11 Mei 2017

Recap for enouraging reflection on learning

One of the true keys to learning and developing any ability is the willingness and capacity to reflect on what we have learned.

So how can we encourage our students to reflect on what they have learned? Generally we want them to reflect from a slightly more distant perspective of time rather than more immediately within the classroom and this is where Recap can really help.

Recap is a cross platform app that allows teachers to create classes and manage students and set them reflection questions that they can respond to using video on their laptop webcam or smart phone from their own home.

How does Recap work?
To create a class and add your students just register on the site as a teacher.

Once you have registered you click on Add Class and complete the class details form. You can also decide at this point whether you want your students to register with a PIN or an email. Email is a better option for older learners, whereas a PIN is better for younger ones as this doesn’t require them to have an email, but you do have to add all of their names.

Once the class is created you get a link and a code that students can use to enter your class. I’ve set up a dummy EdTech class, so feel free to join and try it out as a student if you wish. Just use the code shown in the image below.
Once your class is ready you can add two types of tasks, a Recap or a Journey.
When you click on Add Recap you can type in and / or record your first question.
You can then click on ‘Next’ and set the length of recording for your students’ response and the due date for the assignment. You can also decide if it goes to the whole class or individual students and enable to do some self assessment of their recording.
Once you click send the task becomes available to the students.  Once they have replied you can click on the student list and then select each student to see their responses.
You can also click on ‘Assess’ and access all the student responses and respond back to them or watch a ‘showreel’ compilation of their responses.
Once you have responded to their comments they can reply, so this can set up a kind of discussion chain.

The second type of task you can add to Recap is a Journey. This is a question based around a sequence of materials with links to different media and video stimulus that you can record on your webcam or phone to help engage with students.

To do this just click on ‘Add Journey’, allow access to your webcam and microphone, record your video and then add steps and links to media you want your students to explore.

The video you record has to be very short so this isn’t a tool for delivering lectures, it’s more of a tool for setting students up to discover things for themselves.

Once you have created your ‘Journey’ activity for your students you ca share it with them, but you can also add it to the Recap ‘Marketplace’ this allows you to share or sell your ‘Journey’ activity to other teachers, so this is a great way to potentially make a little money (the maximum sale price is $0.99).

 You can also find ‘Journey’ tasks that you can use with your students there.

How to use Recap with students?
  • Set a Recap task each evening after class and use it as a form of learner diary.
  • Use Recaps for action research and get students to tell you how they feel about what and how they are learning.
  • Set Recaps as short pronunciation assessment activities by getting students to read short texts.
  • Use Recaps to build a more positive dynamic and get to know your students a bit better and discover their motivation and interests.
  • Set Recap tasks to check students remember the vocabulary they learned during previous lessons.
  • Create Journeys based around infographics to get them researching and reflecting on the information within the graphic.
  • Use Journeys to get students doing research before coming to class for debates or for information sharing in class.
  • Use Journeys to share SOLE type questions that students can research.

What I like about Recap
  • Students are often shy to speak and ask questions in class so this is a chance to get them talking just to you.
  • Actually having the opportunity to listen carefully to each student during the class can be difficult, so Recap can provide you with the ability to fairly assess your students speaking.
  • The video clips your students submit are stored on the site, so over time you can see how they are progressing.
  • It’s a safe and controlled way for students to communicate with you through video.
  • You can actually get to know your students a bit better and give them some one to one time.
  • It’s great  to be able to give students speaking homework and for students to see themselves speaking and reflect on their own performance.
  • It’s free and works across platforms (there are apps for both Android and iOS).
  • It offers teachers the opportunity to make some money from their work.
I hope you find Recap useful to help develop your students’ ability to reflect and your own ability to develop a closer understanding of your students’ needs and abilities.

You can find lots more video based apps and activities in my award winning ebook - Digital Video - A Manual for Language Teachers.

