Friday, November 28, 2014

Podcasting in the Classroom

Using Podcasts In Your Lessons

As an adult ESL teacher I find it very beneficial to use authentic materials in the classroom. Using NPR podcasts is a great way of introducing new, relevant vocabulary as well as allowing students to listen to a native speaker of English. I also like to use podcasts to practice notetaking skills and them hold a discussion about what was learned afterwords. NPR podcasts are clear audios but usually fast paced, therefore during a lesson comprehension and pre-listening questions are essential to make sure the students understand. A great podcast for all ages is You Bug Me. Now Science Explains Why. It's a very interesting podcast discussing pet peeves and the science behind them. 

Here are some sample pre-listening questions for the lesson:
What is NPR? What type of listening is it?
What type of note taking would you like to practice when listening to this NPR?
What Types of things annoy you?
Do the same things annoy everyone?
Why do you think certain things annoy certain people?
How do you deal with things that annoy you?

Here are some sample comprehension questions:
·         What sound is universally annoying?  Why?
·         What is a halfalogue? Why do people find it annoying?
·         Why do people feel “forced” to listen to the thing they are annoyed by?
·         What are our brains always predicting?
·         What is it hard to distinguish annoyances from?
How can we alleviate this sense of annoyance?

It's also important to discuss new vocabulary to help aid understanding. I put the vocabulary on quizlet so students may study them later on. 

Some standards that can be covered with this lesson are Standard- ESL1 and 5.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Comic Strips

Flipped Classroom

Another way to achieve the the flipped classroom is to use a comic strip to give the students information for homework and then talk about it in the classroom.

I created a short story or "comic" on Storybird called Jack and Jeanne. I decided to use storybird, even though it's not much like a comic because I didn't really like any of the other tools. Devolver seemed to kidish for me and Strip Generator was almost overwhelming. It seems that you have to completely plan our your comic strip before you even complete it which almost defeats the purpose of making it online. But I did enjoy the Storybird site, the artwork is beautiful and there is plenty of it. Though it seems that you have to write your story according to the photos you find instead of writing a story and trying to find pictures that match.

The standard covered in this activity is  Standard-ESL1: Language for Information and Understanding. ESL students will use English to collect ideas, discover relationships, concepts, and use knowledge from electronically produced texts. This standard will be tested by having the students activate prior knowledge about vocabulary families and pastimes/hobbies. They will then read the story Jack and Jeanne. In small grounds students will answer comprehension questions in order to collect data and discover relationships from the short electronically produced text. Then they will discuss why the children are imaging the special hobbies their new parents might do and why that is important to them. This will be an interesting concept for the students to discuss.

Digital Stories

 One way to achieve the flipped classroom is to make a video using a photo story tool such as Stupeflix. This tool is extremely easy to use! One simply chooses a catch song, uploads photos, and then they can place text on each photo. Then if you want you can upload the video to Youtube so it's easily accessible and students can make comments on it if needed, as well as search it and watch it when ever they want.

I decided to us the Stupeflix to introduce Idioms to students. I picked photos that I thought represented the idiom and then placed the text of the idiom on each slide.

The performance indicator being covered is Standard ESL2- Language for Literary Response and Expression. Students learning English as a second language will use English for self-expression... and participation in popular culture. This standard can be achieved by learning idioms and how to use them in everyday language as well as understanding them when native speakers are talking.

I would test this by talking about the idioms in small groups about the idioms and making definitions of what they think the idioms mean. I will then take a look and clarify if needed. Then I will have the students make a dialogue in class and perform the dialogue in class in front of their classmates who will interpret the use of the idioms and if they were used properly or not.  

Monday, November 10, 2014

TED Ed. Post #3

TED Ed. is quite the amazing platform for creating online lessons. I find it particularly valuable for making flipped classroom videos. Though it seems that we can only make lessons from TED talks, there are an abundance of Ted talks and ways they can apply to the classroom. I choose Maysoon Zayid's Ted Talk "I've good 99 problems but palsy is just one" for my flipped classroom video.

