Thursday, 31 August 2017

Illustrate Poems & Create Short Image Based Narrative

Commaful is an interesting web based tool for combining text and images into beautifully visual short stories or poem.

 Once you have signed in you can start to create your narrative just by clicking on 'Create a Story' and typing in your text. You can them either search or choose from the images selected and combine the images with the text.

There are lots of artistic images, gifs and video clips to choose from and you can choose how to position the text over the images.

Once your narrative is complete it plays like a presentation that users can click through to read. You can also get a code to embed them into a web or blog page.

The app seems to be particularly popular with teens and there’s a lot of teen type fiction on the themes of romance and or horror stories. Some of the themes can be a bit strong so it’s best to use this only with more mature students.

The app is also social so users can comment on, follow and like each others creations.

I used the app to create an illustration of a poem by Robert Frost - Fire & Ice. This would be nice activity to do with students, either selecting or letting them select a poem to illustrate.

It would also be a nice way to illustrate and publish any short fiction writing that they produce.

You can also use the site to create your own reading comprehension texts or try to find something appropriate that’s already on the site.

Here are some nice examples:
I hope you find Commaful useful and create some great narrative with your students.

You can find links to many more tools like this and activities for the digital classroom in my ebooks at: http://peacheypublications.com/. All my ebooks are available for iOS and as PDF.





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Nik Peachey

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Use YouTube as a Pronunciation Corpus

This is a marvellous tool that enables you to use YouTube as a form of pronunciation corpus. You can type in a word or phrase to the search engine and it will find a series of videos where that word or phrase appears along with subtitles.

This is a great way to find examples of words in context and to hear the pronunciation of those words.
You can choose between US, UK and AUS sources and also get a direct link to the part of the video where the word occurred and share it with students.There's even a small tool to slow things down if you feel that helps.

You can use the green buttons to skip forward to the next clip or back to the last one.


This makes it easy to hear lots of examples in context quite quickly. You can even click on the words in the subtitles to get a dictionary definition.
The site works in the browser so should work across platforms and on most mobile phones and tablets too. There's even a widget that you can embed into your site or blog.

Visit YouGlish.com
This is a great way to get students comparing different accents, as well as finding pronunciation models for words they want to learn and showing the word in context.

You could also use it to focus on homonyms and homographs and see if they can pick out which version of the word appears in the video.

Just as with a normal corpus it's also great to use to show differences in usage. Compare here the difference uses of operate on and operate in.

YouGlish is a great tool to get students thinking about how words are used in context and how they sound.


You can find links to many more tools like this and activities for the digital classroom in my ebooks at: http://peacheypublications.com/. All my ebooks are available for iOS and as PDF.




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Nik Peachey

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

From Image to Story - Motivating Reading Tasks on Powerful Issues

Time 100 is an amaxing feature from Time Magazine. It's a collection of 100 images that have had the power to change the world. The images are displayed on a time line and you can scroll through and click on each image.


As you click through the images you can find out about the story and photographer behind it.Many of the images also have video clips about the content which range from short 2 - 3 minute clips to longer documentaries.

Many of these are very powerful images and stories, so this isn't suitable for younger learners, but if your students are more mature, these images and stories could provide really interesting reading and discussion materials about a range of issues.

You could let students choose an image each to do further research on and then get them to prepare a short presentation about it.

They could discuss which of the images they find most powerful or which they think is still most relevant today.

This is a great collection of images that have had huge influence on modern politics and society so well worth spending a few lessons with these.

You can find links to many more tools like this and activities for the digital classroom in my ebooks at: http://peacheypublications.com/. All my ebooks are available for iOS and as PDF.




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Nik Peachey

Monday, 28 August 2017

Improve Listening Skills with Audio Transcription Software

SwiftScribe is a great tool for making audio to text transcription much easier. At present the tool only works in the Chrome browser so if you don't use Chrome, you'll need to download it.

Once you have registered you can upload any audio file and SwiftScribe's speech to text engine will attempt to transcribe it into English text.


Once it has done this you or your students can listen to the audio file whilst reading through the text in the browser. When you spot errors in the transcription you can just click on the space bar to pause the audio and then edit the text in the browser window. The site has tools which will help slow down or repeat sections of the text and there are keyboard short cuts (see the tutorial video) to make all this faster.

Once the transcription is perfect and complete, you can download the file as either text or as a Word doc.

This is a great tool if you have a lot of transcription work to do, but also a great tool to develop students' listening. You can give them and audio file to transcribe and they can upload it and then check and correct the transcription. Once it's complete they can download and send it to you or peer check each others work.

SwiftScibe is a great way to develop really precise listening skills, it doesn't require any downloading and (at present) it's free.

You can find links to many more tools like this and activities for the digital classroom in my ebooks at: http://peacheypublications.com/. All my ebooks are available for iOS and as PDF.



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Nik Peachey

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Learn English While Saving the Planet with this Great Online Game

Tyto is a MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) based around the scenario of a team of students and scientists trying to save humanity by setting up life on a new planet.


The game is still in the early beta stages at the moment, but it is free to download and play.

