Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Xmas 2009

Happy Xmas 2009
Originally uploaded by carlaarena

I hope for a Xmas with more laughs and gathering than ostentation
I hope for a true Xmas spirit with children running around the house and laughing
I hope for a Xmas that unites
I hope for Santa's generous spirit for all

I wish you all a wonderful holiday season.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009



This topic is certainly dear to me. Just making a retrospective of my own blogging, I can see how many times the words connections, interconnected, relationship, connectivity appear in my writing, not to mention my talk. I can see how connectivity is part of my life in every sense of the word. In the past, I used to be connected face-to-face with people and that already fascinated me. Nowadays, besides the daily encounters with family, friends, co-workers, students, I´ve added my online connections as part of my routine and just as essential to it. There´s not a single day that I don´t turn on the computer, talk to people, learn from others, interact, join different tribes, smile and get excited with the tremendous possibilities I get from these digital encounters. They are no less important and real than every person I talk to, hug, laugh and interact.

The way I´ve linked and hyperlinked in cyberspace has changed how I view my profession and my sustained development as an educator and human being. I wouldn´t be here if it weren´t for a tweet from Dave Cormier.

I could be writing about any ed tech happening, but wouldn´t know about Darcy Norman´s project. Through my online circles serendipity is learning, a tweet surprises us, blogging adds to our voices and comments become the heart of these humanly ties that we start to cherish and long for. Through Slideshare, I pass on what I´ve been up to, even Facebook has its own connective role.

However, in an interconnected digital space, I´d say that my darling is Flickr! Not that the others aren´t essential hook ups. They are, and all the apps make a difference in the way we relate to others. But Flickr has just such a powerful appeal, and that´s exactly why tomorrow I´ll be sharing some of my ideas about it to a group of educators, and I think it has a lot to do what I think about humanware and connections. Flickr is visual and vibrant. Its dashboard shows who I am, whom I connect to, what makes me tick. Flickr reminds us of the power of an image. It empowers me to communicate, share and learn from my network. Flickr is part of my interconnected learning cycles about life, people and my profession.

I connect online through my learning communities, I thrive because of them. Technology is just the invisible hands that make all this possible and desirable.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

WooHoo! Surfing Google Wave

The wave is huge, here to stay and to change the way we communicate. I was glued from the start. when I got there, of course there was a Webhead Wave! More than expected from this wonderful group of international educators who are always taking the lead when it comes to what's emergent, new...I had a lot of fun talking to my Webhead friends and testing things around.

Google Wave's interface is clean and user-friendly. The drag and drop feature to create a wave with your contacts and to add photos is fantastic. You can see everybody typing in real time and conversations just flow as if you were chatting with friends.

I can see a big wave of change in the way we'll be creating groups, nurturing communities, interacting with our students, and even teaching online. Can't wait to find more about the WAVE.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Rewarding Networks

Yesterday was delightfully exciting. Never have I worked so hard and intensively in different projects for the school I work for and my volunteer work in the communities I'm part of . No complaints. All the effort has been paying off. First, I got to know that our proposal to present in the TESOL international conference. More than being happy that our proposal had been accepted, we were thrilled to know that we will be able to share a bit of what we been doing in terms of language online learning. In fact, we don't want to show what WE are doing, but what our learners are producing, their content, their making sense of the world and the language.

Another highlight of the day was the e-tutoring online training session we are facilitating for the state of São Paulo educators. What an interesting, diverse group that emanates energy and curiosity about the digital possibilities they see ahead. It's a challenging mission because for most of these educators elearning is a totally new experience. However, I can see that they are into this new stage of their professional development. Uplifting.

Visit Online Start

Last but not least, as I was interacting with the participants of the training session late at night, I got to know first hand on twitter that I had won a nice blogging competition proposed by the inspiring Sue Waters. It was a simple task and one that everyone could contribute to create a mosaic of useful blogging tips.

All in all, the lesson of the day was that the best reward is being part of a network, a hyperlinked network of people who share, dare and help put together the pieces of our digital educational world. Thrilling.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Very Talented Co-Workers

Day 273 - Very Talented Co-Workers
Originally uploaded by carlaarena

Jazz it up Event. My friends at work, besides being great teachers, are amazingly talented. They sang for a full auditorium of EFL adult students, entertained them, engaged them and told them a bit about the history of jazz. Amazing guys!
I am proud to work with them.

Do you or your co-workers have any special talents? How could you show it to us?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Cool Tool of the Week - DeepZoomPix

Microsoft is testing an online tool called DeepZoomPix, which gives us an interesting overview to our photo albums. I chose to connect it to my Flickr account and grabbed some of my food photos. Here's the result. Pretty neat way of visualizing images.

