Blog 9 – Popplet, an easy and fun tool to discover

“Some 56% of respondents use Popplet to enhance English class activities with their students.” There are many programs available for the creation of mind-maps, and Popplet is one of them. I found its visual very simple but attractive, and its applications very easy to use and good enough for language learners’ uses of every school grade level. I would use Popplet principally for brainstorming before beginning a new activity or writing a text. The website proposes eight popplets examples with very different designs. It gives us a good idea of what it is possible to create when organizing our mind-map. So, after I would have given a topic, students can use the program to write down all their ideas about a topic. They can do it one by one or in team. There are a few options for text: three different font sizes, and three alignment choices. It is always the same color, which is black, and always the same font. So, no student can loose a long time changing the appearance of their writing and energy is all put on the brainstorming. 

I see two principal ways of using Popplet in language learning classroom. They can be alone, and create the popplet for themselves, or in team. I would certainly create teams so they can have the advantages of cooperative learning. By doing the first part of the work individually, they will develop their capacity to use the program, they will explore and acquire knowledge and self-confidence, and by sharing their discoveries with teammates, they will learn even more on the topic, the program and develop their cooperation behavior.

In team, I see two ways to create make them in team. All teammates could be around a single computer to complete the brainstorming orally. But that way, only one student would be writing the information. Even if they take turn, it will be very annoying and stressful for the student who writes every idea that other teammates tell him at the same time. But, an option that could be interesting too and that I would prefer is making all participants participate to the mind map using their own computer with their individual connection. This give you a much more quiet classroom. Also, if they create the Popplet document in team, working from different computers, they can use a different color to distinguish ideas from one student to the other. For the teacher, it gives a good idea of the participation of every student. Primarily to any in-team task using Popplet, I would give some rules to follow. For example, I won’t do very big teams. I think that teams of 2 or 3 students will be big enough to avoid fighting on priority of ideas because students could all have at the same idea while thinking on the topic. Also, if they are only 2, no student will get discouraged seeing the other teammate writing down all their new ideas.

To make it fair for everyone, I would introduce the activity by making them talk a little on a topic before the activity of mind-mapping in team. So they can discuss and individually choose one specific direction for their thinking. They could have 2 minutes to put ideas on the popplet mind-map, each of them having one subdivision of the topic. I would ask them to use only one color of poppies.  Following that, they could have 2 more minutes to add popples on their teammate’s subdivision. That way, they have time to see what their teammate have written and can add personal and non-mentioned ideas. If I want to know their level of participation, students will be asked to use their personal color through all the activity. If it is not the case, and that I want them to make it more comprehensible for a following class sharing activity, I would ask them to keep the color of the mind-map’s subdivisions. The lines between the poppies also create a real connection between all ideas of the same division. 

In Popplet, it is also possible to add images or videos. The program offers you to take them on Flickr, Facebook, Youtube, or to download them from your computer. As a following exercise to the mind-map with words, I would ask students to do researches online using the key words used in the mind-map. So, for each idea, they could try to find an illustration or a video related to each idea. They can also use the drawing option, but the pencil is really hard to use, and only seven colors are offered. I would use it for easy images like a sun, a happy face, a cloud, or a stick figure.

The last thing I want to mention about Popplet, it the zoom option. I find it interesting because, when I would like to project students’ popplets on the smart board and keep students’ attention on what I am talking about, I can zoom and only show the popple that I need, and I can move to another popple only by dragging with my computer mouse. This technique could also be used by students during oral presentations in team at a higher school grade. 

With Popplet utilization in ESL classroom, all students will develop some personal skills and behavior by working in interaction with others. They will learn how to use the program and develop their capacity researching pictures and information online. Also, they will have the option of using the mind-map for a further text or an oral presentation.

OTHER PROGRAMS

Another mind-map software like Popplet is XMind, which is more professional with more options. It could be used with students who have a strong knowledge about mind-mapping. 

There is also MindNote Pro , which is a good intermediate level of difficulty for mind-map creation, but it is available only on Mackintosh for 20$. “Brainstorming is vital for any student, whether it’s for a research project, an essay or your final year thesis.”

Blog 8 – Uses of digital cameras in ESL classroom

As teachers, we will be constantly looking for new interesting ways to make students participate and enjoy their language learning. I think one manner to get them more involve in their learning is the add the use of a camera through existing activities. There is many ways to integrate cameras in a classroom. Here I will share will you some of my ideas:

Who never had a teacher who was showing over and over the same videos that was provide by the government or the scholar institution? These videos are rarely up to date so most of the time you already have heard about it some years ago while your big brother was doing the same course. Sometimes you have many occasion to see it yourself. Not that surprising when we know how it costs to the government to create those videos for their classroom use.

