Wordless picturebooks — a sneak peek

Welcome back to Shawn’s corner, where today we’ll be looking a special kind of book.  You know about some wonderful storybooks out there, like those from Dr. Seuss, especially Green Eggs & Ham, my favorite, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, The Giving Tree (as we saw in an earlier Shawn’s Corner) and Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. Some of these may work best with younger students if, but we should take some time later to see other ways we can use these classics.  For now, let’s look at a type picturebook that is good for most levels and ages—the wordless picturebook. 

My favorite authors in this genre are Shaun Tan and David Wiesner, illustrators of “The Arrival” and “Sector 7” but there are many more out there like a funny little story called “The Flower Man” about an old man who moves into the neighborhood and brightens it up with his flowers.  Another one is “The Journey” about a girl who has amazing adventures that she partly creates with a red crayon.

Let’s take a look at one that I have found engaging at all levels called “Flotsam” by David Wiesner.  As I don’t want to include a spoiler, I am just going to show you the first part of the story and you’ll have to check out the book to find out what happens.  You will be amazed to see how the book can convey a fantastic story without a single written word.

Students should learn phrases to hedge a bit, like “He must be doing something”, “He like is…” “It looks as if…” “It looks as though” “Maybe” “Perhaps” and so on.  This is the kind of language that lets their imagination run free without losing face.

You, as the teacher, can ask as many questions you like because everything is open for interpretation. These books give tons to talk about so they really are worth checking out. 

In the next Shawn’s corner, we will look at a picturebook with text and some ideas for using it for grammar and vocabulary study. 

In regards to what you saw today, I hope you came to the conclusion that although these picturebooks are wordless, your students should be far from speechless when working from them. 

Getting creative with video

Do you mind if I work on a cliché?  A picture is worth a thousand words… that’s why I’d look at moving pictures today.  So, you do the math, thousands times a thousand…those are a lot of words. That what you get when you work with moving pictures!

There is so much to do with video—in this video segment, I am going to show you how to make a prediction activity, meant to get students talking!  This is just one of tons of different ways to get thousands of words out of moving pictures.

In order to take screenshots, there are 2 tools: 

for PC users, do a search for “snipping tool” if you haven’t already found it in “accessories” and pinned it to your start menu. 

for Mac users, you press three keys at one time:   command – shift – 4

I am going to show you a video with quite a simple story line, but it’s a chance to get students to speculate and predict what’s going to happen without having to pre-teach too much vocabulary.

So, let’s make some screenshots from the video Soar.

What I did was download the video so that I could get the screenshots without any pause or play marks on the screen.  Also, this means that I can do the activity even if I have problems with the internet on the day we look at this video in class.

So, I’ve mentioned the tools to use to take screenshots.  I will do it on my Mac and show you how it works.  With a PC, the process is similar.

I’ve watched the video and marked 8 different moments that I want to use for my speaking task.

Here they are if you’d like to make the activity yourself. 

:37  :40  1:03  1:19  1:39  1:47  3:41  3:51

You can use any number of pics you like, but for working in pairs and small groups, I try not to do more than 8, otherwise the task might become too complicated.

So, I advance in the video and pause on the frame I’d like.  On my Mac, I type command + ctrl + shift + 4 all at once, so I can paste the picture into Word right away. 

If I’d like to save all 8 pictures as files, then I can press command + shift + 4. These files are saved on my computer and this is the process you use with the PC. You can save the files and then put them in your document all at one time.

After putting these all into Word and I have a worksheet like this.  You can put the pics in order or have students order them.  It’s a great pre-watching activity and it gets students talking.

So, get some words out of your student, maybe a thousand words, by using screenshots.

From student to teacher: Students helping make Kahoots!

Welcome back to Shawn’s Corner. Last week we looked at several different types of Kahoot! To finish off our exploration of this tool, I’d like to give you ideas on how to get your students involved in creating games. They’ll be reviewing language at the same time they set up items for other games that everyone in the classroom will benefit from.

So, here is what you need.
1. A Kahoot account
2. A model for students to give Kahoot items like I’ll be showing you.
3. A group of students who want more challenges.
4. A few minutes at the computer to set up your game.

In past Shawn’s corner segments, I mentioned you could use other people’s games, but today I am going to show you how to make a game, while also presenting a model for getting your students to make up the question items.

So let’s go to our account at create.kahoot.it (remember kahoot.it is for students to play games)

Let’s go to create.
Just to remind you, the most common type of game to play is a quiz.
And now we’re down to two options, we can type in Qs one by one or we can use a template. Today my objective is to show you who easy it is to use a template, especially if you get students to help you make the questions.

You can download a simple document I’ve created for my students so that they can create their own items or possibly copy from another resource. Perhaps, in most cases, it’s best to make a rule that questions can’t be from your current textbook or workbook activities you’ve already done. Or, if it is from the book, they must change some words to make the question look like a new one. Consider too, whether you’d like to make a list of grammar points that you’d like to gather questions for.

Video segment on:
How to download template
A simpler worksheet version for students
How to transfer this information to the template and complete
Uploading the template

Now, let’s put the template and my worksheet side by side. See how easy it’ll be to get the items written up. In my case, I have the items written up and I’ll cut and paste, but your students probably won’t write up long questions anyway 

And now, upload your document and the game is done! That was easy and now you just have to wait for the class you’re going to play it in.

This is the last in our sequence on Kahoots for now. Next week, we’ll take a look at an idea for getting students to talk about videos in class.

Have some fun with this learning tool. Your students are now in cahoots with you on making a Kahoot.

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