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Umbrella Newsletter # 53

Stellar marathon greetings from an experienced marathon runner on Teachers Day:
Dear Colleagues,
I want to take this opportunity to send you a special greeting in honor of Teachers Day. I am so impressed by the national acknowledgement of teaches on October 5 in Russia every year. Despite the low salaries, long hours, and difficulties reconciling administrative policy with effective classroom practice, the educational occupations are personally fulfilling for many teachers, and being honored by students and parents on October 5 is a nice added bonus. No matter how personally invested we are in our jobs, some outside acknowledgment of their importance is always welcomed. In the United States, National Teachers Day is celebrated during Teacher Appreciation Week, held yearly during the first full week of May. However, sadly, Teachers Day is not as widely recognized in the U.S. as it is here in Russia. I think it is wonderful that Teachers Day is a significant part of Russian culture, and speaks to the important place of education in this society. A teachers job is often difficult, so please take a moment to feel proud of what you do, and revel in the celebration of your day. You are irreplaceable!
Frances Westbrook, ELO


1. Warming up before Running
For warm-up activities I would like to share with you a poem Learning a Language by Olivia McMahon, that was posted on the MELTA and Access Facebook pages by Mariya Krotovskaya:
Learning a language
is like doing a jigsaw puzzle
of a million pieces
with a picture that keeps changing.
It's like getting lost in a foreign city without a map.
It's like playing tennis without a ball,
like being an ant in a field of grasshoppers.
It's like being an acrobat with a broken leg,
an actor without a script,
a carpenter without a saw,
a storyteller without a middle or an end.

But then gradually
it's like being out in the early morning
with the mists lifting.
It's like a chink of light under a door,
like finding the glove you were looking for,
catching the train you thought you were going to miss,
getting an unlooked-for present,
exchanging a smile.

And then one day it's like riding a bicycle
very fast downhill.

If you would like a more pragmatic approach, please have a look at the ideas on Foreign Language Learning that John Beyrle, a linguist and a former Ambassador to the RF, shared with students in his Commencement Address at Middlebury College this year:
http://www.middlebury.edu/newsroom/commencement/beyrle_2012
 
