And the dance swept on and on…Conferencing in a digital world

Tango on into the night
Tango on into the night

And they blogged and blogged and blogged…

I recently wrote about the way I felt empty after a conference… but I have to say that the Iatefl conference has by no means come to an end but dances on and on, round and round, as bloggers write their thoughts and give feedback in a natural, genuine way. Here are three great ones among many:
1) Brad Patterson’s great post using the poetic Language Garden tool:
2) Janet Bianchini’s meeting with “spiritis” at the Macmillan party (no pun intended)


3) Tara Benwell’s great Wordle activity (more on this in a moment):
These are just three of many as I said but what all this means is that conferences are now reaching out into cyberspace and the idea sharing and growth can continue almost infinitely.

What about Twitter?

Last year I became a “Twitter Convert” after the Harrogate Iatefl Conference. I had been on the site for a while but had not really realised how I could use it. Then I started following a few

people from the tefl world, and soon I found how much I could learn from others who generously post their ideas and discoveries online. Even though I have my “unplugged periods” I have found so many sites, tools and articles from people posting on Twitter that I can safely say it is transforming my way of working.


I only recently discovered the ELTchat ( follow the link for more info. at the site) which meets on Twitter on Wednesdays to discuss different teaching issues. I had already seen Edchat, which is similar but talks more widely about educational matters. Today I went to my first ELTchat meeting which was fast, furious interactive and informative. I found a whole

group of people debating Dogme and Unplugged teaching (You can read the summary later on the site) and there were so many enthusiastic teachers there as well as superstars like Jeremy Harmer and Luke Meddings. It takes a while to get into it but… you do, and if you miss something you can always read it later. It makes me think, and I can meet new people with interesting ideas that I can follow on Twitter. A win win situation. So those are just a few of the benefits of tweeting in the blogoshpere.

Back to the Blogs: Tara Benwell’s Wordle Activity

Activity on Brighton Iatefl 2011

I said I’d come back to Tara Benwell’s blog post later and here I am, or rather this is it. (See link above to go to full blog and see ss contributions too).

This activity inspired me straight away. It is simple but highly creative. Tara made a Wordle of her impressions etc. from the conference and then gave her learners a scaffolded framework to post their ideas about it. (You can see how this works in the image on the left) She told them that if they guessed something about her experience in Europe she would tell them a little story about it, and then they posted their ideas and she replied, which, I may add, the students really appreciated :-). I thought this was great so I shamelessly stole the idea and made my own Wordle and did the same activity with my learners in a f2f class, and then showed them photos that linked to the key words in my Wordle.

Extending the Idea in a spontaneous “unplugged” way

The next step was to ask them to make their own Wordles and repeat the activity with each other and below is one of my learner’s Wordle’s about Easter. Can anyone tell me what he did during the holiday?

Well, yes, “church” is a major feature of Easter for many when you live in Italy…

Anyway that’s it for today, and thank you Tara for a lovely activity 🙂

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