September 29, 2010

Using Cell Phones to engage learners

Apart from a few days ago, I had never tried to use the many cell phones we have available in the classroom to engage students. What I did was pretty simple, I asked my students to create mini dialogues with language we had just practised and then use their cell phones to record themselves performing it . Finally they would have to send the recording to me. I can't say it was a complete success but it sure got me thinking how to best use these mini computers our students seem to carry wherever they go.

This post aims at sharing a few articles and videos I've collected about the topic


September 22, 2010

The Child-driven Education
Take some minutes to watch this INSPIRING VIDEO.

Quotations from the video to think about:
  • "Children will learn to do what they want to learn to do."
  • "A teacher who can be replaced by a machine, should be."
  • "If children have interest then education happens."
  • "There was photographic recall inside the children and I suspect it's because they were discussing with each other."
  • "Education is a self-organizing system, where learning is an emergent phenomenom."
(a self-organizing system is one where the system structure appears without explicit intervention from outside the system)

The Power of video (TED)

A fantastic presentation to watch. Watch up to the end when he talks about education. REALLY WORTH WATCHING. It's also a perfect example of using media to help presentations.

Talk "How web video powers innovation"
Click VIEW SUBTITLES to select the language.

September 18, 2010

Creative use of GLOGSTER

This last week, a colleague of mine, Estela, shared an amazing glogster she had come accross. This very creative teacher, webname sunrise651 (I'd love to find who this teacher is), from Bulgaria, has created several GLOGSTER posters to provide links to her students to study vocabulary and grammar.

Instead of providing  our students with a boring list of links, making a glogster poster linking to exercises and other glog pages is simply brilliant.

A Glog to provide exercises and games about FOOD:

A Glog with links to Grammar exercises:

September 10, 2010

Create your own TWITTER newspaper

Just found PAPER.LI via Demogirl's Youtube Channel

You can make a newspaper from your twitter feed and visualize your own tweets and people you follow in a different format.


I've posted about recently but hadn't had a chance to try it with my students. Yesterday, we had a great opportunity. My aim was to present new expressions of frequency and help my students memorize the chunks (once in a while, every so often, every now and again, more often than not, occasionally)

Last year, while teaching the same lesson I noticed, students understood the expressions but failed in memorizing the full chunks (once + in + a + while) , as a result didn't use them very often and couldn't remember them in the written test.

  1. I first elicited from sts the adverbs of frequency they already knew (always, usually, never ...) and asked them to talk about their present habits using them (in pairs).
  2. Then, I called their attention to an exercise in the book where the new expressions of frequency were highlighted in BOLD
  3. I used a flipchart page (image on the left /promethean board) to have my students guess the degree of frequency for each expression by going to the board and dragging the expression to the right column. If they were right, an audio clip saying YEAH (sound file) played automatically, if they were wrong, the word would go back to its original position. After the expressions had been placed in the right columns (lower frequency, higher frequency) we drilled the expressions and asked sts to copy the list in their notebooks.
  4. I assigned one expression per student and asked each of them to write a sentence about their habits using them. 
  5. While students were writing, I opened MEMORIZENOW 
  6. Each student dictated a sentence with the adverb of frequency as I typed it in the MemorizeNow text box.
    After typing, I asked each student to read their sentence aloud. Then, I clicked MEMORIZE in the site and a few words from the sentences disappeared. Once again, I asked different students to read the same sentences aloud. Again and again, by clicking on the arrows, more and more words disappeared making it more challenging for students to remember all the sentences. Finally, I clicked LETTERS , and only the first letter of each word appeared. Students were then challenged to read the sentences again. (They did it beautifully)
  7. I asked students to write down all the sentences they could remember.

 By clicking on the arrow, different words disappear from the sentence.
  By clicking on LETTERS, only the first letter of each word appears.

Instead of only drilling the expressions isolatedly, I think this memorization exercise is more successful if 1. the sentences are meaningful to sts, 2. expressions are contextualised.
To learn how to use MEMORIZENOW, watch this great TUTORIAL by Demogirl .

September 6, 2010

Flip Text - turn your text upside down

Found this tool yesterday and quite like it.

You can type any text and they flip it for you. It's a pity they don't provide you with an embed code, therefore, you have to copy and then past the flipped text to use it.

  • Type a series of questions, flip the text . Ask students to copy the text in their notebooks as fast as they can. Then students use the questions to ask each other .
  • Type any text with target vocabulary / structure and ask students to copy it in their notebooks. Then, ask them to underline the recent words they've learned.

September 4, 2010

TYPEWITHME: Live Text Document Collaboration

Another awesome tool to work with WRITING.

You create a document and then invite others to co-edit it. Each author has a different colour and can collaborate all at the same time. There is also a chat box participants can use to exchange ideas. After the text is ready, you can save it as PDF or a word file.

This is my trial with @janetbianchini . We built a story together.

Another feature I liked was the TIME SLIDER button at the top. By clicking that, you can see how the text was built, word by word.

As I wanted to try it out, I sent an invitation via twitter and in less than 3 minutes, Janet Bianchini and Marisa Constantinides joined me. Check out Marisa's contributions in pink. Txs, Janet and Marisa.

September 2, 2010

Revising GRAMMAR with screencast

Inspired by Russell Stannard's suggestion in the video shared previously in this blog, today I created a little screencast for my Intermediate students after having worked with Past Tenses. The aim is to give my students the chance to hear the explanation as many times they see fit.

September 1, 2010

Russell Stannard's presentation at IATEFL

I've always been a great fan of Russell Stannard's tutorials and loved watching this video from Joe Dale's superb blog.

He talks about screencasting and student feedback.
I really advise you to stop for some minutes and listen to this great talk.

I have been using to make screencasts for the course I facilitate but I had never thought of using it for student feedback. It saves so much time and it's so rich as the student can both see what you're marking and also hear you.