Category Archives: video lessons

But Seriously, EFL Students, Meeting a Cow Will Help You Prepare for Your Exams!

The sea of knowledge is vast… Naomi’s Photos

I can’t possibly teach my students everything they need to know.

I couldn’t do that even before the pandemic granted me the pleasure of teaching students who haven’t studied without disruption for the past year and a half. Students whose studies may be disrupted yet again in the near future…

What DO my students need to know?

This question has an obvious answer, considering the fact that I’m a teacher in the national school system and we have a curriculum to follow.

So there’s plenty of familiar material that needs to be taught.

However…

There’s an additional factor to consider.

Let’s shed some light on this… Naomi’s Photos

I feel that the pandemic has widened the gap between my strongest students and my weaker ones.

And believe me, it’s not because these strong students (most of them, there were a few exceptions)  studied English on their own!

You also can’t claim that the students who are profoundly Deaf, from Deaf families,  whose primary mode of communication is Sign Language were benefitting from watching movies in English without subtitles or following the lyrics of songs in English (the latter is very difficult for hard-of-hearing students to do as well).

One of the things that I have noticed about these strong students is that they are super observant and make connections.  All sorts of connections!

They pay attention to words in English on packaging, clothing, bumper stickers, computer games, and websites they use.

But it’s much more than that.

I notice everything!
Naomi’s Photos

When the stronger students watch the same movies (or T.V programs) as their classmates, they garner useful information, even when the quality of some of the movies is questionable. From a film about aliens landing on the White House lawn and snatching the US President, they recall all the other references to the fact that the capital of the US is Washington DC and not New York ( as some of my students think… )

They take note of the fact that in the opening ceremony of the Olympic games, athletes from Greece always head the parade regardless of alphabetical order and want to know why.

When encountering a reading passage on their national exam “Next Stop: Mars?” or perhaps about “Trash in Space” the stronger students can visualize scenes from various movies they have seen (such as “Apollo 13” “The Martian” )  and computer games they have played as aids in understanding the texts, despite the complex vocabulary.  They recognize the symbol of NASA and know what it refers to.

Some of the stronger students had even seen footage from the International Space Station and even from the rover “Curiosity” when they read the news online.

The strongest students are more curious than their classmates.   When reading a text in class about “invasive green parrots” or “Piano Stairs  – The Fun Theory”, they will use Google to see visuals without me telling them to do so.

GENERAL KNOWLEDGE IMPACTS READING COMPREHENSION!

So many gaps…
Naomi’s Photos

The gaps in struggling students’ general knowledge about the world hinder their performance on reading comprehension tasks regularly.

This has always been true.

However, before the pandemic, I had more time to discuss background information for every single reading passage with them.

The gaps in general knowledge are most striking when it comes to texts related to environmental issues.  There are many such texts in our practice books and exams.

It’s one thing if the students don’t know that it’s very cold in Canada and that Amazon is a name of a company that delivers products, and that drones can be used to do so (all my students know about Ali Express!). It is much more problematic when the students haven’t a clue no about the connection between cows and the environment (actually, I’ve had students who didn’t even know cows could graze on a pasture – they assumed cows were only raised in enclosed spaces). Think of a reading passage on the topic of environmentally friendly meat substitutes…

They need to know that satellites even exist before reading about trash in space.

Wild animals in the city… A Jackal
Naomi’s Photos

Forget satellites – a few of the struggling students are unaware that wildlife exists outside of a zoo or the continent of Africa. A text about the problems that arise when wild animals live in the city is harder to make sense of when you can’t visualize such a situation.

So…

Remember the ongoing problem called “lack of time in class”?

I’ve begun creating short homework  (or independent-work-in-class-time) tasks for my students in which the students watch a short video (VISUALS!) about a topic related to an environmental issue and then answer a few lower-order comprehension questions just to make sure they have paid attention to the main points of the video.

My students are getting these videos WITH SUBTITLES in L1.

It’s very simple.

These videos are too challenging for my struggling learners in English.

AND…

I don’t want to spend time teaching vocabulary items such as “satellites” or even “factory” when there is such a large number of basic and frequent words/phrases these students do not know.

The dictionary will tell them what a satellite is in L1.

