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.
Wordle and Tagxedo are currently two of the most popular Web 2.0 tools. They turn the text of your choice (poems, lyrics, your tweets, news articles e.t.c) into visually wonderful word clouds in an instant! Both of them are free, easy- to –use and don’t require a user’s account. You can toy with different colours, shapes, fonts, orientation and themes to create your own word cloud. In this post, I’d like to share the way I love using them with my language learners!
Discovering and reading famous quotes is something I particularly enjoy when surfing the Net! For me, this kind of ‘concentrated wisdom’ eloquently expressed by eminent, successful people is inspiring to say the least!
Thus, I decided to use famous quotations as excellent thought- provokers and the springboard for further discussion and writing assignments in class too! Here is the procedure you can follow if you wish to try the same:
Collect quotes relevant to your student’s interests& create a Power Point presentation (you can download the one I used for free from the flash widget in the right hand column of the blog).
Write the words of each quote on separate post-it notes. (Alternatively you can print the quotes out and cut the sheet into strips- one or two words per strip according to the level of students& length of quote.)
Give each pair of students a different quotation.
Students must arrange post-its in a logical order to reassemble the quotation.
Pairs then discuss their quotation for five minutes.
Each pair writes a short summary of their discussion including their reactions and feelings about the quote.
In the meantime, write the names of the chosen public figures on the board. Ask students to guess& match the public figure to their quote. ‘Who said it?’
Your PP presentation will reveal the correct answers!
Students create a Tagxedo or Wordle out of their quote!
For homework you can have students ‘build’ their public figure’s profile by presenting 10 important life facts in class. If the quotes are contradictory enough, you can also ask more advanced learners to write a composition. Younger learners could memorize a quote for dictation.
Below you can see four Tagxedos my students created with great enthusiasm, based on different quotes:
Walt Disney: ‘All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them’.
Marilyn Monroe: ‘So keep your head high, keep your chin up and most importantly keep smiling, because life is a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about.’
Audrey Hepburn: ‘I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.’
Michael Jordan: ‘Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it or walk around it.’
Albert Einstein: ‘Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it’s stupid.’
Wordle or Tagxedo??
The two tools have a lot in common. However, I am a bigger fan of Tagxedo due to some features Wordle doesn’t possess:
You can upload and use your own pictures to be used as a template!
Your images can be saved in different sizes as jpg or png files. Saving your image in Wordle is more time-consuming& complex since you have to use print screen and then crop the image to get your word cloud.
I love the gallery of selected shapes (hearts, stars, animals, symbols).
Apart from blogs and wikis, tagxedos can be embedded into Facebook& Twitter.
For more ideas on how to use Worlde& Tagxedo have a look at the following links:
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 ;-)!
Last summer I decided to do a more focused teacher training course at Pilgrims in Canterbury, Kent. This time I picked a weekly seminar on ICT& the Use of Social Media in Education which is a field I’m particularly interested in. Kristina Smith, Işil Boy and Beyza Yilmaz earnestly shared their knowledge on how language teachers can make good use of major social media like Facebook and Twitter as well as a set of amazing Web 2.0 tools like Goggle docs, Jing, Diigo, Animoto, Scoop.it and Pinterest, while making sure that students are safe online and familiar with copyright issues. What’s more, they encouraged us to develop and extend our PLN (Personal Learning Network) and this is one of the main reasons I decided to start this blog :-)!
What made a very positive impression on me is the fact that the majority of my classmates were people in their 40s- 50s. My fellow trainees were proof of very committed teachers, determined to become tech- savvy despite the age factor so as to meet their students’ contemporary expectations and needs. Respect :-)!
This experience differed from the one in Oxford but it was surely beautiful in itself. The campus at the University of Kent was wonderful and we were lucky to enjoy the sunny weather during our stay!
Hopefully, I’ll get to meet some of my fellow trainees and our three lovely trainers in December at the 1st International Symposium on educational technology at the Yildiz Technical University in Istanbul.