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Nik Peachey

20 Apr 2017

5 Free Edtech and ELT eBooks

This is just a quick post to share 5 very short ebooks that have been taken from my award winning ebook - Digital Video - A Manual for Language Teachers.

Winner of the 2016 British Council Award for Innovation in Teacher Resources

The ebooks come from chapter 9 of the manual which contains 12 more entries like these. As well as the explainer text, which shows you how to use the tools and gives suggestions for tasks you can do in your classroom, each ebook also has a video tutorial.

Each ebook is available either as PDF from Payhip or from the iBooks Store. I hope you enjoy these free ebooks and find them useful.

Digital Classrooms - TedEd

TED Ed is a great tool for creating online lessons around videos. It enables you to structure a sequence of interactive activities around the video clip that guides the viewer towards a deeper understanding of the content. It’s an ideal tool for building blended learning.

Digital Classrooms - MoveNote

MoveNote is a great tool for getting your presentations online. It enables you to add a talking head with voiceover to guide your students through the materials. These can be embedded into online courses or webpages. It’s ideal for creating flipped learning.

Digital Classrooms - MailVu

MailVu is a great tool for creating asynchronous interaction in either an online course or as part of a blended learning unit of work. It enables asynchronous interaction with just a web-browser and a webcam or there is a free mobile app that runs on most platforms.

 Digital Classrooms - VideoNotes

VideoNot.es is a great tool for building your students’ digital literacies and their abilities to use video to study online. It enables students to take time stamped notes while they watch video content and save them alongside the video file.

Digital Classrooms - Wideo

Wideo is a great tool for creating simple animated movies. It enables you to create a range of teaching materials that explain simple theories. It’s also easy enough to use to get students creating their own animations.

I hope you enjoy these ebooks and find them useful. If you like them then please check out more of my ebooks at: PeacheyPublications.com and sign up for my Edtech & ELT enewsletter to be kept up to date on all that's new in digital learning.

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Nik Peachey

11 Apr 2017

12 Tips for training older teachers to use technology

There is an assumption that persists in the educational community that more mature teachers are much more difficult and reluctant to be trained on the effective use of educational technology. To some degree, I think this assumption has been built on by the digital native vs digital immigrant myth. But as someone who has trained teachers of all ages all over the world I would say that, from my own experience, this hasn’t been the case.

What I have found to be the case is that more mature teachers are:
  • Less likely to lured by the shiny hardware and the seemingly wonderful claims made to go along with it.
  • More critical and sceptical about the way technology is used in the classroom.
  • Less confident when using various apps and websites and less likely to explore the different features.
  • More easily discouraged by failures.
  • Less familiar with various tools, applications and services that have become part of every-day life for younger users.
  • More likely to be able to see through “technology for technology’s sake” classroom applications.

So how should trainers approach the challenges of working with these teachers? Here are a few tips from my own experience of training older teachers to use technology.

Be sure of your ground pedagogically

So many edtech trainers are great with technology, but much less versed in educational theory and pedagogy. More mature teachers are more likely to have a stronger theoretical understanding, so be prepared to back up your ideas with sound pedagogical insights and try to relate your training back to theories of learning and pedagogical approaches.

Make sure training is hands on

Running through a list of tools and ideas in a presentation may have some value, but it doesn’t come anywhere close to the impact of giving teachers hands-on experience and the chance to actually work with the tech to create something.

Here is a collection of some of the activities I've used in my training sessions: 20 Tech Enhanced Activities for the Language Classroom

Give solid examples of what you have done

Being able to speak from experience about how you have used tech with your own students will have far more impact than theoretical applications of “You could do blah blah blah with your students.” Sharing anecdotes of how you have used technology in your own classes, the challenges you have faced and how you have overcome or even been overcome by them can really lend credibility to your training.

Manage expectations

A positive attitude is great, but be prepared to also point out weaknesses, potential pitfalls and talk about your own failures. This might help your trainees avoid the same mistakes and stop them from becoming disillusioned.