Which of your pictures would you choose to test DeepZoomPix? Would love to see them, and I invite my friends Luiz Claudio, Rick Monteiro, Dani Lyra, Ronaldo Júnior, and André Netto to test it.

Get Microsoft Silverlight

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Blogging with Students in 5 Tips

Much has been said, written and commented about blogging for pedagogical purposes. However, never has it been enough. There's always more reading, more experimenting that can take blogging with students to another level. That's exactly what a group of new educator-bloggers has been discussing in an online session, Webtools4Educators. So, if I were to give any piece of advice, I'd stick to some ideas that have been part of my own blogging experience:

  1. Be personal. Write a post that inspires you first and then one that compels others to interact with you, your ideas, your thoughts. Here's one fantastic example of what I mean. Luiz Claudio is one of the participants of our educators' online session, and I challenged the group to blog for interaction. Here's his post that makes us get back in time, retrieve dormant memories and feel like sharing with others. So, when were your first bitten by the music bug?

  2. Challenge the mind and the senses of your audience by adding an element of surprise, unpredictability. Vary the way you post even if you've found your tone. If you blog with your guts, chances are you will stimulate others to interact with you, to express themselves. There's no formula, just a million different ways to awaken people's gregarious tendencies. One example? This post my student wrote about being a clown doctor. It was totally out of the common sense of what pre-intermediate adult students learning English would share about their lives.

  3. Promote intercultural exchanges. Blogging is about getting from the inside to the outside, pouring words out, letting yourself be carried away. Many times it has been said how blogging gives the chance for students to connect to a real audience. However, more than a real audience, I'd add the idea of a real mixed multicultural colorful audience. Find online partners that are willing to commit to your blogging projects with your students. It makes a whole difference to learn about the world having your perspective as the starting point and spinning the globe with other cultural-enriching views of the world. I just love this blogging interaction I had with a group of students in Russia and some of my former students joining the conversation. And, certainly, one of my most dear international exchanges was with a dear friend. Different groups of ours interacted on a blog for one year and a half. Not only did the students write, interact, reflect, had fun, but we, the educators-facilitators guiding the blogging experience were the ones who probably gained the most from those exchanges.

  4. Create passionate users. Ones that blog with passion - heart and soul.

  5. And closing the blogging cycle, be personal by becoming a great storyteller. That's what blogging is about - a story told, another retold, conversations blooming everywhere.

5+1 . If you let me close with this +1 bonus tip, read these two stimulating posts that inspire us to give blogging a try with our students:

And thanks Sue Waters for once again inspiring me to go beyond, to reflect and add a bit to this online community that helps me become a better person and professional every single day.

Thanks to the wonderful group of educators who have been inspiring me every single day since our online session started 5 weeks ago.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Empathizers, Educators

I must confess that I tend to go against the new buzz, trendy book, film, fashion. Seems even a bit paradoxical as I work with Ed Tech and am always tuned to the latest developments in my professional area. However, I try to give books, films some time after the excitement of their release to see if it is really worth it exploring the new concept mentioned, the new aesthetic idea...

Well, all that because of the book "A Whole New Mind". It was very much commented when it was out in the bookstores. I thought I should get it, but only now I'm delving into its ideas. Perfect timing! Wonderful read for any professional.

One concept that is worth exploring in any workplace. The idea that we need more "empathizers". That's exactly what educators should be working on. What are our abilities as educators that cannot be outsorced? How can we be meaningful in this conceptual age that arises?

Will keep thinking about that...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Facilitating Online 2009

Last year I tried, but was so full of projects, commitments that I could not really follow it. Now, I'll give my best. Though I have even more to do in terms of work, I think that the Online Session Facilitating Online is such a wonderful learning, networking opportunity that I can't help it, but to sign up again. And if I fail, I'll persist and keep insisting on taking it again, and again.

Well, a bit about me. I work as an EFL educator at a Binational Center in Brasilia, Brazil. I'm an EdTech Supervisor and am lucky to work with a wonderful EdTech team. I'm involved in teacher training, which I just love. I'm also in charge of the eLearning at Casa Thomas Jefferson. eLearning is an area my school has been investing on, and I'm learning tons. However, what really helped me get started in all this online world of explorations, networking and moderation was being part of the Community of Practice, the Webheads. These guys are my big source of inspiration and passion. Without them, I'd still be tied to my restricted physical educational space. More about me and the projects I'm involved in at BrazilBridges.

