Welcome to my blog!

Hello! My name is Nilufar Begibaeva.
I am a teacher of English at Andijan State University.
I have just begun Distance Course "Building Teaching Skills Through the Interactive Web" and expect much from it subject to my active participation in it.

May 30, 2010

WEEK 8 REFLECTION

This week we were assigned to complete the following tasks:

1. Project report draft submitting and peer review
2. Learner autonomy reading articles and reflecting them
3. One-computer classrom design.

As well as sending my project plan draft I have received project documents from one of my peers Hamid and am still waiting for another peer report draft.

The mail point of the articles is that it is more beneficial to teachstudents how to look for information and study independently, teach them adapt and apply rceived knowledge into individual practice.
Students should not be the containers, which teachers have to fill in.
Learner autonomy requires some personal qualities as well, such as to be responsible and self confident; creative thinking and decision making skills. Why according to some research students who come after high school to universities often fail during the first session? Because students at schools used to be lead by the teacher. At university a student decides what subject to choose, submit all assignments on time.
Learner autonomy reminds me our course - it is our responsibility what to read and when but we have to do all assignments on time and submit them. While reading we define what is more important and what is less.
Learner autonomy is a subject of research on the context of life-long learning. The notion of "Learner autonomy" and its definition in language learning was introduced by Holec H. Like an ability to be responsible for the education al process, including defining goals, content and consequence of learning, method selection and analysing and assessing results. Little D. writes in his article that learner autonomy is an ability to independent actions and c ritical reflection. The student should be able to apply knowledge to the wider context.
Thinking about the role f the teacher in learner autonomy Samuel P-H Sheu mentions that if the teaching practices are flexible learning autonomy is achievable.

While creating one-computer lesson I was guided and inspired by Deborah Healey's article "Technology Tip Of The Month" and used some of the hints there.
If I use technology most of it is using one computer. And it is not a big issue for me as my classes are usually not big (no more than 20 students)
I designed the lesson Uncle Sam" where I used Power point to display tests for individual work and "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" for the team work.
At the end of the lesson students in the chain write on MS Word document what they have learnt (1 sentence) and one sentence about what else they would like to learn. Then as homework they get an assignment to prepare writtten work what they have discovered from surfing the Internet what they wanted to know.
To check their work I am going to use "insert comments" tool. It will be visual help for students what to pay attention to.

May 22, 2010

WEEK 7 REFLECTION




This week was very fruitful for me as well as challenging.
Youtube did not play well because of slow Internet connection and I had to ask my friends to download for me, what they did and sent me vie Skype.
But it was a half of the problem as my computer did not play .flv format and I had to convert into another format to watch Jeopardy tutorial.
But untill I did it I experimented and could manage at last with Jeopardy game.

Here they are- 2 Jeopardy activities , 1 USA review, second one - Festival , what I was going to implement into my project.

The first one I did using the ready template with hyperlinks inserted into each slide. As to Festival PPT I was really mine although it is very simple.
No I know how to generate this game and other games of this kind.

Another important point is choosing a partner for the project work.

I offered Hamid to work together and he kindly agreed. I believe this tandem will be useful for both us.


As to the discussion for this week "Interactive Power Point" was more important for me personally and I gain a lot reading suggested links.

I have known that Power Point has a lot of possibilities but never was sure that a teacher like me can do a kind of programming on it (creating hyperlinks and inserting animated images would be some kind of programming). I was just user of ready made templates. For example, for Jeopardy game I downloaded Jeopardy game templates and just fill them in. And of course, it caused some discomfort, because you would have to adjust to either 5 or 6 sections and select questions as I wouldn't find a Jeopardy with 3 categories.
The similar game is "Who Wants to be a millionaire" – it also has a template where you can insert your questions and hyperlinks are ready.
Another game of this type is a square game, Wheel of Fortune I have not exploited them yet, but the principle of these games are the same and once we'll learn how to operate and create this Jeopardy game ourselves we'll be able to make other games as well.

