<![CDATA[In a Manner of Speaking - My Blog]]>Sat, 05 Dec 2015 23:24:11 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Using Padlet for Class Collaboration]]>Wed, 07 May 2014 03:37:31 GMThttp://mannerofspeaking.weebly.com/my-blog/using-padlet-for-class-collaboration Padlet. Here is a fun website with tons of classroom potential! Padlet is basically an online bulletin board. Teachers and students can post to the board, so in-class activities with Padlet can happen collaboratively and asynchronously (meaning all at the same time, no turn-taking needed). You can post links, videos, images and document files from your computer, phone, or tablet. Boards can be made private or public. They can be embedded into a blog or website (see below) and still function within the blog as it would on Padlet's site. You can have as many boards as you like and adjust the privacy settings for each.

"How is this different from Pinterest?" you might ask. Answer: it's not social media. With Padlet, you control who can post content, who sees the board, and where/how you want it accessible to others. Plus, on Padlet you create notes from scratch and add video, photos, etc. to them, whereas on Pinterest you are actually pinning websites you like.

I created a Padlet board to try out the website. Check out my brainstorm below with a variety of ways you can use it in the classroom. In fact, feel free to add your own ideas to the board. I have the settings adjusted so you can add your own post, but not edit others already on the board. I would love to know what other ideas you come up with for the ESL classroom!
Check out this blog for super helpful ideas and a tutorial about how to set up and use Padlet for your classroom.
<![CDATA[6 Tech Tools for Teaching Speaking]]>Sat, 26 Apr 2014 18:32:28 GMThttp://mannerofspeaking.weebly.com/my-blog/6-tech-tools-for-teaching-speakingPicture
There are a ton of apps and programs to use with student to practice their speaking skills. I won't even begin to try a comprehensive list, but here are six tools I found to have great potential, both in and out of the classroom.

Voxopop (FREE, website) is a message board that uses audio instead of text. You can create private, public or restricted discussion boards with specific tasks for students, then they post their audio responses. Good for practicing a variety of speaking tasks. It is not ideal for practicing conversational turn-taking, but it has great value for responses to speaking prompts, practicing presentations and collaborative projects for students.

Chirbit (FREE, website with app option) is really versatile. You can record audio files up to 2 hours, then upload, send, share, or embed on a website or blog. You can also extract audio from YouTube videos, add a photo to recordings, or transcribe your posts to make them searchable. These features are available on your smart phone or computer. This could be used for presentations, discussion tasks, and dictation, plus a million other things I have not thought of.

Podomatic (FREE, podcasting website) allows you to create your own classroom channel for your podcasts. You can create podcasts for students to practice listening, or they could create podcasts and listen to each other’s. This would be good for group projects and presentations, such as performing skits, conducting interviews, or creating a commercial or radio-type show.

Fotobabble (FREE app) – snap a photo, tell a story about the picture (up to 1 min) and share it with friends and classmates via Facebook, Twitter or email, or post on your class blog/website.  A good activity to promote focused, concise descriptions about an image that is meaningful (and therefore interesting) to your students.

Up In Pieces (FREE app) – Create puzzles from your pictures and share via Facebook, Twitter and email. Students create their own puzzles (or you could email them one) and work in groups or pairs to put it together. Taking turns, move a piece to the board and make a statement about what you think the picture might be or where each piece could fit (use modals of inference).

Google Voice (FREE, U.S. only, voice mail) is an option for students without internet access. Set up a Google phone number for free, then students can call the number on their phones and leave a message in response to your prompt. You can download the audio file to listen on your computer. It also automatically generates and emails you a transcript of the audio. I like the idea of being able to set up a designated phone number for my students. This could be a good option for adult learners who do not have access to or use all the gadgets.

<![CDATA[6 Tech Tools for Teaching Listening]]>Tue, 08 Apr 2014 03:32:19 GMThttp://mannerofspeaking.weebly.com/my-blog/6-tech-tools-for-teaching-listeningPicture
Here are six great tech tools (and teaching ideas!) to promote and teach listening in your ESL classes. 

