Puffin Academy

 So, you are surfing the net with your mobile device trying to find some good educational resources.  After a long while you find something that might be interesting,  you try to open it and…oops! Your browser doesn’t support Flash.
Does this situation sound familiar to you? No, don’t worry; we are not here to argue for or against the use of Flash, we are here to give all those teachers who have had this problem a solution.
Ever since apps came out, there have been some that would allow you to browse over  flash content by streaming it, such as Photon or Puffin and they still work fairly well, but Puffin have taken their free app a step further launching a new educational browser called Puffin Academy
Puffin Academy only allows educational websites. Publishers and content creators need to apply to add their sites to their browser, so this is a great solution for all the teachers or schools that are implementing mobile learning in their classes and want to assure that they are using quality content for their students.
Just yesterday I read quite a significant comment from Alfons Cornellà; “while nowadays “searching” is the key, in the near future “finding” is going to be the key.”  That’s why the figure of the curator has become more and more relevant – because you don’t want to venture into the information jungle alone.  You had better contact an information hunter and you’ll save a lot of time, or you can become a specialized hunter and partner with other hunters, which is even better.
So, Puffin Academy has taken this path to becoming a browser and a curator, and it’s a win-win relationship for all the content creators.
It has also improved the customer browsing experience a great deal, with its JavaScript engine and cloud computing technology is faster than the buid-in browser by up to 550%. Note that it also includes some useful built-in tools.
Since all the content companies are moving towards the cloud, this app provides a cross-platform/cross-device solution, so it’s also a great option if you are thinking to go BYOD.
Downloads:
Google Play
App-Store

Gamification and stickers

Have you heard about badges and gamification? You like the idea but you are not sure how to implement it with your younger learners?

We have a freebie for you!

Here is our proposal. It uses the familiar idea of stickers as badges to complete a collection of skills.

We hope you enjoy it and if you do…share it!

And here are some more stickers for day-to-day use.

Big trends in ELT by Mario Herrera

Mario Herrera is the author and co-author of many acclaimed ESL/EFL series that are used in levels ranging from pre-primary to junior high schools. As an international consultant and teacher trainer, Mr. Herrera travels the globe, directing seminars and delivering professional development workshops throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia…and we have had the enomous privilege to talk with him after his BIG conference in Madrid.

Thank you Mario, it was a pleasure to learn from such an experienced traveller, you gave us one of the biggest learning journeys!

We hope that you like it as much as we did!

A class with your class

Workshops with children are great. I love them.

I have realised that  after being away from the class for quite a long time, you start to talk and think too theoretically and idealistically.

Children bring us back down to earth, back to class, a place where you need to find the perfect balance between theory, trends and reality, where emotions and relationships are as important as the latest trends in education.

Why am I saying this? Because we have created what we call “A class with your class”. The principal aim of this activity is to offer teachers a “live teacher training” . We conduct a class for the students, (we request the presence of the English teacher) and a meeting with the teachers afterwards to talk and reflect about what we have done as well as to complement the session with resources and more ideas.

Let’s have an example. We did this in A Coruña, in the International School Eiris, a great school that is now facing the challenge of implementing the use of tablets in their classes, so, we decided to deliver a QR code workshop for students and a training session to the teachers focused on  digital competence in the English class.

Why QR codes? When we talk about literacy,  we have to be aware that in a technological society, this concept is expanding to include the media and electronic text, in addition to the alphabet and number systems. Our students need to learn how to read images, how to read multimedia, how to read the web, and how to read anything that can give them information. QR codes are just another way to get or to offer information.

In this session we explained to the children the QR code concept, we practiced with QR codes, we created QR codes and we reflected afterwards about how we can apply it to our daily activities.

Here you have the presentation.

Another session is called 20-2-GO.

20-2-GO,  is a collaborative contest that measures children’s reading comprehension in a fun way. Here you have the presentation where the rules are explained. You can use it for so many different purposes in your daily routines just by changing the questions.  The counter works only in presentation mode and its duration can be adjusted to your necessities.

Here you can read a review of the activity written by a teacher after one of the workshops, thank you Salva!

It’s Carnival!!

Carnival is here and  we have a present for you and your students.

