Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Friday Finds 11/25/11

I was busy getting ready for Thanksgiving last week and missed posting Friday Finds for the first time!  Here I am wishing you an early TGIF with the latest stuff I've checked out:

Chart Wizard couldn't be easier!
Are you an educator on Facebook?  Then check out this list.
Would you take photo of yourself every day
This is very cool, and even cooler on a touch screen.
Check this out if you use an iPhone to take photos.
And speaking of photos - Instagram + Blurb = Awesome!
Advice about passwords.  I'm thinking about trying LastPass to save time and be safe.
An ESL Advent Calendar full of online activities.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Teaching Like a Coach

I have two boys who have been active in youth sports since they were old enough to throw a baseball.  Add up all the soccer, baseball, and basketball practices and games over the past few years and that means I've witnessed a lot of coaching.

Here are some things that good coaches do that good teachers should do too:

1.  High-Fives for every player.  Every time, and I mean each and every time one of my boys arrives at a practice or a game the coach high-fives him and greets him.  I wrote my first blog post about talking to every student every day.  Do I give my students that moment of attention and recognition each day?

2.  Less Talking.  More Doing.  Coaches don't spend a lot of time talking about how to throw a perfect pitch, how to swing the bat correctly, or how to dribble.  They get to the point quickly and clearly, and then they show it.  If the kid doesn't get it, they don't talk about it more, they show it again and then do it with them.  Do I spend too much time telling instead of showing?

3.  Practice and Repetition.  Coaches believe in muscle memory.  Shoot the basketball over and over and over and more shots are bound to go in.  Period.  My 9 year-old son's basketball homework over the three month break of club basketball:  10,000 basketball shots.  Guess how many balls my 7-year old hits at the batting cages!  Do I give my students enough practice?

4.  Games Count.  Coaches know games are where it matters.  It doesn't matter that you hit a triple in practice if you strike out in the game.  No one really cares that you swished ten free throws in a row in practice if you airball your shots in a game.  Of course I praise effort and practice with my students, but do I need to grade every assignment?  Do I need to collect each and every piece of writing?  Or do they need to just show it in a test?

Lesson Learned:  My students don't wear uniforms or compete to win a trophy, but there are still some coaching strategies that I can apply in the classroom.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Finds 11/18/11

From peeling bananas to facts about sharing online . . . fun things I checked out this week:

A personal pep talk with kinetic typography.
9:30 am is the peak hour for sharing online.
Inspiration to try doing things a new way.
Why didn't I know about this teaching channel?
Grouptweet could work well for a class.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Friday Finds

Some interesting tools I checked out this week:

Visuwords - online graphical dictionary
GroupTweet sounds cool.
60-second recaps from WatchKnowLearn
We can get overwhelmed with tech tools.  One blogger lists just her top ten.
A sweet free summarizer.
How to search your old tweets.
In honor of our veterans: this basic lesson.
As always, go here for the best list of resources about anything, including Veteran's Day.

Don't Underestimate

I was so proud of my students completing a mini-tech project with no hands-on lab time at all.
The project - to create a Voki - was quite simple but there were a number of steps involved.

1.  Find a favorite quote from the book we were reading.  (We were reading Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas).
2.  Set up a free Voki account.
3.  Create their Voki - recording their voice or using the text-to-voice feature to say the quote and why they liked it.
4.  Copy and paste their Voki link into our class Moodle forum.
5.  Listen to and comment on at least 3 other students' Vokis.

To support the students in completing the project as homework, I:

1.  Demonstrated one time in the class with a computer projector.
2.  Provided Jing slideshows of how to do each part of the project. 
3.  Did a quick Q & A in subsequent questions to troubleshoot.

That's it!  I estimate I spent only about 20 minutes of class time total dealing with the tech-aspect of the project.  We did spend lots of time, however, while reading and book discussions talking about their favorite quotes and moments in the book.  That's what I really wanted them to focus on, but in a more interesting way.  (I was hoping to be both neat and deep - avoiding the trap of Neat, but not Deep).

Within a week every one of my students had completed the project!  Here are a couple student examples here:


 My lesson learned:  Don't underestimate what students can do on their own!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Are Cell Phones the Enemy?

Over the past few weeks it seems like nearly every other teacher I've talked to on campus has mentioned problems with students using cell phones in class.  Complaints have ranged from secret texting in class, cheating (of course!), ringing, and just general distractions.

