Festa do Outono (Autumn Feast) @ Serralves

image credits: Casa de Serralves
Serralves is celebrating the arrival of Autumn this Sunday!They have prepared a special day for the whole family in which the aim is to revive old Autumn habits and customs, based on ancestral knowledge and rural traditions; they are being revived in the contemporary context of the Art and Landscape of the House. The Meadow and the Farm are the privileged stages for hosting the entertainment activities and the Maria Nordman Garden is the ideal place for bringing a traditional picnic basket and enjoying a snack during the day.
The Foundation invites us to take part in one of the many workshops on offer: some focus on discovery of the Park’s biodiversity, others are dedicated to the celebration of Autumn - including straw constructions, outdoor paintings and many other creative proposals.
There is also a donkey-library ("Burroteca") accompanied by a storyteller, an award-winning documentary by Tiago Pereira ("Eleven donkeys fall on an empty stomach"), musical performances with the groups, FRICS and Danças Ocultas, the stage play "QUASE NADA" (Almost Nothing) by the company, PELE, and dance and performance shows, including "The Ball” by the choreographer Aldara Bizarro and "Chapeau", a workshop/show involving sculpture-hats.
Once again, this 4th edition also includes a biological products fair and a children's book fair. The entrance is free. Consult the detailed programme and visit Serralves at the start of this new season.

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Social Networks

Here is a map of several social networks and their main targets. Which one do you prefer?

You have read this article social networking / targets / web 2.0 technologies with the title September 2012. You can bookmark this page URL http://catolink4.blogspot.com/2012/09/social-networks.html. Thanks!

We found love in a hopeless place

I  confess I'm not particularly fond of Rihanna, but I simply cannot take this rhythm out of my head today! The lyrics are quite interesting as well...

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Key Competences for Lifelong Learning

photo credits: Key Competences for Lifelong Learning

The Key Competences for Lifelong Learning – A European Framework is an  annex of  a Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of  December 2006 on key competences for lifelong learning that was published  in the Official Journal of the European Union on the same month.
The Recommendation is one of the outcomes of the joint work of the  European Commission and the Member States within the Education and Training Work Programme, the over-arching  framework for policy cooperation in the area of education and training, and is based on commonly agreed objectives, indicators and benchmarks, peerlearning and dissemination of best practice.
Lifelong learning has become a necessity for all citizens. We need to develop our skills and competences  throughout our lives, not only for our personal fulfilment and our ability to actively engage with the society in which we live, but for our ability to be  successful in a constantly changing world of work.  
The knowledge, skills and aptitudes of the European  workforce are a major factor in the EU’s innovation, productivity and competitiveness. Growing  internationalisation, the rapid pace of change, and  the continuous roll-out of new technologies mean  that Europeans must not only keep their specific  job-related skills up-to-date, but also possess the  generic competences that will enable them to adapt  to change. People’s competences also contribute to  their motivation and job satisfaction in the workplace, thereby affecting the quality of their work.  The ways in which we access information and services continue to change. We need new competences to master a whole new digital world, not only by acquiring technical skills, but also by gaining a deeper understanding of the opportunities, challenges and even ethical questions posed by new technologies.  
In this climate of rapid change, there is increasing  concern about our social cohesion. There is a risk  that many Europeans feel left behind and marginalised by globalisation and the digital revolution.  The resulting threat of alienation implies a need to  nurture democratic citizenship; it requires people to  be informed and concerned about their society and active in it. The knowledge, skills and aptitudes that everyone needs must change as a result.
It is against this back-drop that the Council and the European Parliament adopted, at the end of 2006, a European Framework for Key Competences for Lifelong Learning. The Framework identifies and defines, for the first time at the European level, the key competences that citizens require for their personal fulfilment, social inclusion, active citizenship and employability in our knowledge-based society. The Member States’ initial education and training systems should support the development of these competences for all young people, and their adult education and training provision should give real opportunities to all adults to learn and maintain these skills and competences.
These ompetences are defined as a combination of knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the context. Key competences are those which all individuals need for personal fulfilment and development, active citizenship, social inclusion and employment.
The Reference Framework sets out eight key competences:  
1) Communication in the mother tongue;
2) Communication in foreign languages;
3) Mathematical competence and basic competences in science and technology;
4) Digital competence;
5) Learning to learn;
6) Social and civic competences;
7) Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship;
8) Cultural awareness and expression.
The key competences are all considered equally important, because each of them can contribute to a successful life in a knowledge society. Many of the competences overlap and interlock: aspects essential to one domain will support competence in another. Competence in the fundamental basic skills of language, literacy, numeracy and in information and communication technologies (ICT) is an essential foundation for learning, and learning to learn supports all learning activities.

