Writing a Reflection

A. When you reflect on a session you think of the following:
What? - What have I learned?
How? - How did I learn it?
How much? - How much has it enriched my knowledge, skills and experiences in using Information and Communication Technologies in English teaching and learning?
Positives - Describe the good aspects of this session
Suggestions - Can I suggest any way this session can improve?
B. When you reflect on a task you have been given:
Each task presented on your digital portfolio should have a reflection. As a suggestion the reflection can cover these three areas:
What? - Describe what the work is about. For example, this presentation is about a ………. and the requirement was ....... Make sure you talk about what was expected for this work and what time it took you to complete it. Was it a group project? What input did others have to this work?
So what? - Now talk about why this piece of work is significant. Is it something you are proud of? Is it something you received a high grade for? Is it something developmental that helped you reach a new level in the subject? In other words why have you chosen THIS artefact for your portfolio?
Now what? - Now talk about how doing this work has improved you as a learner in the CALL program. Has it helped you organise your time and work efficiently? Has it demonstrated that you are capable of using CALL in your English teaching and so now you have a lot more confidence than before? What are you now going to do with the new knowledge and skills you have gained from doing this work? How is this moving you along the path of life?

Lecturer's Reflections

Week 1 A:

Students became acquainted with the CALL course content, the different tasks they will be involved and the mark allocation. It was pointed out that this is tentative and that some changes may occur during the semester. The aim of the changes will be the continuous improvement of both the course content and the process of enriching students CALL repertoire in knowledge, skills and experiences.

Students were given a guided tour of the course website, to be exact of the course wiki site. I think the students liked the idea of having a course website and what it promises to offer.

Students were then given a website address where they found a questionnaire they were asked to use in order to assess their ICT skills.
This involved use of the Internet, saving the word document found on their USB, answering the questionnaire and emailing it to their lecturer. Thus, the course already started implementing CALL in its teaching techniques and started giving teaching ideas to the course participants.

To complement this practice, students were guided to visit some websites, find out what CALL is and answer 4 questions.

On the whole, I sensed it was a positive beginning of this course. I know, students still don't exactly know what to expect of it...

Week 1B:

Students discussed their findings about CALL.
Students discussed their CALL self-assessment.
Students discussed the benefit of that self-assessment.
Students discussed the techniques used in the previous session and how they could be adapted in a language class.

Students were given a short lecture on the history of Communicative Language teaching. Students seemed to have appreciated the various anecdotes from the teaching life of their lecturer, anecdotes that complemented the theory presented with real experiences.
The students were then given some Internet links to visit, which were typical examples of the practices of the theory presented in the short lecture.

Week 2A:

Students were given a more detailed tour of the course wiki site.
Then they were directed to the Weekly Tasks page and were asked to start developing their own CALL wiki.
Students' reactions were mixed: some were very confident, others were OK and one faced the prospect with some worry. By the end of the session, all students had created their website, consisting of three webpages, and had already started working on the content of the home and the personal pages. By the end of the session, students seemed to want to stay and continue with their task. The general impression was that they were anxious to have the next opportunity, at home or in class to continue working on it! What a great, first CALL experience!
During the whole process, students helped each other and their was continuous discussion of how this could be used in language teaching.
From what students expressed during week 1, they were looking forward to creating their own website, and I feel at the end of this session, they all felt a sense of pride of their achievement! I certainly felt very proud of them. They actually achieved more than I expected, in the given time...

At a different level, I try to consistently be aware of the activities pace and of the time students need to digest new knowledge, skills and experiences. I have already modified the course content a little: I took out the creation of weblog, and incorporated what we were going to use the blog in the wiki. First, due to course time constraints, second because once the students became familiar with the use of one software, in a somewhat autonomous way, they could be able in the future to do it with any other software, third, the wiki could accommodate what we were going to use the blog, and fourth, I felt that students may get bored by being involved in similar activities.

