Web Technologies

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Two weeks ago we had Martin Compton as a guest lecturer in our session of The Multilingual Classroom module talking about the use of technology in order to support bilingual/multilingual learners. It was really great to learn about the huge variety of online mediums which could ease bilingual children’s learning. So today, I would like to share with you some of the different technologies that can be integrated into classroom lessons. The technologies introduced were all chosen with the criteria ‘free’, ‘easy’ (not time-consuming and easy to use for both children and teacher) and ‘fit for purpose’ and they can support learning of both bilingual children and monolingual children:

 

1. Infographics are visual representations of data-search that present complex information very quickly and clearly. The human brain processes visual images faster than text so using different types of graphics is a good way to convey content and knowledge. The best thing about infographics is that there are lot of them to any topic created by others. One can either create an infographic by oneself or just use a whole or bits of others’.

 

http://voxy.com/blog/index.php/2011/02/why-it-pays-to-be-bilingual-infographic/

http://voxy.com/blog/index.php?s=infographics

 

2. Word clouds are visual representations of words that are based on a topic or a text. There a really a lot of ways to use them in the classroom to enhance learning. One can use them to support spelling, to give students prompts for speech or writing, to learn vocabulary and for a lot of other things. There are also shaped word clouds which look fancy and can be motivating for kids. Below you will find websites on which you can create your own word clouds and a blog about the use of word clouds in the classroom.

 

http://www.wordle.net/create

http://www.tagxedo.com

 

http://goo.gl/0QAbq

 

3. Quizlet is a study tool for students and teachers in which they can create and use different study modes. One can create flashcards with own terms and definitions or generate tests based on the flashcards. Students can learn by immediate response to their correct/incorrect answers and retest the ones they have missed. The audio study mode ‘speller’ helps students familiarizing themselves with terms they don’t know and improving their spelling and pronunciation by typing what they hear. And again one can either create one’s own definitions or just use the ones that are already there.

 

http://quizlet.com

 

 

 

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Blogging in Primary Schools

Today I would like to look at the use of blogging in primary education. Until now I had the chance to read about theories of blogging and different attitudes towards the use of it in the classroom. While reading theoretical works, I found myself wondering how or if it is possible to utilise blogging in primary education (especially because primary children in Germany are six to ten years old). When I decided to google if there are any blogs by primary children on the internet I was fascinated by my discoveries that included blogs initiated by class teachers where students and their relatives could leave comments (hold like a class diary), student blogs (e.g. poems, short stories, informative texts, …) and some where used as homework platforms where the teacher set a task and students respond to it.

I came to the conclusion that even children of young age can use the medium of blogging to construct knowledge, reflect on school and classroom experiences and to form their identity. What was striking to me while reading the blogs was that most of the them were hold like class diaries where the teacher informed about lessons. Blogs that were moderated by children were mainly leaded by questions or specific tasks. This reminded me on Bartlett’s 5-stage process of blogging that included guiding questions in the first stages of the process and where children gained more and more responsibility by time. I think the stages are not completed in primary education since I could not find any blogs which were composed solely by children (they were always guided by teachers).

 

In the following, I would like to share with you some of the children blogs that were enjoyable to me:

http://y42013.ferrylane.net →blogs are hold in form of informative texts and poems (I really liked the poem “My Teacher is an Alien”)

http://year6w.bykerblogs.net → children’s short stories

http://class5j.laytonblogs.net → informative texts and biographies of famous people

 

 

 

 

 

Blogging and Education

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In the article “Blogging to learn” Anne Bartlett-Bragg gives an introduction and overview into blogging by explaining the terminology used in the Blog-o-sphere and listing the different types of blogs. She says that blogging enables a shift from surface learning to deeper levels of learning and this in turn is enriching students’ learning experiences. But plain blogging does not necessarily lead to deeper forms of learning since students need to know what deep learning actually means. For me, it means to come to a real understanding of a subject matter by developing and using higher-level thinking skills (e.g. reflecting, evaluating, critical thinking, etc.) and this can, indeed, be realized by blogging as it is a form of learning by doing and it provides opportunity to new learning experiences in an informal educational setting .

Then she outlines a basic pedagogical approach for including blogging in educational practice. The “5-stage Blogging Process” includes some aspects that I can relate to my own learning in the context of blogging. With each text I write I feel more reflective and comfortable with me as an author and my writing aims to inform my readers about the topic I have chosen for my blog. I am aware of my audience and I try to present my line of thought comprehensibly. But nevertheless, Bartlett leaves out the very important aspect of blogging which is the interaction between author and reader. The exchange of ideas constitutes a very important form of learning. The author can hear others’ opinions on the topic and this can contribute to their understanding. Moreover, they can learn to advocate their point of view while debating on the topic.

Bartlett’s 5-stage-model may be true for the class she has observed but, generally, the process of blogging can proceed differently. There is rather little evidence for her model of blogging and further research should be done (since it is also not up to date).

In his article “Educational Blogging”, Stephen Downes describes Blogging as “something defined by format and process, not by content”. I agree with his statement because as he also says blogs can be called “a personal online diary” or “personal publishing” which all have something in common, building up relationships with their readers and an online environment where different views and ideas can be exchanged regardless of the topic.

