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, 31 August 2014

Publish Your Docs to the Web

For more than two years now, I have been an avid user of Google Drive in and out of the classroom.  Both my colleague and I have written several posts on the blog describing the various ways that we use Google Drive, from doing group presentations to giving students feedback, both done in real time.  We have enjoyed using it so much that, lucky for us, our school agreed to get us more storage space in Google Drive to put all of our resources there for instant access wherever we are. We now have over 100 GB of space to use as we please.

The amazing part, for me at least, is that the more I use Google Drive, the more I discover new tools and tricks it has to offer.  My most recent discovery was how to publish a Google Doc to the web.  This came about as my colleague and I were asked by our principal about how we could put our UbD (Understanding by Design) curriculum unit plans onto Drive to make it more accessible for her to keep track of what is being taught at school.  After coming up with a basic UbD template on Drive (which you are more the welcome to use by clicking on the image below), we spent the next several days copying and pasting our exisiting UbD unit plans on Microsoft Word to Drive.  


After that, I wanted to make them as easy to access as possible, and that's when I stumbled upon the 'Publish to the web' feature.  For avid users of Drive, like myself, you will certainly be aware of the normal 'Share' settings available at the top right-hand side of the screen after you create a Google Doc. You are presented with three options to share your document: publish on the web; anyone with the link; or only with specific people, as pictured below.

If there's already an option to make your Doc public on the web, then what's the advantage of publishing it to the web? I considered this myself before I actually tried out the publishing option.  However, what I discovered is a huge difference in speed when accessing the document.  When you share a document on the web, as opposed to publishing it, you have to wait a few seconds for the Google Drive to open up, and then the document appears.  On the other hand, when you publish a Doc, Google Drive actually turns your document into a web page, meaning you get instant access to it.

In order to show you this, I have created a test example for you to try out.  I created two Google Docs, one of which has been shared on the web, and the other has been published to the web.  Click the two links below...

Google Doc Shared Publicly on the Web

Google Doc Published on the Web

What do you think?  For my colleague and I, it was a no-brainer.  For documents that we want to share publicly from now on, we will certainly publish them to the web.  That is what we did, getting back to my earlier story, with our UbD plans.  We published them all to the web, and then linked them all together into one Google Doc (pictured below) for the principal to access whenever she wants.

In short, if you want to publish a Doc on the web, you can do it only two mouse clicks.  After you create a Doc, click 'File' at the top left-hand side of the screen, and then 'Publish to the web'.  Google Drive will then ask if you if you are sure you want to publish your document.  Click the 'OK' button, and you are done. Copy the URL address, and share it or link it wherever you want.  It is a wonderful tool that Google has come up with, and with all the research and development that Google is putting into Drive, there is without doubt doing to be many more features to be discovered in the near future. 


Monday, 11 August 2014

VIDEO CLIPS Can Springboard the Creative Process...

Being a long time advocate of using video in the classroom, I am constantly looking for ways to include it in almost all of my lessons with my young teenage student demographic.  They love visuals for lessons, and if they are presented with quality, thought-provoking ones, they tend to respond most favourably. Therefore, it makes sense to use visuals and video to stimulate the creative process in L2-students.  

The film I have chosen to use in this activity is a British prison drama, Starred UpIt is one of the gritiest and most powerful prison dramas I have watched in many years.  However, it is certainly not suitable for anyone under 18, so you may be asking what are you using it for with 14-15 yr olds then?  I 
agree, and would never do that.  In fact I don't use full length featured films as a springboard for lessons.  That is totally unnecessary, since there are fabulous editing tools now available for you to use to cut segments of films (e.g. Wondersher's Video Convertor- which allows you to hardcode subs too). It means when you find a section that is excellent, but the whole film is not needed, you can present it without any repurcussions of inpropriety. Plus, you don't use up valuable class time watching the whole movie.

That is why I have chosen this clip very carefully for the activity.

First of all, watch the short clip below and I will explain how I intend to use it with my new intake of students this year for a creative writing piece.

So, as this is the hook of the movie I thought it a really good time to show the students how important that is for any story, visual or textual.  I was struck by how well the director captured the mood of what it must be like for a young prisoner moving up from a juvenile detention center to an adult prison.  In the five minutes long clip, there is no dialog, only guards barking orders.  But, as a viewing audience member looking in on the plight of people like the teenager, you get a sense of foreboding of what a person is faced with when they first arrive in prison.

First of all I will give some necessary vocabulary for the students to use in their writing:

jail,  prison, prisoner, cell, guard, casuals, isolation, exclusion, lonliness, parole, depression

to strip, to stand still, to keep quiet,  to obey,  (not) to talk back

sad, frightened, worried, scared, terrified, lonely, alone, isolated, bored, angry, disappointed, regretful, isolated, embarrassed, ashamed, naive 

These lists, although not exhaustive, can give the students more choice for writing, and allow them the opportunity to write more freely during the process.

Before the students begin, I will have a small discussion that asks some critical thinking prompts or Essential Questions (EQs) as we prefer to call them.

What would you feel like being locked up in prison?

How do people cope with the situation?

Why do prisoners feel alone?

What do you think are the frustrations of being in a cell?

Should prisoners be locked up alone for great lengths of time?

Why do some prisoners become repeat offenders?

After we have discussed these salient points, I will get the students to consider how the character from the clip is feeling on his arrival. They will then be told to write as the character in prison and how he is feeling on that first day.  The next paragraph will be one week later.  The final paragraph will be learning that he has parole.  I will also ask the students to write the piece in the 1st person.  The students will do this on penzuclassroom and submit by the due date.

I know this is nothing new for you, but I wanted to share how it is possible to use clips from films that can hopefully lead to students writing more freely in English L2.  If we personalize the task, and get them to be creative for a character (probably) none of them will ever be, it could make for some quality writing practice and allow them to see how their creativity is an integral part to the learning of any language.