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Stay hungry. Stay foolish.

Teaching & Learning was born exactly one year ago on a rainy Saturday afternoon! It feels like it was yesterday... I had already edited several blogs on different topics, but a year ago I was working on a Web 2.0 project for a MD in Didactics and that was the starting point to get back to the amazing universe of blogging.
My main targets by that time were: giving suggestions of ELT resources and Web 2.0 tools applied to English language teaching, gathering some practical examples of students' work and discussing their relevance/success in class context, creating an interaction tool with Students/ other Teachers and, above all,  keeping close to Steve Jobs motto: “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” as I deeply believe work can be done with pleasure and it can be much better if we don’t forget about laughing, enjoying and adding a pinch of foolishness!
200 hundred posts and more than 25000 hits later, I believe most of those objectives were positively achieved. My MD was finished with success… Students enjoyed the experience and improved their writing/reading skills… And T&L audience is growing every day, it comes mainly from the United States, United Kingdom and Portugal, but also from the United Arab Emirates, Russia, Hong Kong, Germany, Japan, Brazil, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand. Thank You for reading T&L, for supporting it and above all for being here! I would also like to thank all those who spend their precious time commenting and giving important feedback!

This year has been a pleasure to me, so I intend to keep on going, posting more about Didactics, English, Culture, Students’ tasks and foolish things, too, of course! I hope to see You all around here a year from now… :D 
One year and counting… HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TEACHING & LEARNING!!! Let's celebrate...

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Thought for the week

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Welcoming Autumn!

September 22nd, 2:49 pm - Autumn has arrived! 
The days are noticeably shorter. The nights are cooler. On the first day of Autumn - the Autumnal Equinox - day and night are each about 12 hours long (with the actual time of equal day and night, in the Northern Hemisphere, occurring a few days after the Autumnal Equinox). The Sun crosses the celestial equator going southward; it rises exactly due east and sets exactly due west. 
Try not to feel sad because Summer is over... ;) Autumn is also a great time to entertain out of doors. Most bugs are gone, the weather is more agreeable, people are ready to relax a little, the impact of getting back to work/ school is already gone... So, take a long walk and enjoy the crunch of the leaves underfoot or take a drive and revel in the beauty of the rapidly turning leaves as they change from green to orange, yellow, red, and brown. The cascade of color is something that I really love! Happy Autumn, everbody!!!

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The rivalry continues...

found cartoon @ Techtate

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The Next Web... by Tim Berners-Lee

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Introducing iPhone 5!

cartoon credits: NBC News

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Just because I saw somebody last Saturday that reminded me of this song...
This one goes for you! :)

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Dealing with large classes

photo credits: Education 2.0

Large classes are perceived as difficult to engage students. However, the basic level of engagement with students is the same across all class sizes. The key strategies must be engaged teaching and active learning. Try to focus on three main targets: creating a good relationship with your students, getting formal and informal feedback from them and encouraging real communication between your pupils.

Work on the relationship between teacher and students

  • Get to know your students by name: say their names in class. The minute you know their names, they are not anonymous and will want to perform.
  • Show them you are human: feel at home yourself and your students will feel at home.
  • Set a task and wander around the class: show that you are approachable.
  • Help students feel 'at home': appreciate that large classes can be lonely/alien places for students.
  • Agree the ground rules: establish that attending the class is not just listening passively, but also involves answering questions, discussing examples and working through exercises.
  • Try to understand how your students think: tap into their prior experiences. Think of something they can refer to, that is relevant and engaging. Explain the ideas/concepts/theories through personal examples and then show professional/work applications. Leverage off students' own experiences.
  • Encourage self-reflection: ensure students appreciate that self-reflective thinking and interaction in the class develops critical thinking.
  • Have a change of activities/pace: different blocks of activities, offering different modes/opportunities to reengage students. One is the VARK technique (visual, aural, read/write and kinaesthetic). 
  • Raise reflective questions: do this at the end of class and come back to them at the next lecture.

