Saturday, 19 November 2011

#ELTBITES Challenge

Richard Gresswell, the @inglishteacher, has invited the teachers to share their bite-size lesson activities. The activity should be done with minimal resources, just some paper and a pen. Great idea and useful at that!

Here is mine, adaptable to any age.

Spy Adam!

The aim of the activity – to practise describing someone’s daily activities.

1. Divide the students into 3 groups.  Try to put an equal number of students in each group.
Each student in the group has to describe Adam’s (pick whatever name you prefer) activities for a certain period of the day. Tell the first group the time – from 6am till midday, the second group – from midday till 6pm, the 3rd group – from 6pm till midnight. If you wish to include the night, stretch the period.

2. At the beginning of the lesson read an introductory paragraph about Adam. Give Adam’s background, mention some peculiar features, e.g. Adam is afraid of the dark, he is scared of bees, he hates hamsters, he plays the flute, he knows Swahili, etc. Students have to include this feature in their stories. Encourage them to make up funny situations and strange incidents.

3. Remix groups - pick one student from each group and put them together in new groups of three. Students read their stories to the other group members and they decide if they have got a realistic story.

4. At the end of the lesson, the teacher decides which story has been the most coherent or captivating.

Looking forward to new ideas from other teachers and Richard himself.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

My favourite web tools now

We all have our favourite web tools and technologies that we prefer to use in our work. This is the word cloud of my favourites at this moment. It is highly possible that in a few months my preferences will be different.

I use Weebly and Posterous for class blogs.
Vocaroo is indispensable for audio homework.
Penzu is great for student online writing (journals, essays, reflections)
I can't imagine my work without PowerPoint.
Linoit is fantastic for short student reponses.
Wordle and Tagxedo are the tools for making word clouds (like this one which I made with Wordle).
WordDynamo is my newest favourite site for making interactive vocabulary quizzes.
Bubbl and SpicyNodes create great mind maps.
Kubbu is a wonderful tool for making interactive online exercises.
Glogster helps to create attractive online posters.
Flisti is just one of the numerous poll creating sites.
YouTube has always been the site where I find most videos that I need.
IrfanView is a simple (and therefore easy to use) picture editing tool.
Moodle is the platform I use with my older students.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

The roles we play on forums

Have you ever posted a message on a public forum? Why did you post it? What did you want to say? What made you choose the particular forum - topic relevance, familiar people or urgent / desperate need for help?
Whenever we decide to make an appearance on a public site, we have two options - be invisible, i.e. anonymous or reveal our name. These are two totally different conditions which determine our online behaviour.

People who post intelligent, balanced and relevant comments are lifeblood to any successful forum discussion.
The worst type are anonymous discontented forum users who give vent to their anger or malice. I have seen thousands of comments posted by such people on national websites and it has always made me wonder about the true nature of anonymity. Does it automatically gives you freedom to abuse other people or is it a shield to protect you - from what?

If the forum is closed as in elearning environment, people coming to forums have a certain aim in mind, and usually it is posting for study purposes. They are never anonymous and it preconditions their sticking to the rules of netiquette. However, during a long time I have observed that there are as many patterns of behaviour on forums as there are participants. Active, coherent and responsive people are emoderators' joy. There are the brash ones and there are the considerate, there are the shy and the headstrong, the diligent and the idle. And there are lurkers. Reading, observing, watching, waiting, posting only when they cannot avoid it.

I have known the website Flame Warriors for years. It gives a huge list of roles people play on forums, each role supplied with a picture and definition created by an artist Mike Reed - Rebel Leader, Big Cat, Toxic Granny, Coffee KlatchBliss Ninny, Fanboy, Lonely Guy, God, Weenie etc.
Even if you don't agree with everything Mike Reed has written, it is worth taking a look at the site, especially if you have to deal with forums - either as a participant or a moderator.