Muddling through the blogosphere

October 5, 2012
by blogwalker
1 Comment

Time for an iPad, Maybe?

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I’m thinking it’s time to fork up the $$$$ and buy an iPad. . . maybe. I’ve held off buying one, mainly because I seemed to be getting along just fine between my desktop, laptop, and iPhone.

I’ll admit to an attack of iPad envy last spring, on a trip to Europe. I opted to pay for a texting only plan to keep in touch with friends and family. Sometimes the texts went through, sometimes not.  My traveling companions with iPads, however, definitely had many more options for sharing their trip, ranging from filming, to snapshots, to email, to Skyping.

Yesterday was almost the tipping point.  With a Google Teacher Academy coming to California (Mountain View) in December, I was working on the last part of my application: a one-minute video. I teach in a PC district, and therefore use free, Windows-compatible video tools (MovieMaker and PhotoStory). I’ve resisted purchasing, for instance, Adobe Elements mainly because in the workshops I do for my district and region, I don’t want teachers to have to turn around and purchase software when they leave my workshops. But after watching a few teacher-created GTA application videos on YouTube, I was wishing I had access to the many nifty, full of bells ‘n whistles, incredibly professional looking templates that always come with any of Apple’s video creation tools.

The absolute tipping point for buying an iPad, however, will be finding at least 3 powerful apps for an adult English language learner. A friend recently returned from a trip to Africa. During her 3-week tour, she formed a friendship with a young man (Maasai), who would very much like to improve his English skills. She is sending him an iPad and would like to load it with a few apps for learning and practicing English.  Overwhelmed by the number of available apps, both free and fee-based, she asked me for some recommendations.

Can you recommend any apps for my friend to upload to the iPad? Once I have 3 recommendations, I’m heading the nearest Apple store and buying my first iPad.

June 30, 2010
by blogwalker

Live from ISTE NETS – Day 3 – Teaching ELLS…is there an app for that?

I’m really glad I was able to get into Arturo Guajardo’s Teaching English Language Learners…is there an app for that? BYOL session.

He’s opening with a YouTube video – Funny Surfer Dude – which illustrates his point that ALL students are AELLs – Academic English Language Learners.

Big Ideas

  • Teachers of ELLs should use tech tools to communicate better
  • ELL students should learn not only content but also communication skills (listening, verbal, visual)
  • Teachers and students should publish on the Web (most students do have access).

Audio Apps:

  • AudioBoo – Much more powerful than turn & talk to your partner!  Tends to up the ante for students, knowing their voices will be published. Audioboo works on phones and the Web. Will automatically post to Posterous.
  • Voice Memos App on iPhone – When you’re done sharing, you can email it to Posterous.
  • – > email > Posterous
  • Tips: Use a headset for recording and listening to their recordings. Helps with classroom noise, but also fosters re-doing recordings.

Video Recording Apps:

  • Ustream Live Broadcaster
  • Lumens Lady Bug – Record your lessons so students can watch later. Record button > Save as. Will record on to desktop. You can record to a SD card.  You can then post to Posterous….Have students do demo!  Publish it! Once they’re into the publishing mindset, they’ll work harder. Love this idea:-)
  • Canon Digital elph – Does great stills & video. Takes better still pics.

Drawing Apps:

  • SoundPaper – Problem – audio not synced to drawing.
  • Wacom Bamboo Pen – Lets students draw & explain thinking – into a journal – record into
  •– Set up class account.  Students login and get screen where they can draw & record voice. Best with tablet.

Excellent presentation – applicable cross grade levels and curriculum!

