Te@ch Me

Ed-Tech Tips and Tricks for Teachers and Learners

Yeah, Right: How I met Wordle...

No wonder "words"is the most common word in this post!!
Every teacher will tell you that there were certain moments in their teaching lives where students inspired them to create certain teaching techniques or just come up with an interesting idea. Sometimes this can also be an idea for a little research, which happened in my case. It wasn't the discovery of Wordle, as you might have guessed, but another aspect of how Wordle can be used. Wordle is a word cloud generator which creates a cloud of words using the most common words in a text. The cloud is designed in a way that the most common words are written in large fonts and the less common words in smaller ones. The text can be provided either by copying/pasting it or typing the URL of a website or a blog. I use Wordle a lot because it is a great tool to start your lesson, especially a reading class. You can make students guess what the text is going to be about or you can highlight unknown target words. You can spend a substantial amount of time in class with one word cloud but that is a topic for another blog post.

So, while working on one of those clouds in one of my classes, a student asked me how to use this application. I told him about the website and asked him why he was interested in it. He told me that he was going to live in the U.S.A for a while. He wanted to download all the subtitles of "How I Met Your Mother" episodes and copy them into Wordle. This way he could get a cloud of the most common English words from the lives of hip/cool single people in their 30s. This way he would know the basic English words needed to survive in such a culture. I thought that this was a great idea. This would be something like a corpus study of "How I Met Your Mother". I don't know if he did it, but I knew I would do it. And I did. I didn't just use "How I met Your Mother" but other popular series such as "Dexter", "Mad Men", "Community" and "The Office" (both the UK and American versions). 


I downloaded all the subtitles from a divx subtitles site (there are plenty of them out there). I used the subtitles from all episodes from the first seasons, except for "How I met Your Mother" where I used the sixth season as well. I merged all episodes into one text file and removed the time stamps. I copied/pasted the whole text (an entire season of discourse!) to Wordle. The approximate number of words in each of these text files is as follows:

How I met Your Mother: 63.000 (they talk a lot in comedies)
Dexter:  56.000 (lots of chopping)
Mad Men: 54.000 (lots of unbuttoning!)
The Office U.S.A.: 16.000 (not much to talk in an office in the States?)
The Office U.K.: 20.000 (The Brits talk too much while at work)
Community: 64.000 (American community college students like to use words a lot!)

I used a horizontal layout and the maximum number of words in the cloud was 1000. I wanted it to be a really dense cloud since there were a lot of words to deal with. I also used different kinds of colours for all of them. 

Results and Comments:

Community is a series about the life of a bunch of interesting characters at a community college. Of course, as the title suggests, it tries to show the relations and sometimes the difficult way of life of a "community" in a comedic way. It is actually a hilarious show. If we look at the most common words in the first season, we can see that "Oh, like, yeah, gonna, know, okay, right, get, well, think, just" are right at the top. When we think that this series tries to imitate a community, it is actually sad to realize that the most common words used are only fillers! You can't even make a sentence out of them. Or can you? "Oh, yeah? Like, you gonna know! Right, get just well, I think..."

If you haven't watched Dexter, than you are missing out of one of the best series ever. There is lots of hacking and slashing involved, so you would expect a grimmer choice of vocabulary but as you can see "right, get, yeah, need, gonna, just, like, got, know, think, want, time" are the most common words. Of course, there is going to be "killer" there as well since it is Dexter, a serial killer. 

How I Met Your Mother Season 1:
I think everybody knows "How I Met Your Mother". This series is the main reason why I decided to write this post. Again, as we can see, words like "OH, know, just, right, yeah, going, like, want, get, think, really" dominate the life of these New Yorkers in their early-thirties. Of course, they are young, funny and in "love" (another word that can be spotted just between "like" and "know").

How I Met Your Mother Season 6:
The reason I chose the first and the sixth season from "How I Met Your Mother" was to see if there would be any change in corpus over the course of nearly six years. One would think that six years can make a difference in character development and the choice of words. However, as can be seen above, again the same words have been used.  "Oh" being right in the middle seems to be very meaningful!

 The Office U.K.:

I think "The Office UK" became popular after the American version. I haven't watched all of it, however, I have watched enough to witness a hilarious and embarrassing Ricky Gervais. Nevertheless, when you look at the frequency of the words, there is nothing that indicates that this is a very British show. Here we can observe that the English language cannot get away from the "yeahs" and needs to "know" everything and "wants" everything and "oh", it "gets" it!
The Office U.S.:

I definitely thought that there would be a huge difference between the American version of "The Office" and its British ancestor in terms of word choice. As you can see, this is not the case. "Yeah", to "know" the English language is very important. I think we "just" "gonna" have to accept that. Right!

