19 October 2018

A Resource for Discovering the Romantics & Victorians

As teachers, we may often have to provide sources for our students to carry out mini projects (this obviously depends very much on teaching context and students' age range).  A wonderfully rich source for projects which centers around the Victorians and Romantics in the UK, can be found at Discovering Literature: Romantics & Victorians of the British Library. 

Discovering Literature: Romantics & Victorians  offers a rich variety of resources ranging from authors  of the period, popular themes to articles on Romantic and Victorian literature. 

For educators, there are specific teaching resources which indicate the age range of students, subject (English of English Literature) and accompanying theme. There is also a section with videos - which for ELT, for example,  makes another interesting resource for listening activities (videos also include a transcript). 

Below is a video on the origin of a Christmas Carol:

The British Library also has other resources for teachers and students which you can find here .  From English to English literature to history and citizenship, this is a great resource to turn to whenever planning lessons with a focus on historic events.

What other resources do you use for mini projects?

Further Suggestions:

Engaging with History

What Was There

DOCS Teach

History's Heroes, Smart History

Do You Know the History of the English Language?

Visualizing Time with Timelines

(Images from Public Domain Pictures)

Do You Wabisabi?

Autumn days with autumn abundance in regard to exploring new digital spaces and possibilities. 

Despite being an Edmodo Ambassador and finding many benefits to using Edmodo as a teacher, there are other options (besides Moodles) which I find worth looking into. 

Wabisabi is one recent LMS which I have been looking at and it seems interesting to use with learners as well as an individual portfolio for one's lessons. 

After signing up and logging in, the teacher has choices - creating a classroom, adding students and creating a lesson. There also seems to be two other areas in this space which are being developed; one is for resources and a global community, while the other is for professional growth. So definitely worth logging into and seeing how this develops. 
In the classroom section, (as you can see here on the right)
there will be areas for including classroom activities, adding learners, awarding them badges for their achievements, as well as lessons. 

After selecting a classroom activity , the user will be asked what kind of document they want to use (as seen here below):

It is simple and user-friendly for even the most reluctant technophobe to use. 

After selecting the kind of document you want to upload (a link, document, etc) there is still another choice given: who do you want to share the document with? Will it be public to all members of a class or only to be shared with other teachers and/parents and individual learner? (image below). 

Another feature I find quite interesting is how when you begin building a lesson, you can indicate which school year it is for, and select a template or use a blank lesson template. Lessons will include achievement standards such as these: 

And of course, each teacher can tailor the lesson according to his/her needs by adding further sections.  There are also other features here - the teacher can preview the design of the lesson, how it is to be delivered and there is also a reflective space for the teacher to "debrief" or reflect on what went well and what may need to be changed in that particular lesson. 

Overall Wabisabi is offering teachers a different kind of space, where not only can they prepare and share lessons with learners, but also then go back to their lessons and reflect on how lessons may be improved or changed to better meet learners' needs and expectations. 

Autumn changes can also be found in the digital world. PollDaddy, an online survey tool, will soon be closing down and will have a new name - CrowdSignal . The new website will be going live on 22nd October and promises some slight updates to the polling site. 

And to end off for today, if anyone is interested in the digital world and the use of algorithms, I leave this short video here below. 

Happy Autumn days!

The Truth About Algorithms | Cathy O’Neil from Nice Shit Studio on Vimeo.

Snap an Image, Share a Story

There are so many ways to tell stories, to create and share narratives that one is often spoilt by choice. 

Snappa is tool for creating visuals which may support storytelling but also for creating infographics and more. 

There is both a free and premium version to choose from, a range of different sizes and formats for creating images for different purposes - an example can be seen here below:

Once you have selected the type of format you want, click on the format and you will then have options for creating your visual. There are choices in regard to images - including ready made templates - fonts, size of text, effects, and graphics.  Here is an example of how easy it is to create an infographic:

Snappa - How to Create an Infographic from Snappa on Vimeo.

