Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Promising grammar site

I found what seems like a good, comprehensive grammar site: http://www.ego4u.com/en/cram-up/grammar
It's a German site.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Teach Collaborative Revision with Google Docs


Below is a cut/paste from the site...excellent information

"Revision is a critical piece of the writing process—and of your classroom curriculum. Now, Google Docs has partnered with Weekly Reader’s Writing for Teens magazine to help you teach it in a meaningful and practical way.

The sharing features of Google Docs enable you and your students to decide exactly who can access and edit documents. You’ll find that Google Docs helps promote group work and peer editing skills, and that it helps to fulfill the stated goal of The National Council of Teachers of English, which espouses writing as a process and encourages multiple revisions and peer editing.

On this page, you will find several reproducible PDF articles from Writing magazine filled with student-friendly tips and techniques for revision. You'll also find a teacher’s guide that provides you with ideas for how to use these materials with Google Docs to create innovative lesson plans about revision for your classroom.

Getting Started

1) Download a step-by-step tutorial [pdf] for Google Docs.
2) Learn about the comments and revision features of Google Docs [pdf].

3) Download, print, and share the following articles [pdf] with your students:

With a Little Help From My Friends: The Gifts of a Writing Buddy
Writing's Top 10 Tips for Revision
Collaborative Revision Checklist
Individual Revision Checklist
4) Download our Educators Guide: Teaching Revision with Google Docs

After reviewing our activity ideas and Google Docs tutorials, you may develop your own lesson plans and ideas. We want to hear from you! We invite you to share your curriculum ideas with the Google Educators community through our Google for Educators Discussion Group."

Friday, July 23, 2010

Higher Education Information Website


The above website (College Atlas) has some good information on higher education options and opportunities that can be used by yourself, or for your children. It gives useful information on types of schools, where to find loans, jump starting college planning etc. There are tabs for four year institutions, community colleges, international schools and even a listing of colleges by major. This is an excellent tool to help you through the sometimes confusing maze of information. Click on the address above to access the site.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Help a Good Program get the Funding it Needs!

Vote everyday until the end of May. Every VOTE counts! Just click on the VOTE bar under the message. You'll need to register the first time, and after just remember to click on VOTE daily. Let's make something good happen for our community.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Tech Education: Where's the Money?

If there is one thing that you can count on, it's that new technology costs money. Whether it's the new iPad (wonderful, but where's the FLASH!?) or a wireless anything, the issue for education is great, but about the cost...
Yes, schools at all levels and across the country are struggling to pay for instructors and programs, so tech funding often comes in as an also-ran in dwindling budgets. Instructors are told to 'use what you have'. Fortunately, there are many Websites and educational social networks that can come to the rescue.
Personally, I love the Internet. The new social network options for instruction are amazing. Obviously blogs and wikis and nings etc. can create new communities that focus in on the topics instructors want to share. Other sharing sites such as Google docs make communication across the district or across the world not only possible but easy. Sure, there are lessons to be taught to students regarding what they post and where they post. But these are the same concerns as schools have had to teach for years (as in Stranger Danger...)
But having the tools available is not the same as knowing they are available.
It's time for instructors to start using the share apps, both for classroom instruction and professional development. If everyone has to make do with limited funds, then share the tools that can make that happen. More importantly, bring the STUDENTS into the fold, and let them help design their own lessons. The end result is a win/win for everyone.

Here is a start...Classroom 2.0:

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Wow, What a Summer

All I can say is 'Wow, what a summer!' The weather has hardly been summer-like, but that aside, it has been a long hot season for education. Funding issues and concerns top the list. Whether funding is provided by state, federal or private grants, the economic drought extended to education in a big way. We needed to cancel our summer scheduled classes, and were faced with up to a 50% cut in classes for the fall. Fortunately the fall funding cuts were less dire than the original predictions, but still, at a time when the demand for ESL and GED classes is at the highest we've seen in years, we have had to cut back on offerings, making for many disappointed students.
I run two programs, one a college-based Adult Education Learning Center (AELC) and the second a Digital Divide CTC named the Aurora Community Technology Center (ACTC). Both programs are grant funded and technology-based.
The AELC works with students to enhance the skills they learn in the ESL and GED classroom. We cross-correlate the classroom skills with academic software and websites. Students come into the AELC with nothing more than their class levels, and we place them on the appropriate applications. In addition, instructors also work one-on-one with the students. Classes begin again this coming Monday, but I have been receiving calls non-stop from students for weeks. High demand, with limited ability to provide the services at levels to meet that demand.

The ACTC is housed off-campus, and provides community residents with technology training, from Basic Computers through MS Office and Quick Books. Courses also include topics such as Job Preparation, Resume Writing, and Using Social Networking sites in Business. A few additional courses are also interspersed, such as Web Page Development, Publishing and Digital Photography. These courses started July 20, and have been very popular. Another aspect of the ACTC is a drop-in site for the Microsoft Elevate America vouchers. In two weeks I've dispersed over 100 vouchers, and answer calls daily for additional vouchers.
The limits of the economic condition have made continued education no longer a luxury but a necessity. I've talked with dozens of people who have been trying to get a new job for nearly a year, without success. Qualified, talented people are being cut out of the workforce. The MS vouchers for Business Workers (Office products and certification), and IT Professionals are being snapped up by those who will try any means to keep their resumes current. Community colleges have seen a surge in enrollment, due to both the affordable cost and the need to update skills. Our 13.2% increase last fall has almost doubled this fall. Financial Aid has also doubled their requests. Technology programs are filling fast, as people search for any means to make them more employable. And of course, our funding has either been cut or remained stagnant from last year, giving us little flexibility to provide more offerings. We all need to work together to provide the kind of services that meet the needs of this changing world. And for those of us in positions that offer these services, the long hours of summer will likely continue well into fall.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Write4net: Publish without blogs


Publish full articles without needing a blog or site. There's no setup or login. Just write your text and Write4net will publish it using your Twitter account. That's it. So easy. And free!

