ice cubes and icebreakers

breaking the ice cubes

breaking the ice cube

Some thoughts about last Thursday. Usually, I am capturing my reflections quicker. Not sure why I ‘waited’ so long this time. Maybe I was still digesting what happened and tried to interprete and analyse things n my little brain before externalising. Maybe I wasn’t sure if I would get to the stage of capturing them here.

I am not going to write about the whole session. I could go on an on… Not sure where to start now, but I might just say a few things about the Bingo activity used as an icebreaker. Some of the feedback suggests that it worked. I don’t think it did work that well. Perhaps different questions could have been used. I need to have a good look at the sheet again and make it better for next time. However, it wasn’t just the Bingo sheet. I could of course, just blame the sheet – which I put together – but I was facilitating this activity and yes, we achieved interaction, a lot!!! and participants had the opportunity to chat with a number of different people – this was good and worked well!!! – however, there was no official end or closure to the activity. When we all sat down again, I could/should! have invited participants to share some of the answers collected – perfect opportunity!!! and I missed it! Sharing is so important! This way we would have to opportunity to find out a few information about people we didn’t have the chance to talk to. How could I not do it??? I am a bit/lot frustrated that I didn’t. But sometimes when you are in the middle of doing something we are blinded with what is happening, we are so caught about in experiencing that you don’t think clearly or fast enough (what about noise???) and in the end we are human and we can’t always think of everything… and miss opportunities… unfortunately. Is this an excuse? No, it isn’t. We need to think on our feet and most of the time we do and act and re-act to what we experience at a specific moment in time. Being able to freeze time while it is running is vital to adjust and be elastic as we experience something so that we can alter the process and the product.

Looking back now and into the future at the same time (is this really possible?), I need to make sure that the sharing at a class level does happen at closure of an activity. I always say we should have a beginning, a middle and an end in whatever we do (session, programme, story, activity etc.)! Practise what you preach Chrissi!!!

Of course, an ice breaker is not enough but a good icebreaker can do wonders! However, a good icebreaker used in a hostile atmosphere would not work! So, how was the atmosphere? Overall, I think, I might be wrong, participants were positive and progressively more relaxed and opened up as the day progressed. Did we, the facilitators help? I think we did through being who we are and doing things the way we did them.

Comments are very welcome ;o)

5min interactive lecture

wheat not weed

wheat not weed

I was invited to give a mini lecture at the primary school where my little boys go about the importance of learning languages. I couldn’t really resist… so I did it. When I first talked with the teacher on the phone, I didn’t really like the idea of lecturing… I was told to tell the children… this concept just doesn’t work for me. I can’t do it, I don’t like it. My approach is more experiential and collaborative. I am a big fan of learning with and from each other!

We probably under-estimate what big brains these little kids carry around and how sophisticated they are to work out things. So, I didn’t deliver a lecture! I knew I just had 5 minutes so it had to work from the first second and it did because while I was introducing myself, I started engaging them – there were 200 of them. Wow! My eldest told me in the morning while we were going together to school ‘mummy don’t be nervous, it will be all right!’ I gave him a big hug and said ‘ευχαριστώ’ (thank you in Greek) – since I always speak Greek with my boys.

And it was ok, more than ok, it went great! The only plan that I had was to engage them throughout the 5min – when it was my turn, I had no idea what would come out of my mouth but whatever I did it worked!

What did I do? Well, looking back now, what I did was instead of telling them why we should be learning languages and what we get out of it – they told me! Throughout the 5 minutes, there was a dialogue, it was a two-way conversation (not a monologue!!!). We all said good morning in different languages, thanks to the different languages the children knew. Heard about friends who live far far away and travels to other countries. We all had a great time and learnt with and from each other through active engagement. It was fascinating how everybody was so keen to share his/her story and nobody wanted it to stop.

Is there really a need for andragogy? Is it right to assume that because these little people have less experience, they are unable or less able to work things out for themselves??? Do children and adults learn differently? And if they do, does this mean that we need a separate learning theory? Do we need to bottle up everything? Anyway, after this 5min interactive lecture and the 2 mini language sessions I delivered at the school I went back to work and couldn’t stop about what happened that morning.

I started making connections, ideas were coming and going and finally I come up with a concrete idea. I would love to establish if new HE lecturers could develop effective lecturing skills by engaging in 5min interactive lectures at Primary School. Our new PGCAP programme just started and I am going to investigate if there is a small group of lecturers who would like to take this idea further. More thinking is, of course, needed but I have a good feeling that this idea will lead somewhere and help new lecturers and also create links between Primary and Higher Education. Am I persuing a silly idea??? I am excited and I hope that some of the PGCAP Participants will be too when I share this idea with them.

living with constant change

well, we won’t be able to use categories after all… had to decide for tags. This was the easy option without changing rights. Sometimes, we just have to go for the easy option and think on our feet. Nothing wrong with that!

