Showing posts with label ed tech. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ed tech. Show all posts

Monday, May 30, 2016

Selfie Videos as a Tool for Language Learning

photo credit: Körsbärsblommorna i Kungsträdgården 2016 via photopin (license)

Being a teacher for some time, I have seen first hand the impact the adoption of technology has had in teachers' and in students' lives. Having that in mind, one cannot deny that it is important to adopt technology for teaching. In line with this premise, I would like to share something I learned in one of the many interesting presentations at the 2016 TESOL International Convention & English Language Expo in Baltimore, USA. This practice-oriented presentation (by Loni Thorson, Kyla Masciarelli, and Christine Discoe) was entitled "Using Selfies to Promote Language Learning."

What the presenters pointed out was  that technology is what students want. Linking the drive to communicate with the technology available to us, selfies are a trend in the world today.  One point in favor of using selfies, the presenters argued, is that video chat is a growing trend. This is really true and the proof for that is that if we look around, we will see people making either video or picture selfies almost all the time. Besides that, video chat through Face Time, Skype or other channels are quite frequent among learners young and old. Educators have to admit that this is a sign that people in general are comfortable with this technology. This brings us to the first argument they presented in favor of using selfies as a means to learn a language: classroom  comfort.

Classroom comfort informs us that in order to have effective and authentic tasks, students need to be comfortable with the assignment. We observe that students are very comfortable with their cell phones. Actually they are uncomfortable if they don't have them. Social comfort is also important. Students need to be comfortable with the technology (cell phone).  Being digital natives, students are used to seeing themselves in videos. They want that image to be curated. We want students to want their image to look good., they want to sound good, their pronunciation to be good, they want their image to look good. We teachers want students to want their image to look good. So, they have a natural desire to self-correct in terms of how they sound and how they look.  This is exactly what we teachers want.Video chat is a comfortable environment for them.

When people make a selfie video, they generally explain their surroundings and they give an update on what they are doing, they also explain if they are having a problem or if they are sick. All this updating creates a one to one interaction and, as a result, it increases comfort between students and viewers. A comfortable relationship with the teacher is created through this open communication channel. Besides that, it also creates comfort between students as they see themselves and their classmates in the videos. As time goes by, students that might  not have been happy with how they looked or sounded, feel more comfortable seeing and listening to themselves. Some report never have listening to or seeing themselves before. As they report feeling more comfortable doing that.

Why are selfies important?
Some reasons that make us convinced that using selfies in the language is useful relate to comfort and attention. There are two types of attention: inward attention and outward attention. They are mutually exclusive and you cannot have the two going on at the same time. Why is it important to understand this concept when making selfies videos? While making a selfie video, students do not only direct themselves outward, but they also have to direct themselves inward to see what is happening to themselves. They correct themselves during the video and sometimes after the video. This kind of attention works as meter against which they evaluate their performance, and as a result, they record multiple times just to make sure they get it right. They are aware of their own self-presentation and they make more selfies as assessment or a class task, they get more confident of their performance and become more confident and fluent speakers.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Google Hangouts: Not Your Regular Test Validation Meeting

An important component of the assessment design cycle is validating the instruments, and to that effect we count on the group of teachers working with that particular level/course. This collective validation process used to take place in the form of a traditional meeting which took place in our school’s Main Branch, usually in a room big enough to accommodate a group of around thirty teachers (sometimes more).
I’d already been adopting some group work dynamics in order to optimize the use of time, hopefully enabling teachers to make the best of the experience of collectively analyzing the test. In a nutshell, I wanted a productive, pleasant atmosphere where not only the outspoken individuals had a go at critiquing and sharing their views. I wanted all of them to feel comfortable enough to voice their concerns and suggestions to tweak the assessment instrument at hand. Teachers worked in small groups of five to six people, appointing a spokesperson who would be in charge of communicating the group’s opinions/suggestions regarding the test.
That had been working quite well. So, it occurred to me: they worked so well within their small groups, usually sitting with fellow teachers from the same branch, who have been sharing their experiences on a regular basis. I couldn’t help but wonder if we could make the validation process even more practical. That was when I had the idea to try out Google Hangouts for Test Validation Meetings. This is how we did it.
Let’s Hangout
Teachers were asked to attend the Validation Hangout at their branches; therefore, they worked with small groups of fellow teachers with whom they connect/exchange every day. They appointed their Hangout representative/spokesperson and went about their business of analyzing the test.
Adjustments along the way
The three Hangouts we had this semester were two-hour-long events. In the first Hangout, I took the groups through the test exercise by exercise, asking them to look at one part of the test at a time. That ended up being as time consuming and noisy as a regular meeting.
After getting some feedback from them, which they gave via a Google Form Survey, we decided it would be best if I gave them about 40 minutes to work on their own first, and only then start gathering their feedback. That worked better. (That and using the mute button to lessen the noise, of course!)
However, the third tine around was the best, indeed. We decided groups should be given even more time to look over the entire test before the feedback-giving stage. I gave them an entire hour, and it really paid off. The feedback stage ran more smoothly and rather fast.
Project Success
  • Convenience: teachers were free to attend the Hangout at a branch of their convenience, which most of the times meant the branch closest to their homes;
  • Capacity for collaborative self-management: teachers had to organize the analysis process themselves, preparing to report their impressions and suggestions to the Course Supervisor (yours truly) and the other branch groups in a clear and concise manner;
  • Agency and accountability: they worked hard to convey their opinions and provide pertinent suggestions, relying on the expertise of their own groups;
  • Voice: working with smaller groups of familiar faces made the more reserved people comfortable to speak their minds, something which tended not to happen with the large face-to-face traditional (very loud and somewhat messy) meetings;
And, last but not least,
  • Modeling innovation: teachers had the chance of trying out a new tool which they might find useful for other professional development opportunities.
This is an experience I would certainly like to replicate in the future, and which I would recommend other admins try out with their teaching staff.
What’s next?
Hangouts for Professional Development and innovating the adjacent possible.

