Saturday, November 22, 2014

Podcasting in the Classroom

I recently learned what about what Podcasting is. Call me behind on the times, but these things are awesome! Podcasting in broad terms are downloadable series of audio recordings/videos and in which you can subscribe to and watch/listen to on the go. They are comparable to watching TV in the past, there is a series of which you are interested and tune in to keep updated on that show. But wait, now you don't have to be at the TV at 7pm or miss the Podcast, you can download or subscribe to them and they automatically appear on your mobile devices. How cool!! As an up-and-coming ESOL teacher, the idea of podcasting is gold. This is a prime way to incorporate technology into my classroom and have my ESOL students practicing on their own. They could subscribe to a podcast of my choosing and have certain assignments that follow it, but in their spare time there is plenty of room for listening practice all on their own. One specific podcast that I found to be a great example of what I could use in my class in the future was found on ESL Pod, a podcasting site that caters to ESL students and displays various scenarios that new-coming students might face while in America or learning English. One example that I found to be awesome was Buying Food at the Concession Stand. Eventually, ESL students are probably going to go to the movies, and there is a podcast that displays a typical conversation of what might happen in this process. In a classroom, I would have students listen to the podcast two times. After this, I would go over the given script and have students write down any terms that they don't know. There are a lot of colloquialisms used in the text which really prepares students to face real life conversations. We as a class would go over those terms and practice using them in sentences. To test their knowledge and comprehension of this lesson, I would have students form partnerships and make a script of a concession stand transaction and test it out using the terms that they have practiced. I think this would be great real-life practice as well as letting students use their new terms out loud and would work on pronunciation. Also, this activity would focus greatly on NYS Standards 4 (Language for Social Interaction) and Standard 5 (Language for Cross-Cultural Knowledge and Understanding). It would be a fun and learning experience all in one! Again, Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Strip Generator!

Ever wanted to create a comic strip for your students with ease? Now you can! StripGenerator is an online tool that allows you to make comic strips. It's super easy to use and has pre-made characters and objects and even allows you to make your own characters as well! I've never made a comic strip before but I didn't find any difficulty in using this website and I will definitely use it in the future. For someone who isn't a technology wiz, I found the tools on this website to be very straightforward and there are many options to customizing your strips the way that you would like to. The strip I made is called The Family of Mice . In my comic, a family of mice is being chased by a cat. The father then screams out "BOW WOW." After he does this the scared cat runs away frightened. The little mouse then asks his dad "How did you do that?" The father responds "Well son, that's why it's important to learn a second language." In my comic, I'm playing around with a lot of cultural themes that can be adapted to discussions in the classroom. Although this is a comic, it speaks to purposes of why we learn a second language. I could think of a million ways that looking at a comic like this could spark a discussion. We could talk about animal sounds, why the cat was scared, animal roles, why learning a second language is important, and so on. It gives a comedic entrance into a fun discussion. Hopefully because of this fun topic, ESOL students would be more likely to share and laugh about how they felt. One way that I could use this comic is to have students write me a paragraph about either the reasons that they are learning English or maybe have them write me a more in-depth narrative about what is happening in the comic and have them include funny thoughts that either the cat or one of the mice family members are having. Either way, I just see this as a fun conversation or topic starter. By doing an activity like this, I am touching on a few different standards but in particular Standard 2, Language for Literary Response and Expression and Standard 4, Language for Social Interaction stand out to me the most. If I were to focus on Standard 2, I could have students write me the paragraphs as listed before and look at their work afterwards to check comprehension. If I were to focus more on Standard 4 I could have students do an activity where they act out the comic. From this, I would see how they play the characters they are acting out and see how they use language to interact with their peers and play out the comic strip story. Either way, this is a great activity to use in class and I'm glad that I found out about it. Thanks for listening!

