Tag Archives: onlinetools

Don’t Make a Speech, Put On a Show or How to Make your Presentations Memorable

There are two quotes by Paul Arden that I like:

  1. “The more strikingly visual your presentation is, the more people will remember it. And more importantly, they will remember you.”
  2. “Don’t make a speech. Put on a show”

I am sure we have all been to a lecture where if not for the fact that we were sitting front row, we would have dozed off.  And probably the content was interesting but the presenter spent the whole talk reading straight from visually unappealing slides brimming with text. I  am not claiming to be an expert and probably  I might also be boring when presenting, but that is on me. Surely my slides cannot be blamed as I try to make them visually appealing, adding little text and lots of visuals, sometimes even memes and gifs.  I know I should be more professional, but that’s me!

Words are important, of course, and the content of a lecture essential but… can we just not make an effort and besides giving a remarkable lecture/speech dedicate some time to creating a beautiful engaging visual presentation?

There are many websites that almost do the work for you. There are interactive presentations such as the ones offered on Genial.ly, the very visual 3D templates offered by Emaze or the beautiful templates offered on Beautiful.ai

But, if you want to play safe and not rely on the internet connection spoiling your presentation you can always use a traditional PowerPoint presentation or the downloadable feature on Google Sides.   I don’t use PowerPoint any more. I used to. But I find Google slides does the same job as PowerPoints and it has more attractive features.

Anyway, this post is dedicated to my dearest son, Miguel,  who will have to present his final thesis to obtain his university degree in under one month.  Good luck, sweetheart! I hope you ace it!

Free PowerPoint Templates

Obviously, the first thing to do would be to choose a beautiful, simple but elegant PowerPoint template. I would go for a whitish background with little decoration but with lots of different slide options.  These are my favourites. All free.

  • Slides Carnival. I have been using this one for ages and is probably my favourite.
  • Slidesmania another great site.
  • Slidesgo a new find
  • Graphic Panda offers 78 free templates  (scroll down to see them categorized)
  • TinyPPT offers free 3D animated templates. Have a look at the amazing content you can create.

 

Free Images

There are lots of websites that offer royalty free images but I am just going to share here the ones I use. The first one is my favourite.

PNG Images

I am a huge fan of PNG images and use them very often in my presentations when I need portions of the image to be transparent. I find they are very elegant.

  • For images, I use: Freepng
  • For graphics,  I use pngtree.   You will have to register and it only allows to download 2 graphics a day. That’s the downside, but hey, it’s free.

Free icons

Need an icon? There are lots available for free.

 

 

Flipping Students: a Collaborative Project  with other EEOOII Using Flipgrid

It’ s April and temperatures should have risen but I am writing this post while outside it is freezing cold and raining. I guess this is the downside of living in the north of Spain!

I know this not the perfect time to share this activity as we are all heading for final exams,  and I certainly don’t expect any teachers to email me right away suggesting a collaboration for the next month, but I do hope you do not forget this post and that the next school year we can find a way to collaborate and join our classes.

Some ideas that prompted this activity:
  • To encourage autonomous learning: to find new ways of learning and offer more opportunities for students to do more oral practice in a safe environment outside the walls of the classroom.
  • To encourage the use of effective technology. For this project, we used Flipgrid.
  • To demonstrate how anybody can use technology as long as you explain and model how to do it. Some of the students in this project are older than 70.
  • To collaborate: To spice up the activity by having students from other regions and countries collaborate with my class.
Tool used: Flipgrid. 

Flipgrid is a powerful reliable website owned by Microsoft. It is 100% free. It is a fantastic platform for collecting video responses to prompts that you pose to your students.

Why do I like it?

  • Students can improve their speaking ability from their homes, repeating their performances as often as they like. Stress-free.
  • Teachers can listen and send written or video feedback via email if they wish.
  • Students don’t need an email address, which is perfect for younger students.
  • Students record or upload a video and they can pause while recording, trim their videos and add more time or just delete it and start all over again.
  • Recording time goes from 15 seconds to 5 minutes.
  • They can reply to each other’s videos.
  • Educators are 100% in control with video moderation, access controls, etc
  • You can easily connect your class with other classes, not only in your country but also all around the world using the GridPal feature. There are thousands of educators willing to connect.
  • Flipgrid works on computers, laptops or any mobile device. If you use a mobile device to make your video, as my students did, you’ll need to download the free app.

