Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Active Board - ICT resource in the classroom

Active Board

Active Board is an interactive whiteboard where you use a computer connected to a projector. You use a stylus that is specially prepared for the Active Board and when you write on the Active Board you convert your text into digital text. To the Active Board there is a software which contains many different things that are useful in a classroom and to various subjects.

There are many advantages of an Active Board. An Active Board can catch today's IT children living in a technology world. It becomes more visual for the pupils and they can work more actively together. It may include the use of educational programs in which the students can act together to solve problems or create something. There are many programs on the Internet that is free, which means that there are infinitely many possibilities to use an Active Board in a classroom. There is a greater sense for the pupils when they can be active by pick and pull out different things on an Active Board than it would have been if they sat on their own at a computer. With an Active Board you can do mind maps and one advantage is that you save it on your computer and can pick up the mind map again if needed to a whole class for a repetition or students who have been away at the time when you made the mind map. Everything that you write can be saved to be picked up for repetion or what ever purpose you may have. A good thing with an Active Board is that it is durable so you don´t need to be afraid to let pupils use it.

What you need to be aware of when it comes to an Active Board is that it can take quite a long time to start using it fully. You have to expect that it takes up to one year provided that you spend time to familiarize yourself with all the possibilities that exist with it and that you get the right education. It can also take a little longer to prepare lessons in the beginning but once you have your lessons saved you can use them again in another class after perhaps some changes. The most important thing about an Active Board is that the technology is with you. If there is something wrong with the technology when you are going to have a lesson you need to have a back up plan for the class.

Most children have used a computer and the Internet for several years before they start school. How can we meet these children when they come to the world of school? One way might be to have classrooms with Active Boards.

By Louise Johansson

Monday, 21 November 2011

Learn and have fun with LearnEnglish Kids from British Council/BBC


LearnEnglish Kids is a site from British Council/BBC. It is directed to children, in the age of 1-11 years old, all over the world, who are learning English as a second or foreign language.

It is a free website and you can use it without to register an account, but if you do, you get access to more parts. You need an internet connection and Adobe Reader. The children can use it at home, alone or with friends. They can also use it in school, individually or in groups. If you, as a teacher, use it in school with a group of students, a projector would be a useful tool and, of course, a computer to each pupil would be a dream for this, as well as for all ICT-uses in school.
Except for the children, the site has two target groups, teachers and parents. As a teacher, you are free to use any materials on the website in the classroom, as well as the children are free to use it in school or at home, as mentioned above.

The site's structure and uses

LearnEnglish kids is divided into five sections. These sections are;

Games: There you can find online games and activities about different topics. Games are divided into fun games, learn words, find words, play with words and spell words. There are a lot of games with different themes, such as colours, animals in the sea, the world, the spring and the classroom and so on. Sometimes you have to read, other times listen or be quick on your keyboard. Also, there can be a combination of these skills.

Listen and watch: In this section there are animated stories and songs. Listen and watch are divided into songs, short stories, kids talk, kids news and tongue twisters. You can watch and listen to songs and short stories with the aim to learn counting, the alphabet or names of the animals in a zoo for instance. Many of these have also worksheets that you can download and use in the classroom. There are also videos and online activities designed to practise listening skills.

Read and write: This section has worksheets to download and use as a help for the pupils to develop their reading and writing skills. This section has a part called your turn, which also invites students to write contributions to the site. They ask the children to write about different things relating to the particular task. All a child has to do is to find a question that interests them and write as much as they can about it on the site. Word of the week explains a word, awesome for instance, with the help of a short video clip.

Make: This is a creative section. You can find online activities, such as creating your own story in story maker. You can also make a crazy animal in a game called animal maker or do your own comic strip. You can also find arts and worksheets to download and you can see videos of children who are making things.

Explore: This section is where children can find help when using the LearnEnglish Kids website. They can also find a list of links to other useful websites for their learning.
As a teacher, you can find tips about how to use the material on the site, called Teaching kids section. These tips you can find on the British Council/BBC website Teaching English, which is an external link. There are a lot of detailed lesson plans for instance. Additionally, there is also a special link for parents in order to get optimal use of the LearnEnglish Kids website.

