Monday, 29 September 2014

Project 52 Week 39

A continuation of the lovely weather is such a bonus at this time of the year. My classes are interesting - and I only have a couple of weeks before my Cert course starts.


Recycling today. I think if I can get everything finished before next week I will have time to relax. My family are quite good at cleaning, but they never tidy anything away! We always seem to collect enough to recycle every couple of weeks. It would be great to have a doorstep collection, but our Parish hasn't got that bit organised yet. They do have their own Parish dump though, so that's where we'll head off to next....


When I came home from work I saw that my neighbours had put a For Sale notice outside their house. Liam next door died this year, and now Joao and Susanna are moving- lots of change in our small neck of the woods. They live in the bottom flat- and they are hoping to sell for a huge sum of money. It makes me wonder how much ours would be worth if we put it on the market :-)


Tonight's sunset was amazing. The colours of pink, orange and yellow made the sky look fantastic. I suppose we can look forward to a good day tomorrow. I noticed the colours as I came downstairs and rushed out to take a photo. My family are getting used to me doing such things- but my neighbours think I am mad.


Malcolm needed the car today, so he gave me a lift to work. We stopped en route to take a picture of the sparky sea.


My whole life seems to be centred around St Aubin this week. I go to work there, and also the Branchage Film festival is based there this year. There are some excellent films, with live musical accompaniment. Stefan, who works with me, plays in a band, and they are doing the soundtrack to a History of Witchcraft through the ages, tomorrow and Saturday. I must try to get a ticket to go.
This the B for Branchage sign. I've seen them around for a few weeks- and didn't realise what they were.


Another beautiful morning on the way to work. It is really uplifting to drive round the coast in the morning. Every day is different.


We have been told to watch out for spiders. By all accounts, they are huge and plentiful this year. On leaving the house today, I saw an enormous yellow spider spinning the most intricate web. It is still there today.


The end of the film festival was heralded by an invitation to a sight and sound show in St Aubin. The plan was to use the fort as the backdrop for a light display and to use the Radiophonics (who invented the Dr Who theme in the 1960s) live, on the roof of the Royal Channel Yacht Club. We drove out  as a family, parked in the college car park, and walked down to join 5,000 other people. The show was superb. The colours were crisp and the definition was excellent. The music was perfect as a soundtrack. I loved the little bit of Dr Who in the middle. The lights showed the Tardis on top of the fort :-). Below is a little bit that a journalist filmed, just to give you an idea

Sunday, 28 September 2014

#ELTchat Summary 24th September 2014

#Eltchat : Why do we always see the same faces when we take part in online PD and MOOCs?

We were not many in number for the chat this week, but had a full complement of moderators, together with around 20 participants. That didn't stop the plethora of interesting comments which were tweeted during the hour.

The topic was prompted by my observation that the same faces keep on appearing on forums and chatlists for the webinars and free MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) taking place throughout the year. @muranava suggested that this wasn't necessarily a bad thing, as you might put your trust in the course more if there were familiar names taking part too.

Another question was why so many people sign up, yet fail, or appear to fail, to complete the course.
@HadaLitim mentioned a course she had done with IH, which contained names she was
unfamiliar with. I wondered whether that was a feature of  paid PD. So I asked the question....

Does it make a difference if the online course is paid for?

It appears that many people thought that it could certainly influence the people who would be able to pay for online CPD. They would be more likely to complete the course programme and put more into it.
@ShaunWilden thought that the course provider might also make a difference. @Ven_VVE thought that a well-designed online course would provide more interaction between participants and tutors, in comparison to a MOOC.

@MarjorieRosenbe mentioned the webinars provided by IATEFL and the various special interest groups. She thought that they attracted different groups of teachers.

Why do people register and then give up ?

@Marisa_Constantinides wanted to find out the answer and a variety of reasons were mooted:
  • unrealistic expectations of what is involved
  • too much choice of material
  • an overload of material in a short time period
  • webinar fatigue
  • spoilt for choice and indecisive so avoid getting involved
  • the other participants slacking
  • clunky websites which are not user friendly
  • People force themselves to do it and don't recognise full benefit
  • @Marisa_Constantinides told us about her first course which compressed everything into a 5-day timetable which was too short for the tasks. She said that the dropout rate was impressive- starting with 180 participants, she finished with 12. She also suggested that many people might be lurking and not actually doing the work due to differing factors.
  • Perhaps there is so much choice that people choose the wrong course

What could help?