The Project: Steps followed

1.Finding teachers from other schools willing to collaborate

That was the first step. I needed 3 teachers from 3 different regions who had some knowledge of how Flipgrid worked. To be honest, I didn’t feel like sending tons of emails to the different schools asking for collaboration. I thought it would be time-consuming and probably ineffective.  Besides, I  am very active on Facebook and Twitter and I thought it was the fastest way to find potential collaborators. And Bingo! In just one week I  had my 3 teachers: Purva Bachani from EOI Guía (Sta María de Guía- Las Palmas(Gran Canaria),  Marisa Rodríguez from EOI San Roque (San Roque-Cadiz) and Silvia Oslé from EOI Torrelavega  (Torrelavega-Cantabria). We have never seen each other, but we share the same passion: teaching. We created a Whatsapp group to speed up the process of setting up the project.

2. Setting up the Grid and the Topic

I created the common grid (class) and using the Grid Actions Button selected Add Copilots. Then, I added Marisa’s, Purva’s and Silvia’s emails and sent them an invitation.  From that moment, they had all the permissions to edit and add topics, but they could not delete the Grid (class)or the Topic I had previously created.

3. Setting up the activity

As it was the beginning of the course, we decided to do two activities (explained below), trying to maximize as much as possible the interactive part. Once the topic has been created, Flipgrid generates a code that you share with your students. This code and a Google or Microsoft email account is all they need.

(What you see below is the Topic with the 2 tasks. The Grid (class) is called Flipping EOI Students)

Task 1. A get-to-know-you activity. We didn’t want the questions to be the usual where-do-you-live or what-is-your-favourite-food. A bit of research on the Internet and again Bingo! We found the perfect inspiration in the videos “73 Questions with…” where Vogue interviews popular celebrities and asks them some rapid-fire questions to get to know them. The questions are good and we thought our students could either write their own questions or practise listening comprehension and choose the ones they liked best. These were the 2 links we provided: Selena Gómez and Emma Stone 

We gave students about a week to record their first video introducing themselves, saying which school they were studying in and their chosen get-to-know-you question.

Task 2. They had to choose 3 students from different EEO0II and answer their questions. We asked them to talk for about 1 minute elaborating on their answers as one of the aims of the activity was to practise listening and speaking. To help students and show them how to respond to each other, I recorded a  short video tutorial.

This second task took longer than the first as they had to record three videos answering to three students. Lots of speaking here, preceded by lots of rehearsing= lots of learning.

Note: although at first, it took a bit of convincing, very soon they were really into the project and some students went as far as to record themselves showing some landmarks of their cities and some even dressed up using hats and fake moustaches or wigs.

The surprise. As a surprise for the students, and again using social media sites, we asked for collaboration from native speakers and managed to convince a bunch of them to do task 2 as if they were students, too.  It was a nice gift for them and a way to say thank you for being such nice sports. Here I want to thank people at Flipgrid headquarters for being so supportive and agreeing to collaborate straightaway. ( thanks George, Rayna, Ann, Karen, Joseph, Kathrina and so many others).  I am proud to be a Flipgrid Ambassador.

(below is a picture of some of the students that collaborated in this project. I have erased their names. The people in the bubbles are the students answering this specific student)

Follow-Up Activities:

Using our private Whatsapp group, we brainstormed post-project activities. These are some of the ones we did.

  • Mixtapes: A Flipgrid feature that allows you to combine videos from different grids. We created one of these MixTapes using the native speakers’ recordings, playing some of them in class and asking students to first identify the get-to-know-you question and then summarize the answer.
  • Another idea was to ask students to work in groups of 3 or 4, play a get-to-know-you question and ask them to answer it within their groups. Then, play the answers to the question and give a point to the students whose answers coincide with those on the videos.
The activity in numbers

351 videos recorded, 15,663 views and 89.7 hours of recorded time.

I think I can say that without a shadow of a doubt that we have passed this first collaborative activity with flying colours. Thanks Silvia, Purva and Marisa.  I could not have done it without you.

 

Revising and Consolidating Vocabulary: No-Prep Fun Strategies

Before we dive into the content of the post today, I’d like for you to know a surprising fact about me. I love traditional teaching. Yes, chalk and board. I say “surprising” because if you have been reading this blog for a while, you will have probably noticed how often I incorporate technology in my lessons. True. I love surprising my students with a new idea to revise, learn or consolidate learning using a digital tool, but I absolutely also adore surprising them with an exercise where the only help is their mind, their classmates and occasionally their teacher.