What I am concerned about is that the struggling learners will know what THAT word is denoting when they see the translation.

Note: For some of my students, Sign Language is their mother tongue. I hope to add a version with sign language for each video during the school year – I have asked for assistance in this matter, so I’m quite hopeful.

Here is the first video, in English.  Perhaps it will be helpful to you as it is.


Here is the file with Hebrew captions. This is not a one-to-one translation, some captions have been edited for brevity and clarity. I’m trying to get a message across!

If you create captions in other languages for this video, please let me know!

Here is a link to download a copy of a Google form with “very unsophisticated” questions to ensure attention to the points I wanted.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1Cr1IAGESBVJOT0dbVT3Hs4tFXz0KljLZ4JCwUezK6TY/copy

I’m currently working on the next video!

Expressing Your Opinion – Revisiting the “Holstee Manifesto Lifecycle Video”

From “Lifecycle” to “lifestyle” Naomi’s Photos

I first learned of the Holstee Manifesto video on one of Sandy Millin’s blogs: (Almost) Infinite ELT Ideas back in 2012.

This video is far too useful to be forgotten.

The Holstee Manifesto Lifecycle video is short, suitable for teens, and can be used with the sound off. Though I must say that if your students don’t happen to be Deaf or hard of hearing like mine are, the music is a  welcome addition.

The video ties in nicely with the topic students my students are working on –  writing essays that express an opinion. It is chock full of statements that are easy to get students to respond to.

Turn on the light in their heads! Naomi’s photos

I really enjoyed the students’ comments. They seem shocked at the idea of not looking actively for the love of your life. They agreed, in theory at least, that if you don’t have enough time you should stop watching TV. They also supported the idea of trying to change things. One student thought that “sharing your passions” was a bad idea, passions should be kept private. I’m going to ask him and see what he understands “passions to mean”. “All emotions are beautiful” was criticized and jealousy was cited as an example of an ugly one.

One statement seemed to strike most of the students as stupid – “Getting lost will help you find yourself”!

I have revamped the old worksheet I made – it has been updated and is now a LiveWorksheet. You’ll find it below, along with the video itself and a link to the Holstee website with the text version of the video. In addition, I highly recommend checking out other suggested ways to use this video in class  – you will find them in the comment section of Sandy Millin’s post, as mention before.

Thank you, Sandy Millin!

Enjoy!

https://www.holstee.com/pages/manifesto

The link to the worksheet:

https://youtu.be/QDmt_t6umoY

 

Distance Learning – The Importance of Blank Spaces

Not quite the same…
Naomi’s Photos

When I was first “thrown” so suddenly by the pandemic into a situation where I had to work on reading comprehension via distance learning with my Deaf and hard of hearing students, I used online worksheets consisting of multiple-choice questions a great deal.

There is no doubt that sometimes such a worksheet is EXACTLY what is needed.

For example, take the following old reading comprehension exercise of mine which I updated into an online worksheet –  Identifying the Main Idea
My goal is (yet again, and again and again) to try to show the students that they have to read the distractors of a multiple-choice question very very carefully. Distractors often include information that is factually correct but is not the main point at all.
A Self-check multiple-choice online worksheet is absolutely the way to go in this case.

I love it when a student complains that the worksheet must be wrong – surely the main idea of the short video involving a blind man must be “It is important to help blind people”.  That fact is true but it is NOT the main idea here  – that’s the kind of discussion I want to have!

Here is the link to the worksheet

https://www.liveworksheets.com/bs385563yd

When you need to leave empty spaces…
(Naomi’s Photos)

However…

Sometimes the value of the learning task is greatly diminished by having multiple-choice options.  Such as in cases where the answer is fairly obvious, and having options makes the question ridiculously easy.

More importantly, when enriching students’ vocabulary is part of the goal of a particular task, having them write out (or type) the answer on their own forces them to pay attention to the word a bit more. Many formats of online exercise do not enable copy /paste, the students actually have to type in the words letter by letter.

An unexpected difficulty can arise here.

Even though it is quite possible to have the students type in the correct answer and keep the worksheet in “self-check” format, I have stopped doing so.

