Saturday, January 23, 2016

Old Faithful: Linoit

Linoit is not new. In fact it's probably one of the first collaborative tools I learned to use. Last week's blog was about making (what I later learned was called) "Quote Graphics", for a Post-reading Activity for a literary text (in this case, we were working on The Road Not Taken). There I explained the process, and that the final products were to be uploaded to a Linoit.

Then I realized, that I had never actually written a blog about Linoit! I have known (and loved) Linoit for at least 5 years, and sort of assumed that EVERYONE knows about it. But just so I am sure that EVERYONE in the WORLD knows about it (because everyone in the world reads my blog...hahaha... as if) I want to sing its praises!

Linoit is an online tool that is a virtual bulletin board. On that board, people can post sticky notes, pictures, graphics and even videos. There are all sorts of fancy ways to use it, when all of the participants are signed in, but I usually use it the generic way, so that anyone who has the link, can post on it. 

Linoit has stood the test of time, because, unlike other applications that come and go, Linoit still ROCKS! And I can use it even MORE easily today than I could in the past, because ALL my students have cellphones! I used to use it with the students working from their computers, which limited it to either homework or when I would get the coveted computer room (not complaining - our school is well endowed technology wise... but still ... it meant I needed to be sure to plan in advance AND remember to get the computer room, and all for an activity that is really quite short). Since they all have cellphones, I can just have them do their task for the 5 minutes it takes to do it, show the results on the board (in fact, they really get a kick out of watching their notes appear) and then go on with other stuff. 

You won't BELIEVE the things I use it for!

First of all, with my students:

When I first started teaching the class (when they were in the 10th grade) I used Linoit with them to introduce themselves. We also used it to send New Year's Greetings to each other. (I have since deleted those boards.... didn't know I would be blogging about them three years later ;-) 

That same year, though, I used Linoit with them for a pre-reading activity for teaching the poem Count That Day Lost:

This year, I used the tool as part of the process of teaching the literary term "Conflict". MOST of the class did the activity on the REAL bulletin board in the classroom, but those who were absent that lesson (and many were because of some other activity) were able to make it up at home, on this board:

In last week's blog, I described the activity I was planning, using cellphones and making the "Quote Graphics" as a post-reading activity. They went out, took pictures with their phones, used my blog to see what graphics programs they could used, and had a great time doing it! (I shared the link through our class What's App group.) They are still in the process of uploading them, but this is what they have done so far: 

I also use Linoit in my counseling work. This year it was part of our winter Newsletter - sending greetings to each other from around the country:

And Lionit even helps me keep it all together when doing the very confusing and complicated task of organizing the oral testing roster for my region (designating which teachers go to test in which schools) (a system originally devised by my friend and colleague Judie Segal, using REAL Post It notes on a wall or huge window, but with this virtual version I have no worries that a strong breeze, frisky dog or mischievous cat might knock them off, making me scramble back to square one!

Here's a short, concise tutorial about more ideas for using Linoit and a quick "How to":

Have you ever used Linoit? Can you think of ways that it can help you in your teaching? Other aspects of your work? If so, please share!

Digitally yours,  


Saturday, January 16, 2016

Making Pinterest Posters for Activities with Literature Lessons in EFL

I LOVE finding ways to have my students use their cellphones in the classroom. It engages them and relieves ME from having to remind them to "Put them away, or they're mine" (my students know my mantra, and finish the sentence for me.. and the punishment is that the phones get thrown into the "phone-jail" on my desk for incarceration until the end of the lesson.) 

So any chance to use them for learning, is a chance well taken. 

I think most of us know what Pinterest is by now. (In case you do not, Pinterest is a social network that allows users to visually share, and discover new interests by posting (known as 'pinning' on Pinterest) images or videos to their own or others' boards (i.e. a collection of 'pins,' usually with a common theme) and browsing what other users have pinned.Jan 20, 2014 Defined by Google

I am pretty sure that lots of my students are familiar with Pinterest, and even if they are not, they are familiar with the Memes and other forms of communication that relies more heavily on graphics than words, from Facebook. It is not easy to get one's message across in a succinct soundbyte and graphic, so I thought that it would be a good skill to teach my students. 

For my students' Post-reading activity for the poem The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost, I want them to make a pin for our class pinboard on Linoit.

Their task will be to take a photograph with their phone camera, that will be appropriate for illustrating part - or all- of the poem. They will need to upload it to an application, add the line - or part - of the poem that it illustrates, and then share it on the designated Pinterest board. 

I figured it would be really simple to find a bunch of applications, since I had saved a blog about them. But to my dismay, when I went in to play around, I found that many of them were defunct (later I checked the blog, and saw it had been written in 2012... the relevancy of phone-based applications seems to be very short - as short as the life-spans versions of different phones (my beloved LGg3 is from August 2014, and I am already starting to feel its age :-( ).

I have played around with the following programs, and will recommend that they try them:

Font Candy  works nicely but you need an iPhone for that, as far as I can figure. You can download it to your computer, with pretty nice results. This is what I made from my computer:

I made an example for them using PhotoGrid, but was not overly pleased with the ease of editing. (This tutorial shows how to make a collage, as well - but I did it with one photo and added the text.)

PicLab is another option, which worked quite nicely for me. 

In the end, I am going to have them upload them all to a Linoit. They will also have to explain the reasoning behind their choice, to include in their log. Hopefully, the Linoit will soon fill up with their work! :-) I do NOT plan on using the Post-reading as the graded component for this unit, so I can just let them have fun, and I will get to feast my eyes on their pictures and quotes, and see their interpretations. 

Do YOU use this kind of app with your language learners? If you do, please share how, in the comments, below! And if you have a tool that you find especially useful for this, I'll be HAPPY to hear about it!

Digitally yours, 


Well, I've just learned that they are called "Quote Graphics". Hat tip to Denise Wakeman. Now I have to go read her blog! ;-)