20 November, 2010

e-teaching, e-learning, e-cultures through ePals!

I have just discovered ePals, and I must admit this seems like a fantastic tool for students to engage in multicultural activities.  Since I am in the English as a second language field I feel that many of these tools can be accessed through the proper use of my classroom. 

For the mainstream classroom, especially where students may not be able to interact with diverse populations I think this would be a phenominal tool! Students are able to interact frequently through the internet if desired or via postal mail if preferred.  The goal is for educators to provide meaningful opportunities for their students to engage in cultural discussions and realize that culture surrounds us always. 

With English Language Learners I feel that these tasks may prove to be slightly out of the range of the beginners, the intermediate level students would do much better.  This is a wonderful way for students to be able to express their experiences, holidays, beliefs, cultures and so much more.  I have discovered that there is a significant population of Hispanic students in my area which were born in the United States  yet they do not speak English at all.  I am sympathetic toward this group of students; it appears as though they feel that they are abandoning who they are if they learn English.  This tool would be a great way to validate their cultures, experiences, etc. and still encourage English use. 

Educators from all over the world have posted their desires, their class sizes, languages and experiences they may or may not have with ePals.  A world map is shown on the website that can be clicked upon; participants from all over the world are already establishing their accounts and are eager for people to participate with them.  What I have observed is that there literally are educators and students from MOST of the world's countries who want to e-learn about other cultures, communities, holidays, weather, natural disasters, how culture influences who people are etc.  The options for this ePals tool could be limitless; all we have to do is sign up and use our creativity to make learning meaningful for our students.  This is one great way!

04 November, 2010

great tool for the classroom!!

Big Huge Labs provides limitless options for educators to include in this creative tool in the classroom.  I am primarily interested in ESL and how to best prepare this student population for American society.  As a result, I have read countless research articles and texts, many of which stress the fact that these students must feel comfortable, accepted and valued in the classroom. 

The Big Huge Labs homepage offers a direct link to motivational posters.  Pictures from facebook, Flickr and the computer you're working on at the moment can be uploaded onto this website for free; just like the membership.  There is one catch however, and that is the fact that in order to print out these creative pieces professionally, you have to pay a fee.  Since the company is willing to print them out and send them for the same price it works out well for those of us who do not have resources to generate them from home. 

What I would like to do for my classroom is take photographs of the class; as a whole group, in pairs and in various group sizes I feel would be best.  Ideally, but entirely dependent upon the students' English language proficiency, I would like the students to brainstorm and collaborate on inspirational phrases.  Using the students' pictures and texts to create motivational texts to plaster all over the walls I feel would greatly increase their feelings of comfort, acceptance and hopefully make them feel valued.

03 November, 2010

I joined Flickr!!

I know, most of you are probably astonished that there are people out there who don't have Flickr accounts.  Well, now I have one and even better, I know the purpse and how to use it! (I know, loser right?)  Yes, a decade later I have finally joined the rest of my generation in the 21st century and I must say it feels pretty good. 
Arriving at Flickr did initially overwhelm me because of how wordy it appeared to be--at least at Creative Commons.  Reading through the various liscensing was useful since now I understand the agreements put forth by fellow members. 
The attribution liscense allows members to view, copy, display, (and derivative works) to pictures as long as they're provided the credit they deserve for the art that has been created.  No derivative works is the same as an attribution liscense in that members may do what they wish with the picture with the exception of creating a derivative of the original.  Attribution, noncommercial, no derivative works is another combination; as the name indicates the attribution and no derivative works liscenses are added to one which limits the use of the photos to noncommerical use.  (We can also combine noncommercial and attribution liscenses; I know its starting to get overwhelming) The final term to be aware of is share alike; all this means is that the photos are available for members to create derivatives and then are permitted to distribute them but only under the circumstances that the liscenses are exact between the members.  Attribution and share alike can be combined as can attribution, share alike and noncommercial.
It appears that there are many terms to be familiar with but I believe that it only protects us as users.  Following these conditions we are able to keep memories to ourselves or share artwork with the entire Flickr community.  I mean look at this beautiful moonscape! It would really be a shame if John Johnston did not receive credit for this photograph. 
Thank you to Flickr for granting me access to such beautiful artwork that otherwise I would never had known existed!