Thursday, November 11, 2010

Welcome, Barrack Obama, President of the United States

Thank God it's Friday!  Indonesians finally are recovering from the euphoria of Barrack Obama's visit to Jakarta.  Undoubtedly, the whole country (OK, most of us) were definitely smitten and in awe by his appearance.  There were 2 false starts this year because he had to handle domestic issues, thus, couldn't leave the country (now, if only our politicians followed his footstep) but November 9, he was here with his lovely wife, Michelle Obama.
Barrack and Michelle Obama with President of Indonesia, SBY

No scholarly wannabees that I knew of missed his speech during the state dinner on the 9th, nor the one he gave on the 10th in front of 6,000 invitees.  I believe he got us all at "Assalaamu'alaikum" and "Pulang Kampung, Nih" as evident from the deafening applauses at the Balairung Universitas Indonesia.

In class yesterday, I got a part of his speech transcript printed and copied and had the downloaded video of his speech in UI displayed on the projector.  I wanted my students first to listen to the recorded video of his speech and then when they were viewing the video for the 2nd time, I asked them to read the transcript while listening to Obama. 

My next assignment for them was to choose the part of the speech that they really liked and then had them practice saying it on their own copying as much as they could; for example the pronunciation, his diction and the pace of the speech. The students seemed to have a good time doing this assignment; although admittedly I could have done better with the setup.  In the end, most of the class went out to find a quiet corner to practice and record their voice using their cellphone.

Originally, once they're finished I wanted to play the recordings and had the class listened to some samples.  Unfortunately the bluetooth device couldn't work (that's technology to you!) so I asked the students to transfer the recording to a PC and then mailed the files to me via email.

I think Obama's speech could be used later as well when it's time for them to practice giving presentations.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Class Blog is Here!

My IPMI 2010 class finally has blog!  It's called Assignment! ipmi undergraduate 2010 (ahem, apparently when they created the blog, we hadn't discussed capitalization rules.  Originally,  I thought an individual post would be ideal, but, after some thoughts, I figured one blog to follow would be easier to manage than 12!This is the first year my class uses blog of any kind to publish their assignments.  As I said in my previous post,  my previous classes used facebook to publish the assignments,  however,  I always had difficulty in tracking and commenting the posts properly, especially when I was mobile. Now, hopefully by using a blog, I would have easier time tracking and reviewing my students' assignemnts. *crosses fingers*

Monday, October 11, 2010

Facebook as an Education Tool

pic courtesy of:

What started out as as platform to connect university students in Harvard College, facebook has now become a social media network that hosts 500 million users across the globe. One wouldn't just be able to communicte with his/her college mates or colleagues, but s/he can also communicate with the loved ones, the parents, the children, the sibling, etc. Although facebook limits the age of its users (should be at least 14), but nowadays, especially in Indonesia, even 3rd graders get hooked on facebook what with its plethora of games.

Now, how can we ride this facebook phenomenon, before it meets its death just like its predecessors friendster and hi5 and making use of the platform for educational purposes? According to the interview with facebook's representative, Ethan Beard, there are hundreds of applications in facebook that can be used for educational purposes.

Below are some of the applications I've used in the past for my classes.

  1. Notes : This is an excellent tool to publish the students' works. It also allows the students and you to make comments on the posts. To make sure that the intended users do not miss any of his/her friends' posts, they can tag their friends; that way, they can be notified when a post is up. I ask students to post most of their written assignments here. The cons: 1) Its forced formatting; you can't make any changes. It was a big deal then because I asked students to indent the first line of the new paragraph and this was impossible to do in Notes. 2) You really need to remind students to tag all of their friends in the class. Some students are too shy to share their works with others. 3) You only can keep track of the assignments posted if they tag you. Another painful and time-consuming way is to check their profiles one by one. Not a good idea when your 3 course-meals is up before a profile is uploaded.

  2. Slideshare : This is a good tool to share your ppt/pdf files from your class to students. Cons: Students with a slow connection will hate this apps with a vengeance.

Keep watching this space because I'm going to try various facebook education apps.

Friday, October 8, 2010

New Tools from the Web

Just to make the class more exciting, for the students and the lecturer alike, I crawled the internet to find some fun ideas for the seemingly technology savvy class this semester. However, I did have some critera to choose the different techno-toys for the class:

  1. The activity should be not complicated. When you want something fun, you definitely can't mix complicated with it. Chess is complicated, but I hardly ever seen anyone guffawed over the game.
  2. The activity should allow the learners to engage in a conversation, practice their English, cooperate (collaborate) to finish the activity.
  3. It should allow pressed-for-time teachers to immediately use it without the need for 30-minute preparation.
  4. The activity should be free. I don't mind spending a few dosh for the right for the game/activity. But all experienced teachers know that they need to do some kind of fine-tuning, with the students in mind, before actually using it in the class. So, I can't justify paying for the activity or the membership for the website when I don't know what I'm paying.

So far, I have used 2 activities for the class:

  1. This movie maker turns a novice into a director in just a few clicks. It's fun and totally easy to do. You could create a character, decide on the scene and the music background with just some clicks. Check out the movie I made and the one made by my students as their first assignment :

  2. Obviously I like as well and had given assignment for students to upload their 3 minute vid to youtube. This one is pretty groovy one to play with even if you don't have any video editing experience. The only drawbacks are learners need to own a good video camera or a cam corder which could produce average sound and they need to have a good internet plan because a 3-minute vid could take hours to upload when the connection is terrible.
  3. This is another new thing I just discovered through the internet This site create a tag cloud art for any piece of written texts you have. Check out the one I made using text from my first blog post. Pretty neat! You could make various changes, too, so it's quite appealing for all ages.

So the class was off to the good start, thanks to dvolver and youtube. One of these days, I'm going to bring in tagxedo to the class and watch them have fun!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Hello, Class!

When you have a class of more than 10, you could easily be daunted excited by piles of students' works. If that class is a writing class, you could be driven off the wall by the amount of paper correction you need to do. Why not peer correction? Well, if the class consists of students with similar level of English, peer correction is your ally. But I tried it before with my mixed ability classes, and I had nightmares for months. Unfortunately, I'm still feeling ambitious to believe that I could handle the paper works and achieve my terminal objective this semester in my English 1 in IPMI.

This year, I have the luxury of having 14 students, 2 of which haven't showed up their noses in 4 sessions, so their abilities are still a big mystery to me. Among the remaining pool, based on my limited face time with the students, 4 are in the advanced level, 3 in intermediate, 3 in basic, while 2 are in the pre-basic level. La dee da! This is going to be a fun class.

Currently I'm using Quest 1 Reading and Writing and First Steps in Academic Writing, both are published by Pearson-Longman. So far, the class could fly safely with the first chapters of the books. I did see some confused looks from the passengers, but hopefully they could handle a little confusion and enjoy the trip :). Unfortunately, in my 2nd meeting today, 2 students went MIA. I hope they didn't get poisoned.