If I combine both traditional and digital learning, then it’s just my dream lesson. And this is what you’ll find on this post, the traditional Cristina and an updated version of myself. Which one do I love best? That, I still need to decide.

B2 students revising vocabulary

  • Aim: revise and consolidate vocabulary in a communicative way.
  • Levels. B1 upwards

Although the ideas below work better for a topic-based lesson- in my case it was used to revise food-related terms-, I think it might also work to revise random vocabulary as long as you specify which vocabulary you want to revise.

Step 1: Standing Up 

That’s probably one of my favourite ways to revise the vocabulary learnt the previous days.  My students already know me, so when I say: “please, stand up”, they already know what is coming and automatically, it brings a smile to their faces.

Instructions: students need to come up with a food-related term from the ones studied in the unit. They take it turns to say their word and I repeat it loud enough for all the class to hear it. This also gives me a good chance to repeat the word that might have been occasionally mispronounced.

A student sits down, ie. is eliminated,  if…

  • he cannot come up with a word
  • if another student has already said the word
  • if he cannot come up with a word in 10 seconds.

Big applause for the last person to remain standing and one of the sweets I keep in my candy box.

Step 2: Using Slips of Paper. Moving around the class.

Once terms and pronunciation have been revised, it’s time to work on meaning.

  1. Give students a slip of paper. I use old photocopies printed only on one side and cut them lengthwise. You should get two slips of paper per copy.
  2. Ask them to write two terms they would like to revise. Encourage them to write big enough to see the words from a distance (Note: this is unnecessary but I find the bigger their letters are, the easier it is to understand their handwriting). Once they have done so, ask them to make sure they know how to define them. Also, help with pronunciation.
  3. Ask students to stand up. The desks in my class form a U so I tell them to move to the centre of the class. Students choose a partner and they take it turns to define their words for the other student to guess/revise. Before they move on to find a new partner, they swap cards. This is a very important step as once they swap, they will need to define/revise other words.

After 10 or 15 minutes, depending on the number of students, students sit down, Ask them to keep the last slip of paper they have defined.

Step 3:  Asking Open-Ended questions. 

Now, this is the part where I use technology and one of my favourite tools to get feedback. But, let’s go step by step.

a. Writing the questions

Students sit down. Ask them to write down an open-ended question using one of the words on their slip of paper. Tell them some of the questions will be chosen to do a speaking activity. Encourage them to write questions related to the topic, in my case food.

Questions are difficult in English so walk around the room helping students.

b. Using  Mentimeter.com to get feedback

As I mentioned above, this tool is one of my favourites to get feedback.

It takes less than 30 seconds to set up the task.

  • Go to mentimeter.com
  • Choose the open-ended slide
  • Click on Present and  display the slide with the OHP
  • Ask students to take out their mobiles and go to menti.com
  • Give them the code
  • Ask them to write their questions and submit them

Once their questions are displayed, correct possible grammar mistakes and choose 6 or 8  to be discussed in pairs or in groups of 3.

I hope you have enjoyed the lesson.

Teach and have fun!

A new Presentation Tool+ Speaking Exams for B2

It’s been raining for one week straight here in Asturias and it doesn’t seem to get any better next week. And while I don’t especially hate the rain, it’s beginning to get inconvenient. Lots of rain means floods and floods mean flooded roads and … well, I could go on and on but I don’t want you to picture me as an old fuddy-duddy.

But, I’m going to be frank and tell you that the more it rains, the less I go out. No worries. This just suits me fine right now, as I have had piles of written exams to mark and a bunch of workshops to prepare. I haven’t finished. It’s Sunday and I’m still working.

Anyway, work is never work when you are having fun and trying and testing new tools is fun for me.

Today, I want to show a fantastic presentation tool  Beautiful. Al with amazing templates which I have been using for some time now.

Things I like about this presentation tool:

  • It is very visual and user-friendly
  • It is free
  • It has a large variety of ready-made very original templates to please everybody
  • It has an image library, so it’s very easy to find the photos you need
  • It is a collaborative tool. You can add collaborators to your presentation and give them permissions to edit the presentation or just view it.
  • You can export it to PDF, PowerPoint or JPEG

The presentation you will find below is not a good example of all the possibilities this presentation tool offers, but this is the one I needed to do today. Two more  presentations follow where you will be able to see more examples of the  templates available,

 

Lesson Plan: Save Mother Earth

Hey! How’s the new year treating you?