Week 2B:

During W 2B, students had a chance for the first time to visit each other's CALL wiki. This gave them the opportunity to compare and exchange ideas in content, presentation and other features. They had the opportunity to develop their WIKI even further. They worked on their reflective learning posts and on the discussion questions, also they were not able to post these on the discussion because of access difficulties. Each student had the opportunity to work in their own space, share knowledge, skills and experiences and explore areas such as including visuals and video clips on their websites. I felt they appreciated that while working, they had the opportunity to have individual attention from me, whenever they needed it during the class session. For homework, they were asked to work on their wiki and develop it even further.
At the end of the weekend, I visited their websites. I noticed that some worked on them and some didn't.
The following are general comments for everyone:
1. For CALL, you need to work on a weekly basis, both in class and at home, don't leave things for later. It would be very difficult then, when things accumulate. Try to work out a systematic and organised way to work. Plan your work, follow the course outline, and your lecturer's instructions on a daily basis.
2. As you already started doing, you can help each other and can help each other in your learning process. So don't hesitate to collaborate during your learning.
3. Whatever text you write, make sure you have worked on enough drafts and you have edited it adequately before uploading it.
4. You can continue to develop the design of your website. For example, you can extend the content list on the left with more and different links. For example you can add a list called references to include printed references you come across which are related to CALL matters. You can add another list which could be called CALL links, where you can add links of interest. You can have a YouTube link, where you can have links to YouTube video clips you think could be useful for TEFL.
5. Most homepages were really well presented, stating the aim of the wiki and supported by either visuals or YouTube video clips. The layout, fonts, colours etc of most of them is appealing to the visitor. Some students, however, need to work further on this.
6. Most personal pages are really good, some need to be completed. Some were supported by YouTube video clips, photo slides and photos.
7. Most students have already done their reflection on the first week. Some need to complete this task. Some need to read other students' reflection to see other examples. Make sure you don't only describe what you did and what has happened in class, but also what you have learned, what new knowledge, skills and experiences in CALL / TEFL.
8. Overall, at the end of week 2, I'm very proud of all students, of the effort they are making, the interest they have in their learning and the fact they constantly looking forward to the next lesson... I was so pleased to see them finishing off tasks, much earlier than I thought they would!

Week 3A:

As a whole class, we discussed each other’s website (content, layout, design, inclusion of visuals, audio and video materials, etc.)
I think this proved useful for sharing ideas, seeing other students’ work, comparing, improving and encouraging students to improve. It took longer than I expected but I think it was important to be given this time.
Students worked on improving their content bar, and on improving other aspects of their wiki.They were so interested in the latter and dedicated that they did not have or give much time for tasks 3 and 4, which were to do search on the Internet, find out about wikis and Digital Portfolios and describe their findings on their wiki, including the links of the websites visited. Some discussion was carried out on the teaching methods used in this session and how these can be used in TEFL.Task 5 was to discuss this in the Discussion area.Hopefully students will complete all this for homework.The group works as a group of bees. They are so much absorbed by what they are doing; they tend to forget to leave at the end of the session. I had students still in the class continuing to work on the tasks, 30 minutes after the official ending of the session.I’m looking forward to read their reflection.

Week 3B:

Today, Vassos shared with the rest of the group his experience of accidentally deleting his whole website. Fortunately, he followed the suggestion made last session and had all the content saved in a separate folder, therefore he was able to use it again and create a new website. The whole experience taught him a few new things: he eventually realised what he has done wrong and shared that knowledge with the rest of the group, he found out that he could have used the 'history' feature and 'revive' his lost websites, he learned how to export the whole website and save it on his workstation or his usb, and a few other little features. That was a learning experience not only for him but for the whole group. He also followed the suggestion and included another page on his site called 'Useful tips', where he shared 'how to do' different things like exporting his website, with the rest of the group. The session continued with the exploration of 'assessment rubrics': introduction, example from the Internet, study of the example, creation of own rubric of the assessment of the CALL course student's work. Some people chose to work individually, others in pairs and others in groups. This activity and what Vassos shared with all the group indicated to students how important and valuable it is to share and that everyone has something to with each other. Students worked on their own pace, something that suits all students' working and learning styles. Some students also worked on improving their website's content bar. They helped each other with this requirement. There was interesting discussion about the use of positive language in the assessment rubric and students found the idea new and to some challenging to practice. Some students had worked on different aspects of their wiki at home and some are continuously developing different features and completing different tasks. Today we exceeded the session time again. People started leaving 10 minutes after the session completion time. I thoroughly enjoy this 'workshop' type of working atmosphere, the possibility of students working at their own pace, in different formations (individuals, pairs, groups), being able to help each other and being able to have my individual assistance whenever they needed it. It is so satisfying to see them ALL LEARNING, all aspects of the course, in their own time, in a way which is comfortable to each individual. It's a great experience for me as a lecturer too. I am learning too different little things from all students, from the technologically advanced, the ones that think through different concepts to the ones who need detailed explanations to feel they have achieved their aims and to the ones that have different learning styles and pace from others.