My thoughts about LearnEnglish kids

For teachers, there are an enormous variety of uses to explore of the website LearnEnglish Kids. Some parts fit in to the early years of teaching and others can be used up to 12 to 13 years of age. You need to explore a lot to find all the possibilities that the site offers.

One of the most interesting things I found about the site was the possibility to find ways to integrate other school subjects. For example, if you read about the human body you can find numbers of exercises relevant to that topic. Or if you read about different religions you can listen and watch a little story about the Islamic festival called "Eid al Fitr" in a series called my favorite day. If you found an activity in a topic which fitted your wishes you get suggestions on more activities for similar topics.

The parts that invite kids to write contributions are very good for their training in how to express their opinions or their thoughts in written English also, they have a great opportunity to interact with other children.

If you as a teacher have a clear goal with your lesson planning, this site may be a great complement to other things the pupils does in their process to learn English. It would be a good idea to introduce the web site for the pupils the first time, individually or in a group. You could introduce them to the website and show them what they specifically should focus on. Let the pupils become aware of what they are supposed to practice in each particular activity so they not just "do" things. Once the activities are introduced to a pupil, he or she can use them in school or as homework, to reach every pupil’s special needs.

LearnEnglish kids has an appealing layout and colours and in my opinion, one of the best things, compared to other websites is that you do not get lost among a numerous of advertising windows. To summarize, I think it is well worth for a teacher to take the time to explore what British Councils website LearnEnglish kids have to offer.

Elisabeth Wikström

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The Wonderful World of National Geographic

The wonderful world of National Geographic
Do you want to learn English and find out something about our amazing world at the same time? If the answer is "yes" have a look at this website www.kids.nationalgeographic.com.

The only thing you need is a computer with an internet-connection. If you are going to use it together with all your students at the same time, a projector is also a good idea.

The site has got ten sections such as games (of course), videos, animals and pets, photos, countries etc. The students can probably learn some English by navigating any of the sections but the most useful for you as a teacher are videos, animals and pets, countries and fun stuff.

You can train listening comprehension in the video-section where you can choose from categories such as Science and Space, People and Places, Animals and Pets etc. You can find the subject Animals and Pets at many places in this website, but here it focuses on watching videos.

The next section is Animals and Pets and if you click on "All" you can choose from over a hundred species of animals categorized in mammals, birds, bugs etc. You can also read about different habitats like Arctic, Freshwater, Grassland and more. When you click on an animal, you can read about it, watch a short video and look at a map to find out where in the world it lives. You can even send an e-card to a friend with a nice picture of the animal. There are also suggestions on other species who live in the same kind of habitat, that you can click on to and read about.

Continuing our expedition you can read about many different countries if you click on Countries - All. If you are looking for a specific country, you can easily find it since they are sorted in alphabetical order or in continents. This section is built up in the same way as Animals and Pets, with texts, short videos, a map and with the possibility to send an e-card to a friend.

The last section that I will talk about is Fun stuff. Here you can find instructions on how to make some science experiments, creative ideas for crafts, recipes, contests etc. So if you want to do something funny together with your pupils at the end of the semester for example, you might get some inspiration here.
I think this is a good opportunity to work with English at the same time as another subject in a funny way. All these sections can be explored by individual students, but also in groups or together with the whole class. 
As a kind of follow-up, there are quizzes for the students to test themselves in different subjects, for example geography quiz under the Game section. These are quite difficult, but clever students in year 5-6 can absolutely do them and enjoy it. As a teacher you can make small cards with different questions like "What did you enjoy most?", "Did you learn any new words, and what words in that case?", "Was there anything that you would like to know more about?". After each session, they have to answer one or two of these questions so that you can give some feed-back. A good idea is to let the students tell each other about it as well. 
If you watch or read something together with the whole class, you can use it for communication and discussions with the students. You can for example give them questions to discuss in groups and then give the opinions in the class. 
As you can see, there are many ways of using this web-site, and I'm sure that you can come up with some more. Good luck!
/Lina Sandberg

Sunday, 6 November 2011

ICT resource – Interactive Whiteboard

What is an Interactive whiteboard and who does it work?
Interactive whiteboard, IAW, is an effective tool and it´s very easy to use. There are number of different varieties from several different manufactures. You may have heard of any of the main IWB manufactories SMARTboard or ACTIVEboard.