February 21, 2010
by blogwalker

Favorite Links for the Week

For the Week of Feb 14th:

  • Who Pooped? – Found this beautifully done K-adult site from the Minnesota Zoo on Larry Ferlazzo’s site (Note to self: budget time into my day to start visiting all of Larry’s Best of links.) And, yes, the site is very accessible to English Language Learners.
  • Word It Like Warren – On the long return flight from Educon (Philadelphia to California), I managed to board the plane without any reading material of my own.  So I was delighted to find some entertaining articles in Southwest’s magazine, including one on tips for writing like Warren Buffet. (Note: to self: Follow up on all the links that came up when I Googled author Jay Heinrichs.)
  • Vocabulary Web 2.0: 15 Tools, Tips, and Resources – Another great post and resource from Shelly Terrell.
  • Inteview with Adora Svitak – After connecting Adora with a group of 5th graders in my district  during last year’s Megaconference Jr – and watching their faces as Adora effortlessly walked through the steps of composing an impromptu piece of writing, I guess I’m not surprised to learn that this brilliant 12 year old is now the youngest TED speaker ever.

June 14, 2009
by blogwalker

VoiceThread and the ELL Student

Last week a 4th grade teacher in my district mentioned in passing that her team was looking at movie making as a way to boost skills of their ELL students – in a way that would also boost skills of their non-ELL students.  I can’t wait till next year to continue the conversation with her.

Thinking back to the first 4th grade video team I worked with this year as part of an EETT grant, as the group moved into the editing mode, each student picked a role. As the editing session went on, one student, not known for being able to maintain very well behavior-wise throughout an average school day, assumed a new role: wordsmyth. Each time the group would stop to debate a possible better word choice, this student spontaneously contributed a “$5 word.”  I loved being able to listen in on  student-generated conversations on vocabulary.

Last week I wrote about VoiceThread, using the 4th grade project I’ve embedded below, as being a tool for combining writing and technology to promote resiliency. But VoiceThread, like movie making, also builds on the four spheres of language.*; not just reading and writing, but also the often neglected listening and speaking. (*Note: I recommend reading Kevin Hodgson’s post on literacy and writing.)

I have in front of me Omar Lopez’s Lighting the Flame  of Learning for English Language Learners Through the Use of Interactive Whiteborard Technology. I think the “high-quality instructional strategies” he lists apply to VoiceThread as well as IWBs (maybe even more – and VoiceThread is basically free for educators):

1. Learning builds on previous experiences and therefore, ELL teachers need to incorporate ELLs’ prior knowledge, culture, interests, and experiences in new learning.

2. Learning takes place in a social setting and therefore ELL teachers need to provide opportunities for ELL student-interactions.

3. Knowledge taught in a variety of contexts is more likely to support learning across students with diverse learning needs and therefore, ELL teachers need to integrate ELL strategies in different contexts.

4. Connected, organized and relevant information supports students learning of knowledge but also helps them develop higher-order skills. Thus, Ell teachers need to contextualize instruction and use strategies such as graphic organizers that support ELLs’ development of higher-order skills.”

In listening again to the Letters from the Internment Camps VT, I think there is one more huge benefit for ELL students: VoiceThread projects develop a common vocabulary across shared experiences. The students now own the words included in the project.

Also, because VoiceThread is online, it promotes another of Lopez’s findings: “ELLs are more likely to experience school success if educators use long-term consistent strategies across all classrooms, along with efforts to involve parents and the community.” As luck would have it, last week several of the wonderful, inspiring citizens of Japanese heritage I’ve worked with in the Time of Remembrance Oral Histories Project came by my office.  When I played the VoiceThread for them, they were astounded at how well this group of elementary students has captured what the internment experience was really like. On Tuesday, Reiko Naguma, who joined the VT discussion to fully describe the experience of using the camp bathrooms, returned, bringing with her Flora Ida Ortiz, who 65 years ago was Reiko’s pen pal. Yep, we taped the interview and will soon add a few clips to the VoiceThread.

I can’t think of another technology that would allow these (Title 1) students to so quickly create a dynamic, growing community as well as to create content that will help reserve the living voices of those who experienced exclusion and forced removal first hand. What a powerful lesson on the importance of understanding and protecting the rights guaranteed to all US citizens! What a powerful project for ELL students – and all students, no?!

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