Saturday, 23 July 2011


This year I had a 36-member, fourth/fifth-grade combination class. Twenty three students came from households where English was the second language, or wasn’t spoken at all. Most of their parents had a high school education or less, spoke little or no English, worked long hours, and were able to provide limited academic support.

In a classroom like this, we have many challenges. Using blogs as an in-class activity helped my students and me overcome many of these challenges by improving student engagement. It also gave them some valuable technical skills and lessons in digital citizenship ...

If you would like to continue reading please click on the following link

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Are Interactive whiteboards worth?

Interactive whiteboards have become popular over the last few years, and it appears that their use will continue to grow exponentially.
An interactive whiteboard is a large display that connects to a computer and a projector. The projector projects the computer's desktop onto the board's surface, where users control the computer with a pen, finger, or other device. The board is typically mounted to a wall or floor stand. Various accesories, such as student response systems, enable interactivity.
In a recent study carried out to find out the impact whiteboards have on studens' learning, researchers found that students achieved better and significant results.
The study also suggests how teachers might use interactive whiteboards more effectively:
- Organize information according to students'needs
- Do not overwhelm students with too much content and visuals
- Pace the lesson intelligently
- Visuals should focus on the important information
- Balance visuals and written information on flipcharts
- Work out why an answer is correct or incorrect with students before using reinforcing features like the virtual applause
Interactive whiteboards have great potential as a tool to enhance pedagogical practices and improve students'learning, but teachers must understand that whiteboards like many other powerful techno tool must be used thoughtfully, in accordance with what we know about good classroom practice.
Adapted from "Teaching with Interactive Whiteboards" by Robert J. Marzano, Educational Leadership, November 2009 Vol.67 Nº3 -

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

How to become a "Master Teacher"

Is great teaching "a gift" that only a few of us are born with, or is it "a skill that can be learned"?

As to methods, there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Just because we went to school for teaching doesn't mean that we come out of school as master teachers. Even if you were a good student in school, it does not mean that you will be a good teacher. The tasks you were asked to do in school are fundamentally different from the day-to-day tasks you are asked to do as a teacher. In fact, most teachers will tell you that although their education courses and their student teaching gave them a good theoretical background, what they really learned about teaching, they learned on the job.
But teaching for many years is not enough to make you a master teacher either. There are some teachers who have been teaching for more than 20 years and still think and behave like novices; other teachers have become master teachers after only a few years of experience. And, the sad truth is that some of us never become master teachers no matter how many years we've been teaching.
Experience alone does not make you a master teacher any more than practicing scales twice a day makes you a concert pianist. Mastery teaching is not about the time you put in. It's what you do with your time that counts.
You see, mastery teaching requires specific, intentional practice.

What Is the Master Teacher Mindset?

The master teacher mindset is really a disposition toward teaching. It is a way of thinking about instruction, about students, about learning, and about teaching in general that makes teaching fluid, efficient, and effective. Many of us think that in order to be a good teacher, we need to have all the answers. We focus our time and energy accumulating strategies and skills, hoping that if we have a big enough bag of tricks, we will be prepared to face whatever happens in the classroom. The master teacher mindset means knowing that having all the answers isn't nearly as important as knowing what questions to ask. It means knowing that if you ask the right question the question itself will lead you to the information that you need to examine in order to find the answer. Good questions reveal what information is relevant, when information is sufficient, and how that information should be used appropriately.
The master teacher mindset also means knowing how to ask students the right questions, the kind of questions that lead to deeper thinking, increased motivation, and more student ownership over their own work. Master teachers spend more time refining their inquiry skills and their own curiosity than they do collecting strategies and skills.
The mastery principles are
  1. Master teachers start where their students are.
  2. Master teachers know where their students are going.
  3. Master teachers expect to get their students to their goal.
  4. Master teachers support their students along the way.
  5. Master teachers use feedback to help them and their students get better.
  6. Master teachers focus on quality rather than quantity.
  7. Master teachers never work harder than their students.

You may be surprised that none of these principles seems especially earth shattering. They almost seem to be common teaching sense. Most of us know already that we need to set goals or to assess student progress. We learn it the first day in college. I would venture that most of us will claim we are already abiding by these principles in our daily practice. We already set high expectations for our students. We already try to get our students to do their own work. After all, what teacher will admit "I don't have high expectations for my students," or "I don't provide my students with the supports they will need to be successful"?

So why is it that so many of us still find teaching so challenging? Why is it that we are still not successful withall of our students? If the principles are so effective, and if we are already using the principles in our daily practice, why are we still struggling to reach every student, every day?
What separates master teachers from the rest of us is that master teachers learned how to use the principles effectively, and rigorously apply these principles to their teaching. In fact, these principles have become such an integral part of their teaching that master teachers no longer have to consciously think about them. Applying these principles has become a natural response to students' needs.
If you want to become a Master teacher, I really recommend you reading this book " Never work harder than your students" from ASCD books ( 2009), you can browse excerpts from

Tuesday, 12 January 2010


Uruguay's Plan Ceibal: The world's most ambitious roll-out of educational technologies? Submitted by Michael Trucano on Fri, 09/18/2009 - 22:19

"It is the most profound and irreversible of revolutions" said Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez of the myriad changes that information and communications technologies are having on societies. President Vázquez was speaking at an event sponsored by the Inter-american Development Bank in Washington last September 2009 to highlight his country's accomplishments under what may be the world's most ambitious nationwide roll-out of computers in a country's education system.