An interactive whiteboard consists of three components;
• a computer which has IWB software installed
• a projector
• a whiteboard
The main difference from a normal whiteboard is that the IWB can communicate with your computer. A projector projects the images on to the interactive whiteboard and you or the pupils can than interact with the content on the board. To manipulate the content you use a special pen or your finger. That means that everything you have on your computer can be seen and used on the IWB. You can for example see your internet browser, word documents and different computer program. One of the good thing with IWB is that you don´t have to return to the computer because you can do everything direct on the board.

One of the disadvantages with an IWB is the high cost of buying it. Many school don’t have enough money to buy it, if that´s the case then try to seek founds for money to buy one.

It is important that you always have a back-up-plan if the technology doesn’t work.

How the resource can be used by teachers:
Before you start your lesson using the IWB you have to calibrate the board to get good sharpness and you also need to make sure that the pupils has the necessary software to the board installed.

It is important before you start using the IWB to get as much practice as possible to understand the interactive whiteboard. If you feel comfortable with this way of working you can see more of the benefits of using an IWB and than the use of this tool will increase effectiveness in your and the pupils achievements.

There are many ways of how you as a teacher can use the IWB. With the IWB you have all your work as a teacher in the same place. Another good thing is that you can prepare your lessons in advance and then use it during a lesson with IWB. It is also a great way if you want to share your lesson plans, you can design the lesson so any teacher could follow them. During the lesson can you use the IWB when you are having a brainstorm or a discussion. You can take notes and make comments on the board and saving them for next time.

In many ways IWB can increase the pupils motivation and support their learning process. IWB has many variances from different tools and it feels impressive in the classroom. For example can you write, do highlight and underline, paste image, reveal information that you had hidden before, you can make transcript and drag scenes out of film clip and have them pasted on the board for later discussion. The pupils can come to the board and drag objects around to accomplish a matching exercise. You can also buy interactive versions of the course book, or use any webpage or create your own material.

It is important to not allow you and the IWB to dominate the classroom. Think of what type of lesson benefits of having a lesson with IWB. The students should interact with each other and actively use the board in different ways.

How the resource can be used by pupils:
After a lesson can you save your work on the IWB and for those pupils who missed the lesson can take part of it later or you can save the lesson and use it later for repetition.

IWB can appeal to several learning ability, the pupils can hear, touch, see and play.
By using the pen can you point out the important stuff and do highlights, shapes and lines. You can also use pictures and audio in different ways to reinforce the memorization.

To present the pupils presentations more distinct IWB is a great tool. The pupils can make presentation in PowerPoint and interact with the classmates with different exercise on the IWB. They can also do a Photo Story after a project and show it to the class.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Using the website Mingoville.com as an ICT resource- Learn English the fun way.

 Mingoville is a website for younger children to learn English interactive. It´s available for free but if you want to get full access to all activities you need to sign up and pay for three, six or twelve months. The website also offers school licenses.

The homepage addresses to parents and teachers describing the alternative ways of a diverting learning. Mingoville offers you instructions in 32 different languages, such as Swedish, Urdu, Japanese, Thai and Italian.

Children using Mingoville improve their skills in spelling, reading comprehension, listening comprehension, pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar in a fun way

You need to install Adobe Reader to use the resource, Mingoville offers you the download on their homepage. Adobe Reader is a freeware and it´s easy to install if you haven´t already got it. I think a headset is necessary if your students work in the classroom. The students might disturb each other otherwise.

Mingoville is a community of pink flamingos. The assignments, tasks or missions revolve around a family, The Pinkeltons. The different characters in the family have their own needs and features. The pages are rich colored, animated and appealing for the younger children.

