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!