But, why not to provide to students the opportunity to create videos by themselves? My first idea is that I would provide them some topics (examples: drugs, relationships, vacation, sport activities, etc.), and let them pick one of their choice. I think it can be a very good occasion for them to explore digital camera or video camera, but also to work in team in the realization of a project. They also have the occasion to reinvest their second language knowledge.

I totally agree that the “video camera in (…) the language classroom can be at least as productive for your students as playing back existing material.” Why not? Students like to create. If using a camera is one way to express themselves in a class activity, as a teacher, I will not able to ignore it. Creativity is very good for learning, and camera is the perfect electronic device to explore creativity. Here are the step that I would follow:

1- Give to students a short demonstration of the use of the selected device;

2- Create teams of 4, and let them experiment the camera for a short time;

3- Present the project to the whole class;

4- Put the topics you have selected on a list, and let them decide which one they would like to work on;

5- Provide them time for researches on websites, so they can gather information to prepare their texts (lyrics) needed for the video;

6- Find a quiet place in the school were they can produce the video without being disturbed.

7- Supervise the creation of the videos, and look at them before class presentations.

8- Plan a schedule for students to present their video, and answer classmates’ questions.

*Maybe the introduction about camerawork can be interesting at the very beginning, so my students will be able to experiment some cameras perspectives.

Another activity that I would ask them to create a totally invented family. So, they choose the number of members, the look of everyone, the personality of everyone and present them in a short video. They could use disguise to represent the family members, what could be a lot of fun. They could have some specifications to follow (e..g.: very precise body description, job tasks, two hobbies, some qualities and defects). “Not only is technology fun and motivating for our students, but also a powerful tool for learning.” Through the repetition for their videos, students will assimilate even more every word and expression they use. It would be a very good opportunity to listen at their performance, and realize by themselves when they need to say things differently to be well understood. With a digital video camera, they can practice the pronunciation, their articulation, the tone of their voice. Other ideas could be, perform a song for Christmas or create a commercial. Sky is the limit. I really think that students could also provide very original ideas.

Some researches have proved that digital video cameras are very effective in ESL classroom. An ESL classroom is more than a class; it’s a learning community that becomes a better learning environment when students are motivated, and comfortable with their classmates., and the digital camera is the prefect tool for it. During the observation, students spent much more time doing the activities which implied the use of digital cameras than in regular activity presented on sheets of paper. Also, they used their creativity, and put more effort in their tasks because of their interest. I am sure that my students will gradually learn how to work together, make new friends, and develop the quality of their English through an activity like that. Every repercussion would be very positive, from an individual point of view, but also in the goal to increase their cooperation with others.  

The digital camera is one of the most common tool that all people use at any occasion in life: vacation, birthday, competition, activity, other situations in everyday’s life. To give students a pedagogical occasion to use it would have a very good impact on many aspects of their life.

Blog 7 – Social networks, good or not for teaching?

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The list of social networks available is HUGE. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t know about at least one on them. The most popular is certainly Facebook, which has more than 1 billion users at the moment, and will probably more than 1,5 billion by the end of 2013. But, does Facebook can be a good tool for second language teaching? I think it depends the way you use it with your students.

On one hand, I think it can be an excellent way for me to share information with my students, but also to keep contact with them and learn about their personal interests throughout the year. It is exactly the use we have in our “Computer Applications” course, and I think there are many good advantages to use Facebook with students. Here are some ideas that I would keep as a teacher:

First, I would use Facebook as a sharing location for the homework, and any important announcement. In fact, anything related to class will be welcome from the students as well: questions, comments, ideas, pictures and videos from activities. I could also add some videos related to topics addressed in class. It will be friendly for everyone. But, from the beginning, I would impose two very simple rules to be respected by every student: the respect of each other (when sharing pictures, and when writing on the wall or in personal emails), and the use of English at anytime. Facebook will be easy to use for them as they already know about it, what will accelerate the integration process of the tool.

Second, as they would have access to the classroom material and every important document shared during the day, it will facilitate and accelerate the process of getting informed for students who are absent. At any time, all documents will be available by the network. I think it is a good way to improve students’ independence and sense of responsibility. Student will know that they can ask me questions at any time. With Facebook, students could contact me any time as the network will instantaneously send me a notice to my personal email account. So, there will be only short delays before I receive it. On top of that, I will certainly have a cellphone that will inform me by a sound signal that I have a new email. I believe that through a Facebook account, everything about the group and the class will stay concentrated there, so all information will be easy to give and receive.

