Assignment #5

A#5 Part 1.a
According to Chapter 16 "Beyond Course Casting", podcasting not only attends to multiple intelligences, but it can also be used as a means to authentically assess students. Podcasting is authentic by virtue of the fact that it can be accessed by anyone anywhere in the world. Podcasting is a robust vehicle which incorporates all four language modalities thereby lifting the role of listening and speaking as an important part of literacy. All too often educators downplay the importance of listening and speaking in the development of good reading and writing skills. In terms of ESL these four language modalities must be given stage time in every lesson plan. Podcasting can be used to discretely assess a student's strengths and weaknesses in these four areas. To bolster the accountability of podcasting as a means of assessment, teachers can create rubrics to accompany assignments. By creating rubrics to analyze a finished student product, teachers can provide well rounded feedback to the student as well as create informed lesson plans for the future. The work involved to use podcasting beyond course casting is exactly the type of technology incorporation that is touted by "Meaningful Learning With Technology." But in order for podcasting to be an effective tool teachers must create lessons where podcasting truly fits and makes sense rather than throwing it in because it is available.

A#5 Part 1.b
The assessment tools described in chapter 10 of "Meaningful Learning With Technology" are becoming increasingly necessary in today's classrooms. These types of tools are not only reflective of our growing dependence on technology they are incidentally correlated with the physical realities of our students. As families face hardships and have to move often, having a digital portfolio of each student can be valuable for sharing student information and progress between schools. Traditional paper assessments are limited due to their temporal nature. Additionally, results from classroom tests showing how each student fared on each question would be hard to transfer from one school to the next or from one grade level to the next if it exists only on paper. In this age of accountability, the use of ePortfolios to track progress and target specific areas for review makes perfect sense. The employment of Clicker tools can also be used to guide instruction as a teacher retrieves instant information on student comprehension. A teacher can know when to repeat, review, change the pace of a lesson, or adjust his/her line of questioning according to student responses. As teachers we all know the gut wrenching feeling at the very end of a lesson when we get a blank stare confirming our wasted efforts. Clickers can partially prevent this. Our students deserve to be measured beyond the standardized testing that the state currently utilizes. They deserve to be seen as multifaceted individuals that know more than what a multiple choice test may indicate; using tools like ePortfolio and Clicker technology are just some of the ways we can encourage authentic assessment.


Assignment #4

A#4 Part 1
Chapter 5 of Meaning Learning with Technology highlights the various Mindtools that enable students to create visual representations of the mental processes taking place while they negotiate the paths to solve a problem or synthesize information. Additionally, the chapter talks about which components to include when creating these mental models. The creation of these models require higher thinking skills, promote metacognition and monitor comprehension. And although I didn't create these models during my academic career in the NYC public school system, I have learned to greatly appreciate the value and effectiveness of these constructions.
In the elementary school that I teach in, concept maps are often used during brainstorming or pre-writing activities, but the arrows linking each node of information are usually not described. In order for ESL students to fully grasp the relationships between each node, coordinating verbs and phrases must be written. At first the usage of these verbs and phrases can be scaffolded by presenting them in a word bank for students to choose from. Students can also be paired based on language level to brainstorm the proper descriptions. The beauty of this exercise is that it is it is collaborative and takes advantage of the efficiency of technology. As students negotiate meaning, descriptions can be altered and rearranged to better suit the semantic network. In addition to concept mapping, I found the section on spreadsheets to be particularly engaging.
Before reading this chapter I had not contemplated using spreadsheet software across the content areas. This type of application has high real-world value. Using spreadsheets not only helps students represent data, but it also helps them identify relationships and predict outcomes. The computing aspect of programs like Microsoft Excel can help students test math facts and simulate real-world problems with a multitude of variables. Since I will be teaching 2nd grade next year, I think I might try using this application to supplement the Math Box components of Everyday Mathematics.