@Marisa_Constantinides : spacing out tasks stops people getting bogged down in family matters and giving up
@klgree: finding a partner or mentor would help
@klgree: options to suit peoples needs and comfort with technology: webinars, Moocs or just #ELTchat on twitter.
@josipa74: is 'contemplative computing' the answer? 
@Marisa: people starting online PD often do not have the habit of organising their  learning, so many of those courses where you have to manage your own time need a training component at the beginning.
@SueAnnan: personally I find MOOCs chaotic. I like deadlines where everyone is on the same timescale.@ShaunWilden: this is the conclusion that many people are coming to.
@StudyBundles: twitter is an accessible point for those not necessarily interested in online PD.
@jankenb2: how about badges or some other quantifiable measures of participation?
@HadaLitim: It would need to be a recognised accreditor in some parts of the world.
@klgree: group discussions for local teachers taking a MOOC seems to aid course completion.
@slagoski23: we found adopting the #EDcamp model helps to increase motivation.

How do we sell it to the 'What do I get out of it' brigade? 


@ChristineMulla felt that it was hard to engage teachers in Ireland. This was re-iterated by @edchatirl who thought that some teachers were engaging in the wrong CPD and not getting qualifications they could use in Ireland.
 Perhaps a suggestion that better teachers equals happier students might work? 
 @Hada thought that more money was a good motivator- or the collection of certificates.This was agreed by @ChristineMulla who thought that we could add recognition, or something for the CV, to our list.
@MarjorieRosenbe thought that we should be doing it for ourselves, and not for others, but @Marisa claimed that the disinterested would only be motivated by tangible evidence such as a boost to their career.

Does it suit some learning styles more than others?

 People agreed that it might be too impersonal for some of our colleagues. Perhaps some of us learn better with f2f components in our courses.@jospia74 agreed that a bit of f2f work  twice a year made her  online MA more enjoyable. @StudyBundles did his MA as a completely online course and said that he would have loved to have had a f2f element.
@jankenb2 told us that she didn't always finished a course but took what was useful to her from the different elements.
@edchatirl: I'd be lost without twitter chats. Great CPD for me.
@muranava offered a link after saying that various learners often walk away with different results and rewards.

How do Employers perceive online PD? 

@Marisa thought that employers were often not engaged with online CPD and don't understand the benefits. @Christine believes that people are not aware of how much can be got from online learning. Although @Shaun thought that the situation was changing, @Hada suggested a note of caution. She said that anything not delivered f2f was still not recognised in many countries.

How about the PD provided by employers themselves? 

Everyone agreed that ongoing professional development is a must after an initial qualification. Should it be compulsory? One question asked was "Where does it leave teachers with no PD in the future? @klgree felt that it could be foreign to teachers who had had little pre-, or in-service training.
@Christine made a good point. She wanted a distinction between personally motivated CPD and CPD as a box-ticking exercise just for the sake of it. @klgree and @Hada wanted to be assured that the PD was relevant to all of the participants, or worried that it just elicited groans.
@Marjorie said that a webinar was preferable as they only last an hour.

Why, then, do we do it? 

@ChristineMulla: I do it for me- I haven't really thought about certificates
@StudyBundles: I record it in our compulsory 30 hours we have to submit
@ShaunWilden : I am taking part in a MOOC. I started offering online CPD because schools couldn't do it f2f
@edchatirl: I can see the value which I was shown last year while doing my Post Grad.
@HadaLitim: I'm interested in what's happening out there and growing my PLN.
@josipa74: we are doing CPD in Berlin with our own teacher's group
@jankenb2: licensing requires PD hours which can easily be met by MOOCs.

Is there any way to monetise MOOCS and make them pay for hard-working, skilled trainers?

@josipa74 wondered whether it was possible.
@ShaunWilden suggested that if you lowered the numbers, hired capable tutors and offered it as an online class it would work.
@jankenb2 thought that it was an ideal scenario, but not necessary. She explained that good online design included synchronous sessions and a monitored discussion board.

Where can we find out what's on offer? 

@KateLloyd05 thought that there was so much choice she didn't know where to start. @SueAnnan saw the vicious circle at play: you need to be online, FB, Twitter, Google+, email to find out what is on offer online. @ShaunWilden said that he had done courses with Coursera, who then added him to their email list. I did the same with the consultants-e and iTDi. If you belong to IATEFL or another such body of accreditation, they will have a list of everything on offer for months in advance. This is also true of the EFL publishers like MacMillan or Oxford University Press.
Suggested Facebook pages were those of IATEFL, BELTA ,Tesol EVO, iTDi, Webinars for English Teachers and others of that genre.

In fact there are now so many free webinars taking place that it is lucky that most of them are  recorded for the people who can't watch them all at the same time. As @HadaLitim pointed out competition raises standards, and there are certainly some excellent offerings around. 

