August 23, 2014

Helping students develop speaking with Whatsapp

I normally teach teenagers and this semester I wanted to have students record  the mini dialogues they normally create in class. These recordings apart from being an opportunity for students to practise speaking and listening could help me observe their progress.

I've been focussing on CAN DO objectives, so close to the end of each class I ask pairs of students to create a mini dialogue using the topic of the lesson. In pairs, they write down a mini dialogue of about 6 turns. I have a quick look at the dialogues checking for mistakes related to the topic of the lesson and then students rehearse it. When they feel they are ready, they can make the recording using their own cell phones.

As we're using EDMODO to post homework, to do quizzes and share extra material, I imagined they could use their own cell phones to record their dialogues and then send it to our Edmodo group. When I suggested the recording for the first time, students were a bit surprised because they had never recorded themselves using English. One student then asked if they could share the recording via WHATSAPP, considering the fact that all of them have the app on their cell phones and it's possible to record within the app. I accepted the idea and one of the students volunteered to create a group for sharing the recordings.

After students upload the recordings, I usually ask them to listen to other dialogues created by their classmates. At home, I listen to all the recorded dialogues and take notes of mistakes related to the target language which  I share with the whole group in a following class without identifying anyone. I've been truly happy with the opportunity to see my students using their creativity to practise the language and to have "palpable" evidence of what my students seem to have learned or not.

This screenshot shows a conversation between a student and myself. I was happy to see they are enjoying listening to themselves and their classmates.

And this is a sample of a dialogue created by two of my students. Can you identify the target structure they were trying to use?

What about this one?

July 19, 2014

RSCON5: Text genres and some digital possibilities

In case you missed RSCON5, an incredible Online Conference for Educators worldwide, and the many interesting sessions presented, this is my tiny contribution to this great event.

It's amazing how many people got together during 3 days in July to dedicate some of their time to professional development. Apart from congratulating the different presenters who shared their knowledge with us, I'd like to express my admiration to the organizing committee who put everything together.

For my presentation, I decided to talk about Text Genres and its digital possibilities.

Although many of the course books some of us use in class suggest writing activities such as formal and informal letters, descriptions, narratives and e-mails, other text genres should receive our attention too. I believe the internet has redefined the way we communicate with others and the kind of texts we write. When we travel we no longer send postcards home but we share our photos a comments instantly via Instagram. When we need to send urgent messages, we don't even think of telegrams anymore, we use text messages. Technology has introduced us to different types of text writing and with them other challenges too, such as the use of abbreviations and the limit of characters as in Twitter.

This is a screenshot of the session  I presented at RSCON5. If you click on the image, you'll be taken to the recordings. You can watch the whole session at the Collaborate Platform, listen to the audio or watch the video recording.

All the resources mentioned throughout the talk can be found at the livebinders below:

June 20, 2014

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 relax ...

This afternoon, I got home feeling stressed with my heart beating fast and a restless mind. "I need to unwind", I thought. I remembered a website Ozge Karaoglu mentioned in one of her posts, "Do nothing for 2 minutes" and decided to try it out. After a few minutes relaxing, I didn't want to go back to real life.

This post was my exploration and trial with relaxing sites which can help you unwind.
Ready to feel REAL GOOD?
Now, I invite you to try these 3 sites one by one.


The site invites you to do nothing for two minutes. Observe the still image on the screen and try not to use your mouse or keyboard for ONLY 2 MINUTES. Close your eyes and listen to the waves. It's not impossible, observe the countdown and feel how much you can relax in a mere two minutes. If you cheat and use your keyboard or mouse, you'll see the word FAIL come up and you get another chance to start.


This one hypnotized me. The background video is very soothing and changes when another background music plays. The icons on the left can only be seen if you hover the mouse next to the left side of the screen, therefore the relaxing image occupies the whole screen. You can do nothing and just listen and observe the scenery or select one of the options from the left icons. The first option is a guided  meditation for 2, 5, 10, 15 or 20 mins. You can listen to a voice which guides you into relaxing your body and mind. The second option is a timer which you select to meditate on your own. This site is MY SECOND FAVOURITE. Even if you still need to work, you can keep the window open and listen to the sounds while you surf the web. There is also an IOS app available.


