May 31, 2010

Being a Teacher in the 21st Century – Can Technology Help?

My reflections after the online courses I participated in during the school year 2009/2010

(TESOL courses: Webheads, Images4Education, TLVW10, Internet4YoungLearners;
AVALON TT Course in SL)


Technology helps in all aspects of a teacher’s professional life:
- Professional Development
- Teaching


Professional Development:
1. getting up-to-date information
2. communication in real time with colleagues all over the world :
• membership in email based groups and lists
• social networking (Facebook, Twitter, Ning)
• COPs
• synchronous online environments (TappedIn, YM, Skype, etc)
• learning through collaboration (wikis, blogs,etc)
• possibility of attending conferences online ( e.g.TESOL, IATEFL)


In the classroom
• motivated students
• students more autonomous in learning
• peer teaching and collaborative learning
• collaboration with other schools
• availability of reference material
• etc.

Lesson Materials
• already available on recommended sites for teachers

some examples:
http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/
onestopenglish.com
theteacherscorner.net
edutopia.org
oup.com
macmillan.com
puzzlemaker.discoveryeducation.com
grammarmancomic.com
quizlet.com
teflclips.com

• other educators’ blogs, wikis, webpages, social networks

some examples:
http://quickshout.blogspot.com
http://daily-english-activities.blogspot.com
http://blog-efl.blogspot.com
http://www.digitalplay.info/blog/
http://collablogatorium.blogspot.com/
etc

• teacher-created and student-created materials using online tools
-always choose free tools

Tools for use with students that I have tried and can recommend:
• blogs - examples: my students’blogs (school year 2009/2010)
http://weplayandlearnenglish.blogspot.com/
http://onedayinthelife-croatia.blogspot.com/

• social networking and international projects – my students took part in:
http://www.icgibellina.it/
http://media.iearn.org/

• writing your own lessons and exercises

http://www.kn.pacbell.com/
http://www.lessonwriter.com/


• story telling and comic creators
Toonlet: http://toonlet.com
Mixbook: http://www.mixbook.com/
Storybird: http://storybird.com/
etc

• voice tools and videos
Podomatic: http://www.podomatic.com/
VoiceThread: http://www.voicethread.com/
Voxopop: http://www.voxopop.com/
Animoto: http://www.animoto.com/
etc

• posters and fun
http://www.wallwisher.com/
http://www.xtranormal.com/
http://www.glogster.com/
etc


A colleague teacher Vance Stevens, paraphrasing Woody Allen on relationships, said in one lecture:
“Teachers are like sharks -
If they don’t keep moving forward, they die.”

Is that true and what is the added value of lessons with technology? Should teachers reconsider their role and let technology into the classroom?

May 24, 2010

AVALON

Two events in SL this week:
1 AVALON Learning Event: How to teach a language in SL:



2 AVALON party - a beautiful informal gathering with dancing, a teleport to Michael Jackson Island to get free MJ fedoras and do synchronised Thriller dance. A lot of fun on Sunday evening with great people from the AVALON Teacher Training Course.



May 8, 2010

Animoto

Animoto is a very interesting and easy to use tool which helps you organize your photos to make an interesting video. You can choose to insert some text, too. That can be useful if you need some explaining or if you create it as a language task.

Animoto is extremely easy to use. The first step is uploading photos and arranging them in the order you want to see them. The second step is choosing music to accompany the slides. What I like is the possibility to choose from a list with a number of different genres. If you prefer to upload from your computer, there is a reminder that you need to have right to use a piece of music, which is very useful because students sometimes forget about copyright. The final step is to decide on the title, description, how long you want to see each photo for and that's it. In fact, all the work is done for you - you just wait and see in a few minutes how your photos change shapes and are beautifully synchronised with music.

The only little detail that annoyed me for some time was the limit to a 30- second video if you have a free acount and then I learned how to solve the problem. I applied for Animoto Edu - Animoto for educators, where you can get full length videos for free. It's so much easier to express yourself when the time limit is not 30 seconds.

I showed my students what I had done with the photos of one of our lessons - a walk around our school to celebrate Earth Day. That day we all took photos of beautiful spring scenes around our school with the task to write or record comments in English.




My students loved the video, or so they told me. Next I wanted them to comment and to try and make their own.
I'm still waiting for some written comments in English but today I've seen the first Animoto made by one of the students:
Josip's Earth Day Animoto
It really made me happy.