Monday, July 6, 2009

intellectual honesty

Rutgers University has a series of short videos about plagiarism.

Part One: What is plagiarism? defines "intellectual honesty" and "plagiarism."

Part Two: How to cite? gives some examples of what items need footnotes.

Part Three: The Cite is Right is a quiz -- some of the examples are a little difficult but should generate good discussion about how to use facts in papers.

More information (and this graphic) from Module 3: Plagiarism of the University of New South Wales Library Information Literacy Modules -- an excellent resource for learning how to find and evaluate information on the internet.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

thinking about guidelines?

At the National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) 2009 there was a workshop by Karen Montgomery called R U In My Space? Y Have A Social Media Policy?:

"Social media guidelines encourage educators to participate in social computing and strive to create an atmosphere of trust and individual accountability. Teachers who must hide their online activity because of nonexistent social media guidelines risk losing their jobs and reputations. A better approach is to collaboratively develop a policy that is acceptable to administrators, school board members, teachers and parents allowing for involvement in the global conversation in which many are contributing."

She has provided a resource list of guidelines and stories about the challenges teachers face when incorporating social media into learning.

Karen works in children's education but some of these resources may be relevant to creating guidelines for adult educators as well.

Karen has also created a Facebook group Social Media Guidelines for Educators.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Video Collection at WatchKnow

WatchKnow is a website in beta testing. That means that right now it is a pilot project or test site. The official site will be launched when the test is over.

It is a non-profit, online community that encourages everyone to collect, create, and share free, innovative, educational videos. The site is aimed at children but you may find good materials there.

One note: It is a collection only. There is no review process that verifies the content of the videos. I watched a history video that posited some contested information as fact. You will need to use your own critical literacy skills to assess the videos.

The goals of WatchKnow are:

* To amass a huge collection of the best free, reusable, educational videos and other watchable media, from all across the Internet--and make all of it accessible from one spot online.
* To organize this content using a unique, collaboratively-edited directory (and search, of course).
* To encourage the creation of more great educational media. So we will be holding many contests with significant cash prizes.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Dublin Street Poems

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Is it CRAAP?

Here is a nice, concise, easy to read guide to evaluating web pages from the College of Saint Benedict at Saint John's University in Minnesota:

They describe the CRAAP (Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy and Purpose) test that researchers use to determine whether they can cite a source but some of these questions are a good guide for any surfer who wonders about the information they are getting online.
"The Web is great because so many different people can contribute information. Some of the information that is found is very useful for your research papers because it is accurate, current, objective. Other information that can be found on the web is based on the person who is maintaining the webpages opinion. You must be able to recognize the difference and sift out the useful material in order to have a more accurate research paper."

I am not sure if I would call things that do not pass the CRAAP test junk. That seems a little harsh. But I would cite such sources with caution... or a note to explain why I was using that source.

Monday, June 15, 2009

monday morning :P

This is my senior project at Savannah College of Art and Design. Where my idea comes from is that every time when I am busy, I feel that I am not fighting with my works, I am fighting with those post-it notes and deadline. I manipulating the post-it notes to do pixel-like stop motion and there are some interactions between real actor and post-its. Here is the making of :

Directed by Bang-yao Liu
Music by Röyksopp (
Sound design by Shaun Burdick

Monday, June 8, 2009

poetry readings and lesson plans

Exploring Selected Haiku by Issa
Discover the haiku of Japanese poet Kobayashi Issa. This media-rich lesson examines the format, humor, and nature of haiku by Issa. Students analyze various haiku and write their own.

More at Teachers' Domain: Poetry Everywhere Collection
"Explore the power of language, look at the world with a fresh sense of wonder, and build reading and writing skills. These video segments, drawn from the PBS Poetry Everywhere series and produced in partnership with the Poetry Foundation, capture some of the voices of poetry, past and present."

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

getting ready for web 3.0

Another cross post from the Literacies Café:

This post will probably take even longer to load than usual because of the audio/visual content.

Just as most of feel we are finally getting our heads around Web 2.0, here comes Web 3.0.

There are parts of Web 3.0 that sound like a giant leap forward in terms of organizing data so that the internet is less of a great library where all the books are lying on the floor. It should make the routes to the information you are looking for more transparent and easier to follow.

There are parts of the "semantic" web that sound a little Big Brother to me.

If you use Gmail, Facebook, or Google, you will have seen the beginnings of the personalization that is part of Web 3.0. Gmail and Facebook use "behavioral advertising" -- those little sidebar ads based on keywords in your emails or your Facebook profile (try changing the information in your profile and see how the ads change). Google is starting to introduce "intelligent search" where the items that get top ranking are based less on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies implemented by companies and more on what you have searched for before, what you have clicked on and what you have ranked yourself.

Digital Inspiration has collected a series of slideshows of Web 3.0 Concepts Explained in Plain English. I have embedded my favourite two below. The first one explains the concept clearly and simply IMHO. The second part is the "behind the scenes" look at how the semantic web is built. It is a bit techy but it explains the alphabet soup that is Web 3.0 so we will be less baffled by acronyms.

