Thursday, September 25, 2014

Video Prompt to Teach Digital Skills

Take a look at the short movie below.

How I`d explore

Let students take a look at the image in the beginning of the clip and ask them to list what could be substituted for web tools or app.

Play the movie for them to check. 

Show the icons of the tools in the video, and ask groups to look for pieces of information on it. Give them some time to get their ideas together to present to the whole group.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Maker Movement - Movies

“… ten years ago, not one student in a hundred, nay, one in a thousand, could have produced videos like this. It’s a whole new skill, a vital and important skill, and one utterly necessary not simply from the perspective of creating but also of comprehending video communication today.” (Stephen Downes)

Task design has a lot to do with choosing activities that will tap right into our student’s needs and interests. Teachers have known this simple fact for ages, but learners keep changing, evolving and developing, so teachers also change. I believe it`s safe to say that our learners nowadays love watching short movies on YouTube and vines, and if teachers are able to turn passive watching into a productive and creative learning process, students are likely to engage and experience deep learning.  iPads are truly an awesome step forward in technology because students can make movies easily and share their work with a broader audience.

So, if you like having a lively productive class in front of you that requires little preparation on your behalf, you might want to check some of the ideas below.

Make a commercial selling a product

Make a silent movie

Make  a personal narrative 

Tell a story - Use one of the texts in the book to make lexis come alive. My students drew target vocabulary and created a short video retelling the life lesson in the book in their own words.

Getting to know - make a short video with animoto or magisto (few clicks required) about yourself and let students make guesses about who you are. Ask students to make videos to introduce themselves too.

Have students create language tasks to practice language
1. Students can create a dialogue, but record only the answers so that the rest of the class has to write the questions.

2. Students make two short videos and the others have to spot the differences.
In the first video there is a students, and in the second there are two....
In the first video the boys are dancing, and in the second the boys are writing...

3.  Show and tell - share students work and practice language by playing a game - students have to recall from memory.

4. Ask students to make a video to teach the others how to make something. In this example, my son was teaching the other students how to draw a parrot fish as a follow up activity to a lesson about animal features.

5. Promote real communication among students by asking them to record questions to other students, teachers, or someone abroad.

Are you eager to try using imovie app with your students and see it for yourself? If you need some help to get started, watch this short tutorial and have fun in class!

Dani Lyra

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Art of Redesigning Classes

There are at least two different ways to help teachers who are designing iPad activities with students to evaluate the tasks they create. The  SAMR  model helps a  teacher/task designer become aware of what stage the task falls into in terms of the use of tech.  The Bloom Taxonomy applied to apps helps teachers think about the kind of questions we ask students and how we should vary the tasks we offer. By delivering the workshop From Image to Deep Learning, I started to understand that  teachers can also look into the learning cycle as a whole, and how the human learning brain works to promote deep learning. The ideas I share here were inspired by the book The Art of Changing the Brain, which is a must read for any educator willing to take a look into the biology behind learning.

In the workshop, I asked the audience how to teach questions with does to teens, and develop tasks having the learning cycle in mind. After a quick debriefing, I showed a simple iPad activity I carried out in class of 11-year-olds, talked about my take in the lesson, and expanded about why I think this task pleases the learning brain. Now, I post my ideas here to help me reflect on my practice, having the learning cycle described in the aforementioned book in mind.

I showed students a quiz about a famous person I knew they would be interested in. Students took the quiz, and I inductively helped them notice how to make questions about a third person`s likes and dislikes. Then, I asked them to gather information about a celebrity they follow to make a quiz of their own.
I was afraid that I`d have no pictures to work with on the following class, but to my surprise, students had bought the idea and had pictures and lots of information to work with. I was ready to go, so I set the iPad activity and monitored students. Here is what two pairs produced using a wonderful app called visualize.

In the art of changing the brain, Zull talks about phase 1 - concrete experience. In this phase, there is activity in the sensory cortex, where we receive, gather and begin to process the visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, and gustatory information. Phase 2 - reflexive observation, seems to describe an activity that takes place in the integrative cortex. It is time to connect sensory images to prior experience in one`s neural network or schemas. In class, passing from phase 1 to phase 2 might take time as learners need to relate new information to what they already know. We cannot rush. We must allow time for thinking/recalling as well as time to reflect upon the learning experience.

In the activity I proposed, my students were exposed to a visually appealing quiz about a person they were genuinely interested in, and took the quiz themselves to find out how much they knew about the person. As I see it, students went through stage one and two of the learning cycle before we started the second part of the activity.

In phase 3 - abstract hypothesizing, the front integrative cortex is at work. Students start to prepare to do something with the recently acquired knowledge. In the iPad activity, I asked students to get the information about their favorite celebrities and start to put it in the format of a quiz for the other students in class. And by asking students to make these quizzes to communicate their recently acquired knowledge, teachers allow students time to test their hypothesis and think. In phase 4 - active testing, students shared their quizzes, and by doing so, provided peers with concrete experiences, so the whole class was back to phase 1. Learning becomes cyclical and on going, and hopefully they will remember the language point long after the day of the test.

