12 July 2020

Goosechase with Me?


From online tools to mobile apps, there is a myriad of choices for educators and learners to engage with. Consider this infographic on messaging and web- browsing below:



There is a world of apps for all purposes, including learning and learner participation. 

is a tool which creates scavenger hunts for learners, while motivating participation in online learning. 

Learners can participate as individuals or in teams,  they can submit images, videos, a text response and even check in at a specific location (though this last feature may be more difficult these days, especially on a course where learners are located around the world). 
GooseChase - Overview from GooseChase on Vimeo.

For anyone interested in knowing more about GooseChase, there is a clear FAQ  which helps teachers start up their own game for students.

Are you ready to start scavenging?






Further Suggestions:

Internet Scavenger Hunts

Writing - Blogging or Setting up Shop?


Again I turn to writing. 

How does one begin?

Where does one begin?

Zyro is an interesting place to start off. You can simply create a blog or even an online store - an interesting challenge for learners who may wish to try their online business skills. 


As Grant Snider so well illustrated, the hardest part of writing is actually showing up. 


Beginnings are never easy. Showing up to start off a project may, however, be the best start a learner can engage in. 



NOTE:

For anyone who may be interested in educational technology, there is going to be a webinar with Audrey Watters and Paul Prinsloo, held on 20th July, 2020 - "Building Anti-Surveillance Ed-Tech! In Conversation with Audrey Watters". 

This webinar will be held with :

" Dr. Paul Prinsloo as he hosts a conversation with Audrey Watters, “an education writer, an independent scholar, a serial dropout, a rabble-rouser, and ed-tech 'Cassandra” as they explore the following issues.

How we often overlook one of the most pervasive trends in education technology over the last few decades, rarely featured in lists of "what's new" and "what's hot"- surveillance.

How by embracing surveillance as a core tenet of education technology, we are sacrificing students' privacy and their safety.

How too often in education and ed-tech, we confuse surveillance for care. We need to watch students closely, we tell ourselves, because we want them to be safe and to do well.

How caring means trusting, and trusting means being able to turn off a controlling gaze.

How we can imagine (and build) a different set of ed-tech practices, one founded on trust rather than suspicion, on care rather than on control."

Definitely a talk not to be missed!


Developing Writing for Oneself - Sharing is Optional


There are many reasons to write and for learners, that often takes the purpose of essays and assignments. Sometimes the challenge comes from cultural explanations, e.g. is a certain culture more oral based or written based? 

However, that seems close to a cliche these days, when so much is read online, hence, whoever can, will definitely read and reading will in turn, foster writing, if given the opportunity. 

Writing for oneself is a process which I sometimes find is overlooked. In a world anxious to share everything, where does a quiet space for writing have a place? Having been born BG (Before Google), I still blend analogue and digital; i.e. I use both pen and paper as well as the keyboard. Whatever one may think of journaling, whether one does keep a journal either with pen and paper or in digital form, writing a daily entry helps with overall writing skills. And more - writing helps clarify the mind, random thoughts, wild dreams, reflections and desires. 

Below are some suggestions for digital writing - either to be shared or used for journaling. 








Write Next is another option. Writing is a habit. 













Minute is for reflection and journaling. Minimalist, clean and simple. A good habit for writing. (though only free for 30 days;). 









And then there is, Imprint -
a blogging platform which a novel format and form of sharing. 


With so many years of pressure to "think outside the box", I wonder how many of us retreat deeper and deeper into our own heads. I wonder too about the effects of constant zoom meetings and the transition from F2F teaching to remote emergency. 

Quiet time to recapture oneself. Quiet time to reflect, to write, to dissect one's head and feelings. 

Quiet time to learn. 

Writing daily, keeping a journal (whether analogue or digital) keeps one's head space open for new ideas and learning. 

Further Suggestions: 






NOTE
I'm afraid I don't have an attribution to the image of the head; should anyone who passes by here happens to know, please do share as I would like to acknowledge the author/source. 




10 July 2020

Prism and Prism for Learning

Photo by Rio Kuncoro from Pexels


Tell me what you see. 

Is light and lightness?

Or the darkness of shadows?

Prism and Prism - both digital tools but like the image above, they are different, yet both can be shared with learners for their learning processes. 

Prism is a visual curation tool, in a way similar to Wakelet which allows you to keep your curated boards private or shared. 

Simple to use, it is yet another option for curation practices. It also serves as a personal book-marker for students who often are overwhelmed with links and web references. Having these organised in boards so that they can return and review these references is a great help for learners. 