Third, Facebook can be very useful to learn about students’ personality and interests. I could put a question on the wall of the group, so all students can see it once connected to it, and they can answer by sending me a private and personal email. From then, I can gather the information, and keep it close for further ideas to consider if I create a new activity or project. Facebook will facilitate the communication between my students and I.

Four, if I feel that a student have problems of any kind, I could introduce my concern and have the first contact by Facebook. I think that it is more discrete than asking them to stay after class, and that some students will be more comfortable to share personal information through private emails than through meetings between classes. I have the idea that Facebook could be a very good intermediate to develop a good and professional relationship with all my students, but also could become a good help when it is time for me to help some students. Like parents could also use it if the direct discussion is impossible or pretty difficult for both parts. “After all, Facebook and other social networking tools are familiar communication vehicles for most U.S. children.” , and I would add: as well as in Canada and many other countries. I think that Facebook is a very safe place for everyone because nobody can be added in the group unless you decide it, what make it a very good tool for communication between the social network related to your class.

Finally, beside all these good points in favor of Facebook, even if I think it could be a very good tool to keep contact with my students, I don’t think I would use it much during class. Students get very distracted while connected to a network like Facebook. It will be more a place where to share discussions, ideas, and documents than an actual way to spend my classes time as elementary and secondary students are certainly not enough disciplined to ignore the presence of a computer in front of them when the teacher speaks in front of the class.

To help the implementation of Facebook in my classroom, I will certainly consider some advices like the one in this article: Beyond Facebook: How to Use Social Networking Productively in Your ESL Classroom (on Busy Teacher website), which are a good starting point when you never had that chance to experiment the using of a software like Facebook for your ESL class.

I would certainly try Facebook in my ESL classroom, but use it gradually more and more, and as long as the students behave like I want them to.

Blog 6: Teaching ESL Through Arts

As an artist, I suddenly had this question in mind:
Could the use of arts be efficient to teach English as a second language?

I was surprised to realize a lot of information mentioning that this approach as very efficient.
Here are some ideas of activity that caught my attention…
To that, I will add the electronic devices avenue that I would take to improve even more students’ ESL learning, but also improve my own teaching.

1…

“Findings reveal that unstructured art periods lowered the affective filter of language acquisition and led to greater ease in language acquisition for ELL students.”

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So, if students feel more comfortable and welling to begin a discussion in English through unstructured artwork, as a teacher, I would integrate an art activity to make them practice free English expression while exploring their art interest. I would make them choose an artist of their choice through Google image, and let them get inspired from him or her for a further personal artistic project. Internet is the most efficient technic for image research that I know, and I think it is important that students learn how to use it properly while they are very young as it will help them in all their life.

They will also choose the medium of their choice through a limited selection like watercolor, Acrylic, and pastel for example. The exploration will be the goal of this project as I really believe that arts is a great way to express our personality, and find our own identity. Using English will be an additional and important way to orally express themselves. I think that this opportunity to unify arts and speaking through a project will have very positive effects on their life in general.

Gathering information about this artist would be the first step of this activity. Thus, from the beginning of this project, they will be aware about key works that they will need to use during their artwork for discussion with other classmates. There, I will show them how to use valuable online translators like Google translator, and Reverso. They are easy and fast, and with a good supervision before and during using it, I will certainly give them the chance to master an essential internet tool. Students will learn by trying, get more confident, and the use of this tool will become natural and so helpful in many situations. 

I really believe that all students will be more ready for open discussion during an artistic creation if they choose an artist of their choice. Also, I this participation will widely improve their oral ability in English. Through an activity like this one, they will also learn new English words from each other if they work around a table, facing each other. Their artistic abilities in drawing or painting will improve as well. It is a great idea to improve English where the artwork is only an intermediate. They won’t be evaluated on their technique or artwork result, but mainly on their participation in English through the activity.

Here, the computer could come as an interesting option for students whose would like to use programs like Photoshop, Paint, or others, to realize their artistic creation. I could certainly help them with my formation in visual arts, what could provide to some of them a good occasion to discover, and improve their interest for this kind of electronic work. Also, as many things in life are about electronic devices, and programs, it will help them to become at once more comfortable with the art program used, but also with other most common programs because the creators, or programmer, basically used the same kind of applications and tools. As a teacher, I will open their eyes on many new technology options in arts.

2…

“Learning English through a work of art allows students not only to utilize grammar and vocabulary but also to use their creativity, which is a fundamental joy of using a language.”

An other possible activity would be to ask them to talk about a piece of art of their choice. They could learn many useful words: what they see on the painting (people, animals, actions, colors, etc.), what they feel about it (emotions, feeling, impressions, etc.), what they like and why, etc. I would also present this activity as a free discussion between team of their choice. The goal would be to make them participate as much as possible. I really think that they could improve a lot their level of proficiency in English, and their self confidence using the language.

