Learning from Others

I have always appreciated the ability to learn from my colleagues.  I quickly learned some of my colleagues were territorial and did not like sharing their knowledge.  In my experience this semester, I have always felt like we were all working as a team.  It became even more evident when many of the ideas brought up by others were ones I immediately examined because I loved them.  It was very difficult to choose two web resources to share.

From Valerie, I chose www.flatworldknowledge.com.  I teach remedial reading and writing courses at my university.  Many of my students are first generation college students who come from families who struggle financially.  www.flatworldknowledge.com allows me to utilize textbooks in my classes without the students investing financially.  Additionally, I would have the capability to utilize more than one textbook during a semester.  Often, the textbook I am asked to use does not cover the material or knowledge outcomes I need.  By utilizing free textbooks, I am able to legally pull from as many as I need.

From Shelby, I liked www.screencast.com.  This site allows me to store photos, videos, files, screenshots, etc.  I no longer have to flip between folders and sites when I am presenting to my classes.  Additionally, the site could be used by students when they are constructing class presentations.  I could also see students using the site as a holding area for all their research.

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Digital Citizenship


One of the nine themes of digital citizenship is Digital health and wellness.  Ribble discussed the physical problems that come with digital citizenship such as “eye safety, repetitive stress syndrome, and sound ergonomic practices.”  Ribble also acknowledged that “Beyond the physical issues are those of the psychological issues that are becoming more prevalent such as Internet addiction.”  The website I chose gives the user an overview of Internet addiction, warning signs, who gets addictive, why college students, and strategies for recovery.  I have students in my classes who display many of the symptoms of Internet addiction.  I wish I would have found this sooner.  I thought of a few students who might have benefited from the information.  Additionally, I would have, perhaps, put together a presentation about the information from this site.


I chose this blog because it might have allowed me to have more instructional time in my classes.  This blog gives the dos and don’ts when utilizing Facebook.  I have had several students unable to learn because of an incident involving interactions on Facebook.  This blog is well written and easily read.  My students can learn how to interact on Facebook, but also gives them a model of how a well-written blog looks.



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Open Media Technology

I have often utilized open education technology as a student.  My first graduate degree was earned utilizing open technology.  Five years later, I am now earning my second graduate degree utilizing the same technology.  I have discovered technology has changed exponantially over the course of five years.  What saved me from lost and confused was my new experience utilizing open technology as a teacher.  I have become most familiar using the open technology Moodle.


I teach courses each semester for students who have earned a Bachelors degree and are returning to complete requirements for teacher licensure.  Most of these students have full-time jobs and families.  By utilizing Moodle, the students will complete what is typically a sixten week course in eight weeks.  The students meet once a week and spend time completing the rest of their work using Moodle.  The students are able to continue working, taking care of their families, and stdying, while completing the course.  I have found my students to be most engaged when I ask questions that can have many different answers.  Additionally, I have to participate in the Moodle discussions frequently.  I continually guide the conversations and lead the students to new learning.  I give the students the tools they need to learn without necessarily being taught.

Wikis (wikipedia.org)

Wikis were alien to me until the last class I took.  I was scared and intimidated by them.  What I found is Wikis can morph with the users and offer comfort to people like me who are not fond of anything that are black and white.  Wikis offer an alternative to textbooks which are frequently outdated and soon as they are published.  The Wikis can be updated when new information emerges.  Students are more engaged with the Wiki because they can add to the learning.  Traditionally, the information comes from the teacher and is delivered to the students.  With Wikis, information is shared by all parties.  Lastly, I like that Wikis stay around for as long as the server allows.  The assignments are not merely thrown away.  Future students could have the opportunity to learn from prior class work.

