Thursday, October 7, 2010

Voxy - Learn a Language from Life

Voxy is an interesting approach to helping ESL students learn English. Voxy uses current articles from world news, pop culture, and sports to to help students acquire language. As students read an article they can click on highlighted words and hear them pronounced. Highlighted words when clicked reveal the Spanish translation. Clicking on highlighted words also adds them to a study list. The study lists can be used for quizzes and games. Voxy is available in English and Spanish.

Applications for Education
Voxy could be a good resource for ESL/ELL students to learn English while reading current news, pop culture, and sports stories. Using current news, pop culture stories, and sports stories should provide more relevance to students than standardized rote sentences about "Tom and Jane going to the cafe."

Here is a related item that may be of interest to you:
10 Resources for ESL & Foreign Language Students

Dewey Digger - Explore Knowledge

Dewey Digger is an interesting attempt to catalog the web according to the Dewey Decimal System. To use Dewey Digger just click on a Dewey Decimal category. Then select a topic in that category. Once you've selected a topic Dewey Digger will present you with twenty-seven sources of information. Click any of those sources to see articles, videos, and images on your chosen topic.

Applications for Education
Dewey Digger could be a nice way to browse for information on a topic. If students aren't quite sure what they're looking for, but know that it's in a certain topic area, Dewey Digger might help them find what they need. 

Video - The Animated Tell Tale Heart

Today marks the 161st anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe's death. To mark the day Open Culture posted the animated short film The Tell Tale Heart.

The Tell Tale Heart - UPA (1954) from J.F. Culhane on Vimeo.

If you'd like a free copy of the The Tell Tale Heart, I embedded it below after finding it on Google Books.

Applications for Education
I know a few English teachers that, because of the style of Poe's works, like to use it as Halloween approaches. The video may help some students get a better understanding of the story.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
National Geographic Halloween Quizzes and Games
Shape Poems - Poem Template from RWT

Two Weeks, 30 Seconds, 10 A's

I shared bits and pieces of this story at MOREnet MITC on Monday. Here's the rest of the story.

A few weeks ago I introduced my special education students to Animoto. The assignment was for them to create short videos about the causes of the Revolutionary War. Each student picked an act or event (i.e. Quartering Act, Boston Massacre) which he or she would research and produce a video about. Based on having done this in previous years, I thought that this would take a week. It turned out that it took every student at least two weeks and one student is actually still working on his project.

In creating each video the students had to include a brief background (what happened to cause their chosen event or act), some details of the act or event, and the consequences of the act or event. As many readers know, Animoto is based on the use of images so my students had to find Public Domain or Creative Commons images that demonstrated the ideas they wanted to convey. This is where the process slowed.

Finding appropriate images took my students a bit longer than students previous classes took. I also slowed the process as I required each student to explain to me (or to one of ed techs/ classroom aids) what each of their chosen images represented. I also required my students to explain the display sequence they had chosen. In the end, this process proved to be very beneficial for my students.

Last Friday my students took a short quiz on the causes of the Revolutionary War. Not every student got an "A" on the quiz, but ten did. For some of my students it was the first "A" they had gotten in a long time. And every one of them made some type of comment about the videos helping them remember the causes of the Revolutionary War.

The point of this story is that when conducting video creation projects in your classroom, the research and development of the script may be more important than what the final video looks like.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Making Videos on the Web - A Free Guide
11 Techy Things for Teachers to Try This Year

Thumb Scribes - Collaborative Poems and Stories

Thumb Scribes is a new platform for collaboratively creating poems and short stories. Thumb Scribes can be used in two ways. First, you can contribute to story or poem that someone else has started and placed in the public gallery. Second, you can start your own story or poem and either place it in the public gallery or invite others to collaborate with you. If you put your poem or story in the public gallery anyone can add to it. If you don't want the whole world adding to your poem or story you can mark it as "private" and invite individuals to add to it.

Applications for Education
Thumb Scribes could be a good platform through which students (over 13) can develop poems and stories together. If they're having trouble getting started, they can look at the public gallery for ideas and inspiration.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
3 Registration-Free Tools for Collaborative Writing
ExploraTree - Thinking Guide Templates
Free 33 Page Guide - Google for Teachers