Thursday, August 20, 2009

Reflective Synopsis

E-Learning…what a journey it has been. I have really enjoyed this course, and definitely learned a lot more than I thought I was going to. I honestly thought of myself as a person who was well versed in the big world of computers and internet, only to find out that really, I am a digital immigrant! I found this interesting to learn about myself, I am 33 years old, and I sometimes feel like I am right in the middle of being a digital native and immigrant. I was in my late teens when computers and internet were really getting going, and I feel that I have learned a lot and can converse quite well in the digital world; I know all the right things to say and the correct acronyms to use when having a chat online. However, I never looked at it as a fact that I did not grow up with this language. I quickly learnt that children today are growing up speaking this language, and they expect us, as adults and teachers, to be able to communicate in this way with them (see blog entry “My journey so far..”). As you will see in my blogging, I am very quickly learning how effective and necessary ICT’s are in today’s classrooms.

I am predominantly and ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher and that is how I look at the difference between myself and learners today (I am not currently in a teaching position). I honestly, never thought that using technology and computers in classrooms was a great way to learn, I guess I was a bit old school, but wow…was I wrong. Just through this course I have learnt about so many websites and applications that can and will be useful in my future of teaching ESL, the VOKI for example. I think this a fantastic application and can have so many uses when teaching ESL, students would be able to create these to send to their friends or teacher, using their own recorded voices or typing in some text that has possibly been pre written in class for this specific purpose. I can see it now, how much fun students can have with this.

I also found the use of WIKI quite fascinating. I think that I as an ESL teacher, I would possibly use this more than the students, but I can see that if you were teaching an older ESL class whose English skills were more advanced, how they could use this (see blog entry “Using WIKI”). PowerPoint was another skill that I thought I was great at, but once again, I learnt that there is so much more that can be done with PowerPoint (see blog entry Using PowerPoint). As an ESL teacher, I would not use it frequently in class, but now knowing the different applications you can apply to make it more interesting I think that I would try and use PowerPoint more often, depending on the age and skill level of the class though. Younger students do not respond enthusiastically to PowerPoint (but now I can add animations and sound) maybe.

Interactive whiteboards are fantastic…I have used one briefly (see blog entry “Interactive Whiteboards”) and I think their uses are endless. There are websites that you can visit and obtain different programs and games for students to play on the whiteboard, so much fun. I can guarantee that the use of interactive whiteboards in and ESL classroom would be an instant hit. Children that are learning ESL can very easily get bored and frustrated, but the use of the whiteboard, and the students being able to get up and participate, is fantastic. I really hope that one day I get to use one in an ESL classroom.

All the other topics and my thoughts on uses in the classroom can be viewed on my blog; they are short to the point entries that relate to how I felt about using these applications.

As for the course, at first I was a bit overwhelmed, but the further I got into the course, the more I learned and the more fun I had. Everything that I looked at, I found could be used in the ESL classroom. I have definitely bookmarked these sites for future reference and have been sharing them with my friends. I was not looking forward to the blogging, but that turned out to be a lot of fun. I was only a follower of 4 blogs, as that is all I think I could handle to start with. I tried to comment on all of the different blogs. My comments can be found at the following blogs and the title of the blog (I will only name a few) - Thailand, File Storage, Quiz and I commented on her pics in VoiceThread. - My first blog, Introduction to Flynn, Flickr, Classmarker, YouTube. - Voki (I think maybe she left the course, not many blogs) - My first avatar, Img 0265

I certainly tried to make an effort to keep up with the blogs and post a comment, having said that, I was highly disappointed that I never received one comment on any of my blogs, so I am not even sure if anybody ever read them. I can tell you that is a bit disheartening, but I am just hoping that people read them, just did not comment.

Overall, I have found this course to be particularly useful and fun. I definitely have a better perspective on the use of ICT in the classroom and out of the classroom. I think that there are so many options for teachers as well to share their information with other teachers. I am excited to see how much further technology will go in the future and also very excited about using all of the fun new technologies in my classroom in the future.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Voice Thread

Oh how I loved this website. I think it is absolutely amazing what you can do with this website. I have put a couple of pictures on there from when I was living in Thailand. They were taken at the Chiang Mai zoo, and these guys are building a mono rail type system around the zoo, and this is how they build their scaffolding. It is crazy, they use no harnesses and trust looks very unstable, but it seems to work for them. They use this to do all sorts of jobs in Thailand, it is just the way it is done.

