3 October 2017

An Autumn Game and Resources for Teachers

Having a stock of games to use in classes, whether analogue or digital, is common practice among language teachers and other subjects. Quiznetic is one more digital game that is simple to create for class revisions, with the teacher only needing to share the automatic code for a specific game.  So far it is free and when learners have used it several times in class, they too could sign up and create team games for each other, thus having them more involved in their learning process. 

It's also possible to share one's quizzes with colleagues though I think I would also like to have the option of embedding a quiz. Here is a short quiz with videos that I am including as a quick test to Quiznetic, while below is a short video on how to create a game. 

Two other interesting resources for educators which have caught my eye are Oxplore and Poetry by Heart .

Oxplore offers a variety of topics to be discussed and debated in class. Each topic offer a "yes" or "no" option which then leads to further questions, short quizzes, short readings and videos on the topic. 

It's an open resource and very simple to use or to dip into,  regardless whether a teacher is digitally skilled or not.  And, for many educators, a time saving resource. 

Poetry by Heart is a dynamic site which encourages learners to engage in poetry and to take part in competitions. 

What other resources will you be using this Autumn?

Other Suggestions

27 July 2017

Asking Questions, Challenging Learning - A Resource for Educators

What is learning if not questioning?

What is learning if not the provocation of questioning?

The Learning Challenge with James Nottingham from Challenging Learning on Vimeo.

The Learning Challenge  is a space where educators can find resources to reflect on their teaching approaches and mindsets. 

Resources include videos, downloadable lessons and more:

From reflections on Carol Dweck's Growth Mindset to Hattie's influence in learner feedback and teaching strategies, Challenging Learning is a great resource for educators. 

The best part?



Believing in learning changes.

Further Suggestions:

How Educators Can Assist Learners in Developing a Growth Mindset

MindSet Kit - The Mindset Kit is a free set of online lessons and practices designed to help you teach and foster adaptive beliefs about learning.

Recognizing and Overcoming False Growth Mindset

Glossary of Hattie’s influences on student achievement

Fixed vs. Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets That Shape Our Lives

Images - Pexels

23 July 2017

Boosting Vocabulary


I want words.

Words to describe the spaces in between.

The spaces of light, the spaces of dreams.

Untouched, unspoken words.

I want worlds of words.

As a language teacher I want my leaners to have words. I want them to have the power of expression. So easy, yet always so challenging when learning a language.

Word Booster, a recent tool I learnt about with Nik Peachey ), is a helpful tool for busy teachers.

3 simple steps:

Select an online article,

Copy & paste link, (URL),

Click and download PDFs.

Below is an example which I did with a recent blog post by Philip Kerr on Evaluating Personalization:

This type of exercise may not be to everyone's liking; a language teacher may need to look carefully at the language selected and consider whether the focus and examples are of interest or not. 

However, for teacher trainees, this is a great tool to use in a workshop. They may try it out on each other in small groups and then decide how useful or not, such a digital tool may be for teachers. This requires the ability to select an appropriate online article (perhaps connected to a theme/topic they are covering on a training course), challenging another group of peers, and above all, being comfortable within the learning group to reflect on how they could use this vocabulary tool with their learners.

Words, words, words!

How have you been teaching/exploring vocabulary lately?

Words from Enle Li on Vimeo.

When Teachers Still Say "I Don't Know about Computers"

Mid 2017 and I still hear educators publicly state how they don't know much about "computers" and so will not be able to carry out X or Y teaching task. 

Excuse me? 

Given the choice, would these same teachers go to a doctor who practiced medicine as it was practiced in another past century? Given the choice, would these same teachers live in a house which didn't have the basic facilities of running tap water and electricity??? Do they not even know the
difference between a computer and digital literacy skills???

For those not know where to start learning, The Global Digital Citizen Foundation 
is one of the many, many places to begin learning about different issues in education today.

There is such a wealth of ways that digital technology may support and encourage learning, that it is, quite frankly, unacceptable that teachers still excuse their lack of interest in today's world by saying "oh, I am not very good at computers". More than ignorance, it is a disservice to our learners. 

However, it is also necessary that teachers don't mistake the use of PowerPoint and Kahoot as evidence that they are integrating digital education in their classroom practices.  These are tools; and as all other tools, there needs to be constant reflection as to the learning outcomes and pedagogical purposes which support learning. Additionally, merely including digital media (in any form) is also not the only answer in education. Educators should become familiar with the learning tools available to all today and their pedagogical implications, while also fostering a more critical approach to pedagogy. 