By conducting this little experiment, I have come to the conclusion that the most used words in the English language are "Yeah, know, get, and oh". I am so happy that I did not spend too much money and resources into this research. Well, time, I have spent, but that is something that you need to sacrifice if you want to contribute to the field of science! I must say that I will continue recommending these Tv shows to my students since they are still among the best shows on Television. They keep everyone entertained while giving students the opportunity to get exposed to English at its most natural level. They can also observe how important the use of "fillers" are in spoken language. This "study" shows that communication is actually dependent on those "fillers".
It also has to be noticed that this research/experiment is not of a serious nature and I hope that you have not taken it too seriously. I only wanted to see how the spoken English language in popular TV series can be visualized by using Wordle. I must also admit that I was indeed a little curious about the outcome. I hope that no offense was taken by any speaker of the English language since no offense was intended.

Te@ch Me Prezi Part 4: Adapting a Reading Text

Prezi is one of the leading Web 2.0 applications embraced especially by language teachers since it has the capacity to present information in a completely different way. In my previous Prezi posts, I have tried to show the basics of how to create a Prezi. In this post, I am going to show one way of using a Prezi in the reading classroom. Using Prezi as a tool to accompany the reading class can be an efficient and fun way to address the students' perceptions and their desires to experience something different. Here is how you can do it:

1. Paste (or write) your paragraphs into the editing canvas. This is quite easy, since all you have to do is to select the text in your Word document and then paste it  (ctrl + V) anywhere on Prezi's canvas. Since all your paragraphs will be zoomed in individually, it is not important whether they have the same font size or not.

A pasted paragraph and all paragraphs in one view

2. Decide how you are going to present your reading text. In other words, with what kind of media are you going to supplement your reading lesson? What I do is to decide which vocabulary/concepts need clarification through dictionary definitions, pictures or videos. Usually as a teacher you already know this when you prepare your lesson. Here are some techniques that you can use:

a) Dictionary definitions: You zoom into a word and paste/write the dictionary definition under/into the word.

You can write definitions of words "under" the words

b) Images: You zoom into the word/concept and insert an image into a suitable place in the word. .

The image has been inserted into the letter "n". It will be displayed full-screen in the presentation

c) Videos: You insert a video into the word/concept.

This video has been inserted above the "rowing" concept

3. Determine your paths. As you know, Prezi is a linear presentation tool, which means that the information is presented in a sequential fashion. You have to number your objects on your canvas in the order that you want to present them. You will have to know in which order you are going to present your reading text and which items you will focus on while teaching it. Here are some techniques for determining your paths (of the righteous?):

a) Set your path numbers for your pre-reading part. If you have prepared a pre-reading part for your reading text, all you have to do is click each object in the order that you want your presentation to progress.

b) Select a whole paragraph as a path in your presentation. This way, the whole paragraph will be visible on the screen.
This paragraph has been selected multiple times to return to  full paragraph view
c) Select the words/concepts you are going to zoom in to show definitions/images/videos.

The word and an image in the word have been selected in the path

d) Copy/paste a sentence/structure that you want to deal with individually onto a different place in the canvas and include it in the path. This way you can work on it separately (on screen) if you want to.

The sentence has been positioned vertically to isolate it from the main paragraph

e) Repeat above steps with the remaining paragraphs. This is how the whole presentation path will look like:

This is how the presentation looks like in Prezi:

Previous Prezi Posts:

Te@ch Me Prezi Part 1: What is it?
Te@ch me Prezi Part 2: The Basics
Te@ch me Prezi Part 3: The Bubble Menu

Class Blogging Tips and Tricks: How to embed objects into your posts

Class Blogging Tips and Tricks: Embedding Objects

One of my major topics when I hold training sessions on blogging is how to embed certain objects into your blogs. These objects can be videos, Prezis, Scribd documents, etc. The procedure is very simple: Find the source of your object (YouTube, Vimeo, Prezi, etc.), look for the embedding code (which is always somewhere on the page) and paste it in your post (NOT in the composing area, but in the "Edit HTML" area). All seemed to go well until I noticed posts like this:

What happened here is that the object is too wide to fit into your posting area. Every blog has a posting area with a certain width. Before embedding an object, you should have an idea about approximately how wide your posting area is, so that you can avoid problems such as seen above. There are two ways to avoid this problem:
Solution #1: Adjust the width of your template:

Adjust width by moving slider
First go to Design==>Template Designer==>Adjust widths. Here you can adjust the width of your blog by moving the slider. You can also change the width of your sidebar. However, sometimes, the problem continues because in some templates the maximum width is still not enough to accommodate your videos. In this case, you have to get to the root of the problem, which brings us to the second solution:

Solution #2: Adjust the width of the video:
When objects (videos, Scribd documents, Prezis) are embedded into posts, their widths and heights are predetermined by the source site, such as Youtube or Prezi. In the past, the width and height information used to be only in the embed code (HTML code) but now you can determine these specifications before you copy the embed code.

