Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Acting it Out


                Podcasts in the ESL classroom.  This tool could really open up a lot of different concepts to the classroom.  One would simple be to listen to podcasts and that go with a specific less.  Even more then this a podcast could be a fantastic tool that  could open the classroom up to so many ideas.  The podcast access allows for a variety of material and information that may not be as manageable in the time students are in a class but know is expanded.  This tool is a great way to flip the classroom.  By doing this the podcast brings the world to the students when they have the time rather than when a broadcast dictates that time. 
                I think a great idea that we as teachers can use can take this tool one step farther is to actually make podcasts with the students.  The ideas of “reading theater” by TCM Podcasts encompasses many learning objectives.  Such as fluency, comprehension and accuracy.  With the repeating of reading one text all week in order to be ready to perform on a podcast performance the students are familiarizing themselves with one text over-and-over.  In doing so it has been proven that by becoming fluent in one text automatically makes one more fluent in other texts, which in many ways is the ultimate goal. 
              In practicing for the podcast performance the students fluency of the words and text become more natural.  The use of the performance gives the students a direct goal, a meaning to the practice. The students are not just reading for the sake of reading they are preparing for the podcast performance, which is a great confidence builder.  A student who may have been timid about their reading and speaking skills become excited about their performance.  The first podcast might be a little more intimidating than the rest because it is new.  As they practice the students quickly become more excited and want to be prepared which only increases their fluency and accuracy toward the target of language proficiency.  The nice thing about this tool is that it in itself is an audio diary. In that the students can refer back to older podcasts to see how they are developing.
                The lesson could even start with deconstructing the narrative the students are going to perform.  Looking at unknown words, close pronunciation tips, and even meaning behind the text.  The “reading theater” podcast concept is really an all-encompassing tool.  Many objectives can be met and assessed.

                The students can be assessed on performance, pronunciation accuracy, fluency in performance which is assessed by seeing how comfortable the student is with the narrative.  Are they acting it using different inflections from their voice or is it a simple reading?  A word quiz can also be given about the new words that were learned from the narrative.  And even a brief essay could be used.  One in the beginning of the task and one at the end.  Seeing if the meaning of text changed for them as they read the narrative.  This also give the students a chance to practice and be assessed in writing skills. 

Podcast Website

The Podcast

An example of Podcast "reading theater" in action

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Video Fun - is a great video maker that can be another great tool for teachers to use with their ESL students.
  I really think that this could be a great extra project for students to expand their understanding of any subject.  Through the use of pictures and text ESL student can really get a better understanding of nearly any topic they are studying.  From history to pop-culture students can make videos that can help them practice what they are learning in class.
Depending on the topic given to the students the performance indicators would be how well they stay on topic.  Also how well they link the pictures to the text meaning they provide.   The task could be very specific, such as make a video of five national parks and describe the pictures you choice to represent each park using the vocabulary words of the week.  To assess I could see how well they use the words.  At the end of the project I could do a quick word matching quiz.

Example Video -

Picture Video

Monday, November 10, 2014

TedEd Lesson on English Language Secrets

In this Ted lesson I am looking at the topic of secrets tips of learning the English language.  The three tips that the speaker talks about are where the stress of the word is placed, linking and collocation.  The three tips can helps a non-native speaker sound more natural.  The lesson can help students concentrate on certain aspects of their oral language practice.  These tips on how to sound and link words together can help one become more natural sounding to a native English speaker.   I think that by practicing these tips one can build confidence in speaking English.  In this the student will become more comfortable in their practice of the learning the English language.
After a lesson on common collocations I could assess the students on recognizing collocations.  We could also continue practicing them along side vocabulary lessons. 

ESL 1.1

TedEd Lesson  -  Secrets of the English Language

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Flipped Class

In the articles, Why it’s time to Rethink (and Question)Homework by Katie Lepi and 7 Things You Should Know about …Flipped Classrooms, the concept of a typical classroom work and homework are flipped on their head.
            I really like the idea of having kids come prepared with the knowledge they need for the class rather than having to lecture about the information.  Then all class activity is about reinforcing the concepts, answering question, and filling in the gaps that pre-class work was not able to fill.  Though as a teacher one would really have to know the capabilities of the class and the commitment of the students to truly make this flipped classroom work.  Without that commitment the students may fall behind. If the students are not prepared for class with the material and knowledge they need to be in class and really take advantage of that time the flipped classroom idea becomes harder to control.

