May 19, 2008


Last week I learned what MEME is, and on the same day I was memed twice and today once again, so I finally decided to answer all three memes (two are the same) on the same post.

Quoting Larry Ferlazzo, the first one to tag me, "Meme is a term used to describe a question or series of questions that a blogger asks another. Usually, a blogger “tags” several others to respond."

Both Larry and Bertha tagged me with the same questions, and Carla Arena also tagged me, but with just one question. So I'll answer the questions here and then write a little reflection about it.

Larry and Bertha's questions:
  1. What was I doing 10 years ago? Since I'm 25 years old, 10 years ago I was in the first of the 3 years of Brazilian high school, in Military School.
  2. Five things on my to-do list today: answers these memes, tune up my bike, write a post for the adolasl2 blog (which belongs to the youth group my wife and I coordinate at our church), grade some essays, continue preparing material for the practical writing course I'll pilot in a few weeks.
  3. Snacks I enjoy: pão-de-queijo (the literal translation would be "cheese bread", but it is not bread...)
  4. Things I would do if I were a millionaire: HELP, in all possible ways, but only people who really needed it.
  5. Three of my bad habits: procrastinate correcting and grading essays, use the computer for too long without stopping to stretch, not eat as much fruit as I know I should.
  6. 5 places I have lived: uh, boring answer, only Brasília (but planning on having this the list grow soon...). Boring because it's only one place, because Brasília is GREAT!
  7. 5 jobs I have had: English teacher (that one is enough...)
Carla's question:
  • How's my blogging related to my business? The original idea of this blog was to test things I was learning while taking the EVOnline session Becoming a Webhead in 2007. Later I started posting about new tools which I discovered, and now I feel that I have also been doing some reflective blogging - as this post will become in the next few lines. As a language teacher it is crucial that I be in touch with the most updated kind of language: the online one. Most of my students are connected, so I have to be connected too; and the ones who are not, I can help them be; after all, a language teacher not only teaches a language, but opens doors to new places, new cultures, new contacts, so why not new connections and networks too?
My reflection

At first I didn't feel like answering the questions , especially the first ones, because I thought they were too personal and would change the tone of my blog. But then I decided to go over the questions and answers again to make my mind whether I would go on with this Meme thing and, to my surprise, there was a lot of profit from it. The most important were:
  • learning a bit more about the people I read;
  • learning that there are people who read me (and are apparently willing to learn more about me);
  • strengthening my connections; and
  • (the most important) building new connections, i.e. at the end of a meme people say who they would like to hear from, this way I could discover some interesting blogs to begin reading and could even discover blogs of people I know but never knew they had a blog!
Who I would like to hear from:

Since I'm answering two memes on the same post, I'll tag people this way: I'll invite the 5 people Bertha tagged (Nina Liakos, Illya, Hala, Maria Cláudia, Susana Canelo) to answer Carla's question, and the 5 people Carla tagged (Cris Costa, Mary Hillis, Gladys Baya, Vance Stevens, Bee Dieu) to answer Larry and Bertha's questions. But please, do not feel obligated to respond.

May 14, 2008

Living collaboration

I have just had an unexpected and inspiring experience in the online world regarding collaboration.

Together with my colleagues Carla Arena and Erika Cruvinel, I'm involved in the piloting of online courses for Casa Thomas Jefferson, the English Institute I work for in Brasília, Brazil. In a couple of weeks I will begin piloting our brand new online course, Practical Writing; thus, after designing the course and thinking about the tools to be used, I decided to have, among others, a class blog and a class wiki.

I could easily create my practicalwriting blog at blogger, but when I was going to create my practicalwriting wiki at pbwiki, I discovered someone had already created one. I visited the wiki and saw that there was very little content added and that the last changes had been made 3 moths ago. So I contacted the owner of the wiki, hopelessly asking her if she could delete that wiki for me to use the domain.

I know I could use other wiki hosts, like wikispaces or wepaint, but I really like pbwiki and feel comfortable with it, and, for my surprise, the next day I received a message from this American teacher living in Korea, Alissa Hartig, saying that she tried deleting the wiki but that pbwiki informed her that, if she deleted it, no one else would be able to ever use that domain again.

I obviously thanked her a lot and told her I would use another host, then, on the same day, she sent me an email thread she had with pbwiki support - through Rachel Penning, who was so helpful - asking them to transfer the ownership of that wiki to my pbwiki account, and they did it!

So now I have my practicalwriting wiki at pbwiki and, after exchanging some messages with Alissa, she (and her Korean students) will be special guests in the Practical Writing course, interacting with my students through the blog, wiki and, who knows, maybe some lifelong communities. I'm sure my Brazilian students will be eager to learn more about Korean culture.

I wrote this post to register this amazing collaborative Korea-Brazil experience, to thank Alissa Hartig once again, and to encourage everyone to believe that there are good-spirited, noble people willing to help us out there.

Let Alissa be an example of educator to us all!