Friday, December 07, 2007

Getting ready for January and getting the team to volunteer for PET!

Feels like this week has been pretty full on - been involved in sorting out the arrangemnets for my cover in January and reminding people to contact me if they want to take part in the PET project. Got a healthy response from quite a few innovative teachers so am feeling positive. Also made a contact in Ealing who seems up for getting involved afetr I get BC off the ground.

I also went on a v good training day on Tues delivered by Gavin Dudeney from The Consultants -E - based in Barcelona. It was entitled Web 2 to Web 3D and was pretty inspiring!

The morning session was about Wiki/Blogging/Podcasting - got a few new resources but wa spretty up-to-date on that side of things really; and in the afternoon we ventured into Second Life which was amazing (when the Internet connection allowed us to have a play).

The Consultants E are carrying out teaching seminars in second life - we saw a sample powerpoint that he does in real time and he explained how he deals with Q's from the floor...wasn't too sure at this time if the training day was turning into a big advert for his company...!

There was an awful lot of stuff to process but I really enjoyed the day - in as much that it provided a bit of headspace away from teaching to reflect on all the stuff that's out there.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Advertising the PET project

I did a speil in 2 ESOL team meetings today - 16-19 and EFL - and showed them some of the Australian sample Blogs I found. Both teams seemed receptive to the outline of what I hope to achieve.

A few interesting questions cam up:
  • How accurate should students' English be? (does this depend on what is the focus of the task?)
  • Should the teacher correct the work? If so - how? Correct all work??
  • How should the teacher monitor the Blog? (trying to keep time spent to a practical level)
  • What privacy settings need to be used?
We decided to set a deadline of Dec 7th for those interested in taking part to let me know and I also encouraged people to contact me for further info/chat more about what they'd like to do.
Have been working with a group to prepare a Diversity PowerPOint ready for this term's EHWLC competition and there are several outcmes that will affect my fture PET project:

1. Clear time limits and learning and teaching expectations must be laid out at the beginning of teh project and individual sessions

2. Students may not be as enthusiastic/dedicated as the teachers!

3. Wherever possible try to have a sample to show sts - they found it difficult to appreciate what it was we were trying to achieve.

4. Set TASKS rather than have an 'IT ablity' emphasis which determines how succesful a project may be.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Speaking of PowerPoint being 'old fashioned'...just found this website:
Taught the Level 1 16-19 group that I started the Blogs up with again today though we were working on Diversity project so didn't work woth the Blogs.

They really are streets ahead in terms of IT ability compared to other ESOL groups I've taught recently. Virtually all of them were accessing visuals from a great host of online photo storage sites and the speed that they were working with these files was most impressive! Though we were working with 'old fashioned' PowerPoint in order to produce their Diversity presentations it occurred to me how this type of project work (using photos to encourage written work and class presentations) to talk about their favourite places/people and things would really lend itself to the PET Blog project I'm going to be working on.

The thing about creating a PowerPoint presentation with ESOL students is that it has a very satisfying outcome and can be completed in a realtively short period of time which I think appeals to students (and teachers).

Compare this with a Blog in its early stages of creation: it can look a bit boring until its up and running and as I have found wiht this group ; it can be frustrating when it doen't look as good as they might have hoped. This should be where the comments facility should come into its own - if we had doen this Diversity project on a blog then sts could ask each other more information about their objects...mmm...might get them to transfer some of the info onto their Blogs and see how it goes.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Here's an example of what I'd like to try done in Australia:Room 20's blog
But I'd like to approach it in a less teacher controlled way...
Ideas for PET project at EHWLC within the ESOL Division

Following on from my sessions with the 16-19 ESOL Level 1 group and not being wholly satisfied with the way things are going I am thinking now of revising my approach.

I think that it would be of greater benefit to students if we could cut out the very time consuming set up steps and perhaps bring an already established Blog interface to the students for them to use as a class....the teacher would "drive" the Blog.