The Maysoon Zayid TED Ed addresses many language learning objectives. The performance indicators that I'd use are Standard-ESL1: Language for information and understanding. I can have students collecting ideas, concepts, and generalizations, and use knowledge from electronically produced texts. Also applicable is Standard - ESL 3: Language for Critical Analysis and Evaluation: Students will listen, speak, read, and write in English for critical analysis and evaluation. Students will use English to express opinions and judgements on experiences, messages, and issues from a variety of perspectives

The students can meet these standards by watching the Ted Talk for homework. Then in the classroom they can conduct a short research project about cerebral palsy and what the disorder means and how people can obtain it. This short research project will meet Standard-ESL1. Then the students can meet Standard ESL 3. by either participating in a discussion or writing a short journal about cerebral palsy and how it would effect their life if they had it. They can answer questions using information from the research, TED talk, and own experience to think about how it would effect their lives and therefore how inspirational Maysson is in all her accomplishments.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Post #2 Performance Indicators and Assessment

Continuing on my last blog post about Flipped Classrooms. We use a neat website called TubeChop to edit a video of our choice that we could use in our flipped classroom. The video I choose was a Clip From Maysoon Zayid: I got 99 problems... palsy is just one Ted talk. 

The performance indicators that I can test from are Standard-ESL1: Language for information and understanding. Specifically I would focus on collecting ideas, concepts, and generalizations, and use knowledge from electronically produced texts. I will also test from  Standard - ESL 3: Language for Critical Analysis and Evaluation: Students will listen, speak, read, and write in English for critical analysis and evaluation. More specifically students will use English to express opinions and judgements on experiences, messages, and issues from a variety of perspectives

Students would watch the video for homework and then answer comprehension questions about the video to make sure they understood. If they did not they could go back and watch the clip again. I would first address Standard ESL 1 by having students conduct a short research assignment about cerebral palsy such as what it is and how if effects the daily life of people who have it. Students will be using this standard because they will be using knowledge from electronically produced texts to collect ideas, concepts and generalizations about cerebral palsy. I would then test the students in class by having the students synthesize the information from the previous research assignment, the Ted talk and their own personal lives to write a journal about how their life would be different if they had cerebral palsy. They would be addressing standard-ESL3 because they would be expressing their opinion and judgement from a different perspective. In class I would have to do some modeling and instruction, possibly giving a few sentence frames for lower level students for expression opinion.

7 Things you Should Know about Flipped Classrooms Post #1

During my undergraduate work I went to the NCTE conference in Albany. There were many great lectures and workshops there but one of the presentations that really stood out to me was about Flipped Classrooms. This is a really interesting concept to me so I was glad when it was brought up in my technology class.
For class we read 7 Things You Should Know About Flipped Classrooms. Now, what exactly is a flipped classroom? The flipped classroom is when a traditional classroom is flipped on its head. So, traditionally the lecture would be given during the class and the homework would be completed later as a review, but instead the lecture is given as homework and the homework is completed in the classroom. In order to deliver the lectures outside of class short video lectures are viewed by students at home before the class session. Then during the class students are doing what we consider homework such as exercises, projects, or discussions. Here is a nice chart illustrating the differences:

To me this sounds like an idealistic goal. I would love to do this in my class because the homework can be the biggest struggle because each student gleans something different from the lecture and the teacher needs to supplement or clarify the information but they cannot do that if the student is at home. If the students needs to they can listen to the lecture as many times as they want at home whereas in the classroom the teacher only delivers the lecture one time in hopes that the students are somewhat paying attention. I think that modeling and feedback are key components to learning and teachers simply don't have enough time to do both during the class time. Therefore if the lectures are sent home with the students then they can listen, take notes, and ask questions in class the next day about anything that was confusing.

