Well, as it has turned out to be already a classical excuse for being away from blogging activities: I underwent knee surgery once again.
Since Easter I had to return to physiotherapy and finally got operated the 1st July, this time to the right patella, so that I’m back to walking with crutches again, waiting for the inflammation to go away – and it will, for my doctors are great!
Hopefully, I’ll be ready to face the brand new school year – starting the 8th September – but meanwhile, all along these last months I barely had time to perform my duties regarding school, let alone be creative online. I really just used our wikis in a very plain way.
However, I was happy to see my kids creating their own pages on our 5th grade wiki to study maths or sharing a glossary; Mariana, a 6th grade student, took charge of our classblog almost by herself, posting her own writings and profusely commenting all her colleagues posts; 5th grade Joana also revealed to be a heartwarming writer and 6th grade Max, although with no patience to fiction, offered some practical instructions about how to build a wooden box or to settle an aquarium, for instance.
As for the great Mars 2010 Challenge we couldn’t possibly participate, as our students still don’t have access to our internet connexion and teachers are still not allowed to share blogging activities in the classroom. However, some 6th grade students accepted to be in charge of our international blog Bringing Us Together, for about a month, as Andreia and Francisca did.
As Sue Waters and Sue Wyatt included me in the Google Wave created to organize the Challenge, I could subscribe to be a helper, getting thus to know young students abroad, like Yummy, an enthusiastic ballet dancer and Soccergirl, that revealed to be a great writer. Some time in June, I was amazed to hear from Sue Waters herself that I was one of the helpers that had won a prize: a whole year subscription to my primary blog!
All along this year, in every school belonging to the Congregation of ”The Love of God”
we are celebrating the second centenary of Father Usera‘ s birth, the founder of the sisters of our school.
Together with the amazing fact that we could actually admire some real snow falling down – otherwise, the only place where it snows for me is on my blog – we had lots of fun, shared great conversations and we participated in some deeply interesting sessions about the outstanding deeds that turned Father Usera’ s life in a masterpiece of creativity at the service of solidarity.
His life deserves to be told, mainly in this year, dedicated to combat poverty and social exclusion. In fact, from his generous example, we can still draw inspiration to make the “right moves” while striving to meet the urgent calls for help that rise from so many wounded places in our present world.
In every front of his fight, he took the defense of slaves, children in danger, humble workers, vulnerable women. Mainly, he pleaded the cause of women’ s education, realizing that, by giving them large and free access to instruction and education, the whole society would be touched, lifted and quickly transformed, as women remain the “touch stone” of society through the hidden influence they exert at their families’ heart and the formative role they play concerning children.
The Institutes, Schools and Homes he founded, mainly in Africa – Costa da Guiné – and the Antilles – Cuba – often at the peril of his health and personal security, did n’ t cease with his death. They not only survive until today, but continue to grow and spread over so many different countries – Mozambique, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Peru… – as the deeds of Love alone conceal the power to remain and multiply.
I have a great friend – she is an English teacher at my school too – who loves painting – whenever she gets enough free time, as she has a big family and is very often busy.
This year, for Christmas, when we exchanged gifts, I found out that she had added a greetings card, made by herself. I asked her permission to post her watercolor, as an example of something very simple, yet beautiful, we may be given as a sort of ”appendix” for a real gift, but that we come to treasure even more than the gift itself.
She didn’t only offered the time she took to actually do the painting, but also, through her unique way of making it, she left her “imprint” in it, something very personal, something that concerns her genuine inner life and that, otherwise, would remain inexpressible.
No wonder that so many people nowadays enjoy drawing and painting as their favorite hobby: I can see how my kids become suddenly appeased and focused, when they can give themselves totally to the task of creating. Although my own drawings are elementary I can experience this inner plunge in silence too.
Another friend of mine says that in taking the risk to draw or paint there is a sense of adventure, as to remain under the spell of materials and colors also means to accept to be taken beyound your own design, thus creating something that surprises the author himself.
I had a teacher, in College, that used to tell us that God expected to see among us, common people, much more amateurs of different arts, like poets, dancers, painters, writers, musicians, choreographers, sculptors and artisans of all sorts, as He had given us plenty of hidden talents and had made us receptive to creative inspiration. And although our strenuous and feverish lifestyle prevents us to fully enjoy this more genuine vocation, it remains still alive and at work in children and in many young people.
As for us, grown ups… well, looking at my friends works one would say it is never too late!
My beloved mother died on the 21st of May, from lung cancer; I had to take some time to learn how to live without her warm company and accept to interpret the illuminating effect of her absence in a totally new and positive sense.
Meanwhile I underwent knee surgery in the beautiful Santana Hospital; physioterapy treatments followed along the whole summer; after some obstinate regressions, treatment sessions are finally winding down and, hopefully, – and thanks to my wonderful doctors – I ‘ll soon recover full autonomy.