Visual literacies are not a passing trend. They are an integral part of Media Literacy which is "the ability to access, analyze, evaluate and create media in a variety of forms." (Center for Media Literacy ).  Visual literacies/media literacy is also not something which is "taught" in one or two lessons, but rather, an educational approach which is embedded in regular practices. 

“Media literacy builds an understanding of the role of media in society as well as essential skills of inquiry and self-expression necessary for citizens of a democracy.” (Center for Media Literacy)

These are skills which are corner stone for learners today, as increasingly we live in a world mediated by media. As  Sonia Livingstone points out:

"The more that the media mediate everything in society – work, education, information, civic participation, social relationships and more – the more vital it is that people are informed about and critically able to judge what’s useful or misleading, how they are regulated, when media can be trusted, and what commercial or political interests are at stake. In short, media literacy is needed not only to engage with the media but to engage with society through the media."

This process of engagement begins in classrooms, where learners are given the opportunity to practice and learn, whether that be in reading through media and visuals or creating visuals and media themselves. 

Infographics are great visuals for expressing figures but also for summarising and narrating events. Nik Peachey has an excellent publication on Exploiting Infographics for Digital Literacy and Critical Thinking and also highlights how using infographics may be used in the CLIL context:


Where would one be without them?

Further Suggestions:

Create Your Own Infographic

A Box of Learning Treats

Secret of Successful Learning?

Summer Delights

Center for Media Literacy

Media literacy – everyone’s favourite solution to the problems of regulation

12 October 2018

Literacy - The News

You check your social media feed and news! news! news! abound. Not only updates from friends, family and all the other random/less random connections, but all the shared news of current events around the world. Some may affect you while others probably don't have a direct, apparent connection to your life. 

However, as you tread through this maze of updates and news, which are the ones that you can truly trust? 

In a world saturated with news and the fake news, this is an issue that students often need guidance with. 

The News Literacy Project is a great place to get started. 

Although geared for students between Grades 5 to 12, this is a source for possible lessons in other contexts as well, for example in ELT contexts. 

The News Literacy Project is yet another effort to guide students to think critically while helping them to improve their confidence in recognizing what is indeed fact and what is, regrettably, fake news/fiction.  There are resources for educators, a quiz on news literacy and more to explore. 

Another source which may be of interest for more mature learners, is PolitiFact . PolitiFact  focuses heavily on USA news and politics but does provide an interesting approach to the news with their Truth-O-Meter  and Pants On Fire sections. 

Being digitally capable is not enough. 

Being digitally literate includes a range of skills, including being able to read the news, analyzing facts, and thinking critically. 

Learning changes lives .

Empowering learners to be confident thinkers is an integral part of education. 

Further Suggestions:

7 October 2018

Field Related - EAP Writing

EAP students usually have different linguistic challenges ranging from note-taking in lectures to the crucial writing skills which are essential part of their studies.  Scaffolding vocabulary helps both oral and written work but how to encourage more learner autonomy when it comes to writing?

FieldRelated is a helpful tool for learners who need to check their written work.

Besides the word count, sentence count and average words per sentence, students can check how academic their writing is and find results for different fields of study. 

Different fields will also lead to different support exercises - for example, Tourism offers further vocabulary and a reading resource
while Applied Linguistics provides a listening and reading resource. Here you can find a more complete Vocabulary list which is divided into study fields

Often it is not so much a question that learners don't know the specific vocabulary of their study; the challenge is to express themselves in writing academically.

Sharing tools which may help students to check their own writing autonomously, is a step towards supporting autonomous learning.

Further Suggestions:

Inspecting Texts and English Levels

Sifting through Words

Evaluating Websites for EAP

Reading with Iris

3 October 2018

Exploring the World

Travelling, living and learning about other cultures, valuing what is different and unique, finding out what one has in common with the other - these have been elements deeply ingrained throughout my life. Sometimes threads of understanding are delicate and challenging; cultural differences may be visible at times, while other times, they may simply be opaque and difficult to really see/understand. It all takes time, patience, curiosity and a delight to learn. 