Though there are implications according to the Things You Should Know About Flipped Classrooms article. An effective flip requires careful preparation. "Recording lectures requires effort and time on the part of faculty, and out-of-class and in-class elements must be carefully integrated for students to understand the model and be motivated to prepare for class. As a result, introducing a flip can mean additional work and may require new skills for the instructor, although this learning curve could be mitigated by entering the model slowly" (EDUCAUSE). I think that thought it take a lot of outside preparation it would be a great model to try. If the teachers are given more tools and planning periods I think the flipped classroom can be achievable.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Undocumented: A Serious Game

Serious games can be a great way to intrigue and engage your students by using flow and fiero while they are still utilizing important strategies and skills. The game I decided to play and blog about is called The Migrant Trail which is based off of the documentary The Undocumented by Marco Williams on PBS. 
THE MIGRANT TRAIL presents a first-person journey through Arizona’s desert borderlands.  Play as an undocumented immigrant attempting to cross the Arizona desert and/or a border patrol agent attempting to secure the border.  Playing the game offers an alternative  platform to further engage conversation, investigation and inquiry, into the themes and questions raised by the documentary.
Migrant Mode IntroEvery year an unknown number of migrants cross through the harsh Sonoran desert from Mexico into Arizona. They pay $1500-$2500 to join a crossing party, that is led by for hire guides referred to as Coyotes. If one cannot keep up, twists ankle or runs out of water, he or she is left behind and many die. On average, the remains of 200 dead migrants are found each year.  It’s not known how many are never found.
Border Patrol Mode IntroEvery day U.S. Border Patrol agents patrol the Sonoran Desert along the Arizona-Mexico border. Their job is to apprehend undocumented border crossers, provide first aid to the injured, and locate the remains of dead migrants.
After gathering background knowledge about the documentary and the game I played the game four times; two time as Patrol officer Anderson (because when I returned to the game it didn't save my progress) and two times as a Migrant (once as Diego and once as Adriana). 

First I played as the patrol officer Anderson. The first thing you hear is some haunting music which really sets the tone for the game. When you click on your character it gives a back story about the officer using prologue as seen above. You are given 5 hours on patrol (5 minutes). You drive around a car using a similar method to the Escape the Room Games. While you are pointing and clicking you are looking for foot prints which will go out of sight once the car moves past them. Then once you see a foot print and have to click on it quickly (this game is much easier with a mouse). Once you click on the foot prints you will see a dialogue box which you must respond to. Sometimes you will follow the foot prints to a dead body, sometimes you have to chase them, sometimes you will find them and have to administer first aid or you can just bring them in sick in which case they have a higher chance of dying but it also wastes a lot of your time. The best part is that you get to make the choice, choose the direction you want to go in or if you even want to click on the footprints. At the end you will get a total of migrants apprehended, died, applied first aid, miles traveled. At first you feel good about saving people because you administered first aid and were careful about clicking all of the footprint but then upon seeing the other statistics you then realize how many died and you feel like you should have been able to save them.  

Then I played as a migrant. First you are given a back story with a prologue similar to the patrol officer. Your objective is to cross the desert and meet with your coyote so you can see your family again. With the migrant you first need to go shopping with only $100 to get you through the trip; you need to plan strategically so you have enough supplies but are not overloaded. Then you are on your way and it's a constant struggle. You are always eating and drinking things to keep up your hydration and energy but they keep going down. Sometimes you will have popups and you need to decide if you want to take them or not because they will effect your health. You also have to be aware of patrol cars but they are mostly unavoidable. It's such a relief when you arrive to the safe point but it's so scary at the same time because I only had one jug of water left.  
There are so many language learning objectives that can be met by watching the documentary and then playing the game. I think an important standard being met would be Standard-ESL3: Language for Critical Analysis and Evaluation. To meet this standard students must use English to express their opinions and judgement on experiences, messages, ideas, information, and issues from a variety of perspectives. This game makes meeting this standard very easy! After watching the documentary students can write their own opinion of the migrants trying to cross the boarder. Then the students can play the games as a patrol officer and a migrant and compare and contrast their varying view points. 
Students can complete these objectives through Kyle Mawer's task types. Problem solving: Analyzing actions & consequences of the game sequence as well as discussing game strategy. Personal: Describing personal preferences/ opinions of the migrant trail. Storytelling: narrating the story of the patrol officers and the migrants through their points of view.  