However, I won’t be able to walk fast as before, nor to carry weights – as my laptot -:( – , nor to drive an old jeep with a heavy clutch pedal; in fact, as the patellar tendons are not aligned with the tibia in both knees, the most simple daily effort can mean enough strain to provoke inflammation; so I must learn how to cope with this condition and go ahead following a new rithm.
Meanwhile, first school trimester is over with its joys and pains; the change of the entire internet system worked unsatisfactorily so far, and after some frustrating trials, I went back to the old “talk and chalk” lessons ; our 5th and 6th grade wikis are thus limited to home work and I engaged to publish our kids texts at our school blog.
Now Christmas pause keeps inspiring us to dare a blog make over on our 6th grade edublog, although I know kids won’t have any time allowed to blog at school, at least for now. That’s why I didn’t even told them about the great Challenge and, as far as my physioterapy sessions went on, I didn’t enroll to be a challenge helper.
So, from time to time, I wonder about the ultimate meaning of sharing educational on-line experiences that are so limited either by adverse or by unforeseen circumstances…
This wonderful and demanding year has not made easy the process of learning to blog and to apply web2.0 tools in the context of the classroom; the main reasons were that I have been walking with crutches since November and that I have been dealing with serious illness in my family along the last months.
The pace of my daily life slowed down to the point I had the continuous feeling to be always late with my work. Finally, I could be operated to my left knee and I’m starting physiotherapy soon, but this means I’m away from school now, and thus can’t support my students with their blogging engagements.
My blogging journey started on the 2nd May, a year ago, when I agreed to accept the warm invitation from Sue Waters to join the 31th Comment Challenge and learn how to become a better blog citizen. This participation has been the most motivating and thrilling experience I’ve lived on line until now; I met wonderful educators, discovered highly inspiring blogs, and felt welcomed in a live community.
As an Educator, I was beginning this adventure looking forward to sharing whatever I could learn with my young students, as they were and remain the real motive for my engagements on line. However, our school system is not yet prepared to integrate technology in the daily practice of teaching and learning: thus, in my school, we only could explore the web world during lunch break along the third term of last year; this school year I set up a class blog and a few student blogs, but students were soon limited to learn new digital skills on a voluntary basis, as a sort of home work and following instructions through Msn messenger.
During summer holidays I found WikiEducator and its project to share the treasure of culture with all the developing countries; I took a basic course about wiki editing and, in return, I’m still looking forward to contributing with a translation which won’t require to create templates; Phil Bartle has recently invited me to collaborate in his project for Portuguese speaking Africa, which seems to be a precious opportunity.
Along the present school year, from September to December, the Students Blogging Competition, brilliantly runned by Sue Wyatt, has been a unique chance to launch my 6th grades in the blogging adventure; as a happy fruit of this experience, the new blog Bringing Us Together was born and our team was in charge for the first half of February. Since March, until Easter holidays, when I had to leave school to undergo my surgery, a small group of students has been participating in the Students Blogging Challenge that Sue Wyatt is inspiringly running. What I find most wonderful about this experience is the fact that, all of a sudden, you feel as if you have been given thousands of new friendly students spread all over the world.
These 12 months brought multiple chances of working with or just trying web 2.0 tools, social networking and bookmarking sites, but I’ll give just a few examples: we shared our lessons in our pb.works to build the classroom work with others; I enjoyed meeting people on Twine, for a semantic bookmarking experience; I appreciated Zemanta, to get inspiring tips while blogging; and finally Twitter, the best tool to get precious information and to stay in touch with some great educators.
As an aim for next year, I would love to
As a contribution to the topic Blogging safely in the big wide world that will be presented by Sue Wyatts at an English and Literacy teachers’ conference, in Hobart, next July, I’ll try to answer some of the questions she suggests.
I’ve been tagged both by S. Wyatt and Bookjewel to answer this meme! Until now it has been a pretext to so many pleasant and even fascinating readings. I think it is worthwhile to know each other better in such an informal way, where we feel totally free about the subjects we talk about, yet we choose them with the care that special readers deserve.
1. My grand father was a Brazilian consul always moving from a country to another; thus my father – who is Portuguese – found my mother living in Spain; as soon as they got married they emigrated to Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil, where I was born. While we lived on Bahía da Guanabara border, he used to take the plane, every Sunday night, to spend the whole week working in S. Paulo. As soon as my mother would hear the plane roaring over the bay, she would quickly switch on and off the lights of the living room and he could distinguish the twinkling spots of light as if she was waving at the terrace.
2. My two favourite authors are: Hans Urs Von Balthasar, a Swiss theologian and Christian Bobin, a French Poet. I would recommend “Love alone is Believable” and “The Very Lowly“, respectively. My most unforgettable readings are those related to theology and poetry.