Your students can dress up their favourite characters (we published them here),  and play with them.

Here you have the cut-outs for the costumes.

Carnival gives us the perfect context to discover new vocabulary about clothing. Here you have some resources.

Are you still looking for the perfect costume? What about dressing-up as a tablet or as your favourite artist self-portrait?

Augmented English language in the classroom

During the last seven years , I have trained English teachers in ICT in the public, semi-private and private schools from different regions.

Almost always I start the session by asking: ” In the classroom, your pupils use ICT primarily to develop which of the following skills … writing ? Reading?  Speaking? Listening? The answer is almost always the same: ICT is mainly used to develop receiving skills, (reading and listening), then writing, and… least of all, speaking.

This is not to say that reading and listening are not important skills , but there should be a better balance between receptive (more passive) and productive skills (more active) Productive skills should be at the end of any task where the student expresses through written, oral or multimedia forms their outcome learning to their peers and the world.

In addition, all the international reports show that our students can read or understand much better than speak, a result that is not surprising , since the foreign language classes are still more focused on a grammatical model than on a communicative model .

We learn to talk by talking, and we can’t expect that  the student suddenly is able to communicate verbally only after a few  intensive sessions of comprehension and written exercises,  unless we give them the opportunity to use and practice the language.

Therefore in the classroom we have to think … what reasons will I give my students so they feel the need to communicate in English? What and who should they communicate it to ?

My students have been using microphones , blogs , videos , talking cards , avatars, audio books , animation , … all the tools that can facilitate production at the end of any learning story .

And augmented reality is the perfect tool to increase language in the classroom because it can combine all of the tools mentioned above .

We all know that students learn a lot from the materials posted on the walls … but these materials are silent , they let you read, but not hear , unless we increase your content with audiovisual materials created by themselves, would create an  augmented class.

Imagine a school where flashcards, displays, drawings or research offer augmented audiovisual information created by the students themselves, in which everyday objects such as tables, chairs or blackboards are brought to life explaining who they are or present hidden secret oral messages with challenges that arouse the curiosity of the students.

Learning corners can be explained by an audio or a video tutorial QR facilitating independent work of students who do not yet possess sufficient reading skills and might need oral and visual aids to understand the task presented in each corner .

On the other hand the increasing number of bilingual schools presents new challenges when teaching science, physical education or Arts and crafts in a foreign language . Hence it is also in these areas that AR can make a significant difference.

All this opens up a world of possibilities in which the student has a real and significant reason to communicate in a foreign language with the addition of that touch of magic.

But to put this into practice here you can find some resources and ideas that can help to increase the use of language in the classroom.

Each presentation is a different and “augmented” learning story. Hope you like it!

CLIL & ICT, a perfect marriage

Bilingualism and multilingualism in schools are hot topics in different regions of Spain that are and have been implementing different plans in order to improve students skills, and all of them have chosen CLIL as the most appropiate approach.

CLIL is a challenging and exciting approach developed by David Marsh and his team studies. It aims at a broader objective than just learning a language. It shows us how to use the language to learn and learn to use languages.

I have had the chance to work for several years in a bilingual school that, thanks to its principal and faculty, has achieved great success in implementing this approach and demonstrating how reflection, planning, commitment, passion and profesionalism can make a difference.

During my stay as a teacher there, I actively collaborated introducing ICT in the project and after all these years and experiences I can really confirm that the symbiosis between CLIL and ICT works beautifully! Communicative Competence and Digital Competence is a perfect marriage.

Now, I’m collaborating with the “Marc per al Plurilingüisme a Catalunya”, a very ambitious plan that aims to use the communicative competence of their students as leverage. I have attended some meetings with the people in charge of the plan to set a common framework and It was very interesting to observe that they are not only focused on external exams but on a more profound methodological change.

I delivered this session in Tarragona and in CPR Navalmoral, and It was great to meet and share some of my experiences with such passionate teachers.

As promised to all the teachers attending the sessions, here you have my presentations. Hope you enjoy it, and if you do…don’t hesitate to comment and share it!

Activitict for Christmas

We have reached the end of the first term! It´s time to take break and to take a breath.

