Mexico EFL Teachers Rock

In November, I had the opportunity and honor to participate in the Binational Migrant Education Initiative (BMEI) for the second time.  I have so many wonderful things to say about the experience that this post only begins to describe the positives of the trip.  Hands down, the top benefit of the experience was learning from a dedicated group of educators in Mexico.

Here’s the low down of the who, what, when and where of the portion I participated in.  I went to Tulancingo, Hidalgo Mexico for one week where I provided professional development in SLA theories and strategies for 20 primary and middle school English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teachers.  We had beneficial conversations regarding migrant students who travel between the US and Mexico.  In addition, we explored many cross-cultural issues.   Without a doubt, I learned as much if not more from the teachers I worked with.  They graciously allowed me to observe their classrooms where I witnessed their creativity and devotion.  A personal highlight for me was going to a rural school where students learn Spanish, their indigenous language, and English.  Beyond the classroom experience, they were also hospitable and treated us to visits to local sites, amazing food (one can’t get enough pozole), and good company.

This Animoto shows some of my experience.  (It was created on the 30 second free account, so it only gives a taste of Animoto.)  Check out the Animoto for educator’s account.

I was also fortunate to travel to Guadalajara and visit Intel as part of this trip.  It just so happened that the world’s second largest international book fair was in progress.  In my book, there aren’t many better ways to spend an evening than perusing good old fashioned books at a book fair.

I went to Cuernavaca, Mexico the first time I participated in the BMEI.   Both experiences were enjoyable and memorable, yet different.   I highly recommend the program!


The Teachers Should See This: Coke and Mentos

I am ten years old and a guest blogger here.  I often find interesting sites and sometimes want to share them.  I will occasionally post things I think teachers should see.  Here's my Coke and Mentos post! 

Do you know what happens when you put Coke and Mentos together?  Watch this EepyBird.com production to see what happens.

Next, if your students liked the first video, here is a second one that has a domino effect. To show your students why it happens, show this MythBusters video. To wrap up your lesson, demonstrate video one or two for your students. Remind them not to try this at home.


Fun with Typografit, Flickr Poet, Vizlingo, and More for Jan 31st EFL/ESL/ELL Blog Carnival

This is my “fun” contribution to the Jan. 31st EFL/ESL/ELL Blog Carnival hosted by David Deubelbeiss at EFL Classroom 2.0.  In deciding what to contribute, I came to the realization that so much is fun to me, particularly when it includes technology that spurs critical thinking and discussions that my students connect with.   Have fun with a few of the sites and ideas I enjoy, and consider taking my “challenge” at the end!

A.      9 Simple free web 2.0 sites

When Tech:  Type text into Typografit or Stories in Flight: Flickr Poet and create something like the image above.  It's fun!  Give Typografit a whirl here and Flickr Poet a try here. Create a word picture and share it.  

Met Ed:  In ESOL or language, students can type in sentences in Typografit and then discuss punctuation and spelling. One of my classes typed in short paragraphs that used our vocabulary.  They then discussed the pictures and how closely they reflected their writing.  Sometimes the pictures were quite different than they expected, and this led to some interesting discussion.

Flickr Poet suggests typing in poems or music to visualize them. I couldn’t resist and typed in a poem from one of my favorite poets, Since Feeling Is First by E.E. Cummings. I then captured it using Jing; it’s viewable here.

Wouldn’t it be fun to have students write poems, use Flickr Poet, and then use a screencast such as Jing to record music that captured the spirit of their poems or their voices reading their creations? Of course, they could just simply read or discuss the results if a low tech route is preferable.  Any of these are bound to be fun and lead to language acquisition. How can Typografit or Flickr Poet be used in your class?
When Tech:  Type text into Vizlingo and create something like the video I made below.  You have some choices of videos to include in your final product.  You can even upload your own videos.  Create and share a video here. It’s almost too much fun!

Met Ed:  This can help students visualize vocabulary as well.  It can lead to some interesting discussions about idioms and multiple meanings of words.  Here’s a great post by Nik Peachy that explains it.  Don’t miss Nik’s suggested activities for using it. How can Vizlingo be used in your class?

*A word of caution is that not all the pictures generated on these sites may be appropriate for younger learners.

See more suggested sites on a recent post called, Six Fun Educational Sites.  It highlights Wonderopolis, Shel Silverstein, One World, Many Stories, Geo Greetings, Draw a Stickman, and Balloons of Bhutan.  Explore more fun educational sites on our Ed Sites page.

