Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

April 30, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Nice & Easy Audio Recording Tool

Record MP3 lets you, without having to register, create an audio recording that you can save on your computer and/or save on their site (a link is provided). It’s very simple to use, though I’m not sure what the maximum audio recording length is nor how long they keep it on their server.

My recording uploaded quickly using Internet Explorer. However, it would never upload when in Firefox.

Nevertheless, I’m adding it to The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English.

Thanks to Educational Technology and Mobile Learning for the tip.

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April 8, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Student Writing & Metacognition

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).

Here are a couple of examples:

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March 14, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Videos Of My Students’ “Ideal Neighborhoods”

Last week, I wrote about how my students were in middle of one of my favorite units — about focusing on neighborhood assets. You can read more about it there.

We’re now finishing it up, and students have developed their “ideal neighborhoods.” Here are a couple of same videos from them, along with a “bonus” musical video developed with Magisto, which I’ve also written about

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March 11, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

Excellent Phone Apps For Taking Photos With Audio Descriptions

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.

In addition to adding both to “The Best…” speaking list, I’m adding them to The Best Sites For Beginning iPhone Users Like Me.

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February 7, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Intriguing Video On Telling Good Stories

I’ve heard/read about Nancy Duarte’s perspective on telling good stories before, and generally thought it was a bit convoluted and not helpful. However, either because I was feeling a little more patient (maybe I was also more willing to hear it) or because she did a better job explaining it, I got far more out of this recent TEDx presentation she made.

I’m adding it to The Best Sources Of Advice For Making Good Presentations.

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January 28, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Speakpipe Is Super-Easy Way To Receive Audio Blog Comments

SpeakPipe provides you with a widget to install on your blog or website that lets readers send you an audio message of up to five minutes in length. The message goes to your Speakpipe inbox, and you receive an email notification that you’ve received one. More importantly, at least for teachers of English Language Learners, you also get a url address for the message that you can post so that students can use it to hear themselves.

Ronnie Burt at Edublogs told me that it would work with Edublogs, and that set-up was easy, though I didn’t initially believe him. However, the site has clear instructions on how to install it into various blogging platforms. It took me less than a minute to install it on my ESL class blog (you’ll find it on the right side saying “Send Voicemail”) so, if I can do it, you know it’s easy :)

Unfortunately, the only way others can hear the audio comments that are left is if you manually post them, so it’s not ideal. But it’s a nice tool that free — at least, for now.

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November 2, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Book Trailers From My Class

I’ve been doing a lot of video recording using my iPhone this year with my Beginning and Intermediate English Language Learners. It’s been great, though the audio is picked-up pretty poorly. So, last week I invested $50 in an IK Multimedia iRig Mic Handheld Mic for iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad and tried it out today.

It made an incredible difference, and all you have to do is plug it into the iPhone.

My students made book trailers (you can read more about book trailers here). You can see them all on our class blog.

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October 23, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
2 Comments

Take A “Stress Test”

Stress Test supposedly analyzes your voice after you repeat a number of words and sentences shown on the screen, and then tells you how “stressed” you’re supposed to be feeling.

They say is uses a process similar to lie detectors. I’m skeptical about its accuracy, but it could be a fun short exercise for English practice if you have a few minutes left in a computer lab sometime.

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September 28, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
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“QWiPS” For Audio Recording

QWiPS easily lets you make a thirty second audio recording that you can share — you can also connect it to a photo or video.

I’m adding it to The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English.

Unfortunately, for now, none of the students in our district can use any site that requires audio-recording, including the best site on the web for ELL’s — English Central. Apparently, a new “tweak” this year in the content filters prohibits that activity (it hasn’t been a problem in previous years). However, to their credit, the district has responded to the concern my colleagues and I shared and sent staff to my classroom today to learn exactly which sites we needed to record on and what problems we had been having. Since our District Tech Department has always been exemplary in providing us support, I’m confident they’ll fix this issue promptly, too. I suspect that this prohibition might have been unintended consequence of some other change that was made.

I’m curious, though — have others had district filters prohibit student audio recording?

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September 24, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Sock Puppet Lollapalooza!

I’ve previously posted about the iPhone app called Sock Puppets, and how it’s a great way for English Language Learners to practice speaking.