Monday, October 13, 2014

Wanna Play?

Escape the Room Games

There are many different types of game genres. Today I focused on Escaping the Room Games. These types of games are played by pointing and clicking around the screen to explore a world of your choice. The main task you are trying to full fill is to help your character by reading the pop ups directing you what to do and clicking around to find items or trigger actions.

The game I chose to play is called Phantasy Quest.  I played the game 2 different times for about an hour and then for 45 minutes. If you like this game comes with an option of using a walkthrough to aid you in the game.

The main plot of this game is you are stuck on a deserted island (well it seems that way at first). You are given no back story at first and you start on the beach by yourself and you are able to click arrows to move around the island. As you play you start to figure out information about how you got there and you learn that you are maybe not alone. As you move around you pick up items and use them to complete small tasks by taking them out of your inventory and clicking them on things in hopes an action will occur.

Here is a description of how to play the game from the website itself:
Use your mouse! Just click anywhere on the game screen. Some things you can activate simply by clicking on them, while others you may have to use an item that you have collected in your inventory.
To use an inventory item, move the pointer over it, click and while holding the mouse button, drag the item out of the inventory bar onto the game screen, then release the button. The item should then move with your cursor, and you can click it on things in the game screen. To put the item back in your inventory, just click it on the inventory bar.

 I found this game fun and quite addicting. It followed an easily hookable storyline and I wanted to keep following it to find out what was going to happen next. Once I found the gate I really wanted to get inside and figure out why I was stranded on this island! I found myself playing the game for longer than I wanted instead of doing other homework, oops! I think there are plenty of performance indicators that can be included with this game.

  • Problem solving is a great performance indicator. Students must analyse their actions and what they want to do next as well as anticipate consequences. Students can discuss with each other game strategies and why one thing must be completed before another and use reasoning to back it up. To assess this indicator the teacher could place bench markers in the walkthrough where students will stop to anticipate consequences and discuss with their partners what they should do next. 
  • Storytelling can be used to retell the story using sequencing vocabulary. They could use the game as an inspiration to write a narrative. This would be a great time to use images from the game to help prompt specific points in the game so students can write about them using sequencing. The teacher can then assess the sequencing to see if it was similar to the game and note the rationale behind it.

 I would use a walkthrough with this game because with the use of the walkthrough the students can follow the directions and follow the sequencing. This will allow them to continue with the game even if they are confused. Then the teacher will be a helper and can help aid them with what to do next but the walkthrough will help them out the most. Though the teacher can also ask thought provoking questions about why would we need to push the rock off before we entered the gate? This will make students actively think about the walkthrough while they are reading it and anticipate further sequencing according to the feedback the game gives them.


Now, what exactly is "gamification? Well according to 7 Things to know about Gamification, gamification is when there is a application of game elements in a non-gaming situation. These elements often motivate or influence behavior in a classroom.

According to this article there are 7 important things you should know about Gamification:
1. Gamification elements often motivate and influence behavior
2. Competition will spur students' concentration and interest to lead to more effective learning
3.Used in higher ed. but adaptable to many
4.Helps build connections among by drawing in shy students, supporting collaboration, and engaging interest in course content that might have no otherwise.
5. But there are downsides: it can be difficult to employ effectively
6. If it is properly supported it can really be of use and grow!
7.Implications?: Offers instructors numerous creative opportunities to enliven their instruction.

