Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Scott Thornbury in Second Life Chat

For those who weren't able to attend Coffee With Scott Thornbury in Second Life on 26th April, you can now listen to the complete audio recording online at: http://blip.tv/file/2051173


During the interview Scott shares his opinions on a range of topics from IWBs, Twitter, Identity within SL and of course the past and future of Dogme.

If you enjoy listening to this interview, then come along on May 3rd 2009 and join our interview and have Coffee With Jeremy Harmer.


To find out more about other events and course organised by The Concultants-E check out their website: The Consultants-E

I hope you enjoy the interview and look forward to seeing you at the next Coffee With ..

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Nik Peachey

Create a Quick Discussion Forum

I'm not sure how many people still use text based threaded discussion forums, but if you do Forumotion is a pretty powerful tool with some nice features that you can use to set one up for free. It's very quick and you don't need any technical skills or hosting.

Basically you just go to http://www.forumotion.com/, and click on 'Create a free forum'.


You'll then be able to select from a range of different template designs.

Once you've chosen the one you want you fill in the details of your forum and create a password.


You'll then be ready to activate you forum and start using it. The best place to start in on the Administration Panel. Here you can get some tips on how to get started and how to get your forum registered with search engines etc.


If you want to see what a forum can look like and try it out, there's one her which I created as an example. http://nikpeachey.forumotion.net/index.htm


Forumotion has some nice features and is pretty simple. There is also a news letter function so that you can send messages to all the members of your forum.

This is a handy tool if you are teaching distance classes, or would just like to set up some simple online discussion topics for your students. It also looks like the are taking their responsibilities seriously regarding e-safety too, though you should still read the terms of use, as there is some sharing with third parties of non personal information.



Hope you find this useful.

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Nik Peachey

Monday, 27 April 2009

Setting Learning Goals

Ever done one of those exercises where you get your students to decide on their learning goals? Do you ever get round to coming back to them and really seeing if they have been achieved?

Well here's a little tool that may well help. It's called FutureMe and it's like an email message that you can send to yourself in the future.

You just fill in the form with your message and then set a date for when in the future you want it to be delivered.

  • You can use this to get students to check back on their original learning goals.
  • You can use it to get students sending themselves reminders about new vocabulary they have learned. They can simply send themselves a message for a week or two in the future with the new words in and see if they can still remember them and what they mean etc.
  • You could also do this for test revision. So many students do their tests, look at the score and then forget what the answer was. They could send themselves the questions they got wrong or right and see if they can still answer them a week or two in the future.
  • The same could be done with errors and correction. They could send their mistakes to their future self to correct in a week's time.
  • They could even send themselves notes from lessons or texts or even their own compositions to review and correct.

FutureMe
is a simple tool and quick and easy to use and could well help your students to become more autonomous learners by getting them to revise and review their work on a regular basis.

Hope you like it.

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Nik Peachey

Friday, 24 April 2009

Flickr in 3D

Can there ever be enough Flickr search engines? I don't really know but there doesn't seem to be any end to the variety of ways sites are accessing Flickr's fantastic wealth of images. Tag Galaxy though has to be one of my favourites. If you want to see how it works just watch this 3 minute movie.

Using Tag Galaxy to Search Flickr Images



Or read on.

Tag Galaxy looks ordinary enough until you enter and search your first key word. Then you are presented with a galaxy of planets all representing related keywords and your search word at the centre.
You can click on these related term to build up or refine your search. When you are ready you click on the central planet and watch as the images relating to your tag start to appear around your central globe.


You can then click and drag to rotate the globe and look at the images. When you find an image that interests you, click on it to enlarge it. Then click again to get more information about the image.
Clicking on the small rectangular icon bottom right of your screen will also make the interface full screen, which would look great on an interactive whiteboard.

This is a great way to access images and would be great to use with students for vocabulary building , brainstorming, or playing word association, by getting students to predict images they will see or words which related to key concepts they type in such as politics, religion, purple, sport etc etc.

I hope you enjoy playing with this great tool.

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Nik Peachey

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Interactive Forms for Surveys or E-Learning

I've just been having a quick look a JotForm and it looks like a very useful tool. JotForm is a simple online tool for creating online forms of various kinds.

There are a number of pre-configured ones that you can create and customize, just using the wizard, or you can create a blank one and add what ever features you want from the Toolbox, just by dragging them onto the page.

Once you have your features on the page, you just click on them and edit the properties. It really is very simple to do. You can use JotForm for a whole range of things and it has some very powerful features. As well as adding images, password fields and captcha from the 'Power Tools' section, you can also add payment features, to enable you to charge for services.


The blank form creation is great for creating your own e-learning materials. You add images, text and by dragging in an html element from the Power Tools, you can even put in code so that you can embed videos from YouTube or other rich media.