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Virtual World Utilized in ESL Instruction



My university has a large population of students from China.  Most of these students are struggling with the English language.  These students are often timid about engaging in conversation and socializing because of their minimal exposure to English speaking peers.  After doing research, I found these students are often more comfortable in practicing their English skills in a virtual environment.  Additionally, students would benefit by being connected through the chat feature available through gmail. For many students who are learning English as a second language, a virtual environment and chat will make the transition easier.  There will potentially be less nervousness than would be present with face to face interactions.  Based on research from Knutzen and Kennedy in 2012, “Chat proved to an extremely useful form of interaction for new users: the typing medium allows additional time for second language learners to compose their responses, and the tolerance for misspellings or poor syntax was much higher than for incorrect pronunciations or syntax in the spoken form” (Knutzen and Kennedy).  Since the chat feature provides a large benefit, I looked closely at this feature.  Additionally, I wanted to find an environment where students in the ESL program could learn from students who spoke English as their primary language.  “The immersive virtual environment offers a very good simulation of face-to-face interaction, with its fast-paced small talk and informal language style” (Knutzen and Kennedy).  There were issues with finding an appropriate virtual environment.  The options were either for younger children or they were filled with adult content.  My hope would be to connect English speaking students from my university with our students from China in a virtual world.  I felt the students from China would be more comfortable with their peers versus faculty. I needed an environment that would be appropriate for both groups.  I want the students to engage in conversations about activities on campus, social issues relevant to our university and American traditions/behaviors.  My university does not have the money to develop a virtual world just for our students.  Some universities do this.  Lingnan University in Hong Kong teamed with Texas A&M in a virtual world to assist students from Hong Kong in improving their English (Knutzen and Kennedy).  The administrators of this partnership used Second Life as their virtual environment (secondlife.com).  The virtual world can be designed specifically for the needs of the user.  Unfortunately, the users are limited by the templates available on the website.  The use of chat is the first step in building English skills.  Eventually, the ultimate goal remains “the achievement of audio voice communications” (Knutzen and Kennedy).  Additionally, the increased involvement of the instructor is necessary.  In my mind, this should only happen after the students become comfortable with the learning environment.  In some virtual environments, it is possible for students to use their own voices as a means of communication in the virtual world.  As students become more comfortable, this option would be beneficial.  Initially, the instructor should monitor, but not be intrusive.  It is a priority that the students become comfortable in the virtual learning environment..


Knutzen, B., & Kennedy, D. (2012). The Global Classroom Project: Learning a Second Language in a Virtual Environment. Electronic Journal Of E-Learning, 10(1), 90-106.

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Mobile Technology in the Classroom

The days of teachers banning the use of mobile technology in the classroom are over.  If I were to police the use of mobile devices in my classroom regularly, I would spend, in my best estimation, 25% of the time set aside for instruction.  In my classroom, I found students are more engaged and motivated when I invite them to use their mobile devices.  The biggest difference mobile technology has made in my classroom is students are actually reading their textbooks.  They are using their e-readers, phones, tablets and laptops to read their textbooks.  Prior, to this being available, the faculty at my university struggles with students not reading.  Even with the books being available in electronic versions, some students still don’t read; however, the number of students reading has increased.  I have instructed the students how to highlight important passages from their reading to copy to notes, annotate and cite.  Additionally, some students are learning better just because the books are less expensive.  They are saving money and not having as many money worries.  Amazon is currently selling 180 Kindle editions of their books for every 100 traditional copies. (http://www.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3754742)

One of my favorite methods of utilizing mobile technology is by connecting my students with Harvard University. “Harvard open courses at Harvard Extension School Videos for the following free Harvard courses are made available by the Harvard Extension School’s Open Learning Initiative. Featuring Harvard faculty, the noncredit courses are open to the public. You do not need to register to view the lecture videos” (http://www.extension.harvard.edu/open-learning-initiative).  Students are able to participate in discussion and watch lectures by faculty members of Harvard.  Many of my remedial reading students have never been part of the class for a college lecture.  We watch a lecture and discuss strategies for note taking, question organization, preparation and reflection.  I will also give the students to attend a lecture on our campus by one of our faculty members.

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Social Networking Technology in the Classroom

Social networking has changed the way students want to learn.  For many of my students, they expect to make the same connections with their learning as they do with their social lives.  After researching social networking, I have discovered that this is easily accomplished.  I found many social networking technologies to utilize in the classroom.  I will share the two I found most interesting.