Click "embed" in YouTube to see size options                     Change width manually in the code

After you click the "embed" button in Youtube, you will see that it offers a selection of sizes that you can choose from. When you click one, the code will automatically change. Previously, I had chosen a 640pxs width, which was too wide. This time, I will try 560pxs and see how that works out. It is a little game of trial and error to get the right width size number, but you have to do that  only once and then you can use the same number for all of your embedded objects. However, there might be sites where this option is not present. Then you will have to do this manually. After pasting the embed code into your post, just search for a line that has the word "width" in it. You will see that "width" is followed by a number just like the code in the YouTube example. Change the number to a size number that will fit your posting area and the size of your video will change.

Class Blogging Tips and Tricks: How to open link in a new window

The emergence of blogging services like Blogger and Wordpress has made blogging a very easy experience. A lot of teachers have started to blog in search of finding new ways to make students become more active in the language learning process. Teachers blog to share resources, videos, pictures and all kinds of information with their students and the rest of the world. All of this makes blogging a rich experience both for the teacher and the student.
With these posts, I want to share my solutions to little problems that our teachers have encountered during their blogging experience. I am sure that others out there had the same problems and are looking for ways to solve them. Well, here they are:

One recent problem that teachers encounter with their blogs is with Blogger's "link list" gadget. They use this gadget to provide students with useful links such as dictionaries, video sites, or grammar and vocabulary sites. However, their complaint is that whenever the students click the links, the sites open in the same window instead of opening in a new window. The same is valid for links that are given in a blog post. They, too, open in the same window instead of opening in a new one. Obviously, teachers want their students to continue reading their blogs while browsing dictionaries or other reference sites. Unfortunately, Blogger does not have a setting where you can enable such a feature. After extensively searching the internet, I have found the solution to both of the problems. Both can be solved by making little changes to the HTML code:

1. Open link in new window in a blog post:

First write your message in compose mode and include your link (click image to enlarge):

Then switch to "Edit HTML" mode. Now write target="new" after the link (don't forget to put a space). Below you will find a before and after screen shot (click images to enlarge):

Before and After HTML Code.

After you publish your post, you will see that the link opens in a new window. Don't forget that you have to apply this to all of your individual posts.

2. Open link in new window in a link list gadget:

This is a little bit complicated. You have to follow all instructions step by step without skipping one.  In the "Design" tab, add the "link list" gadget and do not forget to give it a title. In our case, it is "Dictionaries". Then, click the "edit HTML" tab on the same page (be sure you clicked "save" after you have added your gadget").

Add gadget

Now, before making any changes, you can "download the full template" in case something goes wrong (which I doubt) and you want to keep your original blog template.  Next, click "Expand Widget Templates", so that the specific gadget templates can be seen. Now press ctrl F (search) on your keyboard and search for "data:link.target" (without the quotation marks). When you have found the search term, you will notice that a few lines earlier, it says "widget ID" and on the same line "Dictionaries". That was the title that I gave for my link list. If you see these, that means you are on the right track.

Search for data:link.target

The next step is to write target='_blank'  after <li><a expr:href='data:link.target' (before the bracket). So your new line should look  like this (don't forget to put a space before your your new code):

<li><a expr:href='data:link.target' target='_blank'><data:link.name/></a></li>

Insert "target='_blank"

Finally, click save template and then view your blog. Now, when any link in your link list is clicked, a new window will open. All of this sounds complicated, but it is not. Once you have tried it, you will see that it is quite easy and feel like you have become a webmaster (I did!!) after seeing that it works...

Te@ch me Prezi Part 3: The Bubble Menu

The Bubbles:

The Bubble Menu
The Text Editor
1. Write: This is the default bubble when you first start your editor. When in write mode, you can use your canvas to insert (write or copy/paste) text. You place your mouse anywhere on the canvas and click once (not a double click!). When you see a cursor flashing on your canvas, you can start writing. The moment you start typing, Prezi will open the text editor. In the editor, you can align your text and decide whether you want it to be part of a title or a body. Once you click "Ok", your text will become an "object" on your canvas, which you can manipulate at any time. Don't forget that everything you place on your "canvas" becomes an object that you can manipulate (zoom in, zoom out, rotate, etc...).

