1 Oct 2010

Do you glog? Reinventing Posters with Glogster Edu

Posters have always been considered a valuable resource to stimulate students' creativity as well as an opportunity for teachers to know what students' have learnt. Do you remember when we created posters using a cardboard, crayons, coloured pencils, pictures taken from magazines, and so on?

Much time has passed since then and with the revolution of technology we have "discovered" many useful tools which can make learning more engaging for our students. Don't our students spend most of their free time at their PCs? So, why not combine the effectiveness of web 2.0 tools to give them more autonomy to create their own projects in which they will be the speakers, the writers, the editors, and the introduction of interesting topics our students are interested in?

If you are curious to find out how technology tools can enhance your teaching and involve your students in their English learning process, you should use Glogster Edu:
  • It allows teachers and students to create digital posters.
  • It is free.
  • It is safe.
  • You can add pictures and graphics from the Internet or from your own computer.
  • It is possible to add videos from the Internet or from your own computer.
  • You can record your own voice, so it is perfect to record an interview, a speech, a recitation of a poem or a song.
  • You can write your own texts to express yourself.So, Glogster Edu is wonderful for creative projects but also for reflections on cultural and social topics.
I honestly think this is one of the easiest tools I have worked with and the possibilities to incorporate it in the English class are endless. In addition to this, as Glogster Edu was created with an educational purpose in mind, it ensures that all the content students view is appropriate. You can supervise our students' projects as well and both you and your students can comment on each other's glogs, print them and embed the glog in your classroom blog or wiki.

What are you waiting for using it?
Ángela -6th Primary

Laura - 1st ESO

Lucía - 1ºESO

María - 5º primaria

This is a Glogster I created myself as an example for 1º Bachillerato students' project at the end of a didactic unit dealing with Rudyard Kipling, conditional sentences and the situation of people living in developing countries. The purpose of this project was that students wrote their own poems based on Rudyard Kipling's poem If and recorded them, and wrote a short biography of Rudyard Kipling.


10 Sep 2010

CUADERNIA - an educational materials generator

It has been almost two years since I started writing this blog and it is incredible how much I have learnt from many great teachers I have met on the net. Writing was not easy at first. What could an almost new teacher say? However, I have enjoyed a lot having "this little window" to share what I have learnt, my educational worries and tips to introduce technology in the classroom. After a long busy year without time to update the blog, I am back to introduce you a valuable tool to create educational digital books, CUADERNIA 2.0.

This fantastic free authoring tool, created by Oscar Guerrero Sánchez and his team Entornos Innovadores, is at teachers' disposal in the website of the Education Department of Castilla-La Mancha (Spain). Up to now, it is only available for Windows and is offered only in Spanish language. I hope there is an English version, as well, in the future so that teachers from all over the world can benefit from it.

Cuadernia is really easy to use, even for those teachers who do not have much computering knowlege, and it has real potential for helping to make our lessons more engaging and dynamic. You do not need to be a genius to create complementary material for your English lessons, you just need to know your students' interests, motivations and needs to generate activities which are relevant for them. Many times course books include many general topics and they may be useful for English teachers who teach in a big city, for instance, but not for teachers working in a village. This is just one of the reasons I believe that creating our own material or adapting it is worthwhile.

One of the tools you can use to create your own materials is Cuadernia 2.0 which allows us to create 21 different kinds of activities using a background, text, flash images, pictures, videos as well as speech bubbles, augmented reality objects and some free applications to change your archives to different formats.

The software is available in three different versions - an online version, a downloadable version for your PC or laptop and another one to save it in your USB. If you decide to use the online version, you have to take into account that it is not possible to save the digital version directly. You will need to export it to your PC to be able to save it and finish your digital book later.

Lorena Pinillos Chávez has published an easy to follow tutorial (20 pages) that shows you how to use Cuadernia. However, you will find a more complete tutorial (81 pages) in the website of the Education Department of Castilla-La Mancha.
Some of the main advantages which Cuadernia offers are:
  • It provides an attractive learning environment for students.
  • It is not just a tool for teacher to create their materials and share them with other teachers, but also a collaborative tool for students. Have a look at "Estrategia pedagógica con Cuadernia" by Eva M. Perdiguero Garzo.
  • It includes a broad range of resources to assist in the autonomous use of the programme (tutorials, videotutorials in Cuadernia Youtube Channel).
  • It includes a forum where teachers can express their opinions about the software and help to its improvement as well as a facebook group.
    In the
    Educative Digital Objects Library (Librería ODEs) you will find some didactic units not just for the English Class but for other subjects as well.
What I do not find so easy using this software is:
  • Inserting the digital books in a blog.

  • using other types of formats, you need to change them using the applications offered.

