Saturday, 23 January 2010

Özge Karaoğlu's Blog

Many members of MELTA (our Munich English Language Teachers Association, which this blog "belongs" to) are getting more and more interested in teaching young learners. Next to Business English, YL seem to be our main target group.

Now, if any of you YL teachers don't know her yet, there's no time like the present to meet Özge Karaoğlu, a kindergarten teacher in Istanbul whose blog is a trove of technical innovations for teaching YL. She won the MEDEA Award for Creativity and Innovation 2009 for Daisy and Drago, a series of animated films her kindergarten pupils made. She had them develop and draw the story, and speak the texts and record their voices, so it is absolutely do-it-yourself, using high tech to create something absolutely delightful and original. It's the second feature of the MEDEA Showreel, following right after the Overall Award Winner 2009 (from 2:23):

She guest-blogged on this project on Ken Wilson's great blog, and I'd like to send you all to her post there. She wrote:
I do enjoy being a kindergarten teacher; it makes me feel I am important for someone else and it is very rewarding. Children inspire me every day. You can do as many projects as you can do with older kids. This amazes you and others more, because they are so young and enthusiastic and can do great things in spite of their limited world, with their limited language. This is the story of how we filmed and fulfilled our dreams.

Also: Visit the Daisy and Drago wiki, which contains information on the book Özge wrote and based the project on, and the making of!

Friday, 22 January 2010

Fiction in action: Whodunnit

From the website of ABAX, an independent publisher of ELT materials in Tokyo and San Francisco:

The World's first free-to-share commercial ELT textbook has just been published by Adam Gray and Marcos Benevides. Their new reading title, Fiction in Action: Whodunit, is available as an eBook for free under a Creative Commons license. The print book will be available this spring.

Download free eBook here

Fiction in Action: Whodunit is something not seen before, a textbook designed to act as a bridge to extensive reading. Over 12 units encompassing two original six-chapter stories, the book introduces students to the hows and the pleasures of reading accessible fiction in English. Fiction in Action focuses on extended and connected passages in one genre—in this case, the detective story—familiarizing students with the language, style and literary conventions associated with this form of story. A special feature of the text is tasks that are not merely supportive of but intrinsic to the stories.

I'm reading it through right now and really like the interactive elements. I've got just the course to use this book in: a company course that wants a bit of reading on the side!

Thursday, 21 January 2010

If Your Kids Are Awake, They’re Probably Online

From the NYT:

The average young American now spends practically every waking minute — except for the time in school — using a smart phone, computer, television or other electronic device, according to a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Those ages 8 to 18 spend more than seven and a half hours a day with such devices, compared with less than six and a half hours five years ago, when the study was last conducted. And that does not count the hour and a half that youths spend texting, or the half-hour they talk on their cellphones.

And because so many of them are multitasking — say, surfing the Internet while listening to music — they pack on average nearly 11 hours of media content into that seven and a half hours.

... The report is based on a survey of more than 2,000 students in grades 3 to 12 that was conducted from October 2008 to May 2009.

On average, young people spend about two hours a day consuming media on a mobile device, the study found. They spend almost another hour on “old” content like television or music delivered through newer pathways like the Web site Hulu or iTunes. Youths now spend more time listening to or watching media on their cellphones, or playing games, than talking on them.

“I use it as my alarm clock, because it has an annoying ringtone that doesn’t stop until you turn it off,” Francisco Sepulveda said of his phone. “At night, I can text or watch something on YouTube until I fall asleep. It lets me talk on the phone and watch a video at the same time, or listen to music while I send text messages.”

Francisco’s mother, Janet Sepulveda, bought his phone, a Sidekick LX, a year ago when the computer was not working, to ensure that he had Internet access for school. But schoolwork has not been the issue.

“I’d say he uses it about 2 percent for homework and 98 percent for other stuff,” she said.