Publish now! You can format your text with several features, including pictures and YouTube, Vimeo and DailyMotion videos. Your text will be published and instantly tweeted. Plus you get a personal page, blog style, where everybody can find all your articles (it even has RSS!).

Monday, June 01, 2009

Timing is Everything

You just never know. A few weeks ago I attended a webcast from Classroom 2.0. As the webinar was winding down, I glanced over at the chat area and saw some comments that I agreed with, and said so. As luck would have it, the webinar ended and I thought, well, that ends that. Much to my surprise, minutes later I received an email from another webinar attendee...James N Shimabukuru, University of Hawai`i - Kai`olani CC with the message:

"I'm wondering if you're the same "jsotir" who participated in the Elluminate webcast that ended about a half hour ago. I was intrigued by your text messages re the need to develop online programs from the ground up instead of as extensions of existing traditional F2F models. I believe we share the same view. "jpatten," who also participated in the session, also seems to share this view. I haven't been able to "find" him via a google search.
I'm wondering if you (and jpatten if we can contact him) and I could further discuss these ideas in email exchanges -- with an eye toward publishing the results in a blog article"


Then this message:

Mr. John Patten,
I'm wondering if you're the same "jpatten" who participated in the Elluminate webcast that ended a little over an hour ago.
I was intrigued by your text message exchanges with Ms. Judith Sotir re the need to develop online programs from the ground up instead of as extensions of existing traditional F2F models.
I believe the three of us share similar views.
I'm wondering if we could further discuss these ideas in email exchanges -- with an eye toward publishing the results in a blog article.
I've contacted Ms. Sotir, and she expressed an interest in participating in this email discussion. I hope you'll be able to join us. If yes, then I'll email the two of you a brief intro to serve as a rough starting point.

John Patten, director of technology for the Sylvan Union School District in Modesto, also agreed. Now we had a team, and even a team name...JJJForum. And although the content of our group discussion is still evolving, I decided to write about the formation of this team. I'm old enough, to still find the ability to create such a project in what was literally minutes from a casual chat in a sidebar of a webinar nothing short of magical. Three people, hundreds of miles apart, were able to start sharing thoughts and ideas as if we were sitting next to each other in a regular seminar. Jim, who is also the editor of ETC Journal did a simple Google search and found John and me. Emails sent to us confirmed that we were both in the webinar chat, and that we were interested.
Whatever comes from the article itself is another topic. The interesting aspect for me was that it is a perfect example of where technology and education will likely lead us. Web 2.0 vehicles such as blogs and wikis, Facebook, MySpace and Twitter make communication instantaneous, and the world a tiny place. Education must mutate into this virtual reality, which is rapidly becoming a part of our lives. Arguments can be made that Facebook posts are usually vapid and uncessary. Perhaps, but only to the degree that conversations with the same individuals is likewise. My own family blog has migrated to Facebook. I know that my nephew has landed a summer job (which makes my brother happy), or see pics of new babies with their proud parents. I can comiserate with a friend who has a never-ending cold, and support another who has lost a treasured pet. Perhaps none of these qualify as earth-shattering announcements, but they keep us in touch with each other. They are a form of communication. As educators, we must accept these changing forms of communication and use them to help us relate to our students. Our students will change, and we must change with them to remain relevant. It's just a question of time.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Student Hotlists

The AELC will not be running classes this summer, but this cartoon explains to students how to use the Student Hotlists in the right column of this Blog to find approved academic Websites to study until classes resume in the fall.

Dvolver movie, and another simple but effective tool for teaching students to begin using Web 2.0

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

GED Math website

'There is a good website for GED math students. It has very good visual aids. It is http://www.gedmathgraphics.net/ Check it out!' (posted by Kristy on the AELC Blog).

Since the above post, several other AELC instructors have tried this site with students, and they like the visual aspect of the site. Kudos to Howard Myers for recognizing and filling a need, and I'll update this post as more comments come in. Currently, a student is also trying out the Spanish version, and he'll comment when he is done. This is an excellent tool for students who are having problems with the math portion of the test, and works well for those who tested in the 3-8th grade level for math.

Contact – Howard Myers, Ed.D. HowardMy@aol.com

Monday, April 27, 2009

Waubonsee College AEHS Induction

Created using ANIMOTO.  The simplicity and elegance of Animoto makes a strong statement for the use of Web 2.0 technologies in the classroom.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

UDUTU: Online Course Authoring

http://udutu.com/   My UDUTU is an online course authoring site. The main advantage is the ability to add rich media (the kind that takes up bandwidth) and having it resized for optimization automatically. There are good tutorials onsite, not only for developing the product but also for developing a strong academic structure as well. It includes some uses of Bloom's Taxonomy, development of learning outcomes you wish to achieve and design of the course itself. .

From UDUTU:  "Adding rich media to course in myUdutu is made simple because the compression and resizing to make it play on the web is all done for you automatically.

