Monday, April 15, 2013

ESL Pod: Enjoy Your English Acquisition

ESL Pod is a great tool for either teaching or learning English. It provides various resources to improve your English. Unlike most of the Podcasting, the way ESL Pod podcasts is slower, to ensure that every listener can understand the topic when they are listening.  It talks about various aspects about English and the environment behind it,  like the movies, history, culture, food, etc.  They use everyday expressions and phrase and also explaining the meaning and use of these expressions and phrase.  The way they talk can be either a conversation or a monologue. Most of the episodes last about half an hour , at the end they will also discuss some of the questions the listeners asked.  For instance, one of the episodes which is called English Cafe 393 talks about an American movie called The Thriller. This episode first give a brief introduction about this movie as well as the cultural background behind this movie. Then it  explains some key terms one by one in order to let the listeners totally understand the movie. For example, when it talks about The Thriller, it will spell it word by word, t-h-r-i-l-l-er, and then it explains its meaning. In this way, listeners can definitely understand the podcasting.

Definitely I will use ESL Pod in my future teaching. I plan to have a listening session every week. Here I suppose the level of students are intermediate. I will set one hour each week, listening to the ESL Pod together with my students. While listening, we will talks about the expression and phrase talked in the podcasting. Ask the students to sharing their opinions together in group. Since I can download the transcripts from ESL Podcast Blog, I will give them the transcript after class.Then I will ask them to write a self-reflection after watching each episode. I think this can be a great way to improve their listening as well as writing ability. Most of all, it provides a excellent opportunity to let the students know more about the culture background behind the language.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Global Community -ePals

ePals is definitely a great place for collaborative learning, and ePals has provided a platform for collaborative learners, teachers and academic experts in 200 countries and territories.  It is also a safe and secure connection to students, classes, and school districts worldwide.  A lot of excellent projects are processing here.

World weather watcher is one of the featured programs on ePals. It is a multi - classroom collaborative  weather exchange project. Classrooms from global locations are encouraged to join in it.  Basically speaking it is a science class and  the ideal capacity is a three classrooms collaboration. Each group in this project will lead a observation by mapping the atmospheric pressure around their community and then collect and report the weather data to the whole group.  After each classroom has lead the project, all the participant will work together to create a kids weather watcher guide.  One integrated lesson plan is provided and users can also take advantage of the suggested resources by this project.  The objective of the world weather project is to help the kids develop their awareness about the diversity of the global weather system as well as enhancing their collaborative learning ability. 

Another very interesting project is called Class in New Jersey, USA Seeks Partners for Monster Writing Project. This project is looking to do projects  or write with schools in any part of the world.  In this collaborative venture, each student sketches and colors a picture of a monster. Then, students write descriptive narratives about the creatures and exchange them with their partners. Partners read the monster writings, without seeing the monster pictures, carefully picturing the descriptive words and phrases in their minds. After reading the stories, they attempt to recreate the monsters based on the description they received. Students view the original pictures made available on the Project Workspace to see how closely their drawings match the original. Winners are selected and their drawings are displayed. By doing this way, the kids might increase their creativity and interests in writing. 

As a future language teacher, the most exciting feature about ePals is that users can discover ready-to-use checklists, lesson plans, graphic organizers and more in Teaching Resources. I will use ePals as one of the resources to generate more interesting ideas for my class.  Besides, I may also create a classroom workspace to communicate with my classes, promoting cross-cultural collaborations such as foreign language learning. I may invite those native speakers of English from any part of the world to share about the culture, lifestyle or traditions behind this language. This should be an efficient way to help my students understanding the rest of the world.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Photo Stories--Stupeflix

I love making photo stories, I enjoy using Stupeflix. I feel like a movie director tonight, this is amazing. I use Stupeflix to make my own movie which shares my alternative spring break experience to New Orleans about two weeks ago.

Personally speaking,  Stupeflix is a great tool to make photo stories. It's easy to learn how to use it, and it also provides a couple of themes for you to choose. I will create my own photo stories for my students in the future. I think it can be an efficient way to raise the students' concentration and motivation for my class.  There's various way for me to use photo story, first of all, I can use it to creating movies for certain topics. For example, if I'm going to teach the diverse culture of China, I will create a photo story with pictures of different provinces of China, local music and tradition foods there to help the learners to understand the topic. At the same time, I can ask the students to make their own photo stories. I will ask them to make a photo story about one city she/he has visited before. In order to help them make a good photo story, I will introduce  Stupeflix to them first. I am plan to create a Voice Thread first,  showing then how to make their own story on this website step by step. Then I will ask them to insert text on each image, using correct grammar point. 

To conclude, photo story might be the most  exciting tool to use both by the teacher and students.  A video can provide more information that a book can not offer. Let's picking photo story into our teaching method basket!

