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?
Today, we tried doing the same with Instagram’s video feature, and we all liked it a lot better. It gives you fifteen instead of seven seconds and, if you make a mistake in one “scene” you can easily erase that scene instead of having to start all over again.
Like Vine, it will automatically save on your iPhone Camera Roll and can easily be uploaded to YouTube.
We’ve just begin working on a Problem/Solution essay, and used some related vocabulary words.
Today, I had my Beginning English Language Learners try it out, and it went great! We used the videos as a formative assessment to determine their understanding of new vocabulary, and they loved creating them. And it was so fast and easy! Next week, they’ll be using puppets.
We used my iPhone, and since Vine is blocked by our school internet filters, I just uploaded them to our YouTube channel (Vine’s can automatically be saved to your phone’s camera roll).
I thought it might be useful to readers if I brought together all my vocabulary-related “Best…” lists together in one post. Some may need to be updated, but even if you find some dead links, the vast majority should still be active:
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 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.
This year, it seems like the fashionable web tool to develop is one that will annotate images. I’ve posted about several of them at The Best Ways To Use Photos In Lessons, and there are others that didn’t make that list.
However, today, the incomparable Richard Byrne discovered what might be the best one of them all. It’s called Szoter. You can read about it at Richard’s blog and see a video there (however, at the time of this posting, Vimeo appears to be off-line completely).
Using the online version of 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 (see my previously mentioned “The Best” list or my book to learn more about that instructional strategy). You can link to it or embed it, as I have done here (as long as you leave some white space around the image, the labels will still show up when you embed it):
Awesome Stories is on several of my “The Best…” lists — it has extremely accessible articles and multimedia on just about every topic imaginable.
And it just got even better…
They’ve begun adding a “Visual Vocabulary Builder” to many of their stories to help with comprehension. Here’s an example of one to support their story on the “back story” of The War Horse, the new Steven Spielberg movie.
Many teachers of English Language Learners know about The Language Guide, which is an excellent picture dictionary on the Web that has audio, too (it also has versions for other languages).
I’ve used it for years, but didn’t realize until a student pointed it out to me this month that each page has an “options” feature which provides listening and speaking quizzes. I’m not sure how long that option has been there — perhaps I’ve just missed it for years…