Animoto and Thanksgiving

I'm a huge fan of holidays and thus the reoccurring theme of Thanksgiving. It seems to be the only holiday that I can teach students about (no religion attached) that is coming up. During these holidays, it may be tricky for ESOL students to know what to expect or even what to do on these days. It's important that we teach them what these holidays are about and what Americans might do to celebrate. Along with teaching students about the holiday itself, you can also add in a language factor. That's exactly what I did with my Animoto video, Happy Thanksgiving. Animoto is a free (or paid if you want to upgrade) website in which you can create short videos with various background settings. I used Animoto to create a video about what I do on Thanksgiving. I used very basic language and the slides are just long enough so students will pay attention and be able to read the text. It's also nice because ESOL students need visual aids and this is a perfect way to accompany text. If students can't read fast enough, they can assume what the text is saying by the picture. To test their learning from this assignment I will have them watch this video multiple times in class and then have students write me a few sentences about what they watched in the video. If they are low proficiency learners I could scaffold a sentence for them such as "On Thanksgiving, Americans will..." Then, I will have them write about a holiday of their own and describe a couple sentences like they did for Thanksgiving, again, scaffolding if needed. I would read their sentences to check for comprehension. This activity would focus a lot on Standard 5, Language for Cross-Cultural Knowledge and Understanding as well as Standard 2 Language for Literary Response and Expression. Thanks for listening!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Flipping the Classroom!

I recently read two articles about what "Flipping a classroom" means. Why It's Time to Rethink (And Question) Homework and 7 Things You Should Know About Flipped Classrooms shed light on one of the more recent methodologies of teaching. Flipping a classroom, according to these articles, describes a scenario in which a student watches videos before class (comparable to a lecture of a professor) and then when he or she comes to class, the time is spent there with activities that reinforce the lectures. While I find this to be a brave attempt at creating a new methodology of the classroom, I don't necessarily agree with it. I haven't seen the quantitative facts, nor have I researched how the students feel and get along with this program, but I don't think this is a one-size-fits-all program. I say this because many students don't feel motivated to do the homework they are assigned already, but to add more on top of it? Students must learn the material themselves and then do more homework and spend class time with hands-on activities? I think this type of classroom would fit motivated and gifted learners, but what about our special learners? Or the the students that aren't yet so self-motivated? Also, I would ask the question, How do students now feel about the roles of their teachers now that they aren't teaching material? Again, I think this is a brave attempt to create a new classroom system, but it would have to be way more geared towards specific learners. I hope to learn more about this system and see how they could manipulate it and regulate it, but until then.. I don't think I'm a believer.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Creating TedED Lessons

A valuable way to test student's knowledge of a video that you are showing in class can now go beyond a fill-in-the-blank handout. If you're ready to step out of the monotony, I've got a solution for you. TedED gives you a way to create a lesson alongside a video of your choice. Aside from being a useful website for creating these lessons, there are also TedTalks which have endless amounts of topics and are educational. You may also do lessons on these! It's a creative new way to test students on what they are watching. Among multiple choice answers, you can also direct students to outside links to further research the topic as well as having open-ended and discussion questions. The possibilities are endless!
I created a possible lesson for ESOL students about metaphors. Not only does the video explain about the meaning of a metaphor and its uses, during the entire video the language used is almost all symbolic with a constant use of metaphors. ESOL students may not understand what she is saying in all of her metaphors but from watching this video, I guarantee that they will at least learn a few. It's important to show students real life uses of the language skills that they are learning. My lesson, A Lesson on Metaphors, hits various New York State Standards. One standard that stood out to me while creating this lesson was Standard 2, Language for Literary Response and Expression.  Metaphors, as shown in the video and outside links I provided, are a huge part of communication in English. We connect with people and symbolize our world using metaphors. For students to better express themselves both in writing and orally, it's important that they can use or at least recognize metaphors when they see them and that's why this video and TedED lesson is so important. To test if students are understanding metaphors presented to them in the video, I have an open-ended discussion question that I will ask students to answer. It asks students to pick a metaphor that they hear in the video and try to describe what it is saying/what it means. By looking at student's answers I will be able to check for comprehension of what a metaphor is and see if they can break it down and explain it further. Thanks for listening everyone, I hope I could provide a great resource for you!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Using TubeChop in the Classroom

