Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pranav Mistry's Sixth Sense Technology

These wearable technologies were seen about 10 yrs ago at the MIT Media Lab, but this goes even farther (and smaller). Clever, and Mistry wants them to be open source. (About 13 min., but a must-see.)

Thanks to Webhead Andy Picon for the tip!

Friday, December 11, 2009

iSpeech Voice and Podcaster

I've been trying to get a newer, better look for my blog, but wound up back with the old style, but the new interface. Alas, my old blog is gone.

But this looks a little newer and crisper, I've got a new photo up, and I finally found a new text-to-speech reader in iSpeech. Et voilá! it is also a podcaster, so I'm feeling up to date. You click on the little icon to hear the text read, or go to the Podcast in the sidebar to start the feed.

The interface at the iSpeech site was simplicity itself to use:

I didn't even have to get a registration key. Interestingly, it is a dot org.

Let's hope it is as good as it looks--it does try to read a little too fast, but that may just be my processor speed or the server speed today.

The Christmas Challenge VoiceThread

A nice holiday student project where cultural concepts of Christmas and personal greetings and wishes are recorded. A nice use for VoiceThread, which can also be downloaded to a desktop as an archive for listening practice.

The Christmas Challenge
by Alex G. Francisco

A collaborative project developed by Esayan Armenian High School in Turkey and Escola Básica e Secundária Gonçalves Zarco in Portugal, Dec 7, 2009.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


WallWisher is not as useful pedagogically as other social networking tools I can think of.

You can add a picture (from a URL), or video, or audio file, but it doesn't have a way to put a URL into the text (without using up the tiny letter count), so that users can easily go visit the site. If you want to illustrate your sticky, you need another place/server/or knowledge of how to get an image location to stick it in. You can post to Facebook, et al., and link to pictures in Flickr.

The limited number of words/letters on a sticky means you can't say much--this is probably an advantage for young learners, but not necessarily for their education. A blog or wiki would give them the opportunity to be more expansive.

You could have a main sticky and then ask students to respond to it. But there is no way to organize the stickies besides moving them around physically. So this means the teacher/owner of the wall must do the work of organization, or let things happen at random. (See Nik Peachey's wall of teacher tools for social networking.)

So on the whole, I like the idea of a communal blog or wiki better: more opportunity to write expansively, ways to comment, RSS feed, easy ways to include URLs and lots of pictures, and esp. with a wiki, ways to organize pages.

But I can see Wallwisher as a way to make comments on an event or single Web page. You might have students visit a page or view a video (or put one into a head sticky), and then make a short comment on a Wallwisher page. If you have only 15-30 students, they could all read each other's comments (but if they then make more comments, you've quickly got a huge, disorganized mess...) If you use WallWisher the way it was intended, perhaps to wish a class member happy birthday, or to congratulate someone on getting citizenship, or to make a wish list, or to put up reminders for a project, then it's a nifty application.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Archival Video Sites

Both OurMedia and the Internet Archive are unbelievably slow and have made their interfaces much more difficult to use. OurMedia just transferred my video to a new address without telling me, and I can't find it at all on the Internet Archive. In OurMedia, a search for tags and for titles and for owner--none of them--didn't come up with the video, but it was still there. Go figure!

I also tried to edit the description in OurMedia to include the Web address of the wiki that also contains the presentation, but with no luck. I was asked to join a group before I could edit my own work--couldn't find any with "education" through the search engine, though I could see a few with that word in the title from a list. I then was told I hadn't completed the CSID (the test of human user), but that box wasn't available at the page where I was doing the editing. No win!

I hope to get the video from the 2008 TESOL presentation embedded here in the blog below. We'll see how long it lasts as a real link!

The address is now http://www.ourmedia.org/node/88432

Another video archive site, AuthorStream is also very slow. My presentation there (no audio) is at
http://www.authorstream.com/Presentation/ElizabethHS-224813-effect-tech-sla-entertainment-ppt-powerpoint/. The sound version apparently has just vanished or was never accepted as an unload because it was too large or the wrong format.

Blip.tv still has the presentation, and seemed to load about the fastest. Unfortunately, it's not a place to take the children...

These sites are very frustrating, and I'm glad I uploaded the presentation to multiple venues. With the economic downturn in 2009, there has been a lot of moving and shaking, and I think there will be more changes in store in early 2010.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Animoto is easy to use and a lot of fun! You can upload photos and video, and the app puts them together in a kaleidoscope of shapes and forms. You can also add music from your desktop or purchase something from iTunes. Once the video is completed, you can edit it, and share via email or embedding your blog or Website, as I have done here:

The free version of this editing tool is only 30 seconds long (about 12 photos). For $3 US you can upgrade to an any length video, or for $30, you can make any length videos for a year. Ronaldo Lima's school uses the latter option, and students use Animoto extensively as a way of publishing their projects.

