Posts Tagged ‘APPS’

Storytelling& Technology in ELT!

scene_15bbA warm hello to all readers of this blog! 

Hopefully, you’ve had some rejuvenating holidays and are ready to fling yourselves into teaching!

If you wish to teach English through the lens of technology and storytelling this school year, consider trying our free educational ‪App called ‘Dylan& Lydia at the Fortune Teller’s’!

It’s available for all ios& Android devices and it’s ideal for A2-B1 level!

Before starting, download the digital storybook here:

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ios: http://bit.ly/1pzv6O8

Android: http://bit.ly/1jzu9RL

 

This popular double- path digital storybook may be used separately or as a wonderful supplement to any coursebook or materials, your students are already using in the English class!

The Plot of the Storybook in Brief:

On a day trip to London the endearing 9-year-old twins, Dylan and Lydia, meet Madame Sonya, a famous fortune teller who slyly tries to trick them into her evil plans. The twins have the chance to experience magical moments in ‘Fantasy Land’ or spend an adventurous day with notorious pirates on a real pirate ship! Both adventures teach them important life lessons about the value of true friendship and trust.

For extra photocopiable ELT activities, drawings, games and DIY crafts, browse through some sample pages from the teachers’ handbook I’ve created here:

Dylan& Lydia Sample Pages HANDBOOK

If you plan to use ‘Dylan& Lydia’ at your school to enhance the teaching& learning experience through the use of technology, send an e-mail to martidouchristina@gmail.com, to request the whole handbook of 110 pages filled with a great variety of materials for every 10 screenshots of the fairytale.   

I’d love to hear your and your students’ feedback! Please don’t hesitate to contact me for any relevant queries or support you may need while using the App in class. Meanwhile, take a quick look at some users’ reviews of the digital storybook:
collage-reviews

I hope our stories will add a touch of magic to your lessons, motivate your students and make language acquisition a fun, hands- on experience!

Wishes for a happy& creative school year!

Christina 

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The Edtech Experts’ Corner: 10 Qs with Dimitris Primalis

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I’m really happy to kick off a new page on my blog called ‘The Edtech Experts’ Corner.’ Outstanding colleagues who have warmly embraced the use of technology in the EFL classroom will be answering 10 short Qs about educational technology. More specifically, they’ll be sharing practical teaching ideas, tried and tested tools as well as tips that can help us teachers stay informed in the fast changing world of learning technologies and teaching methodologies.

Today I’d like to present Dimitris Primalis, a colleague whom I respect and admire for his hard work and the innovative ways he uses new technologies in class. 

So here are Dimitris’ answers to my 10 Questions:

1.Technology has changed my teaching practise… in the sense that it has opened a window on the real world in an artificial classroom.

2. I use technology because…it motivates learners and accommodates different learning styles. It also allows me access to a plethora of material I can use in class.

3. A tool I would definitely recommend is…Microsoft Office Mix. Why? Because it allows screen capture (record what I am doing on my computer screen into a video that I can then share with my students).

4. 2 ways I use it… in a flipped classroom context are: A) I give students personalized feedback on the projects they have handed in or texts they have written. I email them the video and then they can watch it at their own time, as many times as they wish. B) I can easily record short presentations using video, sound and the PowerPoint slides as a blackboard. Students can access it through the school’s Learning Management System again and again.

5. Has technology made your life easier as a teacher?

In the past I had to carry cassettes, video tapes and the necessary equipment (cassette player, VCRs and TV) to the classroom whenever I wanted to give an alternative to students who were fed up with books. Now I can access all my digital access material, teaching resources provided by publishers or authentic material at the click of a mouse. This allows me to be flexible in class and respond to students’ needs on the spot.

6. A great website for learning English is…the British Council website for young learners: learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org  It is full of creative and motivating activities for young learners in a safe environment without ads.

7. My favourite educational ios App is…Puppet Pals.

Why? Because it helps students develop their creativity by creating a virtual puppet show. In the process of making it, they practice script writing skills, communication skills and collaboration as they often work in pairs or in groups. The fact that they use virtual puppets lowers inhibition – just like when wearing a mask- and even shy learners, who would not dare speak in front of the class, practice their speaking skills. Learners often improvise using language in a witty way. The end product is exported into a video and can be easily shared with the rest of the class.

8. How do your students usually react to learning English with technology?

They love it!!! Their generation is being brought up in a high tech environment and they feel confident to use it. If used wisely, technology can act as a gateway to learning because students feel familiar with it and they are far more likely to respond positively to homework that involves using technology – even to a limited extent – rather than to the traditional homework using pen and paper.

9. My tip for beginners with technology is…to take it easy and choose apps or tools that serve the educational needs they have set for their students. It is very easy for a teacher to get carried away and use technology only for the sake of using it.

10. Which website/blog/ FB page e.t.c do you follow for your further professional development?

I find most of the articles posted on Edutopia very interesting, I follow Sylvia Guinan on Facebook. She always writes or shares very practical articles. I also find Sophia Mavridi’s blog insightful. I need to add that very soon the IATEFL Learning Technologies SIG is about to launch a brand new website. Being a member of the website editorial team, I can assure you that some very interesting posts, blogs and articles are coming soon.

