At the IH Director of Studies conference last week Gavin Dudeney did a session about managing technology. In it, he expressed the hope that technology in the classroom will eventually become normalised. As he said, nobody talks about ‘pen-assisted language learning’, so why CALL? He also wants it to become an integral part of teacher training courses, rather than something special or tacked on. He mentioned me as someone who does this and, of course, immediately after the session someone approached me and asked me how, to which I had no ready answer, probably because for me it already is an integral part of my teaching and training!
I started thinking about it, and in conversation with Anthony Gaughan, we decided that we use technology when it’s necessary to solve problems. So here are some of the ways that tech is used when I’m working as a CELTA trainer:
For the occasional PowerPoint-based input session (thought I’d better get that out of the way!)
To show longer videos for observations and shorter clips as part of input sessions.
To help trainees find out about language by demonstrating how a corpus works (I normally use BYU BNC).
Getting trainees to take photos of each others’ whiteboards during TP (teaching practice).
Trainees also sometimes video/audio record themselves/each other, although we have to get the students’ permission first.
To send out relevant extra links to the trainees, particularly to my diigo bookmarks.
(On one course) To provide after-hours support via email – this got a bit much for me, so I only did it in emergencies on later courses.
(On one course) Experimenting with Edmodo as a way of giving handouts – this got a bit overwhelming for the trainees, although they still have access to it after the course. Hoping to ask them in the future whether they ever look at it.
Trainees show images using their own tablets or a projector, rather than printing off endless pictures.
Where available, trainees can use the overhead projector (old-school tech!) to display answers/texts etc.
Teaching trainees how to put images into PowerPoint, instead of spending hours formatting them in Word (not that this frustrates me at all…) – amazed at how many people, especially under 25s, are still petrified of PowerPoint and/or have never opened it in their lives!
I also have a 75-minute technology input session which I’m happy to pass on to anybody who needs inspiration – just message me below or on Twitter. A key part of this session is demonstrating how to use Quizlet and another is introducing online professional development, if it hasn’t already been done in another input.
I don’t feel like any of this is particularly revolutionary, but maybe that’s because tech has always been normalised for me. Is there anything else you do?
I’ve just created these powerpoint slides based on some brainstorming we did in class today. What would you do with them? I’ll try to update the post later with what I do with them after the lesson tomorrow!
(You can download it by clicking ‘slideshare’ and logging in – it’s free to create an account, and you can link via facebook if you want to.)
I shared these ideas and links with colleagues at my school during a 45-minute workshop. They are meant to help us all get more use out of our electronic whiteboards, which are sometimes only used as an oversize television, or at best a way to access Google. I presented four tools, and demonstrated a couple of ways to use each of them. Since I’m not too confident with the pen functions of our IWBs, and the calibration needs to be redone quite regularly, all of these tools could equally well be used with projector too.
Not just a presentation tool! PowerPoint is actually very versatile, and is great for vocabulary revision games. There are many templates on the web which are (relatively) easy to download and adapt. I have also written a post showing you how to make two games: one for hidden pictures and the other flashing pictures up quickly for students to remember vocabulary.
Triptico is my favourite IWB tool because it is versatile, easy to use, constantly updated, and best of all, free! David has created a video showing how to use a lot of the tools within Triptico. I shared my ideas for using Triptico here and recorded a video showing you how to download it and use word magnets, although it’s a little out-of-date. This is what Triptico looks like now, and there are about twice as many functions as there were a year ago when I made the video:
To declare an interest, I am one of the curators of the Flickr #eltpics site and it is something I am very proud to be a part of. Teachers, writers and other interested parties from all over the world share photos on Twitter, including the #eltpics hashtag in their tweets. A group of us then upload them to Flickr, where they are then available for anybody to use in classroom materials or on blogs, with no need to worry about copyright restrictions. There are only two conditions: that you attribute the photos to the photographer (their name is under each picture) and that you do not make any money from anything featuring the images. At the time of writing, we have just topped 8000 images divided into 66 sets, and we also take requests for topics or types of image which people would like us to add. You can see the 10 most recently uploaded #eltpics at the bottom of the right-hand column on this blog.
I also shared Big Huge Labs excellent mosaic maker and captioner, which are a great to use with #eltpics. You could use the captioner as a way to revise or introduce a particular piece of language. Here’s a picture I added captions too. It was taken by Ian James (@ij64):
Quizlet is an online flashcards site, where you can search for content which has already been created, or make your own flashcards. The scatter and space race functions are both great for an IWB/projector. I have written a complete guide to Quizlet over on my blog for students.
