Making English Learning Fun

Duolingo is the world’s largest online language learning platform. Duolingo for Schools is a platform created exclusively for educators, allowing them to access and keep track of each learner’s Duolingo progress. I’ve been using this amazing tool for our students in order to brush up and keep up their English language for over three years with encouraging results.

Duolingo turns language learning into a game to make it more fun and ef­ective. Students can learn languages for free while earning points for correct answers, racing against the clock, and leveling up. 



With this aim our student “play and learn” with this app that runs on every device, from smartphones to desktop computers (browsers Chrome, Firefox …), including Android tablets, Chromebooks and Ipads.


Duolingo for Schools allows teachers to track their students’ language learning in one place and gives them special access to parental controls and Duolingo activities designed specifically for the classroom. Teachers can also activate classroom-exclusive lessons specially tailored for students, based on the average student level of that class.

Always learning !!!!!

Google Classroom built specifically for education

Google Classroom is simple to setup and since it was built specifically for education, there are instructional benefits to using it with students.

This is the fourth year I’m using G Suite for Education, but the first year with my 5th graders. I can see a lot of potential working with online documents, as I can easily provide feedback and comments. I can now send all my important messages and reminders there, plus assign homework and classwork. My students are all in one place, each neatly organized in a class.

It was a bit challenging at first as there were too many instructions for creating and sharing documents. Now all they have to do is go to Classroom and see what work they need to do. All the information they need to access is in one place.

Google Classroom is simple to setup and since it was built specifically for education, there are instructional benefits to using it with students. For example, you can use Classroom to send specific assignments to individual students instead of the whole class. This feature allows teachers to provide students with the resources they need when they need them. Classroom also provides the flexibility for group work too. Teachers can promote collaboration and assign work to groups of students using Classroom so learners can work together to complete projects.
Use Classroom to send messages, assign, collect, and grade work, and share learning materials in one single place.

Click on each card below to get started.

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Create an Assignment in Classroom

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Add Links, Videos, and Files to Classroom Assignments

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Add Drive Files to Classroom Assignments

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Viewing Assignments

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Share a Resource Folder in Drive

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Make View-Only Documents for Students to CopySmarter Assignments for All

The Impact of Technology on Teaching. G Suite for Education and Google Classroom.

Think about the impact of technology on your life. Has technology saved you time and made you more efficient? How it might affect or is actually already affecting your teaching.

The role of rote learning has decreased as students have instant access to the world’s knowledge. Students can take ownership of their learning. Additionally, technology helps cater to individual student needs: resources can be personalized for students and teachers can offer digital feedback. Accordingly, technology is a tool to support teachers in their efforts to increase student learning.

G Suite for Education is a suite of tools that can help you increase opportunities for critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity, all while supporting the learning objectives that you have for your students. These tools are free, ad-free, reliable, and secure. They are already used by millions of students in schools around the world. Of course, free is great, but the best thing is that these tools are relevant to students, easy to use, and open doors to many new ways to learn.

G Suite for Education also includes a number of Google products that promote collaboration among students and with their teachers. Students can work together, in class or at home, to complete assignments and group projects. All of their work is auto-saved, and they can even edit without WiFi.

  • Google Docs: documents come to life with smart editing and styling tools to help you easily format text and paragraphs. Choose from thousands of fonts, plus add links, images, drawings, and tables
  • Google Sheets: spreadsheets for analyzing, visualizing, and charting data
  • Google Forms: quick & easy surveys to gather information
  • Google Slides: a presentation tool that makes it easy to tell stories
  • Google Drawings: Graphics and flowchart creation with shapes, text, and images

Additionally G Suite for Education includes tools that can be used to save you time and increase student engagement. These include:

  • Gmail: Email, contacts, tasks, and communications
  • Google Calendar: Scheduling, calendars, and appointments
  • Google Hangouts: Live video conferencing and messaging
  • Google Sites: Webpage creation and publishing
  • Google Groups: Group communication and web forums

Most educators dread using printers and photocopiers, but they’re necessary when you need to make class copies of your documents. All this changes when you use the G Suite for Education. The great advantage is the concept of a live document: there is only one version of it and edits are made in real-time. When you (or someone you are collaborating with) make a change to the document those changes are all saved in the same place for everyone to see.