A#4 Part 2
These tasks are structured for the two classes that I will be teaching in the Fall. The Mcgraw-Hill Treasures activities are the actual resources that we use in the school. I have tried to incorporate collaboration, differentiation and independent work. (note: The specific direction given to "Group a" is for the lower language level students.)

Class 202 and 204
We have been talking about friendship. We learned 6 new vocabulary words to help us talk about friendship: friends, playmate, partner, loyal, trust, and traits. Today I would like you to work with a partner to discuss what makes a good friend and what types of activities you enjoy doing with your friends. Please read the steps below to find out what to do. Do steps #1 and #2 with a partner and do step #3 on your own.

With a Partner
Step #1: Click on this link and watch the slide show. Turn and talk to your partner when they ask you to: Treasures Slideshow #1

Step #2: Brainstorm a list of traits that you look for in a friend. Click on this link and print out the chart: Friendship chart. Fill out the chart with your friend.

On Your Own
Step #3: Click on these links and play these two short games: Treasures Activity #1 and Treasures Activity #2. After you finish playing the games write a response about what you like to do with your friends.

Group a: You can use these sentence helpers in your response:
1) I like to play _____ with them.
2) I enjoy _____ with them.
3) We like to go to _______.
4) We always have fun ________ together.

If there is extra time, you can draw a picture to go with your response by clicking on this link: White board. Use your mouse to click and drag the crayons to make a picture. When you are finished drawing, click on the tab that says SEND and send your drawing to me at MsYam@eslbeyond.com.


Assignment # 3

A#3 Part 1.a
The powerful writing tools used to aid organization, collaboration, and process illustrated in chapter #5 of "Meaningful Learning with Technology" are welcomed approaches in my book. I believe that by teaching students to use tools like Microsoft Powerpoint and www.writely.com we can help them better understand and visualize different aspects of the writing process. Some may argue that students (especially 3rd-12th graders) must master essay writing using paper and pencil first before they use wordprocessing programs, but I disagree. I believe that using Microsoft word relieves the tedium of copying over during revision, attends to multiple intelligences, and helps students monitor their spelling and grammar. Additionally, "sloppy copies" can be easily shared, reviewed and commented upon. This type of peer review is said to be more beneficial for students at times then having the teacher look over mistakes and critique the content.
Using technology in the classroom has many authentic applications in the real world. For many people around the world today, programs like Microsoft Word are used for many different types of applications, from writing to-do lists to research papers. Proficiency in using technology to support writing has become increasingly necessary. As educators we not only have to deconstruct abstract concepts, but we must also help our students navigate the many demands of economic success. And learning how to brainstorm a narrative with Inspiration or create a 20 slide presentation on frogs is part and parcel of this type of real world preparation.

A#3 Part 1.b
As an ESL educator I am constantly trying to find new and exciting ways to present materials across the content areas in a meaningful and comprehensible way to my students. The applications outlined in Chapter 14 of "Podcasting for Teachers" are a great introduction to how pocasting can be used effectively to practice listening, speaking, reading and writing. As a teacher created product, a podcast can be used as a study guide, to build prior knowledge, to aid explicit instructions or supplement text books. Students may review the material as often as necessary until they comprehend what is being conveyed or asked. Students may also be asked to take notes or record their own responses to prompts. This powerful tool can transform a class as students are held accountable for the information they learn at home or must perform tasks accordingly. The video podcast mentioned on pg. 222, All About Math is especially useful for ESL students as it incorporates animations and a digital blackboard. The profile of the various applications in the Arts is also suitable for ESL instruction. Step by step instructions on a range of activities could be recorded orally and/or visually for students to play back at any given point. This repetition is highly effective for building listening comprehension. Furthermore, academic language can be fostered by incorporating polysemous words across the content areas. For example: In an elementary level classroom the words table, power, radical, real and rational can be used in context across social studies, math, science and ELA. The varying definitions of each word conveyed orally and visually will help students understand the trickiness of the English language.