Question for you. Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions? Or let me rephrase it, have you announced to friends and family that you are finally going to hit the gym, eat fewer carbs and give up smoking? Have you? Sorry to be the party pooper here. Statistics say that only 8% of the people who make New Year’s resolutions stick to them. I am definitely part of the 92%. What about you?

However, I have made a New Year’s resolution. It’s the same I made last year. I am going to try to reuse single-use disposable plastic bags when I do my daily shopping. Last year,  I even went as far as putting a bunch of these bags in the boot of my car. There they are. Exactly in the same place. This year I am going to try again. I am really going to try. It’s not that I don’t want to. I really want to do my part. It’s just that I forget. So, I am considering moving the bags to the front seat. It might work. What do you think?

That’s what I’m eco-guilty of. What about you? What is your darkest eco-sin?

The lesson today is aimed at students with a language level of B2  (upper-intermediate) and focuses on revising, learning and using vocabulary related to the environment and environmental issues through a variety of engaging activities which will help them learn vocabulary and  improve listening, speaking and writing.

Introducing the Topic: Playing Hangman. Vocabulary and Speaking

Aim: Introduce some common vocabulary and to work on pronunciation.

On the board, write the word “Environment” and drill pronunciation.

Divide the class into two or three groups, depending on the number of students in your class.

  • Team A starts saying one letter. Whether they guess right or wrong, the turn goes now to Team B who will say another letter.
  • To try to guess the hidden word, a member of the team will need to stand up and say. “We know!”. If they guess right, they score 1 point. If they don’t, the other team can say up to two letters before anybody tries to guess again.
  • Note: they can only attempt to guess the word once half the letters have been guessed. For this, before each game, you will have to count the number of gaps. For example, if the word contains 8 letters, they can only guess when 4 letters have been filled.

There are four words and expressions to be learnt or revised with this exercise. After they have guessed the words, ask them a question where the target word is used in context. You might need to introduce some new vocabulary at this stage.

  1. Environment: What do you do to help the environment?
  2. Global warming: How do you feel when you hear about global warming?
  3. Recycle: Do you recycle? What kind of things do you recycle?
  4. Renewable energies: Do you know what renewable energies are? Do you use any of them? Why? Why not?
Leaning Vocabulary
  • Drill pronunciation as you teach the words and then flip the cards to see how they are used in context. Do this exercise twice.
  • Reinforcement: there are 24 terms here. Ask students in pairs to write in two minutes as many as they can remember.

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Listening. School Strike for Climate Change

In this inspiring thought-provoking talk, 15-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg addresses the world leaders demanding they act against climate change.

Ask students to take down notes from Greta’s talk and then in pairs talk about the most important ideas in her speech.

Encourage the use of vocabulary.

Three Speaking  Activities
  1. Gallery Walk. Thought-provoking Posters with a Humorous Twist. Giving a Monologue.

Posters here

  • Put the posters containing environmental issues up on the walls of the class.
  • Ask students to stand up, tour the gallery and choose a poster they would like to talk about for about 4 minutes.
  • Ask students to stand next to the poster they would like to talk about.
  • Arrange students in groups of three, being careful to mix students doing different posters.
  • Ask students to sit down and give them 3 minutes to prepare their speeches. Encourage the use of specific vocabulary.
  • Students, in their groups, gallery walk stopping next to the posters they have chosen and delivering their speeches.

 

2. Speaking: Pictures with prompts. Monologues.

Pair students up. Give each of them a speaking task. Allow them 2 minutes to prepare their monologue and ask them to speak for about four minutes.

Student A

Student B

Oral and Written Mediation

Oral Mediation

PDF 1  PDF 2

Context: A friend of yours from New Zealand, who until two weeks ago lived for 20 years in a monastery in Bhutan, has decided to pay you a visit. He doesn’t speak the language and besides, knows nothing of the real world we live in.

Student A. He shows you this infographic but needs help to understand it.  Choose two or three ideas and explain what they mean.

Student B. He sees this cartoon in a newspaper and doesn’t understand it. Explain it to him.

Written Mediation

See the Task  here

Hope you have enjoyed the lesson!