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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Musings on Conference Performance and a Taster of RSCON!

All too often, creativity is left out of the school curriculum. As children grow up, the opportunities for freer creative play and construction quickly diminish. Subjects such as art and music are often reduced to just technique and theory, which is not much fun! I am an English teacher, so I am concerned with how my students learn the language, but my aim is to get them using the language. And the best way of doing this is by allowing them to create.

This, is the introduction to my talk Creativity with Kids: Using Online Tools for the upcoming Reform Symposium Conference. Or at least that's how I plan to introduce the topic. Usually, when I write out what I plan to say in a conference talk, it all sounds good on paper (or on the screen) but when I'm actually live "on air" or in front of a live audience, this kind of prepared paragraph just sounds stilted and memorised. If I had theatre training, or just a bit of talent, perhaps I would be able to pull it off, but the fact is I don't. So, however much I read through what I've written, it will never sound natural and in the end I find myself using my own words (as in those that leave my tongue spontaneously rather than those I had previously prepared).

This is, surely, a good thing! How often do we ask our learners to use their own words instead of reading out what is on the page or what they have written? When we want our learners to improve their speaking skills, we try to encourage them to just speak, without planning what they want to say beforehand. This is the ideal and comes after lots and lots of practice. This very week I did a lesson on How to improve your speaking with a group of intermediate level teenagers. We started off by answering questions in full written form, then converting this to notes, using these notes to answer the questions orally in pairs and finally, recording the answers on Audioboo, just looking at the notes to help. This step by step approach helps learners feel more secure, planning your ideas before you speak helps reduce nerves and anxiety.

This is the exact same reason why I write out what I want to say in a conference session. I usually then transform this into notes which I print out onto index cards. These cards make me feel secure. They are like a safety net, there in case I get lost. However, when it comes to the crunch, I rarely use them and I almost never use the words I had originally planned. Perhaps this too is a good thing? Most of the audience members are not native speakers of English, and if my own words are simple, this will at least make me understood. However I often wish I could express myself naturally, using a variety of sophisticated language features, as Keynote speakers often do!

As for Creativity with Kids: Using Online Tools, I will be demonstrating the tools by using them to provide the content of my talk. The ideas on how to use the tools will be embedded into the tools themselves. After the session I will share those creations on this blog, and you will all be able to see my (lack of) creative ability! Come to the session to hear more about how people feel about sharing their creativity. And if you just want some ideas on how to use some tried and tested web tools with your young learners, pop into RSCON4 Online Conference on Friday 11th October at 8pm CEST (7pm BST, 6pm GMT)! Here is the link to the room! Creativity with Kids by Michelle Worgan

Hope to see you there :)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Come to RSCON4 - a fab and free online conference for educators!

If I still have any visitors left on this blog (apart from spammers!) you may have noticed a new little badge in the top right corner. This is a link to The Reform Symposium Conference, shortly to be held and at which I have the honour of presenting for the first time :) Here is a little bit of information about the conference:

In a few days, thousands of educators from various different countries are expected to attend a free 3 day virtual conference, The Reform Symposium, #RSCON4.  RSCON will be held October 11th to 13th in conjunction with Connected Educator Month. The entire conference will be held online using the Blackboard Collaborate webinar platform. Participants can attend this online conference from the comfort of their homes or anywhere that has Internet access. This amazing conference provides educators new or currently active on social networks the opportunity to connect with educators and professionals in the field of education worldwide.
Useful links (click on any item for more information):
Opening plenary- Sugata Mitra, 2013 Ted prize winner and instigator of the Hole-in-the-Wall experiment, will speak about The Future of Learning. 
Musical guest- Steve Bingham, the internationally renowned electric violinist, will conduct a live performance. 
10+ international keynotes4 panel discussions featuring distinguished experts100+ presentations by educators around the world 
5 EdInspire Award Recipients- nominate an inspiring educator here 
Get your RSCON I'm Attending blog badge here 

We would like to thank the incredible organizers- Shelly Sanchez Terrell, Steve Hargadon, Clive Elsmore, Chiew Pang, Kelly Tenkely, Chris Rogers, Paula White, Bruno Andrade, Cecilia Lemos, Greta Sandler, Peggy George, Marcia Lima, Jo Hart, Phil Hart, Dinah Hunt, Marisa Constantinides, Nancy Blair, Mark Barnes and Sara Hunter
We hope you can join us for this incredible professional development experience!
As you can see, it's going to be a huge event filled with exciting talks. I am already looking forward to attending some of the other sessions, as well as giving my own!

 Tomorrow I will give you a sneak preview into my session, Creativity with Kids - using online tools :)
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