Continue reading here: New York Times, 20 January 2009

PS: Don't miss the readers' comments here, viz. the parents' side of the battle:

"If you define living as experiencing and interacting with your environment then these gadget lovers are not living. They deafen themselves to the world. They notice little, and experience a tiny fraction of the environment they live in. Their interpersonal relationships are mediated by gadgets and thus superficial. Without their gadgets, life is boring, and simply not worth living. The lives they lead are without any real substance and pathetic."

"Family reunion day last month with 23 members present. The five kids who were old enough to be interested in electronic toys (all girls, ages 9 to 15) huddled together in a corner of the living room with their camera phones and i-Pods and spent most of their party time that way. Socializing, to the extent there was any, consisted of the older girls teaching the 9-year-old (mine) how to operate them."

"As a parent I can report that this is NOT news. All of this stuff DOES tend to reduce a child's ability to pay attention and concentrate, and to prioritize the important (school, anyone?) and the unimportant. Problem is, you can't just take it all away once they have it - they go really nuts. It's like a drug."

Monday, 18 January 2010

Getting your students involved in the Read/Write Web

At MELTA we have a workshop coming up on 27 February 2010 with Karenne Sylvester, who has been teaching blended learning courses using Ning, a social networking cum online course creation tool. She's started an online series on how to learn English on her blog. Her first post is on how she gets her students reading blogs, and includes the blogs she recommends to her students, and they include my favorites and introduced me to some new ones, especially Dominic Cole's, a blogger who keeps up not one but three very interesting blogs. Really cool. This is Karenne's list:
  1. Dominic Cole's:
  2. Toby Crawley's:
  3. Markus Brendell:
  4. Neal Chambers':
  5. Berni Wall's:
  6. Nik Peachey's :
  7. Jeffrey Hill's:
  8. Clare Whitmell's:
  9. Chiew P Nang's:
  10. Sue Lyon Jones':
  11. Anne Hodgson's (yeah! thanks!):
I'd add Dominic Cole's main blog:
Karenne will be starting up her own blog for learners again, too.

And what about the Business Spotlight and Spotlight crowd, who write real blogs, and nice ones, too, but for a magazine? For some reason the blogging world hasn't accepted them as one of their own. I'm not sure why that is. Is it unacceptable to recommend a magazine blog? Or is it that they're not engaging on Twitter, or commenting on other people's blogs? I figure that might be a faux pas in the blogging community. Yet the blogs are clearly directed at a language learner, and are explicitly educational. I don't think that's a bad thing.
  1. Debbie Capras's:
  2. Ian McMaster's:
  3. Eamonn Fitzgerald's:
  4. Dagmar Taylor's:
  5. Mike Pilewski's:

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Teaching the generations

Steve Corbett published a must-read portrait of the four generations learning today:
  • "Traditionalists (Born between 1920 - 1945). They are also called the Silent Generation, the War Baby Generation, or the WWII Veteran Generation.
  • Baby Boomers (Born between 1946–1964). They are also called the "Me" Generation because their Traditionalist parents wanted to give them a good life.
  • Generation X (Born between 1965–1980). This generation is the children of both Traditionalists and Baby Boomers.
  • Millennials (Born between 1981–2000). They are also called Generation Y, Generation ME, Generation WE, or Nexters."
He created a Venn diagram summarizing the generations' learning styles, saying that it's a generalization. But much rings true.

I recognize myself as a typical GenXer:
  • "the first high technology generation"
  • "independent. Will work in teams when absolutely necessary, but would prefer to work alone"
  • "Like to use technology as a means for access and sharing information."
  • "Entrepreneurial – Prefer to build portable skills. ... Prefer solving problems on their own."
  • "Informal Learners - Prefer to be engaged in their learning, instead of being passive recipients. Dislike structured environments."
The points of conflict I see with the Baby Boomers, our older colleagues:
Baby Boomers tend to be
  • "Team Oriented - Embraces a team based approach to everything"
  • "Competitive - Value peer competition"
The points of conflict I see with Millenials:
Millenials tend to be
  • "Collaborative - Team players with a capital T."
  • "Structure Driven - Prefer structure in the classroom and are accustomed to following rules."
How about you, do any of these issues ring your bells?

Thank you to Neal Davis.