The simple message on the gray background might not impress you much, but don't be fooled. This is MY FAVOURITE ONE. Once you press the spacebar to start, the site maximizes itself covering all the other tabs you might have open on your screen. While listening to background music, read the sentences slowly and let them embark you on a quiet adventure.

I've tried out 3 of their quiet adventures:

What do these sites have to do with Education?

  • They can help us, educators, relax, calm our hearts and find our harmony to keep on doing what we love: educate.
  • I imagine we could also use the second and third sites with our students in class too. With, I believe the guided 2 min meditation could help teenagers calm down a little and also practice their listening skills. 
  • With "the quiet place", if you have an IWB, the first two adventures I suggested would be appropriate to start a class where you can discuss about the stressful lives we've been leading and what people can do to relax. 

June 9, 2014

How to create your app smashed Study guide

I've recently posted about Visual Study Guides which I've been making for my students. Instead of only telling them the pages of the course book they have to study, I organize materials which we have used during our classes, such as video grammar lessons, online exercises, ppts and word files, into a visual poster with links to the resources which should be revised.

A few times, I created such Study Guides embedding the resources to a Glogster poster , more recently I've been using Thinglink for the same purpose.


Try scrolling down the image above to see the rest of the Instruction Poster.

Hope you find these tips useful,

June 5, 2014

App smashing more Study Guides for students

Is it time to revise for examinations?
How can we make study guides more visually appealing?
These are some examples of app smashed VISUAL STUDY GUIDES I've prepared for my students:

1. Popplet + Quizlet + Educanon + Google Docs + Grammar video Class + Thinglink

2. Vizualize + Educreations + Edmodo + Imagechef + Quizlet + Thinglink

3. Word Collage + Quizlet + Audioboo + Thinglink

4. Comics Head + Quizlet + Thinglink

5. Strip Generator + Quizlet + Slideshare + +

6. PicCollage + quizlet + Google Drive

May 31, 2014

A free online meeting platform: Fuze

This post is dedicated to a dear friend, Márcia Lima, who introduced me to FUZE, the webtool I'll be talking about today.

According to the website, Fuze is an online meeting platform for Mac, Windows, IOS and Androids, in other words, it's a device neutral platform which allows people to meet online (for free) and share content.

So you might say, "That's the same thing we can do with Skype, Google hangouts, Adobe Connect and Wiziq".

Well, not quite. As far as I know:
- With the free version of Skype, nowadays, you can't have more than two webcams working, no screen sharing and your meeting is not recorded.
- With Google hangouts, although you can share your screen and record your meeting, you have a limit of 10 webcams.
- Adobe Connect is perfect for webinars and online meetings, however (this is a big BUT), it is paid.
- Wiziq would be the best alternative here. The free version allows several webcams to work and you have the possibility to record some of your sessions.

To start my exploration, I watched some of their videos, such as this one:

Fuze Content Collaboration from Fuze on Vimeo.

With the FREE plan you can have:

As with all the webtools and apps I decide to use with my students, I wanted to try it out first. Márcia promptly accepted my invitation to give it a go on a Saturday Morning. Our trial video is in Portuguese, our mother tongue, but you can have an idea how our exploration happened.

What we liked about it:

  • It's free.
  • It runs on different devices and systems (Mac, Windows, IOS and Androids)
  • You have a whiteboard to write on.
  • You can share different files such as word, ppt, pdf, images and videos.
  • You can share your screen.
  • There is a chat box.
  • You can have 25 people using their webcams (I haven't tried the quality of the session with many participants).
  • It seems simple to use.
  • It's very easy to start an instant meeting by creating a room and sharing the link with another person provided you have already downloaded Fuze.

What we didn't like about it:

  • You can't record the meeting with the free version ( I used Quicktime on my Mac to record our meeting).
  • The files I shared didn't work so well on the Ipad. The only file Márcia could see was the image I shared. However, when I started another meeting on my Ipad, the video worked just fine.
  • You have to download the product before you join a meeting.