Here is a great selection of materials from Microsoft (in fact, it is a small online course in its own right) about an interesting feature they added to Skype to help education. You can find other teachers around the world and connect your classrooms so that the learners can play a guessing game (guess where in the world they are, or play ‘Mystery animal’ or something similar if the location is too obvious). There are a lot of useful materials and tips: for example, you can download a pdf with students’ roles. Even better, there is a template for the teacher’s professional development bingo – I’m definitely going to use this one!
I think this feature is just asking to be used in ELT: let me know if you decide to experiment!
I’ve heard it said before that it’s not enough to replace VHS with YouTube, or blackboards with IWBs. It’s just digital substitution, and it’s considered better practice to do something with the help of technology that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. And yet – original use doesn’t always mean deeper learning, and this interview at EdSurge.com takes things further: there is advice about redesigning edutech activities so that they actually move our students closer to deep learning: how to encourage meaningful dialogue, achieve meaningful work, make the learning experience authentic. Interesting!
Here is another little gem from Daniel Martin at Keep It Simple Activities (a great blog, totally recommend it: start with the mini series about mini whiteboards). This post is about using Padlet to encourage students to do listening activities collaboratively, but in their own time. The teacher uploads a (difficult) recording onto a Padlet board; the learners listen to it as many times as they need, identify useful language and make a note of it on the board that everyone can see. In class, the teacher explores and explains the notes open class.
It’s hard for me to say what I don’t like about this activity. It’s easy to set up and use, it’s motivating and developmental, and it’s infinitely flexible and adaptable to the needs of the learners. If you try it, let me or the post author know!
If you’re into transferring typical online activities into an offline medium (‘tweeting’ on slips of paper, ‘liking’ with felt-tip smileys), here is an ‘Instagram’ reading and writing activity from Eva Buyuksimkesyan you might like. In essence, learners discuss books and authors, and then write their Instagram bios and book posts with comments – but on paper. The best part is that in Eva’s version the students also took interesting pictures of their books to publish them later with a real hashtag #bookstagram, so the offline activity moved into the real online world – full circle.
So, who’s up for some ‘bookstagramming’?
My own attempt at using The Character Scrapbook for one of my favourite characters of all times: Ayla the Cro-Magnon.
Another useful find at freetech4teachers: an interactive character profile from Scholastic which can be completed online and then printed or saved digitally. Elementary and lower secondary students will probably enjoy it the most, though I can see adults appreciating the structured approach and bright colours. You don’t have to limit yourself to book characters, either! Why not use the template to create a new character for an original story, or describe a family member (or a pet – there are options for animals)? Simple and nice.
A screenshot of a PicLit picture I made with their word prompts
Here’s another teaching tool to bookmark. Yes, of course, you can always do a Google search for a nice copyright-free picture, add some words to it in Photoshop – but why all the hassle if there is a website where somebody has already done it for you? There are lots of pictures to choose from and type on, but I would recommend trying out the drag-and-drop wordlist: it’s a great timesaving and learning feature. You can also read the teaching tips, see what others have created, and save your own pictures with a link that can be sent to the students.
How can it be used? Well, writing and speaking prompts come to mind first; vocabulary revision; flash reading – everything is better with a picture 🙂
Here is a great example of how tech can help teachers track students’ progress in the most painless and time-saving way. The author uses extensive reading as an example, but this method can be applied to anything else you would like to track, especially if there are a lot of students and a lot of checkpoints. The answer is simple: Google Forms: you input the results with one click and get statistics in a neat spreadsheet.
Could be useful for that action research project you have been planning for ages!