When you upload images or movies or sound files from your computer to a screen in your myUdutu course they are automatically resized and optimized for bandwidth efficiency on the web. They will also become a part of your personal learning object repository for future use. At any time you can publish the course onto our web server, and let your interested parties view it, or you can zip it and save it to your own computer, ready to be deployed wherever you prefer."

From the Blog Computer Methods and Applications by THX2: this is the info on an online course authoring site called UDUTU:
" Udutu.com is a website that provides online course authoring software. If you want to make online courses, eLearning modules or training programs, then Udutu.com can offer you a good answer to your needs. Udutu.com’s main product offering is myUdutu™. It is an easy-to-use online authoring software that can be used by anyone. With this software, you would no longer need to rely on programmers to produce for you good quality online modules. myUdutu™ enables any user to create interactive courses rich with visual media which greatly improves training opportunities for students and employees alike. It can be used in all fields and professions providing human resource managers, trainers, professionals, teachers, etc., the edge in making such courses. With its WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) feature, myUdutu™ attracts more users...
...Another breakthrough that the site offers is that it ties up with social networking sites such as Facebook to build up a learning network in which productive individuals can work together...
...Its simplicity and its customization is also one of its values. You only have to access udutu.com from the internet, build your course by importing PowerPoint presentations, customize your learning windows, and add videos and audios, and then publish it using the site’s server, and you’re done!
...The experts can either upload their courses through their own server or use the Udutu server for a measly fee of $1."

ESL Flashcards

I had a request for finding free ESL flashcards with pictures. I have 3 sites that cover that category (all are also listed in the side column under Recommended Web 2.0 Sites):

http://www.eslhq.com/ requires a free registration. Has many different emotions, body parts etc.
http://www.eslflashcards.com/ requires a free registration, has choice of color or BW pictures, and can include the term or not.
http://quizlet.com/ requires a free registration, can also register with Facebook account, and quizzes can be accessed from that account. Some are prepared, or you can make your won.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easy Wikis: Jottit


For those of you who really want to create your own blogs or wikis, but need an easy site to help you grow your expertise, I suggest both Blogger (http://blogger.com/) and Jottit (http://jottit.com/), create by Camtasia Studio 4. I tried the Jottit site out yesterday, and would think it easy enough for most beginners to master in a very short time. My sample wiki is at http://wccaelc.jottit.com/, and is just a practice site for me to try new techniques. I've used other wiki sites, such as Wetpaint (http://wetpaint.com/) and until recently, was concerned about the ads (it is free, after all). However, you can now apply as an education site which eliminates most of the ad content, solving that dilemma,
Jottit is a no nonsense site developed for educational uses. It isn't as robust as say the Wetpaint site, but you quickly learn how to adapt to a wiki format. A very useful tool in the edit mode, where you will be creating your content, is in the top right corner, and it is called 'formatting help', This gives you some simple coding tools to create things such as italics or links. You can create as many pages as you like, and you can edit them as you need to. Like most wikis, it also gives you a history of your edits. If you are new to the world of wikis, this is a great starter site. Check out the screencast on Demo Girl if you need more instruction: http://demogirl.com/2007/11/02/build-a-website-on-the-fly-with-jottit/.

Custom You Tube Video Players

To create a You Tube Video Viewer, go into your You Tube account.  Go to More.;Custom Video Players.
Create customized video players for publishing to websites or blogs. You can change the colors and contents of a player at any time, and all instances of that player will automatically update to the new settings. Be sure you have saved some videos to a Playlist or as Favorites. You can choose the type of player and which Playlist to use. You Tube will then generate an embeddable code for your blog or wiki. To use on a Blogger account, make sure you choose the Edit HTML tab before pasting in code.
Clicking on the left and right tabs above with allow you to see which videos I've chosen for this play list. Click on the video of choice to view on this player.

UPDATE: 5/6/09:  I've seen the error message on this player for a couple of days now. I tried re-doing the custom video player and reinstalling the code, but to no avail.  I will think this through and see if I can find a resolution. Has anyone else had problems with this app? 

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

My Favorite MI/Web 2.0 Tools

I personally love Web 2.0. I'm also aware that my own staff, although they all try, may not embrace these tools as fondly as I do. That said, I decided to create a short list of my very favorite Web 2.0 tools for MI. If you don't know what MI is, see the post immediately below this one...
Actually, there are quite a few more, which I've listed as 'Web 2.0 Tech Tools Recommended' in the right hand column of this blog. However, I wanted to give you a flavor of what you can do with Web 2.0.  Please make note of the fact that I have little patience, so therefore all of these tools have an intuitive quality to them that makes using them quite easy. Click and check out these samples, then scroll down for even more. When you find those you like you can just come back to this site (and remember only ONE URL) to access them when you need them. And here's an old school tip from an old-schooler...I have a Rolodex in my office where I make a card for each of these sites, with the date joined and any passwords or user names that I need to use them. On the back of the card I put a short description, and then file them by what they do, and then the title. These passwords are not going to help anyone who is seeking to steal my identity (word to the wise), but since they are all unique, I need to keep track of them somehow.

MI: the 'New' Buzzword

One of the latest 'buzzwords' in education is the theory, first espoused in 1983 by Howard Gardner, regarding Multiple Intelligences, or MIs. This concept plays well into the social fabric of the technological revolution, as it shows the need for educators to examine more extensively the 'how' of learning as well as the 'why'. So much of the way students learn today is wrapped in this theory, either by design or default. Once computers moved from 'media' (although admittedly this was short-lived) to 'multimedia', so did society. With the advent of personal computers in the early 90s, and cell phones and the WWW hitting the general population in the mid-1990's, life as we know it changed dramatically. It seems as if almost overnight everyone had a phone attached to their ears for most of their waking hours. Households were figuring out how to include the very expensive computer into the family budget.

