Magical Moodle Moments

Although many of the teachers I have met at this conference use ready made Moodle courses with their students, very few of them seem to actually be involved in setting a course up or creating (or even adding) content to their online Moodle courses. They’ve been handed Moodle in the same way as they would a workbook. To them it’s just a (good) resource.

Unfortunately, Moodle is not as well known in Turkey as in the rest of Europe, and many schools are far from ready to even consider blended learning. I guess that’s why publishers don’t offer “moodle packages” to go with their coursebooks yet? I really wish they’d start doing that soon because that would save moodlers like myself – who has had to create every bit of their course content from scratch – a lot of work and worry.

Barbara Gardner (Study Group)

Barbara Gardner (Study Group)

By “from scratch” I don’t mean html code or anything like that of course. I’ve been using Hot Potatoes a lot in addition to the modules Moodle (9.1) offers. I’ve also (quite recently) found out about CourseLab. However, yesterday at Barbara Gardener’s amazing presentation “Creating and Delivering Online Professional Development using Moodle” several wonderful things happened. One was Barbara sharing her knowledge and experience of how to set up a course and what sorts of features make a Moodle course more successful and rewarding for the course participants, another was my chance meeting with José Louis G. Belderrain, a programmer actively involved in creating “moodle packages” (SCORM) to go with Cambridge coursebooks!

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Can you believe my luck? Both Barbara and José Louis stayed after Barbara’s presentation and discussed Moodle and moodling and content with me and seriously made my day! I am now literally bursting with new ideas for how to improve my own Moodle courses! In true “techno-freak-fashion” – we exchanged twitter handles and facebook account information and will (I hope to God) keep in touch so that I can learn more from them!

Ah! Happy day!!!

:-)CoffeeAddict

Straight from the Horse’s Mouth

I really like a good story and so do my students. Stories are fun to tell and fun to listen to. However, according to my grade 8s, they’re a bit less fun to read – and a lot less fun to write. This attitude is about to change. Armed to the teeth with the tools the wonderful Janet Bianchini gave us yesterday, I intend to woo and wow them, bring them to their knees and make them see the error of their ways… (Janet’s session was on idioms – can you tell whether it’s rubbed off on me yet?)

Janet Bianchini

Janet Bianchini

Because I’m really interested in web 2 tools and technology, and not so much in teaching idioms, what I most enjoyed about Janet’s presentation were the links to, and demonstration of all the different web 2 tools she uses to tell stories.

My teenage students somehow forget that they don’t like writing when a laptop is placed before them. To boot, web 2 tools motivate them no end. What I learned from Janet’s session is therefore really going to help me in my day to day teaching. Thank you Janet!

Most of the tools she demonstrated were totally new to me; fodey, makebeliefscomix, dvolver, bitstrips, maxmydream, toondoo and photofunia. The rest were “old” favorites, such as GoAnimate, Imagechef, bookr and Voki.
Janet’s slide show presentation with the links to all the tools and the examples is available at Brighton Online. Download now!

:-) CoffeeAddict

Here’s a full list of the resources from Janet’s session: 

  • http://www.idiomdictionary.com/
  • http://idiomsite.com/
  • http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/interactives/idioms/
  • http://acliltoclimb.blogspot.com/2011/03/idioms-part-19-food-fish-interactive.html
  • http://rollsoffthetongue.tumblr.com/
  • http://civitaquana.blogspot.com/2010/05/let-sleeping-catlie.html
  • http://www.toondoo.com/
  • http://www.makebeliefscomix.com/Comix/
  • http://writecomics.com/
  • http://www.bitstrips.com/create/comic/
  • http://www.dvolver.com/live/moviemaker.html
  • http://goanimate.com/
  • http://www.maxmydream.com/
  • http://www.zimmertwins.com/
  • http://www.tagxedo.com/
  • http://www.wordle.net
  • http://www.imagechef.com/
  • http://www.tuxpi.com
  • http://www.photofunia.com/
  • http://www.fodey.com/generators/newspaper/snippet.asp
  • http://www.worldwidewords.org/index.htm
  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/language/theteacher/
  • http://www.pimpampum.net/bookr/index.php?id=24846
  • http://civitaquana.blogspot.com
  • http://www.englishclub.com/ref/Idioms/index.htm

Mary’s Little … Multimedia Project

One of the best presentations I watched at “The Old Ship Hotel” in Brighton yesterday was Mary Henderson’s “Meaningful English through Multimedia Projects”. The projects she was talking about were research projects where her students (young adults) had been expected to use various recording devices (video-cameras, audio-recorders) and computer software (Windows Moviemaker, word processing software etc.) to produce a written report and a video-presentation on their chosen topic. The topics ranged from sports and baseball to product design, and from tea-drinking customs in Britain to the meaning of the word “gig”. We got to see clips from the video presentations and we flipped through several of the reports and I thought they were all brilliant!

