25 September 2014

Reading Between the Lines

~Matt LightJam {Mattia Merlo} via photopin cc

In the midst of social change, between challenges and transformations, frustrations and successes, it seems that it is  educators who must bear the responsibility of all that goes wrong in education. Never mind that teachers are often the ones who spend their time seeking new ways to engage their learners of new generational habits. Never mind that teachers spend their free time doing professional training and updating their professional skills. And no, don't even mention how a teacher's job is ever done, for the load of marking, grading, filling forms, prepping lesson, designing new materials, and an increased responsibility of administration duties can all be completed in a regular working day, leaving plenty of free time to pursue hobbies and looking after one's family.... 

As for those who know everything about education and how to "fix" it, my question is simple - when was the last time you were actually teaching? How did you really engage students and capture their imagination for learning? When was the last time you received a pay rise? When was the last time you earned respect for being an educator?

When I ask those simple questions, I receive no answer. The only ones who are able to understand and reply are teachers themselves. Teachers who are in classrooms every day, enticing learners, bridging facts, figures, stimulating the desire to learn and succeed, making a syllabus come alive with meaning. Classroom teachers are the ones who challenge themselves to  make a syllabus more interesting than the instant gratification of Instagram, more necessary than the flood of messages and texts which demand immediate attention from the part of the student. 
Valentina_A via photopin cc

An education is so much more than the ability to click on a like button and send a smiley.

An education is so much more than being able to use a calculator or search engine.

And educator's job is so much more than delivering a syllabus.
1Q78 via photopin cc

If we are to make any positive, constructive, peaceful progress in this fragile world of ours,
it is through education.

And by the way....if you are reading this today, you too have a teacher to thank.

** RCB ** via photopin cc

Today's suggestion is The Teaching Channel  - an example of a site where teachers can dip into for inspiration. With videos on current educational topics and concerns, it offers ideas and a platform of discussion for educators.

17 September 2014

Autumn Resources for Teachers

Though I still have summer days in my part of the world, the beginning of an  academic year always remind me of Autumn and the pleasures of new discoveries.  Here are some which are great resources for teachers to explore and use throughout the year. 

If you teach English, then Dreamreader is a site to keep visiting as it is a free online site which provides reading practice for students. Articles are arranged by degree of difficulty (beginner to advanced) and there are lessons which include a vocabulary worksheet and audio. 

Glean offers video resources for the sciences, from Algebra to Chemistry, 

Resources for Teachers, -  a wide range of resources to help educators teach about Digital Citizenship.

If you would like a resource for the iPad, then simply turn to Common Sense Education, which has published a set of eight interactive iBooks on Digital Citizenship.  

PowerMyLearning offers a wide range of games, videos and interactive activities for K12 and is really worth having a look at. 

You can find  a wealth of resources on film, audio, books and images, from works of art to doodles. 

Which resources will you be exploring this Autumn?

Videos for Learning and Revising

For many, a new academic year has begun, and with it, new challenges, especially in regard to how best capture learners' attention in the classroom and when revising.  Language teachers have relied on using videos in lessons for many years now, and as practices change, so too does the terminology in education. Flipping the classroom is one of these cases. (see Nik Peachey on his views of flipping the classroom)

Of course, there is more to just setting a video for viewing outside the classroom. Below is   The 6-Step Guide to Flipping your Classroom:

As a language teacher, one of the aspects I most like, is being able to give learners time to learn at their own pace and having resources which they can review when they need to. By using video tools which allow me to create a focus on what learners need to learn and understand, I am also offering them a degree of learner autonomy. 
Students can work on their own, with a partner in class and later review the same video.  eduCanonEDpuzzle and Zaption are similar tools,  each having its own features which may appeal to different teachers and their needs and contexts. Here is an example made with eduCanon for a low level English class. 

Which is your favourite tool to create videos with exercises for students?

Further Suggestions:

A Wealth of Videos for Classrooms

Flip Your Students' Learning 

How to Flip an Online Course

How (And Why) to Flip Your Classroom

The 10 Best Web Tools for Flipped Classrooms

What is a Flipped Classroom?

17 August 2014

With Eyes Wide Open - Plagiarism

ransomtech via photopin cc

Plagiarism - that visible barrier that still puzzles so many students. For students studying in a foreign language, paraphrasing, citing and managing a bibliography becomes even more challenging. 

EasyBib offers citation guides, as well as great resources for teachers and students. Here
 you can see some of the infographics which EasyBib includes in its resources for teachers. 

There are also videos and lesson plans which help teachers get the message across - that yes, citation is still relevant in academic studies today. 

How do you approach plagiarism? Do you find it an issue with your students or simply let it pass quietly by?

Plagiarism from Caity Selleck on Vimeo.

Further suggestions:

Managing Bibliographies

Mission Impossible - Avoiding Plagiarism

17 June 2014

Awarding Achievements

Digital badges are great to award to students, motivating them while acknowledging their daily achievements. Yet,  there is still a place for certificates as well. Here are some suggestions which everyone can use to create certificates to award students.

Certificate Magic

Certificate Maker

Certificate Street

Certificate Creator

If you would like to explore more options with Digital Badges, or the whys and hows of Digital Badges, have a look here.

3 June 2014

Games for Decision Making

ImageChef.com - Get codes for Facebook, Hi5, MySpace and more

A common request that many teachers are familiar with: "Games! We want a game!" "No study today - games!"

Games can be used for a myriad of purposes - thinking and decision making included. 

Stop Disasters is one of those games where the player needs to make decisions in order to save lives. 

The player chooses a scenario,  then builds a community, and then develops defences to prepare for disaster. 

In a world where natural disasters regularly happen in different parts of the world,  calling students attention to how to prevent disasters is an interesting challenge where they need to make decisions in regard to tsunamis, floods, wildfires , hurricanes and more. 

Further Suggestions:

2 June 2014

Pulp an Image and Explore Gamification


June already???

Can it be that each academic year disappears more quickly than the previous? Or perhaps, being active in another spaces, I have neglected this skybox where I initially began exploring tools and platforms? Definitely less time these past months, with other projects demanding attention. 

These past months have also seen, FlipQuiz, Kahoot and Socrative, as well as Educanon, play  a special  role in my classrooms - all are great for revisions and friendly tools for teachers to create activities. 

For any course ending or about to begin as a Summer course, these are two suggestions: 

Making a newspaper with students' work is always a great motivator and with ARTHR it becomes simple with the layouts already offered. Add text and images, select the layout, typography and pages, then you are ready to print out your newspaper. 

Free Newspaper Template also offers more suggestions for templates to easily design and create newspapers with students. 

Whether because exams are around the corner and students need to have some fun, or whether preparing a summer course, Pulp-O-Mizer  generates fun images for students to include in their blogs, or even fliers and posters. 

With no sign-in, anyone can create and personalise their own image by choosing colour, title, background and character.

And what will I be exploring this summer? ClassCraft ! 

With Gamification being promoted in different contexts, exploring ClassCraft is surely worth spending some time on. 

Further Suggestions:

ClassRealm - Creative Classroom Management

For anyone interested in Gamification and Language Learning, IATEFL will be hosting an Online Conference  on Saturday, 14th June, 2014. Beginning at 2pm GMT, the programme promises to clarify and inspire anyone who is about to dip into Gamification.