1. Audiobooks App (iOS, by Cross Forward Consulting) – I found this audiobooks app by mistake when I was browsing in iTunes, but I’m glad I stumbled on it! It probably has thousands of free books to listen to. As far as I can tell, they are read by volunteers, but there are books you can pay for that are done in studio by professionals. However, the “volunteer” samples are great. Browse for books by author, narrator, title, genre, duration, languages, etc. Stream or download content. 
  • Teaching idea: This would be great for extensive listening, or if there is a book you want to introduce, just play a portion in class and ask prediction questions about the story.

2. Audible App (iOS)– This is another great audio book app, easier and more attractive to navigate than Audiobooks. It is a good program for organizing your audio bookshelf and links with your Amazon account for easy purchases. I have not found as much free content on this one, other than free excerpts to entice you to buy the book. I like that you can adjust the narration speed, which is a great feature for ELLs. It is a good option for browsing reading options. 
  • Teaching idea: Since there are excerpts on a variety of new books, have students listen to one or two (even in class with headphones) and write/discuss with a partner what they think the book is about based on the excerpt. Does it interest them? Would they read it? Why or why not? 

3. Ello– This is another “learn English for free” sites, but what I love about this one is the emphasis on short listening lessons (about 5 minutes) with authentic English, including a variety of accents. Transcripts of the downloadable audio tracks are helpful to understanding the text with accents. There are a lot of applications for this for the classroom and self-study (and there is a link for teachers with all those suggestions). It is appropriate for several levels and has different topics that will appeal to most people. Quizzes and vocabulary activities are available with each audio track. 
  • Teaching idea: As mentioned on the teacher page, I would use this in several ways: give the link to students to practice more on their own, use audio tracks in class for listening lesson activities, or assign specific tasks as homework. One homework suggestion is to have students listen to 3 videos, write the question discussed in the video, then write a summary. Report back to classmates the next day.

4. StoryCorps - These short podcasts (1-3 minutes) contain special interest interviews, brilliantly edited on a wide variety of interesting themes and topics. They are authentic and brief, allowing students to listen repeatedly as needed to get both the gist and details. No transcript available. 
  • Teaching idea: Assign students the homework task of listening to one or more of these each week and have them write a follow-up summary in a listening journal.

5. VOA Special English - Though others have raved about VOA, I really have not explored this site much before now. Verdict? Yes, I think it is all they make it to be. I like the video and audio variety, newsy and special interest topics, and additional resources (e.g., a great PDF word book for vocab study!). I did not find much for out-of-box lesson plans, but there is great foundational material to work with and transcripts/subtitles available. Also, the language is not very authentic (it is scripted news), but it is geared for learners who want to take it slow. 
  • Teaching idea: Use a video to pique interest to a topic, or use one of the articles as the foundation for a listening lesson, intermixing grammar, vocab and other skills.

6. Vocaroo - This awesome internet-based program allows you to make easy audio recordings without downloading any software. I love the straight-forward, no-nonsense approach of Vocaroo. Record, save/try again and send. It even provides the embed code, so you can post it on your blog or class website. The only bummer is that I can only listen to recordings on my iPhone. iPhones do not support in-browser microphone access, so you cannot record on your iPhone or iPad. 
  • Teaching idea: Record messages for your students to practice their listening, or have students record themselves in a journal response to any language activity (e.g., native speaker interviews, listening or reading report, etc.).

<![CDATA[Ready, Set, Quizlet with the NGSL]]>Sat, 29 Mar 2014 22:25:54 GMThttp://mannerofspeaking.weebly.com/my-blog/ready-set-quizlet-with-the-ngslPicture
Well, how cool is this? Last week I posted about Quizlet, a digital flashcard app and website. The New General Service List (NGSL), a corpus-based list of 2000+ high frequency words, is now available as ready-made flashcards on Quizlet. This is the 2013 updated version of the GSL, the most important word list ESL students need to know because it covers approximately 90% of the vocabulary they will read in most general English texts. Check out the NGSL website to download various forms of the list for strategic and systematic vocab study with your students. 

As for Quizlet, someone from the NGSL team has gone to all the work of preparing 2,818 NGSL flashcards with learner-friendly definitions. Word cards are categorized by frequency, in groups of 50, and ready for flipping and studying.

