Monday, 16 October 2017

10 Tools & Resources for Developing Writing Skills

Over the last couple of months I've found and written about a number of really great tools and resources to help improve our students' writing skills. This is a collection of links to reviews of ten of the best.

1. Free Reading Passages and Progress Tracking Tools
This site was designed to help grade K5 - K12 native speaker students develop their reading and comprehension skills, but can also be really useful for second language development. Students can choose from a range of graded texts and get a wide range of interactive activities and reading support. Teachers can also register on the site and assign specific texts to their students.
Read more

2. Using Image Prompts to Inspire Writing & Speaking Activities

As a teacher you can create classes and assign writing tasks to students. The students do their writing tasks within the platform and can publish and share them there. This is a little like posting to a blog, but within a safe environment.
Read more

3. Improve Writing Skills with Peer Evaluation
Getting students to peer evaluate can be a real organisational challenge in the classroom, but now it looks like there is a simple technological solution. Peergrade is a great tool to get students assessing each others’ work and giving each other feedback.Read more

4. Writing & Discussion Activities to Promote Awareness of Fake News
Newspaper Generator is a useful tool that enables you to create what looks like a newspaper front page. To do this you upload an image, select a title and a headline and then write in the details of the story. Then just click on 'Make it' and the site will produce a PDF that you can download
Read more

5. Collaborative Story Writing for the BYOD Classroom

This app is based around a common classroom activity in which students write stories together by adding a sentence and passing it on to another writer. The next writer then adds a sentence and either passes it back or passes it to another student. The process continues until the story is finished.
Read more

6. A Tool to Encourage Students to Self-Correct & Improve their Writing

SAS Writing Reviser is a really cleverly designed Chrome Add-on to get your students self-assessing and improving their own writing. Once installed you can open a document in Google Docs and then decide what aspects of your writing you would like to improve.Read more

7. Illustrate Poems & Create Short Image Based Narrative
This app is also social so users can comment on, follow and like each others creations.I used the app to create an illustration of a poem by Robert Frost - Fire & Ice. This would be nice activity to do with students, either selecting or letting them select a poem to illustrate.
Read more

8. Creating Text Adventures to Develop Reading & Writing Skills
Text adventure games are a great way of really engaging students in reading. They get the chance to take some control of the narrative and find their own way through the story by making choices at various points in the narrative.
Read more

9. Get Teens Writing with Gamified Writing Activities
Story Wars is a great gamified way to make writing creative and competitive.
Students read short chapters of the beginnings of stories and then have to submit the next chapter for the story. The readers of the story can then vote for which new chapter they feel is the best continuation of the story. The one with the most votes becomes part of the story.
Read more

10. Give Young Learners Structured Writing Practice with WritingSparks
This is a great site for giving structure and adding an element of fun to writing activities, especially if you have a data projector so that students can see the prompts on the screen.
Read more

I hope you find these reviews useful and that they help you to choose the right tools and resources to help your students.

You can find links to many more tools like this and activities for the digital classroom in my ebooks at: https://peacheypublications.com/. All my ebooks are available for iOS and as PDF.

Sign up for my twice monthly free newsletter and get a free copy of Digital Tools for Teachers at: https://tinyletter.com/technogogy/ 

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Nik Peachey

Friday, 13 October 2017

Create Your Online School with a Great Virtual Classroom

Webroom has to be one of the best free virtual classrooms for online synchronous teaching I’ve seen. It’s very easy to set up a class. Just type in your email address and name and the classroom launches.

Once the class opens there’s a very easy to work through on-boarding task that ensures anyone entering the classroom has the correct browser (Chrome works best) , sufficient connectivity, and has set up their video and audio so you can be sure everyone can see each other.
Once you are set up you can invite students by email or share the link to the classroom.

Webroom has a lot of really great easy to use features including really simple to set up breakout rooms for getting students into pairs or groups, screen sharing, an interactive whiteboard for sharing images and text, file sharing and best of all link sharing.
As well as sharing links to websites, the link sharing feature allows you to share links to videos from the web and collaborate on Google Docs, Google Slides or Google Spreadsheets. This takes Webroom beyond the usual presentation and chat type class and enables teachers to do work on writing skills too.