Week 4A:

Today, students worked in pairs on their Course Evaluation Rubric content. I went around and monitored their work, discussed the different aspects of it and gave them suggestions for improvement in content, use of positive language, etc. Students gradually understand what an Evaluation rubric is, what positive language is and what type of content can be included in such a rubric. The time needed to understand this process seems to be different for each student but everyone's understanding is gradually developing. Discussing and sharing seems to be quite fruitful.
Students also worked on their Work in Progress. Again, here opportunities were given to students to help each other in their learning, share their learning and learn how to learn. It also gave me the opportunity to cater for individual needs and spend appropriate time with each individual. Tasks seem to take time but students seem to feel satisfaction of the results of their improvement in knowledge, skills and experiences.

Week 4B:

Today, the notion of Planning a unit was introduced to students. Students were first asked to peruse the information uploaded on the wiki related to Unit Planning. Then I elicited from the students the different aspects of language that need to be considered and included in a unit and I was writing their responses in a word document and presenting them on the projector. Students indicated a good understanding of the language aspects. Then, I showed them an example of unit planning on the course wiki, using brainstorming. Students studied it. Then the class gave ideas of possible topics / themes for a Theme Unite Development and then used an empty one Brainstorming form to Plan their own Unit. I went around and helped them in that process. Some students picked the idea quickly, other needed some guidance to give focus to their unit rather than planning it in general terms. Some did a search on the Internet to find ideas. Everyone worked in their own pace, approaching the task from different angles and in different ways. They seemed absorbed by the task. There were times when they were really silent and fully concentrating on the task, other times they were working on the task and other times doing Internet search. I felt it was a good start to understanding this new concept. Some need more guidance than others. A couple need to learn to organise their time more efficiently, both at home and in class.

Week 5A:

As a whole class, we discuss the course tasks and amended them according to the course aims, course expected value, practicalities and needs. As a result, the TENTATIVE course outline was also amended accordingly. All students present had the opportunity to reflect on their course, and give positive and productive feedback to their lecturer. The aim was improvement. I really enjoyed this session because it is always good to be able to see that students feel comfortable to talk and negotiate their learning. Students then worked on today's task: Explore Online activities for the teaching of pronunciation: Annotated review of two activities. Students worked in different formations and ways: Individually, in pairs or groups, cooperatively, some catching up on previous work after consulting with the lecturer or getting assistance from classmates; some were proud to show the developments of their wiki. Generally, it was an excellent example of how students work in their own pace, on their different level, and happy to learn new knowledge, to be creative and to share knowledge, skills and experiences.

Week 5B:

Students worked individually or cooperatively on the use of the Internet to teach Listening and Speaking. For theory, they had to read the related chapter from their prescribed text and answer some questions. The aim was to make sure all students have the necessary theoretical background to be able to understand listening and speaking and the use of ICT to teach these skills. Some students had more theoretical background than others on this, so the aim was to make sure that all of them have what is needed. Then they were asked to either use the website addresses provided to them or do a search of their own and find two activities for each skills and review them. The aims were: (a) make sure all students know how to search the Internet for specific information; (b) move from guided to independent learning (from given websites to their own search); (c) be able to describe the type of activity; (d) exercise their critical thinking as teachers to decide whether each activity is good or not and which level they think it would be appropriate to use; (e) develop individual banks of such resources and share share resources amongst them. Students seemed to have worked with interest. My feeling is that they need to make sure they make a conscious effort to organise their time.

