Sunday, 14 October 2012

Popplet - a mind map maker

Throughout my own education I have considered myself a “visual learner”. I always found mind-maps and diagrams very useful because I could remember the information by displaying it in a visual format.

If you want to read about mind mapping, click HERE
There are many online mind maps makers but Popplet is one of the simplest.

Watch this video to have a better idea of this online tool:

 Adavantages: 

  • The site is clean and simple. Ideal to use with children
  • Popplet gives you the possibility of organising and synthesising information in more sophisticated ways than if it is just a list of information on a page.
  • Popplet inspires creativity because its colours and interface.
  • It is very easy to upload images (or grab them from Flickr) and add video.
  • You can turn a PowerPoint into a Popplet.
  • One of Popplet's best features is the fact that it is easy to share and collaborate. You can invite people to collaborate, send a link or copy some simple HTML and embed my Popplet in a blog, wiki or website. In Popplet, sharing allows users to make their popplet public and viewable by anyone via a URL link, whether they are a popplet user or not.
  • Viewing finished Popplet is also very straightforward. A single mouse click allows users to zoom in on an area of the graphic they’d like to examine in more detail.

Disadvantages: 
Too many things are missing:
  • variety of shapes
  • abilities to group popplets, bend connections or manipulate where connections are attached to the Popplet
  • a spell checker and the “standard” word correction engine
  • Students cannot use the same account to work in different compuers.
Possible Activities
  • Brainstorming
  • Group work in the classroom
  • Alternative to PowerPoint
  • Revision
Example:
9-year-old kids using the book Kids' Box 3 were revising vocabulary related to family and present continous verb tense. First, they revised the vocabulary in class, then they went to the computer room to explore the tool. Finally, they created these two Popplets:

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Alexa Thompson discusses the ways that learning English in an online or offline setting can benefit non-native speakers

The Internet platform has become an essential tool for learning and teaching online, as noted by English Virtual Community. In this post, Alexa Thompson discusses the ways that learning English in an online or offline setting can benefit non-native speakers. For instance, learning English can lead to outsourced jobs that big businesses make available overseas. To read more about online English school from Alexa, visit the website she maintains about English education.

English as a second language teachers, English Language Learners

Did you know you can get a foreign job based on your ability to speak English? Many work opportunities are available to English speakers from almost any country in the world. Thanks to the Internet and impact outsourcing, more foreign speakers of English are coming into contact with businesses from North America and Europe, making English as a Second Language courses extremely valuable for both students and native English speakers.

The last three decades have brought an unprecedented amount of international trade. Currently, international deals comprise 60% of the world’s GDP, according to the New York Times’ blogger, David Bornstein. That figure is more than double what it was just 30 years ago. Within this massive amount of global trade, a new category is emerging: business outsourcing, with an emphasis in impact outsourcing.

Impact outsourcing typically brings together English-speaking professionals from emerging nations, like India, China, and the Phillipines, and businesses in the North America and the UK. People in these countries have been able to connect online with corporations looking for a myriad of tasks to be completed at a reduced price that still exceeds the wages typical in their home country. These deals benefit everyone, as employers receive work for cheaper rates, and employees achieve financial stability with relatively higher pay. Impact outsourcing is a win-win, and it already accounts for $4.5 billion in international trade annually.

What makes impact outsourcing a real possibility is the widespread acceptance of English as the international language of business. In fact, native English speakers account for a relatively small percentage of total English-speaking populations. According a Boston Globe article, in 2007, there were 400 million native English speakers in the world, 300 to 500 million fluent ESL speakers, and 750 million speakers who knew English as a foreign language. Those numbers have presumably increased in the last 5 years and will continue to increase.

The other principal factor that makes impact outsourcing possible is the Internet. Because information can be transferred with ease and at almost no cost, employers can communicate freely with workers from across the globe. A number of websites have used this to their advantage, by creating procurement portals that bring together employers who need tasks to be accomplished and contract employees who are looking for work. oDesk and Elance are a couple of examples of these websites, some of which create opportunities to outsource writing, organization, computer programming, design, engineering, and many other tasks. Often, jobs are given on a temporary-to-hire basis, meaning that successful contractors often receive future work and long-term, dependable business relationships. Business on these websites, as in most international venues, operates primarily in English.

