My first steps towards becoming a technologically active teacher are well on the way.
I’ve already posted about Edmodo, which is now being used by all of my groups, with greater or lesser rates of interest, depending largely on whether my students fall into the category of digital immigrants or digital natives. So far, what students have responded to most have been links to youtube videos related to whatever we’ve been doing in class. For example, after listening to a man talk about genealogy in New English File Advanced, my level 7 Pre-Advanced students watched clips from ‘Who do you think you are?’, a BBC programme which looks into the family history of celebrities from all walks of life. Each person watched the first 10 minutes of the programme at home, then chatted to their classmates about how the subject of the programme felt, what they wanted to find out and what they had discovered during the first section. For the first time in the history of my teaching, I had a 100% homework hit rate! Students were motivated, interested and really enjoyed watching a real programme. The students were really surprised when the subsequent homework from the workbook was about the same programme – it helped them to see the link between their studies and real life.
Another tool which I’ve become slightly obsessed with is voicethread. It’s a collaborative tool for videos and presentations, which users can add text, video or audio comments to as they please. My first attempt was a tongue twisters presentation, which I encouraged fellow teachers in the staffroom to record, followed by a few of my students. Feel free to add you own versions of them!
The only downside is that you can only create three voicethreads on the free accounts. I loved it so much that I actually paid for a class membership – something which I almost never do! Watch out for more of my voicethreads in future posts.
I’ve also gone back to basics in a lot of my classes. With only my poor little laptop, a dodgy internet connection and a whole class (admittedly of only up to 15 students!) to show things to, and without any projector to help me, Powerpoint is really useful. I’ve used it for simple, quick-to-prepare materials like having a visual backup during class feedback after controlled practice exercises, or as speaking prompts rather than using questions from a coursebook. The most time-consuming, but effective use I’ve found for it at the moment is to liven up my teen lessons, based on the book Success Intermediate, which none of my students seem to be particularly inspired by. Here’s an example of one presentation I made to practise adjective word order using clothes vocabulary.
One more use for Powerpoint, which I tried out in the summer at Ardingly (see ‘The End of Ardingly’ post below), is to revise vocabulary using a hidden picture game. The teacher clicks to gradually reveal a picture and a word, all of which can be used to describe people (Beginner – Pre-Intermediate levels). It’s not my idea originally, but unfortunately I really can’t remember where I got it from.
Although it doesn’t look like much in this version, feel free to download it through slideshare and use it yourself. My young learner groups are particularly enthusiastic about this game. Definitely a stirrer rather than a settler!
The great thing about the Powerpoint presentations with the classes which use Edmodo is that I can then post it there and they can use it again at home, something which my students really seem to appreciate.
So, that’s it for now. I’ll post more about my experiments as I try them out.