Category Archives: tools
During this week, I have come across an awesome variety of digital tools for developing students’ listening skills. I have worked in EFL/ESL contexts before so I will list the tools appropriate for this context first.
I explored Listen and write which is an online tool that allows students to listen to a news item. They can listen to the whole story and then listen to parts of it while typing the story. They can have the excerpt repeated many times which allows for developing listening for detail. I found this tool was quite specific and accommodated an old-fashioned theory of language learning. I would only use it for a specific purpose.
I also had a look at other tools for ESL listening skill development called “Backbone” and Amny interactive. Both websites allows students to listen to a whole text to get the general idea of it (listening for gist). I liked Backbone because as a teacher you could choose one of the stories of everyday people and do some comprehension activities on it. They come with a few options to just play a video, or the audio and you can also get the script for it. Under resources, there are a couple of other activities teachers could choose to use with some of the stories. On the Amny interactive site, although it is quite “interactive”, I find the site only focuses on allowing students to listen to a variety of English (NY American English) which is quite restrictive. However, it could be useful for teachers whose students will be travelling to NY for example 🙂
I teach in Primary schools and High schools. In Sydney, primary students do literacy, numeracy, science and physical education (I have simplified this for better understanding). I found a couple of tools that may be useful to develop children’s listening skills in L1.One of them is Wordia. Using this tool, students can watch an excerpt on a topic (topics are also arranged into Subjects, which is quite handy), and do some activities such as games and spelling activities. I really like the “make my own game” question which allows this website to go beyond the little kiddies practice website to permit older students (years 6-8) to make their own games. I really liked the Smories website and was dreaming about applications in Primary school. I think kids will be really engaged with these stories, developed to make their imagination fly, with no pictures! Stories could also be embedded on lessons prepared on the interactive whiteboard which will allow students to practice other skills smoothly. I loved Smories!
I also enjoyed experiencing the “Teaching with TED” wiki since it comprises both TED talks and activities for each talk to explore with mature students. I would certainly use some of these talks with HS English students to develop listening skills and also to discuss, argue a point, develop critical thinking, etc. I also discoved “TIME 10 questions” which I didn’t know it existed either, and would use the “Robin Williams” one on how to conjure up a character in a Drama unit. Very interesting!
Wow, I’m really excited this week because not only did I get the chance to start writing a story but I also got the chance to collaborate with other classmates (teachers) on writing a story together! I have added a few tools to my livebinders (see bottom right) on Collaborative writing tools. I wrote a story with 2 other teachers (Mercedes and Mrs Bozic) using Entri . It was extremely fun and easy. You just need to type your lines and share it with other people. They can sign in on their Entri account (you can use twitter if you wish to do this) and you can start editing your document. Obviously there are other tools (such as the well-known Google docs) but if you need to edit a document with your twitter friends, I would recommend this one. What I really like is that it also saves your changes every minute or so. Very clever!
My piece of collaborative writing can be accessed here: http://entri.co/fWPgKT
I also noticed not all tools are suitable for all tasks/ text types. That’s why in my Livebinder I have included a brief title that describe what type of text/task each tool is suitable for.
Apart from collaborative writing, I have also found you can use a trick on Google docs to annotate a text. See this blog http://nctesecondary.blogspot.com.au/2010/03/annotating-text-using-google-docs.html
This week we are exploring some creative writing tools. To start with, this is a short story started I created for our course.
It was a calm Sunday morning. I was enjoying my breakfast in bed when I heard a scratchy noise on my door. “Jack” I shrieked “not today mate, I’m relaxing”. He didn’t relent though. Stretching, I slowly got out of bed and opened the door. He jumped at me. “OK, OK, we’ll go for a walk today”. Next thing I knew, I was crossing the main road with an over-excited dog barking around. You see, Jack is not your usual dog. Though he enjoys his walks, he barks at anything (and anyone!) who is just walking lazily around. We soon arrived to Bondi Beach, which is usually busy on a Sunday, but as it was quite early, there were only a couple of oldies enjoying their beach walk. I never let Jack out of the leash, because I cannot muster the strength to have to do CPR on someone if he bites them on the wrong spot! He is quite friendly though, considering he’s a German pastor and barks frantically about scaring the living daylights out of people. As I was trying to get him to walk more of less straight, I suddenly spotted a wonderful sight: Dolphins! I couldn’t believe my eyes (or luck) because I’ve only seen whales once in my life and not at Bondi. I wonder what strange marine even could ever attract dolphins to visit Bondi. Maybe they knew it was Australia Day!…
I have explored a couple of tools and I liked “Five card”
1- Because I had never heard of it before.
2- Because I found it exciting for me and my students. It allows students to develop visual thinking as images are randomly generated and students need to pick ONLY 5 to make up their own story. When they do so, they get a permalink to their story that obviously can be added to their blog or any other platform to share with an authentic audience.
Pros: Practice creative writing in a certain context. They could pick pictures that deal with the English area of study (Belonging)
Cons: It can be a con if the teacher is quite rigorous on what she wants since this activity is quite free and allows students who might be struggling to come up with ideas to enjoy the art of creative writing.
I also liked Scholastic’s “Story starters” but obviously this is suitable for Primary students only. It would also aid students who might be struggling for ideas. However, explicit teaching of grammar, vocabulary, syntactic structures, etc would also help students writing their work effortlessly (or at least “more easily”). 🙂