Friday, 29 February 2008

How to become a Webhead (for the first time)

As I announced rather loudly in my previous post, I have become a Webhead. I have attended two wonderful, but rather demanding six-week workshops - Becoming a Webhead (BaW) and Blogging4Educators. Since this was my first time and I was a total beginner, the mere fact that I got to the end makes me very proud of myself.

So, how did I do it? I developed a number of survival techniques that I would like to share with you.

Here is the tutorial:

How to become a Webhead
Difficulty: very difficult
What you'll need:
- a computer (make sure it's in working condition - it might not be by the end of the session)
- Internet (preferably a fast connection)
- lots of coffee
What else might help:
- insomnia (If you already suffer from it, cherish it. It is your best friend now.)
- flu (Getting ill is very useful, as it will keep you inside. You will get bored and do every weekly assignment in your wiki just to amuse yourself. Be careful not to get high fever, though, as that will keep you in bed. We don't want you in bed, we want you in front of your computer.)

Survival tip 1: Everything you need is in your wiki (thanks Carla Arena for this tip). Look at your weekly assignment. Concentrate on doing it. Forget everything else that's going on.
Survival tip 2: Don't read the daily digests. They will only confuse you. Check the messages directly from the forum - it is much easier to see what the message is about, and decide whether you are going to read it now or later. Also, saves you from scrolling down the daily digest and reading the same messages over and over again. Or you can wait for the week to be over and read the weekly threads. Just be careful not to miss a message addressed directly to you.
Survival tip 3: Don't just read about it, do it. Start a blog and write in it. Make a wiki. Do whatever is your official homework that week.
Survival tip 4: If you have missed something, leave it until after the end of the workshop. I was away during week 4 and when I got back I continued with week 5. I haven't touched week 4 yet, but hope I'll do it by next January.
Survival tip 5: Don't take it too seriously. Socialise. Make new friends. Enjoy it all.

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I have graduated as a Webhead
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Sunday, 24 February 2008

Blogging with my students - a change of plan

I made a real mess with the last post. That's what happens when you write about something you haven't thought out carefully beforehand.
So here it is - there are not going to be hundreds of class blogs, there is going to be only one. I will start with my upper-intermediate class for two reasons:
1. their English is relatively good and
2. I taught them in the previous semester, which means that I know them.
Also, they are doing portfolio assessments, so I could merge these two things together (again, I haven't thought it out carefully).
I am not going to teach (grammar or vocabulary) in the blog.
I was thinking of starting it as a meme, something like our Week 4 challenge. What do you think?
Any ideas on how to merge blogging and portfolio assessment?

Friday, 22 February 2008

My blogging projects for 2008 - part 2

Concerning my class blogs:
- in this semester I will start two blogs - a blog for my two elementary classes and another one for my two upper-intermediate classes.
- I am not sure how I will name the blogs yet, but they will probably be called Coffee Time Elementary and Coffee Time Upper-intermediate. Why Coffee Time? Because it will be like chatting over a cup of coffee, informal, yet creative.
- I will start the blogs, but they will be group blogs. If some of my students feel like starting individual blogs, I will be more than happy to offer them support.
- I will demand word verification and moderate the comments.
- this will be an individual project to start with, but I hope some of my colleagues will like it and start doing the same.
- these particular blogs will be active between March and June 2008
- the blogs will be connected to the curriculum, but we will also write about whatever interests the students – films, music, books. We will use the blog to socialise outside classroom and get to know each other better. I will try to use a lot of pictures and visual stimuli.
- the students will have to post from their home computers. Some of them have slow connections, so I will have to bear that in mind.
- I think it would be realistic to expect the students to post twice a month, not more (unless they wish to). I will do some preparatory activities in class before the assignment and some error correction activities after the assignment. I will NOT correct their errors in the blog.
- Apart from the regular assignments, I hope the students will feel free to post entries and comments whenever they feel like it.
- There is no way I can force the students to post (no marks), but we do portfolio assessment in my school, so I will encourage the students to see their class blog as an E-portfolio. Also, some of them take exams, and this is excellent exam practice. I suppose some of them will not blog regularly, maybe not at all.
- At the beginning, they will write for me. Then, I hope they will start to communicate with each other through the blog. After that, they will find out there is a whole world outside listening to them. I hope they will go through these three stages quickly.
- I am not sure how I will advertise these projects. A poster on the school notice board sounds like a good idea. Dekita? Yes, if I get the students to participate.
- I have to be careful with widgets because some of my students have slow Internet connections. I will embed a few, to make the blogs look more appealing and to help other people find them.