In schools, computers started trickling into classrooms, then curricula. Suddenly the world was awash in tech terms. Unfortunately, in many instances, instructors were trying to fit this new square peg into the old round hole, and despite a lot of banging on that square peg, it never fit snugly into the hole. But to their credit, many tried to make things work. Of course, there was also the problem of fitting the fat square tech peg into the skinny round hole of the available curriculum budget. Once the WWW came into play, we had the additional learning curve that using these interactive websites incurred. Web 2.0 brought on even more problems for the classroom instructor. Suddenly (or so it seemed) we were inundated with potential websites and tools, and classroom instructors, already weary from all the accountability issues, started to lose interest just as their students found it.

Email was cool, but then blogs and wikis came into the picture. Students were involved in text-messaging (TMs), instant messaging (IMs), social network sites (think Twitter, Facebook, My Space, Jaiku etc), and Second Life, which isn't real at all, but students sometimes think it is. Schools were now outfitted with computers and peripherals, but their use was spotty, even among the best instructors. So it was inevitable that the concept of MI which was developed prior to the personal computer wave would find a home in the post Web 2.0 phase. And yes, we are well into Web 3.0, and 4.0 and...trust me, we can .0 to infinity and beyond.

What does this mean for the average, tech-challenged classroom instructor? Well, the good news is that Web 2.0 doesn't always require a lot of tech savvy. As a matter of fact, you can turn that part over to the students, who are usually quite capable of incorporating it into their work. In the latest issue of Edutopia (April/May 2009, Edutopia.org), there is question that was asked in the Sage Advice column last month: "How do you address multiple intelligences in your classroom?" The responses are great, and show that instructors are indeed trying to creatively inspire all of most of the multiple intelligences that their students possess.

My favorite was from seventh grade science and math teacher Carol Craig in Trinidad, West Indies: "Right now my students are working on 'Rock Concerts'. They are divided into groups of 4, with 2 rocks assigned to each group.
They research their rocks, write a song using the facts, design a t-shirt that they wear at their performance, and perform the song in front of their classmates. They also create a poster, a model and a presentation for the perfomance. They can add a dance if they like."

I personally love this assignment. It's an extension of the theories from old tv shows like Schoolhouse Rock. Give the students a somewhat boring assignment (my apologies to earth science instructors but rocks are not usually not the most engaging subject), and make it into a project that they can all use their varying MI skills to achieve. Creating a song using their research is a wonderful way to remember the information (remember: "Conjunction Junction, what's your function?"), and allows for collaborative learning (yet another current buzzword, or is it buzz phrase?) with real learning goals (bzzzzzzz, bzzzzz).

Instructors have always had aspects of MI in their classes (field trips, movies, film strips) but now the goal is toward using the available tools for project-based environments that are heavily into socializing. This is the new educational curriculum. Be there or -be square...

Information on Howard Gardner and Multiple Intelligences:

"Howard Gardner claims that all human beings have multiple intelligences. These multiple intelligences can be nurtured and strengthened, or ignored and weakened. He believes each individual has nine intelligences:

Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence -- well-developed verbal skills and sensitivity to the sounds, meanings and rhythms of words

Mathematical-Logical Intelligence -- ability to think conceptually and abstractly, and capacity to discern logical or numerical patterns

Musical Intelligence -- ability to produce and appreciate rhythm, pitch and timber

Visual-Spatial Intelligence -- capacity to think in images and pictures, to visualize accurately and abstractly

Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence -- ability to control one's body movements and to handle objects skillfully

Interpersonal Intelligence -- capacity to detect and respond appropriately to the moods, motivations and desires of others.

Intrapersonal Intelligence -- capacity to be self-aware and in tune with inner feelings, values, beliefs and thinking processes

Naturalist Intelligence -- ability to recognize and categorize plants, animals and other objects in nature

Existential Intelligence -- sensitivity and capacity to tackle deep questions about human existence, such as the meaning of life, why do we die, and how did we get here.

Howard Gardner1 defined the first seven intelligences in FRAMES OF MIND (1983). He added the last two in INTELLIGENCE REFRAMED (1999). Gardner is a psychologist and Professor at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education, as well as Co-Director of Harvard Project Zero.

Based on his study of many people from many different walks of life in everyday circumstances and professions, Gardner developed the theory of multiple intelligences. He performed interviews with and brain research on hundreds of people, including stroke victims, prodigies, autistic individuals, and so-called "idiot savants."

According to Gardner,

All human beings possess all nine intelligences in varying amounts.
Each person has a different intellectual composition.
We can improve education by addressing the multiple intelligences of our students.
These intelligences are located in different areas of the brain and can either work independently or together.
These intelligences may define the human species."

Concept to Classroom

Sites from Edutopia

If you've never seen Edutopia magazine (published by the George Lucas Foundation) I suggest you add it to your 'must read' list. It has a lot of useful ideas and thoughtful articles defining what works in public education. One column is 'Head of Class>Hot Stuff' which has great new websites to explore:

Woogi World: http://www.woogiworld.com/ Free for kids; $7 per month for "Honors Program"

Combining a virtual game with school standards, the world of the Woogi teaches children in grades K-6 responsible uses of the Internet while also promoting cooperative behavior offline and encouraging students to enhance their reading capabilities. Educational online games reinforce other classroom skills, while offline activities promote community involvement and family time.

