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Hi, and welcome to our blog. This space is designed to share ideas and methodologies that we use to teach Turkish teenagers. In particular, there is a strong focus on ICT-ELT, which means if you like visual and technological support for your style of teaching, this blog is for you. My colleague, Brentson Ramsey, has been working alongside me for three years. He is also a big proponent of the ICT-ELT Paradigm, which means he will also be posting from his own teaching perspective on the blog.

2010 was the beginning of this new journey, and although there is no definitive ICT-ELT road map available for everyone to follow, it is exciting to explore the technological means to make teaching more fun and affective for students. Our main message is for teachers to ADOPT & ADAPT the paradigm shift for their own needs, and remember that

Saturday, 20 April 2013

The Avengers Retold: A Comprehensive ELT Activity

The final two months, in all seriousness, is my favorite time of the academic year. The reason for that is, by April, we have brought the majority of our students up to a strong B1 English-proficiency level according to the CEFr, while a few have even reached B2.  Furthermore, my colleague and I have taught a variety of literary analysis and academic writing skills throughout the year, and now they are finally starting to sink in with the students. What this allows us to do is spend more time on innovative and collaborative projects that include a variety of academic skills to wrap up the year, one of which is called The Avengers Retold.  Just to give you a sense of what this project is about, please watch the following trailer that we have made on Apple IMovie.     

The Avengers Retold

From the trailer, this activity may appear to be as simple as getting students to fill in speech bubbles from any given comic book. That is indeed included, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. The Avengers Retold also incorporates a number of the grammar, literary and ICT skills that we have taught our students throughout the year. These included reported speech, the SCASI and SPRE literary organizational models, as well as IWB and PowerPoint technical skills. It was basically a year's worth of ICT in ELT teaching broken down over about six class hours between two groups.

The project all begins with each student getting one picture from The Avengers comic book with the aim of creating a dialogue to fill in the empty speech bubbles.  However, the key to this activity is collaborationWell before the writing of the dialogue can begin, the students are told that they have to put all of their pictures together to make one storyIn order to do this, they first have to work together to place the pictures in any order they wish. They, then, must develop the characters, story and dialogue using the SPRE and SCASI models to give the story a sense of purpose and a fitting conclusion. Finally, when the speech bubbles are completely filled in and saved to a PowerPoint presentation, it is sent to the students of the other preparatory class to assess and retell the entire story in reported speech; which is then recorded and turned into a PowerPoint video, as seen here.


Again, the entire process takes about six or seven class hours, not to mention a couple of hours of teacher preparation. Therefore, we have broken down the activity into three parts to give you a step-by-step detailing of how you can also prepare and implement this activity in your own class.  (You can also download a copy of a checklist for the activity here.) It is worth the time and effort. 

Step 1: Prior to Class

1. To begin with, you need to select pictures from any comic book for the number of students that you have.  Each student will get one picture for which to create a dialogue.  Secondly, you want to have an appropriate amount of speech bubbles for each picture, preferably four.

2. The next step is to erase the original text in the speech bubbles.  The easiest method for us is to upload the picture to the IWB and erase the text by rubbing it out.  If you do not have an IWB, it could be done on your computer through various picture editing programs.

3. After saving each picture, we then added them all to a PowerPoint presentation, and we assigned a picture to a pair of students who are not in the same class. The reason for this is that, for example, Barışcan will create the dialogue for the picture, and when all is said and done, his partner, Petek, from the other class, and who has not seen what Barışcan has written, will report what is in the speech bubbles to the rest of her own classmates. 

4. Finally, we printed out a set of pictures to help the students put the story together, which will be explained in Step 2. We also uploaded the PowerPoint presentation to our PLN (Edmodo), so that the students could have a digital copy of their assigned pictures as well.

(If you would like to use the same Avengers pictures as we have, you can get them here) 


Step 2: Putting the Story Together

Putting the story together from beginning to end is the largest and most time-consuming part of this class activity. 

