British Council Turkey interviews Nicky Hockly

Nicky Hockly gave an interview to British Council Turkey – she gave a great plenary!

Note: Nicky mentioned a great project in her plenary, about which Ann Loseva, who is one of the co-founders, kindly wrote below:

Students Connected is a Facebook space designed to help learners of English aged 17+ get in touch, practise and improve their English in the most natural of all ways – by communicating with each other. It’s important to note that it is a closed group, and this provides safety of connections as teachers invite their own students and we trust the teachers we add.
If you would like to give it a try with your students, you can request membership in the group. You will see all activity on the wall. Scroll all the way down to see various wall posts from both teachers and students and decide for yourself if you think it’s a good idea to tell about this group to your students and invite them to have a look.
The group was created to be optional (and fun!), so there is no assessment, visible teacher control or assignments. There is no pressure to be ‘active’, so students are free to take part in the group’s activities when they have the wish and time to do so.
At  the moment there are students from Chile, Japan, Russia, Indonesia, Spain, Italy and India in the group, around 150 members altogether. Both teachers and students are welcome to initiate a discussion on whatever might seem interesting. They get acquainted, share pictures of their cities, towns, university campuses, meals and trips. They ask questions and discuss issues, conduct surveys and play games. They learn about cultures, traditions and lifestyles of other nationalities first-hand.
Michael Stout, one of the first teachers to support the idea, suggested extending the project into another type of social media – Twitter. So, for those students who have Twitter accounts and would like to use it for their learning, there is a hashtag #stsconnected and there soon will be created a list of Twitter handles to go with it, too.

It would be great to have more teachers and students joining us and making this experience even more enjoyable!

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Third Plenary – Luke Meddings – Give the Test a Rest

Luke Meddings during his plenary Give the Test a Rest at YTU 1st ELT Conference (photo by Vicky Loras)

Luke Meddings during his plenary Give the Test a Rest at YTU 1st ELT Conference (photo by Vicky Loras)

Here are a few notes I kept during Luke Meddings’ fascinating plenary – it is impossible to give such a great presentation justice.

Luke mentioned Dogme ELT towards the beginning – it is based on the lives and languages of the students.

He then quoted the story of Mr Gradgrind in Hard Times, where the teacher demands facts from the children. Luke asked: have things changed? He encouraged teachers to take account of standardised testing and take part in the debate.

Luke gave us examples from his children: his daughter was given a Phonics Screening Check – a bizarre name for a test, like a medical report, said Luke.

In order to see it from a positive side as well, Luke mentioned that there were noble intentions behind standardized testing: it was designed for everyone to be on a level playing field, to avoid favouritism.

He also mentioned Stephen Krashen’s open letter to President Obama which you can find here: http://atthechalkface.com/2012/11/26/stephan-krashen-an-open-letter-to-the-president/

A great plenary by Luke which I am very happy to have attended, as everyone in the room did, I am sure!

Vicky Loras, Roving Reporter for Yıldız University, Istanbul

First Plenary – Chuck Sandy ~ The Heart of Education

Chuck Sandy is a teacher, teacher trainer, author and educational activist. Some of us also know him as the founder of iTDi.

I must say it was an amazing talk which made me think and rethink after the session. It was unusual and that’s why it deserves an unusual reflection. I will list the most important phrases, thoughts from the conference as I can’t write it as a report.

Will you be my monuments?

Chuck Sandy started the session with a poem

as long a

go as now

you be my

monument

by Cid Corman

and he said his motto is “I can’t do this but I’m doing it anyway.” And added, “In the process of doing it I find out.”

This way he was setting the scene for the next two days and also advising us to accept what we have by saying,

“Whoever comes are the right people

Whatever happens is the only thing that could happen.”

He started with a slideshow with a song in the background written by his son and the song inspired him for the talk.

He went on by asking, ”What change do you want to see in the world?” then he gave the answer “ be change!”

“You are not alone”

Do you still think people are either success or failure?

He pointed out that this how we see education “a downward spiral”.  However,

“We can plan but things can go wrong”

“Someone touches us and everything changes. This is possibility. There is no success there is no failure. There is no end. It is a circle.”

Education is not a downward spiral, it has no beginning and no ending says Chuck Sandy.Image from his presentation

Education is not a downward spiral, it has no beginning and no ending says Chuck Sandy.
Image from his presentation

He also suggested that we connect

Connect means something different now and Connecting is not enough. He said PLN is very important. Once you connect, you have to think what contribution you will make to that connection.

In the end the participants were Chuck’s “monuments” thinking about:

  • Connect
  • Share
  • Contribute
  • Believe
  • Be a mentor

In short

Change! 

Eva Buyuksimkesyan for British Council Roving Reporters Team.