Connect Your Classroom With Voice Thread

 As an efficient teaching tool, Voiced Thread can combine technology with our teaching goals.  Here, I think Erin Puntoriero's Voice Thread  is an excellent class. Definitely I will pick some of her ideas in this Voice Thread for my own teaching purpose in the future.  First of all, this is a totally integrated voice thread, Eric combines pictures, voice record, video and linked website in this slide. The topic here is 'Mexico', which help students to have a better understanding about this country as well as the culture. Before she asked the students to make comments, she first remind them several points about making a comment, this helps me a lot when I made my own record. Then Eric provides both audio and written instruction about how to make a comment, it should be very easy for students to follow. In addition she also provides students various sources to help them understand the culture about Mexico. For example, this is one of the linked website for the students:

In the last slide, she will remind the students again to make a correct comment. What surprised me most is that she even assigns points for each question, it will drive the students to be more focused when making their comments. I think students will have a clear understanding about Mexico culture after this Voice Thread.

I also enjoy Miao Gu's Voice Thread.  I think she picks a great topic for the ESL class.  All these three questions in her voice thread will help the teacher to get a better understanding about their students' backgrounds. Such a topic will also provide a great opportunity for the students to know each other. Besides, Miao also uses a completed PowerPoint to show her students how to make their ow comments, it is very useful for the students to understand how Voice Thread works.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Bookr, Digital Storytelling

 Flickr is definitely a great picture library, with Flickr Photos you can just type the key words to explore the pictures you need.  With such a powerful tool, teachers can do a lot of things. They can use it to create a story for any short stories or poems. I will use Flicker to create short story for my lesson. I can also use it for vocabulary teaching to help the students understand the meaning of the words. The pictures together with audio will help the students to understand the lesson more quickly. For example, in my short digital story-telling, Bookr-The Boy Who Cried Wolf, I try to help the students to understand what happened in the story ; the pictures combined with the words will leave a deep memory in their heads. So when use such a tool, the objective can be understanding the theme of the story based on the audio and pictures.

Teachers can also ask the students to create their own story. The story can be very short poems and simple stories about themselves. Each students can create a story to introduce themselves. They can choose the special pictures in them life and post any important things happened before.  Such a lesson can be  a great opportunity for teachers to know more about your students as well as  let the students be more familiar  each other faster. Most of all, it is a great experience for the students to practice their ability in using technology.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Flickr Digital storytelling

Tojásfestés by sikeri
Tojásfestés, a photo by sikeri on Flickr.

Kids in today's classroom are different from the kids in the past century. They play computer games at home, they use Powerpoint at school, they even have their own iPADs , cell phones. So it is necessary to combine technology with story-telling.  According to The Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling,  the digital story-telling is a kind of combination of the art of telling stories and a variety of multimedia, including graphs, audio, video and Web publishing.

However, it is a not an easy job to apply Digital Story-telling for teaching purposes.  First of all, teachers can create digital stories by themselves, to combine your teaching topic with a digital story is a great way to raise the students' interests and  concentration for your class.  Especially, when teachers have a difficult topic which is a challenge for your students to understand, digital story-telling is definitely a great choice.

Furthermore, digital story-telling can also be a powerful tool to encourage the students to create their own story.  Teachers can give the students several instruction classes about how to make a digital story by themselves. After the students have known how to create a digital story, it's time for them to practice.  Teachers can distribute the students as  a  couple of groups, and each of the group members has various role: collecting pictures, brainstorming, audio. This can be a great opportunity for the students to practice collaborative learning as well as a nice experience for technology practice.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Trace Effects--Serious Games in L2 class

According to the Wiki,  'Serious_Games are simulations of real-world events or processes designed for the purpose of solving a problem. Although serious games can be entertaining, their main purpose is to train or educate users, though it may have other purposes, such as marketing or advertisement. Serious game will sometimes deliberately sacrifice fun and entertainment in order to achieve a desired progress by the player. Serious games are not a game genre but a category of games with different purposes. This category includes some educational games and advergames, political games, or evangelical games. Serious games are primarily focused on an audience outside of primary or secondary education'. Among all kinds of the serious games, I think Trace-Effects is a great video game for both foreign language learning and teaching.

Trace Effects is an online video game for learning American English and culture. It is produced by the US Department of State. It is geared toward young people, ages from 12 to 16. Trace Effects exposes users to American society and explores themes related to entrepreneurship, science and innovation, empowering women, community activism and conflict resolution. Since my future students are supposed to be middle school students, I think this game is beneficial for my students to improve their English proficiency especially in speaking and listening. It also provides a great opportunity for the learners to get to know more about American culture and the college school atmosphere. As a problem solving game, Trace Effects has seven main chapters, and the task from each chapter is related to the next chapter. In each of the chapter, the players are asked to finish tasks like finding some places of the campus or to find certain people. To fulfill the task players have to talk to people to gain the necessary information. I've played this game only one time, but it takes almost two hours to finish all these chapters.

The language learning objective for this game is to enable the learners to get familiar with the American society and themes related to the campus life. After playing the game several times the students will get sense of the basic facilities of the American campus, they should also know who and where they can go for asking help when they meet  problems in American colleges. There are three main  methods for me to assess my learning objective. First of all, I can exam their playing speed, usually the quicker they finish the game, the better they understand the game and the themes related to American Society. Secondly, I can ask the students to  pause the game when there is a conversation in the game, I will ask them to talk to me instead. In this way I can know whether they have learned how to talk about these topics exactly. Finally, I may ask my students to write an self-reflection, asking them to write down the useful topics from the game and how do they feel about American university. Maybe this task is challenging for the middle school students , but I will try to make it more easier for them.