It's designed around developing critical thinking and science skills but there is a lot of language use in the game, especially in the early stages. There's also quite a lot of background information on the site which would make for useful and motivating reading before the students play.
The game itself is really nicely designed. Students enter a basic training simulator where two game characters take them through the basics of creating their avatar and learning how to move around.

They are then launched into the alien world which they can explore using a map to guide them. They have a number of tasks to complete as they explore the world and meet other students.

The interface is nicely designed and easy to use and students start to collect a number of tools and samples to help with the tasks.

The software is being updated very regularly at present so if you get students to do this it's probably better for them to work on it at home on their own computer. You can use elements of the website in the classroom and get them students sharing experiences and impressions in the classroom as speaking activities.

Tyto is a great gaming tool to get students actively using their English. It's rated as being suitable for ages 9 years + and  students will need a low intermediate level (B2) or better to understand what's happening.

I hope you and your students enjoy this great free online game. You can find more tools and activities like these in my ebook 20 Tech Enhanced Activities for the Language Classroom.



The book is available on iOS or as PDF for other devices.

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Nik Peachey

Friday, 25 August 2017

Create Elearning Worksheets for Comprehension & Speaking Homework

This is a great site for building digital interactive worksheets with a whole range of different interactions. You can embed video, images, text or audio into the worksheets and then build a wide range of interactions into them.

With some of the activity types, like the open text one, students have the option to write or use voice input in the worksheets.
The results are all collected in the simple LMS where teachers can see the students’ results and type in feedback to send to the student.
Wizer is great for teachers who want to take their first steps into developing interactive online content. It’s very simple and quick to use and isn’t too big a conceptual leap from the sorts of activities and worksheets that many teachers already design for their classroom.

You can get a lot of inspiration and possibly some ready made materials by looking through the Gallery of activities that have already been created by other teachers.

Then when you are ready just click on 'Create' and you can start adding video, text or image input and building a sequence of interactive tasks.

I hope you enjoy this really great free tool and create lots of useful and engaging worksheets for your students.

You can find more tools and activities like these in my ebook 20 Tech Enhanced Activities for the Language Classroom.

The book is available on iOS or as PDF for other devices.

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Nik Peachey

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Create Virtual Reality Comprehension Tasks

Story Spheres is a great free app for creating immersive narrative experiences. It enables you to take the 360 degree panoramic images from your mobile device and covert them into an interactive virtual reality experience.

Once you have created and uploaded the image you will also need to add one or more audio files of your narrative. If you have a number of panoramic images from the same area you can link these together so that students can move from one to another and create a kind of virtual field trip.

The images can then be viewed either in the web browser or on mobile devices using Google Cardboard or any other VR viewer. You can also get an embed code so you can drop the spheres into websites. This is a really nice way to create dynamic VR narrative around an image.

If you don’t have the time to create your own, you may well be able to find something ready made that you can use with your students. Just click on ‘Explore Spheres’   and you can either browse or search the ones that have already been created.

You can easily get students exploring different places around the world and then sharing what they have learned in groups, or better still get your students to create their own Story Sphere to show other students something of their own world.

I hope you enjoy Story Spheres and are able to create some interesting narrative experiences with your students.

You can find more tools and activities like these in my ebook 20 Tech Enhanced Activities for the Language Classroom.



The book is available on iOS or as PDF for other devices.

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Nik Peachey

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Create Blended Learning with Video Based Discussions

This is a great tool for creating a blended learning element to your face to face courses or even for building 100% online learning.

Using Flipgrid you can create a number of grids based around top level themes and then build 'topics' into these that explore specific areas of the overall theme.

When you build a topic you can add various video based resources and then students can respond by recording short video clips giving their opinion on the topic.

I've built a quick example here which you are free to respond to. My grid is based on the theme of EdTech in ELT and here's a topic based around Exploiting YouTube apps for ELT.

The free version gives you one grid that you can use to create any number of discussion topics. The paid version which is $65 a year has a lot of additional features including the ability to connect up with other Flipgrid classrooms around the world.

It's well worth looking through the existing grids that have been created on the platform to see how it works and look at some of the really great work that's being done with the platform.

This is a great tool to set up speaking homework tasks and get students exploring a wide range of issues whilst developing their digital skills and confidence in front of their webcam.

I hope you enjoy using Flipgrid with your students. You can find more tools and activities like these in my ebook 20 Tech Enhanced Activities for the Language Classroom.


The book is available on iOS or as PDF for other devices.

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Nik Peachey



Create Texting Fiction to Keep Your Teens Engaged

Texting fiction is a new emergent genre of fiction writing that is becoming very popular among teens and I have to say when I started reading a few of these creations I can see why.

Basically the narrative is structured as a phone based text conversation and can include images and videos as well as text and audio messages.

The reader taps their way through the messages as a kind of voyeur, following the interaction between the two people to build their understanding of the story.

The most popular platforms at present for marketing this type of genre are:

These apps are freemium and allow you to download and read through the narrative, but if you are on a free version you may have to wait a few hours for the next part of the story or in some cases you don't get some of the rich media elements of the story.
This is a great format for language learning as the texts are very similar to spoken conversations and the chunks are short and easy for students to read.

