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domenica 23 aprile 2017

Digital Storytelling : Reflecting on the Mooc by POLITECNICO MILANO which I have just finished

In November I enrolled on a course run by POLITECNICO MILANO about Digital Storytelling.
I had previously done another MOOC about this interesting topic in education thanks to Coursera and wrote about it as I had started it by chance and I didn't think about the great potentialities of  DS.
The MOOC was in Italian- last year I did another course about creating ebooks thanks to the Italian platform and it was really helpful. This MOOC was a lonely journey- the online tutors did not provide much feedback but they gave us lots of documents online and information about the many web tools which we can use to write our stories.
This is a personal reflection on what we should do as  DS is a wonderful way for getting our students more engaged and I would add that it is useful for  English Language Learners too as they can use the target language and in a creative way.


Today we have a lot of platforms and we can choose a lot of tools to write and present our stories.It is very important to plan how to do it but we have a lot of tutorials online which can guide teachers and learners.
We were guided by an expert teacher who presented different stories which the University in Milan had supported and studied by creating a special platform. I might decide to try to participate in the annual events they run for schools presenting their stories next year.

In the final task I was asked to create an activity online and I chose the topic " Earth Day" to create a task that might suit many classes while students read, watch videos and write about this global issue.
I decided to start by using Twitter and thanks to this social network I could have access to many resources for educators.
I also checked what people had written about this topic and I found this interesting ebook created by using a tool which was listed among the many tools we can use to do DS tasks: Story Jumper.


Book titled 'The ABC's of Earth Day'Read this free book made on StoryJumper
Here is the first part of my activity created by using a new tool which combines the features of narration with collaboration too: I think that it could be used by students to mix their stories in projects. Its name is Sutori.
The topic was  Earth Day but you could use the tool for writing skills and other class projects.



When we plan DS tasks we need to think about a lot of things:
- how to work
- what kind of final output we might expect our  students to create
- how to evaluate the student's work

It can be very demanding and that's the reason why I have not done it so far.  The projects they have presented us in theMOOCc show very simple stories so I am thinking of trying to use some of the best ideas for getting starting with  DS  in my school next year.

Here is the link to the task which I have just uploaded :

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1vsSSv2u0RKBxDwREcZL0_QwJio8-5dkiANY9ivUjzXc/edit?usp=sharing

In the final part of the document you will find important links to rubrics for evaluation.
There are so many tools that I feel I will need to try only the simple ones but  it will be worth trying them.

Resources and Ideas online

http://www.youblisher.com/p/12234-Digital-Story-Telling/


Click here to open this binder in a new window.

sabato 22 aprile 2017

# Earth Day 2017




I am working on storytelling for an Italian Mooc right now- I will have to submit one task this week and that's the reason why I have chosen to create an activity on Earth Day. In the last two weeks I have found plenty of useful resources: free resources which can be used by any educator. 

You may be surprised to find so many interesting documents online, videos, songs and important conferences all over the world. I have decided to use Sutori, a new app which can enable teachers to work online with their classes and students can collaborate. I like the idea of relying on so many resources in English as my students might benefit from reading or listening to them.Once you have finished your presentation you can share it with the others and embed it in a website or a blog. The app is free and you just need to have an account to start using it.

If you check online you will find a lot of documents about the issue of " Earth Day" and educators are involved in sharing ideas and materials. I love the idea of using videos and texts so I have chosen a poem and a short story for my presentation.













Here is the link to my presentation which you can find here :

  https://www.sutori.com/story/earth-day-2017


I could create it in a short time and I think that it can offer an interesting activity for teaching our learners of English about  Earth Day while they are working together and also creating their own personal presentations.






If we search online we will find many more tips or interesting documents in English: films, cartoons, lists of videos and more. We just need to find some time and choose them for our  lessons.
Let's all celebrate Earth Day!!

lunedì 17 aprile 2017

Outside in: bringing new technology perspectives to ELT


Tuesday 4th  April 2017

A talk about technology in ELT





http://iatefl.britishcouncil.org/2017/session/outside-bringing-new-technology-perspectives-elt-0



I did not follow the talk which took place on 4th April but it was and it is a must do activity for every teacher. I watched the recording and I would suggest it to anyone who loves teaching and thinking about what is changing in our schools.
The topic was technology in ELT. I just found the time this week to check it and I think that what was discussed is the reality in which we are working now. There is a new world which goes beyond the walls of our schools and is outside our ELT lessons and classes.  Internet, social media and new devices have entered our life. We cannot live without our tablets and in Italy the king of the modern devices is the smartphone. 

The presenters were   Geoff Stead, Donald Clark, Paul Driver and  Yvonne Rogers. They shared their ideas about this revolution which is changing our work as educators but also the life of workers and students in the XXI century.

More than in the classroom we have learners studying on their own in virtual worlds and a lot of teachers have moved from the book to the whiteboards with internet connections, flipped learning approaches, blended learning while the new book is the ebook. Hyperlinks, Open Sources and shared documents or videos are now part of the courses and lesson plannings of the 21st Century teachers.

