Monday, November 21, 2011


EPals is an online site that allows individuals to collaborate and work together globally. My favorite piece of this interactive site is the "1n2Books" portion. Here, students are engaged in ementoring with adult pen pals. Students and adults read a novel and discuss the main points via epals. Students are given the opportunity to read quality literature outside the classroom. They are also provided with the chance to discuss their reading with an interested adult. It seems to me that students will be more likely to react to literature when they do not feel like they are being judged. Inside the classroom, students tend to be so focused on giving the "right" answer, they do not get the chance to become really involved in the literature. I think this is an excellent way to encourage students to become life long readers. They are given the opportunity to see how literature is used in everyday life. Furthermore, students are required to read and respond to literature. They begin to think about their reading as it relates to their lives by making text to text and text to self connections. 

As an educator in an inner-city, another great benefit of this program, that is not necessarily educational, would be the exposure to a caring, consistent adult. Too often, children do not benefit from adult influence and providing them with an adult pen pal would certainly benefit them in more ways than one. 

epals global community

Monday, November 14, 2011

Another Digital Story

Animoto is an online video creator that can be used in the classroom in a variety of ways. Online stories can be used for student practice, to make announcements, or to share a classroom experience. I like the idea of using online media to share an event with the class. I think it would be a great way to remember a field trip or special occasion inside the classroom. 

Check out the video I created. 


Monday, November 7, 2011

Creating a Predictable Book.

I choose to use Bookr to create a predictable book as an example of how I might use digital storytelling in my classroom. Second language learners are often asked to read books with repetition in order to gain a better understanding of sight words, or those that occur often in a language. I made a simple, predictable story that would be most suitable for young children. They could see this as an example and be encouraged to make a story of their own.

Check it out!

Cats and Dogs by Laura Zielinski

Digital Storytelling

Digital storytelling is an excellent way to expand language use outside of the classroom. According to The Center for Digital Storytelling,  digital stories are short, video narratives that include music, images, sounds, and voice. These can be teacher made or student made. For example, an educator can make a digital story as a way to review vocabulary. This way, according to Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling,  students are provided with a model to "practice in active learning" outside the classroom. Students can also be the creators of digital stories in order to practice their L2 speaking skills. This type of learning would be especially useful for those students who are visual and auditory learners. 

As part of an ESL classroom, digital storytelling could be used in a variety of ways. One example, cited in Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling, describes how digital storytelling could provide review and practice for L2 students. Educators can make a story that revolves around newly introduced grammar or vocabulary and students could be required to practice at home or independently inside the classroom. It is another way for teachers to influence their students' learning, even if they are not directly working together. I also like the idea of having students create their own digital stories. This way, they are not only provided with the opportunity to review grammar and vocabulary, but they are also given the chance to share their own unique short stories and practice speaking in their target language. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Micro blogging

In education, it seems like micro blogging presents unlimited possibilities for use in the classroom. Micro blogs can provide a forum for students to ask questions outside the classroom, for teachers to post announcements, and even for students to follow relevant professionals. And that is just the beginning! Some classrooms are totally paperless, which is absolutely amazing. I like the idea of students following professionals on micro blogs. I think it gives students a chance to keep tabs on the current happenings in a particular field of interest. For more ideas, check out 28 Creative Ways Teachers are Using Twitter or Teacher Paperless

My concern with using this kind of social media in the classroom is how easily it could get out of hand. In an unsupervised environment, children could easily take advantage. No matter how often we talk to students about the importance of internet safety, there still seems to be way too many cases of inappropriate use of the internet. Any suggestions?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Social Networking

Stay Connected

As Alan Levine discusses in New Media Consortium, keeping up with all the new technology is literally impossible. Since technology can change in an instant, it is important that educators stay connected. Social networking is a great way to keep up with the constant evolution of education. We can then ask questions and stay updated on current research and findings. As someone who is primarily interested in early childhood education, I hoped to find a social networking site that could provide me with resources and ideas to enhance my knowledge in the education of young children. The Early Childhood Exchange is an online community that does just that. Members discuss ideas and trends in EC. Check it out!

A Teacher Today

We can get news in an instant. With the invention of the internet and social media, we have the ability to stay up to date on literally everything. Instead of waiting for a day to read about it in the paper, we are immediately exposed to new knowledge and information with just the click of a mouse. It is amazing. As George Siemens explains, in Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age , learners have the ability today to learn for tomorrow. This is why it is so important for teacher's to make learning meaningful. As educators, the thing to remember is that all the new information students learn effects the information that they already know. Learning is a social experience. When students are actively engaged with their environment, they are gaining knowledge. The transfer of knowledge from one person to another is a part of being immersed in the world around us. According to The Changing Nature of Knowledge, learners form connections, and knowledge is no longer "exclusively in individual minds." We will learn more when we can not only connect our knowledge with our own experiences, but also with the experiences of other's. 

A learner's unique interactions with the environment around them will influence their understanding. Connectivism thinks of this in reverse. Siemens states that "the ability to recognize when new information alters the landscape based on decisions made yesterday is also critical," meaning that new information will change the way we previously thought. Our world is constantly changing and learners need to alter the way they behave based on the tools and people around them. This is why I would consider a teacher today to be like rain. We can provide the basic necessities that students need to grow,   but the actual learning takes place as the students interact and change with the environment around them. 

Plants need rain, but most of their growth occurs in the way they interact with the world around them