Sandy gave two full-length talks and a pecha kucha talk at the conference and I will summarize my thoughts here. His first talk was on Critical Thinking, the second on activism and the pecha kucha was a sort of memoir. He was also interviewed by Koreabridge.
The two talks meshed together very well. He started by discussing faults in various textbooks, moved on to how to make better questions and activities then on to making those activities have real world applications.
Many books contain poorly thought graphs and charts that exist only to answer the very simple questions given. When looked at from a larger perspective, they become meaningless. The example he gave was of a chart of shopping by university students. Some students apparently hadn’t shopped in two months – how did they eat? The chart was bad but students could still be encouraged to discuss the problems. This fits with my long held belief that a book with many errors can be more valuable than a better edited one.
Sandy has a different suggestion. His idea is to think of useful activities then add language learning to them rather than try to make or simplify activities to fit preselected lesson plans.
“If critical thinking activities don’t have real world uses, they are just school work.”
“teaching =/= learning”
“Ask students ‘What did you learn today?”"
“Add to the top of Bloom’s Taxonomy ‘Share’ so the top four positions would be
‘Analyze, Evaluate, Create, Share’”
His second talk continued the theme. He wants to collaborate with other teachers and wants his students -and other students – to work together on various projects.
“Anything I can do, we can do better.”
He showed a video of an interview with him regarding one of his projects. He describes looking for “the best and smartest teachers…” Without showing any false modesty and only a little sarcasm, I wondered if I should start a group seeking “relatively smart and pretty good teachers”.
I should let his own many blogs and sites explain his ideas.
Mash Collaboration (perhaps not connected to him, but one he mentioned several times).
I was interested and I do feel inspired, but, looking back at the seminars, I begin to think there was a lot of feathers and not much chicken.
I had the same impression during his Pecha Kucha talk. To be fair, I had that same feeling for all the Pecha Kucha talks. The concept is interesting but I don’t know enough about it and haven’t seen enough to know if they are useful. A Pecha Kucha talk consists of a 400 second talk with a new slide appearing every twenty seconds. Within these haiku-like restrictions, people strive to offer useful information.
Sandy’s talk was funny and the slides were entirely of album cover images. I enjoyed it but I didn’t learn anything from it. I am not attacking him; the other talks were similarly amusing and content-free. I hope that Pecha Kucha can offer good content but I haven’t seen it yet.