Inside my Classroom: Take This Lollipop – creepy internet safety resource

take this lollypop

Take This Lollipop is an online interactive film that has been around since 2010 and I have used it time and time again both back in the UK in a youth work setting, and in my ESL teaching here in Thailand.

Once of the units I needed to cover with one of my classes last year was Internet Safety – an important topic to explore with young people – and I used Take This Lollipop as a way of introducing the concept of privacy and protection on the internet.

The way it works is that someone has to log in using their facebook on the homescreen at takethislollipop.com – remember, this resource was created to highlight the importance of protecting your information on the internet so they don’t save any of the log in details once the activity is complete.

Once logged in, the film starts.  We see a creepy man sat at a computer surfing the net.  He starts checking out facebook and hey, who’s that?  It’s the profile of whoever logged in at the beginning.  He starts ‘facebook stalking’ the profile and starts behaving quite disturbingly.  Photographs of the facebook user and their friends start to show up – it really freaks out the students to see this horrible man looking at pictures of them.

Depending on how much information the facebook user has on their profile, the creepy man looks up their address and used google maps to see the street.  If the student hasn’t listed an address it will only zoom into their hometown – but if they have written their whole address on their profile it will zoom right in on their street.

The film ends as the creepy guy drives off in his car with the facebook users’ profile picture taped to the dashboard.

This interactive online film is excellent for starting discussion on internet safety, information protection and privacy.  It also helps to highlight how important it is that we think about how much personal information we choose to share on social networking sites.

Have a go at home with your own facebook first and see how much it freaks you out!

……………………………….

Those of you who have liked the facebook page will already be aware that I have put Teacher Tuesday to bed – it was just too limiting only being a Tuesday kinda thing.  Inside my classroom will have exactly the same content of lesson ideas, inspirations and useful links, only now I can share things with you any day of the week.  Tuesdays just weren’t working for me anymore, it’s nothing personal…

Advertisements

Teacher Tuesday: ReBeats NEW online learning resource

rebeats 4

ReBeats is an online game that aims to improve English language learning through listening to music.  Using a simple fill in the gaps format, users watch a music video and select the correct word from two options to complete the lyrics of the song.

Scores are awarded for choosing correctly, speed and streaks of correct answers.  Users can then enter a leader board or send a challenge to a friend’s email address.

At the moment the website is still in its early stages of development and they are asking for feedback.  I decided to give the website a test run, looking at its potential as a fun resource to be used in the classroom with students.

rebeats screen shot
Screenshot from ReBeats.tv

The website is very simple with minimal instructions but it all becomes self explanatory very quickly.  You have the choice of using the mouse of the left/right buttons on the keyboard to choose the correct word.  The latter is a lot quicker.  I would like to try it out on an interactive whiteboard, with students taking it in turn to be in control of the ‘magic’ pen (watch this space).  Students left to watch can shout out suggestions or sing along, karaoke style.  I would be singing regardless.

One missing feature that I immediately picked up on is that you are unable to select the song.  They are currently randomly generated, meaning that you don’t know if Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball video might pop up next to your class of 9 year old girls, or if the vocabulary in the next song might be too easy/hard for the group.  A representative from ReBeats has assured me that this is all due to the site still being in development and hinted at song choice and making your own playlists as developments in the near future.  An even bigger improvement could be to rank songs from easy through to hard, based on the language used.

The word choices offered give a good range of easily confused words, homophones (words that sound the same but have different meanings/spellings), context specific choices and basic grammar rules.  Sometimes either word could be correct, requiring students to use their listening skills.  There is only one word missing for every few lines of the song and if a song is particularly high tempo or the class are struggling to choose the correct word there is the option to pause the video and go through the sentence with the students.

At the end of each game, points, accuracy percentage and reaction times are displayed, with the option to add this to a leader board or challenge a friend via email.  My students love competition so the fact that there are points and rankings is very important when trying to keep them engaged.

rebeats 2
End of game points review.

Also, once a song is completed you have the option to review all of the lyrics with the correct answers revealed.  This could be a great time to discuss why certain words wouldn’t work in certain sentences and to review any incorrect answers made.

rebeats 3
You can review incorrect answers at the end of each game.

During the time that I played, I had songs from artists ranging from Kings of Leon, Queen and Avril Lavigne to Olly Murs, Adele and Lana Del Rey.  Most of the songs are current and ‘cool’ enough to keep my students happy.

Overall I think it’s a good resource to use in the classroom as a bit of fun at the end of the lesson.  Personally I don’t think this is a tool for serious language learning, although the team at ReBeats are promoting it as a potential resource for making real improvements in English language learning.  The site has a slick, app-like appearance and is  ad free.  As it’s currently in the beta stages of development, expect further feature and game play developments to appear in the not too distant future.  I will definitely be checking back to see what improvements are made as they receive feedback.

