22 May 2015

Summer Explorations for Educators With Open Resources

At the end of the academic year, it is quite possible that the last thing teachers want to hear about is more professional development. Yet summer is a great time to catch up on tools/apps that one has heard about but hasn't had the time to try out as well as discover new educational sites. 

 OpenEd is a huge resource for K12 teachers,
and once you have signed up, completed the regular formalities of identity, you can discover endless support for lessons, as well as use OpenEd for student assignments. Some content is free, while others are up for a fee. 

Ednak (Intersection of Education and Tech) is another site worth taking some time to explore. New tools, apps, and platforms are coming out all the time, making it necessary to have free time to look into what is readily available for students and teachers. Besides, it's great to line up some fresh ideas over the summer for the next term/semester. 

What suggestions do you have for summer exploration?


20 May 2015

Steller Storytelling

Perhaps few may understand how sands live in a state of flow, how they are swept up into magestic mountains, how they glide and slide into one's imagination. Dunes, such as the one above, are part of my world. 

When it comes to storytelling, it's the opportunity to tell one's story, to engage in stories that are familiar and non-threatening, that students enjoy. It's all very well to bring stories from around the world into the classroom. In the foreign language classroom, there has been a tendency to do that for many, many years. However, as much as honouring stories from other corners of the world is of interest and educational value, it is one's own stories that captivate one's attention. For as interesting as stories from China, for example, may be, students who don't live in China or in Asia or in a sphere of Chinese influence, will quite likely be more engaged in stories which they can relate to from their own environment and personal world. 

Steller is a free App for the iPhone which lets you create stories with images, videos and text. Perfect for digital storytelling - and for giving learners the opportunity to actually use their mobiles for producing classroom tasks. If a students doesn't have an iPhone, they can easily be grouped into pairs or small groups, each member being responsible for a particular task of the story (e.g. finding the desired image, storyboarding, using the target lexis and so on).

Steller: Everyone has a story tell. from Steller on Vimeo.

Another feature which I particularly like, is how simple it is to embed a story within a blog or website, share on social media as well as the possibility to add comments - which for a class, helps in cementing their own learning collaborative networking space. 

Stories define us. 

Stories strengthen us. 

Stories become us. 

How do your students tell stories on their mobiles?

Further Suggestion:

* Steps to Great Digital Storytelling

13 May 2015

Storytelling with Adobe

Summer is approaching and with it, offers of summer school to keep teens and children busy and engaged.  Summer time is also a time of freedom, a time of play and discovery unleashed from regular routines. What better time is there to tell one's story, one's discoveries and dreams?

Adobe Voice and Adobe Slate are free iPad Apps, which can be used to tell stories with voice and images. 

Stories don't necessarily only need to be about learners ' dreams. Perhaps there is a local issue in a community that needs attention. Problem solving skills may be reflected in essays but also in using media to express solutions. 

There are always stories to tell.

There are always problems to solve.

There is always a need for creativity.

How many other ways can students use Adobe Voice/Slate?


Whenever images are not given credit, they happen to be my own. 

Further Suggestion:

Adobe Youth Voices

10 May 2015

Presenting with a Flow

Another day, another blank screen. And my mind wanders towards creating presentations.

It is at times like these that I remember how fortunate educators may be - as we trawl tools and apps that may engage our learners and enhance their learning experience, we also discover and learn for ourselves. 

Flowvella creates interactive presentations which you can use when on or offline. It is mobile friendly and you can set your presentations as public or private - a useful feature for students' work whenever a degree of privacy is required. 

There are 3 categories of pricing, with students being able to sign up for free as well as a Edu pricing which is said to be coming out soon for educators

What has become your favourite presentation tool currently?

Further Suggestions:

Adding Spring to Presentations

Canva - Amazingly Simple Graphic Design

Soundbites for the Classroom

Pear Deck - for live presentations in classrooms

30 April 2015

That Time of Year Again - Testing and Revisions

End of April and in many places the term/semester is now heading towards its end. Which also means that teachers and students are busy with revisions and assessments. Although I may not be a big fan of mindless, repetitive gap-fills, every classroom activity has a place and time for their use. (One also needs to bear in mind student preferences, even if they are not a teacher's preference. Change in perceptions and learning approaches happens slowly)

Edueto  is a web tool that creates different kinds of exercises which may be used as revision or testing. Simple and clear, teachers can share and re-use their tests whenever they wish.  There is a library to save materials (tests), a folder for students and test results.

Below you can see what kind of activities Edueto creates:

For time-strapped educators, this is definitely a simple tool to look into, especially when teaching languages. 

How do you save time with testing? 

Further Suggestions:

29 April 2015

Expressing Thought with Design

Think First via photopin (license)

I wonder. And wonder. Why not? Why ever not?

It's not a question of "short attention spans". 

It's not an issue of "they are not able to do this and must focus on passing exams". 

It's not even because there is no internet connection or lack of digital device. 

So, why not?

Notegraphy is an App which offers three options - Basic, Plus and Premium. 

It's really easy to sign up and use the Basic version - with the added delight that students will have when they share their thoughts to their social networks with a touch of professional design. 

Teachers can use Notegraphy in all kinds of different contexts, where learners can write short summaries, share thoughts, express feedback for the teacher.

 In language learning contexts especially, it provides added interest as students can practice using key vocabulary and grammatical structures in a more current way, instead of the gap-fill  repetitions they know so well. For instance, learners may be asked to use target vocabulary or a grammatical structure.

Writing, like photography, has changed. Despite students still having the need to learn how to write a well structured, well thought out essay, there are also other ways of writing, other ways of expressing thought and communicating.

What better way to motivate students to write and express themselves
than by introducing a cool app  which they can use on any device, and in class?

Identity comes in many forms - the written word included.

How do you get students using apps to express themselves in times of change?

eBook Images: Version 2 via photopin (license)

Brave New Camera Trailer from Brave New Camera on Vimeo.

On Identity from Brave New Camera on Vimeo.

Further Suggestions:

Soundbites for the Classroom

Posters, Images and Metaphors

20 April 2015

The Career Dream

Moments when one chases dreams, moments when one inhales the living dream.  

Moments when one is grateful for having had the audacity, the difiance,  to meet a dream. Face to face. In all its splendour. 

There are other moments too, when I ask my students about their

dreams - after all, if they are studying, won't they have dreams for their futures? 

For many, the future career is a fuzzy, hazy place they do not want to venture into.

For others, especially younger learners, the future is an uncertain dream, one defined by financial background, possible kickbacks and sheer luck. Futures are too unpredictable; too fickle. 

Yet, as educators we often ask students, gently reminding them that there are long-term purposes for sitting in classrooms day after day. 

The Career Cluster Inventory is a fun quiz where of course, there are no right or wrong answers. Learners can explore what kind of career is best suited for them. They can also  explore by determining their target salary to see if it matches their job choice. 

is another site which aims to help young people find out which occupation they should have. Students can explore this site by assessing themselves, looking into job families and making money choices. There are also tips about which field to study, job application tools and creating a skill profile, among other items. 

Dreams are unlike assessments, which need to  be immediately achievable. 

Dreams feed one's life, pushing us forward, hoping that each day brings us closer to achieving that goal. 

Dreams should always be unshackled, a sea free to sail,  free to roam. Free to chase. 

And grasp. One day. 

Trailer from Gilles Deschaud on Vimeo.

How often do you ask your learners what they dream of being in the future?

Further Suggestions:

The Future Belongs to Learners

Career Cruising 

Career Ignitor - Build a Resume

ResumUP - Create a Visual Resume

Chase Me - a 3D Printed Film (Find out more)