillers site. It is open to all members. Our next game will be in spring 2011. (register on Gapfillers for free, see our special Christmas offer available until Dec 31st 2010)

December 29, 2010

Digital Native: Truth or Fiction?

#Edchat 12-14–2010 – 18:00 CET 12 PM EST

We are very grateful to Tinashe Blanchet (@mrsblanchet) for this week’s summary. It was the last #edchat of the year and turned out to be a very lively and informative session! Many edchatters were born pre-digital but felt themselves no less part of the digital world! Tinashe has captured the atmosphere of the discussion and went one stop further and involved some of her Yr 12 ‘digital natives’ for a real all round view! thank you Tinashe. Find out more about Tinashe in her bio t the end of this post.

Finally,  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2011 and we’ll see you all again on January 4th!

This week’s #edchat was all about the new educational buzzword: “digital native”.  This description of today’s student is appearing in blogs, journals, presentations, tweets, and many other forums in which educational technology is the topic of discussion.  Nevertheless, many of us in the classroom wonder if the idea of kids as “digital natives” is reality when many of our students have no clue as to how to use technology in an educational (i.e. non-Facebook) context.  Is is safe to say that because a child was born into the technology age that he or she is digitally literate?  Many teachers have worked hard to stay up-to-date on the latest tech tools, and become offended when it is suggested that their students, by birth, have a better grasp of technology. If our students are “digital natives”, does that make us teachers “digital immigrants” or “digital aliens”?   This was a lively chat with many differing views expressed.  A few of my students (12th graders) participated to give those being labelled a chance to join in the conversation.  Thanks to Dylan, Caralynn, Nancy and Fredy for being a part of this #edchat!

Here are some of the main themes from the discussion: 

Defining the “digital native”

Do teachers and students agree with the widespread use of this label?

Is it safe to assume that our students are digital natives?

Characteristics, and appropriate v. inappropriate assumptions about “digital natives” and how they learn

How do “digital dinosaurs” connect with “digital natives” in relevant ways in an educational setting?

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.

@stumpteacher: Digital native is a term just to mean “born in tech” age, not a tech guru. #edchat
@drdouggreen:  @ShellTerrell The term is misused a lot. I am 63 and I would make my tech knowledge against any native. #edchat
@tomwhitby:  I prefer the idea of digital Residents and digital Visitors. #Edchat
@drdouggreen:  #edchat One attribute they typically have is lack of fear. What they don’t know doesn’t get in their way.
@aaronmueller:  Digital Native is a misnomer. Should be Digital Nomads! Fearless, but without direction. Need guidance to form Digital Wisdom #edchat
@21stprincipal: Perhaps the term “digital native” is a stereotype. #edchat
@Dave_Parkes: #edchat I find students are really skilled at social tech but struggle with tech as a learning tool #edchat
@raffelsol: I think a digital native may adapt quicker to technology, but they don’t necessarily know how to use it effectively w/o help #edchat
@aaronmueller: Digital Wisdom – what we need to teach our students How to choose the best tech, how to avoid pitfalls, how to reflect on usage #edchat
@twoodwar: We can’t possibly keep up with them. They are _natives_. Best to give up now. #edtech #edchat
@davidwees: Use different words for digitally native/immigrant. Let’s say ‘persistent’ and ‘easily frustrated’. #edchat
@padgets: #edchat so I think we need to look at a digital citizenship unit at the beginning of the school year, cover all these bases
@dylanbergeron:  I’m a senior in high school. and yes, i believe that all my peers are ready to learn with technology #edchat
@josiefraser: A digital native is an ill-advised & unhelpful metaphor http://j.mp/edK3Y3 #edchat
@21stprincipal: Better question for engaging students-What is it kids do with tech that is so engaging? #edchat
@raffelsol: We never talk about pencil fluency or white board fluency. It is part of our toolbag. When will knowledge at our fingertips be that? #edchat
@tomwhitby: If Tech skills are the new Media Literacy, Teachers have an obligation to teach them. In order to teach them, they must use them.#Edchat
@dylanbergeron: #edchat look at me right now. i’m doing xtra credit 4 math by tweeting about DN’s on the laptop issued by my schl
@dylanbergeron: #edchat paper is becoming a thing of the past. Critical thinking has to progress alongside our level of tech
@stumpteacher: A good teacher is a good teacher…regardless if they are DN or DI #edchat
@malcolmbellamy: it is about using appropriate tools for a job and mastering the skills of how to use these tools effectively #edchat
@aaronmueller: Digital Natives have the most important quality “Be Not Afraid” something I teach my peers every workshop #edchat
@malcolmbellamy: it is about using appropriate tools for a job and mastering the skills of how to use these tools effectively #edchat
@ShellTerrell: Love that we have students involved in this conversation! Thanks @mrsblanchetnet class for joining us! #edchat
@tomwhitby: While we wait for tchrs to get comfortable w/Tech, we have students who are uncomfortable w/o the Skills needed to compete & Learn #Edcha
@stumpteacher: At the end of the day, toss out the labels and teach each kid on their technological, intellectual, and emotional level. #edchat
@tomwhitby: We should always remember, unless we are tech teachers, we don’t teach Tech. As Tchrs, we use tech to teach and learn.#Edchat