……

All reviews on this blog are my personal and honest review.  ReBeats is a product from Tonguesten, an education technology start-up based in London and currently incubated by Wayra UK and UnLtd.  I did not receive any payment, monetary or otherwise, to write this review.  If you have a product you would like me to review please get in touch – info@cornishkylie.com .

Teacher Tuesday: Food in Britain video lesson

There is a whole range of ‘… in Britain’ videos on YouTube that, although a little dated, are perfect for use in the ESL classroom.  I found that the level of language was perfect for my students, and the options for what you can do with the videos is endless.  Most of them are subtitled too which really helps the students to follow.

In this particular video, Food in Britain, we are taken on a culinary tour of traditional British food.  The students found it really interesting and it generated a lot of questions.

-Food in Britain-

What I have done with this video in particular is play it to the students and follow it up with a video comprehension.  This can be either written or oral.  Below is a list of questions that I have used alongside this particular video:

1)       What can be delivered to people’s houses in the morning?

2)       What is the morning meal called?

3)       What is in a traditional English breakfast?

4)       What do people eat for lunch?

5)       Where do most people buy their food from?

6)       How do you cook convenience food?

7)       What is the evening meal called?

8)       What other types of food can be eaten in restaurants?

9)       What don’t vegetarians eat?

10)       What traditional food is eaten with chips?

Other extension activities that could be done include;

  • looking at similarities and differences between British food and food from your students’ country
  • discussing how the food looks and tastes
  • creating a favourite foods survey
  • creating a video, piece of writing or presentation on local food
  • looking at recipes or even trying to cook!

This is part of a new weekly feature – Teacher Tuesday – make sure you come back next week for another lesson idea.  If you have an idea to share as part of Teacher Tuesday feel free to get in touch 

 

In my classroom: prepositions of place video

Last year I was teaching prepositions of place to my M1 (first year of high school) students and I was looking for something more interesting than the pictures of a rabbit and a box that feature heavily in the Google search results within the topic.

The students already had a good grasp of prepositions by this point so this video was just a little bit of fun that they were able to enjoy because of their newly found understanding – I was a proud teacher indeed when the students were laughing at the correct points!

In my classroom: January monthly roundup

I’ve decided to do a monthly roundup each month (funnily enough…) of what I’ve been doing in the various classes I teach at school.  For those of you reading this thinking about making the move to teach abroad, this might give you a fair idea of an average teaching gig in a government school in Thailand.

January 2014

With a combination of protests, national holidays and school activities, I didn’t manage to teach a full 5-day week at school the entire month (hey, TIT – This is Thailand – what do we expect?!) so I didn’t manage to cover absolutely everything with every class.  My poor classes I teach on Friday probably won’t recognise me the next time I walk into class!

English Communication (M1)

Our first topic for the year is ‘Jobs and places of work’.  Luckily for me I’ve been at school for a full academic year now so I’ve taught this before.  In fact, it was the first topic I had to teach when I first started at school, which feels like an actual age ago.  With a solid year teaching at the same school/level and a new partner teacher (at my school, many subjects are split between two teachers who plan lessons together) I have scrapped much of what I did last year.  Last year we did what we were told (we were new!) and used the textbook – this year I’ve got the confidence (and common sense) to cast aside the text book and go with what I know in my own head instead.  Wow, confidence in one’s own head – I have come so far.

With my regular classes (AKA, not special, not paying, not receiving AC, clean classrooms or any classroom facilities beyond a whiteboard and maybe a board rubber) I have been looking at these questions;

What is his/her job?  What is your mother/father’s job?

Where does he/she work?

…. that’s it.

Doesn’t look like a lot, right?

Well, with a combination of all those days off I already mentioned PLUS having to carry out midterm re-tests in class time (again, TIT – we re-test until students pass) there really wasn’t much time for anything else.

We chose some simple jobs rather than those suggested by the helpful textbook as in my opinion it’s more relevant to know the words for say, chef or mechanic than astronomer, engineer or philosopher.  Let’s learn to crawl before we attempt any upright travel.

I used flashcards (printed in colour – a landmark moment in my time at this school) created using clip art from an artist whose images I seem to recognise from my time as a student – Philip Martin.  His website is full of royalty free images covering an endless amount of topics.  I think it’s always nice to have a set of flashcards that match rather than a mash up of images stolen from Google.