Webroom also has a number of features that can help students takes notes and remember their classes. When using the whiteboard students can download any screen they see and keep an image of it by simply clicking the download button and then at the end of the class students get an email summary that includes any of the links shared during the lesson as well as links to any files that were uploaded.

You can use Webroom very simply by creating a new class session each time or you can register for free and log in to set up class schedules.
If you find this type of class is effective for you and your students then it is well worth looking at: https://iteach.world/ This is the commercial version of Webroom and it enables you to set up online course and to start charging for them. With this tool you can launch your own online school.

There is a free (forever) account that enables you to get started and build your courses, but you can only use this for one teacher and two students. Scaling up isn’t expensive though and the fees are a flat monthly rate, so this is a great way to open your own online school without too much risk.

I hope you enjoy using Webroom and that it helps you to get your own online school launched.


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Nik Peachey

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Creativity, Global Issues and the English Language Classroom

It’s been gratifying over the last few months to see an increase in interest in the role of creativity in learning and particularly language learning, so I thought I’d share some of the work I’ve been doing with Alan Maley on behalf of the British Council and hope to encourage a few more teachers to get involved with the C Group.

I was really glad to see the culmination of over a years’ work come to fruition with the publication of Integrating global issues in the creative English language classroom. This is book is now available as a free download from the British Council site.


The book focuses on the development of a deeper understanding of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 and explores creative ways teachers can raise awareness of and promote these goals among our students.  This is a book I co-edited with Alan and also wrote a chapter for and which I presented in a live webinar on October 5th for Teachers’ Day.



The book was a follow on from our earlier volume Creativity in the English language classroom - also published for free by the British Council back in 2015.

This is where the C Group comes in as the first book would probably never have existed if it hadn’t been for the work of Alan Maley in bringing together a group of teachers and authors all of whom shared a similar concern regarding an increasing orientation in teaching towards tests and certificates.

The C Group first met in Harrogate in 2014 and it was out of that first meeting and with the support of the membership that we were able to put together a proposal for the book.

Since then the C Group has grown considerably so it’s something that I would like to encourage more teachers to get involved with.

If you are interested in finding out more about the C Group please visit their website or Facebook page.

If you have work related to creativity in ELT that you want to circulate through social media or what to track what others are sharing please use the hanshtag  #cre8

I hope you enjoy these books and they help to spark your own creativity.

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Nik Peachey


Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Wordiser the Blended Learning Platform

Wordiser is a great free tool for creating blended learning that works in the browser across a range of devices.

The tool enables you to create virtual classes and then track individual students as they work through a range of personalised learning activities.

Apart from the wide range of ready made interactive or printable worksheets that you can assign to students, you can also create your own activities based around lists of vocabulary that come up during your classes.
Wordiser also allows you to automate the revision process so that students get reminders and follow up worksheets and activities to do that ensure they remember more of what they have learnt.

There's a really good range of activity types and media to integrate into lessons and you can even create your own digital worksheets based around your own texts or ones that you find online.

Wordiser is quite a complex tool that enables you to do a wide range of complex tasks, so you need to be prepared to invest a little time into understanding it, but there are plenty of tutorials and support to help you along the way.

Here's a short video that should help to give you some idea of the power of this free tool.


You can find links to many more tools like this and activities for the digital classroom in my ebooks at: http://peacheypublications.com/. All my ebooks are available for iOS and as PDF.

Sign up for my twice monthly free newsletter and get a free copy of Digital Tools for Teachers at: https://tinyletter.com/technogogy/ 

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Nik Peachey

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Improve Writing Skills with Peer Evaluation

Getting students to peer evaluate can be a real organisational challenge in the classroom, but now it looks like there is a simple technological solution. Peergrade is a great tool to get students assessing each others’ work and giving each other feedback.
You can create classes and then assign digital assignments that can include a range of different media. These assignments are then sent to students.

The students then complete and submit their tasks online. Once they have submitted their assignment they then grade the assignments of their peers. You can decide on how many peer assignments they have to grade.

After they have graded their peers they are able to find the feedback from their peers on their own work.

