Saturday, 28 January 2012

CO12 - Fab E-Conference, 3- 5 February

I have just been reviewing my slides, as seen in the mosaic below, for this Saturday's CO12 webinar on Teaching Idioms Effectively with Web 2.0 Tools.

My webinar, on Saturday 4th February, is part of many fabulous sessions you can attend for free on February 3 - 5 via Wiziq.

CO12 will be a fantastic opportunity for Professional Development. You can read why as follows:

The conference will be of interest to educators, administrators, students, and community members who value the importance of integrating technology into the curriculum to improve instruction, learning, and business. Online learning involves various skills on the part of the instructor and learner. These include social and communication skills, social networking, independent learning strategies, critical and higher order thinking skills, creativity, and effective online and face-to-face facilitation. In addition, there are many challenges that educators, administrators, students, businesses, and community members face.

Please view the video below by Dr Nellie Deutsch, the founder and current co-ordinator of Connecting Online 2012 Conference. It will explain all you need to know!

CO12 Connecting Online Free Online Conference on WizIQ from Dr. Nellie Deutsch on Vimeo.

Why don't you have a look at the list of presentations here and choose a few to attend this weekend? Whichever session you choose, I am sure it will inspire you! You can enjoy the session in the comfort of your own home.

So far, these are the presentations I have registered for. Why don't you join me??
Digital storytelling for employability
Blogging and Quadblogging - The power of audience on learners of all ages

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Project 366: An Image a Day for 2012

I have been uploading an image every day onto my new Project 366 Posterous blog in order to record my life in 2012. It's a great project, and I found out about it via my Personal Learning Network on Twitter, where else!! I enjoy viewing the images posted by my fellow bloggers such as Chiew, Anna, Sue and Mike amongst others....
Why is Project 366 such a great one? Well, it will be a record of my thoughts and actions in 2012, a place for adding things I maybe wouldn't normally write about on my main blog. I will have a useful bank of images to use for activities in class.

I like the way Posterous Design template adds all the pictures and posts on one page, so I have an overview of up to 16 posts per page. This is a very cool feature! The design template theme is by Cory Watilo.

Below you can listen to a Jing screencast I have just made, which explains this project a bit more.

Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is required.

Friday, 20 January 2012

EVO Podcasting 2012 - Opening The Door To New Horizons!

I have been attending sessions in Electronic Village Online for the past three years now, and these are the ones I have done:

2009 - Digital Portfolios and Personal Learning Spaces
2010 - Images for Education
2011- Digital Storytelling
Each of the above excellent sessions have affected my life in a powerful way. They have helped me to become a more confident user of tools involved and also made me more aware of how these topics can be exploited in the classroom. I have been encouraged to create presentations as a result of these courses, and have presented talks for webinars and e-conferences. You can view all my presentations on Slideshare. Please feel free to use them in seminars or lessons if you feel they will be helpful.

This year I had a difficult decision to make. Which course to attend? Well, all the 14 courses on offer seemed perfect and useful and interesting for me as a teacher! I wrote about this in my post on the EVO Call for Participation here.

I had a dilemma as seen in the full Pixton cartoon below:

I made my choice...........

......... and here I am now I am very pleased to say, in the second week of a fantastic course, moderated by fab moderators as seen here below!

I had wanted to do a course on podcasting for quite a while now, but had never got round to it. The lure of web 2.0 tools to try out had always won the day in the past.

I had already experimented with tools connected with audio such as

  • Vocaroo,
  • AudioBoo
  • Voki
  • Fotobabble
These all help to liven up lessons, or blog posts in an interesting manner. However, I was keen to learn more about how podcasting can be used as an effective teaching topic.

Welcome to Podcasting - Weeks 1 & 2
You can view the weekly timetable freely available on the Podcasting 2012 Blog, which I have also added to my blog sidebar via RSS feed, so that I can easily check in to view the weekly plan and keep up with all the action!

In the first week we covered course objectives by recording ourselves on Voxopop. This was a really nice way to outline our course expectations and I liked this tool. It's nice to listen to everyone's expectations all in one place.

We also introduced ourselves via a Glogster, an interactive web poster site.

Below you can see my Glog. If you press on some of the images it will lead you to a blog post or a website. I have also embedded a podcast for Week 2 activities. We used Audacity to record an introduction podcast and then uploaded it to Glogster, This was a new thing for me and I had always wanted to add audio to my Glogs, but didn't really know how to do it. With the help of some skilful video tutorials, participants were shown step by step how to do it. I now know the way and I'm happy I can add more audio podcasts to future Glogs and projects!

