Our Educational Message

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

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Report that Scene: An ICT-Supported Activity for Reported Speech

As all of us are aware, being English language teachers, reported speech is one of the, if not the most, difficult skills for students to understand and master.  From changing the verb tense using the 'one-back' rule, the subject, as well as the expressions of time all in one sentence, it is a language structure that takes L2 learners years to use properly.  In fact, it typically requires learners to live in a native English speaking country to truly master reported speech.

For these reasons, my colleague and I try to teach reported speech to our 14 and 15 year old students in the most engaging way possible.  Instead of going through pages and pages of gap-fill worksheets in class (something which can be used as homework), we do lots of activities that either require students working together, or listening to short videos and reporting what has been said.  Recently, we used Blendspace and Google Drive, two of my favorite ICT-tools, to make a personalized listening activity that our students really got a kick out of.  

The basic idea of the activity was to find short clips on Youtube, one for each student, and have them listen and report the most important quotes in the clip.  The difference, though, is that we tried to make it more personal for the students by selecting clips based on what they like, be it films, television programs, or celebrity interviews.  Here is how we did it...

Step One: Create a new Blendspace tutorial, and in the first box provide the instructions for the activity.  Next, we provided an example, and did this together with the students. We chose a scene from Fawlty Towers: Communication Problems because we had recently completed several lessons on it (which you are always welcome to use by clicking here), so the students were quite familiar with scene with Basil being incredibly sarcastic with the ever-complaining guest, Mrs. Richards.  While watching the scene, we had the students write down a few of the spoken lines in their notebooks, and then report them back to us, as pictured below...

Step Two: Make a Google Doc with the students' names, and assign each of them a box number in the Blendspace tutorial.  This is where you will add the short Youtube clips based on their interests.  Then, link your Google Doc into the Blendspace tutorial.

Step Three: Find a short Youtube video for each of your students, and add them to your tutorial.  This is easy to do in Blendspace.  Simply click on the Youtube button on the right side of the page, search for a video, then drag it over.  If you have a small number of students, then this process shouldn't take very long.  However, if you have a number of classes, I would suggest finding clips that you think most of your students would enjoy, as opposed to finding a video for each student.

Step Four: Create a Google presentation, and share it with your students.  This is where your students will record lines from their video clips into reported speech.  We included a title slide, a slide with the instructions again, and then one slide for each student to record their sentences.

Step Five: Now, your preparation is all ready to go.  When you're ready to begin the activity in class, set a time limit for the students to complete it, say 15 minutes.  Those who finish faster than their peers can watch and record more clips in the Blendspace for more practice.

Step Six: Finally, after the students have finished, open the Google presentation on the smartboard or projector, and have the students come to the front of the class and present their sentences.  Have the other students give feedback on any mistakes they may have.  The example below is based on a clip from 'How I Met Your Mother', which is a series that the majority of our students love to watch...

All in all, the activity was just as successful as it was fun.  The students enjoyed working autonomously with their computers and headphones, while watching video clips that they were interested in.  For us, these types of interactive activities are much more engaging the students, than working through a grammar or course book. Of course, classic grammar practice is certainly useful and necessary, but it is something that the students can do as a review for homework.  If you do adopt a more visual environment none of your students will complain that the lesson is boting. Try that with A4 drills, gap fills or prescribed corporate ELT materials set in publishers stone as the way to teach...bah bah blacksheep have you any wool...?

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