To follow the complete discussion see here 

For the stats on #edchat participation see here 

As ever, there were some great links shared:

capohanka:  I prefer resident and visitor a la @shareski http://bit.ly/fb7IQO  #edchat

blairteach:  If we use “digital native” to indicate a generational segment, look at Schrock’s Digital Pioneer term: http://youtu.be/8UZI6zO77k8 #edchat

willedmond:  A cool idea you can do with your students. 10 Tips for Starting a Virtual Social Change Book Club #EdChat http://bit.ly/hk0sm2

HHG:  This is a digital native – it’s how she thinks… http://flic.kr/p/5XviEq  #edchat

josiefraser: A digital native is a ill advised & unhelpful metaphor http://j.mp/edK3Y3  #edchat – got that right!

reyjunco:  Research on variability in “digital natives'” Internet skills : http://goo.gl/z4p29  and variability in access: http://goo.gl/G8ynp  #edchat

ktenkely: For those who don’t know where digital native originated pdf of Marc Prensky’s article 2001 http://bit.ly/e8vbdS  #edchat

aaronmueller:  Digital Wisdom – article by Marc Prensky ERIC Record: EJ834284 http://t.co/XV5wTnH  #edchat GREAT READ!

cybraryman1: My Digital Citizenship page: http://bit.ly/5fDZ4f  #edchat

stumpteacher:  Little background on DN from wikipedia http://bit.ly/9JFVF #edchat

cybraryman1:  My Digital Footprints page: http://bit.ly/dd9IA9 Parents & Teachers should teach DF to children

reyjunco:  Our research on how using Twitter in educationally-relevant ways affects engagement and grades: http://goo.gl/XtbVz  #edchat

tjowens:  “Once you care about a world you will do all kinds of things that look like work, or homework.” http://bit.ly/ieZGHk

cybraryman1:   Teachers need to shown how to integrate technology in their subject areas: http://bit.ly/9AB2tS

HP Teacher Exchange :  great resource for educators – lesson plans and more – http://goo.gl/zZkvG

dughall: #edchat Young people may exceed the technical *knowledge* of some educators, adults though, have (cont) http://tl.gd/7g9mps

prlowe91:  Cell Phones in the Classroom: Learning Tools for the 21st Century: http://youtu.be/aXt_de2-HBE

cybraryman1:  Show students there are many ways to do something using tech. For example the modern book report: http://bit.ly/a30UtS

daveandcori: 100 Best YouTube Videos for Teachers http://goo.gl/fb/dnU89

stumpteacher:  @cybraryman1 Good post on the book reports… here is mine… http://bit.ly/fqvjXQ

weisburghm:  I love how http://www.youthrightsmedia.org/about/  teaches students to have a voice using media

blairteach:  Here’s a syllabus from a tchr-prep tech integration course at UGA. What do you think? http://bit.ly/gOheHI

weisburghm:  good rubric on student twitter use: http://www2.uwstout.edu/content/profdev/rubrics/Twitter_Rubric.html

neilstephenson:  I agree with @AngelaMaiers post on students as “digital natives” #edchat http://bit.ly/f7IXEo

MZimmer557:  10 Tips for Using Facebook in the Classroom http://goo.gl/7mt8N  #edchat #edtech

stumpteacher:  Share this link with anyone you think is a DI or a less than confident DN: http://bit.ly/ie8fiJ

cybraryman1:  Get ready for more Blended Learning: http://bit.ly/dybHNO and 1:1 Schools: http://bit.ly/aqoeks

2footgiraffe:  share your take home ideas from todays #edchat http://bit.ly/gBYB2

web20education:  #edtech20 #edchat New Pan-EU Youth is a platform targeted at young people between the age of 14 and 18 where they… http://fb.me/Qn04vyw8

cybraryman1:  @gellesastar For example of how I learned something: http://bit.ly/gu48ap  See the list on that page #edchat

prlowe91:  With all the discussion about teachers and learning, let’s listen to the learners: http://youtu.be/9M4tdMsg3ts

kenroyal:  New Reality Show: Tech Your Class http://tinyurl.com/bxxoot  #education #educators #edchat #technology

cybraryman1:  Have a student run a Smackdown (sharing of tools & sites): http://bit.ly/f29Lpx

GlogsterEDU:  Here’s one of our favorites from #YouTube of 2010: http://bit.ly/dyEhaa  Anyone else have favorites to share? #edchat #edtech #edu #smcedu

web20education:  In 2011 we will begin new semantic web 3.0 and .After twitter my favorite tool global sharing http://tinyurl.com/pearltreesedtech20

davidwees:  Where education reform is heading: From extreme to extremum http://is.gd/iKaZm

Tinashe Blanchet (@mrsblanchetnet) is the Professional Development Resource Teacher at John Ehret High School in Marrero, Louisiana.  She lives in the Greater New Orleans area with her husband, David, and 3 young children. Certified in Secondary Mathematics Education, she currently teaches a remediation course for the state math exam, Advanced Math/ Pre-Calculus and AP Calculus.  She also holds a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of New Orleans.  She loves learning about how to enhance her practice with tech tools, as she maintains a “Model Technology Classroom” for her district.  Please visit her online at http://mrsblanchet.net or http://blanchetblog.net to find out more!

