Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

February 28, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Firefox Releases Free Video Calling System Built Into Browser

hello

Firefox has unveiled “Hello,” a video-calling system that is built into its browser. No registration is necessary. All you have to do is easily “create a conversation,” name it, and send the url link to the person with whom you want to talk. You can also create a contact list. They can use other browsers, like Chrome, and still use the link to the video call. Unfortunately, it appears to me that you can’t have group video chatrooms — in other words, it appears that you can just have two computers using the url address (let me know if I’m wrong on that).

They say they’re releasing it “gradually,” so not everybody might have it yet in their Firefox version.

Here’s a video describing it:

I’m adding this post to:

The Best Applications For Sending Online Video Messages

The Best Online Tools For Real-Time Collaboration

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February 18, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Trello Is Another Online Corkboard/Bulletin Board

trello

Trello is another free tool that teachers and students can use to create online corkboards/bulletin boards (like Padlet and other sites on The Best Online Virtual “Corkboards” (or “Bulletin Boards”) list).

TechCrunch calls Trello “collaborative task-management software,” so it has a lot of other bells and whistles, but it can also be used very simply for students to copy, paste and categorize images they grab off the web. That’s how I use Padlet — students can create picture data sets as part of inductive learning (see The Best Resources About Inductive Learning & Teaching).

It’s a little clunkier to add images to Trello than to other tools, though not that much so. It’s just an extra click (it’s created as an attachment to each “card” and then it is displayed).

With School District content filters, you can never have too many options to choose from since who knows what site will be blocked?

You can read more about Trello at the TechCrunch post.

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February 16, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Guest Post: Get Started with iBooks Author

I’ve recently completed a three-part series at Education Week Teacher on educators writing and publishing books.

Here’s a guest post from Peter Pappas about an important option I neglected to cover in that series.

Peter Pappas is a teacher, writer and national consultant exploring the intersection of critical thinking, teaching and new technologies. His popular blog, Copy / Paste is dedicated to relinquishing responsibility for learning to the students. It’s filled with loads of lesson ideas – many for the history classroom:

Apple’s iBooks Author (iBA) is turning 3 years old and it is still the best tool for creating highly interactive multi-media content viewable on an iPad or Mac. I’ve published eight iBooks (two authored by my students) and offered numerous workshops to train teachers on how they and their students can become published authors. All eight are free. You can visit my  iBA training website for more info and free downloads.

iBA includes many great interactive widgets that allow you to easily add video, audio, photo galleries, pop-up text / images, glossaries, and test questions. Secondary widget designers are busy creating additional widget functions. Here’s a video demo of how I used a Bookry widget to add a photo reveal effect to my latest iBook Portland’s Japantown Revealed

Crowdsourced Production

iBA (a free program) requires a Mac running OS X 10.7.2 or later, but that doesn’t mean that every student needs a Mac to contribute to the iBook project. All the classroom needs is access to one computer running iBA to create an iBook.

iBA accepts text from Microsoft Word and other text editors. Teams of student writers can do research and writing on a variety of computers (and devices) and send finished copy to the iBA production team. Images, audio and video files collected by researchers can be added to the iBook project with a simple drag and drop. If students have access to multiple Macs running iBA, it’s easy to consolidate iBA projects by copy / pasting chapters (or sections of chapters). Research, writing, and design can even be sequenced into a “flipped classroom” production model. Here’s my workflow that required only 2 hours of Mac lab time for my students to create an iBook.

Broadcasting Your iBook

Terms of use for iBA require that iBA-created iBook that are offered for sale can only be sold through the iBookstore. But there’s no restriction on “free” iBA-created iBooks – circulate them any way you want.

While the iBookstore does provide accounts for producers of “free” iBooks, there’s a simpler way to distribute an iBook. Connect an iPad to the computer running iBA, click Preview, and the iBook is pushed to the attached iPad. (With Macs Mavericks and Yosemite OS, fully functional interactive iBooks are also viewable on the Mac desktop.) It’s also easy to export the finished iBooks file from the iBA program to an external drive or network and distribute the iBook to multiple iPads or Mac desktops.

The ease of distribution means students can communicate with a broader, and more authentic audience than just their teacher and class peers. Imagine your students telling family and friends their new iBook is available at iTunes. My most popular iBook to date is Exploring History: Ten Document-Based Questions It was written by my students – it’s available in iTunes in 51 countries and has been downloaded over 1,100 times.

Design Thinking Meet CCSS Skills

Researching, writing, and designing an iBook provides an opportunity for students to hone a variety of skills. Common Core State Standards require a host of literacy, critical thinking and writing skills that are essential to production. Project based learning (PBL) engages students with the opportunity to think like professionals while solving real-world problems. While the iBook qualifies as a project goal, don’t forget that the subject of the iBook could also give students a platform to tackle community-based issues.

Collaborating on an iBook draws from a wide range of creative skills – creating audio clips, producing illustrations, shooting and editing video. Because a variety of media can be included in an iBook, there are numerous opportunities for students of all ability levels and language proficiencies to be active contributors.

Digital technologies have put students in charge of the information they access, store, analyze and share. Most importantly the digital era has given them an expectation of informational choice. Creating an iBook harnesses all those motivational factors into an engaging learning experience. When students get to collaborate and work as adult professional do, we relinquish responsibility for learning to the student and provide them a valuable opportunity to reflect on both their process and product. That’s the foundation for a lifetime of learning.

