Friday, 30 August 2013

Give a kid a device! Discovering colours in class.

 How can you make 'learning' colours a bit more fun? One set of words kids do not have a problem with, really, except maybe "false-friends" in some languages maybe...

Really wanted my charges to actually read the words from their class book (see the word, go back a page to the visual clue if necessary) and demonstrate they could worj their way through a list, in the correct order.

In pairs, swapping jobs as photographer & model, they were given iPhone/iPod . Camera app open, go find items of each colour in the classroom. Independence Day! Off they galloped!

Word of caution - these devices are expensive, so make sure you are doing this with a 'sensible' group. Suggest turning on 'airplane' mode so no in-app purchases get clicked, or your twitter feed/phone goes off! Maybe help with reducing camera shake?!

In pairs, swapping jobs as photographer & model, they were given iPhone/iPod . Camera app open, go find items of each colour in the classroom. Independence Day! Off they galloped!

Word of caution - these devices are expensive, so make sure you are doing this with a 'sensible' group. Suggest turning on 'airplane' mode so no in-app purchases get clicked, or your twitter feed/phone goes off! Maybe help with reducing camera shake?!

I wanted the children to then do the above post production, but they were not familiar enough with the iOS as well as the keyboard layout  AND the upper/lower case shift. It also took time - so this would work with mixed ages classes OR hooking one device up to a projector & doing it as a group.

The app I used = WordFoto, the link is here, which is really quick/slick & intuitive (for teachers anyway!). I only wanted one colour word per pic, but you can do this with a theme & add up to nine. You can change the hue/size & fonts to some extent. I think the end product of 10 minutes running around & 10 mins after class (me) = stunning & very personalised set of flashcards. We will print these & display around the room!

Have you used WordFoto?

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Story Generator: Amazon Heist

Plot summary:

A daring eating contest set in the mysterious Sakae village, features a heated battle between sworn enemies - GoGo Gorilla & the infamous Bosozoku Baka. The winner goes home with pride in their heart & a belly full of food. The loser, a whole education in the hands of a girl's school.

  The Hero: GoGo Gorilla = Keisuke Honda
    The Villain: Bosuzoku Boys = Nicholas Cage
      Supporting: random people at eating contest
        Narrator: Morgan Freeman

"Barrow has eliquate (sic) use of the English language to portray a story of love, loss & eating." Daily Mail - 5 stars

"A spectacular story full to the brim with tension." 
Phillip Pullman - 5 stars

Written & directed by Alex, with creative contributions from Matsumoto's Lost Boys!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Story Generator - Popeye with no spinach but an app

Popeye was selling iPhones in Zambia. Mitochondria, who has an enormous mouth, came to buy the iPhone. The iPhone that she bought was broken & had funny Zambian faces on it. She got angry and bit Popeye's hand. Popeye searched for spinach to fight Mitochondria, but he failed to find them. All he had was an iPhone with a useless spinach app, and a funny picture of local Zambians.

Popeye ran as fast as he could, all the way up Zambia's highest gloomy mountain, the Zonbian volcano. Popeye was so happy to run away from Mitochondria. While he was enjoying his victory, Zonbian volcano erupted. As a result, he died painfully with his burned iPhone.

Mitochondria was safe because her body was too small to be hit by the volcano things.

  Popeye = Tomoro
    Mitochondria = Mum
      Narrator = oyajim
        other characters - Umpalumpa

Written & directed by: Takoro, with creative contributions from Tom, Kan & Alex!

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Analogue Story Generator - a dice & a homestay visitor

English: A pair of dice Español: Dados cúbicos.

This is a fun activity which worked very nicely in class with my returnee brothers and their English homestay guest in a one hour class last week.

I was expecting them to not be in the mood for a regular class, prepping for FCE, and also that our native-speaking guest would probably have a lot of raw language I could use more creatively...

Column 1: Superhero - think of silly name for the six rows, brainstorming eg people we know & admire, sports stars, anything silly...
Column 2: Villain - maybe a baddy we don't like from school or the news...
Column 3: Location - somewhere local, or a place we like or want to visit...
Column 4: An object - a favourite toy or super-power delivering tool...
Column 5: Main event - more dramatic/mundane the better...
Column 6: Ending - obvious? Challenged mine to come up with a sticky end, a twist, comic book, science fiction, sporty & surprising finishes.

Materials = piece of paper with 6 rows x 6 columns, and a dice. Pencils would be handy!

The brain storming actually took quite a while as I needed to filter suggestions a bit so we would end up with an interesting variety of outcomes (and publishable ones!).

Selection phase = students throw the dice in turn to choose a superhero from column one. Repeat for the other 5 columns: each student now has a very eclectic set of characters & bizarre storyline to concoct!

Embellishing = decide on a cast list for the main characters (Mum featured as did the teacher), a narrator, supporting cast, a title.

Homework - write a summary of the plot (rough draft). Aim = second draft with more detail, structure/organisation, Hollywood moment etc!

Immediate feedback = very entertaining interaction & entertaining suggestions - only told them the 'story' aim after we'd brainstormed all the 36 components (otherwise the'd have been filtering their own ideas - as it was they guessed they were going to make a story - but a horizontal one eg all #4s - and had tried to make things 'fit')

This activity would never work with my usual junior high school/high school crowd; it did work splendidly with noisy, energetic, imaginative, competitive teens. One-upmanship added a lot to the storyboard, and I for once was not 'the expert' - all I had to do was pass the dice around...and moderate the input!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Old MacDonald - ever been more fun?

A crowd pleasing app can give a teacher 'thinking time' to get the next activity cued up, or help you manage to stretch out a topic and refresh batteries. We were reviewing animals and there was a request for Old MacDonald (and I love the app developed by LoeschWare)...aim of the game is to choose farm animals and not wild ones - like tigers, sharks & camels, which if chosen are variously dispatched to many giggles.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Bon Bon 2013 slideshow

Another summer, and another Bon Bon Festival! Full photo album here

Our team gets younger every year, and we were missing a few noisy stalwarts this time out...and a bit hard for mums & dads to cut loose with toddlers in tow! We also had a new mototrised division - push chairs & prams at the rear.

As you can see from this slideshow, most people little & large went the distance - til 9pm and our finishing line at the top of Isemachi (as the crow flies we went about 75 metres!) and had loads of fun in the process. Lots of jumping & arm-waving, sometimes in time with the music even :) Everyone seemed to have a turn holding the banner up at the front & leading the sedate charge. Thank you everyone for joining us, and for sharing lots of smiles. Of course, a great evening like tonight needs planning & organising - thank you Yukari for going to the meetings, printing maps & t-shirt logos were super xxx

Thank you also to old friends & family who stopped us to say hello, especially:
  • Nagano Prefectural Children's Hospital
  • Sayaka, Mitsuna & Yumeka who danced in our very first Bon Bon
  • Ayako & her friends, back from college
  • Shibaura (where Jim taught back in 1990!)
We are looking forward to August 4th, 2014 already...

Very large grumble though about the obnoxious Yakuza presence, drunk students shouting obscenities "dancing" around our (and other) children, and a total lack of crowd. Seemed to me there were very few people actually watching this year. Have to blame the organisers for making the rules ever more boring and meaningless eg no hats, costumes, rattles, shakers, our large least there was provision at last for dumping rubbish.

What did everyone else think about the event?