Friday, March 16, 2012

Week 10; final reflections but not others...

Yes, this is the last reflections. The course is end here, however, teaching skills, learning experience, great discussions, friendships, sharing knowledge and experience and my desire for enhancing students’ learning will never come to an end.

The journey of the webskills course is successfully reached to its destination before I realized that it is time to write the final week reflections. Firstly, I feel proud of myself for graduating a webskills online course for the first time in my life. I also feel elated with joy after learning the new teaching skills with effective technology tools and resources. I am very glad to meet my instructor, Janine Sepulveda and all the colleagues from different countries. At the same time, I am very sad to say goodbye to my tutor and colleagues. I am certain that my colleagues will have the same feeling at this time.

Honestly it is hard to say the best part of this learning experience since I feel that the whole online learning experience is wonderful and amazing for me. I gain a great amount of useful teaching skills through discussions on Nicenet, accomplishing the tasks, planning and implementing the project and reflecting weekly learning experience on blog. Most of the teaching techniques with marvelous technology tools I learned from this course are very new methods for traditional classroom situations in my country. I believe that I can be a great help with the knowledge I gain to the benefits of language classes in my country. I am going to share the teaching techniques with my colleagues at school and together we will apply these techniques in our teaching. Most of the teaching materials will work for us, however, some may not. No one knows exactly what will happen until we try it out in the next academic year. In my opinion, our teachers can be beneficial by using social bookmarking activity on Delicious, searching specific information and resources on NoodleTools, writing objectives in ABCD style, setting up alternative assessment with rubrics, creating online and offline exercises and tests using web-based tools, preparing a technology-enhanced lesson plan and reflecting teaching experience for professional development on blog. Wow, what a collections of amazing tools! Most of my colleagues and I like to create our own class on Nicenet after we have wonderful discussions through this class. Nicenet is a great course management system for enhancing students’ reading and writing skills and learners’ autonomy. And hey, we can’t leave the topic of Project-based learning (PBL) approach in our teaching. Students learn more by doing the tasks and I will give them many projects on WebQuest which is a nice inquiry-oriented task where teachers can evaluate students’ work with the rubric. Moreover, I am going to use interactive PowerPoint in my lessons which enhance students’ interactions more instead of one-way presentation lesson. Having one-computer in the class gives lots of advantages in learning and there are many effective online websites for practicing listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. Nicenet is not the only tool to create online course. I will create class blog and wiki where teachers can give assignments and students can share their learning experience, their works and comment on each other’s work. I really like the idea of creating keypal system since most of my students have their own E-mail account. I will create connections at school and then other schools in my country. As a next big step, I will form a connection with the schools from different countries. This can be simply done as I have many great friends from around the world in this course. I enjoy every discussion topic of pedagogical matters throughout the course and learned many new things from Janine and my colleagues. I feel that all these tools are effective and useful for teachers and each topic covers the most important parts of teaching and learning. I hope that webskills course can be offered many more innovative teaching techniques to the benefits of language learning around the world.

Please forgive me if I miss out something to mention from this amazing experience as I become emotional lately. This is one of the best memorable moments of my life and I will never forget all of you. A big thanks to the American Embassy, Rangoon, Burma for supporting me with tuition scholarship and I won’t get a chance to attend like this wonderful course without the help of Embassy and University of Oregon, American English Institute. Many thanks to our warm and resourceful tutor, Janine for her insights and encouragement to all of us. Last but not least, I really appreciate to all my colleagues for helping me, giving comments and actively participating in the course together. I am very happy that I have many friends who share the same interests of professions from around the world. I do hope to keep in touch with all of you and hope that you won’t forget me. Thank you everyone. Good luck and have a great success by contributing with your best skills to your community. 

With love and best wishes, 
Zun Phyu

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Learning about Learning Styles in week 9

This is week 9 already. How can I possibly believe that time has passed so quickly? Now our amazing course is at the ending point and I am already missing every part of it. I remember about week 1 when I was busy trying to figure out most of the course contents and wondering about the new colleagues I met in this course. Although we are attending distance course from different parts of the world, technology tools make us closer to have real communication and make learning possible everywhere.