There are plenty of different games and templates using PPT on the following sites like 20 questions, Guess the covered word:

http://teach.fcps.net/trt14/Power%20Point%20Games/power_point_games.htm

http://jc-schools.net/tutorials/ppt-games/

As to the design of the Power Point presentations I received a lot from the article "Power Point Tips" regarding what font to use for an appropriate audience, contrasting font and background colour. I will carefully use specialized fonts even they are too attractive as everybody should read the text in PPT. 3 kind of fonts is optimal to combine variety and consistency. Now I know what Master Slide helps you because before reading I changed each headline and body text of each slide by myself.
Text size is important as you intend your students sitting far from the LCD could read texts. All capital letters are more difficult to read.
After I generated my Jeopardy game I read about caution using red. I have learned from my mistake.
As Mohamed I like 7 and 7 rule legibility. Hot colors are bad for background. And we have to avoid sub-headings and use separate slide instead.
The goal of using images is to draw attention and to describe, but we should avoid it where it is not necessary (Before I inserted images just for fun because I found them on-line and wanted to show how cool it was ?).
"Presenting With Power Point " article describes best practices in PPT, where the most important step is determining goals and purpose of handouts. I attended workshops where everything was written in the slides and distributed to participants and there wasn't interesting to listen to the lecturer because he was "parroting" his PPT. There is no place and case for guessing, anticipating and implying.
Students should concentrate on you rather on your slides.
And another thing – PPT is most effective as a visual accompaniment to the SPOKEN word. For this reason a blank screen is useful.
Power Point possibilities let you meet each of three learning styles – photos, sounds, animated images e t.c.
Ctrl-L and Ctrl-A key combinations to hide and display mouse pointer are helpful to remember in order not to disturb your students from the lecture.
Good advice is to rehearse the process with PPT before the lecture to anticipate any glitches. Moreover while rehearsing you might find that you missed some info to stress on.
Even you have not include in your presentation a blank slide but you need it you may press B to black out the screen, which will play the role of the blank slide.
In her post Zuleyka told that Power Point is inevitable tool for visual and auditory skill. I just want to add that it can be a kinesthetic tool as well when student participate in the presentation or generate it by themselves..
Hyperlinks help you to save both your time and save minimize the size of the presentation.

May 15, 2010

WEEK 6 REFLECTION

This week we discussed alternative assessment tools, learning styles and created rubrics for our classes.

http://rubistar.4teachers.org/index.php?screen=ShowRubric&rubric_id=1908895&

Above is my rubric link.
I have tried rubric generators on www.rubistar.org and on http://teachnology.com
Both of these sites have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Advantage of Rubistar generator is that it lets you integrate several types of rubrics. For instance presentations of my students include both oral and PPT. But you may not give different value and scores for different accomplished tasks. For the content the value of the score would be more than for appropriate images in PPT. You have to adapt and then explain to your students modifications you make there.
Advantages or rubrics on teachnology.com is that you may give different point for different criteria. But you cannot add your own criteria. Besides of it you cannot save it on the web site you have to print it out.
For this reason I have created a rucric on rubistar.org.

Topics for the discussion were alternative assessment and technology and learning styles and technology.

"Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember.
Involve me and I understand" Chinese proverb
Rick Finnan and Donna Shaw state that student's attention span is about 20 minutes. For this reason it is essential to combine variety of methods like visual aids, changing topics or giving different tasks to do.
All visual aids can be done using computer because in the large setting class it is beneficial to use LCD projector with a computer to be seen to the whole class.
Next, to keep students interested authors suggest including current events from the news. We can use on-line BBC or other news. For teachers of English as a foreign language it is right for us since it is an authentic source for teaching.
Remembering the second sentence of the proverb -Show me I would suggest to collaborate with native speaker if it is not through the direct video-conferencing using Skype, because of the slow Internet connection, then at least through downloaded video of the foreign lecturer. Collaboration can be set between students using discussion threads on nicenet. It is an effective tool to see the progress and assess.
To enlarge the circle of interaction with the students authors talk about using different color of card for binary question. In my opinion, it is time consuming to count the answers after voting. I have not searched yet but I am sure there is some tools to use count yes/no answers using technology in class as our senators use during their sessions?
To make concept maps group of students would use downloadable free mind mapping software http://www.smartdraw.com/downloads/

http://kvadr.org.ua/soft/media/1063-smartdraw-2010.05-full.html

http://www.free-admin.net/soft/110983-smartdraw-201005-full.html


Authors offer some techniques to make sure task is clear, specific and discrete like create two multiple choice questions to cover this unit e t.c. In my opinion these multiple choice questions can be done on line as well i.e. www.school.discovery.com has the option of making different types of tests.
In conclusion for extended learning activity they suggest to set up groups for entire term, when students sit together in class and meet outside class. Of course for more complex activity this is a good technique, but after the results of short term activities are achieved and students in various groups were able to get to know each other better. These long term groups would make a blog for the group and them share with another group and write comments in their works. Jig saw variation of group activity when each student is responsible to study one part of the material and teaching it to the rest of the group can be done on the blogs as well along with the oral explanation and after the explanation peer could comment or ask questions on the learned part. Moreover the teacher will be able to look the process of the group work and give his own comments or evaluate them.