3. As my next point is going to be long, I’ll make this one short: I’m very sorry, but I can’t ride a bike.
4. Now I feel really embarrassed to explain this to my network: I created my class blog in September, so that my kids could participate in the blogging competition; then, I started talking with them, mainly in comments – as for the posts, the translations of Miss W.’s posts were perfect to keep them going – . However, I was confronted with the fact that I should sign my name with a previous “title”, and not just the “bare” name, as it is usual for students to address their adult teachers using a “title”.
But Portuguese students don’t say just “Miss Ines”; they use a slang word, a sort of nickname issued from the abbreviation of the “honorific title” we have been given after University. So, “stora” isn’t even a proper word in Portuguese, it literally means “Miss Doctor” which sounds totally silly and is never pronounced aloud. Me too, I have always called my teachers as “stor” and “stora”, it’s a very old “tradition”, I can’t figure out when it has started. Real doctors – I mean those people who have studied medicine – along with vets and some other professions are also called as “stores” even by grownups.
So, I started to sign “stora Ines” whenever I commented on young people’s blogs, and now both words represent my name on the Bringing Us Together front page. Thus I felt that I owned this explanation to our visitors and friends, as “stora” is not my name at all.
5. Since my young days I deeply love the French language and I have been, as an amateur translator, to several youth international meetings in Fatima and in Paray-le-Monial, France, as well as to a youth world day in Paris. These are privileged moments where we always make new friends and nurture our common, invincible hope that all peoples, cultures and races will come together in peace.
6. I’ll share three precious memories of travelling abroad: crossing the Holy Lake to reach the small town of Dunoon, in Scotland; watch the sun rise on the snowy peaks , at the French village of Saint Monêtier les Bains at the High Alps; sleeping under the stars in the fields of Umbria, near Assisi, in Italy.
7. I lived in South America, North America and Europe, in three countries and five different towns. But these were all by the sea, so my favourite walk remains to follow the coast line, in a calm or in a speedy pace. Unhapily, I can’t do it now, for I broke the external meniscus of my left knee.
I took so long to answer this meme, I’m afraid there is no one left to tag in all the blogosphere…but I’ll try:
Enjoying a Halt
In the quietness of the Benedictin Monastery of Santa Maria do Mar, we can find that “fine pitch” of silence that enables us to listen the otherwise easily imperceptible voice of our inner thoughts. As if a sort of healing power, concealed in silence, could restore our bruised soul.
Too often merged in a turmoil of action we come to loose contact with ourselves up to the point where words sound meaningless and acts feel deprived of purpose.
We just aren’t genuinely present to what we say and do, as if our true self had migrated to a deeper layer of being, thus forcing us to beg for a higher truth and surrender to a more demanding love.
After five days of Teachers’work, we still can feel the strong vibration of holidays reverberating through the joy of being together again and the attractive look of fresh new projects. But this short preparation time is winding down already and in five days a new inspiring and demanding school year will be born again.
I wish we can all enjoy the opportunities, offered along the way, of stopping for a halt, and be restored in depth.
I would also like to list here my summer readings, for I was glad to finally have been given time to read; in the end, most of these readings relate to our new digital era and the globalization process, and, in a certain sense, play a part in my initiation to “web2.0 philosophy of life”.
Only while reading it I realized it was a “classic” already; fortunately I’ve found the 2007 edition at our British bookshop. I will only underline the similarity between the crisis in school both in America and Europe: students from abroad – among us, mainly from Eastern Europe - consider our studies level too low, while our parents complain that kids don’t have time to enjoy their infancy.
Other chapters in the book led me to think that perhaps both are right. I feel that, twenty years ago, it was much easier to keep students interested and working, even if the curriculum was heavier. We can’t go back, we just have to adapt to the new features of knowing and learning that are emerging in a new world. Web2.0 may conquer the hearts and minds of our students that refuse to learn in traditional ways and don’t know how to replace them yet.
These are wonderful testimonies that I try to spread around me by printing and binding the free download booklet. It shows web2.0 potential to revolutionize school life whenever teachers aren’t afraid of “thinking outside the box” and are eager to support their students along their first steps dealing with technology. I would like to translate these chapters with some friends, but we totally ignore the meaning of so diverse and complex English names for professions and jobs!
I’m still reading it: how will “key emerging technologies, critical challenges and significant trends” identified in the Report impact in “teaching, learning and creative expression”? The subject is very clearly explained and the core elements unfold within a sort of epic atmosphere that takes your breath away.
