Although the target audience for Questionaut is elementary school students, there is enough wonder and inspiration inside for gamers of all ages. A very nice Point-and-Click-Adventure to test your (kids’) knowledge of English, Maths and Science on a magical mission to recover your friend’s hat. Play Questionaut!
The Globalization of Reading and Writing
Schools are in the middle of a transitional process. The future of literacy has already begun. Globish is replacing English as a lingua franca and Moore’s Law is not only an indicator for the long-term trend in the number of transistors that can be placed on an integrated circuit but also for the speed of change coming with technological progress. Are teachers, parents, students and policy makers keeping up with the times? Is there anything like change management for schools as learning organizations?
Dr Patricia Fioriello, an educator and administrator from San Francisco, recently published an e-book on new literacy proposing thoughtful ideas and suggestions for “the piece that is missing” in the transition from the current school curriculum to a world wide web based literacy approach. Her book is clearly written, insightful and fun to read illustrating the issue with a lot of good examples and historical background. Teachers, parents, policy makers and students alike may find it interesting.
What does it mean to be a literate person today? According to Patricia Fioriello “Literacy needs to be thought of as the sum total of the skills that a student will need to have proficiency in so that they can become successful college students and workers.”
Chapter 1 of “Teaching Literacy: Keeping Up with the Times” is setting the stage with a historical overview on literacy, stating that “teachers today are using most of the same methods that have been used for the last half of the twentieth century with little upgrade.” This is sad but true and one of the reasons why I really suggest the reading of Patricia Fioriello’s book.
Chapter 2 about “Online Reading Comprehension and Writing” assembles plenty of good ideas to consider when it comes to reading and writing on the internet: technical vocabulary (www), shorthand (LOL), search engines use (limiting results) and navigation issues (hyperlinks). She also critically assesses the virtues and challenges of auto-correction tools in many word processor programs.
Chapter 3 on “Language and Communication” advocates the advantages of cultural diversity and multilingual learning environments when preparing students for a globalized world. The chapter deals not only with idiomatic expressions, translations or the ambiguity of written language but also with the ability to read logos and fonts. Just think of Captcha and the question “Are you human?”.
Chapter 4 deals with the “Paperless World” it and puts it clearly: Although many people are predicting a move towards a paperless world, the truth is quite the contrary: because of printers, fax machines and photocopiers “we are using more paper now than we have ever used before.” Nevertheless Patricia Fiorellio argues that this may be due to a time lag between the appearance of new technologies and the disappearance of older ones. Just think about the big shifts that new recording techniques and later MP3 brought to the way we listen to music. That is why schools today need to prepare students for a paperless future, including the use of digital textbooks, online testing and a changing approach to professional development of teachers.
Chapter 5 on “Different Cultures and Customs: A Global Audience” continues the argument of chapter 3 on language and communication, discussing Globish vs English and the ability of American readers to contribute to the global dialogue. Online readers and writers have to consider their audience, both locally and globally.
Chapter 6 is a follow up of Chapter 4 and discusses in depth the advantages and challenges of “Online Assessments” for students, teachers, parents and policy makers.
Finally, chapter 7 makes suggestions on “The Next Steps” not ignoring that money matters have to be considered. It is about funding and managing the transition process and on how to include the school community.
In my opinion Patricia Fiorellio’s book is an outstanding example for change management at schools!
You can download it at www.drpfconsults.com/Literacy
Storytelling for Digital Natives
Smories are free original stories for kids, read by kids. 50 smories are added every month. Two London-based illustrator/writers Lisa Swerling and Ralph Lazar got the idea for smories.com during a long journey in a dirty Land Rover from the Kalahari desert in Botswana to Cape Town in South Africa.
Their daughter (8) had the idea to film herself with an ipod reading short stories, and then play them back to her younger sister (6). This kept the kids entertained for hours and inspired their parents to create smories. Thank you for this great idea!
Smories is a free online resource for kids and a nice and simple alternative to sites like youtube where young viewers can easily click away to unknown destinations. But smories is also a new platform for children’s story writers, where they are freed from the usual constraints of having to illustrate their story to have a shot at publication. At Smories.com writers can get their work published online, retaining all rights.
604,546 words, 515,991 pronunciations, 241 languages
All the words in the World. Pronounced by native speakers. Forvo was born as an idea in 2007, and is online since January 2008. By now Forvo has become the largest pronunciation guide in the world.
Are you able to pronounce the reason for Europe’s flight disruptions ?
You can browse and search Forvo for free. If you want to add new words or pronunciations you have to sign up – but it is also for free. In my opinion, Forvo is a great and interactive idea, combining the best of the two worlds: the world wide web’s networking feature with all the languages (still) spoken in real life. The language-of-the-day section features languages you might have never heard of before, e.g., Lakota spoken by the Lakota people of the Sioux tribes.
Did you ever wonder how to pronounce the name of your favorite foreign artist in his or her mother tongue? I was quite impressed, when I discovered how to pronounce the Icelandic singer in Islandic, the French band in French or the Polish composer in Polish. For non-English speakers it might be insightful to readjust some pronunciation assumptions for the worlds biggest internet companys: , and .
Try out Forvo! It’s fun! www.forvo.com