26 February 2018

Virtual Conferencing Tips

With so many different ways to communicate online (Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Adobe Connect - just to name a few of my favourites),  there also comes a couple of etiquette essentials to run virtual conferencing more easily. 

Besides logging into your chosen platform a few minutes ahead of time and checking sound (and video connection),  and ensuring that your environment is quiet, here are some other suggestions:

What other tips would you include?

Further suggestions:

24 February 2018

A Reading Resource

Reading, learning how to read in between the lines, understanding words, hidden meanings. skimming, scanning - all of these skills have never been as relevant as today. For teachers who need to dip into a different educational resource looking for reading materials, Common Lit is a great option. 

Reading materials are organised into grades, themes and genres. Reading passages  come accompanied by some exercises, as you can see here with Fish Cheeks  (below) with a navigation bar on the top right, making it really simple for learners to follow instructions. 

If you would like to have further access to lesson plans, then you will need to have an account. 

In an age where so many of us are accustomed to hyperlink-reading, it is important to maintain reading habits among learners.  Here below is an infographic to help learners as well.

How do you keep your learners reading?


Playing with Vocabulary

As much as learners may like Kahoot, there are also other tools to revise and learn vocabulary, which give added interest to vocabulary activities.

Vocabulary.com is one of them.

There is a free account as well as an Educator's account, with more features. 

One of the things I most like about Vocabulary.com is how simple it is to create word lists for learners and then, how equally simple it is to share the list with them. 

Basically, 3 steps:

There are also shared lists to dip into, though as my lessons are usually tailored to my learners, I tend to create my own word lists for them. One of my favourite activities with Vocabulary.com is the Vocab Jam, which you can use anywhere, even without a screen in the classroom. All you need is Wifi and hopefully, learners with their own mobile devices. There is a choice of vocabulary games though which either the teacher may assign or students work through. 

You can also assign a set of vocabulary items for learners every week
and it is their responsibility to go go through them for revision. This really does foster learner autonomy without the pressure of completing the exercises in class. Or, for students who have finished their tasks early in class, going through a specific list of vocabulary may be just the task they can do to revise. 

As with other learning sites, there is also a blog for teachers to dip into and learners may keep their scores when signed in, if they wish. 

I wish that Vocabulary.com offered the possibility to embed games but for now, it's easy to share link with learners, give them the code and lets them jam away with vocabulary!

What other digital games are you using this winter?

17 February 2018

Reflecting Learning on Teacher Training Courses

Learning is challenging as it pushes one out of their regular comfort zone. Yet learning is also joyful as one accomplishes the previously unknown through trial and error. 

Teachers are constantly learning from a myriad of sources. And with learning, there comes reflective learning and identity building. Below are some possible questions to guide teacher trainees towards active reflection when they are about to complete a training course. 

What other reflection questions would you add when completing a training course?

9 February 2018

Training Resources for Educators

There are a number of ways educators can continue doing professional development, even without exorbitant fees for training courses. Besides, blogs, newsletters and the myriad of MOOCs available,  teachers can dip into these two spaces for professional development and skill training. 

Google for Education  is free and even if you don't work with Google's G Suite, there are many ideas of how to use Google Apps. 

For anyone using Apple devices, then there is Apple Teacher Education , which is free 

and offers another way of developing professional skills for the classroom.

Lastly, if you are in a context where discussing bias is part of your syllabus, or whether you have any interest in touching upon the issue of bias,
there is Unbound

The tool kit explains how it offers:

 "Having Brave Conversations About Bias

The toolkit contains a high-level overview of the facilitated conversation, with individual PowerPoint presentations and materials containing detailed notes, resources, and activities that will help you move through each part of the conversation. Educators are encouraged to modify these presentations so they work for your school community."

What other resources do you suggest for free professional development?

6 February 2018

Curating and Sharing

Ever fell down the internet rabbit hole only to find yourself stumbling link after link into more interesting territories?

The problem is that often there simply isn't enough time for all the links, websites, articles one can read at a time. Keeping track of them in a curation, for example, may be useful. As some visitors to this blog may know, I myself use Scoop.it regularly. More than curating for others, it  is a resource that I turn to whenever necessary. This does not mean that sharing with others is unimportant.

Among the different tools I have used for curation, elink.io
is one that is quite useful for educators. You can share links and visuals with colleagues, learners and anyone you would like to share information with. These links can be shared as a newsletter, a webpage  or embedded in a blog. The one below is an example made from pages of this blog:

elink.io is free and really easy to use - and as a teacher, I think that there are so many benefits in sharing a selection of web links to learners and colleagues with an attractive format and visuals, which always add interest and helps to boost one's memory.  Instead of a bibliography list, why not try a simple digital webpage with elink.io for example? Learners too can create their own webpage when working in groups, submitting all their work and research in a digital format which can be shared among the whole class. Possibilities extend as far as one's needs and contexts when considering curation and sharing.

How are you sharing learning links this year?

Further Suggestions:

Curation - Why, Because and Then

Curation Re-visited

Curating Tribes

5 February 2018

My Badge, MyMantle

Digital badges are a great way to curate one's skills and achievements as well as to recognize learners' success. They are easy to share and with time, create an asset to one's digital portfolio which can be shared professionally. 

MyMantle is a digital space which awards digital badges. What I liked about MyMantle is how close to curation it is, allowing the user to add work samples, badges and portrays of skills. 

With approaches and values in education changing, (slowly changing), awarding learners is also changing. Education is not happening only at traditional edu-institutions but in so many other ways as well. Learning is becoming increasingly less structured, more open, with individuals following their interests to learn something new, a new skill or topic on their own. 

How to showcase this effort? How to showcase this learning process with others? Digital badges are a simple and great way to acknowledge learning a new skill and to share it with others. 

Have you been using digital badges with your learners
or for your own professional development?

Further Suggestions:

Assessment with Digital Badges

Appreciation - With a Badge

What’s inside an Open Badge

Digital Badges for Educational Achievement

The Teacher’s Guide To Badges In Education

Images: Pexels

2 February 2018

Let's Write!

One of the most challenging activities for many learners (and not only language learners) is the skill of writing. Of course, good models for writing are helpful but it is really once learners begin writing, that the fun begins.

Eddtor is one of my favourite writing tools right now. Free and easy to use, it counts words and and how long it takes to read a document.

It's writing space is clean and quiet, and yes, it does have a spell checker as well.  It's fairly simpler than Word, but that is the beauty of Eddtor - a clean, quiet space with the basics so that the writer focuses on writing.

And with the advantage that you can log on from anywhere, at anytime.

What other writing tools do you recommend for 2018?

Further Suggestions:

Writing Skills and Patterns

Authenticity Through Collaboration

22 Online Tools That Will Help Learners With Improving Writing Skills

Images - Pexels