In conclusion, instead of asking students to pay attention, it is better when we can engage students in tasks in which they  are supposed to reach outcomes, or ask them to look at the topics from different angles. Instead of sitting still, learners could be asked to move around to see the details. In other words, by making learning more concrete we might reach concrete outcomes.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

An EFL Teachers's Voyage to the SAMR Model

Last week I delivered a Tech training session, and I started with a brief talk about the SAMR model. As I was reading about Dr. Ruben Puentedura's modelI realized that I find it hard to give examples of digital tasks for each level of the framework for my teaching environment - EFL teaching in a language institution. I do not believe that  teachers need to know how to classify every task he/she designs. However, knowing about the framework can only enrich one`s practice. On this post I will classify some tasks that I have been using with my students this semester


In the substitution level, one can use technology to do something that could be done without it.
A dictation using what`s app
Drawing pictures for a pictionary with show me
Using notes for writing a composition. 

Last month I delivered a lesson in which my students had to write a letter to a pen-pal in Australia. I asked them to use notability to write and add pictures of themselves. They were happier doing the task this way than just doing on their notebooks because it was more visually appealing.


Students sent their work to me and I used the features within the app to correct them and give them guidance to write a little more. In class students took a digital quiz to help them correct the mistakes they made. These tasks helped my students reach their outcome because they were eager to play the game over and over, and this repetition helped them automatize the target language.


On this stage, tech is used to modify the tasks. Students can use apps to register information in different formats. The question a teacher might ask here is: How does this modification change students`s outcome?

On the following class, I asked my students to work in groups to create a digital image to sent to our pen-pal. They worked eagerly to record the videos, chose links of songs they like and wanted to share. Some girls were brushing their hair and getting all reading for recording. Here is what a group produced. 


On this stage, tech is paramount for the delivering the tasks to a level that without it the tasks could not be performed. The question a teacher might ask here to validate all the work is: How does this task improve learners` outcome? Our pen-pal has made a video answering our questions, and my students were really surprised to learn that a real boy in Australia understood them and cared to answer! Motivation at peak and hopefully they will remember more them the target language in this task.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Creating Animated Video Icebreakers



I remember the first time I saw a Common Craft video. I realized how powerful it could be in the classroom, and I used them in class many times. I even tried to make some on my own, but I soon realized that I didn`t have the artistic skills or the time necessary for such a project. Last week, during an EVO session, I came across PowToon, which is a tool to make awesome animated videos with just some clicks. The tool also offers  the possibility to edit as much as you like, but I decided to keep it simple and not spend too much time.  I showed what I created to a group of teachers, and the response was fantastic. They also realized the impact such videos could have in their classrooms.  However, some kept coming to me to help them figure out how to put their videos together. I really enjoy teaching people how to use new tools, so I decided to make a tutorial to help out. I hope it`s useful.

Ice Breakers are an effective way of starting a new term or school year. These interactive and fun activities help people to get to know each other and lead teachers into the lesson itself. When an ice breaker is well-designed and facilitated, it can really help get things off to a great start. I made a 321 animated introduction for all levels I teach, but I`ll explore them differently. Here are some suggestions on how to explore your introduction, but I am sure there are many other creative ways that I have not thought off.

  • Show students the introduction and ask them what they can remember about you.
  • Ask students to write down everything they have in common with you.
  • Ask student to google  you to find out more and share.
  • Tell students they should make a  321 introduction about themselves to share with the group - they could make a digital poster, record a video, or draw.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The image Conference

The image Conference, Organized by the BRAZTESOL Brasilia team was a perfect combination of keynote presenters, great atmosphere and interesting, colorful, dynamic sessions. Workshops  were delivered in 45 minutes. I was not sure at first I would like my session to be so short, but I enjoyed the format as a participant because I got to see much more, and as a presenter because  Denise De Felice and I had to do our  best to be concise and efficient in our delivery. 

Here is a peek of some of what happened in the conference.

From Images to Deep Learning

 A Whole Brain Perspective

A new bridge between neuroscience and language teaching is being built, and teachers today can learn more and more about the learning brain. Images, videos, and games have always been explored in the language classroom in different, creative ways, but teachers  are now becoming aware of how tasks affect the brain biologically, how emotions trigger or hinder the learning cycle, and how knowing all that can help teachers design more engaging tasks. Many of the ideas here were inspired by the book The Art of Changing the Brain.

Play with the images to to create a story.

Listen to the story and check how different they are.

We asked participants to reflect on what Hamilton`s problem was by showing a series of "why" questions. It was very interesting to see the "why" technique in action. The audience starts to feel the power of brainstorming as one more "why" on the slide projects the impression that the group needs to keep collaborating, thinking to reach a high order conclusion.  