In this activity, I will also teach to students how to use Online translators, and Google image for images and pictures’ researches.

3…

“Let’s think of all the words that come up to your mind when thinking about ART.”

wordleart

Now, a very different approach that I really enjoyed myself during a the SPEAK day we had last semester is to create art from related words. The idea is that in team, students write everything that comes to their mind about a specific topic like “Arts” and create an original visual. First, I would ask them to do 10 minutes of free writing (they can write in any languages), and they will need to translate every word in English with an Online translator before the next step. They can help each other. Second, they will have to gather all words of the team together, and use them to create an image of they choice. It is fun, different, stressless, and most of all, it can be a good occasion to practice English by sharing, learning and using new words.

This activity will be a very good occasion for me to teach them how to use basic functions in Photoshop, Paint, or other arts program. They could include related images or pictures from some Google Image research. The tasks could be devised through students. One student could be looking for images while the other begin the design with the selected words.

4… and more!

“The muppets, songs, and animation made learning accessible…”

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I could buy some muppets at the Dollar store, and ask students to produce a short exchange between their muppets. I think it could be a nice activity with a lot of fun. It would promote their decision-taking as they choose their muppets, and their topic, but also help them to learn new words while creating the scenario. They will develop their oral expression in English as they present it to their classmates. So, I think it is the kind of activity that is original and that promotes the use of English in a less stressful environment.

In this activity, I would provide cameras so the students could tape everything instead or presenting in at the front of the class. In they do it with friends, the stress with be even less present and the pleasure of using English as a second language will be increased.

***

The good results arising from an art activity using electronic devices in English classes:

• Students become more self-confident in English, in arts, and electronic devices like computers, Internet, softwares, and cameras;
• Students increase their sense of accomplishment through all tasks as they will learn a lot;
• Students quickly establish an higher level of English proficiency while because they practice it in an environment with a low level of anxiety;
• Students become more knowledgeable about arts in general (artists, artistic movement, and creation + artist software tools);
• Students improve their capacity for decision-making while working with others. They become more cooperative to complete their tasks.

***

I think that for every age group, arts and electronic devices make a very good team that bring, and keep attention from students in a English classroom.

Students improve their English proficiency through artistic creation, their knowledge of electronic devices while exploring simple and useful tools, but also, they increase their self expression through a favorable stressless environment, which is very important.

Ass. 2 : Google Drive / Googledocs’ Great Utilities for ESL Teaching

Google Drive image

I can see many utilities that Google Drive could have in my Second Language Teaching.

jewel

1- Using Google Drive will help me save time and money. Instead of printing all sheets for classroom’s activities or homework, I will make them accessible on Google Drive. Students’ only step to have access to the documents is to get registered to Google Drive, which is free for everyone. Thus, there will be no argumentation like “I lost my sheet!” to escape from a work delivery. “Students in the Cloud – How Google Drive has Nullified Missing Homework Excuses”. Now, every document is available for downloading from every electronic devices at any time. For students, I think it will force them to become more responsible more quickly.

collaborate

2- Google Drive will be very useful way to monitor cooperative activities. For example, I would create a Google Doc for a specific writing activity, and make students work simultaneously on it. The beauty of that is that they stay to their own and individual computer. Thus, I could create teams and, for each student in the classroom, give one single and specific access to a team’s related document. That way, as a teacher, I could keep my classroom silent, because they only use writing to communicate, but I could also observe the evolution of everyone’s work from my computer. The fact that I won’t walk around the classroom, I won’t disturb them in their task by looking at their work from behind. It should reduce their stress and help them to concentrate on the work. Do they work? Do they all participate equally? Do they follow the rules? Do they have finish the task? Do they have questions?… Google Drive would help me to answer all these questions at once only by looking at their document while they are working on it. I could also use a chatting program to have them write me my questions as they are facing problems. Thus, I really think it could be a very easy way to monitor my students during a writing activity.

form

3- Google Drive can help me to gather topic’s ideas for a project by creating an online questionary. I would create a form with multiple choice to learn about every student’s interests. It will be fast for me, and it will keep all results confidential from all classmates. I could use the online questionary to have their opinion about anything as I need it throughout the year, and compile the information for further uses.

safe

4- Google Drive is a very good place for documents to be saved. As the program offer 5 GB of storage capacity for every new user, as a teacher, I will never have to worry about the size of my documents, and the quantity that I can download for all my classes and courses.  “…Google Drive is far, far, more than just storage. It’s combines free storage and Google Docs into a nearly seamless cloud-based office suite.”  I will know that my documents are safe if I have trouble with my computer.