The Transformation Zebra

The Transformation Zebra:  The Transformation Zebra appears whenever you click any object (texts, pictures, videos, etc...) on your canvas. You use the Zebra to move, rotate and zoom in and out of the object. At first it takes a while to get used to it, but once you do, it becomes a very easy and practical tool.

How to use the Transformation Zebra: 

The Zebra consists of three areas. The outer ring, the inner ring and the center. When you grab (click and hold) and turn the outer ring with your mouse the object will rotate 3600. When you grab and turn the inner ring, the object will zoom in and out. When you grab and turn the center, the object can be moved. This way you can adjust and size your objects on your canvas.

Insert Shapes, Pdf Documents and Videos

2. Insert: You use the "Insert" bubble to insert pictures, videos (supports a wide range of formats), pdf documents, YouTube videos and shapes. After you have inserted your object, you can again manipulate it with the Transformation Zebra. As mentioned before, everything you place on the canvas becomes an object which can be manipulated.

Just click on objects to assign paths
3. Path: After you have placed all the objects that you want to use in your presentation, it is time to arrange a certain "path" your objects are going to follow. As I had mentioned before, Prezi is a presentation tool which is like a camera that floats over your objects on a desktop. To arrange your objects in your presentation, you have to put them in the desired order. To do this, you click the "Path" bubble. This is a very easy procedure since you just click your objects and Prezi assigns a path number to them. In this way, you can see which object is "focused" first and which is next and so on. To check how your presentation progresses, you can make Prezi "show" it by clicking "Show" or your space key. Just use your left and right arrow on your computer to move back and forward in your presentation. To exit, just click your space key again and you will be back in editing mode.

Capture two objects at the same time
Capture view: Many users do not know how and why to use the "capture view" function at the beginning. You have to know that this is a very important function and that you will have a hard time arranging your Prezi if you do not know how and why to use it. As I have said before, everything on your canvas is an object which is treated as a single object by Prezi. When you assign a path number to a picture, Prezi will only focus on that picture. But, what if you have a title or caption on the top of the picture? They will count as two independent objects, but you want Prezi to treat them as one object and show them as one path number in your presentation.  In other words, you want them to appear on the screen at the same time. What do you do? You position both your picture and title in a way that they can be seen together on the screen. Then you click "Capture View". Prezi will capture your view and present that "view" as a path in your presentation. You will have to experiment a little to get the hang of it, but will see that it doesn't take much to master it.

The next part will be about Techniques and Tips for creating Prezis.

Te@ch me Prezi Part 2: The Basics

In my last blog post, I tried to explain what Prezi actually is and how it should be (or shouldn't be) compared to PowerPoint. In this post, I will try to explain some of the basics of using Prezi.

Signing up: The sign-up process is pretty easy. All you have to do is to decide which license you need. Prezi offers three licenses: Public, Enjoy and Pro. The Public license is free. However, if you are a teacher, there is another, more delicious option for you: Prezi offers a free teacher/student license which is the same with the $59 Enjoy license. It allows offline viewing (you can download your presentations), private (you don't have to make them public) and watermark free presentations (you can insert your own logo). To get this license, you have to provide an e-mail address that shows your teacher/student status. This can be either an .edu or a .k12 address. Prezi does not accept any other e-mail addresses for a teacher/student account. Though, here you can find an alternate way that Prezi suggests to get an .edu address.

After you have received your confirmation e-mail, you can log on to the site and start creating your own Prezis.

First steps: After clicking the "New Prezi" button you will be asked to give a title for your presentation. You can also provide a brief description about your presentation, so that people will know if it fits their needs.

The Editing "Canvas": Now you are at the editing area of your Prezi. This is the place where you are going to design your Prezi presentations. On the upper left corner of the page you will see a "Bubble Menu". Here are all the tools that you need to create your presentations. You can click each "bubble" for a certain tool and other related tools will appear.
The Editing Canvas

After this point, you will start creating your presentation. To start editing your Prezi,  you should become familiar with the "Bubbles" Menu, which will be the main topic of Te@ch me Prezi: Part 3.

Click here to continue reading Part 3

Te@ch Me Prezi Part 1: What is it?

When I first saw a Prezi presentation, I thought this must be the ultimate presentation tool. Sitting in front of the computer, my jaw dropped. If you want/need to impress anyone for any reason, you should use Prezi, and you will be successful. The person watching you will admire you and ask you a thousand times how you've done it. It sure has a "wow" effect when used efficiently. However, my interest in it was based on the fact that it would make a great tool for the language classroom. It really is.  All the presentations I have prepared for reading and writing classes have received positive feedback from teachers and students.