A#3 Part 1.c
The blog posted by Tony Erben is a nice introduction to the tips and tricks (instructional strategies) for teaching English Language Learners. This site serves as a nice gateway into second language acquisition for mainstream teachers as well as new ESL teachers. Podcast #3 and #4 outline the first two principles of teaching ESL students. As stated in the principles for creating effective second language learning environments we must create meaningful and varied experiences in listening, reading, writing and speaking for students. More often then not, newcomer and beginner students in a mainstream classroom are thought to be incapable of understanding content or directions. And even intermediate students that are verbally sophisticated are left to the wayside during content area instruction. Many mainstream teachers that are in fact experts in their field simply do not know the language requirements that ESL students demand in order to comprehend what is being taught. Podcasts can be used to bridge the gap between student and content in a variety of ways.
For newcomer and beginner students content can be presented in a podcast in the form of a chant or song. Vocabulary words of the week can be repeated in different intonations so that students can learn the distinctions between stating a question, an imperative and an emphatic interjection. Students can be asked to record their own pronunciations and play them back in comparison to the teacher's recording. Students can also record narratives in their native language that may be translated by peers from the same background thereby validating their own experiences. They can then listen to the two products and look for language patterns. In an intermediate classroom, reading and writing conferences can be maintained via podcasts. That way students can review the strategies at any time. A whole archive of strategies and mini-lessons can be kept for at home review. The steps of writing tasks can be conveyed and examples of the proper usage of the sentence structures being practiced that week can be used for dictation exercises. For advanced students that are more autonomous and can work in collaborative groups without explicit instruction there is an endless range of applications. An on-going literature circle can be held via podcast. Students can work in small groups to present an report or reciprocal teach a new strategy or concept. Their definitions and explanations can be used by lower language level students to aid listening comprehension. Students can also record interviews and narratives that can be critiqued via blog.
As you can see the possibilities are endless. With careful planning, management and a dose of creativity, podcasts can be used effectively to raise the skills of all students.


ESL Podcasts

This website is hosted by an Adult ESL teacher based in San Fransisco. After searching through many different podcasts I found that this one looked more welcoming and student-friendly. The use of class pictures and simple sentence structures makes this a great site for beginners. The topics and the pace of speech for the lessons are very appropriate for this language level. I also found the lessons and accompanying questions to be authentic and meaningful. The questions can be assigned as homework for students to record their own oral responses to. However, there are a few ways this site can be improved to increase the ease of use. It was a bit hard downloading the podcasts. The PLAY link did not work for me. I ended up clicking on RSS Feed and downloading the AIFF files.


Hosted by two Canadian brothers, this site contains nearly 100 podcasts for intermediate to advanced level ESL students. By infusing humor into each lesson the brothers provide a relaxed atmosphere for learning conversational English. After listening to and evaluating podcast #94 "Making Decisions", I found the lessons to be suitable for high-school to adult level students. The topics range from dealing with issues at work to very specific emotional issues such as "Feeling Cooped Up". The conversations would be a great way to build prior knowledge before an in-class discussion. To enhance this site, the key vocabulary for each lesson can be highlighted and explained before each lesson. In addition, there should be a focus on proper pronounciation.

This site provides some good podcasts about American culture, slang, idioms, and business English. This site is geared towards intermediate to advanced level students and the lessons are sorted by language level, category and topic. With each podcast you can download an Ebook, A PDF transcript with in-depth explanations of key vocabulary words used in the text. These transcripts can be used for extension assignments. For ex: students can be asked to highlight the parts of speech or use the vocabulary words in their own sentences. In the podcast that I listened to, an American woman named Lori carried a conversation with a British man named Michael. They spoke about "Weird American Foods". They used mainly colloquial language with a large emphasis on idioms and polysemous words. To enhance this site, the polysemous words in the podcasts could be used across different lessons to show the different meanings.