            Homework plays several different roles and depending on the students level of development with the topic at hand it really could  help or disenfranchise the student.  Too hard and the student may give up, to easy and the student get bored.  A teacher may want to reinforce a concept or show it in a different way with different assignments but with each student and class different materials can be provided.  Having students do different assignments could become confusing but it could be very helpful to the student and possible the class.  If students are doing different assignments they could present what they learned to the class.  Even if it’s a quick five minute presentation they can share the learned knowledge with the whole class.  

Chop Chop

TubeChop - Funny English Words (01:14)

     In a classroom the video can be used to prompt a lesson.  The whole video is a lesson in itself but in this instance I would want it shorter so it prompts a class discussion.


     In this lesson the objective would be to learn and expand the student’s vocabulary.  Not only are they learning funny words which are not used as much as high frequency words they are learning the meanings of the words by using synonyms of the words.  The synonyms are often the more high frequently words.  This is a fun way to introduce new words expanding the vocabulary of the students.

      To extend the lesson from the video I would have each student pick one other word off the list from the video to describe and to pick one other word that they find funny in the English language to discuss.  By having each student talk about their words the other students will also learn from each other.  They can also write the words up on the board.  From this I could even create another assignment that would use these words to create a funny story.  Farther reinforcing all the new vocabulary.   After practicing the words I can then assess the students with a quick matching of the funny words to the high frequency words that we were practicing.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Gaming for learning

  Taking games to a whole new level.  Serious games- games that can have you in control of the serious things in life.  Making you the Captain, the decision maker. The gamer has to follow the facts to get to the solution to life problems.  As leader one has to weigh out major societal needs and worries food, disease, water, shelter and more while playing Serious Games.  After playing Quandry at least three times and testing out different solutions for each problem faced I really started seeing how great this could be for kids. 
                Not only is the story line fantastic with a sci-fi theme the problem solving method that is used only increases the fiero as it enhances the game as each problem is solved.  As Captain one has to sort out through the facts, solutions and opinions of the settlers to make a proposal to the council.  Presenting the best information to the council is very important in that the council will use the information to come up with a solution.  With the wrong or incomplete information is provided to the council the solution may not fit the problem as well as the Captain would have hoped.
                As an ESL teacher I could assess the students by how many points they receive as they go through the game to see if they are really understanding the material which is being presented.  As the captain goes through the game points are given as the solution comes together.   Sheep attacks, water parasites, or arguments that take on a life of their own such as perceived favoritism all are problems that the captain must solve to keep life on Braxos moving forward.  Problem solving is really key in this game.  As a teacher I could prompt discussion analyzing the different ways each student tried to solve the problem and what the results were of each solution and why they chose that solution over another. 
                The reading and understanding in this game is a large part of this game and therefore pushes the ESL student to practice the English language at a higher level.   ESL 1.1 criteria will be being met while working through this activity.


Friday, October 10, 2014

Game Playing

             Sound Factory – Simple fun, yet you have to know what the labels say as you go or one can quickly get lost in the game.  For language development the students will be talking about the story line of Dink the tire factory musician.  The basis of the game is for the player to gain new instruments.   With each new instrument it shows that the learner has the ability to follow visual and written instruction.  All of this while they compose a fun song while Dink is working.  Don’t forget if the boss catches you - game over.  This means you need to be able to read the prompt to stop all noise and continue your work without any distractions.  The final goal is to earn all the instrument through several days of work so you can record your own song.  I think this could work with two players taking turns helping each other along the way.   The teacher can be watching how well the students are able to follow instructions in English as they play the game.
                For assessment and to keep the fiero going in the classroom the students could have a competition. To see who gets the most instruments by the end of class or who gets to compose their own song first. 
                I think by using this simple idea the class could be creative and create their own imaginary game.  They may not be able to produce it but they could draw up a basic concept and write ideas about what they would like their own game to be like.  This could be done as a class or individually.  For this step using the walk-through would be helpful for the class to read so they have more of a background.  Though it is given in as part of a video in the start of the game as a teacher I would also like them to read the walk-through.  This would take language development farther and get much more creative.  Images from the game could be used at this time to help connect the two activities.
                 I played this game about five times.  I got to the second day and earned seven instruments.  I will probably play a couple more times, don’t tell anyone.    