To use the program, students would take and select photos and video of their project, arrange and upload the shots, and select appropriate music. (There is very little writing involved, unlike other programs where there might be titling on each photo.) I believe students could, however, create a desktop recording (e.g., with Audacity) describing the photos as they flash by, and use that file instead of the "music" accompaniment. For an additional $5 per video, you can make a higher resolution or MPG4 version that can be downloaded and/or burned to a DVD.

Thanks to Ronaldo Lima of the Webheads for mentioning this app.

Monday, November 09, 2009


This little screencasting app, ScreenJelly, seems very easy to use, though it has only a 3-minute recording time limit. You can record what you are doing on your computer screen with your own voice-over. The program is very self-evident, i.e., it takes only a few minutes to figure out how to use it (and there is a helpful how-to video both here and at Stannard's TTV site). I can see its immense usefulness for a teacher (or students) to create little help videos for new technology learners. Links or embedding are possible with such social Web tools as Twitter or Flickr, et al.

Thanks to Russell Stannard--found on his most useful site.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Google Wave

Google Wave (see The Complete Guide) looks like the re-invention of email, kind of a combination of bulletin board, screencast, and mail. It will definitely be a pleasure to use. This is a nice illustration of the Wave:

There are a number of other things it can do, like embed "attachments," and I imagine it will have some audio/voice capability. You need an invitation to try it, however.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sidebar RSS Aggregator for Firefox

The explanation below is pretty minimal, but the Firefox site will give you illustrated directions to get started. While it claims not to be a replacement for a full-fledged aggregator, it functions quite nicely as a quick and easy to install reader. This might be an easy way to get students reading each other's blogs.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Tapiohka U

Tapiohka University is a WYSIWYG course management system that looks much easier to use than Moodle, so it might even be appropriate for younger learners, e.g., upper elementary school. I'd love to try this out with a short course.

A free site, teachers can set up a class bulletin board, type in a syllabus, create a calendar, divide students into groups, etc. The "Lecture" page can be set up to allow students to add Web links, resources, etc.

Thanks to Moira Hunter, Webhead for the tip on this one.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

One True Media

One True Media is a sort-of free video creation site, but all the good features, e.g., text over, are only for premium users (currently at $39.99).

Here is a sample from my grand-daughter's recent ballet recital at San Jose Center for the Performing Arts.

You can share, upload to a blog, iPod, or YouTube, create a DVD (at $24.99), and download (also a premium feature) but not store for viewing on site. The DVD is supposed to be high quality.

If you have trouble seeing the video player, click here: View this montage created at One True Media
Avery in Alice 6/13

Friday, June 05, 2009

Google's Evernote

So here is a totally cool tool: Evernote by Google. You can use it with your mobile or with any browser to capture stuff in a permanent file visually. But Evernote will even read words in an image--including handwritten words. So, for instance, you could take a picture of a sticky note on your mobile and send it to Evernote to retrieve, by search, later on.

This will no doubt give new impetus to ways to read images that are intending to avoid spamcatchers, but I love the concept.

Thanks to Rita Zeinstejer of the Webheads for this tip!

YouTube podEnglish Videos

These podEnglish language learning videos are unique in that they are based on social situations, e.g., vocabulary for discussing fear, as well as particular content topics.

Check out the tab on the right of the YouTube video, >More From: podEnglish, to see several dozen different topics. The videos are obviously intended to be used as ipod lectures.

Thanks to Evelyn Izquierdo from Learning with Computers for this tip!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Google Wave

This is an amazing new app from Google that allows instant texting, email combined with live/real time bulletin board, and shared pictures á la Flickr. But that's not all--you can blog and embed the pictures and continue the conversation live via the blog or social network, e.g., on Orkut. Anyone can join in at any point in the conversation, and get a playback of what went on before--or create a private "thread" on the side with specific users. Best of all (for some) it is open source, so you can make your own applets for it.

Or catch the Google Wave preview here.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


TeacherTube has expanded from video how-tos--both for using tech tools and for content-based stuff--to include docs, photos, audio, etc. And all for the use of teachers with their classes.

It will take some poking around, but the site has some good stuff: from teachers to teachers.