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5- Google Drive will be very useful way to monitor students documents. I think that an other important aspect is that students themselves could use Google Drive to download, save and keep all their documents for all their courses. Once a document will be ready to be handed in, students could give access to the right teacher, who receive automatically a notification. As a teacher, it will be an easy way to monitor all students’ documents reception. Following that, I could also correct a first draft directly on the electronic document, send an notification, and wait for the corrected document. That way, I also save paper as I print it only at the end, when the work is totally revised. And as nobody needs to be in class for exchanging documents, this program would help students and I to maximize the working time.

google-drive

6- This program will help sick students to keep track with every day’s work and assignment. No need to run after the information or in the school, everything will be well identify on Google Drive.

These aspects are just the tip of the iceberg on all the possibilities of utilization we have with Google Drive. It only depends on teachers’ needs and projects. Try it, and please, share your idea!

Blog 5: PowerPoint, a good help for teaching

One tool that I really like to use for my oral presentations is Microsoft PowerPoint. So I think that this tool is one of the the most practical tools that we need, as teachers, when we present new material to the students. PowerPoint allows us to create interesting and animated visuals that have a real impact on students’ interest in any topic. We can integrate videos, pictures, animations, charts, diagrams, etc., almost everything we can think of.

Good advantages to consider

One of the reason why I think that PowerPoint can help teachers in their task is the fact that it allows you to control the flow of the information presented to students. As the information is not on a sheet of paper, students are forced to follow what happens at the front of the classroom. You control the pace of the class, though you control the attention of students. So, while they are listening to you, and watching the PowerPoint presentation, you can quickly detect when someone doesn’t understand, but also, when someone is doing something else, or is somewhere else in his bubble, lost in his thoughts. Also, I think that adding some open questions, games, jokes or reflexions once in a while in the Powerpoint document, will insure you that everybody follows the information, and understand it well.

PowerPoint will help you to save a considerable amount of time as it includes many functions that are exactly the same as in other Microsoft’s softwares. No need to create charts or tables in Microsoft Word or Excel and to import them in your PowerPoint presentation, everything is available while you create the document’s slides. And once it is done, the document can easily be reused as a modal, or updated in further years for a new class. The creation of a PowerPoint document is easy and give you a enjoyable tool for classroom presentations. The frame is well organized, attractive for students, and available at any time.

You can also use PowerPoint to present many different things: an animated birthday card for students, the schedule of the day, some videos and pictures from the last school event, some videos from students who well performed in a recent competition, etc.

From another point of view, I am certain that PowerPoint can be a very good tool for students during their oral presentations. In a team or not, the software will force them to think about: What is the most important information that I need for my presentation? In what order should I present the information? What could be an interesting visual? Can I add a video or a picture to each important point that I will address during my presentation? etc. PowerPoint can help students of all age to become more organized in their notes, to be more efficient in the way to transmit a clear and simple message to a public by selecting the most important part of the information.

Also, I think that students will increase their knowledge about an important tool that is now widely used for collegial and university oral presentations. If students have the occasion to explore the software by themselves when they are young, they will certainly be much more knowledgeable and aware about the options that they can use for more official presentations, in real work situations for example. 

I hope this blog provides you enough information about Microsoft PowerPoint for you to be tempted to try it by yourself, if it is not already done.

Enjoy!

Blog 3: Story Jumper – Look where your imagination can go!

I think that Story Jumper can an interesting project for elementary and secondary students.
It is simple and fun!

The possibility to create an original story is the part that kept my attention. 

Two choices are available depending of your need and school level:

1. Students can choose through the templates offered with a topic, which give them the first few pages that are already designed. That way, they get inspired by the proposed visuals and create the following pages using the available scratches and their imagination.

2. Or, they can create the whole story. So, each students team will develop a complete story by starting from the beginning with a blank template. Thus, students create the whole book by themselves.

I think this last option is the best because it makes them work together through all aspects of the project.

Previously to the project, I would distribute a questionnaire to compile the 1 task or 1 topic that interest each student. Following that,  I would form pair teams based on their answers. I would try to satisfy their individual interests.

Story Jumper, good for L2 teachers because it is…

1. An interesting project that can be used with students of all levels, because the website’s functions are pretty easy to use.

2. A real occasion to create something very personal. They have the occasion to use their imagination for an artistic creation.

3. The perfect activity to make them work in cooperation team. Within their teamwork, they will find the characters and the setting (which could be link with a specific topic introduced in class), gather ideas from every teammate, discuss, and make decisions that take in consideration all members.

4. A good occasion to make all students develops personal skills in second language learning: brainstorming, researching, reading, writing, creating, and  speaking.

5. A good way to enjoy practicing a second language because they pick their topic and everything based on their interest.

