Monday, November 28, 2011

Podcasts in the L2 Classroom

I'm actually familiar with podcasts, which is amazing to me because I feel like there is so much out there technologically that I had no idea even existed! Podcasts would be a great tool to implement into the classroom because the students could take the possibility of learning with them wherever they go. I am a firm believer that learning takes place both inside and outside of the classroom, and how great is it to have something like podcasts that make this idea possible? The best part is that the students could even be the ones who create the podcasts, so the learning can become more implicit and student centered, which is important in any classroom. I also think using a tool that is compatible with the technological devices that our youth are using today will motivate them even more to learn both inside and outisde of classroom.

 I found this great podcast that could be implemeneted into an ESL classroom because it focuses on the types of things that English language learners struggle with. This particular podcast focuses on being impolite in conversation, which is something any person encountering American culture, or any other culture for that matter, can struggle with. I love this podcast because there is not only spoken dialogue going on here, but there is also written dialogue that goes along with it which makes it easier to follow along with. Another thing that I really like is that the phrases in English that might be difficult for an English language learner to comprehend are highlighted. Also, these podcasts are available on iTunes! One thing I would change about this is the way the dialogue is spoken. It sounds too robotic and unnatural, I think they should focus on a flowing dialouge to help these ELLs better understand conversational English and how it actually occurs in context. 

Monday, November 21, 2011


I recently discovered a website called ePals, which is an organization that is used to provide world-wide connections. It's very important for students who are learning a second language to develop an understanding of other students and cultures from around the world. They need to understand the various perspectives that exist, not only of themselves but from people all around the world. This website is a great way for these students to accomplish this goal.

There are several features to this program that could be so useful in a second language classroom. One of the features that I thought would to be most useful and most important is the fact that this program is a safe social learning place where communication and collaboration can take place between both students and educators from all over the world. I also really like that this site includes up-to-date technological tools that you could use in the classroom, like: blogs, wikis, forums, dynamic calendars, and homework dropboxes. All of these web tools could be used in the classroom in so many different ways, and I have discussed several of these tools in previous blogs.

The site also has several products available to educators. One product that I really liked is called "in2books." This product only focuses on grades 3-5 (unfortunately) however I think it's really neat because it matches students up with adult pen pals who have read similar books. The student and the teacher can partake in in teacher-monitored online letters focusing on questions and/or issues that are raised by the text.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Photo Shows

I've recently discovered a few great websites for creating photo shows. Some of these include Animoto, Slideroll, and Stupeflix. I tried one of these sites (Stupeflix) and made my own short photo show. This site would only allow me to make a free video if it was only a minute long. I would definitely invest in one of these tools though because this device could be used in so many different ways in the second language classroom. The students could document to the class where they come from, we could use it during content lessons, and we could also use it to showcase what we have completed over the course of the year. It's such a great technology because you can add music, graphics, and text to the photo shows. These are just some suggestions, but, there are so many fun ways that this could be used, and not to mention, it gets the students using some new technologies in their learning.

The video that I created displays some pictures that I took during my annual trips to Nashville, Tennessee each summer. I go down for the CMA (Country Music Association) Music Festival, where you can get a four day pass to see over 30 big named artists perform each day/night. I could have gone on forever with this video, but, since I had a time limit I had to cut it short. The song playing in the background is one of my favorites; it's called "Knee Deep" by Zac Brown Band ft. Jimmy Buffet. My Stupeflix Video.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Using Digital Storytelling in the L2 Classroom

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Photo by: Anna Fuster

Since I've been learning about digital storytelling I figured it would be worth my while to actually create a short digital story using a web tool called Bubblr. I made a story that I enitiled Look Around Your Classroom by Ms. Schurr.
In this particular story the author is looking around their classroom and describing what they see. I would use this story to help students at the very beginner level with the type of vocabulary that is associated with what you would find in a classroom. This book was designed for an ESL classroom but could also be modified for use in any other language classroom. After the students have read this short story, they can create their own stories by showing what they see in their own classroom. I think it would be a fun idea to incorporate pictures of their actual classroom so that it is authentic and so that they can associate their story with what is around them on a daily basis.