I get this, and so do many others fed up with tech-overload.  Two recent articles highlight this:
Are Schools Getting Too Carried Away With Technology
A Silicon Valley School That Doesn't Compute

Increase of cell phone usage is no surprise, just read articles such as these in the news:
How do college students actually use cell phones?
Teachers use cell phones in the classroom.

I'm pretty sure I'm in the minority in not having a strict NO cell phone use in my class, but that doesn't mean that I don't have a usage policy.  The cell phone policy in my class in simple:  When you are not taking a test or some other assessment, only use your cell phone for educational purposes.  I don't have problems with students answering their phone and leaving the room to chat, texting under the desk, or downloading essays to copy.  I do have students that comment on our class blog, use a dictionary app, search for more info on a topic, add a deadline to their calendar, review my latest tweet, and check a score on our Moodle site.

This is what I have been reading about cell phone use in the classroom.  If you want to drink the Kool-Aid, read on:
Today's Mobile Devices are Tomorrow's Textbooks.
10 Strategies to Break the Ban and Build Opportunities for Student Learning with Cell Phones.
10 Reasons Cell Phones Should Be Allowed In Schools
Making the Case for Cell Phones in Schools
It's in Your Pocket: Teaching Spectacularly with Cellphones

Some schools embrace rather than restrict cell phones.  Here's one Elementary School Embracing Mobile Learning Technology

And for a full list of many, many more links visit Cybrary Man's Mobile Learning Page and this LiveBinder full of resources.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Finds

I missed last Friday, but I'm back this week with the following:

  •  When I was born I was the  3,751,993,634th.  Where are you in the 7 Billion?
  • If This Then That - I like this idea (especially the above recipe if Instagram, then Dropbox).  Brilliant!
  • Don't you love infographics?  Then check out this creative and cool resume!
  • Some food for thought:  About 40 percent of 2- to 4-year-olds have used a smartphone, tablet or video iPod, according to a new study by Common Sense Media. What do you think that means for educators?
For the classroom:

What Would You Hold?

 I read that only 1 out of 100 readers actually comment on a blog.  I read blogs all the time and never comment.  Still, I'm curious:  Is anyone reading this?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Finds

I saw tons of cool stuff this week!  Here's a bunch to keep you busy:

I've always loved word play.  If you do too, check out Word as Image.
I finally updated to iOS 5 and got help setting up new features here and here.
This got me inspired to reorganize my iPhone and iPad screens for success.
Speaking of cell phones: Gross!  Wash your hands or your phone will be disgusting.
Do you use Google Reader?  Be aware of upcoming changes here. 
All the apps you need for Halloween: Educational Apps , iPad Books Apps and Dress up Games.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Friday Finds

Cool stuff I checked out this week:

I read Good Night Moon a million times to my boys.  Now there's this new version.
For puzzle fans:  Word Search Maker and Bingo Card Creator and Printable Dice
What does it mean to know a word?
Some great tips for teaching with Moodle
Use iDonethis if you want to track your accomplishments.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Finds

Some of my all-time favorites get better, plus new stuff I checked out this week:

My hands-down favorite video slideshow maker, Animoto, Just Got Better
Finally!  My all-time favorite tech tool, Voicethread for iOS is now free on iTunes! 
This lesson on Bringing the Dead Alive with Crazy Talk looks fun!
If you only have 60 seconds, try out Listen A Minute
Creative Commons now has over 100 million photos!
Do young people follow the news?  Find out what my students say on the KQED ESL Mobile News Blog

And finally, an ESL Lesson Plan in honor of Steve Jobs.
Have a nice weekend!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Survey Says:

I have always loved surveys.  Any surveys.  I think it's partially from watching Family Feud when I was young.  I'll check the boxes on the cereal box surveys.  I'll circle my ratings on magazine questionnaires.  Once I answered the survey questions of a telemarketer calling about sleeping pills.  Of course this means that I like to survey my class.  Face to Face.  On paper.  Online.  Here are just a few things I've surveyed my students about so far this semester:
  • Technology tools 
  • Types of reading
  • Reactions to the reading themes
  • Feelings about test difficulties
  • If there is enough homework
I do some in class surveys (I like "Stand By Your Opinion" Polls), and some anonymous (and non-anonymous paper surveys).  The best surveys, however, are done with free technology tools that magically  collect the data, analyze it, and turn it into easy to read charts and graphs.  A wide variety of themes makes the form look pretty when it's emailed, linked, or embedded into a website.

