Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

Thank you all for stopping by, for reading what I feel like saying, for your kind comments here and on Twitter, Facebook and all the places we meet to share our passion for teaching!

Bárbara






Monday, 10 December 2012

Punctuation power!

Just a nice collection of punctuation-related posters. Some are funny, some are sweet, all of them are great I think!








From Lynne Truss (2003) Eats, shoots and leaves 


In Spanish, the presence of a graphic accent marks the difference 
between "nothing" and the imperative form of "swim"
-What happens?
-Nothing (should be swim!)
- What?
- Nothing
- Idiot!







Always remember!


Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Designing a new learning environment (#DNLE) Assignment #2


The following is an assignment submitted as part of the requirements of the DESIGNING A NEW LEARNING ENVIRONMENT MOOC course from Stanford University. 

As the assignments typically include analyses of real or hypothetical educational settings, here's my disclaimer (oh yeah, I've always wanted to write this!): My views are my own and not necessarily reflect those of my employer.


Assignment #2 - Write a description that tells a story of a real or hypothetical educational challenge or problem scenario (300 words)


Audience and context

This project aims at students at a major Teacher Training College in Buenos Aires, Argentina. During the last couple of years, the local English Language Teaching (ELT) community has come to appreciate the potential opportunities offered by technology integration to the field of education in general and the teaching of foreign languages in particular. Although it is now commonly accepted that a certain degree of digital litaracy is crucial for our future teachers,  its place in Teacher Training programmes is reduced to workshops of a couple of hours a week, due to the demands of mainstream subjects like English language, Phonology, Literature and Methodology both in terms of class hours and assigned homework. In this scenario, the challenge is to offer our trainees opportunities to develop the technological skills that will enable them to become highly efficient and competent 21st century teachers, by implementing online programmes which allow for the integration of technology to the curriculum while following the trainees' own pace. As this programme should not interfere with class hours or overload students and/or teachers, the environment used must offer asynchronous training and a variety of collaborative tools.


Technology infrastructure 

Most students have access to high speed internet service at home and they have netbooks provided by the Government’s one-netbook-per-student initiative. There's also a computer lab and wi-fi connections available from 8 am to 10 pm at the insitution.


Learning objectives and implementation

This programme will be implemented in the last 2 years of the four-year course of studies and the contents and objectives will be divided in four units, coinciding with four school terms. By the end of the programme, trainees will have fairly deep understanding of the following:

  • How to use web-based tools to enhance the four language skills (writing, reading, listening and speaking)
  • How to foster collaboration and evaluate different media to implement collaborative projects in their classes
  • How social media shape learning in the 21st century
  • How to make students aware of and acquire appropriate digital behaviour (digital citizenship)


Designing a new learning environment (#DNLE) Assignment #1


The following is an assignment submitted as part of the requirements of the DESIGNING A NEW LEARNING ENVIRONMENT MOOC course from Stanford University. 

As the assignments typically include analyses of real or hypothetical educational settings, here's my disclaimer (oh yeah, I've always wanted to write this!): My views are my own and not necessarily reflect those of my employer.


Assignment #1 - Find 3 interesting learning environments or education technologies, and explain 3 positive aspects and 3 negative aspects for each (500-800 words)


CONTEXT

The target I have in mind is teachers of English as a Foreign Language based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Although there has been an increasing interest in technology integration in education in the last years, this has been especially relevant in the private sector. Last year, as part of a government initiative, all kids and teachers from public schools were given a netbook to be used both at school and at home in the preparation of assignments and homework. Although most kids are totally familiar with technology and know how to use their computers as a tool for writing assignments, searching materials and interacting at a social level (most of them are active users of social media such as Facebook and Twitter), teachers find it relatively hard to include technology in appropriate and meaningful ways. I believe that choosing a relevant and efficient Learning Management Systems (LMS) might be a first step towards opportunities for successful implementation of blended learning programmes.


AIM

In this assignment I will evaluate three different LMS platforms potentially useful for teachers seeking to introduce technology into their classrooms. I decided that they should follow two criteria: they had to be cloud-hosted (no downloads required) and they had to offer a free plan. I finally chose Edmodo, Schoology and EDU20.


