Category Archives: Tutorial

A Project-Based Learning Activity: Unusual Traditions

These past few days have been hectic with lots of exams to be written and then marked, plus all that red tape I can’t stand involving end-of-term exams. To top it all, my old friend the flu decided to pay me a visit. Very timely.  Right now, thank goodness, deadlines have been met and everybody seems to be winding down for the holiday season. Me, too. So, that’s probably going to be the last blog post of the year.

 

  • Organisation: Group work
  • Level: B2 and upwards
  • Materials: tackk tutorial here (optional)
  • Aims: to encourage collaborative work by giving students the challenge of researching, selecting and presenting a project about unusual traditions around the world.
  • Online tools: Padlet and Tackk

Project Based Learning- What is it?

It is a student –centred teaching method in which students acquire knowledge and skills by investigating and responding to a complex question, problem or challenge.

PBL is an active learning style which inspires and motivates students because they take an active role in their learning process and experience success in their own learning. The role of the teacher here is of mere facilitator and coach.

In PBL students are encouraged to work in pairs or in groups, which is also good because it creates a friendly atmosphere which is a boost to their motivation and creativity.


Project-based learning structure

  1. Choosing the problem or challenge
  2. Organisation
  3. Brainstorming
  4. Coordinating
  5. Sharing learning and refining
  6. Presenting and sharing

1.Choosing the problem or challenge.

For this project, students will be rising to the challenge of presenting information about unusual customs in the world.

2. Organisation.

My classes are quite large so students will work in groups of 4 or 5.

On the board the class as a whole decide on 4 or 5 areas, they want to talk about. There should be the same number of areas as groups you have. Each of these areas is assigned to a group to research.

In this project

  • Relationships
  • Festivals
  • Law
  • House and Home
3. Brainstorming

This step is done entirely at home with the help of an online collaborative free tool. My students are adults, some as old as 70,  and they only see each other in class  twice a week, so it was important to provide them with some kind of free online tool  they could use to brainstorm ideas, share them with the members of the group and organize their project (timing, visuals, specific assignments..etc). I used a Padlet, a well-known collaborative tool, which is very easy to use, something really important as some adults are reluctant to use new technologies. Each group was assigned a different Padlet and given a week to do research on the internet and post on Padlet their ideas.

Below is the Padlet the group”House and Home” used.

Hecho con Padlet

 

4. Coordinating.

This stage might take the first or last 10 minutes of your lesson. Once they have shared their ideas on Padlet, in class they decide on the number of traditions they are going to present, who is going to do what, the order in which they are going to present the information and the visuals or videos they are going to use.

5. Sharing learning and refining

In the next class, allow students time to get together in their groups and share their drafts. Offer help and guidance but ask students to help each other by swapping their drafts within their group  to improve and proofread their written work.

6. Presenting and sharing

Agree with the students on the order of the groups and let the show begin. Below is a picture of one of the groups on stage.

Sharing it with the world is also important. Here’s how we did it. Again, we used a free online digital tool called Tackk.com, which allows  you to beautifully showcase your projects. I gave my students this simple tutorial to help them get familiar with the tool.

Here’s the tackk my students have created.

 

A Cue Prompter to Help Students Give their Speeches

This year is slightly different for me since I don’t have as much time as the previous years to update my blog. This year I have found myself with a job to go to , a rural house to run and with no domestic help. I wasn’t sure I ‘d be able to post, if I’d have time or if I’d feel up to it and heck, I am still wondering where I find the time to do everything. But the thing is that here I am, still pumped to post.Today I want to share with you a little tool you might find useful .
This little tool is a cueprompter. My students need to, in two weeks’ time, give a speech of two minutes maximum and I find this little tool can help them a lot monitor the time it takes them to give their speech as it has adjustable speed feautures.
How to use it
♥Copy/paste the text into the prompter text window
♥You can set screen size, font size and colour
♥Start the prompter and adjust the speed
♥ Use the Space Bar to stop/start the cueprompter

Tutorial here

SoundCloud: need to share a recording?

