Posts Tagged ‘educational technology’

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

‘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.

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  • 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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‘How to celebrate Christmas with Technology: 7 ideas& a lesson plan.’

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.com and 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:

 http://bit.ly/1efIj9E

http://bit.ly/1efIsKh

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:

http://www.123greetings.com/events/christmas/spirit_of_christmas/

http://www.dancingsantacard.com/en/

http://www.elfyourself.com/

I’m sure your students will enjoy this simple yet cool activity! Have a look at my elf self  here 😉

6. VOKI is 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 😉

7. ANIMOTOPICOVICOCLIPGENERATOR

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.

For more Christmassy ideas click here.

Hope you all enjoy the best holidays ever ;-)!

All the best,

Christina

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Go Techy this School Year: 6 Easy Tools& Useful tips!

Fotor090503554A beautiful summer has flown away and another school year has just kicked off!  For most teachers, this is a very busy yet exciting period of time since we get the chance to make a brand new start, set new teaching goals and bring fresh ideas into our classrooms!

If you are a novice in the use of technology and you wish to ‘go techy’ this school year, below you’ll find a selection of 6 basic, very simple educational tools and websites you can explore and use with your students.

JING is definitely number one on my list. It’s a fabulous tool that captures what you see or records whatever you are doing on your computer screen. Once you’re done with your screen capture or video, simply upload it to screencast.com and share it through IM, email, social media and more. You can create up to 5- minute- videos to:

– Provide feedback on your students’ writing assignments in a more elaborate and contextualized way.

– Give instructions alternatively.

– Add voice to your Power Point presentations.

 In fact, any speaking activity can take place with Jing! Ask your students to send you a Jing video about:

-Their likes and dislikes (a favourite website, song, actor, their most hated movie character etc.)

– An object, an animal, a photograph they love, explaining why it’s important to them.

I personally love using Jing with my FCE students! They can compare and contrast pictures while recording themselves. This way they get a lot of practice and reflect on their performance! This is the link to one of my FCE student’s video: http://bit.ly/14SixDZ

On the Techsmith website, you’ll find many free training videos that will take you step-by-step through the use of Jing. Trust me once you try it, you’ll love it 🙂

EDMODO is a great social networking platform for educators. At first glance, Edmodo will remind you of Facebook. However, it’s more private, educationally- orientated and definitely safer! It allows you to set up class groups quickly, share your materials, assign homework, and create puzzles, polls and quizzes! So, go ahead and host your own online classroom where learners can log in and collaborate after school too!

AVATARS When you go online with your students, their safety is of utmost importance! If your students are under 18, they should use avatar images in their profiles instead of real pictures. Avatar- creation is a fun activity that also provides learners with hands- on practise in identity- building.Have a look at the cool avatars of myself that I created using 3 awesome websites (marvel.com, southparkstudios.com & reasonablyclever.com). Which one do you like best ;-)?

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KEYBR is a nice website you can use to train your students- especially the younger ones- to type accurately and faster.

TAGXEDOABCYa: Both are wonderful word cloud generators! Tagxedo is more sophisticated and will appeal to your older students while ABCYa is ideal for younger learners. Pick the one that suits your students’ age group and needs best and let them be creative 🙂 If you want to learn more about Tagxedo, click here.

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SKYPE We have all used or at least heard of Skype! It’s a free, easy tool which opens up your classroom to the rest of the world! Your language learners can benefit from talking to experts as well as cooperate and share ideas with other classrooms. This way, foreign language learning becomes much more targeted and realistic! Here are 10 creative ways you can use Skype in education http://www.edudemic.com/10-ways-to-start-using-skype-in-the-classroom/

 **Things to consider when using technology:

-Always have a back-up plan because many unpredictable things may occur in technology-based lessons!

– Make a contract with your students including strict, clearly-set rules about the appropriate use of technology in your classroom. The consequences of their violation should be clear too! Then, have both parents and students sign it to ensure a smoother school year!

-Don’t be ashamed of not knowing! Make your computer- geek students your assistants! They often know lots of useful tricks and they are eager to help the teacher out when technology ‘emergencies’ come up!

– Raise students’ awareness on how to stay safe online! This is an excellent video you can use to teach them about online safety: http://premierskills.britishcouncil.org/en/learn-english/staying-safe-online

Technology is a powerful teaching aid that can give a new dimension to our lessons if used wisely, for the right reasons. Don’t be afraid to embrace it, even if you face difficulties in the beginning because this is part of the ‘game’. In the long run, you’ll realize that stretching out of your comfort zone now and then is really enjoyable and rewarding! 

All the best& good luck!

Christina

*If you enjoy reading this blog and want to keep up with my latest posts, you can subscribe by adding your e-mail address to the relevant box on the right-hand column.

Collage made using photos taken from http://flickr.com/eltpics by @CliveSir, @sandymillin, @foster_timothy,@aClilToClimb and AnaMariaMenezes used under a CC Attribution Non-Commercial license, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

How to create and use comics with your English language learners!!!

