Friday, April 12, 2013

ESL Podcast--to learn real English

         The Podcast I chose was from ESL Pod--the episode 885 Talking to a bank teller. Even though I have been in and out of Bank of America for several times, I am not sure I talked to the teller in a very right way. So I took this chance to learn some specific words, phrases and dialogues using in a bank. And what is more important is that I can use the series of ESL Podcast in my future teaching. It will be a very useful resource website for my students to learn and be familiar with real English conversations.
        In this Talking to a bank teller podcast, the speaker firstly presents a dialogue between a person who works in the bank and Antonio. It is a normal conversation about how to deposit and draw money and how to get cash check and pay bill. The conversation is based on real life so that students can imitate and remember all the words and phrases. The best part of the podcast is that the speaker gives a very well organized and clear explanation of the whole conversation. He points out key words like deposit,draw and cash and explain those words and phrases by real life examples. Thus, students will understand those new words and phrases by shown situations they may have been through rather than just recite them. And speakers also explain pronunciation and spelling of some complicated words like receipt,balance or transfer that may confuse beginning level English learners. Moreover, I like the way the speaker uses easier English language to explain more difficult English language. It is nice to immerse my students in a environment of English by using L1 to explain L1. In this case, students won't think about Chinese all the time.
      I like the aspect that the ESL Podcast based on real like conversation which lacks in Chinese official English textbooks. A lot of conversations I learned in China I have never heard of them in America. So what can a teacher once studying abroad bring to her students? I believe, at least, it is real English.

Monday, April 8, 2013

A new way to present your study--ePals


    Just like the website says, ePals is the place for teachers and classrooms for online collaboration. As a global community educational website, ePals provides a great stage for thousands of classrooms for students to select. Details like teachers' information, students age, location, language and brief introduction are presented  clear for students. 
    There is also an arsenal of projects for students to join in ePals. These projects are definitely interactive, cross-curricular and inclusive. For example, the project Class in New Jersey, USA Seeks Partners for Monster Writing Project. It asks students from different countries to draw pictures about monsters and narrate their pictures and exchange them with their partners in October to coincide with Halloween. It not only helps students to write and share their ideas but also gives them a chance to access to Halloween culture in a special way.Thus, in ePals, Students can research and share data with global peers. No matter what curricular students likes, such as math, sciences, languages, social and cultural studies, they can find their favorite projects to join. Furthermore, projects accomodate multiple learning styles and age ranges. If I will be an English teacher for young children, I won't worry about inadequate materials problem which is discussed a lot recently in China.
    EPals also helps students to construct their own learning communities by adding their families into their ePals network. Usually children grow up with consciousness of protecting their privacy by rejecting their parents to know their situations. And according to my experience, children get nervous when their parents try to know something from their teachers. EPals is nothing but a place to study and communicate online. It is a good place to present students' progress and success in an objective style. So it is probably better for students to share their studying outcomes with their parents.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Stupeflix--good presentation tool

    I am really happy to share my spring break vacation experience with everyone by the storytelling way. Thus, I can image how happy my students will be if they have chances to show their stories by this clear and cool way. In this way, Stupeflix can be a useful tool for students to show their periods presentations. Traditional presentations are more likely depending on memorize drafts and recite in front of peers. This is way much weaker than presentation of combination of pictures, words and even music. For me, I like this kind of romantic presentation way. And for boys who probably won't give a care about romantic, digital presentation is a nice chance to use their computer skills. Maybe girls will consult male friends.

Voice Thread--a wonderful learning tool

    I enjoyed Miao's and Fred's Voice Thread teaching very much.
    I chose Miao's Voice Thread and Fred's Voice Thread because they all selected the topic about abroad study life that allowed me have a lot to say.

    For teaching, Voice Thread fulfills several assessment requirements I just learned from assessment class. If I were a language teacher, I will use Voice Thread to assess my students. Firstly, I can assign assignment in the Voice Thread according to what I teach. For instance, if I teach words and phrases about directions, I can ask students to describe a picture of street by using words and phrases they just learned. It fulfills the content validity and give students a chance to practice oral expression ability. Secondly, Voice Thread won't take students a large amount of time to finish. It is very practical. Finally, Voice Thread allows students to hear from and comment on each other and allows teacher to comment on every student. It provides students with great washback. Excepts those rules, Voice Thread also offers a stage for students to play like students and teachers and to show themselves. They can learn from each other via the online communication. And the most important thing I want to mention is maybe Voice Thread provide students who live in remote places with opportunities to communicate with fresh teachers and students. As long as students have computers connected with internet, they can learn in digital classes.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Bookr, a nice tool

        My winter vacation

        I used Bookr to display my winter vacation in New York. Even though I met lots of problems when I tries to create the digital brochure, I still find bookr is very useful tool for my future teaching.

        I will let my students to use bookr to create stories. I will group them and assign them different tasks to finish assignments. I prefer to let students tell stories about Greek Methodology. Because tons of English words are originated from Greek Gods' names or Gods' exclusive abilities. During the preparation time, I hope students can learn stories behind words from their materials. I hope a storytelling assignment like this can lead students to learn something new both in online tools and English knowledge. And via the activity, they can learn how work together and present their productions to others.

Digital Storytelling creates creation

        According to 7 things you should know about Digital Storytelling"Digital Storytelling is the practice of combining narrative with digital content, including images, sound, and video, to create a short movie, typically  with a strong emotional component". Digital Storytelling allows various resources as its materials. Thus, storytellers can be as creative as they can to design stories. Some curriculum experts even believe that digital storytelling can be applied to nearly any subjects because of their virtually limitless in resources requirement. And digital storytelling can also be complicated as sophisticated one. As I quoted from 7 things you should know about Digital Storytelling"sophisticated digital stories can be interactive movies that include highly produced audio and visual effects, but a set of slides with corresponding narration or music constitutes a basic digital story". From this point of view, proficient level of digital storytelling requires high level of students' various abilities.
        Since digital storytelling is not the simple traditional oral story delivering, I can use it to improve several learning abilities of my future students. A well-formed digital storytelling needs a script. Students have to think what methods they will employ to support their stories in digital way. Which music is best? What kind of images to use? Is video better or animation? Students have to go through all trivial elements to design a practical plan. It is very helpful to improve students' organization ability. For the story telling part, students' are forced to choose a topic of their stories. Not like old days that teachers prepare everything, this time, students should choose appropriate stories which can be conveyed to particular audience, with electronic elements, in the time available. Thus, digital storytelling let students to express themselves not only with their own words but also with their own creation.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Let us be virtual farmers

      The game I chose is Farmgame on facebook. It is pretty close to Third World Farmer. But I really do not like the name which includes third world. When I was in China, I have played Happy Farm in RENREN (A Chinese style facebook) for a long time. I cannot count how many times I played the game. I grew flowers in my virtual farm and sent them to my friends.

      The first one it my facebook farm. And the second one is my RENREN farm.
      The language learning objective of the game is still vocabulary learning. I learned a large number of vegetation words through the game. And because pictures designed by facebook and RENREN are pretty close to real vegetation products. So students growing up in cities have a chance to familiar with plants, flowers and vegetables. The game also has a requirement of mathematics. Players have to run their farms well and sell their products in right seasons to earn money to buy expensive products' seeds and cultivate new farmland.
      It is a out-classroom game. So for me to assess students conveniently, and that is another reason I choose farmgame on facebook or RENREN, I will add my students as my facebook or RENREN friends. Then I can visit their farmlands all the time. After playing the game for a while, I can also hold a vegetation words competition in my class to assess students' learning outcome. Of course, I won't tell them when I am going to conduct the competition.