Are you running out of time to test your students’ speaking ability? Are you  a student and looking for an easy-to-use tool to send your teacher your speech? I’ve found the perfect tool for you! It is called SoundCloud and has been around for some time now ,so one can only assume that it is entirely reliable.
Sound Cloud is an amazing site which has a lot of potential for teaching and learning English. What can you do with SoundCloud? You can upload your own audio and you can record yourself. You are then given a unique url and the possibility to embed the audio in your own website or blog.
Why am I so enthusiastic about my students using SoundCloud? Because my students willl be able to send me their recordings and I will be able to correct them by inserting comments about their pronunciation, grammar…. directly into the recording and exactly at the exact second at which the mistake is made.

You need to register but it is completely free up to two hours ; then, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan or delete some of your recordings.

Below I’ve embedded a SoundCloud Recording to tempt you to try this useful tool!

Snow Patrol – You Could Be Happy [HD] by Cristina Cabal

Here’s a tutorial I found on the Internet which clearly explains how to upload and share your recording.

and now, for teachers, here’s a chopped tutorial from Princippia Innovación Educativa, about how to insert comments on a Souncloud Recording.

QR Codes in Education Part 1

My intention when I started writing this article was to show how I was planning to integrate QR Codes in my classes but then I realized that there was much explaining to do before this article served its purpose. I am familiar with QR codes but I wondered if my readers were. For this reason, I have decided to split this post into two.Here you’ll find the theory , and in QRCodes Part 2 (coming shortly) you’ll see some of my ideas to introduce them in the classroom, or rather as homework ,as students in Spain aren’t allowed to bring their mobile devices to the school.

It was not that long ago when I saw for the first time a QR Code . I remember I was in Ikea and thought … what the heck is this? And then I thought … Do I really want to know? And then some time later…. But are they really here to stay?Now, it’s crystal clear to me that QR codes are here to stay and I am only beginning to test their potencial in education.

But what is a QR code ? QR is short for Quick Response (they can be read quickly by a mobile phone)They are white and black barcode squares that can be easily generated and that allow you to encode text , urls, images and audio files among other things – lately they have become more sophisticated as you will see below. Now you can only begin to imagine the possibilities for education.

But how do we generate a QR code?

GENERATING A SIMPLE QR CODE

Nothing could be easier. If you google “QR code generator” you’ll find lots . The ones below are just some of them:
Kaywa QR Code ( it allows you to encode URLs, text (160 characters), phone numbers,sms.   

GO QR.Me  (same as above but it allows you to encode 300 characters)

CUSTOMISING YOUR QR CODE

Now, we all know about QR codes: they are black and white squares, containing encoded data. Boring, isn’t it? Why don’t we decorate and make our QR code more stylish ?

QRstuff is definitely my favourite

VisualLead lets you integrate a QR Code into an image , blending QR Codes with a design or image of your choice

Now , we have created our QR code. What’s next?

GETTING A QR Code Reader

Lots of modern phones can read QR codes but first you need to download a QR reader/scanner. For example , in my mobile I have installed AT&T Code Scanner but there are lots of them you can download for free. For iPhone, Scan is a good one, and for Android there’s QR Droid.

HOW TO SCAN A QR CODE

To scan the codes, all you need is a mobile device with a camera, and a QR code reader or scanner app to interpret the data in the code. Open your QR reader on your phone or ipod and center the QR code within the frame provided and let the magic begin!

Holding your breath for Part 2?

MyBrainShark Tutorial in Spanish

This is the first tutorial I’ve made and the truth is that is has been a lot of fun. It’s in Spanish because it is meant for my students and while some of them are quite confident using new technologies not all of them are and I don’t want to add to them the extra burden of having to understand the tutorial in English.

I’ve posted about MyBrainshark here and here

I’ll show you some of their presentations using MyBrainshark some other time. For the time being , watch this brief tutorial if you are interested in using this useful tool to learn English.

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