Communicating information to all members of your classroom community – students, parents and other teachers – is one of the most important yet time-consuming tasks you face as a teacher.

For help, click the icons below.

What Skills Will You Need?

You’re likely already sharing your students’ work with the wider community whether through parent / teacher nights or a display of student artwork on the walls. Communicating to this wider audience is not only important to keep them informed of the success you’re having in your classroom, but it also makes the students’ work more authentic and important:

Create a Google Site

You can create a Google Site by clicking NEW in Google Drive and then selecting More then Google Sites. Give your new file a name and it is automatically saved in your Drive. You can also visit the Sites homepage and click the red + in the bottom right corner.

LEARN HOW

Google Classroom is perfect for copying and sharing docs with your class. You can also use it to distribute and collect assignments effortlessly. Google Classroom saves you time, keeps you organized and helps you communicate with your students. Get started today, with resources, tips and tricks from educators like you.

Digital Citizenship

The topic of digital citizenship is certainly gaining momentum around the world. Whether it is called digital citizenship, digital wellness or digital ethics the issues are the same: how should we act when we are online, and what should be taught to the next generation. Digital Citizenship is more than just a teaching tool, it is a way to prepare students/technology users for a society full of technology.

As teachers, we know the value of good citizenship in the classroom and school community. But today, students need to be good citizens in the digital world as well. Their digital behaviour has a big impact on themselves and others, and what makes good or bad digital citizenship may not always be clear.

One of the first agreements that needs to be made is that preparing students to be literate digital citizens is everyone’s responsibility. Teachers, administrators, parents, and students all play a role.

What can all teachers do in their classrooms to help shape responsible students? (Select all that apply.) From Google for Education “Create Safe, Responsible Digital Citizens”

  • Show students how to create strong passwords
  • Provide opportunities for students to practice good behaviour
  • Create a safe environment for talking about digital citizenship topics
  • Integrate digital citizenship lessons in class.
You should have selected all of them because these are the four pillars to learn Digital Citizenship.

Several organizations have developed support materials and full curricula that can be used when planning instruction. For instance, Common Sense Media’s K-12 Scope and Sequence provides lesson plans, activities, and assessments.

Vicki Davis in an article on Edutopia presents “What Your Students Really Need to Know About Digital Citizenship”. She wants her students to know the “9 Key Ps” of digital citizenship, but for my purpose and for my students I will take into account only these seven Ps extracted from the above-mentioned article:

1. Passwords: Do students know how to create a secure password? Do they know that email and online banking should have a higher level of security and never use the same passwords as other sites?

2. Private information:  Do students know how to protect details like their address, email, and phone number? She recommends the Common Sense Media curriculum on this.

3. Personal information: While this information (like the number of brothers and sisters you have or your favourite food) can’t be used to identify you, you still need to choose who you will share it with.

4. Photographs: Are students aware that some private details (like license plates or street signs) may show up in photographs, and that they may not want to post those pictures? Do they know how to turn off a geotagging feature? Do they know that some facial recognition software can find them by inserting their latitude and longitude in the picture—even if they aren’t tagged?

5. Property: Do students understand copyright, Creative Commons, and how to generate a license for their own work? Some students will search Google Images and copy anything they see, assuming they have the rights.

6. Permission: Do students know how to get permission for work they use and do they know how to cite it?

7. Protection: Do students understand what viruses, malware, phishing, ransomware, and identity theft are, and how these things work?

Digital citizenship is a topic that we need to address more carefully and thoroughly in our schools. Our students must be aware of what they should and shouldn’t be doing, with the goal of keeping themselves safe online.

 

Cooperative Learning: Kagan Structures for English Language Learners.

Cooperative learning is the perfect teaching methodology to teach students strategies and skills. It also a great model to show students how to apply those skills to study content.

The teacher no longer is the “sage on the stage” but rather a model and facilitator of learning

Why use this method of teaching?
The 21st century learning skills* require students to build reading, writing, problem-solving and application competencies. The teacher is supposed to teach less content and more skills. Cooperative learning is the perfect teaching methodology to teach students strategies and skills. It also a great model to show students how to apply those skills to study content.

*The 21st century learning skills are often called the 4 C’s: critical thinking, creative thinking, communicating, and collaborating. These skills help students learn, and so they are vital to success in school and beyond.

