Wednesday, September 24, 2014
ePals is a global website which focuses on language learning through sharing ideas and even classrooms. You can link up with another classroom and have students collaborate and correspond through email! This site is incredible. I wish I would have had an opportunity like this while learning Spanish. Even though I'm in the ESOL field, I'm still not sure what my future holds or which subject area I'll be teaching. If I do end up as a Spanish teacher, I would love to use this in my classroom. Being from a small town, I never got the opportunity to converse with native speakers of Spanish and i'm sure a lot of Spanish native speakers would say the same. Not only is this real life practice of conversing with natives, but also boosts cultural learning in the classroom. This corresponds with the LOTE Standards 1& 2 and would be really helpful to students to actively engage in learning. As per the ESOL benefits of this website, there are numerous. One of my favorites is the in2books feature, ESOL students are able to gain literacy skills by linking up with an eMentor in which they can share important ideas about what they have read. This is a great learning tool in which students can use their English skills to interpret their reading and be able to receive meaningful feedback in order to reflect and get better at their skills. This corresponds to the NYS ESOL Standards 1, 2, and 3. This website has great tools available for language teachers as well as students and I can't wait to use this in my future classroom.
As an up-and-coming ESOL teacher, I'm constantly looking for new resources and ways to connect with like-minded people in my field. Joining social networking groups gives us the opportunity to form a community of learners with others in our field as well as share ideas so that we can all benefit from a pool of knowledge. One social networking group that I found particularly useful to me is the Google+ Community English Language Learning. This community allows for both teachers and learners of English to share ideas and questions with each other. Once you are a member, you can also post and answer questions within this site. It's a useful tool because as human beings we can't know everything, pooling knowledge and connecting with others can boost the amount of knowledge we know or can find out. This community is a valuable asset to anyone in the ESOL field, or just curious people! I can't wait to find out more information from experienced people ahead of me in the field!
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
A learner is like a sponge, constantly soaking up and growing bigger by what is around them. Learners have the ability, in the right environment, to keep on growing and soaking up information. If however their environment lacks the right conditions, they can dry up once again and lose that information. Providing students with a nurturing environment can give unlimited potential to what a student can soak up. In an age where traditional learning is almost obsolete, we must invent new ways for students to learn. We must stimulate their minds so that when they leave the classroom, the knowledge that they have doesn't dry up.
In the article Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age, George Siemens makes an especially good point when he says the following, "Learning needs and theories that describe learning principles and processes, should be reflective of underlying social environments." A social environment now a days involves technology which should be directly influencing what students learn in school. They shouldn't be learning a method or way to do something and never be able to use it again. We need to supply our learners with the equipment needed to be successful so they can continue to use these strengths and soak up the world. By equipping students to do this, we are ensuring that they are prepared for higher-level learning as well as being successful in the future. We need to ensure that they will not lose this information and that the half-life of their knowledge will be significantly decreased.
Another quote of George Siemens as stated in his YouTube video entitled The Changing Nature of Knowledge, speaks again to the relevance of technology in the classroom, "Knowledge is really about the distribution that occurs across an entire network." He relates to the fact that knowledge these days isn't just about what an individual learns in class and retains inside his or her own head. It's also about the collectivism and connectivism theory that allows people to join together as a collection of ideas and knowledge and pool what they know with each other. Technology has made this a possibility and a reality. We are able to form a community of learners and share what we know among others. We can retain that information as a sponge does and on top of that, rely on what the professionals or peers in our life know as well and together, we are a bigger sponge.
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Through taking this technology course, I have been to exposed to not only new forms of technological resources but also new ways to use the resources that I was already using! This is most definitely the case for this week's assignment. We were asked to explore DIIGO and Pinterest, two websites used for social bookmarking.
I was completely new to DIIGO before starting this course and still haven't quite grasped it completely. From what I've gathered through exploring the site as well as creating my own account, it's comparable to a bookmark tab on a browser with the capability of being social. What I found really cool about it is that it's an account that isn't linked to a specific computer and you can access your documents from wherever necessary. I really like this aspect of it. Comparing it to a bookmark tab on a computer, it's way better able to organize your websites using tags. It's also collaborative in the way that you can follow others and you are able to share ideas and websites! I could see myself using this in the future.