Monday, May 04, 2009

CALL-IS Virtual Software List

I've started a Virtual Software List on Diigo for the CALL Interest Section of TESOL. So far the bookmark site has been pretty lively. I've set up a list of possible tags in the Group Forum, but of course, everyone is using whatever they want. Luckily, Diigo lets me add a few more. I've recommended that at least the VSL tag should be used to put it in our group list.

The idea is to pool our communal wisdom about good sites for teachers and learners of EFL/ESL. Both CALL IS members and Webheads are using the site, and anyone can join in the fun. The address is http://www.diigo.com/user/call_is_vsl (click on the ALL tab to see the bookmarks).

You need to be a member of Diigo and join the CALL_IS_VSL group to add to the list.

You can see the list of recommended tags in the Group Forum, or open the Tags tab on the right side of any page in the group and click on a tag to see related sites.

It's a nice example of Web 2.0 at work in the education community.


TokBox is a fun way to get students talking by sending each other video mail or greeting cards. Can also be used to call someone.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Discussion on Paraphrasing on the TESOL SLW-IS List

I'd greatly appreciate any help with this. I'm in my final semester in a master's program in adult ESL. I'm doing an internship in an intensive college-prep program. I'm preparing a lesson on paraphrasing for a group of low-level students. These students struggle with reading and do not yet know how to write persuasive essays. They're still working on paragraphs, but they need to begin getting the idea of paraphrasing.

Any suggestions for resources or activities would be greatly appreciated--especially ideas for how to scaffold from simpler kinds of paraphrasing to writing about a text.

My plan at this point is to start with asking them to explain the meaning of a basic proverb like, Don't count your chickens before they hatch.

Thanks to all,
Sheri Stein

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I think note-taking is good way to start paraphrasing, and it also encourages students to read more actively.

I would demonstrate how to take notes on a short essay, putting the notes in outline on the board or with an OHP. Then have students make notes for a different short essay and compare their notes with each other.

Infoplease has some good ideas for students, and the second half of this page is about taking notes from texts:

Lifehack's advice on taking notes is a little complex for lower level students, but you could easily extrapolate his list of what is important to make notes of:

Those are just a few sites I pulled from a quick Google search of "taking notes."

--Elizabeth Hanson-Smith
CSUS, emeritus

- - - - - - - - - -

Another activity I do with lower level students is use our ESL newspapers and have them all read the same article, usually about a high-beginner/low-intermediate level article. Then we work together to summarize/paraphrase the article in one paragraph on the board/OHP using fewer than 5 sentences. This is really challenging for them. I then break them into groups, and they do the same. Next they are assigned various articles and perform the same activity indivitually. It's good to have plenty of these newspapers on hand!

I follow up this activity a couple days later by having them all read an article, then put the article down, and then paraphrase the article without looking at it. This is really a stretch but a great exercise.


Monique Abbett
Ashland, ELS Language Centers
Southern Oregon University

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One thing I do to scaffold paraphrasing is an activity I call
"backwards paraphrasing," in which I give the "complex" version and
the students have to write the "simple" version. I base it on the
vocabulary we've been studying. For example, if we've had the words
gravity, require, deliberate, I might give the students a sentence
The serious nature of the situation makes it necessary to
think carefully.
The students must replace the underlined phrases
with the correct form of the vocabulary word (if students are still
beginning, I may supply a list of the words in the correct form).
This accomplishes several things: 1) it scaffolds use of new
vocabulary, 2) it demonstrates a form of paraphrasing, and 3) it
leads to a good discussion about why we have to learn all that
vocabulary in the first place (conciseness and precision).

Sheryl Slocum
Alverno College

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Teaching paraphrasing is difficult, and while I see the value of this
suggested activity, it's an approach I avoid with students because some
may see this as plagiarizing the original author's sentence structure
by "plugging in" synonyms.

Instead, I ask students to look at a sentence, identify phrases and
parts of speech, and rearrange the information in "new" sentence

Thus, taking the original:

The serious nature of the situation makes it necessary to think carefully.

and taking it apart as phrases and parts of speech and how they

the serious nature (noun phrase)
of the situation (prep. phrase), etc.
to think

and turning it into a different structure:

Thoughtful consideration is necessary because the situation is grave.

This has the potential to teach vocabulary, accurate paraphrasing, and
sentence structure.

Heidi Anderson

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As far as I know and have tried, I asked students to work in pairs on one article or one paragraph. I asked them to identify the idea in the article and discussed between one another. Then students were asked to write one paragraph for themselves by restating on what they have read in their own words. Next, the pairs exchanged the draft to one another. Each student commented on his/her friend's paragraph whether his/her friend had covered the idea stated in the article.

