Thursday, March 16, 2006

Participant report from León, Spain

Hello co-bloggers,

this is a little situation report from the offline week in a mixed mode course with international teahcers and participants from all over Europe. Right now I´m sitting in a teacher office as a guest to check my email and get a little work done.

I've been a shadow of this English language teacher all afternoon, which means that I was in her class with international students, and also a local guest in her home for lunch, meeting with her parents, a sister and a brother; they all live together in a small village outside of the city of León where I've spent the past week, tomorrow is our last day in the course and then I'll enjoy some days all on my own.

Our group stays at the nicest possible place, a hostel that was formerly a palace of one of the local kings; part of this was built back in the 10. century, and there is a church with a vault for the kings´ tombs, with magnificent fresco paintings that are well preserved, both colorful and narrative. León is a city with a 2000 year old history and all around the old town there is ramins of the defense wall. The cathedral is built from limestone like most other buildings, in gothic style with inspiration from the French cathedral in Reims - which means that the stained glass windows make a spectacular impression when you get inside, especially at noon.

Yesterday we had a rally that our students had prepared for us, looking for special details such as the building by the famous architect Gaudi, and the mussel shell motive from the pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela - León is one of the stops on that route and a large building used to serve as a hostel for these pilgrims but has recently been transformed into a hotel. Later that evening we were invited for a reception at the city hall, another elegant palace built by the wealthy and powerful Guzman family. I still need to check more details and find facts about the things that we see: I had not prepared much on advance as I most often find things twice as interesting when I´m on location.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Decided that I have lurked for too long.

I'm Karen Haines, teaching in NZ and working with students who are doing intensive English study before they can go to mainstream academic classes here. I came late to this workshop at EVO2006 as I was doing a couple of others (podcasting and BAW) and it all took too much time!

I've enjoyed blogging all last year in one way or other with my students. This term I decided to try to use pictures more, so each week I get my students to comment on a Picture Post. This is a picture that I think is interesting and will cause comment, and I am slowly learning which pictures work better than others. The first two I chose were quite abstract and I was delighted with the students comments. More recently they have been less forthcoming and more in 'how this picture affects me' mode perhaps, which has been interesting. The last picture I chose was too big to show on screen, but the link is there and we actually looked at it briefly in class. From a language perspective, I wanted to get away from essays/reports etc and encourage students to write differently.

If you're interested the link is

I shall continue to lurk...