Links of the Month: May

This month, Kacey highlights Keith Schoch’s blog, Teach with Picture Books, and shares interviews with John Merrow, Kevin Kelly, and Sir Ken Robinson. Cheridy focuses on bookmapping  and a Seedling’s podcast that in part explores the topic of the balance between banning technology and integrating it.  Our links include sites that we see potential in or that have worked for us in our own classes. 

Kacey’s picks:
John Merrow:  Here is Harvard Graduate School of Education EdCast interview with John Merrow.  John discusses how the teaching career has changed over his time of reporting on education. He also discusses his new book, The Influence of Teachers. More Harvard EdCast interviews can be found here.

The Future of Education:  Steve Hargadon conducted two great interviews for his current interview series called The Future of Education.  One was with Kevin Kelly and the other was with Sir Ken Robinson. Sir Ken Robinson talks about promoting creativity in schools and organizations and about his revised book, Out or Our Minds: Learning to Be Creative. In our previous posts Brain Food and Changing Education Paradigms: Sir Ken Robinson, you can read more about Kevin Kelly and his new book What Technology Wants and link to the amazing RSA Animate  video with Sir Ken Robinson.

Cheridy’s picks: 
Bookmapping:  My first podcast explores bookmapping.  It's a short 15 min ISTE Podcast interview with authors Terence Cavanaugh and Jerome Burg about their book Lit Trips and Beyond.  Listening to this podcast gave me the push to explore a bookmapping site that I’ve been interested in for awhile, Google Lit Trips.  Check it out!  There are some great examples for K-higher ed.  I’ve highlighted some of my favorite books:  K-5 Flotsam, 6-8 The Slave Dancer, and 9-12 The Grapes of Wrath. Here’s more information on bookmapping by the American Association of School Librarians.

Ban or Integrate?: I also enjoyed listening to this Seedlings podcast 113 with guest Rebecca Peterson.  It includes an interesting conversation about schools’ attempts to ban laptops, smartphones, and other electronics.  The conversation carries into thinking of ways we can use these as tools to engage our students rather than banning them. There is also discussion of the need to be aware that as our students face change due to new technologies, this creates the necessity for some emerging pedagogy to meet their needs.  In addition, there is some practical discussion of things to consider when using iPads in the classroom.

Kacey’s picks:  Teach with Picture Books and Teaching That Sticks are blogs by Keith Schoch, an educator in New Jersey. I enjoyed Keith’s post, Make Language an Adventure: Learning Grammar with Picture Books.  Be sure to check out Keith’s links to blogs he reads.

A picture book I was reminded of after viewing Keith’s blog is a book recommended at the Oregon Reading Association Convention by children’s author George Shannon. The book, Three By The Sea by Edward Marshall, is an easy reader but has a wonderful lesson on writing a good story. Three friends at the beach each tell a story. Each one becomes more detailed, and the final story by Lolly has lots of details and is actually a bit scary. It is fun having students try their hand at “writing like Lolly!”  I’ll be adding this to the list for a beginning lesson on writing next year.

Cheridy’s picks:  ClassTools.net.  If some creativity is employed and it is selectively used, this site has potential to add some simple technology spice to the class.  Some of their links that I have used are fakebook, random name pickercountdown timer, and some of the graphic organizers such as the venn diagram and the hamburger diagram

The Seedlings Geeks of the Week inspired me.  I want to explore Storify.  Perhaps this will be a future post.  I used this TED Talk by Eric Whitacre in one of my classes.  It will be a part of a future post.  

Happy listening and exploring!


Online Dictionaries and Vocabulary Games Part 2: Lexipedia, Lingro, Shahi, Wordia

Online dictionaries have stepped dictionaries up a notch.  They are interactive and visual, contain audio, etc.   Here is a list of online dictionaries that I refer my students to and use during class.

Watch this Jing screencast where I give an overview of some of the features of online dictionaries by looking up the word education in each of these sites:  Lexipedia, Lingro, Shahi, and Wordia.

I find it useful to take a step back and see how my students are naturally using the technology and what their thoughts of it are. Here are some reviews from my Advanced level ESOL students.  

Lexipedia (There is also a Spanish Lexipedia site):  Type the word you want to know and it will give you the definition, the part of speech and related words. It gives colors that show the parts of speech and relationships to fuzzynyms, synonyms, and antonyms.  This site has six languages, but no Arabic or Chinese.  (reviewed by Mo  and  Karl)  

Shahi: This site has very easy definitions with simple examples.  Just type the word, and you can get the meaning of words with visual photos.  The best quality of this site is that I can understand new vocabulary even if I cannot catch their meanings by the text definition because of the useful pictures.  I think there is one small problem. Sometimes the wrong pictures appear.  I strongly recommend this site.   (reviewed by Ryan)  

WordiaOn this site you can put the word and see the videos that complement the meaning of the words. The best quality is that you can understand the meaning of the words and improve your skills because you can listen to the word in context. A first drawback is it´s incomplete. I put the word “drawback” and they don´t have video for this word. The second is that the process to get to know the word is long.  (reviewed by Felipe)   

Lingro: (See review in this previous post.)
The Worlds Smallest Dictionary by practicalowl, on Flickr 
Other applications:  I’d like to experiment and have my students make videos such those on Wordia to share with future students.  What are some ways you or your students use these types of online dictionaries?

