Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Teacher Tube

Check out the post from the Instructional Technology Greenhouse on the subject of which is an instructional version of You Tube.

TeacherTube is IT
It's like YouTube, only for Teachers and Students-- which means there's now a place to watch and post educational video clips without fear of being blocked, denied or otherwise thwarted by filtering software. Take a few minutes to explore TeacherTube and think about the possibilities. Here's my favorite video of the week, about attitudes toward technology. Your comments (click "comments" below the video screen) are most welcome, especially if you've never commented on a blog before-- consider it a learning opportunity. :) Isn't the music compelling? And the message... suffice it to say I've watched this video several times.

See http://technologygreenhouse.blogspot.com for the actual post and a video posted by Kat on 5/11/07.

ESL: The English Learner Movie Guides

http://www.eslnotes.com/ The English Learner Movie Guides

Each individual guide is a detailed synopsis of a popular movie that consists of the following:
a summary of the plot
a list of the major characters
an extensive glossary of vocabulary and various cultural references that even advanced ESL learners would often not understand
questions for ESL class discussion

I really like this site, and it can have a lot of uses in a variety of ESL classes. Movies range from the classics: Wizard of Oz, To Kill a Mockingbird etc. to more contemporary flicks such as When Harry Met Sally or Legally Blonde. The plot summaries are great, but one of the best aspects is the glossary and cultural reference sections. I can see classes studying the plot, vocabulary and other references, and then watching the movie together. What about using It's a Wonderful Life before the holidays? A wonderful tool for speaking and listening activities. Lots of possibilities here.

ESL Hotlist: Writing Plus


Hotlists are new favorite of mine, and this one is very well organized. This covers many of the areas concerning writing, and also some broken down by levels and subject area. Worth a peek!

ESL: Cool Sites for ESL Students

http://www.uic.edu/depts/tie/coolsites.htm : University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)

ESL Writing Assistance

http://www.dartmouth.edu/~writing/materials/student/special/esl.shtml Dartmouth Writing Program, Special Writers, ESL Writers

This is more for upper level ESL students, but the information is very clearly written, and easy to understand. I especially liked the American Paragraph and the English Sentence. One page, with good links.

ESL: Writing: Resources

http://academic.reed.edu/writing/esl_resources.html ESL Writing Resources: Doyle Online Writing Lab

Topics include:

English as a Second Language Resources
General Interest sites for ESL students
Basic Tips for ESL Students: Writing for an American Academic Audience (Purdue)
Writing an American Academic Paper (Dartmouth)
Grammar and Style pages for ESL students
ESL Grammar links A few pages identifying the eccentricities of the English language.
ESL Idiom Page Lists, meanings, and examples.
Phrasal Verb Page Lists, meanings, and examples.
Activities and Study Guides
Complete List of English Irregular Verbs (Susan Jones) A list of irregular English verbs with quizzes.
Focusing on Words Learn English vocabulary by studying selected poems and stories.
Grammar Safari (U. of Illinois) Provides ESL students with ideas for practicing the rules of English grammar.
Interactive English Language Exercises Exercises on grammar, vocabulary, and idioms.
Interactive Language exercises on the Web (Ruth Vilmi)
Quiz Center Quizzes on a variety of subjects designed for ESL students: history, people, grammar, slang, writing, world culture, etc.
Self Study Quizzes for ESL Students Quizzes on grammar, reading comprehension, writing etc. geared toward problems frequently encountered by ESL students.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

NEW Blog Feature: Babel Fish Translator

If you look in the right column of this Blog you will see a new feature: I've added a Babel Fish Translation widget. Click on one of the flags of a supported language, and in a few seconds this Blog will be translated into that language. It does take a few moments to work, but the end result is impressive. I checked the German translation and while not perfect, it was close enough to be readily understood.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Now Showing in the AELC: Interchange Interactive Software

