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!