14 April 2012

Classroom Roles Are A-Changing

Every educational institution defines its reality through its norms, thus establishing its patters of common behaviour to the participating members. When considering the different levels of education and their reality of age differences – i.e. age differences between teachers and learners will create different social relationships, e.g. age differences between secondary and tertiary students will develop different patterns of behaviour in the relationship with the teacher and syllabus. However, there remains an impertinent question in regard to tertiary classroom cultures:
i) Is there really less “management” of learning at tertiary level than at other levels?
ii) If the managing of learning is still there, though less visible, hence more intangible, does it is more subtle?
iii) And if so, what are then the markers of that discourse?
Related to these issues, is of course the purpose of formal education and classrooms as we know them in their present state: is the justification for the object of teaching meant as a need for learning, learning here meaning the internalizing of external modes of reality in order to continue sustaining that reality?
From my experience and observations in classrooms, these are features which I have found and reflect upon.
1)    It is the institution which pre-determines the roles of teachers and learners, though one should always take into account the different personalities of each of the participating members.

2)    These roles and statues will also contribute to the determination of the teaching approaches applied by the individual teacher.
3)    The curriculum – syllabus and its testing – may condition teaching attitudes and procedures in the classroom.
Nevertheless, there are changes in process.
Changes which will not be stopped nor prevented any longer.
Classroom walls are open.
Learners have free access to whatever they want, whenever they want.
Roles are changing.
Can these changes be measured? And if not, are they not worth inquiring into?
“Questions which cannot be measured are not seen as challenging the notion of measurement, but rather as not worth studying. The impact on society of such a definition of knowledge is the undermining of independent thinking an decision making.”(Reinhartz 1990:422)
What Students Want on PhotoPeach

What do your students want?


Reinharz, S. – 1990 “Implementing New paradigm Research: A Model for Training and practice”, in Human Inquiry, ed. Reason, p. & J. Rowan, John Wiley &  Sons


This entry is a cross-posting from Dreaming Weaving Learning

9 April 2012

Popping Editors for Images

A selection of image editors. If you are interested in more, visit Digital Delights-Image Editing where you can find other types of image editing and more on photography and design.


There seems to be a problem with Popplet so I am including an image and direct link:

Do you have a favourite photo/image editor?

3 April 2012

Encouraging Reading

From fairy tales to adventure books, comics to the Natural Geographic, reading was a habit I grew up with. Stories delighted me, transported me. Just as travelling opens the mind, reading too creates new connections in one's mind, opening windows of imagination and creativity. 

Reading in a foreign language, however, is not always that pleasant. And how does one begin reading faster?

Reading Games is a resource for younger learners which offers different types of reading activities, and which can equally be used by learners of English. Among the different skills required when reading, knowing vocabulary is certainly one of the most important and by expanding one's vocabulary range, reading becomes less tedious. 

Easy Prompter  is a teleprompter and helps learners in two ways: they can practice their reading with the text they insert as well as practice for presentations, building up their speaking confidence. There is also Teleprompter as an alternative. 

Fractured Fairy Tales,  is a wonderful way to help younger learners understand how stories are written. With Fractured Fairy Tales, they can change some of the main elements in these fairy tales, which will enhance their understanding of plot, story setting and point of view. They can work in pairs, then read their stories to another pair and compare their fairy tales. 

Reading, whether online or off, is essential when one is growing up. ReadWriteThink offers these suggestions for reading outside the classroom. 

How do you encourage reading?

Further Suggestions:

VRT2/App - Video Recording Teleprompter

ELT Revisions

There are moments when all learning seems futile. How often have language teachers heard, "Why is English like this? Why is it so difficult?"

The English language does indeed have peculiar features which are not so common in other languages, nevertheless, it is one of the most spoken languages internationally, with a wealth of variations and characteristics.  As for not being able to learn a language......in over 20 years I have never met anyone who is unable to learn a language, so wether the concept of a non-language learner really exists or whether it is yet another urban myth, I'm afraid I can't comment as I have no experience of a non-language learner. 

