Wednesday, March 14, 2012

10 Resourceful Online Tools for Teaching

by Eman Elturki
Features: Wordle is a tool for generating word clouds from the text that a user provides. Click on “Create,” and paste your text or enter the URL of any Web page (an online passage, blog, etc.), and then click “go” or “submit.” Greater prominence is given to the words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can twist your Wordle text with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes, and with the advanced options you can give chosen words more weight and choose individual word colors. You can print them out or save them to the Wordle gallery to share them with others.
Classroom Application: This tool can be used for classroom projects or to create posters. Additionally, it can be used for a prereading activity to formulate a general idea about a passage by looking at the main words; after creating the Wordle, engage students in group discussions about what the reading is about, and the major and minor ideas.
NOTE: You cannot make the words fill a particular shape.
Features: With this tool you can copy and paste a text or insert a URL and then, with the click of a button, summarize what you have entered.
Classroom Application: This tool can help students in reading. It summarizes the main points of each paragraph. It also can be useful for text analysis; if you click on the “Show sentences” option, the tool provides the entire text as a numbered list of sentences. Students can use this list to look at certain language patterns, like collocation, sentence structure and variety, or vocabulary distribution. 
NOTE: This tool summarizes; it does not paraphrase.
Features: This Web site allows you to upload pictures and create word balloons. It is interactive, easy, and fast. Upload your picture and then add word balloons or bubbles with different shapes and styles.  You can save them to your computer as a JPEG or e-mail them to someone. 
Classroom Application: This Web site can be used to help students create comic books (which was its original function) or posters. It can be also used by beginner learners to describe certain pictures to practice, for example, using the correct order of adjectives or to write a descriptive paragraph. 
NOTE: If the file you are uploading is large, it can take a long time. 
Features: This is a collaborative platform that allows users to interact online and leave comments using text, voice, audio file, and video, which appear as a slide show.
Classroom Application: This Web site can be used to engage students in an online discussion. The teacher can post specific questions or pictures related to a reading passage and have students discuss these questions. This can be assigned for homework as a prereading or postreading activity. The teacher can log in any time to read or listen to the comments of the students or participate in the discussion. 
NOTE: Signing up is needed for a free account, and you have to pay to upgrade your account. The free account offers limited storage, commenting minutes, and voice threads, and does not provide a secure environment. 
Features: This is an easy-to-use timer. Just enter the duration you need. After you enter the needed time, it will appear as a screen saver. It has other features, such as setting up permalinks for specific durations and settings.
Classroom Application:  It can be used to time classroom presentations or discussions.
NOTE: You cannot stop the countdown; you have to close the window if you want to do so.
Features: The LEGO City is a comic strip builder. The instructions are clear and easy to follow: You select the layout you want, choose from a library of images and clips, and then add word bubbles to your pictures. After you are done, print and share with classmates. 
Classroom Application:  This would be fun for a classroom project such as creating a comic book in which students are asked to focus on a specific tense or use certain vocabulary to put what they have learned into practice. It gives students the chance to be creative and design their own stories by combining visuals and writing. 
NOTE:  You cannot upload your own images. You can only choose from the images in the library. 
Features: This Web site works as a tool to comment on or annotate different types of files such as PDF, Word Docs, and images. You simply upload your file and are able to complete different tasks such as highlighting; adding text, comments, or drawings; and striking out existing text. 
Classroom Application:  This Web site can be used by teachers or students to comment on or highlight files, which is especially useful for files that do not allow any editing or for which you do not have the proper software to edit. A teacher who likes to integrate technology in their teaching can have the students analyze and comment on electronic articles. They can look at certain vocabulary or grammatical points in context and use this tool to highlight, comment, or draw images to clarify the meaning or the use.  
NOTE: You can highlight, insert comments, strike out text, or write, but you cannot edit the actual words of the document.
Feaures: This Web site allows you to create a Web page with a collection of your favorite sites, documents, images, and videos.  You can share it with someone by providing them with the URL. In the “Your List Items” section, all your items are saved as snapshots with a display of the name and a description below. 
Classroom Application:  Weblist works well for teachers and students for quickly sharing a collection of sites, videos, or documents. A teacher can use this tool to post classroom documents and share useful Web sites and videos with students. It can be also used by students to share classroom projects or PowerPoint slides and provide feedback to one another.
NOTE: You need to register for a free account in order to save multiple lists and edit your lists.
Features: Dushare is a simple and direct way for file transfer between two people. Click on “Send a file,” upload your file (any size), and a link to it will appear. Copy your link and send it or share it with others. The receiver then can use the link to view, download, and save the file. If you want to protect your file with a password, you can create one and notify the receiver about it. It also offers chatting that enables the sender and the receiver to communicate any comments or messages. 
Classroom Application:  It can be useful for a quick and easy way of sharing files between the teacher and students or among students, such as for a student video project or any small group work in which students need to share files.  
NOTE: According to the Dushare Web site, a secure, direct transfer is guaranteed; Dushare does not view or monitor your files or chat. Nonetheless, always be cautious when sending confidential or private documents. 
Features: This Web site is similar to Wikipedia. It covers millions of topics about, for example, figures known worldwide, historical events, and countries. However, it can be classified as educational. In addition to texts, the topics are presented via storytelling. It is a new way for students to search for information and receive a response in an engaging way. It integrates different language skills such as reading and listening. 
Classroom Application: Students can research about a historical event, a country, a famous figure, and so on, and receive information in an entertaining way with visuals, text, videos, and narration. A teacher can also use this site for reading comprehension because it combines text, audio, and visuals that assist students in understanding the topic. It can be used by students to collect information about a certain topic for a classroom presentation or project. 
NOTE:  The pronunciation of some non-English names is sometimes unclear or incorrect.

Monday, March 12, 2012

K-12 ESL Websites

The following are meaningful K-12 ESL websites.  Enjoy navigating them!

*Flocabulary -

*Folger Shakespeare 

*Quia, Where learning takes you -

Resources for ESL Parents/Teachers

The following are resourceful ESL websites for parents/teachers. Enjoy exploring them!

*Colorin Colorado: 

*The Center for English Language Education: