TESOL Technology: June 2011
A place to share ideas, resources and projects related to Computer Assisted Language Learning for ESL teachers and students.

Monday, June 13, 2011

VoiceThread Minimal Pairs

VoiceThread allows slideshows, pictures and video to be uploaded, narrrated and commented on by other users. It is a wonderful way to publish student's work or provide additional support and lessons in a colloborative and interactive environment. See full VoiceThread post for more information.

I chose to create a minimal pair slideshow focusing on the pronunciation differences between 'short i' as in lip and 'long e' as in leave. The exercise allows users to listen to the pronunciation of various words and record their own pronunciation as many times as they like. Please feel free to check out my minimal pair exercise and add your comments.

PBL Checklist

PBL Checklists- provides teachers with the ability to generate custom made, age-appropriate checklists for a variety of project based learning tasks such as written reports, multimedia projects and oral presentations. Students can use these checklists in self and peer evaluations to become more antonymous learners as they take responsibility for their work.

The site offers a ThinkTank activity that helps students narrow down and brainstorm topics; it also offers teachers the ability to use QuizStar to generate quizzes and WebPoster Wizards to create online worksheets. You must register for a free account.

Using PBL Checklist I created a checklist for a paragraph writing assignment.


Quizlet is a flashcard and educational online gaming site that allows you to create your own flashcards or use the wealth of flashcards already available. If you want to create a set of flashcards you must register for a free account.

The site has several functions and once you have created a set of flashcards or chosen to use one of the many already on the site, you can get familiar with the vocabulary, learn/studyplay two online games and take a test.

The familiarize section allows you to review the vocabulary "flashcard style" by sliding through the flashcards; you can choose to see the word and definition at the same time or only the definition or only the word. This is a wonderful way to learn the word or see how many you already now.

The learning/studying section gives you either the definition or word and prompts you to type in the correct response. Quizlet keeps track of your responses so you know what word(s) still need some work.

Space Race a variation on matching that has the student type in the correct word as the definition scrolls across the screen; the player must type the word in quickly before the definition disappears off the screen. A great game for quick recognition, but the player must also have quick typing skills (another electronic literacy skill that can be simultaneously worked on).

Scatter an online matching game were the definitions and words are randomly scattered across the screen and the user must drag and drop the matching word and definition together. Once the correct definition and word are placed together they disappear. This is a timed game to help with quick recall and recognition.  

Finally, the test section will generate a 10 question quiz from the flashcard set. The questions range from short answer, multiple choice and true/false; each time the test button is selected a new test is generated allowing students to take multiple tests.

Check out the environmental flashcards I created using Quizlet.


Why use a rubric?

Rubrics provide students with the expectations of a project and enable teachers to give an objective assessment of student performance. See the website CARL- Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition for a wonderful review of the rationale of rubrics.

RubiStar-a site to help teachers build quality rubrics; you can customize the rubrics to fit your project dimensions and required elements. Rubric starters are available on a variety of topics: oral projects, multimedia, math, writing, reading, art, science, music, and work skills. RubiStar requires you to set up a free account to use the site. Check out the rubric I created for a poster project for a unit on environmental issues.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Word in my Head

Word in my head! (Use this activity as a writing prompt)

What is the first word you thought of as you watched this video?
  • Think about why you thought about that word? 
  • Now turn that reason into a paragraph explaining why you chose that word.
  • Post your paragraph in the comment box and make sure to write your word at the top.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

PowerPoint Lesson

PowerPoint (PPT) can be used by teachers to create lessons or guide their lectures (with handouts for note taking by students). Additionally, students can use teacher-created PPT lessons to review concepts and content at their own pace and leisure; furthermore, PPT can be used by students to create a multimedia slideshow and presentation of what they have learned.

Students and teachers can add narration to any slideshow and open it up for viewing and comments by using VoiceThread; yes, another plug for VoiceThread because it is a wonderful tool that provides many ways for interaction.

I created a PPT slideshow about writing using discourse markers (transitions) and avoiding run-on sentences and comma splices. Check it out. Also, check out the additional worksheet to accompany this PPT lesson. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Collaborative Web Site Review

The collaborative web site review was an interesting assignment and a new take on group projects for me because all the meetings, collaboration and comments took place solely on the computer using both asynchronous and synchronous communication. Google docs and Skype served as our means of synchronous communication as each partner uploaded their section and made comments on other participants sections. The use of Skype was a wonderful means to narrow down the topics, assign tasks and clarify miscommunication; whereas, Google docs allowed us to share our comments and also clarifying information using the instant chat feature. We then used email to finalize and confirm the final project for submission.  Below is a brief description of the process and a link to the complete evaluation.

