Sunday, May 1, 2011

Unlimited Podcasting in Class

Sennheiser HD555 Headphones
Sennheiser HD555 Headphones by gcg2009 on Flickr
682-Minor Medical Injuries is educational podcast  by ESL POD I could use in my ESL classroom.  You can listen to this podcast and subscribe through iTunes. The way I could use this podcast or other similar podcasts through ESL POD is through incorporating listening sections into classwork or homework. I was not overly familiar with podcasts before, but I look forward to utilizing this electronic medium.

Often times, there is little opportunity for students to hear native speakers of a language they are learning, and this would be the case for my English class since I intend to teach English abroad. Sometimes textbooks include listening components on CD or through a licensed online code, but these texts are incredibly expensive! (sometimes close to $200 per text!) By using this podcast and other podcasts, my students can listen to a dialogue by native English speakers that supports a unit we are studying--this podcast would complement a unit on injury vocabulary.

The podcast is very thorough in that students listen to the dialogue; then the dialogue is explained line by line. Also, my students and I can download a transcript of each podcast dialogue, which would be particularly useful for students who need extra support as they improve their listening skills.

How I would use this podcast in my class as homework:
I would use this podcast specifically during a unit on health/injuries. I would also use this podcast as a follow up on lessons discussing American idioms. I would have the class structured so that each lesson in class was accompanied by a listening section which would be due the following class. I would assign this podcast as a listening assignment after a section on injuries or idioms. Students would have access to this podcast through itunes either through university computers or personal laptops. Each podcast dialogue would be accompanied by some comprehension assignment--perhaps questions about the discussion or creating a similar dialogue scenario.

Monday, April 25, 2011

ePals for Teachers and Families

Globe post card sample 1
"Globe post card sample 1" by Mishel Churkin found on Flickr
I've been checking out ePals as a web resource for teachers. ePals is an online site where teachers can post collaborative assignment ideas and search for other classrooms in the States and around the World to learn with.

"ePals is the leading provider of safe collaborative technology for schools to connect and learn in a protected, project-based learning network. With classrooms in 200 countries and territories, ePals makes it easy to connect learners locally, nationally or internationally. "

Immediately I felt excited at the prospect that foreign language teachers can advertise and search for opportunities for their learners to converse with persons in the target language being taught. The search for collaborators is easy: you can specify age range, target language, subject area, and even a specific country. Right now a Chilean class that is looking for an English speaking partner class. This idea would be especially cool for example if an American high school class learning Spanish partnered with a Spanish speaking class learning English.To learn more about products and services offered by ePals go to their products page.

One other super cool feature: In today's digital age I've started to become acculturated to the idea of having a global classroom, but really fascinated me about ePals is that families looking to provide specific educational experiences for their children can also utilize ePals. There is an entire family section. One family is looking to partner with a Norwegian family for an online intercultural exchange, including potential language learning opportunities.  There's even a forum for homeschooling families around the world!

Whether you are a teacher looking to create more collaborative experiences for your students outside of the classroom, or a parent looking to create enriching experiences for your child, I would recommend checking out ePals. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Using creative internet tools to enhance writing education

Book swapping by nSeika

Book swapping, a photo by nSeika on Flickr.
I have to admit that I feel I am at a distinct disadvantage taking this internet tools course during my first semester of my TESOL Ed.M studies. It's hard for me to imagine how to use the tools we are learning about in an L2 classroom. This semester I couldn't get into any core classes (just gen. eds.) so I haven't yet learned about L2 pedagogy and have no educational background otherwise!

However, I am familiar with creative and expository writing, since that was my undergrad studies. My discussion of creative internet tools, therefore, are going to be regulated to what I do know. Two tools I want to discuss are from Pim Pam Pum. They are Bookr and Bubblr...both are so cool.

Bookr allows a person to create small text and image based books. One can use their own or another person's allowed copyrighted images, and then add text to each page. The standard size only has several pages; however, you can add more. Many times a student might be asked to create some sort of creative representation as a final draft of work done. In a poetry class a student might make a visual art book of a poem or collection of poems. Having an online medium to design creative projects is amazing resource for students, particularly since the online work is already formatted. Of course one can always do it the old school way: painstakingly printing and collating written works followed by professional or hand-binding. However, if a student simply wants to present written work in a dynamic format, using Bookr online can fit that bill.