Then all you need to do is add a few questions, or a text box for students to write in and when they click on submit, their answers will be sent to your email address or stored online.

Apart from creating e-learning activities, you could use the forms to get feedback on your teaching or to do a range of classroom research tasks. You could even get your students creating class surveys and compiling the results. You can also embed the forms into your own website or blog.

JotForm has a free option which allows for up to 3 forms a month and 100 responses, which should be enough for the average teacher.

Fantastic free tool. There are some tutorials on the site too if you want to dig more deeply into the potential of this tool. Here's movie one showing you how to get started.



Hope you find it useful.

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Nik Peachey

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Flickr and Wiktionary Based Image Dictionary

Shahi is a visual dictionary that combines Wiktionary content with Flickr images, and more! This is a really handy tool for students or in the classroom if you have a computer + projector set up.

All you do is type in your vocabulary word and you get images ( from Flickr, Google or Yahoo) and a definitions with part of speech and some example sentences from Wikitionary.

If you want to give your students a better view of the images that the Shahi finds in relation to the word, then just click on the image and it enlarges.


Of course the most common problem with picture dictionaries is that the concepts of many words, especially at higher levels aren't 'visual' as such and are much more abstract concepts. I did a search on 'noise' and here's what I got.


You can use this to your advantage though by getting students to think about the connections and associations between the words you search for and the images. You can turn this into a game and give points to the students with the best explanation for the connection between word and image. The explanation could be literal or more imaginative and narrative based.

One other thing that I like about Shahi, is that the results from each word you type in are 'piled up onto top of each other, so if you use it as a reference throughout a lesson or activity, you still have a record there of all the words that came up.

You could also use this feature in reverse, by creating an image word list before the activity so that students can prepare their vocabulary and refer to it during the activity.

Shahi is a nice versatile free tool and one that your students could easily use on their own. Hope you enjoy it.

Related links:
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Nik Peachey

Friday, 17 April 2009

My Talking Faces

PhotoFace is a novel way to get your students talking, recording themselves and creating fun speaking images for class or homework assignments.

It's very simple to use. You can either upload your own image or use an image provided by the site.

You need to drag the position of the crosses so that they are over the features of the face.

Once you have done this you can alter the emotion of your image and click on the face and drag parts of it if you want to distort it.

Once the face image is ready you have a choice of ways to add audio. This can be done by adding a pre-recorded file, using text to speech or recording from your microphone or telephone.

If you use your microphone make sure you allow the site access it, then just click on record. You can record, listen and re-record as many time as you choose until, you get it right. I was actually very impressed with the sound quality. Once you have finished recording you simply need to email the link to the image to yourself or get your students to email the links to you.

  • Here's the one I created using my own voice: Introduction to PhotoFace
  • I also created a speaking sea shell using the text to speech: Sea Shell. So you don't have to stick with just images of people.
This is a great way to get your students to submit short speaking assignments to you by email. You can ask them to talk on a specific topic or give their opinions on on discussion tasks or contentious issues. It's quick easy and free, just a shame there is no embed code to enable you to put the talking heads into web pages or blogs.

I hope you enjoy playing with this and that your students get a lot of speaking practice with it.

Related links:

Best

Nik Peachey

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Coffee With Jeremy Harmer on 3rd May 09


Sunday 3rd May 09
(GMT 18.00 = 11.00 PST) will see the next in our series of 'Coffee With ..' educational chat shows on Edunation II in Second Life, so please do come along, join our audience and meet other people interested in developing education and learning within Second Life.
In this show I'll be interviewing, teacher, teacher trainer, author and ELT guru Jeremy Harmer. Jeremy's books and writings have introduced a generation of teachers to ELT. He is also a regular conference speaker and musician.


His writing credits include How to Teach Writing, How to Teach English and The Practice of English Language Teaching

This is a chance to come along and participate in discussion with one of the UK's most influential ELT writers.



If you would like to come along and watch the show and join in the discussion, then go along to Edunation II or email Gavin at: gavin.dudeney@theconsultants-e.com. The event is free, but we are limited to 100 places. The show starts at GMT = 18.00 (GMT is 7 hours ahead of Second Life time, so that's 11.00 PST and 20.00 CET)

If you don't have a Second Life avatar but would like to know how to set one up then you can download instructions from here. Setting up a Second Life avatar

Related links:
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Nik Peachey

Coffee With Scott Thornbury on 26th April 09


Sunday 26th April 09
(GMT 18.00 = 11.00 PST) will see the next in our series of 'Coffee With ..' educational chat shows on Edunation II in Second Life, so please do come along, join our audience and meet other people interested in developing education and learning within Second Life.
In this show I'll be interviewing, writer, trainer and ELT guru Scott Thornbury. Scott's writings and often controversial opinions have had a profound effect on the face of ELT and continue to influence many EFL teachers and trainers around the world.