We had to coment on 2 Glogs created by other members of the course. This was great fun and I enjoyed viewing and commenting on the amazing and beautiful creations! Screenshot below of some of the lovely glogs created and then presented at the first live Webinar.

Podcasting hosting sites amongst others I have learned about so far are:

LinkThe lovely Podcasting moderators have done a great job of creating video tutorials to show us how to access and then use these tools to record a podcast. We are then invited to add our individual links to the Yahoo Podcasting site, so that we can share all the podcasts done so far. Part of the learning process is to view and comment on each others' efforts and I am enjoying this very much indeed!

In the second week we have been reading about what podcasts are and viewing sample podcast projects from around the world, and experimenting with recording our own podcasts with some podcasting hosting tools.

Below you can see a screenshot of my very first Podomatic podcast. It was easy to create and I liked using it. We had to upload a picture entitled "Out my Window" and then describe it. This activity is a great one for introducing ourselves on an online course, and it is very visual and fun to listen to the voices of participants. It makes the course much more personal.

Below is the embeddable podcast, which you can listen to.

There is so much more that I can write about but I think I have covered quite a lot in this post!! I will publish further updates over the next few weeks, so you can share my learning journey if you wish. I can guarantee that there will be lots more exciting and fun activities to share with you!!

Many thanks to the wonderful moderators for leading the way so skilfully. Thanks to all my fellow participants for sharing and interacting during the session. It's great fun learning with you!!

Update on Other EVO 2012 Sessions
I have read the following informative posts via links from Twitter updates. Thanks to the following educators for sharing their EVO experiences:

Carla's observations on the Classroom Digital Tools session
Marisa's reflections on Making a Machinima in Second Life - in 19 Steps
Eva's post on Digital Storytelling for Kids
Natasa's 5 Card Story for Class Digi Tools.

Watch this EVO 2012 space!!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

#30 Goals Challenge: Me Manifesto

Thanks to the incredible Shelly Terrell for inspiring me to take up this challenge from her wonderful #30 Goals Challenge series.

My very simple "Me Manifesto" is as follows. The principles basically remain the same as in 1979 when I first started teaching in Madrid, Spain.

I would like:
  • To enjoy my job.
  • To help students achieve their aims and realise their dreams.
  • To do the best I can.
  • To give 100% and then some.
  • To listen to my students and take action.
  • To work not only for my students, but with them.
If you wish, why don't you take a few moments to reflect on your own personal ideals, and create a Me Manifesto as well? It could be as simple or as sophisticated as you like. :-)

It would be lovely if you were motivated to do this reflection.

For more inspiration, you could also pop across to Brad Patterson's blog, where he has invited his readers to add a quote that defines your teaching style.

If you read all the very interesting quotes in the comments section, you will see that I used the metaphor of a captain and a sinking ship. I wrote this comment before a particular incident regarding the stricken Concordia hit the news recently!!

I still stand by my quote: a good captain should always lead his crew by example.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Man on a roof - (Almost) Infinite Ideas

Almost Infinite ELT Ideas, by Sandy Millin is an award-winning blog written for teachers, which contains a rich resource of pictures to be used as prompts for lesson ideas. Teachers are invited to adapt and use the images as they wish. (Almost) Infinite Ideas won the Site of the Month Award in May 2011.

Who Is This Man On A Roof??
I am very proud to say that one of my pictures, taken in Oxford during the summer, has been selected as a picture prompt for this week's activity, which is open to all teachers. Please go to the post "Man on a roof", and imagine how you would use the picture and then if you like, please write a few ideas in the comments box. It would be really interesting to know how you would exploit this image.

I have to confess, I was fascinated when I saw the sight for the first time. I literally did a double take whilst riding my bicycle along Broad Street (see image above) and almost toppled off it, because I couldn't believe my eyes! Who or what on earth was it on top of the roof??

So, without more ado, head over to Man on a roof right now to see what you think!!!

When you have done that, don't forget to bookmark (Almost) Infinite Ideas so that you can have a valuable resource of interesting photos to exploit with your classes.

How to take the perfect photo
Chiew Pang from IASKU fame has recently written a guest post on ELTPics blog Take a photo and ...... outlining some great tips for taking photos! Have a read below, and then see how much better your photos will turn out!

Know your photos, know your camera

A Photo I'm Quite Proud Of
I took this photo today whilst sitting on the back of a big motorbike, which was travelling quite nimbly! I managed to catch the shadow of myself and K and I was thrilled it didn't come out too terribly blurred. You can actually see my shadow taking the photo. I'm still not quite sure how this photo came out like this, so I guess I was very lucky!!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

A Few Fun Lesson Ideas with Images and a Blog, Starring Fluffy - The Blogging Mega Star!