What is Prezi?
Usually, the first thing that people ask is "Is it different from PowerPoint?". I think this is one way of defining Prezi: It is very different from Powerpoint. By knowing these differences we can also determine where and how to use Prezi. Some teachers ask me how they could convert a powerpoint presentation to Prezi. Well, they shouldn't do that unless they plan to focus on something completely different from their original PowerPoint presentation. 

For a start, PowerPoint is based on the use of slides. These slides can show text, pictures and videos. You can also use different animation techniques in these slides to focus on different language points. This is all happening on slides, and these slides are shown in a certain order.

This is one slide showing various parts of an academic body paragraph. Each mouse click reveals a different part

Everything is seen from one point of view. Imagine a desktop with all your documents, pictures and videos. laying on it. Now think that there is a fixed camera on top of the desktop and you are moving all objects on your desktop into the view of the camera. That is how PowerPoint basically works. Everything happens in front of that camera.

Prezi, however, has a completely different approach for showing your presentation. In Prezi, you do not have slides but an empty canvas, or to compare it to the Powerpoint example, an empty desktop. Imagine that all your objects; text, pictures and videos are spread out on your desktop. Now this time, your camera is not fixed. It is a moving camera showing all the objects in a predefined order (which is called "paths").  Imagine the camera floating over your desktop and zooming in and out of everything you emphasize in your presentation, and in a teacher's case, a language point.

On the left you can see the organization of an academic essay in one view. On the right however, is the next path of the presentation which consists of a "zoom", in this case "the  introduction"

You can use the "camera" however you like. It is possible to turn and twist and to zoom in and out of everything that you place on your "desktop", therefore creating a unique way of presenting information.  Below are the complete versions of the two mentioned presentations:



These two examples show how Prezi and PowerPoint are different in many ways. The reason why I used this comparison is to show what Prezi actually is and how we should perceive it. In the next part I will focus on the basics of Prezi.

To continue reading: Te@ch me Prezi: Part 2

Building your own PLN with Twitter

When people ask me where I get all of this information for my blog, how I know so much stuff, I usually answer with a "I just know" accompanied with the "well, I am smart" look!! It works most of the time, however, I think the time has come to reveal my secret: Twitter + a Personal Learning Network (PLN). Everybody knows what Twitter is, but I think not everybody knows how useful it can be in building a PLN for your professional needs. When I first heard about Twitter I thought "No, not another social networking thingy". However, after witnessing (especially at ISTEKELT) how teachers all over the world are using it to share ideas and resources, I thought "why not try it?". I tried it, I am still using it and believe that all teachers should use it. What is happening is that you follow certain professionals (teachers and other notable figures in the ELT world!!) and after a while, depending on what you have to share, people start to follow you. It can be described as an "ever-expanding network of ideas at your fingertips". There is always someone out there who had the same experience as you and found a solution or another useful idea to your problem .Maybe you can add to it and make it even more useful.
So, how do you build a Twitter PLN? Let's see how:

First you have to get a Twitter account, which is pretty easy. You just go to www.twitter.com and sign up for an account:

Sign-up is easy
When signing up, do not forget to include a photo of you. People will take you more seriously if you have some kind of an "avatar" that represents you. It does not necessarily have to be a photograph of you. Cartoons or logos will do fine as long as they are a representation of you. Providing a short bio of yourself is also important since people who want to follow you will want to have at least some information about who they are going to follow. If you have a blog, or another website, do not forget to include the url (your web address).

PLN in action

After you have signed up, you have to look for people to follow. The best way to do this is to follow certain "hashtags" or "searches". Hashtags are certain words or phrases followed by the # number sign. Everyone who uses the same #hashtag can be followed by searches. For example, when you search for #elt, you will be able to read all tweets which contain the hashtag #elt in it. People do this to separate certain tweets according to their topics. You can always save your searches and access them whenever you want.

First step to find who to follow: Search #hashtag
While reading your search column, you will have to decide who to follow. All you have to do is to click the profile name and you will see a summary of the profile with recent tweets from the user. This will give you a main idea about the users activities and subject area. Here you can now click "follow" if you want to follow this user's tweets. 

All the users that you follow will appear in your timeline:

The users that you follow will appear in your timeline
 All the captures that I have used have been take from Twitter's official web site. There are also other ways to use Twitter. These are applications that were written by developers to make the Twitter experience more fulfilling or more tailored to your needs. The most known ones are Seesmic and Tweetdeck. The main reason why they are so popular is that you can see everything in a "column" design. For example, you do not have to change pages to access your #searches:  Seesmic is a web-based Twitter client.

Tweetdeck is a separate program that you have to install on your computer.

