Category Archives: With Technology


People who know me know that I like to use story telling in my classroom. Like many teachers of English as a second language, I tend to border on the theatrical. I guess I see myself as an edutainer of sorts. I have often joked about how great it would be to have a sound engineer in my classroom to add sound effects at just the right moments (i.e. sounds from jeopardy, suspense building drum rolls, or simply the sound of me cracking the whip).

I can’t be alone in this; most every teacher I know has experienced crickets at one time or another when trying to elicit responses from students? What if as teachers we could click a button so that the classroom would fill with the noise of crickets? I think this could be a great tool to help teachers break the ice and re-capture attention and interest. Originally, I had an idea to make an interactive YouTube video with various sound clips for my class, but in my research, I stumbled upon a great website. Rather than reinventing the wheel, I am going to try using this website in my classroom when I get back to work after my sabbatical.  I am also thinking of ways to incorporate the various sounds into student-developed skits and stories. This could be a lot of fun during a speech class. It could also be fun to do during the telling of group-written Halloween stories.



This year at NISOD I was introduced to Animoto, which is essentially a fun and easy way to turn your pictures and videos into a free 30 second movie trailer (Upgrades are available, but I like free stuff). You don’t have to know much about technology: simply upload your pictures and movie clips, chose a soundtrack, and Animoto does the rest. Check out the quick video below to get an idea how it works. Below that you will see a quick Animoto I made after returning from NISOD 2011 (Keep and eye out for the Photoshop Effect). It took me about 2 minutes to do, and it was kind of fun. I am still working on the classroom applications for it, but I think it might be fun to do as an advance organizer for a speech. Have students make a free 30 second clip, and then have them explain it or tell a story…Like I said, I am still working on the classroom application, but I would love to hear ideas.

Create your own video slideshow at

Oh Yeah, and for those of you who didn’t catch the photoshop effect at second 22 in my Animoto, here is the image of us at NISOD watching the bats….


I recently received some interesting YouTube videos regarding the past and the future of human existence. I am currently in the process of spinning them into lessons for my students; it’s a work in progress, but I thought that others might enjoy them as well. So here they are with brief explanations of how I intend to utilize them in my classroom. Feel free to contribute ideas on how you might utilize these ideas in your classroom.

The first video is Hans Rosling’s 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes. In this video Rosling explains with interactive visual/graphic data how wealth and lifespan have changed over the past 200 years for the top 200 countries. I have always enjoyed incorporating the “Joy of Statistics” in my reading and writing courses. Of course, I am a bit biased by my background, but I do believe in math across the curriculum much like most of us English teachers believe in reading and writing across the curriculum. I guess I should also eventually share some of my other math across the curriculum assignments (Interpreting Graphs, Birthday Math, The Monty Hall Problem, and Lotteries: The Untold Stories), but those are blog topics for a different day. For now, take a look at Rosling’s Video.

After showing my class that video, I intend to pose a “think-pair-share” or “thinking with a pen” activity asking students: “With the general trend moving upward toward longer, richer lives, where will it end? How long can we live? What does the future hold?”

Following that discussion I will show them this video of their not too distant future.

After two cool videos and some fun discussion, it will be time for a reading. I intend to use the Time Magazine article “2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal” By Lev Grossman. Having done a lexical analysis of that reading though, I realize I will have to do some glossing for my second language students. About 15% of the vocabulary in that reading could pose problems for my students. If you would like to learn more about free Teacher Tricks for identifying problematic vocabulary in readings you give your students, you might want to check out the Corpora Video I put together for Southeast Regional TESOL for a brief glimpse or for more in depth training check out Pages 3 & 4 of Harnessing the Power of the Web, a presentation I put together for the SoftChalk Corporation. Anyways, click on the image below to link to the Time Magazine Article.