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Posts Tagged ‘YouTube’

Probably the most dreaded activity for many students is oral presentations. Our school guidance counsellors have told me they get lots of visits from extremely anxious students around this time.

Providing supportive environments, a back up stool for shaky legs, making preparatory tasks fun, viewing inspirational speeches for motivation all help but for a core group of learners, none of this really works. You could argue that speeches are just one of those evil necessities (like going to the dentist) but where’s the engagement in that?!

And while we might be able to jolly our juniors along, for the Level 2 alternative English students I teach, opt out rates are high. Four credits up for grabs but if you’re terrified of public speaking and chasing reading and writing credits, it’s a no brainer.

I think for those students, a better selling point might be developing more relevant, accessible tasks. Broad topics like “adaptation”, “choices”, “courage” are simply not doing it for them.

As long as we can assess against the schedule – is it appropriate for the audience, does it contain conventions suitable for the type of presentation, is it crafted and controlled, are a range of speaking techniques used in the delivery – alternatives to persuasive formal speeches need to be offered.

  1. Small group seminars – a seminar is more interactive than a formal speech. It should contain some visuals, some direct engagement with the audience and be informative. With Level One students, I’ve used this activity and linked it to career planning. We started by completing the career quest survey online, whittled the job options down to three then one, carried out research and developed a seminar on a specific career/industry. There are clear links here to with the Vocational Standards on offer.
  2. How To presentations -Instructional clips are popular. From making loom bands to using a green screen, it’s likely that students have consulted YouTube at some stage so this is a genre they’re familiar with. Due to the lower levels of crafting involved, this is probably better suited to junior students. Here’s some links to clips some American students have created and presented on Smart Phone apps which range from 30 secs to two minutes. Students need to produce story boards, scripts and practise their delivery. Here’s the backgrounder with rationale explained in detail.
  3. Mihimihi – This is an introductory speech that shares whakapapa (genealogy, ancestral ties) and other relevant information. A mihi is presented in Te Reo. A few years ago, a junior student who was struggling to write a persuasive speech nailed this. He began presenting his mihi as per the conventions and then proceeded to unpack the relevance of each reference point to his identity. I still have the scrawly, hand written transcript.  A Level One student also chose this option and invited her whanau to school for the presentation. Again, it one of the best pieces of work she completed all year. Engaging, crafted and delivered with pride.This may just provide the deeper connection some students seek and also help them to draw strength from their whanau and whakapapa thus overcoming nerves.

Here’s a clip on making a visual mihi too:

There’s a few alternatives. I’d be keen to know what other people have tried as well.

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Following on from my previous post about engaging senior students struggling to connect with English, I thought I’d share some start up activities developed over the past few years which now form a nice wee package of introductory lessons.

Week One is important. You only get one chance to make a first impression. That first impression for any student is key but for young people who have already experienced consecutive years of Not Achieved (and however you dress that up, it’s never a great feeling), it is vital. Instead of weighing students down with course outlines and standards offered on day one, last year I decided to focus on The Future – for the world, for them as people, and for them as English students to encourage them to reflect on where they want to be and (hopefully) see some relevance in the days, weeks and months ahead because for Mr I Hate English and Ms I Never Read, by definition, this can be a very long year.

To start with, we watched a very cool compilation video summarising the highlights of 2014 via Upworthy. All they had to do was watch and see if they could yell out the event/person’s name before the subtitles. This year – and hey, it’s still early, the best one I’ve found so far is a summary via Facebook.

Fun Factor – check.

Taking it up a level we then close view The World in 2020 (I’ve also used Shift Happens in the past) and discuss ideas around changes in technology and education. Next I used a selection of articles from Mindfood on Future Trends which featured in December’s issue (and has been repeated this year). Students choose a topic that selects them (food, travel, technology) read one or more articles then answer a series of questions. The activity culminates with them pairing up with other students who read about the same topic, summarising and mind-mapping the predictions plus adding their own.

Big Picture – check.

Next I use a reflective piece of writing by a teacher simply titled Some Thoughts (on studying English) which a colleague shared with me years ago. I remind them (hopefully) about skimming and scanning as a close reading technique and then they read and answer questions.

Subject importance – check.

Now we’re up to about Day 3 so I get the students to complete the Careers Quest  (regardless of whether they have done it before or not) which involves answering questions about their likes, strengths etc. This data generates a list of career options as well as entry requirements for the industry, income, current employment climate and information they can use as the basis for a report writing or oral presentations later in the year. (Make sure they save their results so they can refer back later on – and write down password!)