I do hope to learn tons from this online endeavor, the Facilitating Online 2009. I still have to figure out how I can effectively organize my time. Any suggestions are more than welcome!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

7th Casa Thomas Jefferson TEFL - Driving Development

Day 204 - Connected

This year our school seminar has meant interconnectedness for me. I've connected to some people I follow in Twitter and some of my followers in Twitter were really kind to contact me. What a blast as it shows exactly what Erika and I were trying to present, Digital Magic in Professional Development. We could exemplify exactly what we've been preaching for a while about professional development as a lifelong, sustainable, collective, networked endeavor, not institutionally-bond. It's all about connecting to people, the ones you share and get so much from, the ones who email you, the ones who interact with you from a distance.

I couldn't be happier to see one some my bosses and colleagues presenting about exciting digital resources. I couldn't be more encouraged to keep moving forward in the tireless job of trying to inspire others. If when Erika and I presented some years ago we've had sessions with 2/3 participants, now we have our rooms full of excited with sparkling eyes educators who want change, challenge, who want to understand how and where to get started in cyberworld.

I couldn't feel more comforted every time I see the dedication of the group of Ed Tech dreamers, inspiring team I am lucky enough to work with. We've been doing our best to inspire our colleagues. The CTJ Electronic Village, a format of rotating sessions inspired by TESOL's Electronic Village, proved that the power of our collaboration and organization is translated into a successful tech-endeavor.

I couldn't feel more self-assured that with small steps - without giving up - can take us and others far...

Some of the wonderful presentations of our 7th CTJ TEFL can be found on our School Website.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Kind of Needed Digital Literacy

Much has been discussed about the kind of literacies educators and students need to master nowadays and for the future. Shelly Blake-Plock in her post "Talking 21st Century Skills Blues" pins it and goes to the central aspects we need to be aware of to survive in this digital world.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Images4Education in Classroom2.0 Live


Yesterday I had the big pleasure to be with the girls, Peggy George, Lorna Constantini, Kim Caise and Steven Hargadon in a live session of Classroom2.0. A nice crowd probably hungry at lunch time wanted to know more about the Electronic Village Online and the session we moderated in Jan/Feb 2009, Images4Education. Incredibly exciting to see how more and more educators are understanding the power and need for sustainable professional development. Not one that starts and finishes, but an ongoing effort, non-linear with thrilling connective opportunities. Technology provides us with the power of linking to educators, ideas, cultures around the world with a search of international best practices for our classrooms. Tempting even for very busy educational professionals!

Note: I just learned about with the girls and loved it! It shares our links in a more visual way.

I'd like to thank to all who could be there with us, asking and sharing. I always learn from that.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Web 2.0 Cool Tools Presentation

On June 5th, I was gladly to surprise to see a nice little crowd in the Auditorium of the Binational Center I work for. I presented a Potpourri of cool tools for the classroom for the Braz-TESOL regional chapter. A very motivated audience of friends and new faces who are willing to take that step further, get started. My advice was just set one single small tech goal for next semester. Chances are that if they succeed in their microstrategy, they will succeed in bigger, more daring endeavors. That's exactly what I still do every semester, setting a tech goal. For this semester I decided to take a different blogging approach, making the bridge between parents and my juvenile class with a blog called Crescer Digital. I must say that I'm very pleased with the feedback of parents, their engagement in their kids' learning and the sense of accomplishment we are all feeling!

Small steps take us far...

How about choosing one tool to explore next semester with your students?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Cool Tool of the Week - My Studiyo - Creating Online Activities

Just tested My Studyio because a tweet from @GrahamStanley and @NikPeachey. What a great surprise as tomorrow I´ll be presenting about cool tools for the classroom for a group of Brazilian educators. I liked My Studyio because it´s user-friendly and very easy to register. You can have multiple choice questions with an attractive layout adding images, youtube videos and texts. The final result is an embeddable quiz that you can put anywhere on the Net, or even send to students.

Also, I can picture my students creating quizzes and posting them to the others to take the quizzes. By doing that, they will learn a new skill and practice the language structures they are focusing on. Oh, by the way, the fact that you can embed the quiz in Orkut is a plus for Brazilian students who are totally hooked to this social network.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Google Wave

I'm here watching Google's Wave demo to be released at the end of the year. WOW. As an educator, I couldn't help but see the applications it could have in our classrooms. It's just like having a single platform to perform many many digital tasks we do in different online spaces. Of course we'll have to work with learners on how to work properly and productively in waves, but things look extremely exciting!