However, learning a language does take time, dedication and constant practice. Today's suggestions are geared towards revisions for English Language Learning as the semester will soon be bordering exams and assessments. 

Oxford Dictionary Spelling Challenge has 3 different levels as well as British or American spelling. With the aid of audio, learners type in the word they hear. It's great for revisions and for self-learning - and for spelling bee preparations. 

Just The Word is another site with an emphasis on words but functions more like a thesaurus as well as showing lexical items in clusters - both in terms as word part (i.e. noun, verb, adjective etc) as well as its combination. 

For class activities, Free Printables for Teachers offers games focusing on grammar, vocabulary and other language skills.  You can also find printable certificates to award students for their achievements. 

Learning a language doesn't have to be a painful experience of feeling as if one is at the bottom of the sea and will never succeed. There is plenty of support online for both learners and teachers. 

Here are some sites which are worth looking at and selecting what is best for your students: 

Podcasting for Foreign Language Education - a wealth of podcasts for different languages

Wording - How to find the right word

English Language Space Station - Free worksheets and ideas for ELT

ESL Lounge - board games and more

English LaunchPad - App


Images were taken from 1x.com and edited with Lunapic

1 April 2012

Writing Skills, Diaries & Timelines

I stare at the whiteness and wonder, where do I begin? Yes, there are beginnings and middles and endings, but where does one begin? At the beginning. 

But why not go further back? Why not begin before the beginning? 

In the beginning there was the Word. 

How well I was taught to learn about words, but....what shall I now do with them? And how does one begin?

As a language learner, I was fortunate to have always learnt a language with the same script. I needed words and learnt them. I needed to communicate and so I practiced speaking. I was asked to write and I stumbled - for every language has its own peculiar writing culture. 

It is with the thought of own students in mind that I include this post on writing. My students will be taking an international exam which will include writing. Their own native tongue uses a different script and English is not much used in their lives outside the classroom. Many succeed this exam. Some don't at first. Writing is no simple task in any language, let alone in a foreign language such as English. 

Lightning Bug is a charming site for young learners who are taking their first steps into the world of writing essays. There are resources for teachers and students - a rich range, including examples of writing, blogs about writing, names for characters and much more. 

Academic Literacy, also focusing on writing, has a different slant. As the name suggests, it is more focused on academic writing and for learners who will be taking exams in writing skills. However, as the name also suggests, Academic Literacy is not merely writing - there is active reading, note-taking, critical reflexions and making presentations which are all part of academic preparation. In all, Academic Literacy is a great site for students who are ending secondary education or about to being tertiary education in English. 

When students think of writing, they usually think they are writing for the teacher. Today, as more educators include blog work in their practices, this expectation is slowly changing. Writing also means ordering ideas, playing with ideas, recapturing moments and movements in time. 280 and Oh Life  are two places where writing is private, for the writer only. Here and here  you can find other tools for digital diaries. 

Personally I don't believe a teacher has the right to check a learner's diary/writing log; learners need to be given degrees of responsibilities and learning autonomy. The purpose of introducing digital diaries in the classroom serves different purposes: on the one hand, it provides learners with further keyboard practice and on the other hand, as there is no grade, learners tend to write more freely. As they begin writing with less stress, their writing skills improve - if not necessarily in their grammar, at least in de-mystifying their fear and reluctance of writing. Diary writing could be set at the beginning or end of a week as a time for reflection of what a student has learnt and what they still need to improve, of what they enjoyed and what they really found boring in class. As with many  other tasks,  learners need a framework and guidelines to succeed. The teacher could put up a certain set of vocabulary on the board, expressions linking words or whatever topic/s were covered during a period of time. Writing skills take time to accomplish and time for reflection. 

Writing doesn't always have to be only text. Digital stories may take on a variation of formats. Writing stories involves processes of thought, of planning, of motion.

 Stories are to be heard and shared. 

By creating stories with timelines, students are still writing and crafting. However, the process is slightly different as it involves the use of digital media. 

Timeline and WhenInTime  are two more timeline sites which I would suggest along with the ones mentioned below. 

Which is your favourite timeline tool?

Further suggestions: