Every year Earth Day is celebrated on 22nd April worldwide. Our planet is changing rapidly so it’s vital that we help raise students’ awareness of the damaging effects of modern lifestyles on the environment before it’s too late!
In today’s post, I’d like to share the way my students and I celebrated Earth Day this year. They’re low- level students preparing for the IELTS exam so this was a great opportunity for them to expand their vocabulary, think and learn about environmental issues hands- on. Technology made this much more fun and motivating since we decided to make a video using the ever amazing Animoto!
The students’ first task was to take two pictures of nature each, with their mobile phones. Our school ’s beautiful surroundings provided the perfect location for this!
Next, we set off to plan the video’s structure and write the script! I wrote the following words on the board to help them brainstorm relevant ideas and slogans.
We also googled some supplementary images and chose ‘Paradise’ by Coldplay as the soundtrack of our video!
Surprisingly, on that same day a couple of dolphins made their appearance in Thermaikos Gulf, in the city of Thessaloniki. This isn’t a common sight but luckily one of the students managed to catch it on video! Animoto not only allows users to combine text, images and music but also short videos so we have included part of it as well!
Our main aim was to show some of the beauties of mother Earth, to pinpoint the destructive impact of human activity and share some easy things we can do on an individual or group level to make a difference!
This is the final result 🙂 Click here to download the handout I prepared for my class with useful vocabulary and phrases.
National Geographic has published some lovely images that have been submitted by NG readers. Students can describe or write catchy captions for these stunning photos. You may also choose to show them only a small part of the picture first. Let them use their imagination and guess what it is! Have a look here!
Finally, this a great list of 12 interesting TED talks on climate change that you can watch with your students and reflect on!
Hope you’ve enjoyed this post! Remember that our well- being depends on how we take care of our planet. Awareness is the first step to really making a change! So let’s start by informing our students and celebrating Earth Day, every day 🙂
As the magic of Christmas is spreading, I’d like to share some festive activities that we teachers can try in order to make the last lessons of the year more fun and memorable! Here’s my list of suggestions on how to celebrate this Christmas with technology:
1. Visit lyricstraining.comand get your students to practise their listening skills, while typing the lyrics of popular Christmas songs! There is a great variety of artists, songs and three levels of difficulty per song so that all language learners can manage! These are the links to two cool Christmas songs you can use:
2. ‘HOME ALONE’ is one of my favourite Christmas movies and that’s how I plan to use the following trailer with my younger students:
– In pairs, one student watches and narrates the video while the second has his back to the screen. They change roles every few minutes with your signal. Remember to write all the unknown vocabulary or action verbs your students will need on the board to ensure the success of this activity. Your students will have fun while learning new vocabulary in a contextualized way.
3. E-mail to Santa Claus: Why not write an e-mail to Santa Claus? Go to http://www.emailsanta.com/, fill in the letter and Santa will reply ‘faster than the reindeer can fly’ ;-).
4. Have a go at MailVU and let students record and e-mail short videos of themselves sending season’s greetings, making New Year’s resolutions or expressing their wishes. It’s is as easy as Click, Record, Send and you don’t even need an account for this! http://mailvu.com/
5. E-CARDS: Disney offers a fabulous, interactive card template that students can complete, share on social media sites or email to beloved family members or friends. Alternatively you can use one of the following websites:
I’m sure your students will enjoy this simple yet cool activity! Have a look at my elf self here 😉
6. VOKIis a tool I love using on such occasions. So user- friendly, fun and safe that you won’t regret trying it! Students create their speaking avatars which they can then send via e-mail or post to your classroom’s blog or website! This is my student’s’ Voki in the role of Santa Claus 😉
Making a video with their year’s highlights is a creative activity that your students will love! ANIMOTO, PICOVICO& CLIPGENERATOR are three awesome tools that excite both adults and children. Pick the one that suits you best!
8. Finally, find and download a lesson plan on how to use a top scene from ‘LOVE ACTUALLY’. Go to the ‘Flash Widget’ box on the right hand column of this page, click and download it for free.
Tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices have changed our lives profoundly in the last few years. Similarly, they are bound to revolutionize the ways we teach and learn. The ability of ipads and other tablets to deliver a wide range of content, support streaming video, audio, text, images and social media makes their educational potential great! New technology-oriented terms like mobile learning, moblogging, and mobile storytelling have made their appearance while a big number of pilot ipad programmes are already underway in countries like the UK, the USA, Brazil, Turkey and India. As estimated, tablets will eventually replace whiteboards, traditional PCs and pricey heavy books in educational spaces.
The purchase of my ipad triggered a childhood memory a few months ago. Those of you who grew up in the 80s will definitely remember Penny, Inspector Gadget’s niece. Back then, the portable ‘magic book’ that Penny used to gather information and save Gadget from M.A.D’s devious plots, seemed completely fictional! Interestingly, now these super duper tablets are actually real and students can use them to learn at their own time, pace& space :-)! The truth is that once you buy an ipad you are amazed at its endless capabilities and the abundance of apps, educational or not!
Below, is my randomly ordered list with the top 20 free educational apps that I’ve found really useful both in my teaching practise and everyday life.
1. Tellagami is a great app that you can use to create a short story called ‘Gami’ on the go! Customize your character, add a background, record your voice or use the text-to- speech tool and your Gami is ready! Then share it on FB, Twitter or via e-mail and sms! Have a look at my Gami here: https://tellagami.com/gami/BBEE6W/
2. Animoto I do love this app! Both you and your students can make impressive videos with it! Choose a style, add pictures, captions, music, video clips and get a professional-looking video instantly! Then tweet, email or download it to your ipad/ iphone. This is the video I made to assign an ‘alternative’ kind of homework to my students for the forthcoming summer :-). Feel free to use it too!