Creating Texting Fiction

There are a couple of tools we can use do build this kind of narrative for our students.
  • Russell Tarr of ClassTools has developed a the SMS Generator that enables you to create single screen, short text exchanges that you can save and embed into a webpage.
  • Alternatively Chat Story Maker is a free app that enables you to create a longer more complex interaction and include images. The dialogues can then be downloaded as a video clips for students to watch. (I found this one on Larry Ferlazzo's blog).

We can also get our students creating this kind of narrative by giving them images of two characters and a scenario and then asking them to write the script. They can take turns writing a part each. I hope you and your students enjoy these useful tools and create some engaging texts.

You can find more tools and activities like these in my ebook 20 Tech Enhanced Activities for the Language Classroom.

The book is available on iOS or as PDF for other devices.

Sign up for my twice monthly free newsletter and get a free copy of Digital Tools for Teachers at: https://tinyletter.com/technogogy/ 

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Nik Peachey





Monday, 21 August 2017

6 Useful Resources for Exploiting the News in the English Language Classroom

Whether it's fake news, real news, world news or just news to you, navigating and understanding the news in a second language can be a really useful way to gain some valuable and authentic insights into the culture of the language.


In this article I'm sharing a collection of resources that you can use with your students to help them understand news stories in English.

News in levels
This is a really useful site that has news stories that students can read according to their level. The same story is offered at all levels and the site also includes some interactive quizzes for students so this is also useful for autonomous learning.


Listenwise
This is a great site that has lesson plans as well as listening activities for audio on a range of news related content. You have to register to get access to the teaching and learning resources.
You can also pay for a premium membership which will give you some LMS type learner tracking and class creation tools and allow you to customise, adapt and assign the content to specific students or classes. You can see some examples here: https://listenwise.com/current_events
https://listenwise.com/


Newsela
Again this is a great site with plenty of reading at a range of levels. Students also get quizzes and can write reviews and comments on the article.

Breaking News English
This site has a vast collection of lesson materials designed around current news stories. The stories have been rewritten to be accessible for lower level English language learners. As well as the stories and multiple activities that accompany each one, there are audio recordings of the stories that students can listen to. Multiple audio files are provided for each story so that students can listen to the story at slower speeds. This is a great source of classroom materials for teachers.
http://www.breakingnewsenglish.com/ 

News Literacy Project
The News Literacy Project is an innovative national educational program that mobilizes seasoned journalists to work with educators to teach students how to sort fact from fiction. Important stuff to help learners deal with real world issues.
http://www.thenewsliteracyproject.org/

Factitious
This is an interactive reading quiz site that has a collection of short news stories to help students identify 'fake news'. Students have to read them and decide which stories are genuine and which are fake. They can play through three levels of the quiz. This is great to get students reading and to make them question the authenticity of what they read. Would be very useful to lead into a discussion about how to check the authenticity of news stories.
http://factitious.augamestudio.com/


I hope you and your students enjoy these resources. You can find links to many more  sites like this and activities for the digital classroom in my ebooks at: http://peacheypublications.com/. All my ebooks are available for iOS and as PDF.


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Nik Peachey

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Creating Text Adventures to Develop Reading & Writing Skills

Text adventure games are a great way of really engaging students in reading. They get the chance to take some control of the narrative and find their own way through the story by making choices at various points in the narrative.
On the ‘TextAdventures’ site you can find lots of examples for your students to read, but if you log in you can also get your students to create an adventure themselves. You can give them an image and an introductory text to get started and tell them how many different stages the story should have, then get them working together exploring the different branches and possibilities at each turn. You can download the software to help you or develop the story in the browser and publish it on the site.



TextAdventures is great tool for collaborative writing projects and great to get students thinking about the potential consequences of different actions. I hope you find it useful. You can find links to many more tools like this and activities for the digital classroom in my ebooks at: http://peacheypublications.com/. All my ebooks are available for iOS and as PDF.



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Nik Peachey

Friday, 18 August 2017

Build Your 3D Virtual Reality Classroom Today

Edorble is a fantastic tool for creating your own 3D virtual classroom. Just download the software and claim your room code. You can then share the code with your students and they can join you for virtual tutorials, social events or film and video viewings.

The standard classroom is a theatre space on an island. Students can move around the island using a 3D virtual avatar and meet up in groups away from the main class.

Students communicate using a headset and are able to chat and socialise. Sound is location sensitive so avatars that are closer together can hear each other clearly, whereas those on other parts of the island can’t be heard at all. This makes group work much easier and more meaningful.

There is also a screen in the main auditorium and this can be used for browsing the internet or showing videos. You can also open and operate an online whiteboard from within the browser.
This is a great tool for running online group classes or social events for online students. There is also now the capability to build course materials and launch commercial courses through: . You can also take free courses that can help you use the platform.
Edorble is a great tool to get and give your students a first experience of VR. I hope you find it useful. You can find links to many more tools like this and activities for the digital classroom in my ebooks at: http://peacheypublications.com/. All my ebooks are available for iOS and as PDF.



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Nik Peachey


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