Friday, December 4, 2009

Doing wonders with students

Today while reading Hala Fawzi's blog I stumbled on an amazing post about two of her students participating in an international project entitled "what makes my country unique" The students produced the above amazing video about Sudan. I was so moved by their work and I remembered the famous saying of William Arthur Ward:

" The mediocre teacher tells.
The good teacher explains.
The superior teacher demonstrates.
The great teacher inspires."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Professional Development

In our programme of in-service training we tried to meet the needs of the department and the teachers by designing training sessions that would fit for both needs. During the last few
days we were having one of these sessions. It is entitled "Innovative online tools for professional development." The session was designed to fit the following needs of the department:
1.To train English language teachers on online tools.
2.To raise the level of teachers performance by opening cultural contacts through their involvement in different ' communities of practice'.
3.To train teachers in introducing online tools and virtual environments as an alternative to the limited teaching hours.
And the following needs of the teachers;
1.To be able benefit from the advantages of web 2.0 tools in enhancing their teaching.
2.To develop professionally.
3.To be able to navigate the internet with more confidence and add their own content.
As the head of the department I was faced by two major issues. The first was to raise enough funding and find a location to hold the workshop in. After a lot of running around and writing letters, we were able to have the permission of the Faculty of Mathematical Sciences to use one off their computer labs free of charge and to raise enough funding for conducting the workshop.
We invited Hala Fawzi one of the very few online instructors in Sudan to carry on the training. With some extra spaces left we invited five teachers from other universities to attend with us the workshop. Hala Fawzi created a wiki as a platform for the workshop. The workshop continued for three days. The fourth and last day of the workshop we invited another instructor to talk about the University web classes and then I gave a short presentation on techniques of surfing the internet. A questionnaire was carried out to evaluate the workshop.
I feel very happy and satisfied now when I hear the teachers at the department talking about blogs and wikis, and some of them are now thinking of including some online tools in their teaching. So meeting their needs was the key for the success of the workshop. It is not just including technology that is important but training that is targeted to common goals.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Building Success

'Building Success' is the title of a post in my blog at TeachingEnglish. It was on the editor's choice blog for three weeks now.

Monday, May 25, 2009

So many new websites!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Every evening when I sit down to read my mail I become so much overwhelmed with amount of new websites opening every day, every hour, even every minute
Two of these free website are the Vienna-Oxford International Corpus of English and the Cambridge English Language Teaching. Both websites contain very useful material for English language teachers.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The visit to Carlos Rosario Public Charter School

As I started recording my visit to the Sates so was Isabella one of the EFL Educators. She had done a great job of using VoiceThreat to describe our visit to Carlos Rosario Public Charter School.

I just wanted to add three extra points on her description of that visit. First as I attended one elementary class I noticed that the teacher was using 'learning stations' with different activities on listening, speaking, writing and reading. The teacher was timing the lesson so well that all the students passed on all the learning stations. Also one of the most important things I noticed on entering the classroom was a white board with the objectives of the lesson written very clearly. The teacher even asked one of the students to check if they had covered all the objectives of the lesson. One last thing was the slogan of the school 'Literacy is global ' written at the entrance of the school with drawings of students from different nationalities. For me the school seemed like all the world put together working in harmony, to achieve a common objective.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Asking Michelle Rhee

After meeting the Chancellor Michelle Rhee,we had an argument about is she right or wrong about saying she cares only for what goes inside the schools but outside is not her worry. On visiting her corner on the District of Columbia Public Schools website I found a place for questions and comments. I send her the following: "I was one of the EFL educators who met you on March, I was really touched by your dedication to solve the problems facing education. After the visit we had an argument about the possibility of separating the problems of education from other problems in society. how can you educate a child who is hungry,sick and frightened even if you have the best teachers in the class?"
To my suprise Next day I got the following answer from the Chancellor Michelle Rhee, she said " Though it’s challenging, it’s absolutely possible to do. We see it in classrooms and schools across this city. MR"
So I felt that she is really dedicated to her job she even took the time to answer my email, WOW.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Michelle Rhee, a woman of strength

We met Michelle Rhee, the Chancellor of Columbia School District in the first day of EFL Educators workshop.The first thing I noticed about her when she walked in the meeting room that she was a very strong woman. When she started talking about the schools at Washington DC she became a woman with a passion. She explained the system of education at US, what is difference between public schools and charter schools. We were informed by the Chancellor that Washington DC was considered a "high risk area" due to the high drop out from schools. She told us about her work in closing down schools which were not doing well and using the extra funds to increase the number of teachers in some schools. She told us that she is only concerned with fixing the schools and that she thinks if she can provide good teachers in good schools they will have better academic records. She said that every child have the right to be educated without regard to the color of skin. The following quotation I took from the official site of the District of Columbia Public Schools.

