Friday, 10 April 2009

Language Learning Blog Carnival Spring 2009


Well, finally, I have managed to work my way through the many excellent entries for the Spring 2009 Language Learning Blog Carnival. I have to say that it hasn't been easy, but it has been a very interesting process and one that has helped me to better define my own beliefs and opinions about what a 'good ' blog posting should be.

Of course these beliefs and opinions are personal to me so you may not agree or share them, but they are what I have used to guide me in the choices I've made.

So these are the criteria that I have formulated as my personal guide to what I look for when I'm reading a blog posting.
  • Informative - Above all I want to learn something new when I go to a blog, so I'm looking for useful informative original content.
  • Complete - I look for postings that are 'complete' in that you can read them and learn something from them without having to go off to lots of other place.
  • Non commercial - Like most people in education, I don't have much time or money to throw around and would prefer to read about free resources rather than 'advertorials'.
  • Appropriate to the medium - A blog is very specific medium. The best bloggers I think are people who understand the medium and can get the tone and length right and structure their message within those confines.
  • Transferable - When I read a blog I'm not content just to absorb the message, I want to be able to take it and transfer it to what I do.
Anyway, enough of criteria. Here are my favourites from the blog postings that were submitted.

My Favourites
  • I really enjoyed Model United Nations: a Teacher’s Guide from Dave's Big in Japan Blog. The posting is a guide to creating Model United Nations course. It's a really useful posting that delivers exactly what it says on the box in a clear concise and well structured way. There's enough information there to actually take away and try it yourself and he's even included some downloadable worksheets to help you do that. Despite being based in Japan, what he has written here can be transferred to any teaching context in any country. Fantastic! Dave also submitted an article on Preparing students for speech and debate contests that is well worth a read.
  • This posting on the Literacy Cycle from Dorothy Burt of the Manaiakalani blog is another great example of a concisely written and well structured posting. Dorothy has managed to cram a great deal of information and observations gained over the process of two years into one very readable posting. A good read for anyone interested in e-learning of English.
  • I also really liked this posting from Özge Karaoğlu's blog on Digital Story Telling and got quite involved in the discussion on it. Again, this is a well written concise posting with lots of information to take away and use as well as some good examples. This is an area that fascinates me too and one that students really enjoy. The information given in the blog is also transferable to pretty much any country or Internet connected teaching context.
  • Next on my list of favourites is Larry Ferlazzo's The Best Sites For K-12 Intermediate English Language Learners. It always amazes me how Larry can not only find all these sites, but that he is able to 'quality control' them too. The list is concise gives clear descriptions and all the sites he recommends are there because they are great. So many links collections focus on quantity and then still leave you sifting through the rubbish to find what you want. I went through all the links in this page and could use all of them. Great stuff.
  • Another posting that I really enjoyed and ended up getting involved in was from Carl Dowse and was on Using Second Life to teach Business English. Again this is a well written post and it makes good use of other media such as video and images. Carl's obviously put a lot of time and thought into the posting and best of all has moved beyond the medium as 'broadcast' and has opened up debate on the topic. Nice one.
  • I like this post 'I dislike the word homework' for a similar reason. The writer, Karenne Joy Sylvester, has been able to move beyond broadcasting her ideas and has been able to prompt others to write in and share their experiences and ideas on a very simple yet common topic. Exploiting this collaborative potential is one of the real challenges and opportunities of blogs.
  • When Will the Visual Revolution Get to our Classrooms? This is what Carla Arena asks in her posting on the power of digital images and video to convey meaning and engage our students. This posting is a well structured argument in support of greater integration of digital imagery into our classrooms.
  • The last of my favourites is Six computer games to use in an English language classroom from Lindsay Clandfield's Six Things blog. This again is a concise well written posting with plenty of practical information. The use of computer games in education is a hot topic at the moment and this posting offers an easy way in for language teachers that want to check this out.
As well as these favourites there were also some other pretty impressive postings submitted.
  • This is a posting that I actually disagree with, but it is none the less a good example of a well structured and argued blog posting. Standardized Testing is a necessary evil was written by Leigh Thelmadatter and posted on the Mexico Teacher's Alliance Ning site. Be sure to read it if you are interested in testing and assessment.
  • I enjoyed Don’t Date The Boss. Have A Meeting With Her Instead again by Karenne Joy Sylvester. Much as I loved the poem and images as a way of correcting errors I was less clear about who it was directed at, teachers or students. It seemed to be addressing teachers at the beginning with advice for students at the end, so what wasn't so clear was how to transfer the information here to my own context.
  • I also really enjoyed Susana Canelo's Del Valle Film Festival, though not so much because of the blog posting but because of the Wiki that it linked to and the students work included there. I was left wanting to know how Susan had set up the 'Picture our song' activity that led to these great videos.
  • In a similar vein I enjoyed seeing this posting from Mr Stout's Blog for Students and Teachers, but was left wanting to see more and wondering how he had got his students to create these videos, so that I could perhaps try this project myself.