 I am sure there are many other programs that can be used to access your Twitter account, but these are the ones that I have found to be useful. If you are using different ones, please share them with me.
After you have found people to follow, you can start to share your own tweets and links and resources. You can also retweet other users' tweets. Do not forget that you only have 140 characters to use. That's why you will see url shorteners in all the Twitter clients. Because nowadays web addresses are way too long to fit in a 140 character tweet, you need automatic url shorteners. The moment you paste a web address into the tweet space you will see that your url is automatically shortened by services like bit.ly or tiny.url

Twitter at a Glance
Here is a great image that I found at the Daring Librarian. It gives a short summary on how to start your PLN with Twitter:
Twitter at a Glance
 In conclusion, building a Personal Learning Network with Twitter is really easy. All you need is a little bit time and the freedom to experiment. You will see how fast your network will grow and how fast you will be able to learn new things, not only for the sake of using the information but also for the sake of sharing.
Have fun.

Below you will find links to useful resources related to Twitter and Twitter for Educators:

An Educators Guide to Twitter
Twitter for Teachers
Thirty Interesting Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom

Language Learning: Why Most Fail and How YOU Can Succeed

This is a presentation by John Fotheringham about language learning and its challenges. You might not agree with everything mentioned here, however, I believe that every teacher has to know what is being emphasized here. If you have the chance, try to show this to your students as well.

Copyright © 2010 by John Fotheringham. For more tips, tools, and tech for Mastering ANY Language, go to LanguageMastery.com

Google Documents: How to create a digital quiz

We know that Google Documents can be used for many things in or out of the classroom. However, sometimes you come across some features that still have the potential to surprise you. This time, I want to show how you can create digital quizzes by using the forms feature in Documents. After you have finished a quiz, you can send it to your students or embed it in your blog. In addition, you can evaluate their answers and see who has taken the quiz. Let's start:

 1. Create a new form in Google Documents

2. Fill in the form with information about your quiz. Your first question has to be the student's name so that you know who took your test.

3. After you click "done", you can continue adding questions by clicking "add item". There are different question types you can choose from, however, I wouldn't recommend using too many different types of questions in one test because it may get confusing for both the teacher and the student.

4. After you are finished writing (or copy/pasting) your questions, you can change the appearance of your quiz by applying a theme. You can also edit, duplicate or delete a question and change the order of the questions by dragging them into another location.

5. Now you can send the form to your students via email or you can embed into your blog by copying/pasting the embed code.

6. It is possible that the quiz might be too big in width and height for your blog. In this case, you have to change its size.

This is how your quiz will look like after you send it to your students:

In your blog:

7.  How to see and evaluate answers: After completing your quiz, you will see that there is a new document in your Google Documents account. When you click that document, you will see that it opens a spreadsheet just like an Excel spreadsheet. There, you will find everybody's answers together with the time they have taken the quiz. It should look like this:

I hope this was useful. If you have any other suggestions please comment.
Have fun.

Dropbox: A Delight...

It is possible that in the corridors and teacher's rooms you have heard teachers talk about an application that has saved their lives and is one of the hottest things since sliced bread. You might have wondered what they are talking about, heard something about a box and how easy it was to drop computer files into it. Why would that be such a wonder? Well, it is. If you are someone who works on documents on different computers, if you are someone who has to send documents (all kinds of them) to a number of receivers or if you have to keep the same document on a number of computers, then Dropbox is your very best friend. So what does Dropbox do? It basically synchronizes your documents on different computers. In other words, the moment I "drop" a file into the dropbox folder on my  computer at work, it will appear in the dropbox folder at home. The best part is that it will be the same file. All the changes I make on any file in the dropbox folder will appear in all my dropbox folders. It is also possible to access your folder on any computer. You just have to log on to www.dropbox.com and you will have access to all of your files. This is how my online dropbox folder looks like:

 This is how my dropbox folder on my computer looks like:
As you can see their contents are the same. 

Who can use it? 

1. Material Production: Everybody who works on material for the classroom knows how much of a pain it is to have 10 different versions of the same document in your E-mail inbox. Sometimes you are totally confused which one was the one you were actually working on. With dropbox you don't even have to carry a flashdrive anymore. Just drag and drop your file into your dropbox folder and keep on working on the same file at home. They will be synchronized.

2. EdTechs: If you are an EdTech and need to transfer your files (word, powerpoint, pictures, etc) on a number of computers in a lab or laptops, then you can use dropbox. Just download dropbox into the computers/laptops and every time the computers/laptops connect to the Internet your files will synchronize. No running around labs or corridors to transfer files with a flashdrive.