Prism is
for collaborative learning; a tool for collaborative interpretation of texts. 

It may have been designed with K12 in mind, 
but also is great for those studying on EAP courses. 

Both these tools are online and available for learners - so many who are currently studying online. 


Light and darkness. 

Both belong to nature. Just as learning. 

Learning too doesn't have to be only a solitary, (sometimes dark) affair. There is collaborative learning, light, and lightness. 

Further Suggestions:






9 July 2020

Generating Headlines - A Writing Task

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

It may not necessarily be the most sought after profession at the moment, yet the truth is, we have always needed journalists and writers. More so today, as we live tethered to screens, flickering with regular updates on news around the globe. 

For learners who are going to take journalism, here are some interesting sites which focus on generating headline titles and more. 

Headlime offers to generate headlines by the user answering different questions regarding a service or product, for example. 


is slightly different.

Begin by typing in a topic and then click on search; several titles will appear, along with the suggestion to find out more about it. Once you are in the dashboard, there is quite a lot to explore as you can see from the screen shot below:


My last suggestion today is .
Headline Generator

Headline Generator has other features which I find interesting for learners - namely that it includes a text analyzer as you can see below:


Do these exercise encourage more online clickbait?

Do they take away the opportunity for learners to think of their own headline without resorting to a digital tool?

Perhaps.

Then again, learning is also about evaluating web tools and deciding which are in fact practical and those which are not; which enhance learning, which hinder learning and inspiration.

More than ever, however, is the right to learn, the right to think critically, the ability to make informed choices. Those choices come through exploration, evaluation, exchange of opinions and views and learning experiences.

Choices are what one has after the opportunity of learning.

What open, learning opportunities are you giving your learners these days?

Further Suggestions:


Writing Prompts and EAP Support

Writing Prompts for Those Days When Things Go Wrong

Writing with Minimalist Prose

Quiet Writing

Revealed: the most overused pop culture references in academia

Interactive Media Bias Chart® 5.0



Image : Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

8 July 2020

Making Dreams come True with Creativity



Making learners' dreams come true?

Isn't that what the majority of teachers would like to do? To ensure that learners have learnt and are prepared for their next steps in learning? 

As so many educators know, there is always that pressure of learning tasks to be effective, efficient but also creative. As much as one would like, creativity is not quite like turning on a tap of water or switching on a light bulb. Nevertheless, there are practices which do foster creativity for everyone - including educators and learners. 

Before sharing this visual (below) with learners, learners could work in pairs/in small groups, brainstorming their own ideas on how best to become creative and "unleash their creative genius". After exchanging ideas, learners can compare their own ideas with suggestions offered in this infographic:


What inspires your creativity?




Further Suggestions:













7 July 2020

Engaging Learners with Memorable Lines from Literature

Photo by Elina Krima from Pexels


Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question ...
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.



Opening lines. 

Lines of poetry. 

Opening poems to pasts and presents. 

Poems that linger, poems that feed the mind, the rhythm of days, of lifetimes. 

Words that string together, locating one in a certain point of time, yet, transporting one to different dimensions of time. 

An interesting activity for students is for them to share opening lines of poems or novels that they have read and remember. These can be collated into a group infographic or shared in a Padlet (or any other collaborative tool which offers imagery as well). An example is here below:



Learners can add images to their opening lines, reflect on how and why that particular poem/book is significant for them, generating a whole world of meaning and collaborative learning. 

If a group of students is reading the same book/poem, another alternative is to have them select their favourite lines from what they are reading and to then explain how that short passage is relevant to them. 

How do you engage learners with reading?

Further Suggestions:










Photo by Ena Marinkovic from Pexels

Linking Curation and Calm

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

In a world of raging divisions, I seek calm. 

In a world of deep divisions, I seek calm. 

In a world of growing digital tools, I wonder which may last, which may be in fact useful for pedagogical practices, which may add that extra sparkle to  learning. 

Curation has become a space of calm for me. I have used different tools - from digital Binders, Diigo, Wakelet and of course, Scoop.It! . Each one has served/serves its purpose. Even though I may not curate in the sense of reading, summarising and adding personal insights/comments, my curations have become mini digital libraries which I turn to for different purposes. These purposes may be merely to bookmark and share, sites/articles which I go back to or save momentarily to have a closer look when I have time. When possible, I also go back and evaluate what I have saved - is it still relevant? Does the site/article still exist online? 

