Thursday, September 20, 2018

Paragraph Development: The Process of Writing and Transforming the Outline

This classroom experience takes the (English language) learner from the process of brainstorming to transforming the outline from key words, developing sentences, to finally an organizational outline.  

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Teacher Learning Cast (TLC) #20: Google Classroom and WhatsApp

TLC Socials


Google in the Classroom

  • Scheme of Work
  • Google Classroom
  • Google Photos
What educational technology are you currently using in and outside the classroom?  Share your experiences!

The Evolution of ELT: Sharing Our Experiences in the Field

Today concludes the 25th Anniversary of the BA in ELT at the Universidad Autónoma de Aguascalientes. I am sharing the two presentations from the conference that focus on personal learning networks and professional learning and the importance of performance tasks.

Seldom do Teachers Become Lifelong Learners by Accident - September 10, 2018

When it comes to ELT, what makes a worthwhile performance? September 11, 2018

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Disposition, Orientation, Cognition, and Socialness (DOCS): An Education Manifesto



The purpose of creating an educational manifesto is to attempt to collect and organize a set of ideas I hold true related to teaching and learning.  The rationale for sharing such an endeavor is to encourage others to think about the same and offer feedback that will continue to shape my opinions on my own educational philosophy and current teaching practice.

A manifesto is a published verbal declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government. A manifesto usually accepts a previously published opinion or public consensus or promotes a new idea with prescriptive notions for carrying out changes the author believes should be made.

Here, a manifesto is a written declaration of my intentions, motives, and views about teaching and learning, a personal education manifesto shared with the masses if you will.  I first thought about writing my own manifesto after having read, The 27 Principles to Teaching Yourself Anything (Scribd Scoopit, Blog - in the works at the time of this writing).  But what motivates me, even more, are my learners.  My intention is to present this manifesto the first day of class next semester (August 13, 2018) in hopes that it presents a personal philosophy and expectations that ultimately can compare with learners' expectations they have for the class. Secondly, having an education philosophy will serve as a basis for an upcoming talk I have in September regarding strategies successful learners employ to get the most out of their studies and throughout their professional careers as English language educators.  Although this manifesto addresses education in general, the intended audience are those interested in the teaching and learning of an additional language.

I use the acronym DOCS to categorize ideas around an education manifesto that I feel currently represents how teaching and learning emerge in both formal and informal education.  DOCS begins as a variation of The 27 Principles... because the bulk of any educative experience primarily has to do with what the individual learner does while the educator's job is to facilitate the process. I conclude by offering a slightly more nuanced viewpoint by expanding on disposition, orientation, cognition, and socialness.

DOCS as a Variant of the 27 Principles...


Having a good disposition is the most important tenet of DOCS since it relates to one's overall attitude.  Attitude relates to character and the will one has to keep an open mind, learn, and take action. To this end, having appreciation for what one has means not taking anything for granted. I would group the following three of the 27 principles as follows: 1) everything is a lesson, 2) nothing is certain, and 3) it never ends.


Orientation relates to metacognition, or learning how to learn.  Orientation relates to how a learner recognizes where they have been, where they are currently, and where they want to be in the future as it pertains to their own learning journey.  I group the following five of the 27 principles as follows: 1) learn who you are, 2) learn what you love, 3) learn what you hate, 4) don't assume anything, 5) what if everyone had it backwards.


Cognition refers to how one makes relationships between theory (what others say about the topic) and practice (what you have to say about the topic).  Relying solely on what others say or ignoring what others say superficially frames cognition as shallow thinking or the opposite of critical thinking.  Thus, to think critically in a way that recognizes theory and practice as being at opposite ends of a single continuum is to distinguish between the abstract and concrete; analysis and synthesis; compare and contrast; logical and illogical arguments; persuasion and compliance, dissuasion, etc.; and the ability to resolve and ignore cognitive conflict. I reluctantly group only one of the 27 principles in this category since it places more emphasis on practical application: theory is optional, practical application is mandatory. Theory does not exist without practice and practice does not exist without theory.


