Creativity with IT: Using Edpuzzle
Martin Cooke is originally from the United Kingdom, but now lives in southern Taiwan. He teaches English at the Kaohsiung campus of the International Trade Institute. His current professional interests include developing learner autonomy, finding creative ways of teaching listening, and developing a practical methodology for teaching public speaking and presentation skills to Taiwanese adult learners. You can find him via his blog at martinesl.com, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This is a technology-assisted lesson plan which minimises the need for printed handouts. By the end of the class, learners will be able to answer questions and present information on a topic that they
- First, select a short video from YouTube or another source, and watch it carefully to ensure that the content and language are suitable for your learners (your learners will watch the video twice, so the length of the video you select will depend on how long your lesson is going to be). It also helps if the video is based on a topic the learners are interested in!
Then adapt the video via Edpuzzle, adding a mix of comprehension, group and pair discussion and immediate-response questions (depending on your group’s abilities, needs and interests) that will appear as the video is played (examples can be seen here, here and here). Again, the number and type of questions you ‘embed’ in the video depends on the amount of time you will have in class. Make sure you keep the link for the original video.
- Then find (or create) 3-4 images, based on the theme of your selected video, which can be used to generate interest in the topic and check how much your students already know. For example, if your video is about education, you could use images of a school, teachers, classrooms, books, etc.
- You will also need to set up a page for online collaboration that can be provided to the learners in-class and accessed immediately. Trello and Padlet are examples of software than enable teachers to do this (I prefer to use Trello, so will refer to this for the rest of the lesson plan). It is often much quicker to turn the link for your (e.g.) Trello page into a QR code that your learners will be able to scan and access easily – this can be shown on the screen after your video ends. If following this lesson plan, create ‘tabs’ on a Trello page numbered from 1 to 8, 9 or 10.
On the day
- This lesson plan is best used in environments where a BYOD (bring your own device) policy is in place. Students can use their smart phones, tablets or laptops. They will need to use the internet, so make sure your Wi-Fi can handle the potential extra load.
- You’ll also need to use the class PC and (if possible) projector. Check the internet is working!
- Learners should bring their notepads or some scrap paper (plus pens and pencils). You will also need markets for the whiteboard.
- Tell your learners that they are going to watch a video. Before this, you will show them 3 – 4 images that are related to the theme of the video. The images will help the learners to guess what the video is about before they watch.
- Then show the images, for about 10 to 20 seconds each. Learners should not speak or write anything down (yet) -their objective is to try to work out the theme based on what they see. After the last image has been shown, get them to discuss and guess the theme in small groups for around 2 minutes. Monitor for vocabulary and lexis that relates to the topic. Then check, getting students to explain their guesses.
Next, show the video. Students should watch and listen (they should not be making notes at this point). When the questions appear, ask a student to read them aloud for the group. Allocate an appropriate amount of time for any discussion questions. It’s also possible to re-watch segments of the video if necessary.
After the Edpuzzle video has ended, inform the group that they are going to watch the video again. This time, they will need to make notes. They should listen for any key information that would be useful if they had to explain the video to someone who hasn’t seen it. After the video ends, they will need to check and compare with their groups.
Then play the original video in full (not the Edpuzzle one). After the video ends, groups can discuss together. The teacher should monitor for good examples of language as well as any errors that need to be dealt with. The teacher can also help with any outstanding language difficulties.
- In their groups, learners will now write at least five questions, based on the theme of the video, that they want to know the answers to. One member of the group will write these down. Then, the whole class checks together, and selects the eight to ten most important questions. These are then written on the board, checked for spelling and grammar, and numbered.
- The Trello board is then loaded and the link is provided to the group (give them time to log in). Tell the group that question 1 on the class whiteboard corresponds to tab 1 on the Trello board. Learners should now work together to answer their questions with as much information as they can find online in the allotted time, but also need to organise themselves so that they don’t duplicate information or all try to answer the same questions. I usually give ten to twelve minutes, depending on the number of questions and size of the overall class.
