Sunday, 11 October 2009

"The danger of the single story"

I am quite simply in awe of Nigerian authoress Chimamanda Adichie after listening to her TED talk about "The danger of the single story". When I studied postcolonial literature I read (for example in Diana Brydon and Helen Tiffin's West Indian Literature and the Australian Comparison) about schoolchildren in British colonies whose only alternative was Anglo-centred and Anglo-dominated curricula. Adichie gives a personal account of this when she speaks about the consequences of the fact that the only literature available to her when growing up in Nigeria was American and British children's books. She goes on to remind us of our stereotypes and how they are reinforced by the constant repetition of the single story. This is really worth watching:

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Learning online

Today Sandvika vgs hosted a conference about learning with ICT and internet resources (see information in Norwegian here). I think it is essential for teachers to once in a while take a break from the classroom, meet other teachers and simply be inspired. Conferences, courses and seminars also make us reflect on the work we do and in an ideal world we return to our classrooms as better teachers. Will Richardson's talk about "Tools of the read/write web in schools" was one of the many interesting contributions. One of his main points was that the internet already is an important learning community for many children and teenagers. However, this learning happens outside of the classroom and kids choose themselves to find and use information about the things that they care about. A lot of the time kids don't even realize that they gain a lot of valuable and sometimes invaluable knowledge in the process. One of the main challenges for us teachers in the future will be to take part in and influence the learning community that already exists online. Right now children and teenagers are probably better at this than we are. Richardson used this video as an excellent example of how kids use the web to learn:

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Linking words and phrases

My students have handed in their first papers and I have just started correcting them. Consequently my head is exploding with tips for my students about how they can improve their written language. This year like last year, a lot of my students have good vocabulary and grammar, but one thing that most of them need to work on is how to link the sentences and paragraphs of their texts together. If they could manage to use sentence connectors and linking words and phrases more effectively, their writing would become so much better. The always so useful Exploring English website has some exercises in English where students can practice using conjunctions and linking adverbials: conjunctions and linking adverbials, linking adverbials and sorting linking adverbials. Here are some more useful links on this topic: linking words and phrases and sentence connectors
Image from flickr: