Monday, November 17, 2014

Google Docs and Interaction

I have used google docs as a means of collaborative document for quite a while, but never thought of using it with my students.
After a meeting with Carla Arena, she inspired me to think about something I could do with my group. Something simple, yet challenging.

I decided to invite Teacher Henry on this journey with me. We have a Teens 5 group at the same time. My students are struggling with question forming using the simple past tense. So, here's what we did:

1. We created a document with some instructions for students. In class we gave them a shortened url as homework (each class had a different url).
2. They were supposed to make a question (using the simple past tense) to another student in another class. So, my students would be making questions to Henry's students and vice-versa.
3. On the following class, we opened the document in class and reviewed all questions. We corrected the ones that had mistakes and talked about how to make questions using their own examples. 

After the questions were all made, we gave them the other class's url, so that they could answer each other's questions. This was also done as homework. One of the challenges we faced after doing the activity was that some of the students weren't able to edit the document and add their contribution. So, we found out that goggle docs can only be edited through a mobile device (cell phones / tablets) if the person is logged on, otherwise he/she can only see it, not edit. However, if the student access the document on a computer, it requires no login. 

As a follow-up, many ideas came to our mind. Some of them are:
- print questions and answers and have students match them.
- have only the answers on a slideshow and then students have to come up with a correct question.
- pair-work where students would use the questions and answers as a conversation.

We decided to gather students in the school gallery. We printed the questions and randomly handed on question to each student. Then, we asked them to ask the question they had in hands to at least five students from the other class. It was fun and very meaningful! They had a very good time! 

As a whole, students got engaged and we felt this practice added value to their learning. It was a meaningful task and involved students in their own learning process, linking the subject with students' own realities. We were able to spot which aspects we still needed to work further on, creating an opportunity for students not only to gain knowledge, but also to be able to apply and use what they have learned in a different yet valuable way. Since students were exposed to the content in a surprising way, the language was possibly more vividly experienced and, therefore, better remembered. 

Here are the pages students worked on:

Click here to watch a nice video about Google Docs. 


     Lilian Marchesoni                           Henry Silva

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

iPads in the English Classroom: Notability

After using IPads to produce short videos with my students, I became more excited and curious about the power of IPads in the language classroom.  If my students had got all excited about using a simple native app, the camera, what impact could other fascinating apps have on their learning? Therefore, I started attending IPad workshops to become more familiarized with other apps and to learn about other teachers’ experiences with them.  That was how I came across “Notability”, a fun user-friendly app that allows you to write texts through typing or by using “a pen”, to take  pictures and to record texts.  Playing with Notability was really fun, but how could I integrate it into a lesson? As I started a lesson on clothes, I could visualize an effective way to incorporate the use of technology through Notability into my lesson plan. To wrap up the lesson, the students developed a simple project on what their partners were wearing.  Each pair talked about what they were wearing and took each other’s pictures. Then, I showed them how to use notability by producing the model below. 

This is my student. He's Hemmanoel. He's wearing black shoes, jeans, a black belt and a beautiful striped shirt. He's so elegant!

They enjoyed “being  a model”, taking pictures and recording their texts. After they finished the task, they  presented it to the class.  In short, students were excited about working on the iPads and felt proud of their digital production.  Notability allowed them to practice the target structure in a fun and motivating way.

Roberta is wearing a pink
sweater, jeans and beige and
black shoes. She’s beautiful!

This is Eduardo. He's my English course friend. He's wearing gray and
blue sneakers, white socks, blue jeans, a brown belt, a purple shirt,
glasses and a watch.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Google docs for synchronous or asynchronous collaboration

Most of us have used google docs to create and share documents with our peers. I myself have done that in several occasions. However, the mindset is always one so concerned with privacy that I had never hacked my google docs. I mean, I have always made them private and sharable with only the peers involved in a given project. That has changed after Carla Arena showed us that we could make it public and editable by anyone on the web.

Here are some screenshots to show you how you can do that. 

Once I discovered that (I mean, I kind of knew it could be done. I guess I was just concerned with privacy), I decided to try it out with my students. So, I went ahead and created an editable document for my 1B2 – English Access group. In that lesson we were working with describing people. What I did for this activity was to create a document with some pictures and some questions and fill in the blanks activities. In class I gave them a shortened url and  took them to the computer lab. They logged in and I asked them to work in twos assigning one page to each pair. Once a pair had worked on a page, I asked them to move to another page. They really liked it and I found it was a very effective way to teach and reinforce what they had learned.

Here is the doc

Another activity I did that was fun was with my Teens 7. We were working on passive voice. So, I posted some pictures and wrote a model sentence with a passive voice. When we got to the computer lab, they accidentally deleted some of the images I had posted. That was good, because it gave the excuse to ask them to add their own images by copying and pasting from the web. It was really fun 
Here is the link 

If you want to do it asynchronously, you can just give the link to students and they will do it from home. 
* I just removed permission to edit because I am publishing and I wanted to prevent unwanted changes to my students' original work.