22 September 2018

Inspecting Texts and English Levels

unsplash-logoOliver Cole

As much as one would like, not all texts are written equally. There are different genres, styles and levels of language - and that is just on the surface to begin with!

To help EAP (or any student studying in English), Text Inspector  
is an interesting tool to use when analysing texts in English. 

You can try pasting up to 250 words for free, click on "Analyse"  and Text Inspector will give you a statistics of language and readability as well as lexical diversity. 

Text Inspector also will analyse reading and listening - one only needs to change the mode to obtain the results. 

Not entirely free, but there are subscription options. 

As for linguistic equality, let me leave you with this short video:

unsplash-logoSøren Astrup Jørgensen

Further Suggestions:

Elements of Leadership in Education

International Women's Day 2016

A Homage to Girls, to Women, to All

International Women's Day 2018

Search Engines and Digital Footsteps

Cascades of shimmering red under Autumn skies.

Cascades of digital footprints in the never ending, ever winding digital life.

How to keep learners safe in this digital space, where every light footstep is digitally recorded and digitally imprinted? There are two search engines which help.

DinoSearch  is a search engine designed for young learners and may be used safely in classroom.

Another option is using Duckduckgo
as a search engine which doesn't leave tracks.

The Web For Classrooms is yet another alternative; not free, but worth looking into.

Your Digital Footprint: Leaving a Mark - Teacher Video from NCTA on Vimeo.

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Common Sense Education also offers three great lessons regarding  digital identity and using digital media in healthy ways:

How can I cultivate my digital identity in ways that are responsible and empowering?

How can we help students use media in healthy ways?

How can I communicate effectively and positively to build relationships?

If you are interested in other search engines, why not browse through the list on this blog (on the left had side)?

How do you keep learners safe when online?

Further Suggestions:

How Do You Search? Let Me Count the Ways

Carrot2 and Behold

Visual Search Engines

Search Engines

21 September 2018

Problems the Earth Faces - Resources for Educators

unsplash-logoJosh Hild

There are probably more problems in the world than I care to mention, though the environment is one that always comes to my mind. Whether it is fresh drinking water or devastating fires (as seen in different parts of the world these past months), the well being of our planet lies in our hands and every contribution towards its health is needed. 

What Is the Most Serious Problem Facing Earth? is a lovely resource to use - and not only for Earth Day

What is the Most Serious Problem Facing Earth is a webquest which includes a lesson plan for teachers, including steps and ideas for the classroom before learners begin their research. It also includes support for teachers who teach younger learners. 

Google Science Fair  has created a mini library
with materials and exercises focused on the problem-solving process - these can be downloaded and used in when discussing the environment or other problems which need solutions (and learners always come up with great ideas!) There are lesson plans for teachers, each with steps supporting team work, problem solving and communication. Definitely worth exploring and adapting to one's own lessons and classes.

Further Suggestions:

15 Interesting Ways To Start Class Tomorrow

Viewing Comprehension Strategies: Watching Videos Like You Read A Book


The Environment - Resources including videos, games and more

Seasonal Resources for Autumn

Autumn spells back to school and academic life for those living in Northern hemispheres. As days become busier, teachers need support for inspiration in regard to lesson plans and ideas for classroom activities. 

Autumn is also a time when celebrations begin and with the global industry of ELT around the world, celebrations such as Halloween find themselves creeping into classrooms and imaginations. 

Pearson ELT offers some free resources for seasonal celebrations, including for Halloween. 

Some other suggestions for Autumn and Halloween are:

Two other suggestions for this Autumn are Kami, Your Paperless Classroom Hero and Insert Learning, which I am looking forward to using this Autumn. 

What other resources will you be using this Autumn?

Unwrapping Ethics - A Resource for Educators

Students do know what is wrong and right for themselves in their own contexts, but very often they also need guidance to think critically through situations which may or not affect them directly., yet are present in our world. Reflecting and thinking critically through contemporary issues related in ethical behaviours helps learners explore their own values more clearly and perhaps, even open their eyes to other ways of perceiving the world. 

For educators who are teaching law students, the resource below  may also be useful as there is a wealth of ethical contexts to choose from.

Ethics Unwrapped offers videos which are clear and easy to follow, adding value to classroom discussions. There are also case studies on ethics and leadership, with topics ranging from the ethics of bullfighting to cultural appropriation. 

Each topic comes with additional support for teachers - discussion questions, related videos  and a bibliography on the topic. 

Ethics Unwrapped includes further resources on these contemporary issues, 

as well as a Glossary which is accompanied by videos on each term, in a simple and memorable way. 