Plan Ceibal, the education reform initiative that is aiming (most famously) to provide one laptop for every student and teacher in Uruguay, is set, according to project director Miguel Brechner, to achieve 'full deployment' at the primary level by the end of this month, and is now targeting secondary education as well. Brechner's very informative presentation provided insight into the context, scale and ambition behind the initiative, and included some very intriguing preliminary results. Noting the changes that have occured since the project began to roll-out just a few years ago in partnership with the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative, Bechner stated that, when it came to individual access to personal computing for all students in Uruguay, "What was a privilege in 2006 is a right in 2009". The Uruguayan example, Brechner continued, shows that it is indeed possible to provide a laptop (for free) to every student, and how this can be done. In the case of Uruguay, "costs are manageable", he said, and "impacts are immediate". Uruguay's interest in serving as a global model for educational transformation enabled in large part by 1-to-1 computing for students is laudable, and Brechner's presentation was rather unique in that it shared cost data of the sort that is rarely published officially.

published by World Bank

Sunday, 26 April 2009


This is a site created by an Argentinian teacher Verónica Zonteponte which will link you to a large community of teachers from different countries promoting understanding and peace throughout cultures. Do pay a visit to the site and become an active member of this community.

Click on the following link

Sunday, 10 February 2008

GENERAL TEACHING RESOURCES, MOVIE SITES Thousands of ideas to choose from Good to teach historical events A well-known resource Thousands of song lyrics to browse Which biography are you looking for? Inside Out Series / Subscription required Oxford Teachers Club MacMillan Resource Site Inside Out Series / MacMillan (create slideshows and add voice to them) (voiced mini-projects) (create worksheets and interactive exercises) ( interactive exercise makers)

MOVIE SITES (official web page)



LISTENING RESOURCES a very good source of listening material Gallery / famous speeches Excellent source of short and updated videos, brand new webpage

NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL EDUCATIONAL LINKS (Administración Nacional de Educación Pública) (Consejo de Educación Secundaria) (Consejo de Formacion en Educacion) (links with affiliates worldwide)


Most all of us are familiar with one form or another of sequential art, a term coined by Will Eisner(1985) to name an art form that has come to include cartoons, comic strips,comic books, and graphic novels. It is an international art form and ranges from an innocent but witty girl called "Mafalda", loved by South Americans, especially "The Rioplatenses", to strong and historical comic characters such as the French Asterix.

Despite its popularity, sequential art has long been misunderstood. After widespread use throughout the first half of the 20th century, comic books in the United States came under attack in the 1950s when psychiatrist Frederic Wertham wrote, in his highly influential "Seduction of the Innocent", that they are a " reinforcing factor in children´s reading disorders" ( 1954).

Despite all this, research by Hanes and Ahrens(1988) highlights the fact that comic books contain a greater number of rare words than ordinary conversation and are thus and excellent stepping stone to more difficult reading. Cary points out that sequential art is rich in ellipses,blends,non-words (uh,huh,humph,sheesh!) and other common aspects of spoken language, exposing students to "the ambiguity, vagueness and downright sloppiness of spoken English". Sequential art is a window on the spoken vernacular, a variety of the target language that is commonly overlooked in efl classes in large part due to its absence in both educational material and in more formal authentic texts. The obvious absence of an informal register from a student´s linguistic repertoire is a key contributing factor to misunderstanding and confusion when students confront a native speaker of English or when they watch a film in English.

Sequential art also provides an up-to-date look at target language culture and society. As an art form that is kept current by active publishing houses, newspapers,and the Internet, it is a widely accesible source of popular topics, concerns, and fashions that can interest almost any age level. And as most comic involve a number of characters from different backgrounds interacting over a long period of time, they can serve as a tool for studying socio-cultural aspects of people,allowing a teacher to design a lesson based solely on cross-cultural differences and similarities between the target language culture and the students´native culture.

from English Teaching Forum, Number 3 ,2007





Friday, 8 February 2008

INTERNATIONAL EXAMS- British and American

British Examinations
Important link:

Cambridge Assessment:

Cambridge International Examinations Website

FCE - Handbook for teachers, updated and ready to be downloaded

PET - same link path, click on PET ( CB computer-based or paper-based)
CAE - same link path, click on CAE ( updated as from December 2008)
CPE - same link path, click on CPE

American Examinations

TOEFL Exam (required to enter any University in USA)

Michigan Exam

These two exams are offered in Uruguay by Alianza Uruguay Estados Unidos, if you need further information click on



Wednesday, 6 February 2008



" A successful face-to-face team is more than just collectively intelligent.It makes everyone work harder, think smarter and reach better conclusions than they would have on their own".

- James Surowiecki

What are true learning communities?

  • Teachers establish a common, concise set of essential curricular standards and teach to them on a roughly common schedule.

  • They must meet regularly, the ideal is twice a month, for a minimun of 45 minutes, to help one another teach to these selected standards.

  • Teachers must make frequent use of common assessments, these assessments are pivotal.

  • With common assessments and results, teachers can conduct " active research" where a "culture of experimentation prevails".

  • These fundamental concepts combine a " guaranteed and viable curriculum" with continual analysis of actual lessons and units, and improvement of instruction.

We have to be very clear about what true teamwork entails: a regular schedule of formal meetings where teachers focus on the details of their lessons and adjust them on the basis of assessment results. The use of common assessments is essential here. Without these, teams can´t discern or enjoy the impact of their efforts on an ongoing basis.Enjoying and celebrating these short-trm results is the very key to progress, to achieving "momentum" toward improvement.

Taken from " Results Now", How we can achieve unprecedented improvements in teaching and learning. Mike Schmoker , ASCD Publication