Sep 11 2014


Fortunately / Unfortunately – An EDTECH Tale

 

Naomi's photos

Naomi’s photos

Note: Inspired by one of my favorite children’s book, “Fortunately” by Remy Charlip.

Naomi, the teacher, must teach the story “True Love” by Asimov.

*FORTUNATELY, Naomi had the idea to prepare a short slideshow comparing the story to the movie HER, as a lead-in activity. Visual activities are good for deaf & hard of hearing students.

UNFORTUNATELY, Naomi teaches in the format of a learning center and students need to watch it at different times.

FORTUNATELY, Naomi easily uploaded the slideshow to Edmodo using slideshare. She has a computer with Internet access in her English Center-Classroom . Students can watch when needed.

*UNFORTUNATELY, the air-conditioner in the English-Center-Classroom has been out-of-order since Sept. 1 and Naomi must teach every hour in a different room,  without access to a computer.

The English Center on wheels, every period

The English Center on wheels, every period

FORTUNATELY, Edmodo has an app.

UNFORTUNATELY,  Naomi used slideshare which means that another app must be installed to watch the slideshare. Not good.

FORTUNATELY,  Naomi reposted the activity, uploading the original PowerPoint instead of slideshare.

UNFORTUNATELY, some  of the students who  DID use the computer (in the library or at home) to watch the slideshow didn’t watch it in “slideshow” mode. Which meant that  the link to the section of the trailer (for the movie “Her”), which was cropped using Edpuzzle, wasn’t clickable. Some pasted the link into the browser but others did not watch the clip. On slideshare all the links are clickable.

FORTUNATELY, those who watched the slideshow found it pretty interesting (“how could a person possibly love a computer?” they wondered) whether or not they saw the clip.

UNFORTUNATELY, Some students didn’t watch it all before beginning  the story because their confused teacher, who was exhausted from lugging all the class material over half the building, every period,  didn’t check Edmodo’s progress charts.

FORTUNATELY, everyone seems to be doing very well with the story (seems a good choice for these teens!) regardless of how much of the lead-in activity they saw, if at all.

So why did Naomi bother preparing a lead-in activity?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sep 06 2014


Saturday’s Book: “The Shoemaker’s Wife” by Trigiani

Filed under Books I enjoy!

Naomi's photos

Naomi’s photos

The bottom line is that I read the book to the very end.

All  475 pages of it.

So I guess that’s what counts. But…

I received this as a gift. I DID know when I began it that the basic story line is (and believe me, not giving anything away here, it’s not a spoiler) : boy – girl meet, lose each other, meet again, separate and finally marry. The book is called the Shoemaker’s WIFE, so there can be no mistake.

I began the book and it is such an easy read that I treated it like comfort food. After such a stressful summer (in so many ways) I was ready for a predictable, comforting book. I cried in the right places too. In the first part it also seems as if it is an historical novel sharing the experience of immigrants from Italy to the USA in the period preceding WWI.

But the historical aspects are very superficial and fade away as the book progresses. World War 1 is supposed to have had a huge impact on the male character’s life yet his experiences there are summed up quickly, in a few pages. At some point the platitudes about women and men become annoying. People aren’t rounded enough, the good are so very good ALL the time. clichés abound. I read the last 150 pages “arguing” with the book and myself for continuing, not feeling comforted at all.

Yet I couldn’t stop. I needed closure.

A much better, rounded out and realistic picture of the immigrant scene in New York, complete with a love story, is the book “The museum of extraordinary things” by Hoffman which I read  a while ago. I compared the books several times as I read.

Oh well. Reading this made me eager to start “Alone in Berlin” which I was a bit apprehensive about. The first few pages caught me right away!

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Aug 30 2014


Locating Lessons using Videos on this Blog

Naomi's photos

Naomi’s photos

Just a short post to say that I have finally made it easier to locate posts that describe lessons using videos. All these posts include downloadable worksheets, often several worksheets (different levels).

All you need to do is:

1. Look for the title “Categories” on the first sidebar on the right side of the blog’s homepage.

2. Click on “Video Lessons”.  All the posts describing the use of the videos and downloadable worksheets can be found there, one after the other.

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Aug 30 2014


Saturday’s Books: “Tenth of December” by Saunders & “Cain” by Saramago

Filed under Books I enjoy!

