Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

May 28, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

Create Your Own Geography Game With “GeoSettr”

GeoGuessr is one of my favorite games on The Best Online Geography Games list.

It’s now gotten even better.

You can now create your own GeoGuessr game at GeoSettr (Thanks to Google Maps Mania for the tip).

By the way, I’ve made a couple of other additions to that games list:

You can create a Mission Map Quest game here, and a Google Maps scavenger hunt at Terra Clues.

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May 27, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
3 Comments

The Best Online Geography Games

'Globe' photo (c) 2006, Steve Cadman - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

As regular readers know, in addition to teaching mainstream English classes and to Beginning and Intermediate English Language Learners, I also teach a Geography class to ELLs (as well as an IB Theory of Knowledge class).

I thought it might be useful to create a “The Best” list just focused on Geography games as a supplement to these other lists:

The Best Websites For Learning & Teaching Geography

The Best Geography Sites For Beginning & Intermediate English Language Learners

Here are my choices for The Best Online Geography Games:

I was prompted to make this list today after I learned about a particularly good new game called Map Race. It shows you views from the air of different cities, and you have to pick which city it is. You can put it in multiple choice mode or harder ones. It’s a good game that can be played with the whole class. Thanks to Google Maps Mania for the tip.

Scribble States is fun. Players have to “connect the dots” with a virtual pencil, and then have to answer a multiple-choice question about which state (in the United States) they just drew. And the whole thing is timed, to boot!

The Traveler IQ Challenge is probably going to be just about the most difficult map game you’ll ever play. But it’s a lot of fun, and there are “Challenges” from all parts of the world.

Placespotting is number four. Students are shown a spot on the map, and given a series of riddles to help them determine what it is. All these geographic riddles are user-generated, and students can create their own, too.

Map Battle  is a very easy-to-use tool to create geography games online.

GeoGuessr shows you an image from Google Street View, along with a map of the world. You click on the map indicating where you think the photo might be from, and then you’re shown the actual location. You’re given points based on how close your guess was to the original location.

The concept is similar to a number of other games, but GeoGuessr seems particularly well-designed. If played by a whole class with a computer projector, it could be particularly useful pressing students to identify clues in the image. And when you’re shown the actual location on the map, the names of many countries are shown, so it can be a good reinforcement activity.

You can now create your own GeoGuessr game at GeoSettr

You can play and/or create geography games at Purpose Games.

I Know That
and Sheppard Software are my favorite places to send students when we’re beginning to learn about a new part of the world. They have multiple games that students seem to enjoy.

You can create a Mission Map Quest game here, and a Google Maps scavenger hunt at Terra Clues.

In Pursued, you have escaped from being kidnapped and have to figure out which cities you’ve been taken. You explore the area through Google Street Views, and are given hints of what to look for. There are different levels of difficulty, and you can create your own level, too.

GR8CTZ — Great Cities of the World challenges you to guess which cities you’re seeing in Google Street View. It has different difficulty levels.

LocateStreet is a similar game using Street View. One nice feature is that it offers clues.

Earth-Picker is a new online geography games that’s somewhat similar to other ones using Google Street View that can be found on this list. You’re shown a location and have to identify on a map where you think it is in the world. You’re told how close you are, and how your guess compares to the ones made by other players.

At Quiz Geo, you can easily create your own geography game as well as play ones created by others. It didn’t seem to work for me on Firefox, though, and I could only play it on the Google Chrome Browser.

Class Tools lets you easily create a Map “treasure hunt” with no registration necessary.

Spacehopper is a new online game that isn’t easy but, after showing you a Google Street View image of a location, provides clues that make it less difficult. You’re shown a map with various dots on it, as well as the map outline of the country. After three guesses, you’re given the answer along with information on the location.

Let me know if you think I’ve missed any particularly good geography game sites.

If you’ve found this post useful, you might want to consider subscribing to this blog for free.

