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.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Advertisements

@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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

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.

The reality of a school from Nepal

I have recently connected on facebook with an educator from a school from Nepal,  Govinda Prasad Panthy. He was so kind and agreed to share with me and my blog readers his teaching experiences. Here is what Govinda told me about his school, his life and his teaching.

The Bhaktapur village:

                     The students:

Vision of the SAV School:

Rural students at the SAVSchool will attain an education from caring instructors that will prepare them for life in modern day Nepal while helping them build a personal vision for a positive future for themselves and those around them.

Who is Govinda:

I was brought up in a poor rural farmer’s family but my parents never stopped me going to school. I started going to school when i was 8 and I always came first in all the classes till Grade 10. Having passed Grade 10 we had to leave our village for higher studies. So I moved toKathmanduvalley (capital) with my brother. I had to find a job for living myself since my parents were not at the level of supporting me financially. But i wanted to continue my further studies. I got an opportunity to teach in an English medium private school nearKathmandu; that was in Bhaktapur town. I joined for I.A (Intermediate in Arts) in an evening campus and continued teaching at the school as a primary math teacher. Having finished I.A., I studied B.Ed. to become a teacher. I couldn’t attend my classes in the college as I had to do my teaching job at school for my two ends meet.

When I was in the final year, one of my friends from Bageshwori (village, where I’m now, near Bhaktapur town) requested me to start an English medium school in his village. I surveyed and decided to help villagers as I knew the painful educational situation of village children. People who were really illiterate and poor were willing to help me for starting an English medium school but those who could send their children to the town were not so much positive. I visited and sat on discussion with the village people three times and reached on decision to start an English medium school as the children of the village had to walk more than  an hour to reach English medium schools in the town. The paths would be muddy in the rainy season and dusty in the winter and summer. There was no bus service. We do not have regular bus service yet due to the poor and narrow roads. For those reasons, I started Shantideep Adarsh Vidhyasadan (SAV School) with 13 children of the village in 1998. As I was brought up in the remote rural area ofNepal, I’ve experienced and could realize the situation of rural family students. Regarding financial problems I used to recycle papers myself. (eg; I used to write in ink on sheets of paper. I would collect them and when my new sheets of paper finished, I would dip them in soap water (water with castic soda)  and dry them up in the sun and would reuse them.) I used to make and sell materials from bamboo for buying pen, books and paper and would pay exam fees. We never had lunch at school. Though I was the school topper at study, I was once kicked out from the exam hall since my parents couldn’t pay nominal exam. fee on time,  etc. These bitter events of my childhood experience and the educational status and the willingness of the parents to educate their children/grandchildren in English medium pushed me to decide to start an English medium school.

I hired one of my college friends to teach these innocent 13 students in my absence. Next year the number of students increased. More villagers sent their children to school as they knew our hard work. Gradually the number of students increased and we went on upgrading the school every year. We have 10 classrooms from Nursery to grade 6. We had 127 students last year.

The proud teacher:

Problems the school faces:

New school begins in mid April. Unfortunately a number of students(more than 30) dropped out this year due to lack of school’s funding on hiring good teachers, lack of school supplies other basic infrastrural facilities. School collects $3 to $6 from the parents of the students, and each teacher gets below $50 each month which is really a low pay comparatively to the public school teachers. To hire a moderated/capable reachers we need to play at least $100+ every month.  Me (the founder Director of the SAV School) have been working in a public school as a teacher so that I can get better salary there and pay my teachers who teach at the SAV. I really want to spend my time with the SAV students, but it’s a pity, I can’t give them full time due to the financial crisis at the SAV. To solve this problem to some extent, I’m working as a part time English teacher in a nearby public school which is about 40 minutes walk from the SAV School. Indeed the SAV students and guardians want me full time at the SAV School. I’ve come to know the potentiality of the technology. I’d love to expand it and bring it into my real classrooms.

I’ve been trying to collect help for short term and long term projects for School Improvement (Physical development/ Educational betterment) so that the SAV School can open the door for all the school going ages. Any sort of help will be highly appreciated.

Goals:

SAV School along with the partner or donor agencies aims to reach the following goals:

1. to strenthen Financial position of the school so that teachers and other staffs are well paid.

2. to bring modern technology into the SAV School classroom.

3. to establish well furnished school library (SL) and computer lab with intenet connectivity and Science lab.

4. to bring technology into the classroom to integrate in teaching.