So where does one begin learning?

With others.

Through collaborative networks and communities.

By reading, by participating, by engaging with others.

By taking risks of failure, risks of ridicule, risks of learning.

By active learning.

Learning does not happen in an empty vacuum; learning is not something that is done to you. It requires participation and being active. As George Couros so well expressed, "isolation is now a choice educators make" .

Perhaps if educators were more willing to update their teaching and learning skills,  they would find themselves complaining less about their learners, and actually be more likely to be pleasantly surprised at the creative thinking and production their learners are capable of.


Further Suggestions:

1 July 2017

Need Inspiration?

Summer.... and quotations abound across SM.

InspiroBot  comes to alleviate the (possible) boredom of long, lazy days.

Click on "generate", sit back and be prepared to smile.

How many ways could you use this with your learners?

Further Suggestions:

Soundbites for the Classroom

Stories for Autumn

Do You Have Visual Swag?

Posters, Images and Metaphors

Wing It from Peter den Hartogh on Vimeo.

Free Professional Development for Teachers

If you had a life threatening illness, would you go to a medical doctor trained in 1817?

If you were not feeling well, would you go to a medical doctor who graduated in the 1960's and never read a medical journal after finally graduating and doing their medical training?

If your answer is a resounding NO!, then why do learners have to tolerate educators who are not prepared, not updated, not interested in teaching in 2017?

Professional development for educators does not come cheap. Nevertheless, there are always ways to keep learning - even for educators. Besides the obvious offer of MOOCs, attending conferences and so forth, there are also professional development courses which are open and accessible to anyone who is interested. 

Capella University is offering several free online professional development courses for teachers. 

Choices are open.

What's stopping you?
Alike short film from Pepe School Land on Vimeo.

Choices are there for all. 

Further Suggestion:

23 Things for Digital Knowledge

Teacher Development and Resources

Elements of Leadership in Education

24 June 2017

Storytelling for Teacher Training from Finland

Stories. The weave that binds communities together - communities which may be structured learning communities or others. 

Stories. The tracing of a flow of identity and how one's identity changes, develops, evolves and expands. 

Stories. The narrative which spellbinds, the narrative of inquiry, the narrative of self. Of selves. Of sense-making. 

As educators, we have today a wide range of approaches to introduce storytelling in our classrooms, whether analogue or digital

From JAMK University in Finland, comes a set of cards for teacher training which may be used for story telling.

As traditional playing cards, this set has 4 suits and 3 jokers. With 52 cards, each card is based on the four areas of competence of teacher education, as defined by JAMK University : 

The set of cards comes with suggestions of how to use them with teacher trainees - different games where educational concepts and values intertwine with playfulness. 

One way to involve trainees in their teaching narratives is to ask them to sit in a circle,  pick a card
at random and after a short period of time of reflection, they tell the rest of the group a short story based on the concept and their teaching experience.

Simple storytelling through a focus on reflection, learning and collaboration - for the rest of the circle listens, and without knowing, is involved in listening to their peers' stories, relating the same concept to their experiences and learning, thinking of different ways to solve problems educators face in our day to day lives, as well as how best to introduce change in their own personal /professional narratives. 

How do you have teacher trainees share stories?

How do your narratives facilitate learning?

Further Suggestions:


Why You Need To Use Storytelling For Learning

Ursula K. Le Guin on Redeeming the Imagination from the Commodification of Creativity and How Storytelling Teaches Us to Assemble Ourselves

18 June 2017

Storytelling - from Finland

In our digital world, there is, increasingly, much that I disagree with. In so many ways I watch (with horror at times) as humanity sleep walks itself into a world which is less human, less equal, less democratic. 

Nevertheless, as an educator, I continue striving to help others understand the need for teaching Digital Literacies and Digital Safety - among the many other issues which arise from our digital world of which we are all participants and residents. As an educator too, I indulge and delight in all the positive potential that the WWW offers - for the web is not something that is done to us. All of us participate in its creation and development, at different levels and different degrees. 

As an educator, I am interested in having my learners understand the empowerment that the web may give them.  I indulge in the beauty and creative power of storytelling. Narratives. For what are we without narratives? What are we without registering and reflecting on our changing identities?

From Finland, a number of digital tools come to mind. Today I'd like to point out Edvisto

Edvisto is a tool for storytelling - but with a twist. 

Storytelling can be a personal narrative but it can also be social and collaborative. 