Here are a few other posts I have written with ideas or tips which might also be useful:
Most people think that PowerPoint is just for presentations that put you to sleep. In fact, it’s a very versatile tool and fairly easy to get a lot out of, despite seeming a little scary at first glance. Here I’ll show you how to create two simple PowerPoint games.
I made this example a while ago, and if I did it again I’d probably use #eltpics! Although it doesn’t look like much here, if you download it you can see that each time you click a box disappears, gradually revealing a picture and a word underneath. As this happens, students call out or write down what they think the picture/word are.
[To download, click ‘view on slideshare’. You may have to log in (not sure), but it’s completely free. You should then be able to click on ‘download’ above the document.]
This is great for revising vocabulary especially with young learners, who get very into it – definitely a stirrer rather than a settler! It could also be used for introducing or revising modals of speculation – as you reveal a picture, students have to guess what’s in the picture, or what the people are doing.
This is how to make it. I’m using PowerPoint for Mac, so my screen may look a little different from yours, but the names of the menus are normally fairly similar – click on a few things and see what happens! If it really doesn’t work, let me know and I’ll add screenshots from a Windows computer.
Creating the basic template
Open PowerPoint. You will normally see a title slide already in your presentation. Delete it.
Add a blank slide. Insert new slide > Blank
Decide how many boxes you want covering your picture – I would recommend four or six, unless the picture is quite complicated, in which case nine could work. Generally students guess quite quickly, so lower numbers are better to avoid boredom.
Insert a rectangle. Shapes > rectangles then click and drag the box where you want it to appear.
Copy the box using CTRL + C (CMD + C on a Mac).
Paste it three, five or eight more times, using CTRL + V (CMD + V on a Mac)
Click and drag the boxes so that they fill the slide.
As you can see, my boxes don’t quite fill the slide. This normally happens, so resize the boxes to fit or to leave space for some visible text at the bottom of the slide.
If you want to, you can change the boxes so that they are different colours. This makes it easier for you and your students to see at a glance how many boxes there are and what part of the picture they cover. To do this, double-click on the box you want to change. A box should appear. Edit the ‘fill’ and the ‘line’ to the colours you want.
Next you need to animate the boxes so that they will disappear. Click on the box you want to disappear first. Then click Slide Show >Custom Animation, select ‘exit animation’ and choose the style of animation you want to use. I would recommend something simple, as you don’t want it to distract from the purpose of your activity. I would also suggest using the same style of animation for all four boxes. There is normally a preview so you can see what happens with each effect.
Repeat this process for all of the boxes on your slide.
Once one slide is ready, copy and paste it a few times so that you have as many slides as you need.
To make the slides a little less predictable, go to some of the slides and change the order of the animation so that the boxes disappear in a different order. On my version of PowerPoint, you do this by selecting the name of the shape (‘rectangle 5’ in the example below) and using the arrow keys to move it up or down the order.
If you want to reuse this type of game for different purposes, save what you have now as a template so you can reuse it without having to start again from scratch.
Adding your content
Choose the images you want to use in your game. I would recommend using #eltpics as you don’t have to worry about infringing copyright, as long as you credit the photographer. To find out how to download #eltpics, watch this screencast. I’m going to use the jobs set in this example. Collect the images that you want to use in one place – I normally put them on my desktop, then delete them when I’ve finished. Don’t forget to record the source!
Returning to your PowerPoint, insert the first image on the first slide. Insert > Picture > From file > [your file name] It should appear on top of the boxes. Resize/move it if necessary.
Right-click on the image, then arrange > send to back. It should now have magically disappeared behind the boxes.
If you want to see it again, right-click on any of the coloured boxes, choose ‘send to back’ and you should see a corner of the photo. You can then right-click on the photo and choose ‘bring to front’ to see it again.
Add any words you need, as well as the source of the photo in text boxes. Insert >Text box, then click and drag where you want it to appear.
Right-click on the text boxes and choose arrange > send to back again.
Repeat this process for all of your other slides, so that you now have photos and text on all of them.
Preview your slideshow to check how it works. Slide show > View slide show You might want to change the order of the box animation on some slides if it is too easy to guess what the hidden image shows. For example, if removing the orange box first shows the farmer’s body, it will probably be a lot easier to guess than removing the blue box first.
In this game, pictures or words flash up on the screen for a few seconds each. Afterwards students write as many of them as they can remember. It is great for revising old vocabulary, especially if it is a few lessons old.
Choose the images you want to use in your game. I would recommend using #eltpics as you don’t have to worry about infringing copyright, as long as you credit the photographer. To find out how to download #eltpics, watch this screencast. I’m going to use the same photos as above from the jobs set in this example. Collect the images that you want to use in one place – I normally put them on my desktop, then delete them when I’ve finished. Don’t forget to record the source!
Alternatively, for every stage saying ‘images’ below, you can do the same with text boxes so that words flash on the screen.
Open PowerPoint. You will normally see a title slide already in your presentation. Delete it.
Add a blank slide. Insert new slide > Blank
Insert the images on the slide. Insert > Picture > From file > [your file name] Resize/move them so that they are all arranged on one slide. Alternatively, you could place each image on a different slide.
Next you need to animate the pictures so that they will appear and disappear. Click on the picture you want to appear first. Then click Slide Show >Custom Animation, select ‘entrance effect’ and choose the style of animation you want to use. I would recommend something simple, as you don’t want it to distract from the purpose of your activity. I would also suggest using the same style of animation for all of the pictures. There is normally a preview so you can see what happens with each effect.
With the same picture still selected, choose an ‘exit effect’.
Repeat for all of the pictures.
Preview your slideshow to check how it works. Slide show > View slide show
You can now play the game by manually clicking through the images so that they stay on the screen for as long as you like. However, if you want the game to be a bit more automatic, you can now add timings.
Click Slide Show > rehearse timings.
Your game should appear as a full-screen slide show. Click through the pictures so that they stay on the screen for as long as you want them to. For this game, 2 or 3 seconds is probably enough.
Once you have shown every picture and clicked out of the slide show, you should be given the option to save the timing to use in the future.
As part of my CAM course I was required to teach an experimental lesson using an approach which I haven’t tried before. This is similar but a lot less intense than the DELTA experimental lesson. The lesson had to part of a longer series of lessons trying out a lesson descriptor (like PPP or TTT), again which we hadn’t used before. I decided to use Micheal Lewis’ Observe-Hypothesize-Experiment, which I had trouble with understanding and blogged about here.
I chose to try out the Lexical Approach since it linked directly to the descriptor I had chosen for the other lessons. We’d been looking at conditionals, and herein lay my problem – the Lexical Approach is for vocabulary, but I wanted to teach grammar with it. So, as with all of these things, I put out a call on Twitter, and Fiona Mauchline responded. With her help I put together the materials below. They worked well in class, but whether or not it was a true Lexical Approach lesson or whether the students will remember the phrases afterwards I still don’t know.
If you have any suggestions on how to improve the lesson or add more Lexical Approach aspects, please leave a comment below. Feel free to download and use the materials any way you like, crediting the source please. If you have any problems with it, I’m happy to help.
I created this set of resources for an Intermediate-level group. We used them over a series of five 1-hour lessons, with opportunities during the lessons for students to personalise the phrases. After each lesson I used Edmodo to share the part of the presentation we had done so that students could go over it again at home.
Although it looks like it says “an Internet”, when you download the presentation you will find “an Internet connection”
The video links should all take you to youtube.
The ‘structure’ slide is also clickable and takes you to the relevant section of the presentation.
The slides with the phrases look messy here, but when you download it you should see that they work as a series of elicitation prompts. To see the phrases without downloading and clicking through the entire presentation, you can look at the ‘Did you remember?’ slides. These are also the best ones for the students to print as they should contain all of the most useful information. I know that having completely gapped sentences is difficult for students that first time they see the presentation, but in the lesson I skipped past them to the ones with the first letters and told students they would be more useful when they looked at the slides again.
We finished the unit yesterday, and next week they will do their own presentations for assessment. I will record them and give feedback based on language and technique.
Feel free to download the materials and adapt them as you see fit (crediting the source please). They are designed to be a cross between teaching materials and a presentation that could present to your group, demonstrating the techniques.
I would be grateful for any feedback you can give me so that I can improve them for future groups.
Alright, I admit it. I love Chris de Burgh. And while this is very unfashionable, I’m not ashamed in the slightest!