5. to build own school building on its own property.

6. to bring materials of the games and sports .

Here are some pictures from the school life:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The shcool is located in Bageshwori-7, Bhaktapur, Nepal  and if you would like to contact Govinda you can find him on facebook  here.

Than you so much Govinda!

 Would you like to share your own teaching experience from your country? You are welcome! Please prepare a post, add some pictures and send them to me. (elindagjondedaj@gmail.com).

Create easily comics with writecomics.com

Writecomics.com is a really simple comic strip generator. It does not require a registration to start creating. It is free and really easy to use with your students. There is a variety of characters and backgrounds to use. This tool is also perfect if you want to include some humour in your classroom as it has a section with alien characters. After creating your comic the website gives you a link to your comic strip and you can grab the picture online or you can save the comic as jpg file to your computer.

If you click on the image below you can see a tutorial-like video:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

More comic-maker applications described in this blog:

Knovio.com, Create and Share Video Presentations

    Knovio.com is a free online application in which you can create video or voice presentations. The procedure is really simple. You only have to upload a PowerPoint file and then start recording your video or your voice.

Knovio adds personality to your presentations. It adds your voice and your face and the result is personalized and more effective presentations. It is a perfect tool for presenters but also for teachers. I have assigned to one of my students to make me a presentation of the environmental issues and he came back with a perfect presentation. He told me that this tool helped him a lot with his speaking skills.

Special features:

  • Webcam or voice recording next to your presentation
  • User friendly environment
  • Sharing & publishing instantly to private spaces or your social networks
  • Excellent results
  • Make changes without  the need for video editing software or skills
  • Share privately and invite your audience
  • The viewers can send you instantly feedback

Cons:

  • Sometimes (according to the internet connection) the webcam video gets stuck.

I tried knovi myself and I prepared a video. Please excuse me for my anxiety. It really was the first time that I have recorded myself in a video. In order to see the video you have to click on the picture and it will link you to the video presentation:

Here are some pictures from the operational side of the application:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“I wish I had known that when I started teaching” ( an #ELTchat summary)

 An #ELTchat full of wishes…

 This is a summary from the 12pm (Londontime) #ELTchat from 23rd November 2011.  The theme of this chat was “I wish I had known that when I started teaching”. It was a great opportunity to experienced teachers to speak up and share some of the problems they faced as newly qualified teachers and to new teachers to receive some answers or thoughts on the problems that may be facing. So many wishes sound familiar.

 ELT chatters touched upon many issues that they wished to be different during their first years of teaching. All these reflections concerned the first experiences of teaching, classroom management, lesson planning, resources, teacher development etc.

 Starting to teach

– Personally I wish I had know how long it takes to develop to a stage when you begin to feel somewhat OK with your teaching @Marisa_C

– I wish I had known sth about the English language @Shaunwilden

– I wish someone had told me “Beth, you will be a terrible teacher the first year”.  I really was! @BethCagnol

– I wish I knew how much I didn’t know – took me a while to figure that one out  @Marisa_C

– I wish I had been observed more in my first few years – well actually I wish I had been observed at all @Shaunwilden

– I wish I’d had the chance to observe other teachers/ team teach in the early years @cerirhiannon

– I wish I had known that what I teach isn’t always learned by students. Oh and also how scary parents can be! @Tamkirja

– I wish I’d known that learning is a slow process – learning language, learning how to teach @antoniaclare

– I wish someone had told me that it was OK to disagree with my colleagues’ methodologies. @bethcagnol

– Wish I’d been told to relax, enjoy yourself and smile more!  @theteacherjames

– Wish I had  known:  What doesn’t work one day may work on a different day and/or with different sts. @BethCangnol

– I wish I’d known more about revisiting, recalling, retelling, linking one lesson to another, watching progress @cerirhiannon

– I wish I had found a mentor when I was at points of change and wonder – ended up doing more and more courses  @Marisa_C

– I wish I’d known it was ok not to know something. I am not a ‘walking dictionary’ @prebolledoc

– I wish I had known that, ultimately, people are responsible for their own learning.  @ harrisonmike

Students – Class management

– Hi all! My first lesson when I was an elementary teacher was that making the lesson interesting isn’t enough. kids will test limits @naomishema

– I wish I’d known that what I do in the lesson is not as important as what the students do. Once I changed focus, I improved a lot.  @teacherjames

