Bee Clip – Create Beautiful Online Portofolios

Bee Clip is a new Web 2.0 app that gives the student the potential to create their own online scrapbooks, online portofolios, collages, moodboards and for many other ways. The user can add images, videos and texts and also can share the scrapbooks online or print a hard copy.  It is free and you can try it without the need to register.  I really like this Web 2.0 app and I am going to use it for some project work with my students.

Here are some excerpts from beeclip website:

Empower creativity

Creativity is all about ideas, not software. The software you use in your classroom should amplify your students’ creativity, not inhibit it. Our easy-to-use, yet powerful, scrapbooks will unleash your students’ creativity like you couldn’t imagine. There are no limits to what they can create on Beeclip EDU.

Engage students

Keeping students engaged is a tough challenge. Our innovative blend of technology and creativity is already loved by students all over the world. Maybe it’s the drag’n drop interface, the cool backgrounds, or commenting on each others’ scrapbooks. Whatever it is, they just can’t get enough.

Save time

Using technology in your classroom should save you time. We’ll have you up and running in a matter of minutes. And once you’re going, you’ll find the way you manage students, projects, and scrapbooks a real breath of fresh air. You don’t need to be a technical whizz to get the most out of Beeclip EDU.

 

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60 Inspiring Examples of Twitter in the Classroom | Online Universities

Twitter

Twitter is a great educational tool. It can be used as a professional development tool for teachers and as a classroom collaborative tool as well. Here is a great list of potential uses. The article was published in Online Universities and here is the link: 60 Inspiring Examples of Twitter in the Classroom | Online Universities.

You Have to Check ‘Check This’

I have recently came across to a wonderful Web 2.0 Tool that can motivate your students to write wider texts in English. This tool is Check This and what is really great about this tool is that you can make a simple website without even registering. Moreover, you can make your page more interesting by adding images (from your computer but also by catching them onyoutube line), video from youtube and vimeo, contact form and others. The user can also choose the theme of the website or add his/her own picture as a background to the website.

Great Features:

  • Excellent for use with all ages of students (registration is not required in order to start creating your website)
  • User can choose if the website will be public and visible to all or accessible just to the people
  • The user does not create a simple – plain page but can add pictures, videos, audio etc.
  • The user (in our case students) can share their work by email to the teacher or  share it with a co-student (peer-review)

It is a great tool that can be used for practicing:

Writing – Ask students to create their own websites (essays, letters, applications, reviews, express their feelings about sth etc)

Reading – Create your own website and share the link with your students to read it (you can add some reading comprehension questions)

Listening – Add a video of your choice from youtube and create an activity on this listening.

I would love to hear your opinion and possible lesson ideas.

 

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@Brad5patterson’s Blog challenge: How and why you learned a foreign language

I was checking twitter when I saw one of the always great post from Brad Patterson. He was asking about How and Why we learned a language. He is asking a lot of questions lately, isn’t he? :) Here is my love and hate relationship with French language:

Being a child of immigrant Albanian parents here in Greece, my parents never had the chance to afford to pay for any foreign language lessons besides English language which was something that you had to do. The first touch with French came in junior high school where they were a part of the curriculum. My first impressions? Well, it was definetely not  a  love at first sight. I hated it because I could not anything pronounce properly and no one around had the patience to show the right way because most of the students already knew French from private lessons. So, I gave up trying and the teacher gave up on me.

Two years later, we had another teacher. She was really different from other foreign language teachers. She used to talk to us for hours about France, about Paris, french people, their habbits and even in L1. She used to bring her laptop and show us pics from her vacations in Paris, in Cannes or in Lyon. From a student who was really weak in French, I managed in one semester to become one of the best. She once told me that I have a real talent to foreign languages.  What did she do to me? Of course she cultivated passion inside me. She gave me an inner motivation to learn this amazing language. This was the only year I learned some French. It was the last year of junior high and at the following year the teacher was again exactly like my first experience with French. She expected B2 level from her students and she worked only with the good ones. I was about A1 level.   From romance to hate again!

Last year, I had the luck to visit Paris on summer for vacations and then on autumn for TESOL France Conference. And especially on my second visit, I knew it was time to give our relationship with French another chance! Maybe I gave up to easy. I loved Paris and I actually saw some elements that my favourite teacher used to tell us.   As soon as I arrived to Athens, I arranged with a teacher to start immeadietly. At first, everything was easy and simple, then as things became more complicated started to be really difficult. (learning a language from scratch, not a piece of cake!). But know everything is amazing. My mind finally understood the French language system and I can learn much more quicker and efficiently. And I can say confidently,  je t’ aime francais pour toujours.