Bubblr, is similar to Bookr in that on can upload photographs off internet sites like Flickr, but one can create comic books with the text. When checking out Pim Pam Pum's online tool Bubblr, I couldn't help but be reminded of a job skill program I used to be involved in. All trainees were expected to keep journals of their work experiences, etc. Well, one participant in one of the crew was functionally illiterate and the crew leaders of that crew asked that the participant take pictures and create titles for each picture. I think it was a great idea, but the camera the organization provided the individual was a regular, disposable camera. At the time, I thought a Polaroid would have been easier. Well, if only that member had been able to use the crew's digital camera...Bubblr would have been a perfect, and would have also taught computer and internet literacy, as well!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Using Flickr and other pics in your blog

Ready to Entertain by Peter G Trimming
Ready to Entertain, a photo by Peter G Trimming on Flickr.

One problem with the internet is that it is easy to copy and paste and not think about who might own what is being taken. This class module number 9 is about using Flickr  and other image sharing sites in a responsible manner that protects an author's copyrights. 

I took the above cute picture off of Flickr. How did I know this image was okay to copy? This picture is registered with creative commons licensing with a simple attribution license. 
"Attribution means:
You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your copyrighted work - and derivative works based upon it - but only if they give you credit."

To learn about creative commons licensing I would recommend going to their website. Not only can you learn about the types of licensing that allow different permissions, but you can use creative commons to put permissions on your own work.  

One type of creative commons licensing that most all of us could recognize is Wikipedia's use of the technology. Wikipedia uses:
So you can see that there is a large variety of copyright permissions available for people to take advantage of legally; therefore, no one has any excuse for using a photo without permission.
Back to how we can use this licensing technology to improve our blogs!
Once you are on a website like Flickr, go to their creative commons section to find the a picture within the aproppriate permissions for your blog, artistic, or commercial purposes. Flickr has an upload to Blogger option. Then the image will be posted on your blog as a stand alone with the title of the picture being the title of your blog, and will be posted with proper credit to the licenser of the picture. If you want more to the blog entry, then edit the blog, add text, and change the title if you want, etc. There are many, many, many other ways to add licensed images to a blog, and there are specialized websites for this purpose. But many seemed too convoluted to me! So, if you are not that technically savy, I found that connecting my blog with Flickr and then editing the created blog post to be the easiest way.  I found if I just pasted in the HTML code directly into the blog, then the credit isn't there, and I'd have to reference and credit the image need to worry about typos in the citation or overlooked details if you post the image to the blog right through Flickr. 

If you have any reservations about how to use licensed images, the best thing to do is to use your own images, because there is more to image taking than copyright infringement (which is bad enough). Blogger warns against image taking can create an issue with stealing bandwidth from a website due to their server being opened (at server's expense) each time someone views the blog. It's just easier to give credit where credit is due!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tweeting in the class

I've read the article The Ultimate Twitter Guidebook For Teachers by Edudemic. This article is a great resource for anyone who wants to become familiar with Twitter. The article is a comprised list of how-tos and informational guides regarding Twitter use in the classroom.

Some suggestions this article gives on how to use a twitter are:

   1. Communicate with parents and students. Twitter assignments, important events, deadlines, and more      
   to keep parents and students updated with important information.
   2. Daily summaries. Give a daily update on each school day so parents can stay in touch with what
   their children are learning.
   3. Collaborative planning. Teachers and students or students working together can use Twitter to
   document ideas and share with their collaboration team.
   4. Teacher collaboration. Many teachers collaborate on their lesson plans and teaching techniques and
   tips. Twitter allows collaborating teachers to share ideas and stay connected easily.
   5. Learn a foreign language. Using a service like twitterlearn or just practicing conversation skills with
   other Twitterers around the globe, students can practice a foreign language.
   6. Connect with other classrooms. Find a classroom in a different geographic area to create a modern-
   day pen pal situation where students can learn from each other through their Tweets.
   7. Use it as a poll. Take a poll asking student opinions or getting feedback on future topics.

