Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Finds 1/25/13

A few things I wanted to share this week:

Mind Mapping Tools

This is so true:  The Myth of the Super Teacher

Speed Reading Activities from slow to fast.

I'm supposed to be doing this!

Dear Photo

This fake Amazon page is the most clever resume ever.

UtellStory might be just what I was looking for to replace Microsoft Photostory

Biteslide looks cool too.

These annotating apps for the iPad all look like great choices.

A Bucket List of tech tools.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday Finds 1/18/13

photo from icanread

Could you only check email on Fridays?

I vow to do this more with my student Twitter account. seems like an easy way to get your voice out there.

Pronunciation Power is a nice app for students.  Free for a limited time.

A high school junior fights cyberbulling with sincere compliments.

In case you are wondering which writing resources your students use the most.

Start a Reading Revolution

I love sites like i can read and one photo a day.

Do less: it was a busy week for me, but I'd like to keep this in mind next week.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

My Students by the Numbers

Classes are still settling.  Students are adding, dropping, switching, getting on and off wait lists, but with my core students the surveys are coming in and these are my numbers so far:

73:    Total number of students in all 3 classes

0:      the number of students who do not have a computer to use at home
0:      the number of students without internet access at home
0:      the number of students without a cell phone
15:    the number of students who don't have smartphones
52:    the number of students who had never used Insight (CCSF's course management system)
73:    the number who think technology tools can enhance their educational experience

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Please Take Out Your Cell Phone

I know most teachers at my college tell students to turn off, silence, and put away their cell phones when they walk into class.  Many have a list of consequences of what will happen if their cell phone rings or vibrates during class, and heaven help the student who is caught texting under their desk!  (I've written about this before here.)

For the record, I don't want my students to be distracted by texts from their friends, Facebook updates, or their turn to Draw Something.  Still, cell phones are powerful mini-computers and can be amazing educational tools (if used correctly).

So today (day 2 of the semester) I asked my students to take out their cell phones.  Here's what they did:

1.  In small groups they shared a photo from their phone.  This is a great ice-breaker activity.  They talked about who or what the photo was about, where it was taken, and so on.  Just for fun, I showed them these two photos from my phone:

City College of SF this morning!

My boys goofing around last weekend.

Ice-breaker activities can be difficult, and especially in ESL classes, students can take awhile to warm up.  Creating a class community is my number one goal the first week of class.  Sharing a photo is an easy way for students to get to know each other.  One other thing I noticed was that some students in the groups exchanged phone numbers - in order to have someone to call if they miss class or have questions later. 

2.  After discussing their photo, I asked the students to share any educational or learning apps they use on their phones.  Many did not have any.  A few had ebooks, some reported using translators, but most had no educational apps.  Then I shared one that I think can be helpful:  This free app can also be used online as a regular website.  I showed them how they can get a "Word of the Day" and also how to "Favorite" words to create word lists (helpful for studying for vocabulary quizzes).

3.  Finally, I had students use a photo from their phone for their writing sample.  Students described one photo, and I had a piece of writing to gauge their level.

During the one hour class that every student had their cell phone out, everyone was engaged in the activities and discussion, and I got some great personal writing from students.

Lesson Learned:  Cell phones don't always have to be turned off.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Things I Want to Share with my Students

A few links I plan to share with my students as this semester gets started:

This video which shows why I'll be using Google Forms to connect with them.

How does our classroom compare with Classrooms Around the World?

Since they turn to Google, some tips on Better Google Searches

A simple video from Commoncraft about how plagiarism is cheating and dishonest.

A great tutorial on Information Savvy including searching better and using information correctly

Why we will be blogging:  it's the new persuasive essay

If they like to use flashcards, they can check out StudyBlue

I hope they are using their cell phones to study more, not  cheat more!

Instead of Reading My Syllabus Aloud

Students are nervous the first day.  They wonder who their teacher is, they wonder if the class will be difficult . . . they hope they are even in the correct room.  Instead of going over the syllabus by reading it aloud, I showed this video (in the rooms where I couldn't, this is their first homework assignment).  I think this is a much better way to start the semester!

Friday, January 11, 2013

My Anchor

To say that it is a challenging time at the City College of San Francisco is an understatement.  Accreditation woes, a budget crisis, faculty and staff pay cuts, and so on continually bring me down.  But today I heard some great advice:  that we should think about what our anchor is, and hold on to it.  Remember what brings us joy in our work, and in our field.  Picture this anchor often, when we wake and before we sleep.  In other words, keep it in the forefront of our minds and hold on tightly.  That we will need our anchor as we move through this semester.

I thought about it and my anchor is my students.  I look forward to meeting them on Monday, and I'll hold tight to them - hoping to see engagement in their learning and excitement over their progress.  I look forward to improving my own teaching and learning, and feel thankful that I have them as my anchor.

Friday Finds 1/11/13

It's a new year and a new semester.  Kicking it off by getting back to blogging!