Make time to experiment and explore

Don’t be tempted to cram in as many tools, techniques and activities as possible. Incorporate project time into your training so that teachers have the chance to go away and explore the things that interest them most and get their own perspective on how they can use them with students.

Back up technical training

Learning to use new tools is getting easier all the time, especially on mobile, but it’s still quite easy for teachers to forget which button to press or which link to follow. So back up any demonstrations with either an illustrated step-by-step guide or a video tutorial that teachers can come back to later.

Make their lives easier

Using technologies that can make what they already do a bit easier or a bit quicker is a great way to start. For example, I have a link to a tool that really quickly creates a cloze test activity. Sharing tools like this that start from what teachers already do can really help to get them on your side.

Do things that can’t be done

One of the most common remarks made by more mature teachers about technology is: “Well that’s fine, but you can do that without tech by …” If you can show examples of technology use that go beyond what is already possible in the classroom, then you are much more likely to get capture their enthusiasm. One example of this is the use of collaborative writing tools like PrimaryPad and its ability to track, record and show how students constructed text.

Solve classroom problems

Being able to spot a genuine classroom problem and show how technology can solve it can be very persuasive. One example of this is gist reading which can be very challenging to teach because students tend to ignore time limits. I show how using a free digital cue prompter can give teachers control of the text and push students to gist read at the speed the teacher chooses. Problem solved.

Plan with long term and short term goals

However inspiring your training session is, and however short or long it is, you should make sure that teachers leave it with a plan. SMART plans are great if you have time to work on them with the teachers. If you don’t have time to get them to create individual SMART plans, at least get them to think about the first step or the first technology application they will try in their classroom and what they will do with it.

Tech can be implemented in CPD

One of the reasons many mature teachers feel less confident with tech is because they often only use it in the classroom. Showing how technology can become part of their own self-guided CPD and professional practice, and helping them to build their PLN can really help to energise their technology use and make their development much more autonomous and long lasting.

Make sure everything works

I can’t emphasise this enough. Make sure you have updated all your plugins, browser versions, etc,and check the network and connectivity and make sure everything runs smoothly. Nothing puts teachers off more quickly than seeing the trainer fail.

Having read this list of tips you are likely to be thinking: “But all technology training should be like that!” Yes, you are right it should, but the truth is we are more likely to be able to get away with lower standards when working with teachers who are already more enthusiastic about tech. So the next time you walk into a training room and see a number of older teachers there, don’t groan with disappointment, but welcome the opportunity to test your skills and understanding with the most critical audience. If you can send them away motivated to use technology then you know you are on the right track.

This article was first published at: https://www.english.com/blog/training-older-teachers-to-use-technology

Related reading

Nik Peachey 

2 Jan 2017

Digital Tools for Teachers

Over the last few months I have been working on a new book project and finally have it completed.

The new book is Digital Tools for Teachers.

Digital Tools for Teacher Cover

This book has been written and designed primarily with English language teachers in mind though the majority of the resources and tools contained in the book will have much wider use than just language teaching.

The book is available at the introductory price of £1.99 from:

The book contains more than 70 tools and resources and these have been hand picked because they represent a broad cross-section of what is at present available.
The chapters of the book are divided into simple pedagogical tasks that most teachers need to carry out or help their students with and the descriptions of the resources are suitably concise to make the book easy for a stressed teacher to access and browse in a few spare moments between classes.

The sites, apps and resources within the book have been divided into the following chapters:
  • Reading Tools
  •  Writing Tools
  •  Speaking Tools
  •  Listening Tools
  •  Grammar Tools
  •  Presentation Tools
  •  Poll & Survey Tools
  •  Infographic Tools
  •  Course Creation Tools
You can download the first two chapters free here:  Digital Tools for Teachers

At present each chapter contains between 5 – 10 different sites that have been selected to help you make a quick choice of the tools you need.

