Monday, September 20, 2010

Teaching is not easy

I think most teachers know this, but I think sometimes people forget. I randomly ran into this article on Tony Danza's reality TV show, "Teach."

Now I haven't had a chance to see the series, but I hope that it helps remind people that teaching is a lot more difficult than showing up and reading out of a book.

I also hope that it doesn't portray teaching as a joke :(

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Go Padres!

I went to a Padres game last night with my dad so I didn't have a chance to try out glogster, but I did make a quick voki

Get a Voki now!

Today's presentations are going to be on ESL wow by Claire Bradin Siskin. She has about tons of experience with technology and ESL so it should be good. She's actually presenting now so I'll make this fast

After that there's a presentation from Chris (who's been active in all discussions thus far) who has used twitter to teach Spanish!

Can't wait!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Blogging about Blogs

Perhaps this is considered meta-blogging?

Today started off with Ronnie Burt who works with edu-blogs now. Think of edu-blogs as a sort of teachertube of blogger (although I am sure they have a better marketing tagline). Most schools allow edu-blogs through their security filters when other blogs (like mine: would get stuck. Which makes sense, I remember when youtube was blocked in Korea for a week. My lessons were dependent on those videos, I had to run home download a program that would save youtube videos to disk. Transfer those to my mp3 player and then plug that into the computer to make it work...basically it would have been much easier if I had been using teachertube and not had that stressful ordeal.

We went over embedding (which I manged to work out when I used my personal blog) and review some of the other fun web 2.0 things the Internet has to offer

Glogster Which I've checked out before, but at the moment is a bit too graphic for me. Perhaps I'll play with this later tonight and post something tomorrow. (update: Dec 10 2011 I still am not a big fan of Glogster for me, but find it a great took to give to students)

Vokis are essentially speaking avatars. I had never really thought of implementing them into ESL before, but I think I am beginning to stir up some options. Will probably mess with this tonight as well.

watchknow Is sort of like a moderated twitter for videos. Moderators essentially keep a running post of videos they think you should watch. But the catalog is AMAZING

They have a category for English grammar!

Which is then divided into Beginning English Grammar, Active and Passive Voice, Parts of Speech, Sentence Structure, Punctuation, and Spelling. Talk about user friendly! You can also just run a search if you're looking for a specific topic.

So not only could I perhaps find a video I have my students watch as homework about a difficult grammar concept(or use it to brush up myself before the lesson!). I could give them actual authentic content for History or Science in English! Or have them watch a video on hobbies and have them try to replicate it with their own hobby using photostory 3! Really excited about this as I see it as something that can save me a lot of time I usually spend looking through youtube videos.

Wordle isn't a new concept to me (people use it in couchsurfing a lot) but for those unfamiliar: You basically go to the website and either copy and paste a bunch of words, or a link to a web page which has words (in this case I used my blog) and it makes a "cloud" of words. The more a word is used the bigger it is (so my blog is pretty student centered I suppose). It is nice to make one for students before a lesson and use it as a quick attention getter/prediction task.

Wordle: Blog you can mess with how things show up if you like (colors, font, orientation etc).
So the one above is the same as the one below (as far as content) it just has different preferences.
Wordle: different

A few more things and then I'll stop rambling :)

There's "Wall Wisher" where you can create a wall where people can leave sticky notes. I am not sure I really see the applied differences between this and a blog, but I suppose it would appeal more to visual and kinesthetic learners. For now I am envisioning something like this:

There's a theme (in this case regret) and students would need to post relevant videos, songs or stories. In case they need something to start I posted a song in L1 that they could refer to in the target language.

Vimeo is essentially a youtube (video sharing service) but it allows longer videos and seems to have stricter rules...I am not sure would have to look into it.


So many of these websites you just want to try out before you sign up, right (like a test drive BEFORE you buy the car)?

I was reminded of an older website I used to use It is used for free accounts online. Essentially you go to bugmenot and put the website you want to access. If someone has already gone through the hassle of creating a "shared" account you can just take that shared password and username to try the site out.

: This should NOT be used if you plan on using ANYTHING private. As you are using a username and password accessible by anyone ANYONE can access what you do within your account. But I usually use it BEFORE I make an account for a new free service (like Prezi) to see if it is even anything that I would be interested in joining.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Online class and some Linguistic fun stuff!

The first presentation started with Glen talking about his job. He's been a distance teacher for about 6 years. His students live in small villages where it is too inconvenient or expensive to get teachers, so he teaches from the computer.

He went over some ways that he uses eluminate with his students to keep it interactive and not just presentation.

Then we went through the basics of photoStory 3. It had gotten some great results from his students who felt that it was "more fun than writing an essay" (even though it still uses the same basic skills). So using some old photographs from Korea I put together a basic video.

Not fantastic, but I get how it can work with students. My one fear is that they may spend more time on effects than the language content. Sometimes we see this happen with pen and paper assignments. The artists make the fantastic elaborate posters with very little language content and the artistically challenged (me) do stick figures and gigantic paragraphs (theirs always looked so much better!).