As I started teaching it transpired that the students had touched on this topic before with their Thai English language teacher, so they picked it up nice and quickly, and new some of the words already.  One day there will be communication between the Thai teachers and the farang teachers but until then it’s nice surprises like this that remind me that someone else actually does teach these kids English aside from myself (although it often feels like I am on a one-woman mission).

I printed out some time filler worksheets that can be found here for the quicker students, keeping them occupied and increasing their vocabulary knowledge in the topic, and avoiding them getting bored and disrupting the other students.  I have learnt to be prepared!

With the special classes (AKA pay a load of money, less students in the class, nice facilities, more lessons…) I also looked at combining different jobs with personal qualities e.g A fireman should be brave… A doctor should be caring… but apparently most of my students believe that you should be beautiful to be any job.  Maybe that’s the case in Thailand.  Hey, I’m employed so I’m not complaining.

English Writing (M1)

I also teach additional writing classes to some of my ‘special’ communication classes, so I decided to use some common sense and expand on the topic of ‘Jobs’ by looking at writing a short piece using the future tense – What I want to be when I am older.

The students should be giving in their completed final copies (beautifully illustrated of course) this week so watch this space for some pictures of their work.  One thing I can say is that the majority of Thai students love to create beautiful work especially if there is a chance that it may be included in this month’s display (I have commandeered two display boards in the corridor to display some of my student’s best work).

What were the most popular jobs for the next generation of Thailand’s workforce?  For girls – air hostess or tour guide, for boys – policeman or… policeman.  I also had an astronaut – perhaps she will settle for air hostess like her peers.  I don’t think Thailand have a space exploration programme just yet.  But who am I to crush the dreams of aspirational twelve year olds?

English Writing (IP2)

I also teach writing to the Matthayom 2 students on the International Programme; all three of them.  Actually, because of their high status as IP students, they are often caled on to represent the school at competitions and events, so there are often only two students in class, and twice this month only one – I guess it was like a free private lesson.

These students are a little bit older and a lot more advanced.  In fact, one of them is near-on fluent.

Throughout January I only saw them four times as a whole group (or trio – can three students really be called a group?) so we didn’t cover much.  We looked at first and third person narratives in preparation for their upcoming writing assignments which will be to write both a personal and fictional narrative.

I used this worksheet; English Writing – The Narrator that I created using different things I found on the interweb, feel free to use it too.  I actually found that once the students had figured out that there is a similar rule to narrative writing in the Thai language, they totally got this, so we were able to extend discussions away from which pronoun I should use where to the pro’s and con’s of each narrative and the difference changing perspectives can make.  Pretty deep for the Thai classroom.

English Reading and Writing (MEP 2)

Some students are taught reading and writing separately, some a taught it combined… who knows why.  I teach the combined subject to the Mini English Programme 2nd years who I have taught since day one.

I have a pretty good workbook (praise the resource gods) that I actually use for this subject and so the unit for this month was ‘Film reviews’ – an excuse to watch some of the best scenes from Jurassic Park and for me to hijack the lessons and basically teach media studies (my favourite subject as a student).

We looked at the different aspects of a film review, the difference between fact and opinion and some key words that were specific to the topic such as director, special effects, setting, characters, plot… it was really good fun and again, hopefully next week I should have some pictures of some film reviews created by the students.

And we watched this, the greatest movie scene from my childhood;

English Club

Every Wednesday afternoon we have to run a range of English clubs and I am on the team of the singing club which is basically an excuse for me to bang out some karaoke for an hour.

We only met properly once this month and our song was Katty Perry’s ‘Roar’ which has super easy lyrics and is really fun to sing (or, in most cases, SHOUT).

Plans for February

On Friday we were informed that again, we will be having classes cancelled throughout the month.  This time around they have arranges this in advance (hurrah!) and so we are at least aware that our time is limited – so much so that during the next month we will only have 15 days of actual teaching.  As February is the final month before exams and the end of the academic year, this means that there are only 15 actual teaching days left this academic year!  I had had plans of making a school newspaper (now on the back burner) alongside some other things that simply won’t be achievable in the time frame – some of my classes I am only going to teach another three times before their final exams.

Rather than cramming in a month’s worth of teaching into two weeks, I’m probably going to spend the month enabling the students to produce some work using the language that we’ve covered the entire year.  It will be nice to have the time to do it properly rather than tacking it on at the end of each unit.  Usually my school expect a unit per month so it’s nice that they have actually said we don’t have to squeeze one into a few weeks.

Apologies if this has been a bit long, and thanks if you perservered and made it this far!  At least next month’s round up will likely be very short!

As a reward for reading right through to the end, here is a funny cat picture, because we all love the cat lols.