– I wish I had been told “You can’t please everyone!” @bethcagnol

– I wish I had known about the power of music in the YL classroom. @ patjack67

– I wish someone had prepared me for negative feedback from students (which was sometimes useful, but sometimes out of my hands) @BethanyCagnol

– If you’re struggling with a class, talk to colleagues, don’t assume it must be you – probably a wider issue than just your group.  @Marie_Sanako

– I wish someone had told me that silence from the students is sometimes a good thing! @bethcagnol

– I wish educators would give more attention to what learners are *not* putting on the table @royparmesan

– I wish I had started asking my learners how they felt about my lessons/activities earlier @Marisa_C

– I wish i’d been shown how to harness the power of a group  @cerirhiannon

– Also to think of yourself as one of the group, not  apart – and yes, hierarhcy & pack instincts v interesting  @cerirhiannon

– It’s always good to know your students’ name – so learn them even before you go to the class. @cherrymp

Lesson Planning – Textbooks – Resourses

–  I look back at my old lesson plans and think “Oh Lord have mercy. What was I thinking!?”  @Shaunwilden

–  I was so preoccupied in planning with “first I’ll do this, then I’ll do that”. Who cares about me, what about them? @theteacherjames

– I remember some advice, “Don’t hide yourself in the lesson plan. It’s okay for students to know things about you.”

– I remember some advice, “Don’t hide yourself in the lesson plan. It’s okay for students to know things about you.”

– I wish I’d known that it’s not the quantity but the quality of the lesson that matters – @cherrymp

– I wish someone had told me that sleepless nights planning don’t result in more learning – I wish I could have out dancing more @Marisa_C

– Also wish I had known about feedback (to collect it, ways to collect it and what to do with it when I got it)   @michaelegriffin

– I wish I had known something (anything!) about objectives!  @michaelegriffin

– Wish I’d known that all that endless meticulous lesson planning was making me deaf to the classroom’s symphony…

– I wish I had known that it’s OK to move away from the text book if it’s not being helpful!  Marie_Sanako

– I wish I have known that there is not a perfect coursebook. @ElindaGjondedaj

– I wish I’d not just followed a book in every class. @ phil2wade

Teacher Development

– I wish I had known more about teacher development  and how to hunt it down it in situations where none was offered in the workplace @esolcourses

– I wish someone had shown me Resource Books For Teachers – our secret weapon!  @theteacherjames

– I wish I’d known about associations and conferences earlier @harrisonmike

What is #ELTchat?    

Every Wednesday at 12:00& at 21:00Londontime a discussion is conducted on Twitter about ELT subjects. Professional English teachers gather all together and chat about current ELT topics. You may follow this chat on twitter here: #ELTchat. The moderator of this chat is Greek! She is Marisa Constantinides (@Marisa_C).

If you don’t have time to chat live with the professional teachers, there is a summary uploaded on their site eltchat.com

Special thanks to Marisa and Shaun who gave me the chance to contibute to this great chat!

ESLVideo.com: Study English with fun, free ESL video quizzes

Are you looking for an alternative way of testing? ESLvideo.com  is what you are searching for. What is so special about  ESLvideo? In this website you can make quizzes and embed a video next to it. As a matter of fact, you can make listening comprehension activities and quizzes more interactive and attractive for learners. Here is an example:

Advantages:

  • User-friendly
  • Complete Guidelines
  • Teacher receives student scores
  • Instant feedback
  • Embed to blog, wiki or website
Disadvantages:
  • Sometimes the videos get disabled or removed

Got interested? Let’s see how to create your own quiz!

In order to start making your quizzes you should register with your email and create your own account. While you register bare in mind that it would be better to use your real name as the username. It will be easier  for your students to use. For example, ElindaG or MsGjondedaj.

After signing up you will see at your screen a step by step guide on how to embed your video to your quiz.


After reading the guidelines you will see a form that you should add your information like the title of your quiz, the level. In order to get the code to embed your video you should go to the Youtube video, send —> embed and the code will appear. You should copy this code and paste it in the Video Embed Code blank.

After adding all the requested information you go to step 2 where you add the questions to your activity. It is important that you should indicate properly the linguistic level of the test because your test will be categorized after creating it. The levels category that are included are: beginning, low intermediate, high intermediate, high intermediate.

 

Last but not least,  there is an element that makes this quiz maker unique. When a student decides to do one of the activities, if s/he writes the teacher code before the test, the score goes straight to the teacher. So, you can know anytime your student’s performance.