Escape the Room

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In the previous post, we discussed gamification. Using games in calss is a good way to engage the students and achieve the learning goal. Escape the room has been a popular game for years, now, it is becoming part of the class.

In a escape the room game, students build and enhance the vocabulary while playing. For example, the kitchen themed room escape. Unlike the way we have been doing before: providing pictures of the vocabulary in the kitchen, is not good enough for visual learners or the we can make it more fun and alive by using the escape the room game.

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I have played this kind of games a lot. I started with online versions, then real-life versions. In recent years, real-life room escape has been very popular in China. There are different themes: vampires, mummies, etc. The fun of the game lies in the puzzle solving. It also resembles the detective games. Students get to learn without realizing they are doing work. It is the beauty of gamification. It makes learning a fun thing to do.I played the great kitchen escape and I found it really hard to do if you have no idea how to play the game or the goal of it. I had no problem finding the things I needed. But without looking at instructions, I had a hard time figuring out what to do with the items. So, clear instructions is crucial. The kitchen escape game is a good vocabulary exercise. By exploring the room, images of different kitchenware are given and it is easy for students to relate the words to their meanings. One way to use this game in class is to assign students in a group of two. By making students work in pairs, it also enhances their ability to work as a team and builds a good rapport among students. Communicating skills are also built during the pair work session. Narrowing skills can be practiced if a walk through is used.

The teacher acts as a instructor and guider. Clear instructions must be given before the game and repeated to make sure all students understand. Teachers can set a policy for helps and hints. For example, every group or student can have three chances to seek for help from the teacher when they are stuck. In addition, a walk through can be used in the game as a way to examine their understanding of the game as well as the vocabulary and narrowing skills. A way to do that is to ask students to use the walk through as a guide and describe the escaping process after finishing the game.

There should be a post-game test to exam the learning and enhance the knowledge gained through the game. Giving out a vocabulary test is a good way to exam how well the students memorized the new words learned in the game. Other than giving the meaning of the vocabulary in their native language, the pics in the game can be used as a prompt which also helps achieve a complete target language learning environment.

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Gamification in Teaching

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What is gamification? It is to engage and motivate people to achieve certain goals with the use of game mechanics and game design. In a word, it is the fun way to engage. 

Now there are many studies showing that gamification in language instruction can promote motivation. Apart from that, gamification is a solution for getting students involved. Even for those who are shy, by engaging games in the class, it builds up the connections among students. Are you not satisfied with your students’ participation? Try gamification! By playing games, students may discover the fun part of the subject and therefore become more proactive. Team work is often required in games, so they will have the chance to practice collaboration skills.

However, every coin has two sides. There are some drawbacks of gamification. While playing a game, there is a tension of competition. Students may benefit but also be discouraged from it. Everyone likes to win. But no one wins all the time. So, when students lose the game, they will very likely to be dismayed and frustrated. In addition, effective gamification requires careful planning and instructions. It is not so easy to do.

Generally, gamification opens up a whole new world for educators. It offers lots of opportunities and ways to enliven the instructions. As for language teaching, it can be used in a lot of ways. Apart from serving the basic goals of the tasks, it benefits students’ communication skills. All four aspects of language learning, reading, writing, listening and speaking, can be practiced. For example, in Art Master, students work in pairs, one describes the picture orally, the other draw the picture down on a piece of paper includes the name of the object. It is a very good game as it involves drawing which adds to the fun of the activity, it reinforces the use of prepositions, the students’ ability to describe the location and also their vocabulary. There are plenty more types of game you can integrate in the class.

Teachers, Are You Using Twitter Right?

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If you are still using Twitter to share with your followers what movie you see today, then you desperately need to read this.

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Twitter is much more than a social media for us to see what is going on with Miley Cyrus, or to update our daily life with friends/online strangers.

Attention,teachers! It can be and should be used as a professional development tool and be integrated into the classroom.

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In the classroom of Enrique Legaspi, Twitter is a apart of the class other than a distraction to the students. He uses Twitter as a way for students to answer questions, giving feedback. Rather than considering Twitter as a bad thing, utilize it! Apart from adding more fun element into the class and help students stay focused, Twitter helps the students find their voices, build their identifications. It is a great tool in get the shy ones involved. “Twitter did become this paperless way of sharing what is going on in their mind” said Legaspi.

That is not all the magic that Twitter can do. Teachers can use it as a professional development tool. What is particularly good about using it as a  platform for educators to communicate is that it avoids the default of information gathering which is the limitation we get from our own flock. Take the Twitter chat as an example, you have no idea who will be there and who you are talking to. It could be someone in your town, or someone outside the country. It is inspiring and exciting as we are not talking to the people we are familiar with. In addition, it is easy to find information we need using the hash tag. Hash tag is a powerful way to follow conversations on a topic of interest. Twitter can also be used to keep track of your posts, it forms the relevant tweets into a stream which is easy to retrieve in the future.

There is more you should know to use Twitter or a professional development purpose. It may not be as simple as you think.

