Espresso...the very name invites the vision of a rich and stimulating experience. As a new potential resource in the Online Reference Centre's lineup, Espresso seems set to deliver just that type of experience to Alberta elementary students and their teachers.
Designed to be a mulitsensory, media-rich, differentiated learning tool, Espresso can be used with an interactive whiteboard, projector, or individual computers. While content tends to be American-based (what isn’t, these days?), Espresso strives to focus on general curricular skills for kindergarten to grade 5. There are some resources that could be used as an introduction for grade 6 curriculum as well, especially for Sky Science. With it’s emphasis on including video, text (which can be read to students), and games for learning, Espresso is clearly designed for the differentiated classroom! As all of the Online Reference Centre’s resources, it is web-based, requiring only an Internet connection.
Espresso provides animated stories on video similar to another ORC resource, Bookflix. However, during Espresso’s video, text comes up at key points, assisting students with vocabulary and word recognition. Not only that, but the video can be downloaded to a USB key or embedded into a class website or blog. This is one of the most useful features about Espresso, that resources can be taken, copied, pasted, and reused. Audio files can be downloaded as MP3 files and imported into iTunes, then repurposed, rebroadcast in Windows Movie Maker, or used to voice over with a different language. Sound a little too technical for you? No worries, Espresso has the resources for the less technically inclined, including videos that tells you how to embed or download. There are many teacher resources on how to use the platform with interactive whiteboards or projectors, as well as teacher resources and ideas on each page.
Espresso is for more than Reading and Writing, however. Looking for Science or Social? Espresso has a multitude of resources for each area. While these resources are not expressly aligned to the Alberta curriculum currently, there are still many that fit: Animal Habitats, Sky Science, Electricity, Forces and Motion, Plants, Insects, Communities, Canadian Provinces, Our School, and more. Math topics include Number Sense and Operations, Measurement and Shape and Space. Other curricular areas covered are Art, Music, Health and PE.
Looking to increase the 21st skills of developing communication and global communities? Each week, there is a news roundup with different themes. News articles are differentiated and will be Lexile scored. All of the news reports are archived and searchable by themes. The news does come from USA Today, however, they are looking at adding in Canadian news feeds in the future.
One of the best features about Espresso is it’s Lesson Planner. Teachers can create their own pathway through the site, adding pages in the order they wish with a click of a button. Instructions for the page and quizzes can be added as well, if desired . As you create your Lesson Plan, using the Lesson Planner, there is a “Show me” video link for each step of the way, with video instructions.
All of these Lesson Plans can be loaded onto a USB or emailed to others as an XML file. Schools/teams can create Plans, and there are pre made Plans as well called Lesson Ideas. Those plans can be edited to suit your needs, adding or deleting pages or changing instructions, etc. Once you have created a Lesson Plan, you then create a class, adding individual students. Assign each student the Lesson, and then they are assigned a log in code which takes them directly to the Lesson you have created for them. As they travel through the Lesson, they ‘fill up’ a milkshake glass. Differentiation is key to the Espresso experience. You can create different routes for individual students. Include more video for ELL students, or different pages for those working at a lower level.
Espresso is available FREE to Alberta educators for this month. The trial period ends December 31st. The Online Reference Centre is considering purchasing it for Alberta educators. Try it and tell us what you think!
Carol Koechlin sent this out to the ASLC today.
Great resources for TLs! The Library 2.011 Conference was international. As well as there is a keynote by Stephen Abrams and webinars by library leaders we know like Doug Johnson, and Gwyneth Jones. Thus there is lots of FREE professional learning for teacher librarians at this link.
A Google site for each webinar is available free:
Site for Knowledge Building Centers in Library and Learning Commons https://sites.google.com/site/library2011kbc/
Site for Creating a School Learning Commons https://sites.google.com/site/library2011lc/
Also, don't miss this create video on the Learning Commons in British Columbia.
Join ASLC and Diana Rendina, Renovated Learning and Walking Together in exploring the excitement and potential of Makerspaces to impact student learning and learn how literature can help you create an Inclusive Learning Commons!
Location: Strathcona High School 10450 72 Avenue NW Edmonton, AB T6E0Z6