B.       A few past fun posts that I have done with students’ help.  The potential of fun is unlimited when tech and creativity are at play and the products are shared. 
A thank you to David Deubelbeiss at EFL Classroom 2.0 for hosting this carnival.  I highly recommend checking out his site and its many resources!   Oh, and writing this post was a blast!  
Challenge for both of us:  Either A: Use one of the sites in this post and blog about it.  Or  B.  Use one of these sites for educational purposes, drop me a link to one of your creations, and I will compile them together some fun way that I share on this blog.

Happy creating!


Six Fun Educational Sites: Wonderopolis to Balloons of Bhutan

If you want to integrate technology in a fun, low stress way, here are a few of our “recent” finds we suggest exploring.   They fit into a variety of content areas and age groups.
  • Geo Greeting  Use this as an introduction to geography or to discuss architecture.  With some creativity, it could be used in ESOL/bilingual classes at the sentence level.  Check out the one I made for you. Make your own for free in a matter of seconds.
  • Draw A Stickman  Use this with beginning ELLs.  It could be an entry to storytelling and a way to work with vocabulary.  Try it on an ipad. It’s fun.
  • Balloons of Bhutan This is a “happy” project.  It could lead to interesting discussion on the topic of happiness, success, etc.  Perhaps some math could be included in the statistics section.  It would be fun to do a spin-off of this project small scale with a class.  The Happiness Project would be an excellent follow up activity.
Explore more educational sites we suggest.   Do you have any success stories using any of these in your teaching?  

Happy exploring!


Teaching With TED Talks

I love using TED Talks as springboards into discussions or projects with my adult English language learners.  Some of my personal favorites are ones that have visuals, art, or music.  Besides being intrinsically engaging, they make differentiating easier due to the universality of the topics. 

This Ted Talks, Stories Cut from Paper by Betrice Coron, could be fun to use in class.  Watch it, read suggestions for using it, and explore some related Ted Talks links.

TED Talks lend themselves to dogme language teaching opportunities and authentic uses of language.  Another way I might use this in an adult ESOL classroom would go something like this:
  1. Watch the video together with subtitles on.  (Possibly have a list of vocabulary pre-selected that teacher pronounces before watching and class discusses what they already know about the words.)
  2. Divide the class into small groups or partners and have them separately interpret an assigned section of the video.  There could be some guidelines outlined in a checklist such as: teach us new vocabulary from your section or related to your section, interpret the art in your section, relate the art to something else you have seen, read, or experienced, etc.
  3. Small groups present, teach their sections, and facilitate discussion.  Discussion could be extended in writing on a class blog.
  4. Watch the complete talk together again as a class.
  5. Extended learning with an activity that promotes students telling their own stories in creative ways. (See Rives Tells a Story of Emoticons.) Again, I would use guidelines in a rubric or checklist and have this part of a project.  It could be possible to incorporate all modes of language—reading, writing, listening, and speaking in the process.
Below are some of my other favorite TED Talks on the arts (often integrated with science) that lend themselves to dogme language teaching or projects that allow students to bring in their voice, experiences, and make connections.   Many of them are challenging for intermediate to advanced ELLs, but in my experience if scaffolded, some interesting sometimes unexpected conversation arises.  Others lend themselves perfectly to discussion based upon the visuals or music alone.
Don't miss Huff Post the Best of TED 2011 countdown.  Feel free to explore my past posts on TED TalksWhat are some of your favorite TED Talks for classroom use?  What are some ways you use them in the class?


Robot Heart Stories and Other Global Collaborative Projects

Over the past few weeks, I have browsed global collaborative projects out of curiosity.  What ways can classrooms use technology to gain a wider global perspective, to share, to connect, to learn together?  How are these types of programs shaping education? Are there ways of allowing kids and adults who speak different languages to work together?  If there are, are they only for the privileged?  How will these types of programs shape the way those who participate in them view the world and its possibilities?

With these questions and ideas in mind, I stumbled upon a project called Robot Heart Stories.  It is an experiential learning program and is an example of how transmedia storytelling is connecting geographically separated and linguistically different classes in education.  Watch this video clip

Read the Robot stories here.  View the robot’s journal here from Montreal to LA.  Wow, even a quick scan of these materials showcases collaborative, creative learning across the content areas in French and English!

How interesting!  I’m not sure what this means, but I think it indicates the times are a changing. <3

Here are some links to other collaborative projects on our Ed Sites tab.
Happy global collaboration!


See, Feel, Hear, Touch, and Capture Vocabulary

Like so many of you, I’m always on the look-out for interesting ways of teaching vocabulary.  From math, to science, to English, etc.—each content area has vocabulary words that we introduce.    In the ESOL/Bilingual Ed courses I teach, we look at ways of integrating both the everyday language, which helps give our students a voice, as well as the academic language embedded in meaningful contexts that they need in academia.  How can we help our students see, hear, feel, touch, and maybe even smell or taste new words?  How can they record and share their learning?