If you sign up as a teacher on a school license you can create classes and you will have access to your students’ accounts. There are many possibilities to stimulate your students approach to the English language by using Mingoville. You can give your students individual tasks and homework’s depending on their knowledge.

When you sign up you create and name your own personal flamingo. Then the adventure starts, there are lots of activities to do. You chose between either Learn now or Play now.

In Learn now you have different choices in to improve speaking, writing, listening and reading skills.

·        Homework and evaluation

·        My book, which consist many different writing-assignment like  presentations of you and your family, animals, food, colors, clothes etc. One section of My book is you private portfolio.

·        An alphabetical dictionary with pictures. You get the word in your chosen language and in English. You can also listen to the word for the right pronunciation and record yourself saying it. 

·        In download extras, you download materials like cartoons, writing-assignments, cut and paste, you can listen to songs and also print the text to the song etc.

 In Play now you walk around with your character on a big area where you can chose between many different games. On your walk you meet other flamingo characters/player with whom you can make friends and converse. This is a selection of games available.

·        Quiz talk, from you recorded dictionary.

·        Menu. You order food from the café, or buy different items from the souvenir shop.

·        Catch words, were you fish letters to build words.

·        Tourist information. You can ask and get answers about different things to do and attractions in Mingoville.

I teach in a grade four and if I would use Mingoville as an ICT recourse in my class, I would sign up for a school license to get full access and be able to give my students individual tasks. I would put Mingoville in the week schedule with some chosen assignments every week. Sometimes the children would work on their own and sometimes I would use the projector to give lessons or instruct in full class. You don´t always need a computer working with Mingoville material. There are Pdf  print files with reading and writing assignments too.

Finally, you can never replace a teacher with a computer or other technique – a computer is just one of a teacher’s tools to reach the pupils, stimulate and give knowledge. 

/ Kristina Espes Voxberg

The Storynory

I have just recently discovered this website which is filled with stories, both classic fairytales and tongue twisters. When you click on a story you can both read it and listen to it.

It is easy to navigate on the site. The stories are divided in;
Original stories

In these main categories you find sub categories where you find a number of stories, for example H C Andersen, The Brothers Grimm, Greek Myths and 1001 nights.

If you have younger children in your class you can choose to listen to a nursery rhyme or a story that the children are familiar with. You can also show pictures from a book while you listen to make it easier to follow the story. This bring me to a disadvantage in this site, there are no pictures to print out to help the children to understand the story. Of course you can draw your own or you can search for a book where you have pictures from the story.

If you have older children in your class you can ask them to write a comic strip about the story they have listened to or you can use it as a listening activity where you listen and then answer some questions. You can also let half of the class listen to a story and then ask them to
retell the story to someone who haven’t heard it.

To use this in your class you just need a computer with speakers. If you don’t have access to this you can print out the story and read it yourself. This can be a better way with young children although the story on the website is read in a slow rate.

So go to The Storynory to find out how you can use this website!

Frida Karlsson

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

DLTK kids a free ICT resource

The website http://www.dltk-kids.com/ is very usefull in many ways when you want to learn or teach english. This site was started by a mum called Leanne for 17 years ago.
It features a variety of fun, printable children's crafts, coloring pages, projects for holidays and educational themes. The pupils can easily use the site on their own. All you need is internet and a printer if you want to print something out. When you first enter the home page you can choose from the 25 newest activities or the 10 currently most popular.
I usually go to the newest. Then if you look on the left side you can choose between different topics e.g Halloween or autumn. If you chooses such a page, you can then choose from a lot of things to do. Last time when i choose autumn I found lots of great poems. I read them to my students and we talked about various autumn word and what autumn was for them. We wrote many autum words on the board and the students started to write their own poems. When they were satisfied I printed out autumn writing paper so they could write their poems nicely.
We ended with choosing by different games and worksheets such as crosswords and puzzels which was about the fall.
You can also look at different matching recipes. Some of the students tried the recipes at home.
I think this is a usefull website and it is easy to find what you want if you are looking for something to work with in a particular subject.
Try using this page. I do it and will continue to do so. / / Ida Eriksson

Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab as an ICT resource

Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab

I teach in grade three, but when I have conducted the National tests in English I always feel that the listening comprehensions is an exercise that the students aren't that familiar with. The exercises in our books are short and not at all composed in the same way as in the national tests. There are also a problem with a wide spread in level between the students in a class, so while some of the students have problems others finds the exercise to easy.