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Short Bio

Dimitris Primalis is an EFL teacher, author and Cambridge English Language Assessment oral examiner. He has been teaching for more than 20 years and applies his knowledge and experience to introducing innovation and change into the daily teaching practice. He believes that motivation, creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication can be the driving forces in TEFL.  His views and work are shared in his columns in the ELT News, the BELTA Bulletin and his blog, A different side of EFL” . He has presented his work in many conferences in Greece and abroad. Dimitris was awarded the 2013 IATEFL Learning Technologies SIG scholarship and was selected as an Expert Innovative Educator by Microsoft (2014-15). He is working at Doukas, a private primary school in Athens, Greece.

 

Follow Dimitris on Twitter: @dprimalis

Connect with Dimitris on Linkedin here: https://gr.linkedin.com/pub/dimitrios-primalis/34/592/697

It’s Back to School Time!

 

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It’s #BackToSchoolTime! If you want to teach English through the lens of technology and storytelling this school year, try our free educational ‪App called ‘Dylan& Lydia at the Fortune Teller’s’! It’s available for all ios& Android devices and it’s ideal for A2-B1 level!

Before starting, download the digital storybook here:

 152X152

ios: http://bit.ly/1pzv6O8

Android: http://bit.ly/1jzu9RL

 

This double- path digital storybook is a wonderful supplement to any coursebook or materials your students may already be using in the English class!

The Plot of the Storybook in Brief:

On a day trip to London the endearing 9-year-old twins, Dylan and Lydia, meet Madame Sonya, a famous fortune teller who slyly tries to trick them into her evil plans. The twins have the chance to experience magical moments in ‘Fantasy Land’ or spend an adventurous day with notorious pirates on a real pirate ship! Both adventures teach them important life lessons about the value of true friendship and trust.

For a great variety of extra photocopiable ELT activities, drawings, games and DIY crafts, get some sample pages from the handbook I’ve created here:

Dylan& Lydia Sample Pages HANDBOOK

If you plan to use Dylan& Lydia in class and need the whole handbook, please send me an e-mail me at martidouchristina@gmail.com  

We’d love to hear your and your student’s feedback in the comments’ section below! Please don’t hesitate to contact me for any relevant queries. Hope our stories will add a touch of magic to your lessons, motivate your students and make language acquisition a fun, hands- on experience!

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Best wishes,

Christina

‘A Childhood Dream Comes True: The Making of Our 1st Digital Storybook’

banner_1024x500I’m very excited and proud to announce that our first digital storybook for YLs of English (aged 9 and above) has been recently released on the App store and the Android market! ‘Dylan and Lydia at the Fortune Teller’s’ is a highly interactive, double- path story packed with:

* delightful illustrations

* enchanting background music

* engaging audio narration

* multiple reading modes: Read to me- Read it myself and Record my voice

* charming animations, surprise features & sound effects within each page.

* enjoyable ELT activities

* in-built dictionaries

* fun story-based games

The Plot in Brief:

On a day trip to London the endearing 9-year-old twins, Dylan and Lydia, meet Madame Sonya, a famous fortune teller who slyly tries to trick them into her evil plans. The twins have the chance to experience magical moments in ‘Fantasy Land’ or spend an adventurous day with notorious pirates on a real pirate ship! Both adventures teach them important life lessons about the value of true friendship and trust. You can take a slight idea from the promo video below:

How it all started:

My sister Marina and I have always loved fairy tales and until today we’re big fans of Walt Disney! Writing and publishing our very own children’s book was one of our childhood dreams. Feeling a great need to be creative in a time of deep financial crisis, we came up with Dylan and Lydia’s adventures last spring on a ship to Corfu- a beautiful island in the Ionian Sea.

Why a digital storybook?

Who doesn’t love a good story? A well- told tale can fascinate, grip and engross us in a fictional world no matter how old we are. Both children and adults are drawn to stories in a natural, effortless way. In effect, the pedagogical values of storytelling are unparalleled. It’s the oldest form of education and a fabulous tool in teachers’ hands. Albert Einstein’s quote beautifully describes the unique powers of storytelling: ‘If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.’ 😉

Einstein's quote

Stories can have a profound impact on foreign language learning too. They are motivating, fun and provide a low anxiety context for language learning. Teachers can exploit stories to introduce or revise new vocabulary, grammar rules, and language patterns as well as to engage students meaningfully.

Digital storybooks are the ‘new generation’ of fairy tales. They combine the multimodal nature of new technologies (text, visuals, audio, music and animations) and the valuable linguistic and psychological features of storytelling. This much promising ‘marriage’ reflects the digital age we live in and is bound to open up new paths in educational practices worldwide.

‘Dylan& Lydia at the Fortune Teller’s’ was created with this rationale in mind. It aims to address the needs of the 21st language learner by offering EFL teachers a brilliant chance to teach English through the lens of storytelling and technology! It can help boost young learners’ language proficiency, spark their imagination and engage them in extensive reading.

