Steve embraced technology in the classroom as a means to enliven and enrich the learning environment, and hasn't turned back since. He has presented widely on the use of educational technology in language learning, and is an unapologetic iPad enthusiast. He currently resides in Shimane prefecture with his wife, children, and a rather large collection of Apple products.
I just came across this great idea on the NeverEndingSearch blog about using QR code handouts and/or posters to recommended apps to students. While I have used QR codes in the classroom for a number of other purposes, this idea is new to me. Considering my open classroom policy on smartphones and tablets, and the number of times I find myself recommending apps, I am looking forward to putting this idea in practice. I think that my first task in the office tomorrow will be to create a poster just like this one to post on my office door. I will need to make both iOS and Android versions, of course.
Which apps would you recommend to your students in this way?
News in Levels is a website that provides students of English with news articles in graded skill levels. Articles are based on news videos from ITN News out of London, and each article is available in four levels. Level 0, currently in Beta, provides an image from the source video with a few vocabulary words. The words are also delivered via a Soundcloud audio file embedded in the site. Students can listen and repeat while reading the words from the image. Levels 1 and 2 provide simplified versions, using 1,000 and 3,000 words respectively, of the transcript from the video, which is viewable in Level 3. Levels 1 and 2 also rely on a Soundcloud audio file to allow students to listen along while reading. (Click the images below for a closer look)
This tool could be a great way to get ESL students working together around authentic news materials. The site offers a number of categories, such as Sports, Nature, Interesting, and Funny, so students have a wide variety of materials to choose from. There are also some limited teacher resources available on the site.
So, how would you use NewsInLevels with your students?
* Update: If you try to use this site on your mobile device, you may find that the Souncloud links disappear. Just scroll down to the bottom of the page and choose the Desktop site option to resolve this. (Confirmed on iPhone in Safari and Chrome)
How do you keep in touch with your students? Email seems to be the obvious choice, but it can be surprisingly ineffective when trying to get in touch with Japanese university students. It is not uncommon to hear from a student that they have never checked their campus email. To get around this barrier, I initially tried using the Moodle messaging system as a backup, but a quick look at the access logs usually shows that the students I need to contact haven’t logged in for weeks. Where to go from here? Facebook?
I tried creating a Facebook group for one class, and I really liked how it shows read data on each post. I could log into Facebook and check my postings and see “viewed by 12”, and know that most of the students had seen it. While Facebook was a step up from Moodle and Email, it was through observing students in the classroom that I discovered the tool I needed.
I often noticed students with smartphones using a chat-bot in an app called Line to translate words. Line is a phone-based social networking service, and its user base has exploded in Japan. It is fairly safe to say that if your students have a smartphone they also have Line. So, it was this discovery that led me to creating groups in Line to communicate with students. The response rate is a vast improvement over my previous attempts, as it is the first app that most students check when they pick up their phone.
So, if you want to stay in touch with students, maybe it’s time to get you classrooms in Line.