All of the tools and resources selected for the book are either free or have a useable permanent freemium offering, so you will never be forced to pay for any of these resources in order to sustain the work you are doing with your students.

Over the coming years it is my intention to regularly review and expand on the contents of this book. If you would like to be involved and assist in this process you can do so by:
  •  Suggesting tools to be included in future editions
  •  Writing an entry about a tool you have used and found useful
  •  Reporting a dead link or a tool or resource that has become commercially unviable for teachers
  •  Reporting a typo or factual error.
Anyone who contributes in any of the ways above will get a brief mention in the next edition of the book along with a link to their own blog or website.

Related links


Nik Peachey

14 Nov 2016

Thinking Critically through Digital Media

Although the use of internet and digital materials in the language classroom has come a long way over the last 20 years, still the vast majority of web based material that finds its way into the language classroom is used for information input or comprehension purposes. The students’ interaction with the materials is as such largely passive with the teacher controlling the suitability of the materials selected and deciding what information the students will extract from it.

In Thinking Critically through Digital Media I have tried to build on this model, but develop it and take it to deeper and more critical levels of analysis that go beyond the superficial linguistic level and help to develop students not only as English language speakers, but as capable information literate participants in the global knowledge economy.

The book uses as its basis the development of key digital literacies. These include the ability to understand visually presented data, the ability collect and analyse data using a range of techniques and survey tools and the ability to create and deliver a range of presentation types using digital media tools.

Whilst developing these digital literacies students are also encouraged to assess the validity, credibility and underlying bias of the information they study and are given a range of research tools and techniques for reassessing the information and evaluating how it fits within their personal framework of belief systems and values.

The book itself has four main chapters. The first three chapters contain a range of activities that teachers can use with students to develop their abilities to understand and create infographics, develop research polls and surveys and create and deliver presentations. These activities give students hands on exposure to a range of recommended tools and develop students as active creators of information whilst developing their abilities to work collaboratively in digital online environments.

The fourth key chapter of the book is a collection of lesson plans that teachers can use to take students through a complete process from accessing their existing knowledge about a topic, understanding new input, examining how the information fits into their existing value scheme, checking the credibility and validity of the information, carrying out their own parallel research through social media to finally sharing and reevaluating what they have learned.

I believe that the skills and abilities teachers can help students develop through the use of these materials are ones that are sadly lacking, not only in the English language classroom but also in the general education of many students around the world. Through the use of these materials I hope teachers can develop more actively and intellectually critical students who approach digital media with the ability not only to comprehend and consume information but also understand the possible bias, motivation and underlying values of those creating the information. I believe these skills and abilities are key to creating a more tolerant, open-minded and critically aware global society.

Related links:

Nik Peachey

2 Okt 2016

Exploiting Infographics for Digital Literacy and Critical Thinking

This is just a short post to anounce the publication of my new ebook 'Exploiting Infographics for Digital Literacy and Critical Thinking'.

Exploiting Infographics follows on from 10 Lessons in Digital Literacy, which is a collection of lesson plans based around infographics, and looks in more depth at the genre and how infographics can be used as both sources of information and as creative learning tasks for students.

The tasks that accompany the infographics are intended to encourage students to think more critically about the information they are exposed to and to question the sources of information they find whilst browsing the internet.

Exploiting Infographics should help teachers to start creating their own tasks, activities and lesson plans for students and to integrate infographics in a way that will enhance students’ critical thinking, digital literacy, language and communication skills.

Exploiting Infographics was conceived as part of The Digital Classrooms Series which started with the award winning Digital Video - A Manual for Language Teachers.

The series is intended to help teachers, teacher trainers, materials writers and course designers integrate digital technologies into their classroom practice in a pedagogically sound and impactful way.

I hope you enjoy these books and find them useful.

Related links:

Nik Peachey

2 Agt 2016

Using Phraseum to learn lexical chunks

I recently revisited Phraseum, an app which I first discovered and reviewed in March 2014. I’m glad to see that the tool is still around, has gathered a loyal following and has developed both in terms of design and functionality since that first review.