Obviously, flashcards (paper or digital) are great for solo study. How have you used them in your classroom for group or all-class activities?

<![CDATA[Vocabulary Flashcards 2.0]]>Wed, 26 Mar 2014 06:11:39 GMThttp://mannerofspeaking.weebly.com/my-blog/vocabulary-flashcards-20Picture
Online flashcards are a great way to review vocabulary, grammar and other language content while you are on the go. The good ol' days of 3x5" index cards have been replaced by smart phones and computers that let you create and flip/click through a lot of content in a minimal amount of time. Here are a couple of cool options you may want to try out with your students.

ExamTime is a free, web-based app featuring flash cards, mind maps, quizzes and notes. It is designed for teachers, students and general users who like productivity and study tools. Any of the tools can be made into a presentation using the “play” button. You can also share the resources you make with others, students and/or teacher colleagues. ExamTime could be used for classroom instruction and extended study outside of the classroom. If students have their mobile devices in class, the flashcards could be a good “filler” practice activity for students who finish early. I particularly like the app for creating vocabulary flashcards, practice quizzes, and mind maps for overview presentations for grammar or even discussion questions in a speaking class.

Quizlet is a free app available on your phone or browser. Frankly, this is the Cadillac of online flashcards. There are thousands of study decks on every topic already available to study, or you can make your own to study for an upcoming test. Flashcards can contain images, multiple languages, and audio. For the ESL class, this means you or your students can create a vocabulary file with tons of information for each word, including L1 translation. You can even record and listen to pronunciation of the words or phrases. For teachers, there is a special log-in that allows you to create tests and worksheets, use six different study modes, generate competition with study games, and collaborate with other teachers.

Teaching Idea
My colleague Tracey suggested a great collaborative student project using online flashcards. Since you can create content and share it with others, assign individual students or groups one unit from the textbook to create study content on flashcards. Give a deadline for the complete study cards so everyone can use them in preparation for a test. Make it a graded project to encourage good content as they create the study cards for everyone to share.

How else do you use flashcards to encourage review and language study?

<![CDATA[What I learned at CATESOL]]>Mon, 17 Mar 2014 17:28:24 GMThttp://mannerofspeaking.weebly.com/my-blog/what-i-learned-at-catesolPicture"Mr. Bean"
Last weekend I attended the CATESOL LA Regional Conference at Cal State Northridge University. Professional conferences are a great opportunity to gather fresh teaching ideas, learn new techniques, network and browse publishers' materials (...oh, and get free books!).When I was totally new to the teaching field, conferences were overwhelming to me. With all the workshops and seminar options, they still can be; but I have come to enjoy professional conferences with two primary caveats:

(1) Attend with friends. I used to think that attending with colleagues to "divide and conquer" would be a more efficient approach, but it was not as fun. It is more effective learning if I go with a friend so we can discuss and process together after the workshops and on the drive home. If there are too many good seminar options to choose from and we are interested in different topics, the divide and conquer method can work. Be sure to pick up an extra handout to share.

(2) Choose a blend of seminars I want and seminars I need, but lean more toward wants. If I pick workshops that will be useful right away, I am more inclined to apply it and remember what I have learned. I look for seminars with authors I have read (anything with Keith Folse, Randi Reppen or Dana Ferris), topics I am currently teaching or researching, and techniques that sound inspiring.

That said, here are the winning tokens from my CATESOL sessions last weekend.

Teaching Dynamic Grammar with Mr. Bean videos (with Katherine Guevara)
Mr. Bean video clips are a great resource to teach grammar with speaking and writing practice for several reasons. Mr. Bean's manner is slow and methodical. The episodes have little (if any speaking), are culturally appropriate for most conservative audiences, have countless applications for grammar and topical study or discussion, and are widely available via YouTube or cheap DVDs.

The presenter had an awesome handout using activities similar to what you can find here and here. I particularly like the "Back to the Screen" activity for Mr. Bean grammar practice.