Here’s a sample of yesterday’s class, and you can see a bunch more on our class blog. By the way, I offered extra credit for students say I was a “bad” teacher in the dialogue, but nobody wanted to :) :

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September 21, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
4 Comments

“Talking WeeMee” & Other iPhone Apps For Speaking Practice

I’m just starting to use iPhone apps with my English Language Learners, and they’re loving it. These puppet/avatar apps reduce student fear because the “puppets” are on the screen with their voices, but their faces are not visible.

I’ve previously posted about Sock Puppets. It’s a neat app, and, in many ways, one of my favorites — it’s easy and provides opportunities for multiple characters to record. The free version allows audio recording for thirty seconds, while the paid version has a ninety-second length. Unfortunately, I found the paid version to be very buggy, and had lots of problems uploading it to the Web. I asked Lisa Johnson for advice (I first heard about the app from her) and learned that she only used the free version. She suggested that the ninety second length might be the problem, and she was right (thanks, Lisa!). So we’ll still be using it, but, unfortunately, it will only be in thirty second clips.

We’re also going to be trying out another app called Talking Wee Mee. It just allows one character, though it appears to provide a one minute recording time.

Lisa also suggested Photo Puppet Go. It’s a little more complicated than the other two I’ve mentioned, but it does have potential.

I’ll be including all these apps in The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English.

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August 22, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Shoutomatic Looks Good For Speaking Practice

Shoutomatic is a new site that lets you quickly and easily (after a very fast registration) record a thirty-second “shout” — an audio message — that you can embed or link to…

In addition, you have the option of uploading a photo to attach to your audio message, but you can’t just grab one for the Web with a url address.

It could be a nice and easy way for students to practice speaking.

I’m adding it to The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English.

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August 9, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
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“Sock Puppets”

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.

I’m adding it to The Best Sites For Beginning iPhone Users Like Me and to The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English.

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July 28, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
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The Best Sites (& Videos) For Learning About Jazz Chants

'Moruya Jazz Festival 2006' photo (c) 2006, Ruth Ellison - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Many teachers of English Language Learners have used “jazz chants” (originally developed by Carolyn Graham) in the classroom, and I thought I’d put together a quick list of useful related resources:

Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto has written an excellent blog post, including a video, sharing the process Graham uses to develop these chants.

Celebrating Twenty-Five Years Of Jazz Chants is an article from New York TESOL.

Here’s a video of Graham explaining jazz chants:

This comes from TEFL Videos:

Using Jazz Chants for Teaching Language Functions comes from The University of Delaware.

Chants for Enhancement Activities is a blog with…chants for ELLs.

Play It Again And Again, Sam is from NPR and, I think, may help explain why jazz chants are effective in language instruction.

Aeon Magazine has a similar piece on that research.

Additional suggestions are welcome.

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

You might want to also view the over seven hundred other “The Best…” lists.

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July 2, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
3 Comments

Knovio Makes Creating An Audio/Visual Web Presentation As Easy As Pie

Knovio might end up being one of the best Web 2.0 applications of the year. You upload a PowerPoint presentation, record a presentation with your microphone and webcam, and then it’s done! It’s free, and it is not open to the public yet, but I received an invitation about five seconds after I requested it.

I’m adding it to The Best Ways To Create Online Slideshows and to The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English, and I’ll probably add it to more when it officially becomes public.

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June 22, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Create A Video Parody With AnMish

Anmish lets you choose a caricature of a world leader and then lets you put words in his/her mouth for thirty seconds via a microphone. While you’re recording, you can also easily change facial expressions on your caricature by pressing a letter on your keyboard. It doesn’t appear you can embed the video, though you can share a link to it. You also have access to parodies created by other users, which might make it problematic for classroom use.

Nevertheless, I’m adding it to The Best Sites To Practice Speaking English.

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June 14, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
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ELL’s & Google’s New Voice Search For Computers

Google introduced several new features today, including a voice search for computers. I’ve embedded a short video about it below. If we’re working in the computer lab, and students have microphones on already, I could see it as an easy opportunity for pronunciation practice:

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June 12, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

This Seems Like A Pretty Easy Way To Practice Speaking….

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 just 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.

Thanks to Jeff Thomas for the video tip.

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June 12, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
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Making Book Trailers With Fotobabble

I’ve previously posted about the video book trailers we’ll be doing in class during the final week of school next week.

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.

You can see a some excellent examples at our class blog.

I’m adding this post to My Best Posts On Books: Why They’re Important & How To Help Students Select, Read, Write & Discuss Them.

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