I wasn't unfamiliar with Pinterest before this class, but I wasn't completely aware of it's potential. I previously used Pinterest for new hairstyles and make-up techniques and thought it was more of a trendy site rather than a social bookmarking site. I learned today how to use something that I was already familiar with in a professional manner. There were so many visuals on this website and I really loved that! I learn a huge amount through visuals as a learner and I think there are many ideas on there that could truly benefit my students. It doesn't organize itself solely on tags which I also like. It's organized through topics and is really easy to search through! I don't necessarily think you can follow someone on Pinterest though which may be something it lacks. I know you can share pins with Facebook and Twitter, but not necessarily form a community of learners through it. I will DEFINITELY be using Pinterest in the future, it's got great ideas and great visuals!
Comparing the two, I think I'm more comfortable with Pinterest and that's because I've already been exposed to it. Also, as I said before, I'm a visual learner so seeing all of the bright colors and ideas really attracts me to this site. Don't get me wrong, DIIGO is an awesome tool, but it lacks a bit of creativity. However, it is a great resource to form a community of learners as well as it pools resources really well.
Monday, September 8, 2014
One video that I watched that really shows what teaching with technology can become is A Vision of 21st Century Teachers. Teachers of all ages participate in this video to show various ways in which they use technology in their classroom and empowering others to do the same. I particularly like this video because to be honest, at this point in my life I'm not so tech savvy! Through taking a technology course at my university as well as informing myself of the various technologies out there, I believe that I am assuring a better future for my students. This video gives various methods in which you can bring technology into the classroom on a simple level as well as more advanced methods. A few examples from the teachers in the video include: "My students use digital cameras to capture math in the real world," and "My students shoot videos to express themselves." These are simple yet innovative ways to bring technology into the classroom. I encourage all to watch this video.
Another video that I found appealing to reasons why the "traditional classroom" isn't quite working anymore is Educational Change Challenge. It refers to the traditional classroom as almost a jail cell. Why limit student's education to the four walls surrounding them? Should kids be defined to a setting where they are all supposed to learn only in the classroom and at the exact same pace? He refers to this system as almost industrial. We are pushing kids through the system on a conveyer belt. But not all students are alike, nor on the same level and we need change. He asks the simple question, "Am I creating life-long learners?" I like this video because it explains the relevance of students and teachers being on the same level of culture. Teachers need to be constantly teaching and learning for themselves how to help their students to be the most successful that they can be. Don't be afraid to experiment because in the end, you are only helping your students to grow and once again, becoming an innovator.
We are teachers, We can do it!
Sunday, September 7, 2014
Hi Everyone! And welcome to my first attempt at blogging!
For my first blog, I will be exploring (and learning along the way!) some ways that blogging can be beneficial in the classroom.
Being new to the graduate program as well as just starting to learn about education and the standards that are set in place can be very intimidating. The bar is set very high, but for good reasoning. We as teachers want to help our students to the very best of our abilities to learn as much as possible. Blogging, in various situations, can help us to achieve the high expectations that are in place for us as teachers as well as helping students stay connected to their own learning.
Based on the ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages)NY standards, there are five common areas that ESOL students should be able to fulfill. Two of these standards that I have noticed to be highly receptible to blogging are as follows:
1) English for information and Understanding
This key requirement that ESOL students have to reach states that "Students learning English as a second language will use English to acquire, interpret, apply, and transmit information for content area and personal use."
One way that students can meet this standard could actually be blogging!
According to the article Blogging in Language Learning one beneficial use of using blogging to fulfill this requirement could be facilitating class discussions. Almost everyone uses technology to communicate with friends, so why not use it for a classroom! With an interactive blog, students can practice their English, chat with their friends, and learn more about how to state their opinions. It will help their reading and writing skills and it won't feel as much like homework as usual! It will benefit them without even really understanding that they are learning! This also ties into the second standard which speaks to students using their English skills for enjoyment. Two for one!
2) Language for Social Interaction
Although this fifth goal is very tied into the rest of the goals, I think it speaks highly on the pragmatic level. Students from other countries may have tendencies to take over a conversation or even remain quiet, or some might just not know what to say in a conversation without coming off the wrong way. Facilitating blogs gives everyone a chance to state their opinions and write them out. Everyone has an equal opportunity to share their thoughts and then be able to share them online with everyone else. In the article Seven Reasons Teachers Should Blog it states that "Blogging can give you valuable feedback. As you gain feedback from your readership, you gain a sense of peer review, sometimes challenging and refuting your ideas" The same goes with students, especially international ones. It gives students a way to empower their thoughts and especially find an identity while studying here.
I hope you guys enjoyed my first blog, look out for a second one coming out!