Clarissa Bezerra

Thursday, May 07, 2015

TESOL 2015 - Kahoot: A Game Platform to Spice Up your Classes

TESOL 2015 - Kahoot – A Game Platform to Spice Up your Classes

Just another thing I discovered in TESOL International Conference in Toronto. Actually, my colleague Ana Cristina Gerin had used it and mentioned it in one of our EdTech meetings. I was a bit busy with other projects and did not have time to try it out, though. So, while in the last TESOL conference, I had the chance of attending a 25 minute session in the Electronic Village in which I had a hands on experience with the tool. Back to my routine, I decided to give it a try and my students and I just loved it. Kahoot is free and it is in its own words is “ a classroom response system which creates an engaging learning space, through a game-based digital pedagogy.” To use it you will need internet connection and a device (iPad, smart phone) for each pair of students. So, let me explain to you how it works.

Create your own 

First, you will have to join Kahoot. After you create your account, you can create your own games (called kahoots). You can create three kinds of activities: quizzes, discussions, and surveys. To create a new kahoot, you will have to click on “new” and add your questions. Once you are done, it will be saved to your account and you can play it as many times as you wish. Besides that, you can also share your creations with your friends if you happen to know their user names.

Find other Kahoots

Once you are in, you can also use one of the thousands of public activities you will find for free on their site. To do this you will just have to use the search feature, find the one or ones you are looking for and check them to see if it suits your purposes.

Play the Game

Now that you are in, it is time to use it in class. You should first log on to your account and choose the game you want to play. Next, you should ask your students to open their device’ browser and search for Kahoot. The search will give them two results. Ask them to open the Kahoot it link. Once they do that, the platform will ask for a game pin. This is when you will have to launch the game by clicking on “play.” The next step will involve students choosing their nicknames, which can be a combination of the paired students’ names. Once everyone joins the game you can start playing. After each question, the platform gives a score ranking students as first, second, third, and so on.

A Gift

I have created two games for my Teens 7. So, here they are,

What did she say?   A quiz on reported speech.

What's the correct answer?  A quiz to test will and going to future.

I really need to work on tagging and creating names that will help others finding my quizzes.

A Tutorial

Here is a tutorial to help visual learners to grasp it a bit better.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

TESOL 2014 Educational Snapshots

I could be here focusing on the interesting ideas that I learned from presenters in the TESOL Conference 2014, but by having the snapshots, quick notes I took during some sessions, you  might come across interesting references, links and people that will inspire you. 

Some topics that caught my attention:

Many Intersections Sessions that I attended focused on Mobile Learning. It is noticeable that though we all work in different contexts, the challenges are very similar, lack of infrastructure, difficulties with bandwidth in an ipad rollout program. Teacher training is also in the agenda of every Institution who wants to have a successful program. In my notes, I added some apps and resources that were mentioned. One thing that I missed was more presentations on learning outcomes with a more intensive use of mobile devices. Any qualitative and quantitative differences in the results of students who have been using smartphones/tablets and the ones who are not?

Marsha Chan, in her presentation on how to help students improve their oral communication skills, suggested using Youtube Playlists to help students find relevant content for further practice. At the end of my notes, you can find Marsha´s notes with all the links she mentioned. 

Nick Robinson´s advice and thoughts on the future of ELT publishing really got me hooked. Many interesting points about possibilities for self-publishing and concrete examples already in the market. I had the pleasure to meet Andy Boon (thanks to Nicky Hockly!), one of the authors in a self-publishing/independent project. We were immediately hooked to the story and downloaded the multi-pathways stories available in Kindle. You can learn more about those great interactive stories at . Learn more about Nick Robinson´s ideas at  and 

Another excellent presentation that got me with an irresistible thirst for more was one on gamification by Josh Wilson, who focused on the game-like mentality for educators to prepare better, more engaging lessons. Josh´s presentation was much more focused on the strategies and mechanics that we can learn from a game designer mindset to make our students learn in a more enjoyable way, not in the aspects that many consider as the core of a gamified lesson, points and badges. Not at all. Josh consistently mentioned that these are just part of the sum. Here are some key concepts:
Design the experience
Quantify everything (score; progress)
give choices
External pressure
Constant feedback 
Design the context
Imagine your learners as players

In fact, this is an area that I´ve been consistently studying, and two resources that you might want to check, a Google Talk, Smart Gamification: Designing the Player Journey with expert Amy Jo Kim

Also, the book "The Gamification of Learning and Instruction" by Karl Kapp

Another presentation that was very useful, highly intense in terms of ed tech resources we can use in our classrooms was Lea Sobocan´s digital tools session. I´ve just checked her scoop it, which is a true gem: 

I could go on and on with my highlights of TESOL 2014, but I´m sure you´ll find your own treasures by exploring my Evernote notes with some great presentations I had the chance to attend. I´d love to know what you found.

Crossposted at