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.