One of my more popular “The Best…” lists is The Best Ways To Use Photos In Lessons. Though that list includes several online tools, I recently realized I hadn’t included many that I use and have previously posted about. So, I thought I’d bring them all together in a new list.
Here are my choices for The Best Online Tools For Using Photos In Lessons:
I’m a big proponent of the Picture Word Inductive Model as a strategy for English Language Learners to develop reading and writing skills (I describe it in detail in this month’s ASCD Educational Leadership in my article, Get Organized Around Assets). It begins with the teacher labeling items in thematic photos with the help of students. The webtool Thinglink could be a great deal to help ELL’s maximize the advantages of this instructional strategy. Thinglink lets you upload or grab an image or video off the web and annotate items with the image or video super-easily. It basically looks like a photo in the Picture Word Inductive Model, just online. Thinglink’s recently announced for educators and students that you can now annotate fifty images free, and the cost for far more is next-to-nothing.
Here’s an image I annotated in the PWIM style (you can embed images, too) Just put your cursor on the photo (if you’re reading this on an RSS Reader, you’ll have to click through to the actual blog post):
Students can pick photos online or upload ones that are reinforcing the theme we’re studying, and label the items. In fact, you can even choose to have your photos/videos be able to be annotated by others, too!
Szoter doesn’t require registration, you can upload or grab images off the web (just insert its url address), and the final product looks just like an image would look like using the Picture Word Inductive Model.
Pic-Lits lets users pick an image from selection and then “drag-and-drop” words onto the image. The user’s creation can then be saved with a link posted, or it can be embedded. It has some elements that might make it particularly useful to English Language Learners. The words you can choose from are labeled by their parts of speech, and once you drop the word on the image you can see all the different verb conjugations and choose one. You can write a poem or describe the picture. You also have the option of writing whatever words you want if you don’t want to be limited by the words available to drag-and-drop.
Five Card Flickr Story lets you pick five photos from a group of pre-selected images from Flickr and then write a story about them. It saves your selection and story, and provides you with a link to it. No registration is required.
I take photos (and have students take photos) using iPhone apps that let you provide an accompanying audio commentary.
The best app for this kind of excellent speaking practice exercise is Fotobabble. The web version is already on The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English list, and I’m adding the phone app there, too (here are several examples where I’ve used both the web and iPhone version in class). You take a photo, provide an up-to-one minute commentary, and then can share it several ways. You can email it to yourself, too, where you are provided a link to it on the Fotobabble site. You’re given the opportunity to re-record if you don’t like how it sounds on the first try, and you can make other changes to it, too. It also provides the option to embed, as I have done with this quick experiment (a photo of one of our dogs, Lola):
Another option is an app called Picle. It only gives you ten seconds of commentary, but you can choose to have it record at the same time you’re taking the photo or afterwards. It doesn’t offer an embed option, but you can link to it on the Picle website. It also doesn’t appear to give you an opportunity to re-record if you’re not satisfied with your first try. Here’s a sample – again of Lola.
enpixa is a similar iPhone app. It’s free, and you can add a thirty second recording.
Skqueak is a new free iPhone app I like a lot that lets you easily provide audio for photos. There are several other apps in this post that do something similar. However, I suspect that Skqueak is going to give them a run for their money. It’s very simple to use, it appears to have a very extended recording time (though I’m not sure what the time limit is exactly) and, most importantly, it makes it extremely easy to create sort of a seamless audio slideshow. None of the other similar apps have such an ability, or at least one that is as easy to use.
Here’s a short example:
Phreetings lets you search for an image (it appears to use Flickr, but I can’t be sure), drag and drop it on a virtual card, and then write something below it (it looks like you can write a lot there). You’re then given the url to copy and paste. During our study of natural disasters, for example, I can see my students finding an image labeled “Katrina” and writing a short report on what they’ve learned so far about the hurricane.
Bubblr is a super-easy tool to use for adding “speech bubbles” to online photos. ImgOps lets you do the same thing.
