Virtual Reality in your classroom?

This sounds extremely exciting but is it possible? And if so, how would you use Virtual Reality for your English lessons?

On the sixth of April we had a workshop for TELL. During this workshop my group and I visited the iXperium, a room in our building which has technological devises etc. available. On this day our group had to experiment with Virtual Reality.

First, we had to make a Virtual world which later on we could enter on our own. This sounds great, but you could only turn your head 360° and you were unable to move. Another con was that you had to download an app and put your mobile phone in a case that you could place on your head. This particular tool is not really useful for your English lessons. You could create a world for your students and let them name animals that you inserted. But nothing more.

The second thing we had to work on was putting on Virtual Reality glasses. This was actually really amazing. The glasses were connected to a computer. On this computer you could run certain programs. One of these programs was Google Earth (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCrkZOx5Q1M). This program allowed you to visit certain parts in the world. You could move around as if you were able to fly! I visited New York and Paris. The cities looked just like them, only with pixels. There weren’t details in the surroundings, and if they were, they were not really sharp.
Another thing that you could do was make a drawing. This was also really amazing because you could walk around your drawing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TckqNdrdbgk(If you visit the youtube videos you will get a clear idea of these programs. And it looks incredible!).
After I put the glasses of I felt a bit dizzy, I really felt as if I was moving when using the Virtual world.

Virtual Reality glasses, systems etc. are really expensive. I do not believe that it is super realistic that secondary schools will be using them in the near future. But what if I am wrong? How could you use this great technology for you English class?
One idea that our group had was giving the students the assignment to visit English-speaking countries or cities. For example New York. The students would have to visit the highlights of the city and describe them.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor virtual reality google earth

Technology is developing more and more everyday and teachers should be aware of that. Instead of ignoring it, we could embrace technology and use it to make learning and teaching easier and more fun.

But for now, we are not there yet, and I believe that Virtual Reality will not be used in the near future, but it is most certainly fun to use!

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor virtual reality

Helping your students after school?

This is something a lot of teachers wished they had time for. Unfortunately, we do not.
Of course, you really wish to help your students when they have difficulties with your subject. This post will tell you about Screencast-o-matic, a tool which allows you to record either your screen, your webcam or both.

This tool is really easy to use. You select what you want to record and then you just press “record”. This may sound a bit vague but if you want to get a clear idea on how to use it, you should watch the introductory video on: http://screencast-o-matic.com/home.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor student struggling

My peers and I were having difficulty with a certain subject. One of our professors made videos using screencast-o-matic. She recorded her screen so that we could follow the steps that she made. This made certain parts of the course really clear.

Because I want my future students to get as much help as they need, I want to make my own videos in which I explain certain parts of English, for example grammar. How would I do that? I would record my screen using a particular grammar item for example, and explain what I am doing, what the rules are and what steps I have made. You could assign the videos as homework to your students before explaining it in class, but you do not have to if you believe it is not necessary.
You could also tell the students about the videos, so that when your students struggle with a certain item, you can refer them to your videos.

In conclusion, if you wish to help your students you could record videos for extra support. Some teachers already do this and they post the videos on YouTube. So if you do not have the time, or if you come across a good video on YouTube, you could also use those!

 

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor screencast o matic

Digital Storytelling

In this post I will tell you about Digital Storytelling, a practice of using computer-based tools to tell stories. Again, about allowing your pupils to get creative, creativity rules!

There are numerous ways of using Digital Storytelling. You as a teacher can use it to support your students on a certain topic. Making a topic visual (and maybe even funny) could help your students understand certain topics. It could even help them remember.

You could also give your students an assignment in which they have to make a Digital Story.
Last semester we got the assignment that we had to make a digital story. You could pick any story you wanted, or even write your own. There was only one rule: you had to tell the story, the digital story was there for (visual) support. The outcomes were amazing!

How would this work in an English lesson? This is the idea I came up with:
First of all, the students would have to present their Digital Story in English (of course), you could actually give them the same assignment we had to do: tell us about anything!
If you need to help your students if they get stuck, you could tell them that they could use an existing story, maybe a fairy tale. They could also tell about a dream they had. Before telling your students about the exercise you could show them an example that you made.

Students could decide on how to create a digital story. I made mine with PowerPoint using GIF images and sound effects. But there are also other ways, for example Windows Movie Maker and such.

 

If you would like to find out more about Digital Storytelling, I would recommend that you visit this website: http://digitalstorytelling.coe.uh.edu/index.cfm. This website explains what Digital Storytelling, how you could use it for education, what components you should think about, etc.

Hopefully you will consider using this tool. Again, being allowed to use your creativity can be fun and students can work on something else!

Something pupils are familiar with

All pupils probably know it: YouTube. YouTube is a website that offers a range of video’s. From music video’s, to gaming videos to make up tutorials.
If you want your students to use something they are familiar with, you could make use of the YouTube Capture App (https://www.youtube.com/capture), an app which allows you to create and post your own videos on YouTube.
This app is really easy to use, the only thing you have to do is film something or yourself. Another nice thing about this app is that you can edit your videos. You could add effects, text or even combine videos.