This site allows students to share bibliographies, bookmarks, links and notes in the same style as Facebook.  Students have a wall where they are able to share their findings.  Like Facebook, students are able to follow the posts of classmates by “following” each other.  Students in my developmental reading course are required to read specific novels I assign.  In addition, I will give them research to complete relating to the novel.  This site would give the students an opportunity to share their research.  I could look over their page to check for completion of the research assignment.  Ultimately, the students would be required to write a paper summarizing their findings.  I also monitor these students as they complete a sociology course.  This course requires a large amount of research and writing.  I find my students do not have a firm grasp on scholarly research.  I could require students to post their research to their Delicious page.  I could monitor those pages to insure they are completing their research in a scholarly manner.


Teachem.com allows teachers to pull YouTube videos together in one platform to produce a class.  Additionally, the teacher is able to add notes to the videos and put together flashcards.  This platform allows teachers to assign the students videos to watch out side of class time.  Additionally, the teacher can put the videos in one place so bookmarking and searching for specific videos does not take up valuable class time.  When I was teaching an Introduction to Education course, I often used YouTube videos to show my students teachers, classrooms and learners from all over the world.  We would watch them in class and discuss them during the next class.  With this program, I would be able to assign the videos as homework and put together notes with my commentary to have available with the videos.  The class would be able to cut this assignment down to one day.  I would also love to utilize this site with my students from China. It would be very easy to assemble videos relating to the culture of the United States.  The students could experience the culture without being intimidated by taking independent trips.

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New Applications for the ESL Classroom

World Lens

Jenna Zwang wrote an article for eschoolnews.com titled “10 of the Best Apps for Education.”  In this article, she talk about an application called World Lens.  Students, who speak English as a second language, often encounter signs that may be confusing due to language and other cultural differences.  This application allows students to translate the words on a sign into a second language.  This application uses the camera feature on a phone/tablet/iPod.

Dr. Thornburg said, “One of the logical questions that comes up around all these new technologies is whether or not we have a new breed of learners.”  My students have been spoiled by technology.  Many of them are very willing and ready to learn.  However, they are expecting a teacher who utilizes technology and enables them to be independent.  This application allows students to explore learning and their environment without constant feedback and dialogue with a teacher, utilizing the newest technology.  My students who speak English as a second language get most excited when they begin to explore their community and engage their peers independently.  This application allows this independence to occur in a more timely fashion.


I would love to send my students out on a scavenger hunt using this application.  I would give them directions to specific locations and have them use the application to translate the sign.  Lastly, I would have the students take a picture of them doing whatever the sign said.  For example, I may send them to School Crossing sign.  I would want them to take a picture of themselves crossing the street at the crosswalk.  Another idea would be to send the students to the grocery store.  The students would be responsible for taking pictures of and translating ten signs.  The students would present their pictures to the class and explain what each sign meant.


Today in History


This application lists important, past events and the names of important people “who were born or died on a specific date” (www.eschoolnews.com).


David Cavallo once said students benefit from technology or classroom instruction, “Not by making it, everybody does the same thing at the same time, but really by making it such that every person is individual, and can you really build on what that person knows and loves and is interested in.”  Several of my students enrolled in ESL classes are contemplating citizenship.  All of them are interested in the history of the United States.  Often times, the history takes a back seat to teaching them language skills necessary to be independent in the United States.  With this application, students can learn history, work on their English skills and increase their appreciation of our culture at their own pace.  Not every student will want to use this application.  However, the students who are interested can study at their own pace.


I would utilize this application by asking the students, who are interested, to participate in a discussion group based on information gained from this application.  Students will compile facts or names of historical figures they would like to discuss.  The teacher would be the facilitator of the group.  Secondly, I may ask the students to use the application as a means of exploring possible research topics.  The students would then use that topic as the basis for a written and oral report.




Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2008b). The impact of technology on learning. Baltimore, MD: Author. (approximate length: 4 minutes)

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2012e). Using digital media for learning. Baltimore, MD: Author. (approximate length: 4 minutes)

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Work in progress.

Just as learning is a never-ending process, I hope this blog is the same.  For those who know me, this should not be a difficult task.  I never run out of ideas to discuss.  I love teaching and learning in a school environment.  I hope to share some of my experiences, thoughts and lessons with you.

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