3. Tell a Tale offers a great collection of writing prompts! Students get the first and last sentence of their story and three pictures to construct an imaginative narrative! Isn’t this challenging :-)?
Evernote helps you stay organized and remember everything across all the devices you use. Take notes, capture photos, create to-do lists, record voice reminders and access them whether you are at home, at work, or on the go.
TeacherKit is a very handy personal organizer for the teacher! It enables you to organize classes and students. Its simple and intuitive interface lets you track attendance, students’ grades and behaviour easily. You can also save parents’ contact details as well as send them group e-mails.
Get inspired and learn on the move while watching TED Talks on a wide variety of topics. The app also allows you to bookmark or download talks for offline viewing. It’s undeniably a must-have resource for every progressive educator.
Is there an interesting article, video or web page that you want to read, watch or view later? Put it in Pocket! It automatically syncs across to your phone, tablet and computer so you can view it anytime on any device, even without an internet connection.
Lino is an online stickies service that allows you to post and peel off colourful stickies on canvases. Insert your text, images and videos freely. Then share your canvases on Twitter or via mail. Stickies posted from your iPhone/iPad App can be accessed with PC browsers too.
Screenchomp turns your iPad into a recordable whiteboard! Explain a tricky concept, create an animated lesson, add commentary to your photos or teach someone from afar. Just sketch out your ideas, record your tutorial and share it via e-mail or Twitter with your students. What’s more, you don’t have to create or manage an account!
A must-have app for every educator! Get connected and discover the huge online ELT community! Learn from your PLN and exploit this wonderful stream of teaching resources, articles, ideas, and links! An ideal app for your free professional development and a very useful tool for your classes!
Which are your favourite apps?
Stay tuned for part 2 with the rest 10 ipad apps of this list…!
St. Valentine’s Day usually evokes mixed feelings. The non- Valentine lovers pour scorn on it for being pointless and commercial while the unrepentant romantics see this as a special day of love and romance! I guess that when you’re still in your teens- as many of our students are- this celebration hasn’t yet lost its ‘magic’ or ‘importance’ :-). So here is how I suggest that you celebrate St. Valentine’s with your EFL students while using technology effectively:
Idea No 1:
Movie Clip: I’ve always been a huge fan of Disney’s movies! Recently this black and white short film called ‘Paperman’ caught my eye on Facebook and I simply loved it. It’s a sweet love story which has received a nomination for the Best Animated short film at the upcoming 85th Academy Awards and it’s very worthwhile watching.
Thus, I came up with some ideas about how to use it with my teenage students on Valentine’s Day. These are my suggested group activities:
Students make predictions: Show students the film and pause at 1.33’. Ask them to guess how the young man will try to catch the woman’s attention. Pause the video again at 3.29’: ‘Will he go after her or will he give up, discouraged by his boss’ disapproving look?’. Last pause at 4.18’: ‘What will happen next?’.
Play the clip once and ask students to create a timeline of events. You may have to pause the clip at the end of major events to allow students enough time to take notes. Play the clip again so that learners can complete or correct their work. For homework, students write short summaries of all the events on the film clip.
Have students write a thought script. What are the animated characters thinking? Students share their scripts and then vote for the most inventive one. (this could be an alternative to activity B).
Ask students to describe the characters using as many relevant adjectives as they can!
Can they think of an alternative film title?
What are the hidden messages of this short love film? (Possible answers: One can find true love in the most unexpected places/ you can’t avoid love/ if something is meant to be, it’ll always find its way e.t.c)
Idea No 2:
Music: I picked one of the most famous love songs of all time, ‘Always’ by Jon Bon Jovi which I found suitable for this occasion and potentially ‘acceptable’ to both boys and girls :-). One of my students (who is a big Bon Jovi fan) helped me change some of the song’s words with mistakes in rhyme. Learners will have to read through the song first and try to spot these mistakes. Then they correct them while listening to the song! Please find the worksheet I created and download it for free from the flash widget in the right hand column of my blog!
Idea No 3:
Voki: Why not have students create their Vokis in order to send their love messages to their beloved ones? Voki is completely free, you don’t need an account plus your Vokis can be e-mailed or embedded in any social media site, blog or website. For more details click here: http://bit.ly/10Tm811. Below is the Voki I’ll use as an example:
Idea No 4:
Animoto video: Students can produce wonderful short videos using their own images, text and soundtrack based on the theme of love and different manifestations of it. What is true love for them?? For more information about Animoto’s capabilities have a look at my older post here: http://bit.ly/SRT0kQ
Idea No 5:
Tagxedo: Last but not least, a simple yet always creative& enjoyable activity: Tell students to pick a love poem or song beforehand. Ask them to design their own word cloud while playing with different shapes, colours, orientation and fonts! Have a look at the Tagxedo one of my adult students created last year based on William Shakespeare’s sonnet 116:
Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments. Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove: O no! it is an ever-fixed mark That looks on tempests and is never shaken; It is the star to every wandering bark, Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken. Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks Within his bending sickle’s compass come: Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, But bears it out even to the edge of doom. If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved
Hope you find these ideas useful and enjoyable! Pick the ones you think your students will like most and leave your comment to let me know how it went!
Even if you are not a big fan of St. Valentine’s Day, try to spend it in love…there is nothing that completes us more as human beings.
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