Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Best iPad Apps for ESL Teachers #17 - Box

Click to Download
What can I say about this app?  50 GB... that's right, 50 GB of free storage in the cloud (at the time of posting).   Many of the same, if not better, features of Dropbox with 50 GB of storage when you download the iPad app.

It also has the same desktop app you can download, link creation, sharable docs, compatible with many formats, etc.

Download it now, as the 50 GB deal may go away soon.  Dropbox only gives you 2 GB of standard storage, causing you to badger your friends and family to sign up so you can get 500 MB at a time. Box just gives it to you.

So, do yourself a favor and give yourself a place to store video files, photos, etc. that you couldn't when you were just using Dropbox. Don't get me wrong. I like Dropbox, but anything larger than doc files tends to overrun it.

Once the promotion runs out, I believe that the standard GB is 10, but that's still pretty good.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

How to deal with cellphones in the classroom

Smartphones are an amazing tool that benefits us in so many ways, but sometimes they can be a distraction for our students.  I am trying to incorporate more technology in the classroom, but I find that in an ESL setting, we also need times when students are writing with their pen to the paper.  (I actually prefer the use of laptops over smartphones in my ESL classroom, due to the fact that they offer the collaborative benefits of a smartphone without the texting/messaging distractions.)

I find that unless I have a scheduled task in which technology (cell phones) is used, they tend to become more of a distraction than a help.

For that reason, I have started using the system in the picture below to stow cell phones during class. Note: This system could also just be used on certain tasks like tests and major assignments in which cell phones are not necessary.

I don't claim to be the first to use this method. I saw it on a meme site recently and thought it was a great idea.  Here I would like to also tell you how I use the system. 

At the beginning of a session,  I tell all students that stowing their cell phones will be the policy at the beginning of every class. I also have them put names on their slots so that I can take attendance. No cell phone in the slot, no credit for attendance. 

In addition, students know that if I see them pull out an additional cell or iPod during class, they are already in the wrong and will lose participation credit. If it is a test, they will get an automatic zero and an academic dishonesty write up. 

Now, students simply drop their cell phones in without question every class. No arguing, no constant reminders or unpleasant exchanges between the students and myself.  They just know to put them in at the beginning of class. 

These shoe organizers can be purchased through Amazon through the link below or at your local department store for $10 or less. 

Imperial Over the Door 24 Pocket Hanging Shoe Organizer

To the reader, please remember that I am in an ESL setting where students need to learn the English writing system, and I am in no way condemning the use of cell phones in the class for FOCUSED activities. However, cheating, plagiarizing, and taking pictures of secure testing materials has caused me to rethink just how lax I want to be in allowing cell phones during general class time.

I hope that this solution will help some of you in your quest to balance the use of technology with traditional instruction.  Proposing a  balance to a completely "cell phone free" zone, I want to include this link to a site that describes all of the ways that cell phones CAN be used in the class.

Let me know your thoughts on this issue.  I know that my opinion is evolving.

 "Do you think we should fully embrace the use of cell phones in the class? Should we do so but cautiously?  Should we fully reject their use and stick to traditional methods of instruction?"

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Movie Trailer ESL Listening - X-Men: The Last Stand (Reported Speech Noun Clauses)

Phew. That was a long title.  Anyway, please try this very difficult (advanced) grammar and punctuation listening exercise for X- Men: The Last Stand. This uses noun clauses in reported and quoted speech.

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