 

Elinda et derriere le tour l' Eiffel ;)

My reflections as a teacher:

  • Learning a language is really difficult. We should really understand that and get frustrated if our students did not understood at our first explanation the conditionals. It needs patience, repetition and lots of practice.
  • There is an energy that a teacher passes to the student. When someone is actually learning? When s/he actually wants to. As teachers we have to find the way to make the students love the language. We have to cultivate an inner passion and motivation. They should think that I am in this classroom because my parents, or my professor wants it. I am here because I want to learn.
  • You cannot understand your students better, unless you are in their position. All language teachers should try learn a new foreign language. It will make you understand things from your teaching that you could never understand.
  • As a teacher, you cannot work only with a group of students that have more advance linguistc level than the others. Mutual indifference may be sometimes  the easy solution but it would be very difficult for me to know that a child hated and never wanted to learn English because I did not dedicated some minutes per lesson to help him/her out with the problems which may have risen.

So what about you? How and why How and why you learned a foreign language? Brad is challenging you to tell. Here is his original post.

 

#ELTChat Blog Challenge: Read it Later

They say better late that never, so I finally found some time to respond to this so practical challenge. On 18th January ELT Chat  was on the  the advantages and disadvantages of social networking for language teachers.

The blog challenge was about keeping #ELT bookmarks in an organized fashion and   was inspired by Tara Benwell:

@tarabenwell: Okay, so next PLN blog challenge topic: Best  Method for Organizing #ELT Bookmarks! Choose 1 and demo #eltchat

Here is my response:

The way I bookmark my favourite web pages is by using Read it Later for my Chrome browser, iPad and iPhone. You can save videos, articles or pretty much anything you find interesting to your Read It Later queue. So wherever I am, I can just click or tap on Read It Later button and save the web page in a common place for the three of my devices.

So here are some snapshots from my google bookmark toolbar, from the my iPad and iPhone.

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Stay tuned, because soon James Taylor will release a great #ELTChat podcast episode  in which among others you can hear me and Tara chatting about this challenge. You can find January’s  #ELTChat podcast as well as this month’s podcast hopefully this week at #ELTChat blog.

Websites for Educators

Here you can find a great collection of links which is created and maintained by  Gutman Library Research Services staff from Harvard University, provides links to freely available sites of interest to educators. It contains lots of useful links for educators and it can be a really great resource page.

The categories of the links are numerous and cover all the fields of educations. Some of the categories are:

Adult Education and Literacy
The Arts
Bilingual Education / ESL
Boston Area Libraries (selected)
Charter Schools
Children’s Literature
Colleges and Universities
Comparative/International Education
Counseling and Guidance
Curriculum Resources (K-12)
Distance Education
Diversity
Early Childhood
Education Administration and Policy
Education Associations, Organizations, and Conferences
Conferences
Education Libraries
Education Reform
Educational Technology
Employment Opportunities
Foreign Languages
Higher Education
History of Education
Home Schooling

 

and many other interesting topics. Click here to redirect at Harvard’s page.

 

Schools From Around the World: Education in Indonesia via @Yitzha_Sarwono

Recently, I have decided to host in my blog a new page which is called ”Schools from Around the World”. I have been asking from teachers from all around the world to introduce education conditions in their country as well as their own teaching reflections in the country. Some weeks before I was lucky enough to gain a new friend: Govinda from Nepal. You can read his guest post here. This time, another friend, Yitzha Sarwono, shared her reality from Indonesia.  I am inviting all of you to write a post about our teaching experience in your country.

Here is what Yitza shared with us:

Indonesia is a developing country consists of many islands with beautiful landscape and rich heritage. We are also very rich in term on culture. This diversity of course not only affecting the way we run our daily life but also in nurturing the young mind. Education in Indonesia comes in many kinds of form and way. From public schools, to the variety of private school. For those who live in big city, the options on finding the school that suitable for their needs are even wider. But for those who live outside the big city and in Remote Islands, education is still a luxury. Cause even when they don’t need to pay anything, to get to school isn’t an easy thing to do with the small number of school and teachers available there, not to mention conquering the nature just to get the knowledge since they usually have to travel miles to get to school. We actually have a program set by government and also independent organizations like Indonesia mengajar or Indonesia’s teaching (http://indonesiamengajar.org/) to settle the matter, but somehow with the population here, it is hard to reach all.
Public school is no doubt the 1st choice for almost everyone. Not only it provides the kind of education that is needed for everyone, here it is also free and filled with dedicated teachers. The only problem is that there’ll be so many students in one classroom that sometimes the teacher will find it hard to discover each student’s potential or help them 100% in reaching their goal.
Private school in Indonesia comes in many kinds and guarantees to fulfill each student’s needs. From a religion based school to nature school, homeschooling based school to Montessori school. Each offers prepared curriculum and experienced teachers. For people who are lucky enough to make a good fortune, they will surely choose Private schools as the number of students in each class aren’t as many as in public school and they can choose the one that is suitable for their needs.
But whether you go to public school or Private school, one thing for sure though, the final exam is conducted by the government and English is taught in every school.
I currently work in a Montessori Kindergarten based school. All lessons here are presented in English. And because we run our own curriculum, we can make sure that what we teach in the classroom has everything our students need in order to achieve our goal. Of course we try to keep it up to the national standard of Indonesia’s education which is for our students to be able to read and write when they start their primary school. It is quite hard sometimes and demanding as parents expects so much from us, being the private school with high tuition. But good thing that we don’t have a lot of students in the classroom (the most is 10 for my school), so all teachers can try their best to make it happened.
But being a teacher in Montessori school does give me a lot of new experiences. Not only because here we have different method than most school, we are also equipped with our own learning tools that we ought to mastered in order to teach them properly. And I am very fortunate that my school provides weekly, monthly and term training to all teachers. That is our way to make sure that we got what it takes to bring our students to their best and at the same time, expanding our ability as teachers.
To reflect about how I started of as a teacher, we have to go way back in my junior high school’s time. I was offered to tutor my classmates in refining their English, since I was doing kind of okay there. And I just knew it from the start that I love sharing! I’m a blabber, I love talking and I can go on telling things for hours and hours! So I thought, why not put that ‘quality’ of mine to a good use; Teaching!
I started as an English teacher professionally back in 2001. Later in 2008, I began to be drawn by early childhood education, merely because I believe that the young learners are pure like a new paper, ready to be written on. So I was so eager on playing the part of preparing them with a godd basic. Didn’t somebody say that everything we know, we learnt it in Kindergarten? ;) So here I am now. And I have always been so blessed by the opportunity to work in good places where I could not only experience great things and share my knowledge but also the chance of growing as a person and educator. And that is why I am also so moved to be involved in many things in hope that I could inspire young people in Indonesia to also be teachers, since we still need plenty of them, especially in remote area. And I’d love to thank Elinda for giving me the chance to introduce you guys to my country, Indonesia. Thanks so much, and as I always say : “aza aza fighting!”

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Thank you so much my dear Icha!!

There is an open intvitation for everyone who wants to share the teaching conditions and experiences from his/her country. Do not hesitate to contact me here.

Some Great Educational Wikis Worth Visiting

Wikis can be powerful teaching tools as well as tools for teachers’ proffessional development. Here is a list of some worth visiting wikis.

One of the main goals of the project is to ‘flatten’ or lower the classroom walls so that instead of each class working isolated and alone, 2 or more classes are joined virtually to become one large classroom. This is done through the Internet using Web 2.0 tools such as Wikispaces and Ning.

This Wiki is a place for MHMS teachers to share information & professional development products for creative instruction.There’s no need for you to join it to enjoy it’s wiki-awesomeness!

It’s maintained by Gwyneth A. Jones – The Daring Librarian and is Creative Commons Share Alike.

“In fact, one of the saddest but most common conditions in elementary school computer labs (when they exist in the developing world), is the children are being trained to use Word, Excel and PowerPoint.  I consider that criminal, because children should be making things, communicating, exploring, sharing,not running office automation tools.”

—Nicholas Negroponte, Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab

This Wiki will house information related to the iPad in Education sponsored by the Department of Educational Technology in theSchool District of Palm Beach County.

This Teaching with Thinking and Technology wiki is designed to document ideas and collect resources for teachers and students who are interested in using the web effectively and smartly.
My aim is to assist in developing a curriculum that meets the academic, social and personal needs of our students.
The major focus of this site is investigating how Web 2.0 applications can be used to promote thinking, sharing, collaborating and communicating between teachers and students.
The sites listed here are but a few of what is on the web. It will hopefully begin a journey of discovery for you.

This site has been compiled by Lenva Shearing.
If you are using a cool web 2.0 tool in your classroom that is not included here, please email me and I will add it (email link in navigation bar)

Winners Education is a greek school wiki that shows how they adapted and how they use Web 2.0 at their school. Here are some words about the story of this wiki from the creator of the wiki Effie Kyrikakis:

For the last few months I’ve been exploring the fantastic possibilities of web 2.0.
It has been wonderful at times: When I managed to find great tools for use in class, when I linked with groups of wonderful,
like-minded, supportive – and much more advanced- teachers from around the globe, when our students’ eyes flash with excitement at the prospect of getting to talk with students from schools at places they have only heard of …

At other times the discovery journey is just frustrating: Everything is new and takes time to explore. Sleepless nights are on the menu more often than not! Challenges present at every curve: For some reason youtube won’t upload my videos one day, the blog doesn’t look the way I’d like it to, I can’t upload my voki and what on earth is a wiki?