3. Coordinators/teachers:  Coordinators/teachers who need to send large multimedia files to their teachers will find it very useful. E-mail attachments have a size limit, even Gmail has a 10 MB limit. An offline version of a Prezi presentation is about 17 MB. Sometimes a Powerpoint presentation can be more than 10 MB due to the use of multimedia files such as videos or pictures. So, what you can do is make those files available in your dropbox public folder and share the link with your teachers. They do not even have to have a dropbox account. All they have to do is click the link you have send them and download will start automatically.
Teachers can use it to share documents with students or make students use it for their assignments. It definitely helps to get rid of all the 1st, 2nd, 3rd drafts of assignments in your inbox.
These are just some of the opportunities that Dropbox can offer to teachers and administrators. I am sure there are many other ways to use it. It is really easy to get an account (just your email and a password) and they offer you 2.5 GB, which is actually a lot of space, for free. Please comment if you use it in another way or if you have suggestions.
Have fun.

"10 ways to motivate students to blog" by Edna Sackson

Today, I am going to have a guest writer on Te@ch Me. Her name is Edna Sackson and she is a teacher from Melbourne, Australia. I came upon this article on her blog called "What Ed Said" when I was looking for information on how to make students write comments on class blogs. Well, guess I was lucky. There you go.  

Collaborative post with Mitch Squires, a primary school teacher in Sydney. Cross-posted at his blog. I wrote some, he wrote some, we both wrote some. We had fun… kids could do this too!
From Ed: I love to blog. I’m an addict.
I like to blog about things that matter to me, things I’m thinking about and things I learn. I respond to things I’ve read. I share things that I discover. I reflect.
I’d find it difficult to blog if someone told me what I had to write about. I’d hate to have deadlines by which my posts were due. If I was expected to blog about things that didn’t interest me, I’d never produce another post. I don’t think I’d like someone correcting my writing. I wouldn’t like writing on the same topic everyone else was writing about today!
Why should younger, possibly smaller people feel any differently?
From Mitch: I was only ever an occasional blogger until this year, writing in fits and starts, however starting a class blog opened up a whole new world . Students loved having their work on show to a global audience, able to provide genuine feedback. Parents loved the ‘window into our classroom’. I loved the excitement I saw in the students, the motivation it sparked in them. After the initial buzz wore off, however, I had to find ways to keep the students interested…
10 ways to motivate students to blog…
1. Hook them in.
Post a powerful provocation to get them thinking. Get them to respond as a comment. Use photos, artwork, video clips. Suggest a thinking routine to scaffold responses. eg ‘Connect, Extend, Challenge‘ or ‘See, Think,Wonder’. Ask powerful, engaging questions about big ideas and accept all kinds of responses. Sam Sherratt’s class blog is a great example.
2. Freedom of choice.
Allow choice. Encourage students to write about what matters to them. Don’t expect everyone to write about the same thing at the same time in a uniform way. Encourage creativity rather than compliance. (I love this point. I struggled initally with the idea of set tasks vs student choice. While it sometimes bothers me that some of my students won’t post great classwork because it doesn’t fit with their own view of their blog, if I look at the bigger picture, it makes their blogs more authentic and relevant to them. (Mitch)
3. Don’t over correct.
Ed: Actually the jury’s out on this one. Some say blog posts should be final draft pieces, with spelling and grammar correct. I tend to disagree. I’d allow students to express their opinions, grow their thinking, be creative… but I may be wrong! Mitch: My general rule on this one is if the work is an assigned class task, I expect students to have thoroughly checked the accuracy of their spelling and grammar. If it is a personal interest piece written in their own time (most of what makes up their blogs) then I am happy as long as it all makes reasonable sense.
4. Help provide an authentic audience.
Share student blogs with other teachers at your school. Invite parents and grandparents to comment. A comment from a grandmother interstate, a cousin overseas or a teacher from a school on another continent is a powerful motivator for students. Tell your online PLN about them. Add a Clustrmaps widget showing global visitors.
5. Model good writing.
Blogging is writing. Share your own blog with your students. Write posts that model the sort of writing you’d like them to produce. John Spencer writes beautifully. So do his students at Social Voice!
6. Encourage different modes of expression.
Blogging isn’t only writing. Encourage creativity. Students might create videos, images or cartoons and post them. Great examples here from David Mitchell’s class blog.
7. Make global connections.
Students love to hear what their peers think. Help them connect with both an in-school and an online PLN. Collaborate with classes in other countries. Read about Australian Kath McGeady’s collaboration with a class in the US. Their Uganda project is inspiring! And have you seen the Alice Project, where ‘Three 10th-grade Honors English classes tumble down the rabbit hole to discover Alice’s journey first-hand’?
8.  Encourage students to support each other.
Who doesn’t get a kick out of working together to solve a problem? Students love to show each other how to use that photo of their artwork to make a Jigsaw Planet, or record their speech as a podcast for their blog. If they have the skills, let them share them! (I love this one. ‘Kids showing kids’ is much more effective than teacher as boss of learning! -Ed)
9. Let them own it.
The theme. The widgets. The blog name. The posts. Kids love to take full control and place their own stamp on their patch of online space. Mitch Squires’ Year 3 student, Emily blogs here.
10. The power of embedding.
Help students master embedding web 2.0 and multimedia tools. They’ll be empowered to experiment and include an almost endless range on their blogs. See Steve Davis’s middle school English class understandings of text, expressed through different media.

