Monday, February 27, 2006

Fun Trip: Springfield, IL, Lincoln Museum

I thought I knew a lot about Lincoln, especially since just having read Doris Kearns Goodwin's new book 'Team of Rivals' A weekend trip to Springfield made me realize that there is a lot more history than I knew. The new Lincoln Museum in Springfield is wonderful, and as you move from Lincoln's early days, to his election, to the Civil War, to the White House and finally to his assasination and funeral, you realize that you don't know everything there is to know.

I especially enjoyed the show 'Through Lincoln's Eyes', the hall of gossip (apparently Mr. Lincoln liked to swear, and most of Washington society disdained Mrs. Lincoln), and the various artifacts. I truly liked being able to touch the brass Lincoln life mask. Most men who have become President age dramatically within their term of office, but the changes in Lincoln's visage were stunning. The information on the Civil War was outstanding as well. It is difficult to believe that over 600,000 American souls were lost in that horrific war. I highly recommend it. It's about a 2 1/2 -3 hour trip directly south on the Interstate, and there are good hotels and restaurants in town. (I like Muldaner's, which is about 2 blocks from the museum). It's worth the visit!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

FYI: Cranking up the Laptop

One Laptop per Child, a non-profit group started by faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to design, manufacture and distribute inexpensive (about $100.00) hand-crankable Linux-based laptops for children around the world. The computers would be made by Taiwan based Quanta Computer Inc. and would initially produce 5-15 million units to be sold to governments in China, India, Brazil, Argentina, Egypt, Nigeria and Thailand and given free to children in those countries. When that phase is completed, other countries would be included.
The units are so energy efficient that hand-cranking alone would generate enough power for operation, and mesh networking will give many systems Internet access from one connection.

In my opinion this is a wonderful way to bring children from the entire world together, and I hope that schools in developed nations will interact with the countries who have been given this opportunity. This is a tremendous project and I wish them great success.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Daily Special: Constitution

Although this is posted on the bulletin board, I thought it would be helpful to review some of the Constituion materials that Char and Pat put together as a Daily Special. If you are looking for Constitution materials for students:

For Reading Levels 6.0 and lower:
Origins of the Constitution CD (30 minutes)

America's Story Video (3 minutes each)
Ben Franklin
George Washington

Pre-GED Advantage Social Studies
Lesson 2: A New Nation
Lesson 7: Foundations of Democracy
Lesson 8: Branches of Government

For reading levels above 6.0:

GED Advantage Social Studies
1. U.S. History
Lesson 1: Building a Nation
2. Political Science
Lesson 1: American Democracy
Lesson 2: The Federal Government

For all reading levels:
Online Constitution Study Guide

ESL/IEI: English Grammar Exercises Easy English

This site has a lot of free grammar quizzes and tests to help students study everything from present tense to modals.

Here are some more suggestions to help you learn English free: Check out English Club, where you'll find free ESL lessons on grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, listening, speaking, reading, writing and more. Read about the history of English, and how to earn English. Join ESL Forums for lots of discussion in and about English. Use the ESL Help Desk if you have questions about English. Subscribe to 7 Secrets for ESL Learners for free English tips and lessons to your email box. Find English schools to study English in your country or abroad.

ESL/IEI: English Grammar Exercises Learning English Online

This is a German site, but is a great source for English grammar explanations and exercises. The English Forum is in German, so you may not want to go there unless you speak German. The quizzes are in English, and students can enter and score their results online. They are also designated as 'easy' or 'medium'. There is quite a comprehensive list of grammar subject areas to review, as well as explanations. Students can take more comprehensive tests ('complex') or even practice English with games such as Hangman or Find the Pairs.

IEI/Adv. ESL/GED: Writing Guide to Grammar and Writing: Dr. Charles Darling, Capital Community College Foundation

This is a comptehensive site for writing skills, including topics from levels such as:
word and sentence level, paragraph level, essay and research paper level and also some good grammar quizzes that are scored online.

Monday, February 06, 2006

ESL/IEI/Tutoring: Pronunciation: Canadian Raising

Another site to help students identify various accents and dialects. This is on the familiar Canadian sound (also prevalent in some areas of WI and MI) call Canadian Raising. Not a large site, but the examples are good and easy to access.

"Canadian raising is a phonological process characteristic of several varieties of Canadian English, in which the onsets of the diphthongs /ay/ and /aw/ raise to mid vowels when they precede voiceless obstruents (the sounds /p/, /t/, /k/, /s/, and /f/). Click on the speaker icons below to hear genuine examples of Canadian raising."

ESL/IEI/Tutoring: Pronunciation: PBS: Do You Speak American English?

PBS Do You Speak American English?

"The good news: It’s widely known. The bad news: Known for what? Guy Bailey and Jan Tillery report on the pluses and minuses of Southern American English in the popular imagination. (The research cited in this essay was first published in 2000.)" The site also includes discussions on the following dialects:

African American English
Smoky Mountains
Chicano English
New York City
Pacific Northwest
There is also a dialect quiz (great for group work), take a regional dare and Radio America, all of which give audio examples of the various dialects. A fun site, and useful for Pronunciation classes.

ESL, IEI, Tutoring: Phonics: The Sounds of American English Phonetics, The Sounds of American English, University of Iowa, Site contact:

Created in 2003, this site addresses the sounds of American and Spanish English, and also Articulatory Anatomy (in both English and Spanish). Requires a Quick Time plug-in and newer Operating System (OS). Somewhat slow to load but worth the wait. There is also a helpful troubleshooting section.

Launch Spanish Library
Launch English Library
Articulatory Anatomy