Do you know who ECML is and what it does?
I didn't before I was invited to Graz and I suspect that many of my MFL colleagues in the UK don't know about...kind of like the European Language Portfolio I guess.
The European Centre Modern Languages is a member of the Council of Europe and exists to support teachers of any foreign language in their work.
Their official languages are French and English (yet their base is in Graz, Austria.)
They basically do a heck of a lot of work promoting innovative language teaching stratgies of which the BLOGS project was one.
Essentially I was invited to the final workshop in the life of this project and was their as (in ECML speak) a multiplier...somebody who would go away and promote the values and ideas developed in the project.
In the previous 4 years of this project a blogging platform was developed and then put to use by teachers and pupils throughout Europe. Some put a deal more effort into it than others. It's aim was to promote and evaluate the use of blogs as a way of promoting creative writing in a foreign language.
Much of our work was to study the posts and comments and come up with examples of different types of writing. I have to say at this stage that although the presentations were of an extremely high standard I was a converted blogger before arriving so much of what was said I already knew, believed or was practising. Still it was fantastic to meet and talk to all kinds of foreign language educators and share ideas, concepts and BEER. I still can't believe I was just hanging with folks far higher up the educational food chain than I yet who wanted to listen to what I had to say.
If I have come away from the experience with one thing it is with ideas as to how to use blogs in a different way from that which I am at the moment. I am really interested in trying to develop this as a way to improve my students writing skills. I also want to get more involved in some of this stuff as I found the networking side exceedingly stimulating. It was great that as we were all from different countries with different ways of doing things everyone seemed to concentrate on the positive aspects of their work and not dwell too much on the crap as we often do when we teachers get together.
My next aim to try to take part in one of these celebrated Teach Meets...any chance of coming this far north you guys...maybe one of you will read this.