Check out Shelly Terrell’s slide share.
Shelly’s slide share is packed full of ideas, so I’m using it as a springboard for this post. 
  • Some of these are tried and true no tech suggestions with examples like word walls (slide 7), which can also be done with online stickies like Linoit, Primary Wall, etc. 
  • I’m off to look at the voicethread (slide 10) because I have used voicethread with vocabulary and beyond with success in the classroom and am really excited about the new voicethread app.
  • Several of her suggestions such the word cloud Tagul (slide 12), Word Stash (slide 19-20), and Wordia (slides 21-24), I have blogged about and/or are found on our student’s tab.  There are also a lot of additional vocabulary games and sites on our student’s tab to explore. 
  • Triptico (slide26) is a new one that I recently downloaded and am in the process of experimenting with.   It contains several useful tools like word magnets, what’s the question, and more assessable via your desktop.  It’s a fun way to involve the whole class in learning vocabulary.  Parts of it remind me of Classtools.net which I also use for vocabulary plus.
  • Type in a sentence or story, and Flickr Poet  (slide 27)  produces it in picture form.
Scroll down through some related posts, videos, and examples I have made on vocabulary.  They include developing vocabulary with word clouds, online dictionaries and my vocabulary class Glogster.  In passing, I will mention that it amazes me how the sites I use continue to improve and many new vocabulary related sites continue to pop up.  For example, shortly after posting about Lexipedia, I discovered Visuwords.  Personally, I find all these sites worth exploring because they can be used for various purposes or with different age groups. 

Met Ed (Applications):  The sites within this post can be used alone within a lesson. They often work well with class discussion.  Many of them can also be used independently by students or as resources.  In addition, they can be used as a springboard for creating your own versions with the technology available to you or sometimes even with no tech.  For example, I love the videos on Wordia, but not all of the words my students need to search are found there.  I’d love to have my students take words from a unit of study and create their own picture gallery, videos or other type of media that we can then share with upcoming classes. 

Share your ideas (low tech or high tech), favorite sites, and experiences of teaching vocabulary either by commenting or emailing us.   How do you make vocabulary come alive?

*A thanks to Shelly Terrell for her slideshare and many amazing things she shares.  More to come in a future post about the many contributions Shelly makes to ed tech and my personal learning.


Quick Byte: K-12 Online Conference Nov 21-Dec 9

This year, the K-12 Online Conference promises to be good.  I predict this year will be interesting and informative and will strike up some good conversations and maybe even debate. The theme, Purposeful Play, relates to my gaming post series (See part 1 and part 2).   

It will start on Monday, Nov. 21 with a pre-conference keynote by  Angela Maiers.   Angela blogs at www.angelamaiers.com.  All of the presenters that week will be worth checking out:
The rest of the conference will occur week 1 November 29th - December 2nd,  and week 2 December 5th-9th, 2011.  The complete schedule of presenters can be accessed here.  The Twitter hashtag is #k12online.

I have a special place in my heart for the K-12 Online Conference.  It is when I first began to realize all of the free quality professional development opportunities that are out there.  It opened my eyes to the many online choices we have to either quietly observe or actively participate at our own comfort level.  One of my first blog posts was done last year on the K-12 2010 Online Conference and was followed up by some of my favorites.   You can view them by clicking here and scrolling through them. 

No worries; if you miss the conference, it will be accessible on their wiki.  Plus, we will highlight some of our favorites in an upcoming post. 


What is Standard English and Related Questions for Teachers

What is Standard English?  What are the various perspectives of it? How can it act as a gatekeeper?  Do our views of it shape how we approach language learning, teaching, and assessing?  How do these types of discussions fit into critical pedagogy?  These are the types of questions my College of Ed course have discussed. Watch the following engaging short videos and read the article about Linda Christensen  to continue reflection on these and related questions.

Stephen Fry Kinetic Typography - Language from Matthew Rogers on Vimeo.

Discussion: How do the views voiced by Linda Christensen in this article on the National Writing Project site tie into the discussion? How can bringing in the everyday language in ways such as this site called Pop Lit  relate to teaching academic language and content?  Continue the discussion by sharing your thoughts or related links.


Tech and Ed Play With Web 2.0 Tools: Part 2 Jing and Other Screencasting Tools

Jing is a screencasting tool with tons of creative potential in education.  It belongs both in the hands of instructors and students across content areas and ages.  This post briefly highlights Jing and other screencasting tools as a part of the Tech and Ed Play With Web 2.0 Tools series.

