Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

August 19, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
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“Zooniverse” Is One Of The Coolest Ed Sites On The Web – I Can’t Believe I’m Just Hearing About It!

zoon

Zooniverse is an amazing site where scholars put up projects that require “people-powered research” – for example, attempting to decode formerly secret Civil War telegrams.

It has many projects in multiple subject areas, along with very cool online tools for students to use when doing the research. The site also has lesson plans for teachers to use when introducing students to the site.

A site like this offers real purposes for student learning. I’m amazed that I hadn’t heard of it before today when Stephen F. Knott sent the tweet about the Civil War project. Further exploration led me to all the site’s other features.

I’m going to add it to Best Places Where Students Can Write For An “Authentic Audience,” but it deserves to be on a lot of other Best lists.

Have any readers had experience with Zooniverse before?  Am I the only one around who didn’t know it existed?

August 19, 2016
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 begun 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 2016 – So Far). I also sometimes include tech tools or articles about them that might not exactly fit the definition of Web 2.0:

WebReel lets you create a “reel” – a slideshow – of links to web addresses. You can also write a description of each site in the presentation. It would be an easy tool to use if teachers or students were creating webquests or internet scavenger hunts, which is why I’m adding it to The Best Places To Create (And Find) Internet Scavenger Hunts & Webquests.  It’s still in beta, so you need to request an invitation.  However, I don’t think you’ll need to wait that long to receive one.

OpenStax provides free online textbooks and the ability for teachers to create virtual classrooms and have student annotate the text (along with other features). It’s limited to college instructors now. However, it appears they are expanding to K-12, starting with an AP pilot and you can apply to participate. I first heard about it by an announcement of research they were beginning to analyze student online highlighting of text and try to identify how to enhance that strategy for learning. I’m adding it to The Best Sites That Students Can Use Independently And Let Teachers Check On Progress.

Hangouts On Air moving from Google+ to YouTube Live on September 12 is the headline of a TechCrunch post. Richard Byrne has written about the same topic.

Map Channels lets you create animated driving directions of Google Street View that you can embed. I’m not sure how generally useful it will be, but this feature will be helpful in my favorite lesson of each year – A Lesson Highlighting Community Assets — Not Deficits. In that lesson, students compare our local school neighborhood with the wealthiest community in Sacramento. Often, we can visit both neighborhoods on field trips. Some years, however, we “visit” the wealthier one via Street View, and a tool like this makes it easier. Thanks to Google Maps Mania for the tip.

Vizia lets you integrate quizzes and polls into videos. You can read more about it at Richard Byrne’s blog. I’m adding it to A Potpourri Of The Best & Most Useful Video Sites.

How to Place an Image-based Quiz in Your Blog is by Richard Byrne. I’m adding it to The Best Ways To Create Online Tests.

August 14, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
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“Call Me Ishmael” Is A Neat Site & Model For Student Book Activity

callme

Call Me Ishmael is a neat site that I learned about through John Damaso’s excellent post, Top 10 ISTE takeaways for English teachers.

It’s very simple – students read a book of their choice, call a number and leave a message telling a short story how it impacted their life. The site’s creator then picks three of these stories each week to (literally) type them out and publish a video with the typing coordinated with the voice message.

Here are a couple of examples:

All the voice messages seem to be embedded on the site, too, and visitors can vote on which ones they think the site should turn into videos.

It’s a pretty neat idea, and I especially like that the voice messages are embedded. That way, even if a video is not made with them, students can still see that their message is posted.

Even if you don’t have students call the number, though, the videos can be used as good models. Students can easily create their own versions of these kinds of “book trailers” by a website like Little Bird Tales or the KnowMe phone app.

I’m adding this post to The Best Posts On Books: Why They’re Important & How To Help Students Select, Read, Write & Discuss Them.

August 14, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Create Virtual Classrooms With “Awesome Stories” – Plus Students Can Write For An Authentic Audience

awesome

I’ve written a number of posts over the years Awesome Stories, the excellent site for free accessible student content on many topics.

Now, for an annual fee of $59, teachers can create virtual classrooms using the site and monitor student progress. That’s nice, though a feature that goes along with that is the one I particularly like – the ability for students (and teachers) to create their own “stories” that can then become part of the site’s content. You can’t beat having an authentic audience for student motivation!

The process to create those stories seems workable for students, though it would be nicer if it was a little more simple – I get wary of anything that requires a ten minute instruction video. But, as I said, it seems like students could figure it out.

Of course, reading the site’s content remains free to everybody.

I’m adding this info to:

The Best Places Where Students Can Write For An “Authentic Audience”

The Best Sites That Students Can Use Independently And Let Teachers Check On Progress

August 14, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
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The “All-Time” Best Sources Of Online Images

The-AllTime-Best-Sources

I have nearly 1,600 “Best” lists and, though they’re all categorized and regularly updated, they can be pretty overwhelming – even to me!