Mary Henderson

Mary Henderson

From Mary’s presentation it became clear that the keys to her (and her students’) success lay in the planning and the feedback. The students had been required to follow a detailed week-to-week plan throughout the project and had had to complete the different steps in the process by given deadlines. That helped the students stay on track and also made it easier for Mary to monitor and assess her students’ work and effort continuously.

I would love to be able to do something like this with my students. However, my students are teenagers living in Turkey and not young adults living in Britain trying to improve their English. So, obviously I’ll have to lower the bar a bit as to the quality of the end product as well as probably think up ways to motivate them to actually do the work. My younger students may or may not be as techno-savvy as Mary’s students, nor have as much time as they did to devote to editing and programming, and that needs to be taken into consideration as well.

Although designing and running a project like this seems to involve rather a lot of work on the teacher’s part (the very detailed planning, the regular assessment, the feedback, designing the rubrics, and evaluating the end products), the examples Mary showed us convinced me that it will all be worth it in the end!

:-) CoffeeAddict

Beautiful Brighton

On Monday I really have to go participate in Leo Selivan’s “All about Alliteration”  workshop. Why? Well, first of all because I’m sure it will be absolutely awesome, but most of all because phrases such as fabulous fun filled Fridays, pretty pictures, sweet sunny Sundays, fantastic fun and – you guessed it – Beautiful Brighton keep popping into my mind these days.  Here’s a clip that I think will give you a clue as to why:

iatefl 025

Another reason for participating is that I’ve gotten to know Leo and think his workshop will definitely be worth a visit! Check out Leo’s personal blog here and know that he is also part of the British Council’s Online Blog Team. Check that out here.

A Sweet Sunny Sunday to all….

PS! I did end up going to Leo’s session and it was really good! Here’s a photo of Leo:

iatefl 010

Hello from Brighton!

We (Eva and I) arrived late last night and after having dinner at the hotel went straight to bed, exhausted! 7 hours and a lovely breakfast (eggs &bacon!) later, we were off to the Learning Technologies Pre-Conference event at the University of Brighton.

The topic was “Interactive Whiteboards, from Methods to Madness” and it opened with a presentation by Connie Güntelberg. I really enjoyed it, and not only because we’re practically countrymen – she’s Danish  – but because it reminded me of how much fun and how useful those boards really are! We have “promethium boards” in my school, but I haven’t really been using them much – I usually just turn one on and use the pen in the same way I would chalk… I haven’t taken the time to learn how to “dazzle” my students with it – but Connie made me see the errors of my ways so from now on I promise to read up, experiment and get better ….

Here’s a photo of Connie and ı, plus my notes from her presentation:

 

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“Get On Board Today I” by Connie Güntelberg
 

Why use whiteboards?

• No need for chalk or WB pens that can dry out, overhead projectors, maps, DVD players etc.
• Also no need for dictionaries, photocopies, books – everything can be stored on a computer/IWB
• Increases attention: the Ss respond positively to the visuals/color
• Less need 4 note-taking as you can save the lessons and re-use them for revision or re-teaching.
• Active participation – the Ss love using the board.
• Easy to save notes, print out and then share/collaborate (to work on later)
• One platform for everything: reading, listening, writing, speaking, viewing
• Develops Ss ICT skills

Examples of how the IWB can be used effectively:

EX 1 – Grammar: Write a collection of words on the board and also draw up a large box. Invite the Ss to come to the board and choose the nouns from a list & drag them into the box. Follow up with a discussion.

EX 2 – Listening: Provide a cloze text on the board and play the audio (ready at a click) and have the Ss fill in the blanks. Then reveal the correct answers by “erasing” the white paint that had been used to disguise the correct answers to begin with.

EX 3 – Poetry: Display a poem on the board & play the audio with a reading of the poem. Ss listen & read at the same time, circle important words, + identify verbs, nouns and adjectives by color coding them (nouns-red, verbs- blue, adjectives-green, other-black). Then use the erase function to reveal the correct answers.

EX 4 – Reading: show connections in a longer text (the example Connie showed us was a rather long poem and we also learned that the poet was also a musician too) by placing it on the board, playing the audio reading in the background, underlining words again in diff. colors depending on function and drawing lines between different parts of the text (to show connections). She also showed us how the highlighting tool could be used to draw attention important points in the text. Finally she demonstrated how the “curtain function” can be used to gradually reveal parts of the text. To top it all off she let us listen to and watch a music video featuring the poet.

EX5 – Vocabulary building: put up a picture on the board to get the kids talking… Then write the words/vocabulary on the picture itself.

EX6 - Analyze a picture/photo by circling who/what’s in the center, background etc. as the kids or the T is talking/describing it. This could be used to predict the plot in a (related) story, for questions/answers type speaking activities or as writing prompt.

EX7 – Connie demonstrated how adding sound effects to a reading of a text/poem/drama scene can make it more exciting and appealing for the Ss and also enhance meaning

EX 8 – The last example focused on the use of video on the IWB. The board makes it very easy to pause/ff/rewind by simply touching the screen with your finger (or promethium pen). It is also easy to move back and forth between the video and the text/script and even show both at the same time (i.e. you see the text but hear the audio from the film).

