Saturday, November 29, 2014



    I listen to the ESL Podcast Buying Theater Tickets, which is a good English learning material for intermediate level ESL learner. The whole episode is about a dialogue between two persons who are going to see a play. They are discussing about how to buy the theater tickets. The podcast is about 20 minutes in all, with 2 minute dialogue at the beginning, 15 minute explanation for the dialogue and the rest is the normal speed dialogue again. The focus of the episode is on vocabulary explanation.  For example, vocabulary like orchestra, loge, mezzanine and balcony, which are frequently used in theater. So the episode can improve students’ listening skills and help them acquire new vocabulary. And more importantly, they can use what they have learned in their daily life, which means they can improve their social skills.
    My specific learning objectives are:
1)    Students will be able to identify the key vocabulary in the episode.
2)    Students will be able to use the words in daily conversation.

    For assessing their learning, I can design some vocabulary quiz, for example, for the word “matinee”, I will give them multiple choices:(a). day-time (b). at night and (c). all the day. Besides, I can let the students have role play and let them talk about their theater plan in the play, using the vocabulary they have learned at the same time. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Strip generator

    Strip generator is a very useful tool for us to create comic strips. One of the similar ways in real classroom is role play, where we have the specific setting and roles. In strip generator, we can put all the settings, roles and conversation on the strip. In my strip Where are you from, I plan to teach the simple English greetings and introduction. When two strangers meet each other, how they introduce themselves and how they greet others. It is for beginner language learners because words are very limited in strips. My future students will be able to appropriately greet others and introduce themselves when they meet new people.
    To assess their learning, I will let them have role play. I will give them a specific setting, for example, two persons meet for the first time. They are required to say something to each others. If they can have the conversation fluently, for example, ask their partner’ name and country, or introduce where they are from and their names are, they demonstrate their mastery of the language skills in the class.



     Animoto is the kind of video making tool I have been looking for. I can just choose the style, photos and music, and then the video is right there. With this tool, I made the video--Beautiful cities in the world. It can be used in classroom to teach the beautiful cities. Students can learn it faster with images and video. Specifically, with this video teaching, my future students will be able to match the pictures with the city names. Besides, they will be able to recognize the country of the city with the help of the video.
    To assess their learning, I will present the pictures only on the screen. Students are required to write down the city names corresponding to the pictures. I can check whether they know the cities when they see the pictures and whether they memorize the city names or not. Besides, I will ask the student question like “Where is New York City?” If they answer correctly “It is in United States”, that means they know the country of the city. My class can either be an ESL lesson teaching city names or Geography lesson.

Monday, November 10, 2014

5 techniques to learn any language

    I like watching TED videos, but I don’t even know I can create a lesson on TEDED. That’s so cool. I choose the video from Sid Efromovic, a cool guy who can speak seven languages. The topic is 5 techniques to speak any language.  My purpose is to encourage my students to learn the language positively. The speaker introduces 5 specific ways to improve the learning process. I hope my students can check whether they have the same techniques as Sid. If they don’t, they can be motivated by the video and get inspiration on how to learn a language. Besides, I am also training their listening because they have to understand the content of the video to do the exercises I have created.

    For the assessment, I will organize a group discussion. Students are required to discuss one technique in the video they like best, and they also introduce their own learning techniques to their group members. From the discussion, I can know whether they understand the content in the video and see how much they are motivated to learn. 

Tube Chop

     Tube Chop is such a convenient tool to shorten video. Personally I have the video teaching experience. I did have the problem that when I found an appropriate video, it was too long and I had to begin at somewhere and stop at somewhere quickly. Tube Chop can help me address it now! I choose a grammar teaching video for my future intermediate ESL students. Grammar and vocabulary is relatively boring compared to other language skills, so video teaching can arouse students’ interest in it. This grammar teaching is about the specific difference between “should be” and “could be”. The speaker gives detailed explanation about the difference and provides interesting and precise examples to help students’ understanding. After they learn through this video, my future students will be able to tell the difference between “should be” and “could be”. They can infer the meaning from the discourse with the use of “should be” or “could be”. They are able to use the two forms correctly in their social communication. For assessment, I would ask them to give examples for the different use of “should be” and “could be”. If they can figure out correct examples, it means they understand it. Besides, I would give them some reading articles with the use of the two forms included. I would ask them to tell what is the specific meaning of the “should be “ or “could be” in the article. Because the meaning is always contextual and providing context can help students understand and check whether they really understand. 