                                                                                          Sound Factory

Gaming in the Classroom

              Gamification is about using the aspects of games to help in the process of learning or teaching.  Taking the competitiveness of games, rewards system and feedback to a systematic level where one can practice problem-solving skills, teach concepts, and to have the learner learn in a way that can inspire creativity by expanding the basic classroom.  By bringing the elements of games into a learning task one pushes the students’ abilities to new levels.  The concept or concepts which are being taught now stand out because one is practicing their skills in a manor different from other knowledge.  Whether it is new knowledge or previously practiced knowledge the information is now being used to engage the learner in a new task.  Also the students are an active participant in the lesson which makes them use the knowledge they have learned to be able to play the game. 
                In a game that is set up well the flow is what will keep the gamer playing.  With each task the game becomes slightly harder.  With the right flow the gamer will be learning with each step and have the tools for the task.  The player in turn  wishes it to be harder or they gamer will become boring.  Not too hard because frustration may win out.  In games feedback is immediate.  Score board, timers, coins, and prizes are just a few feedback indicators that one is doing well or poorly and needs help.  Still it is instant.  Wait too long for feedback and the gamer moves on.  It is all about balance. 
                With all this in mind using gamification for EFL/ ESL students is really one of just making sure the game fits the task.  People are so use to the concept of games and gaming that bringing them into the classroom is not really far-fetched.  Many games force the gamer to read.  Actually it was one of the biggest motivators for my son to learn to read.  He wanted to know what the was on the computer screen.  Also it forces the gamer to follow direction and comprehend the task to move on in the game.  In this way the gamer is forced to use previously know knowledge in a new way which makes the information become more relevant.

                In a classroom the teacher can use a game from the internet or teacher can design their own game.  By using the same concepts that a computer game uses.  Flow and Fiero are the two things that make the game what it is and for the player to keep moving forward in the game.  The flow keeps the gamer going and the to the goal.  It  is fiero which pulls the gamer to the end, the primal need to win.  The reason why we scream when we do win or when we don’t.  To me it is the release of the energy that one has while trying to win, the excitement and fear.  If that is created one knows it was a good game.  

Zac Hill

Monday, October 6, 2014

Twitter Crazy

If I were going to use Twitter the idea of a twitterpack seems like it would be useful in that it helps in finding a group of people that have the same interests as you.  This would help narrow in the craziness that Twitter can become.  Also in the article Blogging about the Web 2.0 Connected Classroom one could find out how to use hashtags and link to lists of educactional microblogs using hashtags.  There is so much information out there about breaking into the platform of Tweeting.
                As a tip for students I would suggest that they follow some political figures, depending on the age of the class, to stay up to date on current events.  They could also follow news and microbloggers to keep them up to speed with breaking news. 
Though there is so much information on this social media I will probably not use tweeting in  the future.  I have tried to use twitter before and it does not stick.  A week is about as long as I can handle without going crazy with hashtags.  I appreciate that many people feel this is a fantastic format to come together and share ideas.  I am just not one of them.
After reading the tips on The Teacher’sGuide to Twitter I realized even more that twitter is not my platform.  Following people and having an equal following back and talking about topics that seem important to people.  I have a hard enough time keeping my everyday social circle going to start worrying about another social circle really does stress me out.  Rules- yes there are always rules to every social circle.  I cannot keep up with one more social circles set of arbitrary rules of who and how often you need to comment to be considered relevant.  I find people post ideas on many different media formats and other formats work better for me, such as Pinterest.

Twitter Chat

              I attended the twitter #Langchat on Thursday the October 2nd about language acquisition in the classroom.  I found that the topic could have been very interesting.  Not totally sure about the format though.  I think the topic is very important and could go in several directions.  During the chat it seemed most were talking about the idea of not focusing on grammar and vocabulary test.  Most tweeters were focusing on the idea of reading and speaking the language instead.
              With this format I felt the conversations were stunted.  It seemed that some people were having several different conversations at once.  Statements were broad to specific and had no flow.  A post would show up and then five other people talking about something else then finally follow up about the post five people back.  I will be honest here, I am not a fan of twitter.  I find it hard to read.  Reading a twitter page is like reading a bunch of headline then having to follow the link to the actually “story”.  In this case you could follow different chats going on in the same chat room.  I get very lost in this though, to many headlines coming to me at once.  All screaming for attention at once.
                For the hour that I spent on the chat I could have read a couple articles about the same topic.   In this format maybe I could have been more productive if some information was given about a topic then the group comes together to discuss.  This was more topic - talk - chat.

                I understand the concept of always being in front of the crowd with the best ideas.  But sometimes restricting the amount of social media that one uses is a benefit.  A brain can only process  so much and implement so much at one time into a classroom.  With twitter I have always found it the step to far for me.  Other forms of social media are more comfortable for me to use on a daily basis.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Expanding the Classroom

Talk about a fantastic network for the ESL student to be able to tap into.  The in2books which is part of the epals program is a fantastic network for students of any background to come together with adults and discuss reading.  This really takes the classroom concept beyond just the four walls.  As an ESL student they are basically getting one-on-one guidance from someone other than their teacher.  This helps them in expanding their network and developing relationships through learning.  With each student being paired with another adult over the internet the child is given a different perspective on what they are reading other then their current surrounding.  Learning how other people think and relate to ideas is a major part of learning.  With this tool it gives the student a safe yet open space for the student to learn.