The Art of Storytelling is a site from the Delaware Art Museum that allows you pick a painting (they don’t use photos, but the site is so good I decided to inlude it in this list anyway), write a short story about it, record it with your computer microphone, and email the url address for posting on a student website or blog. It’s extraordinarily simple, and extraordinarily accessible to any level of English Language Learner. No registration is required.
Dubbler joins the list of several free Smartphone apps that let you record a sixty second audio caption for a photo.
Wave joins the list of several free Smartphone apps that let you record an audio caption for a photo.
Feelit joins the ever-growing list of Smartphone apps that let you record audio along with your photos.
Feedback, as always, is welcome. Please contribute your own suggestions on using photos in the classroom.
I’ve previously posted about having English Language Learner students write and describe the process they’ve used to write an essay (see A Pretty Darn Good Lesson — If I Say So Myself ). They then record themselves using the Fotobabble web tool.
I’ve got to collect all my posts related to metacognition into a “The Best…” list…
Last week, I had my Beginning ELL students do something similar, but a little different.
We’ve been working writing research essays, and using graphic organizers that they construct. Their first one was on an animal of their choosing (we’re going on a field trip to the zoo soon). They’ll be doing another one on a country of their choice and, to further solidify the writing process in their minds, they described the process they used. They’re holding their essays and their graphic organizers in the photos.
It’s a simple exercise that covers all four domains — reading, writing, speaking, and listening (we post them on our class blog and show them to the class).
This week in class I’m going to start taking photos (and have students taking photos) using iPhone apps that let you provide an accompanying audio commentary.
The best app for this kind of excellent speaking practice exercise is Fotobabble. The web version is already on The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English list, and I’m adding the phone app there, too. You take a photo, provide an up-to-one minute commentary, and then can share it several ways. You can email it to yourself, too, where you are provided a link to it on the Fotobabble site. You’re given the opportunity to re-record if you don’t like how it sounds on the first try, and you can make other changes to it, too. It also provides the option to embed, as I have done with this quick experiment (a photo of one of our dogs, Lola):
Another option, which was launched this week at the SXSW conference in Austin this week, is an app called Picle. It only gives you ten seconds of commentary, but you can choose to have it record at the same time you’re taking the photo or afterwards. It doesn’t offer an embed option, but you can link to it on the Picle website. It also doesn’t appear to give you an opportunity to re-record if you’re not satisfied with your first try. Here’s a sample – again of Lola.
I’d definitely vote for Fotobabble. However, since Picle is new, I assume they’ll be making lots of improvements in the future.
Last week, my classes all of a sudden became more challenging.
Instead of teaching two separate classes of United States History to Intermediate English Language Learners, one double-block period of Beginning ELL’s, and one period of IB Theory of Knowledge, my schedule now looks like this:
First Period: U.S. History to Intermediate ELL’s
Second Period: Prep
Third and Fourth Period: Combined class of Beginners and Intermediates
Fifth Period: U.S. History to Intermediate and Beginning ELL’s
Sixth Period: Theory of Knowledge
It’s all going to work out fine, and I’ll certainly get some new good ideas out of it to add to my upcoming book on teaching ELL’s (Katie Hull, my co-author and colleague, and I just submitted our 90,000 word manuscript to editors over the weekend — it will be published next July, and I’ll have time to make additions in December).
But it did force me to make some changes to my new English class blog. It now includes a list of accessible links to what, in my opinion, are the Best Sites For Beginners, Intermediates, and Advanced English Language Learners (Katie’s class of advanced students will now also use the site).
I just copied the sidebar from the class blog and pasted it here. You can find more specific reviews for all of them if you search this blog. I also included a section from the sidebar where I’ll be adding music and video sites that I’ll be using in the classroom via computer project — those sites are blocked to students, but not to teachers.
Let me know what you think — am I missing something?
Feel free to add suggestions in the comments, and also feel free to visit the class blog, which will be continually updated with new assignments and sites.