1. Present the PowerPoint presentation to the class, and tell each student to identify and begin thinking about their own slide.

2. Go through the presentation a second time, and as a whole class, discuss the context of the pictures. What's happening in them?  

3. Then discuss the (S)etting, (C)haracters, (A)ction, (S)tyle and (I)dea (SCASI) of the story, and make a table on the IWB. Students copy the table in their notebooks.
4. Next, again as a whole class, discuss the (S)ituation, (P)roblem, (R)esponse and (E)valuation (SPRE).  This organization model will give the story a rise and flow, followed by a conclusion. As in the previous step, make a table on the IWB, and students write it down in their notebooks.

5. Attach the printed copies of the pictures to the whiteboard, and the plan the order of the story based on  SPRE.  You can assign one student to come to the board and help with the organization of the pictures.  Once you have the order set, you then change the order of the pictures on the PowerPoint presentation to correspond with what the students have thought about and decided. 

6. The students then get into small groups based on where their assigned picture lies in the SPRE. For example, the students with the pictures designated in the (S)ituaton come together, the students in the (P)roblem area work together, and so on.  They write out their speech bubbles in their notebooks, making sure that what they are writing makes sense as a story. 

7.There should also be one representative from each group to go and see what the group before them in the order of SPRE  is writing, again to make sure that the story is coherent and cohesive.

8.  When all the groups have completed their speech bubbles, they come back together as a whole class, but this time working in a discussion circle.  The students read and act out the comic they have written from beginning to end.  The teacher assists in fixing any errors in the content and language.

9. Once ready, the students then come to the IWB, in turn, and write out their speech bubbles.  Each picture is then snipped again using the Windows Snipping Tool and made into a PowerPoint presentation.

10.  The presentation can then be uploaded to your PLN for the students in the other class to download on to their own computers.

 Step 3: The Retelling in Reported Speech 

The final part of this activity is where you switch over to another classroom and the practice of reported speech comes into play.

1. Get the new group of students to download the prepared PowerPoint presentation from step 2. Have the students read the story by themselves quietly and also identify with their assigned slide.

2. The teacher also displays the presentation on the IWB.  As a whole class, read through the story and get the students to identify the SPRE  in the story. You can also discuss how the story may be different from their own class and whether they liked it or not.

3. Students then return to their netbooks where they downloaded the PowerPoint presentation and write out the speech bubbles of their assigned slide in reported speech in their notebooks.

4. Once all students are finished, call them one by one to the front of the class and get them to retell the story in reported speech.

5. As an ICT bonus, you could also record the students' voices while they are reading their own sentences. It is so easily done now with smartphones and tablets. Tell the students to go off on their own to a quiet place and record their sentences.  Once finished, have them email their recordings to you, and then add those recordings to the PowerPoint presentation, and save it as a Windows Media video. Upload the video to Youtube/ Vimeo, or your blog and proudly share their work with the world!

  A Final Word

Despite this being quite an undertaking in terms of time and organization, we definitely recommend doing this type of activity in any ESL class.  It is without doubt one of the most successful and rewarding projects for everyone, that we have designed, prepared and completed.  It combines so many facets of ELT all in one project, from grammar and speaking to literary analysis and story-boarding organization. To give you an idea of just how many skills have been incorporated into this project, we have listed them below...

GRAMMAR: Using direct and reported speech to retell the story

READING: Reading and understanding the other class' story

WRITING: Writing out sentences in their notebooks, and on the IWB

SPEAKING: Talking and discussing with classmates to create the story

LISTENING: Listening to each others' ideas during the creative process

CREATIVITY: Tapping into the students' creative process in order to create their very own story

COLLABORATION: Working together in small groups, and as a whole class to create the story, and then to make sure it is coherent & cohesive 

LITERARY ANALYSIS: Using SCASI and SPRE to not only analyze their own story, but also to assess the other class' story 

ICTUsing ICT tools such as Edmodo, the IWB, Snipping Tool, PowerPoint and smartphones or tablets to make and record the final class video

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