Thursday, 9 August 2012

Music- English 1

I teach English Foundations 1 and every year we study vocabulary on sports/recreation and entertainment. We study the different types of music, tv programs, and movies in our entertainment unit. I have used 3 tech tools to design some activities to help the students understand the differences between the 6 different types of music that are listed in Word by Word Picture Dictionary by Bill Bliss and Steven Molinsky. After listening to some samples of music in class, the students could listen to the screencast independently and try to identify the various types of music. The quizlet flashcards are an excellent visual for second language learners, and the students would have a chance to share their preferences when they answer the questions in the google form. In addition, we would do some role-plays where students could engage in some conversation practice with the different types of movies, tv programs, and music. They could practice asking and answering some information questions in the simple present tense. These activities would also lead to some writing practice too.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Reading #10: BYOD by Susan Bearden

I really like the idea of bringing your own device to school since a majority of students have a smart phone today. In our last staff meeting of the year in June, a helping teacher from Surrey showed us how he uses BYOD. Occasionally, he will put a quiz up on a site and have the students try to answer the questions. He uses it as a tool for review rather than to collect marks. If kids don't have a phone, they work with a partner or they use a laptop.

A few of my students took pictures of notes on the board or of a vocab list posted on the wall, so they didn't have to copy it down. Students can also look up images online or use a great website like to look up the meaning of an unfamiliar word.

The other issue is that technology is changing all of the time, and schools don't have the money to buy 30 or 60 new Ipads every couple of years. Even then, 60 Ipads are only available for 1 or 2 classes to use. If students bring their own devices, schools don't have to purchase as many computers, and the money can be spent elsewhere.

My only real concerns are that some students don't have the money to buy the latest gadgets, so they may feel left out, but in that case, they could probably share with a classmate. My other concern is that students may use their cell phones inappropriately at times although I don't think that would be much of an issue at my school because I work with adults.


This past year in my Reading 3/4 class, we read a short article on whether schools should sell junk food.  This slideshow could be used as an example for the students. The students could then do a slideshow to illustrate the disadvantages of selling junk food in our schools. Sliderocket is simple enough that I don't think that it would take too much class time to do the slideshows and the presentation is excellent.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Reading #9: Powerpointless by Ben Brown

I agree with Brown's thoughts that powerpoint can become a problem when there are too many distractions or too many words on the slides. Teachers obviously need to model how to use powerpoint with their students and give them clear directions and rubrics around any presentations that the students do with powerpoint.

For me personally, I haven't used powerpoint in my teaching, but I am open to it or another presentation tool. My biggest concern with students using it is the language barrier and the time commitment. Because my students are English language learners, they would need to be guided through the use of powerpoint quite slowly and carefully. That could take up a lot of valuable time in our short and intensive semesters. We only have 32 classes in a term, so that is about 6 1/2 weeks.

Secondly, my students don't do a lot of research projects, but I could see how it could be a useful tool for a 5W-H summary of a newspaper article in a local newspaper like the Surrey Leader in my Reading 3/4 class.

Doing more presentations would definitely help the students to gain confidence and to improve their public speaking ability. As Brown correctly points out, it would be essential to teach the students not to read from the powerpoint but to use it to organize and summarize information.

LLED 480D slideshow

In English 1 we read a simplified story on Terry Fox. We could use this activity for students to learn vocabulary. They get to translate the word, find an image, and use it in a sentence.

LLED 480D google document

To look at the full document, click here.

 Sometimes we study some banking vocabulary in English 1, so this fill in the blanks activity could serve as a review for that. We also do some role-play, reading, and written activities in this unit. 

LLED 480D form

  I could use this form in my Reading 3/4 class. We studied the Penguin Readers simplified version of Cinderella Man this past year. This form could be used as a pre-writing activity or even before a discussion to stimulate the students thinking. Many of my students are parents, so they could make some connections, and they would likely have strong opinions.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Reading #8: Collaborative Projects by Peter Skillen

I agree with Skillen's comments that "teams do not always function well." I have certainly been a part of groups before where I felt like I was doing more work than others, and I have also been a part of groups where 1 or 2 people take charge and do not accept input from the other members of the group. As Skillen points out, the teacher has to carefully plan out the lessons and group activities to try to make the groups work.

I also completely agree with his thought that students need to have conversations about their projects to determine their roles and to share knowledge. Groups can develop new insights through discussion that they may not otherwise have found. Other group members can also have a different perspective on an issue which can bring insight to all of its members.

I am also intrigued by his suggestion to encourage students to blog about their learning, their frustrations, and their questions. They can also interact with their group members through the blog.

Lastly, many of my students prefer to work independently because they sat in rows and didn't work in groups when they went to school in their home countries, so that's always a challenge when doing group work. Last year, we did some literature circles and role-plays, and the students seemed to enjoy that for the most part, so I am interested in exploring more about collaborative projects.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Reading #7: Understanding Content Curation by Nancy White

After reading this article, I still don't have a clear understanding of content curation. It is obviously different from collecting/classifying information, but it is not clear how it can be used in a classroom. Is it a new way of doing research or is it a way for teachers to evaluate and collect teaching resources or maybe something else? When I read the "audience" part of the reading about publishing your resources, it reminded me of the social bookmarking site "diigo" that I discovered in my previous class. I bookmarked some of my favorite links on there, and teachers from all over have shared some of their favorite bookmarks too. I agree with White's comment that learning is "social", and social bookmarking is one way that teachers can learn from each other.

Westcoast Reader Podcast

westcoast reader.egg on Aviary.

This podcast could be used for my ELL students to practice their listening skills. The students would have to be taught some of the vocabulary such as mourning and tragedy. I could put up some questions on my blog and give the students a chance to repeatedly listen to the podcast while listening for the answers to the questions.

For example, the questions could be:

a) What happened in Burns Lake?

b) When did it happen?

c) How much money will it cost to rebuild the mill?
It will cost _____________________to rebuild the mill.

The reading is from The Westcoast Reader.