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May 14, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

“GeoGuessr” Is A Nice Little Geography Game

GeoGuessr shows you an image from Google Street View, along with a map of the world. You click on the map indicating where you think the photo might be from, and then you’re shown the actual location. You’re given points based on how close your guess was to the original location.

The concept is similar to a number of other games, but GeoGuessr seems particularly well-designed. If played by a whole class with a computer projector, it could be particularly useful pressing students to identify clues in the image. And when you’re shown the actual location on the map, the names of many countries are shown, so it can be a good reinforcement activity.

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May 2, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
3 Comments

Ellen DeGeneres’ New iPhone/iPad Game Is Great For ELLs & You Can Use The Idea & Play Without Tech, Too

Ellen DeGeneres has just unveiled a great new iPhone/iPad games called Heads Up! that is perfect for English Language Learners. However, according to TechCrunch, it’s just a high-tech version of an old party game called “Who Am I?” where people had names of celebrities written on index cards put on their foreheads and other people had to give them hints until the card-holder guessed who it was.

Maybe I just haven’t hung-out in the same crowd, but I had never heard of that game. And, of course, it can be adapted to include lots of other words (as Ellen’s game uses, like animals, etc.).

Here’s a video of her playing the game on her show:

I can see my students playing this in pairs or in threes, with two people coming up with the word and each having to take turns giving clues. What a wonderful activity for vocabulary practice and conversation!

I’m assuming there are other ESL/ELL teachers who aren’t as ignorant as me and who have tried a game like this in your class. How is it received?

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April 22, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Great Learning Games For English Language Learners

I’ve written extensively about how I use online video games for language-learning activities with ELLS.

Here are a few new ones that, with luck, aren’t blocked by your school’s content filters (be sure to click the “English” language option for all of them):

Neighbor — here’s its walkthrough

Station — here’s its walkthrough

Escape From The Entrance Hall — here’s its walkthrough

Escape From The Dining Room — Here’s its walkthrough

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March 24, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Experience Being An Autistic Child In This Simulation

Auti-Sim describes itself like this:

The player navigates through a playground as an autistic child with auditory hypersensitivity. Proximity to loud children causes sensory overload for the player, impacting cognitive functions. This impact is represented as visual noise and blur, as well as audio distortion. Participants described the experience as visceral, insightful and compelling.

Here’s an ABC news video clip sharing a portion of the game:

I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Walking In Someone Else’s Shoes.

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March 17, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
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A “Choose Your Own Adventure” Game Designed To Reduce Violence Against Women

Breakaway is an online game where players are virtual members of a previously-all boys soccer team react to a girl joining it. The United Nations Population Fund helped create it. Here’s how it’s described:

Breakaway is a free online game intending to reduce violence against women across the globe. Players join a youth football (soccer) team and learn about being a team player on and off the field. They must build their relationships with their teammates between practices and matches, navigating the conflicts that arise when a girl finds a place on the team.

I’m adding it to The Best Places To Read & Write “Choose Your Own Adventure” Stories. Here’s a short video on the game:

By the way, I learned about the game (and the quote I used to describe it came from) the Clark Chart, a new site that lists education games.

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March 11, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
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“Spree Games” Is A Collection Of Learning…Games

Spree Games has a collection of nearly 300 learning games. I learned about it through Richard Byrne’s blog, and you can read more at his post.

It looks like an impressive collection. Note, though, that the games are not actually hosted at the site. The games are described and then linked to through Spree. So it’s possible that a number of the individual games might be blocked by the often bizarre algorithms used by our schools’ Internet content filters.

I’m adding Spree to The Best Collections Of Online Educational Games. However, most, though not all, of the collections there have all their games hosted on one site. I primarily view these sites as useful for students to use when there are a few minutes left in the computer lab and teachers can just send students to one site (that is unlikely to be blocked) to play games of their choice. It can be a little frustrating to them when some are blocked and some are not.