Well, my Austrian friend Katherine, a wonderful, energetic teacher who has set up a skype group to connect schools from around the world has something to say about that: “Problems are here to be solved”! WinnersEducation is now a member of this network and we’re ardent supporters of Katherine’s dictum. We’ll just insist and face the challenges!

Plus, this whole adventure has reminded me what it feels like to learn from the other side- that of the learner.
This precious insight cannot but make teaching better, don’t you agree?

Help me build this list. If you know a wiki that worths sharing please comment below and I will add it to this list. 

Create Online Personalized Newspapers

Here are some applications that will help ypu create your online personilzed newspapers that will help you gather and share interesting news. I personally use the first one but the two others are equally good.

Scoop.it!  is an online application which allows you create a topic, add some key words and then the application finds related posts from facebook, twitter, blogs etc. You can then curate the posts to your digital newspaper and share it to social media.

Paper.li works the same way as Scoop.it. You name your newspaper and you add key words and sources from where the news will be found. You can then share your newspaper online.

Trap!t captures what you want from the internet. You add your key words and interests and the application ”traps” your post that might interest you. You can log in from your Twitter or facebook acoount or you can simply sign up with an email.

Technology in education: Is it just a waste of time?

 
Photo attributed to Jim Wilson, New York Times. Students using an interactive whiteboard, part of an ambitious technology plan in the Kyrene School District in Arizona.

The last  8 months I have been blogging about the use of technology in education and especially as a way to assist English Language Learning. I have not only been blogging but using it actively with my students. I mainly teach one to one lessons and my students are young. I had also the honor to present various workshops about the use of technology with students in my university (University of Athens), Paris (Tesol France) and online.

During this time period, I have heard my many objections about  the use of the internet in and outside the classroom for educational use that made me think again and again. Are we wasting precious lesson time using a Web 2.0 application in classroom? Is it just a waste of time asking students to keep a class blog, watch a youtube video, create a slideshow?

Here are some of the objections I have heard:

  • I have used once technology. I showed to my students ”Mrs Doubtfire”. It was such a waste of time. While we were watching the film I was thinking that the students were not learning anything. I preferred to use this time to practice grammar with my students.
  • Technology is very difficult for me to handle.In a school were I was teaching the classrooms were equipped with interactive white boards and projectors. I was loosing precious lesson time.

Today, I have heard a view that really made me think a lot and resulted in my blogging about this:

I have announced to one of my friends and colleague that I will be presenting at Tesol Greece Conference a workshop named ‘Web 2.0 World in the English Language Classroom”. He said to me without the intention to insult me that he is not attending my workshop because he finds the use of tech useless for the Greek reality. He pointed out that in Greek public schools the most classrooms do not  have heat and many of them even a blackboard. He could not imagine to put in action all these thinks I was talking about.

While he was expressing his opinions which are totally understandable, I was thinking how economic factors can discourage teachers from getting inspired and try to do the best for their students. My colleague and many other educators are not at all open to new ideas because their school lacks of proper facilities. But is this the answer to the problem?  Should we give up? A teacher should be the one who inspires the students and help them learn and get motivated to learn.

What is my point of view? We live in a society where the internet is a major part of it. Facebook, for example, has more than 800 million active users and more that 350 million user carry facebook wherever they go through their mobile devices. All my students, colleagues and friends have added me as a friend to facebook. I do not think that I know anyone without an account at any social network. What does this mean? Our students spend a lot of time online. They go home and they do not stop typing (and producing language online). Why not as teachers keep up with the times and adjust some technology in our teaching? If our classroom is not equipped with computers or internet access, our houses are. We can ask  our students to do something meaningful at the internet at home and send it to us via mail. We can practice writing through blogs, wikis, digital storytelling applications –  reading through reading breaking news online, interesting articles – listening through online videos, talks. You can motivate learning and keep students engaged to the lesson. I have seen so many students get motivated just because their teacher asked them to find some extra info online for a project.

I am not suggesting that  technology is the panacea in education. It should be used with intention and considering the students’ e-safety. However, we can not overlook its invaluable benefits.  Teachers should get informed about its advantages and how can be used in education. What is your opinion? Is it just a waste of lesson time or do you think that helps our students? I am really interested in listening  your views.