Audioboo

My latest technology discovery for use in my ESL classes is Audioboo.  Audioboo is a free social platform for recording or uploading audio and sharing it on the web or on mobile devices.  Audioboo allows us to record up to five minutes of audio, called a “boo,” to share on our own Audioboo site or on Facebook, Twitter, or other applications.  I particularly like the fact that we can send audio message “boos” to others on Audioboo.  This platform fits into my advanced ESL Speech Making course beautifully.

One of my Speech Making course objectives is to improve  pronunciation.  My curriculum for this course has always included articulations for the students to practice and record.  Previously I had the students use Windows Sound Recorder to record their audio, and then they would send them to me as email attachments.  This semester my students will each open Audioboo accounts.  They’ll follow me to hear the “articulation of the week,” and then they’ll send me their assignment, their recording of the articulation, as an audio message boo.  These boos will go straight to my Audioboo Message Inbox so I won’t have to worry about them getting lost amidst my hundreds of weekly emails.  I can then critique their articulation and return my comments to them as message boos delivered directly to their inbox.

Students are also going to use Audioboo in this Speech Making class as a device for practicing their speeches.  For example, the next presentation the students will give is a three to five minute news presentation.  Audioboo will replace the mirror as their  tool of preference for practicing their speeches.  The students may not be able to look at themselves while delivering their speeches, but they will be able to listen to their pronunciation, phrasing, and fluidity and be advised of their five minute time limit.  If their recording time runs out, they’ll know they need to go ahead and cut parts of their speech before they get their time cut in front of the class during the actual presentation.  A veritable face saver!

The news presentations are given in groups.  Since Audioboo is a social network, the students within the same news group can share their news boos prior to their classroom presentations.  Their group members can then critique the speeches by: a)  following each other in Audioboo in order to b) listen to each other’s speech boo, and then by c) sending their critiques in message boos, also affording them speaking and listening practice.   I can give homework credit for these message exchanges as well.

I’m excited about using this new application in this speech classes and possibly in other classes as well.  I think both the students and I are going to like creating own own boos and finding ways to use them outside of this one class.  I’ll keep you posted on our progress.

Using the Flip Cam

Well, here’s my first attempt at using the Flip Cam I bought myself last week as a present.   I decided to make a movie of my students!  I wish I could say I that I did it all in just a few minutes…but, I can’t.  Putting the movie together and adding background music was really pretty easy thanks to the Flip Cam software, but after waiting about 45 minutes for it to upload to our Facebook page, it was essentially rejected because it took forever to load.  Humpfff!  Then, I tried to upload it to Teacher Tube.  Again, after about 30 minutes, no luck, I assumed, because if its size.  So, I decided to edit it to make it shorter.  I realized that it was pretty long, but I just loved watching the students and didn’t want to delete anything, especially not the “bloopers”  which showed everyone’s personality, good sense of humor, and beautiful smile.  Once I had begrudgingly cut off about a minute and a half of the video, I still had trouble uploading it to Teacher Tube, so I decided to say the heck with it and go to YouTube, which was actually my first choice. I had originally decided against using YouTube as the platform for the video because I knew that students could not watch YouTube videos on the computers at school due to the large amount of bandwidth needed for that.

But, at last, it’s done and posted on our MATC ESL Facebook page for the students and here on this blog for you.  I learned a little about videoing and about not talking while videoing (yes, that’s me with the mid-western accent you’ll hear not so much in the background).  I also learned a little about editing using the Flip Cam software and more about uploading video to Facebook, Teacher Tube, and YouTube.  So, it really was a good day’s work.

I expect to continue to have a lot of fun with this camera, and I hope the students will, too.  I know they’ll enjoy seeing themselves and sharing the videos with their families and friends.  I’ll try to find creative ways to integrate more student videos in my classes, and I hope the students will also find ways to incorporate video in their class projects, specifically on their final projects on Glogster.  (See Profiles of Life and Learning on Glogster EDU.) Who knows what else we’ll come up with?  But, you can count on following our progress here on Web 2.0 for ESL!

Just a footnote:  I showed my classes the video today, and it was quite a hit!  Besides watching the students enjoy this learning event on video, I was especially happy to hear other students ask  the question, “What class was this in?”  I like my students to be happy learning and to feel good about spending what precious little time they have away from work and family, on campus.  And, yes, I have watched this video at least 100 times because it makes me happy as well.

BrainPOP ESL

Earlier I posted a video about the H1N1 flu from BrainPOP, an award winning, curriculum-based site BrainPop, developed by Dr. Avraham Kadar, M.D., an immunologist and pediatrician, as a creative way to explain difficult concepts to his young patients.  But, I didn’t give you any information about the latest addition to this site.  BrainPOP for ESL is an educational resource featuring games, lesson plans, activities and animated movies currently in BETA form for level one ELLs.  It is designed for K-12, but our adults can benefit as well.  This would be a great site not only for developing English skills but for getting students started on the computer as well.  Language/memory games such as Concentration are perfect for helping the students learn to maneuver the mouse.

BrainPOP ESL focuses on reading, writing, vocabulary building, grammar and pronunciation.  There is an opening video for each of the five lessons with or without closed captions.  The lessons consist of word lists and flashcards, phonetics help, grammar charts, hear it and say it lessons, printing lessons, listening exercises, and comprehension quizzes. There are Teaching Tools to assist the instructor in using this and expanding it in the classroom.

Currently, this only exists for level one students.  Hopefully, more lessons will be added soon.

Have fun with this!  Your students will!

An Interesting ESL Website to Check Out!

Check out the ESL website out of Portland, Oregon, English, baby!