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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!