Google Drive

Hello folks,

Today, I’ve decided to talk to you about a technology released in 2012 but that I have only started using this year.  As a university student, Google Drive comes in very useful. It simplifies a lot team work because it is synched so, when someone writes something, everyone connected on the document sees the change instantly.Image

Personally, I truly enjoy using Google Drive. Some discrete but useful features of the program makes creating documents a simpler process than it has ever been. For instance, one can locate his teammate in the document by simply clicking on the little square belonging to the person.

Looking back to my first year in the BEALS program, I realize that I must have used Google Drive about twelve times in only one year.  All this to say: it is quite simple to use as a student. As for the teacher’s perspective, Google Drive comes in handy when correcting paper. In fact, no need to transfer the document to somewhere else, because Google Drive is the perfect system to add comments on the students’ work. When comments are added, they appear on the right hand side of the page, which I find makes them really easy to spot for students. The comments are also linked to mistake or segment spotted by the teacher.  Therefore, it is really easy for students to give and receive feedback from peers, since there is a chat system integrated, and teacher.

Moreover, with Google Drive, people can do team work anywhere, anytime. Only in one year of using it, it already saved me a few 2-hour drives. Actually, when combined with Skype or Facetime, doing teamwork virtually is almost as easy as when doing it face-to-face.  In fact, in this blog, the author tells her experience of the advantages and shortcomings of using Google Drive in ESL classroom as she had the chance to use it as a teaching tool. According to her article, there are many advantages in using Google Drive and the shortcomings seems to be only due to the fact that interaction through technology does not equal the value of real live communication.  For a direct link to her blog, click here!

For additional information, feel free to consult these websites.

http://www.teachthought.com/technology/100-ways-use-google-drive-classroom/

http://blog.cloudhq.net/post/40124750965/how-to-use-evernote-and-google-drive-in-schools 

Storybird

larger_storybird_flying_birds_logo

As a future ESL teacher, I might eventually want my students to develop their creating skills throughout meaningful activities using English. This week, I found out about a cool and innovative way to have students involved in such activities.

Storybird is basically a writing tool that allows you to create online stories. A large set of images created by artists and book designs are provided within the website and when a story is finished, it is easy to share it.

 With Storybird, you can create a teacher account that will allow you to create new groups for your students. Parents can also have access to these groups, which is great to keep them connected to their children’s educational development. 

Teachers often like to assign activities that they would have liked to be assigned as they were students. As for me, I would have liked to do an activity like that because I had absolutely no artistic skills. However, I did have imagination – and I think everyone does to some extent- which would have made that type of activity good with me. All this to say that Storybird is great for developing creativity, but it does not penalize students with artistic skills below average.

Also, the blank page syndrom’s reknown is big for a reason, it can happen to anybody. However, I think it would be hard to develop this syndrome with Storybird. In fact, as you start to create your story, you have to choose images according to the type of story you want to write. So, if your student finds himself developing the blank page syndrome, you just have to tell him to look at the images and to create a story about the images.

One possible limitation of Storybird would be that this sort of activity is not as attractive for older students as it is for elementary school students. But, as Susan Dreger mentioned in her blog, her students responded very well to this activity even though they were in high school. Dreger adapted Storybird to high-school students by asking them to write about how children feel or react in certain situations using Storybird.

However, as this website mentions, Storybird has some flaws. First, the number of words you can put in one page is limited. Second, you can’t use art other than the ones provided in the website.

Well, I hope you will get the chance to use Storybird one day or the other! It’s a really well-made website that deserves attention.

Thank you and see you next week.  

 

http://my-tech-wiki.wikispaces.com/Storybird

 

Voki

Voki image

Hi everyone,

Today’s article is about a new technology that I found out about in my Computer Apps class. Voki is a website in which ESL students can first create their avatar by customizing its face then, they can write a text and made their character say it. They can give their character one of the many nationalities provided by the system and the characters will say everything accordingly to the way people from that nationality would say it. I find that particularly interesting and funny because it enables us to examine and to compare what the difference of speech we can find in many dialects of English. I think students would have fun comparing the dialects too.

For ESL teachers, Voki can help students practice their pronunciation of difficult words, and they can more easily associate words or syllables with specific sounds. This website proposed a few assignments using Voki which I would like to assign my future students and here is one: “Give your students a speaking assignment where they narrate something about themselves. Then have them record their narrations as a Voki.”.

Although this website is free and students can easily create free accounts, teacher accounts, which include more functionalities that teachers might not want to give up, cost approximately 30$ a year.

If you have any interrogation about Voki, this blog is dedicated for it, so I’m sure you will find answers to your questions there. http://blog.voki.com/category/school-subjects/english-as-a-second-language-esl/

 

If you want to make sure your students well understand how to create a Voki before letting them on their own with the task, here’s the tutorial you need.

 

SmartPen

Welcome back,

 Image

This week I’ve decided to share with you about an amazing and recent technology that I had the chance to find out about via Annie Krespil during the last presentation of SPEAQ conferences here in University Laval. She presented the tool as something that we could see from a fictional movie like the well-known Harry Potter movies. It definitely could.

 

                The tool is called the “Smartpen” but you might as well call it “life-saver” if you’re a student who has trouble keeping up with the teacher during a regular class. The Smartpen basically consists of a pen acting as a voice recording device once activated by writing something in the special notebook provided when purchasing the item. The notebook looks like a regular notebook at first, but it is made of a special material that, once in contact with the pen, starts to record. As for the pen, it incorporates some sort of USB key that provide a digital version of all your recordings done with the Smartpen.

 

                I’m sure you’ve already figured out yourself many instances where this tool can come in handy, but I will state benefits that you can gain from it anyway.  Obviously, note-taking with the Smartpen gets at least 10 times easier. In fact, as a university student, I still experience some situations when I have difficulty taking notes as the teacher is talking because what he or she says is very interesting and I don’t want to miss it. But then, if I don’t take notes, and even if I tell myself that never in the world I would forget what has been mentioned, I inevitably end up having only fuzzy details about it. But now, thanks to the Smartpen, students have a portable and permanent source of information coming directly from their own teacher. So from now on, you’re done stressing with the idea of taking notes while the teacher is talking and you can focus entirely on the material being taught.

 

                This tool can bring some interesting advantages for parents too. For instance, if a parent has is child home doing his homework using the Smartpen, it allows him or her to explain in other words what the teacher explained in class. Thus, it gives a better chance for parents to feel included in their children success in school because sometimes, parents don’t necessarily remember the material taught to their children when they get to a certain level. However,with the Smartpen, they might remember what they previously learned in their school years and therefore, be able to actually help their children progressing in school.

 

Also, note-taking has never been more ecological than it is now with the Smartpen. Along with many other technologies that concentrate the information more often in digital version than in paper version, the Smartpen contributes to reduce the paper consummation done for school matters.

                To conclude, I can see only one shortcoming for this technology and like many others, it’s the price. For a Smartpen kit, the prices start at 99$. However, a class really only needs one Smartpen since the information recorded can eventually be uploaded to the school portal so that everyone has access to it.

 

Well, thank you for the time you spent reading my blog.

Stay classy Quebec City.

 

 

Tutorial= http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFCeqSggo2Y

Sources : http://www.engaging-technologies.com/smartpens.html#sthash.aSYBMoLq.dpbs (just click on «Livescribe Smartpens » for some reasons it doesn’t want to work otherwise.

http://assistivetechnology.about.com/od/ATCAT3/f/What-Is-A-Smart-Pen.htm

http://www.livescribe.com/blog/education/youtube-livescribe-videos/ways-educators-and-students-are-using-the-pen-today/

 

iPads in classrooms

Ipads in classrooms       Image

             In a world where technology overwhelms children`s lives, it is getting harder and harder for teachers to keep up with students` interest. Nowadays, to be able to get the best of students` attention and to avoid dropouts as much as possible, teachers have to remain technologically updated and to adapt their teaching profession to the new technologies. That being said, if I would ask you to tell me the dominant technology that you witnessed during the last few years, some or even maybe most of you will probably mention iPads. It is well-deserved considering that the Apple device is now known and used practically worldwide.

            Now, if you are wondering how an ESL teacher can incorporate this new technology to his teaching, this article might provide you with information. For instance, iPads can help students read in their second language by providing an app that pronounces words that students might have difficulty with. Thus, it prevents students to associate certain words with wrong pronunciation.