There is also a blog where you can read up on recent news of how Edvisto is being used in different schools with different age groups and different projects.  The narratives may differ - the central point is the same: Student learning. Student involvement. Student engagement. Active learning. Learning for life. 

Perhaps it is time to meet learners in their world. Perhaps it is time to accept that education and learning approaches have changed and that younger generations do expect, do want to be involved in their learning processes. Engaged and empowered by their learning.

Speaking of videos - have you already dipped into Nik Peachey's book on Digital Video?
(you can purchase a copy directly on iTunes or simply click on the sidebar of this blog where it will direct you to Nik's eBooks)

Digital Video - By Nik Peachey from Nik Peachey on Vimeo.

Stories engage.

Stories transport.

Stories strive to make sense.

Stories define one's identity.

Stories are embedded in one's identity.

What's your summer story?

What's your recent video tool to narrate your story?

Further Suggestions:

There are a range of digital tools from Finland; here are some that you may wish to have a look at:




Interactive Scientific

Lupo - Space Adventure

Educational change is here. 

Alive and well. 

28 May 2017

Reflecting on Feedback and Assessment

I have never been much of number person in terms of assessment and educational feedback. Obviously, when working in educational institutions and systems, one must abide by the established norms. However, it has always been the more qualitative dimension of feedback which helped me as a learner and perhaps because of that, how I perceive the powerful role of feedback and assessment - not a tool to pigeon hole students into a tier that they are stuck in, but as a path to further development in whatever field a person is learning in. Perhaps that is one of the reasons I like digital badges - within all that a badge contains, it also  reflects a learning process, a skill acquired, an achievement,  and not merely a number on a scale within a competitive framework of assessment. 

This is not to say that feedback and assessment are not important - by no means. They are an integral part to learning. It would be naive to claim that evaluation is not relevant; one is evaluated every day at every moment by a host of audiences and social groups. And, for educational systems to somehow work, there needs be an assessment system to aid the structure of education. Learners too have the right to feedback, to know how they are progressing in the content matter, how they are developing as learners and how they can better achieve both their learning goals and the overall goals set by the curriculum they are learning in. 

Educational feedback though, has two main areas: assessing students and teacher evaluation. These may be complimentary (or not), but very much a feature of many educators' days. In this sense, I'd like to share the following infographic on the types of feedback which is possible to give learners and further on, a couple of suggestions on feedback and professional development for educators. 

In regard to feedback for educators, how do the issues (raised in these posts below) relate to your professional context?

For many teachers, the academic year is ending and the light now shines towards summer days.

If you are about to have your summer break - may it be a happy one!

Images : Pixabay

27 May 2017

Call the Presenter! Call the Presenter!

Just as there are all kinds of performances, there are different kinds of presentations, each with their end purpose and style. Let's consider these as an example:

6 Presentation Styles of Famous Presenters from 24Slides

Preparing learners for giving a presentation is a widespread activity among language teachers and other educators. Each year there will be favourite tools to use, with Powerpoint  (PPT) and Google Slides still being two of the most popular tools. (Some tools develop and begin offering more features - a case in point is  Prezi which now offers Prezi Next. )

Today I'd like to share two other presentation tools - one, not so new and one just about to become accessible to all.

Knovio  has different pricing plans for different sectors, including businesses, educators and students, so it's worth having a look and considering how it may suit one's needs and interest.

Knovio also offers Basic Tutorials - always helpful when learning how to use a new tool. 

What I am quite looking forward to, is

Ludus offers a rich range of features for creative presentations and storytelling. Here you can learn more about Ludus and how it differs from PPT and Google Slides.

Learning about new ways of presenting and different tools to use in education requires a certain sense of playfulness and ability to take risks. It also may demand time - time to become an active participant in learning circles, in learning communities. These learning communities may also change with time - change is inherent in all learning. As Harold Jarche well pointed out in a recent tweet:

Ignoring the digital world for educational purposes is no longer acceptable. It has not been acceptable for some time now. However, as in many aspects in life, there also needs to be a certain degree of critical learning within this world of digital tools and platforms. If as educators we require that learners think critically, educators too need to be critical learners. And that includes our uses and practices with digital technology for learning. 

Where is the presenter?

How will the presenter engage me throughout their talk?

How does your community of practice change your practices?

Further Suggestions:

Types of Presentations - Online Learning Tutorials for College Skills

25 May 2017

Editing Images and Image Sourcing

In a world of filtered perceptions, filtered realities, there is always a need to have image editors to play around with and experiment.

