21 November 2016

Blending Spaces

What could really help educators?

Among so many educational issues and items, a space to help teachers keep lessons, share lesson ideas and to create a digital portfolio would be welcomed. 

And that is what TES Teach with blendspace offers. A space to have lessons, share lessons while combining digital resources all in one space. 

Lessons and materials can be shared also on different social media platforms, as well as on Edmodo and Google Classroom.  (for those who use these with students). Besides tips for using TES there is also a library for teachers, where they can find shared resources for their subject.

TES Teach is really simple to use for creating lessons. You can also assign classes and share with learners so that they too contribute to creating lessons. 

For educators who teach online, this is a great space to keep teaching materials and lessons to share with students.

Learning doesn't have to be a solitary process for either educators or students.

Collaborate & Curate from langwitches on Vimeo.

Nor does learning need to be only directed at passing exams. (within ELT, the IELTS comes to mind)

Learning does, however, demand personal and direct participation.

Having a space to keep lessons and materials, to share with colleagues and learners, and to have students contribute as well, is a stepping stone forward in collaborative learning.

How do you encourage learning collaboration?

Further Suggestions:

Students as Contributors: The Digital Learning Farm

I'd like to thank Stephen Collings who recently shared his wit regarding the IELTS exam. 

18 November 2016

PixiClip - An Interactive Whiteboard

There are so many ways to add variety in F2F classrooms - from class discussions to pair/group work to individual assignments, the possibility of learner centred activities is endless. So how can one transport this range of variety to online students? One way is to ask learners to create short recordings - either audio or video recordings. 

Pixiclip is a free, interactive whiteboard. You can draw sketches, type messages, upload images, record video and audio messages. Sharing with learners is simple too - you can email them the clip or embed it in a class blog.

When sharing clips, you can choose from public, private, hidden and password protected - if you use password protected, you then to share the password with students (in turn, learners need to share their password as well).

Further Suggestions:

8 November 2016

Learning with a Spoonful of Sugar - Games for Learning


Learning may be many things, but at the end of the day, learning is personal, something one does to one's self. Using games to engage students in their learning process makes learning more appealing and is definitely a great way to do revisions. Below are two suggestions which learners can use both in the classroom and for self-study.

Sugarcane  is a free educational game, which allows you to create different kinds of games, from matching to categorizing to 
ordering and spelling. 

Games can be shared with learners with a link or by sending them an email. Here is an example of different games focusing on Classical Music Composers.  Teachers too can share their games, see other games which have been already made and edit them according to their context. 

Playbuzz is also free, features different kinds of games to make and offers 
tips on how best to create different kinds of games.  Games can also be embedded - always a plus if you have a class blog.

Though not necessarily designed for educational purposes, Playbuzz can be used with learners provided the quizzes focus on their learning context.

Which games do you use for revisions?

Further Suggestions:

Grades, Games and Grammar

Financial Responsibility with Learning Games

Digital Games - a list of suggestions

Games - a list of suggestions

4 November 2016

Genial.ly Genius!

As 2016 slowly heads towards its end, the rich tapestry of celebrations around the world crosses my mind - from the many different ways wedding and birthday celebrations are held,  to mid-summer celebrations,  to traditional, religious celebrations which make part of  our global culture and history. 

The theme of celebrations is in itself a common topic for language learners, for instance. They can describe celebrations in their own town/country, find out about celebrations in other countries, learn and teach other new vocabulary on the types of celebrations they have chosen when they present their findings. Why not give them a tool which they can present/share  their work, which is interactive and full of surprise?

Geniall.y can be  used to create interactive presentations, infographics, posters, and even resumes (example down below at the end of this post). 

Professions/jobs is another theme which is commonly approached in language classes. With Genial.ly, you can ask students to add places where people work, qualities which are needed for each job/profession, the pros and cons of each line of work. 

These are just two suggestions for a language class; there are so many other ways to use Genial.ly, depending (as always) on the context and purpose of your learners. 

Genial.ly is free but with options; one of which allows collaborative work. You can share with a link or embed creations; there is a blog (in English and Spanish) with tips and ideas on how to use Genial.ly's features. 
Genially - Do it different, do it Genially! from Genially Web on Vimeo.

Use Genially and feel like a Genius!! from Genially Web on Vimeo.

How do you make your students feel like creative geniuses?


3 November 2016

In A Nutshell - An Activity for Business English Students

How many educators really know their students?

Perhaps when you are teaching classes of 20+ learners, are swamped with administrative duties which eat away at the time that could be spent preparing lessons, when teachers are demanded to be everything to all, it's not realistically possible to really know one's students beyond their names and perhaps, their grades.  

So let me start again, how well do your students know each other?

A regular activity when teaching Business English is to ask students to write out their CV for a possible role play (a role play focusing on interview skills, for instance, or writing application/covering letters for a job). Today, there are digital tools which enable this quite easily, adding visuals and easy sharing among social media. 

These tools not only offer a real world practice to learners but also help them to learn about each other, thus opening opportunities of better class dynamics and ways of collaboration with each other.  They also help educators to get to know their learners in a different way, beyond the grade, beyond the attendance list. 