I have included Michael Wesch's InformationR/evolution video which is another look at indexing in the semantic web.

Unfortunately, you have to read all these presentations. And the Wesch video has that anxiety-producing music that seems to accompany all videos about technological change.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

learning online discussion day 2

"What will it take to help our colleagues (teachers and administrators) try technology infused teaching and learning, too?"

I've had the role of technology coordinator for about a year now at my school, which is the center of a larger, urban ABE program and I'm a teacher by training. It's been one of my primary roles to do just what the above question poses. During my experience the past year, I noticed that
several things are needed to help colleagues infuse technology into both their teaching and learning:

1. a desire to learn
2. a positive culture of learning in the school/site
3. an administration that values, and therefore plans and budgets for, hardware, tech training and development and expects tech and computer competency from staff and new hires
4. time (for change, for training, for practice, for things to grow)
5. persistance

learning online discussion

The National Institute for Literacy (NIFL - US) Technology Discussion List is hosting a discussion about Learning Online. You can sign up here.

The Discussion starts with these questions:
How does the field of adult and family literacy go forward with online learning, and what does it take?

Heidi Silver-Pacuilla then asked the discussion participants to
"make a graffiti poster today with thoughts about how the world/your world has changed in the last two years and what is impacting our work. Post words and phrases to add to the list started below."

Here is how people responded:
  • rapid changes in technology
  • expanded uses of cell phones, PDAs and other mobile devices
  • greater need for services, fewer resources
  • The policy proposal by the adult learner organization,VALUE, that adult education programs help adult learners who have difficulty reading to use technology for "auding", that is, to have text read out loud so they can get information from text, even if they cannot (yet) read it
  • Continued proliferation of mobile phones, especially more web-accessible cell phones
  • Continued (slow) expansion of online learning for adults and online professional development for adult ed teachers
  • More young adults in adult ed classes, many of whom are (more) comfortable with technology than their teachers
  • digital divide alive and well
  • lack of affordable access to tech
  • increase in social networking
  • There is a very wide range, among adult education program managers and adult ed teachers, in levels of buy-in towards & encouragement of online opportunities / online development expansion.
  • Elimination of technology trainers (and other trainers as well) in the FIRST round of cuts at a time when that technology training (and other training)is most needed.
  • With conference travel being cut way back if not completely, and face-to-face trainers being eliminated, online delivery of training will become more critical, yet the technology trainers who would be 1) most likely to deliver that instruction and 2) be the ones to train teachers to be able to access that instruction are the first to go!
  • A lot of adult education programs are blocked from access to the Internet by the policies of local school districts, community colleges and correctional facilities. The reason most often given in planning meetings at local agencies is that students will access sites considered inappropriate by taxpayers and private funding sources.
  • The digital divide is growing for our adults. If you are rural and have mountains, unless you invest in a satellite dish, you can't get a signal regularly. I have a wireless card that is occasionally good. I'm awaiting, and have been for several years, broadband over power lines (BPL). It is a new technology that is starting here in Nelson county, Virginia. If it works there will be a viable alternative for the mountainous rural people. It will be half the monthly cost of a wireless card - affordable for our students.
  • People who are peers, such as different adult ed program managers, or different adult ed teachers, can hardly bully nor beg their colleagues into "coming on board" with online opportunities. Neither bullying nor begging is appropriate. So only "the willing" folks are on board, or gradually coming on board, or learning.
  • Adult Ed teachers are very often way ahead of their program managers in their knowledge of / uses of / willingness to experiment with online opportunities. Again, these people are relatively powerless to "force" change, no matter how much "online expertise" they may personally have, or wish to gain / impart to others.
  • What kinds of gaps are we seeing developing when it comes to online teaching and learning opportunities? Generational? Length of career? Personality factors? Fear and embarrassment / humiliation factors? (I am hearing a lot of people say, "I am very far behind in the technology domain, and I don't want to reveal my weaknesses and lacks to X group [my peers, my students, my teachers]."
  • How to assess “distance learning readiness” among adult literacy students (all levels). Being computer literate is one skill set but being distance learning ready is another skill set altogether. How do we prepare our students for distance learning opportunities?
  • What distance learning models are most effective for specific learning styles and preferences among adult learners?
  • What is the importance of creating a sense of community among online students in both synchronous and asynchronous online learning environments? How is a sense of community best created in an online learning environment?
  • What tools are most effective in facilitating learner/instructor and learner/learner interaction?
  • How to effectively address the reluctance of and/or inability of both instructors and administrators alike to keep up with new and emerging technologies and/or to effectively integrate them into instruction. (Using technology in instruction is not necessarily the same as integrating technology into instruction.)
What would you add to the poster? Do you think that literacy teachers in Canada are facing similar changes in similar ways or is it different here?

Monday, June 1, 2009

feasting 2

Here are some more photos from that great night in Parkdale. The first 4 were sent in by the great, themeless photographer, Sue. The rest came from the great, experimental photographer, Nancy.

The song is "A New Name for Everything" from the album Reconstruction Site by The Weakerthans -- a beloved band from Winnipeg. I have bought a few copies of their new CD for me and my friends. You buy one too so they do not get mad at me for putting their song in our slideshow.


This a a cross post from the Literacies Café:

Here in Toronto, literacy workers used to get together quite a bit. The Metro Toronto Movement for Literacy and the Festival of Literacies used to provide us with many opportunities to meet and share professional wisdom. Neither of these organizations have been able to continue this and for a while we just stopped meeting.

Guy Ewing and Joy Lehman asked why. They asked, "Do we really need funding to get together and learn from each other?" Of course, the answer was no. They started to convene literacy workers at Moveable Feasts.
If you are lucky enough to have worked in literacy, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for literacy work is a moveable feast.

We are a party on the move.

On Friday, Johanna Pax-Milic, coordinator of the Adult Education Program at LAMP, and a photographer, invited us to an evening of photography and discussion about creativity and community.

We met at a café in the community where Johanna lives, Parkdale. The city was well represented - there were people from all corners. And so was literacy work - there were people who work or volunteer at school board, community based, network and resource programs. They were Leo, Carol, Sue, Linda, David, Phylicia, Nancy, Joy, Johanna, Linda and me.

As usual, we spent some time catching up with each other about how our work is going. And then we talked about creatvity and photography. The theme Johanna suggested was "What moves you when you’re walking in Toronto’s neighbourhoods?"

We went out and took photographs and then returned to the café to discuss what we saw and learned. Those of us with digital cameras shared our photos.

I walked with David, Phylicia, Carol and Joy. Joy used up all her film and David did not bring his camera so the three of us used mine. These are the photos we took. The first three are by David. His pictures show the rainy night.

Then Joy photographed a window with the blind and bottles. She said it was a picture of need and want. That became our theme.

We saw that the Goodwill was still open and decided to get out of the rain. Serendipity because the Goodwill is a palace of need and want. You will see that there were a few raindrops on the lens that I did not notice at first. You will see that an out-of-control witch is only $24.99. You will see need and want comes in all shapes and sizes and is always "as is." You will see why Joy is called Joy.

The photos are in the order we took them so you can see the need and want unfold as we did.

The last three pictures are of a literacy moment that made us all laugh.

If you are interested in hosting a feast or want to be on the feast mailing list contact Guy Ewing - ewingguy [at] gmail [dot] com - or Joy Lehmann - jlehmann [at] idirect [dot] ca.

The song is "Roll On Oblivion" from the album Here's to Being Here by Jason Collett --- a beloved Toronto musician. You gotta love a guy who lists Nick Lowe as an influence. I have bought a few copies of his new CD for me and my friends. You buy one too so he does not get mad at me for putting his song in our slideshow.

Friday, May 29, 2009

education quotes flicker group

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Literacy Tribune

The Literacy Tribune is a newsletter for learners.

It is from the US.
There is a new Literacy Tribune every two months.

It has information about health, finance, education, and technology.

It also has a learner’s story that will encourage and inform learners on their journey to improving their literacy skills.

Here is the Call for Writers -->
Click on the link to find out if you would like to write for the Literacy Tribune.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

learning zen

LearningZen is a free, web-based e-learning service. Users can freely study, educate and collaborate. This video demonstrates the basics of LearningZen.

The course editor looks similar to the one in Moodle. I am going to try and make a course soon and see if the "exam" can be a demonstration as required by LBS -- if only could figure out what such a demonstration might be :P

I'll let you know how my experiment goes. Let us all know if you try any course making at LearningZen or anywhere else.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Resource to Review: Vocabgrabber

I just got this message from Ben Zimmer, executive producer of the Visual Thesaurus.
I wanted to tell you about a great new vocabulary tool that we just launched this week. It's called VocabGrabber, and it intelligently extracts key vocabulary from any text you're interested in, allowing you to sort, filter, and save the most relevant vocab words. We think it's a tremendous boon to teachers and students alike. Take a look at it here:
It looks pretty interesting. I had some fun trying it out.

It is not free*. I have not used this with students so cannot properly assess this resource. You can test it with students for a 14 day trial period. After that you have to pay $2.95 US a month or $19.95 US a year for individuals. There is a desktop edition that you can load on a computer and use without an internet connection that costs $39.95 US. There are site licenses available for schools.

If you try it out, let us know what you think and whether you would consider purchasing it for literacy students to use.

*Update: See Ben Zimmer's comment below. I am wrong. "VocabGrabber is being offered as a free resource from the Visual Thesaurus. Many additional benefits come with a subscription to the Visual Thesaurus, but VocabGrabber can be used without a subscription."

Monday, May 11, 2009

learning links website

Learning Links - Connecting Great Websites and Multimedia Activities to Learning

"Just point and click on Learning Links for terrific learning resources at your fingertips! Quickly and easily find interactive, printable activities on interesting topics without having to search through numerous sites: Multimedia resources, videos, puzzles, information, quizzes, interactive materials, references, lesson plans and games organized for easy use."

Friday, May 8, 2009

class blog

I was just reading through the Literacy Plus Spring newsletter and found their computer class blog linked. Thought it might interest you.
Terrie's computer students are getting experience navigating the Internet through “blogging” at the Eganville cyberclass blogspot. At the blog, students can try all kinds of activities. You can start by learning the elements of both an e-mail and an Internet address, how to read them aloud—and why it's important to get the details exactly right. You can learn how to build your family tree online, and invite friends and family to view and update your site.

In February, Terrie launched a Cyber Café in collaboration with two former students who are members of the Eganville Seniors Club. Other club members can log onto the site to post messages, use the links, and get help from Terrie if they need it. Students participated in a Valentine's Day Trivia Hunt and in the Movement for Canadian Literacy's Scavenger Hunt celebrating International Learners' Week.

Finally, the site has links to a number of interesting websites that will help you learn to type, improve your memory, start a business, create a book, and more.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

2.0 in NB

Wendell Dryden is
"a poet, painter, literacy worker, Star Trek TOS fan and older computer hobbiest living and writing in Saint John, New Brunswick."

He also publishes a beautiful blog about his literacy practice called qualities - communities - literacies. He describes his blog as
"me learning and sharing about supporting basic adult education and community literacies. If I'm stating the obvious, its because you already knew it, and I just figured it out."

I read Wendell's blog avidly. It is affirming and enlightening to read how another literacy worker greets the joys, questions and struggles of community work.

Wendell writes quite often about using computers with students. On Tuesday he wrote a post called Basic Adult Education 2.0 that I thought might interest you.

A short introduction to the concepts behind social networking websites. Shared on YouTube, dotSUB (translations) and TeacherTube. Need a transcript?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Remember those collaborative story games where one person starts a story and then passes it to the next person who adds the next bit. The group continues to pass the story from person to person, each one reading only the last entry and adding something new.

In the Frankenstory version you only get 40 words. You write the first part of a story. You send it on to your friend but they can only see the last few words you wrote. They write the next part in 40 words, send it back to you and you are done.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

sweet sweet math


"We've used regular sugar cubes (4 grams of sugar each) to show how the sugars in your favorite foods literally stack up, gram for gram. Compare foods, find out where sugar is hiding, and see how much of the sweet stuff you're really eating."

1 large apple (3.25"/223g - 10% waste)
Sugars, total: 23g
Calories, total: 132
Calories from sugar: 92

1 cup slices (109g)
Sugars, total: 11g
Calories, total: 57
Calories from sugar: 44

Mott's Applesauce (Sweetened)
1 cup (113g)
Sugars, total: 22g
Calories, total: 100
Calories from sugar: 88

Mott's Applesauce (Organic Unsweetened)
1 cup (113g)
Sugars, total: 211g
Calories, total: 50
Calories from sugar: 44

Monday, May 4, 2009

film shorts as text

From Bill Boyd @ the Literacy Advisor:

The short film is an ideal medium for developing the “traditional” literacies of reading, writing, talking and listening, a “short” film being a complete text lasting anything up to 30 minutes, but for our purposes ideally no more than ten or fifteen minutes, which means it can be shown two or three times in the course of a lesson if necessary. This is preferable to using an extract from a feature film as it doesn’t require an understanding of the whole work from which it has been taken, and there is a huge range of texts available, from animation to live action, fiction to documentary.

With a minimal understanding of the language of film, teachers can use short films to introduce and reinforce concepts related to reading and writing printed texts, such as narrative viewpoint, plot, characters and setting, as well as developing a greater understanding of the medium of film itself, the medium with which most of us engage most frequently. It is important to emphasise the similarities between printed and moving image texts, as well as the differences, since ultimately they are both about telling stories, and why we tell stories is arguably the reason for studying any kind of texts at all!

At the National Film Board site you can watch full-length NFB documentaries, animations and dramas online -

Thursday, April 30, 2009

english for caregivers

Does anyone know if any online links to "English for Caregivers" materials? I have a lot of students that are involved in this field.

In case your learners might benefit, (not sure of their level) here is a link to Project Care mostly geared to high-intermediate ESL students. It provides some case studies, multimedia (vocabulary and authentic listening practice) and projects on such topics as Depression, Alzheimer's Disease, Death and Dying. See

Project Care is a World Education project.
World Education is dedicated to improving the lives of the poor through education, and economic and social development programs.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Reposted from Jane's E-Learning Pick of the Day

My AwardMaker

Everyone loves certificates and awards!

My AwardMaker is a free, quick and easy site to print out certificates for all types of activities: sports, school, business, etc

My Award Maker

Thursday, April 23, 2009

how search engines work

A short video designed to help you get more out of your web searches by Commoncraft.
Here is the transcript:

The Web may seem like a vast ocean when it comes to finding something you need. Thankfully, search engines can help turn oceans of information into small pools that make finding information easier.

This is Web Search Strategies in Plain English.

Before we dive in, let’s talk a bit about how search works on the Web. Search engines go out and try to account for every word on every webpage. All this information is then organized for easy reference.

When you search for a word, the search engine finds all the pages where the word appears, and displays them in the search results. Usually the pages that appear highest in the search results have lots of other web pages linking to them. Each link acts a vote to say, “This may be a good resource.”

The problem is that there are often too many results. You need a way to reduce the number of results so you can find what you need. Let’s look at how this works.

Say you’re looking for a specific kind of fish, and these represent all the websites on the Web. Searching for FISH doesn’t help much. There are way too many results. You need to be more specific.

Try to imagine the exact fish and describe it in the search box. You’ll see that each word you use gets you closer to what you need. You can do this for any website by imagining the website that has your answer. What’s the title of the page? What words appear on it? If you put those words in the search box, you’ll get closer to finding answers.

But to be a smart searcher, you should know some basic shortcuts. Let’s say you’re looking for words that appear together, like a phrase or a quote. An example is a search for information on sand sharks. If you search for it like this, the search engine looks for pages with SAND and SHARKS. To get better results, put quotes around the words like this. It limits the results to the exact phrase.

Here’s another shortcut. Words often have multiple meanings. Consider the word MULLET which is both a fish and a hairstyle. A search for MULLET may give you a number of results about the hairstyle, but fewer about the fish.

To remove the results about hair, place a hyphen or minus sign just before the word you want to exclude, which means “show me the pages about mullet, but take away results relating to hair.” By being specific, and using words and symbols that remove useless information, you can find exactly what you need, and keep the Web from swallowing you whole.

I’m Lee LeFever and this has been Web Search Strategies in Plain English.

google docs and searches

Re-posted from Free Tech for Teachers*:

Three "Getting Started Guides" for Google Docs

This morning Google announced the completion and publication of three new "getting started" guides for the Google Docs suite of tools. These new guides are designed to help new Google Docs users get started with spreadsheets, presentations, and documents.

These new Google Docs guides could be useful when introducing students and or colleagues to the benefits of cloud computing.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Teaching Internet Search Strategies
The World Wide Web in Plain English
Google Earth and Google Maps Help

*Ryan teaches kids in Conneticut. His blog is a wealth of fantastic resources - many can be used with adult learners or are good resources for adult educators.

science online

Scitable is "A free science library and personal learning tool brought to you by Nature Publishing Group, the world's leading publisher of science."

This is high level stuff and the focus is on genetics but this site might be worth noting as a resource.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

hotel worker curriculum

Hi there. I got this message today and thought some people might be interested in this site. I have not checked it out at all so have no review of these materials -- I'll leave that to you.
Here is a link for an ESL curriculum for hotel housekeepers. It's on the OTAN You have to register, but it's fast and free. It's an excellent resource.

The materials are in the VESL Clearinghouse Catalog Library Section -- here's the link:
Scroll down to VESL for Hotel/Housekeeping Modules. There are 7 modules.

Cheers, Tracey

Friday, April 17, 2009

Just trying it out!

I have no idea what I'm doing.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

this is a test

wiseone is on the blog


Welcome to the TDSB Web Safari.

We are going to spend the next two hours exploring some online learning resources and blended learning activities. This is your online course about online learning. We will all do the chat together at Chatzy (see the post below).

Once you leave the chat, please read the learner comments about online learning (see post below) and leave your own comment. Or visit Jottit (see post below) and add to the wiki.

After that you can use this time as you wish.

You can use the entire time to explore the links, activities and lessons and reflect you thoughts, ideas and innovations in the comments section.

You can spend about 20 minutes checking out some sample lessons and then use the links and resources to create a lesson to post here on the blog for your class and any others who want to use it. If you choose to post a lesson, please let me know and I will sign you up as a contributor on the blog. I will need your email address.

Or you can spend the time making a video like the one above.

Please explore the topics that interest you most. These are all activities that I have used with literacy learners. I have set them up here in a way that you can use them with learners straight from this blog if you wish.

You can see the topics by looking for the Blog Topics box in the sidebar down the right side of the blog. You can see an index of Labels as well. I have labelled all the posts for this workshop April 16. If you click on April 16 in the Labels box, you can view the whole workshop at once.

I will be here to help out and answer questions. Please leave comments here on the blog when you explore a topic so that others can learn from your explorations.

The blog will remain here so that you can revisit it any time you wish. If you would like to keep the blog going as a way to keep in touch with each other about online learning let me know. Right now I am the administrator for this blog. I can sign people up as administrators or as contributors and you can use this space any way you like. If people who wish to keep this blog going would like a little Blogger support to get started, I can do that for a while.

If anyone would like to start a blog to use with learners and would like a little help getting started, let me know.

Now... join the chat and say hi to everybody.
*All the links are going to open in a new window so that this window will always be open. You can see which windows are open by looking at the toolbar on the bottom of your screen. You can click on them to bring them to the front.

Notice the listen now above each blog post. Odiogo is a free service that adds audio to a blog and creates a podcast for each post.

The video in this post was created at Xtranormal. You can make these easy peasey little videos by choosing one of the free scenes and adding your text. You can fancy it up with expressions and camera angles if you wish.


The first thing we are going to do is say hello to each other.

Click here* to enter our Chatzy chat room. Chatzy is a place to have free online chats. I have set this up as a virtual chat room that anyone can enter without a password ... be discreet. I will clear the room at the end of our session so and erase all of our messages.

You can use Chatzy to set up private rooms that you can use with students. Students or instructors can host discussions or "chat parties". In chat parties, people play word games or answer trivia questions on a theme. Some students really enjoy using chat rooms to connect with other literacy learners. Some students seem to feel less inhibited about writing to an audience of other learners and writing online.

Click here to set up your own chat room at Chatzy. Click here to learn more about how.
Or you can try TinyChat, another free chat room site.

AlphaPlus has chatrooms and forums for students who are enrolled in Alpharoute. Any LBS student can be enrolled. Contact Nancy Friday to find out more: nfriday [at] alphaplus [dot] ca. AlphaPlus also offers Moodle training for practitioners. Moodle is a system for online learning where you can post resources and activities, learners can submit assignments and participate in forum discussions, and instructors and learners can track progress and record success. Many of the activities posted in the April 16 workshop were first developed as part of AlphaRoute online courses using Moodle. If you are interested in learning more about Moodle, contact Nancy.

Learners talk about online learning

Here is what some adult literacy learners said about online learning in course evaluations at AlphaRoute.

You can see more online learning experiences and outcomes at the AlphaRoute Learners Blog.

What have learners told you about online learning?
Click on the comments link below and let us know.


(**If you cannot see this video because You Tube is blocked, see below).

Jottit is a place where you can set up an easy peasey website that works a little like a wiki. You can post text and anyone can edit that text or add to it.

1. Go to the Literacies Jottings Jottit page. Click on defining literacies. Click on the history link below the definition (on the right) to see how this definition was edited.

2. Click on
  • online learning :(
  • online learning :)
and add your thoughts. Click on edit to write. Click on publish to save your jottings.

3. Would you use Jottit with adult literacy learners? How? Click on the comments link below and let us know what you think.

*You can see more Commoncraft Shows here:

** If You Tube is blocked: You can use Zamzar, a free online video conversion service. I entered the URL for the You Tube video, chose avi as the type of file, waited about 20 minutes, checked my email, went to the web address and then uploaded the new video onto this blog. You can also download the videos directly onto a computer (MPEGs are probably best -- check with the TDSB tech people) and watch them without using the internet at all.

Workplace: Pay and Hours

Here is an activity for students interested in finding out about their rights in the workplace.
This week we will look at the website.

We will look for information about Pay and Hours of Work. You will see the topics in the bar on the left side.

There are 5 things to do:

1. Go to Getting Paid and click on Ont at the top of the page. (The short forms for each province are in the row of teeny, tiny white writing that is almost impossible to read.)
What is the general minimum wage in Ontario 2009?
What will it be next year?
Look at another province. Is the minimum wage the same or different?
2. Go to Work Time. Click on Weekly Hours and Overtime and click on Ont at the top of the page.
How many hours in standard work week?
Are you entitled to a break?
What about days off?
What can you do if you still have questions about the rules?
3. Look along the left sidebar of the website.
What other information can you find on this site?

4. Click on the comments link below and tell us what you think about this website. Is it easy to use? Is the information useful?

5. Here are some questions to think about. We will discuss these questions in class.
What do you think about Fair pay?
  • Have you ever worked for minimum wage? Is it enough money?
  • How much should people get paid?
  • How can workers get fair wages
What do you think about Hours of work?
  • How many hours should people work?
  • Should it be the same for everybody?
  • How can workers get fair hours?

Workplace: Health and Safety

Health and Safety 101 is an e-course developed by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) in Ontario, for workers 24 years old and younger.

The course also prepares you for the Passport to Safety test and online program. The Passport program is for people who want to get nationally recognized certificate, or Passport, to show employers they have a basic level of health and safety knowledge.

Go to Health and Safety 101.

Choose high speed if you are using a cable or DSL internet connection or low speed if you are using a dial up connection. If you use high speed, you can see videos and some of the information will be read out loud. If you use low speed, you will have to read all of the information so if you need help with the reading make sure a tutor is with you.

Look at the menu bar along the top.

Click on Safety Roles.

A menu will pop down.

Click on Your Rights - You will be looking at pages 12-21 of the Safety Roles lesson.

You can watch more, but that is the part we are talking about today.

Find out:
* What are our 3 health and safety rights?
* What are the 4 steps we can take if we are not safe at work

If you want to learn more about the Right to Refuse,
click here to listen to a story from the Learning Edge.

If you want to learn more about safety in different workplaces,
click here to see how well you can Fix the Hazard.

2. When you have looked at the websites, click on the comments link and tell us what you saw. Here are some questions to think about:
What websites did you look at?
What information was new to you?
What information surprised you the most?
What questions do you still have about health and safety in the workplace?
Where do you think you could find the answers?

Workplace: Health and Safety - Fix the Hazard

These virtual games from Australia help us learn to identify and solve safety hazards.

This was a way to get a certificate. You cannot get a certificate any more but you can still play the games.

You will need a high speed connection and the Macromedia Flash 6 Player to be installed on your computer. If you do not have the Flash Player installed, you can download the player by visiting Macromedia's Flash Download Centre and following their installation instructions.

To play the games, move your mouse over the pictures.
When the arrow turns into a hand, you have found a hazard.
Click on it.
A multiple choice quiz will pop up.
Read the options and click on the one you think is the best solution.