New to Edchat?

If you have never participated in an #Edchat discussion, these take place twice a day every Tuesday on Twitter. Over 1,000 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!

December 14, 2010

School Policies: Helping or Hindering Student Learning?

#Edchat 12-7–2010 – 18:00 CET 12 PM EST

This topic is one close to many teacher’s hearts and the participating edchatters were no different. Ideas of good practice , bad practice,  hopes and desires all came out in the discussion. To capture the essence of this we are very grateful to Josh Stumpenhorst (@stumpteacher). He has done an amazing job in getting to the heart of the discussion and drawing out all the different threads. Thank you Josh. See more about Josh in his bio at the end of the post.

This weeks #edchat topic was about how schools’ policies are often hindering student learning in large part due to their restrictive nature. Many people had strong views about bad policies that were being imposed in their schools. One of the big ones that kept coming back up was the amount of filtering that takes place over the Internet. Most understand the need for filtering due to liability and the need for some form of filtering due to government regulations. However, teachers would like a middle ground and to be trusted to make educationally sound decisions on behalf of their students. Another theme that came out of this conversation is that often times the decisions that are being made about policy are being made by those farthest from the classrooms. To help solve this problem teachers and students need to be more vocal and collaborate with administration at every opportunity. In addition, administration needs to be more aware of the needs of students which is often done by simply being amongst students in the classrooms. At the end of the day, it is easy to point a finger for bad policy, but that won’t change anything. We must all work together, students, parents, teachers, and administrators, to write policies that reflect the need of today’s learners.

Here are some of the main themes from the discussion: 
There were many themes that came out in the most recent #edchat conversation on 12/7/10. The central theme was how policies are hindering student learning and how to influence those policies to have a positive impact on student learning.

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.

@ShellTerrell: Schools need to rethink filtering. We should take these learning opportunities to teach Ss about digital citizenship
@cybraryman1: Policies should be set collaboratively (students, teachers, admin and parents)
@cybraryman1: Have to give parents hands-on workshops on how tech is being used in classrooms to get them on our side
@stumpteacher: Tough thing is that policies are written by those farthest from the students and classrooms
@jorech: Biggest hindrance to learning: a curriculum, atmosphere centered around achievement on high-stakes standardized tests
@shamsensei: Change can only be done if u know how to do it

@ileducprof:  Too many school administrators are only concerned with what occurs in their district. Missing out on collaboration opportunities.

@shamsensei:  DO not wait until you KNOW how to make change. Start now. Fail and try again. Do not wait.
@jgmac1106: 2 me it boils down two types of leadership models: Fear and Respect. Which one does your school use? Model? when it comes to filters
@smitha834: If teachers aren’t allowed 2 model social media use we are not letting students know how to properly use it to learn
@stumpteacher: Sometimes the squeaky wheel gets the oil. Don’t give up and keep pushing for change! Student’s learning MUST to be the corner stone! 
@ShellTerrell: One way to change the bad policies is by having these conversations in our communities w/ staff, students, admin, & parents
@bjnichols: The best way to change policy is to show how it could work better. Set up pilots, models, etc. Provide visuals  
@milenagarg: we have a kid check statement that we try to run all policies through so that we do what is best for kids
@MZimmer557: I don’t know if it is all bad policies, it is just there are so many policies that get in way of quality teaching.
@shamsensei: has any1 asked d kids wat they want to change?
@cybraryman1: Ask not what your school can do for you–ask what you can do for your school’s students.
@fliegs: A Policy should not be created to police the less than 5% that would use something inappropriately
@ShellTerrell: Can each of us make a goal to try & collaborate with others to effectively change at least 1 ineffective policy in our schools?

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

How do we move our classrooms and students to be driven by learning and mastery instead of by testing and grades?

To follow the complete discussion see here 

 For the stats on #edchat participation see here 

As ever, there were some great links shared:

cybraryman1:  My Cyber Citizenship page is an important beginning with students: http://bit.ly/5fDZ4f

datruss:  My daily-ink: Twitter EDU – Some simple advice to set yourself up for success… http://post.ly/1In03

jamesshelley:  Check out the animation from @SirKenRobinson speaking at @thersaorg – http://youtu.be/zDZFcDGpL4U

TheHelpGroup:  We had a big drive to join our Facebook pg, then realized everyone had to wait to join until they got home :\ http://on.fb.me/9v6Oe8

shamblesguru:  Playing with #Rockmelt : Social Media Browser built on Chrome http://www.shambles.net/pages/staff/browsers/ #edchat #edtech #browser

missydow:  I love that a student shared this resource with me during a conversation about citing sources /giving credit. http://bit.ly/gzWKRa

datruss:  See http://bit.ly/aeVfuv  RT @ShellTerrell: Yes it is! RT @stumpteacher: Sometimes it is better to ask forgiveness than permission!

