Sunday, May 8, 2016

Spark Your Learning Via Comics

Picture Source: shutterstock

The internet provides language teachers and learners with numerous resources and materials by which teachers can create meaningful tasks and learners make their learning more attractive and fun. This availability makes it enable for us to reach another valuable source, MakeBeliefsComixfor creating stories in language learning/teaching process. Let me introduce this tool of which presentation is made by my two friends, Cansu and Elçin, in the classroom.

Makebeliefscomix is a website in which students can make their comics online. This free web-based tool aims to encourage learners to express themselves by creating comic strips through dialogues. The site has a database which offers fun animals, human characters, objects and scenes. All features of the website develop reading, writing and literacy of learners.Comic strips don't require long sentences or paragraphs to build a good story. Only a few words are needed to convey the feeling of the story. 
''Users can select from more than 175 fun human and animal characters with different moods -- happy, sad, angry, worried -- and write words for blank talk and thought balloons to make their characters talk and think. There also are story ideas and prompts to help users create graphic stories. ''  
  Makebeliefscomix is a good and easy path into practising the English language. It can develop students' creativity, help their form-focused grammar practise activities in which learners try to come up with stories by using newly learnt structures, encourage them to write dialogues on specific topics (bad habits, animal rights, global warming etc.) and create stories. 


The point is how to use MakeBeliefsComix in the classroom. How can teachers use the tool and integrate it in their teaching?

Some Ways To Use MakeBeliefsComix In The Classroom
  • At the beginning of a new school year, after they introduce the tool to the students and show an outcome created by themselves, teachers can have students create their own comic strip talking about themselves so that students can learn more about each other. Each student can select a cartoon character to represent her or him and write dialogues about their lives and introduce themselves to their friends. After they complete their strips, they can change these autobiographical comic strips with each other. This activity can also help teachers to know more about their students.
  • Students can practise newly learnt vocabulary words by using makebeliefscomix. Teachers can assign them to use new vocabulary words in each thought balloon and create a comic strip story. This activity can help students practise conversation and language structure in a meaningful context.
  • Teachers can also have students create a comic in which characters reflect on a particular problem for example bullying. Students can create scenes that includes dealing with a school bully or with a problem at home or with a friend. They can print their products and share them with the rest of the class. This activity can provide a way for students to think about and resolve such problems. By this way, teachers can prevent students create similar problems and raise their awareness beside improving their language skills.
The number of ways to use MakeBeliefsComix in teaching is limitless. I suggested some of them, you can find further examples on the internet. Some of teachers using the tool in their classroom share their experiences on various language teaching related websites. They offer very practical and utilizable activities by using MakeBeliefsComix. I suggest you to make use of such real life examples and customize them in your teaching process.

#1 Rated Site At Your Elbow

 Picture Source: mumfidential

Hi my strict followers of today's developing and changing world, it's been a long time! I am here to introduce a web tool presented by me and my fellow worker Gizem OKAN in the Technology and Materials Design course. Please welcome the most rated site for making stories, Storyjumper. Imagine that you want to make a difference in your learning or teaching process and benefit from technology for creating stories in the most correct way. Then let me introduce you to the Storyjumper, one of the most-used websites in education for creating illustrated storybooks.

Storyjumper is website in which students can read and buy, create and share animated digital stories. Very simple to use and encouraging for learners to become more engaged in language learning process! For step by step instructions on how to create a book you can check out a tutorial provided in the Help part of the site.You can also copy of someone else's book if it includes an 'edit' button and customize it anyway you like. For inspiration you can take a look at other books that Storyjumper members have written and search the Storyjumper library at the top of the page.When you are finished click the ''I'm finished'' button and your book will move to the ''Books I finished'' section. It's never too late because you can still edit your book whenever you want. Sharing your book with others is the most appealing part of StoryJumper.When you ''publish'' your book it will be added to the public library so long as it meets some minimum requirements.You can e-mail a link of your book to your friends and family, you can further embed it on other websites. You have print options; hardcover book, paperback book, digital download, plain printing with a watermark. As the site suggests; ''you can enjoy printing your own book for keepsakes, gifts or selling. ''

You figured out the steps and became able to use it for creating your own stories. So, how can teachers use it in language teaching? Let me suggest some ideas for it's use in that purpose.For example;students can become published authors. When you publish your book it will be added to the storyjumper library . Other members can then search for it and it could appear on your public profile that you can share with others. Teachers can give a short beginning to the story and create the first scene then they can assign learners to continue the digital story in line with the teachers. Then students can publish their stories,print them and bring their stories to the classroom. They can change their stories with each other make comments on the website. 