How do you approach ethical choices in your classrooms?

Further Suggestions:

Where Empathy and Tolerance Grow

Games, Documentaries and Images for Empathy and Social Skills

20 September 2018

Continuous Professional Development for Educators

It never fails to surprise me how certain individuals at educational institutions disregard informal professional development. It is so easy to blithely dismiss professional development which is offered through MOOCs, through online training and any other training which is not gate-proofed by formal Higher Ed institutions. 

Yes, there is a time and a place for formal professional development - a place,  which more often than not,  comes with a hefty price which is prohibitive to many teachers' budgets. Despite the value of a yet another piece of paper declaring that individual X completed XYZ course (on the condition that full fees were paid), this attitude - especially among educators who should know better - is very much stuck in a past which no longer makes sense. 

There are excellent opportunities for continuous professional development and learning online - whether through specific training providers (who provide practical training which one can use immediately in one's practices) or through MOOCs, webinars, blogs, open resource journals and more. 

One space for teachers, in particular for those who work in the field of K12 is CubeForTeachers

CubeForTeachers shares practical resources, aligns curriculum standards, giving voice to educators through their blog and resources which teachers share. Having started in Ontario, Canada, it is a collaborative effort through which teachers share best practices and educational issues. 

Another site which is of interest for teachers is Playmeo

Playmeo is not free but provides an activity database, resources and tutorials as well as professional development to educators. Its driving force is embedding fun activities and approaches to educational practices - something which is dearly needed for learners!

Educators have more choices than ever for their own professional development today. Whether taking online training, courses,  joining learning communities or sharing resources, teachers today can own 
their own professional learning; they are empowered to make choices, to share their voices, to learn in an open world and not rely solely on formal learning at institutions. Both have a place in learning but professional development is more than just sitting in a lecture room listening to someone who has little, if any, experience of real life classrooms outside their protected ivory towers. 

Your world is open.


In change and pulsating with life.

Further Suggestions:

Teacher Development and Resources

Re-Visting Professional Development

Sharing Learning and Professional Development with Videos

Games, Documentaries and Images for Empathy and Social Skills

In a previous post, I mentioned empathy and tolerance and how they contribute to learning, as well as the need to foster empathy and tolerance in classrooms.

This is a shorter entry, with further suggestions of materials and resources which may be used in classrooms in regard to developing stronger social skills among learners. 

Teaching Tolerance (already mentioned in a previous post), has a series of 12 lessons based on photography to teach about social justice. Each lesson indicates which level/grade/school year the lesson is geared to, with lessons ranging from year 6 to 12. And naturally, teachers may tweak /adapt these resources to better meet their own learners' level and needs. Each lesson has its objectives clearly laid out, key questions to ask learners as well as lesson steps. Topics range from reflecting on different aspects of Identity, to exposing homelessness and poverty, to  confronting unjust practices and includes a lesson plan for students to showcase their understanding of these social issues. 

These issues are not only found in a distant, faraway land - they are present in all our societies. From Europe where immigration is a hotly debated topic to countries where racism is rampant, social problems are not hidden away from our students. Very often they too are victims of racism, of hidden, disguised poverty and bullying. Using visuals is a great way to engage learners and to allow them to think through social issues which surround our days. 

The Social Express is one among other games which help learners to develop their social skills and make appropriate social decisions. 

A list of suggested Inventive Games That Teach Kids About Empathy and Social Skills was published by KQED/MindShift, which always has interesting articles related to learning and education, in particular within K12.

Still one of my favourite games for raising awareness , is the challenge that Spent presents to students.  Perhaps designed for older learners (i.e. not children), Spent challenges players with its questions and decisions that they  need to make in order to proceed with the game. 

From images to games and now to videos.

Sprworld offers documentaries on current affairs
and claims to focus on what is not discussed or shown in mainstream media. 

It is simple to navigate, with a section of documentaries by region (as you can see in the image on the right) as well as a list of videos/documentaries laid out in alphabetic order.

As with Spent, this is a resource more appropriate with older learners and not for children. 

There is a wealth of choices to make which may be used with different ages and levels.

All it takes is making a choice.

Further Suggestions:

Citizenship Workshop - Maha Bali

Exploring Wealth Inequities: An Experiential Learning Activity - Jackie Gerstein

Empathy and Global Stewardship: The Other 21st Century Skills - Jackie Gerstein

A Look Inside the Classroom of the Future - Dana Mortenson

Decisions, Debates and Discussions

Games for Decision Making