Well that's the end of my first blog carnival and I hope that the people who have submitted posts that weren't included here aren't too offended. What's above is my personal choice based against my own criteria and it's quite possible that others would make a different selection. For anyone who wants to have a look at the complete set of entries, you can see them in one of my boxes on Simply Box.
For anyone who wants to submit a post to the next blog carnival. It will be hosted on Alice Mercer's blog and you can submit a posting at: http://blogcarnival.com/bc/eprof_28891.html

Alice teaches English Language Learners in Sacramento, and will host the June 1st edition of the Blog Carnival.



Lastly, thanks again to Larry Ferlazzo for asking me to host this carnival and apologies for getting it up a few days late.

Related links:
Best

Nik Peachey

9 comments:

Michael Stout said...

Hi Nik,
Thank you for including my entry to the Blog Carnival. I really appreciate your comments. I have been thinking about making two separate blogs, one for students and one for teachers. The blog I have now is primarily for my students and I use it for facilitating tasks both in and out of class time, as a resource for students to use for independent learning, and as a means of establishing and strengthening a positive relationship with my students. The post that I entered in the carnival this time was one that showcased student projects. I'd be happy to explain to you, and anyone else who's interested, how we went through the process of the project. Here's the url for the post that started the project (http://mrstoutsblog.blogspot.com/2008/11/toyo-gakuen-university-interest-based_26.html)
I'll add the students' task sheet to iScribd asap.
Thanks again

Nik Peachey said...

@ Michael
Thanks for sending that link Michael. The link really helps to make sense of what went on there and how the project was produced. I found it hard to 'judge' blog posts like yours which were student focused. It was clear that an enormous amount of work had gone into the ideas and getting the students to produce marvelous projects, but I for me I think that 'transferable' aspect of reading a posting is really important. When I see some great work like yours my first thought is; 'Hey! I want to try that!' Well now I can. Thanks Michael and I think a teacher focused blog would be an excellent idea.

Best

Nik

KALINAGO ENGLISH said...

Hi Ya Nik,

Thanks very much for including both entries to the carnival! Very much appreciated.

Don't date the boss, have a meeting instead is aimed at my language learners in Germany (very, very common mistake they make here!) - the How2LearnEnglish is not really for teachers, (Kalinago English is for them) although teachers do stop by a lot: LOL.

Take care and thanks very, very much again!

Karenne

Susana Canelo said...

Dear Nick:
thanks for including my humble Del Valle Film Festival. It ended being international !!!Lea, a student from France was the winner.

The activity "Picture our song" is strongly visual as you know.
My students choose a song, we listen to it, sing it, and make another activities.
Then I split it in phrases or statements, they have to illustrate it taking it out of context, recycling it in a meaningful way. One day, a boy had the famous "How my poor heart aches
With every step you take". What did he draw ?? A heart under a boot that was stepping on it !!!
All the posters are hung on the walls of our classroom. And we have a great fun.
Thanks again.
Susana

Nik Peachey said...

@Susan

Thanks for the explanation Susan. Sounds great.
Best
Nik

Manaiakalani said...

Hi Nik
Thank you so much for including my blog post in your list and the feedback you gave. I realised that while I have had people engage with the ideas I post about from time to time, I have never had any feedback before on it as a piece of writing! I also appreciated your criteria that the ideas in a blog post be 'transferable'. As a New Zealander it comes as a pleasant surprise that someone in another part of the world might find these ideas useful in their own context.
Dorothy

Nik Peachey said...

Hi Dorothy

Thanks for your comment. Yes I think the 'transferable' part of the criteria is number one for me. If you put time into writing something, then obviously you want someone to read it. For someone to put their time into reading your blog, then they are going to want to get something out of it and that's where the 'transferable' bit really comes in. If they can take something from what you write and use it, then they will come back to the blog for more.

That's my theory anyway.

Best

Nik

ozge said...

Hi Nik,
I can't thank you enough for including one of my blog entries to the Blog Carnival and thank you very much for your nice comments.
Here is the link (http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6109028310424842448) for the animation story that we created with 6 year old students last year. The children drew all the pictures and recorded their voices for the characters and we put all the pieces together. This year, we are preparing the second animation story with the newcomers.I hope you like it.
Thanks for everything.
Özge

biginjapan said...

Hey there. I appreciate the inclusion of my Model UN article in your recent Blog Carnival. the Model UN is a great course and I love hearing from people who have implemented it successfully.