4.07.2009

The British Council website

One of the best resources available for teachers who want to start using blended learning activities with their classes is the British Council website.

There you can find a lot of fun games and activities to practice an enormous range of vocabulary and catering for all different ages. From babies to grown ups you'll find nearly anything to begin implementing a successful blended learning strategy.

I'd say that if you'd like to start getting into this big wave of technology the British Council website used alongside the OUP Teacher's Club and student's sites will give you enough content and ideas.

8.18.2008

Dvolver helps motivate students

I'm always searching for nice stuff teachers of English can use for motivating their students with the web and I think one of the most interesting ones is the Dvolver website.

This is a very interesting tool for creating animated short dialogues. It's simple and easy to operate and it creates a permanent link for your students' works.

You can see here an example of a scene I've created for one of my workshops on Contemporary English. But students can creat up to three scenes in the same story.

I've already mentioned it in one of the previous posts, but since in the recent workshops I've been giving on blended learning most of the teachers still tell me they don't know the website, here I am, devoting one single post to talk about it.

It's certainly a nice way of promoting motivation towards dialogue creation in your classes. Try it out and, I'm confident, you won't regret it.

10.15.2007

A Film Log for Teachers

A very simple, but useful, idea is to keep up a list of films and its possible uses on a blog. This way, teachers can share their ideas for using different films for different reasons.

One example of a good reference for a movie is, as follows:

E.T. The Extra Terrestrial

Reasons besides being a good movie for whole film response activities

1) Language (scenes 7, 8 and 10)
2) Subtext (scenes 7 and 12)
3) Culture (scenes 12 and 13)
4) Roleplay (scenes 9 and 10)

You can, instead, list the above purposes for using films and relate the appropriate films and scenes below the category's name.

Language Use

1) E.T. - scenes 7, 8 and 10

Subtext

1) E.T. - scenes 7 and 12
2) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - scene 1


And so on. Both ways you can share valuable information about movies you and your colleagues have used well in the Language Classroom.

10.13.2007

My Best Films List

That's a very simple activity that can be done without watching any movie in class.

You could, instead, create a rule that the most voted film in the class survey would then be watched and discussed in detail.

An example of a Class Survey result is:

1) Back to the Future I - 6 votes
2) Ghost - 5 votes
3) The Sixth Sense - 4 votes
4) Brave Heart - 3 votes
5) Seven - 2 votes

Try it out and be sure your students will have a lot of fun defending their own opinions about films, while using the language previously learned at the same time.

My Hall of Fame

A good idea is publishing your students' hall of fame, with their top 5 favorite actors and actresses, in a blog. Mine is this one below. In case you wish, you can try going for the top 10.

Explain your students the meaning of A-List Star and ask them to choose their actors and actresses as if they were the directors of a movie looking for A-List Stars for their new movie.

Men's Leading Role

1) Kevin Spacey
2) Al Pacino
3) Nicholas Cage
4) Dustin Hoffman
5) Tom Hanks


Women's Leading Role

1) Jodie Foster
2) Michelle Pfeiffer
3) Demi Moore
4) Julia Roberts
5) Meg Ryan



In more advanced levels you can ask students to explain why those are their choices. In this mode, students would have to talk about the movies in which the actors or actresses played important roles.

Well that's it, now tell us what are your top 5 actors and actresses? And why they're the ones?


9.08.2007

Blogger and the video upload feature

Hello everyone, in one of my last posts I've said Blogger/Blogspot didn't offer the video feature as in Wordpress. In fact, when I wrote the post it didn't really have the feature, but Blogger's just gotten it. In fact it was released exactly on the same day I posted the summary. And it's gotten an even better feature, comparing to Wordpress, since you don't need any host for the video. You'll upload your videos directly from your computer.

That means you can now upload your pieces just like you do on YouTube, for example, into the blog, instead of just creating an hyperlink to it. This way you'll be able to make videos look like this one below in your own blog interface.

video

As we all know, technology is always changing really fast. So, whenever you have any doubt, please, double check it 'cause in a few minutes things can change a lot when it comes down to Web 2.0 platforms.

8.24.2007

Summary of the presentation on blogging and ELT

Dear teachers, as agreed, I'm publishing here the summary of the presentation I did on using the internet as a languange learning tool.

The idea of the workshop was, although we had very limited time, to move on from simply using the internet as a motivator (which is also important) to using it as a real instructional tool. But I dare go even further. Web Content-Producing activities are the main goal of this talk.

We all know it's hard to manage this kind of activities with our young kids in front of the computer, because they probably know a lot more about blogging, You Tube, Podcasts, Flickr, etc. than we do. Don't worry, use that in favor of your computer classes. What you can't forget is that you're in command and you're the one who masters the language they'll need for blogging and so on.

A good first step towards producing content for the internet is using the dfilm movie maker, where students can create personalized short animated cartoons. Although it is a very controlled activity students can start producing fun ELT material for the web. It's seems to me a very good substitute for a traditional writing activity.

The main aim of the workshop was, though, the use of blogs and other hypermedia as a productive instructional tool for ELT.

The steps I suggested for practising and getting familiarized are, as follows:

1) Create your own accounts on applications like You Tube (videos), Flickr (images), Podcast1 (audio files) and Wordpress (blogging). Or other websites/platforms with the same purposes. Those mentioned are, though, the ones that are well known because of its features. For example, as I showed you, Wordpress allows you to put a video INTO the blog, whereas Blogger just allows you to use links for videos.

2) After having created those accounts, you should start producing material with your students (small videos, pictures, audio files) so that you'd have the required material for an internet content-producing activity to become successfull. Cel phones and digital cameras are very useful for surveys, small movies, interviews, etc.

3) Now it's time to upload those files in the cyberspace, meaning the platforms mentioned on step one. In case you have doubts on how you can do that, all those web 2.0 applications offer help links that will give you the necessary instructions to follow.

4) Then you're ready to move on to use all of those into your blog. Rememer, I believe Wordpress has more features than other usual bloggers nowadays, but that's only my opinion. Again, here things will be very similar to a wordprocessor where all the main functions are as clear as a simple button. Hyperlinks, pictures, font design, layout, etc.

For those who didn't do the activity about grammar proposed in the previous post, it's a good moment to try it out. Don't forget that hyperlinks can be as misterious as possible. They could be compared to the footnotes in a book, for example.

Now it's time to set your imagination free. As Einstein said: "Imagination is more important than knowledge." Wise words from a wise man.

Enjoy your teaching!!!