(+)

  • The first and most obvious advantage of Emodo is that its interface resembles that of Facebook, a platform with which most students (and many teachers) are familiar with, so relatively little time is invested in explaining how the platform works and what its features are.

  • You get direct access to your Google Docs through the Library and share them with your students or colleagues within the platform.

  • It is connected to other education-oriented platforms or webpages, such as Aviary and SchoolTube, so you can access these apps and use them within the platform. 

(-)

  • The fact that Edmodo is so similar to Facebook might potentially present a disadvantage, since students may behave similarly in both platforms, not understanding that Edmodo is to be used for educational purposes. The appropriate etiquette must be taught, going through the necessary adjustments in register and content.

  • You have to rely on your students to give their parents the entrance code.

  • Something I don’t feel comfortable with in Edmodo as a native speaker of Spanish is that if you sign up as an instructor you are automatically referred to as Mr. or Mrs. García. In Spanish we have two distinct ways of referring to someone -vos and usted- which assume very different levels of formality and relationships between speakers. My students and I have a pretty close relationship and we use vos (this is probably the case in most classes nowadays). Some users might consider this limitation culturally inappropriate.


 (+)

  • I find Schoology’s interface very intuitive and user-friendly. The different features and sections are easily identifiable at a glance and so are the materials and assignments for each group created.

  •  The platform has an in-built Help Guide, which can be consulted any time while you’re navigating (it opens up in a new window). Additional help is found in the Resources section, where users upload video tutorials on how to go about many of the sections and features offered.

  • It works as a truly complete LMS, where you can keep record of attendance, keep your gradebooks (which can be imported form Excel and other formats) and create quizzes and tests within the platform. 

(-)

  • The interface is in English only and there’re no translations available. It is ok for teachers of English as a Foreign Language but it wouldn’t work for other subjects.

  • Teacher moderation of students’ comments is not available.

  • You can’t open more than one account in any given computer (certainly a disadvantage if you work in a lab where students share computers).
  

(+)

  • Edu 2.0 seems to aim at collaboration and it fosters it through online video conferencing  (via Skype) and the inclusion of forums and wikis (within the platform). Also, your personal library may be networked with other schools in communities or districts.

  • You can customize your URL.

  • There is a Certificates and Badges section, so if you are into gamification, the platform makes it easy to include it in your classes. 

(-)

  • Although the platform offers a free plan, this is only for accredited institutions. Plans for individual teachers start at $49 a month for up to 20 students.

  • Little help is offered as you navigate.

  • Limited customization of interface layout and templates.

While working for this assignment I bumped into some other Learning Management Systems worth investigating. Want to give them a try?



Thursday, 27 September 2012

Gamification in education: trying to solve the puzzle

I must confess I've been trying to understand what gamification is for a while now. After reading several tweets and posts from my PLN, I still was not able to figure out what it was! I did know something about game-based learning, but this seemed somehow different.

Sooo I registered for a gamification MOOC at Coursera, dictated by Prof. Kevin Werbach from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, determined to take every advantage of it.

The course is half way through now and I must say I find it incredibly informative and motivating (although-not surprisingly- it turned out to be highly business-oriented and not related to education). In spite of this, I've already learned quite a few interesting concepts and I'm gradually coming to terms with the underpinning principles of gamification.

So, one thing is clear for me now. Gamification and game-based learning (GBL) are not exactly the same. They are somehow connected, sure, but they are not the same thing. Some differences:


Gamification title=
Created in minutes with easel.ly


Now only one question remains: what are the implications of these differences in the classroom?

GBL seeks student engagement by proposing students activities that are naturally fun and motivating for them (i.e. games). For instance, students can learn history by playing Pirates, or they can research on capitalism by playing Animal Crossing (examples taken from Knewton).

Gamification proposes the use of game-like rule systems in the classroom or school. It involves game-like experiences such as repeated experimentation and failure, adoption of a variety of cultural roles and other challenges that might eventually result in learning and changing behaviour. Some examples provided by Lee & Hammer (2011) include giving students "reading points", "perfect attendance rewards", and assigning roles, such as a "lead detective role" in the Science class, among others.