Used correctly a student is not only reading but writing and communicating which in turn they are practicing and hitting the Common Core Curriculum standards.  I really like this concept because it is out of the box.  Using technology to expand classroom time.  Though in thinking about this many ESL students will have to use public libraries to use this method.  I see it as a fantastic tool but in that thinking it could be a tough road for many of the student.  Possible but just not as easy as many of their peers who have a computer and internet right in their home.  Schools can also help by being open later and having the computer lab or library open.   

ESL2.1 - Developing skills in reading and writing and to electronically produce text.

A hook in my Velcro Ball

I really think that the Classroom 2.0 will be a fantastic tool to help me as an ESL teacher in the future. Classroom 2.0 is a social media site for teachers of all different backgrounds coming together to ask questions and share their knowledge of use of technology in the classroom.  There is even a group for technology support of ESL/EFL teachers.  There are also several groups and online “classes” where one can attend and continue to network and share technology ideas that are being used in the classroom and learn how they are being used.  This is a great site of collaboration to move teaching to the next level.

Not only are people sharing what they are doing in their classrooms people are asking questions and getting help.  This is a fantastic tool to keep in my network and my growth as a teacher ever expanding.  Another hook in my Velcro ball. 

The Velcro Ball

A learner is like a Velcro ball. Each hook of Velcro linking itself to a network. The more Velcro hooks the more links that are able to be made about a certain topic. To stay current the hooks reach out for more networks and have the ability to move away from others when they have become obsolete. This is important because “what we know today is not as important as our ability to stay current” according to George Siemens in his YouTube video “The network is the learning”. As a rolling Velcro ball the ball is able to change its networks.

In the article Connectivism: A learning Theory for the Digital Age, Siemens also points out that “the starting point of connectivism is the individual”, in this case the ball. The Velcro represents the “Personal knowledge” which then hooks itself into other networks making it part of its own network. In turn part of the other network which makes the learning environment reciprocal. Being a ball with hooks, a Velcro ball, the learner can connect itself to many networks all at once in many different directions. Being connected to so many networks at once allows the learner to be a part of what is current in the world and stay current as time progresses. Just don’t forget to roll around on occasion.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Pinterest or DIIGO

I have always considered Pinterest a great place for visual ideas.  Pinterest for me is for recipes, ideas for projects in art, architecture, travel ideas and other very visual concepts.  Coming up with creative ideas and sharing them visually is great.   DIIGO though seems like a fantastic filing system with even more features than a blog roll.         
                I found pictures for my topic boards that took me straight back to the source which in turn becomes much more useful.  It is really easy to go post happy and lose track of the point of what one is doing.  That is ok though because it is all organized in boards and can be moved around later.
                For me DIIGO is a much better filing place for items/sites that one just finds on the web- such as a whole website or pdf.  It does not need a Pinterest tag to place it on a board just a URL.  Also I can write a description of what the site is and several tags so when I or a follower would like to go to one of the websites listed they know more about the site.  Pictures are great, but they often don’t tell you what the site is that the picture came from.  For example I found a quote that I followed to the site it came from.  Turns out it is a site about why staying in high school is a waste of time.  It’s actually not a terrible site and many different viewpoints.  That is really a short view of the site but it is definitely not what I was looking for.  I could get onto that topic but it is also a rabbit hole. 
                On Pinterest it is really easy to follow someone or just a specific board they have that interests you.  This is great because you will always get new ideas quickly as they build their boards.  Also you can go straight to their boards if you have found that they have really great ideas in the past.  Sometimes if you find a good board the preliminary work is already done for you.
                It seems that as of very recently one can message people on Pinterest.  Also through email you are offered suggestions for other ideas if you request that this is done.  DIIGO is better at providing a place to share written information.  It is a place where one can share and archive articles to read, highlight, share concepts, rather than just a quick post-it.  I also prefer the tagging in DIIGO to search for my own information later.  Pinterest can get quite extensive quite quickly.  Also it seems that I can restrict who follows me on DIIGO while on Pinterest it is extremely open.    