6. A good occasion to put students’ talent at the front. If they have a gift in drawing, they create some characters and scan them for the use of the story.

7. A good occasion for an interesting oral presentation. As they explain to the class their process of creation, they reuse their new vocabulary. It is also interesting for all students because they discover new and original topics and ideas.

8. A good way occasion to draw their attention and increase their interest by including a contest. The price for the best book could be: to print one official version of the best book (selected through a general vote), which will be kept in the classroom, available for everyone but also as a modal for students of the further years.

Easy steps

When you choose to create the whole book, you have a step by step section that you can follow. It is easy and it helps you to think about your idea, prepare the visual, the characters and the lyrics, and finally create everything online. Story Jumper also provides you many images data bases including many different interests’ topics which help you in this last step, the creation of your novel original story.

Practical for teachers

There is an interesting section that teachers can use to follow the evolution of the projects. Just by creating a new class, you log in with the digits of your class ID, and have access to all teamwork or individual those have begun their story.

Three other interesting ressources

ToonDoo is also a very good program that could give a first opportunity to my student to try the creation of cartoons. I would use the program with my lower level students, but also with teenage if a have a short activity to introduce for the evaluation of the second language application. The big difference is that Toondoo proposes cartoon pictures to create the story, instead of creating all the book with pictures and texts. My students would only have to fill empty bobbles with the lyrics, which could be good enough in the context of ESL teaching.  “A handy guide to help teachers utilize ToonDoo to engage students”  is available  and help you in every step of the project, but also, to evaluate students.

Bitstrips is another option for teenagers. Students “create cartoon avatars (…) and put them in all kinds of comics, ready to share” on Facebook. It is much more to fill an empty 10 minutes in classroom schedule than to create valuable project, but it can be fun for everyone, and I think that students need some entertainment during second language classes to keep interest. As a teacher, it is a good B plan!

Pixton is also a website for cartoon creation, even better. There is a complete section for teachers & students use in classrooms. “It gave my students a new way to express themselves.”  The disadvantage of this site is that you have a cost of to afford after the month of free trial, which I find pretty expensive. (e.g.= 1 student: 15$, 30 students: 30$, 50 students: 43$, etc.) Even it gets cheaper as I add student, I don’t think it will be paid by the school!

Now, it is your turn, use them and see what works better with your topic, and let your students surprise you! 

 

Blog 2: An Amazing Hunting Game to Make Students move!

I found an interesting way for students to make the revision of a special topic. Something that could upgrade their interest at the end of the semester and the year. I think that the interesting part is the fact that they will move around the school, instead of looking over again their class notes.

The QR Treasure Hunt Generator! can be a very original option to motivate students in learning new material too, but I think that using it for revision before tests or exams could be perceived as a reward for students who have a good attitude in general.

STEPS (that are well explained on the website):

1. Prepare your question-answer in a Word document and put a * between them:

Question1*Anwer1
Question2*Answer2
etc.

2. Go on the website QR Treasure Hunt Generator! and press “get started”;

3. You enter all the information where asked;

4. The website provide you a QR code for every question;

5. You print the QR codes and put them all around the school;

6. Just before the Hunting Game, ask students who has the mobile device, to download the application that reads QR codes and you are ready for the Hunting Game!

7. Don’t forget to determine the time you let them to complete the hunting activity!

To keep control of the class

1. It will be important to choose your class to do this activity if you don’t want to loose some of the students during the activity.

2. In the way to involve students, I would give some tasks to everyone in the teams. They will insure that nobody is talking to loudly, running in the corridors, not participating, or speaking in another language than English.

3. I would inform all teachers and other school workers about this activity so everyone will be aware if something seem abnormal. I could also ask the presence of someone else who will be involved in this activity the first time that I try it.

4. I would send only half of the students at the time (some groups of 2-4 students), and prepare another cooperative activity in class with other material to revise. When everything is done, we could share the answers of both activities all together and look at new question students have if needed. The Hunting Game is certainly a good way to apply cooperative language learning if you allow only one mobile device by group and that they have to share and exchange information.

The Hunting game advantages for students

I think the Hunting Game is the perfect activity for highest levels in elementary schools or secondary schools for students who well behave in general. By looking around the school, every team member finds answers to the questions previously distributed in class. They decide if they work all together or in two teams, and who is in which team. They need to evaluate the most efficient technique to complete the task. They have to come to an agreement. They are a team and for some of them it will be a good occasion to develop their qualities as a teammate. And because the game creates a competition between teams, I think it will be a very good motivation for everyone.Very different than the regular activities, the Hunting Game should be much more exciting for the students than staying in the classroom, but mostly, they will learn how to work together in an other context than in the classroom.

