Tuesday, 22 August 2017

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.

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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


Thursday, 17 August 2017

Build Professional Level Online and Blended Courses with this Free Plugin

H5P is a tool for building complete courses with a wide variety of interactive task types. The tool works as a plug in with a range of platforms including Moodle, Drupal and Wordpress (all of which have free versions available) .


It’s very easy to install the plug in (took me less than 5 mins with Wordpress) and once this is done  you can choose any of the interactive elements to add to your pages.


The activities the plug in produces are html5 so they will run equally well on both desktop and mobile platforms. Many of the activity types are also ideal for language learning and the development of multimedia content.

There are great tools for creating interactive video based quizzes, presentations, audio responses, a variety of games and text manipulation activities.

If you look at the content types here you’ll see examples of each one as well as some information about how to use them.


For such a powerful tool, the learning curve on creating the activities is quite gentle and you should be able to start producing content quite quickly. H5P is open source and there is a good community of developers sharing expertise on the support forums if you get stuck.

It is also a tool that’s being developed so it’s likely that it will continue to improve. So if you want to start building your own blended learning or online courses this could be a great tool to do the job.

I hope you enjoy building fantastic courses with H5P. 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, 16 August 2017

Make Your Worksheets Digital in Minutes

Telegra.ph is a simple to use tool that can enable you to turn your Word worksheets into online multimedia documents in just a few moments.

Go to the site and add a title, your name and the text of your worksheet. Highlight the text to get formatting options for making the text more attractive or adding links.



Click on a new line and look for the icons to add a video or an image to the worksheet. You can either upload an image from your hard-drive or add a link to a video and then click on ‘Enter’ on your keyboard and the video will appear in the worksheet.

Then just click on ‘Publish’ and you have your worksheet online. Be sure to save the link to the document. You can then either go back and edit it later or just share it with your students. There is no login or registration required. The worksheet can only be edited in the same browser you created it in.

I hope you enjoy using Telegra.ph. 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, 15 August 2017

Convert Your Chrome Browser into a Language Lab for Speaking Practice

Fluency Tutor is a really interesting concept. It is a Chrome plugin that converts a computer into a kind of language lab.

If you sign up as a teacher you can then assign texts to students and they can record themselves reading the text and send it to you for feedback.

You see all your students’ submissions in the LMS and you can the listen to them and send them feedback.

This is a great way to make reading aloud less stressful and more productive for students. They will have the time to read and understand the text before recording it (there are comprehension questions with each of the prepared texts) and they will have the opportunity to listen to themselves and improve their recording.

This enables you to give students speaking practice for homework and it gives you the opportunity to listen to each individual student and analyse their pronunciation problems.

You do both need to have Google Chrome though and students will need to register with an email address.

I hope you find Fluency Tutor 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


Monday, 14 August 2017

Get Teens Writing with Gamified Writing Activities

Story Wars is a great gamified way to make writing creative and competitive.


Students read short chapters of the beginnings of stories and then have to submit the next chapter for the story.


The readers of the story can then vote for which new chapter they feel is the best continuation of the story. The one with the most votes becomes part of the story.


There are lots of stories in progress that students can add to or they can start their own. Each story has a fantastic image to help prompt the imagination.

The site is free, but there is a ‘Classroom’ version for $15 a month which makes all the stories your students create private and gives you the teacher the ability to give your students feedback on their submissions.

There is also a free iOS version for mobile devices.

Story Wars looks like an ideal way to get teens enthusiastic about reading and writing fiction.

I hope you and your students enjoy Story Wars. 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, 12 August 2017

Give Young Learners Structured Writing Practice with WritingSparks

WritingSparks is a really useful tool to encourage younger learners to brainstorm and plan before they write.
You start by choosing the age group of your students.
Then choose the kind of task you want them to do.
You can also choose the amount of time you want to spend on the task.
You then get a writing prompt to share with your students.
Once they click on the begin planning they get a short period of time to plan what they will say. The site also prompts them and feeds in some words and expressions they might need.
They can then begin the writing task. This is timed for them too.
Then at the end of the writing task they receive a reward.


This is a great site for giving structure and adding an element of fun to writing activities, especially if you have a data projector so that students can see the prompts on the screen.

The site has been created by the makers of NightZookeeper and can be used in conjunction with that site or without any login.

I hope you and your students enjoy WritingSparks. 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, 11 August 2017

Create Vocabulary Activities from Authentic Text in Minutes


WordBooster is a real time saver for anyone creating courses using authentic materials. The site generates word lists and vocabulary quizzes from authentic texts and includes definitions of the words and a range of activities to help students understand and remember the words.



All you have to do is choose the text and download the worksheets ready for printing.
You just copy and paste the URL of the page you want to use with your students and after about 1 minute the process will be complete.


You can then see the text of the page with the key words underlined and download three separate documents, Reformatted Text, Word List with definitions, Vocabulary Quiz activities, as PDF.



The word list also contains example sentences of the words used in context as well as a QR code that links back to the original article or webpage online.

I hope you find WordBooster 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


Thursday, 10 August 2017

Create Animated Speaking Activities with Toontastic

Toontastic is a really creative tool for encouraging students to practice speaking and developing dialogues in a really enjoyable way.

It is available on mobile for iOS and Android users and once downloaded you can use it to create short 3D animated videos with your own voiceovers.

Just open the app, choose the type of storyboard structure you need then select the background and characters for each scene.

When you open the first scene you then click on record and touch the character you want to attach the voice to. You can hold your finger down on the character to move it around as you speak, then do the same with the other characters.

Once you have recorded the scene you can select the background music you want for it and review it. Move on through the scenes until the story is created. You can then download the finished video to your phone and share it on a site or through social media.


This is the kind of activity that could be used to get younger students speaking and it gives them the opportunity to play out different roles and to listen and reflect on their own speaking before they save and share.

I hope you and your students enjoy Toontastic. 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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