His writing credits include several award-winning books for teachers on language and methodology. He is also series editor for the Cambridge Handbooks for Teachers (CUP). He was also the co-founder of the dogme ELT group, whose archived website, called Teaching Unplugged, can be found here.

Scott is currently Associate Professor of English Language Studies at the New School in New York, where he teaches on an on-line MATESOL program.

If you would like to come along and watch the show and join in the discussion, then go along to Edunation II or email Gavin at: gavin.dudeney@theconsultants-e.com. The event is free, but we are limited to 100 places. The show starts at GMT = 18.00 (GMT is 7 hours ahead of Second Life time, so that's 11.00 PST and 20.00 CET)

If you don't have a Second Life avatar but would like to know how to set one up then you can download instructions from here. Setting up a Second Life avatar

Related links:
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Nik Peachey

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Video for Dealing with Sensitive Issues

I've just been checking out TrueTube, which is an impressive UK based site aimed at teens + and which deals with a wide range of sensitive social issues.

The site allows users to upload and edit their own videos which tell their own stories.
The site describes itself like this;

"Anorexia, poverty, depression, sex and crime are but a few of the social issues you’ll find on TrueTube. There are hundreds of real stories, voices from the “man in the street” and “expert” interviews, all brought together to highlight different angles to the issues at hand. Many videos and animations are made by us; others come to us from all over the world. TrueTube doesn’t judge, we don’t take sides and we certainly don’t think we have THE answers. We just want to give you food for thought."


There's a really impressive collection of videos and advice on how to use them. I really enjoyed this one Young British Muslims and Ramadan's joys and struggles.


The website also has an 'Action' section with Masterclass, which has videos showing how to create and edit your own videos for the site. Choose your cause, which has people talking about different causes and Start a revolution, which has people talking about how they got involved in campaigns.

The content is all authentic and has some great examples of various regional UK accents. Dealing with these kinds of topics in class can be very difficult, but having this kind of content as a way in can be very useful. Just getting students to look at the Choose your cause section and asking them which of the causes they most sympathise with could be a useful way to get started.

To upload or comment on video you have to be a registered user, but registration is reasonably painless and once you register you are also able to download video from the site to use in class with out an Internet connection etc.

I hope you find this content useful.

Related links:
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Nik Peachey

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Cloze Test Creation Tool

I've just spotted this very handy Cloze test creator that allows you to create your own cloze text exercises in either paper based or interactive form. You simply type or past in your text then select either the types of words or the number of spaces between words that you want taken out of the text.

You can also add clues, so that you can provide all the missing words and students just decide which ones go where.

Once you have decided on the number of or type of words you want taken out of the text, you select either text only, for a printable classroom version or interactive to create an interactive online version of the exercise.
This is a great little tool for reviewing texts and building learner autonomy, especially the online version. You can ask your students to take texts they have studied in class and create and test themselves on various aspects text just by copying it in and clicking.

Great free tool. Just a shame you can't save the interactive versions you create.

Hope you find it useful. You can find more tools by the same creator here. You can also find an activity for students here: How Words are Used Together

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Nik Peachey

Monday, 13 April 2009

Interview with David Crystal

Whilst in Cardiff at the IATEFL 2009 Conference I was lucky enough to meet once again and interview one of the UK's most esteemed linguists and genuinely very interesting man David Crystal.

One of the things that for me makes David's work so interesting, is not only his knowledge of the English language, but his open minded curiosity about the way the language is evolving in new media and electronic genre. In the interview he talks about, among other things, the use of language within SMS and his own blog at: DC Blog

I hope you enjoy the interview and check out some of the many other 40 + videos from the conference at: Cardiff Online

Here's the interview.


You can read more about SMS texting in an article by David written for the Guardian website at: 2b or not 2b?
Hope you enjoy it.

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Nik Peachey

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.

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Nik Peachey

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Interview with Marc Prensky

This is a really interesting interview with Marc Prensky. Gavin Dudeney is interviewing him following his plenary presentation in Cardiff at IATEFL 2009.

The video interview is about 23 mins long and he talks about a range of things including the different ways teenagers are approaching and using technology in their learning and the way technology needs to impact on pedagogy.

Interview with Marc Prensky


Well worth watching this and of course there are loads more interview and presentation videos on the IATEFL site at:http://iatefl.britishcouncil.org/2009/media/video

Hope you enjoy the interview and have a look at some of the others. If you register you can also leave comments for the presenters and download presentations and handouts from the sessions.

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Nik Peachey