Monday 25 November 2019

Setting students speaking tasks for homework with Extempore

More than any other skill, students and employers tend to value the ability to speak English most, and yet speaking seems to be one of the more difficult skills for teachers to develop and refine in the classroom.

There are many reasons for this including class size, the amount of noise created by speaking activities in the classroom and the need for a more personalised learning approach which deals with the individual needs of the student. Having the ability to listen to and deal with the needs of each student in a class of only ten or twenty can put huge demand on the teachers during classroom speaking activities, but with Extempore, there seems to be a solution to that problem.

Extempore enables teachers to create and set speaking activities for students as homework. Using the extempore LMS and app, teachers can create speaking activities for students that they can do at home using their mobile phone or computer. They can record their homework using either voice or video, which is then pushed to the teacher through the LMS. Teachers can then listen to each individual students and record personalised feedback for them using audio, video or text.

This process really enhances the teacher's ability to listen carefully to each student and respond to them in on a very engaging and personalised level.

Extempore makes it very easy to create tasks. Once you register on Extempore you just create a class and then start adding tasks and assignments. When you create these tasks you can set a due date for the task and decide whether it is a group task or an individual task. When using individual tasks, only the teacher can see and respond to the task, whereas group tasks will enable multiple students to interact with each other.

You can then decide whether you want to enable students to submit audio or video. Audio will be easier for students to submit, but using video can also enable you to work on some of the visual aspects of communication and help students to get used to communicating through video online (a very useful 21st-century skill).

You also have the option of showing students what the assessment criteria will be for their assignment and set a limit to how many times students can review their recording before submitting it.
Once all this has been done, you just need to add some questions or tasks to get students talking.

There are lots of different types of assignments you can set for your students.
  • You can use the assignments as part of a learner diary and get students eating and reflecting on their learning goals after each class. (You can find out more about Learning Diaries in an article I wrote for the Teaching English website.)
  • You can send students texts or short stories to read in a dramatic and expressive way.
  • You can get students to record themselves reading a favourite poem.
  • You can get the students to interact and share opinions on controversial issues.
  • You can get students to create a collaborative story by sending them an introductory sentence and asking each to add a few lines to it.
  • You can get students to record project reports or research assignments.
  • You can control time to review and respond, so you can use it for high stakes exams and to set assessment tests.
Once you have created your assignment you can share a link with students and they'll be able to register with extempore, see their assignments and download the free Extempore app for their mobile device.

Once they have completed their assignment you can find them in the 'Grading' section of the LMS. You can then listen and respond to their assignments. All scores are then added to the Gradebook. This also enables you to build up a digital portfolio of each students' work which you can reflect on to track and evaluate their progress over a longer time span. To find out more about how this works check out the demo videos.

Extempore looks like a really useful application for developing students' speaking and one that will make your life as a teacher a little easier and make your feedback on students' speaking abilities more impactful.

Extempore isn't a free service, although there is a free 30-day trial which is well worth trying.

Payment for the service can either be charged to the individual students (which may be useful if you have private clients who want to develop their speaking skills) or schools can buy sets of licenses for their students. the cost is really very reasonable especially given that each license is for a year rather than a month.

You can find links to many more resources like this and activities for the digital classroom in my ebooks at:

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Nik Peachey