But before we go. These days, families use to ask  teachers for nice sites or activities to do with their children during the holidays, so…here you have our proposal.

Design and create some digital toys online with your children, print them, cut and paste and…that´s it! you are ready to play offline with your creations for a truly significant  learning activity.

Here is how you can do it.

Enjoy it and have a Happy Holidays!

To all the Rudolphs around…

I love Christmas. I love the lights. I love the idea behind the commercials.

Christmas is the festival of light, the winter solstice announcing the end of  darkness and the beginning of  sunnier days. So whether we are religious or not, Christmas brings some light to all our lives.

And of all the Christmas stories, my favourite is “Rudolph, the red nosed reindeer”. Rudolph, reminds us that everyone has something special that makes us necessary. And this is a timeless concept.

I have always loved using this story in class.   It allows you to talk about bullying, about helping, about behaving with your peers, about reaching your true potential …Rudolph has no age barriers.

Rudolph was a misfit and someone believed in him and gave him an opportunity.  We all are, or have been, Rudolphs…the question is, can we act like Santa?  Are we able to see beyond our prejudices? Do we give opportunities to all our pupils so they can shine?

So, this is our Christmas present for you. Here you have several resources that you can use if you decide to work with the story of Rudolf in your class. We have prepared several scripts and activities adapted to different stages, from pre-primary to 6th grade. We have also prepared the characters of the story so you can use them as puppets to practice the story

Characters

Script Pre-Primary

Script First Cycle

Script Second Cycle

Script Third Cycle

TIPS AND TRICKS

  • Remember that “We learn while we use and we use while we learn”.
  • Give them a lot of practice, include the story in your daily routine, explain it “with them”, not “to them”.
  • Practice the story first with your fingers with the whole class, each finger is a character.
  • Practice the story first with flashcards.
  • The class delegate can choose who he wants to be and can choose the rest of the characters.
  • Then, when they have learnt it, let them act it out. Act it out just once a day, if not they can get bored.
  • Let them switch roles, so they will learn the the whole play.
  • After all this practice, they are ready to tell the story. Create the puppets (with the pictures and the ice-cream sticks) or…they can dress-up as reindeer to do it.
  • Let them explain the story to their younger peers, go to other classes.
  • They can create a comic with the story, they can draw the background and place the reindeer pictures in front.

What are you thankful for?

Last week I travelled to Malaga to deliver a training session, and I had the chance to visit a great school called CEIP Valdelecrín, an elementary school in beautiful Fuengirola.

They have been running a bilingual program for 6 years and they have achieved great success implementing CLIL methodology…but…this is only the formal part…while I was there I met two of the teachers, and they were the kind of teachers that are driven by passion. Like most other teachers, their interest goes beyond simple things such as money or social status, they are driven by something higher, they are driven by values, by knowing that their work makes a difference.

The economic crisis is hitting education budgets hard and teachers find themselves tied by a lack of resources, but they manage to keep smiling and find creative and great ways to keep moving “onwards and upwards”. Ken Robinson says that there´s no better school than its teachers and It´s so true.

While I was there, Alicia showed me the blog that she uses to engage the students (we have added it to our blogroll here) and she explained to me how parents are thrilled with her work, and how families collaborate by taking part in the video tasks she proposes.

She also showed me some projects that they have done, and one of them was about Thanksgiving, so I thought it was a great opportunity to share their ideas with you.

Children are going through hard times, indirectly they are on the receiving end of the consequences of the crisis that many of their parents face, and they sometimes perceive anxiety, sadness and anger. This makes them feel unsure, and children need security.

Making them reflect on what they can be thankful for can help to reinforce their self-confidence and happiness. It also teaches them an attitude to life,  the same that I have seen in their teachers. It´s not just about Thanksgiving holiday…it´s about being thankful.

I would like to express what I am thankful for. I´m thankful for enjoying the little details in life. I´m grateful for my profession, for having the privilege to learn from all the amazing teachers I meet.

I´m thankful for enjoying teaching so much. I´m thankful for this learning journey. Thank you Málaga.

What about you? When was the last time you thought about what you were thankful for?

What is the relation between being grateful and hapiness? don´t miss this TED video