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Want to make your English classes creative and fun? Visual tools are my favourite way to do this, both for English and ESL classrooms and for individual tutoring sessions. So, what are some visual tools you can use to enhance activities for your students in a way that will make them love to do their projects or homework? Today’s short post is about exactly that.
Top 3 Visual Software Tools For English Class
So, if you know me, you know I love technology. Now, that’s not to say that I’m a tech genius – far from it! Actually, I prefer that technology just works, and am not a huge fan of the complex, programming side of it all. So, the tools I’m presenting you with here are super simple ways you can enhance your English teaching activities.
1. Glogster EDU
Well, I’ve been using Glogster EDU for years both to display photos and tidbits from my travel adventures, and as creative software for my tutoring students. At the moment, I have a free account and it’s still a great way to get your students to be creative.
What’s a “glogster”, you ask? So, it’s a Blog + Poster + other elements, like media and video all rolled into one. Basically, it’s an interactive poster that lets your students have fun, be creative and put together the elements of a storyline of a novel they read, for example. You can add your own images and there are tons of templates to choose from. So, let your students get creative!
Now, as far as video software tools go, I love Animoto. However, the catch is that you can only make a 30 second video for free, on the free membership plan. Paid memberships costs about $10 a month if paid annually. So, how can you use this free resources effectively?
Book Trailers! What’s a book trailer, you ask? I have my students make a trailer for their novel study book, as if the plot was in a film, instead. What would a film of your favourite book look like? You have 30 seconds of video time (or 60 seconds if you allow joining 2 videos) to convince your audience that they should read the book! Use appropriate images, persuasive text and intriguing songs to hook your viewer!
Actually, this last tool, Zoom, is one I just recently heard of. It’s a video conferencing tool that works much, much better than Skype. In fact, you can use it in “whiteboard mode”, share your screen, have multiple people on video conference – and much more. So, how on Earth does this apply to my English class, you ask?
Simple. Video speeches, debates or book reports are just three ways to use video software in your class. With Zoom, you have up to 30 minutes of recording time for free. You simply have your students “start a meeting”, click “Record” until they are finished their report, and then click “Stop Recording” and “End Meeting”. In a few moments, the video file will convert to .mp4 and can be viewed.
Now, this may work better in a tutoring environment than a classroom, although classroom students could have a video book report for homework, if they have access to microphones.
What equipment is best for recording video through zoom? Here are the two items I use for my video lessons:
- Logitech c920 Webcam – At around $50, this webcam is a steal. It provides beautiful HD 1080p quality video and works well for online tutoring, webinars, video lessons, or even recording your tutoring students’ book reports! You can grab it from Amazon here.
- Blue Yeti USB Microphone – While a decent microphone will run you a bit higher than a good webcam, I absolutely love my Blue Yeti! Again, use it for video lessons or students’ video book reports. I think you’ll be amazed at the quality. Amazon has it for a great price here.
Tips for Classroom vs. Tutoring Use
- Model the technology in class so students understand how it works
- Create homework assignments for novel studies that involve multiple creative options, such as glogs, Animoto videos or video book reports. Movie advertisement posters also work well!
- Have students submit a written version of the script for their video book report, as well. This is especially important for ESL students, as it also works on writing and speaking skills at the same time.
- In personalized tutoring sessions, I often read aloud with ESL students to practice pronunciation; use these visual tools to bring together vocabulary and pronunciation into a snazzy end-of-book project
- Searching for photos online together (using stock photography or Google Images) can be an exercise in finding synonyms for words they need pictures for
- You may want to gather together video book reports throughout the year and put them together on a simple webpage or blog your students create about their English learning experience.
By the way, if you’d like more free tutoring tips, join my FREE 7 DAY EMAIL COURSE by clicking here. You’ll get one awesome tip per day, including 3 video tutorials and a spectacular marketing cheatsheet for your tutoring business!
Have you used Glogster, Animoto or Zoom software in your English class? Do you have other visual software tools your students love to use? Let me know in the comments below!
P.S. Photography lovers, the photo in today’s main image is one I took from the top of Arthur’s Seat, a famous mountain in Edinburgh, on a road trip in 2013.
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