I have started to think along these lines for the following reasons:

  1. despite being quite a high level class in terms of their IT and English ability, they had/are having great difficulty in setting up their own individual Blog (just the process of following the straightforward EduBlog instructions proved very challenging and very frustrating fro them). Some students who missed a session were way behind others when tehy got back. I found that I was leaving some learners behind and found myself working with those who understood the format rather than teaching and including the whole class....not good. Some got bored with their lack of success and starting getting distracted with other online things.
  2. They are currently very isolated from each other - even tho' I linked some of their attempts to a webpage to be viewed thro the Studnet Portal, the students were not really interested in looking at each others Blogs via the net - some did physically move to look at another's work onscreen but i really think that it woudl be more beneficial for us to try and get students to work on a project togther, as a class. I am sure that personal Blogs would work in other subject areas where learners have more research/ language ability/autonomy but the whole point of using this medium with ESOL students, I feel, is to facilitate communication with each other.
  3. The ESOL classes have one and a half hours timetabled in IT rooms per week and this is quite a long time to concentrate purely on Blogging. We have been doing webquests for years now in order to develop students' internet research skills so the idea of receiving a task from the Class Blog, posted by the teacher, and then the students (in groups or individually) goign onto the web to find answers/info then bringing back this information to one place seems to me more manageable an activity. The next step would be for students to then comment on what others bring back to the project...
  4. I see it as basically the same process that we use and the students are familiar with from their everyday ESOL classes: Intro to subject or theme, T sets task, students work togther, groups then feedback to the whole class and comment on what each other comes up with. So I think I'm now realising (thro trial and error) that Blogging should be approached from the task and intended end result rather than (as I have done) "Right, we should keep a Blog...erm...What should you write...? Well, not sure really but it's a very exciting thing so we should try it!"
  5. this class is going on an excursion to see the Terracotta Army at the BM so I will try and get something up and running linked to this and the excellent BM website.
  6. I think as part of teh PET project, I will try to do something like this for a variety of different levels - liaise with the course tutor and we could together come up with tasks that students can handle/on a familiar topic that I can present to the group already set up on a Blog page. So it will hopefully benefit the division and create resources/examples taht could be rolled out. Mmmm... does that make sense? It's pretty clear in my mind I think...try and avoid the complexities of the Blog set up - just have it as a 'host' for project work feedback and aim on getting students (of whatever language abilty) to participate ie. create posts and ideally encourage them to comment on others posts. Of course they will have to have some ability in actually being able to post a comment adn upload visuals but tehy will all be working on a common theme which the teacher can monitor.
Help with EduBlogs:
(explanation of the various tabs)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Whole courses could be provided on a USB "pen" drive, which is inserted into any computer or laptopWhole courses could be provided on a USB "pen" drive, which is inserted into any computer or laptop for thought - Independent article from 4th Oct
Second classroom lesson with the 16-19s today on using their blogs - I wanted them to get more familiar with the edublog layout and try and create a new page and also upload a photo of themselves.

Quite a few of the students found it hard to get their heads around the difference between authoring the Blog and how the Blog appears on the web. Then there was great confusion as to whether they could work on it from home - they didn't quite grasp the fact that it was not connected to the Intranet here which most are now familiar with.

This was quite an interesting consideration in terms of teaching and learning especially with ESOL students...if I develop a wiki for example - will they get what it is all about? Do they need to?

Friday, September 28, 2007

Started my Level 1 16-19 ESOL group on their blogs today. It took quite a while setting them up as the usual problems of remembering their email addresses and correctly entering data came up. But still, they seemed pretty excited by them and had a nice time changing the layout and fiddling with the font!

A few managed to get photos uploaded and a video. They were at a bit of a loss as what to write onthere...and it was dawning on me that they will need specific tasks to carry out in order for it to be useful/successful - I don't think that merely keeping an online diary will suffice.

Here are a few:

And Vivien sent me this link which really fuelled our imaginations: Think that this is an excellent use of the blog format and one that might work with the teenagers...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The problem i'm having at the moment is that I keep coming online to do something specific and then accidentally end up finding something else that is of interest like this:

It’s based on a larger report available from

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

e-learning – taken from summary EDUCATION AND SKILLS HARNESSING TECHNOLOGY of particular interest is the personal online learning space section...

