Showing posts with label Class Blog. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Class Blog. Show all posts

Top Tools for your Students Wiki/Blog Projects

Here are some tools for you and your students to use in your classroom projects.  I've organized them in order of the type of tool.

Create animations



Photo Edit


Various Tools
Read Write Think

A sample of a presentation done on Prezi:

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Wordpress Better Option for Blog Privacy

Since privacy is important to my English learning students I decided to look into Wordpress.  The one thing that had led me away from Wordpress in the past was that you couldn't add your own template, unless you got a paid membership which is not cheap.  If you are using it as a business blog, it would be worth it, but for your class, it's not.  Since the free templates available in WP will do for this particular blog I decided to give it a try.

I set up a new account with WP and wrote my first Welcome post, just to have something.  I logged myself out and then tried to go view the blog and I was not able to see it.  I got a message from WP that said the blog was private and I needed to be invited to the blog in order to see it.  Then  I added a user.  There are different types of users and each one has it's own capabilities.  The ones I was initially interested in were author and contributor.  An author can write a post and publish it, but a contributor is able to write a post and submit it, but not publish, which would protect me from a student writing rampantly or inappropriate things and publishing them. This was what I was looking for.

Testing Privacy
To test it I invited one of my users from one of the Gmail accounts I don't really use anymore. I received the invitation and when I clicked on it it told me that I needed to sign in with my WP account.  Oops I didn't have one.  I clicked on the Register link and it gave me a screen to enter a User and some basic info, then on the right hand side I saw that it asked if you only wanted an WP, but not a blog to click, so I did.  This took me to a screen where the only thing I had to do was create my user name, a password and Voila! I had a WP account.  I went back to my email clicked on the invitation link to Accept.  I was taken to a Dashboard screen where I saw loads of information.  A bit overwhelming, I might say, for many students.  But I saw that they listed 2 posts so I clicked and saw the title for my original post.  I went over it and saw that my only option was to view. I could not edit or delete or anything else as a contributor.  If I clicked on Posts link in the left hand side menu I could get a pull down menu that gave me the option to create a new post.

So if some of your students are brave and tech savvy you can have them write their assignments and submit them to you.  If they are not, I have decided to have them write them in Word, email and send them to me and I will post them for them, because the bottom line is the class is to learn English and the blog is just an addend to support them, not to give them more work.
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Bloggger for English Class Not Really Private

Well after having spent time trying to figure out how to make my English class Blog on Blogger private I came to find out that it's not really private.  In the settings, as I wrote on Setting up a Blog... you can make the selection so that only readers you enter are able to read your blog.  Well, in reality in Blogger it is not really accurate.  The truth is, is that people who happen to land on your blog will be able to see it, read it, but they won't be able to make comments.  Yes it is important that they can't leave comments if they are just a passerby, but why even let them see it and navigate the blog if it is supposed to be private.

See Wordpress a Better Option for Blog Privacy

Restricting your Blog’s readers isn’t as secure as you thought
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Opportunities for Blended Learning

I like this infographic because the idea of doing a Blog and Wiki came from trying to explore blended learning. I think there are a lot of possibilities for blended learning. Education is changing. People's living situations are not what they used to be. People are looking for educational opportunities outside of their neighborhood, town, country and blended learning offers options that were not available before. But as this infografic states it has to be planned out. Like anything in education it has to be about the learning.

I have many university students and even some of my adult students who have a difficult time getting to the classroom, but who are very interested in the class for these cases I have been pondering about blended learning.

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Teachers Are Using Blogs and Wikis

35% Have students and/or instructor-run blogs  22% Are involved in creating or maintaining Wikis.

From trying out both,so far, I have gotten a lot more out of the blog than the wiki. It makes me wonder why more Teachers are using blogs than wikis? What has your experience been with Blogs or with Wikis?  