Three websites, Voice of America’s Special English (VOA), ESLvideo, and English Listening Lesson Lab Online (ELLLO) were evaluated for their appropriateness for CALL-based classroom language instruction. The following reviews are based on the Evaluating Web Resource Checklist from Alberta Libraries, which provides basic, but core guidance for choosing the right websites for both English learning and teaching. The criterion for evaluation includes six categories: authority, scope, currency, purpose, accuracy, and usability. The reviews also explore the extent to which the contents of the three websites apply TESOL pedagogy and are useful for ESL classroom activities. Click to view the complete web site evaluation.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Picture Poem

Create a haiku poem about this picture and post your poem in the comment box.

A haiku poem is a three line poem where the first line has five syllables, the second line has seven syllables and the final line has five syllables.

Check out my example:

Oh, so cold and white
Icy chills my heart does ache
For rays, sunshine, Spring.

After you have created your poem, check out these different types of  poems at 25 Types of Poetry. Choose a type of poem and any picture then let your imagination go wild.

Also, visit VoiceThread.com to see Mrs. Matteson's wonderful class project that combines poems, art, speaking and multimedia presentations.

Describe It (Writing practice-Adjective practive)

Can you choose one adjective (a describing word) to describe something about this video. Think about what you saw, what you might hear, or smell and then choose a word. After you have your word/adjective, use that adjective in a sentence to describe the video; post your sentence in the comment box.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Writing Websites

Ms. Sanchez' Class is a wonderful site with many downloadable graphic organizers. Ms. Sanchez' Class also has a Teacher’s Corner with an abundance of resources from teacher ideas and thematic units to website links with printable worksheets and much, much more.

The wonderful thing about this website’s graphic organizers is they are downloadable and ready to use. There is a wide selection from KWL charts to Venn Diagrams. Also, in the Download CafĂ© you can find language art’s posters dealing with many elements of writing from similes and metaphors to transitional phrases.

WritingDEN's Tips-O-Matic is a site with quick-tip guides to help students quickly review the mechanics of writing from grammar tips to paragraph formation. There are three categories to choose from: sentences (punctuation, verbs, commonly confused words); paragraphs (parts of a paragraph, pre-writing, and types of paragraphs with a list of words typically found within each discourse); and essays (which follow the same set-up as paragraphs). Use Tips-o-Matic for a quick review of grammar points or questions about writing paragraphs.

Tips-O-Matic is part of a larger writing website called WritingDEN’s, which offers a word of the day, teacher's guide with rationale and suggested activities and a variety of picture slideshows with audio on numerous topics in history, science, nature and lifestyle.

ESOL Essayist is a site that offers hands on tutorials for writing a five paragraph essay. It has a library section that addresses writing cohesion, grammar and punctuation. There are peer reviews and mini test exercises as well as a Teacher Resources link with handouts and ways to scaffold.

Grammar Blog- is a blog created by Jane Straus that provides helpful rules and answers to grammar questions; with a link to Grammarbook.com where you can access examples, fun quizzes and grammar videos.

All of these sites offer great resources for students to improve their writing skills and expand their vocabulary. 

VOA Learning English

VOA Learning English website offers students the experience of hearing English being used in authentic purposes while being exposed to American culture and world stories. Due to the nature of exposure to American culture, there seems to be a bit of an assumption placed on having as least a little bit of background knowledge about American culture; some of the articles focus on well-know American figures. However, the sire offers a safe, fun way for students to dip their feet into American culture. In addition, the structure of the site offers a wonderful scaffolding technique by giving students the opportunity to listen to speech as they follow along with the text in written form. The text and speech approach is a wonderful way to build vocabulary using reading and authentic exposure to words in context. The features of this site make use of more scaffolding by using a slower pace of speech and clear concise words from a core vocabulary of 1,500, which can aid students in comprehension and vocabulary. On the other hand, the slower pace may cause confusion in regards to some language features such as intonation and rhythm.

In addition to offering audio broadcasts, a link called “The Classroom” has a wealth of online actives for students to use and practice their reading, listening and comprehension skills; some additional activities are arranged by topics from tenses to parts of speech and grammar. Another interesting feature is the use of selected articles, where target vocabulary words are bolded and online exercises are available that focus on these words and ask the user to watch video clips and match the words and definition. Other activities focus on providing pictures and asking comprehension questions and questions about the main idea. A wonderful exercise titled “Expand Your English” makes use of critical thinking by posing questions that ask for opinions and reasoning.  

Furthermore, "The Classroom" link offers interactive learning through the use of several wordbooks (a.k.a dictionaries): health, business, general wordbook and idiom wordbook. Each entry comes complete with the definition, pronunciation of both the word and a sentence that uses the word in context along with a picture. Take a look at this entry in the health wordbook for the word 'germ.'