Socialness relates to how one recognizes the impact human relationships have on a personal learning network (PLN).  From a professional standpoint, the ability to recognize the value in connecting with others will depend on the type of engagement: 1) uni vs. bidirectional communication, 2) frequency, and 3) quality. Understanding social networking terms like prestige, centrality, and influence will also provide ways to evaluating the quality of the connections one has.  Based on this personal awareness, one can then make better decisions in paving a way to better educative experiences.  I loosely place the following 17 out of 27 principles in this category:
  1. showing up is just the beginning, 
  2. put yourself in situations where learning is required to survive and thrive,
  3. teach others,
  4. build things,
  5. break things,
  6. make money, 
  7. record everything,
  8. analyze every investment,
  9. efficient is not the same as effective,
  10. explore,
  11. try every medium,
  12. get in arguments,
  13. seek out different ways of doing things,
  14. be careful who you learn from,
  15. connections are EVERYTHING,
  16. find people who think you are crazy,
  17. most education happens outside of the classroom.
To understand any one of the four tenets of this education manifesto - disposition, orientation, cognition, and socialness - requires a level of understanding of the other three as they all are causes and effects of each other.  Context will determine which of the four tenets provide the best "entry point" into a necessary nuanced discussion and reflective action pertaining to how these four collectively relate to the educative experience.  A teacher's role is to use this understanding of the four tenets to facilitate effective, efficient, and engaging educative experiences for each learner.

I have purposefully left this post short, realizing that further explanation of disposition, orientation, cognition, and socialness is necessary; for now, just wanted to present these ideas in hopes that others might offer feedback.

Does this education manifesto resonate with you?  What's missing?

Teacher Learning Cast (TLC) #19: Starting a New School Year

TLC Socials

Starting a New Year

  • Getting to know your students
  • Knowing learners' names and addressing them by them first names
  • Learner expectations
  • Learner rapport
 How do you introduce the start of a new school year?  Share your experiences!

Teacher Learning Cast (TLC) #18: Academic Reading Circles

TLC Socials

Academic Reading Circles 

Are you currently using academic reading circles in your (English language learning) classroom?  Share your experiences!

Teacher Learning Cast (TLC) #17: WhatsApp in the Classroom

TLC Socials

Are you currently using WhatsApp in the classroom?  Share your experiences!

Monday, July 30, 2018

Upcoming talks related to academic writing

This Tuesday and Wednesday I will be discussing the following with new incoming learners who will be enrolled in a four-five-year bachelor's degree in English language teaching:

My Page Basics of Academic Writing Paragraph Development

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Personalized vs. Individualized Learning

After having read Why Are We Still Personalizing Learning If It's Not Personal?, I felt compelled to offer a slightly different perspective of the term "personalized" and "individualized" learning. Today's views complement prior posts that I have made on the subject.

I agree with the underlying premise that, "personalized learning in practice often falls short..." when it comes to "personalization" of formal education (para. 2); however, I don't think that it's because there is a difference between the terms personalize and individualize.

Let's compare personalize with individualize (my personal favorite definitions)...

  • personalize: 1) to ascribe personal qualities to; personify; 2) to make personal, as by applying a general statement to oneself; 3) to design or tailor to meet an individual's specifications, needs, or preferences
  • individualize: to make individual or distinctive; give an individual or distinctive character to; 2) to mention, indicate, or consider individually; specify; particularize
Although I can appreciate the effort it takes to attempt to distinguish between the two terms, the complexity of what teaching and learning entail makes the practicalities of using these terms differently a bit futile.  So, for the purposes of this discussion, I will use the terms personalize and individualize interchangeably since I have yet to be convinced that there is a reason for separating these two semantically.  
As individualization increases, so does the potential for isolation (para. 4).
If individualize means to make individual or distinctive, I don't necessarily see this as only a social phenomenon.  Individualization (and personalization) is just as much cognitive (internal) as it is social.  Today's technology can use algorithms to approximate ways of facilitating teaching and learning (which I have no qualms about) but what really matters is how educators assist learners in how to become better... well, learners.  Educators can help learners become more aware of how to better personalize their own learning experiences for particular purposes - educators can differentiate instruction but they cannot personalize learning. 

