Sunday, 29 May 2011

Things to do with a Burning House

The simple basis behind The Burning House Website is this:

"If your house was burning, what would you take with you?"

It's a really simple website which asks a simple question. The rest of the website has images with accompanying lists sent in by visitors to the site. Each person's list and image has about 10 items.

I really like websites like this because the strong idea and images provide great authentic materials to get students thinking and speaking. Here are a few of the images.

How to use this with students
  • Get the students to look at the images and identify what they see.
  • Save some of the lists and images and get them to match them up for simple vocabulary practice.
  • Ask the students what they think all the images have in common.
  • Show students the images and ask them to try to guess what the person who owns the objects is like (great for modals of deduction).
  • Get students in your class to bring in their on image (you could mix them up and see if they can guess which one belongs to each person.
  • Get them to upload their image and list to the site or create a wall design in your classroom.
  • Get students to tell the story behind each of their ten possessions on their list.
  • Give each students one of the images from the website and ask them to imagine they own the objects and get them to invent the story of why each object is on the list.
  • Get the students to browse the site and find the person with the list which is most similar to their own.
I hope you enjoy The Burning House and the stories behind the images.

Related links:

Nik Peachey

Monday, 16 May 2011

Questioning the Role of Technology in Education

Over the last six months I have been involved in a project with Delta Publishing on their development blog as a guest author to produce a series of postings which question the role of technology and how it is applied in ELT and education in general. This has been a bit of a new departure for me because I usually focus on very practical articles and tend to avoid getting into the sometimes lengthy debates that surround technology with ELT.

I'm now coming to the end of this series for a while and so I thought I would collect together these postings and some thoughts on what I've learned from the interaction with the various teachers who have responded to these posts.

Here you can see a short video I created to introduce the series.

Here you can find a brief summary and link to each article.

ELT and the Crisis in Education
In this first article I tried to put ELT into the greater context of general education and what is being described by some as the 'Crisis in education'. I often think that ELT is viewed and views itself in isolation from what is happening elsewhere in education. I used a social questionnaire to encourage readers to reflect on their beliefs and compare them with those of other readers.

ELT and the Crisis in Education – Part 2
In this article I tried to highlight and share some of the reading and viewing that had influenced my own thinking about the problems that education faces today and the kinds of changes we need to make.

ELT and the Crisis in Education: Technology in the Classroom
In this article I tried to examine what I believe are some of the mistakes that have been made in our attempts to overlay technology onto our existing classroom design.

ELT and the Crisis in Education: Digital Literacy
In this article I tried to examine the role of digital literacy within ELT and highlight the importance of improving our understanding of what digital literacy is and how and why we should integrate it into our course design.

ELT and the Crisis in Education: Digital Reading Skill
In this article I tried to examine the way receptive skills and the demands on 'readers' of web based content differed from the traditional reading skills we develop with our students.

It’s time to change the way we test our students
In this article I tried to examine the role of testing and its negative impact on the potential of ELT to move forward and become more innovative.

Breaking down the walls of the classroom
In this article I tried to examine the way that technology could be applied to course work to extend learning beyond the walls of the classroom and support a more blended and autonomous approach to the use of technology in ELT.

Some Pros and Cons of iPads for ELT
In this article I tried to examine the potential of iPads and tablet style devices within the classroom context and look at the way course books and published materials could be enhanced to make digital course books much more interactive and communicative.

The worst thing about educational technology is educational technology
In this article I tried to look at some of the worst aspects of our fixation with 'hardware' and the problems caused by misguided spending on complex gadgets without funding the support to make these work.

Is the 140 character ‘micro interaction’ enough?
In this article I tried to look at our tendency to be obsessed with 'the latest thing' and how this often limits view of what is potentially available to us. I tried to particularly focus on a contrast between microblogging and 3D game playing in virtual worlds.

Augmented Reality and Web 3.0
In one of my last posts I speculated about what could be the next step in terms of the way the Internet is developing and I had a brief look at how this could potentially impact on ELT.

Survey: Mobile Learning in ELT 2011
My final post will be a write up of some research I have been doing into mobile learning. This will be a follow up to some research that I published a year ago into the use of mobile learning devices in ELT.

I'd like to thank all the people who have left comments and questions on the articles and especially I would like to thanks everyone at Delta Publishing for sponsoring this series and leaving me absolutely free to say whatever I want.

I hope you enjoy reading them.


Nik Peachey