What is good about this revolution is the idea that we can learn outside the classroom: our students have access to online courses, MOOCs, Youtube videos and songs and music. Most of these resources are now available for free. When I started learning English I could only rely on a book and later I was given the opportunity to buy a book with some cassettes to listen to and to check the pronunciation in English. I spent hundred of pounds on buying something to listen to. Now we are provided with a lot of free materials which we can download and share online. I feel this is the advantage we should all be proud of.
Our students can be connected to people living everywhere as we have Skype and a lot of chatrooms which they can access thanks to modern devices. The smartphone is more than a mobile phone as we can work by using it and it is the memory of activities with lots of files, photos, documents and videos we have liked or viewed.  Social Media are part of this revolution: Twitter, FB and other important ones are also used in education. Anytime I do a course online I can rely on social networks for sharing ideas and it is also nice to be online and share ideas with people living all over the world!!

Having said that we have to think about some problems which are related to the use of modern technology in education. Yyonne Rogers focussed on the importance of new media as they can help us collaborate but  she pointed out that there are also some risks in using them.
I am using modern devices in class only from time to time, I have to do this as we do not have a good internet connection and my students cannot have internet for free in our school but I agree with what was said in the discussion that our students lack concentration when they work with modern devices and sometimes we need to stop using tablets as learning requires the use of modern technologies but  also concentration. We do need to continue working and thinking and it is also important to learn together not only in a virtual world. Educators can take advantage of the new tools but learning a language and mastering a foreign language requires also love and passion for learning and it is up to the teachers to create the best conditions for using the new language items.

sabato 15 aprile 2017

BDBCDWGSpring2017 and other free ebooks and resources online


If you follow  EDweb webinars you may be familiar with  www.bigdealbook.com.
They offer   CPD online and a lot of resources for educators.Some are free and provide ideas and information to find tools or websites with lots of resources.
Here is the link to their last ebook- you just need to ask to download it:

BDBCDWGSpring2017

I found some interesting websites with free resources: they vary from projects to documents and games. A lot of free resources could be used in Italy too and they might be shared with teachers who are not teaching English but need to use English in CLIL.
Here are just some interesting ones: just check them and the other ones.
https://www.globalonenessproject.org/

https://www.facinghistory.org/reconstruction-era
http://www.radiodiaries.org/

http://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians
https://myshakespeare.com/

https://economics-games.com/

https://www.knowitall.org/series/artopia

https://sciencebob.com/

Here is the ebook for their ebook for teachers of Languages: I will have to check it.


Thank you to the people who worked to make these ebooks. They will help a lot of teachers to create new content!!

Happy Easter 2017

Hoping we will continue living in peace and share the beauty of friendship among people and different cultures: HAPPY EASTER!



 

venerdì 14 aprile 2017

Digital Storytelling and Science

On 5th April  I could see an interesting webinar - the speaker was  Rebecca Morris who shared her materials and an interesting padlet with some samples of what she meant by choosing the title  Digital Storytelling and Science. I was favorably impressed by her webinar!

http://www.rebeccajmorris.com/presentations.html

It seemed to me a great introduction to the topic  DS as more and more we are asked to work with our learners and to think about new approaches in the way we work, think and make presentations.
I could see some samples of what she meant by using DS in a scientific context.  The ideas and the tools may be familiar to many of us but what I was looking forward to seeing were examples of  DS.
We can rely on a lot of free resources online and scientific subjects can be learned by using narration.
She used and  shared some interesting  web 2.0 tools:
















   

This is her padlet with some more presentations.  They are a great source for teachers who want to start using  DS and are looking for ideas.I liked the idea of having a mix of images and great sources in terms of information. We might think about using the new tools in teaching  English and CLIL as we could have learners engaged in working on specific topics while studying and making their own presentations.


Made with Padlet

Write&Improve Learning English online


Learning how to write in English and  some  useful tools online

It is not easy to teach students about the best ways for writing in English. Today we can rely on tools online that can support us while working on one of the most difficult skills to teach in English.
Currently, I am teaching students preparing for Cambridge exams in afternoon lessons: both B1 and B2 level exams focus on such a competence. They are required to write emails, short stories, essays and articles in English and most of the time I have no time to do this in the morning. Only in these special courses I focus on the technique and I realize that learning how to write well requires a lot of time and exercises based on what they will be asked to do in the papers!!  
What is really hard for our learners is to master Vocabulary and how to organize their ideas while writing a text which can be meaningful and while they are writing they are following a framework which is  English and not in Italian. One of the most common mistakes my students do is when they follow the  Italian way of writing. It is a spontaneous way of writing which often lacks planning and organization and which is based on a different way of working while writing.
They often translate from Italian into English and they forget that the English language is much simpler in terms of organization of thoughts and ideas. I need to teach them that brainstorming is the key to starting writing better but it is hard for them to forget their Italian.
Some useful tools can help  students develop as learners:


This website requires a teacher's account and it is a source for widening the students' language competence. 


This tool online helps you learn about the best  combinations: just check what I did when I chose the word " butter": interesting, isn't it?




Online dictionaries can provide support as students will focus on the meanings while checking the spelling or the words they are going to check.


Cambridge English has just started an interesting service online which is free and which can be used by learners who want to improve their writing skills.  Here is the presentation online about this interesting service and which can provide feedback for the learners who have registered with it for free.
I think that all the students taking  Cambridge certificates should try it!



I hope I will be able to teach better and I am willing to start using these tools in class with my intermediate level students.