Getting Started With Jing:  Last year, I was a guest blogger at the Teacher Challenge blog.  Here'sa LINK to my post. It’s where I suggest going to get familiar with Jing!  It walks you through downloading it, gives examples of how I use it as a self introduction, to return feedback to my students, and more. 

More of My Jing Examples:
How-to’s and diections:  Most of the video recording I do on this blog is with the Pro version of Jing, such as this video about online timelines like dipity.  I also find it useful for describing weekly expectations and assignments in my online classes.

In the hands of students: Here's another post about a project from my adult ESOL vocabulary class.  Within a matter of minutes, students created a Jing video using my laptop.  Their example is embedded in the Glogster along with more of their creations, but it can also be accessed via this direct link.  Oh, and I can’t make a post without highlighting my favorite use of Jing created by a 4th grader.

Other Screencasting Tools: There are also a growing number of similar free screencasting tools. A few of them are highlighted under on my screencasting page.  I have found that my students who want to work from home don’t always want to download Jing onto their computers, so these offer some alternatives.

Here’s an example of a similar screencasting tool called Screen-O-Matic combined with Go Animate that one of my former College of Ed students, Jessica Coleman, created about SLA.


Screencasting Apps and Additional Resources:  It's also great to see some similar screen capturing apps for ipad such as Screen Chomp and Show Me.   As these become increasingly more functional, they allow us to use iPads in digital storytelling, etc. with relative ease.  One of my favorite ESOL bloggers, Silvia Tolisano, who blogs at Langwitches offers a lot of examples and step-by-step guides for using screencasting tools in the class.  Check out her blog and search for screencasting tools, digital storytelling, and ipads

Discussion:  What experiences do you have using Jing or other screencasting tools?  Feel free to share links to your creations or contact us if you would like to use this blog as a platform to share some of your students’ creations if appropriate.

Happy screencasting!


Quick Byte: Life In A Day

 Life In A Day is the result of uploaded videos shot on July 24th, 2011 contributed from people around the world. It was produced by Ridley Scott and directed by Kevin Macdonald.  Watch it for free below.

This seems like an appropriate post to follow my One Day On Earth 11-11-11 post which we had fun shooting footage for.

Happy viewing!


Quick Byte: One Day on Earth 11-11-11

Participate in this global collaboration by uploading a short video clip on 11-11-11, or just enjoy the One Day on Earth project 11-11-11.  Watch this video trailer to learn more.

Don't miss the 10-10-10 Geo Map!  Click on a country of your choice and zoom in to watch a video or two.  I viewed a few from some places I have traveled, and a flood of memories reminded me of the injustices of the world juxtaposed against indescribable beauty.

Keep your eyes on this site.  I will share it with my Exploring the World class!  It promises to encourage open dialogue on topics of social justice.  How can you use it in your classroom?


Quick Byte: The Global Education 2011 Conference Nov. 14-18

I continue to be intrigued by the number and quality of online free virtual conferences.  The Global Education 2011 Conference Nov. 14-18 looks promising!  Watch this trailer video here.  The keynote presenters include Howard Gardner, Ed Gragert (Executive Director of iEarn USA), Alan November of November Learning and others.  Here’s a complete list of keynote speakers and their bios.

The conference mission statement begins as follows: “The Global Education Conference is a collaborative, world-wide community initiative involving students, educators, and organizations at all levels. It is designed to significantly increase opportunities for building education-related connections around the globe while supporting cultural awareness and recognition of diversity. “ Read more of the mission here. It sounds promising for educators K-20 and perfect for those of us involved in my field of ESOL/Bilingual Education.

Here’s the link to the sessions and schedule.  It will be held on Blackboard Collaborate.  The conference hashtag is #GlobalEd11.

This is another conference founded by Steve Hargadon.  Explore the Global Education site to discover more opportunities.

Happy learning!


Prezi, Online Comic Strips, and Fakebook Integrated in SLA Assignment

Have you ever stepped out of your comfort zone as a student?  How about as a teacher?  I received a lot of comments such as the following from my online College of Ed students, “I stepped outside of my comfort zone in doing this assignment, and I’m glad I did.”  This echoes my sentiment in assigning this assignment. 

Assignment Background: The basic idea of the assignment was to spend an hour playing with technology and demonstrating knowledge of our second language acquisition (SLA) weekly readings.  I’ll be the first to admit that these are rigorous readings when encountered for the first time, so I wanted the students to be able to demonstrate a small portion of their current understanding (which we will continue to build upon throughout the term) in a creative manner.  The suggested methods of doing so were online comic strips, Fakebook, Prezi, or Powerpoint.  I gave some basic guidelines and outlined some possibilities.