Interchange Whiteboard Software
Do you want to see a new way to teach using the ESL Interchange texts? Then come up to the AELC and see the new whiteboard software that correlates with the Interchange text series used in ESL.
Within minutes of setting it up in the lab, students and teachers were saying 'wow, can I try it?' With just you fingertip you can choose the lesson you want from the book, choose the page and the skill, and start working on the lesson. Each lesson is represented, and there are additional videos and listening lessons. Many of the pages have an audio component. which is quite effective in a classroom setting.
Cambridge says about the program " This innovative software allows teachers to display the elements on the whiteboard screen at the front of the classroom and use them interactively to enhance English-language learning skills. This cutting edge technology allow you to play the class auio and video programs, display scripts and answers, highlight and annotate text. You can even select and organize elements to create your lessons."
Equipment needed : electronic whiteboard, computer (min. Windows 98), an LCD projector and the software. Set-up is easy, and the learning curve is quite short. Within 15 minutes we had loaded and started the program from scratch. Subsequent start-ups were just turning on the equipment and clicking on the program icon. Staff and students found it intuitive and easy to use.
We'll have the program in the Center until the summer semester ends. Please come up and try it out. Classes are also welcome. We are using Level I Interchange. Call x 4118 for a tour appointment.
Interesting reactions from people viewing the program. While setting it up, students looked more at what we were doing than at their own computers. Finally, one student had enough courage to say ' that is very nice'. We invited her up to try it out, and then laughed as they all lined up to try it. Teachers reactions seemed to center around 'volunteering' to try it out in their classrooms. Apparently, this program fits the category 'if you build it, they will come...'

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Beginners' Guide to Using a Computer


Need to teach how to use a mouse, keyboard and computer screen in an interesting and interactive way? Once again, the BBC has a very good program to teach those skills. Students will enjoy it (and the British accent).

Beginners' Guide to Using the Internet


Just because it was not made in the USA doesn't mean it isn't good. And this site is actually quite wonderful. WebWise is the BBC's guide to using the Internet. It's done in Flash, and is quite compelling. It's an Internet beginners' course to using the Web, and includes topics such as:







One of my favorite areas is called 'Jargonbuster' which is a nice listing of words related to the Web. Of course, there will need to be some adaptation from the UK to the US, and a mention of the spelling differences is needed. The content can easily be used in a classroom or by tutors.

Web Based Lesson Plans for Adult ESOL

One of the great advantages of the Web is that sometimes you find things while looking up other things. This is one of those sites. It wasn't exactly what I was looking for, and I almost left it without further research. It is very well done, and can be used to address state competencies and lesson plans for adult ESL learners. It is conveniently divided into skill levels, from literacy on up, and has a wealth of information and structure that can be used and developed.

"Lesson Plans for Adult ESOL were written by classroom teachers in Palm Beach County over the past three years. Although originally designed as curriculum resource books, they have been converted to a web based format to provide easy accessibility to teachers throughout Florida and beyond. The basic premise for writing these lessons is that if teachers are to be held accountable for student outcomes under performance based funding, it is the responsibility of the School District of Palm Beach County to provide teachers with every tool possible to promote student success.
The lesson plans are designed to be used as a starting point or spring board for the delivery of good sound instruction. They are specifically designed so that teachers can add their own ideas and activities to enhance the basic lessons.
Activity sheets have been developed for most lessons so that teachers can use the lessons even if they cannot access the textbooks listed. None of the activity sheets are copyrighted and can be legally photocopied without the need to obtain permission."

Click on the competency.
ESOL Literacy/Foundations - LCP - A
ESOL Low Beginning - LCP - B
ESOL High Beginning - LCP - C
ESOL Low Intermediate - LCP - D
ESOL High Intermediate - LCP - E
ESOL Advanced - LCP - F

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Commentary: Using RSS and Search Engines

I have a love/hate relationship with the Web. Sure, it has all the information I could ever want. But then again, it has ALL the information I could ever want. Somehow having so much information is almost as bad as having no information at all. I recently did a Professional Development workshop on using search engines. This went beyond the Google ' Results 1 - 10 of about 114,000,000' response to the less is more approach employed by meta-search engines that allow Boolean Operators such as Clusty (http://www.clusty.com/) or Surfwax (http://www.surfwax.com/). Cha Cha (http://www.chacha.com/) even allows you to ask a real person for help. Of course, knowing how to use a search engine is as important as knowing what you are looking for. The advantage of these newer search engines is that they offer a lot of clues into how to search effectively. Those that deal with Blogs and Wikis (such as http://www.technorati.com/ or Del.icio.us http://www.del.icio.us.com/) show tags and keywords to help you refine your search or search for related aspects.