Well I figured out what re-mix semiotic practices means! Thorne's presentation was really cool! You can still check out the recording and I HIGHLY recommend it. I'll actually try to make another separate post on it because it hits on some of the things I studied in Communications back in college so I'd like to be able to link to some Communication theories (which means it shall take a bit longer than the other summary/reflection posts).

Super fast

So...the things I've "made" using the new technology

I made a screenr of how to use primary pad

It is a big rambly, but at least I get my point across.

There's the primary pad we've been working on as a group. (You can see how we all could add to each other's work (in this case not much peer editing was done)

In the primary pad document we were advised to go onto voice thread and tell a bit about ourselves and what we learned

Soo, that's pretty much it today, we have Glen Cake giving a presentation on the "Online Class and Digital Story Telling through PhotoStory 3." This is supposed to give us the tools for storytelling such as how to integrate voice, images and text.

After lunch we have a recorded presentation from Steven L Thorn. This will go into uses of social media, "remix semiotic practices" I have no idea what that means, new media literacies, and multi-player gaming as settings for teaching languages.

That recording is already available here

Monday, August 9, 2010

Social Media in Language Education Part II Day 1

Well Michelle and Catalina seemed to mainly focus on the use of primary pad and voice thread for student collaboration. To help their students practice third person they were assigned groups from another school and had to describe

As a group students had to come up with sentences describing the duck. Now in this case they are 8th grade Spanish teachers so the sentences would be in Spanish. Since I primarily teach EFL my students would be doing this is English.
  • His name is Paul.
  • He likes to swim.
  • He hates to do math homework.
Primary pad is a type of etherpad. EtherPad was the first web-based word processor that allowed people to work together in really real-time. It was started by applejet and later acquired by google (I believe) but when they shut down the program they released the code for others to develop. I may be wrong, but all you really need to know is it allows several people to get together and brainstorm, peer edit etc. The other thing I really like about it is you can use the public version without logging in or registering!

Since students are working with one another they get all the positives of peer learning (team-building, greater psychological well-being, social competence, communication skills, self-esteem, higher achievement etc.)

Now, this activity gets them to practice reading and writing, but speaking is also pretty important. So the students also had to go to the link that the teacher had previously created and they would read the list they had created describing their duck. Voice thread seems pretty basic, it is just a way to have students record their voice over a picture and allow people to leave voice comments.

Their presentation is here

Finally Kyle Murley took the opportunity to show us around some sites on the web and we all brainstormed some possible applications of these different options.

Some of the things we went over:

Prezi: Essentially a gigantic white canvas where you can put images, text, etc that you can play with (rotate, make bigger etc). A decent alternative to powerpoint, but it will take me a long while before I figure out if it is really any "better." It still seems rather presentational rather than interactive. Regardless, it was still nice to be made aware of this thing I kept hearing about.

Twitter: Twitter is actually linked with screenr when Kyle spoke about it. I think that Thursday we will have Chris Brown talk about twitter more so for now I am going to skip any application and just talk about the concept. Most people are aware that twitter is a "micro-blog" which allows members to post 140 characters per entry. While many native speakers have to practice to get concise this is a pretty good size for people acquiring a language.

Flickr: By linking Flickr to an e-mail address you can have students e-mail (or sms) pictures of relevant vocabulary words or themes tagging them appropriately. This will give students a great base of pictures (meaning!) and since it is THEIR material they will be more motivated and passionate about the concepts you teach! GREAT!

Blogs!: It is also possible to send pictures straight to a blog! I know Blogger offers this as does flickr (through blogger). By just having a number or e-mail students need to text things so they avoid needing to have yet another log in and password and you still maintain control. There's more discussion on blogs on Wednesday so for now we'll end that train of thought.

Screenr: The great thing about screenr is it can post things directly to your twitter without even needing to start an account with screenr. If you have a twitter account that's all you need! YAY for one less password. Its basically a way to record what goes on your screen (and you can voice over) so you could do an exercise on "How to look for an apartment in England." A nice replacement to the usual, "How do you make lemonade?" I'll make an example later but for now that's a pretty good summary! I am really glad I found this and looking forward to tomorrow!

Social Media in Language Education Part I Day 1

On a lunch break from a Social Media workshop.

Teachers can use more than just books to learn!
"The goal of this summer's workshop is for each participant to walk away (or log off) with a new social media tool to use in their next language classroom. Along the way they will hear from language teachers using these tools, engage in discussions on best practices, theory, and global trends, and also meet potential partners for future projects. It is going to be an exciting and interactive workshop, so plan on diving into the technology without inhibition."

Thus far I've had the opportunity to hear from Evan Rubin and learn more about using Elluminate. It is essentially an e-classroom with screen sharing, microphone, webcam, private rooms and many more functions. You can create a free account which allows you to have up to 3 people working at the same time. For bigger meetings (like this webinar) you need to have a paid account, but for the present time it seems the free one should work fine! We also got an idea of where everyone tuning in was from and the diverse backgrounds we all had in social media. If anyone was unable to make it but interested you are welcome to view the recorded session here We were also given the link to Learn Central where all the participants will be able to log in after and keep in touch with one another and the ongoing acts of incorporating social media into our lessons.

