The countdown to Christmas& 2013 has begun and students are already thrilled and so looking forward to our holiday break! During this time of the year, we all tend to look back, cherish the good moments, leave the bad ones behind and take ambitious decisions for the New Year! In this context, I used two wonderful tools with my students- Animoto and Wallwisher– that I highly recommend if you plan to embrace technology in your ELT classes. So here goes:
Animoto is a F A N T A S T I C tool for creating videos and presentations! I personally love it! Teachers can apply for a free Animoto Plus account with extra features and no restrictions on the length of the videos. Students browse through the numerous templates and choose a style for their video. Then, they upload their clips, images, add text or captions and choose a suitable soundtrack. This way they make impressive, professional- looking videos only in a couple of minutes! Videos can be easily shared via email, on a classroom blog or website, on You Tube or even be downloaded to a computer.
I asked my students to create videos of their most special moments of 2012. Of course, I clarified that their content should be appropriate, inoffensive and copyright free. Below I have embedded the video I made and used as an example! This way you can get a small taste of the ‘wonders’ you can do with Animoto! You’ll find relevant advice on how to set up your students’ accounts here: http://bit.ly/cJmVLB. Animoto is also available on the App store so that you can create and share your videos on the go!
The second tool I picked for this holiday season was Wallwisher! It’s simple, fun and gives you great options! Teachers basically create a digital corkboard where students can post their messages along with images and videos! Go to http://wallwisher.com/, sign up with your email and build your wall. Give it a name, set your privacy settings and invite your students to work on it by emailing the wall url to them! You have the ‘power’ to approve as well as edit their posts!
Take a look at the wall my students and I built with our New Year’s Resolutions! You can also access the wall here: http://bit.ly/UFC8gO
Are you an art lover? Would you like to familiarize your students with the artwork of famous painters while learning English? This was the logic behind the development of the two lesson outlines you can find and download for free in the box.net widget on the right sidebar of this blog.
The first lesson plan was based upon Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘Bedroom in Arles’ and it’s aimed at advanced students. The technology-oriented suggested activities include the use of http://www.blabberize.com, http://www.pimpampum.net/bubblr/ and You Tube. The second outline called ‘Just Dance’ was designed with the valuable help of a dear friend and colleague, Rania Chiotini, who is a state primary school teacher in Greece. As you’ll see, we have combined art, music and technology in our attempt to exploit the educational value of three lovely paintings by Toulouse Lautrec, Edgar Degas and Pierre- Auguste Renoir. The incorporation of technology gives them a ‘fresh’ feel, engages young learners and empowers their creativity!
The lesson outlines provide clear, step-by-step instructions. We look forward to your comments! Would you be tempted to try something like this in your language classroom? Do you think your students would enjoy this ‘marriage’ of art to technology :-)?
Last week a student of mine wrote a short story that I really enjoyed reading. Liana is in the second grade of high school and this writing task was part of her preparation for the FCE exam she is about to take in December. I thought that creating its digital version using Little Bird Tales would make the ‘chore’ of writing and proofreading much more meaningful and pleasant! Luckily, I was right since Liana seemed to enjoy every minute of it :-)!
Little Bird Tales is a free storytelling tool you can use to create multimodal stories with your students. Teachers can sign up, add students and manage their classes on a safe web environment. Students type their tales, upload or draw images with the embedded drawing tool and then record their voice to narrate their stories. Very young learners may also create illustrations on paper and you can later scan and add them to their stories.
Little Bird Tales is very simple to use as the website itself is straightforward and walks you through this creative process. Although at first glance, one assumes that Little Bird Tales is intended solely for younger learners because of its playful interface, I can assure you that older students find it equally fun and engaging. It helps them get a clearer understanding of how to organize their thoughts into paragraphs& book pages, build up tension, deliver a resolution, write a catchy title and so on. Besides, students practise their pronunciation and skills of reading out loud gracefully (pausing, breathing, colouring their voice) until they are pleased with themselves and the result of the recording.
The overall experience is usually very rewarding! Students feel proud of their digital story books and can e-mail or share them on a blog or website. Apart from digital stories, you could also ask them to create class presentations as an interesting alternative to PowerPoint.
