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 🙂

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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!

TED talks

Good evening,

 

            Before I was admitted in the BEALS program, I took several English classes here in university Laval. All of these classes introduced me one at a time to a wonderful website: TED.  In case you don’t already know about TED, it is a website that presents videos, as YouTube does, but not in the same way. I think the best way to describe TED would be to quote one of my former teacher’s students: “It’s like YouTube, but it is intelligent.” I have to admit, it is a smart website, since it contains speeches from some of the brightest minds. Whether you are interested in knowing more about new medical breakouts, new technologies or, interested in any clever and fascinating speech, TED is worth knowing about. I really enjoyed using it as an ESL student and now, I am looking forward to using it as an ESL teacher.

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            As this video explains, TED talks are actual material that a teacher can use to starts discussion. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPnfK2_Bk9Y  In fact, not long ago in my ESL class, I had a project where I had to choose one of the 1000 TED talks and discuss it in a small group. I thought it was a great, and more importantly new, way to have students actively participating. Moreover, suggesting a weekly visit on TED’s website can stimulate students to find out about a subject that they particularly find interesting, and improve their understanding of L2 in the meantime.

 

            However, I acknowledge that the level of language used in TED talks is not necessarily easy enough for young students to understand, but up from the second half of high-school, I believe that it could be a useful material-provider for teachers who want to innovate. To give you an idea of how to use TED in classes, click on the following link. http://raichlefarrelly.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/102/

 

For an introduction to TED Talks, I recommend you this video.  http://www.ted.com/talks/joe_smith_how_to_use_a_paper_towel.html

 I especially liked this one since it is simple, not too long, and succeeds in opening people’s minds on how to make our world healthier.

 

            TED was for me a great revelation since it brought me to some incredible speeches that changed my way of seeing things, or simply made me laughed while learning on a certain subject. If it becomes such a revelation for only a few of a teacher’s students, I will certainly have a positive impact on their lives.

First Smart Board experience

Greetings everyone,

We live in an era where the technology makes increasing progress day after day. And, as a future teacher, I think it is my responsibility to stay updated on any new tool that could improve the quality of the students’ learning experiences.

I recently had the chance to use a popular teaching tool in my practicum 1 as I was doing my first teaching activity: the Smart Board. Since I had never pictured myself teaching while using anything else than a simple chalk and chalkboard, I never really paid attention to what the Smart Board and other technologies had to offer. However, as my activity went on, I was surprised of how it simplified the task that I wanted to do.

I must say, I consider myself only “okay” with computers. I witnessed or heard about many teachers’ stressful moments caused by a misunderstanding of a program or tool like the Smart Board. This is why, as I started my activity with the Smart Board, I was minded and prepared to fight against any machines’ rebellion. I didn’t need to! I was actually impressed that my freak out moments lasted not more than 2 seconds, mostly because they did not take more than 2 seconds to fix.

However, even if teachers can easily get excited about it, the use of Smart Boards, as Mark Miller said during his lecture last Tuesday, it shouldn’t exceed 10% of a teacher’s actual teaching time.

But, along with the fact that they are time-savers and easy to use, I found about some other situations where the Smart Board could be useful. http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Integrating_Technology_In_K12/SmartBoards_in_a_Classroom

Although I have been bragging about my brilliant talent with the Smart Board since the beginning of the article, I do realize that there are serious downsides that come along with the tool. I read a blog article posted by a high-school teacher that I found interesting even though I do not agree on some of his opinions. http://larrycuban.wordpress.com/2010/03/20/we-dont-need-smart-boards-we-need-smart-people-jerry-brodkey/

His point was basically that Smart Boards are not necessary to give students good education. I agree with him, but my view of things is that as a teacher, my job is to make sure that students are learning as much as possible during my class. If Smart Boards can help me create an interactive setting to my classes, well, I’m more than open to receive that help, although it is not “necessary”. In fact, this article makes me realize that there are still fears towards technology in the teaching profession. Sure, technology could be scary at first sight, but when you learn how to use and control it, you can take advantage of it. Driving a car can easily be scary when you first learn it right? But don’t you still use it to get to work or to school faster every day? Like driving, technology is something that will help teachers getting from the point A to the point B faster and in a more efficient way with their students.