Rethink Flipped Classroom

    With the increasing use of technology tool in present classroom, the pedagogical notion of flipped classroom is getting more and more attention. The model is new to me before this class. Soon I realized that actually I have the flipped classroom experience before. My teacher recorded a small video to introduce a new concept before the class and we discussed it in the real classroom. Since it is becoming popular now, it’s time to rethink the advantage and disadvantages of flipped classroom before it is prevalent in modern teaching. According to 7 Things You Should Know About Flipped Classrooms, the term is widely used to describe almost any class structure that provides prerecorded lectures followed by in-class exercises. Knowing what it is, let’s think about its how good it is and what problem it might bring.

    First, just as mentioned in the article 7 Things You Should Know About Flipped Classrooms, “they can watch, rewind, and fast-forward as needed”, the most obvious advantage is that student can view the video again and again, which provides opportunities for them to fully understand what it is in the video. Traditional classroom teachers cannot repeat it again and again just for several students’ low learning pace. Besides, flipped classroom leaves more space for student interaction and cooperation. Student-controlled, rather than teacher-oriented classroom is the trend for classroom development. I still cannot stop worrying whether flipped classroom is as effective as it looks like. Does the video make them better students than those don’t watch the video? Will it be a huge load for teachers to prepare the video teaching? Can students get immediate feedback or assessment in flipped classroom? Can student get access to the Internet or online tools? Those are all the potential weakness need to be considered in flipped classroom. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The game of Third World Farmer

    I played the game Third World Farmer for about six or seven times. This game is to help players to experience the plight of poor farmers in impoverished countries and how to make life. In the beginning, I failed several times because I made all the family leave the farm to make money and they all died. All the other reasons I failed came to my inappropriate use of the money to plant crops. It is not an easy game because it requires players to have a sense of economy and figure out the best way to make money and run the family’s life.

    As a potential ESL teacher, I would use this game for the intermediate level students to learn both language and the culture when they play the game. The vocabulary would be my first learning objective because all the words in the game are in categories and students can learn different words and there is explanation under each word. For example, “a plow greatly increases crop yield” is the explanation for “plow”. This can also function as the hint for the game. The second objective would be the cultivation of cross-culture knowledge and understanding. Many students from the city don’t even know the tools for farm and they cannot imagine how hard life is in the third world. According to theNY standardESL5, students will demonstrate cross-cultural knowledge and sensitivity in communicating with others of varied social, cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

    For the assessment, I would have my students to list all the new words they have learned from the game. Since in buying, planting and selling activities during the game, students are familiar with the vocabulary, this listing task according to Kyle Mawer's task types can assess how much my students remember the meaning and use of the vocabulary. That game can also be a culture course because students are immersed in the different culture and simulate authentic life in that culture. For the cultural knowledge objective, I would ask my students to write a journal about their personal feelings or thought about the game and especially about the third world culture. I can assess their cultural awareness by their journals. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Phantasy Quest

    I have played the game Phantasy Quest three times to experience the learning process by playing a game. First of all, it is an easy game to start with. The visual design is good, without a bunch of items displayed there to annoy you. The instruction is clear and explicit, with both arrows and dialogue box reminding you. And most importantly, there is time limit! Personally I hate those games with time limits, which will make me too nervous to win the game.

    When I was playing the game, I was thinking that if my future students play this game in my language class, what would my students learn from this game? The most basic one is the vocabulary, I think. Each time you click on the item, there is will be a dialogue box telling what it is. You may click on the item several times to try to find out your target in playing the game. That kind of repetition can help students remember the vocabulary in the game. In addition, the game is a kind of exploring game. Students read the instruction and explore all the scenes in the game. They can learn how to complete the task step by step, which means they will become patient in language learning. What’s more, even if they cannot figure out the route to the destination, they can refer to the walkthrough, where they can know how to successfully win the game, without feeling frustrated at all. Let’s see how the game is helpful to students intrinsically. This game includes almost all the elements mentioned by Tom Chatfield in his TED video 7 Ways Games Reward the Brain. It has uncertainty because you are stranded on a deserted island. It gives you immediate feedback and reward once you click on something. You are engaged in the game because you are always encouraged to find the target and complete the game. Besides, the clear and interesting instruction really helps when students are exposed to the game individually.