This week is the busiest week for me. The year-end examination was held and I had to do corrections for students’ paper to meet mark sheets deadline. At the same time, I was working hard for my final project report. I am really happy and relieved that all the works have done on time and proud of me for working hard as well as upgrading my profession in my best. We discussed about “Technology and Learning Styles” this week. This was also another important and wonderful discussion topic for every teacher. Since we all know that different people learn in different ways, it is essential for teachers to take into account of different learning styles when designing the lessons. There is not one best teaching method that will work for all learners and all we have to do is teaching with a variety of activities that match with the student different learning styles. We should also keep in mind that students’ learning can be hindered when student learning styles and teaching styles do not match. Therefore, do not limit your teaching style to one method instead you had better incorporate various teaching strategies in your teaching. When talking about learning styles, many teachers think of Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences. Gardner says that people acquire knowledge in seven different ways and that they have competencies in each of the seven intelligences but are dominant in one. Currently, Gardner has identified nine intelligences.

  • Verbal-Linguistic              
  • Logical/Mathematical
  • Visual/Spatial                    
  • Bodily/Kinesthetic
  • Musical/Rhythmic             
  • Intrapersonal
  • Interpersonal                     
  • Naturalist
  • Existentialist

In this website about “Technology and Multiple Intelligences”, it describes that as teachers, it is crucial for us to understand a student’s strengths and weaknesses in each intelligence so that we can help students become more successful. I admit that it is challenging for me to meet each student preference learning styles in the class. I am still trying my best to teach with a variety of activities in order to help every student shine with their abilities. I have also learned that there are many ways technology can help meet the needs of various learning styles. Have a look at some of the following examples from the article “Do Technology Based Lessons Meet the Needs of Student Learning Styles?”


There are many programs that help students write or play music. Music is often used in computer programs to get attention or interest.

There are a variety of computer programs that teach logic and critical thinking skills, even in game formats which can be motivating to students. There are many drill and practice type programs that give experience in a variety of areas in math.

Graphics programs can help develop spatial perceptions and help develop creativity by allowing students to create their own designs. Browsing the Internet and organizing files, folders, and directories on a computer involve some spatial understanding.
One of the most important benefits of computer aided instruction is that it allows students to work at their own pace.
What marvelous ways to incorporate technology to meet different learning styles! Aren’t they? No one can deny that I had another great week learning all the new tips and ideas of teaching and learning. The last week is coming already! As usual, I am looking forward to it with full of joy, enthusiasm and commitment.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Week 8 is all about “Online Tools”

Every week this time, when I write my blog to reflect the learning experience I have mix feelings of satisfaction for all the works done, a chance to learn a great amount of technology tools and at the same time I feel a little bit sorrowful for the upcoming reality of end of the course. It is just left only two weeks before we say goodbye to each other. However, the course brings us with lots of pedagogical knowledge of using innovative tools that most of us have never heard or used before. Every week is rich with valuable ideas, tools and resources to explore.

Like the past seven weeks, I learned something new in week 8 and discussed about “Teaching with online Tools” in Nicenet. This week was all about online tools and I could see clearly how I could use these tools effectively with my students. I have gained some experience of using these tools already because I am learning with them as a student as well as reflect as a teacher how I might use them effectively for students’ learning. You may want to know them, right? Of course, they are no other than Nicenet, Blog, Google Sites for class website or wiki and Google docs for class surveys. I enjoy learning with these tools and I found that each tool has its useful unique way for the benefits of learning. For instance, Nicenet is good for written class discussion, Blogger is a place for teachers or students to post lessons and comments on class activities and if you want to share sites and files with students or students can share each other, you can use Google Sites. I took an advantage of creating one of them on my own and see how it works. I created a Nicenet class for sharing ideas among colleagues. The purpose is to introduce them with this useful tool while discussing how to integrate Nicenet in our teaching. We were having a great discussion and my colleagues ask me for sharing more innovative tools from this course. We will surely meet again in my workshops after this course. After all, unlike other careers, sharing and learning together is essential part of our teaching field, isn’t it? 