*This is the second in a series that outlines a few online dictionaries and vocabulary games to give a flavor of what is available out there.  Feel free to pass on additional quality vocabulary sites that are not included in our Students tab and tell us how they are useful.  Stay tuned for some upcoming posts including a guest post about Wordsift and some online vocabulary games.   Here is a link to part 1 in this series.  Thanks to all of my students for their reviews and good discussions this term! 
  photo by  practicalowlCreative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License


Online Dictionaries and Vocabulary Games Part 1: Lingro

Lingro.  It claims to be “The coolest dictionary known to hombre.”  What do you think?

When I started teaching ESOL, my students toted around bilingual dictionaries.  Over the years, I watched the book dictionaries disappear as students appeared with their own pocket translators.  Lately, it appears these translators are being replaced by smartphone apps, ipad apps, and online dictionaries.  I see students automatically turning to these devices to look up words for meaning, pronunciation, parts of speech, practice and more.

Although it still is in its beginning stages, I created a list of online dictionaries that I refer my students to and use during class.  When I say online dictionaries, I really mean dictionaries on steroids compared to the paper ones toted around not all that long ago.  Even Merriam-Webster has received a makeover.  These dictionaries are interactive and often contain visuals, videos and vocabulary games.

Lingro is my most recent discovery.  My initial reaction to exploring it was, “This is a gold mine!”  You can take any website in a fairly wide range of languages and run it through this site.  It basically turns any site into a clickable dictionary.  Click on a word and it gives you its definition.  You can save it in a personal word list, see it used in the context on the site, and then create a flashcard game with it and other words on your word list.

These videos by Russell Stannard demonstrate Lingro and its uses.  They can be accessed here.  Russell says, “This is without a doubt the best website I’ve found in 2011.” (As a side note, Russell  Stannard’s site, Teacher Training Videos, has an extensive and impressive number of useful teacher videos such as these.) Watch, explore, and see what you think about Lingro!  

The Worlds Smallest Dictionary by practicalowl, on Flickr*This is the first in a series that will outline a few online dictionaries and vocabulary games to give a flavor of what is available out there.  Feel free to pass on additional quality vocabulary sites that are not included in our Students tab and tell us how they are useful.  Stay tuned for some upcoming posts including a guest post about Wordsift and some reviews written by students in one of my ESOL classes.   If you liked this post, you may also be interested in this post.

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License  photo by  practicalowl 


Just For Fun: Mother's Day

The ability to share and interact in real time online is a feature that has been around for quite some time, yet we are just at the beginnings of realizing its use in education-- both in face to face classes and in online classes.  This post deviates from education, but I will return to this topic of online interaction in an upcoming post.  I couldn’t quite resist making a little something for my mom on the New York Times online Health page on this Mother's Day.

My mom is currently story 64 of 7881 and counting, but obviously #1 in my book.  It’s not too late to contribute or read.  Submit your own six word description by clicking here.

And here’s one of the “big questions” my class has been exploring this month:  Does technology bring us closer together or push us apart?  What do you think?

ESL/EFL/ELL Blog Carnival Special Edition and Other Young Learner Sites

The latest ESL/EFL/ELL 23rd Blog Carnival is up.  It is a special Young Learner’s Edition posted on Shelly Terrell’s Teacher Reboot Camp.  I am happy to pass this post on to my College of Ed students who work with the little kiddos in ESOL and bilingual settings.  The post can be accessed here; it is divided into two parts: 1. Tips, Lessons & Issues and  2. Teaching YL’s Effectively with Technology.  

The next Blog Carnival will be hosted by Eva Buyuksimkesyan in September.  You can see all the previous editions of the ESL/EFL/ELL Blog Carnival here.  We were pleased to be a part of the 22nd Blog Carnival.

Shelly Terrell’s Teacher Reboot Camp is worthy of a post in itself.  She is a prolific blogger with an amazing presence on twitter as well.  In keeping with the theme of ELLs, here are some of her posts related to What Works for English Language Learners .  I particularly liked her Let’s Play! 20+ Sites for Young Learners post.

Grammaropolis, GoAnimate4SchoolsInto the Book, International Children’s Library (for teacher use), Kindersay, Learn English Kids, Little Bird Tales, Picture Book Maker, Mingoville, Smories, Storybird, Storyline Online and Zoo Burst are a few more sites that look promising for young learners.  Let us know about your favorite sites for young learners.

Happy exploring!