I think the scenario is very intriguing in this article. I know that I would love to participate in an activity like this in a class and I would also learn a lot from it in the process. Personally I have used an idiom game where students must find native speakers of English and ask them what the idiom they have means and to use it in a sentence. I awarded points to the students for achieving this goal quickly and in ranking order. This gave incentive to the students and they found it fun, like a game. I really want to discover ways that gamification can be applied specifically to the ESL classroom.

In order to gain clarity on what exactly games do to engage students I read Sculpting Flow and Fiero: Daily MTG. I think the most interesting points of this article is about flow and fiero. So, what is flow? Flow is displayed in the moments where the challenges we face match up almost exactly with our ability to overcome them.
The psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi defines it as "the satisfying, exhilarating feeling of creative accomplishment and heightened functioning."  Csikszentmihalyi found that there were three factors essential to making flow: clear goals, rigidly defined rules of engagement, and the potential for measured improvement in the context of those goals and rules.

So, now that we understand flow, what exactly is Fiero? According to Dr. McGonigal, fiero is "possibly the most primal rush we can experience." It's the feeling we get when we conquer an obstacle that, for whatever reason, is emotionally important to us.  McGonigal describes it as "a craving for challenges we can overcome, battles we can win, and dangers we can vanquish."

These strong emotions and feelings are what tie us to these games, make them engaging and intriguing.

Now that we know the benefits of gamification how can we include them in out classroom?!
Well, luckily there is an article called 10 Gaming Genres to Adapt to Class. This is a lovely resource of ten gaming genres and how they could be used in the classroom.

The three I found the most interesting and want to use in in the classroom are as follows:

5. "Strategy Games- This is a game in which the gamer is presented with a number of possible choices in game play which will effect how they progress in the game...With these games students can practice activating prior knowledge, making inferences, and predictions."

6. "Adventure Games- Adventure games are a sub genre of point and click games but usually differ in that the game has got strong narrative elements. There is usually a central character, a storyline, objectives to be achieved, an enemy and an outcome at the end".
These types of games can be used in replacement of books! They have all of the same aspects of a novel and then students can apply literary elements to them.

8. "Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs)- Is a computer role playing genre in which a massive number of players interact with one another within a fictional virtual world. The player assumes the role and takes control of the actions of a fictional character."
These types of games are great for working on collaboration and cooperation As well as handling money and peer relationships.

All of these are great ways to engage students while still meeting standards and teaching students skills.

Monday, October 6, 2014

A Little Bird Told Me...

I've never personally enjoyed Twitter as a social media. I find that I have nothing interesting to share with the world especially in only 140 characters. But I found, when given a purpose, twitter can be exciting and beneficial. For a educational technology class I am currently taking I had to follow a twitter chat. I decided to followed the hashtag #ELLchat. They post on Mondays at 9-10 pm EST and they are a group of Teachers of English Language Learners. This was a perfect choice seeing that I am currently getting my masters in ESOL. Some of the topics we discussed were testing out of ESL in Elementary and the criteria for that as well as how long students should have to stay in ESL and receive aid. 

Following this twitter chat is great professional development for me because I can follow and ask questions about teaching materials and strategies in real time and I will more than likely receive a response. It's amazing how quick and how many topics are gone through in just an hour! If only one thing interests you, you can pursue that topic in a conversation, but if you just want to sit back and read everything and then choose what to reply to, you also have that option too. I think Twitter can be very helpful as PD but it's also a little confusing and not well rounded. Some of your questions may go unanswered or the topic might be changed so quickly it's difficult to keep up. But at the same time I like it because teachers are known to be wordy and some people may dominate a conversation in person but with Twitter everyone gets a chance and it's easy to read because it's only 140 characters. 

Twitter in the Classroom!

What exactly is Twitter?

According to Twitter in the K-8 Classroom- Globally Connected Learning, teachers can use Twitter to introduce students to the connected world of a learning network. Students should make a profile with an avatar and a detailed bio stating their age and purpose of using the twitter. Also, privacy settings are important! You can make your tweets public or you can change it that only people you approve can see them.

But What can Twitter be used for?!