Learning is inherently personalized, there is no escaping it.  Take a group of 40 students who sit in the same class for 50 minutes and each will leave having had a personal experience.  In order to leave with a personal experience, each student personalized automatically (for better or worse) thoughts, behaviors, materials and technologies, etc. in order to realize the experience.  This act of individually personalizing his/her learning could have occurred implicitly or explicitly, but the awareness of how one personalizes learning is where the benefit of understanding a personal learning network (an aggregate of ideas, materials/technologies, and personal relationships) comes into play. 
... if we over-individualize, learning can quickly become impersonal..." (para. 7).
Nothing about teaching and learning is "impersonal".  This is like accusing someone of "having no personality".  Everyone has a personality because... well, everyone is a person.  Since everyone is a person, the act of learning can only be personal.  Therefore, learning is a result of one having personalized certain behaviors, thoughts, and materials for a particular purpose.
 "...I think [we use a web-based, adaptive tool for math instruction] because then our parents don't have to help us with our homework" (para. 12).
In this case, the student is being forced to use a technology without understanding why, how, and to what end.  This is the opposite of personalization.  Any time a discussion or decision is made about using technology without considering other factors like rationales, objectives, higher order of thinking, human relationships, etc., then personalization becomes an afterthought.  The problem here might not have anything to do with the technology but how, why, and/or to what end the technology is being used.

It is impossible to "put the person back in personalized learning" (para. 21) because it's impossible to remove the person from personalized learning in the first place.  As educators, let's learn better ways to empower learners to understand their respective personal learning networks and why, how, and to what end a personal learning network emerges and dwindles (as it never stays the same) over time. If we can achieve this, then learners are personalizing or individualizing their own learning in a more relevant and meaningful way.

Photo attribution

Teacher Learning Cast (TLC) #1: Creative Commons & ICTs

And this is how it all started, February 17, 2018!!

TLC Socials

Google Chrome Tab Order:
What is four elements to Creative Commons?

  • Non-derivative 
  • Non-commercial 
  • ShareAlike
Why Creative Commons?
How to apply Creative Commons license to content?
What are the six different creative commons license?

How does Creative Commons relate to TLC?

ICTs and Educational Processes

General overview of how the incursion of ICTs speed up communication processes in Educational Tasks. (focusing on TLC as an example)

Teacher Learning Cast (TLC) #16: Trello in the Classroom

TLC Socials

In this segment, we discuss a few decisions an educator must make before choosing to use any type of technology in the classroom: 1) espoused and in-use theories, 2) types of communication, 3) content (as input and output) delivery, and 4) closed vs. open learning environments.  This discussion is not meant to be a comprehensive review of Trello, but rather how I plan to use the tool after having spent only a week with it.  I currently have a Trello Gold account and will be pursuing an educational account discount of 30%.  I do not represent Trello nor have I received any compensation whatsoever for this segment.

What do you think of Trello in the classroom?  Share your opinions and experiences!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Teacher Learning Cast (TLC) #15: UPTC 2018 & The MUSIC Model

TLC Socials

Piry Herrera
Benjamin L. Stewart
Facebook | Twitter #tlcelt | YouTube Playlist

UPTC 2018

  • Types of English courses offered at the Universidad Panamericana 
  • UPTC history and reflections on this year’s event after having not having such an event for four or so years.

M.U.S.I.C. Model

MUSIC® is an acronym that can be used to remember the five key principles of the model that relate to the words eMpowerment, Usefulness, Success, Interest, and Caring. The principles are listed below.

The instructor needs to ensure that students: 
  1. feel empowered by having the ability to make decisions about some aspects of their learning, 
  2. understand why what they are learning is useful for their short- or long-term goals,
  3. believe that they can succeed if they put forth the effort required, 
  4. are interested in the content and instructional activities, and 
  5. believe that the instructor and others in the learning environment care about their learning and about them as a person (Jones, 2009).

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Flipped Learning - Defined


I am currently preparing for an upcoming talk on practice in the English as a foreign language classroom and felt compelled to create my own definition of flipped learning:
Flipped learning is a framework in which interactive learning environments involve both synchronous and asynchronous communication and online and offline delivery of content and human engagement in a way that achieves shortterm and longterm goals which are both personal and collective.

I will be presenting my talk this Friday (May 25, 2018) at the UPTC 2018 and will subsequently make the presentation and recording of my talk available via this website.