So, I have often looked for exercises for listening comprehension. When I found this site I browsed through it for a long time and tried listening quizzes in different levels of difficulty. The fun part was that after a listening comprehension there were grammatical practise too, or there could be a scrambled sentence.

There are questions to every exercise but the authors main objective isn't to test listening, but to help students how to learn to improve their listening.

I think this site is made for self learners and not very young ones either, but I think you can use it from 5:Th grade. There are great possibilities to individualise on this page and maybe this will be something I will use for those students who needs a bigger challenge in their listening comprehension.

For me as a teacher there is a site that describes how Randall suggests I can work with the different parts, and also there are handouts so you can give the students papers to fill in if we choose to do the practise together. In the self study guide both students and teachers can see the exercises divided into the different topics they're made in. For example; Introduction, Family Life and Relationships, Food and dining out and People.

To Use this site you need to have computers, if you want the students to listen and do the exercises themselves. When you introduce the site it's good to have a projector to show the site and give the students a walk through. A problem with the site is that there is a whole lot of commercial adds, so it's easy to get linked away. Be sure to show the students carefully where to go. When you give them tasks to do, be sure to give straight directions.

There are also worksheets on the handout pages were you can write which exercise you have done and the score. This site is in not a site that I would use every week, but maybe every other or third week to help students to learn how to improve their listening.

By Britt-Inger Robertsson

Using Kids English Zone as a ICT resorce

Using Kids English Zone as an  ICT resource.

I teach a second grade class and I have just started to teach them English . I want them to get interested and have fun during this lesson.  Sometime I show the program Kids English Zone. You find it at mediacentrum (www.sli.se)and you can easily stream it home. It is good to have a projector .You need to be a member. There are around 26 different programs with different themes. There are programs with themes like colours, clothes, numbers, family, fruits, body and more. Easy things the students know about.
A program is 13 minutes. The program repeat things from the other programs so I recommend to watch them in order. Age from 6-9 .
The program always starts with Hello My name is…Whats your name?  They encourage the students to answer the questions in the classroom. They repeat a lot.
A program has at least one song . They want the students to sing along. The program has different easy dialogues with children. “Who is this? This my mother…
At the end of the program two men has comic dialogue about the theme. The children really likes it!  They repeat something from the last program before its end.

Why is this good for learning English?
Its free. The children have to listen and they encourage them to talk. You have to concentrate and you are watching something. Its fun and they repeat a lot. The children will recognize things. They don’t have to listen to the teacher! They sing songs. You learn to pronounce words. You can say things and no one listens. You use ICT and not a book! A program is only 13 minutes and hopefully the can concentrate that.

Before or after a program I work with the theme they had talked about on the program. We can talk in pairs asking each other for example “What is this?” It’s a mouth. Or we can count the numbers in choir or paint pictures repeating the colours.
My children like this program a lot! Try it you too! Good Luck!
Susanne Eklund

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Starfall- an ICT resourse for young children

In September 2002 the Starfall.com opened as a free public service to teach young children to read. The method is based on that the children learn to read through phonetics transcription, which means that all the tasks focus on letter sounds. Most of the exercises show each sound at
a time and this could be a bit boring for the pupils, but you can find a lot of fun exercises on this website too. For example you can find different word games, memory, stories and short movies. The website is very appealing with many colourful and fun animations. Starfall is made for children from kindergarten to second grade but I think that some of the exercises could be
used by Swedish children in third grade.