I think these are all valid points, but I also think we can achieve some of these goals of collaborative planning, teacher collaboration, collaboration with parents, etc just as effectively if not more effectively in other more safe ways. A school could have a blog, and classes could have private blogs within that framework. And teachers can continue to reach out to parents in the traditional ways, too...because not everyone is computer literate nor has computer access.

I've also read the article You Are Now Entering the Twitterverse from blog-o-licious where the author Hannie Welch discusses ways that she enjoys using Twitter in the classroom as way to creatively involve students outside of the 40 minute classroom without having to compromise the instruction within required subjects. 

I found her ideas very interesting. One thing that concerned me, however, was the use of character tweets to better understand a character and imagine in the present day. Philosophical debate regarding if it is even possible to remove a character from their environment aside, I found the tweets she recommended people to view as an "excellent example" to be disturbing. The character used in her example in the blog post was Lord Voldemort. I don't know if this is a regular tweeter who made their online name Lord Voldemort or if this is a student of her. Taken out of the Harry Potter novels, Lord Voldemort is commenting on everyday stuff. And some of it is FUNNY. I died of laughter reading, "Apparently it is socially unacceptable to tell people who say they have "an appetite for success" to "eat me."

But, as in the quote above, a lot of what he is saying is also insulting. My concern is: Are students being given an opportunity from a teacher to insult people without having to take ownership of the comments? Cyber-bullying is already a problem with kids...there's no need to help kids to hide behind a user-name!   

So, one comment @Lord_Voldemort 7 makes is "You can't lose weight by talking about it. You have to keep your mouth shut." What I wonder is: Who was that meant for? Does a student think Lord Voldemort would say that? Or does that person think fat people should shut their mouths... and this Lord Voldemort tweet is simply a good way to say it without having to take any serious responsibility? 

The blogger states that she likes "casual nature of micro-blogging," but I would argue that micro-blogging might be too causal for the classroom. And I do like her insights, just like I realize the merits of the article I referenced above, but maybe twitter would be better for undergraduate students and other adult classes...not for minors. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Inspiring Students

I found the article "Pictures Across The Curriculum: After The Tourists Have Gone" in ICT in Education Blog by Terry Freedman very interesting. Having studied creative writing and studio art during my undergrad, I am very familiar with the idea of bringing in outside stimuli  (in this blog's case a photograph) into the classroom to inspire conversation or creativity.

However,  Terry Freedman takes this idea well past the arts and, for example,  discusses how using a photograph could help focus conversation in a unit on economics. He asks in regard to his random picture of boats on a river,  what sort of industries might be in this region?

Freedman's main point appears to be that a teacher needs to provide some impetus to get the conversation started, something for students to focus on.

I took the above picture while on holiday in England. This bird was so friendly and desensitized, that not only did it sit on our car while we were inside...but the bird ate some bread out of my hand while sitting right there on the side mirror! Perhaps this picture could be a good way to start a conversation on how urban centers, urban crawl, and other human activities are affecting wildlife.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Mod 4: Ning Groups

This part of the module, is focused on Ning. I looked at some of the groups that our professor indicated might be beneficial. I googled EUROCALL to see what they are about. It wasn't immediately obvious to me on their specific Ning page.  I looked them up because "EURO" is in their name, and I eventually want to move to far, I've only visited Northern European countries, I love the cultures. And I love some of the things European Union does that the US doesn't. So, if I want to teach ultimately in the European Union, it would be good to me to be connected with European learning programs, etc best I can.

Another reason why Eurocall would be beneficial to me is because it focuses on computer mediated language learning. I want to teach English as a foreign language, and so, learning about how to bring technology into the classroom will be beneficial (why I am taking this class)...even more beneficial is to get an understanding of the European viewpoint of using technology in a language classroom and what kinds of technologies are used. Also, a cool thing they have on their Ning is a page for blogs. They have these articles on upcoming events, symposiums. Awesome for learning from peers and networking!

But the best thing about Ning, potentially for me, might be networking. I have a very hard time introducing myself to complete strangers, to whom I have no connection...particularly for a business purpose. The thought makes me sick. But, belonging to an online community is a good icebreaker, a good connection, and provides a way to meet and interact online--not always face to face.