I also tried to stress that approximately no more than an hour needed to be spent on the assignment to meet the expectations, sharing in a public way was optional, and ultimately the assignment was to demonstrate understanding of our course objectives—in this case related to SLA theories and technology integration. 

Without further ado, here is the unveiling of their first creations!

PREZIS on SLA  (I was surprised how many students chose to tackle Prezis! Impressive debuts.)

Krashen’s Theories:  
a.  http://bit.ly/s3uAty
b.  http://bit.ly/vMPcsQ,  
c. http://bit.ly/w49e40, and 
d. http://bit.ly/sCFYRb

Schumann’s Theory: a. http://bit.ly/sm81Po and b. http://bit.ly/vq7tZ2
For info on  Prezi educator’s account, look here.   Today, I signed up for the beta Prezi U for educators.  It sounds promising.

COMICS on SLA:  Humor is displayed in several of these comic strips.   A-D  were made with Make Beliefs Comix.  E-F were made with Strip Generator.  I recommend Make Beliefs Comix due to the ads for K-12.

a . This one has two parts. It is cleverly entitled “Krashen the Party” and is a game.  Part 1 http://bit.ly/sNmHUQ  Part 2  http://bit.ly/vLlBwT  b.  http://bit.ly/utNBZQ  c. http://bit.ly/rFWZLz  d. http://bit.ly/sJ8z2r  e. Schumann’s Theory: http://bit.ly/trP3SM  f. Krashen’s Affective Filter http://bit.ly/sUC3VQ

Make Beliefs Comix suggests 21 ways to use them in the class http://bit.ly/jmIGk, and here are some blank comic strip printables http://bit.ly/97fPQP.

FAKEBOOKS on SLA THEORIES:  This is a spin-off of the Facebook/social media idea in popular culture.  ClassTools.Net is the site used.   Several debates between theorists play out in some of these.  Some are in a question/answer format.           

Click HERE to see what the teachers and future teachers had to say about the use of each of these tools with teaching ELLs.

Final Thoughts: I like having this blog as a way to bring both sections of my online classes together to share.  I encourage them to look at their work and continue digging into the theories, questioning and applying.

A few students opted to not share their creations with a larger audience.  I strongly agree that this should be honored without question.  One student did a great job, but had last minute challenges with the technology, which is a reality we face when we deal with technology.  We need to have a plan B for ourselves and students as well as a way to assess the process and not only the final product.  I’d also bet that a lot of technology challenges were overcome and not voiced.  Many interesting conversations about the pros/cons and how-to’s of using these tools are still left to explore.  Feel free to leave your comments. How can you use these tools in your class?

A BIG thank you to ALL of my TCE 572 students for their effort! 


Quick Byte: Library 2.011 World-Wide Conference Nov. 2-4

Professional development conferences play a large role in my life.  What’s not to love about intellectual sharing, healthy questioning of norms and looking into the future of one’s field?  It’s hard if not impossible to walk away without a mind whirling full of ideas and possibilities.

Due to costs and logistics, it’s not always possible to attend conferences.  Fortunately, there are increasingly more quality, free online opportunities to stay current.  The Library 2.011 World-wide Virtual Conference seems to be one of these!  It was held Nov 2-4.  You can find out more info here at Library 2.0 the future of libraries in the digital age. Watch recordings of the sessions here.  The conference Twitter hashtag is #lib2011.

As a side note, with these free online conference possibilities, I find myself stepping a bit beyond my profession and gaining a broader view of education and our future by attending.  Although I am not a librarian, the topics of this conference seem applicable to all of education.  We have addressed some of these ideas within this blog such as in the post, What’s a Book?  Is This a Book?  I also learn a lot from following and interacting with librarians in twitter and on Google+.  What a better way to learn and support this amazing group of people than by attending?

Stay tuned for an upcoming post highlighting The Future of Education, Classroom 2.0 and Steve Hargadon, the creator of Library 2.0 Ning Network.

Happy attending!
*This post was updated after the conference concluded.


Tech and Ed Play with Web 2.0 Tools: Part 1 Timelines

Series Introduction to Tech and Ed Play with Web 2.0 Tools: I’m excited about this series of posts.  It started with this question that you may want to challenge yourself to answer as well: What ways do I currently use or have I used digital technology effectively in the classroom or in my personal life?  I’ve been contemplating how to answer this question on the blog for a long time, and I have put it off because it seems overwhelming. It also makes me feel vulnerable to show examples that are less than what I am capable of doing, but what I had time to do, the knowledge to do at any given time, etc. (The whole competence vs. performance thing my TCE 572 students discussed this week.) These experiences have spanned many classes and several years.   I will inevitably fall short here because I know there are so many more creative ideas and tools to explore, so I’d love to gather examples and ideas from our readers.  When I recall one of the main focuses of this blog, to play with technology and share, I’m going to go for it here! 