Here are a couple which I had previously on my side bar and still are free to use:





In Digital Delights - Images & Design, you can easily browse many more suggestions for image editors, as well as images and design related topics.

A couple of  recent posts which I have included are quite useful for bloggers and educators who may need images to use in their lessons:

Free images:

Free Images for Blogs and Marketing (38 sites)

Our top 5 sites for sourcing great images and photos on your iPad

Photo Collage Maker:

The 21 best Photo Collage Maker Tools 

What favourite tool/s do you currently use for image editing?

(Image from Pixabay)

Collaboration, Cooperation, Integration

Collaboration, cooperation, integration. Valuable concepts in education and in social organisations where people need to work together to achieve goals. Neither new nor original, though today, with wider approaches of how to actually achieve these processes. 

In the classroom, ClanEd (which I already have mentioned here ) is a valuable tool for both teachers and learners, regardless of subject matter or level. Not only can it be used as an ePortfolio, but also as a teaching/learning space, with features which allow collaboration and cooperation among its users. 

From Finland, another offer for educators and learners - Seppo - A Spark for Learning.

Seppo is an authoring tool for creating educational games - definitely an engaging approach to get learners excited about learning. 

Below I leave a quick glance why educators should try Seppo:

Tools and platforms may help collaboration and cooperation at different levels and contexts. Nevertheless, it is the will of educators themselves to collaborate transparently and constructively that is the driving force for effective collaboration.

It is simplistic to think that one can achieve  or learn everything by oneself. Yes, there is much a single individual can achieve and learn - but it is through transparent collaboration that a richer learning and understanding emerges. 

Among the many, many educators from different fields who I respect, learn with and am connected to, in the field of ELT and EdTech, there is one name that needs no introduction. 

Nik Peachey has been sharing ideas, inspiration, expertise and pedagogical guidance for many years; more recently Nik has been publishing ebooks such as
 Digital Video - A Manual for Language Teachers  ( awarded the 2016 ELTons Award for Innovations in Teachers resources)  and
Thinking Critically through Digital Media 

Being a prolific writer, Nik has so more to offer educators - through his eBooks
which are most affordable (links on the left side of this blog for those who wish to easily access them), his blogs, presentations, webinars (an upcoming webinar on How to publish your own materials − from writing to publishing to marketing is scheduled for this coming Saturday, 3rd June, 2017), and his overall, open, collaborative sharing. Though the eBooks require a modest price (and are easily paid online with PayPal or bank card), these are a rich source of learning for educators and very much worth a teacher's time and investment. 

Collaboration is a practised skill which refines and transforms with time and experience. 

If educators wish that their learners learn collaboratively, then they too need to practice what they ask their learners to do. Modelling good practices goes a long way with both learners and peers. Modelling good practices is a form of integrating values such as collaboration and cooperation in one's daily professional practices. 

Add to the mix patience and empathy. For an educator cannot really be closed to learning, regardless of what field,  nor by selectively rejecting other fields or topics which are not of his/her own particular academic or personal interest. Being open to learning, to curiosity and engaging positively in this learning process is essential for all educators. By the same token, being able to admit not knowing something, to be modest, humble and open to learning is a welcomed attitude among educators. Openly dismissing other educators' knowledge, practical expertise, skills and understandings has little place in collaborative learning. 

Educational mentors today come from everywhere, of all ages and many different educational backgrounds and fields. Unlike the past where individuals were sometimes assigned an older colleague with who to learn with (e.g. in companies and educational institutions), today, it is important to by pass the age factor and turn tables - all generations have so much to teach, share and learn from each other. 

Focusing on empathy. Remembering to look beyond the surface.

If teachers are constantly reminded to be empathetic with their students,
empathy with other educators and peers is a step forward in positive modelling and integrating good practices in community building and cooperation. 

How will you nourish your garden of collaborative learning?

Further Suggestions:

Sunrise, Sunset

N is for Nik

Nik's Learning Technology Blog

How to Structure and Write s Self-Published e-Book - Nik Peachey

Worskhop on Masss Collaboration - Day One - Stephen Downes

Cooperation Versus Collaboration

Apples and EdTech

Northern Lights, Northern Change

T is for Topi 

Achieving Change through Collaboration and Cooperation

The Discontent of our Connectivity

Designing an Online Community for Language Teachers


I would like to thank permission granted to take and share the images of posters created by students at a school in Tampere, Finland.