As the teacher you can set up rubrics for the students to use when they grade each others' work.

The platform also has a live session mode that enables you to do writing work in the live connected classroom.

Peergrade looks like a really excellent tool to encourage a process approach to writing and to encourage students to think more deeply about how their work is evaluated and what they should be aiming to achieve.

The basic account is free and unlimited. If you want to use this regularly and especially if you want to implement the use of it across your school then it's well worth checking of the other subscription models as it's very reasonably priced and helping to support apps like this is more likely to ensure they continue to develop.

You can find links to many more tools like this and activities for the digital classroom in my ebooks at: http://peacheypublications.com/. All my ebooks are available for iOS and as PDF.


Sign up for my twice monthly free newsletter and get a free copy of Digital Tools for Teachers at: https://tinyletter.com/technogogy/ 

My Books:
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Nik Peachey




Thursday, 28 September 2017

Exploit Interactive Digital Narrative for Language Development

Draw a Stickman site has a collection of short narratives about a Stickman that you can draw with your mouse.

Once you have drawn the man you click a button and he comes to life.

You then follow him through a short adventure and draw in various elements as he needs them and discover what happens to him.
There are three free adventures that students can work through or you can use them in class with a data projector.

These are really imaginative adventures that can inspire students’ creativity.

Draw a Stickman can be used for lots of activities including retelling the story, writing the next chapter of the story or just predicting what will happen as the adventures unfold.

You can find links to many more tools like this and activities for the digital classroom in my ebooks at: http://peacheypublications.com/. All my ebooks are available for iOS and as PDF.

Sign up for my twice monthly free newsletter and get a free copy of Digital Tools for Teachers at: https://tinyletter.com/technogogy/ 

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Nik Peachey

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Get Students Creating Their Own Video Reviews and Resource Library

This is a great tool to make screen-capture videos directly from within your Chrome browser.

Once you have registered and installed the browser plugin, you just go to the page or site and click on the Loom button.

You’ll need to give the plugin permission to use your microphone and webcam, then just click on ‘Start Recording’.

You can choose to record whole screen or just an application window.

Click the plugin button again and your video is instantly uploaded to your profile on the Loom site and the link is copied.

The recording will open in a new browser tab and you can then give it a title and watch it again. You’ll see the website you recorded a webcam image of yourself talking in the lower left corner and a number of fields to type in information and add comments.

You can share a link to the recording through social media, get an iframe embed code or just get a direct link. Once you share it users can watch and leave comments.

Loom is a great tool for teacher training and development and also great to get students speaking, doing website reviews and sharing them together. You can get the students to create their own resource library of useful tools and websites.

I hope you find Loom useful. You can find links to many more tools like this and activities for the digital classroom in my ebooks at: http://peacheypublications.com/. All my ebooks are available for iOS and as PDF.

Sign up for my twice monthly free newsletter and get a free copy of Digital Tools for Teachers at: https://tinyletter.com/technogogy/ 

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Nik Peachey

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Free Reading and Language Development Lessons from DreamReader

DreamReader site was designed specifically for English language learners and has a range of reading texts at different levels.


Each text also has an interactive online quiz and an audio recording of the text. The lessons often focus on particular gramatical features, but have also been classified as:
The materials can also be downloaded as pdf and printed for use in the classroom. Each one also has a downloadable version of the audio file.



Here are a few nice examples:

These materials are great for homework reading assignments or for use in the classroom.

DreamReader is a really useful free resource which is constantly being up-dated with new materials. The site doesn't require any kind of registeration from either students or teachers and only carries a minimum of advertising, so it's a real gem of a site for hard up teachers and certainly something we should share. Thanks to Neil Millington for producing it.

You can find links to many more tools like this and activities for the digital classroom in my ebooks at: http://peacheypublications.com/. All my ebooks are available for iOS and as PDF.

Sign up for my twice monthly free newsletter and get a free copy of Digital Tools for Teachers at: https://tinyletter.com/technogogy/ 

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Nik Peachey

Monday, 25 September 2017

Make PDF Texts into Interactive Online Activities for Blended Learning

This tool enables teachers to build onto more traditional course book based courses and add a blended learning element. Once you have created an account you can upload PDF documents, or buy in text books from publishers or book stores and add them to courses.
You then give your students a code to register on the course and they can access the texts, make notes and annotate the text and build discussions around them.

