First try with Appsmashing

I don’t like textbooks very much, I must admit it.

And the moments I like them the least is when they present some passages about topics which seem to come out from nowhere and with words or references to topics that students cannot possibly know. So I have to invent some activities that  have to motivate students to read and have therefore to be engaging, but that have also to give them the knowledge they need to fully understand the text.

A couple of days ago I stumbled upon a Twitter hashtag which  led me to learn about appsmashing – #appsmash –  and since I was trying to find out a way to introduce a passage about Scotland, I used it at once.

Appsmashing is the combination of more apps in order to obtain a single product.

I thought it was the right solution for my problems and so I started using it on my iPad.

As I said, the passage we will read is about some aspects of Scotland. It mentions haggis, porridge and tartan without explaining what they exactly are and I am sure my students don’t know any of them.

scotland

 

So I thought of preparing a video for the students to use in a flipped classroom activity.

First I prepared a word cloud, using the first app of the process: Word Clouds

word cloudThen I used Google and Google Earth for images and next I started thinking about how to organize the video. I didn’t want just a video. I wanted a special one 🙂

I therefore used Tellagami in order to create a speaking avatar on a green background. The avatar had the task to explain the difficult terms. Next I used iMovie in order to create a video with all the images I had previously downloaded. Finally I used DoInk Green Screen to edit the video and put the avatar in the right background.

apps

 

 

And here is the result!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-_94mjKfJM

 

I know, I know, it is not perfect but I think it will be helpful anyway. And what’s more I think of the incredible potentialities of appsmashing above all when I ask the students to create their own presentations or videos! Can’t wait to see them!

 

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Three tools to introduce yourself

When you start working with a new class or on a new European project, the first steps are introductions. Students are eager to know who their partners are and also to tell them who they are, what they like and everything that helps create a relationship.

Sometimes this is quite boring, with students just repeating things, but with the right tools, this activity can turn into a joyful experience.

Let’s see how you can:

make students describe people using appropriate lexis and grammar

make students ask questions and make deductions

make students create a presentation with audio recording

 First of all the students  can create an avatar that represents themselves: this way you don’t need to use pictures of your students if you need to publish them on the web.

The avatar should show each of them and also give an idea of what they like.

Useful sites you can use to create avatars are:

http://www.southparkstudios.com/avatar

http://www.sp-studio.de/

http://www.bitstrips.com/create/avatar/

and here you can find further suggestions

http://mashable.com/2007/09/12/avatars/

Image

Instead of creating an avatar, students who are good at drawing can also draw a picture which represents themselves. You can then scan it or just take a picture of it in order to upload it on any site.

ImageOnce the avatar is ready, the students can create a word cloud which contains all words related to themselves. They can use wordle.net or tagxedo .com (web tools) or tagcloud-generator (tablets)

They exchange their avatars and wordclouds and must ask their partners questions to find out about them. You can also set a number of questions for each word:  

ex. Do you like cats? Have you got a cat? What’s its name …

In the end, each student is invited to prepare his/her partner’s presentation.

A tool which I really like for this type of activity is educreations  (both web and tablet tool).

Educreations is just like an interactive whiteboard where the students can upload the avatars and then describe their partners using the information they have got.

Students usually like this activity because they prepare funny avatars but they have also to think of appropriate words for the cloud, read what their partners write, make deductions, ask questions and speak in the presentation.

As a follow up activity, all the presentations could be shared (ex. uploaded on Edmodo) and the students could group them according to the likes or dislikes expressed in them in order to find out differences or similarities between themselves.

It is an activity which can easily be adapted to different levels of language knowledge.

 

 

the project

Here is the presentation of the project I have created with my partners during the learning lab. It has been interesting and quite easy, I must say. We have agreed on the theme, Christmas, since it seems a relevant one and we have worked on it using Google docs, which is a great tool for collaborative work. I will surely test it with my students, I can’t wait to do it actually!