marketeducate:  #edchat Natl Ed Tech Plan calls for education transformation through technology. Already happening, isn’t it? http://bit.ly/dhiUEU

imaknight:  anyone familiar with Project Share (Texas) http://bit.ly/gaSXIW  #edtech #edchat

bhsprincipal:  New Post: Why We Use Tech in Our Class http://bit.ly/guItex  #edchat #edtech #bhschat

cybraryman1:  You have to periodically review your AUP (Acceptable Use Policies): http://bit.ly/9ViT9i

briankotts:  Korea and Finland top OECD’s latest PISA survey of education performance http://bit.ly/fvbRE3 /via @OECD_Edu  #edchat #eduswe #ukedchat

dcinc66:  Constance Steinkuehler examines the role of games and play as an integral part of learning. http://bit.ly/hiKmIB  #bif2010  #edchat

jonbergmann @alvintch Check our #revlearn and the flipped classroom. Works well with 1:1 http://bit.ly/bE6TCC

cybraryman1:  @ShellTerrell We really need a Twitter Academy to collaboratively show them how to really educate http://bit.ly/as9R0g  #twitacad #edchat

michellek107: It’s Time to Trust Teachers with the Internet via @web20classroom http://bit.ly/icCx9D  #policies #edchat

stumpteacher: We can’t be like John Mayer and wait on the world to change… http://bit.ly/e0dBbP  #edchat

web20education:  #edtech20 Web 2.0 #Resources for Educators #edtech20 #edchat http://goo.gl/fb/cneEb #uncategorized #bit #classroom

smitha834:  One thing that could help spur policy change is educators blogging both publicly and accurately #edchat http://ow.ly/3lnaV

baldy7:  posted last night. http://bit.ly/cbkhEO  What Do You Do. #edchat #cpchat

mizztcasa:  Giving African girls a chance to learn http://bit.ly/i01XpV  #edchat

TEDxUBC video #8 – Jeffrey Piontek -Teaching Jetson Children In Flintstone Schools http://t.co/rW5Hi2z  via @youtube #tedxubc #edchat #cpchat

brockgrubb:  Chris Rush (School of One) – to improve student outcomes, “assume anything can change” #bif2010 #edchat http://bit.ly/1SmCzT

web20education:  Here you can read more about eSafety #edtech20 http://teachlearnplayesafetyeducation.wall.fm/blogs/11  #edchat

eshwaranv: Blogged: Could you tell me something about it? http://bit.ly/e96tWX  #edchat #ntchat #elemchat #kinderchat #lrnchat

gret: Great post! “Know the Power of “Hello”” by @4thGrdTeach http://me.lt/4x0aF  #edchat

World4Children:  Disapp. 2 see only 1 educator @ #TEDWomen http://ow.ly/3lnsI  People concerned about #education need 2 join events like this! #edchat #cpchat

cybraryman1:  @Online4School My Educational Chats page with times and days: http://bit.ly/c6mAWB

royanlee: New Post: Why We Use Tech in Our Class http://bit.ly/guItex  #edchat #edtech

gmbondi: Let’s rename 21st Century Learning – call it Digital Dewey or Progressive Education http://bit.ly/dMEYcs   #edchat #cpchat #edtech

fliegs: Share Your Successes for Better Ed Reform http://goo.gl/fb/wJekv  -New Blog Entry #edchat #cpchat

Aminhotep:  Education reform begins in your classroom http://wp.me/tcfd  #edchat #educationreform

internet4classr:  Let students own the learning – http://tinyurl.com/28un686  (via @drmmtatom ) #ntchat #elemchat #edchat

MikeGwaltney:  An Education Policy Novice takes over the largest education system in the nation. Strange. http://nyti.ms/eEaUXG

MSTA:  We absolutely agree! RT @michellek107 It’s Time to Trust Teachers with the Internet via @web20classroom http://bit.ly/icCx9D  #edchat

joe_bower:  Student learning environment first, teacher’s work environment second. http://bit.ly/eXoN4N  #abed #edchat

tomwhitby: My Latest Post: To Be Better Teachers, We Need To Be Better Learners. http://bit.ly/hx697O  Pls  read & comment. #Edchat

lisalearner: blogpost: how to help your English learners get around Internet obstacles http://bit.ly/i9tYr5 #edchat #ellchat

iEARNUSA: @AsiaSocietyPGL PISA analysis on http://CNN.com http://bit.ly/fXXIuy  <= learn with, not just about, the world #iearn #edchat

EdEquality: Check out Michelle Rhee on NBC discussing her new organization: Students First. http://on.msnbc.com/fFwkYz  #edreform #edchat #edgap

Josh Stumpenhorst is a 6th grade Language Arts and Social Science teacher at Lincoln Junior High School in Naperville, IL. I have been in this same position for eight years and have not plans on leaving the students! I have a passion for using technology and empowering my students through its use in my classes daily. Twitter has changed my life and I thank each and every member of my PLN and those that participate in #echat for the valuable things you have taught me. You can read my blog at stumpteacher and you can follow me on Twitter @stumpteacher.

New to Edchat?

If you have never participated in an #Edchat discussion, these take place twice a day every Tuesday on Twitter. Over 1,000 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!