So, for example, if the group has seen a video about the International Space Station (ISS), they might have asked
which countries are involved? (1)
what do the crew do on the ISS? (2)
how many astronauts have been on the ISS? (3)
The ability to use online information means that the group could answer question 1 above with facts such as the names and locations of the countries, capital cities, populations, names of their respective space agencies, and so on. In answering question 2, they could use images to illustrate the scientific and other activities that take place, and in answering question 3 they may be able to find profiles of the astronauts. It’s really up to them.
The teacher can monitor students and assist where necessary – it’s also cool to see the previously blank screen fill up with information and images.
Checking and presenting
- After the time limit for the research stage has passed, allow the groups a few more minutes to check and review the information they have gathered. Some parts may need to be omitted or altered at this point.
- Then, review each question with the class, asking individual students (or pairs of students) to explain the answers and present information using the Trello tabs (try to get students to answer questions they didn’t look at in the research stage if possible). Students who are answering questions should also be prepared to respond to further questions from their peers and from the teacher.
- At the end of the class, keep the Trello page available so that students can refer to it in their own time. If you must assign homework, allow the students to choose it, so long as it’s related to the topic they’ve just covered in the class.
The role of creativity in my classroom
I don’t think that there are necessarily any ‘rules’ that we should follow if we want to be creative, but I do have three ideas that might help to put my own sense of creativity into a context. Read on!
Don’t be a perfectionist
Creativity isn’t about producing perfect results every time (though it’s arguable that mastery might get teachers close to that point). Teachers who strive for constant perfection may in fact lack the bravery that’s required to be creative.
I remember trying loads of new ideas when I was a novice teacher, and while not everything worked, my enthusiasm meant that the learners rarely noticed (creativity in teaching always means a plan B). I was able to reflect and learn more from trying inventive and often loosely structured approaches than I perhaps would have if I’d carried out a meticulously crafted lesson in which every activity was planned to the last second.
I try to maintain that sense of enthusiasm by constantly experimenting. Technology is constantly changing and improving, and I’ve used lots of software and apps in ways that suit my learners’ needs. At the same time, finding that ‘sweet spot’ at the crossroads of methodology and pedagogy is something that always requires creativity.
Tired, jaded and unimaginative teachers grumble about not being able to teach the same lesson the same way to two different groups. Creative teachers cherish it.
Creativity is not spontaneity
Sometimes we mistakenly associate creativity with spontaneity, believing that the most creative teachers are able to produce dazzlingly original ideas on the spur of the moment. Being adaptable is important for creativity, but – at least in my experience – creative teaching isn’t just about trying something and hoping for the best.
The creativity of children often comes from trying something just to see what happens. For teachers, the ‘trying something’ part still holds true, although we have the advantage of being able to take a longer view and see if our creative endeavours will help our learners to reach their goals. If you’re a good teacher, I’d argue that creativity will help you reach whatever goals you have, although it’s sometimes worth considering whether the goals themselves need to be reconsidered.
Your students will be as creative as you are
I work in Asia, and ever since I became a teacher, I’ve heard people say that Asian students lack creativity. This is a myth! I honestly believe that, no matter where in the world you teach, your learners will be as creative as you are. Like it or not, you’re a role model for them, and if you think that the only thing they’re supposed to learn from you is English or mathematics or metalwork, you’re doing it wrong.
I love seeing how my students often adopt an idea that I’ve introduced and take it in new and amazing directions that I could never have conceived. A good example is the learner-created podcast series that I helped to set up a few months ago. This is now evolving into a fully student-led project, providing them with a way of showing their own creativity and sense of autonomy. A further example can be seen in the lesson plan below.
Please check the Methodology and Language for Secondary course at Pilgrims website.
Please check the Teaching Advanced Students course at Pilgrims website.
Please check the Practical uses of Technology in the English Classroom course at Pilgrims website.
Please check the Practical uses of Mobile Technology in the English Classroom course at Pilgrims website.
Creativity with IT: Using Edpuzzle
Martin Cooke, UK and Taiwan
Students Use Webtools and Create Interactive Games Based on Museums
Eleni Tsagari, Greece