This week I was doubly grateful to him for providing me with an interesting story for my students to listen to (following on from ‘Story Prompts with #eltpics‘ last week) and a way to revise linking words when speaking quickly.
I showed the class the first slide of the presentation and asked them to decide what the story of the song is. They had to include something about all of the pictures in their story.
Once they had shared the stories, they listened to the song to find out who had the closest version. (The link in the presentation should take you to the video below)
I then showed them the pronunciation slides and elicited the rules.
Finally they practised saying lines from their own copies of the lyrics.
As their homework, they should find a poem or song of their own and record it, paying particular attention to the linking sounds.
Other ‘story songs’ by Chris de Burgh that you might find interesting include:
In April 2010 I attended a talk by Laura Patsko at the IH Prague Conference about storytelling in an adult classroom. This week I finally got round to adapting it to make use of some #eltpics (pictures for teachers by teachers which can be used under a Creative Commons licence) and thought I would share the presentation and the lesson plan with you. Feel free to use it however you like. (My context was an Advanced group, but it could be used with other levels)
I showed them the first slide of the presentation and told them we were going to look at six pictures and talk about the ideas in the word cloud. I copied the cloud onto each picture so that they would have some ideas.
Once they had talked about each picture and I had given them any extra vocabulary they needed, they voted on the most interesting picture. I copied and pasted it onto the final slide, right-clicked on it and chose ‘send to back’. We were revising narrative tenses, used to and would, hence the orange box, but you could change it or delete it entirely.
I told the class to imagine that this picture was an image taken from the midpoint of a film. They were going to create the story of the film. Half of the class worked on the story leading up to the picture, the rest worked on the story after the picture. They were allowed to take a few notes, but could not write out the whole story.
After about fifteen minutes I then reorganised the groups. Each new group had one ‘beginning’ student and one ‘ending’ student. They then had to put their halves together to create one logical complete story.
The final step in the process was for each pair to tell their story to the group. I recorded it using Audacity and emailed it to the students after class. Next week we will focus on their use of narrative tenses, used to and would based on the recordings.
I also (unintentionally) taught the same lesson 1-2-1 when only one student turned up from a class of five! We followed the same process, but got through it much faster, finishing all of these steps in about 30 minutes. Once we’d recorded the story, the student then typed out what she had said. We then went through a series of drafts, each time focussing on one or two changes, for example tenses, punctuation and choice of vocabulary. This is the document we produced based on the picture of the two girls at the castle door:
The students found the pictures interesting and were motivated to discuss them.
They enjoyed being able to create their own stories.
They used their English in a natural way, so it recording their stories really showed the areas which they need to focus on.
In the 1-2-1 lesson, the student was given an intensive personalised focus on her errors. She also learned about punctuation in a relevant way, particularly the punctuation of speech (which I personally find can be difficult to teach/learn)
What I should change
At the beginning of the lesson I should have introduced the idea of storytelling in more detail. We could have talked about why we like stories and what a good story requires.
With more time we could have created more detailed stories, adding in information about the characters, using more adverbs etc.
If you choose to use this lesson (and even if you don’t!) please let me know what you think and if you have any suggestions to improve it.
This is my take on the tools presented by Niall Creaney during the closing plenary at the PARK Conference in Brno on 2nd April 2011. If you have a problem with any of the links, please let me know in the comments. The tools are:
Twitter has opened so many doors since I started using it in October 2010. It’s a micro-blogging site, where you send messages 140-characters long out into the world. For teachers, this means an international community full of support, inspiration and ideas. To find out more about what it’s about and how to get started, take a look at this conference presentation I did about blogs and Twitter for teachers. (Update: I also have a complete introduction to Twitter for Professional Development)
It seems scary at first, but if you keep going back and try to spend an hour or so playing with it at some point, you’ll get the hang of it. For the first couple of months I lurked, which is completed normal (find out more by taking a look at the post on the Online Professional Development survey I did in January 2011, through Twitter of course!) Now I spend a few minutes every day having a quick look at the links, and I always find something to make it worth it: useful, thought-provoking and/or fun.
