Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Phrasal Verbs Machine

It's great to find an app that is focused on a particular skill, but also very contextual. Phrasal Verbs Machine (free) is a gorgeous example dedicated to building understanding of phrasal verbs- a verb paired with a preposition. These are known to be challenging to ESL/ELL populations but also are quite figurative in nature, and so are helpful to target metalinguistics for our more literal thinkers. The context of the app is "the circus world of The Amazing Phraso and his friends." Using the app, you can manipulate an old-fashioned "machine" to pair any of 100 phrasal verbs with prepositions.

In Phrasal Verbs View, you slide wheels to align verbs with paired prepositions, then tap view to see a terrific short animation of the phrase:

The animations play quite quickly but can be replayed. This activity is great for developing prediction and visualization skills by asking students what they think they will see in the machine for each combination.

In the "Exercise," the reverse situation is involved. An animation is played and you are asked to choose from a few choices to describe the animation, thus also working on main idea.

I hope you enjoy this unique and generously free app from Cambridge University Press- another example of a nicely designed app for older students!

Thanks to Richard Byrne at iPad Apps for School for pointing this app out.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Blogobirthday and Giveaway!

Hi Folks,

This month, I am celebrating the fourth year of this blog! Wow! Thanks all who keep reading and keep me writing...

To celebrate, and because of a convenient coincidence, I am going to give away 10 codes for the full version of Comics Head (normally $3.99), a terrific comic-making app. Jay from NextWave Multimedia saw my post on how Comics Head could be used to build narrative and social awareness, and offered up the codes to you guys.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons by Omer Wazir

I don't normally do giveaways because they frankly are hard to do via blog! Also, I am headed to sunny FL tomorrow for the remainder of school vacation week here in the Northeast, and so don't have much time to devote to this. So, we are going to keep this REALLY simple. If you would like to receive a code:
-Leave a comment on THIS POST within 24 hrs about how you use comics in your work (any kind of comic, digital or not). Some readers have reported trouble posting a comment. Good teachable moment- if you ever have trouble with a website, switch browsers (Chrome generally works well with Blogger).
-Leave your email address in the body of the comment (if you don't, you have not entered).
-If I receive more than 10 comments, I will pick by random number generator and email you the code- 24 hrs from now!
-If I don't get 10 comments in 24 hrs, I am going to give the codes to Twitter pals (Twitter pals also feel free to comment here, haha)!
-You will need to redeem the code immediately or may lose the opportunity to do so, as they expire soon.
-Please do not email me about the giveaway, as the instructions and everything you need to know about it are above.

Much thanks!

EDIT- I realized I don't have wifi on my plane, and I don't want to bring my computer on vacation! So I did the drowning a bit early. Winners: Linda, Matt, Lisa, Ilene (email comment), Leslie, EasyRead, Diana, Sharon, Ryan, Stephanie

Sorry if you didn't win- thanks for participating!!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

DirecTV's "Don't" commercials

YouTube gives you on-demand access to just about anything, including commercials that have a language teaching purpose.* DirecTV's recent campaign consists of stories that start when someone is not using DirecTV, and end with an unfortunate consequence. I actually had a student suggest this series while we were using ads to learn about expository text structure. The cause-effect chain in each clip is very fun to explore, and can be used to target inference, complex sentence formulation or sequencing (you could also screen-shot each condition and make a visual sequencing activity, or place your shots in something like Popplet for sequencing). As the character's situation often changes, this provides good opportunities to explore the story grammar element of setting, do situational analysis with Sarah Ward's STOP (Space, Time, Objects, People) strategy, or even Social Behavior Mapping (see the work of Social Thinking® by Michelle Garcia Winner). Exploring a few of the clips would also allow you to work on main idea, i.e. what overall is DirecTV saying about their service as opposed to cable.

As these ads are off-color and have hints of violence, you would want to use them with an older population (especially the last two, which are a bit saucy). Also be very careful to preview each one before showing, as these ads have been parodied in inappropriate ways, and you wouldn't want to show one of those videos.

A number of the clips are embedded below- email subscribers click through to the post to see them.

These last two are definitely more for older students/teens:

*If YouTube is blocked at your school, apps such as TubeBox allow you to cache (download) any YouTube video for offline viewing, or download to your computer using sites such as KeepVid.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

EDCO Class Canceled

HI Folks,

Unfortunately we had a (too) small enrollment for my EDCO Tech Links to Language Intervention class that was supposed to run tomorrow 2/7. Winter blues? EDCO has notified enrollees but asked me to post as people called today about it, and they are worried others might show up having not registered...

Thanks- hopefully we will reschedule for summer or fall.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Apps Gone Free

The F in the FIVES Criteria has long since changed from "Free" to "Fairly Priced," but we all love a bargain. One of the best ways to find "finds" is a daily check of the Apps Gone Free app (free). This app, a resource from the terrific App Advice blog and website, lists apps that have "gone" free for a day or so. The apps tend to be of higher quality both because they usually cost some money (not always an indicator of higher quality, admittedly), but also because they need to have a minimum rating of 3 stars in the App Store in order to be listed. Apps Gone Free is a great way to hone your evaluation-at-a-glance skills; take a look at the apps listed and do a quick FIVES analysis (or application of other criteria you find handy) in your mind before you even download. In this case, there's no risk if the app doesn't turn out to be something you could use!

Another feature I like in this app is that you can easily share your bargains with colleagues via email or twitter, so they can grab the app while it is free as well, and perhaps you can collaborate over ideas. Keep in mind to alert them that the apps listed are only free for a very limited time!