Thanks Edna for letting me use the article.
You should visit her blog for other articles on teaching and technology.
Have fun

Alternative Video Sites for Teachers who Live in Countries that cannot Access Youtube for Reasons Unknown!!!

Everybody on this planet knows that you cannot access Youtube in Turkey. I came to realize this when I saw this map on a site that was showing stereotypical maps of Europe. It shows Turkey as "NO YOUTUBE LAND". It also shows Switzerland as "BANK" and Norway as "SELFISH FISHERMAN LAND". I know all of this is intended as a joke, but still, it hurts to know that something which has such a huge educational value cannot be accessed in our country. According to this website, Youtube remains one of the best educational tools on the Internet. However, there are always alternative ways for teachers to get what they want for the sake of teaching (I am not talking about illegal ways to access Youtube!!). Here are some sites that you should visit if you want to use videos in the classroom (and live in a country that has no access to Youtube):

1. Teacher Tube

It is one of the most extensive educational video sites on the net. It has also documents, audio and photos on various topics intended for classroom use. However, you have to become a member to get rid of all the ads. (It is free)

2. BBC Learning Class Clips

If you haven't had the opportunity to check out the BBC Learning Website, then you have missed a lot.  It is on its own a great place to visit and learn a lot of things plus the neat design with comprehensive content. The class clips are very useful for many activities in class or as homework. There are direct links to the videos, however, you cannot embed them into your blog.

3. Videojug

Videojug is a "how to" video site with tons of videos about virtually everything from "how to make homemade vanilla ice cream" to "how to tune a piano". The videos are accompanied by a printable scripts. So, you can use the videos for a variety of activities in the classroom or as homework. All videos can be embedded into your blog.

The Art of Storytelling

The Art of Storytelling is an online museum where you can write stories for paintings and other pieces of art. You can:

Experience a Story: Listen to stories, read and view pictures inspired by their collections created by visitors.
Tell a Story: Become a storyteller as you write and record a story inspired by works in the museum’s collection.
Picture a Story: Create your own work of art using objects and characters found in some of the museum’s most noteworthy paintings. 

There are many ways you can use this site in your classroom.You can use it as a Reading activity by using the stories created by other visitors. You can use it as a Writing activity by choosing a painting and making them write a story. You can also create your own painting by using the museum's own characters and objects. You can do this in the classroom together with your students and then make them write a story about the painting you have created together. This site looks like it has lots of potential for teachers and students as well.

Have fun and please feel free to comment on how you have used or plan to use it in class.

How to use Dvolver Animations in your class

Dvolver is a website where you can create your own animated movies. It is very easy to use and also a great tool for your classroom. Every movie that is created has a link. So, you can ask your students to create a movie and then send the link to your email. Then you can publish their links on your blog and make them vote for the best movie and maybe write a little comment. In the end you can embed the winner into your own blog. That is one way of using Dvolver in class, however, if you have other ideas, please feel free to comment and share.
Below is a detailed video on how to create a  Dvolver animation. You can show this video in class if you want to, or maybe create one together. Have fun.

A Prezi Approach to Teaching an Academic Paragraph and Essay

This is one way of teaching a writing class accompanied with Prezi. The main objective is to highlight certain similarities between a paragraph and an essay by zooming in and out on the parts of an essay. Feel free to comment...

How to upload a Powerpoint presentation to Scribd and embed it into your blog

Many colleagues were asking me how it was possible to embed their PowerPoint presentations into their blogs. It is quite easy. You first have to upload your presentation to a document hosting website like scribd or slideshare. In this demonstration I have used Scribd. Here you go:

You can also upload Adobe PDF documents or Microsoft Word documents to Scribd and embed them into your blog in them same way.
Hope this was useful.
Have fun...

Hello there...

I see teachers getting their blogs and I have to admit they look pretty impressive. I also have to admit that I got jealous. So, I will have my own blog. My major aim will be posting tips and techniques about all kinds of EduTEch stuff that you will or will not need in the classroom and at home...
So, lets Te@ch...