The website also provides teachers with a worksheet. It is used as a tool by teachers for teaching students the creative writing process and coach them in building 7 primary components of a story. Teachers can split the class into small groups and have them work on each step in teams and brainstorm ideas together. After each step, each group can share their results and teachers can have the class vote on which team's idea to use. When student's worksheets are ready they are ready to build their own stories on the website. Teachers can make each group create stories and share them with the rest of the class. So if you have 7 groups, you have 7 different digital stories made by the learners. Such activities can encourage students to be involved in learning and they can enjoy themselves when they feel that they are learning. 

*You can read my storybook made by Storyjumper below


Book titled 'The Donkey and The Little Dog'
Read this free book made on StoryJumper


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Embark With ''Memrise''

Let's board the ship for the best learning journey of your life. I will introduce a language learning app to you that can be installed and used on your mobile devices. Thanks to it's scientifically developed technology, this app enables you to have fun learning the language you're trying to pick up. What is the secret? Mems! They help to you learn a phrase or word in imaginative ways, they help you to memorize anything.

Memrise is a free flashcard style program whose focus is on memorization and repetition. It has high quality courses in more than 200 languages and you can learn 44 words in an hour. After you sign up, you come across a list of crowd-sourced courses. According to your choice, the app directs you to a series of activities. You’re given a word,it’s clear and concise definition, pronunciation, pictures related to the word meaning and possible contexts which contain the word. This part of the app is like you’re growing memories because you plant words in your memory then answer tests to grow them into flowers. 

  If you want to learn about some other topics and master on their terminology rather than languages, you can also find courses on such as arts,literature,maths,science etc. and related activities.

  Memrise makes the process entertaining, awarding you points and reputation as you learn and you can compete with other users as well,check your leaderbord rankings on all time basis.
   In the pro version of the app, you can learn more, enjoy greater variety and make %60 faster progress,actually. You can have unlimited access to all modes, insights and stats about your learning and personalised learning with custom difficult words and most importantly you can learn with videos of real native speaker’s people and enjoy the process more. 
    Personally, I prefer to be a pro Memrise user and my favourite aspect of the app is it’s provision of native speakers’ videos. I strongly recommend you to download the app, facilitate your learning process and be a pro user to benefit from broader opportunities the program provides if it is possible.

    You can find the app's review below ;

Picture Source: quertime

Monday, April 11, 2016

Be Ready; You Are The Teller Of Your Own Story


Bonjour everyone! You may not have met a storyteller thus far but you will hear the story of two storymakers very soon. Me and my fellow worker Gizem Okan have taken Digital Storytelling task this week and I want to share the process of our project in detail with you and make everyone benefit from this tiring yet entertaining experience. Let's take a look at how we proceeded ;

  • What is ''Digital Storytelling''
It is a relatively new term which refers to the interactive practice of ordinary people who use digital tools to tell their ''story''. Simply put, digital stories are multimedia movies that combine photographs, video, animation, sound, music, text and narrative voice.

  • How have we began and proceeded in the process of the task?
After we received the assignment, we decided to create a fictional story. For this specific task, first thing to do was developing 2-3 characters and create the setting, the sequence of events, conflict, climax and resolution. We tought over what kind of a story we were going to create then we wrote the script and created our storyboard. Animaker (an online animation maker program) filled the bill.
Before all of these, our recording was ready and we just brought all the stuff together by using Movie Maker. 

  • What kind of difficulties did we have during the process?
Actually, the task of creating a digital story is a challenging process all by itself. But there were some specific points in which we had great difficulty. Let me elaborate on some. Recording part took almost one and a half hour but it was much more easy than we had expected so I can say that it was like a surprise party for us, unexpected but pleasing. Because the script was mostly composed of dialogues and it was a must to keep the project shorter than 2 minutes, we had difficulty while creating the story. It always became prone to be a long story and we just dealed with keeping it short besides making an effective end. 