Europeana: http://www.europeana.eu/portal/

Coming soon to a laptop near you: Vast treasures from more than 1,000 manuscripts, as well as museums, libraries, archives, and film and sound materials from 27 European nations. From the Magna Carta to music scores by Mozart, Europeana seems to be the European Commission's answer to Google's ambitious venture (along with the Library of Congress) to create a World Digital library. The site offers multilingual searching and plans to have ten million items by 2010. A prototype version with two million items went live last November, got swamped by users, promptly crashed, and is now up and running again with quadruple the server capacity. Stay tuned for the full-blown site.

Poe Revealed 1809-2009 http://www.poe200th.com/

Celebrate the master of the macabre's 200th birthday with help from this site. Students can watch an animated version of The Tell Tale Heart, solve the mystery of how Poe died, read an overview of his life, take a fact-or-fiction quiz, and compete in a writing competition (deadline May 8). The site also offers teachers information about Poe's life and writing technique, suggested readings, and a classroom-activity packet.

Classroom Earth http://www.classroomearth.org/

Delivering activities and resources for six high school subject areas and 14 topics, this online resource from the National Environmental Education Foundation in partnership with the Weather Channel helps teachers incorporate environmental content into lesson plans for language arts, math, science, social studies, and more. Educators can also learn about professional-development opportunities and find relevant grant information.

This article was also published in the April 2009 issue of Edutopia magazine under the headline "Hot Stuff".

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Voice Thread

I previously reviewed this site, but it's worth a re-run. http://voicethread.com/ It can be used for distance learning, collaborative, asynchronous VoiceThread discussions, meetings, lectures and more. There is a purchase price, but it's quite reasonable. You can try it out free by signing up, which will give you 3 free voice threads. Go into 'My Voice' to see some video tutorials of how the site works.

"A VoiceThread is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos and allows people to leave comments in 5 ways - using voice (with a mic or phone), text, audio file, or video (via a webcam). Share a VoiceThread with friends, students, and colleagues for them to record comments too.
Users can doodle while commenting, use multiple identities and pick which comments are shown through moderation. VoiceThreads can even be embedded on web sites and exported to MP3 players or DVDs as archival movies.
With VoiceThread, group conversations are collected and shared in one place from anywhere in the world. All with no software to install."

Quizlet Online Flashcards


Study vocabulary or almost anything
Create your own flashcards - sign up free
Share flashcards with your friends
View the quick guide or watch the video tour

This site has a lot of prepared flash cards ready to use with your students, or you can create your own. Areas include languages and vocabulary, standardized tests, general curriculum and professions and trades.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Education Today and Tomorrow: You Tube Video

This is a thought-provoking video on what challenges face educators today.  Highly recommended!


Monday, February 23, 2009

From: Infinite Thinking Machine

Here's a list from http://infinitethinkingmachine.org/ that if you haven't seen, may be useful to your classes:
(and if you don't have their Blog on your list, you should consider adding it)
"This week, I'd like to share some powerful web resources that have the power to engage students using digital tools and the desire today's youth have to express themselves, all while using the increasing amount of primary source materials available online.

As an educator who believes that teaching students to honor intellectual property, I'm always looking for sites that include materials students can use to create multimedia. Fair use guidelines gives us some flexibility in using multimedia inside our classroom. But in the world of Web 2.0, the audience for these media projects has expanded outside our classroom, with more and more interest to authentic global audiences. All one has to do is look at the popularity of You Tube and other video sharing sites to know that young people are highly motivated to express themselves to audiences outside our classroom. Thanks to the Creative Commons license, more and more materials are available online that students can use to create and publish their multimedia productions for a global audience.

But this week, I'd like to share 5 sites that go one step further than Creative Commons materials. These sites host primary source materials and encourage young people to use them to produce and publish their own creations. Some even include online tools to help students with the process."

This site was created by a voter registration organization who wanted to keep the young people they registered involved and engaged. To do this, they provided them with free online tools and raw materials through “America Now” and “America Then” playlists. Remix America encourages students to draw parallels between the present and the past. They hope that viewing seminal speeches and events from American History will inspire young people to express themselves and take action on the issues that matter to them.

Teachers around America have stumbled upon the software and incorporated into their classroom. One teacher asked her students to take a quote from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and apply it to the 2008 election. Another asked her students to create PSAs on the issues that matter most to them – censorship, war, civil rights. You can browse through “Favorite Remixes” section to see some of these great remixes!


NASA has done something similar to engage students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The NASA's Do-It-Yourself Podcast activity provides students with audio clips, video, and photos related to space. Students can use the NASA materials produce their own audio or video productions.


PrimaryAccess is a web-based tool that offers teachers and students access to digital images and other materials that enable them to construct movies using tools provided by the web site.

Althought many of the primary source materials are photograph and still images, the tools provided on the website allows students to add motions to create a movie effect. I fist learned about Primary Access while listening to Glen Bull's presentation during the 2008 K-12 online conference.