For the answers to be considered correct the students have to type the answer in EXACTLY as you typed it in. If they wrote the correct answer but inadvertently added a space, used the wrong symbol in the keyboard in the word “don’t ” (a very common error that my students make), added or missed a comma,  their answer will be marked as WRONG! 

Many of my students really don’t respond well to that sort of situation.

You lost me…
Naomi’s Photos

So, as in the worksheet you will see here, I leave all the blanks for the students to type in the answers empty, without a self-check answer. The students then send me pictures of the screen or screenshots and I check them.

I have the luxury of having small classes, but it is possible to send them a document to self-check their work if you find it more applicable to your teaching situation.

Here is a link to a task using abbreviations commonly found online to introduce some phrases, while watching a lovely video that was a huge hit a few years ago.

I’ve included an answer sheet below the link.

The Present

Answer sheet: Utilizing the gift of texting Answer sheet

I hope everyone goes back to teaching in class soon!

Visualising a Discussion Prompt for Students on Studying Habits at Home

Humor helps!
Naomi’s Photos

Suddenly, everything changed.

It doesn’t matter that we’ve moved to Daylight Savings Time, we are all actually on “Corona time”.

Who knows how long this will last…

Now that my Deaf and hard of hearing adolescent students (some of whom NEVER do any school work at home) have to study from their bedrooms/living rooms or kitchen tables, I needed an amusing prompt to enable me to discuss study habits with them.

It turns out having a blog is quite useful for finding forgotten goodies. I learned of this video years ago on Sandy Millin’s Blog. 

Just what I was looking for.

I can use it with all levels because this video works best without sound and without students reading the captions.

All you need to do is watch the video and ask the students what they do. The video is very clear.

The mustard dripping on the notebook is a great touch!

Honestly, even if your students hear EXTREMELY  well, you don’t want the sound here.

I did prepare a written “companion” to the discussion because I need that with my students. I’m not sure I can call it a proper worksheet because the level of complexity is mixed. But it wasn’t designed to be done by a student working independently. In any case, I’m adding the downloadable file below.

I hope you find the video amusing and useful!

Wishing you all the best of health!

How to Make Homework Less Work – Download by clicking on the title
 

 

“Missing U” – Word Play in a Video Lesson using iSLCollective

Notice this! Naomi’s Photos

Really Important Preliminary Note: 

The following video lesson is meant to be done with soundtrack turned off! Everything relates to the visual input. The video does have a lovely soundtrack but my students are Deaf and hard of hearing, remember?

There’s nothing like taking an in service training course to get one moving out of the comfort zone and trying something new. I’ve been using EDPUZZLE extensively for all my video lessons for quite a while but the course encouraged me to explore new options.  So this video lesson was made using  iSLCollective

iSLCollective is really easy to use! There are varied question types to add and a transcript of the questions is automatically generated below the video. That’s a really helpful feature if you want to choose a ready-made video lesson from the website itself – you don’t have to watch an entire video in order to inspect the questions.  However, there doesn’t seem to be the option of adding two questions to the same stopping point like Edpuzzle has. Both programs allow you to crop the videos and they both have good tech support. They both have a replay option, but in Edpuzzle it is added automatically while in iSLCollective you add it on your own.

Edpuzzle lets you create classes to track your students’ progress, but I don’t use that feature. I embed the videos into the Edmodo we use and do the tracking there. iSLCollective has a very large collection of  lessons to choose from (organized by categories) and when you create a lesson you must fill in information to help categorize your lesson. I actually had trouble with that part, especially as this particular video lesson doesn’t focus on one easily categorized topic such as “prepositions” (I had a video lesson on that a while ago…).

So, what does it focus on?

Naomi’s Photos

This video lesson was planned for struggling learners studying for the Module C matriculation exam, which includes a section on writing an informal letter (these students have accommodations). It is not easy for them and we are practicing writing letters a lot.  The video ties in with letter writing in several ways:

Vocabulary

* Presenting a visual aid to help the students remember that the word “letter” does not only refer to the kind of letter they are writing but to letters in alphabet. These students tend to remember (if at all) only one meaning for words.

* The students tend to see the phrase they use in their letters as one word “I miss you”. This video lesson has repeated use of the word “missing”, not as part as that phrase.