Some links for your perusal: 

Marisa's post from 2010 

Shaun and Marisa's IATEFL presentation
Nik Peachey on MOOCs
Belta Webinar
 Coming up on #ELTbrain

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Project 52 Week 38

The time is really passing fast now.It doesn't seem that we have many weeks until the end of the year. The weather is still beautiful here, although it is turning autumnal- long may it continue !!

Sunday 14th

We decided to celebrate Cass's birthday when we all had time to sit down together. I know that she loves raspberries so I tried to make her a raspberry dessert in a jelly mould. I had my fingers crossed as I served it up that it wouldn't collapse- and it seemed to work. It tasted better than it looks- and there was enough for dessert for Monday too.


Well, Monday found me with a very demanding student, who was completely on my wavelength. She decided that she didn't want any other teachers for the week, so we were able to set our own agenda and timetable. When I got home at lunchtime I found that my house was falling down around my ears. The filter on the washing machine was blocked- so it wouldn't empty. I switched the lights on in the dining room- and they blew. And Cairis dropped my big steam iron, which ended up completely foutu. All this at a time when we are still waiting for our plumber to definitively sort our leak!!! I fixed the filter myself, sent M to buy new bulbs and a new switch, and popped over to the Co-op to buy a new iron.


I have been waiting for today for ages. The window people came to change the window in my laundry. In fact we like it so much that we are now discussing doing the same in the bedroom.
 The sashes aren't really strong enough for such heavy windows and we keep replacing them on a regular basis. I saw the other ones, which open outwards, in France and though they would be much better. So far so good.


Today my student and I decided to visit the German War Tunnels. This was a very interesting experience for her and we had a lot to discuss. We then had a walk along the coast to look at some of the old fortifications.


Today the ELTchat moderators had a Skype chat about some interesting developments to be announced soon. It was fun  to actually have all of us together and to be able to see and hear each other. We used the time well - and even encouraged Marisa to put in a proposal for IATEFL, although she only had a few hours to submit it. It was a good distraction from the Scottish Referendum. It is hard to have no say in the changes, but I don't live there any more, so can just worry from afar.


My lovely student booked to come back in a few months. She also surprised me with a beautiful garden trug, full of lovely fruit. Many of our longer term students were also leaving, so next week will see a lot of fresh faces.


A lazy day today. I met up with my friend to find out how she was enjoying her new job. She gave me a little cat necklace which she found- to add to my collection. When I was on holiday I found an Italian leather organiser bag, which is very soft. It is great for work, but a bit big for the weekend, so I transferred things into a smaller one. When I got home, I found Maisie comfortably ensconced on the leather one. I'm not quite sure how it ended up on the coffee table, but she was very happy to sit on it and took a bit of convincing to get off it.

Lets hope next week is a bit more relaxing on the home front!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Project 52 Week 37

Although it was hot while we were away, I heard that it was lovely here too. And so was the weather this week- perfect, and expected to carry on into the next week.
After a couple of days back, I felt like I had not been away:-)


I left M to sort out an appointment with the plumber, and went off to work.I had my old students back, and it was nice to be aware of their progress after being away from them.  Sometimes we are too close to notice the difference. The warm weather had created a problem with wasps, so I was interested to see the traps on the trees in the courtyard. They are filled with sugar water and, once inside, the wasps drown.


At the start of the year we had to cut back a tree which was threatening our cabin. I was amazed to notice that it had grown a huge leafy mass- but even stranger, it had started to grow out from its roots. I was a bit tired today as the plumber hadn't actually fixed the problem and we were woken in the night by the leak dripping into the trug we had placed underneath.



 I was looking forward to today, as #ELTchat was due to start up again. Hada and I moderated, and didn't disgrace ourselves. I was just settling down to sleep when the ceiling gave way under the water leak!!! It seems that there is something wrong with the header tank, and of course, when the plumber comes in the daytime , everyone has used water for a shower so there is no problem. Our own plumber is off sick, so we will need to wait until he comes back next week to get it sorted properly. Now we have to shut the water off each night to get some sleep.


Today was the old Battle of Britain Air Display, which was renamed The International Air Display. I started teaching early, as you can't hear yourself think when the planes pass overhead. Then I wandered down to the harbour with my students to watch the display. My favourites are the Red Arrows and they always finish the programme in style. There were many people watching all round the bay.


Today is the start of the Jersey Regatta, sponsored by UBS this year.  Today Cairis is crewing for her dad, and the rest of the weekend she is driving the rescue rib and doing duty on the finish line boat. I expect that my weekend will be very relaxing. I'll be able to catch up on some housework and prepare for my CertTESOL course which is coming up soon. I'll be really happy when the roadworks at St Aubin are finished- they seem to have lasted all year.