                Both have fantastic benefits but have different ways of sharing lots of different information.  They also provide the user with very different tools and benefit packages depending on money spent on the site.  I am not sure one can even spend money on Pinterest while DIIGO has different level of users and tools.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Getting Ready for the Future in Today's Classroom

                                              Future Learning - Mini Documentary

Did you Know?/Shift Happens (Version 6)

      Watching these short films really made me excited, scared, worried, yet motivated that the students of today can be ready for whatever comes at them as adult.    After watching Version 6 things looked intimidating.  Facts such as India having more honor students an American kid population put together, by the age of 38 having 10-14 jobs.  Even bigger “The jobs of the future have not even been invented yet.”  This can be quite intimidating as a student and even as a teacher who is supposed to prepare them.  Armed with the right tools though it will not matter what the next or newest gadget is because they will be ready, I am sure of this.  We are not asking a child of 1920 to pick up a tablet and find out how to find where Mumbai is, we are asking a child of 2014 to do what comes naturally to them.  Pick up a cell phone, tablet, computer connected to the internet and find anything.  Right at their fingertips. Even homework help.  Kids are more use to this technology as ever before and are ready, willing and even excited about learning in a classroom where it is available. 
                The mini-documentary “Future Learning” makes some really amazing points.  The idea of the blury lines between play and learning.  Video games have come a long way. Children learn without even realizing that they just did that thing that they thought was just reserved for the big scary, boring classroom -learn.  Sugata Mitra makes an incredible observation that I have always thought to be a key to school and any situation.  This is reading comprehension.  Anyone with this skill is armed.  They are able to protect themselves against what he calls doctrine.  If a child is armed from a young age with reading they can always, always learn something new even without the classroom.  The knowledge can never just simply be taken away from them therefore becomes the most important protection for them and whatever may come in the future.  Being able to reason and retrieve information is really key to the future fluctuations of the world and being able to flow in and out of whatever is to come.  In this way the future becomes rather excited instead of big and scary.  With the incorporation of technology kids are even more excited about learning to read.  Even if it’s just to understand what is on the screen. The motivation is real and the kids are ready.  

The Internet Classroom

           As we sit here today the world is going by so quickly.  Technology has and keeps developing so quickly that we often don’t know what to grab onto.  Is it the best idea, the best tool, where I want to spend my time and sometimes my money?  Even something that use to be such a simple as the classroom the - the teacher, student, desk, blackboard and textbook has changed so rapidly that we could so easily be left behind.  With a little study though and the guidance of a teacher anyone can get their footing and move into the future.    
          The Networked Student is a simple video but demonstrates a fantastic, real way many people can learn with a little direction.  The great thing about this is once one learns the tool of Connectivism one can use the concept to do and learn about nearly anything.  One can sit in a room and be connected to the world through the tools of technology without ever entering a classroom.  One can almost ask the question - Did the internet kill the classroom as we knew?                   
             The teacher helps the student learn how to build a personal learning network on the internet, vet sources of information and organize the immense about of information that can flood the senses.  For example through podcast one is able to listen to top sources in the field one is researching and/or read an informed blog along with a YouTube video attached.  There is so much video one could not possibly watch all of it in a lifetime.  In this case the teacher is used as a guide and to focus the student on what is most pertinent in the research. Also the teacher can help one not fall into or sometimes get the student out of the "rabbit hole" which the internet can often feel like. 

                                             Networked Student  by Wendy Drexler

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Using Blogs as a teaching Tool

             The classroom setting only provides so much time where students are able to practice their skills.  Through the writing of the blog they will be practicing their writing skills.  It is also the act of each student time posting/responding back to a fellow student that will create a dialog that may not have happened in a classroom setting.  The blog setting allows students to learn from each other.  
  Each week the teacher could set up a topic for ease of getting a conversation started.   Not only are the students practicing their writing skills but are sharing what they are learning about their new culture.  Writing about their own observations, dislikes, and likes can help other students assimilate easier.  This can be prompted by the teacher asking questions each week. For example asking what they like best about their new culture? In order to progress the conversations as the year goes on the teacher can keep prompting with different questions that come from the posts that are made by students.  The blog can become a fantastic tool when creating a classroom experience when some students will not even be in the same classroom together. Yet, they can create a class by coming to each others' blogs on their own time and posting.       
   The blog format is very versatile and can be used to reach several  LOTE - ESL requirements.  A specific example is demonstrating electronic produced texts in ESL1.1
  As a teacher the blog can be a big part of professional development for the teacher to help learn about their students.  As pointed out in the blog by Zeinstejerwith the knowledge shared the teacher can better prepare lessons directed for the students and make lessons more interesting for each student they are teaching.  While quickly seeing where each student needs more practice or when a certain skill seems to have been mastered. The teacher is then able to move quickly to the next task and use time as wisely as possible.