17 April 2010

Wallwisher Online Notice Board

Here is an interesting idea. WallWisher is an online notice board. After creating an account, you can create a wall and invite people to post their comments. See my wall below. How would you use it with your students? Leave a message. Click here then double click anywhere on the page to create a "sticker" and leave your ideas.

16 April 2010

Do you Blog?

If you are interested in creating a blog like this one in Blogger, here is a link to Russell Stannard's videos about Blogger.  The list includes most of the basic functions you will need to get you started. 

Don't forget, if you want to ask me any questions, just get in touch either here or by email.
Good luck with your new blogs!


How to transform a class....(forever I hope!)

Friday classes are always the most difficult here in Seville because most of the students don't want to be there.  Things are even worse in the weeks between Semana Santa and Feria and attendance can be a bit sporadic to say the least.  Today, when only 4 of 9 students turned up I decided to use the computers.  Not having anything planned for low level, badly behaved and boisterous teen/pre-teen boys I knew that more than 20 minutes doing grammar and vocabulary exercises on the computer would be too much.  I thought of bookr and this is what I did:

1.  Distributed the netbooks (and got them hooked up to the network which always takes time!)
2.  Got them on our school website and a couple of grammar exercises
3.  While they were doing that, I went into www.pimpampum.net/bookr and started creating a book about Feria.
4.  Slowly they started looking up and watching with interest.  They asked me a few questions, I showed them what to do.
5.  They eagerly typed in the URL and started creating their booklets - they wanted to choose their own topics.  No problems there - they all had very clear ideas about what they wanted to create!
6.  When they had done a couple of pages, they published their books and emailed them to me.
7.  Here is the end result http://kidsefl2stuff.blogspot.com/2010/04/our-online-books.html

This lesson, totally unplanned, was one of the biggest successes I've had with this class.  They created these books in less than 30 minutes - two of the boys had to restart from scratch because of loss of internet connection - and were completely engaged and focused on their work.  The language is simple, but they had a lot of things to contend with because of technical issues, as well as time constraints, but I would say WELL DONE BOYS!!!

14 April 2010

Create Videos for your Classes!

There are a number of FREE online and offline applications to create videos that you can use as warmers, grammar presentations, listening activities and just a bit of fun in the class.  They are simple and intuitive to use and you can create a short video in as little as 5 minutes longer than it would have taken you to create the activity on paper!

I usually find the online applications the simplest.  They have been designed for people with no special technical skills and are quick and easy to use.  You usually have to register with the company first, although with some online apps you don't even have to do that. They are not designed to create feature length films, but short movie clips of about 1 to 3 minutes long is usually the limit for ELLs anyway. 

Installable programs usually have a lot more flexibility and features, and you can make longer videos, but can be more complicated to use.  Again, the free versions are designed to be simple and easy to use with no expert technical knowledge required. 

See this slideshow produced by Richard Byrne of some of the favourite FREE applications used by educators around the world.  There is also some guidance on copyright and where to get those amazing pictures to illustrate your videos for free!

Engage your students and increase your own skills in the process.

09 April 2010

Lyrics Training

If you teach teenagers or you're learning a modern European language www.lyricstraining.com is a really interesting site to practice listening skills in a number of modern European languages, especially English.

It's a fairly new site so there isn't a huge selection of songs yet, but there's enough to get you started.  Find a song, play it, and complete the gapfill as you listen.  If you can't keep up with the song, the video stops.  Hit the backspace key and the video replays the line you are waiting on.  It's as easy as that.  No login, sign in, membership or anything else to do.  And it's a nice change to listening to the news!

The songs are organised according to difficulty (easy, medium, hard) and each song has three levels of difficulty for the gapfil - beginner, intermediate, expert -  There is a simultaneous translation option and a points scoring system.

If you decide to create an account, you can create your own lyrics training videos.  Choose a song, find the video on Youtube, find the lyrics and away you go.  OK - well... you have to synchronise the lyrics with the video but they've even made that easy.  After copying and pasting the lyrics, play the video and press CTRL + RETURN on each line of the lyrics when you hear the words to synchronise them.  It's as easy as that.  Click the HELP button on the website to get full details.

Ideas for use in small classes:

1.   Last 5 minutes of class, play a song and students can either shout out the word, write the word on mini whiteboards or paper, or have one student typing on a classroom computer.

2.  If student computers are available, students can do alone or in pairs.  Have a competition to see gets the most points.

3.  Assign students songs to listen to for homework.  Although there isn't any monitoring facility you can always test who has done it by asking them the key words in the next class!

This is a new site so it is still being tried and tested.  But I've been using it to practice my Spanish listening skills - click here to try it out.