Category Archives: Web 2.0

Reflections on a Course: Post 5 (Week 6)-On Engagement and Innovation

This week’s post has a slightly different approach: I wanted to talk about engagement, as it derives from the tasks we’ve being taking up this week, but due to the news that are constantly pouring out about the world situation and the scope things are taking, I am morally forced to give this post a layer of criticism embedded into a wrapping of sadness.

I was planning to talk about the importance of engagement in the dynamics of a class. New resources, new approaches and new methodologies are extremely relevant for a better teaching performance. But the real element that drives our students’ commitment and engagement is seeing the person in front of them truly believing in what he or she is doing. As I have mentioned in a comment in one of my posts, one of my best remembered teachers was an old literature teacher who would have us stuck into our chairs as he talked about the Spanish authors and their works. Just word and chalk!

If we really believe in what we do, in those projects we want to enrol our students, in those interchanges with schools across the world, in those plays and those sketches… our students will perceive our enthusiasm and they will get quickly engaged.

Moreover, we are the lucky ones to have this huge array of elements that help us “decorate” that passion we feel for our job (thanks, Luisa!). They will bridge the gap between us and those students eagerly looking for engagement in interesting things to fill their life most of the time so full of stimuli but so void of commitment.

In the end, I talked about what I was planning to talk, but I can’t escape a very worrying fact that is teasing me these days.

This week I got to watch the video you can watch below:

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As I was watching it, I realised that all this innovation might come to nothing very easily if things don’t change dramatically. We have spent the last years talking about innovation and the incorporation of cutting edge technology in education. Nowadays, budgets are being dramatically reduced, and families are quickly losing their purchasing power. Who will be able to support them if we want to introduce the use of elements such as mobile devices or powerful hardware in education. Will the state subsidise… the states are broke! Will families be able to take in extra expenses for hardware… I’m pretty sure most will not. I’m afraid that innovation might turn into a grand experience for a dwindling minority, and that makes me sad.

But I still feel passionate for what I do!!

Reflections on a Course: Post 2 (Week 3)

It’s been a busy week in the course. We’ve talked about social bookmarking, listening skills and CALL. Thats’s a lot of food for thought!

photo credit: Frederick Md Publicity via photopin cc

Nowadays, knowledge in the Internet is being spread and disseminated via different channels (blogs, professional websites, forums…), but probably the most effective way to share this knowledge is through social bookmarking, which has become a paramount element in this big world of Internet. Users can build their own framework of sources of information out of different types of platform. Pure social bookmarking platforms like delicio.us or diigo let you create lists of favourite sites and store these lists in a referring library. The big issue is called tagging. Bookmark libraries can become massive lists really hard to manage. Tagging resources with relevant terms related help us search for the sites we need according to our needs (Secondary education, listening, ICT, interactives, edugames…). We only need to type the tags and the site will display those links that contain the tags we requested.

Other ways to share knowledge are sites such as Symbaloo (site where favourites are organised in visual libraries -webmixes- containing links of the same field or topic; Scoop.it is a service where users can build a page with brief posts where they mention a website or a resource, with an image, the link and a description. In most cases Scoop.it provides with a possible descriptive text that can  be edited. Tagging is also paramount when we want to find our “scoops” within the page.

photo credit: Fey Ilyas via photopin cc

This week we have also analysed the approach given to listening and speaking skills through CALL. The issue has moved between the use of speech analysis software, more focused on prosody, phonetics a more scientific approach of the learners pronunciation, and the use of websites whose main goal is to help students improve their listening skills through the comprehension of real English and “lab” recordings. Many websites offer scores of recordings covering different subjects and levels. Improving our listening skills through songs is also extremely relevant, and our old ways with the cassette or CD player have been replaced by websites where we can read the transcript as we watch/listen to the song and even do fill-in-the-gap exercises (Lyrics trainingBatlyrics).

We could conclude that all these different approaches make up for the feeling that ICT in language learning is here to stay!

A Good Suggestion for a Start

Here’s a nice strip from Educacontic with a good suggestion for those who would like to know how to put some things together in ICT and ESL:

1- Search the Net
2- Create a Podcast channel
3- Digital narration / Storytelling
4- Create a classroom blog
5- Put all these things together

These are probably some of the most popular ICT tasks and projects that teachers do with their students… it’s really important to consider 5 as a step forward towards a deeper involvement with ICT… this will surely rise as a richer and more engaging project for students… and teachers!

Welcome Back!

Holidays are almost over, and a new schoolyear is around the corner. I’ll be ready to post new ideas and thoughts that may help you in your lessons.

Here’s a video for a start: Vicki Davis, a teacher in Georgia, USA, talks about the way she uses new media and new 2.0 applications in her classroom. It’s a short video from Edutopia, really worth watching. She’s not an English teacher, but she shows us the way into using all those tools and applications in our lessons. I would specially point out what she says about teaching these new tools: Sometimes she’s learning from her students as she’s teaching. This give-and-take concept can’t be neglected nowadays when it comes to building new projects. We can’t expect our students to ellicit everything out of inspiration or sheer practice, many things will still be in the teacher’s hands, but we can’t escape the fact that the future of project work in education and knowledge acquisition will be also based upon the process whereby teachers and students share the experience of learning.

Memrise

memrise

Memrise is a new application to improve our vocabulary skills. It has a very clear interface and encourages students to take up the challenge of learning new vocabulary through memorisation as words keep coming out on the screen in a caroussel…

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Those words we learn and practise start as seeds…

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…and these seed grow as we practise them and show our knowledge…

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Students earn points and are ranked in a social network interface… really catchy!! There are different languages available.

We can add new words and mnemotecnic rules to help other people learn the words.

Text into beauty

Here are two examples of how we can work with short silent clips in the classroom: Vimeo has many high-quality video-clips which can be used in many different ways.

The first one we are showing here is a nice short clip of 2 minutes about the story of a seed. It is called “Seedling”:

Seedling from Lee Tao on Vimeo.

It would be nice to have our students describing what is happening, and predicting what will happen next… or, describing the characters appearing in the clip. I’m sure you can think of other possibilities!

The second one is “Paraphernalia”… a story of a girl and a boy… and a plane:

Paraphernalia from Sabrina Cotugno on Vimeo.

Why don’t you put text into pictures? The story is really easy to follow and there’s silent dialogue which can be easily completed… students can create a written dialogue or they can put voice to the clip! It is a very engaging activity which students will love.

Dipity

dipity

Dipity is a very good timeline creator if you want your students to work with time, tenses or describing events or someone’s life. Catchy interface that allows you to create your own timelines and add images, video, audio and Internet links.
The working area is really user-friendly, and element integration is really easy. We can later share it through our usual social network.

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Bubblr

Bubblr lets you use Flickr images to create stories. Type tags and select pictures into your storyboard. Add as many frames as you need and place bubbles showing the story and the dialogue between the characters appearing in the pictures.

Once the story is finished… publish it! Share it through facebook, send it by email or paste it in your blog or website! It is a good tool to work on given situations appointed by the teacher… for example: “Create a Bubblr with a story related to a situation at an airport”. Type the tag “airport”, or “airport lounge”, or “passengers” and use the pictures you have in the appearing library