RSS (Real Simple Syndication) feeds also help you cut down on the clutter. First of all, you have to love technology that starts with the words 'real and simple'. If a Website that you like has one of the little orange boxes with RSS or XML on it, or gives an RSS address, you can get an RSS feed, or list of new articles and content (usually with just a title and short content description line) to decide if you want to learn more. You click on the little orange button or enter the RSS address, and you have a link to that feed. Then simply subscribe to that feed with your email address. The new content is automatically sent to you when it appears. For someone like me, who trolls the Internet incessantly searching for new and better sites, this allows me to know immediately when one of my favorite sites has been updated.

The process is simple. First you need an RSS reader program. Go into your favorite search engine, type in 'RSS Feeder' and try a few out. Once you have selected a reader, right click on the orange RSS button and choose 'Copy Shortcut' (or on a Mac, control-click and select 'Copy Link') . Open your reader, and select 'New Subscription'. Paste the link into the subscription box and press 'Enter'. (Sites such as Google and Yahoo! allow registered users to create custom home pages using feeds, which have your selected feed listed right on the home page. )

Now your reader gets to work by following that link and posting a list of new articles and content. If one of the articles interests you, simply click on the title and your Web browser opens the full article. You can subscribe (and unsubscribe) to as many sites as you wish.

To get a sense of how a feeder works, check out the 'Blogarithm' site at the bottom of this Blog. Type your email address into the box, and you will receive an email with the newest posts daily. If I am taking a break, you won't get a mailing until I post again. The RSS address for this Blog is : http://wccniuesl.blogspot.com/atom.xml. Start using the Web more effectively!

Also look in the right column of this Blog (it's a handy place) to find lists of recommended search engines, reading lists, other Blogs and Wikis I recommend, a translator to translate this page into another language etc. There's even a word of the day. It's a little gold mine of information.

Math Help


Math Goodies was a pioneer of free math help. Educators from around the world have helped students in our moderated forums since 1999. The site has over 500 pages of math resources for students, educators and parents.There are interactive lessons, puzzles and worksheets you can use at your own pace. Includes Algebra, pre-Algebra and Basic Math.

Charts and Graphs


Educational Resources for Adults has put together a page entitled 'Learning About Charts and Graphs'. Areas include:
Lesson 1: The types of Graphs
Exercise 1: Choosing Graph Types
Lesson 2: The parts of Graphs
Lesson 3: Reading Graphs
Exercise 3: Reading Graphs
Lesson 4: Creating Graphs by Hand

Spanish GED Resources


I am always looking for resources for Spanish GED. I think I finally found one. Portland Community College has a site with excellent resources for Spanish GED students for math, reading and writing, science and social science. Not all the links are accessible, but there is still quite a bit available.

Computer Tutorials: Online Practice Modules


Online practice modules for assistance with training on Microsoft Office and other computer skills. Includes things such as PowerPoint Viewer - for those that do not have PPT. Other programs such as Dreamweaver and Webquest are also highlighted.

Civics Online


Developed for Michigan, this site has a wealth of information on Civics issues and activities. The section on Resources is particularly good. Activities can also be found by entering core democratic values as an indicator. I also like the civics glossary http://www.matrix.msu.edu/~civics/glossary/search_results.php?type=1.

Paradigm Online Writing Assistant


One of the questions that pops up from instructors at almost every workshop is 'Where are there good writing Websites?' and my answer is, ' I'll keep looking...' This one may give some hope that there are sites available. I called the Paradigm Online Writing Assistant, and has help with organizing, writing and editing, along with some specifics on various essay styles. One of the best sections is entitled "Six Problem Areas" which covers topics such as subject-verb agreement, shift in tense, shift in person etc. Each topic is explained, examples are given and there is an accompanying activity. If you are looking for some solid help with writing, this may just be the source.