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.