Week 6B:

Today students were given their tasks (Annotated Review: Reading, Vocabulary, Grammar) and worked independently, either individually or helping each other. They seemed so absorbed in their work, again the completion time of the course arrived and they were all still working along. Some had to leave to go to their next class. One student said: "it is the only course time goes so fast we don't realise it; other courses are 'boring' and make us sleepy. Here we want to go on working; In this course, it is work, but we do things..." Another student said: " the theory section includes some things we have done before, but we refresh our memory; mostly we learn new things..." Students exchange new technology knowledge and skills, cooperate and help each other constantly.

Week 7A:

Students worked on their "Annotated Review: Writing" task. They worked diligently and conscientiously. They helped each other when needed. They shared ways of presenting their work (layout and interface). Again, the end of the session was reached and students were busily working on their tasks, and left only when they realised another class was going to use the lab! I talked to individuals and they seem to feel they are learning by doing, by investigating, by being creative in the way they present their work.

Week 7B:

Today's session was about Culture in Language Teaching. Students were given examples of Power Point Presentations prepared by both teachers as a teaching tool and students as a learning tool and an example of an online collaborative project between Australian and French students. These gave ideas to students how to use this software to promote culture. I think they appreciated that type of use of this Software. Then students were introduced to some main points about culture (summary of the Culture subject of their textbook) and were directed as part of autonomous learning to the following tasks: a. learn what WebQuests are; b. look at WebQuests examples on the Internet; c. Create your own Webquest OR write an annotated / comparative review of 4 WebQUest they are expected to find by themselves on the Internet. The first section of the last task was originally given to students, but the look on some students' faces was decisive in directing me to be flexible and offering them the choice of the annotated / comparative review. Once I offered this choice, I felt from the new look on their face that they were releaved. Eventually, some chose to make their own WebQuest and other the annotated review. The main aim was to know the value of WebQuests in language teaching, and more specifically in teaching culture as part of a language programme.This flexibility aimed to cater for different learning styles and for different levels of confidence of students. The main thing was that all looked happy with the option. Today, even after the official ending of the session, they were all still working conscientiously. Well, not for long, however, because soon after, we had an interruption of the Internet connection... The following are comments from students:
(a) I checked the course website last night to see what we would have today. I even answered some of the questions last night...
(b) The first homework I always do before any other is for this course...

Week 8A:

Students busily continued to work on WebQuests. Most of them opted for the 'Annotated Review of 4 WebQuests option' rather than the creation of a WebQuest of their own. We discussed the issue of giving options to students to cater for different learning styles, options that aim at the same expected outcome, in this case, be familiar about WebQuests and how they are used in TEFL.

Week 8B:

Today students explored the Web 1.0 & Web 2.0 technologies. They had to find out about them, choose one, describe and evaluate it and come up with an activity of their own using this technology. Students were given two class sessions for this, today and Week 9A session. After their original Internet work which helped them become aware of Web 1.0 & Web 2.0 technologies, each student decided which technology he or she would focus on. It was interesting to see how excited many of them were to work on what they chose and how the type of technology chosen reflected somewhat students' personality. One student who is already practising German teacher demonstrated the wiki she has developed and uses with her students in her German classes. It was a great example of learning put into immediate implementation. She loved the way her students accepted the use of technology / wiki and their enthusiasm in using it. In that way, she provided an authentic use of wikis in language learning to her CALL classmates. She also made me very proud to see that what she has learned, which is how to use New Technologies in language teaching (English) she has already started implementing in language teaching (German)! Good on you Elena! Setting a great example! Another aspect that I am proud of is students' reflective journal. I learn so much from that. I get their feedback and that guides me to how the course is going and when to be flexible. I find it an extremely useful tool. First it records what students are learning and second, through reflection, they become clearly aware of what they are learning and they also learn to appreciate what they are learning. That gives me great satisfaction as a teacher...

