Thursday, 23 January 2014

Monitoring students during speaking activities

In the “good old days” of the OHP, I always had a clipboard with some thick lined paper and an OHT on top that I used to take notes of student errors. When we got computers and projectors in every classroom, I dreamt of doing this digitally, but never managed it until this term.

On the first day after Christmas, I decided on the spur of the moment to try taking notes using an app I had installed on my Samsung Galaxy 3 some time before. It’s called Fast Notepad. It worked surprisingly well because of the predictive text and as it is a small class I was able simply to use these notes as prompts for my own feedback. I didn't write anything.

That weekend I contributed a couple of lines to a crowd-sourced list of apps for learning English on a TitanPad page and that gave me the idea of using TitanPad in the next class as then I could display my notes and talk about them. Sadly, the internet wasn't working on the second day of class so I couldn’t display anything and then to compound matters I started having connectivity problems on my phone as well. So I was back to using my TitanPad notes as prompts for my feedback. But I did manage to record myself giving them feedback.

For the second class that week, I decided to try Google Drive instead, thinking that would solve any connectivity problems. I installed the Google Drive app on my phone. It was great: the internet worked perfectly; my phone had no problems of connectivity and I was finally able to display my notes on the whiteboard when I gave spoken feedback to the students. I even managed to record my feedback!

The fourth class was problematic again as I kept having connectivity problems with my phone and the Google Drive App doesn't allow you to edit documents offline! I solved the problem by going back to using Fast Notepad, which I discovered had a send to Google Drive option!

Tomorrow, instead of using the app, I shall use Google Drive on the Chrome browser on my phone, which does allow you to edit offline although you have to set this up.


What I did before I began to use Google Drive in class was to create a new document there with a title like, “PINT16 Monitoring Term 2 2013-2014” on my computer at home. I shared it so anyone who has the link can add comments to it, but not edit it. I also made it a favourite so it would be easier to find.

After the first time I used it in class, I sent a message to the students on Edmodo with the link. There are seven students in the class and the document has been looked at 6 times.

Foolishly, I didn't send the same message again after the last class. I must remember to do that every time I add to it. I did it last night!

The idea is to use the same document every day for a given class and I always put the latest notes at the top of the page – reverse chronological order. I also added links to Howjsay for any pronunciation problems and on the two occasions I recorded myself on ipadio, a link to the recording.

The lists of points in my feedback document on Google Drive is now a combination of all four sources: My original Fast Notepad, TitanPad, Google Drive, and Fast NotePad sent to Google Drive. I lot of copying and pasting was needed and I've set the font to 18 to make it easier to read on an IWB .

I’ll try to carry on doing this and recording myself and posting the same link to remind students it’s there after every class and I suppose what I should do is to survey students about what they think of it. Fortunately, Edmodo tracks the number of times it is  accessed over time, so if the number starts dropping off, I’ll know it’s time to do something different.

13 Easy steps to doing the same thing:
  1. sign up for Google Drive
  2. install a simple notepad (Fast NotePad for Android, _______ for Apple)[I haven't tried Simplenote, but it looks OK. Taken from 100 Apps for Taking Notes on Your iPhone
  3. install the Google Drive App for Android or iPhone
  4. Sign up for an account with ipadio (or SoundCloud or Spreaker audioboo only gives you 3 minutes, so it’s not good here) and install the app
  5. Create a document for one of your classes, or each of your classes if you're up for a lot of work!
  6. Share it so anyone with the link can access it and leave comments.
  7. Make it/them favourites so it/they are easier to find
  8. Connect the class computer to Google Drive and sign in. But don't display it.
  9. Open the document you created before and add a title for the day, like ‘PIT16 2013-2014 Term 2 Day 1’
  10. Start taking notes for feedback using Google Drive on the Chrome browser on your mobile phone.
  11. Show your notes on the IWB and give feedback. You can record yourself and add to the notes.
  12. Add pronunciation links to the document and to your recording.
  13. Send a link to the document to your students.

1 comment:

  1. More than a year later I have posted about using WhatsApp to give feedback. In any case I didn't use the ideas expressed above so enthusiastically very often and reverted to writing on the whiteboard at the back of the class. But, I made a point of sharing a photo of my board work with the class via a WhatsApp group and after the class added a recording of myself reading the words and phrases aloud.
    Here's a link to the new post about using WhatsApp to take notes Using WhatsApp to give feedback