Using Prezis: part two

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Using Prezis for teaching

In my last post about Prezis I looked at the basics and if you’ve been inspired to go and try making your own, you’ll have seen that it really is incredibly simple to use but the results are, to say the least, spectacular.

There are, however, one or two pitfalls to avoid and I’d like to talk about those today as well as showing you a few more specific prezis I’ve been working on with learners.

1. Structure

Although the mindmap quality to prezis is great it does mean that if you’re not careful you can end up with what can best be described as unstructured chaos! This has definitely happened to me. To avoid this it’s really good to use with frames and layering and there is an excellent video on this subject here:

Since we can add all kinds of images to Prezi these can be used for the underlying structure or we can simply use frames and larger and smaller text types.

2. Space things out

This is really important too as the closer things are the more squashed up they look and this doesn’t make for easy viewing. The board that you work on is actually enormous so you can afford to spread things out which is kinder on the eye.

Different Uses for language teaching

As you can see I’m hooked and I made three new ones this week. One was the storytelling prezi I showed you in the last post, but then I went on to do a travel journal since it is summer, and a lot of people are travelling. I showed this in class and then gave a brief introduction on using Prezi before sending my learners off to make their own travel journals. Watch this space for the results.

Of course, we can use them for lots of other things, although I do think this medium lends itself particularly well to discussions and storytelling. My latest experiment was to use Prezi to make a Needs Analysis which I have now incorporated into my distance learning wiki.

So, I wish everyone “Happy Prezying!” and I’d be really interested to hear how other people are using them too, so do let me know.

Using Prezis: an introduction

Where do I start?

Hi everyone,

Well, I said I was going to be working with prezis and here I am. I’m going to include two videos today, which I have put on YouTube. The first one is a video I made of a prezi I set up to do work on story telling with my Upper Intermediate (B2) learners. The video goes quite quickly and in real life you can pause the prezi to leave time for discussion in class and also provide access to the prezi so that everyone can look at it again when they want to to gather their thoughts etc.

Storytelling with Prezi

The second video is actually the first one in a short series I am making for teacher training purposes. It show you where to go, how to set up an account and goes through the basic skills you need to make a Prezi. This is only an introduction and will be followed by more in depth looks at different types of lessons that can be made and techniques that can be used.

Have fun!

Using Prezi for Language Teaching 1

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Recharging your batteries

This is a time of year when a lot of those working in education feel close to burnout. It’s hard to explain this to anyone not working in the field, as is probably true of most jobs, but at the end of the academic year it feels as though you are carrying the whole weight on your shoulders of your learners, their fears, hopes and dreams, what they have or have not learned and what they should or should not do next.

This is why we need a break, and it is not simply a matter of indulgence but a real necessity if we want to rediscover our enthusiasm, sanity and health. In my case I was very worked up, in the middle of organising a demanding exam session for approximately 2 thousand students in my university, and quite frankly we could have done with more support. (There were only two of us in charge of this). It becomes hard to see beyond the next list that needs to be drawn up or the next student who has a problem to solve, when you are doing this and the sight of an optimistic publisher’s representative, trying to interest you in new coursebooks just tends to make the knot of anxiety in your stomache tighten all the more, until you run gasping to the nearest café to drown your sorrows in

A cool refreshing beer

beer or, in my case, prosecco.

So, this, coupled with the heat and excessive humidity the North of Italy is currently being cursed with, explains the general exodus to pastures if not green at least a long way from the university, that occurs at the end of June.

Recovery

I decided I had to get away to the sea. My whole being was longing to be by the water, watching the changing colours of the sea and just letting my whirling thoughts and fears calm down. Due, however, largely to the unwelcome attentions of the tax office I was short of money and this means you need to get creative! So, I went to Albania, where I discovered a whole new world (More about this later.) After one or two days in a new place my thoughts had magically stopped thinking about lists and taxes ( I had even managed to stop dreaming about ringing telephones) and I “found myself” (I’m never sure if I can really say this in English, but I definitely can in Italian and it describes the sensation so well.) I was just me, sitting in front of the water, relaxing, not needing to feel inadequate, stressed or afraid, and I began to wonder why I was always afraid at the university when I know that I generally try to do my best and I can’t do more than that, can I?

There’s nothing like going somewhere new to rediscover what you are really interested in so soon my thoughts turned again to teaching and language. I love to make journeys into stories and I am now going to use the photos, videos and reflections from this journey to make a storytelling lesson with Prezi. I particularly like this sight because of its zooming function so that you can guide your viewers to the things you would like them to concentrate on, even though they don’t have to do it like that f they don’y want to. I’m not going to write any more about this exciting project just yet, until I’ve tried it out and developed exactly what I want to do. Then I’ll let you all know…

In any case, the moral of this story I think is that when you are surrounded by stress, negativity etc. etc. the best thing to do is to stop and take a break.

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