Saturday, 30 April 2011

City vocabulary mindmapped with BUBBL

I had to find an attractive way to present city vocabulary to my younger students and I remembered bubbl which I had used a while ago, then forgotten. I had not been particularly excited about it and I thought it was rather limited regarding the formatting of the mind map. I still think so. And I am disappointed that it loses its elasticity when it is embedded. But it serves well for showing the colourful word clusters on the big screen.

I have also used it with my older students and I recall they really enjoyed playing with the tool because once they put something in it, it came alive in front of their eyes. They used to drag the bubbles around and watch them spring back, and I assume it was just another toy for them. Which it certainly is.

Here is what I made for my lesson.
Link to the mind map

Monday, 25 April 2011

Two great websites about London and Britain

I have come across a couple of websites which in my opinion are very useful for getting fresh and plentiful information about the latest events in London and Britain.

One of the sites is Visit Britain Super Blog. Written by a large team of experienced and talented travel writers, journalists, photographers and life-long travellers, the blog shares rich information, reviews, suggestions and impressions.

The blog abounds in information about the culture and heritage of Britain, places where you can eat and drink, things that you can see and do and of course there is now a special section about the Royal Wedding.
I have enjoyed reading the blog and been extremely grateful to the authors for their numerous fascinating posts, among others Britain's beautiful bridges which I used with my students.

Another blog I have favourited is 3 Days in London which is a story of love for London written by an author who is not native to the city.

The blog gives answers to What/ Who/ Where is London, describes brief history of London, reviews attractions, architecture, landmarks of London, and of course there is a post about the Royal Wedding (looks like it is a must-post these days which no blogger can ignore).

Both blogs are of great help to the teachers who need resources for the lessons about Britain, its culture and modern life.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Exploring the possibilities of Storybird

Finally I've got to making my first story on Storybird which I had been planning to do for a while. Easter break gave me this chance and I did not get disappointed. Working on the story got my creative juices flowing and though I realized I can hardly be an author who writes perfect stories in English, I managed to build my first tale. Here it is.

A night in the city on Storybird

What I like on Storybird is the amazing, fantastic and awesome artwork offered to the writers. The pictures are varied in colour, theme, characters, atmosphere, style etc. I went through tons of images and loved so many of them that my initial problem was to choose the most attractive ones for my first story.

But, as I was trying to decide on which pictures I would be going to use, I realized that it is not us who decide on the idea of the story but the pictures which lead us where they want, and we just have to follow them.

For a story you get an assortment of pictures and you can choose only from them, no possibility of adding images from another bunch or replacing them. It may be considered a drawback if you do not like any restrictions but such are the conditions on Storybird - take it or leave it.

If you are going to use Storybird with your students, they will probably be grateful that they are offered a ready-made set of pictures which certainly makes it easier to decide on what to use. You may start with a very short story, no longer than 2-3 pages to show the students the way it is done and get the knack of digital storytelling. I am sure they will take to it eventually and create original, witty and sparkling stories.

Meanwhile, I have composed another story, and while I am now waiting for it to be approved by the site administrators, I am asking myself - has Storybird got me enchanted?

April 27. Here is my second Storybird - The cat who flew to the moon.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Developing writing with monthly journals

image by gregoryhogan
Time to share one of my favourite writing practice tasks.

I have been using this type of tasks with my students for many years and it has always proved to be successful. Students have always given positive feedback and even those who usually don't feel like writing anything at all, eventually hand in their product and eagerly wait for the grade. They admit it is a challenging task but it might also be one of the reasons why they like it.

What is it? It is a monthly journal with a short task for each day of the month.

I put the daily tasks in the table which represents one calendar month, week by week, day by day. This particular task was created for December 2008 when the 1st day was Monday.

The students are asked to write a short paragraph, an opinion, a list of words, a definition etc - one entry per day.
They are encouraged to use dictionaries and encyclopedias, eg Wikipedia or any other. The tasks require browsing reference and looking for information. I allow the students to draw pictures or colour the pages if they want.

I create a grading scale depending on the total number of points I am going to give. Usually it is 3-5 points per entry. Each teacher can devise his/her own marking scale.

Here is the worksheet to download but you will no doubt create your own, if only because of the dates.
Though this task is more suitable for students whose English is a foreign language, I am sure a modified task can work well with other students too.
The teacher needs to adjust the difficulty of each (daily) task depending on the students' level.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

More presentations on creative writing

Following my presentation on writing mini sagas, here are two more presentations giving quick tips for writing diamond poems or diamantes and limericks.

A diamante is a seven line poem, shaped like a diamond, hence the name. It is perfect for revising adjectives, participles or gerunds.
To learn more, see my presentation.

Limericks are short poems of vague origin but the name most obviously has been borrowed from the Irish town of Limerick which is why limericks are often associated with Ireland.

This presentation gives examples and suggestions how to write a limerick.

All these forms of creative writing - mini sagas, diamond poems and limericks - are suitable for developing students' creativity, imagination and thinking skills. They work well with students of all ages.