In 2012 I attended a very useful online EVO session on ‘Digital Storytelling for Young Learners’. Among other things, I became familiar with a variety of web tools used to create comic strips and explored the ways to incorporate them in my EFL lessons effectively. In this post, I’d like to share some of the things I learnt as well as reflect on the use of comics in language teaching from my personal experience.

To start with, I’ll suggest 6 great comic creation tools! The first four are simpler to use and there is no need to sign up in order to employ them. The rest two are a bit more sophisticated, thus more appropriate for older students or very competent computer users.

1. Dvolver is one of my favourite tools! Completely free and straightforward! Just select your characters, different backgrounds, add your lines and music to create a comic strip in the form of a digital movie!!! You can e-mail your movie as soon as you’ve completed it!

2. Professor Garfield: Who doesn’t love this lazy, fat cat who hates Mondays and diets :-)?! Your students will have loads of fun while making their short storylines with Garfield and his friends Jon and Odie! They can then print or save their strips as a jpg or png file to their PCs! The site offers some nice tips and videos about the secrets of writing comics that your students will find very handy before moving on to the creative process! Check out the strip two of my intermediate students created with my help after a session on how to stay safe online.

3. Phrase.it This is a lovely tool to add cartoon speech bubbles to your own pictures! It also lets you import FB images or use a random stock photo! It’s ideal both for very young learners and older ones! It allows you to post your creations to FB, tweet or pin them, download or e-mail them! Take a look at the three images below to see what you can do with it!

4. Makebeliefscomix.com: That’s a neat, free tool to create comics with! However, the site doesn’t store your comixs! Thus, you should e-mail, print the out or use Jing (or another screenshot tool) to capture and save them to your computer!

5. Toondoo Learners can create wonderful strips with Toondoo! There is a variety of characters, backgrounds and inbuilt clipart! Signing up is free and students’ work can be embedded, e-mailed or printed! The comment feature is also available in the free version! You can also create private Toon spaces for your class/ school at a low rate. Here is a lovely Toon my 12 –year- old students Achilles and Elizabeth made the other day:6. X-treme Comics is a powerful visual writing tool! Teachers set up an account, add students (with or without e-mail) and can easily moderate their actions! Students can create very elaborate strips that will then be printed, downloaded, embedded or shared on the web!

Why?

Because…

  • Comics are a great way to inspire and motivate students of all ages! Even yourself ;-)!
  • It helps learners get a clearer understanding of how to develop a story in a logical sequence (Beginning- Middle- End).
  • Students learn how to convey an idea precisely in a few words! Trust me, it’s more difficult than it sounds!
  • Learners get the chance to practise the dialogue aspect of comic stories.
  • They practise creating& designing characters with different personalities (nice, mean, funny, heroic, goofy e.t.c), giving them emotions as well as picking the setting of their stories.
  • Students can understand the differences between traditional narratives and comic strips more easily. (more dialogues, images, use of punch lines, funny words or ‘pantomime’ e.t.c)

 Teaching Ideas:

Here are some ideas on how to use comics in class! Ask students to make comics:

  • On Internet safety rules.
  • On road safety rules.
  • On Facebook manners or other useful social media habits.
  • To describe ways to stay healthy or happy.
  • To create an autobiographical comic strip at the beginning of the school year.
  • To change or go beyond the ending of a book you have just read in class.
  • To build their plot based on a given prompt. This is a cool website for story starters for kids: http://www.thestorystarter.com/jr.htm
  • To comment on a current social or political issue.
  • To describe or summarize their feelings about a personal experience (e.g a school trip, holidays, cheating or failing a test, been lied to by their best friend…).
  • To present a recipe or make an instruction manual.
  • To practise on a new grammar rule or new vocabulary words.

 Tips to get the best out of comic strips:

  • Make sure to familiarize yourself with the comic creation tool(s) before introducing it/them in class. Explore their capacities, how they function as well as their weaknesses/ limitations.
  • Choose the tool or website that best suits your students’ age, level as well as their computer skills! Some of these tools can be quite complex and may discourage the less tech-savvy students. Collaborative work is preferable!
  • Give students time to experiment and play with your chosen tool.
  • Learners should always plan their comic strips before they start creating them.
  • If you want to challenge your students a bit, why not give them 5 specific words they ‘must’ use in their strip?
  • From my experience, this whole creative process can be pretty time-consuming. Nevertheless, it’s very worthwhile if anything, for the sheer fun of it :-).

Have you ever tried using comics in your ELT class? What were your students reactions? Did you face any problems?

I’d love to hear your experiences!

All the best,

Christina

‘St. Valentine loves Technology: 5 ideas for your ELT class!’

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:

  1. 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?’.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. Ask students to describe the characters using as many relevant adjectives as they can!
  5. Can they think of an alternative film title?
  6. 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.

All the best,

Christina