Sunday, June 14, 2015


I have used Edmodo now for 2 years developing different practices. Edmodo provides a Learning Management System with an easy to use interface which is designed for student centered collaboration.  In contrast,  many LMS tools are just a teacher file repository with some “add ons”  like forums or blogs. Edmodo is very “sticky” and easy for students to use for learners as it highlights the social constructivist nature of building and sharing knowledge together.  Edmodo engages learners and is a great tool for blended learning, it connecting students to students and to the teacher. A few of the many ways we use Edmodo:

     Motivational Quotes for Discussion

Using the concept of the social media tool Pinterest, this year I modified Edmodo to post a daily quote for learners to reflect, discuss with their partner and comment on in the morning. Most of the quotes were philosophy to guide life decisions and to assist in changing attitudes towards learning.

          Work Plans and Shared Lesson Records

Each morning I would post our work plan and post lesson the tasks we achieved as a record for any learners that were absent and also to really focus learners at the beginning of class. We generally used our phones to access Edmodo as an additional screen to our ipads.

            Posting Resources During Learning

As a teacher I reflect in action and can readily add what individual learners need at that time as they are undertaking a learning task and can post a link or image on Edmodo quickly from my Smart Phone. In this lesson students forget their range of cohesive ties when process writing, so they could quickly refer to these as they were editing to replace repetitive expressions.Recommended Independent learning sites / links and tasks were also added post lesson for learners.Studnts added great links they found too.

           Reflective Practice

Students found this very beneficial as a tool to assess their learning and to gauge their performance on learner outcomes and what they could do differently next time. Visible learning is a powerful technique and it really allowed learners to deeply think to about tehir learner processes and products towards mastery. The reflections were useful to determine students areas of challenge to design further learner experiences to scaffold needed support.  Examples below on presenting for the first time to the class using their multi-media Glogster poster.

   Exit Tickets

 A fun tool to ensure a lesson was task based not time based was to create a small exit task posted by the student on Edmodo. A summary of what they learnt, a reflection, some vocabulary definitions, response to an opinion question from an essay or Speaking exam. This reply became a ticket to show online from your phone screen to leave the class.

            Flipped Independent Learning

A great easy way to provide a link to students as they are learning in class or outside class based on what they need. For example you may notice as they are writing they have a need to refresh cohesive ties – you can quickly add a link so they can open their phone screen and edit their work easily. I also created groups based on the 4 skills of language learning and added links so students could work further on what they needed either at the end of class or in the evenings. Often the students were doing work at 10 pm ! Students can alo post their work at any toime for the class to read, comment and reply.

             Direct Message

This allowed students to let me know if they were absent or to privately discuss or clarify a point from our lesson or obtain further advice or assistance for homework or independent learning. Or to share some good news J

What is Glogster?

Glogster is a powerful tool where students can create multi-media digital information to share with their learning community and the world. The Glogster is now Ipad and I phone compatibles this year with an App. The paid version allows you to manage projects and classes and assess the products.

Usually used for content classes it can be used as an integrated skills approach to ESL to practice writing , reading listening and speaking. Students can research a topic using authentic listening and reading text , take notes and then construct their own text and embed both written and spoken language plus images and video. The Glogster creates a link that can be shared in any LMS such as Edmodo or Blackboard and also automatically generates a QR Code for scanning by phone.

How can Glogster Assist with Improving Language Proficiency?

Designing a Glogster allows students to create a form of an infographic, which facilities their digital literacy skills for comprehending visual information by constructing an infographic. This is an important skill for Task 1 in IELTS which requires the processing of visual information and writing a description of a visual such as a pie, bar or line graph; map; or pie chart.

Glogster personalizes learning as it allows students to explore creative expression. A formerly dull writing task can come alive in Glogster.

If you are following a topic based syllabus in ESL students can use Glogster to practice the target language in context.  If students are all given sub-topics they can work collaboratively and build their knowledge by embedding their Glogs in a Master Blog on that topic. 

How to Make a Glogster 

Watch the training video one of my my students and I created:

Using Glogster to Build Knowledge and Practice IELTS Test Skills

This semester we used Glogster to integrate vocabulary and structure in the form of a lexico-grammatical approach. Students used read to write and ;listen to write strategies to build their knowledge to answer IELTS questions and this knowledge was jigsawed and shared as students acted as experts teaching each other using listening and speaking skills and gaining confidence giving presentations to the class face to face using their Glogsters.