Feel like going on reading?
Why use games in the classroom?
The gamification of education and cognitive social and emotional learning benefits
Lee & Hammer (2011) Gamification in education: what, how, why bother?
Knewton - The Gamification (or GBL???) of Education Infographic
Video: using game desing to improve my classroom
The 50 best videos for teachers interested in Gamification (and GBL???)

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Developing skills with web-based tools in ELT

Last Saturday a group of teachers and myself held a very refreshing PD session, where we worked on web-based tools and their applications to help students develop both language and digital skills. The participants contributed to an informal, relaxed atmosphere, making the workshop a great learning opportunity. Thanks a lot to all the wonderful teachers that joined me!

You are welcome to have a look at my slides!



Friday, 10 August 2012

The loss of #ELT chat - Plan B! REPOST


For the last – well, almost two years now, since September 15 2010,#ELTchat has kept us on our toes and forged hundreds of professional and personal relationships amongst its followers who turn up on Twitter every Wednesday to talk about topics they have suggested and voted on – a community of peers which was created by a small group of colleagues – which grew and grew some more and became something that counts as an important part of our continuous professional development.
Like many great ideas, it didn’t hit just one person but several.
And that is how #ELTchat was created.    
The website to keep up the communication of its members, a base and repository of our ideas was one of the first things we all thought of creating – the wiki came later.
Andy Chaplin was keen to join the moderation team and help with podcasts and technical stuff; he was quick to buy eltchat.com and announced the good news to us after the fact.
A few months later, right after TESOL France 2011,  he suddenly disappeared – some say for reasons of health.
We never found out for sure.
We never received a single word of response to our emails.
eltchat.com was and still is registered in his name.
And yesterday we lost it.
On August 8 the domain expired and we have no way of taking over unless it goes up for sale again; it was very sad that Andy Chaplin did not find it appropriate to renew.
The news is really upsetting.
The work we have put in on this website cannot be told in a few simple words – but it has been a labour of love and we have got so much out of it that we have never regretted one single moment
We are pretty upset at the behaviour of this individual – disappointment is one big understatement.
But we trust that our community of #ELTchatters, our PLN for short, will again gather round the new domain which we have purchased – eltchat.org
It will take us a few days to put the website back on its feet.
And all will be as it was before – all the posts in place all your thoughts and comments, all the polls and great summaries which got us on the shortlist of the ELTon Awards nominations.
We will be back with a vengeance.
We are not just a website – we did not get on the ELTon awards shortlist as just another website!!!
We are a great community of teachers and we have a Plan B!

See you all in September!!!
Marisa Constantinides – Shaun Wilden
Vicky Loras
Barbara Paola Garcia
P.S. We would greatly appreciate it if any of you belonging to this great community of teachers,  teacher educators, bloggers, #ELTchat followers,  reposted this on your blog.
If you decide to do this, please add your name to the post under ours.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Put it on a timeline!

Timelines are a visual, easy way to display information that could otherwise look thorny or complicated. This is a timeline with a brief history of the role of the first language on second language acquisition research, which I made for my Contrastive Linguistics class.



What I like about this timeline is that I can have a quick overview and text view as well, where my explanations and comments are neatly organized.

Other timeline generators:

Xtimeline
This is probably the best known online timeline generator. It's good when you add specific events but it's not that simple when it comes to seeing the attached comments.

Dipity
It helps you create visually appealing timelines, with pictures and videos, etc. The problem is you can't edit your timeline once you finish it, so you have only one shot (unless you subscribe to the full version).

Capzles
Capzles is nice to create personal timelines, useful to work on projects about holidays, personal stories, etc.

Timeline Maker for Schools
This is a more basic, easier tool to use with kids.


Do you know any others? Let's add them here!







Thursday, 19 July 2012

Adults also want to have fun!

Hi there! Long time no see! (has it really been two months since my last post???).

