Sunday, March 27, 2016

Openly Networked Learning for Teachers and Students

People can learn in many different ways. Collaboration is thought to be one of the most effective ways of learning. The original definition of collaboration is when two or more people meet in the same room at the same place to share and revise ideas. With today's fast evolving technologies, there are no limitations for space or time to restrict collaboration. Technology is helping people connect digitally and virtually which is what is called connected learning.

Social media offers many tools to help educators become connected with each other. The connected colleagues can have a face to face meeting on Skype or Hangouts, or share their knowledge through webinars, videos, blogs, twitter,...etc.

What about our students?
There should be a connection between classroom learning and the other aspects of living and working. The use of digital technologies usually makes open networking possible. It provides incomparable access for learners across both time and space, which makes for enhanced learning and idea sharing.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Week # 9 Find 5 of Openly Networked Ways of Learning

Oh wow!! Thank you Christina for letting us research for the openly networked ways of learning. As an Arabic language educator, my first priority is to find some networked communities to help me and my students to explore, create, and share at the same time.

1- We as teachers need always to be connected to networks to update our knowledge. One of the best American organizations for teaching foreign languages is ACTFL (American Council of The Teaching of Foreign Languages). ACTFL provides a professional network for language educators to promote the teaching and learning of the languages and cultures.
If you are interested to know more about ACTFL, please visit:

2- OER Commons is a great dynamic library and  network to  discover, create, and share. It has many groups to join. Also, it has hubs where groups can create and share collections associated with a project or organization. What I really liked about it that it has Arabic language groups and a hub. For more information please visit:

3-I always teach on Skype. It is the easiest way to meet my private lessons' students when we can't meet face to face. 

4- Hangouts, Blogger, Google Sheets, and Google Drive, all of these social networking tools are great for openly networked connected learning.

5- I just found Edmodo. "Edmodo is a global education network that helps connect all learners with the people and resources needed to reach their full potential."
if you are interested to learn more about it, please visit: 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Shared Purpose in Learning

 Three questions needs to be answered for this subject.

1- What are examples of shared purpose you have seen or experienced?
The most exciting experience I have had in my educational journey was STARTALK on line and on spot workshop at Penn State in the year of 2010. As educators, we all were attending the workshop to accomplish the goal of improving our teaching methods by practicing how to teach Arabic language without using English in the classroom, and how to engage our students by implementing the 5Cs in our teaching. My best memory is the collaboration between the trainers and the trainees and the trainees with each others. The results were phenomenal, not just for me, but for all the teachers who attended the work shop and worked as a team.

2- What does it mean to learn with a shared purpose?
Learning with a shared purpose means to learn in connected learning environments. All students should share interests and contribute to a common purpose. In the 21st century, social media and web-based communities provide excellent opportunities for learners, parents, guardians, teachers, and peers in various and specific areas of interest to engage in shared projects and inquiry.

3- What are the implications?
 The strong sense of shared purpose leads participants to engage in collaborative work through reflection, dialogue, and inquiry which create the sense of sharing responsibilities for the learning of all students and adults in the school. It improves the students' achievement and prepares children for college, career, and civil life of the 21st century by becoming more capable of formulating opinions, more adaptable to different circumstances, more understanding of complex issues, and more able to find realistic solutions to problems. 

Week # 8 Find Six for Shared Purpose

After reading what Christina shared with us in class, I did my own research to greater grasp more the idea of Shared Purpose, and that is what I found is helpful to me:

1- "The shared work of learning: Lifting educational achievement through collaboration" is a good research report to read from Mitchell Institute written by Tom Bentley and Ciannon Cazaly. On page 43,  the report explains that the shared characteristics is a deep commitment to student learning, which is then translated differently into priorities for collaboration, and into supported learning by adults. To read more, please visit:

2- Reading "Connected Learning: Re-imagining The Experience of Education in the Information Age" is a great resource I found. This article throughly explains the Learning Principles, Design Principles, and the Core Values.  Shared Purpose is one of the Design Principles. I strongly encourage you to visit

3- As a learner, I like the visual learning. So, I always look for videos to help me grasp more of what I am learning. I did my search at YouTube and found this short meaningful video. Please join me and watch it. 

