Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and help them become what they are capable of being. – Goethe
At the very beginning, I have to admit that the time is running out so fast. I cannot believe that we are almost at the end of Week 7. We still continue to upgrade our knowledge. There were some topics in this week. The first topic, I will write about, is learners’ autonomy. I will say that I always wonder about the meaning of *learners’ autonomy*. It is not that I do not understand the meaning, but I look for the ways how to make my students to become *autonomous learners*. In my opinion, it is one of wishes of every teacher. To tell the truth, I must say that I did my best in order to help my students to become independent learners. The first thing that made do this is that they have only English twice a week and a lesson lasts for 45 minutes, even if there are also additional classes. I am so interested in this topic and I think that the above mentioned facts are not enough. As this topic is to be discussed, I read the article *What Is Learner Autonomy and How Can It Be Fostered*? It is available at http://iteslj.org/Articles/Thanasoulas-Autonomy.html .
The first sentence that attracted my attention is that *autonomy is the ability to take charge of one’s learning*. I completely agree with this because students have to be conscious that they are active participators in learning. What I also like in the article is that there are seven main attributes characterizing autonomous learners:
1. Autonomous learners have insights into their learning styles and strategies;
2. take an active approach to the learning task at hand;
3. are willing to take risks, i.e., to communicate in the target language at all costs;
4. are good guessers;
5. attend to form as well as to content, that is, place importance on accuracy as well as appropriacy;
6. develop the target language into a separate reference system and are willing to revise and reject hypotheses and rules that do not apply;
7. have a tolerant and outgoing approach to the target language.
Therefore, I really like the fourth attribute because I always encourage my students to communicate in English whether they make the mistakes or not. As we know that we all learn from mistakes. It is completely true. I say this because there are many students who are reticent and shy to pronounce any word in English during regular classes because they are afraid of being criticized.
It is mentioned that we should give our students a *helping hand* in this article. I like this so much. In this way, students can develop their self-confidence and they’ll try their best in order to become independent learners. The next thing that caught my eye, in this article, is a part about cognitive strategies. I have to admit that many of them are used in my classes. Learners may use any or all of cognitive strategies:
- repetition, when imitating others' speech;
- resourcing, i.e., having recourse to dictionaries and other materials;
- translation, that is, using their mother tongue as a basis for understanding and/or producing the target language;
- deduction, i.e., conscious application of L2 rules;
- contextualisation, when embedding a word or phrase in a meaningful sequence;
- transfer, that is, using knowledge acquired in the L1 to remember and understand facts and sequences in the L2;
- inferencing, when matching an unfamiliar word against available information (a new word etc);
- a question for clarification, when asking the teacher to explain, etc.
The other topic was to describe one-computer lesson. Regarding one-computer lesson, I have to say that I constantly use it in my school. As this topic is discussed this week, I read some available materials from our course site. The first material, I read, was How to Thrive--Not Just Survive--in a One Computer Classroom. It is available at http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/tech/tech092.shtml. I like this article a lot because many rewarding tips can be found. The fist thing that caught my eye is that to create *stations* or multiple activities, using the computer as only one of the tools necessary to complete assignments. Students can conduct research not only on the Internet but also through interviews and in bound encyclopedias, magazines, and books. Every 15 to 20 minutes, students rotate from one station to another. If the computer is used as a station, a strategy for moving students through that station is a necessity. Following are some possible traffic strategies:
- Post a schedule. Allow a set amount of time for each student at the computer station. Students are responsible for getting to the station at the appointed time.
- Draw Popsicle sticks. Write each student's name on a Popsicle stick. Place the can of Popsicle sticks at the computer station. Draw a stick at the start of the day. The person whose name is on the stick will start the day at the station. That student will draw a stick to determine who goes next.
- Establish color-coded groups. Divide the class into five groups. Write the names of each group on a different sheet of colored paper, and post the papers by the computer station. The students in each group will spend time at the computer on a given day (for example, the students in the red group will have computer time on Mondays). The students within a group will go to the computer in assigned or random order.
I like these strategies because students’ motivation can be at great level and they tend to do their best. On the other hand, I completely agree with Lynne Heller’s statement, she is a teacher at P.S. 64 in Queens, New York. She says that "In a one-computer classroom, it is imperative to plan carefully and be extremely organized”. In my opinion, a teacher has to introduce the task to students. Then, students know exactly what their task is.
I also think that the students’ projects are also rewarding for a computer classroom, especially if the classroom has the internet connection. I prefer the suggestions which are given in this article:
- Encourage Student Writing and publish work on the Web.
- Have a student use a site such as ePALS to find a partner class in another school -- or on another continent. (That's what students in Jane Scaplen's class did!)
The next task was to find a partner for peer review. I can say that this was an interesting thing to do. My first partner is my dear friend from Paraguay. His name is Fernando Beconi. I am really happy to work with him because we both come from different settings and I think that we will learn a lot from each other. My second partner is also my dear friend from the class Davor Smolic. He is from Bosnia and Herzegovina. I also hope that I will learn a lot from Davor.
All in all, there are many ways which can be used in order to develop students’ independence. I have to say that we, as teachers, have to develop students’ autonomy in their early stages of learning and we have to encourage students to learn in every possible way. I also think that we should develop students' independence without any pressure. It should be done step by step. As there is an old saying *Still waters run deep*.