- Keywords: Class introductions, mobile devices, computers, video, collaboration, Padlet, YouTube
- Learner English level: Any level
- Learner maturity: University
- Preparation time: 20 minutes
- Activity time: 90 minutes
- Materials: Mobile phones, computers with Internet connection (learners require a YouTube or Google account)
Icebreakers and self-introduction activities are an integral part of the lesson plan when a group meets for the first time. However, whilst the teacher will always try to remember something about each learner as quickly as possible, in larger groups, after the first few sessions, it can become increasingly difficult to encourage some students to communicate beyond their new close circle of friends. Variables such as personality traits, motivation, and learner anxiety all play a part.
Making video introductions and exhibiting them on a web-based class bulletin board not only offers a permanent profile of each student for the teacher, but also provides a virtual space that the students themselves can visit during the course in order to get a little background information on each other.
Step 1: Visit the Padlet website, open a free account andcreate an online bulletin board for your class.
Step 2: Customize your board using the menuoptions and change the privacy settings (protecting the wall with a password and opting for the “Can Write” mode is recommended).
Step 3: Give your bulletin board page a unique URL using the Address option from the menu.
Step 4: Record your own short self-introduction on a mobile device and upload to YouTube, setting the privacy as “unlisted.”
Step 5: Click anywhere on your Padlet class bulletin board page and paste your YouTube video link into the dialogue box that appears.
Step 1: Put students into groups of two or three.
Step 2: Have students open a web browser on their computers and give them the link and password to the Padlet class bulletin board you created.
Step 3: Tell students that the goal of the lesson is to make a short self-introduction video (about one minute) and upload it to the bulletin board for other students in the class to see.They could include information such as hometown details, free-time interests, learning goals, and so forth. Show your video as an example.
Step 4: Allow students time to shoot their videos using mobile phones.
Step 5: Have students upload their videos to YouTube, setting the privacy option to “unlisted” (if settings on phones don’t allow for direct upload to the YouTube site, another method is to mail the video to an account that can be opened on their computer—the attached video can then be downloaded and transferred easily to YouTube).
Step 6: Ask students to link their YouTube videos to the Padlet class page.
Although some learners may not have experience of uploading videos to YouTube, I have found that by working cooperatively in pairs or small groups, they can usually resolve any problems that arise; indeed, the more “tech-savvy” students are often willing to take on the additional role of classroom assistant!
Padlet itself has an attractive layout and, as a free, user-friendly application, it is a useful addition to any teacher’s armoury. As a one-off lesson idea, this activity is a fun and motivating way for students to introduce themselves, but it also provides opportunities for follow-up work. For example, students can watch a different person’s video each week as preparation for short conversation work. This is particularly beneficial for lower level students who often find it difficult to formulate questions during conversations.