  • What kind of contributions the collaborative working made to the outcome?
 Union is strength! Collaboration made great contribution to our project. First, it facilitated the task and made us more aware of the available sources while searching for a practical animation maker program because we worked like two heads. Also, collaboration saved our time in no small measure. Creating a digital story already takes a long time but when we overcame the task together this aspect of the task stopped being a problem, it was no longer a problematic issue. When we work collaboratively, our anxiety level was low and the outcome was promising. As the saying goes; One hand washes the other and together they wash the face. 

  • How does creating a digital story contribute to the foreign language development of students?

The idea of creating a digital story with today's digital tools in education is spreading rapidly. Anybody today with a computer can create a digital story and teachers can integrate it to lessons and let their students to create their own stories and share them. It will facilitate classroom discussions and help students gain a better understanding of more abstract concepts.It will also stimulate students' higher level thinking. They will be able to give themselves a voice through expressing their ideas and thoughts. Such a work will also encourage them to communicate and collaborate and they will gain self confidence when they look at the outcome they create. It is inevitable that their other skills will also develop coupled with speaking and listening. Because this task involves writing a script and putting photographs into an order, it is much more than a simple interactive classroom activity.From this point of view, it should be one of the tools of every student who want to improve their language skills. If you, as a student, want to make difference in your second language learning process and go out of traditional methods to improve, digital storytelling is just for you. Make it snappy. 

You can watch the Digital Story below    


Friday, March 25, 2016

What Falls To Your Share From BBC?

Guess what came into my head while dealing with the question mark of the first question that has been following me since the latest post; What next? Your newsmonger is in charge once more! With this post that have just come out of my oven you will have a chance to achieve valuable information about an ELT website specifically designed for language learners of English.
I will evaluate the website considering your training requirement of learning English and give recommendations to teachers with some reasonable reasons.Interested?Follow me

 As part of the BBC World Service, BBC Learning English has been teaching English to global audiences and has been inspiring language learning since 1943, offering free audio, video and text materials to learners all around the world.

The team includes producers, writers and ELT specialists and you can have extensive knowledge about their qualifications and credentials in the section of ''Meet The Team'' with their profiles and you can meet the team, literally.
   There are three courses you can get with ease on the home page.These include; Intermediate, Upper-intermediate, Lower-intermediate.To set an example;
If you are studying English at intermediate level or thereabouts, you can get 30 units with 5 sessions in each unit.A new session is published everyday from Monday to Friday so every weekday you have new materials to study and enjoy. Each week new episodes of popular programmes like 6 Minute Grammar or 6 Minute Vocabulary, News Report, dramas, articles 
(available on Features section) as well as BBC original audio and videos are published by language experts for you to use interactively.In the Features section  there is also a video news product for higher level learners LingoHack which makes it possible for them to reach authentic BBC News every wednesday.Here also you will find Pronunciation,Drama,Words In The News sections.In the Pronunciation section, there are lots of activities and videos available to help you improve your pronunciation whatever your level is.In the Menu section, you can reach news, sport, weather and radio parts and you can take advantage of them by integrating them into your learning process. If you are using a desktop you can download audio mp3 files and pdf transcripts.

     The website is currently BETA which means they are still developing it. They will add new materials and features over the next few years.So it's planned to create extra full and short courses at all levels of English.

     BBC Learning English website aims to guide you through your journey of learning English with it's interactive tools as mentioned above so that unit by unit and session by session, you will be able to improve your grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and comprehension of written and spoken English. It provides multimedia English language teaching materials to meet learner needs. All courses are designed to work on mobiles, computers and tablets, wherever you are you will be able to enjoy studying English.
    There is not a date which shows when the site has last been updated but I rely on it's currency and up-to-dateness. Based on my observations, neither I doubted about the accuracy of the information nor came across any errors or broken links. Such instances are not likely to occur at a website of such a professional company as BBC, anyway.

   The site does not only make an education-based accompaniment for you through your learning journey it also appeals the target audience with it's high quality images and give the message to the target audience that they are taken seriously and respected. All images serve their purposes and catch learner's attention right from the beginning of new experiences with available courses and materials.

