Wednesday, 28 April 2010

3rd TED ELT Conference: "The Art of Learning - Critical Thinking in ELT"

A couple of weeks ago, I attended an ELT conference organised by my employers TED, a foundation with colleges all over Turkey. This year it was hosted at Aliaga College near Izmir and the theme was critical thinking. Despite initial problems with the volcanic ash cloud grounding some of the plenary speakers in the UK, the event as a whole was an enlightening experience with a high focus on breaking the mould of traditional classroom settings and encouraging learners to th┼čnk more freely by giving them more freedom.

Having given my first ever seminar at last year's event in Bursa (on using PowerPoint in class as the theme was ICT in ELT), I returned this year with a talk on self-assessment in the Primary EFL classroom.

I started by asking the attendees to brainstorm what they associated with assessment. We then collected the answers and typed them into Wordle, producing the following image:
Wordle: What my colleagues think about assessment

Do you see what I see? It seems assessment was on the whole equated to testing... but this is what I was expecting and what I used as a launching platform for my talk: assessment is about much more than just testing!

I think the rest of the talk went well as I stressed the distinction between 'assessment of learning' in the traditional exam mould and 'assessment for learning' i.e. raising metacognitive awareness and critical thinking skills through reflection and self-evaluation - possible even with primary school kids!

This talk was also the first time I used Prezi for a presentation. You can see it here if you like:

There was a downer to the whole event though: somewhere over the course of the weekend, I manged to lose my 3G mobile modem on the first ocassion I had ever travelled with it! My wife was not best pleased....