You can download some EFL materials created with Cuadernia:

22 Jun 2010

English Pronunciation Resources for Students and Teachers

Given the many different places that "native" English speakers hail from, there is no such thing as perfect English pronunciation. That said, knowing how to pronounce words is an important part of learning any language. If you are struggling with pronunciation or know a student who is struggling, the following free resources may help:

SpokenSkills - SpokenSkills offers many different resources for ESL teachers, language professionals and students, including vowel sounds, consonant sounds, audio and video clips, and listening comprehension podcasts.

Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary - This online learning dictionary from Merriam-Webster provides 15 free sessions of perfect pronunciation exercises for ESL students. Each session includes practice with words, phrases, and sentences.

New English File - This Oxford University Press site offers pronunciation practice for beginner, elementary, pre-intermediate, intermediate, upper-intermediate, and advance
d level English language learners. Students in each level can check their pronunciation of English sounds against audio files and play games to reinforce learning.

Fonetiks - Fonetiks offers comprehensive pronunciation guides for nine different varieties of the English language. Other site features include an online English dictionary with instant sound, minimal pair practice, an interactive reading course, a list of words that are difficult to pronounce, and a pronunciation guide for names of people and places.

Inogolo - Inogolo is an online American English pronunciation guide for ESL and EFL learners. The guide includes pronunciations for the names of people, places, and things.

Howjsay - Howsjay is a talking online dictionary that contains audio pronunciations for more than 130,000 English words and phrases. If the word you are looking for is not contained in the dictio
nary, you can post a question about the word on the site's comment board.

English Interactive - English Interactive links to a wide range of sites that offer English pronunciation practice. Other site features include interactive vocabulary practice with audio and conversation resources.

American English Pronunciation Practice - Charles Kelley, a textbook writer and ESL enthusiast, created this page for ESL and EFL students who need pronunciation practice. The page includes listen and repeat videos, tongue twisters, and game-like minimal pair practice using Flash and MP3 files.

Write Back Soon - Radio Lingua Network provides several different podcasts for English learners, including this phrasal verb podcast known as Write Back Soon. The podcast series consists of eight archived episodes that help ESL students understand and practice phrasal verbs.

Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab - This online listening lab is great for students who need speaking, listening, and pronunciation practice. The lab provides short listening quizzes and activities for beginner and intermediate students as well as videos of long conversations and interviews for more advanced students.

Phonetics Flash Animation Project - This online project from the University of Iowa features animated libraries of phonetic sounds of English. An animated diagram, description, and audio file of the sound being used in context are available for each English consonant and vowel.

KanTalk - Created specifically for English students who need spoken English practice, this online community offers a space to practice conversations and share recordings and videos.

Busuu - Busuu is an international language learning community for people who want to practice English and other languages with native speakers. The site's integrated video-chat-application makes it easy to chat with anyone you meet on Busuu.

SharedTalk - SharedTalk is a free Rosetta Stone community that provides both voice and text chat for members who want to practice their language skills online.

Livemocha - Livemocha is a popular online language learning community that supports six different languages, including English. Students can use the site to find language partners, user-made videos, and other ESL resources.

AddLang - AddLang makes it easy for students to practice pronunciation with native English speakers over Skype. Students can also practice their English with other AddLang members using MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, and AOL Messenger

UsingEnglish.com - The English Language Discussion Forum on UsingEnglish.com has a special section just for students who want to discuss questions related to pronunciation, phonetics, and other aspect of speech. The forum also offers an "Ask the Teacher" section for students who need additional help.

est post from education writer Karen Schweitzer. Karen is the About.com Guide to Business School. She also writes about pharmacy technician certification for PharmacyTechnicianCertification.com.

8 Jun 2010

PLAYCOMIC, more than a simple comic creator

It has been a long time ago since I wrote my last post, due to lack of time. However, today I found an incredible comic creator tool which I would like to share with you. It is called PLAYCOMIC and it has been designed and created by Antonio Muñoz Germán in order to help stu

dents to develop their writing and oral communication skills in English and in Spanish.

There is a great amount of characters and backgrounds students can choose from, so the possibilities to create different kinds of situational dialogues is almost endless. They will be able to create their own comic strips, finish one of more than 40 stories included, transform a comic into a narrative and viceversa, fill the balloons with their own dialogues and add as many pages as they want to.

Teachers will benefit as well from this software since it includes a didactic guide with a series of methodological principles, as well as educational suggestions for different kinds of activities using comics, and a detailed guide to learn how to use this tool.

Well, I hope you find time to explore and try this tool with your students because it is really worth it.

If you want to know more about how to integrate comics in the classroom, I recommend you to see S. Hendy presentation. She suggests different ideas to integrate comics within the curriculum.

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