My first post here focuses on online timelines.  Upcoming posts will highlight online make-your-own comic strips and books, voicethreads, uses of screencasting tools in digital storytelling, and more.  A final post will be a screencast compilation of some of my own creations.


Description and My Example (When Tech): I became interested a few years ago in the possibility of online timelines, and dipity.com was the first one I explored.  Dipity states, “Users can create, share, embed and collaborate on interactive, visually engaging timelines that integrate video, audio, images, text, links, social media, location and timestamps.”  I used it in an intermediate adult ESOL Listening/Speaking/Vocabulary class as a simple model for students when doing a presentation on their past, present, and future.  My example is really basic, but it gives the general idea.  Watch this video that walks you through it.

Here’s another example on dipity entitled Steve Jobs Life and Career.  You may change the views in the upper right hand corner to see it as a timeline, flipbook, list, or map.  Happy exploring of dipity.com.

Possible Uses in Education (Met Ed): Several of my former college of education students have used and even presented their own dipity timelines when they reflected on their own language learning.  Online timelines can be used in all content areas.  Students or teachers can highlight any event(s) in a history timeline.  They can use them to document the steps of a scientific experiment.  They can use them to tell a story, outline the plot or characters in a story, etc.  Online timelines can also serve as an alternative to a Powerpoint or Prezi.  How can you use them?

I like how many of the timelines like Dipity can be embedded in a blog or website.  Most of them have the option to be either private or public.  More online timelines that I haven’t yet had the time to explore completely are listed in our web 2.0 tools page.  Some of them include LIFE Timeline, TimeToast, and Xtimeline.    LIFE Timeline contains ready to go timelines with some beautiful pictures as well as the option to make your own. Tiki Toki also looks especially engaging to me.

Additional sources:  If you are interested in exploring more student examples of media in education, check out Wes Fryer’s  Share: Playing With Media.  His site, book and podcast in part inspired me to get started on this series. 

Discussion:  How would you use or have you used online timelines?  Which timeline(s) have you found useful?  Feel free to share a link here or drop us a line via email.

Happy exploring and creating!


Bringing Writing Alive With Web 2.0 Tools EERC Presentation

Here is part of our presentation entitled Bringing Writing Alive K-12 With Web 2.0 Tools.   It explored blogs, online dictionaries, digital storytelling, and online stickies. 

You may access the outline and presentation links here.  http://bit.ly/oWunfi

We were going to use this Primary Wall link to introduce ourselves: http://primarywall.com/TEB0aRKt5o For whatever reasons, it wasn't working in the lab.  That was the first time we had experienced any issues with Primary Wall, so we still recommend it for elementary teachers.  It's a good reminder though to test out any technology in your given setting first and to have a plan B.

We used this Titan Pad as a wrap up of the discussion. http://titanpad.com/IRmBcuMAhB Titan Pad is an easy set up, online collaborative writing tool, with a low learning curve.  No passwords are required and only the link is needed.

Here's a thanks to everyone who joined us!


The Teachers Should See This: National Geographic Kids Jumping Jacks

I am ten years old and a guest blogger here.  I often find interesting sites and sometimes want to share them.  I will occasionally post things I think teachers should see.  Here's my first post! 

Do you know what the Guinness World Record for people doing the most jumping jacks is?  Michelle Obama is trying to break the record.  Click here to see how you can help or just to watch the event on October 11, 2011.  It is found on National Geographic Kids.  This is a site I recommend for teachers.


The Versatile Blogger at Year One

We have been blogging for approximately a year now on When Tech Met Ed.   Sylvia Ellison at El’mentor recently passed on The Versatile Blogger award to us.  It was a welcomed reminder of how professionally useful the blogging experience is.  Our purpose continues to be to explore technology as a tool and for professional development.  Along the way, we have discussed and researched topics such as gaming, transmedia storytelling, podcasts, etc.  These topics often make us think and are fun to consider in larger contexts such as educational reform and the future jobs of children. Blogging has also opened up some doors like professional networking.