At the end of the semester or the year, many students are anxious about exams. As we know that moving is a good way to reduce stress and increase memorization, I think it can help students to revise and assimilate better the information they tend to forget. I would try to create a list, over the weeks, of important information that students had more difficulty to remember in class.

Conclusion

I think the Hunting Game would make my teaching better because:

1-    By bringing a totally new style of material revision, I will motivate students throughout the year, but also before tests and exams.

2-    By making them moving and doing something different then sitting in a chair, I believe that the hunting will help them to assimilate some information, motivate them to participate in their own learning, and appreciate more the English classroom.

3-    By working in groups, this activity applies the cooperative language learning, which is an important goal in our education program that helps students to learn from each other. That will help me in my teaching tasks as stronger students will help others. (The groups will be created in this purpose.)

4-    The Hunting Game requires a mobile device, which is a good way to prove students that I am aware about their interests. It will also provide a good occasion for some students, less knowledgeable about electronic devices, to learn how they work and to get familiarized with them. As a teacher, I prepare them to the reality of electronic devices, which take more and more place in everyday life.

Lets try it and improve the technique, so please don’t hesitate to share your ideas!

He are some other game’s ideas for classroom !!

Have fun !

Ass. 1: The IWB, an Indispensable Tool for Teachers’ Classroom

In 2013, I feel very far from the time all teachers were writing with chalks on a green board all class long. For students, it was death to recopy everything in our ‘Canada book’ whatever was the topic or the project. Beside the projectors and the photocopies, it was in fact almost the only option teachers had. But, decade or so earlier, the Interactive White Boards (IWB) have made their apparition and became with years a very revolutionary tool for teaching. Even if many teachers don’t use them yet, the IWB is known by most people in education and is an important point of interest because of two principal reasons. It is a tool by itself, but also, it acts as the link that allows us to use other applications on a variety of websites. The IWB is the technology I really want to integrate in your classroom because I believe it will help me to improve my teaching method. I will give you many ideas of application and explain why I think the IWB can help me in my tasks in general.

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1-    The first advantage of having an IWB in classroom is that it is easy to use for everyone with some basic instructions. Thus, I can be used by student of all grades, even kindergarten. The only thing I need to determine before class is the kind of activity and tools that I can and want to use with the students, based on the age range of the group. The IWB is a very good source of motivation for learners. In fact, everybody wants to be the one who use it during an activity. I had the occasion to see students of many grades working with an IWB during class and they really enjoy using it (with tool as pens and erase, or simply with their finger). They seem more concentrated on what they are doing and learning just because of their interest in this new technology. Also, as classrooms usually only have one IWB, students see the occasion to play with it like a favor, so they usually behave well during activities to be sure to be allowed to play again soon.

Thus, I think that using IWB will help me, as a teacher, to increase the participation and interest of students during more boring or difficult theories. It will help me to manage the classroom at a certain point, as it permits to integrate new enjoyable pair and team activities where everyone can participate equally. I really think that students with concentration difficulties will be more concentrated and will remember more what they just have learnt.

2-    The second advantage of using an IWB is the fact that students don’t spend the day on sited in their chair. They MOVE! What could be better? I am part of those who think that kids never move enough. It is proved that we learn better by doing, so let them move by using the IWB. It forces them to be more active during all activities; it keeps their attention on their personal tasks and team goals, and creates an active and productive class environment.

As a teacher, I really think that a IWB will help me to keep the classroom more quiet because the students can concentrate their energy on doing class activities that request to move instead of bothering other classmates and the teacher. With an activity like ‘fill the blank’ it is easy to make all students participate actively.

3-    The third advantage of using an IWB is the important fact that it is the perfect occasion for students to benefit from cooperative learning. I imagine doing an activity of association image-word with elementary children. With a person rotation, they will have the same chance to participate. They can work together, learn to work with others, share their ideas, and have their voice and importance in a group.

As a teacher, I think that would help me because my students will become more and more sociable and active in the classroom. While they will work together, the student with a higher comprehension level will help others and that would facilitate my role of teacher. Thus, if some students act as teachers in their respective team, it helps me but also, in the same time, they increase their self confidence while helping the teammates. Also, the students will certainly assimilate everything more quickly as they share the information together using speaking, writing, listening and reading.

4-    As the IWB works with a computer, we can always show any kind of document or website on the screen, open the software that come with the IWB, and use the tools to highlight or add some information while you talk. I will be able to save my documents with this new information and keep it, instead of losing it forever. So, quickly, you can take information taught some weeks or months ago, and do a revision. The tools offer many good and useful options as using the database of images. I can write, highlight, underline, put in bold, italic, etc., create a chart, and so on. So it becomes a teaching method more efficient because, by using IWB’s tools, I can bring their attention on important things. Also, when I was in Alberta, I remember teachers using it during breaks. When it was too cold outside or when students were too active and noisy, they were using videos from Internet to make them move in the class. There are many videos created expressly for classroom. Only 10 minutes sometimes can help you to take control of their energy.

