I’ve been a cheerleader of Voicethread for years now (and that’s a long time in internet speak!). A collaboration and learning tool that is revolutionary. In that vein, I’ve made my “Top Sites” presentation into a voicethread.
Share how you use each tool. Or just leave a question about it also. Let’s help each other! It really isn’t the tool itself that is “the thing” but most importantly, how it is used. YOU – the teacher or learner have a lot of insight to share about that.
Looking forward to responses – this will be especially valuable for teachers new to using technology for teaching languages. A big thanks in advance to all who reply and help out.
Click on any title to go to the site or an example of the site/tool. Also, if you don’t want to comment but want a handy way to browse the sites – see this post. Note – The sites are listed in no particular order! Happy Hunting!
As a language teacher, I often use drawing as a way for students to “learn” language. Students love drawing and it is a very motivating tool that almost every student enjoys Even those students who have difficulty drawing can have fun given a teacher that shows their own inept drawing ability and keeps things “light”.
I wrote “learn” because the real purpose of getting students drawing is not so they “learn” language but rather unconsciously acquire language. The distinction between L1 language acquisition and L2 learning of a language – where, how, when etc… has long been a contentious and debated issue. Please read more here, clicking the links to some valuable ELT history/discussion on this issue. What I’d like to add here though is my belief that “drawing” is one way (music, drama, tpr, laughter, even alcohol are others) in which 2nd language teachers can tap into the unconscious mind and get students “acquiring” a language and not “learning” a language.
When we “draw”, we reach into some primitive and automatic process. We concentrate and relax at the same time. The mind opens up and language can “pour” in. It really can. So much of what we call, “good teaching practice” is only the teacher’s skill in relaxing students, even distracting students so that they can tap into the unconscious processes that allow language to be acquired. I do not believe that there is a “language window”. We can at all times/ages, open that window. It just gets more difficult as we age.
Still, I don’t like the word – “acquire”. I prefer the Chomskyian term “grow”. We grow a language. Yes, at first we consciously and explicitly plant a seed (memorize structures/vocabulary) – but that is only a small part of the whole process. The most important aspect is the care, the watering, the nurturing, the “time” of living and experiencing that allows growth. This is the teacher’s job, to set those conditions so that growth of language happens. Drawing is a great way – it is sunlight to the seed of language. Drawing also make a steel connection to the “ego” of the learner. It is highly personal and provides titanium like context – something invaluable for teaching and language acquisition.
But enough theory! Let’s get practical!
Here are some of the ways I’ve used “drawing” with my students. They work and I highly urge all teachers to use them when possible. And please note *** drawing is not just a “kids” thing!
1. Describe and Draw: One student describes a picture and the other draws it. A basic two way task. See my description with resources HERE. Another option is to just give students an A4 piece of paper. At the top, write a common title. Then ask students what they see. As they describe, draw together (the teacher draws large on the board). Label too, as you go along. A very informal but beneficial lesson….
2. Draw and Describe: Put on “mood” music. Give students a theme – let’s say, “At the ……..”. Then let them draw for 5 min. Afterwards, in groups, they label and describe their drawings.
3. Vocabulary “solidifying”. It is difficult to acquire “words”. However, when we draw those words while learning, we activate a powerful part of our brain. I have students draw pictures in their notebooks beside newly acquired vocabulary. I also have them do so on worksheets, word searches etc ….. One concrete example would be a 2 way task where a student tells their partner the vocabulary to draw in “X” box. See the example below.
4. Storybook Making / Cartoons: Students make story/picture books to help them acquire language. They first draw the pictures for the story using a storyboard (very easy to make, just fold an A4 piece of paper into as many boxes as you need to detail the story). Then, the students write the story for the pictures. The teacher or peers correct and then they make a final product / book. Susan Kapuscinski is an amazing resource and teacher whose Making Storybooks, I highly recommend. Use her videos (on ehow or youtube) showing how each book is made too!
5. Doodle Songs: much like making a storybook only this time, students “tell” the song by creating pictures to contextualize the lyrics. Do a song the students like. Give students parts/lines of the song (make sure they number their picture so you can put it in order afterwards!). The students draw a picture for their line of the lyrics. We have a full player of doodle songs on EFL Classroom. See the wonderful example above, a teacher on EFL Classroom made. More in our videos!
