Monday, November 19, 2012

Epals -- A Global Community where learners connect

EPals is one of the world's largest networks of K-12 classrooms. This system provides a safe and project-based platform for teachers and students to learn by connecting with other classrooms around the globe.

EPals allows teachers flexibility to design and launch their own ideas and curriculum at any time and to any extent. It fosters meaningful connections with teachers and students in other schools, states, or countries.

There are some ways to facilitate collaboration through ePals Global Community: sharing projects, writing emails, accessing content and lesson plans, both teachers and students could enhance their learning ability and technology skills on this network. Beyond that, this network is a great way to learn about diverse cultures and research global issues at the same time. ISOLVE: Global Peer Action Project is an interesting project which seeks to empower students across the world as they offer solutions to real, day-to-day problems encountered by the world's youth. Six graders from different countries would be required to come up with their problems, then they need to try to solve other's proposed issues. Many online tools would be used in the progress: Email, Skype, Blog and Wiki...The reasons I love this project are it enables students to think things out for themselves, and express their opinions in logical and organized ways. Students would be encouraged to learn about various kinds of lives and societies of other countries, it could help them have global perspectives.

The other project I explored is Collaborative Detective Story which is a typical create writing project. Students would decide how their own story goes on through brainstorms, and native speakers of that language would help make any grammatical and spelling corrections needed. Students would take advantages from that project to enhance communicating and writing skills, and be more creative.

Moreover, ePals provides interesting learning centers for users which include fun activities, discussions and games, such as in2books Clubhouse and News Now. In2books Clubhouse is a reading community in which students can share and discuss their favorite books, then choose their next reading. News Now provides opportunities  for students to write and report news releases all by themselves, students can participant into news reporting in their favorite areas covered world news, US news, sports, travel, and lifestyle. I am pleased to implement in2books Clubhouse in my teaching, students would be asked to join into it in order to carry out their after-school reading and write short reflections. Students should finish reading two books every month, one book they can choose from their favorites, and one book should be assigned by teacher. They can take part into the discussion of books online, and need to introduce the books or narrate the stories they have read in class. Through that  students could exercise reading, writing, and oral express skills.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Use GoAnimate for teaching

GoAnimate is a site that lets you easily create animated videos. There is a free version allows you to make the videos, record your voice, upload your materials and share the video just by clicking your mouse.

GoAnimate could be used for educational purposes, such as teacher presentations, student projects, tutorials, subject training, and much more. It could really engage students a lot, they would have fun when creating presentations, as well as learning the content. It is a effective self learning for students when they try to organize a presentation and follow certain guidelines.

I made the 30s film on GoAnimate within half an hour, it is really a time saving educational tool! I try to use this film to make student recognize some common types of dogs and able to speak out the names in both English and Chinese. I wrote the corresponding English names on each dog's picture by photoshop, then repeat it with Chinese on the next slide in order to enhance students’ memory. After watch the video, I will ask students to read after me in English and Chinese separately. Finally, I will require them to make their own short films to introduce at least five kinds of dogs or cats as homework, and give presentations with their films in the next class.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Use Voice Thread in teaching

Voice Thread is an interactive collaboration and sharing tool which allows users to create slides that sharing images,documents and videos. While other users would be able to add voice,text,and video comments into slides.

Voice Thread could be using in online teaching in practical ways. One of the greatest benefits of VoiceThread is the flexibility of the tool. Teachers can post their video or audio curricula in Voice Thread and require students to watch and comment the assigned one. It really benefits in language learning, because students have to express their viewpoints and communicate with others without any body language, they need to assure what should be talked about before pressing "record" button. And if they weren't satisfied with their comments, they have the chance to record over again till they are pleased with them.  

In addition, educators can use Voice Thread in many educational settings with students in general education, with students considered at risk, and with students with disabilities (Using Voice Thread to Promote Learning Engagement and Success for All Students).

I think there are six steps for teachers to use Voice Thread in teaching .

Step 1: Pre-Plan:think about the teaching topic and content.
Step 2: Prepare content: look for related materials for the class: pictures,              articles, and videos.
Step 3:  Prepare narration: think about how to give lessons on Voice Thread, how to narrate your course.
STEP 4: Make contents on Voice Thread: upload your pictures and videos, and record your lectures.
STEP 5: Ask students for participating in Voice Thread and making their comments.
STEP 6: Listen and evaluate their comments.

I have commented on Keri Sedita and Yu Xie's Voice Thread as if I'm the student in their classes. I like Keri's VT because it could be a introduction class at the beginning of a semester, students could be familiar with each other and talk about their favorite modes of teaching and learning. Students are required to introduce themselves and answer what made them choose to learn French and what sorts of  activities they would prefer in class. Teacher could be able to adjust teaching plan and pedagogy in time in accordance with the information acquired from students' comments.

 Yu talks about an assigned topic on her Voice Thread -- "Different Cultural Connotations of Animals", and uses the different meanings of dragon in Western countries and in China as an example to explain the topic. I have to say this is a special and attractive topic to let students be interested in cultural difference and connection. Students are required to talk about an animal that has different cultural connotations in their respective comments, I think they should collect materials and organize their thoughts before their talking, the whole process could deepen their understanding of cultural diversity.

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Digital Storytelling On Bookr

Digital Storytelling is one of the greatest educational tools as I think, it is creative and makes learning relevant and significant to students.

I used Bookr to create two digital stories: Sleeping Pills and My favorite Pet, the first one is a reproduction of a humor story on a magazine, the second is based on my own story. I'll try to use the humor story to let students understand how repeat an existing story to others in a multimedia way: you can grab audiences' attention in a funny topic and vivid language and pictures.

The topic of second one was chosen from themes of short composition, I intend to require students to finish their composition in a fashionable and emotional method, which could be more touching than traditional words displaced on paper. In this kind of topics, students would be encouraged to use their own photos and videos to tell their story. Their storytellings could always be a effective communication pattern.

Digital Storytelling

In the new digital era, digital storytelling has been one of the most favorite classroom tool, and the affordability and accessibility of technology,such as Bookr, Bubblr,and iMovie. Digital storytelling is the practice of combining narrative with digital content, including images, sound, and video, to create a short movie, typically with a strong emotional component (7 things you should know about Digital Storytelling ).

As far as I know, digital storytelling can have a magical effect if it well done-- moving, enlightening, or entertaining audiences of any size (How to use digital storytelling in your classroom). In classroom, it can draw students' attention, strengthen their memories through the combination of digital factors and scripts; and promote students' creativity, engagement and learning through making digital storytelling works by themselves. British photographer, educator and digital storyteller, Daniel Meadows said that the beauty of this form of digital expression is that these stories can be created by people everywhere, on any subject, and shared electronically all over the world (The Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling).

As a bilingual language teacher, I will use digital storytelling for both my lesson plan and students' homework. Firstly, I'll combine the text content with related digital factors and expand the scope of knowledge in storytelling. I can tell some personal stories help students learn about voice in a narrative form, as well as first person perspective. Secondly, I'll ask students to make their own digital storytelling on designed area, but they can come up with their own creative topics.