  • Get informal and formal feedback from students to get their views and opinions using your own tools or the ones available on the CAD website.
  • Minute paper: stop the class early and ask students to respond briefly to: What was the most important thing you learned during this class? And what important question remains unanswered? Get feedback from the students by collecting their written responses.
Encourage communication between the students

  • Social networking: allow time for fellow students to talk (ok, we all know they take this time by themselves ;) but, if they don't, try to promote it, for example with the next type of exercise).
  • Think-Pair-Share exercises: Gets students working in pairs. 1-2 minute discussion with another student on a particular focussed question. Stress it is good to sit with somebody, as learning is enhanced by the other person's experience.
  • Raise questions: let them think about it themselves and then with another person. Apply theories/models with your neighbour and share the different applications.
  • Mini quiz: prepare about 5 questions covered in the lesson - take 1minute for each question (true or false); mark each other's answers/person next to you.
  • Multiple choice questions: give them coloured cards they have to hold up. This gets students to participate in active learning and gives instant feedback.
  • Dividing the class in half: half the class discuss and give personal examples and the other half professional examples; always two sides - give 2-3 min.
  • Organise a debate by splitting the class in two: students can choose which side to argue for and move to that side of the class.
  • Set a task and wander around the class: show them you are approachable.
Source: Victoria Business School (abridged and adapted)
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Speaking & Writing Diagnostic Activities

One of my biggest concerns with the diagnostic activities format (as with most activities in general) is how I might make the practice of speaking/writing accessible and familiar to my students so that they would recognize it as something they do, not merely an artificial exercise deployed in order to perform well in class. So I thought of creating an informal social network page through which students could communicate with me and with each other in a comfortable, quick-and-easy medium. The board seems too impersonal and “academic” for my purposes, so I'll use an imaginary page that each student will have to fill in and then present to class. 
My plan is to incorporate class discussion during those presentations, even though I assume most students won't feel comfortable enough to start their own topics...
This type of activity can be used in almost all proficiency levels with variable approaches, for example, for low intermediate/ intermediate students, I will start by showing a similar page of an imaginary student so that they can grasp for some examples and feel more confident about what they are doing.
I am convinced that creating links between course material and students' social space promotes the demystification of writing, speaking and studying the language in general. If we are facing digital natives, why not explore their natural skills?
However, I'm totally aware that this type of activity does not replace a grammar diagnostic, which tests students on their grammar knowledge and skills and informs the teacher of what aspects of grammar their students are already familiar with and what they still need to learn. Most of the times, grammar diagnostics only allow one right answer per question, are easy to mark and can be tailored to cover any level, from elementary school to the 12th form. But these assessments can be misleading: sometimes students with formal grammar training will excel on these kinds of tests, but their actual writing will be rife with grammatical errors. This is because they can recognize grammatical errors in closed situations such as a test, but when they try and construct more complex sentences on their own, they struggle to express themselves within the rigid grammar rules they know; additionally, the nature of multiple choice questions engenders the possibility of students guessing right answers by chance. This is why I prefer to engage students in a different way during the first classes: they get to know each other and they practise the four skills without even noticing it!

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I really think the theme suits the timing ;-) but I have to admit that it is good to feel mad, sometimes! BTW, Muse keep on rocking in incredible and mysterious ways, don't you think?

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But still longing...

... for summer time ;-) Thank God we  have some days to get used to our new timetable and routine. However, it is very nice to be back, especially when we are feeling happy and healthy. So. let's enjoy the sunshine and start organising everything we'll need for the new school year. Here we go!!!

Mediterranean Sea @ Saidia, Morocco

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T&L is back!

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