December 7, 2010

What are Some of the Ways Schools Can Deliver Meaningful Professional Development

Filed under: Edchat — rliberni @ 4:40 pm

#Edchat 11-30–2010 – 18:00 CET 12 PM EST

Thank you to Debra Finger (@teacherdebra) for this week’s #edchat summary. PD is a topic close to everyone’s heart on #edchat and it was a very animated discussion with some people sharing good practice while others bewailed the fact that they had no input. All of this has been captured beautifully in Debra’s summary. Let’s hope that we can all take some of these examples of best practice and persuade our institutions to implement them. In any case we are all agreed that #edchat provides great PD every week!! Thanks Debra. Read more about Debra in her bio at the end of the post.

This topic generated hundreds of responses from this week’s participants. It was lively and fast-paced and at times difficult to keep up with everyone’s points. Many feel very passionate about professional development, how it’s delivered, modeled and selected. Several common threads came out of the discussion. 

Here are some of the main themes from the discussion:

  • PD should be hands on with time to use what we are learning
  • Administrators need to model the behavior themselves
  • PD needs to be meaningful, relevant and authentic
  • Teachers need to take charge of their own PD
  • Teachers need to be engaged, active learners, much like the way we want our students to be
  • PD should be self-directed
  • Teachers should create the agenda
  • Teachers need to have choices
  • Teachers should teach other teachers and showcase their successes

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.

@rliberni: ADMINISTRATORS should attend PD workshops for support and enlightenment. Model behavior. Be the Change.
@bhsprincipal : We also need to get away from the idea that PD only happens on “PD Days” – PD happens every day for me! #edchat
@teacherdebra: Yes, once again, timing is everything. If there isn’t enough time to try out and collabor8, then it was just a meeting
MaggieSwitz: PD is also about celebrating what works – having your teachers showcase their successes so others can learn from them #edchat
@L_Hilt: Control needs to be relinquished. We need to trust that our teachers know how they need to grow professionally
@infodivabronx: PD that answers our unique needs will more likely be internalized by staff
@MZimmer557: #edchat – tchrs are tired of hearing about research based strategies in PD…they want to hear from teachers what works in their classroom
@cybraryman1: I feel there should be a menu of choices of PD for teachers to meet their specific needs #edchat
@k_shelton: I support a model similar to a conference. Teachers propose topics, many are offered, and teachers choose what they want to attend #edchat
@ShellTerrell: If schools truly believe in their teachers&that they R effective then y not get teachers 2 take charge of PD?#edchat
@SamGliksman: @ShellTerrell Good PD addresses WWH – What’s the (clear) obj., Why I need it & How to use it in class NOW? Practical and relevant #edchat

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

How can we get more administrators to embrace the conference model for PD OR
If we work backwards from the goal to the type of PD we need to meet these objectives, what are some areas of PD do teachers need to have to support their students’ learning while staying true to their own passions and interest?

To follow the complete discussion see here

For the stats on #edchat participation see here

As ever, there were some great links shared:

L_Hilt:  #edchat Include autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Teacher-led. Inspire them and they will deliver. http://bit.ly/gvCFon

todd_beach:  The first post for ‘Relentless Teaching’ – “How’s Your Feedback?” http://bit.ly/hOhS7t

onealchris:  @tomwhitby #edchat I’m trying to restructure my mandated “workshops” for principals – http://leaders.wikispaces.com

MissCheska:  @seamgreen 50 Open Courses on Teaching w/ Tech http://bit.ly/h0bODs

MissCheska:  @seamgreen PBS Online Teacher PD Line http://to.pbs.org/g7EhHh  #edchat #edtech

KaarenThompson:   #edchat an article I wrote about effective PD – would love some commentary http://ow.ly/3hC8H more an article on planning effective PD , still love feedback

bhsprincipal:  @mctownsley Here is our feedback from staff on the unconference model http://bit.ly/bXKBCF

dancallahan:  I wrote about what #edcamp has to teach us about PD http://bit.ly/bmaWwK  last week

carolynstarkey:  Study Points to Fewer ‘Dropout Factory’ #Schools http://t.co/EqQF6OC  via @educationweek #edchat #education

nancyrubin:  Twitter as a professional development tool http://janeknight.typepad.com/socialmedia/2010/11/twitter-as-.html

mrgypton:  L_Hilt: #edchat Include autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Teacher-led. http://bit.ly/gvCFon   & http://youtu.be/u6XAPnuFjJc

cybraryman1:  My Professional Development page (making PD more meaningful…): http://bit.ly/9qnKKK

vickicobb: Teach science with little know facts about daily life. http://bit.ly/bUzVx6

Janshs:  more thoughts on teacher PD – what’s the next step… http://t.co/ymVPzXM

rkiker:  @ShellTerrell @drdouggreen http://bit.ly/c9zFtc  Some ideas

neilstephenson:  Our entire PD framework is reflective: http://bit.ly/8z2Mss and collaborative: http://bit.ly/9QFZCo

daveandcori:  Some professional development ideas – http://goo.gl/bhVO

vickicobb:  How ’bout teachers learning from award-winning authors? Fun! http://inkthinktank.com  Look at authors on call via videoconferencing. #edchat

berkshirecat:  Allow time to pursue grants/interests. It’s not superlative. http://bit.ly/f0s4sy

cybraryman1: Great PD: My EdCamp/TeachMeet page: http://bit.ly/dg1Jsk  Ed Chats: http://bit.ly/cTpYFk