Then he says that educational blogging enriches the field by making use of blogging in various ways; for organisational school issues, linking to internet items, organizing class discussions, organizing class seminars and providing reading, writing blogs as a part of grading (these are the five major uses of educational blogging by Henry Farrell (2013)). Nowadays, where blogging is seen as a medium rather than a genre, there are way more ways for integrating blogging into education. (e.g. see http://web20intheclassroom.blogspot.co.uk/2008/10/ways-to-use-blogs-in-your-classroom-and.html , )

When Downes quoted Richard Long, a professor at St. Louis Community College, who does not acknowledge blogging in schools as real blogging because students are using prompts in order to write, it reminded me on Bartlett’s 5-stage-model. She argues that in her model of blogging structured questions are provided at the beginning of the blogging process. Some students can use prompts at lower stages and, in the course of time, they will develop important skills and more confidence which will enable them to waive those prompts and to compose blogs all on their own. To me, providing prompts as a guidance for students is an effective method to encourage them. Since it is a new field for most students it can be helpful to start to blog until they begin to be aware of and form their blogger identity.

Moreover, Downes suggests that students need to engage in their communities meaningfully by first engaging with reading that is of interest to them (e.g. culture, ideas, hobbies, etc) by reflecting, criticizing, reacting to the reading. He says that these activities make learning more lively and that blogging can bring change into the classroom. I think it is important that one has a personal connection to the topic one decided on to blog about because otherwise it could be painstaking to write over a long period of time. Having a connection and strong bond to an issue, however, helps one to stay motivated in reading and blogging and the outcome will be better. As teachers we need to open up new possibilities for students so that they can explore their environment and make new experiences that allow them to find topics of interest and to engage with their surroundings (be it online and real word) in a more deliberate way.

 

References

 

 

Bartlett-Bragg Anne (2004) Blogging to Learn Flexible Learning, 2004 edition, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia

 

Downes, S (2004) Educational Blogging, EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 39, no. 5 (September/October 2004): 14–26

 

 

 

Classroom diversity and Tolerance

Children.School.Education

Today, I would like to revisit last week’s topic, ethnic diversity in classroom and tolerance. When I looked at Janmaat’s research more deeply, I found out that there were a few more results than I have mentioned in my last blog.

First, I would like to describe the methodology used in the study Classroom Diversity and its Relation to Tolerance, Trust and Participation in England, Sweden and Germany (Janmaat 2010).

In order to explore the relation between ethnic diversity in classroom and civic attitudes in the three countries below, the researchers have used data from the IEA Civic Education Study which was conducted in 1999 among 90.000 with 14 year olds from 28 countries. In each of the three countries, samples consisted of more than 3000 pupils from over 120 schools. Whole classrooms were sampled in each school and this nested approach enabled an investigation of both classroom (such as…

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Classroom diversity and Tolerance

Today, I would like to revisit last week’s topic, ethnic diversity in classroom and tolerance. When I looked at Janmaat’s research more deeply, I found out that there were a few more results than I have mentioned in my last blog.

First, I would like to describe the methodology used in the study Classroom Diversity and its Relation to Tolerance, Trust and Participation in England, Sweden and Germany (Janmaat 2010).

In order to explore the relation between ethnic diversity in classroom and civic attitudes in the three countries below, the researchers have used data from the IEA Civic Education Study which was conducted in 1999 among 90.000 with 14 year olds from 28 countries. In each of the three countries, samples consisted of more than 3000 pupils from over 120 schools. Whole classrooms were sampled in each school and this nested approach enabled an investigation of both classroom (such as diversity) and individual-level factors. A multi-level analysis was used to explore the relation between classroom diversity and civic attitudes (trust, ethnic tolerance and participation). There were two theories which should be analysed; the contact theory suggests that ethnic diversity in classrooms should contribute to tolerance and understanding, whereby, the contrast theory expects more intolerant attitudes of the majority group towards minority groups the more ethnically diverse a classroom is.

The most important findings of this research was that, in Germany and Sweden, native majority children were more tolerant the more diverse their classroom was. However, in England, there was no link between classroom diversity and tolerance. A negative link between ethnic diversity in classroom and trust was found in Germany (no relation in England and Sweden). Only in Sweden is classroom diversity positively related to participation. Moreover, in England, average civic competence of minority children and tolerance of white children is negatively linked. To put it in other words, white pupils are less tolerant towards their classmates from minority groups the more competent those are.

These findings lead to suggest that there was more support for the contact perspective and that the effects of an ethnic diverse classroom vary distinctly across civic attitudes and across countries.

I hope that this brief summary provides a better insight into the study… 

Spreading Tolerance

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“Yesterday, I read about a study from the Institute of Education that looked at the relationship between classroom ethnic diversity and tolerance in England, Germany and Sweden. Researchers found out that white pupils are less tolerant towards immigrants when their classmates from minority ethnic groups are doing well: “As soon as minorities assert themselves and become as competent as the majority, the latter may well become defensive and intolerant. It seems that the ethnic minorities are only accepted by majority pupils if they stay in a subordinate position”, says Janmaat, one of the researchers.

However, I am of the opinion that children are tolerant by nature; they do not distinguish between outward appearance when they play with each other. They do not see their friends as being different because of the language they speak. They value each other as people regardless of ethnic background.

Therefore, education needs to value children’s disposition to accept and cherish differences. I think that spreading tolerance should be one important aim of education. Since democracy is built upon tolerance and respect, education needs to contribute to children’s moral understanding and needs to help them develop a culture of tolerance. Education should help children to become good people who respect and value every human being regardless of gender and origin. Children need to learn to tolerate and embrace differences and to challenge stereotypes and discrimination. Education should help them to develop democratic values, such as political equality and freedom of thought and action, so that we can maintain a peaceful society. Especially in today’s multiculturalism, we should make use of the huge potential of societies to build up bonds between people from all backgrounds.