Saturday, June 15, 2013

Images in the Classroom - Now and Then

I've always had this natural inclination to add images to whatever lesson I was teaching, and now even more so when I see the neuroscientific reason for doing it. James Zull, in his book "the Art of Changing the Brain", mentions that
"Our concrete experience contains much of the information we need for understanding, because it produces images for our brains to analyze, rearrange, manipulate, and turn into action. We have maps of our experience in our brains, and we can run through these maps like the frames of a moving picture."

He goes on to say that the images in our brains come from the experience itself and that's why
"teachers could make extensive use of images to help people learn. If we can convert an idea into an image, we should do so. And whenever possible, we should require our students to show us their images. It should go both ways"
Having the power of images in mind, our classroom should be visual-rich and empowering. It should help our learners enhance their language skills through their sensory brains. In this sense, today I just came across a Facebook post by Ben Goldstein where he mentioned a blog called Dear Photograph  in which the audience shares images of a past original setting and taking a photo holding a film photo of people in the same place. 

Now, imagine having the same kind of project with your group of students after they've explored some of the images in the Dear Photograph blog. You can ask them to talk to their parents and relatives, to find nice photos of places that they could go and take the same kind of picture, holding the film-developed photo. Plus, you can explore the use of the past in the images contrasted with the present. The teacher would have the perfect timing to talk about "USED TO", for example, and then use students' own images to explore language in a totally contextualized way.

Then, in the same Facebook thread, Paul Driver suggested the use of the Zefrank's blog project Young Me/Now Me for the same kind of activity in which students take their own photos, explore the blog's photos and use language to compare and talk about the differences between now and then.

Thanks to Ben Goldstein and Paul Driver in my FB network for the visual inspiration!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Picturetelling in the Park with Jamie Keddie

I met Jamie Keddie, from the very resourceful site, lessonstream, in Brighton, on my very first day at IATEFL 2011. He was part of my Twitter network and, at the pub we were at, he just said, "I'm that guy with the dog as a thumbnail". Yes. Everything about Jamie has a visual cue!

However, his very recent video goes much beyond imagery. It helps us picture a scene through words in the very best Jamie style of storytelling with a strong visual reference. This video is a very powerful resource for the classroom as there are just so many things that can come out it:
 - A discussion about the wall he talks about and the kinds of imaginary walls and real ones we have around us.
 - Students drawing the scene and trying to identify where, who, what he is looking at if they haven't heard of or seen the photo.
 - A discussion about cultural issues that have caused or might cause a rebellion.
- Or how about the students recording their own picturetelling videos, inviting others to draw what they narrate?

Well, I'll leave you with Jamie, his video and a great lesson plan to go with it! 


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Thinking Design - Looking Professional

Some might consider it superfluous, or just for professionals. Others could say it is essential, but not for them. In fact, design is for all. The way we present, the choice of images, the displaying of graphic elements, the word we use. Everything counts and matters. Design tells much of who we are. Consider your presentations and digital resources, what are they saying about you? What stories are you telling? How professional do you look?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

mLearning - Assessment for a Recording Activity

I've been taking an assessment online course from the University of Oregon. So, I decided to try to assess my students' speaking skills through the use of technology and the creation of a simple rubric for the assessment part as a way to have a clear picture of my students' production. To assess my students, I've used the activity as a way to wrap up a unit about mysteries. I asked them to record a mystery story. They had two ways to do it. Send me through message (SMS or through the What's app app) or record themselves in . My teens chose their way of sending me their recordings after I told them what my criteria was for the assignment. Here's the rubric I've created and used:

Have you ever tried any kind of alternative assessment to have an individualized picture of your students oral production?