I usually just do a year-end list on this topic and many others, but it gets a little crazy having to review all of my zillion posts at once. So, to make it easier for me — and perhaps, to make it a little more useful to readers — I’m going to start publishing mid-year lists, too. These won’t be ranked, unlike my year-end “The Best…” lists, and just because a site appears on a mid-year list doesn’t guarantee it will be included in an end-of-the-year one. But, at least, I won’t have to review all my year’s posts in December…
Here are my choices for The Best Resources, Articles & Blog Posts For Teachers Of ELL’s In 2011 — So Far:
Every so often I’ll have a student who says they’re not very interested in learning English because they’re going back to Mexico as soon as possible. My usual response, which has been pretty effective, is that the student is likely to get a better-paying job there if he/she knows English, too. That position makes sense to me and, usually, to the student, who then tends to become more serious about learning English. I have gotten anecdotal evidence from English teachers in Mexico that this statement is true, but had never been able to find any concrete evidence to back it up. Until now.
The Guardian recently ran a story on research showing that knowing English increased your income by 25% in five countries in the developing world. Mexico wasn’t one of the countries started, but just being able to show this kind of data to my students will be helpful.
There are tons of simple tools that English Language Learners can use to practice speaking when they’re in the computer lab, and I’ve got the best ones listed at The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English. But what about when you’re not in the computer lab? What’s the easiest way to have students do an audio-recording so that they, and their classmates (and others), can listen to — and evaluate — their work? One option is to consider the tools listed at The Best Sites For Students To Record Audio By Phone. However, I recently learned about a new way that might just be the easiest. Audioboo is an excellent recording tool, and is on “The Best….” speaking list. And Posterous is a blogging tool that — though it has some disadvantages,too — is on several other “The Best…” lists.
Here’s a short video that shows how easy it is to connect Audiobook to a Posterous blog — and it’s VERY easy. I could see setting-up a class blog, perhaps only for audio recordings, and regularly going around with my iPhone and having students in the classroom record short snippets — of what they’re reading, writing, or some dialogue they’ve prepared. More importantly, at least in my case since we typically have generous access to a computer lab and can use other audio tools that I think are a bit better, it would be great to use this combination when we’re on field trips. I’ll be teaching Beginning English Language Learners next year, and we’ll be going on many short ones, so I could really see this combo working out well.
The New York Times has published an excellent interactive titled “Belongings.” Here’s how they describe it:
There are three million immigrants in New York City. When they left home, knowing it could be forever, they packed what they could not bear to leave behind: necessities, luxuries, memories. Here is a look at what some of them brought.
This is such a great question that all teachers of English Language Learners could use in class! Not only could students answer it, but it’s an opportunity to have them as the same question to their parents. Students could draw and write the answers and/or take images and put them either on the Web or on a classroom poster.
As a “warm-up” and for some low-stress practice, for students preparing to record a video “book trailer,” we had them make one minute Fotobabbles about their favorite books of the year. Students just go to Amazon, find the book, right-click on the image, left-click on “View image information” and then copy the “location.” They can then paste that url address into Fotobabble to get the front page of the book. Next, they use the outline I shared in that previous post to say their review. You can see a some excellent examples at our class blog.
EFL Classroom 2.0, clearly the number one support site for ESL/EFL teachers from around the world, is now a public site. In other words, you don’t have to log-on to access many of the great resources it has available. There are some resources, however, that will only be available to “Supporters,” who just have to pay fifteen dollars a year,and it’s well worth the cost. David Deubelbeiss has written a post explaining the change.
I’ve done a series of what I think are pretty interesting interviews with EFL teachers from around the world who are in “hot spots,” places where they’ve had political upheavals, natural disasters, etc. You read all of them here.
Instalyrics is a new site that shows you the lyrics to any song very, very quickly, along with a music video that goes along with it.