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February 13, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Web 2.0 Tools For Beginning English Language Learners – “Post It”

postit

 

This post is the seventh in a lengthy series where I will be sharing the Web 2.0 tools that I’m using with my Beginning English Language Learners, along with explaining how we’re using and sharing student examples of each one.

Previous posts in this series have been:

Web 2.0 Tools For Beginning English Language Learners – “Phrase.It”

Web 2.0 Tools For Beginning English Language Learners – “Padlet”

Web 2.0 Tools For Beginning English Language Learners – “Szoter”

Web 2.0 Tools For Beginning English Language Learners – “Clyp.it”

This Is The Best Web 2.0 Site For ELLs & May Be The Best One For All Students

Web 2.0 Tools For Beginning English Language Learners – “Connect Fours”

Today’s post is highlighting another of the many tools at Russel Tarr’s ClassTools site.

It’s called Post It, and it lets you add any photo and easily label it, like the student example at the top of the post.

I described how and why I would use this kind of tool in a previous post in this series about a site called Szoter.

Post It and Szoter are very similar, and I’d say the advantage to using ClassTools is that it’s in the same place as many other tools my students are using. Having an “all-in-one” site makes everything just a little more simple, and that’s a benefit to students and teachers alike. Plus, since one never knows when a site will be blocked by School District content filters, it never hurts to have multiple sites in your backpocket.

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February 10, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
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You Can Now Create Flipboard Magazines On The Web

flip

Flipboard has been a popular app for creating web magazines — you pick your high-interest topics, choose from among the zillion articles Flipboard collects, and you’ve then got an easily “shareable” personalized newspaper.

The only problem, and it’s a big one for educators who want to use it with their students, has been that it’s been mobile-only — you couldn’t use it on the Web.

Until today.

You can now use Flipboard on the Web.

I’m now adding it to The Best Sites For Creating Personalized “Newspapers” Online.

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February 10, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Prezi Unveils “Nutshell” For Creating Vine-Like Movies

nutshell

Prezi, the incredibly popular (though, to me, still rather discomforting to look at) presentation tool, has just unveiled an iPhone app called Nutshell.

You can read more about it at this TechCrunch post, and I’ve embedded a video below showing it in action.

It appears that you can take three pictures, add visual effects and text, and turn it into a short movie.

I’m not sure that it’s that much different from Instagram video or Vine (see The Best Resources For Learning To Use The Video Apps “Vine” & Instagram) but it might be worth a look.

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February 9, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
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This Week In Web 2.0

'Web 2.0 paljastaa' photo (c) 2011, Janne Ansaharju - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

In yet another attempt to get at the enormous backlog I have of sites worth blogging about, I’ve recently begin a regular feature called “The Week In Web 2.0.” (you might also be interested in The Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education In 2014). I also sometimes include tech tools that might not exactly fit the definition of Web 2.0:

Presentate is a new tool for creating online presentations. It looks nice, but you have to register for its beta. I received my invitation fairly quickly. I’m not convinced the world needs yet another online presentation site, but I’ll still add it to The Best Ways To Create Online Slideshows.

Thematic is another tool for creating slideshows. I like it a little better than Presentate, and it’s now open to the public. You can learn more about it at Richard Byrne’s blog. I’m adding it to that same “Best” list.

SiteKit lets you create websites for free. It’s probably not as user-friendly as other tools on my recently updated The Best Ways For Students Or Teachers To Create A Website list, but it still worth checking-out.

PDFdoc lets you convert your Word document to PDF form and vice versa. I’m adding it to another newly-updated “Best” list: Not “The Best,” But “A List” Of Ways To Convert PDF & Word Documents.

MusiXMatch Launches Clip So You Can Create And Share 20-Second Videos With Music And Lyrics Overlaid is a TechCrunch post about a new app that might have some value for an English Language Learner classroom.

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February 8, 2015
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Web 2.0 Tools For Beginning English Language Learners – “Connect Fours”

connectfours

This post is the sixth in a lengthy series where I will be sharing the Web 2.0 tools that I’m using with my Beginning English Language Learners, along with explaining how we’re using and sharing student examples of each one.

Previous posts in this series have been:

Web 2.0 Tools For Beginning English Language Learners – “Phrase.It”

Web 2.0 Tools For Beginning English Language Learners – “Padlet”

Web 2.0 Tools For Beginning English Language Learners – “Szoter”

Web 2.0 Tools For Beginning English Language Learners – “Clyp.it”

This Is The Best Web 2.0 Site For ELLs & May Be The Best One For All Students

Today’s post is highlighting a brand-new online game from Russel Tarr’s ClassTools site — in fact, he just unveiled it today!

It’s called Connect Fours and is based on a BBC game show that I’ve posted about previously in “Only Connect” Is A Great Game For The Classroom. As I wrote then, the concept of the game was great was for English Language Learners, but the online BBC game itself was too advanced for them. I had suggested, though, that it would be easy for students and teachers to create their own versions with paper and pencil, and I’ve done that numerous times in my classes.

Thankfully, though, Russel has now created a super-easy version that teachers and students can use to make their own online without having to register.

In the game, there are sixteen squares with words on each one. The player needs to use the words to create four categories of four words each. It’s a great game that helps develop the higher-order thinking skill of categorization.

Usually in this series I’ve been sharing student-created examples. However, since this game has just come online today, my students won’t be using it until later this week — but they will be using it and I’m sure will be enjoying playing and creating!

Here’s the model game I’ve created since we’re just finishing our “home” thematic unit:

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