Thus, as a teacher, the IWB is a wonderful source of images. It will help me to save a lot of time doing researches on Internet as I can look by topic and find nice and colored images. I don’t need to identify the sources for the utilization of the document in classroom. The tools are very easy to use so I can do everything I think of just by using its applications. It helps teachers to create interesting visuals. Moreover, the possibility to work directly on website pages is a big evolution as it is much more easier than copy everything on a paper, do the design, add pictures, record everything with sources, etc., much more attractive and cheaper that printing sheets for all students (as we save paper and color inks by using animated websites), and much more faster as I can improvise and go on a website as we talk during classroom, without any previous preparation. It is time saver. Finally, the IWB can help me in class management when I make them move for a moment, in the way to reduce their uncontrolled excitement, by using a funny video explaining the new topic. It helps to keep or bring back their attention.

To conclude, there is no doubt that the Interactive White Board will be part of my classroom as it facilitates so much my work as teacher and brings so many good advantages for students in the improvement of personal and learning skills from day to day. If the IWB is now one of the first scholar materials that our government invests in, it is certainly because teachers who have tried it see significant improvement in their teaching method. Giving a place to the IWB in my classroom seems natural to me as it is an open door on the world of new technologies that the education system needed for the application of the new teaching convention.

Blog 1: Useful Websites for the Integration of Technology Approaches in Classroom

As a future teacher, I think it will become almost inescapable to find an interesting way to include technology approaches in our classroom schedule to increase students’ interest in their acquisition of a second language. On interesting website that kept my attention is Read180 Next Generation, that I want to introduce you in this blog. In the fist part of this blog, I give you the steps of my research because I think some websites deserve more attention and could be interesting for you in your further researches on the subject. Following that, I will describe you how Read180 Next Generation seem to be an indispensable tool for student in their English reading improvement and an incredible help for teachers in the management of their classroom activities and evaluation.

How did I find out about this website? On EDTech website, I was reading the article Website Helps Educators Make Sense of Common Core when my attention stopped on the name of the new informational website “Common Sense for the Common Core” introduced in this article. It has been launched by Scholartic, which aims to help educators and parents in integrating the educational standards in class and at home for kids of all grades in my topic of interest, English. Interesting! On the first page of the website, in the section Instructional Materials & Programs under the tab English Language Arts, a very imposing list of websites offer advanced activities of a high quality level that are based on the educational standards. On the right, dots indicate to which field of interest activities are addressed more precisely: Grade Range, Reading, Writing, etc. Thus, it is very easy and fast to look over all the websites and locate which ones would help you in specific teaching tasks and needs.

Read180 Next Generation is the first one of the list. On this site, we can find a wide range of activities that are specifically dedicated for reading comprehension improvement from grade 4 to the highest level. Based on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), all activities have been precisely described in a “Text complexity key” following these three following dimensions: qualitative, quantitative and Reader and Task. Thus, once the student knows his current level in reading comprehension, he chooses a text of his choice and works with it. Over time, he will upgrades his level of competency through the website which always provide him the perfect level of difficulty to improve himself in his interest field.

I see many very convincing elements in this website. First, what I think is fabulous is how student’s interests are highly considered. It seems obvious that the student will learn much faster by choosing topics for his practice in reading comprehension. Second, it is much faster to use this website for the teacher than find a book or an article with the topic, make photocopies, prepare a questionnaire, etc. All activities are presented in colors, which is visually interesting for the students. Third, as the student is registered on a website and that the teacher control the access permission, the teacher, as well as the parents, can easily follow the evolution of the student, by seeing his last works, results and level on the website. The teacher doesn’t have to worry about the next activity, the website will always offer activities perfectly adapted to the current capacity level of the student, and most, the activities are all based on educational standards to correspond to the current scholar criteria. Four, he also has the opportunity to continue his work everywhere he has a computer and an Internet connexion. Thus, no need to bring books or other scholar material. It is simple and practical for everyone implied in the process.

The use of new technology approaches in classroom is perfectly adapted for the new generations of kids as it is already part of their life and that they need to stay up to date and knowledgeable about this tool of the 21th century. Read180 Next Generation is a good example of technology approach perfectly adapted to teachers and students’ needs and will certainly take more place in the planning of our future classrooms.

Head image source : http://altnewsmedia.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/kevin-kelly-and-generatives/