There are two sites that provide clozes (gap-fills) to music videos as they are played. Since they both use YouTube videos and most schools don’t provide YouTube access for students, I’m not adding them to “The Best…” list for ELL students. But since many schools, like my own, allow YouTube access to teachers, I’m including them here. Teachers can project them on a screen and students, as a class or in small groups, can figure out the answers. The two sites are:
Lyrics Gaps lets you choose a song and the language you want it sung in and then gives you the option of seeing/hearing it in different modes — karaoke, beginner, intermediate, expert. Apart from karaoke mode, you’re then shown a YouTube video of the singer, along with the lyrics on the side including blanks (fill-in-the-gap). I especially like the beginner mode, which provides several options to chose to complete the sentences. The higher levels don’t give any hints.
Lyrics Training shows YouTube videos of the latest popular songs, and provides subtitled “clozes.” In other words, it will show the words as they are sung, but it will periodically show a “blank” where a word has been removed. The video will stop at the end of that line, and listeners have to type in the correct word that they heard. The “blank” also shows how many letters there are in the missing word. You’re given the option of watching the video with a few blanks, more blanks, or none (which is great after you complete the whole song). It’s great to project it up on the screen and then have students — either individually or in small groups — use small whiteboards to write down their answers. It’s simple to use — no registration is necessary — and you can learn more about it at Teacher Training Videos.
36 print optimized lessons based on the teacher / learner friendly methodology of SCC or Student Created Content. Multi media resource links for each lesson. Teacher’s notes for each lesson. Dozens of blackline master printable extras. Download each lesson from the private wiki and edit for your own environment/class! Voicethread practice linked for all students, for each lesson. It’s not just a text book – it’s a teaching toolkit! Buy one copy and use with the whole class.
I’ve already used some of his materials with my class. If you go to the link, you’ll also be able to see samples.
The Guardian Teacher Network, from the British newspaper, has thousands of resources that can be printed out and used in the classroom. I was quite impressed with the high quality of the materials that I saw, and many can be used with English Language Learners.
The ELT Journal, from The Oxford Journals, is a very nice collection of articles that teachers of English Language Learners would find useful. The collection, titled Key Concepts In ELT, is described this way on the top of the webpage:
‘Key Concepts in ELT’ is a feature of the Journal that aims to assist readers to develop an appreciation of central ideas in ELT, and to approach the content of articles from a perspective informed by current debate on aspects of theory and practice. The list given below is an up-to-date guide to all ‘Key Concepts’ that have been published in the Journal. The list contains links to the original articles, which are available to download free of charge (PDF file).
Teaching English through songs in the digital age is a four part series by Vicky Saumell summarizing an #ELTchat session on Twitter. I can’t imagine you’d find a better compilation of resources and teaching ideas anyway — it’s a must-read and must-bookmark resource.
And, if that isn’t enough for you, Eva Büyüksimkeşyan has also posted another exhaustive list of music-related resources: Songs in EFL Classroom.
Sock Puppets is a simple iPhone app that lets you easily record a student and upload it to YouTube. It can be used to briefly record a student speaking or reading in class, or even to have two or three students record a simple play (the free app allows thirty seconds of recording while for 99 cents you can upgrade to 90 seconds). One major advantage of using this for speaking practice is that it’s the sock puppet that’s actually speaking on the display, not the student. It looks like it could have potential. Thanks to techchef4u for the tip.
Feedback is welcome, including additional suggestions.
A couple of years ago I posted The Best Basic Sites For K-12 Beginning English Language Learners. For every other “The Best…” list I’ve revised, I’ve just made changes to the original post. However, even though there are a number of changes in this revised list, I’m leaving the older post as it was since there are still some good sites on it.
In a few weeks I begin teaching Beginning English Language Learners again after a bit of a break — I’ve been teaching either Early Intermediates or Intermediates for the last few years. I’m generally going to be pretty strategic about what I ask them to do in the computer lab for reinforcing activities (and for creating their own online content). However, I also wanted to identify a short list of sites I encourage them to periodically explore.
This “The Best…” list is the result.
Let me know if you think I’m missing any from this list, or if you think any that I’ve included should be taken off….