6. Pictionary: Yes, the obvious standard. Students are given a vocabulary picture they must draw. The other students guess and the first person guessing correctly wins a point. There are many variations. Here are two online options. A)Odopod sketch slideshow. Students watch and describe/guess. They will be WOWED. B)Draw My Thing – my game of 2009. Students can play at home or it can be used as a filler in class. Just like pictionary but in real time and online. You draw with your mouse and you compete for points!
7. Online tools: If you just want a handy way to draw on the computer or big screen – Go HERE or HERE.Scribble Maps is also a great way to draw with maps. Sketcast is also a big winner!
8. Other ways! Drawing can be brought into almost any lesson plan. Too many ways to elaborate but think about how you might incorporate drawing into each of your lesson plans if possible!
Zoom Words is a pretty cool way to present vocabulary. It is super simple to use and probably even quicker to use than Wordle or Tagxedo. However, it is browser based and you’ll have to have a webpage/blog to embed your creation in (or just use your page here on EFL Classroom. See my example below but let me describe what I did to make it and how I’d use it.
1. Get a list of vocabulary items or phrases you want the students to practice.
2. Go to Zoom Words and select your colors (white background is best I think).
3. Input your words or phrases/sentences, one by one. Click the “add to list” button each time.
4. Press “Copy the code” and then embed on your blog/webpage (or here on EFL Classroom). I think “Posterous” is perfect for this sort of thing. HERE is my creation on Posterous. Tip: increase the width/height in the embed code if you wish.
5. Get students to talk about the words/phrases that appear by giving them some target language on the board or on paper. For my example, I provided the simple phrase:
I think __________(s) is / are _________________!
That’s it – Zoom Words, a great vocabulary tool and way to present language for learning. A big Hat Tip to Ana Maria’s Life Feast blog for this.
Wallwisher is a place where students can go and put up “post it notes” about a topic. I can think of many ways to use Wallwisher with students but none better than getting students to reply about what they want to learn in the course or what they liked best about a course. It is a tremendously powerful tool for soliciting student feedback.
Needs surveys are important and can be pre, during and post course. They allow the teacher to alter the curriculum and tailor it to the student’s learning style, levels, beliefs and motivation. HERE is a nice presentation I use with my graduate students about Needs Analysis.
Teachers can simply post up a simple question and let students reply in short post its. Example questions might be – “What do you like best / hate about the textbook units?” “How do you learn best?” “What should we do more of in class?” “What is your favorite topic?” etc….
I really love making pop up cars with my students so I thought Zooburst would be a great site to check out. It is currently in “alpha” but I got an invite, maybe you can too!
You can upload photos, search photos and easily create pop up books with dialogue. Wonderful for creating stories or teaching vocabulary. Works fine and I created my “Simpson’s” book in about 15 minutes (I already had the photos). No glitches and very intuitive. Not too many choices available for templates / scenes at the moment but that’s probably for the better.
What do you think about this? A good concept? I must say, I had fun making the book and think that it would work best if students were making their own books and then sharing them. I hope Zooburst will develop this feature for teachers – signing up students and creating a private community for their books (much like Storybird does).
Hope you enjoyed my presentation and get Zoobursting!
Twiducate gives me goosebumps! I really get excited when I see a tool that teachers can use with their class – a tool that genuinely gets students communicating in a “real” and purposeful fashion.
Twiducate functions like private twitter. Teachers sign up and invite students. Students choose from some nifty avatars and then begin “tweeting” to each other – responding. The teacher can “peg” questions to the top for students to respond to but I think they’ll enjoy just communicating with each other. The teacher can post urls on the side and also important dates. Most importantly it is totally private, safe and FREE!
I set up a “sandbox” for any teacher to try it out first before signing up. Simply enter our classcode – eflclassroom20 and a password (below) that I’ve generated (the teacher creates the student accounts by hitting “students” at the top and entering their name and generating a password. Use any of these student accounts or sign up yourself to view and play around!
Here is how some grade 1 students used Twiducate to talk about their weekend! Real communication! See the screencast below, made by an EFL teacher outlining some features I’ve discussed – but check this out either in our sandbox or by making your own class!!!!!!
Wonderfully insightful, I’ve spent most of the day avoiding marking and enjoying them.
Here Eric Carle of “The Hungry Caterpillar” and “Head to Toe” talks about writing and the challenges of making “beauty”. Also the secret behind the success of the Hungry Caterpillar. So many other gem interviews too!