Pisarn Chamcharatsri

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The "pictograph" poster (or page) has been an effective paraphrasing strategy for beginners in my classes (High School/California). I usually start out by brainstorming the word "plagairize." We might discuss the meaning (from the Latin 'to kidnap'), why people plagairize, how it is interpreted in different cultures, the consequences in our society, school policy, etc. Once we've established the importance of paraphrasing (and citing) and quoting, I guide them to analyze the different formats with several hands-on activities that match quotes, paraphrases and summaries with examples from familiar texts. Next, we read and annotate a new text together. (I model the process the first time with a classroom example. Then, I give each group their own article to annotate.) For the pictograph, I supply groups of 3-4 students with posters (and an article or text of some sort per group), chart paper or regular paper. Then, I instruct them to include the following on their posters: the title of the text, the author, 3 bullets of significant facts or details and a drawing that represents a powerful idea or theme from the text. (If you have access to more technology, you could easily use online pictures or clip art.) You could also have them include a key sentence or phrase quote. By encouraging students to reflect and create an icon, picture or "non-linguistic representation" (Marzano) of the reading, beginning students learn to paraphrase and avoid plagiarism.(Note: one way to make sure that everyone participated in the process is to ask that each student select a color marker and use only that color. They can sign their names in the same color.) When the students write their summaries or responses based on their own posters, they can paraphrase:)

Julie Goldman

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This is a very interesting article on plagiarism by Dahlia Syahrani Md. Yusof I found when doing research for a writing class in the MA-TESL program at SPU in Seattle. It is from the Internet TESL Journal, Vol XV, No. 2, February 2009 http://iteslj.org/Articles/Yusof-Plagiarism.html

Dyani R. Bartlett

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Using Mobile Technologies for Education

There was some discussion of using mobile technologies (cell phones, iPods, Blackberries, etc.) at TESOL Denver this year, but the following is the most succinct list I have seen:

Forwarding an edited mail from the Wikieducator list (Randy Fischer)

Randy found this 2008 University of Nottingham study on Mobile Phones
and secondary education, and thought it might be of interest.
http://emergingtech nologies. becta.org. uk/upload- dir/downloads/ page_documents/ research/ lsri_report. pdf

Several interesting things caught his eye:

1. the fact that in many schools, students 'own' their mobile phones,
not necessarily the computers. (Physical ownership and use feels

2. the list of 15 Useful Things Students Do with Mobile Phones (below)

Could we use some of the 15 or more useful things to design
appropriate and culturallly- relevant learning activities?

What role could WikiEducator play in learning that uses mobile phones?

Fifteen useful things students did with mobile phones
1 Timing experiments with stopwatch
2 Photographing apparatus and results of experiments for reports
3 Photographing development of design models for eportfolios
4 Photographing texts/whiteboards for future review
5 Bluetoothing project material between group members
6 Receiving SMS & email reminders from teachers
7 Synchronising calendar/timetable and setting reminders
8 Connecting remotely to school learning platform
9 Recording a teacher reading a poem for revision
10 Accessing revision sites on the Internet
11 Creating short narrative movies
12 Downloading and listening to foreign language podcasts
13 Logging into the school email system
14 Using GPS to identify locations
15 Transferring files between school and home

--Thanks to Bee Dieu on the Webheads' list for this report

Movie Segments to Assess Grammar Goals

...is really something of a misnomer, since it is more a blog where students can practice various grammar and syntax items using questions and exercises set by the teacher, Claudio Azevedo (Casa Thomas Jefferson, Brasilia), with the prompt being video clips (professional), rather than a textbook.

The video at Movie Segments is a really nice motivator, and the questions and exercises have a good deal of subtlety, deploying a cognitive approach that engages the student and goes beyond sheer grammar. It is also a nice expression of how a blog can be used instructionally. Frequent updates are promised.

--Thanks to Ronaldo Lima, Jr., on the Webheads' list for the referral

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Online Magazines

Webheads have been collecting ideas for creating e-zines. Here is the list of potential Internet sites and software that might be used for free or cheaply:

To create a magazine online
http://www.formatpi xel.com/go/ en/index. php
http://www.presspub lisher.com/

To publish in the form of magazine (first you need to create the
contents and export to pdf)
http://issuu. com/
http://www.yudu. com/
http://www.mixbook. com/

To export to pdf (an example):
http://sourceforge. net/project/ downloading. php?group_ id=57796& use_mirror= switch&filename= PDFCreator- 0_9_7_setup. exe&a=75987836

For desktop publishing
Scribus (locally in your computer)
http://sourceforge. net/project/ downloading. php?group_ id=125235& use_mirror= dfn&filename= scribus-1. 3.3.12-win32- install.exe& a=17416234

to draw a poster
inkscape (Vector Graphics Editor)
http://sourceforge. net/project/ downloading. php?groupname= inkscape& filename= Inkscape- 0.46.win32. exe&use_mirror= garr

OpenOfice Draw
Download: http://download. openoffice. org/

to create posters online
http://www.glogster .com/

Thanks to Fernanda Rodrigues in Portugal for summarizing this thread.