Here are my choices for The Best Ten Basic Sites For Beginning English Language Learners (Revised) — and they’re not listed in any order of priority, except for the first one:
English Central, of course, is the favorite of many ESL/EFL teachers. I’ve written about it constantly, and continue to be amazed by the site. In fact, this Tuesday morning it’s coming out with a major upgrade, which you can read about at David Deubelbeiss’ blog. And, in the unlikely even you don’t know what English Central is, here’s a short video explaining it:
Henny Jellema’s Online TPR Exercises has got to be on this list. You’ve got to see this site to believe it. I can’t imagine the amount of work that went into creating the exercises. However, as he cautions, it’s critical to combine using his online activities with real-life Total Physical Response lessons.
U.S.A Learns is an incredible website to help users learn English. Even though it’s primarily designed for older learners, it seems very accessible to all but the very youngest ELL’s. It’s free to use. Students can register if they want to save their work and evaluate their progress. It’s a joint effort of the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE), Internet and Media Services Department and the Project IDEAL Support Center at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research.
Starfall has to be on this list, too, for its extraordinary beginning reading activities.
Kiz Club also has a great collection of accessible stories.
For other reading activities, I’m sort of cheating by listing the Fiction Stories and Non-Fiction section of my website and counting it as one for the purposes of this list. There are links to thousands of “talking stories” there. I’ve been a bit lax in keeping up some pages of my student site, but these should be relatively up-to-date.
Strivney is a free newer site for beginning readers (it has a special section for English Language Learners) with 1,000 interactive exercises and games. You need to register for most beyond the sample exercises, but it’s super easy to do so. The site also has printables you can use to reinforce the online activities.
Into The Book has interactive exercises that reinforce students learning how to apply reading strategies.
Fotobabble is my favorite all-purpose Web 2.0 site. Students can grab any photo off the web, or upload their own, and record a one minute narration that goes along with it. It can be used for speaking practice, as a formative reading assessment with students reading a weeks apart so they can see their improvement — the list is endless,and I’ve posted many times about how I use it with students.
I also share a list of Post Rank’s analysis of each month’s top posts. Post Rank uses a variety of ways to measure level of “engagement” that readers have with specific blog posts. I have a constantly updated “widget” on my blog’s sidebar that lists these posts, but I thought a monthly post would be helpful/interesting to subscribers who don’t regularly visit the blog itself.
I regularly highlight my picks for the most useful posts for each month — not including “The Best…” lists. I also use some of them in a more extensive monthly newsletter I send-out. You can see back issues of those newsletters here and my previous Best Posts of the Month at Websites Of The Month.
These posts are different from the ones I list under the monthly “Most Popular Blog Posts.” Those are the posts the largest numbers of readers “clicked-on” to read. I have to admit, I’ve been a bit lax about writing those posts, though.
Here are some of the posts I personally think are the best, and most helpful, ones I’ve written during this past month (not in any order of preference):
As a “warm-up” and for some low-stress practice, we’ve been having students make one minute Fotobabbles about their favorite books of the year. Students just go to Amazon, find the book, right-click on the image, left-click on “View image information” and then copy the “location.” They can then paste that url address into Fotobabble to get the front page of the book. Next, they use the outline I shared in that previous post to say their review.
As regular readers know, I’m a big fan of Fotobabble, the free tool that lets users use a photo and make a one minute recording to accompany it. I believe that it’s one of the best Web 2.0 tools out there — for English Language Learners and native English speakers alike.
The main drawback to it, of course, is that it’s been limited to a one minute recording.
Today, though, Fotobabble announced the ability to string together Fotobabbles in order to create a slideshow. The process does sound a little bit cumbersome but, then again, I haven’t tried it yet so I might very well be wrong. Here are their instructions on how to do it:
1. Create a series of Fotobabbles
2. Tag them all with the same, unique tag (i.e. FlatStanleyCA) and make them Public
3. Enter a slide number (i.e., where the Fotobabble should go in the slideshow)
4. Search for the unique tag in the search bar
5. After your search results appear, click the slideshow link
6. Your slideshow is ready!
When I try it with my students, I’ll post to let you know how easy or difficult it is. Please leave a comment sharing your experience, too.
