Thursday, October 02, 2008

Updates on summer learning!

It is hard to believe that so much time has passed since my last post. I have been on summer vacation since the end of July, but that doesn't mean that I stopped learning! I had three main goals for this summer vacation: to study Japanese, to write an article for publication, and to continue connecting with online colleagues. Here are a few of the things that I was up to during this long summer holiday!

Back in the classroom!
I took a three week summer intensive Japanese course. I decided to go on a new blogging adventure, and I started a Posterous blog, Mary's Posterous, in Japanese! I was in the beginner part 2 course, and was lucky enough to study with students from Canada, U.S., Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, and Spain. Even though we only had 9 members in our class, we were a diverse group, with people from many countries who were all different ages and had different reasons for learning Japanese. It was a great experience to be a language student again, and I've decided to continue my studies in preparation for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test in December of this year.

Writing an article for TESL-EJ

Cartoon Festival: An international collaborative digital storytelling project
is an article published in the TESL-EJ and co-authored by Carla Raguseo, Jose Antonio da Silva, and me. In 2007, our students created comics to explore the theme of friendship and shared them with each other. This was a really fun project that helped explore topics of importance to young people around the globe. I hope to use dVolver again in my classes this fall! Here is one of my favorite examples of student work: No Eyebrow. (Update: I've removed this link.)

Reading with friends
Reading books is a favorite past time of mine, and so I am very pleased to be part of an online book club, called LivingLit. We are a group of educators from different parts of the world, and each member chooses a book that is somehow related to the place where he or she is currently living. Our first book was chosen by Carla Arena, who is living in Key West; she chose Waiting for Snow in Havana by Carlos Eire. After reading the book, we are all posting our reflections on our book blog titled Living Lit: Using Social Networking to Travel the World with Literature. The next book we are going to read is 36 Views of Mt. Fuji which is about an American who teaches in Japan and then builds a Japanese style house in the U.S. The chapters of this book really resonated with me, and I'm looking forward to discussing it soon!

Literature and Technology
It seems that the integration of technology and literature is something really of interest to me lately. Not only the book club, but also blogging about books with my students and leading a LwC Living Lit session on Shelfari have been projects I've been working on. Last semester, my humanities students blogged as they read The Little Prince on our IES Book and Literature Circle Blog.

Guest in WebTools4Educators
In a previous post, the online tool Tagcrowd found that "blog" was one of the most frequent words here! I guess that's one of the reasons why Carla Arena invited me and Cris Costa to be special guests in her Webtools4Educators online course for teachers in Brazil. Those enrolled in the course are just setting up their blogs, learning about the technicalities, and exploring the possibilities for fostering authentic communication and conversation through blogging. I'm really honored to be a guest there.

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