After accepting The Versatile Blogger, here are some things we are requested to do:    
  1. Thank the person (people) who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog.
  2. Share 7 things about you.
  3. Pass this award along to 15 other blogs that you have discovered.
Seven Things About Us (See our individual bio pages at Cheridy and Kacey.)
  • Cheridy:  I can’t think without considering education and learning.  I’ve tried without much success. Even simple things such as taking walks, watching movies, etc. cause me to make connections with teaching and education.  This can at times be annoying to those around me, but on a positive note, it leads me to have a love for curriculum development.
  • Kacey: I am interested in learning. I spend time listening, reading and processing anything I can find to help my students learn. 
  • Cheridy:  I am interested in learning more about instructional design and effective ways of teaching online classes.  
  • Kacey: I became a teacher because as a child I had a difficult time learning. My hope is that because I struggled and eventually succeeded I can fast forward a child in their learning so they won't have to go through the pain and frustration that I did.
  • Cheridy:  Chocolate, family/friends, huckleberries, reading, teaching, traveling, and writing make me happy.  Above all, I like people and activities that make me laugh or think. 
  • Kacey: I enjoy gardening, reading, camping-- especially at the beach, and spending time with family and friends. 
  • Cheridy and Kacey:  We enjoy discussing all things education and technology and have fun collaborating.
15 Top Notch Blogs We Learn from Reading  (See our network page for more.)
  1. 21st Century Educational Technology and Learning: Michael Gorman 
  2. Bit by Bit: Bob Sprankle 
  3. Box of Tricks: Jose Picardo 
  4. Bud the Teacher: Bud Hunt
  5. Cool Tools for 21st Century Learners: Susan Oxnevad 
  6. Edu Mashup: Jessica Vaz 
  7. iLearn Technology: Kelly Tenkely 
  8. Integrating Technology in the Primary Classroom: Kathleen Morris 
  9. Langwitches: Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano 
  10. Tech The Plunge: Jeff Thomas 
  11. The Clever Sheep: Rod Lucier
  12. The Principal Blog: Melinda Miller 
  13. The Kids Should See This: Rion Nakaya and her 3 year old curator
  14. Mr. Salsich’s Class 
  15. Write Now in Room 204
Thanks again to Sylvia Ellison, our readers, and those we enjoy reading.  If you are considering blogging for professional growth, our advice is to go for it!  It’s rewarding on many levels.


Part II Gaming: Making It Work for Teachers and Students

Here’s a post with more questions than answers.  It’s a post that reflects learning in progress about gaming and education.

Here’s what I hear practicing teachers saying:  For the most part, they see the potential of gaming, but they face some challenges using it.  The technology is not always functioning in the class or able to support it.  When the tech does work, fitting it into the curriculum, making sure it aligns with the standards, etc. for multiple reasons is a task that is asking a lot from an underpaid and overworked group of dedicated people.  Some want one place to go to—where they are not searching all over the Internet to find resources.  In essence, these teachers want it incorporated into the curriculum they are using and part of a system. 

I also hear many teachers saying they are extremely hesitant to recommend or use online games that require passwords. This hesitancy is at all levels K-adult.  The ramifications of managing 25+ kindergarten students on more than one online site is understandable.  Yes, I’ve read multiple ways of doing this—using the same password, etc., but the reality of it is enough to turn most teachers away.  This issue persists all the way to adults.  I see it changing, but many of my adult students are hesitant to create yet another password and username.  It can lead to good discussions about security, digital footprints, etc, but is it all worth the time and effort the busy teacher asks?

Equal opportunities:  And then, there is the question, how can students access these same sites outside of class to extend their learning?  Not all students have access to the Internet at home; while other students in the same class not only have the Internet, but their own iPads.  Is it fair for the teacher to require or recommend online games or apps when only a portion of the students have access to them outside of class?  Is it fair for them to not recommend them?

old soul by FotoChronicle, on FlickrThese questions lead to other questions:  1. Perhaps a disruptive educational innovation in the hands of students and teachers is on the horizon that includes gaming, individualizing instruction and addresses some of the issues faced?  Oh, let’s throw transmedia  storytelling in there for good measure too.   2. What changes are on the horizon with text based curriculum?  See our previous discussion on this topic.   3. And then the inevitable can of worms: How does all this fit into standardized testing?  Life is interesting in part due to not having all the answers. 

As I search, here are actions I wish to pursue and encourage others to do
  • Keep searching for online and mobile games that do indeed foster positive learning experiences beyond rote memorization to developing high order thinking skills.  Use the revised version of Bloom’s Taxonomy as a measuring stick.  
  • Advocate for educational gaming that is accessible to teachers and students both inside and outside of school.  The author’s of Disrupting Class have an intriguing blog.  This article is one of several that relates to this topic.
  • (This is perhaps the hardest considering how much our teachers face and do.)  Encourage creative and innovative administrators and teachers to look beyond the curriculum.  There are some amazing opportunities out there that are not bound by textbooks or walls and that do incorporate the standards and keep individual students at the center. 
  • Promote computer science K-12.  Whenever we can put students in the role of the designer, empowering them with these tools, we are empowering them with critical thinking skills and perhaps shaping our future.        
In the meantime, when can teachers use gaming?  In the broader definition, most do.  See the low tech World Peace Game post for an example.   It can also begin with simple steps like discovering what is available.  (See links below to get started.)   Creating links to games on class websites or blogs can also be effective for providing kids safe spaces in independent work time or as an outside of school recommendation.   