This project is slightly different in that it not only provides the raw materials for students to produce a video, but also complete an advocacy event. The project requires schools to register and the topic is more focused. According to the project web site “Each year, Take 2 shoots 2-3 months of high definition footage in a different conflict region and creates extensive supporting and background documentation then licenses the package free of charge to qualified educational institutions. Participating schools will complete one small task to help grow Take 2’s infrastructure and undertake at least one advocacy event upon completion of their projects


This website is not yet populated with lots of materials, but has promise in offering students free, educational, copyright-friendly media resources. According to the project website “Students and teachers around the world can access pre-made collections, or "kits," of various digital assets - still images, background music, narratives, video and text. Each kit is built around a common theme, or curricular topic. For students, this becomes the construction paper of the 21st century --allowing them to create reports and projects filled with rich, immersive media for communicating their vision of whatever subjects they chose. AS they master the technology, they will progress from building projects with supplied materials to projects where they find or create their own resources -- a strategy that results in truly authentic assessment as measured by the projects produced."

Signs for ESL Civics

For those of you looking to supplement the Ventures curriculum with signs, there are a number of web sites available for you to use as resources. I’ve listed a small sampling below.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

NEW ESL Civics Hotlist

There's a new addition to the Student Hotlists: ESL Civics. Check it out by going into the list, choosing ESL Civics and clicking on it to enter the hotlist. As with all the hotlists, new additions will be added as I find them. Anyone who has sites to add can add a comment to this post, and I will review the site and add it if it is academically sound.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Author Stream: Upload PowerPoint Presentations


Author STREAM is a new app that allows you to quickly and easily upload PowerPoint presentations no matter what size. You can upload to share on MP3s, iPods, You Tube, Blogs and Websites, or, by using the Present Live link, you can share and discuss the PowerPoint with participants live and interactively. They can also participate in a live chat area.
You can use authorSTREAM to:
  • Create e-learning content created with PowerPoint.
  • To publish reports with audio-visual slideshows created with PowerPoint.
  • Embed PowerPoint presentations in your blog or website.
  • Convert and download them as video or share on iPods, iPhones and YouTube.
  • Find, browse and download PowerPoint presentations created by other members.
Present Live link:
Another excellent tool on this site is Present Live!  It allows you upload your PPT and share it with colleagues world wide in real time. Participants can also respond in real time. A video explanation is available on the Authorstream site. See below:

Just upload your PowerPoint presentation and share the 'Present Live' link with your contacts.
All your contacts can then watch and discuss the same presentation. You can click through the slides and everyone attending will be on the same slide. Animations work the same way as in your PowerPoint file. Chat with attendees in a common chat area.

Call them on your favorite VoIP application like Skype or using the good old conference call and voila, you are in a live web meeting. And yes, Present Live is free for authorSTREAM members!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Nursing Assistant Practice and Review

http://www.hospitalenglish.com/students/nurse.php  Hospital English  Prepared for English as a Second Language student. Work on vocabulary, hear the vocabulary, lessons, matching and fill in the blank.

http://www.spanishdict.com/translate/nurse  English Spanish vocabulary, dialogue

http://www.hangman.learningtogether.net/anatomy/index.htm  Hangman game, anatomy words

http://www.manythings.org/vocabulary/lists/c/words.php?f=people_in_hospitals  English vocabulary for hospitals and health

http://www.smartphrase.com/Spanish/sp_medical_phr.shtml  Spanish/English medical terms and phrases

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Interactive Social Assessment: Poll Everywhere

Here's a Web 2.0 tool to immediately create interest during PowerPoint presentations:
  • Ask your audience a question
  • They answer using SMS text messages or the web
  • Results update live in your web browser or PowerPoint
This is the URL for the classroom side of the picture: http://www.polleverywhere.com/sms-classroom-response-system
Yes, it does require people to have cell phones and text messaging or browsing capabilities, but imagine the uses this would have in an audience.  There is no charge for up to 30 people using it at a time. Costs for larger groups are quite reasonable. You can sign up for free and there is instant set-up. No equipment (other than the cell phones) is needed.

Increase classroom participation and attentiveness
Encourage risk-taking with anonymous student responses
Elicit diverse opinions when there isn't a correct answer
Expose social misconceptions
Gauge student comprehension of material immediately
Grab students with thought-provoking opening questions
Allow students to provide instructor feedback
Automate taking attendance
Assess last night's reading with a quick quiz
Strengthen retention

Poll Everywhere can accept student responses via SMS text messaging on mobile phones, smartphones with data plans, or regular computers and wireless laptops via the web. Smartphones such as BlackBerries, iPhones, and Windows Mobile devices are quickly gaining popularity, and students can bypass SMS text messaging fees by responding through their smartphone web browser.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Create Screencasts: Screentoaster.com


ScreenToaster is a free online screencast service allowing to capture screen activity. ScreenToaster is compatible with Windows Vista, Mac OS and Linux. It's incredibly easy to use and understand. It's still in beta format, but you can request an invitation to join. A demo explaining the site is embedded below.

To watch videos : Just click on a video to launch the player.

To record videos : Click on "Start recording" or "New recording", start recording using the shortcuts.

When finished, add audio and subtitles, describe and tag your video so other users can easily find your screencasts.

Monday, November 17, 2008

G Cast: Audio Podcast

http://www.gcast.com/   Here is another example of an audio only podcast that uses any telephone to set up. (see previous post on http://www.gabcast.com/) The sites are similar in function. This is the Gcast blurb:

"What's a podcast? Your own audio broadcast, where you can easily record voice messages, mix in your favorite music, and share it all for the world to hear.

