Here’s a great post from Larry Ferlazzo on online grammar practice resources for students.
Here’s a great post from Larry Ferlazzo on online grammar practice resources for students.
I’ve just got back from my first IATEFL Conference, in Harrogate, still feeling elated from the buzz that such big conferences always produce. It’s been great to meet up with so many people I’ve only seen online before, and make new friends. It’s also been great to attend so many fantastic talks and workshops.
I’d like to thank everyone who came along to my session on exploiting video in the classroom. As promised, here is the link to the powerpoint of my presentation. The video clips used are in the same folder, just in case the links in the presentation don’t work. I hope you find it useful.
Write-ups for some of the activities included in the session can be found in the following posts:
Dubbing exercise (Armstrong and Miller RAF Pilots)
MOTIVATION IN THE 21ST CENTURY CLASSROOM.
This talk addresses the possibilities for changes in methodology offered by technology which are aimed at improving the motivation of students and teachers alike. We will examine how multimedia can be given a greater role in the classroom, how we can make greater use of our students’ own interests and discuss how textbooks can be made more relevant. Finally we will explore new possibilities for CPD.
SUMMARY OF SESSION:
The aim of this talk is to discuss opportunities for changes in methodology which may lead to increased motivation in the classroom. The talk is based around three main concepts which are designed to bring greater motivation for students – Visualisation, Personalisation and Localisation. Visualisation addresses the growing role of multimedia and how we can incorporate this into the learning experience. Personalisation discusses how we can bring our students’ personal interests into the classroom. And Localisation addresses the need for materials which reflect…
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I came across this graphic on Facebook recently and, as an English teacher, it depressed me a great deal, especially when I went to the original page and read the comments, as person after person spoke of the video games which helped them to learn. While it is great that they have been able to learn, and that they have taken responsibility for their own learning, as a teacher I feel bad that this is the image that at least some students have of our work. So for the past few days I have been thinking of ways to redress the balance. Luckily, there are many ways in which we can incorporate elements of what the students identified as helping them to learn English into their mainstream classes.
Perhaps the step that we have all taken to bring our classes into line with the interests of our students is the introduction of popular songs into the classroom. Indeed, modern textbooks designed for teenagers often include exercises built around pop songs as a way of engaging students. However, the very nature of popular music means that it is practically impossible to include a song in a printed medium which stands the test of time until the next reprinting. In addition to this, it can be hard to choose the most appropriate song for a classroom of teenagers – inevitably, if some of the students love the song, others will hate it. And the generation gap between teacher and student can lead to choosing a song which fails to have the desired motivating effect. Often, the end result is that the teacher chooses a more classic song which they feel more comfortable with.
One answer to this problem is available online. The site www.lyricstraining.com provides simple gap-fill listening exercises based on a large range of modern songs. If you have access to a computer lab at some stage, this can be a nice exercise to end the session, as each student can choose the song they want to work on and complete the lyrics exercise on their own using headphones. If you are lucky enough to have access to computers in the classroom, this can be used for fast finishers.
However, there must be more to introducing music into the classroom than simply providing more practice in gap-fill exercises, or the novelty will soon wear off. Something I try to do is to have parts of songs appear in unlikely places in the class. One exercise I use is the jigsaw dictation, in which a text is dictated with the sentences jumbled. The students must first take the information down as a dictation, and then work together to reorganise the sentences to reconstruct the original text, using their knowledge of grammar and cohesion. So why not use the lyrics of a song as the jumbled text? Better still, why not mix the lyrics of two songs, to add an extra layer of text organisation to the exercise? If you don’t tell the students at the start of the exercise what the source(s) of the text dictated is, it adds an element of surprise to the exercise which can perhaps be motivating than simply announcing that you’re going to listen to a song. A possible way of checking whether they have the correct order for the texts is to play the song(s) at the end of the exercise.
Another way in which I use songs in class is in the exercise ‘Desert Island Discs‘, which I presented as part of my workshop ‘Getting them speaking‘. In this activity, students get to talk about why they have chosen a particular piece of music and how they feel about it, as well as sharing their choice of music with the rest of the class.
Bringing video into the classroom
In my post ‘How to exploit video in the classroom‘ I examined different activities which can be used in class in order to introduce an audiovisual element into
everyday learning. Videos are a great way of presenting ideas or topics to the class, but they should be used as an integrated part of the lesson. To this end, short clips of video are far more useful than longer parts of films, and a series of activities can be planned around different showings of the same video. For excellent ready-made examples of what can be achieved with this sort of material, I suggest you try Kieran Donaghy’s great website, www.film-english.com, which I examined in my post ‘Five websites to spice up the end of term‘.
I have a colleague who regularly uses film trailers from You Tube in her classes, with listening comprehension activities very similar to those which can be done with songs. In a C2 (Proficiency) class, I used a series of short clips from the series ‘Auf Wiedersehen, Pet‘ to illustrate different regional British accents, although fully accepting that even a Proficiency group would have difficulties follwing Jimmy Nail in full flow! Matt Halsdorff, in a comment on the post mentioned above, mentioned that he used video for close listening exercises, focusing on very specific items of usage, such as ‘gonna’, ‘wanna’, or the excessive use of ‘like’ in popular speech.