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February 23, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
3 Comments

“Quandary” Is A Cool Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Game

Quandary is a neat online game/choose your own adventure story that is can work well as a tool for English language development (see Digital Play for an ELL lesson plan) and/or as a way to deal with ethical questions (the site itself has lot of teaching ideas). You can play as a guest or register.

I’m adding it to The Best Places To Read & Write “Choose Your Own Adventure” Stories.

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February 13, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Easily Create Learning Games With “Review Game Zone”

Review Game Zone lets teachers, and anyone, input academic questions and have them turned into a games that students can use for review. It’s free, and teachers can also monitor student use of at least some types of the games.

I’m adding it to both The Best Websites For Creating Online Learning Games and to The Best Sites That Students Can Use Independently And Let Teachers Check On Progress.

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January 20, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Student-Created Game On The Underground Railroad

A class in Ohio has unveiled a “choose your own adventure” game on The Underground Railroad. It looks good, though it appears you have download the Unity Web Player to play it. You can read more about the game in this newspaper article.

I’m adding it to The Best Places To Read & Write “Choose Your Own Adventure” Stories, where it joins several other Underground Railroad games.

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December 23, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
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The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2012 (Part Two)

The resources on this list were not designed with education in mind, but which can easily be used for learning purposes — particularly, though not exclusively, for English language development. I only hope that creators of “educational” content can learn from the qualities that make these sites so engaging.

You might also be interested in:

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2012 (Part One)

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2011

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2010

Part Two Of The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2009

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2009

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2008

Here are my choices for The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2012 (Part Two):

VIDEOS:

These would be fun clips to to use in any of the video activities I describe in The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL and in my article Eight Ways to Use Video With English-Language Learners.

Bill Ferriter posted a link to this “Trunk Monkey Compilation.” This hilarious video is perfect for ELL’s to watch and then describe what happened, and even do Venn Diagram to identify differences and similarities:

Have students watch this amazing illusion (you can find similar videos here):

Check out this amazing performance by French magician Yann Frisch:

ONLINE VIDEO GAMES:

I’ve previously written about how I use online video games as a language-development activity for my ELL students.

Escape From The Entrance Hall (Be sure to change language to “English”) — here’s the Walkthrough

Kumakinoko (again, change the language to English) — here’s the Walkthrough

Bonus

Silk can be used by students to create pretty magical-looking (and sounding) artwork online without registering. They can then share a link to their creation (and have students describe it verbally and in writing).

Feedback is always welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to consider subscribing to this blog for free.

You might also want to explore the 1000 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

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December 18, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
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U.S. State Department Launches Game & Site For Learning English

The U.S. State Department has recently launched an online game and site for learning English.

The overall site, American English, seems primarily to offer links to the Voice Of America’s excellent Learning English resources.

The game, Trace Effects, seems somewhat interesting. However, you have to download Unity Gameplayer, and I’m not sure how many schools will allow that to happen. Unfortunately, you also have to register to play it, though it is a very quick process to do so.

Thanks to Education Week for the tip.

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October 20, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

The Best Posts On “Gamification” In Education — Help Me Find More

'Gamification Sartre Way' photo (c) 2012, Playing Futures:  Applied Nomadology - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

“Gamification” is the use of design techniques from games in other areas, like education.

This is just a very short beginning list, and I hope that readers will contribute more. I’ll start with three posts from this blog, and then add others:

The Dangers Of “Gamification” In Education

Kathy Sierra On Gamification In Education

Amazing Conversations About Gamification In Education

Can Incentives Make Students Secretly Hate Us? is by Justin Reich at Education Week.

5 Myths Of Game-based Learning is from Kris Wheaton. Thanks to Paul Bruno for the tip.

More than a just digital star chart for learners is by Graham Stanley.

Games: More than Just Reward Systems is from Justin Reich at Education Week.

Gamification: does it make business more fun, or is it just exploitationware? is from The New Statesman.