That’s one reason why I have a small number, but growing, newer category of lists call “All-Time Best” ones. You can see All Of My “All-Time” Best Lists In One Place!

This post is another attempt at bringing a little more sanity to these lists.

I’ve just revised and updated The Best Online Sources For Images, but it’s still pretty massive – plus there are a zillion comments with even more recommendations from readers.

Here are my choices of the best – and easiest – sites to use for legally obtaining free images. They’re the ones I use the most. The links on this list are either direct links to the sites or links to my blog posts about the resources. In the case, those posts include the direct links:

“Photos For Class” Is My Favorite Site For Finding Images

“Unsplash” Is A Great Source Of Public Domain Photos & Just Got A Lot Better!

Getty Images Has Just Become The Number One Source For Images In Social Media — Choose From 40 MILLION!

You Can Now Embed Images From Imgur With Automatic Attribution

Pixabay is a good source of public domain images. Here’s a post from Richard Byrne some suggestions on how to use it.

ELT Pics is a project initiated on Twitter to collect photos helpful to English Language teachers.

Feel free to let me know if you think I’m missing any obvious ones that should be on this “all-time” list.

 

August 12, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
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MIT’s “Moral Machine” Is Most Engaging Version Of “Trolley Problem” You Will Find

moralmachine

 

Most of us are probably familiar with the famous ethical “Trolley Problem” (see The Best Videos About The Famous “Trolley Problem”).

Now, MIT has created what’s got to be the most engaging online version of the age-old ethical dilemma in its “Moral Machine.”

They’re take on the problem is that you are designing the moral decisions a self-driving car has to make. You’re given thirteen scenarios and, after you’re done, you can see how your answers compare to those of previous participants.

The best part, though, of the site comes next. You can then create your own scenario that others can play!

I think it’s safe to say that for as long as this site is up, any IB Theory of Knowledge class that has access to technology will be playing it during their Ethics unit.

You can read more about it at Slate’s article, Should a Self-Driving Car Kill Two Jaywalkers or One Law-Abiding Citizen?
Here’s a short video from the site:

August 5, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
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This Would Be Great For ELLs: Play – Or Create – A “Listening & Speaking” Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Story

echo

As regular readers know, I’m a big fan of both having students create and read (or, in the case of videos, watch-and-play) choose your own adventure stories (see The Best Places To Read & Write “Choose Your Own Adventure” Stories). Many students find them very engaging to read, they can be quite accessible, and even low-Intermediate ELLs can create simple ones.

I’ve been a fan of them for quite awhile, and thought I was aware of all their different permutations.

Once again, however, I was wrong.

You might be aware of Amazon’s popular home voice assistant called Echo, which uses the Alexa voice software. I don’t have it, but do have the Amazon Fire TV plugin, which I like a lot (I used to be a fan of Google Chromecast, but now favor Fire).

Apparently, a few months ago, they created a listening choose-your-own-adventure game connected to the terrible Batman vs. Superman movie. In it, Alexa describes physical surrounds, provides choices, and assists players in making them. The game received a much better critical reception than the film.

Today, Amazon released software to developers so that they could more easily create these kinds of games.

So, one, this means that there will be many more of these kinds of professionally-produced “listening-and-speaking” choose your own adventure games, which would seem to me to offer exceptionally engaging opportunities for English Language Learners to practice listening and speaking. All we’d have to do is bring an Amazon Fire TV plugin to the classroom.

But, more importantly, I think, is the idea of a listening & speaking Choose Your Own Adventure story!

Teacher can create simple or more complex ones by just writing them out and saying it like this (it’s a sample from Amazon’s software instructions):

sample

On top of that, English Language Learner can also create their own. It would seem to me that these versions would need to be more simple than ones that are typically written so that players don’t have to remember as much, which should make them even easier for ELLs.

I have plenty of templates like this one at my previously-mentioned “Best” list.

Do you think this kind of thing could have as much potential as I do?

August 5, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo
0 comments

“Unsplash” Is A Great Source Of Public Domain Photos & Just Got A Lot Better!

unsplash

Unsplash has been on my The Best Online Sources For Images list for quite awhile. It has tens of thousands of images that can be used for free – commercially or for educational purposes – without having to provide any attribution to the photographer (though, of course, it’s still a nice thing to do).

Until relatively recently, however, it didn’t have a search feature.

Today, they unveiled a great one, and it’s super-fast.

I’m still going to go with Photos For Class as my favorite free image site (see “Photos For Class” Is My Favorite Site For Finding Images), but Unsplash is a close second.

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