Choose the workplace you work in most and see how well you do.

Play the Safe Office Game

Play the Safe Kitchen Game

Play the Safe Hotel Game

Play the Safe Supermarket Game

Workplace: Change

Part 1

Go to the Learning Edge, Issue 5. Then click on the box called “The changing face of work.”

What do you think about what these people are saying about the changing face of work?

How did you feel about going back to school?

What were your reasons for going back to school?

How has the world of work changed for you?

Did your job change?

Part 2

At Job Futures we can learn where the government says jobs are now and where they will be in the future.

We can learn about whether we have the education we need for a certain job and if we will like the job.

To learn more about how to use this site, go to the Learning Edge, Issue 5.
Then click on the box called “Using the internet to find jobs.”

Listen to the recording and then click on the Job Futures button.
Listen to the information about the website and then go to the Job Futures website.

Look up a job that you are interested in. If you know what job you would like, look the job up by clicking on alphabet and finding the job in the list. Remember, they may use another word for your job. For example, sports is called Athletics.

If you do not know what job you would like, click on Interest and choose whether you would like to work with things, people or information and choose a job from the list.

If you do not care what job you do just so long as there are lots of jobs in that field and the pay is good, click on Work Prospects and find a job to research there.

One you have found a job to research, find out:

- the average pay

- what the outlook is (will there be many jobs in this field and how many people with these skills are employed)

- what you will do on this job

- what education you need

and important facts (like how many women work in this field)
Click on comments and tell us what you found out.

And tell us what you think about this website. Is it helpful? What is easy about using it? What is difficult? Did you learn anything new about work?

Workplace: Finding Work

We can use the Learning Edge to look at ways to find jobs.

Here are some questions to think about:
- What are the four traditional methods of looking for jobs?
- Are they successful? Why or why not?
- What is the difference between active and passive ways of looking for work?
- What are two ways of looking for work?

You can find the answers in the Learning Edge.
Go to the Learning Edge, Issue 5.
Then click on the box called “Networking.”
Listen to the recording for scene 1.
Then choose a way of looking for work that you would like to practice.

1. Networking

2. Cold calling

3. Using the Job Bank

If you choose Networking:
Listen to the recording for scenes 2 and 3.
What do you think of this method?
Does it seem good to you?
Does it seem easy or difficult?
Make a networking plan.
How will you start?
How will you find new people to network with?
What will you say?
What will you do after?

If you choose Cold calling:
What do you think of this method?
Does it seem good to you?
Does it seem easy or difficult?
Make a cold calling plan.
How will you decide where to call?
What will you say about your experience?
What will you say if they do not have any openings right now? What will you do after?

If you choose Using the Job Bank:
Listen to the information about the website and then go to the Job Bank website and try to find a job.

What do you think of this method?
Does it seem good to you?
Does it seem easy or difficult?
Reply to this message. Tell us what you found out.
Are there any jobs for you in your region? What will you do next?
And tell us what you think about this website. Is it helpful? What is easy about using it? What is difficult? Would you use the “resume builder?”

Storytelling: Anecdotes

This is Ira Glass. He has a show called This American Life about storytelling.
This video is 5:24 long.
(If you cannot see this video because You Tube is blocked, see below).

Ira Glass tells us that the building blocks of storytelling are:
  1. Anecdotes. Anecdotes use bait and momentum to keep the listener interested.
  2. A Moment of Reflection. This moment answers the question, "Why am I listening to this story?"
What is an anecdote?

Why are anecdotes powerful?

How do anecdotes use momentum to make boring stories exciting?

What is bait?

Think of something funny or scary that happened last week. Tell an anecdote about that event. Use bait and momentum to make your story interesting. Use a moment of reflection to answer the question, "Why am I listening to this story?"

** If You Tube is blocked: You can use Zamzar, a free online video conversion service. I entered the URL for the You Tube video, chose avi as the type of file, waited about 20 minutes, checked my email, went to the web address and then uploaded the new video onto this blog. You can also download the videos directly onto a computer (MPEGs are probably best -- check with the TDSB tech people) and watch them without using the internet at all.

Storytelling: Tales we Tell Children

Some people tell stories.
Some people sing stories.
Some people read stories.

Why are stories important for children?
What are the stories people tell children?
Why those stories?

Here are some stories:

# Christopher, Please Clean Up Your Room! (NFB Video)
# The Cat Came Back

# The Magic of Anansi (NFB Video)

# Roses Sing on New Snow (NFB Video)

# The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier (NFB Video)
# The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier (CBC Audio)

# The legend of Nanabozho (CBC Audio)
# Summer Legend (NFB Video)

Did you listen to any of the stories?
Which ones did you like best?

What stories did you like best when you were very young?
Why do you think you liked them so much?

What stories do you tell the children you know?
Why do you pick those stories?

Storytelling: Interviews

What story do you want to hear?

Who would you like to ask to tell you a story?
What stories from your family or your community are interesting to you?

There are 3 things to do.
1. Listen to people tell each other stories.
Here are some links.

