Monday, April 30, 2012

Friday Finds 4/27/12

A few random things I checked out last week:

How to clean up Youtube.
Can you make yourself smarter?
Cool if you want to print a poster on a standard printer.
Trying to get myself excited about Google Plus.
High tech solutions to Low-tech classrooms
Wappwolf seems pretty convenient.
Are you brave enough to use this on your phone?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Worth the Weight

 When I taught high school, and had my own classroom, my lessons were filled with realia, experiments, and hands-on learning activities.  Over the years as a community college educator, hiking across campus, slipping in and out of buildings, teaching in different classrooms for every class, those experiences dwindled.  There's only so much one teacher can carry, and there are times I wish for a shopping cart.  For the longest time, the barista at a neighborhood coffee shop thought I was an airline attendant due to my rolling luggage (filled with books, papers, and other teaching miscellany).

This semester, however, I've tried to do a little more to make readings, themes, and lessons come alive.  A recent reading text around the theme of the environment was pretty dry.  Focused on water, the text broke down tap water regulations, and the rise of bottled water in the U.S.  At home, I had students view The Story of Bottled Water, which caught their attention more.  Then I trekked to my grocery store, bought up a variety of bottled water (not especially cheap!), covered them and numbered them.  The next day, I hauled in the grocery bags of bottled water, cups, and rating sheets.  Then I played waiter, while students did a blind taste test of the water.

The results were revealed:  No one liked Dasani.  A lot of people like Fiji.  Crystal Geyser got mixed reviews.  Tap water fared quite well despite the fact they all said they never drink it.  Suddenly, students referred to their text, discussed the implications of bottled water, and the reality of drinking safe tap water in San Francisco.  Nothing extra-creative here, no real bells and whistles.  No technology.  Just a little extra weight I had to haul to class to generate interest and make a reading come to life.

 Lesson Learned:  Despite the heavy load, it's worth it to go the extra mile and bring in what you can to make a reading come alive.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday Finds 4/20/12

Random things I've been reading and watching this week:

Unless you've been under a rock, you've watched this video.  I've watched it three times so far.
I'm missing CATESOL because I spent all my money at TESOL - but I follwed it on #catesol.
Speaking of conferences, the one I really, really want to go to next is this one.
I was sick this week and had to cancel class at the last minute.  Too bad I didn't have one of these services.
response to the two-tier pricing system.
I've linked to some interesting Youtube videos for my students lately, and now I really want to use some of these handy tools.
This article about apps are students when you're not looking have some I'd never heard of.
I read these posts from my students and I know why blogging is such a great way for them to share their writing.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Friday Finds on a Tuesday

We all watch TED, but here are 5 that are underwatched.
I mentioned that I rediscovered QR codes at the TESOL Convention, and here are some more fun and resources.
Got a free account for Snapjoy.  All my photos backed up now!  Now I can play with PicMonkey and Stupeflix.
Could Zite replace Flipboard on my iPad?  Maybe!
I think this is important to remember when teaching college-age students.
I think I'll have these fake movie posters as a cool option for my students' book projects.
Using inFocus is even better than just linking to a website.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Top Moments at TESOL 2012

I was fortunate enough to be able to bite the bullet and pay out of pocket to present at and participate in TESOL for the 11th year in a row!  The best moments for me at any convention are reconnecting with far-flung friends, colleagues, teachers, and students.  You know who you are, and I'm so, so glad I was able to see all of you!

Below are a few of my other favorite moments in no particular order:

Overhearing Randall Davis at his poster session talking blenders: "I don't need to know the difference between puree and liquify.  I just need to turn it on and off."  Wise tech tool advice.

Listening to the dynamic Nigel Caplan use the word "corpus" more times than I could count when I wandered into his session:  Making Grammar Choices in Advanced Academic Writing.

Keith Folse letting me know that I am an idiot for teaching the adjective order chart.  His advice about grammar that matters: teach students to use one adjective, and to put it in front of the noun.  You know, because no one speaking says things like "I ran down the long, narrow, dark, decrepit street."  (CATESOLers take note - Keith is speaking next week.  Don't miss him!)

Eating crépes in the Reading Terminal Market, and seeing an Amish girl playing games on her smartphone.

Learning some exciting ways teachers are using Google Voice (already signed up and got my free account set up!), and got my interest piqued about how to use BigBlueButton too.

Planning to try out Poll Everywhere tomorrow.

Eating (twice) at Hawthornes Cafe in the lovely Bella Vista neighborhood.

Seeing how cool Moodle 2.1 is during an EV fair - and feeling dismay that we don't have that version yet.

Learning about some fun apps: Songify, Photoannotate, and Flashcards.

Speaking of apps, was thrilled I got to use my QR Reader at many presentations to instantly get the slides, handouts, and links.

Being impressed that PearsonELT was the first publisher to go entirely digital (no books in sight) in the exhibit hall.

Oh and yes, I did contribute by co-presenting on Digital Photostories

I got my Texas star pin and my TESOL 2013 luggage tag (thank you hospitality table!), so here's my TESOL wish list for TESOL 2013 in Dallas (just in case anyone in power reads this):

How about a mobile app or site for the TESOL schedule where we can favorite or star the workshops we plan to attend. (I'd love to put that heavy program book away!)

Better signage for the Electronic Village would be helpful - I ran into it quite by accident.

A networking session or general reception would be nice (Anyone else feel like you mostly just meet and greet the same people?).

Revamped Poster Sessions - a larger area and/or leave those things up!  Better yet, can we update them with technology options as well?

Watch This Space

Does it count as a blog post if I just say I have some things in the work?  Maybe it would if my last post wasn't nearly a month ago!

Here's what you have to look forward to as I jump back into the blogseat:
  • My Top Moments at TESOL 2012 last week.
  • Spring Break:  To give homework or not to give homework?
  • Water Break! How a little taste testing transformed a boring academic text.
I'll continue to post Friday Finds as well.