9 November, 2019 - Charlie Bell, Paul Collett, Malcolm Swanson, Markus Yong, Andrew Zitzmann

My Share - Ideas That Work
Charlie Bell, Paul Collett, Malcolm Swanson, Markus Yong, Andrew Zitzmann

This session involved a number of presenters giving short (15-20 minute) introductions to activities or ideas they thought might be helpful for others.
Conversation Modelling
Charlie Bell
Charlie gave a presentation discussing his preliminary research findings into the effects of conversation modelling on student motivation.
Modelling involved him preparing a video of students taking part in conversations and then showing this video to students in another class just prior to them attempting the same type of conversation. The hope was that this could potentially improve his learners' willingness to communicate.

This can occur as the videos may:

  • increase personality and environment support.
  • increase motivation by showing videos of peers doing the same task.
  • improve cognition - if you watch other people doing it you can learn more easily.

To assess the impact of the modelling, Charlie distributed pre- and post questionnaires to his university students who were majoring in Nursing and Occupational therapy.

The questionnaires' purpose was to determine if their willingness to communicate changed after watching the video. If it did change, how and why did it change?

The students so far have provided mixed feedback.
Some thought that watching the video made it seem like an achievable goal and that it showed them what to do, allowing them to visualize how to do it and compare their conversations with the modelled ones. Others mentioned that their willingness to speak depended on the people in their group as well as the topic.

On a more negative note, some students didn't understand the contents of the videos, and didn't like the fact that the video showed non-native speakers.
Some simply had a negative attitude and would not be motivated one way or another.

Charlie therefore found that video modelling can build confidence as it shows how to communicate but it is not useful for all.

Paul Collett
Paul gave a brief introduction to Flipgrid, an online video-sharing platform that helps educators see and hear from every student in class.

Flipgrid is designed specifically for educators who would like their students to create and share short videos of no more than 5 minutes. This could be for activities such as creating weekly reflective journals, debating issues, giving mini-presentations and providing summaries/reviews.

Paul explained how he has used Flipgrid to help with assessment of a presentation skills course. He gave students iPads and then let them go away separately to record their presentations. After finishing their presentations, they would then upload them online for him to assess.

He then went on to describe other benefits and features.
The platform allows for applying effects such as filters and emoji to the recorded content, adding a familiar aspect from popular SNS applications. The videos can be public or private. If made public, the platform has the flexibility to network with other like-minded educators who want to share videos.

Videos can be added by smartphone or from your PC.

One major feature is that you can automatically add closed captions and download them as well, potentially saving time with transcribing what was said on each video.

Finally, Paul talked about how user-friendly Flipgrid is. However, it is necessary to have a stable online network available in the classroom in order for the videos to be automatically upload to the cloud.

Ideas From JALT2019
Andrew Zitzmann
Andrew talked about a number of potentially useful activities he had observed at the recent JALT international conference.

"Flat Andrew project" - This is basically a letter exchange with other schools outside of Japan. This exchange involved the Japanese students making a paper image of themselves and sending it to a foreign school. The foreign students then took the image around town and took photos of it in various locations. Afterwards they write a report about the image's adventures and then send it back to Japan.

"Symbol songs" – This involves getting students to try and guess the name and lyrics of a song based on symbols on the page.

"Greek and latin roots" – An activity where the students tried to guess and understand various words' origins.

Internet-Based Apps
Malcolm Swanson
Malcolm presented two apps that can be useful for gathering student feedback in large classes.

The first one is called Plickers. This app is a convenient way to efficiently gain feedback from all students and can be used for quick classroom surveys and quizzes.
In order to do this, a teacher hands out specially-prepared cards to each student. Each card is printed with a square geometric pattern, with each side of the square labelled A to D. The teacher can then pose a question for the students and offer multiple-choice answers. The students indicate their answers by showing their cards to the teacher with the letter of their choice in the up-right position. In order to gather all the responses, the teacher uses the Plickers app on a web-connected device to scan the room, recording student responses which are automatically uploaded to the teacher's Plickers account. This enables instant large group feedback. The advantage of this app is that every student doesn't need to have access to a tablet or smart phone to take part.

The second app called Menti serves a similar function to Plickers but differs slightly in method. Instead of gathering feedback from scanning cards in a room, the teacher gets students to connect to its website, input a teacher designated code and then proceed to the quiz or survey. Once again, student feedback is instantaneous and can be broadcast in real time via the app.

Other useful features of Menti is that it allows the teacher to create word maps and turn surveys into a quiz games. This app is available through the web site www.mentimeter.com.

Table-Top Gaming
Markus Yong
Markus presented a way of making complicated table top war games more accessible for young English learners as well as outlining their associated benefits and challenges.

He used a game called Airfix Battles, a WWII-based tactical board game. Since the game mirrors real life battles there are a multitude of rules and actions each player can take such as measuring weapons range, calculating hits, assessing damage, looking after morale and finding cover.

Through trial and error Markus found that it is not necessary for kids to learn all the rules straight away. Instead, all that was needed was to teach the language necessary for them to move and then to shoot their units' weapons. Then the teacher would calculate the rest. This should provide students with motivation to learn more complicated English to do this themselves in the future whilst still having fun playing the basic game.

He also found that having the kids actually make the soldiers from plastic model kits provided an extra source of motivation for when they eventually play the game.
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