As this week highlight online tool, ANVILL (A National Virtual Language Lab) is introduced by Jeff Magoto, the director of Yamada Language Center and the designer of ANVILL. It is a course management system where teachers can create oral communication course. I would call it “a 21 century language lab” and it is clearly not like the one students learn in the language lab back in the old times. Jeff described it as “For us the "language lab" part of ANVILL shouldn't suggest a closed, impersonal system, rather we hope that it suggests to our users a place of "experimentation" and connection. Where content is fairly easy to display, where learners have multiple ways of interacting with it, and where opportunities always exist for them to step outside the glass bubble of the classroom to the world where language is really used. And that they have ways to talk about what they learned out there.”

ANVILL provides many useful features such as Voiceboard, Livechat, Forum, TCast etc. in which teachers can post questions and students can response making their own video and audio recordings. I definitely need to explore more about ANVILL and it will be one of the useful handy tools for enhancing students’ learning except that it needs good Internet connection but it’s FREE. You can create your own teacher’s account here

Moreover, it is really great to know a collection of useful online tools to create online or offline worksheets, flashcards, tests and games. My favorite is creating a variety of exercises using Hot Potatoes features such as JQuiz, JCross, JMatch, JMix, JCloze etc. Here is the list of useful tools that you can use in your teaching;

Well, another learning week has passed successfully and I’m looking forward to learning more next week. I’m not ready to say goodbye yet and of course, there is a big deadline for my final project and I’d better start working on it now.

And also, I am grateful for all the insights and encouragement from Janine, our tutor and many thanks to my dear friend, Gladys who helps me giving detailed and concrete feedback for different areas of my project. I really thank her for sharing her time replying me with feedback as soon as possible though she is very busy with her assignments and work. Lucky to have you as my partner, Gladys and thanks to all my colleagues from this course.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Ongoing project with one-computer lessons and learner autonomy in week 7

Here I am again, ready to reflect my learning experience during this week. Frankly, I was awed by a variety of technology tools I learned from this course every week. I had a great chance to discuss the valuable facts about pedagogical matters as well as innovative technology tools throughout the course. This week, I was struggled a bit to finish all the tasks with my project and work. However, my hope and passion towards learning gives me strong energy to accomplish any challenging tasks. Thanks to my family and friends who always encourage and help me. I would like to thank my tutor Janine here for giving us sincere complimentary and we can see how she is willing to help us out in every situations. Well, I know this is not our final week yet I feel so grateful for everything that happens to me that I can’t hold my genuine feelings. Frankly, taking an online distance course was a huge change of learning situations for me. There are times when I want to see my tutor and colleagues and talk about everyday learning experience during the course. Maybe this is the reason I like blogging where I can express my feelings and share ideas. 

“I never teach my students. I simply provide the situations in which they can learn.” Einstein

In week 7, we discussed about learner autonomy which is one of the teachers’ favorite topics. We all agree that learners’ awareness of their own learning plays the important role in learning language effectively.  I think any learning process will be successful if learners are really interested in their own learning. It is very important for teachers to help learners aware of their own learning. Janine highlighted the reality of teacher and learner autonomy that ‘The challenge lies in making it happen. There are various reasons for this: students are unused to this role, teachers don't have the autonomy they need, teachers may not know how to train their students to be more autonomous, etc.’ All these facts are essential to consider seriously for the development of learner autonomy. In my country, it is a huge challenge for teachers to create autonomy in the learning environment. Most of the students used to depend on teachers a lot. They are trying to get the answers from teachers instead of solving out the problem on their own. Teachers mostly provide the answer to the students and there are many reasons for doing so as they may not know about learner autonomy and they do not have their autonomy. I think we should do a big change in our education system to promote learner autonomy. For doing this, teachers also need to have their autonomy out of the limited rules of curriculum and school administrators to have more flexible teaching practices. This week reading article provides a good example with Samuel P-HSheu who tries to develop learner autonomy within these set constraints. He also suggests that it is better to leave the learner autonomy until students reach the freer atmosphere of a university or college, and the increased maturity. To nurture good learner autonomy, teachers and learners should have it in the early stage of the learning. 
What is more, I really like reading What is Learner Autonomy and HowCan It Be Fostered?’ by Dimitrios Thanasoulas. The author stated that ‘It is noteworthy that autonomy can be thought of in terms of a departure from education as a social process, as well as in terms of redistribution of power attending the construction of knowledge and the roles of the participants in the learning process.’ Therefore, we should consider seriously about the roles of learner to be aware of their own learning process. And also don't forget that teachers can be good role models for students so tell them the experience of your own learning. 