Individual relevance – check.

At this point only, I give out the course outline and go over available standards and credits with them. It might feel as if I’ve created a false impression that the year is going to be all about YouTube and mind maps but what I’ve learned about these students is they already know they will find the standard required hard but what might motivate them to give things a go is if they can see some relevance and understand that we are working together to develop life skills.  Certainly beats writing letters about yourself ….

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Here’s the rest of my inventory for 2011 – not really exhaustive (although quite exhausting to read back over) but I’ll keep updating as I can…

Year 10 – mixed to high ability

  • Magazine production – students put into groups of five, editor assigned, content expectations outlined.  Editors assigned tasks based on what students had already completed in class and individual strengths.  Pre teaching of feature writing, content pages, visual and verbal features, cover design, language of advertising, target audience all formed part of this unit of work.  I also secured a class set of North and South Magazine’s November 2011 issue which enabled us to study a great feature article on Shirley Boys’ High Principal John Laurenson together. Final product created on publisher – they enjoyed this.
  • Apirana Taylor – before Apirana visited school we studied several of his poems together and spent a fair bit of time on the poem Parihaka. This included viewing the kinetic typography version as well as clips about the event
  • Poetry – test knowledge of poetic techniques and devices here.
  • Speeches – as an intro we watched Mel Gibson rallying the troops in Brave Heart, Robert De Niro’s moving If You Prick Us… speech from The Merchant of Venice (they studied the play too), Obama’s Yes We Can, MLK’s I have a Dream and this one: The Girl Who Silenced the UN
  • SlideShare – love this site for finding powerpoints to accompany lessons, found a good one on static images and another on some of the issues featured in the film Slumdog Millionaire – students picked an issue, researched the topic and wrote a report.  Lots of pre-teaching about authenticity of websites, citing information first.
  • Letter to Editor – yes they still do this (not sure how many read newspapers though). The video helped – I embedded it on my wiki so they could watch at home too.

Year 11 – literacy class

  • Powerpoint – as a task for 1.11, we watched the movie Boy. Students then created a powerpoint explaining 4 film techniques and linking them to a theme. I went here first with them as not all were sure about ppt. Some found the American accent a bit…hilarious/distracting.
  • Intro to Film Techniques – a colleague put me onto three NZ short films on YouTube.  Used these as a resources for film techniques.  Deconstructed one together, one in groups and one on their own.  Created a cloze version for some to complete.
  • Poetry – they loved Hone Tuwhare’s poems put to Kinetic typography – especially Drunk
  • Careers Quest in collaboration with the Careers Department, students completed the online survey, recorded answers in a booklet, researched their top options, went to discuss them with the Careers Advisor and then wrote and presented a small group seminar for 1.6.  This worked well because the lesser able students used the task to gain writing and speaking credits while the more able went on to complete 1.6.  Without expection all responded to the real life connections associated with this task – the WIIFM was obvious. Having said that, I ended up doing a lot of pre-teaching about minimum pay rates, tax rates, cost of living etc as they had no idea about such matters. A bit of an eye opener for us all!

Year 12 – mixed ability

  • Lord of the Flies – watched this clip about the holocaust as a rather sobering starter – tricky with German students in the class but led to some really good discussion about context and the author’s intention.
  • Poetry – watched background documentaries on Sam Hunt and Hone Tuwhare at www.nzonscreen.com to get a handle on who and what influenced these NZ poets.  Also prior to exams, we studied Denise Levertov’s What Were They Like? with the help of two very good online tutorials.
  • Macbeth – posted a range of sites on my wiki including close viewing key scenes, testing themselves at BBC Skillwise, and looking at modern translations of hard to “get” scenes.  Having English Period 5 on Friday is no excuse not to work – it is 25% of the year’s course after all. But I did choose a Friday class to let them have a go at presenting a scene from Macbeth using modern English or Shakespeare’s English using Pixton, an online comic strip creator. This is no longer free so I just set up a 30 day trial classroom. It took ages for everyone to log in and get sorted and we really needed more than one session but a couple of students created some really good strips.

Everyone and Anyone

As mentioned I used a class wiki throughout the year with varying degrees of success depending on the class the individual students . I also used survey monkey to ask each class 20 questions about their learning experience. You can create 10 questions free so I did mine in two lots and sent each student via their school account (although my Year 12s prefered to use their personal accounts) the hyperlinks. The results were really interesting – the wiki got some great comments while one student lamented the lack of greenery in my classroom, suggesting a Peace Lily could have aided his learning experience 🙂 Gotta love them.

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