What does it mean for learners? As a learner, you should have:

More ways to learn: the chance to develop the skills you need for
participating fully in a technology-rich society. Along with listening and
reading, you will be spending more time learning in groups,working with
other learners, being creative, learning through challenging, game-like
activities and materials that adjust to the level and pace appropriate to you,
and with clear personal goals that you help to set.
More subjects to choose from: you should have access to subjects taught
through partnerships between schools, colleges, and universities, or other
sources of adult learning, through carefully designed materials, with expert
support online, and networking with your peer group, in your community or
workplace, choosing from a wide range of topics provided by accredited
learning and training providers.
More flexible study: you will have more choice about where, when and how
you study, making it easier for you to create your own mix between studying in
a place with other learners, learning at work, learning at home, and learning
Easier ways to try things out: if you’re not sure you’re interested in further
learning, there will be online access to informal tasters, linked to leisure or
domestic activities, enabling you to progress to the next stage by means of
highly motivating short modules, as and when you wish.
A personal online learning space: where you can store electronically everything
related to your learning and achievements, course resources, assignments,
research, and where you can plan your next steps, and build links for
professional advice and support.And being online, it will be accessible from
home, from school, and, in the longer term, from each new organisation as you
Help to move on: you can find out online what courses are available, and which
ones might suit you best,with online questionnaires to assess where you are
now, where you want to be, and how to get there.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Delivered an ESOL training on the new layout Student Portal which was attended by 7 colleagues. It seemed to go well - I demonstrated what sts can do on the portal and suggetsed some email activities. I also linked some online listening activities that teachers can do live in class which went down well.

I do have concerns about keeping the page up to date though and fear that the resources linked may just end up in me choosing something that may not necessarily appeal to all as sometimes responses to my invites as to what to develop get missed by colleagues - especially at this rather frantic time of year. Still i intend to keep pushing it and advertising it to the Division.

Hopefully the video application will get sorted and we can get on with some worthwhile activities!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Have found my new e-buddy for this term! I am providing in class support to a Key Skills Comms lesson and so it will be the perfect opportunity for me to encourage Tim to get some e-learning going on his class.
In fact even today there were opportunities which could have been developed. It will be interesting to see how these students respond to what we come up with and indeed if using ICT makes a difference to their learning experience. We'll see how things go and I may be able to sneak some Web 2 applications in...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

w/c 10 Sept - Met Penny and talked about 'personalising' the ESOL Hammersmith Community page on the Student Portal. Think that this is much better for our ESOL learners as they do not have to try and wade through reams of info to find what they need adn we can personalise the info that is displayed.

Then met with Rachel and David (ESOL PAMs) to present it and get some feedback on what they thought we should feature on it.

a couple of issues - in order to keep it up to date, it's going to take quite a lot of work. I'm happy to do it but I do get collared (as do Rachel and David) to help out with any random IT related ESOL queries which eats into my time! Secondly, that in order to keep students' interest; it will need to be regularly updated. We discussed having revolving levels of resources from Beginner up to Advanced so that various students can benefit.

Back to Penny then with our suggestions and I had a go at putting a couple of links on there - seems pretty straightforward! i'm going to produce a handout for the ESOL team and encourage comments about what we should feature on the page via our ESOL Discussion board. Hope to get some student feedback too - what would they find useful there?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Commercially available online learning materials and their availabilty/accessiblilty - some considerations

There is loads of good ESOL material on the web - a lot of teachers already access it and make great use of it but it does have restrictions:
  • time is sometimes wasted in directing students to it once in an IT suite as they cannot easily work through the links to find it - webpages are 'very busy' and ESOL students' scanning skills are weaker in English than in L1
  • the teacher presents or adapts it for class use therefore restricting students' independent learning after the class has ended
  • some podcasts/downloadable materials have a limited access life

When we find an activity we need to be able to quickly and easily link it to either a teacher homepage which students can be shown how to get to - anotehr idea: students could set up readers which informed them of new additions to teacher's page - or get it onto a class SoW.

Last term i had some useful materials for my tutor group to access on their SoW though other students in other classes couldn't gain entry. i think that the idea of a teacher's homepage might work slightly better - in that way I could show any student or indeed teacher where to find a particular activity adn i could update it.
I plan to use this activity for example, during induction as a guided in class listening exercise but there are more listening materials that students could work on in their own time on the same link. I would like to be able to put this link somewhere and be able to point (any) students/teachers to it as and when they wanted it.

Monday, September 03, 2007

So, back for another academic year and got lots of ideas for new stuff to try with students and the rest of the team.

Am hoping that will be able to get a few more on board - will try with the 16-19 Tutors first as we might have more success with the younger learners first. If my tutor group is anything like last year's was then they'll be showing me how to do things I have no doubt!

Will continue with the Buddy system and try and get Ayesha to now buddy someone else. That's really important I think - getting people to support and enthuse each other as the rigours of teaching and tutoring can wear us down.