The site also generates a ‘confusion report’  which can show you where the students are struggling or having problems with the text, then you can deal with the problems in the next class.
When you register as a teacher you need to tell the site which school you teach at. You can try a live demo of a course to see how it works at: https://app.perusall.com/demo

Perusall is a useful tool for turning a face to face course into blended learning without too much extra work.

You can find links to many more tools like this and activities for the digital classroom in my ebooks at: http://peacheypublications.com/. All my ebooks are available for iOS and as PDF.
Sign up for my twice monthly free newsletter and get a free copy of Digital Tools for Teachers at: https://tinyletter.com/technogogy/ 

My eBooks:

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Nik Peachey

Friday, 22 September 2017

Free Reading Passages and Progress Tracking Tools

This site was designed to help grade K5 - K12 native speaker students develop their reading and comprehension skills, but can also be really useful for second language development.
Students can choose from a range of graded texts and get a wide range of interactive activities and reading support. Teachers can also register on the site and assign specific texts to their students.

The reading support tools combine text-dependent comprehension questions and discussion type questions to focus students’ attention as well as text-to-speech and dictionary / glossary type vocabulary support. Students and teachers can also download the text as a pdf file.

CommonLit is great for getting students to work more autonomously on their reading skills.

You can find more tools and activities like these in my ebook 20 Tech Enhanced Activities for the Language Classroom.


The book is available on iOS or as PDF for other devices.

Sign up for my twice monthly free newsletter and get a free copy of Digital Tools for Teachers at: https://tinyletter.com/technogogy/ 

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Nik Peachey

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Find and Create a Variety of Interactive Activities and Assignments for Your Students

This is a really useful collection of activities assignments and tools for teachers and students.
There are lots of ready made interactive activities designed for learners. You can search through these and find something appropriate for our students. Some of these look a bit homemade, but the functionality and design is sound.
There are also tools you can use to create customised content for your students’ specific needs.
For most of the assignments you need to register on the site and create a class. You can then create assignments for students to do and track their progress.
Some of the activities are translation dependent, so registering (which is free) will also help set the language used.

Some of the activities I liked most are The Manga Maker, Vocalyzer, Essay Rank and Error Spotter. For the ones that involve voice you'll need to make sure students are working on Google Chrome.
In some cases the assignments need a little more instruction on how they are created and how they work, but it certainly looks like this is a resource that will continue to develop if it gets support.

Apps 4 EFL is free, but you can help to support it through Patron and it may well be worth doing so if you find it really useful for your students.

You can find more tools and activities like these in my ebook 20 Tech Enhanced Activities for the Language Classroom.

The book is available on iOS or as PDF for other devices.

Sign up for my twice monthly free newsletter and get a free copy of Digital Tools for Teachers at: https://tinyletter.com/technogogy/ 

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Nik Peachey

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Develop Listening Skills with Authentic Materials

Listenwise is an amazingly rich resource for developing listening skills using texts about current events.
The site has a huge collection of ready made listening materials on a really wide range of international topics.
Once you register on the site, you can access listenings and scripts and well as a range of interactive and classroom activities.

Once you select a lesson you can easily get a link to share with your students.
Any teacher can register for free, use the classroom materials and share links to the resources with their students.

To use the interactive online materials and get access to the LMS you need to have a premium account. This will enable you to use and track the materials for homework assignments.
The premium membership will also allow you to customise, adapt and assign the content to specific students or classes.

You can see some examples of the materials here: https://listenwise.com/current_events

Listenwise is a really powerful tool for developing students listening skills and for saving teachers planning time.
You can find links to many more tools like this and activities for the digital classroom in my ebooks at: http://peacheypublications.com/. All my ebooks are available for iOS and as PDF.


Sign up for my twice monthly free newsletter and get a free copy of Digital Tools for Teachers at: https://tinyletter.com/technogogy/ 

My eBooks:

Best
Nik Peachey

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