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Messages - jmerchant88

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Thank you for sharing this blog. It's nice to see a regularly updated blog with lots of current ideas for teaching. While exploring the blog, I came across this post on the Gettysburg Address. This is perfect because I'm working with a group of fifth graders who are learning about the Civil War. I'm definitely going to show them this in class!

General Links / Re: Google N-Gram
« on: May 08, 2014, 11:52:30 AM »
This seems like a neat tool to use with students. If you were to use this tool with them, would you provide some training on how to use it? This could be interesting to use with feedback. For instance, if you see that a student is misusing a word or phrase, you could direct them to Google N-Gram and have them search for it. It might even be possible to give them the correct use of the word or phrase and have them search for both. They could see which one is more common and decide which one is correct given the context.

Are there other corpus sites that you like to use?

Critical Reviews of Technology / Critical Review of Diigo
« on: May 02, 2014, 03:44:10 PM »
Diigo is an online information management tool. Please enjoy my critical review of this tool.

Funny or Cool Stuff / Re: Make a Music Video!
« on: May 02, 2014, 03:37:19 PM »
That is a great idea to make this into an entire unit and long-term project. In that case, it could last for weeks or even months. If the project is to last that long, I would imagine that most of the editing would be done by the students with the teacher as more of a facilitator. I'm wondering, what do you think would be good grammar topics to embed into a long-term project like this?

I think you make a good point about trying to fit the curriculum around a project like this. With careful planning, I think this could be a very educational and memorable project for students.

Funny or Cool Stuff / Make a Music Video!
« on: March 15, 2014, 04:48:41 PM »
This is an idea I'm basing off of an activity I did with elementary students learning English in France. At the end of the year, I choreographed a dance for them to learn to a popular Katy Perry song. I had to do some minor editing to leave certain parts of the song out (to keep things appropriate), but most of the students had heard the original song anyway. I chose to use her "Hot N Cold" song because there were lots of antonyms in the chorus (e.g. hot and cold, yes and no, in and out, up and down, wrong and right, black and white, stay and go). That was the type of vocabulary my beginning students had been learning, so I thought they would be able to understand the song better that way. My students were so thrilled to be using a popular American song in class and had so much fun doing it. Something like this could be used as a reward for hard work, or even just to take a break. To apply this to technology and CMC, I thought that students could make their own music video to a popular song. This could be a one day project, or it could span over a matter of days or weeks. This would depend on how much the teachers wanted to guide the project, the level of the students, and the objectives of the activity. If students were working with another school, like a telecollaborative project, they could share their videos with each other. I'm sure there are many other ways an activity like this could be used, but that is just an idea I've been thinking about for a bit. I hope you find it interesting!

General Links / Socrative-Student Response System
« on: March 11, 2014, 10:45:58 AM »
I heard about Socrative in a recent seminar led by Jill Tschopp Huang. This website can be used by teacher to ask students questions in class. They use their computer to respond, and the teacher can see the results instantaneously. There is a variety of question types: T/F, multiple choice, and short answer. Students can also take quizzes or compete in a race with other students. It's very easy to use and it's free! I hope you take some time to explore this site. I'll be using it in my classes very soon.

I see the steep learning curve as a minus to using Second Life in the classroom. I think it should only be used if students are going to spend a considerable amount of time working in Second Life. I do think it has many pros, like being able to interact with people all over the world, taking off some of the "pressure" of communicating in an L2, and the capacity for role playing, but it takes a large amount of time for students to become efficient users of SL.

Training sessions are a must if SL is to be used in the classroom.

General Links / Diigo--possible tool for collaboration
« on: February 26, 2014, 01:07:32 AM »
I recently learned about an online tool called Diigo that is used to manage the information we encounter online and want to keep track of. It has some neat features. By installing Diigo in the toolbar of your web browser, you can make annotations, highlights, insert sticky notes, save screen shots, and more. All of it is stored in a cloud, so you can access it anytime from many different electronic devices. This could be a handy tool for CMC because learners can share anything they've saved into the cloud with other learners or teachers. For instance, group projects and collaborations could make good use of this tool when doing research or discussing articles they've read. Learner's could post notes directly on web pages, highlight important paragraphs, and share their findings with others.

To learn more, visit You can click on the "About" tab, or watch some of their tutorial videos linked on the homepage.

If you're using the virtual world Second Life, this link might be helpful if you are trying to build something. The learning curve is steep if you're new to Second Life, so any tips and clues about how to use it can be very helpful. A group and I were working together to build a pyramid in Second Life,  and we had to look up how to do quite a few things. I hope you'll find this as useful as we did.

Funny or Cool Stuff / Mailing List Joke
« on: February 03, 2014, 09:59:15 PM »
This is how I often feel as I'm swimming through the sea of emails I receive everyday. Anyone else feel this way, too? :D


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