Wednesday, March 4, 2015

ELT Maker Night 2

Block T hosted ELT Maker Night 2 on Tuesday.

Block T rents a studio space for artists and is located in the suitably low-rent Smithfield area, just off the LUAS line with a DublinBikes station just outside. There are a nice couple of little restaurants on either side of the tracks. Plus there is a little playground outside if you like swings and roundabouts.

Inside it's an eclectic jumble haven of furniture and a groovy coffee bar people. You can hotdesk in a cold room for the membership fee and a hourly rate. This gives you rights to rent a meeting room which is what we did. And hey, it worked.

Numbers were low (it's okay to be negative) but it was understandable... It was a perfect storm: two members gigging and Spandau Ballet were playing in The Point. A third member reportedly needed to 'eat' while another wanted to spend more time with his 'daughter'. (I wonder if his 'partner' knows about this.)

The Recap: 
We talked communications a bit and decided we can fairly safely leave the LinkedIn group behind. We will leave it as marker but it no one really seems to be interacting there. (Interestingly, the opposite of what C finds, two lines below.)

So lo-cal social media: the blog for starters, emails for mains and free-flowing refills on Twitter.

Show and Tell
G talked about his QR coded school. He promises to write about this soon. He'd better.
C was a long-awaited arrival to the group. Her nascent blog should have been shown at the Digital ELT Ireland Conference this November. Over a year after starting it the author has abandoned it. It was intended to be a point of interaction for her class. It never became that. Undaunted, she started posting the content to a Facebook page - and kablooey. Now there is interaction, comments, questions, a community of sharers. The blog wasn't the best platform because, I suppose, it wasn't 'local' most people are not the app/web explorers they used to be. We talked about how the whole digital native thing went out the window. Prensky had the dignity to let it go.
J talked about Thinglinks and that segues into our Maker Project which was fairly simple: discuss the pros, cons, means and ends of setting up a ELT Makers Thinglink account for local ELT schools and teachers. Like ELTpics but for local people.

Maker Project: Thinglink

We could photograph our own content for teaching the 'Elementalers' and 'Preints' in our lives and in our city. Labelled scenes like the ones we see in our course books could be swapped for interactive images from the actual spaces learners encounter in their new (albeit temporary) daily lives in our dirty old town.

So how would this work in our different practices? We divined three ways:

As attractive content or instructive feature for city, school and class social media
The teacher or students take the picture and then the teacher or students fill hang labels and hotspots on the image.
As set homework and quiz content for classes
The teacher preps the Thinglink; gives the link out in class or via social media/email; students have the evening to study; quiz first thing the next morning with the image projected on the whiteboard or on the teacher's laptop/tablet.
As a prompt for learners making their own artifacts
The teacher preps a sample and the learners have to mimic the work in their own setting preferably in pairs to maximise probability for discussion. So the teacher takes a photo of their favourite or local cafe, they hang labels from hotspots in the image. The students take pictures of their favourite or local cafe and they hang the same labels in their images. The links can then be shared in digital portfolios or simply on their social media.

Perhaps that last one has the biggest 'reach'. If students share their Thinglinks to their social media circles, they'll be showing an authentic side of life in their city and showing their work and new vocab. That might be a side benefit someone would be interested in- your social media person, marketing director, regional marketing co-ordinator... or your learner maybe.

It has to be remembered that this is really an A1/A2 activity. Labeling the eyelets and aglets on your Chuck Taylors is about as useful as knowing the spelling of eyelets and aglets even for advanced students its more of a party trick. Keep it useful.

As a starter, take a picture your in your local super market and take the look at the package nouns instead of the food nouns: boxes, cases, tubes, bottles, sachets etc...


take a picture of your local purgatory like I did below and get started where you are.

Hang your labels quickly and we're off.

I'll post some samples in the comments to this page.

All in all still a good night: 2 out of 5. See you at the next.

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