A couple of weeks ago I came across a brillant, thought-provoking video by Angela Maiers about the importance of playing in the learning process. In the video she shares what she learnt herself by observing children, the way they play and the way they learn in the sandbox. The video is called The Sandbox Manifesto and I seriously think all of those who work with children should watch it. It's gripping and inspiring! You can enjoy Angela's video here:





After watching it I kept thinking about how important (and difficult!) it is to keep the ability to look at things through fresh eyes when we grow up. Being open and ready to feel curious, to be amazed by the world, to be dazzled by those sorrounding us. Isn't this an essential ingredient for a successful learning recipe?


In the last couple of years I've worked mainly with adults and I noticed -many times- that even the most serious businessmen are ready to leave the "formal" part of the class behind and have fun when the activity proposed is relevant to their interests and they can see the point of it. If you think about it, playing is natural for all of us, even for grownups (you can meet quite a few interesting blokes on Second Life or The Sims!).


Here are some games (both on and offline) that have worked for me and my students. Have a look!

All of us, some of us, none of us
This is a variation of one of the best known activites in ELT: Find someone who... You give your students a list of prompts to discuss and write three columns on the board: all of us, some of us, none of us. They have to walk around the classroom and talk to their classmates to find out information about the prompts. They end up with sentences such as "all of us were born in Buenos Aires" or "some of us can play golf" or "all of us read at least one of Peter Druckers' books", depending on what you are working on.


Call my bluff
Students talk about themselves and include one piece of information that is not true. The others guess which part is a lie and try to discover the truth behind it. In a nice variation of this activity, you read out a word and all students have to write a definition on a slip of paper. You hold a bowl with all the definitions inside (including the real one), read all definitions out loud and students take a vote. I tried this after working on dictionary skills and it was fun!

Rumour has it...
In this game one person of the group leaves the room and the rest tell him/her that someone told them a secret and that s/he has to guess the secret by asking yes/no questions. The trick is the following: whenever a question ends in a vowel the answer is yes, whenever it ends in a consonant the answer is no. Things can get pretty confusing! One note of caution here: make sure everybody understands this is a game (once one of my students said "oh I have it, is it that I'm cheating on my wife?" Plop! End of game!).

Guessing the question
This is another activity that works very well to work on question formation. Students A says something about him/herself (it should look like an answer, eg. "40 years old") and student B has to guess the question. 

Taboo
Divide the class in two groups. One player from group A takes a card with a rord on it and has to give hints to his/her classmates for them to guess it. The catch is that the card also contains several words s/he can't use. For example, if the word is marketing, your taboo words could be market, commercial, campaign.




You know I'm a big fan of technology integration for all levels and ages. So I tried some pretty interesting activities online and I must say my students loved them!

Comics
The idea of this activity is to create a comic about a character or event previously discussed or that is part of a book or article already read in class. What they find motivating about this activity is that they need to change genres and turn a narrative into a dialogue (which is quite limited BTW, because they have to organize the information in four or five comic frames). Here are some nice web-based tools to explore:


Aniboom
Inkcinct
Stag'd project

You can also check out a blogpost I wrote on the use of comics a while ago.

Creating a brochure or newsletter
I like to take a project-based approach to Business English from time to time. I think this kind of work helps students practice everyday business skills apart from teaching them the relevant language. The challenge to come up with an end product such as a brochure or a newsletter turned up to be quite motivating. A very cool tool we've tried is Letterpop.

Creating a presentation
Presentation skills are vital for most adult learners. They just can't have enough training on this. Some times they choose to wrap up a project by creating a presentation to sell a product, show results to a fake board, etc. I've put together a whole binder on presentation tools, because this tends to be a key topic in my classes. You can have a look at it here: Presentation Tools ELT by Bárbara García.



So... let's play! What about you? 
Any winner games you'd like to share? 
Please do!






Thursday, 10 May 2012

Everybody loves Pinterest!


is probably the most popular social media platform today.


I have to say I was quite reluctant to try it at the beginning (not more online social networking for me please, I don't have time for it!), but then I discovered it's good fun to collect and share pictures while your worries and pending matters seem to gently drift away (I mean, seriously, who can resist Johnny Depp's smile or the view of a beach of golden sand in the Pacific and feel any kind of discomfort at all?).