The vast majority there are positive, though there are one or two students who answered negatively. There are another twenty students who will leave their responses next week. Again, the large majority are positive, but a few critical ones will also be posted.
One “take-away” from our series of lessons on Bloom’s is that I feel it really is important to do and that it’s basically an excellent lesson plan. However, the negative responses seem to primarily say it’s too confusing, so I think I need to take a little more time explaining and modeling examples. My other “take-away” is that, though I was very clear that it was fine to answer the question positively or negatively as long as they backed-up their position, I think most students still saw that I was probably hoping for a positive response. Even with that, a number felt comfortable standing their ground and responding critically. I’m very pleased that students have enough self-confidence (and feel comfortable with the public relationship that they and I have) that they will say things that they know I don’t necessarily want to hear. It bodes well for their future.
I’ve certainly heard these comments, or similar ones, from students over the years. Relevance is an important concept to our students, and many of us could probably do a better job at helping our students make those real-life connections to what we’re doing in the classroom.
I share some ideas about how to do that in my new book, and I’m trying out a new idea tomorrow in class. We’ve been learning about Bloom’s Taxonomy (you’ll also find that lesson in my book), and students are writing a short paragraph responding to the question “It is important to to learn about Bloom’s Taxonomy?” In addition to writing these paragraphs in an “ABC” form (Answer the Question; Back it up; Make a comment or connection), some will be recording what that wrote in a Fotobabble. You’ll be able to see their responses in our class blog on Friday.
He calls it the “4-3-2″ Fluency Activity. In it, students line up (standing or sitting) facing each other. Each one must be prepared to speak on something that they are already quite familiar with. First, they speak to their partner for four minutes about the topic. Then, they move down the line, and say the same thing for three minutes. Next, they move and speak for two minutes. Then, the students on the other side do the same thing.
It’s a great idea, and I think Katie Hull (my co-author on an upcoming book on teaching English Language Learners) and I were able to build on it and make it even better in the class we co-teach.
Here’s what we did:
We told students they were going to pick any topic they wanted, and prepare to speak about it first for three minutes, then two, and finally one (we thought that reduced time was more realistic for a first try). We first asked students to think of a topic they knew a lot about, and to write down as much as they could think about the topic.
Next, students were allowed two minutes to review their notes, and were told we would begin the the 3-2-1 activity — without their notes in front of them. The key new addition we made to the lesson (it was actually Katie’s idea), though, was preparing students to ask questions of their partner if he/she seemed “stuck” on what to say next. Katie and I modeled that situation in front of the class, and then the class was divided into two lines.
It turned out great, and the question-asking helped a lot.
Afterwards, we asked students write a reflection on the experience by answering two questions:
1) Did you like this activity? Explain why or why not.
2) Think about the first time you spoke about the topic and compare that time to doing 3-2-1 this period. How did it change? Easier? Harder? Did you improve?
Here are some of their responses:
I like it because it’s fun and we get to communicate with our friends and with new person. Also, it’s a good thing for your brain because this activity is a game to test your brain to see if you can still remember.
I like this activity because is fun and we can get time to communicate in English to each other.
Yes, I liked this activity because it help to do better for my speaking and also know more knowledge.
I nervous when I did first time because I didn’t do that before. It easier for me when in class because I more used to it.
The first time I spoke about the topic in the computer lab is hard because we don’t do it before. I am more improve when we talk in class.
I really improve doing 3-2-1 this period.
I improve in class because I talk more good than last time.
Because of logistics, we couldn’t get back to the computer lab last week. When we do this activity again, though, we’ll plan it so we can. That way, students will be able to listen to themselves speak the first time and then see how much they have improved the second time around.