"Chancellor Michelle Rhee was appointed by Mayor Adrian Fenty June 12,
2007 She leads D.C. Public Schools, a district numbering 50,000
students and 144 schools.
In the Mayor’s search for a change agent for schools in the District,
experts in education recommended Ms. Rhee, who had already transformed
many urban public school systems through her work with The New Teacher
Project (TNTP). Results drive the Chancellor every day. Whether she is
developing effective measurements to track student achievement and
teacher quality; talking with principals and teachers in one-on-one
meetings; developing new measures to hold herself and staff accountable
for their roles in student achievement; traveling throughout the
community to engage parents and other stakeholders in our schools;
establishing partnerships with neighborhood organizations; meeting with
business leaders as she transforms a broken organizational structure into
one that works for students and families; or ensuring that needed
repairs are completed to create physical learning environments serve
students, Chancellor Rhee’s vision rests on results."

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sally Smith, a woman with a vision

During the EFL Educators workshop which I attended at the the United States we visited the Lab School. The school was stared in 1967 by Sally Smith a great women with a great vision. The school teaches children with learning disabilities through art. The school was amazing, I was not able to visit the senior part of the school because I chose to visit the primary section. All the children were working on activities, they were learning by doing not by listening. I was lucky to see an academic club about the Renaissance history, the children were wearing clothes from the Renaissance. They were soldiers from the crusades and their teacher was a queen from medieval times. The children were learning history by living it. It was so great to watch the activities going in the different classes. At the end of the visit we were taken to exhibit room were pictures of former students of the Lab School were shown. They are famous women and men in the different walks of life. Nothing is impossible.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Talking with my students

Today I had a very nice experience with my students. Today was my first lecture after my return from the States as I was introducing my self I asked them how long have they been studying English Languge. They started counting and it turned to be six years. So I told them you must know English well but it is a passive English because you are not practing it. So one of the students asked for permission to talk. He said in excellent English that they welcome me back and they are happy that I said they know English. They want to prove that they are good students and that they will work very hard to learn English. All the class was happy and they clapped for him. I was so much suprised and happy that they are so motivated and I think we will learn a lot togther.

Monday, April 6, 2009

2009 EFL Educators Workshop

I am always late in recording events in my blog but late is better than never. I have just returned from the United States after attending the 2009 EFL Educators Workshop organized by CIED at Georgetown University, Washington DC. The participants in group 1 were from Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Madagascar, Timor-Leste, Brazil, Nepal, Indonesia, Mexico, Rwanda, Ukraine, India, West bank, Yemen, and me from Sudan. The workshop started from the 17th till 23rd of March. We worked from 7 in the morning till 5 or 6 in the afternoon nonstop. On the weekend we were taken on a tour to see Washington DC and we were even taken to the National Theatre to attend a theatre production A Chorus Line. I was so much excited by the workshop and by meeting other EFL Educators from all different parts of the world. We were not just learning from the presentations or the field visits but we were learning from each other. I learned from my fellow educators about their countries and cultures. What was so amazing after all is that we were so different from each other but we were able to enjoy each other company in such an amazing way and I think this is because we were all English language educators. I felt that English language is really a global language. We now have our own social network at Ning.
The workshop was so much organized that I thought it was the not the first time but it was the first time. Every detail was taken care off even my early flight to New York to finish my exist visa. I think the success of the workshop was because all the staff at CIED were working as one team for the comfort and benefit of all the participants. When we were wondering about shopping we were directed to the right shops which were amazing especially Best Buy a huge supermarket for all electronic stuff.
I feel that it is my responsibility to start documenting down all what I learned and to share it with my fellow teachers in Sudan.