Friday, June 8, 2012

Facebook Collaborative Efforts Strike Again with Fridges Around the World

Once again, the power of Facebook connections and the willingness of generous educators to share a bit of themselves became a wonderful resource that is now available for teachers to explore with their students.

I asked a simple question, "What's in your Fridge?" I got 21 fridges from around the world, an unbeatable multicultural gastronomic richness.

Fridges Around the World

View more presentations from Carla Arena

Here are some ideas to work with such a wonderful fridge collection:

- In my case, I asked my students to identify my fridge and to tell me why they thought it was mine.

- I also asked them to identify which fridges were Brazilian (many of my friends contributed to it), but you can also ask about other nationalities and even prepare a quiz with how many fridges are from Europe, North America, South America, etc...

- Joel Josephson created a Facebook group to have people share what is in their fridges today:  . Students could take photos of their fridges and talk what's in them in the group, sharing with a real audience. 

- You can explore the people behind those fridges. What kind of lives they have, how many people there are in the house. Powerful storytelling opportunity.

- Students can compare different fridges, saying how different or similar they are. The teacher can explore with the whole group if there are significant differences in the fridges related to different cultural backgrounds or not.

This is just the starting point, because, in fact, I needed those fridges to practice count and non-count expressions related to food, but the opportunity for critical thinking and going beyond was simply unmissable with all this Facebook collaborative effort.

Any other ideas for such wonderful classroom material?

If you need to know where the fridges come from, let me know. I'd be more than glad to share the information with you. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Giving an iTwist to Feedback on Student Writing

Centuries ago (or at least, this is how I feel!), I used to give feedback on students' writing by sending a recorded message to my students to personalize learning and encourage them to take process writing seriously. It worked. Students loved to get a personal, customized note from their teacher.

Nowadays, this writing feedback experience has taken many forms and shapes with so many digital tools around that do the trick.

Writing is My Hobby One nice example of super simple activity that has worked wonders is from my friend Claudio Fleury. He was having a hard time to get his teen students to hand in their paragraphs. First, he worked a bit on paragraph structure with the students. Then, he took the iPads to class and asked students to write their paragraphs using the Notes app. They were on task, focused. The job of receiving every student's paragraph was easily accomplished. Students also realized that they could read each other's paragraphs as the notes were all synchronized (we use the same iTunes account in all iPads) real time. Then, the teacher asked students to email him their paragraphs. The teacher could easily print them and write his feedback on the paragraphs. In the following class, the teacher handed in the notes, students checked the teacher feedback, got the iPads and reviewed their paragraphs based on what the teacher had written. Writing has never been so effective. Getting students to write and review their work, never been so easy!

My second example comes from teacher Deon Scalon. I was reading a blog post on using iPads for kids' writing feedback, and just came across this brilliant Youtube video in which teacher Deon integrated the app Goodreader to write on a document and then used PUPPET PALL app characters to spice up his feedback to students. Very effective and fun!