Category Archives: Lesson Plans

Pecha Kucha – For the language and communications classroom

Pecha Kucha (Japanese for chit-chat) is a presentation format that is based on using 20 presentation slides but only talking about each of them for 20 seconds. The format, which keeps presentations short and concise (each presentation should be 6 minutes and 40 seconds), was originally designed for the delivery of design presentations, but can be adapted as a speaking or public speaking activity for students.
  • Talking about an image or theme can be quite demanding, especially if the students are having to improvise what they say, so don’t set your expectations too high the first few times they have to do it, especially if your students are lower level learners, and be sure to offer lots of encouragement.
  • Overcoming public speaking nerves can be a huge challenge, but regular small group and whole group practice of this, along with supportive and constructive feedback can help students overcome their nerves and develop more self-confidence.
  • Group vs solo – Getting students to do their first pecha kucha presentation can be a bit of an ordeal, so it can be better to get them started in groups of four or five. They can then take it in turns to do a slide each. This reduces the amount of speaking they will have to do in any one turn. Once students are more comfortable with the format you can get them to deliver their solo presentations to smaller groups. This reduce the time needed in class to do all the presentations and also reduces the performance pressure on students.
  • Planned vs spontaneous – There are pros and cons to both of these options. Giving students time to plan their pecha kucha will enable them to deliver a higher quality presentation, but they are more likely to script what they are going to say. Getting students to do these presentations with minimal or no preparation can be chaotic, but in many ways it can be more developmental as it forces students to use language creatively and to improvise with language. The best case scenario is a balance between these two approaches based on the levels and abilities of your students.
  • Understanding the rules – Before getting started with any of the activities make sure that students understand the rules.
    • Only still images on the slides – no text or videos
    • Each slide only stays on the screen for 20 seconds
    • What you say should be about the slide that is showing

Pecha Kucha Activities

What we’ve learned this term – Create a presentations with images of different topics or themes you have studied in your course book. Put the students into groups to look through the presentation and prepare what they are going to say and who will speak about each slide. When they are ready get each team to do their presentation. Ask the students to watch each other’s presentations and see if they hear anything that they missed in their own presentation.
image
Topic based – Create a presentation with images based around the same theme or topic. Put the students into groups and give them the presentation. Ask them to come up with their own interpretation of the images (don’t tell them what the theme is). Give them a time limit for their preparations. Make sure they have enough time to check any new vocabulary that they need to use. When they are ready ask each group to do their presentation. At the end of the presentations look at and discuss how they were different / similar.
story imageThe story – Create a sequence of images of people places and things. Put the students into groups and give the students the presentation slides. Tell them that they need to link the sequences together into a story. Tell them that they need to speak about each part of the story for 20 seconds. Once they have had time to prepare, get each group to present their story.
Present yourself – Ask students to prepare a presentation about themselves using 20 of their own images (Students who use Instagram can take images from their account if they choose). Put the students into groups to do their presentations and make sure they stick to the time limit. After each presentation give the listeners the opportunity to ask a few questions and find more information before moving on to the next one. At the end of the session get students to share interesting things they discovered about their peers.
A trip you would like to take – Ask students to research a trip they would like to take. Ask them to find 20 images that are relevant to the trip and order them into a presentation. Then ask the students to work in groups and deliver their presentations to each other. Get each group to vote on what they thought was the best trip (not their own though) have a class presentation of the best trips and try to choose an overall winning class trip that all the students would like to go on together.
travel imageYour bucket list – Ask students to think about 20 experiences that they would like to have in their lives. Ask them to collect an image of each one and create a presentation. Get the students to deliver their presentations in groups and explain what each experience is and why they want to do it. As they listen they should try to identify experiences from other students’ bucket lists that they would like to include in their own. At the end of the activity give them some time to try to swap bucket list experiences. To take an experience from another student, they must persuade them to exchange it with one of their own.

Technical

  • Once students have created their presentations, its a good idea to configure the slide timings so that the slides automatically change after 20 seconds.
  • There is also a website at: http://pechaflickr.net/ that creates random side shows based around any key word. This could be interesting if you want students to completely improvise their presentation, but you should be careful not to do this with younger learners as some images may be inappropriate.
  • You could also use http://flickriver.com/ by typing in a tag and getting one student to change the image every 20 seconds.
  • You can get students to do these activities for homework and use the recording feature of their presentation software to record their voice-over.

Find out more about Pecha Kucha and English language teaching

E-Safety for Teachers – Part 1

This text is the first of a two part series adapted from my ebook – Digital Tools for Teacher – Trainers’ Edtition.

