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!

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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…

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Teacher Tuesday: Biography cubes

Biography cubes lesson idea
Completed biography cubes.

An excellent activity for any classes studying within the topic Talking about other people which seems to crop up in any TEFL textbook I have had thrust on me.  I have used this lesson multiple times with various classes and it has always been really successful.

Students choose their favourite celebrity and complete a worksheet with five basic sections;

What is his/her name?  Where was he/she born?

What does he/she look like?

What is his/her personality like?

What are his/her likes and dislikes?

Write three sentences about your chosen celebrity.

The sixth section requires a printed photograph of the celebrity.  Six sections = 1 section for each side of the biography cube you will be making!

If you have internet access this can be completed in class, but I preferred to do an example on the board and set it for homework.

Once the worksheet is completed and the students have a photograph, use the cube template and write the information from the sections on the cube (1 section = 1 side), sticking the photograph on the sixth side.

Et voilas!  Biography cubes!  I like to hang them from the back of the classroom (to show them off and also to stop them getting damaged).

The concept of using a 3D paper cube to display work can easily be adapted to fit within plenty of topics; it’s a nice creative way to explore an otherwise dry subject.  Have a go yourself and let me know all about it in the comments below.

This is part of a weekly feature on the Cornish Kylie blog.  If you have a lesson idea you would like to share, please get in touch!

 

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.

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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: Picture dictation listening activity

Teaching English typically falls into one of four categories; reading, writing, speaking and listening.  Often, the listening aspect can be overlooked or be reduced to the poor effort of pressing play on the cassette that came with the twenty year old workbook your school provides you with, (if you are lucky enough to be provided with anything, decades old or not!).

Listening doesn’t have to mean a silent class listening to an unnatural conversation carried out by actors with questionable pronunciation, it can be interactive and fun if you look outside of the realm of role play and rote Q & As.

Here is an incredibly simple listening activity that can be carried out with very little preparation – the good old dictation.

Traditionally, a dictation would require the class to sit in silence listening to the teacher reading a passage and writing word for word what they hear.  Not fun.

In this activity, the teacher reads a passage but instead of writing what they hear, the students have to draw it.

Either in groups or individually, students have to engage their ears and utilise their listening skills without getting bogged down in worries about spelling or grammar – this is a listening activity after all, not writing.

There are some variations for how you can carry this out depending on the ability of the class and how challenging you want to make it;

  • teacher reads the passage and students can only listen
  • teacher reads the passage and students can make notes
  • teacher reads the passage multiple times including part way through the drawing process
  • teacher reads the passage once and students can come and ask questions to clarify specific details
  • teacher reads the passage and gives a copy to students
  • teacher reads the passage and shows it on the projector/writes it on the whiteboard

Below is an example passage that I have used in my classroom.  You can of course use your own words, taking into consideration the previous learning you have done with your class, or perhaps a descriptive piece of writing from a book.  The important factor is that there are specific details that can be checked off afterwards.

It is a hot summer day and the sun is high up in the sky.  A few white fluffy clouds sit in the bright blue sky and three birds are flying.  The sea is sparkling in the sunlight and the beach is looking beautiful.  A family is sitting on the beach; mum is sat in the shade of an umbrella reading a book, dad is making sandcastles with the daughter and the son is standing in the sea, feeling the cool water on his feet.  A crab is close to him and he can see fish in the sea.  Everyone is happy and having fun.  Two palm trees stand tall, one on the left, one on the right.  On the right, four monkeys play in the tree, throwing coconuts down below.

I’m a big fan of (healthy) competition in the classroom, so I always do this with small groups of students, each group with a  piece of A3 paper.  I encourage students to take different roles, with less artistically inclined students responsible for reading the passage or asking the teacher questions (depending on how you run the activity) and checking off particular details.  The artists in the group will go to town creating wonderful pictures that you can then keep to display around the classroom.

After a set amount of time, I like to get groups up one by one to show their work and as a class we go through the passage and check off each detail.  The group whose picture has the most correct details, wins!

Further variations and extensions of this activity include;

  • students write passages to read to each other
  • matching descriptive passages to pictures
  • students look at a picture and write a passage describing it

Even if you don’t specifically teach listening as a subject, it is an aspect of English teaching that is often overlooked.  Needing so little preparation other than having a piece of writing to hand (you could even write one on the spot if you were caught out) this activity is perfect to insert into any lesson as a warm up, filler or just a bit of creative fun.  Why not try it yourself and let me know how it goes?

This is part of a 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.  

 

Teacher Tuesday: Following instructions FUN activity

One thing that I have stumbled across time and time again is that people rarely read instructions properly. (Note I said ‘people’ – this certainly isn’t limited to students…). With multiple tests throughout the year it is important for students to learn this skill and how important it is and this activity is perfect for doing just that.

I first came across something similar to this on a training course. It’s a bit of a trick but mostly a way of highlighting how so few of us actually read instructions fully and completely. Let me tell you, out of a group of twenty adults, we all fell for it.

There are many versions of this activity on the internet but this is one that I put together with language that I knew my students would understand.

The key with this activity is to not say too much. Hand out the worksheet (I have included a link to the PDF file at the bottom of the page) and simply say that students have to follow the instructions written on the paper, then sit back and see if any of them actually do that.

Read on to see the instructions that students have to follow:

Please read all of the instructions before doing anything, you are allowed 10 minutes to complete this task.  There is a prize for the student that fully completes this task.

  1. Find a pen and paper.
  2. Write your name at the top of the paper.
  3. Write the numbers 1 to 5 in a line with 1 at the top and 5 at the bottom.
  4. Draw five small circles next to number 1.
  5. Put an “X” in the 2nd and 4th circles next to number 1.
  6. Write the word ‘encyclopedia’ next to number 3.
  7. On the back of the paper multiply 7 x 9.
  8. Put an X at the bottom of the paper.
  9. Draw a circle around the X.
  10. Underline your name.
  11. Say your name out loud.
  12. Draw a circle around number 4.
  13. Count the number of words in this sentence and write the answer next to number 2 on your paper.
  14. Put a square around number 1 and number 5.
  15. Draw 3 small flowers anywhere on the paper.
  16. Write your first name next to number 4.
  17. Write today’s date next to number 5 on your paper.
  18. Circle every letter ‘e’ you have written.
  19. Stand up and say ‘I HAVE FINISHED’ out loud, then sit down.
  20. Now that you read all of the instructions, only do number one and two! If you have followed the instructions correctly, you should only have your name on the paper!

Did you figure out what the trick is? The instructions clearly state that participants are to read all instructions before doing anything. If the students actually do that then they will of course read the final instruction that states that they only need to do the first and second instructions and nothing more. In reality what happens is that most, if not all, will do each and every instruction as they read it. It’s funny to watch as they all work their way through the different instructions and even funnier when it gets to the end and you have the pleasure of telling them what they should have done!

If you have any switched on students who appear to have not been fooled, try your best to make sure they don’t give it away to the rest of the class – no one likes a smarty pants.

Click here to download a PDF of this activity.

Why not have a go at this in your classroom?  You don’t have to be studying instructions specifically, this works as a fun warm up regardless.

This is part of a 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.