Brazil is rich in huge Waves
Google Wave is the one I can finally ride
Even being in Brasilia (where there's no sea)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Informal Learning in Future Lab


I could spend days exploring FutureLab as an inspiration to my current practices as educator, EdTech supporter, teacher trainer. It provides us with the latest trends in so many aspects of learning that it would be hard to list it here.

I´d highly recommend that educators browse through these resources.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cybersurfing with Young Learners

I had the great opportunity to present for the IATEFL Young Learners SIG invited by Dennis Newson, who moderates the list.

What a pleasure to explore one area that is dear to me, but I´m not an expert at it. The presentation reminded me once again that there is no need to be an expert. Information is out there, your network is a powerful human resource that you can count on to learn about what is happening around the globe. Of course I had my own examples as I teach a group of tweens and the examples of my colleagues at the language school I work for in Brasilia. However, I wanted it to be a worldwide mosaic of young learners digital production. Twitter is the way to go. Just ask Twitterverse and you´ll be suprised by the abundance of resources, examples, ideas and generous educators ready to share and interact with you.

Just by preparing for the presentation I revisited some of my own beliefs in terms of teacher training and the fundamental role educators have in the process of their students´ digital literacy. I was reminded that, yes, young learners can have fun while doing serious school work. And certainly these youngsters can become better citizens, more prolific citizens if they are enabled to think critically, create, remix concepts, understand the process by which they become digitally literate, and not only persons that use the Net to socialize, as I see most of the students doing.

By starting with very simple, cost-effective tools, educators and learners can give a learning boost their digital experience to use the power of the online world to make a difference.

All the resources of the presentation are available at

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Susan Boyle's Lessonplan

It's undeniable the power of strong-willed people with a talent driven by a main goal or ambition.

Susan Boyle has gone from mockery to total public awe and stardom.

Karenne, a very generous EFL teacher, has shared with us a very well-devised and elaborated lesson plan for an English class.

Check it out at her blog

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Pathways4Collaboration by Dafne Gonzalez

I've just listened to Dafne's slidecast with an overview of her past decade online collaborative experiences. It's just amazing to see how much she has done for her students and for the online communities she's part of. Her talk to the CALL-IS audience in the TESOL convention in Denver proves the reason I've been Dafne's fan and mentee for so long.

Listen to Dafne and get inspired!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Walls Talking


This is a totally simple and engaging project started by a dear Webhead friend, Sasha Sirk. Graffiti is all over, in some cases art, others vandalism. So, this project has the basic purpose of making a digital wall of graffiti around the globe, but from the beginning, I can see it will have a much wider scope and deeper meanings will surface. I can see discussions about cultural issues, historic background, art, vandalism, semantics, life.

I´m totally excited to be part of it, and have already invited my students to join me. Let´s see where it takes us. Before Sashsa started, I had already been taking some photos of graffiti in Brasilia. Perfect momentum for joining Sasha.

How about you? Why don´t you give it a try and start taking a look at your city with a different perspective and augmented lens?

For more information about the project, access Listen to the Walls.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Cool Tool of the Week - Toon Doo

I've been a fan of Toon Doo creations, but just as a mere spectator of its creative uses mainly for pedagogical purposes.

Above is my little share for a new course I'm designing.

In fact, one very very cool use of Toon Doo was shared with me as part of my friends' final course project in the WebTools4Educators session I was moderating. Students are to create comics to make idioms and phrasal verbs visual!

Lots of ideas are popping up in my mind to use Toon Doo with my teens?

How about you? Have you tested it? Do you have any examples to share? How would you use it?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

My Valentine Webheads

Originally uploaded by carlaarena

Everybody knows how thankful I am, WE all are to be part of the Webheads, a group of generous educators who are always there for you.

We are in close contact. We meet, we share, we dare.

Here's all my love to my beloved group, the Webheads!

Happy Valentine's!

Love, com Amor.


This heart was produced with


And here's the wonderful Valentine gift Sasa Sirk produced for our Webhead Valentine's celebration.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Cool Tool of the Week - A visual dictionary

Shahi - A visual dictionary | Blachan Lab
Originally uploaded by carlaarena

Shahi is a fantastic tool for educational use. Just type a word, you'll see Flickr photos related to it on the left, plus explanations with examples of how the word is used.

I can already picture many ways to use them with students. How about you? Any creative ideas?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Twitter Mosaic

Many of us in Twitter keep praising the advantages of being connected through microblogging. Thanks to Bill Graziadei, I can now make a Twitter Mosaic. It's clear to me that everyone in this human mosaic adds value to my professional and personal life in such meaningful ways that are beyond words.