There is a state of calm in curation. Linking ideas, exploring points of views, registering zeitgeist. And, again, having a space which is easily accessible for points of references. 

There are different aspects too, to take into consideration when curating, namely, is the tool free and possibly for how long will it last. The issue of digital tools being free is complex, as Jennifer Carey refers to in Free Isn't a Feature -- Deploying Ed Tech in the Age of Coronavirus . It is obvious that edtech companies need to make a living and if certain features of a digital tool require payment, then individuals need to make the decision of whether the tool is worth paying for or not.  

Which brings me to e-link . elink is  a newsletter creator, web page builder, and bookmarker; below you can see how it may be used:


Yes, a range of features and also price ranges.

And like other digital tools, it is for the user to decide whether it is worth it or not.

Curation, a space of sharing, of collaborating and calm reflection.

How do you find calm in learning?


Further Suggestions:

Apples and EdTech

Curating and Sharing














Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

6 July 2020

Lost in Meaning? Let Me Show You how to Find Meaning through Vocabulary


Plenty of times when learning a new language, I felt lost, going backwards instead of making linguistic progress. (because the cliche is that one is supposed to make progress going forward by accumulating new words - right?)

Plenty of times when I needed to cross check meaning, look up a meaning, a word, a means of communication. 

Plenty of times when my students say "I ..... don't know how to say in English.... ".

Plenty of times when my learners need to expand their vocabulary, enrich their vocabulary and escape the "nice" cliches of everyday use. 

Vocabulary gives learners power to express themselves, to express their voices as they well wish. 

Your Dictionary is just what one needs - not only does it help with meanings, but includes a thesaurus, which is really useful. 

Your Dictionary is more than another online dictionary as well.  It includes a page for references such as abbreviations and acronyms, and a plenty more for those who take time to go through this useful page. 



You will also find quotes organised by themes and famous people,
and best of all, a variety of word games.











Teachers can use Your Dictionary as a rich resource for lessons, while learners can also use Your Dictionary to broaden vocabulary, learn more about who said what and challenge their friends to vocabulary games. 

Learning takes time, effort and dedication. 

Vocabulary learning takes a lot of repetition as well. 

In the end, we all learn. 

As long as will to learn is fostered and opportunities of practice are provided. 
El Mago Georges from Kati Egely on Vimeo.

Further Suggestions:

Playing with Vocabulary

Enriching Vocabulary

How Do You Say.... in .... ?

A Vocabulary Game for #ELT

Words in my World


Unsplash

Say it Simply with a Visual



As much as I love using visuals for lessons, there are times when I also want a different kind of image - not necessarily a full blown techni-coloured picture but more of a sketch or illustration, for example.

This type of visual is equally useful and supportive for students, especially when they are preparing a short presentation and may want to add a visual but not necessarily images/pictures. 

FreeIllustrations combines a range of sites with vectors and illustrations to dip into. 

These can be used in slides, in short videos (e.g. with Powtoons or VideoScribe or any other video maker that you may like); they can be added to documents and worksheets for learners. 

As always, it depends on one's context and teaching aims. 

Another fun and interesting site for visual support which keeps it simple, (but fun) is 3D Hands Gestures.  

Lastly, and though this is far from new, Google Arts & Culture
is always an interesting site to share with learners. Offering a range of mediums  , themes, art & culture experiments, this is a rich resource for learners and educators alike.

Further Suggestions:




1 July 2020

Infographics for Creativity, Fun and Mini Research Projects


In need for a quick, simple activity?

An activity that can be easily shared in an online lesson/breakout rooms?

Infographics are a wonderful resource for lessons. They can be used for reading comprehension,  for specific vocabulary, as inspiration to begin a mini research project and better still, as a model for learners to create their own infographics (Canva, for example has great templates to use for designing infographics and other visuals as well). 

Two infographics which are fun to share with learners are:

10 Crazy Inventions You’ve Never Seen 
How many more can students come up with? Which pair of students/group will come up with the funniest, most outrageous, practical, wonderous invention?

Another example of an infographic which may be interesting for learners is 20 Plants You’ll Need In The Apocalypse.
The title may be a bit on the dark side (especially considering that it is summer in the Northern hemisphere), but by offering the right context, learners can carry out a mini research project about nutritious plants in their part of the world, agree/disagree with the plants indicated in the infographic and finally, even design their own recommended plants in a visual artefact. These can then be easily uploaded to the class LMS or a Padlet, where students can then wrap up their mini project with peer feedback (always much more interesting that the teacher's feedback). 