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My blogging projects for 2008 - part 1

Concerning my personal blog, i.e. the blog you are reading now:
- it will remain active, of course
- I won't change its name - I know Natasa's blog is too general, but I like it
- I will stick to Blogger, I am really happy with it
- I will demand word verification, as I already do
- this is an individual blog, but I welcome your coments
- I will blog about: teaching English, Web2 tools, CALL, good books and films, travel, life...
- I will post from my home computer
- I don't know exactly how often I will post. On the average, once a week.
- Why will I post? Because I enjoy it, to stay in touch with you and to set an example for my students. Also, so that my students can get to know me better.
- My target audience? Again: you, my students and of course anyone else who cares to stop by.
Also, my colleagues, both at my school and in my country. My family and friends.
- I don't know what I could do to promote my blog. Write well?
- I already have a handful of widgets: a web counter, a subscribe button, del.ici.ous, Blogger and Technorati buttons. Oh, and a Voki. I guess the widgets speak a lot about the sort of person the blogger is. I moght get some more widgets, I really like them.

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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Five things you didn't know about me

Well, here it is:

1. I love coffee. Just the thought of a nice, warm cup of coffee makes me smile.
2. I love reading and watching crime stories and whodunits.
3. My favourite singer is Leonard Cohen.
4. I still dream of writing a great novel and becoming a famous writer (though I hardly ever sit down to write at all nowadays).
5. I am afraid of the dark.

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Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Second Life

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All right, so I went to Second Life, so what? Doesn't everyone go there sooner or later?

There is an inner child dormant in each and every one of us, right? And this child likes to play, which is why so many people are fascinated by SL.

My inner child woke up on Saturday and the experience made me think. It made me think back to my real, First Life childhood.

I was clumsy. I was one of those girls you didn't want to have in your basketball team. It took me ages to learn how to ride a bike. And even then I kept falling.

I am clumsy in SL. I am learning how to walk all over again. Scary, but fascinating. A bit like learning a new language, isn't it?

One thing I love is flying. It is the superpower I would really like to have. And I love teleporting myself to different locations. The only problem is that I often can't find my way back. That's what I am like in my First Life. I get lost easily.

It is frightening, but I keep coming back. Maybe because it makes me face my inner fears and insecurities.

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Saturday, 16 February 2008

One Blog to Rule Them All or a Multiple Bloggonality Disorder

Just how many blogs does a girl need?
This question has been troubling me for the past week.
When my blogging course finishes, I will start a class blog, maybe even a different blog for each class (I usually have five classes and the levels range from beginner to advanced). But what will happen to this blog? Will it start behaving itself and become a nice educator's blog, informed and informative? Or maybe not.
I have a compulsive need to write, have had it ever since my childhood. I never know in advance what I will write about. So, if you are looking for expert opinions on the latest pedagogical methods, do you really want to bother reading about a stray dog? Blogs should teach us something, or so I have been told. The days of personal blogs are behind us, or so I have been told. Alas, I am an old-fashioned kind of girl. And I love lost causes. And I am keeping this blog just as it is.
I may start another blog in which I will discuss teaching and modern technology.
Or maybe I will keep things as they are now.
What do you think?

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Friday, 15 February 2008

My most embarrassing experience

My most embarrassing experience happened when I was about 20. I was going to this boy's birthday party for the first time. I am one of those people who get lost really easily. So, he offered to meet me at the bus stop. I was supposed to get off when I saw a large shopping mall.
So, I boarded the bus and I got off when I saw what I believed was a mall. I waited and waited. Furious, I took another bus home and I called the boy's mother (there were no mobiles in those times, you see). She told me that he was, in fact, still waiting for me. She asked me to tell her where exactly I had got off and it turned out that I should have stayed on the bus for another 20 minutes.
I boarded the bus again and this time got off at the right stop. I was almost two hours late. To my surprise, the boy was still waiting.
You should have seen his friends' faces when we finally arrived to the party. They hated me for the rest of the evening.
I didn't see much of him after that.

What do you think I should have done?
How do you think I felt?

What is the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you? How did you feel?

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Wednesday, 13 February 2008


We had a great time on Zlatibor. It is a beautiful mountain.
We had all sorts of weather, from sunshine to rain to snow, but it was always fun.
This time, I would like to let the pictures speak for themselves:

Finally, if you have any more questions about the mountain, I will be happy to answer them.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Everybody's dog

It is a rainy day here on the mountain of Zlatibor. Nothing much to do. So I decided to spend some time in an Internet cafe.
I was followed here by Cuddly (Mazuljko in Serbian). He has sort of adopted my family. He follows us everywhere, sleeps in front of our door and loudly protects us if anybody (including our landlords) passes by. No, he is not hungry. Cuddly is, you see, everybody's dog.
I don't know how he manages. He knows everyone and everyone has a different name for him. Everyone feeds him and everyone gets the honour of his company and his loud protection. No one owns him. Cuddly is a free spirit.
He is not much to look at. He is small, full of fleas and he could definitely do with a bath. But he is a real friend, as long as you don't take him for granted. He could be here today and in front of someone else's door tomorow. In fact, as I was coming here, he left me to follow a little girl.
Maybe tomorrow morning I will find him in front of my door again. Maybe not.

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