* Exposure to some new vocabulary in a meaningful, visual context. Many of my students do not pick up any vocabulary from their surroundings, (incidental learning) due to their hearing loss. I always try to include some vocabulary that we aren’t currently studying (and may never study!) as exposure. In the case, the words “embark” “journey” and “ukulele” appear in the video.

Thinking Skills – Distinguishing Different Perspectives

These students are required to read a short topic and then write an informal letter from the point of view of that person. For example “David is studying art in Italy for a year. He writes a letter to his parents in Israel about his experiences. Write David’s letter”. Some of these students have hard time writing from another person’s perspective. We discuss this quite a bit. In the video we see how the woman sees the letter “u” missing all around her, while the man is missing the letter “I”. The video gives us an opportunity to repeat the discussion (which the students need) but from a different angle.

Word Play

This video is just a great opportunity for a bit of fun with words! The way the light in the windows form the word “city”, the way the sea looks like the letter “C” and the beehive has the letter “B” plastered over it. There aren’t questions on each pun, but this activity is meant to be done together in class so it can be discussed. It’s nice to have fun!

Enjoy!

 

 

A Video for an Imaginary Staff Meeting on “BALANCE”

Never enough time… (Naomi’s photos)

Note – I first learned of this video from the Film English blog, a blog well worth following.  If you are looking for an additional lesson plan for students with this video, I suggest visiting  Cristina’s blog, Blog de Cristina .

There’s never enough time at school to talk about some things. So many truly pressing issues take priority. And aren’t we are all in a hurry to get home at the end of the day?

Or maybe issues such as “balancing all the ways a teacher should ideally be meeting the students’ needs” simply seem obvious to everyone. No point in discussing obvious things, is there? That’s what blogs are for – I shall hold an imaginary staff meeting. Perhaps you’ll join me?

Different Strokes, different colors, different needs…
Naomi’s Photos

At my imaginary staff meeting, everyone is sitting comfortably,  sipping their favorite beverage and not worrying about the time (I did say imaginary…)  I would begin by showing the following powerful video. Without uttering a single word, this video manages to be truly moving and to raise several issues worth discussing. I’ll settle for discussing the following one.

Alike short film from Pepe School Land on Vimeo.

In what ways do teachers strive to keep the balance in their classes between letting students express themselves and learning the material that must be learnt? On one hand, when watching the video, it’s truly heartbreaking to see the child’s creativity being snuffed out. The child literally loses her colors! On the other hand, we are doing children a big disservice if we don’t teach them how and when to follow rules. If you don’t learn to form your letters in the standard, accepted way, no one will be able to read what you have written. If you don’t learn the importance of coming to class on time (because perhaps you stopped to watch your street musician) you may have a hard time holding a job in the future.

We like to think of book reports or projects as opportunities, or outlets, for students to express themselves, but is that enough? I teach in the format of a learning center, which enables students to get up and move around during the lesson, and do a little “happy dance” if they need to. Which is something I’m pleased about but I don’t think that’s the point either.

A balancing act…
Naomi’s photos

If we return to the video for a minute, think what would have happened if the teacher had responded differently to the little girl’s drawing. Perhaps she could have said that she would create a folder for the child’s lovely artwork so it could be kept and admired but now she also needs to practice her letters. Otherwise no one will be able to understand what she writes. In other words, the teacher tries to get her to see the point of what she is asked to do, gets her on board with the rationale.

Isn’t understanding the point of what you are doing a critical step in taking ownership of your learning? Then, perhaps, it would be much easier to find the balance between academic learning and self-expression. It is, of course, easier said than done. Teachers have to prepare students for high stakes exams. Sometimes the reason for doing something is “it’s on the exam…”

Then again, perhaps the whole take away from a teacher’s perspective should be that making the student feel noticed and special can make a world of difference. It can let her keep hearing the violin play in her head!

What would you say if you attended my imaginary staff meeting?

 

 

Fun for Children who are Seriously Sick – A Guest Video Post

The tired puppet – courtesy of puppeteer Ruth Levi
(Naomi’s Photos)

Veteran teacher Marlene Saban has kindly sent me a video lesson to share on the blog. She teaches both junior-high & high- school. A reading passage about a special camp (run by special people!)  devoted to bringing some joy to the lives of children grappling with illness, inspired Marlene to add a video as a lead-in exercise (in the case, a short advertisement) and another one directly related to the topic of the reading passage. Since no hearing is needed to understand the advertisement and the other video is meant to be shown without sound, (the students must read the captions in English!), Marlene’s video lesson certainly can be used with deaf and hard of hearing students too!

