I’m Glogging it!

I found last week an awesome tool to use with young kids. It is called Glogster. Do you remember how dull powerpoint presentation can be? Well, I can. I also remember the expression: death by powerpoint. How can you create interest in young peolple’s mind with a black on white visual support. Glogster to the rescue!

Glogster is an amazing tool you can use to create posters over the internet. These posters can be used like powerpoint slides, but cooler.  You can even make them interactive (see the one with the whales). These allows student to get very creative with their visual support. You can also insert videos straight from youtube.

There are a lot of upsides to this incredible tool. It is fun, creative, keeps students up to date with technoloy, etc.

For teaches, it is a way to have visual support without boring the students. A teacher coruld also create a webquest by using a glogster. A teacher can also gice an assesment where a student do a resesarch and exposes his findings on a glogster and present it for 5 minutes. It is fun and creative for the students. So it is for te teacher!

I tried it with my friend. We both did three posters and voted who had the best. We had the same three subjects and didn’t come up with the same posters at all. I think that is because ever student think differently. That means you can have your class researching the same subject and each presentation would have something different. That is fun for a teacher!

I hope I convinced you to use it. At least do it for your students. It is fast and really fun. I guess they also prefer to present their in front of the class when they have something pretty to show.

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Social networks?

I was browsing teachers’ blogs when I found this one. It is true that facebook can be a teacher’s worst enemy, even his nemesis. This blog proposes some way to fight social networks. Instead, we, as teachers, should embrace social networks and use them as a teaching tool.

The first thing that popped in my head was the safety issues. As a teacher, I don’t want my students spying on my facebook page. There are a few ideas to keep it safe between students and teacher. A teacher ca create a professional account that he uses with his students. The students can do the same. They may be shy about having their English teacher browsing through their party pictures. Why don’t they create a student account. I guess the best tough is for students to use their main account (I’ll explain later). If you do not believe me yet, there is an whole article on e-safety here.

There are aa lot of ways to use social networks with ESL students. You can use a facebook page as a place to drop assignment. If you want students to use it often, don’t put assignments on the page, put bonus assignments that get students binus points. You can also use it to give some notes to students in advance. They read it at home and it gives you more practice time in class. It feels like using a blog page (as I wrote before). The difference is that Facebook feels more like a two way communication page. You can find more tips here

Moreover, students don’t use blogs so much. But, they seem to spend their whole life on their Facebook page. If you want something to be seen by your students, post it on Facebook. That is why I suggest for your students to use their personal account. They will always get notifications. You will be part of their routine!

Just like making a Google document together, your students can do creative writing with Twitter. They each write a line. All you need is to create your own hashtag (#Lucy’sclass).

They can also use the class’s Facebook page to share their work and get some feedback from other students. This will be a positive experience. Students can also discuss together or with the teacher if they encounter some difficulties.

I found a lot more information on this website. There are many useful links. I hope you enjoy your online experience! Your students will be really happy about it!
 

 

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Being On a Quest!

I had a webquest to create this week. I thought it would be a good idea to blog about it.I had a lot of fun desinging my website at first an then i started creating my quest and had a blast.

If you don’t know what a webquest is, you should have a look at this website. The ultimate goal of a webquest is to have sstudents doing a meaningful task that is not directly linked to the subject they are studying but use it. Moreover, the information used by the learner mostly comes from the internet(as called a WEBquest…). 

The basic point is that you create an activity that has a final and ultimate goal that is called a task. The journey a student takes on a webquest is built around many steps that is called the process.

The best thing about a webquest, according to me, is that the students learn by themselves. The teacher who created the quest is there to help but the students can mostly do the job by themselves. The teacher find some creative, fun, and useful websites that explains to students what they need to do to complete the task.

Another good thing about a webquest is that it helps students to use technology (a.k.a computers and internet). For those who are computer freaks, it is fun for them. Every kid would prefer doing a ‘homework’ on a computer using the internet rather than open a boring book and write a paper. 

This site is a gold mine for teachers who are ready to give their first webquest to students. They are ready to use if you can’t design your own yet. The good thing about webquests is that they are all almost free of rights. Teachers let other teachers use or adapt their designed webquests.

If you are ready to design your own webquest, here‘s a website that explain the types of tasks you can use and also gives you a few examples.

A STRONGLY recommand you to use webquest with your students. They love being on a computer and they have much research to do. It is also really motivating for students to do something by themselves. They can also do it at home as a homework.

Have a good time!

 

 

 

 

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Google Drives me Nuts

I am an old user of dropbox. I used it a lot while I studied in advertisement and had documents to show or send to my clients. Two weeks ago, I was introduce to the google drive tools including google docs. I tested it for two weeks. I even changed my official hotmail adress for my new gmail adress. Google is really conquering the world of technologies.

I thought about it for a while and I found a few ways to integrate those tools in teaching English as a second language (ESL). The most common way to use it is to create a classroom google drive where all the students can save their assignments. Moreover, it is possible for the teacher to read them and leave comments in the google doc itself. Then the students can correct their assignments. Everything was done in the same document without using any paper! Another good point in favor of the google drive is that students can share their work with others. 

Some students may not like other students peeping on their work. If it is the case and your students are over 13 years old, they can use their own google account. This they can only share their assignments with you.

There are more ways to use it. This website has a lot to offer. I think the best activity that is offered on this website would be the one where students work together on the same google doc. They can write a story by taking turns. The best way to use the document simultaneously would be to use it for a brainstorrm. Every idea is good in a brainstorm. Students can make lists of subjectss at the same time without talking and just pitching ideas. Moreover, you can work on an assignment at school, save it and finish it at home without even using a flashdisk.