    With the help of game, the language learning process becomes more interesting. Teacher acts as an instructor to give students hints if they need, or enhance their learning after they play the game. Students would explore the game by themselves first, and then get some feedback or instruction from the teacher. As a future teacher, I would use walkthrough for the game. But I would only use it when they are at loss. I will encourage them to explore by themselves first, and then provide them walkthrough. To assess their learning, I would refer to KyleMawer's task types for assessing content learned in games. I would ask them to note down their difficulty and success in the game to assess their personal experiences. I would pay attention to their emotional change toward the game, for example, whether they are encouraged by the game to learn more, or they are just frustrated. I can imagine, gamification in language class would be very interesting!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Gaming and Learning

     Gamification is brand new notion for me. To be honest, I am not obsessed with any games at all. I might apply some simple games to arouse my students’ interest in my future class, but I have never thought about the systematic use of game in learning. To combine game and learning is an innovative but risky way, because games, especially computer games nowadays have so much negative effect on people. I think it’s time for me to think about it seriously. 
     To start with, the concept of gamification. According to the article What is Gamification, Gamification is “the concept of applying game mechanics and game design techniques to engage and motivate people to achieve their goals.” In one word, gamification is to use game element to motivate people. So, the problem comes, why game has this function, or why game is attractive? According to Tom Chatfield’ TED video 7 Ways Games Reward the Brain, he says game is doing both the wanting and liking process. You can satisfy your ambition and have emotional engagement as well. In game, there is uncertainty, reasonable probability of success, reward, feedback, engagement and also team collaboration. How can people resist from the charm of playing games?

     So, can we apply these game elements into learning, especially language learning?Stephan J. Franciosi uses the Flow Theory to explore the relationship between digital game based learning (DGBL) and task based language Teaching (TBLT) in his article A Comparison of Computer Game and Language-LearningTask Design Using Flow Theory. Flow is the “mental state experienced during challenging activities in a comfortable zone between "anxiety" and "boredom," where the activity at hand is neither too difficult to be frustrating, nor too easy to be menial” according to the article. Basically, DGBL is more concerned with multi-media activities while TBLT is more concerned with authentic language use for real-life communication. In comparison to TBLT, DGBL has more concrete and explicit goal, more immediate feedback and better difficulty balance to adapt to match players’ skill level. These features are good for learners to facilitate their “intrinsic motivations”. I would use these features of digital games in my future language class because language learning is “a process of trial and error, of repetition and practice, and of incremental progress toward larger goals as a long term” according to 7 Things You Should Know About Games and Learning, that means language learning needs immediate correction, step-by-step goal and proper setting of difficulty level. 
     Despite the downsides mentioned in 7 Things You Should Know About Gamification, students may feel disappointed or frustrated if they don’t win as they expect, gamification will be one of my future teaching plan because it can offer me creative opportunities to keep my students engaged in and have a positive attitude toward learning.

Friday, October 3, 2014

How I would use Twitter in my future language class

    Since I started to use twitter these days, I really found it potentially useful in my future class. As a language teacher in the future, the combination of language learning and online technology can be really helpful in my professional development. I get inspired by the twitter using experience and articles on how to properly use twitter for learning and teaching. The following ideas are how I might twitter for my own teaching.
    Twitter as a platform. Twitter is a large and free place for both teachers and students to express their opinions. They can use the hashtag to have a specific topic in language learning process, for example, challenge in learning, or cultural shock in different languages. They can even use the links and images to express themselves and share their resources. Just as mentioned in 35 Interesting Ways to use Twitter in the Classroom, one of the interesting ways is to #10 come together. Since twitter is an open place to collect classroom view, they can come together, find each other, follow each other and help each other.

    Twitter as an online diary. My future students can use twitter as a diary book to keep track of their learning process. They can get help from others people, and of course, their teachers. Language leaning is a long and slow process. Using twitter can help students see their progress. For a teacher, I can use twitter as a research diary for my classroom findings, which is also one of the 35interesting ways to use twitter in the classroom. It is a good way to share process and offer instance feedback both for teachers and students.  
    Twitter as learning resources. I personally have the French learning experience by using online technology. I have the Chinese version of Twitter—weibo, to follow those French learning accounts. They often share the French-Chinese translation, French songs and French movies. Just as mentioned in the article Teach Paperless: Back to School: Ideas for Twitter in the Foreign Language Classroom, the author has her students use twitter for translation practice, and also uses it as formative assessment. I would prefer to encourage my students to follow other language accounts and get as many resources as possible. And they can identify their learning progress if they follow different accounts with different levels.

    Future classroom seems so interesting with the help of technology. Stop expecting; start doing now, future teachers! Technology cannot wait.

