Touch and Learn

Everybody is getting used to touch screens. Everybody is doing it with their smart phones and tablets. Students of all ages are now comfortable with this type of technology. Schools should prepare to buy a few iPads to help students learn. It can now only be positive to add an iPad to a student’s development.

There are a lot of good reasons to put iPads in classroom. Every students who start a new project will always start by making reasearch. You have to imagine that any research is standing at the tip of your students’s fingers. It can also be used to find a difficult word in an online dictionnary.You also have to remember that these iPads make a school more eco-friendly. Do you have an idea of how much paper a school can save in a year by using these devices? No textbooks, no print outs and no loose sheet of papers. Schools could save a lot by using e-books and it is easy for students to take notes right in the book, highlite or find a difficult worrd in a dictionnary. Can a student do this in a school textbook? The answer is no…

The tools on an iPad can give a teacher a lot of ideas for new projects. Every iPad has a camera and there are applications that allows you to draw or write straight on the pad with your fingers. Students can create a small comic book by taking pictures and writing dialogues. It helps them with their writing skills and they can have fun at the same time by  taking pictures and putting up sets and costumes. After that they can save it and e-mail their project to the teacher. I would try to use it at its full potential.

It has been said that interactive white boards can be really helpfull with kids who have learning difficulties or a handicap. It helps students to play with words and touch to drag them in the right spot. Tablets work with the same pattern except for the fact that each student can use one. This kind of learning can be very interactive. There is an application on iPad which is called Proloquo2Go. This application say what you type. This can help students who have difficulty to talk with others or death/mute students. It is simple and fast to use. It anticipate the words you type in or has preset words and allows you to save your sentences for further uses.

There are a lot of uses for iPads in a classroom. I could prepare my class with instructions, projects, activities and notes. All there is left to do is sending it by e-mail to students and they can even read it before geting into class and then there is more time to learn! There are also a lot of applications you can use to practice grammar, listening activities and vocabuary exercises. I browsed a little on the Apple Appstore and found around twenty interesting free ESL applications in about three minutes.

In conclusion, using iPads can be really useful for students and teacher. Do you remember when you were young and it was sunny outside? Everybody wanted to go and have classs outside. Well, it is now possible. As long as you get a wi-fi signal. Tablets are, by now, he most versatile tool a student/teacher can have.

 

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IWB: Interactive WhiteBoard

I’ve never thought that using a whiteboard in classroom could be a good idea. Don’t get me wrong, I love using new technology, but those boards look complicated to use.

Everytime I see a teacher  using it, something goes wrong. The teacher wants to click and scroll down a page and he ends up zooming out or in and lose his idea while getting the board back in place.

I always keep an open mind on new things and made a few research. I found a lot of interesting things about these boards. The first one and probably the most interresting is that you can take notes directly on the board while you tech the students. But not only you can take notes, you can save these notes with all the writings and drawings the teacher added in class. Then you can send these notes to your students or keep them to see what has been learned or print it out for students.

There are more advantages to use whiteboards in the classsroom. Although it is expensive, a whiteboard can save your school some money. Buying one whiteboard is cheaper than buying a few computers by classroom.

In addition, it is perfect for students’ classroom participation. Students look like they love to play on the board. It allows all the students to participate at the same time. When one student is up front, all the others are looking at what he does trying to help him if he does an error.

Because I am an ESL teacher there is an activity I prefer and it is the revealing vocabulary activity. It allows the teacher to practice vocabulary covered in previous classes or to introduce new vocabulary. It is pretty easy to build. All you have to do is write words with pictures of the word above it. Then you hide the words by using a white shape. Then you erase the shape and slowly reveal the word. It is all shown here.

To conclude this post I would like to say that I changed my mind about whiteboards. They look more and more atractive to me. The only thing is that I need practice. Like everything else, practice makes perfect!

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Useful Youtube

Do you remember when you were a kid and the teacher would screen a movie for a whole afternoon? Well, it looks like videos are more useful than we think. There are a lot of ways to use Youtube in a classroom and still teach the kids.