To sum up there are always some technology tools to implement in any activity, you just have to think about it whether it is efficient or not.


Terry O'Connor in the article "Using Learning Styles to Adapt Technology for Higher Education" says that the easiest way to provide technology opportunities is to find basic software programs which offer variety of activities. But I think they partly suit our teaching as we all have different curriculum and beside of learning foreign language and its community and culture we have to teach our students to speak freely about our own culture and community in English. For this reason I prefer to find materials on-line and adjust them into my curriculum.
Power Point presentations can engage both right & left brained thinkers during class - visual , tactile and auditory style students as you may insert scripts, images, movies, voices. Atching them again and again students go through the material in a self-paced way.
Electronic mail corresponds more to the visual style.
Simulation games as Sim-City are more appropriate for students with kinesthetic style of learning.
From this article I have learned about new for me software Norton Textra Connect which is interactive and adaptive writing environment and allows students and teachers to create texts to meet assignments. But I think it is shareware not freeware and couldn't download to probe it.

The article Sailing the 5 Cs with Learning Strategies at www.nclrc.org/sailing/ although does not stress on using technology to meet different learning styles describe strategies, descriptions and possible tasks. Yet again it gives you food for thought about how to integrate technology to the strategy.

To conclude everything I have read about styles consideration and technology I would use followings to meet each style and to motivate students better:
Visual: Publisher, video, PPT, Word processing, webquests, photo sharing websites, on-line comics, match pictures to vocabulary words, concept mapping tools and diagrams, music clips, computer-based journaling, blogs, multimedia portfolios, e-mail projects, social networks
Auditory: audio files (books, songs), webquests, blogs with images and video files, chats (using micro), social networks
Kinesthetic/tactile: simulation games, audio-video files with shows, graphics, 3D images, animated images and e-books managed by students themselves, video projects (record your own ideas), group presentations

Above mentioned techniques usually can be applied for two or three learning styles at the same time, as they contain writings, images, videos and interactive elements and it is hard to rate to exact learning style.

But technology gives us all possibilities to integrate all elements and to meet to every style.

May 8, 2010

WEEK 5 REFLECTION






The biggest achievement of mine surinf this week is understanding deeper what WebQuest is and creating my own one on www.zunal.com for the 2nd year students of Geography Faculty in our Andijan State University.

The crucial elements are enumerated on given above web site. They should contain

1. Introduction
2. Task
3. Information sources
4. Process
5. Guidance
6. Conclusion

Thinking about WebQuests I have come to conclusion that the best example of the long term WebQuiest is our DL course due to which we all have created this blog.

Why?
Because by the end of the course we will have analyzed a bodu of knowledge deeply, transform it according to our class needs and demonstrate an understanding of the material by creating the project task as it follow in the author’s definition of a long term webquest.

I have looked through a lot of projects designed to learn Enlish and some ideas related to my issues described in my previous week came to my mind.

I will try to realize them I have some troubles with software necessary to solve my problems though (as lack of motivation and diffilculties with teaching Speaking were the main issues I wanted to solve and for listening and speaking we need additional applications).

We discussed a Project Based Learning too.

PBL is not just the method to interest students. Well-organized project moves students to active research (Thomas, 1998). Students’ ability to grasp new knowledge increases when learning is connected with issue requiring solving.

PBL is a model of teaching which involves students in problem solving process. They can be elaborated for the students of different ages and levels. Projects are based on high level questions
And to answer them students have to think originally, that is to say they have to be active.
PBL lead students to research work and this can be different even within one class (among groups) – structured and managed by the teacher or more open and led by students’ interest (Jarret, 1997). Studying PBL shows that it makes students take part in basic concepts and principles of scientific discipline (Thomas, 2000, p.3). Students usually are given the choice freedom and that fact allows them to satisfy their curiosity.