So yes, I fell in love with yet another social media platform, but my question remained: "how can I make this relevant to ELT?"


This is what I'm using Pinterest for:


For my own professional development
  •  I got to meet some very interesting educators and at the same time reinforce my relationship with my PLN from Twitter and Facebook. A couple of examples: The Classroom from the wonderful Carla Arena and Language and Teaching from the always inspiring Shelly Terrell.
  • I keep updated and informed of current events, following Teacher Associations or Special Interest Groups. This is Rhona Mowat's board on #IATEFL.

To work with my students
  • I created a board to publish the set readings for a seminar I'm preparing on Literature and Pragmatics. I loved the result! It's visually appealing and you can include as many details as you want in the comments section below the picture.
  • After working on motivation with a group of adults, we did a web search and pinned some posters and motivational phrases and a couple of students suggested some reading material on the topic. You can have a look at it here. This was our first attempt, I think the class was a huge success! After this, they created and started curating their own boards on topics we work on in class. 


  • Finally, and most important, I found that the real beauty of using Pinterest in the ELT classroom is that students have real, genuine interaction in English by commenting on other people's boards, reading comments and titles and looking for content relevant to their needs and interests!

So... enjoy your pinning!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Fun with images!

Hi! This is the story of the wild summer I spent with my friend in our trip around the world. This is a picture of us:



We lived incredible adventures and found ourselves doing things we'd never dared to imagine!



We fiercely fighted the most dangerous enemies, in a struggle against organized crime and corruption and, well,  we gained some new enemies on our way.





It was the best summer ever! We even banquished a terrible witch (creepy image BTW)!



The press spent the summer after us and at last, they got this one pic.



Oh yeah, it was a wild, WILD summer! And it was fun too!


Most of us like playing around with images. I had a lot of fun doing this (with the help of my daughters!). I'm thinking how I might use this in class, but I haven't come up with many ideas to be honest. A couple of things spring to mind:

  • Description of physical characteristics
  • Description of changes and processes 
  • Telling of stories like mine (although everything I said is true, honest!)


 Any ideas? Help please!



You might also like my previous posts on images:




Monday, 26 March 2012

#IATEFL 2012 Wrap up & Goodbye posts

Last night at #IATEFL is Pecha Kucha night, an event everybody expects, even those who can only follow it online (like me!). It's fun and it's intense! Don't miss this selection of posts, with links to the event and some personal impressions worth reading.


Janet Bianchini's "#IATEFL - The final impression"


Bren Brennan's post on the closing Pecha Kucha 


Eduardo Santos's "PK night"


 Glasgow Online

Thursday, 22 March 2012

A taste of #IATEFL 2012 - Days 3 and 4

These are the blogposts that helped me get a feeling of what happened at #IATEFL the two last days. Enjoy!



Sandy Millin's post about the talk she delivered on Internet in ESL


Chris Lima's account of Literature and Film sessions


Stephen Greene's great summary on Evelina Miscin's session on Facebook


Susan Dreger's reflective post on Jeremy Harmer's READ talk


Marisa Constantinides and first f2f #ELTchat ever!


Following the event through these colleagues' blogposts (in addition to IATEFL's official page) has made the experience so enriching! And it's also such a great way to come to know amazing blogs out there! It was fantastic to see some Argentinian teachers blogging about the conference! It's always a great pleasure to get to know or keep in touch with other local teachers who share my interests! These are their blogs:

Creative Technology
Global English
At a finger tip

Nice to meet you guys! 

See you tomorrow for wrap up & goodbye!

Bárbara



You might want to see my previous post on the conference: A taste of #IATEFL 2012 - Days 1 and 2

Monday, 19 March 2012

#IATEFL 2012 Online!

Glasgow Online


Following this link you can follow live video webcasts of this huge conference presentations and workshops, listen to interviews with presenters, see photos of what is going on and get conference reports!

The IATEFL conference in Glasgow is a major ELT event and we are invited to have a peek! I don't know about you, but I'm planning to sit comfortably, grab a bite and enjoy!