I can see the endless possibilities for using this in the classroom. I can see having assignments where you are required to put images online, and then have small group discussion about that image. Due to the fact that you can participate in a variety of ways, makes it possible for anyone with Internet access and computer, to participate. Even out of the classroom, this is an amazing website to use with your friends, to discuss images or files that you find interesting. Students could even put their work up there for their friends to comment on and give much needed feedback. For me, I am thinking how to use it in the ESL classroom. This could be fantastic for speaking exercises, making sure everyone had access to be able to record their thoughts, being able to practice their English and for their classmates to listen. I can't wait until I get to use this application in class.

I really hope that you get to look at these pictures and add your comments. I would love to hear what other people think of these photos. Here is the link-:

Till next time....

Music on the Web

Wow...I had no idea there was so much royalty free music on the Web. I must admit that I have been guilty of downloading the occasional song from not so legit sites. I did not know this was available.

Being an ESL teacher, I have used songs and music very frequently in my teaching. I usually use my own songs that I have acquired throughout my career. For this task, I downloaded a Christmas song "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" which I would definitely use when teaching. I think it is wonderful to introduce different cultures to Western Christmas songs, generally they have their own version so it is great to have them listen and learn the English version.

I think music is a huge part in learning, not only for ESL but in general. There are endless applications for music of all genres and cultures. I will be using this site a lot more when looking for songs to use in my classes.

Till next time.....

File Sharing

I think that this website is a very good tool for sharing files of any sort with friends or family. Also, if you have resources that you wish to share with fellow teachers, this is a fantastic way to go about it. When I was teaching overseas, I was constantly searching the internet for resources to use, if I had had access to something like this, it would have been great. For example, if you had a lot of resources that you had created for classes, you can share them here with other ESL teachers, or even non ESL teachers. Hopefully, after some time you would have a nice data base of users that were all uploading and sharing their files for you to look at. I think that I will definitely keep this website in mind when I create resources. I am going to upload what I have now and invite my friends to use these files as they see fit. I think it is great and I hope that it can be useful to other teachers.

Here is the link to the one file that I have uploaded at this point.

Till next time....

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Google Earth

I have used Google Earth quite a bit. When I was living overseas, I had a lot of friends that were from all over the world, we used to use Google Earth to have a look at where each other lived. I love Google Earth, in some places you can so close and see even the cars parked in the driveway.

I think Google Earth is a great tool for teaching, especially teaching students about the world and the world map. You can incorporate it with other lessons on world history, having the students locate it on Google Earth and then comparing that to a traditional map, showing them the difference in perspective. I am constantly amazed with technology and the advancements it is making.

Till next time...

Using Podcasts

I really like podcast. I have been using them for quite sometime just for personal use. I think that as far as an education tool, they are fantastic, especially in this generation of students that are all digital natives. I can hazard a guess and say that just about all children have some sort of music device, whether it is an Ipod, a mobile phone or some other MP3 player. Using Podcast to deliver instructions to students or friends or just for your own personal learning is a fantastic, easy and fun way to learn. I have personally been trying to learn a language, you subscribe and each day (depending on your subscription) you get a little bit more of your lessons. It is fantastic. There are so many ways in which Podcast can be used, as I have stated before, I am primarily an ESL teacher, and the use of podcast for some of these lessons is great. If your have students that need a little extra help, or maybe they missed a lesson, they can use the podcast to help them improve.

You could either assign the students to look up their own, or put it onto a WIKI website where you, as the teacher, has chosen specific podcast for students to listen too. I think the possibilities are endless.

Till next time.....

Using Videos

My main focus of Teaching is ESL (English as a Second Language), that is why I have chosen a video that relates to learning English and pronunciation. I think that using YouTube or TeacherTube is a fantastic way to give students homework or extra practice in English pronunciation. I certainly found that pronunciation is definitely an issue when people are trying to learn English.

There are so many ways that these videos can be used. In home, with a friend or just set as a homework assignment for the students. I can certainly see how videos can be used in any sort of class setting though. There is so much content out there on the WWW, that you can learn, watch or listen to just about anything you want.

This video is something I found that would definitely be an advantage for older students that are at a more advanced level of English.

Till next time...