2. Regular Training (year-round training) is a Key to Success.
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving. Albert Einstein
Stefan Mizha, our IT guru, has found a few interesting links that will keep you in the pink.
You can get free online courses from the worlds leading universities. This collection includes over 500 free courses in the liberal arts and sciences. Download these audio & video courses straight to your computer or mp3 player. http://www.openculture.com/freeonlinecourses
- Khan Academy & Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have united their efforts and now MIT- students are creating video-lessons for schools  http://k12videos.mit.edu/
http://www.commonsensemedia.org/ is a non-profit organization that works on internet education and safety issues for parents and kids. They review apps, games, movies, websites, books, TV shows, etc. for age appropriateness and educational quality. This is a great resource for you to use in making book and film recommendations, and selecting apps for iPads (their app reviews break down into device compatibility).
It is likely that during this academic year you will hear the following 5 buzzwords: Common Core State Standards with standardized testing, Flipped classes, Gamification, MOOC, or Massive Open Online Course, and School choice. (the following article is about education in America, but all this sounds so familiar!)   http://schoolsofthought.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/26/five-buzzwords-youre-likely-to-hear-in-education-this-school-year/
3. Accelerated Running
Now and then you need to work to increase your top speed. You will need speed training to improve your ability to both surge and accelerate to your finishing speed. And here comes a brand new idea from our great friend Kimberly Williams about Glogs, a tool that teachers in the US are starting to use: Glogsters are interactive posters that you or your students can create online. They are lots of fun and pretty simple to make. Theyve also earned high praise for their custom features and easy embeds. The program offers several templates to get you started and you can customize each them in countless ways. http://engaging-students.org/blog/2012/07/25/how-to-create-a-glogster-2/ and Www.glogster.com
4. The Hurdles
Teachers are expected to reach unattainable goals with inadequate tools. The miracle is that at times they accomplish this impossible task Haim G. Ginott
Do e-portfolios scare you? Prof. Viktoriya Tuzlukova tuzlukova60@mail.ru shares her observations and an interesting read  on the topic: Taking advantage of the developments in information and communication technologies, and the associated changes in educational pedagogy, many higher education institutions worldwide are currently promoting e-portfolios to their programs. E-portfolios are replacing earlier paper format systematic collections of student work selected to provide information about students attitudes and motivation, level of development and growth over time (Kyngore, 1993:3)[1].This uptake, according to Dew(2011), has been driven by increased educational initiatives of computer supported learning, widening participation, lifelong learning, employment and skills requirements, internationalization, achievement and attainment recording, retention, and personalization in learning (p.29)[2].
To learn more about e-portfolios, read  Proceedings of the 9th ePortfolio & Identity Conference, London 11-13 July 2011, 29 posted on www.epforum.eu/proceedings/epic-2011-1 As indicated by Aikaterini & Fotini (2011), many strategies of implementing and developing e-portfolios depend on the available software tools (p.74). According to them all currently available generic and customized tools can be classified into the following groups: a) web-building tools (templates and web-editing software), b) stand-alone commercial products, c) open source products (e.g. Open Source Portfolio software), d) university designed software, e) virtual learning environments, f) learning management systems and g) Web 2.0 technologies. Some of these tools are presented in the article in Wikipedia on digital portfolios (See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_portfolio). The list of suggested sites includes some promising (e.g. http://www.epforum.eu/index_html/2012; http://www.foliotek.com/demo/eportfolio.aspx) and not so promising and impressive resources(foliospaces.com).
Kingore, B. (1993). Portfolios: Enriching and Assessing All Students Identifying the Gifted GradesK-6. Leadership Publishers, Iowa.
Dew, N. (2011). The impact of information and communication technology (ICT) on the social construction of Health Care students knowledge. Proceedings of the 9th ePortfolio & Identity Conference, London 11-13 July 2011, 29.
5. Long-Distance Running
Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. Calvin Coolidge
In this long pursuit, it is important not to lose touch with reality and reality for a teacher means facing and coping with digital natives? on a daily basis. This is what is again highlighted in the article of Iliya Golenopolskiy in the last issue of the journal Foreign Languages. Iliya Golenopolskiy, a teacher and an Apple trainer, not only gives an overview of the present day situation, but shares popular links. Here are some of them: http://www.clicknkids.com (an online interactive course for elementary school), http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/puppet-pals-hd/id342076546  and http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sock-puppets/id394504903 (these are virtual theatres) and http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/book-creator-for-ipad/id442378070 (you can create books yourself in iBooksAuthor.
Will you be able to get to the finish line during this marathon without the use of Social Media (Twitter, Facebok and Instagram)? Here is a link to a forum, where you can get some advice on how to use them in class: http://theeducatorsroom.com/2012/09/ask-a-teacher-help-i-want-to-use-social-media-in-my-classroom
Explore 21st century learning concepts, e-learning modules with Intel:
http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/education/k12/teach-elements.html
Pit stops on the way? Yes, they are available! If you access MELTA http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/422973184395154/?fref=ts
and SPELTA http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/145764612216222/?fref=ts
Facebook pages, the inflow of nutrients is guaranteed.
6. Approaching the Finish Line or There is no Finish Line
What helps luck is a habit of watching for opportunities, of having a patient but restless mind, of sacrificing ones ease or vanity, or uniting a love of details to foresight, and of passing through hard times bravely and cheerfully. Victor Cherbuliez
            What is the final goal of collecting all good ideas, tricks, and your research? Publication!
As Kimberly Williams writes, you will see increased opportunities to publish. More teachers will have the opportunity to contribute content, which benefits students and helps teachers as professionals.  Interested in publishing something yourself? Or do you just want to see where the digital age is taking text books this fall? Then check Connexions http://cnx.org, where you can  view and share educational material made of small knowledge chunks called modules that can be organized as courses, books, reports, etc. Anyone may view or contribute. More info is in Kimberlys story about the Rise of Open-Source Textbooks. http://engaging-students.org/blog/2012/08/13/the-rise-of-open-source-textbooks
And there is one more opportunity for those who would like to contribute an article to a per-review journal. Margaret Berg, a Ph.D and a former EFL Fellow in St. Petersburg, is sharing a link to an Open Access peer-reviewed journal www.jerithejournal.org The Journal of Educational Research and Innovation (JERI) is a peer-reviewed, electronic, open access publication dedicated to the discussion, sharing, and reflection of current educational research  that will enhance our understanding of teaching and learning.  JERI aims to provoke conversation about emerging ideas, stimulate innovation in practice, and encourage diversity of opinion.




"Umbrella Newsletter # 53":

TELTA's 10th anniversary
One-week events in Tomsk in May 2008.
Umbrella 2013 "From Reflection to Action" in Tula
ELTA-URALS: Elena Lubnina's presentation of ELO programs and projects at IFL (USPU), Yekaterinburg.


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