Shawn_Holloway:  good leadership article via @AndreaRichman29 http://bit.ly/9hocBA  #edchat #iowa1to1

CliveSir:  Your website has some of the best PD for teachers #edchat http://bit.ly/3FbQax| he gets my EB vote 🙂

ShellTerrell:  Free professional development webinars every Friday! Invite a friend! http://on.fb.me/dJkcSv


I am a K-5 technology teacher at an independent school in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. This is only my third year of a job that I fortunately fell into. Being a technology teacher and facilitator is not something I would have ever thought I would be. I am completely self-taught, knowing not much beyond email and internet when I began this job in 2008. I have been fortunate to have the time to spend learning about all of the tools and trying them out. Since joining twitter a year ago (@teacherdebra), my learning has increased tenfold. I cannot say enough how valuable twitter and my pln has been to my own as well as my students’ learning. We have benefited immensely. Here is a link to my wiki, my student’s wiki and the livebinder of resources I use with my students.

New to Edchat?

If you have never participated in an #Edchat discussion, these take place twice a day every Tuesday on Twitter. Over 400 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!

December 4, 2010

Professional Development for Parents

#Edchat 11-23–2010 – 18:00 CET 12 PM EST

I was really sorry that I missed this #edchat session as parental involvement in schools is a real passion for me. Having 4 daughters, I have seen great changes in attitudes to parents in school (my eldest is 30 my youngest 11) and mostly for the worse, sadly. Here in the UK some attitudes towards parents in schools are quite frankly bonkers! Parents are, in my opinion a great and often untapped resource – their knowledge and talent should be exploited by schools not feared.

Who better to put together our summary this week than Ainslie Hunter (@ainsliehunter) on behalf of Parentella! This is a really challenging area for teachers and schools and I think this comes across in the summary – some great comments and amazing links. It gives us all food for thought – are we exploiting this relationship as much as we might? Thank you Ainslie!

Here are some of the main themes from the discussion: 
Parent Engagement is important and necessary:  All involved in the #edchat agreed were extremely passionate about getting more parents involved in schools.  

Difficulties with creating Parent Engagement:  Some difficulties were raised as well as strategies for improvement.  The chat involved a debate as to whether the school should supply suggested PD topics to parents or whether parents should be asked their opinion.  Suggested ways for ascertaining the ideas of parents included polls and surveys.  Other concerns raised were related to how to get parents to turn up to such events, and specifically the right parents.

Specific Professional Development Ideas:  There was a broad selection of PD topics discussed in the #echat.  Examples included

  • Technology – the pitfalls, uses, digital citizenship, online safety, changing ‘tech bans’ at school
  • Day to day teaching – homework, assessment, examples of class work and units
  • School – school vision
  • Student – ways to improve personal responsibility and develop independence, time management, child development, 21st century learning
  • How parents can help at home – homework, reading, assessment
  • Pathways after school – College, Alternatives to College

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.

@MissShuganah – The problem I see is that parents are often afraid of teachers. They could be allies if they knew what teachers/schools needed

@davidwees – The first thing I would do is ask parents what they would like for PD. If we want choice, I’m betting they want choice
@ericjuli – Shifting perceptions of what school is/is not. A parent and childs school experience doesnt need to be synonymous 
@tomwhitby – @davidwees: There is always the point to be made that they don’t know what they don’t know, so how can they direct what they need?
@davidwees –  @tomwhitby Sure, but same argument holds for our students. You can say “here are a bunch of things we think you might like
@ShellTerrell – The problem with PD for parents is the same as the parents’ evening issue – the ones that should be there don’t turn up.

@ericjuli – Parent and Educator goals for children are not always aligned. Need to work on finding common ground on goals of education #edchat

@stumpteacher: i think parents just need help getting connected with their kid, school, and the world they live in

@laura_horan – Let’s help parents understand how expectations are different today. Get rid of the rear-view mirror of their education

@VanessaSCassie – I think the first step to PD with parents is maintaining consistent communication (more than twice a yr at parent-teacher interviews #edchat

@hadleyjf: – We need to help parents feel included, not excluded, by the tools we teach their children.

@CTuckerEnglish – How can we keep lines of communication open w/out placing unrealistic expectations on teachers?

@HOPEinSchools: – Partnerships must be based upon common interest and an understanding there is a common goal: student success. #edchat

@Olafelch – The biggest enemy in this whole debate is the blame game

@gellesastar – As a start how about offering voluntary, low key sessions for those who are interested. I think it may mushroom.

@teachingwthsoul: – We need to also seek out our parents who have the skills to provide the PD. This gets overlooked a lot. Los of gr8 resources!

@ricjuli – Do we ask parents what they want from us or do we try to fit p’s into our pre-conceived ideas of what they ought to do for us?

@EduTechSmith – it is hard to remember at times that both teachers and parents have the same goal-to raise an honest, independent, motivated kid #edchat

@EduTechSmith: – How do we convince students to reach out to their parents for involvement?