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10 Tips for teachers using Twitter as a professional development tool  

1- Create a strong profile page

2- Keep  your profile  professional

3- Proper use of etiquette

4- Know who to follow

5- Use Hashtags

6- Use Twitter Tools

7- Use Twitter for research

8- Share what you read

9- Use Twitter for Teaching and Learning

10- More creative ways to use Twitter

I hope this post can do you some help, free feel to share your ideas with me. Now, go Tweet!

Twitter Chat Adventure

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I attended the twitter chat #ELLchat today. As a new twitter user, it was quite the adventure. As Twitter is not welcomed in where I’m from, I had no idea how to use it to my needs. After looking around and stumbling into things, I found the similarity of it with Weibo( a Chinese version of Twitter). They have basically the same functions. I have been a user of Weibo for years without any experience in group chat. There is a reason or that.

The theme for the twitter chat this time is culturally responsive teaching. The discussion was more intense and heated than I expected. A lot of interesting ideas and insightful opinions. It was a very interesting experience. I was able to interact with ESL teachers worldwide! I enjoyed getting new information and surprises from people outside my flock. It is a way to improve yourself efficiently, gain new knowledge and cognition. The chat organizers Karen Nemeth and Judie Haynes are very inspiring educators and very open to different thoughts. They created a very friendly environment for other Twitter users. One thing that I did not like at first was the word limit of your Tweets. But then I realize it is actually not a bad thing. It forces us to express our ideas in a concise way makes it clear and simple for people in the chat so the chat can get going smoothly. After all, we are not doing a seminar or a forum. It is short, fast but still have the essence. Therefore, efficiency is achieved.

However, I think apart from attending the live chat, by going through the earlier posts, you can also again a lot. Using the hash tag, it is easier to locate the information we are interested in. The hash tag is a solution to the problem that we are restrained in our own flock when it comes to information gathering. Simply put in the topic you are looking for, numbers of results come out, and they are not just from your friends or the people you follow. The records of the chats are saved and tagged so it is easy to retrieve. You don’t need to worry about missing the chat once or twice. Other than using the Twitter chat as a live discussion platform, I see more benefits and values using it as a resource where you find information and get inspired. I found out about several good websites for ESL teachers, and the app “scoop it” which is an awesome source for teachers and educators. And from others’ conversations, I learned a meaning of the Bammy Awards which I should know but have never heard of before.

I can definitely see myself attending more of these twitter chats in the future. It is a fun and efficient way to learn more about my field.

Epals – Where Learners Connect

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On ePals, you can do challenges, join a classroom, starting/joining projects and enjoy learning center.

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There are many interesting projects, such as collaborative detective story – a community-inspired project focusing on improving students reading and writing ability. I find the project very inspiring as it makes it fun for the students. Usually, students prefer listening and speaking classes as reading and writing are boring. But this project may let them fall in love with reading and writing. I believe that it is important to make the learning process fun for the students and the ePals can serve as  the source of inspirations!

On ePals, you can join classroom from almost every country in the world and get inspired. I found this Lisa Dream classroom where they have done projects with global students with email exchange and Skype chat. Through this, we can have access to different cultures and teaching methods worldwide and use it in our own classrooms.

In the leaning center, there is a game&quizzes section where students can learn and play at the same time.

In general, ePals delivers the idea of fun learning and connections. “Students are motivated to learn through experience, and with ePals I’ve introduced an experience beyond the classroom.”

Classroom 2.0

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Classroom 2.0 is a net work group for educators over the world focusing on social media and participating technologies in the classroom. I think it is very useful as teaching should keep up with the technologies. Since there is a lot more we can do in the classroom, we should know the new possibilities and make full use of them.

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As you can see in the picture above, there are several sections: forum, members, groups, recordings and so on.

The forum is a very good platform for the members to connect and interact. There is a introduction thread where newly joined members post a brief introduction of themselves. The groups, on the other hand,  make it easier or us to focus on our interest and needs. I, for example, joined the ESL and technology.

Check it out now. 

A Learner is Like A Flower

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Learners nowadays are different from those 20 years ago. Before we had technology, learning was pretty much restricted and the knowledge lasted way longer than it is now. Information development back then was slow. Now, with technologies, the information develops rapidly and learning is a life time career. A learner is no longer like a sponge: you put the sponge in the water of knowledge and it sucks as much as it can and that’s it. A learner is like a flower: it needs water constantly or it will die. Unlike a sponge, a flower takes in the water and crave for more.

“What we know today is not as important as our ability to continue to stay current.” Knowledge changes rapidly, if we don’t keep up with the pace, we will become obsolete in our particular field. That is why I see a learner as a a flower that needs water everyday rather than a sponge that needs water one time. Receiving knowledge continuously makes the flower thrive.

The key principle of learning is to stay current. The technologies enable us to form networks that make it possible for us to stay current and continue to study. “The network is the learning.” There are ways to connect with others naturally, for example, through dialogues. With the help of technology, we are now able to connect with people not just near us, but around the world. The magic of network is not just to enable us to connect worldwide. Whenever someone adds a new note in the network, it amplifies the whole. Learning now is no longer a individual activity. It is connected with others.