Marlene used this lesson with a strong class of students in the seventh grade ( 13 year olds).

Here is the lead-in advertisement:

Here is the main video:


Here is a downloadable document with Marlene’s lesson plan and worksheet.

Enjoy!

Fun for Sick Kids- by Marlene

Utilizing the Gift of Texting

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season!

Naomi's Photos
Naomi’s Photos

ICYMI , EDO, IDC – Do you know what these abbreviations stand for? Do you care whether you know them or not?

I’m not interested in texting / Internet abrreviations for their own merit. I have no plan to have students memorise them. I’m interested in them  as a tool to expose my deaf and hard of hearing teenage students to some of the commonly used phrases they represent. Teenagers like abbreviations. In addition, I have a few hard of hearing students whose distorted hearing causes them to adopt very odd versions of what they think they heard on television… They are interested in such phrases.

For this acitivity students must first begin with the worksheet. On the worksheet they are asked to match abbreviations to their meanings. Then the students are asked to watch the lovely (absolutely lovely!!!) short video “The Present”. As they watch they are required to rewrite the text without abbreviations.

Enjoy!

Here is the worksheet: utilizing-the-gift-of-texting

Here is the video-lesson section:


 

 

Highlighting Prepositions with some Romance in Rome

Wishing everyone a wonderful year! Naomi's Photos
Wishing everyone a wonderful year!
Naomi’s Photos

My deaf and hard of hearing EFL students tend to completely ignore prepositions. I don’t take it as personal affront since they demonstrate an equal lack of interest in using them in their mother tongue as well.

You don’t need prepositions when you use sign language.  It’s all clear without them.

When they do use them there is language interference because many prepositions are used differently in different languages (this year I have students who speak or sign Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, Amharic and French at home!). For example, in English you live “on” a street but in Hebrew you live “in” a street.

I know the lovely video below could be used for many many other things (feelings, wishes for the future) but I use videos for what I need and it does a good job of highlighting  the direction of movement.

Especially as I’ve never had the opportunity to teach “bump into” before!

All this doesn’t mean that we can’t discuss the other issues as they come up. I’m just not going to include them on the video lesson.

One more thing.

My teenage students love romantic videos…

*** Many thanks to the amazing Regina Shraybman for finding this video for me!

*** For companion flashcards – see this post:  here: http://visualisingideas.edublogs.org/2016/10/13/flashcards-for-romance/

There are two versions below. The first option offers mutliple choice options and is easier.

 


A reader, Julia Mor, kindly organized the material into a worksheet format. Thank you Julia! Click on the link to download it.

preposition-romance-worksheet

 

Going Green – or NOT

 

Not just green... (Naomi's Photos)
Not just green…
(Naomi’s Photos)

In class my high-school students and I encounter a substantial number of reading comprehension passages that have to do with the environment. I think it is a “safe” subject for book & exam writers and is most certainly an important one.

However, this week I became worried that my students now think that every mention of the color “green” has to do with the environment. Despite being aware of the fact that one shouldn’t be teaching lots of idioms together, all at once, I felt I needed to highlight the fact that not every use of the word “green” is related to the environment. So I’m using the video below as a trigger. The related worksheet appears under it.

Going Green

“Hmmm”, you might be saying now.

“This teacher has completely ignored all the wonderful personification going on in this video”.

“But”, I would argue, “I use videos to serve a purpose and don’t build lessons because I found a great video (I waited with this one for more than two years!!!)”.

You might be staring at me, patiently or not, at this point.

Okay okay.

I needed to find a way to use the video for the weaker levels, those teenagers studying elementary level material. Something which could be also be good for the teachers I work with as part of my counseling job who do teach younger learners. So I related to the topic of feelings without actually using the term “personification”. I’ll let every teacher decide whether it is time to introduce the term or not. (See exercise below)

(Note – I specifically began with multiple choice questions before moving to open ended ones, since my students need modeling).

Enjoy!