A lot of teachers will use it as a reward for students. I think it is a good way to motivate children to behave and do their activities. What a privilege for students to watch their favorite videos with their classsmates on a huge screen using the classroom projector. It is also a good way for a teacher to fill the last five minutes of his class if his students are all done with their work. Nobody is fool enough to start a new activity with only five minutes left on the clock.

It is also a good way to start a project with your students. If I had to introduce a new subject or give my students a research project, I would prefer to show them a video explaining the subject that will only take a few minutes of my time instead of reading or make my students read about it. I don’t know what it is about screens, but students tend to be less agitated and more focused when there is a screen involved instead of a boring teacher.

In fact, you can do talk and present a video at the same time. You can integrate Youtube videos inside a Powerpoint presentation. To be more effective with Youtube in your classroom, all you have to do is create your own channel and you can build a playlist with all the videos you want to show your students. It will never be deleted. That way, the teacher can use year after year.

Using Youtube opens the door to a lot of activities that a teacher can do with his students. I could have my students doing a project and insted of making an oral presentation they could make a Youtube video out of it. They would upload it to a classroom channel for students by students. That way, everything is archived and videos can be watched again and again.

Some teachers use Youtube to put online lessons they did in class. It’s good for students who might want to do exercices again or just understand something they didn’t get the first time.

The other to see Youtube as a tool to use at home for students is to put content that need to be watched by students before class. There is a science teacher named Ramsey Musallam (this is his other channel for teachers)  who does that. When the students get in class, they already know what will be covered and they save a lot of time. The more time the students have to do exercises, the more they retain the information. Plus, it doesn’t feel like they are studying on doing homeworks because it is part of their routine to browse on Youtube.

Even youtube has  join the educational party. They have a Youtube site only for educational purposes. I don’t know how many hours of my time I have lost watching videos on EDU Youtube.

There would be a lot more to say about Youtube in a classroom and I can’t find anything wrong about it. Students are used to waste their time on Youtube. Why not use their time on Youtube in a constructive way. That is what I’m aiming for and I will certainly use Youtube in my classroom.

 

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Mind Maps! Mind Maps everywhere!

I always wondered how I could organize my ideas. A few years ago one of my teachers showed me the rudiments of mind mapping. I found it was a great idea for me at the time. I used it a lot for my advertisements projects.

A quick history

People have been organizing things on paper for centuries, but the first man to claim the invention of mind mapping as we know it is Tony Buzan. He claimed that the brain prefers to scan a sheet in a non-linear way instead of scanning it from top to bottom and left to right.

How it works

mind-map-artistiqueMind mapping is way to organize thoughts by using all your brain. You start with a central point or idea. Then you can join secondary ideas or branches to your graphic. You can do this process how many times you want. It is suggested to associate a color to a certain topic (branch). You should also use keywords so it won’t get polluted with useless information. You may also use drawings or pictures. This way you organize your thoughts and stimulate the brain.

Why use mind mapping

You can use mind mapping for a lot of purposes:

-solving problems

-joining words and visuals

-writing course notes/making course notes

-helping you study

Personal appreciation

I have used mind mapping for a long time but always did it on paper with color pencils. I still find it a lot useful. Everything goes so fast in my head that it is a real challenge to put it in order and put it down on paper. I used first with an ad project and did one to clarify a brainstorming that went in four different directions. Using drawings helped me associate a visual to an idea and helped my team create a product of quality.

Xmind

It is the only mind mapping software I use because it is user friendly, I can use it for many purposes and there is a free version. It offers many templates that the user can use such as project management, cause and effect, meeting management, plans, dashboards and analysis board. The only thing I don’t like about this software is its lack of customization. There are some certain links between branches i can’t do and it bothers me a little.

Conclusion

Mind mapping is a great tool to master because it can be useful in many cases. The software I use is easy to use and can say I lie it even with is lack of customization. I am using the free version of Xmind. The real version may be more complete but I can live with this small problem if I can save 99$.

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