Soon after we had a chance to hear from Nicole Naditz as we all reviewed the basic standards for teaching (and learning a foreign language). It was great to be able to review what the main goals of learning should be and the different ways we all accomplish that.Her recording is here

Next up are Michelle Olah and Catalina Bohorquez who will be sharing about PrimaryPad and Voicethread applicable uses for students beyond the walls of the classroom.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

How I got here

I have lived abroad, studied abroad, taught abroad, and traveled abroad. These experiences have allowed me to discover my passion for teaching and encouraged me to continue developing this passion. I am idealistic, naive and yet realistic.

I don’t think I will change the world, but I hope that one day I will teach someone who will.

While studying Communications at San Diego State University I had the opportunity to study abroad three times. My sophomore year I studied communications through Nanyang Technological University and had the opportunity to backpack through Asia. I later completed my minor in Spanish in Madrid, Spain through Nebrija Universidad and was able to take a Women's Study course (Women in International Development)in Turkey at Bogazici University that Summer.
At a lantern festival in Singapore

Next to the "Traveler's Palm" in the Royal Botanical Graden
My last semester at San Diego State (after I returned from Spain and Turkey) I had the opportunity to work with AVID students and Monte Vista High School. AVID is a fantastic program that targets students who wouldn't normally go to college (B, C, and even D students) but have the desire to do so. They are usually students who would be the first in their families to attend college, and most are from low-income or minority families. AVID has a great track record when it comes to bringing students up to their full potential and I enjoyed being part of it.
Monte Vista AVID woot!
This was a new age group for me as my previous teaching experience (swim and private tutoring) was always with younger children. It was here I realized that while I enjoy having fun with my students, I am predominately a "strict" teacher. Though the students and I could have fun on occasions, I was the only tutor who would be given groups which had to discuss sex (be it in biology, English, history, or anatomy). This is because none of the other tutors could strike a balance between treating the students as adults, while still holding them accountable as students. As the only one who could keep the students focused, the dangerous topics or rowdy groups were always assigned to me as I could handle them.

After graduating from San Diego State University I got a job teaching English through the the Gyeonggi English Program in Korea (GEPIK) in Korea. It was a great segway into the teaching world. It also helped me as I now have experience with difference age groups as well as in different cultures. I am aware of the need to change teaching techniques appropriately depending on the students. This combined with my motivation to help students reach their highest potential helps me recognize that no two students are the same and that lessons must be planned to include opportunity for different types of learners to flourish. Most of all, Korea made me realize how much more I needed to know.
My Korean students during Summer Camp

After I completed my contract I took time to return to Spain and walk from Salamanca to Santiago de Compestela. On the walk I realized that teaching is definitely the direction I want to go in my life, and that while I could learn a lot by teaching another year in Korea, I needed to gain more education in order to be a more efficient teacher.
My shadow and me walking the Camino

I ended up in The Netherlands to take a certificate in teaching English course (CELTA) through the British Language Teaching Center in Amsterdam (I aupaired while there to afford the expenses). After completing the course and receiving my certificate I became fascinated with the different ways to teach.
So, I applied for the "Teach and Learn" program through the Insitituto Univesitario de Investigación en Estudios Norteamerianos Benjamin Franklin (Instituto Fanklin) of the Universidad de Alcalá. This is a fantastic program my friend did last year. It allows me to take a paid internship at a primary school (in my case Colegio Europeo Aristos in Getafé) while taking courses to obtain my Masters in Bilingual and Multicultural Education. In addition to receiving some money each month the tuition and insurance are included! I am really excited about this opportunity and I hope to gain a stronger understanding of the theories behind didactic strategies in addition to how to best implement these in the classroom and my planning.

In order to get the student visa I need to return home for two months. Rather than twiddle my thumbs I looked for a temporary job in the education field. I got very lucky; International House San Diego was looking for an ESL teacher for a bit in July! International House is a well known school worldwide (over 140 schools in more than 47 countries) and I am very excited for the chance to work with them this Summer. The program is with 11-17 year olds from different countries who come to San Diego to enjoy the Summer and learn English!

(Flash forward to 2011-2013: I am teaching in Mexico)

After teaching in Mexico, I moved back to San Diego and found a great job teaching English Literature to ESL students in San Diego.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Questions to ask when choosing activites/books/other supplementary materials?

When I took my CELTA one thing we reviewed was things to consider when choosing supplementary materials. Here's the list of questions we came up with

  • Can you adapt it to a different level?
    Things to keep in mind when choosing what to add
  • Is it student or student friendly?
  • Is it culturally sensitive?
  • Can I legally photocopy it?
  • What skill does it highlight?
  • Does it add to the lesson?
  • Is it in the budget?
  • Is it useful in real life?
  • What logistic do you need to arrange?
  • How much time shall it take?
  • Is it interesting?
  • Will it challenge the students?

What questions  do you ask when choosing activities?
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