Using Cell Phones in Class to Improve Motivation and Involvement (with Marilyn Lee & Andralena Panczenko)
This session focused on smart phone apps that you can use in the classroom. For many students, the cell phone is their most valuable possession, so you know they will have it available and be motivated to use it for learning purposes. Here are a few of the apps and activities they suggested:
  • Polleverywhere.com - (Free) Students text responses to a poll question. Use for warm-ups, new unit introduction, assessment
  • Camera/Video - Use student photos and videos to promote discussion, analysis, and writing tasks. They can use it outside of class for interviews or a photo scavenger hunt, then use the "evidence" they gathered to present to the class.
  • Timer/Stopwatch - Students self-monitor time limits for activities such as timed readings, fluency practice, and other pairwork. Example: Post a discussion question on the board. Student 1 answers the question, talking non-stop for one minute on the topic. Then Student 2 takes a turn.
  • Twitter - With a 140 character limit, "Tweets" can be used to summarize the main idea of essays, stories, discussions, movies, etc.
  • Web browser - Use for scanning activities and in-class research.
  • Instagram - Create or find artsy illustrations for writing, presentations and dialog journals.
  • Voice recorder - Students practice pronunciation, create dialog journals, record interviews, etc. Example: In groups, create a radio ad including dialog, sound effects, vocabulary and grammar structures that you have been studying.

Can you tell I'm on a technology research kick these days? What other teaching applications have you used for video or cell phones in class?

<![CDATA[Digital Storytelling with Piclits]]>Mon, 10 Mar 2014 22:19:34 GMThttp://mannerofspeaking.weebly.com/my-blog/digital-storytelling-with-piclits They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but how many of those words do your students know? Try Piclits as a way to inspire your students' creative writing and vocabulary acquisition and use.
Sample Activity
Purpose: To find and use new vocabulary; to practice making sentences more creative and expressive

Scaffolding: Review simple, compound and complex sentences. Review ways to find the meaning of new words (i.e., dictionary use and other online resources). 

Directions: Choose at least two new vocabulary words from the Piclits word bank to use in a creative sentence, including at least one adjective. Write at least one non-simple sentence to describe the picture or a feeling about a picture of their choice. In the comments section, write the new vocab words and their definitions.
Evaluation: Can your students accurately demonstrate the form, meaning and use of new vocabulary in this activity? 
<![CDATA[5 Ways to Teach ESL with Pinterest]]>Sat, 01 Mar 2014 01:52:11 GMThttp://mannerofspeaking.weebly.com/my-blog/5-ways-to-teach-esl-with-pinterestPicture
I have been reluctant to give up my frivolous Pinterest past time in exchange for productivity and intentionality in my teaching practices. I admit that it is pure selfishness on my part. However, the more I pin and, coincidentally, the more I explore fun technology applications in language education, the more I'm willing to concede that Pinterest for ESL might just have some pedagogical value to contribute. It might even be fun.

Here are 5 ways to use Pinterest in the ESL classroom:

1. Digital storytelling
Students create a picture board to illustrate a story, such as an original short story, poem, book summary, news report, cultural history or holiday story. Great for writing, speaking, reading, vocabulary and content-area courses.

2. Giving process instructions
Pinterest has tons of quick-reference, "how to" photo collages that could be used to explain a process or give instructions about an activity. Create a board of DYI or "how to" pictures and let students choose one to discuss with a partner. Here is a similar activity.

3. Photo contest writing prompt
Create a shared, private board with your students for a photo contest. Choose a theme and have students pin pictures that they think best fits the theme. Students can vote on their favorite picture, or write a short story based on their favorite picture. (adapted from Grace Hur) (Note: A private board will keep other Pinterest users from messing with your class content, and your class from annoying other Pinterest users with a plethora of comments.) 

4. Autobiographies
Similar to digital storytelling, students create autobiographical boards to introduce themselves to the class, small group or partner. Autobiographical boards can be general or on a specific topic like "my home town", favorite activities, places to visit, projects or hobbies to try. Students can present to classmates, then practice reporting, interview, or conversation skills related to the content.

5. Electronic picture files
As a teacher resource, create themed picture files to use in a variety of activities. You can display the board in class and show one or all of the pictures at a time. Use the pictures to prompt discussion about the action or content in the pictures. Check out this article for ways to use picture files.

