One Learner’s Journey

MaryH’s blog for reflecting on the EVO08 SMiELT session

Collaborative projects through tags on Flickr February 10, 2008

Flickr and Food. Inspiration for this post was gained from this found photo of Buckeyes and my related post about Chinswing, where I explain how Buckeye candy relates to Ohio culture! Wouldn’t it be fun to extend the conversation of food, culture, recipes, and cooking even further outside the classroom? I wanted to think of a way to use Flickr to help make these kinds of connections with language students and teachers in other parts of the world possible.

There are so many ways to use the photos found on Flickr in the classroom! Recently my mind is on the power of tagging. It is easy to look for photos with a certain tag in Flickr, but the real power of tagging and Flickr, and essentially of social media, is to use the tags to find, connect, and share with people who have similar interests. What does that mean for the language learner or language teacher? Here is my idea for a online collaborative project using Flickr.

Scenario A (no social media): One common class assignment is to write a process essay. In my writing classes, students often choose to explain how to make their favorite dish; in other words, they choose to write a recipe. Then, they write down the steps in paragraph form and turn their paper in to me for a grade. Read on for Scenario B (or how writing a process essay could be made more interesting by incorporating social media).

Scenario B (using social media): Students write process essays explaining how to make their favorite dish. In order to add more writing, students can add additional personal comments, such as why they wrote about this dish, what this dish reminds them of, and/or what special meaning this dish has for them or their culture. Next, students take a picture of their dish. Then, both the written work and the photo are uploaded to Flickr and tagged.

Much along the lines of the writingmatrix project where students tag their blog posts with the tag writingmatrix, students could tag their Flickr photos and recipes with a unique tag. Updated: Let’s use the tag “globalcookbook” to connect! Then, students can easily read and comment on not only their classmates’ work, but if the project were publicized, then they could read and comment on the work of students in other cities or countries. The conversations about their recipes, photos, and feelings could be extended to a larger audience, and students could explore the intersections of food and culture further.

Food is something that unites everyone. Although I haven’t tried this before, I think it could be motivating for many learners. For instance, adult learners who have recently moved to a new country often enjoy swapping recipes from their home countries, and learning how to use the ingredients of the new country. Even young adults and teenagers in an EFL context would enjoy sharing their favorite foods and recipes; furthermore, they would most likely enjoy the opportunity to make connections with others through English! Shall we give it a try? Any more ideas about tagging and Flickr? In what other ways could students work collaboratively via Flickr?

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