Here are recommendations to get started for finding appropriate educational gaming:
Feel free to share additional resources with us!  Happy educational gaming!

*photo creditsCreative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License by FotoChronicle 


Part 1 Gaming: Should Fun, Learning and Games Intersect in the Class?

What’s your favorite game?  Is it a good game of chess?  Are you more of a Solitaire or crossword puzzle person? Is WoW your thing?  Perhaps you prefer sports such as soccer or basketball?  Most of us have some game(s) we like.  Mine is Pinochle.  Just saying the word makes me smile.  Think of your favorite game.  Some part of you must light up.  Strategies, fun and learning all tied together in a bundle of joy, frustration and satisfaction—games.  What, the three letter f word—fun, and learning tied together?  Is it possible? Maybe it is inevitable? Erno Rubik, inventor of the Rubik’s Cube pointed out, “Our whole life is solving puzzles.”

Here’s a “playful” post with more questions than answers.  It’s a post that reflects learning in progress.  Perhaps you can relate to my background at some level?  I’ve explored online games for learning purposes as a kid, teacher and parent.  See my past post on Number Munchers, The Oregon Trail, and Lemonade StandBoowa and Kwala bring back fond memories of interacting with music and stories with my 18 month old on snowy Michigan afternoons.   I’ve set up links for my adult ESOL students and their children to game learning opportunities.  I download apps and software and use Twitter and Google + to find educational sites for my now 10 year old.  All of this I do instinctively, but WHY?  Are online and mobile games really a good way to learn?
'Kids working on their computer.' photo (c) 2010, Jim Parker - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
I recall playing Number Munchers with such intensity that my parents had to kick me outside to play in the real world.  Is this healthy?  Was I intrinsically or extrinsically motivated?  Does gaming really lead to healthy learning? If the answers to these questions are positive, how do we as teachers fit gaming into the curriculum?  These types of questions led me and Kacey to discuss gaming and gamification.  At the end, we were both in agreement that gaming has exciting potential in education.  Here’s my take away that I plan on researching and pondering more.

Definitions matterGamification is a term I’ve seen in multiple contexts, including the business world and educationGaming extends to a wide variety of games.  Here’s my very rough breakdown of the definitions in education as I see them in my experience and at the beginning stages of research.
  1. There are games for the sake of escape.
  2. There are a lot of flashcard drill-and-kill type games and apps out there today.  They are often rewards based.  These are not the type of games we are endorsing for educational purposes, but on occasion, they may serve a purpose.
  3. The more substantive educational games encourage problem solving and extension of thinking and learning into the real world.  More recently, I’m seeing them embedded in transmedia storytelling like Inanimate Alice. (Read Gary Hayes at Personalized Media to find out more about transmedia and related topics like augmented reality.)
  4. It seems that educational gaming is stepped up a notch when students take on the role of the designer.  I’ve seen this first hand as my kid explores Sketchup.  With good reasons, computer science teachers promote programs such as Scratch for kids elementary and beyond. 
As a final thought, many of the games under each of the above categories have a social component to them.  Massively multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG’s ) depend on this.   This info.on Digital Play is useful in defining gaming related terms in my field of ESOL.  Perhaps with some imagination and discussion, any of the above types of games can be incorporated into the classroom in a healthy learning environment, even if it means just reaching out to our students and tapping into their interests.  But there’s much more potential than just that!

Here are some of the related sites we discussed worth considering:
  • Getting Serious Games Into the K-16 Classroom  is a 2010 Google Tech Talk by Victoria Van Voorhis.  Amongst many other things, she talks about how games can fit into standards and individualize instruction.
  • The video media clip of Jane McGonigal, Alternate Reality Game (ARG) developer and author of Reality is Broken, led to good discussion about my definition 2 type gaming, games that potentially have intrinsic value, games we’d like to see fitting into to the standards, augmenting instruction.  Watch her 2010 TED Talks video Gaming Can Make A Better World! Perseverance, collaboration, and hope are a few of the many concepts in her talk that should spur conversation. 
An upcoming part II post will pull together what I hear practicing teachers saying about gaming, our takeaways as applicable to education, and site/app recommendations for extending learning with gaming in education.  In the meantime, happy gaming!