Thursday, November 29, 2012


    A podcast is a type of digital media consisting of an episodic series of audio, radio, or video files. It could be subscribed to and downloaded through web to a computer or a mobile device. As has been mentioned by Cassinelli, C in the video Integrating Podcasting into Your Classroom , “our students today are digital natives”. In order to provide the best learning experiences to our students, educators today should update our instruction methods. Podcast is a very effective classroom instruction tool.

   Take the ESL podcast for example, it provides English learners with stories embedded with useful vocabularies. Both the script and voice explanation for each story are available so that readers could better understand the key ideas of each story. This could be a great supplement for ESL classroom teaching. 
 Take episode 12 Dining at a restaurant for example, the story details the process of dining at a restaurant: how does the waiter greet you, how do you respond to the waiter and so on. Almost everything one needs to know about restaurant conversation is listed and explained in the corresponding radio. This makes it perfect for oral English classes. Teachers could set one topic each time and use the podcast as a supplementary material. For example, if today's topic is dining out, teachers could have students listen to this exact episode and then have students discuss the key phrases used in the conversation. After that, role play could be carried out so that students could have a chance to practive what they have just learned.  

Friday, November 16, 2012


ePals provides an online classroom-matching and collaboration service, where students in different schools, states, or countries can work together on projects in private, customizable group workspaces. With ePals, you could start your own project, or you could choose from the library of existing projects ePals provides.

I explored several of ePals existing projects. Two Classes in Hollywood, CA, USA Seek International ePals Partners is a project in which a group of 14 public school kids in 6th grade located in Hollywood, California, USA would like to exchange opinions, ideas, and the general culture and events with partners around the world. I like this project because it enhances both students’ writing skills, but also students’ cultural understanding. Another type of project I explored is the language-learning type, for example, French Teensseek English Email Exchange, German Students Seek Email Exchange withAustralians, Seeking Japanese Speakers forEmail Exchange and so on. All these projects are used by foreign-language learning students who intend to improve their language skills by exchanging emails with native language speakers. Topics could range from culture and history to daily life.  

Other features available in ePals are LEARN 365sm and in2books. LEARN 365sm includes ePals SchoolMail, a unique K12 email solution with fully customizable communication policies and permissions and ePals learningSpace, an online learning platform that enables educators to differentiate instruction, manage classroom activities, preserve a legacy of students and facilitate collaboration around the educational content. In2books is ePal's curriculum-based e-mentoring program for students in grades 3-5. It matches students with adult pen-pals who read the same books and exchange teacher-supervised, online letters about the books.

In2books will be a great tool for students to practice their writing skills. Besides, it allows students to choose the book by themselves under the category listed by the teacher. This will build up students’ responsibility and interest once they make a choice and embark on their reading journey. The teacher-supervision function offered by In2books makes it easier for teach to monitor and control the whole situation. Personally, I would like to use In2books for summer and winter vocations. Summer and winter vocations are usually great time for students to read several books as they have plenty of time by themselves. Usually, teachers would designate several books for students to read and at the end of the vocation, students will be asked to hand in a reflection paper, which is the traditional way to evaluate students’ reading. This traditional reading and evaluation mode is very ineffective as teachers have nothing to do with the reading process and couldn’t provide timely help to students if they ever encounter any difficulty during their reading. With in2books, all these problems could be solved. The selection of their own books to read and the exchange of letters with pen pals make the whole reading task much more interesting. And the monitoring function would keep teachers informed of students’ situation at all times. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Voice Thread

After listening to all the voice threads in my group, I like Keri’s Bienvenue a la classe de francais and Jinsoo’s VoiceThread. In Keri’s voice thread, students are asked to introduce themselves and tell why they would like to learn French and what kind of activities they hope to have in the class. Keri has very clear instruction in the voice thread as to how to use the voice thread. I like Keri’s idea of using voice thread as the introduction to the course, especially if it is an online course. The use of VT and the presence of classmates introducing themselves through VT make it like a real classroom discussion. Students can hear each other’s voices and even know each other’s faces if they set pictures in their account.
Jinsoo uses the VT as a platform for discussion of a specific topic. Voice Thread is great for discussion or debate as multiple people can voice their opinions. And Second language teacher could use this topic discussion method to engage students to speak. Besides, the way students comment on voice thread instead of talking directly to the classmates could encourage some students who are shy and who are usually reluctant to speak in the classroom to voice their ideas. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Go! Animate

