Archives for the month of: March, 2014

Sometimes, it can be hard for a teacher to know what they should do as the next activity. We don’t want to start being redundant, so reading and writing texts and oral presentations don’t really seem interesting. We also want to make sure the students actually learn their English, because, well, that’s why they’re in our class, isn’t it? Sincerely, making the right kind of compromise between these two problems can seem a bit tricky. Well, allow me to give you an idea. What if you asked your students to do a video?

Various ways of applying this idea are present. The video can be about monuments, it can be a talk-show, or it can even just be an oral presentation that the students record before handing it in. All these ways of presenting and organizing the video make for a nice bit of fun work.

Many reasons can come defend this idea. First, it is recognized that students tend to be less stressed when they talk about things they like. This applies if the video the students do is about something they tend to appreciate, such as movies, games, sports, or books. There even are those students who will gladly take part in the making of the videos, not as much because they like the subject as because they like making videos. It is easier this way to make students interested in the completion of the project. A second reason why the making of a video can be an evaluation situation which would be good for the students is that when they record the material they will present, they can make errors. Of course, during an old-fashioned oral presentation, students will still be allowed to make errors in their speaking of English. However, the fact that they can change the erroneous bit for something that will be error-free is very interesting for the student. In short, it allows them to give and present the best of themselves. It is something that is even truer if we look at the third advantage of oral presentations in video form: the reduced presence or absence of stress. When students have to do an oral presentation in English, they can feel highly uneasy, shy, or stressed. It is something that most of them will feel; this kind of stress tends to affect students when they present in front of the class without the English language proficiency they feel they should have. The video format solves this problem; by allowing students to do take after take if they mess up, they tend to be less stressed when it comes down to presenting something. Once more, they feel like they can present the best of themselves and their level of mastery of the language.

On another note, this can be highly useful for the teacher too. First off, the fact that this oral presentation is recorded allows the teacher to take highly detailed notes on the student(s) performance which they are currently evaluating. If they are not certain of something specific, they can rewind. They can also fast-forward if they already saw a part they are certain of. In this way, the teacher can truly feel like they gave their students the grade they deserved the most, since re-visiting grades which were already given allows the teacher to make sure the first grading was accurate. In link to this, they can also explain in details to a curious student what the latter did right and wrong in their presentation; in short, the teacher can feel like they are helping their students as much as possible to develop their oral English proficiency.

To set this project in motion, various tools can be used. First off, to record their oral presentation project, the students can use any type of video-recording tool, really. However, it is not recommended to use let them use a phone to record it if they are self-recording their project, since it does not allow for a good enough sound and video quality. If the videos are 3D manipulation and creation projects, the student have at their disposition various good free programs, such as Blender, Sculptris, or Houdini Apprentice. In association to those, they can use programs which will record the audio part of their project. The most renowned and recognized of these is Audacity, but others can easily be found.

On top of this, the teacher which has already implanted mobile devices (see my article on mobile devices for more details) as tools for the classroom have other tools at their disposition. These include but are not limited to FiLMiC Pro, or 8mm Vintage Camera to record video, SoundCloud or Recorder Plus HD for audio, and Autodesk123D Sculpt, or iDough for 3D design and animation.

Once the teacher is started with these project, they should see more of their students become much more interested in such a project than in regular exchange or old-fashioned oral presentation task.

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As a teacher, it becomes less and less unusual to see a student enter the classroom with a mobile device: an iPod, a tablet (Apple or other), a smartphone. Most of the time, the first reaction to this situation will be to keep them out of the eyes and minds of the children or adolescents that are in the class. This course of action is mostly caused by the general understanding that these mobile devices are distractions which drag the kids’ attention away from the learning. However, this view of the new gadgets at the disposition of a teacher’s pupils is, in all honesty, incomplete. As it is feared, mobile devices may, to a certain extent, be a danger to the necessary level of focus required in a class to be able to properly understand and retain the given material. Nonetheless, the case of these machines does not stop there. On the contrary of what some may think and say, iPads and their technological companions come with various ways to enhance the classroom experience for the students.

Depending on what you want to do with your students, the applications needed for the students to have on their devices will vary. The first question to be asked is what they will be using it for. Five broad choices are offered to you, which define which applications should be added to your or your students’ tablet: remembering/understanding, applying the knowledge, analysing, evaluation, or creating. Once categories have been chosen, the teacher can start adding specific, preferred applications on the educational mobile devices. However, it is necessary to make sure that each application is useful to the specific student; after all, everyone learns in a different way(https://www.apple.com/ca/education/ipad/teaching-with-ipad/). Some will have an easier time if they follow the class from their tablet, reading an article. Some may find the understanding of the material easier if they listen to the same material, for example if it is a video. Kinesthetics will need this same material to be experienced, maybe through the use of a game or a 3D model of the material presented. The list could continue for a long time, however I believe the meaning behind my words is clear; each student needs to be accounted for. In a perfect world, each student’s personality, strengths and weaknesses need to be taken into account. Even if it is realistically not quite possible, a teacher should still work hard to make sure the students are given the tools they need to learn.

Before getting started with the material, however, a precaution should be taken. As the web develops, there come more and more occasions for the students and the teacher to use it as a tool for teaching and learning. Various websites offer presentations, 3D maps, puzzles and others to help the process. Nevertheless, a teacher should understand that the internet may not always be very friendly with students, even more when they are very young. Precautions should always be taken to keep students away from websites that may be unwanted and possibly harmful to them.

Once this precaution has been taken, you are free to go, and so are the students. Enjoy your and your students’ time learning with the aid of portable devices!