VerbaLearn is a new site which does a lot of things well. I’m not usually a big fan of learning English through “word study”, however, it is a reality and it does work for many students. Also, VerbaLearn caters to those who are trying to pass all those significant tests….GRE / SAT / ACT and though not directly or yet – TOEFL.
On the site, you are prompted and can test yourself. The words you get wrong, are put into a word list for later study. You can then use that list to be tested upon continually until you’ve learned the words. If you get them right, absolutely (by hitting the “I know” prompt and not guessing), the word is eliminated from your study/test list.
This could be a great place to refer higher level students. And this is a major job of most teachers — we can’t really teach everything in class, there isn’t enough time to conquer the 6-7,000 words needed for academic success….
Also included here – a few word lists which will come in handy!!!! If you also haven’t checked it out on our Practice page – visit Word Count. A “real time” analysis of the most popular words in use on the internet! Maybe use it to get your students to guess what rank “X” word will be. Could be a fun game!
Please also see these other resources including an article on word lists/study by two of the top authorities in this area… Further, don’t forget to visit WORDAHEAD. A video vocab site with much the same high level vocab. I also highly recommend our Vocabulary discussion – loads of ideas and resources there!
60 Second Recaps is a neat concept. You can find there most high school English literature – classic books like Animal Farm, Hamlet, To Kill a Mockingbird etc…. What’s cool is that they are explained in 4-6 neat 60 second recap videos. Think Coles Notes for the digital native!
The recaps are very engaging. However, she speaks quite fast for second language speakers, so filter as necessary. Still, they are done in very “social” language and would probably make life a lot easier for ESL students needing to know this material.
There are also other video resources. Literary terms are explained in some and there are also videos to help right term papers. Pretty neat for a high school ESL teacher or someone at an International school.
Here’s an example. From one of my fav. novels – Crime and Punishment. In this part, she explains the main character Raskalnikov.
So I’m finally getting around to my recommendations for the “It’s worth taking a look at these blogs” request. I’ve been intending to do this for awhile but just busy with many end of semester things (and still am). However, inspiration got hold of me and also because I DO think it such a great idea — I forced myself to come up/out with something. Thank you to all who read my blog or mentioned my blog. Bless your soul.
Jason Renshaw (bless his combative soul), really threw down the gauntlet by posting THIS. A kind of “J’accuse” and manifesto stating that all those not playing this game are mean spirited and unhelpful and …. You get the point.
All in all, the It’s Worth Taking a Look at this Blog idea worked well – really well.
For those who actually grasped it, that is.
I’m sorry, but I DO grasp it but I really don’t buy into it. This whole henpecking, ranking people/teachers and constant breast pounding, jolly be good, jolly I’m good streak that runs through blogging. It is in many forms, however you put lipstick on the pig – just plain pandering to something I’m most against in education – comparing people.
Our schools and classrooms are full of it (pun intended). All through my career as a teacher I’ve played the game. All the while getting the last laugh and finding a way to give everyone an A. Yeah, that’s right. If you are in my class, you get an A. The marks don’t matter to me — only what the student thinks of themselves and how they connect with their own learning.
But back to blogging. I really wanted to participate in this but really couldn’t find a way without offending others and participating in the “this is better than that”. So I decided to just give everyone an A!
Please click the random ELT Blog Generator and get taken to new and old bloggers alike. You be the judge – we all will fall in love with different ones. There are 130 blogs in the bunch, culled only in two ways. 1. They have been regularly updated (at least 1 post in the last 3 weeks) 2. Are not commercial mouthpieces (however soft).
If you like the idea, copy down the code and put a nice button linking to the generator page. Happy blog roulette!
Also – this means that if you are in the generator – you are tagged!
It isn’t easy learning a language. I’ve learned 3 of them and had success in 3 completely different ways! I’m going to work on a fourth and probably will stumble along with a 4th method.
What this means is “to each his own”. We have to find what works for us. However, along the way, I’ve stumbled upon a few “key” ideas, almost secrets – so obvious as to be blind to many. Here they are in one nice presentation to motivate all you language learners!
Let me know what you think and what worked for you as a language learner. Which tip do you feel is the strongest?
If you look at one constant in education (over 100s of years), we see one very clear trend — the blurring of the lines between teacher / student. Technology is only speeding up this process and it is especially true for English Language Teaching. We are no longer custodians of knowledge but seeds of knowledge. Self – service has come to our profession.