Bárbara

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Prot. 2012 Conference in Buenos Aires - Highlights



The Pro.t Conference in February was definitely one of the most worthy experiences this summer. The event brought together amazing national and international speakers who talked about up-to-date, hot topics in the ELT field. And it was a great opportunity to meet colleagues and old friends! 

This is a selection of the thoughts and reflections offered by the speakers at the workshops I attended (there were many more, it was sooo difficult to chose!).


If you decide to tell a story, chose the one YOU like. It shows! 
Mariana Derfler (Mariana blogs here)

The problem with listening is not the lack of skills but the lack of language. We have to raise awareness of the characteristics of oral speech, including phonetics. 
Jeff Stranks (here's Jeff's webpage)

The deepest truths available to human beings have been transmitted through stories. 
Inno Sorsy (Inno is the founder of the The Company of Common Sense)

Students and teachers are empowered when given the opportunity to choose how they want to learn. 
Neil McMahon (find more about Neil's presentation here).

Students are only motivated by things that are meaningful to them. 
Neil McMahon

In a country where authentic learning situations are rarely found, teachers need to learn to appreciate and resort to the magic of Internet, exploiting free sources and resources for genuine interaction. 
Jennifer Verschoor (Jennifer blogs here)

Many times, teachers just "deliver" materials. What about acting as mediators intead of postmen? Jamie Keddie (Jamie is the author of the well-known Lessonstream)

Mainstream beliefs may prevent each particular teacher's delivery techniques from flourishing. Jamie Keddie

Digital literacies are the technical and social practices needed to effectively interact with digital technologies. They are the key 21st century skills. 
Nicky Hockly (you can find Nicky's work at Theconsultants-e)


Thanks Pro.t for a wonderful event!

Friday, 10 February 2012

What would you look like as a super hero?

Answer ten questions and find out! This is me! I love it =)


Create your own at What would you look
Find other great ideas at The generator blog



Have fun!

Sharing the EVO experience - Week 5

Well, we reached Week 5! It's been 5 weeks of great learning and sharing!

In our Digital Tools for the Classroom group we worked on reading and writing this week. We read some articles on technology and education and our task was to choose one of them and explore several tools to summarize the article and use our summary to write a newspaper page, a magazine cover, a brochure, a newsletter or a booklet. You can read the article I chose here.

These are some of the tools I tried:

ReadWriteThink
It's a great page for kids to create simple newspapers, flyers and brochures. I created a newspaper page (which looks rather childish I must say =), the problem was that I didn't find the way to upload a picture; apparently you are supposed to actually stick a picture once you print it.


Fodey
This an amazing page! You can create a newspaper (which actually looks like an old one) and other fun things like talking flowers or tomatoes. Unfortunately, the image of my newspaper wouldn't download, but it's a tool worth trying!

Big Huge Labs
I also loved this tool. It's great to make posters and magazine covers. This is the magazine cover I created with the information from my summary.



The last step was to publish an e-book, using epubbud. I haven't had time to do it so far but I promise I'll give it a try soon! Sounds like a great idea for a classroom project!


In our Digital Storytelling for kids group we had to choose one of the tools we'd tried before and prepare a presentation on one person we admire. I loved doing it, looking for the pictures and thinking of the text. The most difficult part was to actually choose the person! Finally, I decided on Borges, he's one of my favourite authors in Spanish (just one of the many writers I admire, that's why it was so difficult!).

Jorge L. Borges by Barbara on PhotoPeach


Well, I guess that's the end of the journey. It's been an amazing experience!!! I hope you find the resources I mentioned as cool as I did (all these are included in my scoops, on the right-hand column of this blog)! And remember EVO is held every year, starting the second week in January. I highly recommend the ride!


Thanks a lot to all the moderators, who have worked so hard, 
and to all my co-participants for sharing this experience with me!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Sharing the EVO experience - Week 3

I just loved being part of EVO this week! I discovered tons of interesting tools to make animated videos and work on listening-comprehension. Have a look!



Week 3 at Digital Storytelling for kids


This week we explored some tools to make video stories for children. After a great introduction to the topic by Dave Dodgson, we had a look at some essential tools, like Animoto and Photopeach, and then we plunged into animation. The moderators suggested three tools, which participants used to create some pretty impressive videos!