GeoGuessr is a fun way of exploring the world, either by one's own or in teams, challenging participants with their knowledge of geography and regions around the world. 

After signing up and logging in, there are maps and challenges, ranging from regions, countries and cities, as well as the opportunity to create your own map. 

One element that is easily found in every cultural setting, is the ritual of meals. These of course, differ tremendously, depending on the region, family income and even season of the year. Here are some examples of Breakfast around the world:

What an egg breakfast looks like in 10 places around the world

Here's What Breakfast Looks Like In 28 Countries Around The World

Breakfasts Around the World

These are mere examples. Learners can create their own stories and narratives about their home country's meals and/or around the world, then create short quizzes for each other. These quizzes may focus on language (if, for example, a foreign language class), or on geography and culture/s. Below is another source which may be used when developing lessons which share different characteristics of meals around the world. In this case, it is about Christmas but other celebrations may also be introduced for students to research into and produce a simple project which includes geography and traditions. 

This is what Christmas dinner looks like in 20 countries around the world

How do you incorporate cross cultural activities in your classroom practices?

Further Suggestions:

Absolutely Intercultural

Biographies and the Web Genie

Linking the Classroom Tribe

Activities for Raising Cross-Cultural Awareness

Where in the World? Awakening Geography

How I am using Lego to teach Arabic (with transcript

iEARN - Learn with the world, not just about it.

World Teacher Day 2018

In a previous post I mentioned Autumn celebrations, and this coming week there is WorldTeacher Day. World Teacher Day (or International Teacher Day) is a day for everyone to be more aware of what teachers do and how they contribute to society. Needless to say, education changes lives, no matter how little regard and appreciation educators receive. And despite the continuous friction between actual practitioners and researchers in education, both contribute equally towards the body of knowledge and practices within the field of education. 

Teachers' Day 2018 offers teachers  posters, decorations, lesson ideas and classroom ideas. 

Mostly geared towards younger learners, there is also the opportunity to introduce these items into teacher training/teacher development courses. 

There is no doubt that despite all the lip service paid by politicians to the value of education, that teachers all over the world continue facing a myriad of struggles - whether that be in classrooms with no electricity, students who cannot afford to buy books and food, low salaries and even safety. 

The Guardian – Teachers In America from George Shelbourn on Vimeo.

Nothing that I have mentioned above is new. However, it is when you experience first hand the very struggles of educators in different parts of the world (e.g. Nepal), one realizes how much energy and dedication teachers invest in their practices and learners.

Because that is what keeps teachers going - their caring, their belief of how education and empowering learners does make a difference. This takes drive and engagement. This takes agility and flexibility. And this takes the ability to be constantly open to new ideas, new approaches and practices to meet learners' needs, hopes and expectations.

If nothing else. education is not static.
A constant flow of learning, of sharing, of collaborating.
A consistency in belief towards constructive change.

To all colleagues who I have worked with and so appreciated their sense of humour, their endless endeavour to provide worthwhile lessons, creative classroom practices, real collaboration and so much more - thank you!

To teachers everywhere, Happy Teacher Day!

Further Suggestions:

World Teachers' Day 2018 International Conference

How the humanities can deliver for the fourth industrial revolution

How the humanities can equip students for the fourth industrial revolution

To Those I Used to Know

What Difference Do You Make?

Guardian US teacher takeover


The British Council is  celebrating World Teachers’ Day by offering a 50% discount on all their online self-access training modules during the whole of this week, ending this Friday on 5 October And here’s how to take advantage of the offer:

💥 Go to any of their training modules listed here http://bit.ly/TeachingEnglishTrainingModules click on ‘Purchase’, then on ‘Apply Coupon’ and paste this – WTD2018 – into the box.
💥 You may well like one of their moderated training courses. Find out the details here: http://bit.ly/TeachingEnglishTrainingCourses

With thanks to Ann Foreman who manages the British Council Teaching English page!