As well as using it for professional development, many teachers use it with their students. I haven’t tried it myself, but here are some links to people who have:
I started this blog in October 2010, but nothing much happened on it until I started posting regularly in January 2011. Partly through promoting my blog on Twitter and partly through presenting at conferences and promoting it, my stats look like this:
Apart from giving you a great positive feeling every time you see your stats :), writing a blog is an excellent way to reflect on your teaching. You can use it to share ideas, connect with other teachers, get inspiration and so much more! As with Twitter above, you can find out more about what teachers use it for on my Online Professional Development Survey post, and see how to get started with it in the Whole New World of ELT one.
As well as writing your own blog, there are hundreds of other teachers in the blogosphere sharing their ideas. To get you started, take a look at the sites in my blogroll (on the right of this page).
The best way to keep track of the blogs you read is to use a reader, such as Google Reader. Once you’ve signed up (free), you add the links to the blogs you want to follow and the reader does the rest. This is what my page looks like:
This is the first page I see when I go onto the site. In the centre are all the posts that have been added to blogs since I last went on the site. As I read them they automatically disappear from the main page, but I can access them again by clicking on the name of the blog in the bottom left-hand corner. Of course, you can also go back to the original blog address too!
So now you’ve had a look at Twitter and blogs and you’ve found loads of great new ideas. How do you keep track of them? The answer is Social Bookmarking. Rather than keeping your links on your computer, where you could easily lose them if anything went wrong, you can use a site like Delicious or Diigo. You can access your bookmarks from any computer, without having to worry about being on the same machine. You can also tag them with as many words as you like, making them easier for you to find again.
As you can see, each link is tagged with various key words which I have chosen myself. To find a page again, I have various options:
I can search for any word I remember from the title / post using a box in the top right (not shown);
I can search for a specific tag by typing it in the box at the top (where it says ‘filter by tags’)
I can click on a tag underneath a link
I can click on a tag in the menu on the left
This is the little bar which appears in my browser (Safari) whenever I want to add a site to my bookmarks:
You simply click ‘Bookmark’ when on the page you want to share, change any of the options you choose, and hey, presto! it’s added to your bookmarks. You can also upload the bookmarks from your computer straight onto the social bookmarking site to keep them all together.
As for the ‘social’ part of social bookmarking, you can subscribe to other people’s links and be updated whenever they add to them. My Diigo page is here if you’re interested.
This is the first of the tools which is mainly for students to use. The slogan is ‘Poster Yourself’, and it does what it says on the tin. Here are some examples of work created by 14-year-old boys in the UK: they created glogs about Spanish-speaking celebrities as part of their Spanish studies at secondary school. It is an easy tool for students to use, and the results look impressive quickly. You can include pictures, videos and text, then embed your glog in other sites, such as on a class blog or a school webpage. This one was embedded into a wiki (via @tperran). Students could use it as an alternative to traditional paper-based homework, then email you the link. There is even an option to create a Glogster for Education account, where you can create accounts for your students for free.
Prezi is a web-based alternative to Powerpoint, used to create striking presentations which you can either present online or download to your computer. If you’ve seen my Whole New World of ELT presentation, then you’ve already seen your first prezi. As with Twitter, it looks a little scary at first glance, but once you’ve had a look at some other examples of presentations, followed the tutorial you are given when you first log in to Prezi and played around a little, you’ll soon get the hang of it. One tip: zoom out as far as you can before you start making your presentation if you intend to have a lot of ‘layers’ – the default setting is slightly zoomed in.
You can use it in the classroom too. Here is an example of a presentation made with American primary school students (via @surrealyno). And here are more ideas:
Dropbox is a free online file-sharing site. First download their desktop application, then drag the file you want to share into the folder on your computer. Dropbox will automatically ‘sync’, making your online Dropbox look exactly like the Dropbox folder on your computer and vice-versa (if somebody updates the file online, it will update in your Dropbox too). You can then invite people to see your files and folders. Here is a video tutorial to show you how it works. This is my homepage:
The free account comes with 2GB of space, with an extra 0.25GB added for every person you refer to the site. I have now referred 3 people so I have 2.75GB.
It’s a great way for students to submit work to you as they don’t have to worry about space limits. It’s a lot easier than traditional file-sharing sites in my opinion. I haven’t used it with my students as yet, but it’s been useful for sharing materials with colleagues en masse.
One teacher (lucky enough to have computers for every student!) used Dropbox to synchronise student presentations. To see an excellent summary of everything you ever needed to know about Dropbox, including links to a few lesson plans (mostly primary and secondary), click here.