One of the many reasons I wanted to involve students was to model the importance of accepting critique and working to get better at what we do.
This week, as part of our unit on Jamaica, students needed to compose, and perform, a song using Bob Marley’s music as a model. Two students chose to sing about me. In addition to commenting on the shine of my bald head, they sang about the videotaping experience. The one minute recording is pretty funny, and also shows that you never know what you do in the classroom will really “stick.”
In our mainstream ninth-grade English classes, some of the units we teach including having students review “glossaries” of the slang or language that people speak in the areas we’re studying — New Orleans and Jamaica. We have them do a variety of activities with it, including identifying words they like, writing postcards using the language and developing a dialogue (all this is part of our curriculum from Kelly Young and Pebble Creek Labs). In fact, tomorrow, we’ll be having our students record their short conversations using Fotobabble and post them on our class blog.
Students always love these lessons, and I think parts of this study gives me more insights into their academic value. The study talks about intentionally learning a language, but I would think even a short exposure to one, like we do in our classes, might have some comparable, though limited, benefit. Here are some related excerpts from the article:
As well as learning vocabulary and grammar you’re also unconsciously learning a whole new way of seeing the world,” said Dr Athanasopoulos. “There’s an inextricable link between language, culture and cognition.
“The benefits you gain are not just being able to converse in their language — it also gives you a valuable insight into their culture and how they think…It can also enable you to understand your own language better “
Late last year, I wrote a post titled A Pretty Darn Good Lesson — If I Say So Myself . In it, I described, and included links to student examples, of how our Intermediate English students “wrote about how they were going to write” and autobiographical incident essay, and then recorded it on Fotobabble. I also shared that we were planning on using that model throughout the year and make it progressively more challenging to our students.
I thought readers might want to hear about how we (when I say we, I mean Katie Hull, my co-teacher and co-author of an upcoming book on teaching English Language Learners) have been doing in that progression.
This week, after showing students a model of a persuasive essay, we had them write a short paragraph about a time they had to persuade someone to do something. In their paragraph, we asked them to use some of the key vocabulary words we had been learning (persuade, convince, reason, support, facts, etc.). Unlike the time I wrote about it before, this week students had to do more than just fill-in-the-blanks — they had to full construct their own paragraph. It’s a dry run for a more extensive persuasive essay they’ll be writing. We also took photos of students writing their paragraph, which we uploaded.
The day after students recorded their paragraphs, we listened to them in the classroom. On small pieces of paper, after each one minute passage was played, all students needed to write what they liked about the recording, or describe the picture it made them see in their mind, or make a connection by writing what it made them remember (reading strategies we use and which we are also applying to listening activities). A student would then collect them all and give them to the student who spoke. While that was going, we would give specific feedback to the student (we’ve been working on pronouncing clearly and reading with “feeling”).
At the end of the year, we’ll be having students assess themselves using an Improvement Rubric (I write more about this in my upcoming book, Helping Students Motivate Themselves, and include samples).
It was a great lesson on many levels, and Fotobabble sure makes it easy.
I’ve previously posted about Fotobabble, the great app that lets you easily post a photograph and a one minute accompanying audio narration.
We’ve begun having students write short dialogues, take their photos, and then have them record their dialogues. Afterwards, we listen to them as a class and together evaluate how clearly the words are pronounced, along with if they speak with “feeling.”
Certainly any strategy where students can see for themselves the progress they make over time can be a very effective confidence booster and a useful formative assessment tool, and I write about that in my upcoming book. The report, though, seems to say that all of the student’s improvement could be attributed to the Webcam recording, and not to anything else they did in the classroom. If I’m reading it correctly, then that seems to be an overstatement.
However, it has gotten me thinking. Webcams are problematic for our schools because of the difficulties of getting software approved to download. We do have reading fluency assessments, though, where students read short one minute passages to us three times each year. There’s no reason why we couldn’t have our Intermediate English students read them using one of the tools on The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English list, like FotoBabble.
Have any of you used video or audio recording in this way?