Acer Netbook a Star!

We are back from travels in South America and were absolutely delighted with the mini-laptop. It connected flawlessly to wireless in all the various hotels (and ship) where we stayed, unlike our older PC, which tried to get back to our home network, no matter where we set up. And being under 2 lbs, it was a cinch to carry around. It also worked perfectly with Skype--one of the real pleasures of the trip was being able to call home from anywhere with crystal clear sound quality.

The lack of a CD ROM drive is occasionally a pain. For instance, I can't upload pictures and burn a CD, so we may eventually have to buy a CD burner--however, it has a Flash card port, so pix can be uploaded directly to, say, Kodak Gallery, without first loading them into the computer. Very convenient. I'm thinking of getting it out and setting it up at home (with fibre optic cable) in order to upload stuff while I work on one of the other computers.

So, size, convenience, and speed--what more could be asked for? Oh, it's free if you buy a cell/satellite mobile connection through AT&T, which requires a 2-yr contract. Otherwise, it's $350, which is what I paid for it at Office Depot.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Netbook!

I bought a little (9-1/2 X 7 X 1") netbook from Office Depot--an Acer One with 160 GB hard drive, excellent RAM and accelerated cache for video--and only 2 lbs.

Here's what I said about it to the Webheads:

I spent the first day downloading the things I like to use, e.g.,
Mozilla Firefox and OpenOffice. (That's why I wanted the big hard
drive--earlier models come with only 8 GB.) The second day I spent
trying to get the USB fax modem to work because I will be on dialup in
places. Acer doesn't come with an internal modem, so I bought an
external. I had to download the US Robotics driver, since Acer doesn't
have a CD drive to load the software either. But Windows reports a
.dll file missing, and I have been unable to find it online. Meantime
the modem blew out a phone line, that is, it couldn't hang up the line
when it didn't succeed in connecting. Very annoying--US Robotics says
it's the phone line and my phone provider says it's the modem. As I
was leaving and couldn't return it to the store, I brought the modem
with me, and will try to find someone with an external CD drive to
load the software for me. I wouldn't recommend USR. I'll also find
someone else's phone line to try it on!

I think Acer is correct in going with the non-phone modem concept--and
most software should be downloadable from the Internet.

I didn't have time to research the USR modem, but I realize now it is
probably 2004 technology. Meantime, the wireless and ethernet
connections on the Acer are functioning fine in several cities where I
traveled today from Sacto to Nashville to Ft Lauderdale. (I have no
idea what time zone my brain is in...)

Someone asked about price--$350 in the US at Office Depot. This was
much better than I saw for the DELL mini (online) and others, because
it included the larger HD. A similarly equipped Dell was over $450. It
was another $30 for the (so far) non-functioning external USR modem.
They can't keep the Acers on the shelf. In the 3 days it took for me
to decide to buy one, they had sold 11--just one left for me. [I checked
out the Acer here in Marathon, FL, and they had a deal--free if you buy
an AT&T cellphone modem, or $450 without it. Too pricey for me.]

One really neat thing--I could open it up fully on the airline tray
table--I've found increasingly that I couldn't use a 15" laptop on a
plane at all. Battery is only about 2-1/2 hrs, but I don't need the
upgrade that Gavin mentions, as I rarely use it unplugged.

One minor annoyance. I frequently increase the font/type size on
various Websites, but then they tend to readjust themselves if my
fingertips stray over the mousepad. I'm not sure why. It should only
change with Cntrl-+.

I've since found that the keyboard is a little small for my husband's fingers (he is losing dexterity because of peripheral neuropathy), and I've spent a long time with Outlook Express setup--why can't this be a Mac????? But otherwise, it is operating very well. I picked up the broadband connection from Comcast here in our Florida retreat by downloading online (it also came with a CD). So it's only the older technology of dial-up that I will have a problem with.

I'm wondering if this netbook--with a 24" monitor connected by one of the 3 USB ports--can't replace a regular-size computer. Of course their prices are plummeting.

And it's cute.