Sunday, March 29, 2009


The great new website that I learned about at TESOL 2009 in Denver that I've already started to use (I created a practice speaking exercise for my students to use starting Monday.) is the "Rich Internet Applications for Language Learning" website created and developed by the Center for Language Education And Research at Michigan State University. Dennie Hoopingarner presented the free tools that (among other things) give anyone with a website the ability to add an audio recording tool to the website. It works for websites, blogs, wikis, and any other type of web page that you can edit. The first one that I've tried out is called an "audio drop box." Patterned after an assignment "drop box" that a professor might place outside an office (the students leave papers and assignments there when the professor isn't in), the audio drop box allows a student to click on a "record" button in order to record themselves responding to a question. The completed recording is automatically sent to the correct file at the instructor's account page. The next time the instructor logs in, he or she can click on the list of files submitted to hear each student's recording. It's fast, easy to figure out, and it's free. The audio drop box feature is only one of the tools available.

You can see a sample drop box at the bottom of this post! Click to type your name, and then click on "allow" when the website asks for permission to access your microphone and speakers. Click on the
record button to start recording and then on the stop button to stop! There's also a play button if you want to hear what you recorded. If you click on the record button again, you will record over any previous recording. When you're satisfied with your recording, click on the green check mark to submit your recording. The next time I log into my account, I'll see your recording. For your test recording, tell me how you think you could use an "audio drop box" with your students.

You can see my first exercise (recording three types of sentences about some photos from the TESOL conference) at the new "Speaking Practice Page" at my class wiki. The top half of the page has screen shots of the steps necessary to record your voice. Scroll down the page for the actual assignment. You can submit the assignment if you want! Just include your affiliation when you type your name in the Audio Drop Box so I get an idea of who is trying it out...

Check out the audio drop box and the other internet-based language practice tools at the Rich Internet Applications for Language Learning web site. You'll be glad you did!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Free Rice Updates

If you haven't checked out the Free Rice web site for awhile, go back and look at the many new features. You can now earn free rice by answering questions on other subjects as well, including grammar and basic math! Click on the "subjects" tab at the top of the page to see a list of other topics.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

When you want education fast!

This was in today's Daily News. Don't blame the driver! He was just an overeager student following the directions on the sign...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

CUE 2009

I just returned from the CUE (Computer Using Educators) conference this past weekend, and as usual, picked up several good ideas that I can start using right away in the classroom. My hands-on workshop didn't go as well as I would have liked because of the difference between the version of Microsoft Office that I use in the classroom (2003) and the version of Microsoft Office that was loaded on the computers at the conference (2007). Frankly, I was caught by surprise. It hadn't even occurred to me to ask this year, since last year the computers had 2003. I guess the equipment provider upgraded all of the software in the meantime. I stumbled around and had to ask participants how to do some things. It was not as professional as I would have liked. Fortunately, most understood the problem and appreciated the projects I showed them anyway. Part of the paradox of the situation is, of course, that even if I had demonstrated the projects using the latest version of PowerPoint or Excel or whatever, most of the teachers present would still have to go back to classrooms where they would have to do the projects in 2003 anyway! From now on, I will have to see what version of Office will be on the "lab" computers, and prepare dual handouts. One handout for the version of Office in the lab, and one handout for what the teachers will see when the get back to their classroom.

I should also note, that it is fairly obvious (when done side by side in both versions of Office) that some procedures are NOT easier to do in 2007 and many of the icons and arrangement of the menu items are NOT transparent to the user...