Monday, September 29, 2014



    Twitter is new to me because I have never used twitter before. Twitter is also familiar to me because I have the Chinese version of twitter—weibo, which is almost the same with the twitter. I join the twitterchat #Edtechchat on Monday evening. I was at lost at the beginning even if I have read the guidance what is a twitterchat. The Edtechchat is a chat group organized by some educators, with a lot of twitter users who are interested in educational technology participating in it. This evening, we talked about the PLN (personal leaning network) experience like how connected educators help you in school and what is the most important one in PLN. I am thrilled by so many resources they share on the chat. I keep clicking on the “favorite” button to collect these useful resources for me. I am also glad that I was well welcomed by those chat members from education field and I joined in their question and reply pattern to discuss. The one hour chatting experience is awesome. Just as one of them said to me, we need to fasten the seatbelt for the 21C connected educators magic bus to start an exciting journey!
    Definitely this kind of twitterchat could be a good form of professional development for me. Firstly, twitter is a great place for sharing resources. I can easily click on the link I am interested in or just post the link I want to share. I can even retweet others’ resources to enhance the spread. Secondly, twitterchat provides us a platform to meet all kinds of people online. You can chat with those well-known educators or experts in the field you are interested in. And you don’t need to take the money and time to meet them; they can give you advice online and help you. Most importantly, also what I get inspired by tonight chat, is that I can make a lot of friends from the twitterchat. What a great thing it is to have friends with the same interest. Even in the one hour chat, I have more than 10 friends in education field. As a potential teacher, chatting with them can help me in my professional development, which will be motivation for me to join them in the future!

Thursday, September 25, 2014


    I was surprised to see that there are so many interesting projects available on ePals, especially for those kids who are in their primary or high school. The Junior Folklorist Challenge, a project in which students can join to display the culture in their community. Participants can choose any form of displaying the traditions they know. This is a super significant way to protect the traditional culture. More importantly, it provides a stage for students to share their videos online. I am also glad to see that there are a lot of Chinese students participating in these activities and they are connected with the world through the four-week folklorist process. Another project in2books, which matches the students with adult eMentors, is also an interesting project in US. Students read books and share ideas about important issues with eMentors via online letters. This project combines adult mentors, motivating curriculum and technology to help students develop reading, writing and communication skills. This reminds me of the interesting notion by John Seely Brown in Siemens’s article Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age, “the internet leverages the small efforts of many with the large efforts of few,” which gives an example of elementary school students do better in a mentor program than they do their own parents or teachers.

    However, these online resources are not only beneficial for students. Teachers can have multimedia resources and get inspired from these activities to improve their classroom teaching. According to NYLearns standard, these activities meet the standard-ESL2 language for literary response and expression, and standard- ESL4 language for social interaction. In my future class, I would use the feature of connecting the students with the outside world, inspired by the site ePals. My class would be interesting and relaxing. Textbook and teacher are not the only resources for them to learn. I will encourage my students to go outside of the class to learn. Online resources provide such a good opportunity, which can be one of my objectives in the future. 

Flipped Learning Network

    Flipped learning is a totally new notion to me. I have never heard about it before this module. I am very curious about the new item, so I signed up for the site of flipped learning network to explore it. It is a learning community for educators using flipped learning. They can share their videos, discuss topics related to teaching in the forums, and have different members in different groups. Flipped learning is like learning online by watching videos, discussing and solving problems in a more personalized and interactive way, rather than by traditional lecture. In one word, flipped learning network is communication platform for educators using flipped learning.

    I might have flipped teaching opportunity this October. This social network site could be very useful for me. I am excited that I have signed up for a site that I will use it in the future!

A learner is like a river

    A learner is like a river. It does not independently exist. It usually has stream and brook around it to keep it moving. A person can be an individual, having his or her own opinion, personality and style. But a learner cannot live without others. The learning process is growing fast and never ceases, just like the keep-moving river. When a learner learns, he or she cannot just live on their own knowledge; they have to learn from others, explore the information from outside, and connect with others to keep them updated. Just as mentioned in the video The Network is the Learning, “What we know today is not as important as our ability to continue to stay current.” It doesn’t matter how large the river is, how faster it moves. What matters is that the river keeps moving all the time, with the brooks and streams feeding into it. The ability to stay moving and interact with others really matters. It is the connections that help learners grow. Siemens mentions in Connectivism: A learning Theory for theDigital Age that “The connections that enable us to learn more are more important than our current state of knowing.” Coincidentally, the video also says the “The way we are connecting to other individuals is largely responsible for our ability to stay current in the field.” It seems that learners are growing with others together, and it’s a mutual process.

    I am glad that I am also one of the learners in the information age where I can get easy access to various resources to help me learn. And learning from outside, or that kind of connection is no longer limited to the people around us. We can make use of the rich online resources to keep us connected in a very convenient way. A river can be a closed pond if it has no connection with the outside, a learner could be backward and obsolete if he is not involved in the interactive learning process.