Power corrupts, so I’m all for this new “paradigm” and teachers will have to change their role into that of a “one who councils” and a motivator. I await the day when we chuck the term teacher for that of “language councillor” . I think the moment of truth will come when we finally shrug the ‘testing monkey” off our back. When we throw away the false and quacked up yardsticks by which we ill compare each other – we’ll be free to focus more on self improvement. The question is always – “Am I improving?” (education) not “Am I better/worse than my peers?” (schooling).
So in that vein, here is my technological council – for both teachers and students. In particular, see the links below for more reading / resources for teachers and students.
Click on any picture for examples / the site
STUDENTS: (if you don’t want to register for EFL Classroom – just use ID/PW – [email protected] / eflclassroom)
However even better, is to get your students playing the games online. Yes, you can print and cut out all the flashcards (this is superb!!!) but now with their new “speaking” component, there are more reasons for your students to practice online. Students can “speak” the flashcard word or sentence and try to make it disappear. Really works!
Watch the tutorial I unprofessionally made – it does the job of introducing you to it. Then send your students to Quizlet for practice. This is cool — your voice has magic and what you say can make things happen!
Flikr poet is so simple it is astonishing! A great example of how web 2.0 applications are transforming our teaching and classrooms. No doubt, Flikr Poet makes learning happen – happen quicker, better, faster than many other methods.
What is it? Well, Flikr Poet gives you pictures for the words you type in. It makes a nice collage that you can use for instruction. I imagine it could be used in the following ways;
1. Just for simple instruction and vocabulary review. Simply type in your lesson/units vocabulary words and have students review or make sentences
2. Guessing games. Put in your vocabulary words. One student chooses one photo and others ask questions to guess it. Set a limit and if they don’t guess the right picture after “x” number of questions, that student wins.
3. Story Dominoes. Much like my powerpoint game, you can make a Flikr Poem and challenge students to take turns telling the story. First in groups and then share the stories or the best stories.
*** One tip. After getting your first selection of photos, keep refreshing the page and seeing what new photos show up. You will invariably get a perfect example/meld of pictures after a few times.
Many other great ways I’m sure. Try Story Dominoes with this Flikr Poem I produced! Or try the vocabulary “ing” one!
Okay, it has been 6+ months (and 1,200 tweets later) that I’ve been on twitter and prompted by a discussion I had with my Practicum students about this medium (I was urging them to form/make their own PLN) – I have to speak out.
I definitely have a love / hate relationship with twitter. It is like a one of those friends you so love for their excited demeanor and energy but also hate because there are times you just can’t stand how chattering and vain they are.
I have been using twitter since the start. But only impersonally for EFL Classroom 2.0 and what I consider my major achievement for ELT – Twitter Jobs (all the jobs over the net come to one place using simple pie aggregation and my knowledge of slicing/dicing rss). I also promote twitter for ELT through the ELT Twitter page that many new educators use to get a kind of understanding of Twitter.
I recognized its value right from the get go and along with Voicethread, it gets my “first decade of the 21st century tool for educators” award. Twitter allows access to knowledge, dispersion of knowledge and information. THIS no matter what anyone tells you – is the role of education – ACCESS TO KNOWING/KNOWLEDGE. There is a reason every school had a library and there is a reason every teacher should be on twitter…..
However, to make a long story short, I was coaxed by a few people to use twitter in a more personal fashion. I agreed and entered the fray as ddeubel. I do believe in utter transparency and also in being “personal” so this allowed me to be more transparent toward twitter. And in this belief, I’d like to give my own + and – report on twitter. You may not agree but that’s okay – just like on twitter, you don’t have to follow and can vote with your mouse! But this is how I feel.
I LOVE that:
1. Twitter creates community. Love this, love this, love this. It allows others to know about events, information, great posts, the latest trends etc…..
2. Twitter connects like minds. The online world was such a hard place to exist in prior to twitter. Crowded rooms/networks where nobody understood….now twitter helps solve that.
3. Twitter allows us to share. Post up a url/address and BAAM – it plus and minuses across the netiverse.
4. Twitter focuses on people. And yes, at the end of the day, we ARE human and despite keyboards, memory boards and monitors – there is a loving, tender and REAL person there. Twitter brings that out in shortform.