The learning objectives of such a lesson would include vocabulary acquisition and comprehension. The students would be using their newly learned vocabulary and applying it to pictures and actual physical objects around the room so that they might begin associating those words with the objects in the room. They would also be building on their literacy skills as well as their English language skills with reading, writing, speaking, and listening. I really like the idea of using these digital story books in the classroom because you can partake in the creative process right along with your students and it can be applied to whatever topics you are currently teaching about throughout the curriculum.

Digital Sotrytelling: A Fun Tool for Classrooms!

Photo by: Gwyneth Anne Bronwynne Jones

I have just learned a lot about this idea called "Digital Storytelling." After reviewing what this tool actually is and what it does I have realized that there are so many ways in which I could incorporate this into an L2 classroom, or any classroom for that matter. It could even be used for personal use and doesn't need to be used in a classroom whatsoever.

What is digital storytelling you ask? I found out a lot of useful information about this tool from the EDUcause Learning Initiative PDF. In this source, titled "7 Things You Should Know About Digital Storytelling" they describe digital stroytelling as "the practice of combining narrative with digital content, including images, sound, and video to create a short movie, typically with a strong emotional component." They also state that, "Some learning theorists believe that as a pedagogical technique, storytelling can be effectively applied to nearly any subject."

I really like the idea of using this tool in the classroom because you can not only use it individually but it can be used collaboratively as well. This type of tool allows the students to publish their work and gives them a sense of ownership. It is a very powerful thing when students are able to display their own work to their teachers, peers, parents/guardians, siblings, etc...This tool could be used inside and outside of the classroom, meaning that the students could use this tool in school and at home. The students are also developing literacy skills in a fun and innovative way rather than simply writing something down on paper. They are really able to delve into their imagination and creativity with this tool.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Microblogging for Educational Growth

Blogging is a great way to learn through the experiences and knowledge of others, however; microblogging can serve to be just as useful inside and outside of the classroom for both the educators and the students. Microblogging may have a smaller content base than a traditional blog does, but, it is still a great source of information that can be used to help all of us grow and develop as both educators and learners.

There are several different ways in which an educator can implement microblogging into the classroom. There are numerous ways in which a microblogging site, such as Twitter, can be used to fulfill the educational and technological needs of our students today. One article, entitled "28 Creative Ways Teachers Are Using Twitter" has discussed several different ways in which you could use Twitter in the classroom.

I know that I will be implementing microblogging into my own classroom in the future because it is a way of not only embracing the social media that envelopes our social world today, but, it is also a great way to go about educating our students and ourselves. I will use microblogging for my own personal development as an educator and as a learner, and I will also use it to implement ideas in the classroom so that my students might be able to have different and enriched learning experiences. In using these types of sites in the classroom it is important for the students to get a sense that the reading and responding that they will be doing is not simply a "lecture" but is a way of communicating; it is a "conversation." This idea is emphasized by Ernesto Priego in his article called "How Twitter will revolutionise academic research and teaching."

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Social Networking Groups for Teachers?

I have discovered that there are social networking sites for teachers! Who knew?! I had always just considered social networking sites to be MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and Blogs. I had always wondered how you could keep your professional life and your social life separate and this would appear to be a great alternative (a blog would be a good alternative as well). There is one social networking site that I think will be extremely useful to me in the field of teaching English as a Second Language because it focuses on that! This site is called EFL Classroom 2.0. I like hearing ideas from teachers in every concentration because I can use some of those ideas, but, other times I need to focus on things that are directed only at English Language Learners.

TANGENT: There is a video on YouTube by Alan Levine, called Alan Levine - New Media Consortium. There is a quote in here by Alan Levine that I absolutely love that says, "I think we need to just sort of put aside this notion that we can keep up (reference to 'keeping up with the times')." He also states, "More or less, when I don't know something I have a network of colleagues and people that I can put out my ignorance to and they responded help me out." I like these ideas because it relates back to my previous blog about connectivism. It is so important to connect with other people so that you can expand on your own knowledge based on the knowledge and expertise of others. It is also important to understand that technology is changing so much that it is nearly impossible to keep up with everything. This is a comforting idea because for the longest time I felt like I wasn't "keeping up with the times", however, I am learning a lot!