Monday, 19 May 2014

2nd Language on a Tablet

Over the last few weeks I have been asked, by a few teachers at school, to help them plan second language lessons using a tablet.

Ideally a tablet or computer should not be the focus of a lesson plan but rather an aid to the completion of a task. I, therefore, asked the teachers what topics they were planning on covering and the time-frame (in terms of lesson time) we had to cover the topic.

In collaboration with the teachers, and taking the content and time-frame into account here are some of the idea's we came up with:

1) Comic to written work

From           to      

App Smashing is the new thing! So using this as an idea step one will be to get the students to create a photo comic book. In this comic (which they are allowed to create in their first language) the students will have to act out a story and photograph the action. Then they add the dialogue in the form of speech bubbles and captions.

Once the dialogue is complete it will be translated into the second language using Google Translate (As pointed out by another teacher, it is not always advisable to translate whole sentences, rather use translation apps to translate words. Thanks, Nicole!) and everyday dictionaries. This should allow the students to relate new second language words to their first language context.

In step 2 the completed comic will then be published and used as the basis for a written dialogue:

Ben: "Hello!"
Fred: "Hello, how are you?"

During this part of the project the teachers will focus on using and correcting punctuation and grammar in the second language. They will discuss similarities and differences between punctuation and grammar in the first and second languages and the students will, hopefully, start to understand proper punctuation and grammar usage in the second language.

Once the dialogue is complete the student will have 2 pieces of work that are the same content in different formats.

Step 3 will use both of these in aiding a 'formal' piece of written work in the form of a descriptive essay. The comic will be used to aid the student in describing the scenes (using the pictures the students themselves created) and the dialogue will be fitted in at the appropriate places in the story. This can be done in first language and translated but ideally the previous 2 steps should have the students ready to write in their second language.

This process is expected to take 4-5 hours and comprises 3 formative assessments, later on the students will write a story independently for a summative assessment.

2) A story in 3 tweets

This can be done on or offline, on twitter or not but the idea remains the same. Students have 3 tweets to tell a story (140 characters if offline) and must compose a beginning, a middle and an ending to their story.

This should be helpful to students who are just starting the second language writing journey as it allows them to be very specific and concise.

3) Class story in tweets


This exercise needs an online environment via a back-channel app such as todaysmeet or twitter. If you are using twitter please remember a hashtag, and check to see that it isn't being used elsewhere!

Working together each class member contributes 1 'tweet' to a class story. The teacher then uses storify for twitter or copy and paste for todaysmeet and other similar sites and then publish the results as a story.

I will add to this post as we try new things, feel free to share some of your idea's with me or let me know if you try any of these in class. I would love to know how it went!!