Insert a picture of yourself or a pet into the Gallery section of a photo editing site such as Tuxpi, Photofunia, and then ask this question:

How did X get to be exhibited at the National Gallery, London?

Set a time limit of 5 minutes for students to come up with an inventive story either written or orally. The class gets to choose which story they like the best.
This is a fun activity and works well as a filler / warmer /
Invite students to photo edit a photo of theirs and get the class to imagine how they came to be in the particular situation. An example is below:

Fluffy has become a world-famous feline mega star after her Storybird Fluffy The Mouse Catcher sold millions of copies around the world! Her portrait is now hanging in the National Gallery and thousands of visitors are flocking to view it.
Fluffy purrs contentedly when she explains her newly acquired superstar status: "I always knew it would happen one day!"

You can do the same sort of activity with a billboard poster:

Victoria - The Reclusive English Moggy

Image above edited with Dumpr and then screenshot taken.

Lesson Idea to practise Idioms / Expressions
Write a paragraph based on an image of your choice such as the one above of Victoria, Fluffy's house-mate, and create a Wordle by copy pasting your paragraph. Try to include a few examples of idiomatic expressions as a review. Ask students to predict the main content of the short paragraph.

Can you guess some of the content from the words in the Wordle? Sample paragraph is below.

Sadly our English moggy Victoria has been completely overwhelmed by the presence of 5 Italian felines, which include the mischievous Fluffy, and she keeps them all at arms's length. She eats separately from the gang, and keeps herself to herself during the day. Whenever a little mischievous kitten approaches her to try to make friends, she stiffens, hisses and gives it a wide berth.

Victoria's Daily Routine
Ask your students to imagine the daily routine of their favourite pet or animal. Get them to write a few sentences using the present simple. In the past I have used the example below with beginners to practise present simple, and adverbs of frequency. Using images of animals is just a change from always using images of famous people. Young learners in particular find this activity fun.

Fluffy's Blog - World Premiere!!!
Fluffy has agreed to star in her very own blog, which has been set up on Posterous Spaces. The title of her blog is The Hectic Life of a Fluffy Kitten. She may decide to change the name of the blog, so watch this space! It's been kept private for a few weeks while she got a feel for the blog space, but now she feels comfortable with it and I am delighted to feature it here on Janet's Abruzzo Edublog.

She has an "About" page, and also a special page dedicated to Fluffy Idioms!!!

The very first post is entitled "Welcome to Fluffy's World!". I hope you enjoy following her adventures in Abruzzo.

Why set up a blog for Fluffy?
Well, it is to showcase what can be done with a blog, and also to encourage all age groups from young learners to adults to see how much fun it can be to play around with a theme that you are passionate about. It improves literacy skills and writing skills and practises web tools in a fun context!!

I hope these ideas inspire you to try out some of the activities and have fun with editing your images!!

English Raven's Blogging Tips
I have been following Jason Renshaw's fantastic posts on why blog with students, and the posts offer a more in-depth analytical argument for starting a blog. I hope you will be inspired to get your students to write a blog!

Blogging with students (1): Why get them blogging?
Blogging with students (2): Choosing a blogging platform

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Call for Participation for Electronic Village Online 2012

It's that time of year again when a decision needs to be made about which session to attend on the free TESOL Electronic Village Online sessions which begin on January 9th. There are more than 14 different topics to choose from this year, and each one looks unmissable!! Registration is taking place now until January 8th. Each session lasts 5 weeks and is action-packed full of practical projects and hands-on practice. This is an excellent opportunity for Continuous Professional Development (CPD) and the time for action is now if you can spare a few hours every week for the course interaction and work required.

It will be a fun 5 weeks and you will get the chance to collaborate with fellow educators from around the globe and discuss issues of common interest. The moderators are all highly skilled and experienced and you will gain a lot. You never know, it could be a life-changing experience!!
Since 2009 I have attended one session each year, and I can truly say that all the topics chosen have been so useful for me in terms of practical applications for classroom teaching and for professional development.

Last year I did Digital Storytelling, which was excellent. This year the focus is on Digital Storytelling for Young Learners and this promises to be fabulous. Ozge has just written a post on it here.

Read what Carla Arena, one of the moderators for EVO, has to say about these fabulous free online developmental opportunities.

There is so much else happening in 2012 in terms of CPD for teachers of EFL! Shelly Terrell from Teacher Reboot Camp has just written an indepth post on 20+ Free Professional Development opportunities, which are available for you to join now, or in the very near future. The choice is truly amazing!