In the past, for most of my surveying I used the mother of all tools:  Surveymonkey.  Now I'm using Google Forms more and more.  I also like Doodle for quick surveying, especially scheduling.  Other tools I've played around with as well are Polldaddy and Zoomerang.

Here's the data summary from the technology tools survey I gave my students the first day:

Friday, September 30, 2011

Reading: No-Tech to Hi-Tech

My students just began reading Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas.  I always start by giving students the handmade bookmarks above.  I want them to know why I'm excited about reading, and we talk about the quotes on the bookmarks.  We are reading the paper book (I did encourage students to purchase ebooks if they wanted, but no one did), and we are also doing a lot of supplementing with technology that I think makes for a much richer experience.

Here's some of what we've done so far:
Some things we are going to do:
Through this all, we'll be having face-to-face discussions in book club groups and sharing, laughing, and learning from each other!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Friday Finds

Stuff I liked this week:

Then and Now:  The Steps of my Grandparents' Home.

The Two Photo Blog Challenge.  I posted mine above.
For anyone who can't draw like me: A stickman come to life!
Check out Under One Roof to see three generations living in one home in NYC.
I think this is a great video to inspire writing.  From Fifty People One Question.
PhotoPeach is more than just a slideshow creator - you can make a quiz right on your photos.

Finally, lessons in honor and memory of Wangari Maathai, the first environmentalist and African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

There's Nothing Special About Technology

A couple times in the last week I was asked how I use Technology in my classes and with my students.  Each time I was asked about Technology and or Technology Tools with a capital "T."  I got to thinking about it, and I realized that I incorporate technology with a small "t."  I mean that it's not something separate, or special, or  different.  I don't need to announce: "Now we are going to use Technology!"  It's just a part of every aspect of my classes.

I don't teach in a computer lab, and I don't really have access to bring my whole class to a lab regularly.  Despite that, here are ways that technology was a part of my classes last week:

We discussed Success after viewing videos of the Panyee FC and this guy asking How Bad Do You Want It?
To introduce a unit on cultural identity students first tried their hand at Sorting People by race.
Then students logged into our class Moodle Forum to discuss their identity.
After reading in the book (paper book) stories about Eva Hoffman and Elizabeth Wong, students viewed interviews of both of them online.
I showed students a fun way to expand their vocabulary with Visual Thesaurus.
I tweeted this poster of the the only 12 1/2 Writing Rules You'll Ever Need.
Students reviewed comma usage with this Purdue Online Writing Presentation.
Students read about the news on the KQED Mobile New Blog project, and then checked a mobile news app on their phones to share a current headline.

I used my cell phone's timer app when we did 1-minute timed readings, as well as connected it to the room's speakers to play an NPR interview I had downloaded.  Most days I also had my laptop plugged in and projected so that I could show student writing samples, and online activities and resources they would be doing at home.  I snapped a few photos of students interviewing each other with my cell phone and recorded a model interview with my flip camera.

Of course in between all that, I responded to their emails, commented on their forum posts, added assignments and deadlines to our online class calendar, and updated our Moodle class site.

I like the idea of technology being fully integrated in my class and students seeing that it's just a typical part of learning.  This article also got me thinking of even more everyday ways to model technology to students.  Let's face it:  technology is nothing special to our students, and it shouldn't be that special in our classes either.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Finds

Deliquesce (verb)

 melt away
The ice began to deliquesce in the hot sun.

Cool stuff I noticed this week:

Inside Story Flashcards: the world's most interesting way to learn words.
Want to message your class?  Try Remind 101.
Draw attention with Skitch.
Turbo-charge your vocabulary with Word Dynamo.
What was there? combines historical photos + Google Maps!
Just for fun:  Do you say pop or soda?

Have a great weekend.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Friday Finds (Belated Edition!)

It's Saturday, but here's my belated Friday Finds!

I love this series: Interesting Ways
Fascinating population facts: You are 1 in 7 billion.  Are you typical?
Teaching students about their Digital Footprint
Greate quotes about Learning and Change
Cool fonts from fontsquirrel

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Your Digital Afterlife

Think about your digital online presence: all the sites you go to, all the social media, email, accounts, and so forth that are password protected, and all of the photos, video, comments, and  memories that are housed in so many different places online.