In this article I’d like to show you some of the new features and also share some ideas for how you can use it. Let me start though by recapping what Phraseum does.

Phraseum is a tool that students can use to capture lexical chunks, collocations and expressions while they read online text. It helps students to collect these expressions into theme based phrasebooks that they can then use to revise and share their learning. 
Within the platform there are also a number of features to help them learn the phrases, these include tagging of phrases and links through to Google translate. Phraseum also records the source of the phrase so that students can go back and find the phrases in their context. 

A new feature that’s been added since the last review is the ‘Learn’ feature. This is great as it  helps them learn and memorise the phrases using a process of spaced repetition. To use this students just select a phrasebook and then click on the ‘Learn this phrasebook’ button.  
They can then select key words to remove from the phrases. After these have been clicked, they will have to select them in the correct order to put them back into the sentence. 

They work through the phrases doing this a couple of times and each time things get harder and more words are removed. Eventually the prompt words are removed and they have to type in the missing words. 
Once the students type in the words they will be able to compare with the original.

Phraseum can also create revision tests so that the students re-study a selection of the phrases in their collection. When students have learned new phrases, each session begins with a test. This test is designed to identify exactly what they can remember. In each test they are required to type in phrases with minimal prompts. Their success in the test determines whether a phrase is learned or marked as weak and repeated again.

As a teacher you can also create your own phrasebooks just by typing in the phrases you want stusdents to learn and then sharing the phrasebook with them.

Getting started with phraseum. 

Once you have registered on the site, one of the first things to do is to add the ‘Clipping button’ to your browser. You can find it at: https://www.phraseum.com/page/clipping-button and just drag the button onto the bookmarks bar of your browser. 

Once you have done this all you need to do is highlight some text while you are reading and then click the button and it will open the clipping window which helps you to save the text chunk into the correct phrasebook and add tags and annotation to it. 

It’s also wise to decide how you want to organise the phrase you collect and create some empty phrasebooks too, then these will appear as options when you clip phrases from a text. Once you have done that you (or your students) are ready to start clipping as you read.

Activities for students
Here are some activities you can do with your students to get them started with Phraseum.

  • Choose a web based text that you would like your students to read. Collect phrases from the text into a phrasebook. Share the phrasebook with your students and get them to check their understanding of the phrases. Ask the students to try to learn the phrases using the Phraseum ‘Learn’ feature. Once they’ve made an initial attempt to learn the phrases, get them to read the text.
  • Give the students a web based text to read. Once you have completed comprehension and reading development activities ask the students to look for sentences in the text that have vocabulary, collocations or lexical chunks that are new to them and save the sentences into a phrasebook. Then get students to use the learn feature and choose the specific words from the phrases within the sentence that they need to learn. Students can then practice them regularly.
  • When using a text that has a lot of dialogue such as a play, you can get the students to choose one of the people in the text and grab all the sentences they say into a phrasebook with that person’s name. They can then use the ‘Learn’ feature to try to memorise the lines of the text. You can then get the students act out or recite the text.
  • Collect some different lines from a range of short poems into a phrasebook. Share the phrasebook with your students and get them to try to decide which poem each line came from (You’ll need to give them the titles of the poems, or use poems they have already read.) 
  • Get students to collect wise quotes or sayings ( these could be based around a specific topic or just any that the students are interested in) once they have 5 to 10 quotes get the students to use the ‘Learn’ feature of the site to try to learn and memorise the quotes.
  • Create or get students to create a phrasebook containing each of the lines from a short poem. They can then use the ‘Learn’ feature of Phraseum to try to memorise the complete poem. 
 If you'd like more ideas for how to use Phraseum to develop your students' vocabulary, check back to my original review: Creating social phrasebooks with Phraseum

Related links:


Nik Peachey