Last week, I was invited to facilitate a 3-hour mini course to EFL teachers from public schools in Uberlândia, Brazil. The topic I selected to work with was "Text Genres in English: exploring digital possibilities".
I wanted it to be a course where teachers would explore different webtools themselves and then discuss about the possibilities.
My plan was to use a Google Docs page as the basis of our course. As the course would take place at a school lab, I imagined each teacher would have access to a computer and we would use the google docs first as a space for synchronous brainstorming ( Part 1), as a guide for the activities we would develop, as a library with the links to resources we would use, as a notebook where participants would also post and share whatever they produced during the course.
However, as usual, many things didn't go according to plan. The first problem we encountered was to get each teacher to be on one computer. Although the lab had several desktops, few of them were ready to be used, so teachers ended up having to share the same computer. Well, not a big problem, I thought, at least the internet was working.
As soon as we started, I provided them with the link bit.ly/cemepe1 and started our brainstorm activity by proposing two questions:
I made the google docs public and after they discussed their ideas with a partner, they started typing their ideas synchronously. They were amazed with the fact that they could all type on the same document at the same time and were also able to see what others were typing. I could say this was a highlight that morning.
The text genres I had selected to work that day were: poetry, message, poster, e-mail, text message, storytelling and the news.
From that moment on, the hands-on mini course became more of a lecture, against my will.
The internet was very slow and at times inexistent. Fortunately, I had a plan B with all the activities on a powerpoint presentation, so instead of trying out the tasks, I explained what the tool allowed us to develop and showed some images with examples.
By the end of our course, participants got together and exchanged ideas about what tools they imagined using with their own students and what activities they could develop.
In spite of all the problems we faced, the opportunity to be in contact with these teachers and also learn from their realities was priceless. Right below, I bring a feedback message posted by one of the participants in Portuguese (our native language).
If you would like to see our google docs, click HERE. In June, we're having the second part of this mini course.