What happens to all of that after you are gone?  Are you prepared for your digital afterlife?  Here are some links to help in your planning:

Adam Ostrow's TED Talk:  What happens after your final status update?
An example of someone who was prepared:  The Last Post
An NPR Story: After Death: Protecting Your 'Digital Afterlife'
Some useful tips in this article: How to be prepared for death in a digital age.

Some sites that help memorialize:
ifidie facebook app (warning: kinda creepy!)
mynextweet gnerates your future tweets

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Finds

A few things that caught my attention this week:
  1. Breaking Bread Everywhere
  2. I have two boys, so I found this fascinating.
  3. Flubaroo makes grading easy - and it works with Google Docs.
  4. What Children Want from their Teachers 
  5. Larry Ferlazzo's Best Sites to Teach About 9/11

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ingenious or Inappropriate?

Two moments over the past few days caused me to stop and think about the role of technology in our lives.  One: the magical moment of a wedding.  The other: a mundane task in my classroom.

This past weekend I attended a wedding and as the officiant walked down the aisle I noticed he was holding an iPad.  When he got to the front and turned, as the bride walked down to join her groom, he turned it on.  The officiant spoke touching, humorous, and heartfelt words.  The couple's vows were beautiful.  But I couldn't take my eyes off the iPad that was being used.  Ingenious . . . or inappropriate?

Two days ago in class, as I wrote the agenda and homework notes on the board students studiously took pen and paper notes, added it into their cell phones' calendar, or typed notes onto their laptops.  Then there was the student who simply held up his cell phone and snapped a photo.  Efficient . . . or kind of lazy?

What do you think?  Are there still places and ways where technology use surprises you?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Friday Finds

It's been a busy, busy week!  Here's what caught my attention in between teaching my classes:

  1. Evernote makes my personal life efficient, and now this got me thinking I should start using it as a way to share information with my classes.
  2. Why contagious is a good word and how children in India were inspired to infect their communities.
  3. I read this to my college students and my 1st and 4th grade sons: Wishes for a New School Year
  4. Rethinking the power of faces and eye gaze in my presentation slides.
  5. It's not new to me, but I get a kick out of how addictive Free Rice can be when I share it with my students.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Friday Finds

Every Friday, I post articles, activities, and tech tools that caught my attention during the week:

1.  10 Reasons to Ban Pens and Pencils in the Class
2.   #eltpics is a collection of photos shared by teachers for teachers.  Join and you can see photos like the one above in the Secret Worlds set.
3.  As an RPCV who taught no-tech in a village in Botswana, this totally captured my attention.
4.  Here is a teacher saving three trees a year.  It's an inspiration to be as paperless as possible!
5.  Explain Everything is cool app for the iPad

Finally, in honor of earthquakes from east to west this week:  What you need to survive for 72 hours, plus a realistic SF scene earthquake quiz (check out the taqueria!).

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Little Too Much Class

I'm a little embarrassed and disappointed by this find.  I went ahead and "wordled" my class syllabus and look what I found.  The word I used the most is "class."  If you ask me what main ideas I hope my course syllabus gets across, that would not be my first choice.  I mean, they already know it's a class, right?  I don't see words like: learn, challenge, discover, enjoy, think, or create.  I talk about all those things.  A lot.  Next time I vow to also spell it out on paper.

How about you?  Go ahead - copy and paste the text of your course syllabus or other class introductory materials into Wordle and see what stands out.

10 Picture Tour

I've been wanting to do a 10 Picture Tour of where I teach for awhile now.  I followed the suggestion of taking only 10 minutes to snap the pics and share them.  So here it is - a quick and dirty tour of my sunny Tuesday morning at the City College of San Francisco.

Looking up at the Science Building with the quote, "The Truth Shall Make You Free."

The new state-of-the art green MUB (Multi-Use Building).

Inside the MUB - I am extremely fortunate to have the chance to teach my ESL class there this semester.

MUB Room 370 - whiteboards, ceiling-projector, speakers, and wifi.

 Hey it's the City - parking is an issue!

Brand new soccer field - and view from my office windows.

CCSF is serious about recycling and composting.

Batmale Hall - the ESL Department is here and so is my office.

I'm part of the Office of Mentoring and Service Learning as I coordinate Project SHINE in addition to teaching ESL.

My desk!