@GaryBrannigan: Even if parents can’t contribute to the school in big ways, their presence in school communicates volumes to kids #edchat

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

How can we keep lines of communication open w/out placing unrealistic expectations on teachers?

To follow the complete discussion see here 

For the stats on #edchat participation see here 

As ever, there were some great links shared:

briankotts:  Exams culture ‘fuelling teenage mental health problems’ http://bit.ly/eG7zQY /via @Telegraph #edchat #ukedchat #eduswe

briankotts:   Why We Should Get Rid Of Homework Part 1-3 http://bit.ly/b3A0Mi #edchat

cybraryman1:  My College Information page: http://bit.ly/5cpEXz #edchat

#edtech20 -free eSafety project in the clouds for teachers worldwide finalist in eLearning Awards 2010 http://t.co/7b8vkmP  join free #edchat

Please Don’t Tell Me That http://is.gd/hsexG  One thing I mention is a need for shared language.

MeganLearner:  @cybraryman1 I agree! And also to coordinate how much time kids are spnding w tech-home and school http://nyti.ms/eEIRwh #edchat

cybraryman1:  For parents/teachers My Cyber Safety/Awareness/Citizenship page: http://bit.ly/5fDZ4f  #edchat

@ShellTerrell We created a blog for staff, students and parentsto have a voice for our School Plan! http://bit.ly/eT2DKo  #edchat

davidwees:  Big problem here: How to let your child live their life instead of YOUR life. http://youtu.be/RmLzAkmastE  #edchat #helicopterparents

cybraryman1:  @jgmac1106 My Early Morning Library program was extremely successful http://bit.ly/aWQvtM #edchat

cybraryman1: We have to work more on Parent-Teacher Communication: http://bit.ly/cdBRK1  #edchat

kbakerIEE: We do PD-4-Parents in these areas http://excellenceandethics.com/programs/P2A_8_FocusAreas.pdf  #Edchat more@ excellenceandethics.com/blog

jonathanfields: Is Twitter The Ultimate Creation Killer? – http://ow.ly/3dBoT  #smchat #socialmedia #edchat

ChildWillRead:  Separating Boys and Girls…A Good Thing? What do YOU think? #edchat http://bit.ly/cfEQKa

cybraryman1:  @birklearns My Math Help page: http://bit.ly/60ahfW  #edchat

ShellTerrell:  Parentella is a free online social network for parents to get them engaged with teachers & the school http://bit.ly/2ZEl3V  #edchat

cybraryman1: My library was a noisy hub . http://bit.ly/aWQvtM

cybraryman1:  Parents as partners in education. My Parent Involvement sites: http://bit.ly/FpgFV

briankotts:  Spreading Homework Out So Even Parents Have Some http://nyti.ms/9sYS4j  /via @NYTimes #edchat

Google Voice – great for teachers http://goo.gl/fb/zD4jC  #edtech, #edchat

davidwees:  Another article I wrote for our parents: How do you turn yourself into a 21st century learner? http://wees.it/6q  #edchat

davidwees:  Article I wrote for our parent newsletter: How can we use social media as a tool? http://wees.it/er  #edchat

GaryBrannigan:  Solving Homework Problems: 9 Suggestions http://bit.ly/94VIVH  via @AddToAny #education #edchat #ptchat #spedchat

GaryBrannigan:  More Ways To Solve Homework Problems: 6 More Suggestions http://bit.ly/bvRarO  via @AddToAny #Edchat #ptchat #spedchat

MZimmer557:  Twitter Chat Schedule http://goo.gl/wqdCu  #edchat #edtech

davidwees: article I wrote for our parents: How do you turn yourself into a 21st century learner? http://wees.it/6q  #edchat #pwsd

JonathanEMartin:  Blogged: Gratitude as a virtue & a practice: remarks to students & grandparents: http://wp.me/poMQP-EQ  #cpchat #edchat

MarjieKnudsen:  For the good of the child? or the teacher? http://bit.ly/e3gMjw  v  @HackettKimberly #pto #kids #youth #edchat

This post was written by Ainslie Hunter, writer for Parentella, the free social networking site for parents and educators.

New to Edchat?

If you have never participated in an #Edchat discussion, these take place twice a day every Tuesday on Twitter. Over 400 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!

December 3, 2010

My Edublog Award Nominations 2010


A bit of a ‘last minute Larry’ (again!) but at the eleventh-hour I am happy to share my personal nominations.

There is so much out there and the list of  educators producing valuable and thought-provoking content is growing so fast that it’s sometimes overwhelming!! As each year goes by the wealth of great ideas and techniques continues to grow – so does collaboration and this can only be a good thing.  So…..

My Personal Recommendations for the Edublog Awards 2010 are:

Best individual blog – Kalinago English  – Karenne Silvester

Best individual tweeter – Cecilia Lemos Coelho (@cecilialcoelho)

Best class blog – Our Good News  – Greta Sandler

Best resource sharing blog – The Cybraryman website

Most influential blog post  – The 30 Goals Challenge   – Shelly Terrell

Most influential tweet / series of tweets / tweet based discussion –  #ELTchat

Best teacher blog –  A Journey in TEFL  – Eva Buyuksimkesyan

Best librarian / library blog – Library Tech Musings – Gwyneth A. Jones

Best educational use of audio – Breaking News English  – Sean Banville

Best educational use of video / visual – Teacher Training Videos  – Russell Stannard

Best educational wiki –  Celebr8UandMeDigitally  – Eva Büyüksimkeşyan and Alexandra Francisco

Best educational podcast –  EdTechLive  – Steve Hargadon

Best educational webinar series – Serendipity & Topic sessions  – Jo and Phil Hart

Best educational use of a social network – The Educator PLN ning – Tom Whitby

Best educational use of a virtual world –  Slanguages Conference – Heike Philp

Best use of a PLN – #Edchat

Best of luck everybody!!