       This BBC site is one of the limited in number websites for me to recommend to all the ESL/EFL teachers and preservice teachers.No doubt that it will be a valuable web source and a technological tool for goal-oriented teachers and students to make use of. Because the content is media rich and the site presents authentic, up-to-date, real English needed for learners' development in learning English.
The site can be integrated in EFL teaching easily thanks to it broad sections of learning materials. Each component of the course can be studied on its own and this means the learner can choose the best way to study them by following a full course or individual materials which they see appropriate for their learning process. Teachers can set the sections of courses as homework assignment by deciding the right level of their learners and contribute their development with materials and available interactive tools. They can also make learners follow News Report and give written assignments, ask learners to make a summary of what they've seen or teachers can make learners follow the radio program and make a brief summary of what they've heard and caught from the native speakers' conversations. Also,teachers can lead students to use ''Drama'' section and want them to display one of the episodes in the classroom setting.Actually there is no limit for taking advantage of such a valuable and up-to-date website of learning English. It's up to you, creative original innovator EFL teachers and preservice ELT students !


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Reading Feeds With One Click

   Hey! If you spare much time online to check latest posts of blogs and websites you follow, it's likely that you are not familiar with RSS(Really Simple Syndication) feedreader as a way keeping up all the stuff. But what exactly is this technology? It is developed as a format to make it possible for users to view frequently changing content of websites. Instead of having to search each individual website and see if there is any new content, contents come to you in one centralized place. By using a RSS reader you can easily scan through each article and decide which ones are worth reading.
   A variety of RSS Readers are available and I use an online reader service, FeedReader. I just write the websites' names and add their RSS feed to the list of feeds the feedreader checks. As I regularly use the web it makes it possible for me to stay informed about latest content of the sites I am interested in, which saves my time. 

  My favourite blog that I also recommend to all ESL/EFL teachers and preservice teachers is Nik's Learning Technology Blog   
  Nik's Learning Technology Blog was created by Nik Peachey, a learning technology consultant and teacher trainer. It is one of the most useful blogs for educational technologies. It encourages educators and students to use web tools and technology in language learning classrooms and raise their awareness about educational resources. The blog contains various teaching materials, tips, tools and resources that teachers can utilize. They can find information on teaching English by using picture phrases, videos, animated vocabulary and much more. Peachey provides visitors with flexible tools to create online learning, explains what he likes about them and how to use them with students(create multimedia posters, combine lectures with visual notes, create interactive animated work sheets...) The blog suggests apps and activities to make lectures and lessons more enjoyable. 
  Teachers should follow Nik's Learning Technology Blog if they want to increase learner involvement and  reach ideas on how to integrate technology in classrooms. On the ''Free Downloads'' page, it is possible to download some of the articles and documents free of charge. They help teachers teach themselves to use technology and provides tutorials on how to use different web tools. It will be fun to explore Nik's ELT world. Take a look. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

What's In The Frame and What's Out?

  You are on the point of watching a movie with your buddy and make your popcorn ball ready but somehow can't decide what to watch? What took you guys so long?
  My up-to-date project that was conducted with my coworker Gizem Okan aims to provide you with a film review on Wiki and gladden our audience with this new experience.
   Movie review is actually giving judgement about a certain movie without spoiling the end part of the story.In this sense, Wiki enabled us to collaborate in forming and editing the content of a website freely.
  This week's task was literally entertainment for us all by itself. First both of us watched the film 'Stoker' then put our heads together. What's good and what's bad? Actually, the thing that shines out in this week's task is collaboration. Learning is something students ''do'' with the cooperation of one another, it is not something students get as passive receivers of a process. We watched the film, formulated our ideas, came to conclusions and created a useful review for the sake of you. But it was much more than an assignment, Since it made it possible to eliminate the monotony and obviousness of an ordinary writing task. If you want to read the review, you can click here 

   As an experiencer of Wiki, it's up to me to say that integrating these services into classrooms will bring benefits more than meets the eye. It can encourage students for collaborative learning and interaction among the users. They are effective tools to convey information within a classroom. By this way students become online organizers and creative presenters. The most important feature of a wiki is that information should be easily accesible. Students will search the information and quickly find answers.