Thanks for joining me on my 10 picture tour of CCSF!  I love the idea of using only 10 images to showcase a place.  I think I'll have my students do one too!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Moodling Around

At City College of SF we use Insight (Moodle).  No one in my class this semester had heard of it so I had to do an introduction.  I don't teach an online or blended learning class right now, instead I have a traditional face-to-face class that I enhance with Insight as our class website.  Here's what I'm doing:

1.  Paper Handouts.
Yes I give them paper to figure out how to get on something paperless.  I find it helps.  The handout is a basic one that takes them through the login directions.  It doesn't have a lot of words - instead there are screenshots and places for my ESL students to write notes to themselves in their language (if necessary).

2.  Showcase and BYOD (with lab follow-up)
Insight Intro day is also a BYOD (bring your own device) day.  I show students on the computer projector how to login and some basic stuff about the site.  They can follow along on the handout as well as try it out on a personal device if they brought one that day.  Generally, I follow up with a lab day the next class to trouble-shoot if necessary.

3.  Scavenger Hunt
I want the students to explore the site on their own, have fun doing it, and realize it's more than a place that just houses the worksheets they missed when they were absent.  So I give them a Scavenger Hunt to find out info about me and the class.  I also "hide" one photo which they have to find.

4.  A Personal Touch
The first assignment I have them do is to update their personal profile with a picture (of them, or something that symbolizes them) and a mini-bio.  This is important!  They personalize their page and at the same time get to learn about their classmates.  Guess how much more communicative they are with each other the next face-to-face class!

5.  Short and Sweet.
I introduce students to the Discussion Forum.  We will do longer writing later, but for now I have them do a Six-Word Memoir.  It's short and sweet, everyone learns something, and they figure out how to post and share on a forum without the burden of a ton of writing. Sometimes less really is more.  By the way, here are my six words:  "Once a teacher, always a teacher."

That's it!  I'd love to hear what you do to introduce your class website to your students.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Finds

I thought I'd use Fridays to share some things that caught my attention during the week.  Here are my top five finds:

1.  I'm working on my first Squrl this weekend.
2.  Genius:  A hacked out document camera using your iPad!
3.  A great reminder of the power of Stepping Aside.  Who doesn't love to see a former student all grown up!
4.  I can't wait to show students how to use this Highlighter to share active reading notes.
5.  I love a good infographic and this one shows how College Professors Use Social Media.

Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Just Two

I met my students for the first time in class yesterday.  I had thought of many, many things I wanted to incorporate after being on Twitter for over 6 months and getting lots of useful information, resources, articles, and activities.  There was no way to bring all that in so quickly.  It's like an avalanche.  I do plan to add in some of what I learned here and there during the semester, but I also made the decision to choose just two simple but concrete ideas that I read about on Twitter to follow throughout this semester.

1.  Talk to each student every day.
I'm sorry that I don't remember whose blog I read this on some time last spring, but the person vowed to do this in her/his class and that idea has stuck with me through all the other stuff I've read.  It's a simple idea.  And it seems like common sense - of course, at least greet each student.  But then I thought back to my classes, and it's clear I don't manage this as much as I should.  Sure the active and participatory student gets feedback from me during class discussion, the students who stay after class with a question get a moment of my personal attention, and I will remember something about a student and ask her/him about it when walking around the room, but what about a quieter student who comes and goes without me ever directly saying something to her/him?  She or he is part of the greater class conversation when I talk to all of them, definitely, but gets no attention on her/his own.  This semester I plan to do my best to say something to each and every student.  Not to the class generally, but to individuals.

2.  BYOD Days.
There's been a lot on Twitter about BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and I've read countless articles on 1-to-1 classrooms, seen pictures of schools passing out iPads to every student, and heard about students using their iPhones to do research during class.  But I'm still hearing teachers where I work talk about about how irritating it is that their students can't stop texting during class, how they punish students by taking away their cell phones if they ring in class, how this generation just can't write well because of all the technology.  Many classrooms I walk in have signs with phones crossed out right up in the front of the class.  For now, I'm riding the middle on this.  I've decided to institute weekly BYOD Days in my class.   I'm not ready to navigate cell phones and laptops on and in my class all the time.  But I am excited to have a day once a week where students can use their own devices freely in class to support whatever activity we are working on.  And I can tell you for sure there was palpable excitement when I explained to my students what BYOD meant in the course syllabus.

That's it.  Just two main ideas to carry through sixteen weeks.  One, greater face-to-face interaction. Another, increased technology integration.  I think they will go hand in hand, and I think it's going to be a great semester!