For any teacher who struggles to find videos to meet the classroom time limitations, there is a solution! Recently, I explored the tool TubeChop which is an online tool that lets you single out important parts in a YouTube video that you might like to show in class, without having to show the whole video! What a miracle! You can shorten hour long videos and make them thirty seconds if you want to! This is an important tool for teachers because as we all know the one thing we're missing in the day is time. So yes, now you can show as many videos as you want to without having to worry about wasting too much class time. In my classroom activity, I didn't utilize TubeChop to the max as my video correlates to a complete story but TubeChop cut out almost 10% of the video that was unnecessary to listen to before and after the material that I wanted to focus on. Now, with a three minute video, this doesn't sound like much, but with an hour long video, it saves a huge amount of time, time that we as teachers don't have. So for this assignment, I didn't cut a huge amount of time off of my video but I practiced using TubeChop successfully and found it to be an extremely useful tool for the future. For an activity in class for my ESOL students I chose to focus on a cultural topic as it is the holiday season and well as follow up with this cultural lesson with some oral feedback as well as writing reflections. Showing this video as an activity would hit a total of three standards: Standard 5 Language for Cross-Cultural Knowledge and Understanding, Standard 4 Language for Social Interaction, and Standard 2 Language for Literary Response and Enjoyment. My TubeChop Video is the Story of Thanksgiving. I would show this video in class to my ESOL students to demonstrate a holiday that we celebrate here in the United States. I think the language in the video is language appropriate as well as culturally appropriate for my learners. I would show the video in class and have my students then orally discuss what they had seen in the video, checking for comprehension as well as looking for reflection of this holiday and how they perceive it. I would also have the students for homework write a paragraph discussing the video that we watched and have them reflect on this U.S. holiday and then discuss a holiday that they celebrate in their home country. I would check their homework the next day and allow students to share their feelings and paragraphs. This would not only be a fun activity to display to students, but it would also hit almost all, but specifically 3, of the standards. Thanks for taking the time to read!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Against All Odds, The Refugee Experience

Although I will be a future ESOL teacher, I do question sometimes where my job even comes from. Who are the people that I will be teaching and what are their stories? After being assigned to play a serious game for my online class, I was answered some of these questions in the most haunting way. Although many of my students will be immigrants which is just as an intense experience, my eyes were opened to the path that a refugee takes to get here and even someone here on asylum. The game Against All Odds is a virtual simulation into the path a refugee takes to enter this country and even some tasks associated with it after already being here. The steps in this game are intense; Starting with hiding from military prosecution, to finding ways out of the country, finding places to sleep at night, fitting into a new life, and even constantly being judged by other people. This game offers an intense experience into what it might feel like to be a real refugee. Although this may not be essential to language learning in class, it hits a cultural objective to a tee. The best way I could use this is a classroom if I had only a few ESOL students in my class and the rest were mainstream students. I would make all of my students play this game hoping that they are humbled to the experience that someone needs to go through to get into this country and what their classmates are facing. I would use this exercise to be able to open the eyes of my students to show them a piece of culture of the other students in the class and try and connect us as a community.In the meantime, students are all learning to follow directions as per following the game. They must follow instructions and be able to use tact to be able to escape the situations that they are in. Personally I have played this game 3 times successfully, it wasn't without frustration at times. I had to keep repeating the levels over and over because I kept doing things wrong. But this is exactly how the game is supposed to be set up. It wants to portray the struggles and frustrations that refugees encounter. I found it to be a valuable source of a personal story as well as a learning experience. One NYS Standard that I could base this activity on is Standard 5. Standard 5 speaks to Students using language for cross-cultural knowledge and understanding. In focusing on this standard I would be addressing both a language need as well as a cultural need. We could practice using language to describe the encounter that we had with this game. We could kill two birds with one stone. To test students on their comprehension as well as success based on this standard, I would have the students write me a paragraph either describing to me their experience playing the game or either their own personal stories. They would not have to share these stories with others nor myself if not comfortable but there is that option for these students. I hope that I will be able to use this game in the future, I think it is an eye-opening game as well as a valuable piece of cultural knowledge. Just be aware of the age group which is playing this game, It's very graphic and emotional and should not be used for younger crowds.