Here is what the audience said

He was asked to do what he couldn`t do.
He was not motivated enough
He was too passive
The kind of exposure he got was always the same
He never got a chance to actually be a more engaged student
because of the way he had been exposed to input, he became too passive
He never got the chance to actually be a more engaged student
because of the way he had been exposed to input, he became too passive.

Ham`s problem according to The Art of Changing the Brain.
"Ham`s mind was in the past, it depended on sources outside himself, and thus he had no power. He had no control over his own learning.
I am not saying that he didn’t need information or that he should abandon his television programs. Experience and information are necessary parts of learning. They are the raw materials for it. But by themselves they are not enough; they are about half of what it actually needed.
The structure of the brain tells us this. There is a part for receiving, remembering, and integrating information that comes from outside. And there is a second part for acting, modifying, creating, and controlling. If we are to learn in the way that transforms, we must use both of these parts of the brain. 
"Ham needs better communication between the back and the front of their cortex, between temporal cortex and prefrontal cortex. But since the prefrontal and temporal cortex are so distant from each other, you might wonder if the connections between them are strong. Maybe it isn’t so easy to keep balance. Maybe the front and back parts of our brains don’t talk to each other much.But, again, the actual physical structure of the brain gives us new insight. In fact, some of the most obvious wiring in the brain is designed exactly for this front/back connection.
You could confirm this yourself with the simplest of dissections of one of the cerebral hemispheres. If you were to gently slice open the top of one hemisphere from front to back and a few centimeters from the midline, you would see large tracks of fibers running along from back to front. And if you dissected carefully, you would find four major bundles of nerves that carry signals between front and back.We can also see this bridge in the learning cycle, as shown in the illustration below. It carries us over the line that separates the experience and reflection part of the cycle from the abstraction and active testing part. Data enters learners through concrete experience where it is organized and rearranged through reflection. But it is still just data until learners begin to work with it. When learners convert this data into ideas, plans, and actions, they experience the transformation I have described. Things are now under their control, and they are free of the tyranny of information. They have created and are free to continually test their own knowledge."

A concrete example

A Practical Example
Concrete experience
Abstract hypothesis
Reflective observation
Transformation line

Reflecting back

Compare the two tasks below and reflect on what happens in the learners` brain. Which task engages students` brain more deeply?

Task 1 - look at the images and create a story. Compare it to the actual story.

Task 2 - Listen to the story and put the illustrations in order.

Our point - there is nothing wrong with the tasks, They are just different. It all depends on the teacher`s objectives. Task one helps to engage more areas of the brain as compared to task 2, which may help to promote deeper learning.

Here are some posters we can ask students to make. Having students  manipulate language and images to create  posters engages the learning brain more deeply than just showing students a poster that someone else created.

What can you do with a chair?
What other purposes, other than teaching, can you use a chair for?

After delivering this workshop, our aim is to keep thinking about the learning cycle and tasks can engage the learning brain more deeply.

Thanks Denise De Felice for being my partner and inspiring change in me.
Thanks Cleide Nascimento for illustrating the story.
Thanks Katie Cox for lending us your storytelling expertise.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Getting Creative to Learn House Chores

App TinyTap
Learning Goal
Create a game to personalize and practice have to/ has to while talking about house chores.

1. Contextualizing
Start by telling students you had to do many things last weekend. Ask groups to list what they think you did. Show pictures with you doing things at home and have students check their guesses.Tell students you`d like to know who helps the most at home to give them a purpose to do the tasks on page 55. Elicit answers

2. Creating a digital Project to promote practice, personalization of language and self-assessment.

Teacher can work in two ways:
If there’s time, students, in groups, use their iPad cameras to take pictures doing chores around school (cleaning the floor, organizing the material, studying long hours, etc.). Tell them they can come up with new sentences or base their pictures on the book vocabulary.
If there’s not much time, use the previous pictures (the ones you’ve projected in the Contextualization step). Project them again and ask groups to take pictures.


Teacher tells students they will create a game in TinyTap app. Show a sample game and let them enjoy it. Help them notice that there`s a hint sentence with the target structure.

Separate students in groups of three to write their hint sentences.

Check students` work.

Write the steps of the apptivity on the board.
·      Take pictures
·      Open TinyTap
·      Make your game (project the app and go features)
Hand out the iPads

As students have played the game, they know they need to select three pictures per page and record their “hint sentence”. For example, they might say “You have to do it to keep the floor clean”. (The other group is supposed to tap on the picture with a person sweeping the floor).
After saving their work with the help of the teacher, students exchange iPads to play the game.

Students email their work to their parents and challenge them to guess the correct answers. Students had lots of fun doing this activity and some of them downloaded the app on their personal iPads!

Learn house chores
House Chores

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