domingo, 31 de julio de 2011

A computer offers countless possibilities of freedom, as there are plenty of sites to visit. This happens throughout all ages, from children to adults. As a result, classroom management is necessary. We teachers have to make sure that there are certain rules that are to be observed when students go into a computer lab, and that students know what they are. Additionally, if they are broken, then the consequences have to be carried out as well. 
And it's the fact that nowadays internet is so much more attractive than it was a few years ago that draws students of practically all ages to the computer labs at schools! Teachers who have internet 2.0 in mind will have many different activities for students to carry out, especially those that involve collaborative learning. 

The fact that broadband is much more available now helps have better access to free platforms and students create blogs and wikis, exploring more meaningful ways to use language. Pictures, video and audio enrich a language learning experience because it thankfully appeals to many types of learning styles. Thus, teachers have yet another tool that they can use with their students, and that they can have access to outside the classroom anytime, anywhere, increasing learner autonomy. 

I know that my students already use social networks and video host sites such as YouTube and some use Flickr. They definitely know how to copy and paste images and especially text. However I wonder if they have had the opportunity to explore collaborative learning on the net, especially the way we are doing now for this course.They probably haven't, which leaves this big gap I think, in thier learning process. This is exactly the reason why I wanted to take this course, to be able to teach in a diffrent way that they are accustomed to, and especially be able to meet halfway between "their" language and "mine."

This is turn would also help them develop critical thinking skills, create rather than copy and most importantly for me: read to know, rather than learn to memorize.Sometimes I wonder if it's just wishful thinking...
But then, I remember the quote that keeps me sane: "Teachers open the door, but students enter by themselves."

lunes, 4 de julio de 2011

Searching on the Internet

Looking back at my first searching experiences back in 2000, I remember that I used to use this search engine called Altavista. At some point in time, Google came out and I fell in love with the possibilities. 
Lovable Google Doodles
Fast forward to 2006: I finally got internet at home. Oh my gosh, I was like a kid in the playground. You know that slogan "Life is good, LG makes it better?" Well, Life is good, Internet makes it better. 

And don't get me wrong, it's not about the videos, the email, games, etc etc. It's the INFORMATION, one click away! *gasp*

I mean, I'm the kind of person that when I hear something that calls my attention, I look it up. Seriously. One time, my hubby and I were in a hotel room on vacation and we're.. well, I am, watching some movie about World War II in the Pacific and Iwo Jima. 

And what did I do, I used my humble Nokia Express Music phone and started looking up Iwo Jima... and started reciting stuff like: "oh wow, the island is kinda small and arid" and my hubby rolled his eyes at me and said, "Ok, wikimarina, can you put away your phone now, I mean, we're on vacation!"

He's so patient with me and this whole "knowing things." I love you, John 

So, going back to the purpose of my blog today: Week 5- Searching

Searching skills are important, I think, to give you a better and more balanced understanding of the world. It's like asking everyone "what do you think, what do you think, what do you think" and then building your opinion. 
Sometimes you look for facts. Numbers. Biographies. Other times, you're just surfing the 'net. 

These skills are keys that either let you in or lock you out, depending on how you use them.

When I saw this video I felt that it couldn't be any truer. And even though we had no forum to write our thoughts into, I did copy some of the questions the teacher asked. 
  • Who wrote the page?
  • What's your first impression?
  • Why is it useful?
  • What's the main message?
and these are these are the Wh-questions and other things he mentions:
  • Who wrote it?
  • When was it written? updated?
  • What is it about?
  • Fact/Opinion
  • Where does the website come from? 
  • Serach for the author.
  • Where does the website lead to?
  • Compare this info with info from another page.
  • (Love this) Check out, where you can look up pages (although when I checked, I realized there's appearantly a registration fee)
The skills you need have to do with looking, really looking, like challenging the information.

So, moving on to this question: What can I do to better inform my students?

Informing... yes, that's possibly a good idea. SHOW them, that's a better idea! The best way to learn something is by doing, so you may well take the video's teacher as a model and find some sites that aren't very usable and pose student similar questions. 
Daniel Cassany recommends teachers to provide students with examples AND counterexamples... and how to distinguish between them.

For some reason, J.F.Kennedy's famous quote comes to mind, but I'll rephrase it: 

"Ask not what you can do with the info, ask how appropriate the info is. "

And since this is my blog, I think it's safe to say: 

Good night, D.C.! Happy 4th of July.

viernes, 1 de julio de 2011

Tons of information out there--- you've just got to reach out!

The Creation of Adam-- Michelangelo

In a nutshell, I'd say that I find a website useful if: 

- It is age and content appropriate
- It is easy for me to use
- It contains video I can download just in case I lose internet connection.
- Grammar and spelling are correct
- It comes from a reputable source
- It is sufficiently relevant to my goal
and I'm sure other tiny but equally important criteria that I can't think of right now. So far, I admit I've hogged the websites, in the sense that I haven't gone right out and recommended my students anything except: Google Earth for general curiosity and VOA, a website that is helpful for English language students... but I'm working on it. 

However, I feel a little overwhelmed that there's so much to read out there, even though I just have to reach out!! 
Thankfully, as the school year dwindles to an end, I figure that I'll have more than the usual time to sit and explore much deeper. *sigh*

Note to self: check out Genki English, it's seems to be very very interesting! 

I like the additional criteria we've been exposed to because it just broadens our horizons and gives us the opportunity to question ourselves, which is vital in our career. Because of them, I'm now also looking into the fact of whether a site has a search bar or index, if it has ads, and if the material is biased towards a specific demographic target.