A number of businesses have set up shop to support this type of business. Businesses such as Digital Divide Data and Samasource work in countries such as Cambodia, the Philippines, India, Pakistan, Kenya and South Africa to build skills required for impact outsourcing, including English-speaking and computing, the two main components of outsourcing contracts.

Impact outsourcing will only continue to grow in popularity in emerging and developed nations. As it reaches more people and businesses, families in the developing world will transform and gain real financial stability as they contribute to the profits of established businesses.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Celebrating Spring day using Tag Galaxy

On September 21st, we celebrate both Spring and Students' day in La Plata, Argentina. Luckily, nature is present in my city in all its parks - there is one park every 6 blocks and streets. We can smell the perfume of the orange trees along 47th street.

Students meet and have picnics and at night there is a popular concert at Moreno Square.


Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Happy Teacher's Day

To teach, or not to teach, that is the question:
Whether it is better to stay at home with the television,
Munching on chips and gulping on root beer,
Or continue with the ever troublesome job,
An by opposing, get fired. To eat, to watch,
No more, and by working hard, we will earn that
Pleasing, satisfying, all-good paycheck
That will be spent in less than a week
Devoutly to all of the personal needs and wants.
To eat, to watch;
To watch; the minutes ticking before racing out of the house; ay, I am late;
Many insolent words from the Boss, not to be delayed again,
For who could endure the yells and screams of the little rascals,
The numerous demands from co-workers,
Aches and pains of marking hundreds of papers, cross and swoosh?
And that desperate grumble in my stomach, will finally melt,
When the tasks have been completed, only one place left to go,
Which is my sweet home, where dinner will be waiting, television will be on.
With this tremendous day finally over,
Another will soon arrive.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Collaborative Writing in the ESL Classroom

I am rehearsing about collaborative writing for a workshop I will give soon. Surfing the net, I came across Many People, Many Minds: Collaborative Writing in the ESL Classroom – a master’s thesis  by Morten Oddvik which seems very interesting and would like to share with you. I hope you find it interesting. 


Many People, Many Minds - Collaborative Writing using CSCL in the ESL Classroom

Monday, 9 July 2012

About Skydrive: a cloud-based file storage system


SKYDRIVE is a cloud-based file storage system. If you have a Hotmail account or an MSN account, you already have access to this tool. Users can store digital photos, documents, etc. there. No matter what happens to the PC, those files will be safe there.  
Advantages:

Instead of sending attached files to students, teachers can share  files. In this way, they can avoid any inconveniences that may appear if the students' computers do not have the same word processor. With SKYDRIVE students and teachers can go to any computer, log into their SKYDRIVE account and do their work with ease since everything they type is on an external server.  Once their work is uploaded, teachers and students can share their files. There are different sharing options, but I will mention just two:

  • "view": this means that if you share your file using this option, the visitor can only read it.


  • "edit" means that people may edit the document but they cannot share it with others. This is a difference with google docs.


SKYDRIVE files are embedabble in blogs and wikis. 
Your SKYDRIVE files will look like this in blogger:  


Disadvantages:
It is not advisable to use SKYDRIVE in computers with slow Internet conection because the document may crash if more than one person is editing it at the same time. Important: SKYDRIVE does not save documents automatically. The user must save the file before closing it or he/she may lose all the changes :(

Possible Uses:
- If teachers are planning to make students visit different websites to carry out an ESL activity, they can insert the links to the correponding text in the file. This will be time saving because students will not have to type the website adresses.
- Students may get familiar with collaborative writing. Teachers may ask students to form groups of 2, 3 or 4 people. Each group will be supposed to edit a word file on a given task.

Suggested activities
Beginner level: Dictate the following text to students : Mr. Harris is a businessman. At the moment, he is driving. He is taking his wife to work and his two kids to school. Today he is wearing black shoes, grey trousers, a white shirt, a blue tie and a black jacket. Tonight he is going to a football match with his friends.

Activity: ask Ss. to rewrite the paragraph but now starting the text with “Mrs Harris” and make all the necessary changes.

Intermediate level :Collaborative Writing- (Adapted  from New Total English Intermediate Flexi Course Book 2 page. 83) a) Students are supposed to write a short article about a city or place they know well, recommending things a visitor should do using expressions learned in this unit: One of the best places to visit is..... You mustn`t miss....... I f you enjoy..., you will love... One or two images may be used for illustrating the article.