It is about our youth and the new ways they relate to the web. I just began reading it, but I leave it here, for the link may be useful to someone. I received it via Twitter, from nstone
5. The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb : I’m reading it in Portuguese. It’s a piece of Literature; the central thesis is powerfully liberating, yet, sometimes one seems to feel abandoned, at the mercy of the foreign god of Ramdonness. It has something similar to the other books in that it keeps moving forward into a new direction, dragging us deep into the unknown. As our world is changing, we can’t possibly pretend to capture the meaning of this change by trying to encapsulate it in an ancient and uncritical frame of mind.
As a ONCR Goodwill Ambassador, she reports about Refugees hard conditions of life and outstanding courage to go ahead as well as how she highly prizes the new connnections made in those distant lands where she wasn’t known as an actress to her new friends.
I’ve read it in Portuguese. The emphasis is placed on the unparalleled success of decentralized organizations even under persecution of more traditional ones. Once again, the central thesis may be applied to structural changes in our ways of learning that are rapidly taking shape and pressing schools to become aware and adapt to it.
Now, I would be glad if you share with me one of your holidays readings. Will you?
Summer Holidays begin today and they will last a whole month, it’s even hard to believe!
I have set up a plan to enjoy my free time and, simultaneously, to engage deeper in this new world of “web-school”.
Thus, I’m participating in a Wiki Educator workshop called L4C – Learning for Content – where newbies may develop basic wiki skills, such us basic editing, text formating, but also different ways to make internal and external links from a wiki page.
We will also learn the syntax for adding images and formatting them; later we shall be introduced to Wiki Ethics with a special stress on collaboration and interaction between participants; we will then work with pedagogical templates and, finally, we will be enabled to structure educational content.
I didn’t know Media Wiki before, nor the rigourous laws of Coppa – Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act -. I only hope it will be allowed to work in such a wiki with students under 13; this could turn into a problem if our pbwiki – now nicely upgraded to 2.0 – were to be closed as the pbwiki team changed the way users must log in; now a different password is required from each user, thus maybe excluding young students to enter the wiki sharing a single password, as we did before. I tried Wetpaint Wiki too, for my new 5th grade class, but they remain under the scope of the same law.
Wiki Educator is a Community whose main purpose consists in “planning education projects” related with “free content” and building “open education resources“. I understood the Community is deeply engaged with projects that aim to help students from countries in need to have free access to knowledge and education.
This made me think about AJU the institution of social solidarity linked to my school; it is inspired in the founder of our Sisters Congregation . As it also aims to “facilitate children and young people’s learning ” I thought that maybe our wikis could be open to those students, thus sharing resources and collaboration.
Up till now, Zemanta kept giving me tips about everything I wrote, but along this last paragraph, it sent me to a somehow philosophical article in Wikipedia. However, I’m perfectly aware the web is full of successful intitiaves and dynamic projects concerning social solidarity. Perhaps the expression I choosed is unusual in English and that’s why Zemanta couldn’t “grasp its meaning”.
Reading with Discipline
I’m very happy with the great news: Web2.0Wednesdays is about to start!
To me it’s like coming back home again, like the return to real life, like gathering again with loved persons. I’m ashamed of not coping so well with the total freedom “regime” we have been on the last two weeks, but I simply could not discipline my readings.
Every time I look on Google Reader, my Delicious or Diigo I discover yet a brand new useful tool – as gliffy – or an irresistible discussion – as “How do you use Metaphors…” - or an international event – as k-12online 08 – or an amazing reflection – as some EURODL papers - that keeps me under its spell: no way to stop reading until I reach the end.
The issue is that there seems not to be an end at all: inventive tools just seem to pop up each day from every corner, discussions link to new perspectives that multiply into more conversations, deeper reflections open over unknown territories of thought …we are, indeed, engaged in an endless quest.
From behind this concert of enchanting and multiple voices I can still listen to Kirsty Dyer ‘s advice: “Stay focused“. What meaning unfolds to me from this call?
I turn again to the Bamboo Project, I take once more Michele Martin‘s questions to discipline my reading, to silence all the inner voices and commit myself with the risk of sharing:
1. What have I learned today?
R: From a Colleague: The light of the Sun takes 8 minutes to reach the earth.
2. About the progress of a particular project:
R: My “blogging pioneers” started the process of commenting; some of them learned how to insert links.
3. My progress in achieving a specific goal:
R: I’ve stopped reading and started writing again. But that’s only because I’m so happy for a new Challenge is about to start!
4. Advice I’ve received from other people:
R: From Michele Martin: engage in reflective practice through simple daily steps.
5. A Question you have about anything:
R: I really enjoyed reading about digital literacy in the paper: “Towards a Theory of Digital Literacy” I would like to go deeper in this subject, I wonder where to find more of this “stuff”.
6. Joy of the week:
Having been nominated for the Challenge by Britt Wattwood: that’s a great encouragement and a total surprise that I deeply appreciated. thank you, Britt.