12 Web Tools & Apps for Creating Digital Avatars

“Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them.”
—Lady Bird Johnson

If you are planning to get your young learners to use web tools and navigate the web this year, then plan on teaching about digital footprints and citizenship. One way to get your young learners to be aware of their digital footprints is to have them create digital avatars. An avatar is a graphic or digital representation of a person often used in video games or virtual worlds. Avatars can also be used as profile pictures on various social networks or for digital projects to protect students’ identities. (more…)

Children Celebrating Their Parents: Activities & Tons of Resources

“A father’s goodness is higher than the mountain, a mother’s goodness deeper than the sea.”
—Japanese proverb

All over the world, children celebrate their parents on special days. On May 8, many children will gather to appreciate their mothers with greetings or flowers. On June 19, many children will give gifts of appreciation, like cards and ties, to their fathers. Some countries celebrate both parents in May or in June. Children get excited about creating imaginative gifts and are motivated to express their love in different languages. Free digital tools and apps help children design beautiful books, projects, greetings, and crafts and also enhance their English skills. Make English learning meaningful this month for your young learners by getting them to appreciate their parents in English with the following gift ideas listed below. (more…)

Film It! Tips for Getting Children to Be Directors

“I believe my camera should always be in one hand and a good script in the other. That makes it possible for storytelling to come to life.” —Leticia Alaniz

“Pick up a camera. Shoot something. No matter how small, no matter how cheesy, no matter whether your friends and your sister star in it. Put your name on it as director. Now you’re a director.” —James Cameron

‘Tis the season to celebrate with your students! Halloween, Dia de Los Muertos, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and other holidays around the world take place in fall and winter. One of the best ways for students to learn and teach others about the way they celebrate is by producing a movie. (more…)

6 Ways to Get Kids to Express Themselves in Another Language

“It is said that children learn languages from their environment. They get into an environment where language can happen, and language learning happens.” —Greg Thompson

Although kids learn English in school, the most powerful language learning takes place outside the classroom with family or peers. Children need a context and time to experiment and play with the vocabulary and grammar they’ve acquired. They need to make plenty of mistakes so they learn from them. Outside the classroom, children can make mistakes safely and don’t feel intimidated by grading or assessment. Below are six ideas for helping children practice English outside of school in fun and engaging ways. This is a great list to share with parents at the beginning of the school year! Feel free to make a copy of this parent email template to send to the parents of your English language learners this year. (more…)

That’s Wicked! 20+ Halloween Activities, Apps & Tools Kids Will Love All Year Long

“As astronauts and space travelers children puzzle over the future; as dinosaurs and princesses they unearth the past…as monsters and gremlins they make sense of the unreal.” —Gretchen Owocki

Children across the globe enjoy dressing up, monsters, ghosts, witches, sorcerers, and horror. Halloween is that time of the year to explore spooky themes that will get your students learning English, science, history, math, and culture hands-on. However, the fun does not have to end on Halloween. Feel free to use any of these wickedly awesome activities, apps, and resources throughout the year to continue to engage your young learners! (more…)

Digital Tools for ELs: Summary of TESOL 14 Session

The TESOL 2014 Convention in Portland was a great place for teachers to learn new ideas, feel inspired, and network. TESOL always has plenty of great sessions to choose from, and on March 28, I attended a valuable session called “Digital Tools for ELs: Constructing Language and Content Knowledge” (EL = English Learner). Since many teachers couldn’t make the convention, I decided to share what I learned at this session on our blog because I know many teachers are interested in using technology in the classroom.

This session was put on by some lovely ladies from the University of Alabama and Etowah County Schools. The ladies, including DeAnna Ruhl, Amanda Foss, and Holly Hubbard, gave an excellent presentation where they explained the pros and cons of various apps, which I’ll recap for you here.

  • Students can upload slides/photos and narrate each slide
  • Easy to comment on and easy to share
  • Can be embedded (more…)

Tell Me About It! 15+ Fun Apps and Tools to Get Children Speaking

“Everything becomes a little different as soon as it is spoken out loud.” – Hermann Hesse

When I first began teaching children, I struggled with providing opportunities for all to voice their learning equally. Often, the most vocal students answered questions or took charge in games or group work. The shy students remained silent. With web tools and apps we now have the ability to ensure all our students get to voice their opinions and reflections about the content. With these tools, kids can tell stories, practice vocabulary, or tell us about themselves. Many allow kids to create videos that can be posted on a class website, wiki, or blog or sent to parents and friends. These recordings allow parents to see the learning taking place and evaluate their child’s growth throughout the year. Additionally, many make it fun for even the shyest student to want to participate. Below are a few free tools and apps created with kids in mind.

Web 2.0 Tools

With these free web tools, students can create stories, practice vocabulary, sing songs, or pretend to be the characters they read about. They can work with their peers and practice role-plays or dialogues that they are learning. Kids can also send fun greetings to friends and family, because many of these tools have templates and backgrounds to celebrate Valentine’s Day, Christmas, and other holidays. (more…)

6 Digital Ways for Children to Celebrate December Holidays

“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love!” ~Hamilton Wright Mabie

The holiday season is here, and for many children, this is their favorite time of year. Their families gather together to celebrate (Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa) with special foods, symbolic decorations, music, and the practice of various customs. This is the time when children can share their traditions and discover how others celebrate worldwide. Below are a few suggestions on how you can integrate free web tools and apps to make this holiday season magical for children. (more…)

Article Review: Apps to Use in the Classroom

With so many apps out there, it can be time-consuming to sort through them all and figure out which ones best meet your needs. That’s why when someone takes the time to do that sorting, it’s worth sharing! I don’t know about you, but I’m fairly new at using tech in the classroom. Even so, I’m keen to learn more and take advantage of what’s out there for us teachers.

This week’s article review is on Teach with Your iPhone: Apps to Use in the Classroom by Monica Burns on Edutopia‘s website. The article focuses on apps that teachers can use to make life easier. These apps aren’t educational apps to use directly with the students, but rather apps that teachers can use for classroom management. Monica introduces eight handy apps and explains the use for each one. Examples include a grading app, a timer, and an app to ensure each student has a turn an activity. Worth checking out!