Create your podcast for FREE!
Take a quick tour
FREE hosting
FREE podsafe music
Mix playlists online
Embed your podcast
Record by phone
Email alerts

Gcast is run by the same people that run GarageBand.com. Our goal with GarageBand is to redefine how music is discovered and promoted. Our goal with Gcast is to make personal broadcasting simple. In pursuing these goals we hope to democratize both music and media"

Here is how to use it:
First you need to set up an account. To set up an account (http://novemberlearning.com/http;/www.gcast.com), begin by clicking on the Sign up now link You will be taken to a form that asks your email address, your zip code, and a password. Fill out the form and click I Agree, create my account . You can edit your podcast's name and description and upload a picture if you choose. Click Next. The next step will ask you to enter the ten-digit phone number that you would like to register with as well as a four-digit PIN number.
You should receive a confirmation email. Before you start podcasting, open this email and click on the confirmation link. Now, your class is ready to start podcasting using any phone. Once finished recording, press 3, and the recording will immediately be published.
Thanks to CC Long from the Classroom 2.0 Discussion for the info.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Classroom 2.0 Discussion Groups

I highly recommend Classroom 2.0 as a tool for educators ( http://www.classroom20.com/ ). In addition to various blogs and wikis, discussion groups and other informative, collaborative social networking, the site also has some interesting tools you can embed into your own elements. Check it out!

DigiSkills Group

"Developing Digital Skills @ School" is devoted to teachers and students working on innovative digital teaching methods like blogging, webquests, wikis, podcasting et cetera. Additionally, the project is open to educators all over the world.


Quintura: Visual Cloud Search Engine

http://www.quintura.com/ Quintura takes searching to a new level...up in the clouds. It employs the new cloud technology to provide a more visual search, and also lets you see not just the usual search results, but also any images or videos that are in the selected websites. The images are useful if you need some quick visuals for PowerPoint presentations etc.

It also has an Amazon tab which shows you books available on the subject. It includes a widget building script so you can easily add it to your blogs or wikis (there's a sample in the right hand column).

For second language learners, the clouds help them find the exact information they need if they have difficulty determining effective key words, and the visualization helps them to check that what they have found is what they were indeed searching.

"Visualization becomes the center of user experience replacing antiquated listings and Boolean strings.

Visual Find Engine
While viewing the Quintura Cloud, you can visually navigate and easily refine in order to find relevant information faster and more efficiently!"

Scribd: Document Sharing Site

One of the most daunting tasks for people using the Web is the number of formats that are used, and the difficulty of using them cross platforms. This takes the idea of a PDF file and brings it to the Web 2.0 audience, allowing it to be used effectively on websites. From the Cogdogroo site:(http://cogdogroo.wikispaces.com/)   "Scribd is one of the best web tools for English Language Learners to use for language development. They can write a few sentences, a story, or an essay; easily upload it to Scribd, and, then, within seconds, have its text-to-speech capability read it back to them. Plus, it’s hosted there for free." (Larry Ferlazzo: http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/)


Scribd is a San Francisco startup company changing the way people share documents online. You can think of Scribd as a big online library where everyone can publish original content, including you!
Since Scribd launched in March 2007, it has become one of the top 300 websites on the Internet, receiving over 20 million monthly visitors. It has also accumulated over 17 billion words in its library, making it five times the size of Wikipedia.

The Ideas Behind Scribd
Scribd began with a simple observation – there are billions of documents sitting siloed on people's hard drives. By making it easy for people to publish their documents to the internet, Scribd has unlocked this treasure trove of information. Every day, nearly a million people come to Scribd.com, most of them seeking some piece of information stored in this library. Some percentage of these people sign up for Scribd to be a part of the Scribd community and upload their own documents, perpetuating the cycle which powers Scribd's growth.
One of early problems Scribd encountered was that there was no good format for displaying its documents, as formats like PDF, Microsoft Word, and PowerPoint were designed before the Internet existed.
iPaper and Scribd Platform:
In response, Scribd created iPaper, the first document format built for the web. Like YouTube's player did for video formats, iPaper standardizes all document formats into one viewer that can be seamlessly integrated into webpages. Recognizing the value of this technology, Scribd released the Scribd Platform, which allows any website to use iPaper to display their documents.
Through Scribd.com, iPaper, and the Scribd Platform, Scribd is changing the way people view, publish, and monetize documents. Through our vast library of content and our unique document display technology, we hope to unlock the information in the world's documents and make it readily accessible to everyone.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Audio Dropboxes

CLEAR: Michigan State University
http://clear.msu.edu/teaching/online/ria/audioDropbox/AudioDropboxes.pdf Documentation
http://clear.msu.edu/store/moreinfo.php?product_ID=46 Information
http://clear.msu.edu/teaching/online/ria/audioDropbox/ Login and program (free)

A dropbox for paper assignments is a box where students place their homework,papers, or other assignments. Teachers can then retrieve the papers at their convenience.
An audio dropbox is an audio collection tool that can be put on any web page.Students record themselves using the tool, and their recordings are placed in the instructor╩╝s dropbox automatically.
Audio Dropboxes can be used to add speaking to language courses. You can have students describe pictures on a web page, read a text passage, or respond  to open-ended questions.

Center for Language Education and Research: CLEAR

http://clear.msu.edu/login/login.php Michigan State University

"Welcome to CLEAR's online store. CLEAR was established in 1996 as a Language Resource Center (LRC) through a Title VI grant from the U.S. Department of Education. As an LRC, CLEAR strives to promote and support the teaching and learning of foreign languages in the United States through its various projects and outreach activities.
The majority of our products are available free of charge. This includes web applications for language learning and teaching, CD-ROMs, and a variety of downloadable PDF publications. Some products, such as language learning software, workbooks, and videos, are available for a modest cost."

