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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Jane Hart's list of 100 top tools for learning 2011 list.

I look forward to hearing Jane speaking at Victoria's premier elearning conference. Converge 11
On twitter -

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ed Tech and more and more

ELTchat - winner of the TEFL site of the month award, Oct 2010

I went to my first session of eltchat yesterday. (last night at 9pm. Some said good morning, others said have a great afternoon, and 3 from east coast Australia time said goodnight).
 Half of the chat I did on my iphone tweet deck in the car. Luckily my daughter is learning to drive, so I can tweet and read the conversation, as well as have complete attention on the road. (of course).
The other half of the eltchat stream live chat I did on my laptop (back home safely), in a very nice format, sent to me by my twitter PLN. There is always lots of notice about when it is starting, although the times are not usually ours. You have to find out your timezone.
This was really good to learn in this way, as there are lots of people that we converse with about a chosen topic, sent out a week b/4 and voted on by all using twtpoll. Nice infographic, a pie graph.

There is such a lot of tech ed (link to tech4kids wiki) stuff out there it is hard to keep up. Heard that before right?
Many young people at schools are learning skype.
Here's another link to Around the World in 80 schools.
4th graders are learning commenting ettiquette. This is fantastic learning for these students, growing up with social media at their fingertips.

I feel like it was not long ago that I asked the video shop man, "What is a DVD"? And now our children are asking us what is a record. Once their was an old record stuck between some rocks in a river at Warburton, nice place for a picnic. I said, 'Ooh, look, there's an old record!" And daughter asked, 'What's a record?" Ha! Laughing. Nowadays I try to have an understanding of the codes, although around for some time now, but daughter's friends on FB always comment and laugh if I LOL! Or rofl.

Ask ourselves with new technologies, justify buying that new mac, ipad, new app, whatever..
-because you thneed it.

Just love this body laptop thneed:

Thneed which nobody, Nobody, NOBODY needs

Uh, er, that's the Body-laptop Interface. The idea is to provide the user "privacy, warmth, and concentration" when using a laptop in public spaces.
Discuss your thneeds below, thanks.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Not Passing your HAZARD test - Driving

Not passing your hazard test means another $30 or so. This can add up if some people fail to achieve the test- over and over. Failing is easily done if the student doesn't have the language or computer skills to pass.
I found myself in the Burwood VicRoads Office the other day (with my own son) and happened to meet a Karen student from Burma. He recognised me and changed seats to come next to me & showed me his ticket. They were reading out the tickets in a robotic voice, "ticket, zero, N, R number, seven, teen, go to counter, number, 8"  and followed quickly by the next announcement for the next number. This Karen man, his name was Bell, looked like he'd just walked out of Asia, complete with dark green woven shoulder bag with long pink & green tassles draped over his shoulder, could not keep up with the speed of the spoken words and numbers. I helped him get to the right desk and the lady just said, 'yes can I help you?'
So after working out that he needed to pay for his (3rd) failed test and book the next one, I decided to take things a bit further. I said to the Australian woman, obviously there is a problem here, and it may not be that his knowledge of the driving skill is limited but perhaps there was a communication problem or a lack of computer skills. (The test is done on a computer, and knowing how to use the mouse is essential). Could we get an interpreter to sit with him during the test to identify the problem? She went away and came back to say there was a Burmese interpreter to which the student replied he definately did NOT want this. But he would accept the Australian one. I tried many times to find out the reasons for this. Finally, a Burmese Chin driving instructor, with better English, entered the waiting room and told me that the students' Burmese was very limited. Therefore it would be more stressful. Just because the man comes from Burma, doesn't mean that he speaks Burmese! I explained this to the woman who gave a look of slight shock. There are so many ethnic language and cultural groups in many different states in Myanmar country, that people don't necessarily have the knowledge of the national Burmese language. They also may have been fleeing their land and experiencing many hardships that 'going to school' (and therefore learning 'Burmese'), has not been an option.

The encounter in the license office last week taught me that while many service officers and administrators deal with refugees, they often don't know a lot about them nor how to deal with situations. English teaching has taught me the skill of communicating across barriers. It is an art that many people don't see as an art. Often I have been in the situation of interpreting English language into ESL or vise-versa.
 I hope that people will learn to trust Australians and start to feel like they are welcome and they can make a positive difference to our country with their presence.

Getting the blog ready for the conference presentation

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

"Fine Focus" with Jo Hart

I really want to thank Jo for offering my students and I a little window of space in her on-going series of "Fine Focus" of which she is moderator extraordinaire. Jo's blog is at  E-VERYTHING. Jo (and Phil Hart who sometimes co-facilitates) run these webinars fortnightly, alternating with their serendipity unconference webinars, where a topic for the day is voted on.
 These fine focus webinars have a pre-determined topic but the style, format and actual content is determined by the presenter. It is interactive and often very global however the Australia Series means we can do this in class time, and not at 1am on a Sunday!
Recording here.
 So I thank Jo for giving us this opportunity to talk about ourselves, about the students' new lives in Australia and about our opportunities at TAFE to learn English and to use technologies that are very new to us.

We will be talking about the students' background and their past school experiences in the Elluminate session tomorrow. We will talk a bit about our Youth Class Blog, which has been developing for 18 months. Every semester the youth class students change classes, some remained in the youth class and others arrive. Some of us are not so young in the youth class! However we are young at heart and inspired to create, use technology for language learning and work hard to reach our goals. That keeps us young!

Lan's Interview in the ESL CLassroom. from jane curry on Vimeo.
Pau (from Burma) interviews Lan who is from Vietnam. She talks about her experiences of when she went to school in her country. Now Lan is learning English at TAFE in Australia.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Get side tracked? Not on the youth class blog!

New Quizzes on the youth class blog.

This weekend I have been getting Youth Class Blog a little further on it's way to reaching it's purpose of using technology, and web2 tools (is that the terminology?) to teach my students. I have used the edubloggers' recommendation to use the Collaborize tool which embeds (or can be used as a widget) on your blog to enhance discussion. 

Thanks to Ronnie Burt from Edubloggers for a great post on this easy use of the tool. I think it is better than the comments button at the bottom of a post because it is right there, and my students don't like to find what is hidden. It makes teaching a whole lot easier.

'Like blogging, CollaborizeClassroom makes it easy to have discussions online.' Edublogs has a list in their Collaborize Community page. (and you'll find my 'famous sports stars' quiz there).

So I can't wait til Tuesday when I can try it out in class. 

Thinking about all the online tools I have played with recently brings me back to thinking that one blog is the way to go, especially with low educated, second language learners. I tried Edmodo, I tried Fakebook as a tool, but found that it was too much swapping around, writing in codes, remembering passwords (and students easily forget to bring or lose their books). If they remember their email password, then they can just click on a the link to the blog. And it all happens there.

Don't get too side tracked. Go with the flow!