I have to admit that I assumed that authors could add categories within wordpress, but apparently that is not the case, unless you go and add rights following a specific procedure, which I started looking at but it seemed too complicated at this stage. I should have checked that earlier!!! Anyway, the tags are also a good solution and I have decided to monitor posts and add tags if not used, so that when I come to analyse the data, it will be a bit easier for me.

So, no new categories but yes to tags! Participants are still able to select from existing categories. I have do look further into the difference of categories and tags. I think the difference is in the rights, who can add, edit what and there are good reasons for that depending on the project. Categories seem to work at project/admin level. Tags seem a more personal approach to categorisation. Must explore further.

Useful link to who can do what within wordpress. Just click here to view the default rights.

very useful meeting

We had the opportunity to have a chat on Skype, the 2 PBL tutors who participate in the trial and myself. I should have done this before the trial started… communication is so much more effective when you actually talk to the other person… and can clarify things faster. It somehow feels less complicated. In a written message it is easy to loose track and mis-understand or not understand at all. I am happy that we managed to find the time to have that skype chat today. Issues were identified and some of them resolved. Collectively, we came up with some solutions. I think one of the most significant one is the use of categories when posting. Introducing the ones below, will make things easier for everybody.

For me as well, since I am most of all interested in how participants experience this trial and their reflective accounts. This new system, will help me identify their reflections with a mouse click. Super… if, of course, the categories are used. Somebody will have to monitor in the background if that is the case and this will be me.

We decided to introduce the use of categories


for now to make it easier to access what is posted. All existing posts have now been categorised. We need to let participants know to select one of the above categories when they post something new.

Also, it would be good to untick the ‘allow pings’ button before publishing something new that we don’t get everybody else’s posts within the trial space. Not excactly sure how pinging works but outside posts seem to be linked to ours. COuld I maybe change the default settings? Will have to check that one out as well.

It was also suggested that PBL tutors could subscribe to receive email notifications of any new posts, which would save a lot of time and energy checking the trial space and keeping on top about what is happening. We need to let participants know about that as well because it will make things easier for them as well.

How I feel at the moment? I think PBL tutors have now a better understanding of the trial and what is planned to happen and their involvement. Already PBL tutors have taken a more active approach and are establishing an online presence among the participants and have started engaging in a dialogue.

The weekend has started but I can’t stop thinking about this trial.

apple pizza didn’t work

light up there

light up there

Months later and I am still were I was months ago… the illustrator did disappear… unfortunately. So, there is no progress with the book project. Initial conversations were captured at>

and I really thought that this was leading somewhere. Unfortunately, it didn’t.

I might have to do the illustrations myself… as the publisher suggested anyway but I am just not in the right mood at the moment. After many years of not-drawing, I started again when I had my eldest and I needed something to fill my sleepless nights creatively and keep my brain fit. Now, almost 9 years later, and after a painful experience with a publisher, I have given up and haven’t really been in the mood to illustrate. Should I force myself? Not sure how the process and product would look like.

I have over 15 stories for kids ready, various lengths, various levels and some of the stories could be used for language learning too and have integrated activities as well.

So, searching for a new illustrator again. What would I like to see? Work that stands out, that is creative and enables creative thinking on many different levels… I think that is what I think… any illustrator out there who would like to give it a go???

slow start but getting there

little feet, little steps... the wings are opening

little feet, little steps... the wings are opening

Officially we started on the 6th of September the online PBL trial. It took us a while to sort out the technology and mainly to get the wordpress accounts created and link them to the group blog. Everybody is now happy, am I right?, and the ethical issue has also been resolved.

I have to remember that it is a small group and took quite a while, what could one do for larger groups? I think self-registration would definitely be a big bonus. We are all sorted now.

First posts have started appearing despite the fact that PBL tutors are not present yet. They are on their way, so to speak and will be live on Monday the latest. I can just feel, at the moment, that we definitely need a facilitator in online groups, somebody who co-ordinates what is happening, how and when. It might not have to be the tutor. It could be somebody who takes the lead from within the group but then this person would have to have the support of his/her peers. And there are other issues linked to that as well into which I am not going to go now.

A mini meeting with the PBL tutors has been planned and Monday they will be ready to start. I am stepping back and observe in the background. This is the hardest of it all, because I would love to be part of it. The nature of this research project, however, doesn’t let me… I hope that I will be able to re-create such an approach in the near future with our PGCAP participants. We will see.

big day…



… for the online PBL trial is approaching. Monday, the 6th of September. Just emailed participants. I hope I didn’t forget anything at this stage. Went through the trial space again and made more changes. Will everything go well??? Hm. We will see. I am feeling a bit nervous and am trying to think of something that I forgot. At the moment, I can’t think of something. The first week will show.

There was a good interest in the PBL trial and it is a shame that I couldn’t enlarge the number further. Would need more PBL tutors, that was the main problem… Perhaps in the future, a similar project could run that would join up 2 institutions and 2 PgCert programmes, 2 whole cohorts! I am now running again with my ideas. Let’s just focus on this small scale experiment and see how it goes first before making big(ger) plans.

Already, I feel that I am learning so much from this experience and it hasn’t even began yet. Will keep you all posted ;o)