There are so many ways you can take advantage of Twitter in your classroom! But, make sure to have proper twitter etiquette including being polite, not gossiping, don't plagiarize, and respond to your followers.

Have no idea what to tweet about?! Here are some great suggestions!

But make sure your tweets are quality; are they clear, concise, grammatically correct, and informative. Also make sure to make use of Twitter vocabulary like RT (re-tween), # (hashtag), @ (mention), and DM (Direct Message). All of these tools will make using Twitter in the classroom effective, easy, and fun!

Another site with very useful twitter information is A Must Have Guide On Using Twitter in Your Classroom. This site, I think, is more helpful for teachers who have older students and maybe even college professors.

Here are some of my favorite helpful tips from this website:

  1. Ambient office hours: With Twitter, Howard Rheingold at Berkeley uses Twitter for group contact, which he calls “student-to-teacher-to-student ambient office hours.”
  2. Keep students in the loop: Using hashtags on Twitter, students who were not able to make it to class can follow along and stay on top of the conversation.
  3. Attendance reminders: For students who have trouble making it to class on time, send reminders before school to get them in the door earlier.
  4. Twitter pop quiz: Send out quick quizzes on Twitter, and have them count for bonus points in the classroom.
  5. Parent communication: Parents can sign up to receive tweets from teachers, learning about activities, tests, projects, and more.
  6. Find foreign pen pals: Students can use Twitter to communicate with students in a different country, learning about their hobbies, home, school, and more.
  7. Twitter can improve writing and punctuation: As long as students are held accountable for their grammar, using Twitter offers a great opportunity for improving writing and punctuation.
  8. Communicating with experts: Find authors, scientists, or historians on Twitter and get connected; a great resource for the classroom.
Both of these sites are worth checking out. They make be excited to use Twitter in and outside of the classroom!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Be a Pal

ePals enriches K-12 learning in the classroom and at home with innovative web-based tools and the highest standard of children’s stories, games and digital media on the Web.

Teachers use the free ePals Global Classroom to create real world, culturally- enriching learning experiences for their students. With ePals classroom matching, a high school class studying Chinese can connect with a class studying English in China, or the classes can work on a special project together.

  • At ePals’ teachers use curriculum and lesson plans created by educators and publishers from around the world.
  • Student learning from home can be fun, and beneficial. Students can access many stories, poems, games and other digital media. All of this literature is available on Android, iPad, iPhone, Kindle and more.
  • Also, ePals Clubhouse is a safe place for kids to connect with one another. Here they can share and read their favorite books; write and publish their own stories; play fun and educative games; and even create their own art.

In2Books brings the Common Core Standards to life with a safe motivating online curriculum that matches students with adult eMentors. Students get authentic experience purposefully reading books with eMentors and sharing ideas about important issues via online letter.
  • Students can easily achieve the ESL standard:ESL 3.1: Language for Critical Analysis and Evaluation  Students will use English to express their opinions and judgments on experiences, messages, ideas, informations, and issues from a variety of perspectives. 
  • In2books compliments teachers already created curriculum while motivating and engaging students. It help promotes thoughtful writing and discussions involving critical thinking with their eMentors. This gives the students a purposeful drive to read, learn, discuss, and actively participate with the material. 


Connecting Through Social Networking

A great way to connect and seek informal professional development is through Social Networking. Here are TWO helpful communities I find helpful and informative on google+

The first one is English Language Teaching (ELT). They provide helpful resources, discussions about important topics, tips for Teachers & Learners of English [ELT/EFL/ESL]. Specifically on here are various articles about grammar, geography, participation, and listening skills. As well as worksheets, information about seminars and teaching abroad.

The second community I found helpful is Teachers for Interactive Language Learning (TILL).
This site is great for creative, sharing, and daring individuals interested in helping others learn English as an additional language! This site has some nice inspirational quotes, teachercasts, material suggestions, and job opportunities.

Both of these google+ communities have great resources and opportunities to discuss questions that may arise in the ESL classroom!

