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Having English Language Learners Use Cellphones To Identify High-Interest Vocabulary

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Taking an idea I learned from Heather Barikmo at a New York Times Learning Network post, I’ve begun asking my Beginning English Language Learners to take photos with their phones of signs and/or words they see outside of school but don’t know what they mean.

To paraphrase what was in that Times post, one of the benefits of doing this is that it helps students remember that they need to be intentional about learning English all the time — not just when they’re in the classroom

We’re just beginning, and I’m planning on asking each of them to take three photo each, and then text them to me.

Here’s the first batch. I’m sure there are many apps that would do the job, but I used one called Photo Slideshow Director HD Pro to make a slideshow of the images, upload it to YouTube, and then embed it on our class blog. I was going to use Animoto, but if you pause it, the video shows a big arrow in the middle, so that wouldn’t work.

I figure we’ll show the video all the way through first without having students say anything — that way, they’d have time to see and think about them. Next, we’ll go through them one at a time to see first if other students have any idea what it might mean, and then see if they can identify any clues. Finally, we’ll clarify what it means and discuss where we might see those signs.

Here’s our first video:

Do you do anything like this? If so, how do you handle it?

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

One Comment

  1. On a computer I would use the YouTube Slideshow maker – http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2013/10/how-to-create-audio-slideshows-in.html

    On an iPhone I might have used iMovie?

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