However, while bringing video into the classroom in this way is motivating and comes closer to matching the students’ real world experience, it remains a relatively passive experience. It is a simple step to allow the students to make their own videos, either in the classroom itself or for presentation in the classroom. This can range from recording videos of presentations done by the students so that they can analyse themselves as part of any debriefing to full-blown video projects which they script and organise themselves. I have had students produce videos of weather forecasts, adverts, daytime TV programmes and cookery programmes, while a colleague in Primary sets a video project every year in which his Year 4 students represent different aspects of Roman life as part of his CLIL social science class. Using relatively simple software, students can create photo stories, or video podcasts explaining a point of grammar or an item of vocabulary, along the lines of ‘iswearenglish.com‘ (see example below).
An important thing to say in any examination of possible new teaching techniques is that what we have been doing up to now should not be rejected. While in this post we have focused on bringing elements of our students’ outside realities into the classroom, what we have been doing in the classroom up to now plays an important part in the education of our students and we must continue to do it. However, things outside the classroom have changed radically in the last few years, and as educators we must be aware of ways in which we can engage and motivate our students, including incorporating what they feel comfortable with into our everyday approach.
There has been a great deal of talk about the flipped classroom recently, and indeed I have published various posts on the subject here. However, there are pitfalls waiting for the unwary which make the setting up of a flipped classroom model a difficult process. In this post from http://www.teachthought.com, three such problems are examined.
In this post for www.teachthought.com, Terry Heick discusses some of the advantages of project-based learning, and then examines the four most important things to take into consideration when setting up a project-based learning environment in your classroom.
In my previous post I looked at possible definitions of blended learning. Having seen what it is, or at least some of the possibilities, in this post I would like to share some of my sources which refer to the advantages of blended learning.
One of the advantages which are attributed to blended learning is that it frees up classroom time for more creative, cooperative exercises, with the basic learning input which is needed, the building blocks as it were, being provided online. Here is a video from the Khan Academy, pioneers in this form of learning, in which the founder, Salman Khan, explains this:
Terry Heick describes 4 benefits of blended learning in his article on the Teach Thought. blog. For Heick, The benefits of taking online and face-to-face classes are linked to a students employability after college. For example, online and face-to-face classes emphasise different aspects of effective communication, all of which are important in the increasingly globalised business world. Also, being able to follow an online course demonstrates that a student has the digital fluency necessary to function professionally, and that s/he has the self-discipline necessary to work autonomously.
The University of Central Florida offers a Blended Learning Toolkit online, which suggests that the benefits of blended learning are that it can be used to breathe new life into established courses by incorporating different forms of interaction into the class, introduces the advantages of an online course without losing the social interaction element of a traditional classroom which is difficult to achieve online, and from an administrative point of view, can free up much-needed classroom space.
Finally, I must mention Thomas Stanley’s series of posts, again on Teach Thought, which examines the different interactions within a blended leaning model of education. The first post in the series looks at possible ways of setting up a blended learning course, suggesting that the online element could introduce the real world into the classroom, allowing students to use that element to enhance their class projects, engaging the students far more than more traditional approaches. In the second part, Stanley focuses on student to student interaction within a blended learning context, examining how this can be realised using both synchronous and asynchronous online tools.
In part three, Stanley looks at the role of the teacher in a blended learning model, suggesting a shift in that role from providing instruction to accompanying students as they learn, a ‘guide by the side’. This is a result of the more inquiry-based learning approach suggeted in part one of this series. This approach allows for more individual tutoring from the teacher for each student as they work through the programme of inquiry designed by the teacher, enabling him / her to evaluate the thinking process of the students more closely. The teacher is also responsible for suggesting resources which the students can use and guiding them in their inquiry, and in their evaluation of their progress.
Further posts in this series will be available soon at www.teachthought.com.
Over the last few days I have been looking into the topic of blended learning, and I thought I would share some of the sources which I have found useful in my research.
To begin with, we should have some definition of what blended learning is. Here is a video from Education Elements on You Tube which explains what blended learning is:
In a previous post we looked at an infographic of the flipped classroom. And here is a more detailed definition from Terry Heick, on www.teachthought.com . Blended learning has many names: the flipped classroom, hybrid learning, blended education… Basically it is the combination of traditional classroom instruction with online elements designed to enhance the learning experience for the students (and hopefully for the teacher). This goes beyond uploading a video for the students to watch at home; the integration of online material into the learning environment should be carefully planned and ‘pedagogically valuable’ (Heick).
Obviously, wth such a definition, there is a wide range of interpretations of what blended learning should look like. Here is an infographic, again from Teach Thought, which explores six different types of blended learning:
In the next post, Blended Learning (II), we will examine some sources which explain the advantages of blended learning as opposed to traditional face-to-face instruction.
Here’s a post on how to start recording your own podcasts. http://instructionaltechtalk.com/how-to-podcast-for-free/
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