5. Twitter doesn’t cost. Yeah, obvious but so important. If and even WHEN they start with an obtrusive business model/approach – I hope people will leave in droves. Twitter, if they want to make money should approach governments (read: the people) for support to keep it open and accessible. False idols proposed as I’ve recently read – will not do.
So now let me count the ways I hate thee O twitter!
1. People who tweet about their recent post more than once. Okay, we got the message/mail/tweet. Shut up.
2. Vote for me. This drives me nuts. Twitter is not your means to be loved/liked/adored.
3. Idle chatter. Yes, I like what you tweet but then you go off on these long love in things with others that just can’t be ignored but which drive me up the wall. I unfollow all those who treat twitter in too light a fashion and as a means of “chatter”. I’m most disappointed in many of the big names of ELT who mostly partake in such shallow public chit chat. Give me the BEEF or tweet up.
4. You don’t follow me so I won’t follow you. So many play this assinine game and I really don’t even need explain why it is something I hate. Plain wrong. If you need to be loved – don’t go to Twitter for it!
5. Telling others what you are doing. “Hi, I’m right now waiting to board a flight to this conference….” or “just letting you know I don’t like the view in my hotel room”. TWEET UP! Get a life.
5b. Twitter as a vanity mirror. Yeah, it can really suck you in. Look at me, look at me! And pretty soon you don’t even know you’ve fallen and are drowning in its waters…… Every now and then give twitter a good smash and put it in its place!
There is a lot more that I could go on with – about my love hate relationship with twitter. I’ll stop, this has been enough.
If though, like me, you love information – I recommend just following these two Titan tweeters. Larry Ferlazzo and Tonnet
We have LOADS of karaoke for use in the classroom here. See the links assembled below.
Karaoke is a great tool for any language teacher. It really helps with phonetic recognition (connecting text to speech – reading) and highly motivational. It also is adaptable and you can vary the speed, the context (pictures) , the presentation and even have students record.
Visit this discussion to get Gosing – where you can instantly have a very basic, traditional Karaoke player in your classroom.
However, today, in honor of youtube and what it does for our classrooms – I’ll leave you with a great gift. My 100 top youtube videos for students! Yes, I took HOURS to collect these together and find only the best. This is a treasure trove. ** this link updated from that in the player below.
Many others I wanted to include but alas they weren’t on youtube – but find them where I’ve collected them against father time – on EFL Classroom 2.0.
Also, get the ebook which includes loads of link lists plus the best commercials for teaching English.
I was prompted to think about google today after seeing the wonderful infographic of Google below. (thanks to Larry Ferlazzo for so often letting me know about these things!).
I began thinking of my own relationship with Google. They reach everywhere into my teaching and because I really don’t draw a line, my LIFE. If I know something really well concerning technology – it is probably Google.
Of course I search and use their RSS reader. But I also use Gtalk and of course they are number one with translations - even during chat! I use Picasa web for sharing and presenting photos! I sometimes checkout the Google to pay for things. I also find so many great “out of print” books on Googlebooks. I watch youtube videos and use them in class. I share and group edit with Docs. I also check up on my websites stats with Analytics. I’ve recently been using Chrome to browse on my laptop. I also use feedburner for making RSS feeds. Google Earth and maps gives the geographer in me fits of rapture. When I’m in a creative and frisky mood – I find all the inspiration possible at Google Labs.
There are some things I don’t use that are part of google universe. iGoogle doesn’t cut it for me. Also, the Buzz only annoys me. Adwords only annoys me and I never click on them nor will ever adopt Adsense. Doesn’t make sense / cents in education. I’ve ridden the Wave. Google Wave I’ve had prolific debates about with others – I really don’t get it either and though the idea is good – it is a dud. But that’s about it, I use a helluva lot more google products than I don’t!
The proper question to me is - “What don’t I use google for?”.
I’ve used and highlighted Google in a lot of my teaching. Check out this site where you can make a Google font like logo to help contextualize your classroom instruction. COOL. (and that is the secret of the gOOgle logo, the two “OO”s which look like eyes watching you….). I’ve also made a wonderful presentation of Google logos that you can use as a quiz.
Does Google have all the answers? I’d like to know your opinion. Raul Midon in this cool video/TED talk, asks that question. Get the cool Karaoke version I made for instruction / learning English.
Wow, google is everywhere in my life. How about yours? What do they mean to you? To your students?