Friday, 28 June 2013

The Commons Photos for Educators

A good photo speaks a thousand words.  No doubt using good photos for your blog, websites or student's eportfolio draws your readers attention.

Where to get photos that you can use for free:

Public Domain Pictures 

Just by typing public domain picutres/photos in google search, it'll generate loads of sites where you can download photos for free

The above photo is from, you can buy the contributor a coffee by donating if you really like the photos.

CC Search

Creative Commons search, you can search for images you'd like to use or images you can alter.

Wikipedia Commons

Wikipedia Commons has a large database of good quality photos, for pretty much a lot of things a teacher is looking for.  There are also videos for the search term, e.g. here's a video for jellyfish.

Flickr's The Commons

Flickr let everyday user share their photos, users can choose to share their photos to the world when they upload them.  Here's a summary of all the creative commons licences.  There's a lot of historic photos as well in The Commons.

Microsoft Office Images

I actually found a lot of interesting images in this site, to my surprise.  Although a lot of it are from the cliparts in the Microsoft environment, there're also some good pictures.

What about protecting your image?  There's many programs/apps that let us add watermarks, copyright information to our image.
Lets you edit photos, add watermarks, quotes to photos and make a collage at lightning speed.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Encourage Home Language & Bi-lingual Curriculum (or multi-lingual curriculum)

During my relieving in different centres, I found that educators are not really interested in encouraging the children's home languages, especially those language that are not popular, or seemed foreign to the educators. I remembered went into a centre where there's a new boy whose home language was French, the educators were so enthusiastic at designing materials and trying to connect with him, and were making him comfortable in the centre. I was thinking, 'I wonder what material do they have in Hindi, Vietnamese or Arabic?', the ethnic majority of the children in the centre. I found that the main reason of not including the home language is a lack of knowledge of the language and mis-conception of the culture, for example, 'they just let the male grab things from the girls.' was one comment I often heard. Mis-conception or prejudice stops us from having the interest to learn more, period (for the home language).

Another reason for promoting multi-lingual education is that languages are disappearing, watch this TED talk:

At TEDxDubai, longtime English teacher Patricia Ryan asks a provocative question: Is the world's focus on English preventing the spread of great ideas in other languages? (For instance: what if Einstein had to pass the TOEFL?) It's a passionate defense of translating and sharing ideas.

Technology helps bridging the home languages to school, especially if you have ipads (or ipod, iphone, smartphones), the following is a screenshot of an app where you can add your own vocabulary and make it as a game for multi-language learning. We could get parents involved to record the correct pronunciation of the word.

Encourage the home language and helping children transition from home to the education setting could be as simple as learning a list of frequently used words, such as:

  • Greetings (good morning, hi, bye)
  • Manners (please, thank you, have a nice day)
  • Instructions (stop, stand up, sit down, share...)
  • Facts (colours, numbers)
  • Praise (well done, very good...etc)

For the bi-lingual or multi-lingual student, I found it quicker for them to comprehend by keeping the language simple, and use two languages to reinforce meanings.  For example, use 'raining, come in' instead of 'It's raining outside, come on in.' or pointing to a red cup, 'whero, red.'

A method suggested in the Advocacy Kit for Promoting Multilingual Education - Including the Excluded from UNESCO is to speak the home language first, once the child is confident and fluent in the first language, then add on the second.  It could be hard due to resources (employing another teacher who speaks the language), but as mentioned above, using technology and learning the basic of the language helps.

Other apps for learning basic languages:
Free apps from innovative language
80 apps to learn a new language

A web-based program to learn about the language and culture:
Rocket French
Rocket Japanese
Rocket Italian
Rocket Spanish
Rocket German
Rocket Chinese
Rocket Arabic