4- Oh wow! Very good inspiring video to watch " Shared Common Purpose" by Larry Kesslin.  
 "Larry Kesslin is one of the founding partners and president of 4-Profit. Over the past 25 years, he has worked with thousands of solution providers, and numerous vendors and distributors to help guide and inspire leaders to reach their chosen (business) destination. Larry is a known philanthropist."
I really enjoyed listening to him talking about the difference between wants and needs. Hopefully you feel interested to watch him at

5- I found that " The 6 Key Drivers of Student Engagement" is a very helpful scholarly article to understand the importance of digital resources in education. Relevant Learning, personalized learning, collaborative learning, connected learning, information literacy, and dialogical and dialectical thinking are the six keys to help students to become more capable of formulating opinions, more adaptable to different circumstances, more understanding of complex issues, and more able to find realistic solutions to problems. To read more, please visit: 

6- Craig Watkins answering the question "how can we help children stay connected to the world that they would like to see?" in this video

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Map of My Personal and Professional Life

While I was mapping my educational life, I found it difficult to separate my work from my personal life. There is always a side effect of balancing one and the other. At times I had to pause my professional life in order to improve my personal life. For instance, getting married and raising my five kids which took much energy and effort. Thankfully, by now, three of them are independent, highly educated adults, and two of them are currently paving their way to building success.

My education journey began when I was four years old. After finishing my studies in Syria, I had to stay home for a while to raise my kids. During this time, I was enriching my knowledge by reading, taking courses, learning and making whatever is needed for the family members. Throughout this period of time, traveling to Europe every now and then always proved to be a learning resource for me; an environment to experience cultures different than mine.

In the Fall of 1996, my family and I relocated to America and my professional life again ensued. My first teaching job was in a private school where I taught Arabic and Quran. Then I moved to MCCC to teach non-credit courses. After that, I moved to Immaculata University for a few years. Recently, I teach at Villanova and West Chester Universities.

Since I began teaching in the USA, I've always strived to improve my way and ability of teaching. I attended special courses for Arabic language teachers. One of them was at Penn State under the name of STARTALK, and the other one was in CLASSROAD under the name STELLA. Recently, I am attending the M.E. program at Arcadia to maximize my skills and to expand my knowledge of teaching methods.

My classes are always student-centered. I use the problem-based learning approach, and I play the facilitator's role who listens to students more often than lectures.  For the future, I am planning to use more technology in my classroom, to create more realias for the students' activities, to attend more education conferences, and to collaborate more with other teachers.What else?? I always need to add more.........  

Friday, March 4, 2016

Week # 7 Five to Inspire Me

1- Reading about my grandmother or watching her paintings always inspire me to be creative. My grandmother, Ikbal Naji Kareisly, was born in Damascus, Syria, in 1925. She got married when she was 15, then moved to Palmyra with my grandfather, a government employee who resided there until 1950. This period of time had a tremendous influence of forming her culture, art, and human attitudes. In 1964, she was the first female painter in Syria who had a solo exhibition at "Modern Art Gallery" in Damascus. On May 11th, 1969, she died in Damascus. Please visit the link below to read more about her and see some of her paintings.

2- Her son Walid Kareisly, my uncle, was born in Palmyra in 1944. He spent 32 years of his life lying in bed on one side, paralyzed due to an accident at the age of 30. He graduated from the Leningrad Academy of Soviet with a masters diploma of Electronic Science 1966. He was a member of the Association of fine arts and the Union of Arab artists. He worked alongside independent artists, creating melodies, songs, and soundtracks. Walid grew up in the spirit of art and saturation of  color through his mother, drawing through special experiences.  He died on April 18th 2006 due to health complications. When I think about his hard life and how his impairment made him creative and encouraged him to produce works, I feel very inspired to explore my creativity. If you are interested in reading about him and seeing his art, please go to:

3- I recently met an artist on Facebook, her name is Lina Shadid. We are actually now friends. The days I look at Lina's page and glance at her paintings, I feel energized.These days I come up with many great ideas to use in my classroom. I will share with you her page to enjoy what I am enjoying by observing her art.

4- A wonderful park in NJ, Grounds For Sculpture, is great for enjoying nature, art, and music. Since I learned about it, I try to visit at least two times a year. When I am back home, I feel that I am full of energy and ideas to create and make for my home and classroom. 

5- The TV program How It's Made is very inspiring to me. Each episode includes three or four products featured, with a mix consisting of both common and uncommon items. If you are not a TV watcher, you can watch on your device by visiting