Friday, December 17, 2004

Hawaiian Greeting

May happiness, like trade winds, daily wake thee.
May laughter, joyously, as breakers, shake thee.
May strength, like coco palms storm-bent, sustain thee.
The ancient shark of discontent, disdain thee.
May tribute, rich as island chief's, be paid thee.
Canoes, designed of wisdom's wood, be made thee.
And may the star of friendship help thee steer
A graceful voyage through the coming year.

Have a wonderful holiday season
Looking forward to interacting with you in 2005,
during the new century (at least part of it),
during the new millenium (just a tiny bit of it)

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

A card from Natalie

A card from Natalie...painted by my mail today.
Thank you!

Sharing this nice warm feeling and wishes with all my friends.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Making a difference!

Mother rang me to announce the winners of the 2004 EduBlog Awards (The Eddies) while I was away (without the net) in the countryside during the weekend . She's 76 and although not very keen on computers (my father keeps control over the PC), she got all excited about it.
Bee-coming a Webhead had come out on TOP in the Best Use of Blogs within teaching and learning with 40% of the votes (a close shave). When last week I sent a mail telling her I had been nominated , she wanted to see what this was all about and asked my father (83) to cast their vote when the time came. Somehow, out of a sudden, her daughter's mystifying involvement with blogging...(what is a bbbloggg?) seemed to make sense and she got involved and kept track of the results... hers was literally the vote that made the difference :-)

Just like the surprise birthday cake she got for me when we were visiting my grandparents in Buffalo - August 1958 (I was 5.... a lifetime ago!)

This episode brought to my mind another possible use of blogs in education.

Who knows now I can talk them into starting their own personal blog. Father and mother have a thousand and one stories to write about and illustrate ... fleeing Poland during the II World War, people they met, situations they lived, their impressions and adapting to the new land... memories, experience and a testimonial that should not be lost and that could be easily shared with their grandchildren and younger generation through this new medium.

Thank you webheads, students, family and occasional readers for the support. James, a big thanks for spreading the blogging news and the work put into incsub. Contributions like these make a difference and serve as a catalyst for new ideas!

Friday, December 10, 2004

English as a world language - paradox, dilemma or balance?

A report by researcher David Graddol forecasts English as a world language....with 120 million children learning it in Chinese primary schools - and many other countries embedding English-language learning in their scolarity. (BBC) .

In France the debate rages whether to start it in primary school. A recent survey evaluating competences of 14-15 year old kids has shown France in neat disadvantage if compared to countries like Sweden, Finland, Norway, the Netherlands, Denmark and Spain, where English is obligatory . While some defend the priority of English over other languages for practical reasons (the sheer number of people who speak it around the world), others insist on the idea of the importance of being exposed to a number of different languages from an early age. A neurophysiological reason: the earlier you learn a language, the more chances you have of speaking it well as from the age of 10-11, your brain synapses start becoming less active and flexible.

Although France has not scored well in the results of the survey, it is one of the countries that offers most possibilities in learning languages at secondary school. In the present system, at the age of 11, students choose their first foreign language, two years after a second and in the first year of high school they can choose a third. Options vary from English (96%) to Russian, Arabic and Chinese. If it adopts a second language in primary school, it will be one of the first countries to promote an early plurilingual start.

In Britain, Graddol is worried about the supremacy of English and warns "The fact that the world is learning English is not particularly good news for native speakers who cannot also speak another language. The world is rapidly becoming multi-lingual and English is only one of the languages people in other countries are learning".

Here at school kids have the priviledge to co-exist with two languages from the very start: Portuguese and French. Some of them speak yet another language at home . They start English and eleven and have the choice between Spanish and German two years later and may also take Latin or Greek as an option.

I am lucky. When they start English at eleven, the synapses have been activated and the fact we live in a multi-cultural city like Sao Paulo and are exposed to different people from different origins and walks of life, makes them much more open and motivated to learn new languages.

This is my last day before the summer holidays heart is light and happy...the results in English at the baccalaureat are excellent (average in my class this year 15.5/20) Congratulations class of 2004!

