The sun sets on another year of #ELTchatting...
The sun sets on another year of #ELTchatting…

The last two chats of the year presented an opportunity to recall some the most useful and inspiring chats of 2013. As a newcomer to ELTchat – I joined my first one in September – I’ve only taken part in these lively weekly discussions a couple of times, but as @theteacherjames says, one of the best things about ELTchat is that you can read the summaries of the ones you missed. I must say that I initially wasn’t entirely sure I could see the appeal of summary writing, but that was before I volunteered to do one. It gave me a whole new perspective on the topic and pushed me to do some additional research – so, go on, do a summary, especially if you haven’t done one before!

The opening question for both chats was: “What have you tried from #eltchat ideas in 2013?” The discussion ended up revolving around three main themes.

  1. The value of ELTchat

“For me it is not single ELTchats that are so important, but the whole concept of it.” @MarjorieRosenbe

Many agreed with this. The following comments illustrate the importance and popularity of ELTchats:

  • “All of them have left me full of ideas…and hope.”  @leedsacademy

  • “…and the good feeling of connecting with teachers from all over, with same interests.” @OUPELTGlobal

  • “It helps when we share things that don’t work, as well as things that do.” @SueAnnan

  • “The feeling of having to face the same difficulties and the ways to overcome them…” @Teachersilvert

Many see ELTchat as closely linked to their PLN, which prompted comments on the positive impact of the chats and PLN’s on conferences. ELTchatters felt that the friendships forged within PLN’s made conferences more fun as well as useful, because it was easier to decide which talks to attend. PLN’s were also credited with fostering personal and professional growth, encouraging the use of technology, preventing burnout, and providing support.

On a personal note, reading the above paragraph around this time last year would have made me think, “Wow, this PLN business sounds fantastic, but how do I become part of it?” Novice teachers or indeed anyone else who might have any questions about what a PLN on Twitter is, how to start one, or how to join ELTchat should read @Marisa_C’s post “Twitter Connections – Your First Circle of Trust”.

 

  1. Specific chats & ideas in 2013

Many agreed that even though the chats weren’t always applicable to their own teaching situation, they provided excellent learning opportunities and often reminded them of something worthwhile they had forgotten. A number of chats that had been particularly inspiring were mentioned and @Marisa_C promptly tweeted the links to their transcripts and summaries (clearly with the aim of helping the summary writer for this chat ).

Mostly in the order they came up in the conversation these were:

For those interested in reading up on other topics discussed this year, the complete list can be found here.

These are some of the specific tasks/activities that teachers tried out (revisited) as a result of ELTchat:

  • TBL – @SueAnnan mentioned a lesson in which her students designed a new island. This was after the two chats held as a tribute to Dave Willis in November. Sue’s summary of the chats can be found here.

  • Recording students to hear their progress, which helped with fossilization. (@mitchefl)

  • Using / allowing L1 in the class, especially with lower-level students for collaboration (@CotterHUE)

  • Writing a list of answers on the board for students to make the questions and find out something about the teacher. (@SueAnnan)

  • Having students turn around and show a picture to other students who are facing the board. Ask students to tell their friends all about it. (@Teachersilvert)

 

  1. Suggestions for ELTchat in 2014

Towards the end, the discussion turned to how teachers see ELTchat developing in the following year (question contributed by @Wiktor_K). Apparently, the moderators have been thinking of introducing some changes, as attendance has dropped lately. A few options were suggested, the first of which was to bring new members aboard – a membership drive of sorts. (So if you know anyone who you think would enjoy ELTchat, tell them how great it is and get them to join next year.) Another suggestion was to have the chats less frequently; i.e. once every two weeks. The fact that fewer people are attending seems to indicate that the chat – at least the evening one – might no longer be needed. Ideally, as @Marisa_C remarked, there should be one time in the day when everyone can attend (instead of two chats) but with different time zones this is just not possible. In any case, the moderators said they would be asking regular attendees for their input before making any changes. Do you have any suggestions on how to bring ELTchat numbers back up, or comments as to whether two chats a week is too much?

Finally, closer collaboration with IATEFL was also discussed at some length.

As for specific topics to be covered next year, @MarjorieRosenbe suggested addressing issues brought up in the IATEFL webinar series. In addition to this, the moderators stressed that they are open to all topics put forward by ELTchatters on the blog.

 

As this post draws to a close, two more things that came up in the conversation deserve a special mention. The hard work of the moderators – Marisa, Shaun and James – should be recognized. I’m sure I speak for all ELTchatters when I say thank you for keeping ELTchat going and the discussions focused. Also, it’s one thing to read the transcript of a chat, but quite another to read the summary, and in addition to everyone else who contributed summaries, the person whose name kept coming up in this context was Sue Annan, who by her own admission has a summary in every month in 2013! Thank you, Sue, for taking the time to write these up.

Whichever direction ELTchat heads in next year, I sincerely hope it sticks around. I’ll be doing my best to attend at least once a month – how’s that for a SMART New Year’s resolution?

 

About the author

vedrana

Summary contributed by Vedrana Vojkovic and posted here with her kind permission. Vedrana is @Ven_VVE on Twitter.