Contrasts

Contrasts

This certainly has been a summer of eclectic reading, each book very different from the next one, which is just the way I like it. Though I must say I read less than I usually do over the summer. This post includes two books because my blog was “on vacation”.

I was so pleased to find an interview with the author at the end of the collection of short stories that make up the “Tenth of December”. Suanders is interviewed by David Sedaris. Each story was very easy to get into, utterly absorbing, yet disturbing. Each one I finished left me wishing that I was back in college and could discuss the stories in class. I couldn’t even put my finger on exactly why the stories disturbed me, which made me wonder if it was just me. The writing is such a pleasure, the stories are varied (some take place in the future!), then why am I left with a  feeling of disquiet?

The interview helped to clarify. The author intends to rock your world, to make you think of social issues, morality and more. He wants you to think of people and issues you might not usually think about .

I give a lot of my books away, but I’m keeping this one. Short stories, for me, are something that can be reread, especially when there is a lot to think about in each one.

“Cain” is a short book, and a quick read. Saramago uses the Biblical character Cain as his spokesman. Cain, whose punishment was to wander, becomes a time traveller under Saramago’s hand, participating in many Biblical events. Cain doesn’t like what he sees and makes his opinion of GOD quite clear. He has many dialogues with GOD until Cain finally interferes with GOD’s plans. The dialogues are witty and sharp and the ending is unexpected.

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Aug 26 2014


“True Love” vs. “Her”

Where is the flower going?

Where is the flower going?

This is a lead-in activity before we begin studying the story “True Love” by Asimov, as part of our literature program.

I don’t usually post activities until I have tried them out with the students. However, since the question of what the first weeks of the new school year will be like is so unclear, I don’t feel like waiting. At the moment we have been told that only some of the students will come each day (rotation) so that we can teach in classrooms next to the shelters and get to them in time.

Hopefully there will be a follow-up post.

I designed this activity for very weak students who must study this Asimov story. Not only is their English poor, their general knowledge is very poor too. They must watch the slideshow in class, then copy out the sentences that describe what both tales have in common.

I hope that making the connection to the movie “Her” (Spike Jonze) in their minds will help them understand that the narrator of this story is a talking-thinking computer. It’s not a hard concept to imagine nowadays. I deliberately did not include the fact that the story is an old one (1977) as I think it will really help the students if they imagine the computer Joe as a laptop or tablet, things they relate to. It’s not  important that Asimov probably imagined it as a huge mainframe thing filling a whole room.

I used EDpuzzle to crop a section of the official trailer of the movie. I chose this section because it works without sound. There is no need to understand the speech (which isn’t very clear for a weak student that CAN hear well) to see how happy the man is and that he is communicating with the cell phone. I also wanted the students to have the information regarding the movie, so that it will be clear that the clip is not from the story! 

Another reason I chose to compare the story to the film as it is a good opportunity to review one of the higher order thinking skills we must teach for the literature program; comparing and contrasting. It’s also a chance to review the very useful phrase “in common”. The students encounter it on their unseen exams.

Here is the slideshow. I hope it will work well!

“True Love” vs. Her from naomima

 

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Aug 22 2014


Saturday’s Book: “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Riggs

Filed under Books I enjoy!

Reflections of 2 Dream Catchers

Reflections of 2 Dream Catchers

* I missed my blog…

This was a recommendation from Adele Raemer, and I’m grateful indeed. I enjoyed it! I received it as an audio-book gift and listening to it was a bit like a play. The excellent reader did accents, Welsh, Cockney and others! On the other hand, I understand the photos in the book are unique. I did download the PDF file that came with the book but have not had time to look at them properly.

It is a young-adults books. There are parts where this is very obvious. It IS a  coming-of-age story. But the book is well written, and surprised me a few times when I felt sure I knew what would happen. More important, there are layers of meaning and lots of things to think about here.

And a rocking good adventure story with suspense.

So when are they making a movie out of it?

 

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Aug 03 2014


Saturday’s Books: “Azazeel” by Ziedan & “Horsey” by Aini

Filed under Books I enjoy!

When the crow calls... (Naomi's photos)

When the crow calls…
(Naomi’s photos)

Azazeel by Youssef Zeidan is an unusual book. It’s rather hard to describe. I”ll start with a quote from the back cover:

“Set in 5th century AD, Azazeel is the exquisitely crafted tale of a Coptic monk’s journey from Upper Egypt to Alexandria and then Syria during a time of massive upheaval in the early Church.”