If you teach your students skills, they will become proficient, adaptable and life-long learners. And this works for ALL SUBJECTS. No matter the content, students who are skilled learners can study any subject, at any time and at any place. Cooperative learning also fosters a student’s ability to work in a team and to regularly reflect on his/her learning.

Groupings
The teacher* assigns students in groups with specific roles and jobs. After team members are organized into these small groups, usually of four people, and receive instruction from their teacher, students within the team cooperate with one another and work through the assignment until each team member successfully understands and completes it. Ultimately the shared goals are accomplished individually by each team member, and collectively by the group as a whole.
Teacher-selected groups have been proven time and again to be the best method of forming teams because it ensures a good mix and avoids friends from working together, which neglects to achieve the goal of improvement of social interactions among students who do not know each other as well.kaganpresentation

Team members.

Team members are responsible for their own individual learning as well as for their teammates learning. Members benefit from the contributions of the individual team members. Groups are heterogeneous are made up of high, medium and low academic achieving students. Team members acquire new skills and knowledge. Rewards are oriented towards individual and group.
Classroom Management
If cooperative learning is not accompanied with an effective classroom management system, serious problems are likely to occur. (Spencer Kagan)

Teachers usually provide verbal information along with worksheets, outlines and study guides during a cooperative learning lesson.
Students who are unfamiliar with the cooperative learning model will need to be taught about the model and be clear on their roles as well as the teacher’s expectations during this type of lesson
Reflection (group processing) is an essential part of the cooperative learning process. By clarifying and describing which actions and decisions were helpful and unhelpful the group continues the learning process and improves each members effectiveness when contributing to a collaborative group.
Researchers
The leading researchers of cooperative learning include Robert Slavin, Roger & David Johnson and Spencer Kagan, all of whom have slightly different approaches and emphases

The research of David and Roger Johnson, provides the foundation for how cooperative learning is structured in most of today’s classrooms. Their research shows that merely because students work in small groups does not mean they are cooperating to ensure their own learning and the learning of all others in the group.
Dr. Slavin suggests that cooperative learning is doubtlessly a great tool for handicapped and disabled students. Cooperative learning encourages these students and molds them to work in a professional environment. Cooperative learning of disabled and normal students is another great way of encourage disabled students. According to Slavin, when disabled and handicapped students work in mainstream and heterogeneous environments, they learn in a more productive and skillful manner.

Spencer Kagan has developed more than 100 structures to incorporate the basic principles of cooperative learning. “We are very clear with teachers that they should make cooperative learning part of any lesson,” Kagan says. “Ours is an integrated approach rather than a replacement approach.”

Kagan Structures
Kagan Structures are easy-to-learn and easy-to-use instructional strategies, ideal for promoting second language learning. In classrooms in which the Kagan Structures are used regularly, students for whom English is a second language learn both English and academic content far more quickly and far more thoroughly than when traditional instructional strategies are used. The Kagan Structures also promote language and content learning far more than does group work.

All of the Kagan Structures are very carefully designed. They are carefully structured to implement four basic principles of cooperative learning, PIESPIES

P  = Positive Interdependence
I  = Individual Accountability
E  = Equal Participation
S  = Simultaneous Interaction

For example, Kagan instructs teachers to use a “Timed Pair Share” structure. In this exercise, the teacher divides the class into pairs of students and poses a question. Within each pair, Student A talks about his or her answer for one minute, then Student B does the same.

The following examples illustrate a few of these instructional methods used:

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“Which Kagan Structures should I learn and use first?”, and “Where do I begin?”

Inside-Outside Circle: In concentric circles, students rotate to face new partners and then answer or discuss teacher questions.
Rally Table: In pairs, students alternate generating written responses or solving problems.
One Stray: On each team, one teammate “strays” from his or her team to a new team to share information.
Rally Robin: In pairs, students alternate generating oral responses.
Rally Coach: Partners take turns, one solving a problem while the other coaches.
Showdown: One teammate reads a question or problem aloud. Students work independently to solve the problem, then show their answers when a teammate calls, “Showdown!” They then celebrate the correct answer or coach to get the correct answer (Kagan 1994).