This is the first of these tools which I’ve not used myself, so I’ll let them explain themselves to you:
It seems it’s an easy way to take notes on anything and in any way you could possibly imagine: use it to type notes, take screenshots, store photos and much-more – it’s like an online, searchable filing cabinet. It can be accessed from computers and mobile devices. Here is their guide to find out how to get started. I reckon the best thing to do is just go and play, then come back here and let others know what you’ve been doing with it… (Thanks in advance!)
This is a customisable flashcard site purposely designed for language learners to use for self-study. It is incredibly easy to use, and you don’t even need to create an account if you already have a facebook one. Once you’ve signed in, there are three big blue buttons to greet you:
You can search for flashcards that have already been created or make your own quickly and easily. Quizlet’s own guide is here. Once you’ve created the set, your students can then look at the flashcards and play two fun games to help them practise the words. This set about vegetables (created by @NikkiFortova) is a good example that you can play with. You can also create groups so that all of your students can see the flashcards you create for them. It’s principally designed for self-study, and the makers recommend allowing students to choose when / if they want to use it.
Wallwisher is one of a variety of online bulletin boards. Others include Primary Wall and Lino-It. All of these tools allow you to post notes, pictures, videos and links on a ‘wall’ which looks similar to a real-world noticeboard. This is the demo screenshot they have on their homepage:
Here is a wall I created for students to post suggestions on how to practise English outside class (unfortunately students didn’t get into it in this class, but I know others who have!) Apart from the example just mentioned, I’ve only added to walls other people have made to send birthday wishes, but there are many other uses for it!
This is the only other tool on the list which I have not used myself. TitanPad is designed for online collaboration when creating documents. This is the example they show on their homepage:
As you can see, each collaborator has their own colour, clearly marking who has edited what in the file. You can save versions of the file and export it in various formats. Up to 8 people are allowed to collaborate on each document. The main attraction is that no sign-up is required – you can create a pad directly from the homepage. Unfortunately, it also has some disadvantages, as the pad is public to anyone who has the url. This post explains how it can be useful.
11b. Google Docs (update: now called Google Drive, but still does the same thing!)
If you’ve ever used Microsoft packages, you can use Google Docs without any more effort than simply logging in. You can create documents, spreadsheets and presentations online, as well as professional-looking forms. It looks similar to other offline software, making it very quick to learn if you are already familiar with document etc. software. Here is Google’s tour of their docs function.
As with TitanPad, you can view changes made by other collaborators and the documents are updated in real-time. You can also find out who else is viewing the document at the same time as you. You need to sign in, but don’t have to have a Google account to do this.
Google Docs have myriad uses in the classroom. My students used a document to give me definitions of words and a form to answer reading comprehension questions of an online article during a webquest. Here are some suggestions from other teachers:
Skype is a piece of software which you can download to your computer, then use to make phonecalls to people anywhere in the world. Watch the visual explanation to find out more (they explain it better than I can!):
In March 2011, Skype created an Education section of their website. This enables teachers to set up projects with other schools around the world, as well as finding inspiration for Skype-related projects. Here are 50 suggestions for using Skype, based on real projects which teachers have done. It’s a great way to bring the real world into your classroom.
13. Word clouds
As you can see, word clouds look visually stunning, and encourage students to read and think about what is there. The online software processes the text, making each word appear once in the cloud sized according to how often it appeared in the original text (i.e. the more a word appears in the original text, the bigger it is in the cloud) I won’t go into too much detail here, as I have already blogged and created presentations about word clouds. The posts can be found here, and include links to tutorials for both Wordle and Tagxedo, as well as many ideas on how to use them:
So, that’s it: thirteen (plus one!) tools presented at the PARK Conference, explained in my own words. If you have any more suggestions on how to use the tools, or think I need to make any corrections, feel free to comment on the post. I look forward to hearing what you think!
25th March 2011: I’ve just discovered that the original plenary session on which I based my list of tools was taken from this page: http://issuu.com/mzimmer557/docs/tools_for_the_21st_century_teacher. You will find more tools and more information there.
This is the post to accompany a talk I gave at the PARK language school conference in Brno, Czech Republic on April 2nd, 2011.
You are welcome to download the presentation, especially if you want to see how the Powerpoint games work (you can’t see this in this version of the presentation). Please credit me as the source if you do this.
All of the links are clickable.
If you would like to know more about how exactly to use any of the things I mentioned in the presentation, please leave me a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
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.