In this first part I look at potential online dangers and how we can help students deal with them.

E-SafetyIncreasingly, as teachers use and guide students to use web-based and mobile applications we are faced with the responsibility of ensuring our students’ safety online. In this chapter I’d like to look briefly at some of the issues involved and attempt to put these into realistic perspective.

Please bear in mind though that these are my opinions based on my perspective and experience as someone who has spent two decades working in online education. These are not the views of a cyber security expert.

Online Privacy
To be honest I don’t really believe there is any such thing as 100% online privacy. Even the FBI has been hacked. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as long as you use the internet with an awareness that anything you do, see, create or store online could potentially be seen by others.

You wouldn’t walk through a crowded market place in your underwear shouting out your secrets and sharing your address, bank details and pictures of the people you love, and expect it to remain a secret, so don’t expect to do it online.

If you want to keep something private, keep it in your head, never write it down, don’t tell anyone about it and make sure you don’t talk in your sleep.

If you and your students enter the online domain with an awareness of this and only post things that you are comfortable having in the public domain then you should really be fine.

Having said that, most web-based social media platforms and educational platforms do have some form of privacy control that limits who can see what, within and from outside the platform, and processes for reporting abuse, so do make sure you and your students are aware of how these work and put them to good use.

The Dangers
There are a number of dangers associated with being online. The main ones that we need to consider are:

Viruses and malware
writingThese are among the most common of online problems, especially in places such as schools, libraries and internet cafes, where access to a computer is shared and people are using things like USB drives to store information.

These problems are also reasonably easy to avoid, if you make sure that you have antivirus software installed and keep it regularly updated. Also, make sure that you have a firewall on your computer and it’s turned on.

Inappropriate materials
It’s undeniable that the potential for students to find inappropriate content, either deliberately or accidentally, is ever present. There are a number of ways of dealing with this including filtering and monitoring software of various kinds. None of these are 100% foolproof, so don’t rely too heavily on them especially if you are working with younger learners.

The best way to deal with this problem is to design purposeful tasks with clear instructions and then monitor carefully to make sure students stay on task. Having some form of device or network monitoring software can help with this, but if you do so, it’s wise to make students aware that you can see what they are doing, as it’s better to discourage a problem before it occurs rather than have to deal with it after it has happened.

Harassment and bullying
Make sure that your school has a policy regarding cyberbullying and a process for reporting and dealing with it. Also make sure that your students know what this policy is, both in terms of how to report it and what the consequences will be for the students who do it.
Make sure students know what does and does not constitute harassment. In many cases, students just aren’t aware of the harm they are causing and think that they are being witty or funny.
It’s actually much easier to track, prove and trace back online behaviour to the person responsible in the virtual world than it is in the physical world. It’s extremely difficult to carry out any online action without leaving some form of digital footprint. Make sure students know how easy it is to get caught if they are bullying or harassing someone. This is likely to reduce the chances that anyone will do anything irresponsible and greatly increase the chances that anyone being harassed will have the confidence to report it.

Reputation
Make students aware that, as soon as they log in to the internet, they are creating a trail of behaviour for which they can be held responsible for the rest of their lives. Every word and image that they share online can potentially be stored and reproduced infinitely and indefinitely. They should be aware of the implications of this in terms of future jobs, college entrance and future relationships. They can use this to their advantage and create a creditable footprint that can help them to build a great reputation and enhance future career prospects, but one single act of poor judgement can also follow them around for the rest of their lives.

Taking Responsibility
In all of these instances it is better to educate students about the safe use of digital devices and resources than to ban them. Banning the use of these devices is a denial of our obligations as educators. We may be protecting our school and ourselves from any consequences in this way, but we aren’t helping to protect our students. They have access to all of these resources outside of the school and usually inside it, through their own device, so we must take responsibility for their safety and help to educate them and their parents in a well informed and logical way to the realistic dangers that exist and how to protect themselves and their friends from those dangers.

Make sure your students know how to use any reporting or red-flagging features of any site you suggest. Even the most genuine of sites can have comments from users that are inappropriate. Showing students how to flag up or block comments from people that are offensive is a valuable lesson, as well as a good way to help protect them.

This text is the first of a two part series adapted from my ebook – Digital Tools for Teacher – Trainers’ Edtition.

Digital Tools for Teachers – Teacher Trainers’ Edition

In part 2 of this series I’ll be looking at what you can do to ensure the links and apps you share with students aren’t putting them in danger.

Q&A With Off2Class Co-Founder Kris Jagasia

Off2Class-logoIt’s rare to come across a resource online for English teachers which is unique and empowering, but Off2Class is that rare thing. Off2Class provides high quality content for teachers who want to work online or in the classroom with digital materials.

What’s your elevator pitch?

Off2Class is a toolkit for ESL teachers. We combine teacher-led ESL learning content with a student management system. Part content, part software, 100% built for ESL teachers.

Who is your ideal user?

We started by working with freelance ESL teachers tutoring both online and in-person. We’re now also working with classroom ESL teachers and languages institutes. We love working with both user types buVideo_Tutorials_-_Off2Classt my personal favourite are our freelance teacher users. There is a ‘can do’ attitude that a lot of freelance ESL teachers possess making them fun customers to work with!

Why did you build Off2Class?

Off2Class Old WayMy business partner, James Heywood, had ventured into online ESL teaching and was frustrated that there was a lack of high-quality, teacher-led ESL content that was properly animated for an online classroom. We soon realized that it wasn’t just online ESL teachers that were frustrated, but lots of teachers were now teaching on screens and were finding it hard to access ESL content that was suitable for these new environments.

How many lessons do you have in Off2Class?

Our ESL Lesson Plan Library contains over 500 lessons and we add to the library every month. Our latest additions include our Listening Activities (which contain audio recordings of graded, authentic native English) and our Business English series.Off2Class resources

Is there a particular pedagogical paradigm or learning theory on which the lessons are based?

Our philosophy has always been to complement ESL teachers. Our lessons are designed to be teacher-led (i.e. taught and adapted live) and follow the communicative approach. We’ve paired our content with some powerful annotation tools and an online whiteboard that teachers can use to build on our lessons as they teach.

Do you suggest a specific pathway through the materials?

Off2Class-PlacementTest-2We recommend that teachers have their students sit our ESL placement test. For every student that sits the test, we will produce their gap analysis and individual learning plan which outlines a pathway to target their language challenges and fossilized errors using our materials.

Can teachers author their own lessons or customise the lessons in Off2Class?

Off2Class-Teacher-Logo-2Coming very soon! We’re in final testing of our lesson editor which will allow teachers to customize our lessons. We realize that every student is different and that teachers know their students best. We’re excited to release this next stage of customization!

Off2Class looks very much like a product aimed at teachers, so how have catered to what students need?

We believe that for meaningful secondary language acquisition (for 90% of learners) students require a teacher. There just aren’t that many students out there that can maintain enough motivation to learn a language entirely through self-study. By supplying teachers with the right, adaptive resources to guide their students through the language acquisition journey, we believe that we will be catering to what students need.Off2Class-library

Does Off2Class work on mobile devices such as tablets?

Absolutely, we work on any device or screen. We’ve gone to great lengths to make sure we can cater to any digital learning environment. Students can access their learning portals on any internet-connected device including mobiles and tablets. For online lessons we integrate with all major videoconferencing systems and for classroom teaching we are projected using IWBs, TV screens or projectors. We have many teachers that frequently use Off2Class in different environments, e.g. one day for an in-person tutorial on a tablet and the next day for a classroom session on a projector.

Do you use the data from Off2Class to improve or rework your materials?

Off2Class-newYes, we are constantly updating our content based on teacher feedback. Teachers can leave us feedback from within the lesson content itself. There’s a big ‘Give Us Feedback’ button at the bottom of our classroom which means teachers can give us commentary right when they think of it but without having to disrupt a lesson. We also prioritize our content releases based on data showing us which lessons are being used the most.

How do you plan to develop Off2Class in the future?

We’ve recently taken steps to increase the level of customization features on Off2Class and the teacher feedback has been tremendous. So most of our plans for development will follow this course – increasing opportunities for teachers to customize Off2Class so it better matches their own teaching style and preferences.

Off2class-AvatarProfilePic-01-Colour-KrisKris is in charge of customer satisfaction for Off2Class. In this role he gets to work with a variety of ESL educators teaching in both freelance and classroom environments. Kris launched Off2Class with his business partner James Heywood, who was frustrated that he couldn’t find any good, teacher-led digital content for his online and in-person ESL tutorials.

 

Lesson Plans – Lessons in Digital Literacy

The lesson plans  in this collection are intended as examples of how technology can be used within the classroom context to enhance students’ language skills, critical thinking skills and digital literacies.

Click on the images to find out more