Yugma: Online Collaboration Tool

https://www.yugma.com/ Free, unless you want more robust usage features. " Yugma is the easy, secure and reliable collaboration tool for Windows, Mac and Linux. With Yugma, you really can collaborate better. Yugma enables any group to spontaneously collaborate on projects in real-time. Collaborate anytime with off-site team members, give virtual presentations, host webinars, streamline workflow, provide remote tech support, and much more."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Learn Spanish, Italian, German or French easily online. Learn vocabulary, situational language , grammar, tutorials and more. http://www.babbel.com/ Requires a short, free signup.
"Learn languages in a playful and intuitive way. Unlike traditional learning methods, our concept is about fun, individual interest and the joy of learning. Join the Babbel community. Babbel's at its best when you're having fun and working together with others. Apply and improve your language knowledge in active conversations with other Babbel users. Learn at your own pace
With Babbel you learn what you want, when you want. No matter what your level is, the system adapts to your learning speed so you can learn on your own, or it gives you guidance to follow.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

dabbleBOARD: Collaborative Whiteboard


Here's another collaborative whiteboard that was suggested by a reader. If you need visuals, dabbleBOARD is a great tool for letting you collaboratively draw your ideas. This is their blurb:

Dabbleboard is a powerful online whiteboard that's actually easy and fun to use. With a revolutionary new interface, Dabbleboard gets out of your way and just lets you draw.
Draw with flexible tools. Reuse previously-made drawings. Share and collaborate in real-time. All as naturally as using a marker or a pencil.

Reader Zohair gave this review: " Looks like you're covering a bunch of collaborative whiteboard apps today. I suggest giving Dabbleboard a try as well. As a whiteboard, it's got an innovative UI that makes drawing much easier and faster than anything else.
Admittedly it's just a whiteboard app and doesn't include other conferencing features, which we believe can be handled by several other applications anyway."

Thanks for sharing, and I will work on my skills of drawing with a mouse. We do so many planning sessions here at the college, and having a tool that can be quickly accessed to draw out ideas seems to have a lot of value. I think it could save time as well by sending to others at different sites and getting their immediate input, without the cost of everyone driving to the same campus. It's all about sustainability. Saving green while going green seems to be an absolutely brilliant plan.

addendum: I just realized that the program automatically detects basic shapes, and turns my squiggly rectangles and circles into something that looks quite professional. Very cool tool.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Cool Tools: Collaborative Web 2.0 Apps

I've been going to meetings and finding new Web 2.0 apps that allow for collaboration, meetings and even sketching and drawing, using only your browser. See posts below for ideas, and the right hand column for some easy access to the sites. Very Cool Tools. Would have been nice if they were used in place of actually GOING to the meetings....

Campfire: Instant Messaging for Groups


Campfire is a web-based group chat tool that lets you set up password-protected chat rooms in just seconds. Invite a client, colleague, or vendor to chat, collaborate, and make decisions. Link to a room on your intranet for internal communications.

Campfire is especially great for groups with remote workers. There's no better way to keep everyone together when everyone's apart. It's as simple as visiting a web page.

Your Campfire chats are password protected and safe from prying eyes. You decide who you invite. You set up the rooms. You specify who can see which rooms

There are so many ways to use Campfire. Chatting, file sharing, image previewing, decision making, etc. Up to 60 people can chat at once. You can even browse previous chats by person,
room, or date.

The free plan allows up to 4 simultaneous users, 10MB storage and transcripts. Upgrades are available to allow more users and storage space.

Thinkature: Real Time Web Collaboration


Simple collaborative space that can be shared in real time. Free

With Thinkature, you can create a collaborative workspace and invite coworkers, friends, and colleagues to join you in just seconds. Once inside your workspace, you can communicate by chatting, drawing, creating cards, and adding content from around the Internet. It's all synchronous, too - no need to hit reload or get an editing lock.

Twiddla: Free Interactive Space


Mark up websites, graphics, and photos, or start brainstorming on a blank canvas. Browse the web with your friends or make that conference call more productive than ever. No plug-ins, downloads, or firewall voodoo - it's all here, ready to go when you are. Browser-agnostic, user-friendly.

Don't like to sign up for stuff? No worries! You don't need an account to use Twiddla - and neither does anybody else. The people you invite to meetings will never see so much as a login screen.

VYEW: Free Collaboration and Live Web Conferencing

  • Why Vyew?
    Instant use from any computer No installation

  • New and improved collaboration
  • Together in real time or independently at any time

Free collaboration similar to Go To Meetings

Interaction with all forms of content: Office docs, .pdf, Flash, MP3, video, graphics, screen captures, etc.
Saving, tracking and logging all meeting activity

WiZiQ Virtual Classroom


Anyone can Teach & Learn Live, Online
WiZiQ Tour

Join Now for Free

WiZiQ is a place where you can teach and learn using an easy-to-use Virtual Classroom. You are welcome to give private and public live online sessions. As a learner you can attend public sessions on various topics from academics to anything under the sun.

SKRBL: Online Interactive Whiteboard

Here's a great Web 2.0 tool:


Simple and easy online multi user whiteboard, start skrbl, give out your URL & start working together. Sketch, text, share files, upload pictures all in one common shared space. There are no new tools to learn, nothing to download, nothing to install. Brainstorm on our simple whiteboard to start thinking together, everyone sees the same screen, everybody gets on the same page.

There's a widget for it in the right hand column so you can try it out.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

New Hotlist: Computer Skills


This is the newest Hotlist to help students learn Basic Computer Skills, Keyboarding, Mouse Use and Internet Skills.