* A son asks his father about his marriage and divorce and marriage
* A great-nephew asks his great-uncle about the secret of long life
* Debra asks her friend Ed about his best tip ever
* A Big Brother and Little Brother ask each other questions
* Listen to more stories

2. Plan your interview.
Think about who you would like to interview.
Make some questions.

You can use the Question Generator at Story Corps.
You put your information into the question generator and they will send you a list of questions by email.

You can use the the Great Questions List at Story Corps.
When you go to the Great Questions List, you can click on the topic you are interested in and find questions you would like to ask.

Or make up your own questions.

3. Write up your questions and share them with the class.

Storytelling: Memoirs

What story do you want to tell about yourself?
A memoir is a story from our own lives.

The idea for a 6-word story came from Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway was an American novelist, short-story writer, and journalist. He was born on July 21, 1899 and died on July 2, 1961. That is him in this picture -->

One day he bet a friend that
he could write a whole story in 6 words.
He wrote a very sad story.
His story was "For sale: Baby shoes, never worn."
He won the bet.

Smith Magazine had a contest. People had to write a story from their lives in 6 words. They collected 1,000 stories and made a book.

You can read some of the 6-word stories here.

What about you? Can you write a story from your life in only 6 words?
Click on Comments and give it a try.

Health: The Human Body

Click here to open The Virtual Body.

A new page will open up.
Choose English.

You will see pictures of the inside of your body.
The pictures will be cartoon like the ones on this page, not photographs.
Some people do not like looking at pictures like this.
If you do not like looking at pictures like this, choose another activity.

Click on The Human Skeleton.
Click on Bones Narrated and listen to the information.
You can read along.
When you have heard the information, try the Build a Skeleton game.

Click on Comments.
Write a message and tell us:
  • which activity you did
  • what you liked about it
  • what you did not like about it
  • 3 things you learned
  • which activity you are going to try next at the Virtual Body

Health: Our Bodies

We are going to read and write about what makes us magic!
You can write a poem or a story.
You can write about your body or something that you can do that makes you feel magic.

Read the stories and poems below.
Write your own poem or story about how your body is magic.

Read a poem.

This poem is by a former construction worker called Kate Braid.

There is a story about Kate Braid in a literacy reader called Coast-to-Coast Reader by Joan Acosta. You might have it in your program.

These Hips
by Kate Braid

Some hips are made for bearing
children, built like stools
square and easy, right
for the passage of birth.

Others are built like mine.
A child’s head might never pass
but load me up with two-by-fours
and watch me

When the men carry sacks of concrete
they hold them high, like boys.
I bear mine low, like a girl
on small, strong hips
built for the birth
of buildings.
Read a story.

There is a story that you can read.
It is by a literacy student called Brenda Meyers.
It is about her favourite body part.
She wrote the story after reading the poem by Kate Braid.
You can see the story here.

Listen to a poem.

You can find the poem to listen to here.
It is called homage to my hips and it is by Lucille Clifton.
A homage is a way of showing respect to someone – or something.

In this poem, she talks about her magic hips.
She also talks about being sexy.
I do not think it is rude.
I think it is funny.
But everybody has different ideas about what is rude and what is funny.
If you think that this will make you feel uncomfortable, do not listen to the poem.
Or if you are worried about people in the program overhearing the poem – use headphones.

When you click on the link, wait for the poem to load – watch the blue bar grow – and then click PLAY.

You can read the poem below.

homage to my hips
by Lucille Clifton

these hips are big hips
they need space to move around in
they don't fit into little, petty places

these hips are free hips
they don't like to be held back
these hips have never been enslaved
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do

these hips are mighty hips
these hips are are MAGIC hips
I have known these hips to put a spell on a man and to spin him like a top.

Health: Nutrition

Think about a question you have about your body and how to keep it healthy.

Which story do you think will answer your question?

Pick a story that looks interesting.

If your question is about eating in a healthy way, these stories might help:
1. Ingredient labels
2. Less meat more beans
3. Nutrition facts
4. Men don’t eat enough vegetables

Write a review of the story you read.
Write your review as a paragraph.
Do not write it as a list of answers to the questions.
Make it interesting for other students to read.

Then read some of the reviews by other students. Which story will you read next?

Some questions to think about for your review:

Did the story answer your question?
Was the story easy or difficult to read and understand?
Was the story interesting or boring?
Would you recommend this story to other students?
How many stars (from 1 to 5) would you give this story?

Health: Taking Care

Think about a question you have about your body and how to keep it healthy.

Which story do you think will answer your question?

Pick a story that looks interesting.

1. Active living - Ken's story
2. Preparing for a doctor’s appointment – vocabulary and comprehension
3. Feeling the blues – vocabulary and comprehension
4. Menopause

Write a review of the story you read.
Write your review as a paragraph.
Do not write it as a list of answers to the questions.
Make it interesting for other students to read.

Then read some of the reviews by other students. Which story will you read next?

Some questions to think about for your review:

Did the story answer your question?
Was the story easy or difficult to read and understand?
Was the story interesting or boring?
Would you recommend this story to other students?
How many stars (from 1 to 5) would you give this story?