How do you use infographics in your lessons?

Further Suggestions:

Infographics in Lessons - The Great & Horrible Boss

Infographics with Beautiful News

The Environment, Recycling and Infographics


Digital Delights - Digital Tribes - Infographics

10 Crazy Inventions You’ve Never Seen

20 Plants You’ll Need In The Apocalypse


Collaborating with Video Projects


One aspect of teaching and learning is student agency. Another that I have always sought to foster is learner autonomy - not necessarily the abdication of the teaching role, but guiding learners to become more confident and autonomous learners.

Among the different tasks which may encourage students developing their own agency, fostering their learning autonomy and collaborative learning is creating a video - collaboratively. 

Tella is a video editing tool which I recently came across and is definitely a tool I would like to share with learners. 

Once you sign up, you will be directed to Quick Start, where you can learn more about best how to use Tella. 

Video projects are engaging for learners - and they get to learn/practice other digital skills for their own lives as well. Often they will go beyond the simple (and mostly expected) tasks that they have practiced in many classrooms - whether F2F or online. Collaborating on a video is often a new task for them: challenging, creative and satisfying to be learning in a contemporary way. 

Do you usually give your learners a video task to create on their courses?

Further Suggestions:







KineMaster - Create.Edit.Share-

KdanMobile  - Make video outlines, create storyboard, and edit clips in a flash.

Screen Recorder 


Compressing Images


For anyone who happens to find themselves here, they may notice that blog entries date back to 2010. Ten years of blog entries is a long, long time in regard to digital tools and ideas to use in lessons. Ten years is a L-O-N-G time in terms of web life as well; i.e. there are tools which are no longer available, others which now are only for subscriptions and so on. Life changes. Web tools do as well. 

I have said before that I also use this blog space for my own references. In other words, it's like a mini digital library where I can look for ideas and tools which I may need at certain points in time. As many other educators, my teaching contexts change and for each teaching/learning context, I try to introduce tasks which are appropriate for who I am working with. Those learning tasks may also require a specific digital tool to enhance the learning process and experience. 

As so much of our teaching today is remote emergency teaching, choosing the right digital tool and activity for learners becomes even more pressing. Although I also curate (Digital Delights for Learners) it is here, in my skybox, that I most often turn to when I need to refresh my memory. 

Sometimes I find links which no longer work, that have changed, or simply no longer exist. Web life changes as tides. Other times, like currently, I find that it takes longer for the blog to upload completely. Because of that slowness which has been happening lately, I began feeling the guilt (no, not the first time, I admit) of including too many visuals and short videos in this skybox. My guess is that perhaps this is the reason why this blog is taking a bit longer to upload. 

So, if anyone else may have that issue with their digital spaces, I would suggest compressing your images - it may, or not, help with the speed of your digital space (and if anyone really knows why this is happening, I would so very much appreciate some tips, suggestions, advice!). 

For easily compressing images, there are 2 simple suggestions:

Tiny JPG is really easy to use and you can compress 20 images in one go. 

Another easy tool to use is Compress JPEG Images 

Both are very user-friendly so it depends on each individual's personal choice. 


Do you have any other favourite image compressors you would like to share?

Further Suggestions:





29 June 2020

Writing Prompts and EAP Support


Learning does not happen in a vacuum, learning preferences depend so much on context and individuals, while writing skills demand constant refinement. 

How can educators help learners with writing?

Writing Exercises and Prompts  is a space where you can find writing prompts, such as 
random first lines, plots generators, creating a setting,  among other prompts to stimulate imagination into writing. 

Learners can use Writing Exercises on their own or educators can dip in and choose what exercise would be most useful for a particular lesson. 

However you use it, it will surely bring smiles to budding writers. (see more here)


As Summer 2020 proceeds in full swing, so too do many intensive EAP courses. Having had the experience of once working in a context where no syllabus existed and no appropriate materials were available for teachers, resorting to web sources was often the only option.  These web sources were to give extra support to learners, to help them become more independent and autonomous as learners.

Below is a selection of EAP sites which are practical for both teachers and EAP students.

If anyone who stumbles across here and knows of other good references for EAP, please feel welcome to share!
Made with Padlet

Further Suggestions: 


Choices when Searching

Field Related - EAP Writing

Sifting through Words

Visualise Anything You Want



Image: Unsplash