December 2, 2010

Sharing your teacher’s life – courses in a teacher’s home

Studying over a cup of coffee!

Having students come and live and study in your home is no mean undertaking for either the student or the teacher but with some careful planning and a lot of give and take, the experience can be very rewarding for both.

As total immersion language learning experiences go living with your teacher has to be one of the best. Not only are you dropped into a full language experience, you are also surrounded by the culture, social life and even the petty goings-on of an English, Scottish, US etc. household – you become part of the life in that house for the period that you are there. You need to be prepared for this – you will have to share your teacher’s life for the duration of your stay.

The great advantage of doing this is that you have, on tap, your own ‘language expert’, not only to teach you, but also as a resource for all your questions and uncertainties.

Far from being mundane, you can find yourself  involved in some interesting events that give you extra chances to practise and learn! A student of mine recently joined us at the family celebration of a 90th birthday! It was a formal, private party in a restaurant in Tunbridge Wells (she was staying with me in Yorkshire) and it gave her the chance to speak with a lot of native speakers (there were over 60 people) and see another part of England. These kinds of occasions provide authentic opportunities for you to use the skills you are developing in your course. They can be challenging but they are also very valuable.

Attending a large function

Not all students can expect to be entertained in such a way but your teacher will make sure that you are included in their daily activities and you must make the most of these chances to use your English in a real and yet unthreatening way. You may think that it would be impossible to manage in such situations but in fact the very fact of it being a real situation and not a classroom exercise helps you to function. The people who are asking you questions about your country, job, family etc.. really do want to know, they are not just role-playing – this is it for real!!
Whatever time of year you choose to come there are interesting places and activities for you to enjoy in addition to the high quality language lessons you will do with your teacher. Teachers want to share their local area, customs, and celebrations with you.
So how do we manage time on these courses?
Let me give you a run-down of a typical day with my students. Other teachers may do this differently but you can expect a mix of formal lessons, social time and planned activities on most immersion courses done in a teacher’s home.
  1. The day begins with breakfast – which for my students is cereal, bread, sometimes eggs We have this around 8.30
  2. Lessons start at 9.30 and go through to 12.45 with a coffee break in the middle
  3. Lunch at 1.00 soup, sandwiches, salad – sometimes students ask to prepare something – I love this!
  4. Some afternoons we go out, others are spent studying tasks I have assigned or students have chosen. Some of my students need to connect with their offices in the afternoons (it breaks the immersion – but if it’s necessary this can be the time to do it)
  5. We meet again around 4.30 for another hour’s lesson or to chat over a cup of tea and maybe some homemade cake or biscuits!
  6. Most students then like to have some personal time to watch TV or relax – I can prepare dinner.
  7. After dinner (8 – 9 ish) some students want to retire to their rooms, others want to watch TV – we usually have a couple of movie nights together!
  8. Then we start again!

Shopping in Harrogate!

Weekends are a mix of organised trips or free time where students are welcome to hang around the house, go out for walks or catch the bus to the local town.

Who do these courses suit?

Of course this is not for everybody. Some people would run a mile at the thought of living in someone else’s home! That is fine. If you are looking for somewhere to learn a lot of English in a short time, want to find out a bit about the culture in the UK, don’t mind joining in family life, don’t necessarily need an en suite bathroom and are happy to be flexible and adaptable, then this should suit you well. If you are none of these then you may want to consider carefully whether this type of course would work for you.

If you decide to go for it then you should have a really good experience!


  You need to remember that this is your teacher’s home.
  • Respect their privacy and that of the other members of the family. They must also respect yours.
  • They are your personal English resource for the duration of your stay but if you wear them out they won’t be any good to you so be sensitive to the teacher’s need for personal time.
  • Most teachers want you to be involved with all the activities of the family while you stay with them. Embrace this chance as it gives you real situations in which to use and develop your English but don’t be shy about refusing if you really don’t want to be involved in something.
  • Don’t hide in your room! If you are not sure what to do in-between lessons ask your teacher if you can help with anything – most of my students end up in the kitchen with me! Remember these are the times when you are using English spontaneously and learning language that you will probably never find in a course book!

For the teacher it is a little like ‘going underground’ – the focus is on the student for the duration of the course as they want to give you the best experience they can.

Sharing your teacher’s life is a great way to learn a language and the hidden benefits in terms of culture, meeting new people and really experiencing life in another country are even more valuable!

Some other posts on  immersion courses:

 Total immersion English courses – fast, furious and fun!

Language immersion

Creating a teacher workshop

Fleetham Life

Find out more about my Immersion courses

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