Today is Cairis's 25th birthday. I didn't actually see her this morning as she was off to her boat at the crack of dawn, but I picked her some flowers from her rose in the garden and left her a card. We are planning to do something tomorrow when Miles comes to dinner. In the evening I was playing for a fund-raiser for the Leprosy Mission. The ceilidh was in St Martin, which has beautiful buckets of flowers outside the hall. While waiting for the others, I took a photo of the amazing sky.


Having got rid of everyone early again, I prepared a special dessert for dinner and then did some laundry. Our new window is coming on Tuesday, so I don't want a mess in the room where they will be working. There is a sense of achievement when it is all washed, ironed and put away, anyway :-)
I then popped out for my Sunday flowers and parked the car back in the co-op space, where I saw that there had been a proliferation of signs???

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Project 52 Weeks 35 and 36

The first of these two weeks was very boring. I was so geared up to going on holiday, that I couldn't wait for the weekend to arrive.


A Bank Holiday- but I had to work as usual.
We were given the very sad news that my next door neighbour had passed away. He was diagnosed with a Leukemia-type cancer just three months ago, while on holiday in the UK. He came home last weekend, but suffered a relapse and passed away in hospital. He was a great guy and will be sadly missed. Unfortunately we will be away next week and unable to go to the funeral.


Ebony has worked out that something is going on and is following me around like a little dog. I need to be careful that she doesn't end up in my suitcase:-)


It has rained every day so far. At least my garden won't need too much care while we are off island. I spent most of my afternoon interviewing people for my CertTESOL course in October. They seem like good candidates. When I got home I downloaded a pile of books for next week. I plan to hole up and read for at least part of the time.


Some lovely Jersey Lilies. I meant to post the picture last week, but couldn't find it on the computer :-)


One short day to get through. We decided to eat out and treated Cairis before leaving her with the cats for company. I remembered to pick up some Euros from the Post Office, and  did my packing. We went next door to pay our respects, which was a difficult occasion. It's really hard to know what to say in these circumstances.


We spent most of the day in Airports, travelling first to London and then to Heraklion. We arrived fairly late, but our apartment was waiting for us, air-conditioning at the ready.


Our first full day in Crete. We wandered down to the beach for breakfast, which gave us a chance to look around the area. It only took a few minutes to walk down from our apartment. The island in the distance is called Dia and they use it as a refuge for special white goats.
We spent the day lazing around and reading under a beach umbrella.


We took the bus into Heraklion today and did a city tour as always. This gave us an idea where the museums were, and we stopped off at the Minoan Palace of Knossos. It is believed to be more than 7,000 years old.


We went back to Heraklion to visit the History museum.
They had an exhibition of WW2 and M wanted to see if the information about his father's time on Crete would be mentioned.

I liked the way the art had developed over the centuries. These two bulls show the development in a few centuries. Look at the amount of detail in the second sculpture.


Today we decided to be lazy and spent the day on the beach, reading books and swimming. There were many restaurants to choose from, and we went with the cliched Zorbas, where the food was excellent and the man who was Front-of-House was  great.


After our lazy day we went up into the hills above Heraklion to the town of Arkalochori, about 33 kilometres to the south. We had a couple of hours to potter around before the bus would return, so we stopped to have a coffee first as it was quite hot. We found a music cafe which made fabulous iced coffees and decorated them beautifully. I loved the planted bikes around the streets too.


Earlier in the week we had booked a trip to West Crete, so we got up and wandered up to the bus stop where we found the coach. We first visited Arkadiou, a monastery in the mountains. It took a couple of hours to get there, along tortuous roads, and the views were fantastic. The monastery itself was important in the Cretan history in the war against the Turkish invasion. The martyrs bones are in an ossuary in the grounds.
We then went to look around the towns of Chania and Rethymno, which were full of Venetians remains, and very picturesque. I was hoping to catch up with Marisa in Chania, but the bus tour and her bus time didn't correspond, so it was not to be.


As today was our last day, we went out and about in Agia Pelagia, buying souvenirs and taking photos of the area. There was a cute apartment block with all the windows painted in different colours. I thought it was cute. There were many pomegranate and lime trees around, which looked almost ready to pick.
We left the island at stupid O'clock and arrived in London around two thirty in the morning. After getting from the South to the North terminal we found our hotel, and crashed.


Home- and not a minute too soon. Our header tank in the loft decided to spring a leak and came through the bedroom ceiling. If it had happened when we were away..... It doesn't bear thinking about! We thought that M had sorted the problem until it started dripping again at 2 in the morning!! We will call the plumber in the morning.