Me in a Nutshell  brings together one's contributions in social networks. The user can design
their own page and connect the social networks they want to.

The result is a personal page with an individual's personal, social narrative.

Once students have completed their webpage, it can be shared on a Padlet, or in the class LMS.

In this way, they can learn more about each other, and as participation in social networks becomes shared among them, they may find unspoken talents among themselves, peers with similar interests, making their class space less anonymous.

They may also be provoked to reflect on what is appropriate to appear in their digital CV/resume and how best to find paths of collaboration with others.

How else do you learn about your students within an ESP/Business English context?

How else can your students tap into the hidden talents of their class/group?

#unexpected from The Others on Vimeo.

Further Suggestions:

Visualize Your Life

Future Careers

The Career Dream

Are You Known?


Wet Reflection
Skating Anyone?
Ballet Music

I am still playing around with my own Me in a Nutshell, but you can have a look and see the initial webpage. Please note, though, it is something I have in progress and will not be the final version. 

Digital Media Fluencies

Time and time again I see how institutions portray long lists of requirements for candidates. Sometimes there is even a mention of how they want candidates who can work with technology and electronic environments - which, in other words, is really whether candidates are able to work with the institution's LMS and other means of internal communication platforms.  Never do I see mentions of one's approaches to digital literacies. Never do I hear questions regarding digital citizenship and learners. 

At times I also see how being able to use an institution's LMS and communication platforms seem to be the one and only skill understood as being able to work with technology. Which begs the question - what about learners using digital tools for learning? What about digital writing and its implications for learning?

In regard to a report on Digital Literacy, Maha Bali poses the following question:

"(...) Who is going to champion students in their  use of these tools in critical and creative ways? Don’t we need teachers with digital literacies to do so, or support and consultation on helping teachers develop these literacies themselves? The “Literacy Across Disciplines” section does call for curricular integration but there is no advice on how to do that – it simply says “In some ways, digital literacy as curriculum is the most ambitious version of digital literacy as implementing it requires a broad-ranging curricular redesign”. This is not enough. We will need people to enact changes of this scale. People with skills yes, but more importantly, people who have an understanding and respect for the complexity surrounding the relationship between digital literacies and digital tools." 

Oddly enough, it is those skills which never seem to be touched upon in many recruitment processes. Equally baffling to me is how the discussion of digital writing is often left unspoken, as if it is something taken for granted - yet not always understood. As Sean Michael Morris points out:

"We approach digital writing as if it is the same as our old familiar writing. But as our occupation of the digital continues, we discover the only familiarity left is our approach."

 These are the skills that will be called upon when learners join the workplace. These are skills not for tomorrow but for today. 

Digital media fluencies are an integral part of our lives today and of our students' learning process - learning not only from a restricted syllabus in a classroom, but learning with everything which surrounds us, and that includes the digital world. Especially the digital world. 

I also think that one cannot really talk about digital media fluencies without touching upon
digital identity and digital citizenship - elements of learning which require reflection and discussion in classrooms.

Nevertheless, these are conversations which I rarely see invited and open- other than on the web. I am left with questions, wondering about those long lists of requirements which do not include the world of today nor the needs and interests of our students. I am left wondering about the true contemporary dynamics of educational institutions who understand the practice of digital technologies as the ability to use their moodles and internal communication platforms only. 

As for resources related to digital media fluencies and digital citizenship, why not check these links below which contain great videos for lessons and discussions:

6 Great Videos for Teaching Media Fluency

For colleagues teaching ESP or at Higher Ed, why not explore  Top Universities Video Search Site where you can find a wealth of video resources for you and your students.

How do you embed digital fluencies in your classroom practices?

Further Suggestions:

If you are interested in learning more about Digital Literacies (and more), why not follow 

DIGITAL PEDAGOGY - A community of educators, thinkers, writers

1 November 2016

Where in the World? Awakening Geography

Respect for the environment, for nature, for cultural differences, comes with learning about our planet, about our world and the worlds within it.  Learning Geography always fascinated me, opening up far away horizons, opening up my mind and understanding of what surrounds me.  There is so much that one learns through natural environments too - how nature influences a local culture, culinary traditions,  traditional stories which are treasured and shared, reinforcing cultural identity and belonging.

Why not have learners carry out mini research projects and engage in jigsaw activities and then present their final projects to the class?

How do you awaken the interest in Geography?

The rest of this post is here and some resources follow below. (a great way to open up a lesson on those grey, bleak, dreary days).

National Geographic Kids offers videos, facts, games, quizzes and more to spark up  interest in the world.

Lizard Point has notes for teachers, quizzes and more.

The National Geographic has Interactive Educational Games which cover Science and Engineering, History and Culture, Geographic Decision Making and more.

Action Quiz has a selection of quizzes which you play against computer components - including quizzes on Geography

Digital Delights for Learners - Geography

Star Wars - Official Star Wars Website

The Jigsaw Classroom


Where in the World?

Where do you think this image, on the right, was taken?

UPDATE - 17-November-2016

I would like to thank the 10 people who took time to participate in this poll.  This blog post has been viewed 509 times since it was posted.  The correct answer is Santorini.