Planting the Seed of Knowledge

A student is like a plant. 

As teachers we plant seeds of knowledge; these are our mini lessons or lectures. We then give them the resources they need sunlight, fertilizer (materials), (guidance), water (technology), and CO2 (discussion). Then we wait for them to grow, and that is all we can do. We cannot force them to grow, but we can help them as much as we can by providing all of the above resources as much as we can and in as many different ways we can. Once we have done all that is in our power to do we sit and wait for them to grow. 
According to Siemens' video "The Changing Nature of Knowledge" we are relying more and more on network model learning. the network becomes the learning, the network the learners create... learning isn't limited to an individual's mind anymore. Students are using each other and technology more and more as a resource. Students need these resources. Education and how we attain and retain knowledge is very different now. Cooperative activities are also being encouraged more because talking over the information helps students internalize it and be able to recall or reuse the information in a different way later on.
Also learning and knowledge is no longer based on what a single person can regurgitate. Now we can use the endless bank of knowledge of the internet to access any information at any time! This is highlighted in Siemens' article "Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age The ability to draw distinctions between important and unimportant information is vital.This is because there is so much information out there for students to sift through we must teach them the skills of how to tell the difference between important and unimportant information quickly and efficiently.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Diigo VS Pinterest

As a teacher I'm always looking for resources on the internet. I find so many good ones but I often forget them and don't save them for later use making the time I used to find them mostly wasted. I my technology class we discussed two different websites that can help teachers with this problem. 
Presented to us were the websites Diigo and Pinterest. These wonderful sites help teachers save the resources they find and catalogue them for future use. 

Pros of using Diigo
  • Highlight on sites that have been bookmarked and saved to the library. Highlighting makes referring back to specific information easy.
  • Multiple tags for each site you bookmark. There are even recommendations given, making tagging speedy.
  • Descriptions for each bookmark.
  • Follow anyone on Diigo and that will show up on your feed. 
  • Messages can be sent to the people you follow.


  • You can't post comments on other peoples Diigos' and you must message people get in contact with them.
  • You have to enter a CAPTCHA in order to follow people (this can make getting resources tedious)
  • When you add a bookmark suggestions are not given for other possible bookmarks.  

Pinterest Pros
  • When creating a pin you can add tags. Additionally you can search by using  specific tags.
  • Instead of just messaging you can comment on each individual post. 
  • You can follow people and they can follow you. 
  • When you re-pin something you receive suggestions of other boards to look through.
Pinterest Cons
  • You can't highlight text on pinned sites. 

I like both of the sites for different reasons. Personally I am bias towards Pinterest because I have used it before and the boards make it very user friendly and aesthetically pleasing. On Pinterest I found so many resources in a short amount of time just by using a few key words. Diigo was a more confusing and I feel less to the point. It was also lot more time consuming and it took a lot more time trying to google and find a website and then think of something to describe it by and think of tags for it. Pinterest is amazing because of the pictures, I am a visual learner and have a visual memory so I found this much more useful. With Pinterest they offer similar articles with the same tags which is awesome.I will continue using Pinterest because I find it much more user friendly, though I do see the benefits of Diigo I don't think they outweigh the cons of the website. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Let's Prep Students for their Age, not the Teacher's

Hello There,

For my Technology class I watched some really interesting videos with an over-arching theme of incorporating technology in the classroom. The following are the highlights from those videos.
Education Change Challenge
This video asked a lot of questions: Why do we think that students will learn in the same way at the same time? Why is education the same it was 100 years ago? The video also made a lot of powerful statements: We need to make students lifelong learners. Teachers need to be relevant and credible in order to understand and meet the generation of students they are teaching.
I think that more of these questions need to be asked and statements be carried out. I know a lot of talk has occured about education reform but I don't think education needs to be "reformed" I think it needs to be completely changed. Reform indicates that it is taking what is already there and changing it a bit, instead it needs a complete overhaul. I think they used a perfect analogy in this video... If a doctor from 1914 was in a 2014 operating room they would be completely lost and be a inadequate doctor, but if a teacher from 1914 came into many 2014 classrooms they would hardly skip a beat.  

Social Media Revolution

I think this video is great at illustrating the changes and effect technology has on our academic and daily lives. It points out the ever growing and influential social medias. It states that over 50% of the population is under the age of 30 years old! Another interesting point was that people trust peer recommendations and only 14% trust advertisements. This video is indirectly stating that we should be embracing technology in our classroom by showing us how important it is to the population as well as how it affects our daily lives.  

A Vision of 21st Century Teachers

 This video is great! It's made by teachers about teachers who use technology in the classroom and the vast benefits it brings to their classroom! Some of the major points they make are how technology helps foster a global community, allows teachers to include differentiated teaching to address the many different types of learning styles, and how technology is aligned with real life. Technology also promotes critical thinking, global interaction, and engage the students. This video is promotes technology in a positive way that will help teachers reach standards while helping students understand and be interested at the same time.

The Future Starts Now

This video is geared toward Norwegians, but it is still relevant to American schools. It is made from a students point of view discussing how ICT (information and communication technology) helps students learn better because they are the most comfortable and enjoy using it but she wants to know why it's not integrated more into the classrooms. She makes the point that learning with technology makes education more relevant and helps students understand what they learn instead of just memorizing facts. I think the most important point she makes is that teachers may the the resources to work with but they don't have the time or professional development to keep their ICT knowledge up to date so they will be able to and comfortable using ICT in the classroom. I think that if schools provided the time and resources for teacher to update their knowledge and materials to be ICT based everyone involved would benefit.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Using Blogs in the Classroom

Hi there! 

We can all agree that as teachers professional development is important right? Well Steve Wheeler brings up some really interesting way we can achieve individual and collaborative professional development through blogs!  In Wheeler's blog "Seven reasons teachers should blog" he discusses teacher self-reflection about their actions, decisions, processes, successes and failures. All of this information can be recorded onto a blog and then be easily accessed later on. In this format a blog works as a digital filing cabinet where teachers can type in keywords to help help easily find a lesson or teaching strategy they want to reflect on or even reuse! This allows teachers to see what worked or didn't work and then decide if they want to reuse the idea or talk it over with someone to work out what went wrong.
On a similar note teachers can also gain valuable feedback through other teachers! This is the best because they may have zero idea why a lesson failed or what to do to make it better and someone may hop on their blog and help them solve their issue.

Blogging with Students

Not only can teachers use blogs to help express and reflect but students can too! According to Rita Zeinstejer  by using authentic and meaningful tasks students will become more engaged and learn more from the content. By being able to interact with the material in an authentic way they will see the use and purpose of the activity and be more inclined to participate enthusiastically. Through blogs students can publish their writing allowing experts or mentors from outside the classroom to add their comments, and this is a true exchange of opinions. Students can even satisfy standards through blogs!

Performance Indicator -Students can produce written narratives and expressions of opinion about radio and television programs, newspaper and magazine articles, and selected stories, songs, and literature of the target language. This standard can be easily accomplished with a blog! They can read one of the previously mentioned texts online and then respond in a meaningful way on their blogs. Then they can create a community of practice by commenting on other students opinions.

This feeds into another performance indicator -this indicator states that students can engage in extended discussions with native or fluent speakers on a broad range of topics that extend beyond their daily lives and are of general interest to the target cultures. This standard can be more easily accomplished with blogs than any other avenu. There are an abundance of blogs by native or fluent speakers on an enormous range of topics and are about the target culture!

In addition to to achieving the standards students can also create an ongoing portfolio of samples of their writing. This is amazing because ESL students can see how their writing has changed and grown over just one year. They then can keep adding to their blog so their ideas are all in one place just in case they want to revisit something!
I hope that you will consider using blogs in the classroom, I know I will!