April 26, 2015

Chinese Whisper with Whatsapp

The more I use Whatsapp in class, the more I realize how rich this tool is.

Last week, I tried a very simple activity with my Basic Students who had just learned how to express themselves in the Past.

Have you ever played Chinese Whisper with your students? It is an activity where Student A whispers a message to Student B who then tries to whisper the same message to Student C, so on and so forth. Or another one where the first student says "Last weekend, I went to the shopping centre", then the next student repeats the first sentence and adds one more sentence? We adapted these activities using the recording feature of Whatsapp.

These are the steps we followed:

1. I recorded the first sentence saying "Last weekend, I went to the cinema."
2. Then, I asked students to make their recordings for homework. Before they made their recordings, they would have to listen to the last recording, repeat all the sentences and add one more.

It was amazing how fast they started making their recordings as they knew the later they did it, the longer their sentence would be.

3. In the following class, I asked all the students to get their cell phones ( the ones who didn't have a device, sat with someone who had one) and listen to the last recording, which was the longest one, in order to write it down. It was great to see how involved they were listening to the sentences, repeating them, until they were able to write everything down. Similarly to Chinese Whisper, the last student to record the sentences ended up getting a few words wrong as he misunderstood what the previous student had said. As a result, students had to go back and listen to previous recordings to see where the mistake started. We heard quite a few laughs.

4. After most students had written all the sentences down, I asked them to dictate the sentences to me as I wrote them on the board. I used the opportunity to correct mistakes and practice the right pronunciation of words and verbs in the past.


In the initial phase of the activity, students had to create their own sentences with verbs in the past. As more sentences were used, they had to think of different verbs and their collocations to make new sentences. They needed to take special care pronouncing the sentences clearly so that their classmates would understand their sentence and continue the game. The longer the sentence became, it was necessary for them to write the words down in order to make the recording. Step 3 was a great way to practice listening and writing again. In a way, it was a dictation created by students themselves. During the feedback moment, I tried to focus on the right forms of the verbs they had chosen and their collocations.

April 10, 2015

Reading Collaboratively with Point

This post has the objective to share a tool I've learned about today: POINT.

Point is a Google Chrome Plugin which allows you to quickly share links to websites and videos with other people. And how does it work? You install the plugin to your Google browser, then every time you want to share a link with someone, press the key @ on your keyboard and a small box pops up prompting you to choose the person or email to share it with.

Check the video below with a demonstration.

What I liked about it is the possibility to work collaboratively. By sending the link to someone, whether they are online or not, we can use the chat box which pops up to develop a conversation and reflect together. You can highlight the parts of the text you find relevant and discuss about it as I did with a colleague, Juliana Gense, tonight (we are reading in English but discussing in Portuguese).

You can share and discuss about articles and blog posts:

You can share and discuss about Youtube videos:

And even share and discuss about pdf files which have been embedded to https://www.scribd.com/

Another amazing feature is the possibility to share the whole chat with someone else via email. And how to do that? After finishing a chat, you click the key @ again and type the email. This would be perfect for sharing a chat with the teacher. The screenshot below is an example of what the chat thread would look like after being sent by email.

How can we use Point with students?

Brainstorming uses with Juliana, we imagined some possibilities:

  • Have a whole group of students discuss about an article synchronously or asynchronously.
  • Divide EFL students in trios and have them get together synchronously to discuss about texts or explore new vocabulary in a text. Then, when they finish the task, the can send the whole chat to the teacher.
  • Invite students to discuss about a video they watch together.
  • Invite undergraduates or post graduates to analyze academic papers and discuss about the parts they find relevant, then email the chat to their professor or tutor .