How could you make use of this app in your classroom?
An idea that came to my mind was to use this app to get to know each other. Last year at my school placement, pupils had to make a video about themselves and tell about their hobbies etc. in English. Students really enjoyed doing the exercise and the results were great.
Students would not have to worry about others watching their video. They can publish their video privately and send the link to their teacher. Students also have the opportunity to speak without someone watching and grading them. Of course, it would be fun to watch all the videos together. But some pupils probably would not mind if you show something in class. But be sure to ask permission first!

You could also use this app for other exercises but I believe that it would be great to use this app for speaking exercises.

Again, a creative tool for your students. But with this tool it could be all about the students’ interests, which is a great way to get to know each other!

youtubecapture

Storybird, when you want your students to use their creativity.

For our YAFIC course we had to design a post-reading activity. Together with my group, we had the idea that we could use Storybird (https://www.storybird.com/). With this site you give students the opportunity to let them make their own storyboard.

It is actually really easy because students can choose existing artwork that they like to create their story. This is what it looks like:

On this page you can choose an artwork that you would like to use for your story. There are a lot of examples that could match with the story you wish to create.

 

When you choose an artwork you have the possibility to create a Longform Book, a Picture Book or a Poem.
The example you see below is a Picture Book. On the sides you see lots of artwork that you can insert in your book. On the left side you can add your story.
Our idea was to let students make their own version of the story in a book, or a particular scene, in which they have a role. This could be an existing role, such as the main character, or a non-existing one. The students would then tell the story in front of class and show their storybird.
The reason why we chose to do this exercise is because we want students to feel as if they are part of a book. We wanted to link their own experiences, knowledge, ideas and opinions to the story. And what could be more fun than to process a story in a creative way!
Of course, every tool has its pros and cons:
PRO: you can keep track of the students progress when you create a ‘classroom’. Students can work from here and you can see what they are working on.
CON: Students do not have the opportunity to insert artwork they found on the internet or that they have made themselves.
Not all students are equal so not all students are creative enough to make their own artwork. That is why I would still use this tool. If you want to give the more creative students an opportunity to make something of their own, you could give your class the option to either use Storybird or make their own storyboard.
Give your students the opportunity to use their creativity, this could be less boring and the results are amazing!

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Flipquiz, it can be fun or cause a lot of noise.

For our TELL course my group and I discussed a tool called ‘FlipQuiz’, which has a gameshow-element. This tool can be used for practicing vocabulary in a fun way. You could make use of the competition element to get your students motivated.

A week after our presentation I used this tool in my classroom. Although the students were participating and very enthusiastic, they caused a lot of noise and it caused a lot of energy to get them to be quiet.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor flipquiz

This is why I have a tip for you!
If you want to make use of this tool it is a better idea to divide the students into smaller groups of 4-5 people. During my lesson I divided the class into only 2 groups, this is why the students got super enthusiastic and noisy. If you divide the group into smaller groups, you can keep control of the noise and still let students get enthusiastic.

This is how it would work:
You prepare a FlipQuiz using the vocabulary from the students’ courseware.
During the lesson you divide the students into smaller groups, you could do this by giving them a number from 1-5, depending on how many students there are.
Every group gets to pick a name for their team and you make a overview on the board.
You start by letting the students pick a category and an amount of points they want to try.
If they give the correct answer, the team wins points which you write down on the board. If they do not give the correct answer, the first team which raises their hands can guess again.
At the end you would have a winning team.

Connected to the SAMR model:

SAMR stands for different technological levels of use, as the graphic model below illustrates:
Afbeeldingsresultaat voor samr model

The FlipQuiz tool is connected to the SAMR model, more specifically: to the Augmentation in the SAMR model. You use technology as a direct tool: you only work with the Smartboard to let students practice vocabulary. But that is it, you do not use it for anything else.

In conclusion, when you make use of this fun tool make sure you divide the students in small groups to prevent them from getting too enthusiastic and too noisy. This way you can keep control of them but still let them have fun whilst practicing vocabulary.

Until next time!

How to get your students to sing

Have you ever wanted to do a fun activity that activates students’ vocabulary knowledge? Then you could make use of this site called “www.lyricstraining.com”.

This site offers a variety of songs which deletes words, the amount of words depending on the level you pick for the lesson. This way students can name the word they hear and even spell it. If the word they use does not fit the gap, the part of the song is repeated until the correct word is entered.
A nice thing about this site is that you can use songs for every language.
The site could be made even better if it allowed you to choose the words that the students have to fill in. This way you could filter out words that they have to know for the test. Who knows, maybe someone will be able to develop such a great tool.

Last year I used this site a lot during my intern. It made my pupils enthusiastic and everybody participated. They were even more motivated if they were allowed to choose a song that they enjoyed a lot. I believe that it is best to use the tool at the end of the lesson. This way you end the lesson in a fun and activating way.

So warm up those vocal chords and put on some lyrics training!

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor lyricstraining