                                                 Happy hour by xieyuhhy on GoAnimate
                                              Animation Software - Powered by GoAnimate.
Comics appeal to people in general, especially children. And for a long time, comic strips are thought to be only for recreational purposes. The use of comics in education is based on the concept of creating engagement and motivation for students. The use of comics as the medium for classroom instruction could be very effective in arousing students’ interest and engaging their attention.

  In the comic strip I made “Happy Hour”, the traditional text-book dialogue was changed into a vivid and real-situation conversation. By embedding boring vocabularies and grammar into a comic strip, I intend to create setting in which it is easier and funnier for students to learn vocabularies and grammar. In this comic strip, students could learn words like giraffe, zebra, brother, outfit, grab and so on.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Ms. Xie's ABC


Digital storytelling is a wonderful tool for classroom instruction as the creativity empowered by it does a better job in capturing students’ attention. 
    I used Bubblr to create a story titled “Ms. Xie's ABC by Yu Xie". In the story, I listed several words which begin with letters A, B and C respectively. By creating this visual story, I intend to let students understand and memorize those vocabularies. The images shown in the digital story will help students to associate the abstract word with a vivid picture, therefore is better able to memorize those words. Following what I have done in my digital story,  students will be given assignments in which they will be asked to create their own stories to help themselves learn vocabularies. At the end of this project, students should be able to remember those words and create sentences using those words.  

Digital Storytelling

Digital storytelling som verktyg för företag och organisationer @ SSWC 2010 (Sweden Social Web Camp)Digital storytelling is the practice of combining narrative with digital content, including images, sound and video, to create a short movie (7 things you should know about digital storytelling). Digital storytelling is visually more engaging than traditional storytelling. The huge creative latitude empowered by digital storytelling has made it more and more popular among different users for various purposes. One of the purposes is for educational use. The accessibility of technology has provided opportunities for education not imagined a decade ago. And story-telling is a vital skill with seemingly unlimited applications. The combination of the two has made it a wonderful educational tool. Digital stories can vary in length, but most of the stories used in education typically last between two and ten minutes (The educational uses of digital storytelling).

As a teacher, I personally would like to include digital storytelling into the curriculum. I would create my own stories and show them to the students as a new way to present routine material. An engaging digital story does a better job in capturing the attention of students and increasing their interest in exploring new ideas. Besides, including digital stories into curriculum could make some abstract content more understandable. Also, digital storytelling could  also be used by students. Research topics will be given to students and they are allowed to create their own stories. This type of homework is more interesting than traditional paper work and students’ creativity could be better tapped.  

Friday, October 12, 2012

McDonald's Video Game

There is a lot of reading in many computer games. This includes instructions on how to play the game, the objectives, in-game text from characters or game help, and the walkthrough. More importantly, being turned on by the games, kids can read a level over their head. All this makes online games ideal for outside of classroom reading practice. 

     The McDonald's Game is a serious game that students could play outside of the classroom for autonomous learning. I played it twice and found that the entire game relies on the player’s understanding of the game help. Players are required to read 30 pages of instruction as to how to run a big company like McDonald’s. In the game, players need to take control over everything  from feeding the cows to marketing McDonald’s hamburgers. Unlike traditional reading materials which usually drive people to sleep after a few lines, the closeness-to-life and fun offered by the game makes it perfect for kids to read in their spare time without being bored at all. One way to assess students’ reading comprehension is to start a discussion of the game in class. Teachers could assess their reading ability by raising questions like “What do I need to know to play the game?” “How are doing with your McDonald’s business?" From students’ responses, teachers could have a clear picture of whether they have understood those game help texts.