While at times the book seems to go into a lot of detail regarding Christian theology, it is actually a historical novel about someone grappling with very universal questions, ranging from why is it so difficult for people of one religion to tolerate people who believe in another one, to why shouldn’t women be educated and influential. Also there’s quite a bit about why should monks have to stay away from women, but that’s not a universal issue. Hint, there are most certainly encounters with women in this book!

The book begins slowly but the pace picks up.

Reading about how the author’s book was received in Egypt, by Moslems and Copts (written by the translator into English) is fascinating.

The pic has nothing to do with the book, just took it today and like it! LOL!

The pic has nothing to do with the book, just took it today and like it! LOL!

Horsey by Leah Eini is completely different. It is a lighthearted engaging fable. She takes the basic storyline of “girl waiting for the man of her dreams to come riding by on his horse and rescue her” and gives it a feminist, funny and very horselike twist (if I say more about the twist I’ll ruin the book).  She plays with every possible phrase related to horses (O.K, I’m probably exaggerating. Many phrases). The book, written in Hebrew, takes place partly on a farm in Israel and partly in El Paso, Texas and the characters are larger than life. It was a good read for when I couldn’t sleep….

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Jul 29 2014


“Reading Videos” Sails with iTDi Summer School MOOC’s Kites

Flying High with iTDi

Flying High with iTDi

As you can see, the amazing iTDi Summer School MOOC, with its impressive variety of FREE sessions offering online professional development to teachers around the world, has chosen kites as it’s symbol.

Kites, to me,  symbolize the wide expanses of possibility, hope and energy, along with variety. Kites come in every shape, size and color. So do teachers. And their students.

iTDi recognizes that.

Naomi's photos

Naomi’s photos

My kite has been chosen to be included in the Summer School Mooc. My session on “Using Videos to Improve Reading Comprehension Skills” will be given this Friday, August 1, at three o’clock in the afternoon local time, which is one o’clock GMT. In the talk I’ll be discussing (with many examples) how videos without dialogue can help learners of all ages improve their reading comprehension skills and expand their vocabulary.

For more information, see here:

http://bit.ly/iTDiSummerSchoolMOOC

 

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Jul 14 2014


This Blog is Going on VACATION!

Filed under The Visual Corner

The lookout Naomi's photos

The lookout
Naomi’s photos

Or, should I say, this blogger is?

In any case, it’s not for long and I’ll be back.

I’m leaving you with this bird on the lookout. So pleased with this photo!

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Jul 13 2014


Saturday’s Book: Far From the Tree” by Solomon – Halfway Comment

Filed under Books I enjoy!

Not your regular tree

Not your regular tree (Naomi’s pictures)

The full title is “Far from the tree, parents, children and the search for identity”. What is it like to be parents of that child, that apple, that DID fall far from the tree?

I decided not to wait till I finish the book to write some more about it. In hardcover it’s almost a 1,000 pages long. I’m listening to it on my Ipod (almost 41 hours!) otherwise I never would have had time to read more than half. I’ve mentioned the book in previous posts as I have been listening for a while.

This is one of the most fascinating non-fiction books I have ever read. Actually, I think listening to it read by the author really adds to the experience. The author interviewed a large number of people (mainly parents) over a long period of time, and I feel that he is sharing his experience this way.

The book is very cleverly written (and I really like the title!). Although each chapter does follow a general format of a combination of interviews and information (both historical, medical and the related activism) about the “uniqueness” being discussed in that chapter, Solomon manages to present things differently each chapter. He also highlights common themes and connects new information with things previously discussed.

It’s a very American book. There are a few interviews from other places but basically it all takes place in the US. Especially regarding the chapters I know more about, Deafness and Schizophrenia (my husband is a psychologist, I was discussing it with him) I sometimes wanted to tell the author – it’s not like that (or so much like that) here! Some of the issues of activism presented are harder for me to relate to, especially those fighting for the right of adults who are seriously psychotic to starve themselves to death while living in horrible neglect because they didn’t ask to get treatment…

I find the book powerful and moving. I had originally thought I would listen to part, then listen to something else and go back to it. It sounded like the book would be too much to deal with at once.

I won’t stop until I’m done!

 

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