 No computer lab needed. Just one is super!

Another discussion thread for this week is promoting technology in the classroom that is creating one-computer lesson. The topic is well suited with my project in which I am teaching one-computer lesson for language practices using Internet resources. It helps me to have better lessons by showing how I can manage the one-computer class. This whole week, students absolutely enjoy learning in a new learning style. We had lessons in the class with one computer, in the video room where there is a computer and display unit of LCD screen and in the computer room. Fortunately, there wasn’t any problem of technology or Internet connection except for the last day. On Friday, the connection was down so I had to use my backup plan. Anyway, it is very useful to know the advantages of using one-computer classroom. In fact, using technology in the class can benefit for both teacher and students. I can use computer as an administrative tool for doing word processing, researching, lesson preparation, communicating, presentation, saving data etc. The thing I particularly like about is that using computer as stations for students. I absolutely like the idea of communication and information station. Earlier in the course, I am fascinated to create keypals communication system in my class. Thus, students can get a real communication with the real world as well as practicing the language. I found this wonderful blog about ‘6 Ways to TurnYour 1-Computer Classroom Into a Global Communication Center’. It is definitely worth reading this one if you are interested in transforming into global learning style in your classroom. Besides, computer can be used as a resource tool for getting all kinds of information. Students can be used CD-ROM encyclopedia for research, pictures, video and sound clips, etc. and of course using Internet to access libraries, projects, databases, addresses, etc. All these ideas are amazing! I found some of the great websites about one-computer classroom and I invite you to check them out in my Delicious

I am genuinely grateful for all the things that happened right now in my life. Thanks to my lovely tutor Janine, my dear colleagues and my beloved family and friends. I know this is not the final week yet... let’s continue our learning and sharing in the future, shall we?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Lots of engaging in Week 6

Another week greeted me with lots of interactive tools for engaging students in the class especially for large classes. In my country, the class size between the public schools and private schools are much different. Say, a typical class in public school has 70 or 75 students, whereas there are only maximum 24 students in the class of private school. I attended the public high school where I was familiar with the lecturing style learning environment. Mostly teacher lectures the whole class period and a little amount of learning takes place. According to the article ‘Enhancing Learning by Engaging Students’, students learning can be hindered by the following facts; 

  • Lack of student’s interaction with teacher
  • Lack of structure in lectures
  • Lack of or poor discussion
  • Inadequate contact with teaching assistants
  • Inadequacy of classroom facilities and environment
  • Lack of frequent testing or graded assignments

It clearly stated that lack of students’ interaction with teacher and poor discussion are important issues to be considered in creating learner-centered large classes. So, let’s avoid giving long lectures in the class and involve students in their own learning. Actually, they are the ones who need to participate, discuss and do all the learning stuffs. We, teachers are just acting as guides showing a good way for their learning and we should create a better learning environment where all the students are actively involved.

There are a number of great ways to enhance students’ learning. One of the essential ways is to involve them in the learning. How to involve? It’s simple and easy, just gives them a task to finish within both in and out of class. Make sure that the task should be suitable for your students’ level and interesting. For instance, try PBL (Project-based Learning) approach with your students. PBL includes lots of students’ discussion, co-operation, critical thinking and peer evaluation skills which are great for enhancing learning in a collaborative way. By reading lots of good articles about engaging students, I have learned more great ways to use in my class such as Think-Pair-Share, ConcepTest, Quick-thinks, Minute Paper, Concept Maps etc. You can read how each activity can be used for in ‘Enhancing Learning by Engaging Students’ and more activities in ‘Interactive Lectures’ and ‘How to give interactive lecture’.  

