DRPC: discuss, research, present and comment

Slide from presentation summarising task

Above, the third task I suggested in my session at our ELT Conference last weekend, with thanks due to Rachel and Yvette for carrying out the task with their learners and providing comments on it.

I'm a big fan of what I call DRPC tasks as they seem to produce the right blend of (1) plenty of face-to-fact discussion, with (2) language being provided as and when required; and of the learners then making (3) productive use of technology for communicative purposes, without the technology taking over from the latter.

DRPC Stages

  • Discussion In the case that I described, the discussion was on whether or not the class get enough exercise — in a class of teens, theoretically B2 but some way below that
  • Research After class, they were required to confirm or refute what had been said in class, by surveying each other and other kids in other classes in the school (a secondary school in France). For the research, which they did in groups of 3 or 4, some used the amazing Google Drive forms to create questionnaires, while others used a pedometer app to record actual data. Facebook and WhatsApp chat were also used for communicating between the group and with other peers.
  • Presentation Two weeks later, the groups made oral presentations in class, each of a maximum "3 slides in 3 minutes", with a 3-5 minute Q+A slot before the next presentation. Google Drive presentations (aka Google Slides) and Prezi were used to create the presentations with most of the work on the presentations being done outside class time. Some of the class did have time to rehearse in class, giving the presentation to the teacher.
  • Comments Subsequently, mainly using Tackk, which allows your learners to create a simple web page, and works great on a mobile phone, there was quite a lot of discussion of what had been said, quite a lot too about how "cool" some of the presentations were and how they'd done certain things in them.

As noted previously, designing tasks so that maximum advantage is taken of the time available in class is important, as is having that fourth commenting stage, to get more language and more communication out of the task — and out of the technology.

Below, also from my presentation, the sort of data that can be collected with a pedometer app:

Screenshots from Pacer app

And finally, a couple more, similar activities from my own Twitter feed:

Interesting links, tools, apps from conference session

5 great tools for your learners

Blogger, Edmodo, Google Drive, Tackk, Spreaker… such amazing tools — in the hands of your learners

Below, links to some of the tasks and tools mentioned in my session today at this year's edition of the IH Barcelona ELT Conference.

Easy, productive task learners can use technology for
These are the seven tasks I proposed — some of which I've not yet posted here  but will do in the next few days:

  1. The Editors — using a digital space like Edmodo, or Blogger, or a private G+ Community to create a digital class magazine
  2. Digital storytelling, using a single photograph as the starting prompt for a collaborative, creative writing project
  3. DRPC: Discuss, research, present and comment, using an app to measure how much exercise the learners take
  4. Podcasting: 60 seconds to save the world, using Spreaker
  5. Tape poetry for creative classrooms, with WhatsApp and Instagram
  6. 10 towns, a "getting to know each other" activity using Edmodo
  7. Independent mobile learning using an app

Quick links to — in alphabetical order — the tools and apps (all of them free) mentioned in the session:

Also of interest:

More coming…!

Fun warmer with 'would rather'

Coke vs Pepsi

Here's an idea [content in Spanish] which my colleague Xavi Mula published on our Spanish teacher training blog earlier this week.

Xavi's idea was to get the learners to produce their own 'would rather' cards and bring them to class for a fun warmer/revision activity.

If you need some examples, you'll find lots in the link I posted on Twitter about a month ago:

If you had an Edmodo group or something similar (for adults I'd recommend a private G+ community), it could be a fun, on-going thing.

If you were using a WhatsApp group, it would work great there, too. Try challenging your learners: who can come up with the best 'would rather" — i.e. the one that produces the most replies?

12 tweets, links to 100s of ideas for class

Having got to 365 tweets, I took a look back at what I've been posting and picked out a dozen things that I particularly liked for one reason or another.

In reverse chronological order…

#1 | Because, thanks to Twitter, I discovered a great blog for anyone teaching Young Learners:

#2 | Because getting learners to interact is so important; because if you're using web 2.0 tools but not getting learner to comment, then you're not exploiting them to their full potential, and because there's so much good advice here:

#3 | Because there are literally 100s of great ideas here:

#4 | Because if being on Twitter doesn't make you think, you probably shouldn't be there at all:

#5 | Because I think this is an absolutely key question we should ask ourselves as language teachers:

#6 | Because 1000+ Pictures for Teachers to Copy is such a brilliant book, the most useful I've ever come across in 35 years as teacher:

#7 Because I love good quotes (=make you think!):

#8 Because film-english.com has got to be among the very best sites for materials for lessons for English teachers:

#9 | Because infographics are great for class:

#10 | Because video is so great for class, especially so on Vimeo rather than on YouTube:

#11 | Because Edmodo is so great, provided you exploit it too the full (I mean, how would you feel about Facebook if all you got to do was read what your Mum posted?!)

#12 | Because I love creative writing digital storytelling: it's such fun — and so productive — to invent such stories in class; and because I highly recommend PhotoPrompts:

On Twitter (@Tom_IHBCN), I post no more than one thing a day, always and exclusively things that I think will interest language teachers and/or their learners.

Writing prompt: a photograph of me as a kid

Photos of childhood

Photo: left, my brother; right, me

The photo on the right has amused entire generations of learners here in Barcelona when I've showed it to them: me, aged 3, wearing wellingtons and an ill-fitting Balaclava helmet that makes me look a lot like Action Man! Mum's can be so cruel!

It might actually later have been my Mum (also an English teacher) who suggested a photograph of yourself as a kid as a writing prompt, which is how I first used the accompanying photo in class — showing it to my learners as an example and then getting them to find their own, and write about the childhood memories it brought back.

If you're using something like an Edmodo group, or a G+ Community (make it private if you are), or WhatsApp with your learners, get them to share the photos there and see what memories they have in common. That's how you want to use digital spaces — i.e. socially, and not just for posting the homework, or answers to exercises (a sure-fired way to kill interest in your group!)

Photos like these — because of the powerful memories associated with them — are so much better for class than anything you or your learners will ever find on Google!