Saturday, 22 October 2011

Language Plant - singular / plurals

Here's my second attempt at making the language plant that I wrote about recently. After a few e-mails exchanged between David and myself we established the final version. I think it is beautiful and also feel that it demonstrates so much about the way we can say something in a number of different ways.


If you have any ideas about how to use this language plant with your learners why not leave a comment.
See below for how I used it.



Sunday, 16 October 2011

Evolution with Language Plants

How can I make word categorisation and grammar points more interesting?

I work with teenagers, they find grammar tedious.

They love technology.

I love gardening.

When I met David Warr I knew I'd found my answer.

David has introduced me to language plants and you can find out all about them here - http://www.languagegarden.org/ 


Earlier this evening I visited David's blog - http://languagegarden.wordpress.com/ and read about his NEW plant maker. The two plants below are created using his Beta PLANT MAKER. The originals were drawn on a Promethean Whiteboard, covered over and revealed during the class.

Back to my original question;





I revealed it bit by bit. (I love ActivInspire software) I contextualised the language with some pens and a table. I asked the students to tell me what they could see. I asked them again and again. They were engaged; actively learning. They were constantly referring back to 'the plant'.

We explored other new plants instantly;



I then tested my students using a favourite worksheet, thanks to English Banana




We explored the answers together and made notes about mistakes.


I think this way of exploring language in a creative, expressive and functional way is incredibly engaging. I look forward to reporting back more on how the new PLANT MAKER is received by my students.


If you haven't tried it out yet, what are you waiting for?


And finally in David's own words;


Thursday, 6 October 2011

Making Logical Progression Videos on YouTube - Guest post by Natalie Hunter

I've been making videos for quite a while; see my YouTube site http://www.youtube.com/user/mikeinleeds for some examples.


I recently heard about making logical progression videos from a visitor to my Blog. Her name is Natalie Hunter and she offered to share some of her thoughts with my readership as she doesn't have a blog of her own. Here's what she has to say about the making of Logical Progression Videos and their use in education;




Making Logical Progression Videos on YouTube


The goal of every high school educator is to teach children critical thinking skills and provide them with other tools that will be useful to them throughout their lifetimes. Prior to current developments in computer technology, students were often asked to create logical progression essays or “create your own adventure” types of written assignments to help with the tasks associated with problem solving. Additionally, these exercises were designed to stimulate creativity and to illustrate how one event progresses to another.

There are multiple ways in which to teach high school students critical thinking skills. However with the current push toward online education, more teachers are creating assignments that embrace technology and allow students to interact with the media to learn in new ways. One way to incorporate new media into the classroom is through logical progression videos. This approach allows students to learn critical thinking skills while exploring a wide variety of subjects in a manner that is more enjoyable and engaging than text or still images.

Through logical progression videos, students are empowered by being able to exercise control over the outcomes of the stories. For instance, teachers can present videos that allow students to vote on the outcomes. Not only does this teach students there are multiple sides to a story, but it also provides them with an opportunity to interact with their peers. Gomez, Andersson and Chipperfield noted in a study that teaching with using video technology, ”...gives opportunities for peer learning and exchange in a ‘safe’ environment managed by the tutor.”  This has the potential to cause students to become more comfortable when interacting with each other in class, since  they will be more interested in working with their peers to determine the best outcome for the characters in the story than focusing on the mistakes made by others.

Better yet, the flexible nature of these videos means they can be catered to meet the learning styles of a variety of students. Even with the freedom of expression provided by logical progression videos, some high school students may still feel inhibited about speaking out when they are confused. In most cases it is likely the teacher will continue the lesson without knowing that a student is having problems. However this issue is avoided through the use of the logical progression videos, as students can learn at their own pace and thoroughly contemplate the material prior to progressing to the next level or step in the story. This is extremely beneficial for language students, since simply having the ability to repeat or stop the video if confounded (which is often not possible in an actual conversation) provides the student the opportunity to fully absorb the knowledge being imparted.

In order to most effectively utilize the logical progression video assignment, The Harvard Learning Objects Lab has suggested that the needs of the specific audience can be met by the customization of the video. Luckily, logical progression videos are inexpensive and simple to make. Either independently, in groups or with the help of their teachers, students can design stories that are shot with video cameras, then uploaded them to the Internet through YouTube. Depending on the format and direction of the video, students can create different outcomes and help determine the characters’ actions that can be illustrated in subsequent videos.

Ultimately, logical progression videos are engaging, entertaining and require very little expense to make. These benefits, coupled with the current genesis of computer-savvy learners, are good reasons to take advantage of today's technological breakthroughs in education. Through this use of modern technology, teachers are now able to foster a new generation of critical thinkers and impart knowledge that can last a lifetime. 


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After searching on YouTube I've only found one example of how logical progression style videos could be used with embedded links to create stories. The content of that video is inappropriate for my learners. I'm very keen to hear from anyone who has experimented with this idea. I intend to work with students at some point this year to create simple "create your own adventure" videos along the lines of the 1980's adventure books.


When I think of Logical Progression I'm taken back to memories of well thumbed books with simple scenarios that you had to decide your destiny by turning to a corresponding page number. 






Watch this space.


Thanks for Natalie for her inspiration

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