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Motivate Students to Use Class Blog - Part 2

6. Reccomend Online Resources for Learning
I highlight lists of Blogs and Websites with useful resources for my students.  There are so many sites out there it makes it difficult to find the ones that are truly useful.  My students ask for recommendations, so this way I can have somewhere to refer them to and it's always there not lost in an email. To get students more involved in this process for my advanced classes I ask them to find and recommend useful websites. I am pleasantly surprised at the great resources they recommend.

7. Post Unit Vocabulary
Posting the vocabulary online is another way of getting them to review it.  One good thing of posting it online is that I post the pronunciation and they are able to hear it as many times as they need to. I also embed Quizlet into my posts with the pertinent vocabulary. We play the games in class and my students use them to review for tests on their own. My scores for vocabulary have gone up since I began using this.

8. Post Unit Grammar
Sometimes our book does not give an in depth explanation of how to use the grammar we are studying. Also some students may need more help understanding these concepts.  I sometimes post my grammar lesson straight from my class or find other resources online that give a good explanation and link to it. Some of my students like to get extra grammar exercises, so I provide links for these too. Some of my students don't look at the blog until it gets close to test time. They tell me it's a great resource for them to review for tests.

9. Connect to Book Resources Online
If the publisher has taken the time to create resources for the units in the textbook make it easy for your students to find them and encourage them to use them. Some of the resources are boring, but some are games and are a great way to help students with the material your are studying.

10. Humor 
I post pictures of bad translations I find. I encourage my students to send me same and then we talk about them in class.
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Motivate Students to Use Class Blog Part 1

To motivate my students to use the class blogg the most important thing I do is to make sure that whatever activity I do on the blog is helping them improve their English. In the end this is their main motivation. This keeps me on my toes to be more efficient with how I use my blog in my classes.  Here are some of the ways that I have been using it.

1. Uploading their Writing
Uploading their writing on the blog has various benefits.  One is that overtime students can see the progress they are making in their writing. It works like a writing portfolio.  The other thing is that students like seeing their work published.  At first I was posting all the writing in one post with the students names on it (omitting the last names), but then I began creating individual posts for each writing and labeling it with the student name and the writing assignment.  This motivated them to turn in their assignments otherwise their page was empty. I choose one or two writing assignments on the blog to go over in class. This puts pressure on them to do their best on their assignment and to implement the feedback I give them.

2. Respond to Reading
I post real news stories on themes we are covering in class and ask students to comment on these.  I also ask students to post their Response to Literature writing.  Each student has been reading a novel (leveled) and have been creating poems, character bios and more and they post these to the blog.

3. Encourage Classmate Feedback
Getting feedback on their writing from their teacher is important for English learning students. However, it is also helpful for them to look at their classmates writing critically and catch some of the mistakes they might be making themselves.  Peer feedback is also important for the writer, as long as you set some guidelines as to what is appropriate feedback.  I recommend that my students find two things to complement the writer and one comment that they can grow on. Advice them not to make comments personal and to keep them constructive.  I assign partners to comment on each other and rotate partners so that they are getting feedback from different people.

4. Get them Thinking
In our textbook we are practicing phrases for giving their opinion, so I'm thinking of posing thought provoking questions and have students comment on these using the phrases we have been practicing in class.

5. Videos and Powerpoints that Illustrate
One of the great advantages of a blog is to be able to post videos.  I recently posted videos that illustrated stormy weather vocabulary like moonsoon, hurricane and tornado.  Since these are not natural occurrences in the country my students live they were not really familiar with these. This was a great way to illustrate it for them. Before I created my blog I had created a PowerPoint to illustrate textile nouns and adjectives I then emailed it to all my students.  Now that I have my blog I can just post it and we can easily refer to it.
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Setting up a Blog for your Class

I set up the blog for my High Intermediate class.  It took me a few sessions of blogging to get it all together, but it wasn't too hard since I have done some of the learning curve with this blog.  I created the blog, then looked for a template that had a pretty clean design because I wanted my students to be able to navigate it easily and not be distracted with too many bells and whistles.  The template I chose is a blogger template called Simples Azul.  I did not spend a lot of time on the design, just the basics.  Like having a blog and website list that my students could go to for exercises and information.  The rest I used pretty much the same way as the template had it.  When I created this blog I spent a lot of time on the design and functionality and it took away from the writing.  I might, when I have time, tweak my class blog more, but for now it works. So far I have had 50 page views from a class of 10 students, so I think we are doing OK.  I have written 9 posts so far.