May 2, 2010

WEEK 4 REFLECTION

"Reading makes a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man."
Francis Bacon


DISCUSSION. This week was devoted to studying reading and writing improvement with the help of CALL.
We have read several articles related to this topic. Here are links to some of them: http://www.udel.edu/ETL/RWN/Encourage.html
This site provides with ideas of using TV, newspaper, telephone books, maps to stimulate reading
Renee Ybarra in his article Using Technology to Help ESL/EFL Students Develop Language Skills(http://iteslj.org/Articles/Ybarra-Technology.html) says that first of all when students use e-mail writing they can see what a native speaker has written while answering, then scroll up and down through the message which is visually helps them. Students get self-motivated to write in a new for them way and to communicate with a real native speaker and get a real respond.

Often, the students need to feel confident in their new language before putting it into print. So here irreplaceable assistant for us is word processing. Edyth E. Young, Ph.D., NCREL program director/research, Center for Literacy outlines "Content Literacy" (http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/content/cntareas/reading/li300.htm) writes about it. And it is so , because there you may find synonyms of the word, F7 button allows you to check your spelling. I would say any computer tool is a tool to improve the students’ writing whether it it is desktop publishing or online publishing or Internet communication.
Further the author provides us with some writing webs where online publishing can be accomplished. They are online magazines and educational organizations that post students' writing on the Web. Three examples are Midlink Magazine, The Young Writers Club, and International Kids' Space. The World of Reading posts book reviews that are submitted by children.

TASK. We also searched for the useful web sites that would work in our classroom.
These are my results
http://www.manythings.org/voa/words/73.html
An activity named “The origin of the word fireworks ”.
In our new vocabulary list of the Unit “Customs and festivals” there is the word FIREWORK. It saves time just to show the picture of the firework. But I think it is interesting to know the origin of this word (Condition) listening to the native speaker (Behaviour) for my intermediate 2nd year students (Auditory)


http://www.tolearnenglish.com/free/full/elvis/index.php
In our text-books we have a Unit “Pop Music” and in my opinion this lesson about Elvis Presley matches the lesson where we study music styles and learn biography of Madonna and read about Elton John. It is a significant supplemental online material for my group of 15 3rd year students of the History Department (Auditory). It contains of 4 steps: I. anticipation with the following questions

1. What do you know about Elvis Presley? Do you know any songs by Elvis Presley?
2. How old was he when he died?
3. Why was August, 16th 2002 important?
4. Who is Margaret Kennedy? What towns did she visit?
II. While-reading test with time limit (15 min.) which helps me to manage the time
III. Filling the gaps while watching the tape
IV. Grammar and vocabulary exercises (habitual actions in the past using would)
Moreover it has writing practice exercise - Write a short paragraph about yourself, explaining what you used to do when you were young (/younger), using given words – 1. to have a lie−in
2. to go to school
3. to watch TV late
4. to have good marks
5. to travel all over the world
6. to practise sports
7. to meet your friend
Students can do all these activities autonomously from each other (Behaviour) and get information about another well-known singer (Condition) through these exercises and are evaluated promptly online (Degree) with pointing their mistakes out.

Again with my favourite web site www.tolearnenglish.com I will include in the Unit “Pop Music ” the song What a wonderful world by Louis Armstrong (http://www.tolearnenglish.com/exercises/exercise-english-2/exercise-english-70537.php ). Students like listening to the music, because it is an authentic and natural source of learning English words and idioms.
My 3rd year History Department students (Auditory) will listen to the song (Behaviour) and fill in the correct word. You can modify the activity: students will fill words without listening to the song, they will just read it as it is easy to guess what word should stay in what place. They will check their answers in percentage way online (Degree) and will sing and learn the song by heart (Condition). I prefer this site, because just in a case Internet does not work there is printable version both assignment and answers.

PROJECT TASK. Our project task was to describe some issue of our classroom that we would solve with the help of technology later on. Even all of us are from diverse countries I came to conclusion that we have similar problems with books, independent curriculum design, cheating and lack of motivation. And besides of these all of us have their own specific issues. For me it was difficulty my students to speak English.
During my study in this course I believe to solve this problem with CALL successfully.