For more details about Cooperative Learning

On Kagan Institutes, workshops and conferences go to www.T2TUK.co.uk and www.Kaganonline.com

The “Round robin” technique

What is cooperative learning? SlideShare

Cooperative Learning Lessons Starter Kit

The Essential 5: A Starting Point for Kagan Cooperative Learning

FIVE COOPERATIVE LEARNING ACTIVITIES TO DO ON THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL

Kagan Structures for English Language Learners

Sing Songs while you learn English

I am back again and I have missed this little blog and you all! I didn’t realize how much this little space on the internet actually meant to me until I kept apart for weeks. I felt a little guilty not posting more frequently and although I cannot find a good enough excuse, I have to say that It has been a busy few weeks. This post is to encourage you as well as me to undertake new projects to learn and teach second languages.
To begin with I would like to start very energetic and courageous with this quote: “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I know I can: positive thinking is half the work …”

Having said that, I would like to show you a new free on-line language learning tool that is particularly useful for students of foreign languages who want a fun and entertaining way to learn the correct pronunciation of words and it will improve their listening skills as students must identify words from a song. One of the best ways to learn English or any language is music. If you would like to know what the lyrics of your favourite songs say and, moreover, improve your English, playing Lyrics Training is a good alternative.

That is:  .

In LyricsTraining you can choose from a wide selection of songs and try to complete their letter while watching video clips. LyricsTraining also has a special Karaoke mode that lets you sing and enjoy the full lyrics.

There are three levels of difficulty Lyrics Training: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Depending on your choice, you have to hit a single word or directly the full track.

LyricsTraining helps you to learn new vocabulary and expressions, and reinforce grammar concepts through continuous exercise of writing the missing words.

But above all, LyricsTraining helps you train your ear to improve your capacity to recognize sounds and words of a foreign language in a very short time, training your brain almost unconsciously, whether you know the meaning of all the words or not.

Just try it and let me know your experience in this web application that allows you to read and listen to the lyrics from music videos and can be used as a fun and interactive way for language teachers and trainers to introduce new vocabulary and grammar to their students in a classroom setting.

Please write your comments or leave me a reply.

Kidblog for easy and safe e-portfolios

Last year I found the site Kidblog. I researched the site and found that it was free to use (for a generous limited amount) and had great teacher privacy controls. I found it really engaged the students in the course work and  helped collaboration and creativity. On a very practical level, I think the pupils found it very useful and engaging.

Kidblog is designed for primary and secondary teachers who want to provide each student with an individual blog. Students publish posts and participate in academic discussions within a secure classroom blogging community. Teachers maintain complete control over student blogs and user accounts.

E-Portfolio.

“An electronic portfolio, also known as an e-portfolio or digital portfolio, is a collection of electronic evidence assembled and managed by a user, usually on the web, Such electronic evidence may include inputted text, electronic files, images, multimedia, blog entries, and hyperlinks.” (Wikipedia)

Benefits of an E-Portfolio

  • keep a record of work in one place.
  • can include different forms of student work:
    • examples of students  performances
    • demonstrations of achieving a particular objective
  • show achievements (students and teachers). they provide a window into student learning
  • shows best work and allows for creativity
  • use through the year and through school career
  • allows for reflection on work. They allow students to think critically and reflect upon their work
  • make classroom learning more accessible to parents, teachers

This year I have started to keep an E-Portfolio with primary 5th and 6th English classes.  I hope it will give pupils of all abilities a better chance to create and collaborate. Students continue to become creators rather than simply consumers. I hope to report back later on in the year with how we are getting along.

Frank's Class

Why kidblog.

Kidblog is unique among the web tools featured here because it is built by teachers for teachers. Kidblog provides teachers with everything they need to help students create their digital portfolios safely. It gives teachers administrative control over student blogs and accounts. Though Kidblog is private by default, teachers can choose to make posts public or password-protected. Kidblog is fully COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) compliant and does not require any personal information from students.

Furthermore, Kidblog makes it easy to publish rich multimedia content. Seamlessly embed slideshows, videos, podcasts, artwork, Google Docs, and your favorite Web 2.0 tools like Storybird, Animoto, Glogster, etc.

Create a E-Portfolio

Do you want to create a e-portfolio using Kidblogs or others tools? Here are some easy instructions:

Creating an e-portfolio using kidblog

Using E-Portfolios in the Classroom

Digital portfolios: guidelines for beginners

e-portfolios in the classroom

Final Portfolios: Ending the Year with Meaning