Keeping the Blog Private

I chose to keep it private because I am experimenting right now and I don't want any surprises.  It also helped my students feel more confident when they have to enter information into the blog.  To keep your blog private so that only your students can see it you need to go to your settings in your Blogger Dashboard. There you need to define who can see your blog.  In Permissions select Add readers.  You will have the choice for Anybody Only blog authors or Only these readers.  Select Only these readers and in the window at the bottom you can enter the emails of your students.  I tried this but it wasn't working for me, so I pressed the button Choose from Contacts and this worked.  This means you need to have your students in your contact list before you can add them as readers.

Writing the Posts

I write my posts soon after class or that same day.  If I have an idea for a post and I know I wont have time in the near future then I write a draft post so that I don't forget my idea.  In the draft I put any links I might have generated the idea.  My posts are mostly about whatever we are discussing in class.  For example we are in Unit 1 so I have made a post of the vocabulary we are covering in the book.   I looked up the words in the The Free  I like this dictionary because it has an extensive list of the different uses of a word.  If there was a sound available for the word I put in the blog so that students were able to hear the pronunciation.  Of course I sourced The Free

I also posted about our Language lesson which gave a brief explanation and listed several sources that Students could go to online as well as videos they could watch for further clarification.  Students have different ways of learning for some it's easier to visualize it.

I also posted about "ed" endings because I saw that some of my students were having problems pronouncing these and it is something they should already have mastered in their Intermediate class.  I might end up having to give a short lesson in class, but since it is not part of my syllabus I am going to try to see if it works just to reference back to the blog those students that are struggling with it.

I posted our syllabus so that it is handy for them from where ever they are. I also post about events that they might be interested in.

Getting Students to Use Blog

I sent all my students a link to the blog and asked them to check it out.  Of course they had not tried it until the night before our next class since they knew I would ask again.  I decided to assign their writing assignments to be written into the class blog.  I wan't sure how to go about this. I could make them all authors and have them write their assignments as posts.  The problem is I don't know them very well yet, so I wouldn't want a surprise written all over the internet.

I chose to write a post with just the title of the assignment and have them write their assignment as a comment to that post.  This way I get them into the blog to try the other resources and I have all their writing in one place where we can then go over them in class.  I would then write a comment in the post myself about general things I saw in every one's writing and address individual problems with individuals.

Another way I am going to try is to have my students subscribe to the blog so that they can be notified by email when I put up a new post.

I am going to try this and will let you know how it goes.  If you have other ways you have tried to get students into your blog. Let me know would love to get ideas.
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Using a Blog vs. a Wiki for English Class

This week I start my English classes for the Fall 2012.  I have been pondering all summer if I will use a Wiki or a Blog to enhance my communication with my students and their learning.  Since I have not been able to make up my mind as to which one will serve my purposes better, I am going to try out both. I will be using a wiki for my Pre-Intermediate class and a blog for my High Intermediate class.

So far I have found that a Wiki is a great way to upload resources for students to use which may or not be a drawback of a blog.  However, with a blog it seems that you can organize information into posts much better.  A wiki offers the benefit of having a discussion forum where students can discuss ideas among themselves, whereas a blog might only give them the opportunity to comment and get feedback from me.

Since I still have many questions I will not get a clear answer until I try. I am starting on this new adventure hoping to get some great insight into the best way of helping my students learn English using these new technologies.
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