Tag Archives: Online

#APPI 2012: Nicky Hockly – Digital Literacies

27 Apr

This blog post reports from the APPI 2012 conference in Coimbra, Portugal.  The theme of the conference is “Motivated Teachers make a difference” – I’m updating as I go, so apologies for any typos, I’ll try and clear those up later.

Plenary Session:  Nicky Hockly – Digital Literacies

Again – some quotes from the abstract:  “Digital Literacies are key 21st century skills … we look at some of the theory underpinning them and some practical classroom activities that can make a difference to students”.

(Editor’s note: I’ve spotted the telltale “prezi” navigation buttons in the bottom right hand corner of the screen, so I’m expecting lots of looping and whirling!  Fair play to Nicky who’s still hobbling around on crutches after breaking her leg some weeks ago!)

So here we go:

With a completely straight face,  Nicky Hockly’s trying to get the entire audience to dress up in a lumberjack outfits and march in support of the Pacific North West tree octopus.  She’s almost got everyone convinced…. and has now come clean!

Essentially, we’ve just had a fairly typical reading lesson: prediction, schema raising, etc – but with the spoof website (as above).  The point being that one of the skills learners need is to be able to assess the veracity of websites on the internet, in particular by examining the different features of websites and analysing them:  e.g.  news / blog / hyperlinks / links to official orgs / other research / content tabs / url / layout, font, colours / images & maps / style of language / quotes.  The website is a parody, so it does contain most of these features, but as it is a parody, they don’t match our expectations of authenticity.  Learners need to think about these things and use them to approach websites critically – in other words we need to develop learners’ digital literacies.

Digital Literacies (after Mark Pegrum):

  • Focus on Language:  texting / hypertext / multi-media / mobile / gaming / tech & coding / print
  • Focus on Connections: personal / network / cultural & inter-cultural / participatory
  • Focus on Information: search / tagging / info
  • Focus on (re) design:  remix

See: http://e-language.wikispaces.com/mr3 for more information.

Focus on remix literacy:

Taking original information, re-presenting it and adding something new and original.  Similar to the idea of remixing music, but extended into an approach to accessing and processing information, possibly with the idea of provoking thought or subverting convention.

An example of remix literacy:  literal videos:  videos that de-construct original content and re-describe the action from a literal, and occasionally subversive point of view.  Exploiting them:  http://www.overstream.net/ or http://www.subtitlehorse.org/ – get learners to redub / subtitle their own videos, using videos from You Tube.  Great examples of this include the parodies of Hitler’s tantrum from the film “The Downfall”.  Apparently copyright laws permit original material to be used for the purposes of parody.

Be careful with the distinction between copyright & fair use.

Implications of Digital Literacies:

  • integration into syllabus, using a web text instead of a paper text.
  • Digital divide – find out who in your classes have the access to the technology.  Technology use does NOT equate to digital literacy.
  • Student learning – use of technology needs to be principled, make sure you aren’t using the tech for the tech’s sake, but that there are clear learning goals involved.
  • Develop and keep up with development via a PLN
Nicky has links to all the talk resources and videos, plus further reading here:

And I’ve just found her Prezi for this session online:  http://prezi.com/svpcbl8q_aml/digital-literacies-nicky-hockly/


Getting learners writing: FoldBooks!

19 Apr

It can be difficult to get learners writing, especially young learners who often see writing as an imposition on classroom fun and games – so fun ways to encourage learner writing are always welcome.

At the FoldPlay website, they’ve come up with FoldBooks.  As the name suggests, these are mini-booklets made out of A4 paper, which have been pre-printed with images and text.

If you go to the FoldBooks page you’ll find input boxes there to work with, once you’ve filled everything in, click the “make your book” button, then print and follow the folding and cutting instructions precisely.

There are eight boxes that need text adding to them, and consequently eight pictures that need to be included.  In order to maximise the amount of text that can be put on the page, it’s best to reduce the font size to about 12 and the text margin to about 18, which is roughly the same as the image margins.  Pictures though, can only be uploaded from the computer, so if learners want to use pictures from the internet, they’ll need to download those to the computer, before uploading them again, which is a bit of a hassle, but there you go.

I think with learners, particularly younger learners, I’d ask them to write a first draft in the classroom before adding the excitement of the computers.  All that’s needed is eight smallish – say two or three sentence – paragraphs.  It might fit nicely with some of the circle writing tasks along the lines of “describe a man  / describe a woman  /  the place they met  /  what did they say to each other / what were their dreams  /  what was the problem  /  what did they do  /  how did it end”  (for example).

Once learners have got a set of  accurate texts they’re happy with, they can think about pictures they want to illustrate their books.

That, I think, is the point to take them into the computer room and let them have a go at making their  FoldBooks.

#IHPortugal Training Day: Facebook in the Classroom

7 Feb

This is the second of a series of posts reflecting on seminars I attended at the recent IH Portugal Training Day.  Click the link to read the first post on “Class Management by Carol Crombie“.


Robert Dickson & Stephen Wardle

IH Lisbon

For some time now, I’ve been experimenting with a number of web tools, attempting to create an online environment for my learners – an extension of the classroom, an alternative channel of communication, a shared resource….  and the conclusion I came to fairly early on was that facebook was probably the best means of achieving this.  After all, why reinvent the wheel?  Everyone’s already on facebook – so it should be easy!

Robert & Stephen’s seminar looked at the “whys” and the “hows” of using facebook, but perhaps more importantly, it also looked at the “should we-s” – the things to think about before connecting with your learners outside the classroom.

Continue reading

English teaching: A Friday request | The Economist

10 Jan

Originally spotted on Simon Thomas’ efl-resource – it appears The Economist has become aware of it’s own potential in the ELT sphere!  They’re asking their readers, ELT professionals in particular, for their thoughts in how to make best use of Economist material in the classroom and how The Economist can help us to help our learners access their material.

Even if you don’t have any strong desire to contribute to the debate – it’s probably worth taking a look at the article and the comments section underneath it – lots of ideas from people about how they use The Economist!

English teaching: A Friday request | The Economist.


The World in 2012: Predict this!

3 Jan

It’s that time of year when the media maelstrom coalesces around a single topic – the future!  What’s going to happen in the next twelve months?  What can we all expect from the next year?  Will we face triumph or disaster?  And when we look back on it all in December, what will we have achieved?  And just how many “future forms” can you cram into a short paragraph anyway?

Rather than just asking your learners to “predict” the future, which let’s face it is difficult enough at the best of times, let alone in another language…  it’s probably best just to discuss the future for two reasons:  (1)  you immediately broaden out the number of possible “future forms” that you can focus on  (2)  you open things up to discussing the implications of events – so not only “what will happen?”  but also “and what does it all mean for us?”

Over at Slideshare, they’ve collated “12 presentations with predictions” which could form the basis of useful discussions (or comparisons with learner predictions?).  Their 12 presentations are aimed more at the business / tech crowd.  Probably not so good with younger learners

Here’s their top pick – Ross Dawson’s “What to expect in 2012”:

The Economist publishes an annual magazine “The World in … ” which is divided up by topic area and by geographic location.  This year’s copy has a lot of online content here: http://www.economist.com/theworldin/2012 – though some of it may be premium paid for content – check before using!

The biggest / oldest prediction concerning 2012 is of course the Mayan calendar:  for more info check out this wikipedia article.  Two further websites that focus specifically on the forthcoming end of the world that might be of interest (though I don’t vouch for their accuracy) are :  http://www.december2012endofworld.com/  and http://www.2012predictions.net/.

The BBC has a nice review of the best of the British Press predictions for 2012 here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-16381278, while they include the thoughts of their top correspondents on the likely big stories of 2012 here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16071986

The Twelve Days of Geekmas: Six Games Worth Playing

9 Dec

On the sixth day of Geekmas, some blogger gave to me:  six games worth playing

Welcome to the teflgeek Christmas celebration!  Themed around the classic Christmas carol – but going backwards, mostly because it’s more like a countdown that way:

12 blogs worth clutching

11 tips for writing

10 tricks for reading

9 pretty pictures

8 talks worth watching

7 simple statements

and six games worth playing – with your class or at least directing learners to for some self study – or even, when the marking’s magically disappeared and you’re all planned up for the next week, worth playing yourself!

I’ve used almost all of these with learners with great success – further details on that as below!

(1)  The Curfew Game.

I’ve mentioned this game before (see original post for more detail) – it’s a truly excellent piece of free game play that ties into themes related to civil liberties and authoritarianism.  Authentic (scripted) dialogues could make this challenging for lower levels, but this could be a fun lesson for upper intermediate and above!

(2)  Stop Disasters!

This is a natural disaster prevention game created by the United Nations ISDR to raise awareness of the lack of disaster preparedness in many places around the world.  Similar in set up to “god games” like Civilisation, the player chooses between the Hurricane, Tsunami, Wild Fire, Flood or Earthquake scenarios, and then tries to put measures in place to reduce loss of life when the big one hits.  You get advice and a time limit within which to work!

(3)  Nation States.

This is a game I played with my summer school classes some years ago, arising out of a project class where learners created a micro-nation.  With Nation States, learners answer an initial set of questions to determine what sort of country they’ll create (i.e. liberal / authoritarian) and then as time goes by they are asked further questions which determine the development of their nation state.  Interaction with other users playing the game is also possible and learners can forge alliances as they need to.  This is a long term game and not suitable for a single lesson – better perhaps as a warmer / the last ten minutes of a regularly scheduled once or twice a week class meeting over an entire academic year.

(4)  Destination Impossible.

Spotted this the other day on Larry Ferlazzo’s site and have investigated!  The game destination impossible is one of about 53 excellent flash based games for language learner development – aimed at adult literacy tutoring in the UK.  Activities suitable for most levels (possibly not the very low or the very high) – my favourite of which is the following directions based game “Destination Impossible” – a must play for anyone doing this topic with their classes!

(5)  Lyrics Training.

Lyrics Training is the ultimate fast finisher task for computer room based lessons.  Learners would, if they could, spend entire lessons attempting to type the lyrics to their favourite songs in time to the singer.  With graded levels of difficulty (watch that your learners don’t “underestimate” their own abilities!) – and a wide range of songs, there’s something for all ages and abilities.  Warning:  make sure you know the lyrics for the songs they’ve chosen, or an irate DoS may soon be banning the class from the computer room forever!  A great website to have up your sleeve when one group finishes the writing task in ten minutes and the rest of the class are still struggling.

(6)  CSI:  Web Adventures.

A nice one for the more scientifically minded – or for the legions of CSI obsessives who all want to be forensic pathologists when they grow up!  The rookie stages involve learners processing a certain amount of written information and then answering some content based questions – it’s a little slow to start!  But highly motivating and enjoyable.  Again, could be a great fast finisher task?

Have a look and I hope you enjoy!

What to do with Wikis – an ELT perspective

9 Nov

The wiki can be an often overlooked teacher tech tool.  The piece below is (as you might be able to tell!) an adapted version of an assignment submitted for the Technology & Language Learning module of my MA.

This article provides an overview of the background and evolution of the wiki and examines some of the affordances generally associated with wikis.  It situates wikis in a clear educational context, linking wikis to social constructivist views of learning.  It examines how the implementation of integrated wiki use might best be approached and looks at how motivation of learners to fully engage in integrated wiki use might be maintained.  It clarifies three modes of integrated wiki use, administrative, referential and developmental, and provides specific suggestions for these.  It concludes that a general approach to integrated wiki use is necessary and that this should incorporate an implementation strategy, consider motivational factors and give ownership of the project to the participants. 


Continue reading

Halloween Teaching Resources

28 Oct

I’m not a great fan of “festivals” teaching in general, but this year my timetable has more young learner classes than usual and halloween is almost upon us, so here’s what I managed to find to help you cook up some devilish lessons for your learners…

Continue reading

Global Population – 7 billion people and you

27 Oct

There’s a really nice app on the BBC website that lets you figure out where you come in the global population statistics – for example, when I was born I was the four billionth, 50 millionth, seven hundred and sixty four thousandth, one hundred and sixty first person alive on the planet.  It goes on to let you look at country population statistics and average life expectancy.  Check it out here:  BBC News – 7 billion people and you: Whats your number?.

The app is based (primarily) on data from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) , who have their own app at http://www.7billionandme.org/.  This asks you for more detailed information, not only your date of birth, but birth location, current location and such like, but it does then break down the data into a much wider spread of infographics that compare the situation back then, with the way things are now.  Anyone who’s helping learners work with describing trends and/or numbers (big numbers!) would find this a useful place to go to get some personalised data for the learners to work with.

Also on the web via UNFPA, is http://www.7billionactions.org which is hoping to inspire people to take positive actions in their communities and around the world.  One of the more powerful ways they hope to achieve this is by people sharing their stories:  7 billion stories.  There is a registration form to complete (the usual) and you need a picture to upload.  Participants also need to be 13 years old or over.  Then you write a 600 character “story” about yourself and how you hope to influence change, give it a title and go!

It seems like there’s a fairly obvious lesson plan there!  The kicker though, is that it is only 600 CHARACTERS – not words!  So learners will need to be concise!  It may also help learners to look at the existing stories to get a better idea of the type of content that’s expected of them.

Worth a look anyway!  At the time of writing, the world’s population stands at 6, 999, 175, 608.  So be quick if you want to get there in time for 7 billion!




Making Mistakes & Error Correction

19 Oct

Simon Thomas answers the question “What causes ESL students to make speaking and writing errors? “ quite comprehensively in a recent blog post at efl-resource.com.

He looks at the differences between “mistakes” (lack of knowledge or understanding) and “slips” (performance errors) – which I think is a distinction originally made by Pit Corder in his 1981 book “Error Analysis and Interlanguage“.  Simon goes on to look at possible causes and possible solutions to learner errors.

Since I started typing this – Simon’s just published a further three posts extending and developing the topic (though I haven’t had a chance to read them all yet!):

If you’re a glutton for the error correction punishment, then why  not also look at Alex Case’s 2008 checklist of how to arrive at “A Well Balanced Use of Error Correction” from the Using English site?
Or get some great ideas from Colin Barnett’s onestopenglish article on Conversational Feedback and Effective Error Correction?
Or look at Scott Thornbury’s musings on the nature and source of mistakes (a brief look at the interference debate) in “E is for Error“?
There’s also an ELTChat summary by Michelle Worgan (containing some nice links to methodology articles and materials) on “How do you deal with fossilized errors and help students improve their accuracy?” which is worth reading.