            Moreover, the IPads mobility allows students to learn whenever and wherever they want to. When assigned to teams to work, students with an iPad don’t need to rush to get a computer because they have one right in their hands. The same thing happens with dictionary, teachers can download an app to permanently have an elaborate dictionary.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=EV8M6P9st9Q

            The device itself does not only provide useful tools that anyone would like to have, it is made to give people the opportunity to go online and to download any application that might interest them. This is why we can find a multitude of applications that consists of innovative material and appealing to the eyes of a teenager or a child of today’s generation.

            For a school with limited funds, the implementation of iPads, especially if we consider a 1-1 ratio being the most proficient, can be a real economic challenge. However Marc Miller brought up in class last week a clever way, in my opinion, to overcome the problem. If I am not mistaken the idea consisted in including the price of the iPads provided by the school into the students’ admission fee.

This blog provides supplementary information and many links to tutorials: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/igeneration/50-resources-for-ipad-use-in-the-classroom/16126

For a cute overview of the multiple possible uses of iPads in classrooms, consult the following video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=nttRufi5i7w

Have a great week! J

Google Forms

Welcome back,

This week I’ve decided to write to you about a teaching tool that I found out about during a SPEAQ conference here, in University Laval. Everybody has already heard about Google, most people heard about Google Docs, and they are probably fewer who have heard about Google Forms. I personally didn’t before last weekends’ conferences. I was actually surprised that I didn’t, because from what I’ve of it so far, it seems like a great tool with great opportunity to save teachers some crucial time. In fact, I believe that the main benefit that teachers can gain from Google Forms is that, by allowing you to create effective multiple choices quizzes, it saves teachers a lot of trouble. Actually, I think that many teachers’ wildest dreams just became reality because, yes, it can grade paper automatically. How cool is that? Really cool.

However there are limitations to the coolness in the fact that the quizzes created on Google Forms can’t really serve as real evaluation because it doesn’t really work for development questions. Even then, I think that it is clearly worth the trouble and time of finding out about it since it can serve very well to check the student’s comprehension on some new material taught the same day in class for example. Another useful aspect is that Google Forms, once you have downloaded “Flubaroo” a program designed to work alongside Google Forms, gives you relevant statistics concerning your quiz. Aside from giving you the students’ grades, it gives you there answers on every question, the class average, the number of submissions (to check if all your students took the quiz) and, most important of all, the number of low-scoring questions. The last one is particularly useful because it makes it easier for the teachers to spot if any questions, and if some which ones, were poorly answered by the students, and it might allow the teacher to see more clearly if his or her questions was not well-structured or if it was too hard. Another positive aspect of Google Forms is that it allows students to take their quiz home (if they are allowed of their notes, of course).

To sum up, I think Google Forms is a practical tool that should be considered by every teacher, especially those who have difficulty coming out of the never-ending battle of correction. Also, I believe that it would be more pertinent to assess students short quizzes on the content seen in class after every one of them, than assessing them homework which do not always fit their relevance criteria.

If you are interested, here are  tutorials that, joined together, explains you every step to create your own self-grading quiz.

Have a nice Spring break🙂

ESl games

Hi guys,

 Today, I’ve decided to look for a new technology that would particularly interest children and in the same time, something not too serious. Then I thought: What’s more fun than games? Shortly after, I found my answer: Nothing. This is why when I came across a website that serves as an ESL teaching tool called “FunEnglishGames.com” it ceased my attention quite a bit.

As you can see as you arrive on the homepage (http://www.funenglishgames.com/games.html), it is a fairly complete website with a lot of categories going from games and activities, to one labeled “fun stuff”, which includes material like tongue twisters, palindromes and English jokes.

To me, this website looks like a great way to make students (especially in primary school) practice English as a second language. Some of the activities presented can serve as fillers in the classroom. Actually, I can’t see why it would be bad to ask students to spend a certain amount of time playing or learning about the English language. In that case, I think it is a win-win situation for both the students and the teacher because students wouldn’t feel like they are s tuck in a school context even when they’re at home doing homework and for the teacher, it sounds to me as if they have almost guaranteed L2 learning time for his or her students.

Also, EnglishGamesOnline.com offers content for students from the first grade up to the eleventh grade, so it allows a lot of students to find adapted activities depending on their level.  

I felt like sharing an example of an activity that I found interesting because it promotes vocabulary learning. http://www.funenglishgames.com/activities/whatwillyoubring.html

If you are interested in learning more about the website, here is its tutorial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmqgMh2VlVA

Have a nice week!

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