My favorite way of engaging students is using Interactive PowerPoint in class. Not the usual PPT presentation, but it’s interactive. It sounds interesting, doesn't it? The usual way of using PPT is showing presentation where the presenter talks the whole time, showing slides after slides without pausing, providing the answers to all the questions and just letting students click on the slide show. However, PPT can be used interactively by letting students to be involved in their learning. It is really great to see Deborah’s presentation which includes examples of interactive elements. So, next time when I think about engaging students with technology, PowerPoint will be another interesting alternative way to use in the class.

After all, no one can deny that week 6 is another amazing week with marvelous tools and ideas.

As the technology-enhanced project goes by in week 6…..

For the past five years, teaching language with technology like Internet is a fantasy dream for me. I have never thought of the useful way of Internet beyond finding information, communicating with friends, networking, reading news, e-books, and articles and using other entertainment programs. Besides that, Internet is a huge resources bank for me as I always download various kinds of worksheets and activities. Did I mention teaching using Internet? Neither had I done that in my life nor had any idea of my students learning language directly from Internet. For me, the only means of technology using in the class are CD player, projector and computers with some learning software.

No one knows what will happen in the future but one should seek to achieve their dream despite all the barriers. It is my dream of teaching students to use international language fluently in their lives. Taking this Webskills course is a rare chance for me and I enjoy learning new things every week. When I knew about doing a final project with innovative tools from the course, teaching using Internet was the first thing that came up in my mind. Thanks to many effective language practice websites, I could be able to teach my first technology-enhanced lesson as my project this week. When I first created the technology-enhanced lesson plan in week 4, I thought using suitable language practice websites can enhance students’ motivation and learning. I included one of the lessons with a different approach in my lesson plan in this week. The lesson is for practicing listening, grammar and vocabulary skills based on the context of ‘food and drinks’ with the use of Internet in the class. My lesson stages are :
Warming-up, Pre-teach vocabulary game, Pre listening, While listening, Vocabulary exercises and Post listening

Students practiced listening and vocabulary exercises about ‘Food’ from Randall’s Cyber Listening Lab.
Then, they played ‘Hangman’ game about ‘Food and Drinks’ on

Actually, I wanted to use projector to do all these activities in the class. Unfortunately, the projector was not available as it was used for another program. Here I want to tell you about some difficulties to use projector at my school. We have only one projector for the whole school and we need to share it among the teachers.It is quite difficult to set up the laptop and projector in the class too. We need to inform to the principal for before we use it and most teachers do not know how to set it up by themselves except computer and music subject teachers. They have their own classes to teach and cannot always assist to do all the setting. There is also no professional IT technician in my school. Therefore, most teachers prefer to use video room instead of using projector. The first part of the lessons which are warming up and pre-teach vocabulary game was taught in the class. Then we went to the computer room to practice listening using Internet. When I talked about learning with Internet, students felt excited and they wanted to learn eagerly with this new way.  It surprised me that nobody asked me any doubtful questions about learning in this way even though this was their first time taking the language class in the computer room. They were totally engaged in the lesson and it was marvelous to see the way all the students enjoy learning using technology. The students had one computer each but we did not have headphones. So, I played the listening conversation with one speaker in front of the room. They did really well for all the activities and they were talking excitedly about their scores after they submitted. They enjoyed playing ‘Hangman’ game on and there were a lot of conversations going on during this activity.

I found that technology helps students’ learning in an effective and motivated way and on the other hand, I experienced some unexpected moments during the lesson at the same time. For instance, some students at the back of the room sometimes could not hear the listening conversation very well, one student played the game unrelated with the lesson, some students did not listen to the instructions once they started using computer, two computers were not working properly so that two students had to share with other students. Although I had prepared and checked the condition of all the computers and made restrictions of using other unrelated software in advance, the lesson did have some slight flaws. However, I am totally satisfied with my technology-enhanced lesson as I think a lot of students’ learning happening in that time. This is one of the best times I see my students highly motivated for learning language.

It is no doubt that technology is a great tool to enhance students’ motivation in their learning. I am certain that technology will always be a part of my lessons in the future when my students asked, “When shall we do like this again?” after coming back from the computer room.