Go animate
Domo
Dvolver

This is a video my ten-year-old daughter created in just five minutes. She was thrilled!



Also, have a look at these great videos by some of my fellow participants!



Week 3 at Digital Tools for the Classroom


We worked on listening-comprehension this week. The moderators organized a fantastic "Listening Treasure Hunt" in which we had 30 minutes to explore 12 amazing websites and then choose at least two of them to create a lesson plan. The time was short, so I must admit I "cheated" and spent a lot more on each tool, really enjoying them! 

Movie segments to assess grammar goals
This is a very interesting site which I've used before (actually this blog's been in my blogroll for a while). You can find short sections taken from well-known movies and exercises to work on grammar. It's an incredibly job carried out by Claudio Azevedo, the blogger behind it.

Smories
Stories for children told by children. Great idea! The only problem I found is that, while the stories are intended for children, kids in Argentina rarely reach the level of English to understand them (except for bilingual school students).

10 questions
A selection of reader-submitted questions on Time.com serves as a basis for a candid interview with major entertainers, business leaders and other influential personalities from around  the world. Really great authentic input!

Listen and write
A dictation site organized by level. Great source for listening material.

Am New York
A sample of speakers from New York talking about their lives and thoughts. Great to work on accents.

Backbone
Pretty much along the lines of AM New York but with speakers of British English.

Teaching with TED
This is an awsome wiki with tons of ideas to use TED in the classroom. Although I've used TED many times, I didn't know this site. Very useful!

Wordia
Wordia is a site where you can search for specific words and find videos related to the topic of your interest. Some of the topics also include educational games.



Hope you enjoy going through all these 
great resources as much as I did!





Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Sharing the EVO experience - Week 2

Week 2 at Digital Storytelling for kids

This week was all about Sharing Stories through Comics. I loved the idea! Comics are a simple and fun way of telling stories, even for beginner students, as the language used may range from very very simple to very specific and advanced (phrasal verbs, idioms and the like).

The first great material shared by the moderators was a presentation by Janet Bianchini at RSCON3. Her slideshare contains many examples of how to use comics in the ESL classroom. Have a look!



After having a look at how other teachers used comics in their classes, participants were expected to explore different comic-creation tools and reflect on their uses, advantages and disadvantages. The tools proposed were Make BeliefsToonDooGarfield and Cartoon Studio por Iphone and Ipad. I wrote a post on comics a while ago, so you can find my opinion on most of these tools and a few more here.

Some of the participants created very funny and reflective comics! They are all compiled in a Posterous group. You can spend hours browsing around, there are so many great strips to read!


Week 2 at Digital Tools in the Classroom

Wow! Week 2 was intense! It was creative writing time! We had to write the beginning of a story in the tool of our choice, based on some pictures that served as prompts. Then, we were asked to share our review of these tools with the other participants. These are the tools I explored; I chose the ones I didn't know or I wasn't too familiar with.


A Scholastics website. Just great! You can choose the level and then spin a wheel and get your writing prompt. I got "List the five characteristics of a a thousand-year-old game host that only speaks in rhyme". Super cool, isn't it?

You choose from a list of heroes, villains and places and you get the beginning of the story.I liked the idea, as writing the beginning of a story is a tough job for students (the blank page effect!). The problem I found was that the language is quite advanced and therefore over the heads of many of my students.

What do you want to say to your future self? This would be great to set objectives and evaluate your results at the end of the year!

Social dream interpretations. You share a dream you had and someone else writes an interpretation. It's fun! But you have to be careful because some of the dreams or interpretations include inappropriate language.

Oh life is basically a way to keep an online journal.


After this first activity, we all collaborated to finish the stories, which turned up to be fantastic! We used EntriMixed InkWriteboard and TypeWithMe, which are all free and very easy to use. This is a post I wrote on collaboration some time ago, where you can find some more information about some of these tools and a few others.


As I said, it was an intense week! Full of new resources and great contributions!




Looking forward to week 3!