If you decide to try Little Bird Tales and intend to use online images, you could also seize the opportunity to familiarize learners with copyright issues and Creative Commons. Students should be clear about the fact that they can’t use an image just because they’ve Googled it! In Liana’s story, we used images from http://www.morguefile.com which has a big collection of copyright free images. Below I’m sharing two posts I’ve found really useful myself so as to learn about fair use and copyright. The second link provides you with a great list of the best sources for free images on the Web.
Celebrating Halloween is always fun and gives teachers the chance to deviate from the ordinary course book stuff and come up with enjoyable activities which familiarize students with this old tradition when ‘the veil between the living world and the spirit world becomes thinner’ :-).
Witches, pumpkins, ghosts, black cats, masks, candy and scary stories excite students’ imagination and set the scene for creative technology- based or not language learning tasks. This year I decided to use Voki with my younger learners and asked them to create scary speaking avatars.
Vokiis a free, fun, easy- to-use tool. There is a wide range of animated characters (including politicians, animals, smilies, monsters etc.) for students to choose from and customize by adjusting sizes, colours, clothing and accessories as they wish. They can also pick a background and then bring their characters to life by giving them a voice! Most interestingly, students can add their own voice via microphone or phone as well as use the text- to speech software, type their message and pick a voice for their character.
Avatars can then be e-mailed or embedded in any social media site, blog or website. For me, the only limitation of this tool is the fact that the recordings must be up to 60 seconds.
Students can create their avatars without making an account but if they do, they’ll be able to save their work and edit it whenever they want! There is also a Voki classroom option for educators at low rates so that you can set up accounts and manage your students’ work without having them register.
Below you’ll find four of the spooky Halloween avatars my students created:-)!
Some more ideas about how to use Voki in your class throughout the school year are:
To assign homework, give oral instructions or feedback.
Create a classroom mascot to make important announcements.
Ask students to work in pairs and create short dialogues between their vokis on a certain topic.
For speaking exercises: students can introduce themselves, share their thoughts, dreams, wishes or future plans.
To ask riddles.
‘Celebrity Guess Who’ game: Divide your class into pairs. Give each pair the photo of a celebrity and some facts about his/her life/ career. If students are more advanced, they could also look 5 important facts up on the Web by themselves (country of origin, age, biggest hit/most successful movie, etc.). Students have to create celebrity look- alike avatars sharing personal info while the rest of the class has to make the right guess :-)!
If you haven’t used it before, Voki is certainly worthwhile trying!
In this post, I’ll suggest a Web 2.0 tool that my students really love using! GlogsterEdu allows you to create your online, interactive posters called Glogs!
Students can browse through the rich, built-in collection of graphics, experiment by dragging and dropping items on their Glog, import their own photos or favourite songs, add videos from the Web or even record a video on the spot! They can also create dynamic images- ‘hotspots’ (by embedding hyperlinks), draw as well as write their text while playing with different fonts and colours! Once students have completed their Glogs, they can share them in multiple ways:
email Glogs to the teacher.
embed them in their classroom’s blog, in a wiki or webpage.
post them to Facebook, Edmodo or Twitter.
Teachers can set up an account here: http://edu.glogster.com/. There are free (or not) licences for individual teachers and multilicences for schools at affordable prices. In general, GlogsterEdu provides a safe online learning environment since teachers can generate student accounts with safe logins and passwords and monitor all students’ activities through the teacher’s dashboard.
Below you’ll find the Glog I created in order to introduce myself to you and show you the wonderful things one can do with this tool in practice! Just roll your mouse over it to discover all the dynamic icons and click on them to see what they are ‘hiding’ :-)!
Alternatively, you could ask students to use GlogsterEdu :
to create presentations on any topic (e.g present their country’s customs and traditions- nice idea for multicultural classrooms).
to make an online poster of a memorable trip or their Christmas/ summer holidays.
to make an online poster of their favourite film, including a written review, a trailer, images, short interviews of the protagonists e.t.c.
to create the digital cover of a magazine for teenagers or a newspaper front page.
Good luck!!! Hope you’ll enjoy this creative learning experience as much as my students and I have ;-)!