Making of:

The journey from the initial grasping of this idea until its final completion has been wonderful yet sometimes overwhelming! By no means, could we imagine the amount of work and devotion needed when we first ventured into this project.

One of the first things we did was an extensive research on the ELT market for similar products. We also read numerous digital storybooks to spot their main features compared to traditional print fairy tales. Next, we planned the basic structure of the storybook and I set out to write the stories in English as well as design the accompanying activities and games.

Our main aim was to develop an educational App that would combine learning and entertainment seamlessly. For this reason, the storybook includes multiple choice questions, an imaginative writing activity, two in-built dictionaries and a glossary. The reader can then have fun while making sliding puzzles or matching pairs with 3 levels of difficulty. What’s more, 2 mini games (a hidden objects game & a knowledge quiz) are an integral, contextualized part of the plot. In this way, the reader is involved in the action and the overall reading experience becomes more interactive, fun and engaging.

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Unlike conventional linear novels, we thought of writing two stories instead of one, with different endings and morals. So, when Dylan and Lydia are in Madame Sonya’s caravan, the reader can choose the direction of the story in the role of the protagonists and create his own reading path.

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From a pedagogical scope, the tales have been written in simple yet not oversimplified English both in terms of vocabulary and grammar. The repetition of words and lexical sets along with the two dictionaries contribute to learning and content understanding. Delightful illustrations complement the text and make it easier for less fluent students to understand and follow the story. The user can hear the story read aloud or record his own voice narrating and play it back! This helps improve both his listening and diction skills.

It’s a well-known fact that language learners’ exposure to different accents and voices is beneficial. So, two great colleagues and native speakers of English, Edmund Dudley and Esther Martin, have lent their voices to this fairy tale. The roles of the main characters have been narrated by students of ours (non-native speakers).  In this way, when students read the stories, they can relate to other fluent young learners of English.

As for the graphics, we experimented a lot in order to make our characters appealing to young children. The outfits and the overall style of the protagonists have been carefully chosen. We have mainly used bright and joyful colours except for the screenshots at Madame Sonya’s caravan where we wanted to add some extra sense of mystery :-). Every screenshot has been designed in detail and there are many interactive elements and surprises for the learner to discover.

Most importantly, English language learners have been part of this creative process from day one. We had all the materials (texts, graphic designs, games& activities) tested by 10- 12 year old students (boys and girls) from different backgrounds and language levels. Their feedback was invaluable and we actually implemented many of their ideas.

Challenges along the way:

A very common problem with children’s stories written for language learning purposes is the dumbing down of the texts which unavoidably leads to their loss of magic!  Therefore, achieving a suitable language level for learners worldwide without sacrificing our stories’ magic was by all means one of the most serious challenges I had to face. Being used to teaching Greek students who usually acquire a high level of English from an early age, my first drafts were pretty advanced. So, I used the valuable help of Hanna Kryszewska and Charles Boyle to grade down the original texts appropriately. Here is just a short sample of the first draft and its final adaptation.

textThe second biggest challenge was the recording of my students’ voices. To ensure the high quality of sound, we visited the professional recording studio where my sister broadcasts her radio show on a daily basis. My students were more than happy to participate and were thrilled to visit a recording studio! However, they were a bit intimidated by the microphone at first. The tricky part for us was to achieve a satisfying level of performance (good pronunciation and acting) without losing students’ spontaneity by having them repeat their lines again and again. Luckily, with a little encouragement, the recordings were completed successfully ;-). Here are some pictures from the studio:

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Some trivia:

  • Madame Sonya was initially drawn by my sister Marina when she was in high school! While sorting out old stuff, we came across the drawing and decided to craft a story around this mysterious white cat ;-). Look at the following collage and see how the drawing was adapted by the graphic designer to fit the overall look of the storybook.

ms collage

  • The charming music that comes with our storybook is royalty- free music that we found on the Internet. The artist Kevin MacLeod offers a big number of pieces that can be used for educational purposes under a Creative Commons license. Visit his website here:  http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/
  • When my sister recorded Madame Sonya’s lines, she was 9-months pregnant 😉

Seeing the project being completed piece by piece and our characters come to life has been a truly unique experience! With the help of dear colleagues and the participation of enthusiastic English language learners, our personal dream has come true! We’d like to thank each of them wholeheartedly for their invaluable contribution.

Please visit the App store here , the Play store here and Slideme here to install and read our storybook. We’d be delighted to receive your and your students’ feedback! You can also like our FB page for updates and supplementary teaching materials.

We really hope that our stories will touch the hearts of young English language learners all over the world and make language acquisition a fun, hands-on experience!

All the best,

Christina

Coming soon…

…a fresh blog post about the making of our 1st digital storybook for young learners of English! ‘Dylan& Lydia at the Fortune Teller’s’ is now available for all ios and Android devices!

In the meantime, take a slight taste from the short video below:

Stay tuned 🙂

All the best,

Christina

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