Monday, December 06, 2004

Edublog Awards on Incsub Association

Jean MichelChaupart (Colombia) and Mario Asselin (Canada!) have graciously nominated me for the Edublog Awards , in the Best use of weblogs within teaching and learning category. The polls are hosted on James Farmer's Incsub Association community site, a free-for-teachers hosting support and community in using weblogs, wikis and open source CMSs.

Thank you Jean Michel and Mario (not a webhead yet... but thinks and acts like one...should be invited to join) for the thought and recognition and another special thanks go to the WiAs (Webheads in Action) for their encouragement and enthusiastic support :-)

This an excellent opportunity to unveil and get acquainted with some excellent blogs that are on the list and which do deserve your full attention. Have a look and cast your vote!

One example is Natalie d' Arbeloff's Blaugustine . Although not strictly academic, it is not only highly instructive, educational and thought-provoking but also the best designed and most beautiful blog I have ever read.

In best individual blog there is the one and only Stephen Downes' Old Daily , and running in the Best technology meets pedagogy blog, Anne Davis' EduBlogInsights , a pioneer and role model for many of us in the EFL/ESL field.

If you want to understand better why blogs are rocking the educational sphere, read James Farmer's paper Communication dynamics: Discussion boards, weblogs and the development of communities of inquiry in online learning environments ....or/and watch his ppt presentation.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

A Blogger's Code of Ethics

Via Edu_RSS I got to the Blogger's Code of Ethics issued by the Media Centre of the American Press Institute.

Be honest and fair, minimize harm and be accountable are the main recommendations. A number of people have thrown in their two cents in the comment area.

My question and comment: is this only to be followed when posting in blogs ? It would seem to me these are the basics in all areas of our lives and interactions with people.


On August 4th I celebrate my namesday (Barbara) or "imieniny" as we say it in Polish. The day of our patron saint is more important than our birthday and there are important and practical reasons for it.

First, these days are usually related to old Polish traditions or seasons of the year. Second, celebrating the namesday does not reveal the age and everybody can easily figure out when your friend's birthday is just by checking the calendar. No need to use Birthday Alarm. :-)

My parents had first chosen to call me Elizabeth but somehow changed their mind when they saw my face. I wonder what made them call me Barbara, which is derived from Greek barbaros , meaning "foreign". Funny because this is the way I have always felt... even before knowing about the origin of this name.

Barbara is the patron of miners, architects, geologists, stonemasons and artillerymen.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Blog: Word of the Year

Blog: Word of the Year - not only for Merrian Webster publishers but also for me for the past year and a half.

It's incredible how involved I got in it: from a simple experiment in class to presentations in French and English , two (believe it or not !!!) nominations in James Farmer's blog contest and a 6 week course next January on Using Blogs in EFL: Uses, New Developments and Challenges.

It all started very quietly on May 17th 2003 with the Beeonline class and student blogs. After our winter holidays in July, two mystery guests were invited to interact with the students. Dennis Newson (Germany) posted his riddle and beginning of August the students quickly started posting their suppositions in the main blog. On August 11th, enter Graham Stanley (Blog EFL, Barcelona) with his three questions . The link was made and students chatted happily with him until the end of the month. In September, I coached an Italian teacher with her class to start blogging and we embarked on the Garibaldi project which lasted until the kids got together in July 2004. Beeonline2 class blog opened in February and another group of students of mine was introduced to the blogging experience.

A second window of opportunities connected to blogging started when I was invited to give a talk at Tappedin on my experience for the Becoming a Webhead session of Evonline 2004. For the occasion I produced a little E-booklet : Blogging and Presence Online (also found in html for those with a dial-up connection), trying to answer the questions that had been made throughout the course.
In August, there was Cyberlangues in France, where I presented from Brazil through an audio-conference and blogged about here. In November, another audio-conference about blogging, this time in Minsk, Belarus.
I am presently busy preparing a six-week course for Evonline 2005, together with 3 other hard-core bloggers: Aaron P. Campbell (Japan), Sean Smith (Korea), Graham Stanley (Barcelona).

It was definitely a busy year, reading, tutoring and collaborating on and about blogs !