Interactive whiteboard links

Some of the links that I provided on the handout in the workshop I gave today on using the interactive whiteboard (IWB)…

ELT publishers are starting to produce digital versions of their coursebooks (for use with or without an IWB). Two examples:

There are numerous sites where you download things for use on the IWB:

It could be that if you doing CLIL, such things might be ideal; but, as I suggested — believing as I do in a "materials-light" Dogme approach to language teaching — I really have my serious doubts about such sites.

You've heard of Death by PowerPoint…? Take a materials-heavy approach to using the IWB and I think you're risking something very similar. The more materials, the more passive and bored your students will become…

What you really want is active students and a fairly inactive whiteboard!

Stickers for your kids: print them or make them?

Customisable Mr Men stickers from the TES site…

One of the resources sites I suggested in the technology session on our very young learners course this week was the Times Educational Supplement (TES) site, which has over 30,000 free resources, for all subjects (not principally ELT).

From TES, I took two examples (registration required to view them): a PowerPoint Jeopardy template, and some customisable Mr Men stickers. For very young learners, note that you can edit the text, or eliminate it altogether (see image above).

Both would be huge time-savers: the former would require a minimum amount of prior knowledge of PowerPoint, but would still save you hours of work; the latter not much more than a bit of fiddling about to get them to print out on sticky labels…

But would you actually want to use them…?

That would be a very definite YES!, to judge from the comments about them on TES, but personally I have my doubts. In both cases it would the teacher using the technology, but it surely ought to be the learners doing so. You could, for example, have (older) learners write questions, which would certainly be a start, if you wanted to play Jeopardy.

As for the stickers, personally I'd either create my own (as, see image below, you did at the start of my session) or else I'd get my learners to create the labels for each other…

Mr Personal: it's so easy to make your own!

There's also the question of the time it's going to take: it was so much quicker to produce our own — and so much more personal!

Sometimes the resources technology offers are in fact not necessarily the best solution…

Non-linear PowerPoint

PowerPoint: you can make it interactive!

As language teachers, you probably aren't big users of Microsoft PowerPoint. It might well be a tool you use for giving a talk or workshop at a conference or if, like me, you teach technology. But, as language teachers, using it is probably rapidly going to produce Death by PowerPoint and, in any case, you're not supposed to be lecturing your learners, are you?

As a workshop presenter, you certainly want to avoid inducing Death by PowerPoint, which is caused by — among other things — using too much text and too many bullet points per slide and then simply reading monotonously through it all, which your audience could have done at home on their own.

If you can make it an interactive presentation in some way, in which you respond to and dialogue with your audience, PowerPoint can nevertheless be a powerful tool. If, on the other hand, your audience has gone terribly quiet, best call the doctor quick — for yourself.

Creating a non-linear presentation is one way to ensure that you respond not lecture. The following links came from the February 2009 issue of the Office Insider for Microsoft Office newsletter:

If you're not that expert with PowerPoint, and want an easy way to allow yourself a non-linear PowerPoint presentation, you do have a "Go to" function which allows you to jump to whichever slide you want — and not necessarily the next one:

Right-clicking in "Slide Show view" allows you to jump to whichever slide you want…

Make the learners make the PowerPoints
With learners, PowerPoint can be fun too — for making presentations (eg. of the results of webquests), as well as for creative writing exercises.

With the latter, young learners love making multimedia stories with PowerPoint, including sound and images as well as text.

See also: Using PowerPoint Interactively in the Classroom

Would you still hate Micro$oft if you took full advantage of it?

Dare to explore those menus!

Everyone hates Micro$oft, don't they? I'm not actually one of them, myself, as I wonder how people would do their jobs today without it.

One of the things I like Micro$oft for is its Insider Newsletter, which you can subscribe to and get tips and tutorials and links that will help you to learn more about Word and Powerpoint and Outlook and so on.

I always read it when it lands in my mailbox, and make a habit of actually picking at least one link in it and going to check see if I can learn something new about programs I've been using fairly proficiently for years — and I can and do (like copying and pasting multiple items, or things I didn't know about using BCC in email…)

Most people — myself included — use only a small proportion of the potential of their computer programs. They learn the basics and then they just stop learning, and make-do with the basics (not something they would encourage their language learners to do).

On the training courses we run at IH, I always suggest the following: explore the menus in whatever program you use (Micro$oft or otherwise), try some of the things on them.

Using Word (or whatever) is like being in a restaurant in a foreign land: are you just going to eat chicken and chips every mealtime, or are you going to try something new that is there on the menu. Try something new, I'd say: you might like it — and find that it's useful to you!

And here's a thought for you: why do people hate Micro$oft but love Google-is-Evil…?