If you want to use other google tools, Here‘s a good project.You can ask your students to point places on a google map where they would like to travel or where they’ve been and make a presentation about it. Making them plan a vacation or tell about an old vacation.

Let’s also talk about google translator. It’s not that accurate but if your students don’t feel like looking a word up in the dictionnary, they sure can look it up in only one click.

There are a lot of good reasons to use google drive and other google tools. I did use them for the last couple of  weeks and I didn’t find anything really bad about it.

 

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A Little Birdie Told Me…

I was looking for something interesting to talk about and I found on Esl Jam a nice little website that can help children write a story. This application is called Storybird. I played a little bit with it to get an idea of how much fun we can have with this little bird.

All you have to do to use Storybird is to go on their website, sign up for free and start using it. You can invite your class and your students in your Storybird session. There is a video here that explains it very well.

The best thing about this application is that it is really easy to use. You open a new project and all you have to do is drag and drop a drawing on a blank canvas and write a few sentences. It automatically creates a new book. Here‘s an example of a story.

Other than being easy to use, many students can write on the same story. You invite your friends or other students by e-mail and you write the first page. Then the other student write the second and back and forth.

I think it should be adopted by all young students’ teachers. It is hard to make young learners write. But the pictures can help them get inspired. Moreover, they don’t have to write a lot. A few sentences is enough for young students to learn and practice basic grammar rules. If students take turns in writing a Storybird, it can be seen as a game or at least an opportunity to have some fun.

There are many ways to use it. This teacher has a good activity designed for her students.

There is somthing else I wanted to write about: the rtwork is really nice! I enjoyed a lot of these drawings. Some of them made me laugh and almost all of them at least made me smile.

If I had one suggestion to give to a teacher who has difficulty to make his students write would be to try Storybird at least once. I am 24 years old and I had so much fun with it. Why not a bunch of 12 years old.

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ABC, Easy as 1,2,3!

When you teach something, it is hard to get attention of the students. It is even harder to guess if they understand what you just told them. There is a simple solution to that problem. I found it while I was watching The Infinite Thinking Machine show. It is called Socrative.

What Is It?

It is a simple application that help you size the ammount of what is understood by your students, and more! You how it is hard to get an answer from students. Well those times are over because they can answer on their electronic device and the teacher gets the answers. The best comparison I have is the ”Ask the crowd” thing from Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Let’s not forget that this application is free to use.

How Does It Work?

You should try it here. It is so easy to use. All students need is an electronic device that has a web browser and a wi-fi connection. The teacher can ask questios orally, write them down on the board or create quizzes in advance and store them on their teacher account. Students go on the socrative website with either any smartphone, a tablet, a laptop or even with an old computer. They connect to the room number that is given to the teaacher and the tests can begin.

Why Use It?

You can evaluate how fast your students learn and what they learned. This application offers you the chance to get the answers by e-mail in the form of an excel table or online as a Googlo spreadsheet. It can make correction easier and faster for some teachers.

A Few Examples

There are a few kind of tests ready to use. There are true or false, multiple choice and short answers. There is also a thing called a Exit Tickets. It asks students to write what they learned and what they need for next class. You can do that before they leave class every day.

There is also a thing called a space race quiz. The quiz is saved on the teacher’s account and you project the race on the smart board or the projector. See the video at the bottom of the page.

Personal Thoughts

I couldn’t find a negative review about this student response system. Here is a good one. I also think it is good for a teacher to know how much his students learn. You can spot someone who has a problem really quickly with this tool. The problem may also be the teacher himself who has difficulty explainnig certain parts of his program.

I also think it changes the mood of the class. You can give a class participation grade. Everybody has to answer along the class, therefore they have to listen. Some teachers have a problem with cellphones, Ipod touch, etc. These teachers have to understand that these devices will be the most low-tech devices these students will ever have. I think Socrative is a good way to use devices in classes and keep students interested and use the technology offered to us.

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Blog on Blogs

I use blogs almost every day. If I don’t write one, I read one. I can also go on youtube and watch a vlog. I do it just to stay aware about what I like. I am not the only one who does it. Almost everybody does it too. Then why not use blogs in a classroom.

It is an easy way for a teacher to create a learning space on the internet. As a teacher I could put notes, charts, tabs and pictures with a short article to explaain it. Everything would be in chronological order from the most recent to the oldest. Then, students can read and know when to stop because they read the rest before.

Possibilities are infinite. It is practicle because you can post futur assignments with guidelines, reference websites, videos, music and more. It is also good for students. They can team up and do summaries or discussions on books orshort stories. Blog is a good way to do that because of the comment section. You can ask studentss to analyse and comment a poem. They can use the earlier comments to make their own and engage in a discussion over a subject. Blogs are as creative as you want them to be.

Students spendd a lot of time on the computer when they’re at home. The teacher has to make sure that looking at the class’ blog is part of his students’ routine. If they have a look at the blog three times a week. They are sure to never miss something new. To increase the chances of success, you can post critical information on it like: special notes, an exam answer or a pop quizz alert!

There are a lot of benefits for students in a blog. It increases the quality of their work. Students tend to work and write better when they know they have an audience. Their work can be read by everyone on the internet.

There can be some issues with school poilicy about security. Some schools won’t allow you to post online some pictures with students’ names. Therefore, as a teacher, you have to make sure that all the school board is ok with you doing a blog with students and parents should be asked too (just in case).

There are a few websites I found that can assure you the best of success with a class blog: edublogs. It is a secure and reliable site. If you want, you can block the blog so only students can write and read it. It is also really creative and offers a lot of tools to help teachersstay in control of their web page.

I hope you all blog a lot with your students. I will surely do in about 3 years from now.

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