How it works
This website is very simple to use and it´s for free. You only need a computer and an Internet access. You need to download Internet Explorer or Flash Player and if you want to download something from the website you need Adobe Reader. The exercises are divided into four different steps, ABCs, Learn to read, It´s fun to read and I´m reading.

How it can be used
Very young children and children up to grade three in school can use this website. The pupils can practice on the alphabet, pronunciation, fluency, vocabulary, reading- and listening comprehension, sing songs and much more. At the ABCs you can practice the alphabet, how it sounds and how the letter writes. At Learn to read you can practice on sounds, pronunciation and how to read sentences with help of phonetic. You do it by playing games, look at short films and read short books. At It´s fun to read you can find a lot of reading exercises. You can listen to the text and fill in missing words or you can listen to poetry. At I´m reading you can practice on making your own short play. You can read short books and if you want to hear how you pronounce a word you just click on it. As a teacher you can get inspiration from the website or even have the lessons based on it. If you have a projector in your classroom you can use many of the exercises together with the whole class. For example you can practice the alphabet, listen to a story or sing a song. If you have many computers in the classroom the pupils can work with the exercises in pairs and help each other.

Other considerations when using this resource
I think this website is a fun way to learn some English for young pupils. For older pupils it can be a little childish but some of the exercises, for example the short stories can be used in fourth grade. As Starfall is divided into different stages the pupils can work at their own level. Every time I look at Starfall website I find new interesting and fun exercises for young learners. If you haven´t try it yet, do it!
Helene Hofling

BBC as a ICT resource

Tuesday, 1 November 2011
Using the website of BBC as a resource in ICT learning-
Susanne Vanberg
This resource seems endless to me. You can easily use it on the projector with the whole class but also as an individual or as a pair comprehension. On the first page you will find eight different departments:

General & Business English
Grammar, Vocabulary & Pronunciation
Talking Sports
The Flatmates
For Teachers

I will not go in to all af them any accurate, just briefly guide you through a few. Under General & Business English you will find the current news. There are six minute movies with an easily understood english which are fun for the children to look and listen to. This week there is a movie about fear because of Halloween. You get to listen to different persons telling you about their fears. Below the movie you can read a summary of the short movie with the fear words highlighted. You also get language tips, in this case you get a description of the word phobia, which is used in the movie, and a cultural tip related to the current film you just been watching. There is also a following up rehearsal for the kids, this time they are being encouraged to write about there own fears and submit it on the web.There are a few related links to similar pages where kids can read and listen to texts with similar subjects.
For more creative learning you can go to the Flatmates. This a cartoon that is a serial. You will find worksheets to copy with for instance background of the characters of the serie to start off with. You can show the image for a particular episode and hide the text to let your kids make up a storyline which they think will fit in. Then you play the episode with the text and afterwards you talk about what differences they found in the real story. You can also begin with giving the class the text of one episode, cut up line by line and let them figure out how the plot could be and then listen to the episode and let them check for themselves.

This is just a few of the many things you can use this website for. As a said in the beginning it feels endless. I don´t think it is suitable for young children but I will use it with my sixth graders and I believe it works for fifth graders as well.

The link is:

Blog post about Glosor.eu

I want to write a little about a program that is free for everyone to use. www.glosor.eu
It´s a fun way to learn your vocabulary for the week. The first thing you must have is an acount on this website. Then you can create maps for different type of words that you want to train. The word that you are going to learn you write in to the computer. It´s funnier if you have a computer with a big screen.
Now when you start training the words of the week, you can train it in many different ways. You can of course do it as a regular hearing from swedish to english. But also as memory, match the words, traingame, mahjong, sort letters and some other things.
For me as a teacher it´s easy to put the pupils for example two and two and train together in or outside the classroom. It´s a good and funny way for thoose pupils who don´t work with their homework at home so much. Or the one who doesn´t has so good handwriting. You can also create groups so the pupils can practise at home with the words. It´s good to show them on a big screen in the classroom fist so they are sure how to use it. But this is most a progam for skills training so that you must consider. It can also be good that the students still write the words by hand. Other teachers can also share your words in the groups you´ve been creating.