Like I said to begin with, it was a very nice presentation that has inspired me to want to explore IWBs further. As a bonus, I got to meet some wonderful people in the breaks as well. Here’s a photo of us having fun in a Coffee(Addict) – break:

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Eva, Işıl, Burcu, Beyza, CoffeeAddict & Kristina

Here is a link to an AMAZING list of tools/activities for whiteboards and smartboards. Check it out!

Planning 4 IATEFL

I started preparing for Brighton today. I hope I’m not jinxing it by starting early – but I’m just so excited to get there! Anyway, I decided I should create my own day-to-day schedule and so the first logical step for me was going over the conference program with a fine tooth comb and then (trying to) choose between sessions. What a difficult (but enjoyable) job that turned out to be! Now I really can’t wait to go!
very soon ...

very soon ...

Friday and Saturday – a Perfect Plan?

The first two days were (relatively) easy to plan. I’m a member of the Learning Technologies Special Interest Group so I’ll get to join the “Interactive Whiteboards: from methods to madness pre-conference” on Friday. It’s an all day thing. On Saturday after the morning session of  “Web 2.0 tools for IELTS speaking and writing success” by Amanda Wilson & Susan Dempsey I’ll get to experience Shelly Sanchez Terrell’s “Sharing stories: motivating young learners through mobile digital storytelling” and then “Blogs in action: Reflections from a collaborative blogging experience” by Burcu Akyol. Guess I’ll be pretty star struck by the end of that, or what? Well, it gets “worse” :-). The rest of the day will be led by Karenne Sylvester and the theme is just up my alley: “Blogging as Teachers’ Professional Development. The ELT Blogosphere”.  Sounds absolutely divine, doesn’t it?

 Sunday  – Help Needed!

After the plenary session by Sue Palmer on Tuesday morning (which I guess nobody will want to miss) I have to choose between “Meaningful English through multimedia projects” by Mary Henderson and “Expand the horizon of learning: digital games by digital learners” by Ozge Karaoglu & Esra Girgin Akiskali. I’ll have to flip a coin when the time comes I guess. Then I’ll go see “Using Moodle for testing” by Josefina Santana & Rosa Elena Santana and then I’m torn again - between “10 years of onestopenglish: essential tips, tricks and lesson ideas” by Tim Bowen & Lucy Williams, “Tweeting is for the birds, not for language learning” by Alan and Nicky Hockly and “Ten things (I think) I know about teaching (and learning)” by Ken Wilson! Flipping a coin is not going to cut it here. Perhaps drawing paper bits out of a hat will? Anyway, the rest of the day I’ll spend on “Teenagers and grammar – How to rescue an ailing relationship” by Mark Lloyd and finally enjoy “Teaching idioms effectively with Web 2.0 tools” by Janet Bianchini. No matter how the coin flipping or hat tricks go I’m sure I’ll be pretty dead by the end of that day…

Monday will start on a poetic note with “Twas brillig… Interpreting poetry through film and drama” by Eleanor Watts but then I have to choose between Gavin Dudeney’s “Location, location, location: mLearning in practice”, “A Language Garden Community” by David Warr and “An animated classroom” by Bryony. Impossible! Coin flipping again I suppose. After lunch I’ll learn about “How drama/film techniques improve my teaching English to students” by Marina Simovic, “Usage and implementation of videos in ELT – Practical insights” by Philip Gienandt  and “Is a good f2f trainer automatically a good online one?” by Shaun Wilden . Then there’ll be “Ideas for improving students’ writing skills – my experience” by Cecilia Lemos Coelho which is something I’m really looking forward to. Finally I’ll join “The Learning Technologies Studies Special Interest Group Open Forum” to finish off the no doubt wonderful day.

Tuesday – the end :-(

How can I make the most of the last day? I’ve decided that I’ll have to get into the “ Drama methodology and language learning” workshop by Ian David Holmes and then either attend “Making shadow reading visual, challenging yet fun!” by Jo Timerick about easy-to-use freeware such as Audacity, “Creative Commons in the classroom: use, share, remix” by Dominic Pates or “Teaching with technology: plan B” by Sue Lyon-Jones. More coin flipping!?! Truth be told I think I’ll probably go with the third option here as I am really in need of activities for backup when my technology based lessons don’t turn out as planned. (which seems to happen rather too often to me) After that there’s the last plenary session by Brian Patten, which I think will be really fun and entertaining and then finally there’s the closing address by Eric Baber, the President of IATEFL.

Brighton Nights

One of these days I’ll start planning for the evenings… ;-) I’ve heard about a karaoke party on one night and something about beer and sand and no shoes on another… Then there’s a Pecha Kucha evening and several comedy night talks  and storytelling – choices and more choices… Oh, this is going to be so much fun! Can’t wait to start flipping those coins!

beer & sand, an unbeatable combination ;-)

beer & sand, an unbeatable combination ;-)

 :-)CoffeeAddict