Inside News Corp’s $540 Million Bet on American Classrooms is a somewhat interesting article/commentary on a NY Times piece about Amplify tablets in education. It doesn’t really go over any new ground, however. But I did find one small snippet on “gamification” very intriguing:

Douglas Clark is an associate professor at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College, arguably the country’s top college of education, and the principle investigator on the SURGE and EGAME grants, two National Science Foundation grants aimed at studying and creating educational games. And nothing irks him more than when other people take educational concepts and run them through “gamification,” a practice whereby one “just adds points” to basic tasks.

Points are extrinsic motivations, and “when [kids] get bored with extrinsic, they stop.” Games should provide intrinsic motivation, meaning the game itself is the motivator.

He compares points to frequent-flyer miles: something auxiliary (i.e., you get FF miles from flying, but you don’t probably don’t go flying around the country just to rack up FF miles). Most “educational” games take a task, like math, and add a point system.

Haimson calls games that actually cause learning the “holy grail,” but Clark doesn’t think it’s easily accomplished. He says, “News Corp. can’t just decide we’re going to build good games for everything. That’d be too expensive.”

Gaming Glossary: Game-based Learning v. Gamification is from ELT Sandbox.

Feedback is welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to look at previous “The Best…” lists and also consider subscribing to this blog for free.

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September 30, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
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The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2012 (So Far)

The resources on this list were not designed with education in mind, but which can easily be used for learning purposes — particularly, though not exclusively, for English language development. I only hope that creators of “educational” content can learn from the qualities that make these sites so engaging.

You might also be interested in:

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2011

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2010

Part Two Of The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2009

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2009

The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2008

Here are my choices for The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2012 (So Far):

VIDEOS:

These would be fun clips to to use in any of the video activities I describe in The Best Popular Movies/TV Shows For ESL/EFL.

You could start off by checking The Best Funny Movie/TV Clips Of Bad Teachers and The Best Fun Videos About Books & Reading.

And don’t miss The Best Video Clips Of Sneaky Critters.

Slapstick film often has engaging scenes to show to English Language Learners and for them to write and talk about what they saw. In fact, as I’ve previously written, I remember being shocked when I first showed some old silent slapstick films to my students and found that most of them had seen them already in refugee camps where they had lived (and I remember being shocked again when students in my mainstream classes saw the videos on my desk and had never heard of the films).

But slapstick doesn’t just belong to old films. Here a short commercial that I’m sure my ELL’s will enjoy and talk and write about:

This would be a fun and engaging video to show to English Language Learner students and then write a chronological sequence about what happened…

These videos may be good for a geography lesson, and they are also just plain fun:

Fred Astaire supposedly called this performance “the greatest dance number ever filmed.”

Check out the largest Rube Goldberg Machine in the world. It’s purpose is….to pop a balloon:

Here’s a video of a very sneaky penguin. I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Learning About Penguins.

Show this to a class of English Language Learners so they can recount in sequence what they saw:

If you haven’t already seen this great short video, be sure to watch it til the end. It would be a fun one to show to ELL students and then have them describe what they saw orally and in writing:

ONLINE VIDEO GAMES:

I’ve previously written about how I use online video games as a language-development activity for my ELL students. Here are three new games, along with links to their walkthroughs (instructions on how to complete the game), that look good. Be sure to click “English” on both of them:

The Happy Escape (walkthrough)

Escape From The Device-Filled Room (walkthrough)

Mild Escape 5 (walkthrough)

BONUS:

Collaborate With A Famous Dead Author: Try out Google Docs new demo that lets you write collaboratively with your favorite dead famous writers. Then you get to save and share your creation. As Next Web explains:

A “famous writer” will start typing and then it’s your turn. Once you’ve typed in the next line, the writer takes over

Sing A Song: Send A Song lets you sing a song — with coaching — and send your rendition to a friend or post the link.

Feedback is always welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to consider subscribing to this blog for free.

You might also want to explore the 900 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

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