1.       Test Practice Skills : Reading, Speaking Part 2 and 3 and Writing Task 2

People is a common theme in ESL and in the IELTS exam. This project based task focused on questions about people from past papers. Students then chose a famous person alive or from the past and examined their biography. They explored descriptive questions which required a descriptive genre and also a past narrative in many cases for their past life. It included a focus on sequencing and the organization and sequencing of information over time. Students used a variety of resources to take notes on a time line graphic organizer.  They also looked at what their achievements were and why they were famous. Accordingly students read and wrote using a range of present simple and past simple verb phrases and chose their topics and added questions.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Popplet for text deconstruction

Popplet is a great tool to improve reading comprehension by focusing on the key skills of deconstructing main ideas of text, paragraphs and supporting details. By unpacking and summarizing the text students can compare with a Popplet you have made to ascertain their level of understanding. Students work in pairs , one with the text on the screen and the other with the Popplet App.

They work collaboratively to deconstruct the text speaking English. You can challenge learners to find synonyms to summarize the text. The visualization is so powerful they can answer many comprehension questions without returning to the text as they are no longer reading superficially. Reading is a cognitively difficult  task as you must retain the ideas of the text and then input more information in the form of reading the questions . Many second language learners struggle with these two short  term memory tasks as their vocabulary proficiency may be inadequate to retain or map the information in their second language compared to their first language .

 Mind mapping uses the right side of the brain to map spatial visual connections and concepts. A visual frame is provided to hang the ideas and details. I have noticed a rapid change in their reading proficiency. They are all "at risk" and were below their expected level and had failed the reading course last semester. Now the average % for their reading tests is above 70 %.

Forget the number, they are now different students brimming with self confidence and engaged. The greatest difference is their level of persistence and extended attention span when reading in their second language using an IPad.

The use of the mind mapping App for reading was rapidly adopted by learners. Their reflections referred often to the fact they  didn't realize how deeply they needed to understand the text to answer the questions.

It is also a great tool for me to instantly visualize the students understanding of the text and provide immediate intervention as they process the text.

 There are many tasks that follow from this activity. One of my favorites is to make  a screen capture in a Screencasting App such as Educreations or Screen Chomp  and pairs of students retell the text . They take turns with their partner actively listening and assisting in reformulating the language.

If they tweet their Educateations screencast across to another team, the team can transcribe their spoken text , peer edit and publish their final text summaries.

Use an Ipad in ESL

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Audioboo for National Day Narratives.

Traditional reading and writing have to change and assessment needs to rapidly change.  Students need experience in new literacies required for the 21st century and ESL assessment needs to be overhauled to mirror the demands of new multi-modal literacies. 

How do we capture the past for the future with new literacies available in the IPad ? We transform learning by thinking of new ways of creating and producing language in a meaningful context. Some ESL teachers love testing discrete grammar points. Is this what language proficiency is about ? 

It is more meaningful for students to use a range of past tense structures to communicate what is important to their lives. Personalizing learning this week, we focused on the UAE National Day. 
The founding father of the UAE, Sheik Zayed said:

"Future generations will be living in a world that is very different from that to which we are accustomed. It is essential that we prepare ourselves and our children for that new world.” 

This new world  is one of digitally connected Emirati citizens,  building knowledge collaboratively and sharing with the world.. Students will not be filling in discrete gramnar gap fills in their future. They will need to communicate effectively in their second language.

We decided to transform learning by sharing and documenting the stories from the past by interviewing grandparents, finding old photos and translating the primary history narratives  into English for National Day. Our App of choice was AudioBoo because of :
-The sound quality and 3 minute recording length. 
-The ability to share on social media such as Twitter.
- Can embed an image.
Task 1 - Students explored different Apps for sound recordings such as Soundfiles, but we focused on workflow and how we could share our recordings with Twitter.  We found Audioboo.
Task 2 - Students discussed and tweeted their views of Audioboo and its use generally to improve language skills.

Task 3 - We discussed the meaning of National  and the stories the students know of the past and the importance of documenting history for  future generations.
Task 4 - Student scanned my tweets to find the word Audioboo and clicked the link to listen to our project task.
Task 5 - Students record National Day Narratives and tweet their Audioboos. 
Task 6 - Transcribe in Pages . Peer edit and revise. 
Task 7 - Screen capture with images - tweet and add to Flipboard and Evernote.
Task 8 - Write to Read - students read , listen comment and retweet.


Welcome to Ipads and ESL

 The SAMR model presents a framework to navigate when using iPads in ESL. 

The model provides an awareness to notice the stages of the journey for teachers and learners to personalize learning from enhancement to transformation. 

I have summarized the following examples from IPads in ESL. Refer table below (made in Keynote).

I used this model to plan or reflect on my lessons.  One day,  I noticed the iPad  transformed learning. There is a moment when you realize you could never do this lesson with a laptop. My moment was when we start integrating Twitter with a range of Apps to make workflows easier. 

This blog shares ideas to integrate iPads into ESL and Literacy classrooms.  Also,  many ideas can be transferred to content classes and particularly to content classes for ESL learners.

iPads have changed the way I teach and learners learn. I hope you enjoy trying some of my ideas and lessons in your classes. You can follow me on Twitter @Brigidwheel