Other logistics (and a brief Pinterest primer):
Each student will need to create a Pinterest account, but they do not need to invite or "friend" each other as in other social media. With Pinterest, all content is public to any other viewer unless it is created as a private board. Shared boards can be created so that multiple Pinterest members can post on one board. 

To do these language activities, students create a new board for each activity, post pictures and write captions in the description field. Perhaps a follow-up activity could include comments from classmates on various pictures that are displayed. For presentations, students can use their smart phones (with partners), laptops or classroom equipment to log in to Pinterest and display the board within the program.

What else have you seen on Pinterest that could spark a great classroom activity?

<![CDATA[Use Audio for Writing Feedback]]>Mon, 24 Feb 2014 22:25:42 GMThttp://mannerofspeaking.weebly.com/my-blog/use-audio-for-writing-feedbackPicture
Writing teachers wear two hats: coach and facilitator (Brown, 2007). Yes, we need to coach them in the fundamentals of good writing (i.e., mechanics, content and organization, grammar and sentence structure), but we also need to facilitate their writing process with helpful feedback. What is working? What doesn't make sense? Does something need to be tweaked  or reworked to provide more clarity or cohesion to the written piece?

Instead of traditional writing conferences, how about integrating a little technology? Recording your verbal feedback cuts back on manually written comments, allows you to offer verbal encouragement and clarity as you coach their writing, and as a bonus, offers additional listening comprehension practice for students. Use a Voice Memo app (on your iPhone or Android) or an audio editing program like Audacity. Then email or upload the sound file to a shared Dropbox folder for the student to listen to as many times as they want. Realistically, this shouldn't take any longer to note, record and email comments than it does to schedule individual writing conferences with students. In fact, I think it would even save time.

Watch this 2:00 video and let me know what you think. Would this work with your ESL students?

Reference: Brown, H. D. (2007). Teaching by principles: An interactive approach to language pedagogy. White Plains, NY: Pearson Longman.
<![CDATA[Flip Your Classroom]]>Sat, 15 Feb 2014 01:33:20 GMThttp://mannerofspeaking.weebly.com/my-blog/flip-your-classroomPicture
Flipped classroom learning is a great way to integrate more technology into your teaching. Students learn the main content of the lesson outside of class; then they come to class for practice, feedback and assessment. (Read this article to stir your thinking about other ways this teaching approach could work in an ESL class.) 

Here's an activity you can use to try the flipped classroom approach. It is designed for an intermediate to advanced grammar course, but you can certainly modify it to fit other classes.

Technology needed: Computer with Internet access, student smart phones (for video, sound recording and photos), Facebook account and group page (optional)

For out-of-class learning, assign students the following tasks:
1. Read through the PowerPoint presentation (or watch a video presentation) of the lesson. Study the material on your own so that you understand it. Bring your questions to class so we can review them together. (Teachers, you can make your own instructional video, find a YouTube video, or try something like Azar's PowerPoint presentations.) 

2. Find real-world examples of the grammar structure and record it using your smart phone. (If students do not have a smart phone, they can pair up to use the technology, but they need to capture a separate example for each student.)
  • Take a picture of the grammar point - a sign, a news headline or article, a menu, etc. (reading)
  • Record an audio or video example of the grammar point from a conversation, a movie/TV show, or some other source. (listening)
  • Record an audio example of an original sentence that you created using the grammar point. (speaking)
  • (optional assignment) Post these examples to the class blog/Facebook group.

For in-class practice, do the following activity:
1. Share your real-world examples with a partner. (Or review them on the Facebook page as a class.)
2. In pairs, write a dialog using the grammar structure. You can choose any topic related to the real-world examples you found out of class. (writing)
3. Share the dialogs with the class. (speaking)

This activity gives the students more responsibility to study the lesson and learn on their own, which can be challenging for some students to get used to doing. However, it also encourages collaboration with other students; applies real-world English using all four skills; motivates students with current technology use; and creates more time in-class for follow-up, practice and assessment with your students.

What other ways have you tried the flipped classroom approach? How has it worked for you and your students?