Week 9A:

Today students continued to work on Web 1.0 & Web 2.0 technologies, focusing on the one they chose.

Week 9B:

Religious and National Day: 25th of March.

Week 10A:

Students started working on their Online Thematic Unit. We discussed Lesson planning students studied earlier in this course. Students then chose the topic they wanted to develop their Online Thematic Unit on and started their Internet search on it. This session proved, yet again, the need to give the opportunity to students to work in their own pace using their own learning style and order or processes.

Week 10B:

April Fools' Day.
April Fools' Day: Origin and History

Week 11A:

Students worked on their Online Thematic Unit for a second session.
One student demonstrated to the rest of the students how to export their wiki and save it on their workstation.
Another student had already completed it and spent his time on adding some more tips for all in the "Useful Tips" section (how to export your wiki). Students were at different stage of their work. All, however, were busy working on it. Two students needed some help in work and time management. One needed to be reminded how to import external links. Most students are pretty much on truck with their work.
One told me the following: she was searching the internet for her work, finding interesting language activities and playing and her fiance asked her: "is THIS your homework?" Eventually, they both ended up sharing those online activities and playing TEFL online games together on the Internet...
Another student, who is a practising teacher of another language gave me an update of how she uses new CALL knowledge with her students and how she shares her wiki development updates with her husband.
Another student said that she finds the long time spent on the internet to search for activities boring (she admitted that it took her so long because she insisted on finding the most suitable and the most challenging activities), but once she finds them, she is happy with the result. This was a good example of what it involves for a teacher in terms of time and lesson successful planning.
Another student mentioned that she has realised that through the CALL course activities, she is developing other, transferable skills such as time management, working with others, etc.
Another student accidentally deleted on of the pages of the wiki. Fortunately, she followed an earlier suggestion which was to have a backup in word, so she developed a new one and cut and pasted the material from the word document. This is again an example of learning through experience.
I found that in general students also gain confidence, exercise their critical thinking and are gradually developing skills necessary for a good teacher.

Week 11B:

Today students were introduced to the topic of Language Testing theories, and then to Online Language Testing practices. They were given the collaborative, group task Online English Language Testing Evaluative Review. This is an opportunity for them to collaborate more officially, collaborate using electronic devices, get acquainted with some language testing software, and compare in a collaborative manner their similarities and differences. I think that this task already intrigued some of the students. Let's see about the rest...

Week 12A:

Today's session was just after Easter break. I told students that I have visited their CALL D-Portfolio wikis during the Easter Break and I was really impressed and VERY proud of them and their work. They reflected quality, length, and depth of students' work, thoughtful reflection of their learning (knowledge, skills and experiences), self-evaluation and development of professional readiness. I drew their attention to some of the aspects that needed to be given attention (a. review final product for spelling, grammar and expression; b. improvement of wiki / DPortfolio awareness content, c. some rubrics to be completed, d. some annotated reviews to be improved, e. some Web 1.0 / 2.0 technologies reviews to be improved, f. some reflective journal entries to be more reflective, discussion on plagiarism issues). It was interesting to note that these general guiding points about plagiarism I made were noted by the people they were intended to. The assessment rubric that is going to be used to assess students' work (CALL Assessment Rubric link) was then introduced and discussed. Finally the Presentations timetable and content was discussed and finalised (PRESENTATIONS link).
I am really impressed with the quality, length, and depth of students' work.
Some students stayed behind to clarify some areas they were not sure of. This reflected their interest in doing well in their tasks.
I'm worried about the a couple of students who continue to be absent...

Week 12B:

Today the session was dedicated to catching up with incomplete work and making the final touch of their CALL Digital Portfolio. Students worked individually on their work or helped each other on various aspects, particularly technical ones or matters of design and layout. Again, students stayed for another half hour at least after the end of the session.

Week 13A:


Week 13B: