VoiceThread

Voicethread is a web platfrom that can’t be downloaded. It is a cloud application. The only thing required to use it , is to have a recent version of Adobe Flash. On this application, people can have audio or textual conversations. Users first have to create an account. Once it is done, they can open conversation pages with other users. On that conversation page, users decide whether they want to send a text message or send an audio one. People can also place images, videos or documents in that conversation. Audio conversations can be done with a microphone, a web cam, a telephone or an uploaded audio file. To identify themselves, students can  put a picture of them as their avatar on the application. This way, it can make life easier to a teacher that has 100 students and that is not so good with names.

When a VoiceThread page is created, it is possible for the teacher to create a presentation. Once the presentation is done (including audio, documents, texts, etc.) it is possible to share it with the students. At all time, students can comment the presentation and they don’t have to be online at the same time to do so. The comments can be made by text or by audio. Once the comment is posted, it stays there and other people can reply to it.

It is possible to make a presentation and present it live to students without being at the same place. In other words, teacher has to make the class aware that there will be a presentation at a certain moment in the day. Students, than, have to log in and follow the presentation. They can use the comment tool that was introduced before to ask their questions. Those presentations can be share with only some specific person or to the entire world. It is also possible to get in touch with parents via VoiceThread. This way, they can see their child results or ask any question to the teacher if needed.

You can use VoiceThread with your mobile phone. You can have access to all you content via your mobile device. All the same options are offered to you :

  • Capture images from your camera or upload them from your photo library.
  • Flip through slides with the flick of a finger and annotate while you narrate.
  • Share VoiceThreads as easily as sending an email.
  • Receive notifications for new comments on your VoiceThreads.
  • Access the extensive catalog of existing content on VoiceThread.com.

For elementary schools, VoiceThread can be an interesting tool as well. As images can be posted , it is fun for child to use it. They can be asked to share a picture and to comment on it. They can tell the teacher why  that picture is relevant; What it represents ;Is there a story linked with it? Etc. A teacher can easily do a vocabulary review with this application. For example, a teacher can record himself reading aloud a list of vocabulary and post it on a conversation .Afterwards, he can ask students to use that record to practice themselves pronouncing those words.

As a future ESL teacher, I feel like VoiceThread can be a nice tool to use, but with older students. It can be hard to understand how it works . Students from elementary school would need too much support to be able to work with it, so it would be more a lost of time than anything else. As much as it seems interesting, I would not use it with my students, because it is too complex. It would be useful to use it with a class that is done by distance. For example, if a student can’t come to school because he is sick , I would use VoiceThread to transmit him the information. Otherwise, VoiceThread seems to be a useful tool for Cégep or University students more than for elementary and secondary students.

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Follow up with Socrative

Socrative lets students do educational activities on tablet, laptop or smartphones. Teachers are engage in the activities and can have access to their students’ account on real time or afterwards. Thus, teachers can give instant feedback on the student’s work and help him or her to do a better work and to get a better grade. If the teacher is not online while a student is working on an activity, the teacher always has the opportunity to return on previous activities to correct and to explain mistakes to the student who worked on the activity. Students and teachers have to create a free account. Than, they can have an easy access to Socrative.

It is simple and flexible. Peer-to-peer discussion can also be created and group problem solving as well. Students can help each other from home with that kind of group. According to that, students don’t need to meet upafter class or in the weekend, they can do everything online via Socrative.

Teacher can personalize the content they want their students to learn and work on. Thus, the teachers can put online activities that are relevant to what they saw in class or to what they will go through in futur classes. Also, teachers can focus on students weakness by giving activities that will help them improve their weak points. This can also be applied to stronger students who are not challenged enough with the work done in class due to their high level of proficiency in English.

It is also possible for teachers to create a report section. A whole class overview report can be made so every students see the progression of the class and they can be motivated by wanting to keep the class pace.

Socrative also allow the students to ask questions to the teachers and the teacher to give general feedbacks to the class or to answer a question often asked. It also shows the teacher if an activity has been harder than others for students. Students can see their report card individually. The reports can be emailed or delivered on google drive at any time as Socrative is directly linked with Google Drive. The reports stay available as long as the student and the teacher keep their account activated.

Type of activities

There are many types of activities that can be done on Socrative. Here are some of the popular ones :

  • Short Answer Questions: The teacher ask an open question and students respond. The teacher receives all the answer on his screen. When it’s done, the teacher can ask his students if they liked it or not.
  • Quick Quiz: A teacher paced or student paced activity with multiple choice or short answer questions. Results can be viewed question by question and exported to a report that is automatically aggregated and graded.
  • Create a Quiz: Teachers can design their own Quick Quizzes with the built in feature and import them with the Excel template available on Socrative. It can be shared with the students afterwards.
  • Space Race: Teams of students answer multiple choice questions posted by the teacher in this fast-paced rocket race game. First team to get their rocket across the screen wins. It motivates the students to work well and to not lose their time while working.
  • Exit Tickets: Get a quick, paper-free pulse-check at the end of class. All answers are aggregated into a report. It is a fast way to see if students listened in class and if they understood what you have been talking about.
  • Multiple Choice: The teacher asks a multiple choice question, and see student responses on his screen. More than one question can be asked at the time and the grades can be posted on the report.

As a future ESL teacher, I would definitely use Socrative with my students. I like the fact that the teacher can create his/her own activities with the Tools offered on it. That way, it is easy to test the students on what you want. It is specific and you don’t have to deal with unrelevant questions that some pre-made tests provide. I also like that the teacher can give instant feedbacks. It helps the students a lot in their process of completing a quiz or an activity. Students need help when they are at home because they don’t necessarily have the support needed. Even more, by having the opportunity to give feedback at all time, students can feel that their teacher is present for them. As I think that having a close relationship is important in an ESL class, being able to be in contact with them at all time is something I encourage and that I will definatly focus on with my students when I will be a teacher.

Use of electronic books in classrooms

In 2015, technologies take a big place in our society. Rare are the ones that do not own any electronic device. Most people keep a tablet, a smartphone or a computer on them at all time. Even electronic books have been invented. The way it works is easy : you buy a book online and you read it on your little tablet. The most popular company that makes that device is Appel. They invented what is called the iBook. In this article , it will be discuss if those books are a good tool to be used in a school context or not and if it would be interesting to have all scholar manuals on them instead of having paper versions.

Description

It is a small little bookshelf where you can browse your library on. Throughout all the books you bought, you tap on the tittle of one of them and the book will appear on your tablet. You can read a free sample of any book on iBookstore before buying it. Some books come with videos, audio records and animations. Thus, it makes life easier to those who are not at ease in reading in English, for example, and want to have a visual or an audio support. You can organize your library in what they call personal collection. You will tell me how bad it can be for the eyes. Something nice is that you can adapt de brightness of your screen depending on the environment where you are reading your book. That way, you are not dazzled by the book at all time. When you are ready to change page, you only have to swipe your finger on the screen and it will do.

Disadvantages of having iBooks in schools

First, it is very expensive for schools to buy them. The price would not be a problem if the device would work for a long time. Most of the time, electronic devices are breaking down after two or three years. It is more worth it to buy a book that will last 10 years, than buying a device that will not even work for the quarter of that time. The buying price is about $350.00, but you haven’t bought the book yet. You still have to buy the book that are about $15.00 each. A private school could probably afford those costs ,but not a public school. Buying iBooks would involve a cut of budget for other services that are given to students. Either in sports, in arts or in some installations that are in place for the entertainement of the students. Kids need competent teachers, support and a good Learning environement where they can also have fun. The purchase of iBooks would enable some schools to give a good service. There are many prior changes that should be done in schools before investing in this.

Advantages of having iBooks in schools

iBooks are leaving paper behind. Students don’t have to carry heavy books in their backpack anymore. It would avoid back problems for some kids .They would only have to carry a light tablet with them that they can take wherever they want without any problem. It is easy to highlight important parts of texts and create virtual notecards that the iBook will automatically collate. That way it can make studying more effective and easier as well.

As a future ESL teacher, I feel like using iBooks in class instead of using regular school book would not change a lot for learning a second language. In my opinion, it is better to have a paper version of a book ,because you are sure that nothing will go wrong with it ; there is no chance of lagging or of having an iBook out of battery when you need it. Plus, it is not all schools and students who can afford that device so it would not be fair for everyone. Even more, as , in my opinion, to learn a second language we should focus on the speaking and the interaction within each other, books are not used enough in ESL classes to invest so much money in something that might not improve the teacher and learning quality in the class. It is probably useful for a literature class where students have to read many books and to carry many books with them. For an ESL class, I think it would be more a distraction than anything else.

Catherine Hébert

Schoology.com : A Great Website for Teachers and Their Students

Schoology is an educational platfrom that teachers can use with their students. It has lots of use.

On this platform, it is very easy to create different Web pages with dynamic content creation tools and a user-centric interface. Also, we can create aggregated calendars threw Schoology that include your personal, course, school calendars into one calendar. Those calendars provide automatic updating which can be really usefull when you have a busy Schedule. The calendar option is fun ,because it is rare to find such a complete calendar on an easy to use website like Schoology.

There is the possibility of creating workload planning. To use those, every student has to create an account on Schoology. Once this is done, every teacher who uses this program and that has their students on it can get in touch with them. In other words, a student only needs to create one account to get in touch with as many people he has to. Every teacher has access to the workload planning of his students. He can see what the other teachers asked from their students on that platform. That way, teachers can make sure that their students are not overloaded. Also, as students can  »check’ what task they have done, the teacher can follow the student progression and make sure that he is in time. Teachers can also track their students path with the mastery reporting tool available on Schoology. Students report precisely what they have done, how it went and on what they struggled on with that tool. That way, teachers know better to which student they have to give more support. There is also a tool teachers can use that allows them to see how often their students are going on the Platform, when they used it and what they used it for.This website exists for teachers to support their students even when they are not in class and out of the office hours. Students can write messages to their teachers on Schoology. Students and teachers can post and comment on the platform. As on Facebook, they can like and dislike comments and posts that were made by others. Schoology can be used on a computer as it can be used on cellphones and on iPads. They created their own applications for Androide and for Apple products.

What is even more interesting with Schoology is that there is a discussion section where the teacher can invite all the students he wants on it . That way, those students can discuss about different subjects. It gets really usefull for English Language Arts classes where students are studying litterature. On Schoology, they can discuss what they liked or disliked about the book or story they read. It is possible to add videos, powerpoint slides and links into those discussions. Teacher can have access to those discussion at all time. There is also the possibility of creating groups. So if students are , for example, sitting in teams of four in the classroom, it is possible to make groups according to the way students are sitting. A teacher can also assign work to individual student if needed without doing it in class in front of the others. As a teacher, you can also create tests for students on Schoology. The only problem with that, is that you need to be in a computer lab in order to have all your students do their test, but it is a nice way to do it as it saves paper and as it is faster to fill in. In order to understand properly how Schoology works and how to use it, a YouTube video has been made to support the users.

As a futur ESL teacher, I feel like Schoology is a nice tool to use. It is really complete and you can do a lot with it. It is safe and students can have easy access to it. What I like the most about it is that you can collaborate with other teachers on that platform. It can be hard to be aware of what is going on in other classes , but you can easily know it with Schoology.

Catherine Hébert

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Facebook : A good idea to use it with a class

Social networks are taking a lot of place in our lives. Most of us use them everyday and many times in one day. Facebook is one of the most popular social network we can find in 2015. Pretty much every one has a Facebook account. Facebook is an interesting social network because it gives you the opportunity to keep in touch with many people by posting pictures, by chatting or even by having an online voice conversation. There is many fun things we can do with Facebook and many ways to use it in our personal life . The aim of this article is to check if it is  a good thing to use it as a pedagogical tool with your students when you are a teacher or not.

There are many advantages in using Facebook with in your classroom. To use it with your students you must create a group page where all the members of your group can take part. Once the Facebook group is created, you can post informations on it whenever you need to get in touch with your students. You can post and share documents for homework, exam’s reviews, power points, word documents, etc. You can make a class brainstorm on the page to help students to have many ideas on a project before starting it. Also, you can ask your students to follow journalists and media outlets pages that give relevant information for your class content. It is easy for the students to share their work on their class’s group. It is also useful for them because they can post questions on that page whenever they have one and if the teacher is not online to answer it, another student can do it. Thus, students can help each other easily via Facebook. It is an easy and a fast way to get information.  As a teacher, you can also have your sutdents discuss on the group with the help of the  conversation option that you can find on the group page. Discussions can be access by anyone and it is possible to give name to the different conversation. This way, students can oriented themself easily and quickly.

In my opinion, the most interesting advantage in having a Facebook page with your students is that you are sure that the information will get through your students really fast. Teenagers are always on Facebook and they can get allerts on their phone whenever there is a new notification done. Most of your students and of your student’s parents already own a Facebook account. Thus, it is easy for them to use this website. Also, it is important to notice that there are strong privacy options despite what we are used to hear about Facebook.

Moreover, despite what people must say on teachers’ having their students as Facebook’s friends, if it is done responsably, teachers should have their students as Facebook’s friends. With the friendship on Facebook, you can get to know yours students way better. In fact, by going on their profile, you can get to see their pictures, what they like and what they are into. This is something nice, because more you know your students easier it is for a teacher to have a good relationship with them. Also, you can keep contact with your students for the later years. If ever those students want to ask you any question or if you want to know what they are becoming, it is easy to stay updated. What I recommand for those teachers who want to be Facebook friends with their students is that they create a  »teacher’s account » where there are no personnal informations and no personnal pictures.We often hear stories where some innapropriate pictures of the teacher are found on internet and it always causes a lot of drama. Teachers have to be careful on what they post on Facebook.

As a futur ESL teacher, using Facebook becomes an interresting option only if you ask your students to turn their Facebook in English and that you force them to have conversations in English on the class group page. It can be hard for a teacher to manage those variables. It is really easy to switch in French or to communicate in French because only the account owner can have access to the account. I don’t think I would be using Facebook with my students , because I feel like students would not take as seriously than other Tools because it is a social network that they use for their personnal life.

Using Google Drive with your Students

What about finding a website that allow many people to work on the same worksheet or project at the same time ,but from different places? Luckily, Google thought about creating a Drive to do so. It is called Google Drive.

What is Google Drive?

To use Google Drive, you have to create yourself a Gmail address on Google. After doing so, you can access your Google Drive account with that address. Once you have your account, you have 5GB of storage place. So no more need for a USB key. On the Drive, you can create text documents, online presentations, calculation sheets, and do many other useful things. Once your file is created, you can share it with whoever you want simply by clicking on the ‘’share’’ option at the top of the page. Obviously, people with who you are sharing your work need to have a Gmail account. Once you shared it, you can chose whether you want them to edit the document or not. If you want them to do so, they can add comments and feedbacks on the work done by selecting the ‘’insert a comment’’ option. You can also use your Gmail address as an Email address.

Advantages

As a future ESL teacher, it is interesting because you can share everything you have shown in class with your students on Google Drive. That way, your students always have access to all the information you gave them. Also, you can share homework template on Google Drive and allow your students to edit it in order to complete the worksheet. You and your students can also add comments to the documents so that you can answer their questions and they can comment on each other’s work. We can also keep some private files on the Drive. For example, we can keep a document on which we take the class attendance. You can always use the same document and you don’t need to print out a new class list for every class. We can also keep the grades of our students on a calculation sheet in order to not have to do all the calculation at the end of every semester. We only have to create the file once and then fil it up every time we want to instead of redoing the work all the time.

For students, Google Drive is a really nice tool that can make their life easier. By having a drive account, students don’t need to show up at school to make teamwork anymore. They can share the work they have to do with each other and work on it from their home. What is even greater about Google Drive is that the teammates can have a conversation on it while doing their project. Also, they can stuck everything on it and have access to it from everywhere and on every device. Thus, no more forgotten homework or project at home.

The most important advantage in my opinion is that it is free. We can use Google Drive as we would use Word, Excel, Power Point, Publisher, etc. One of the main difference I can find between those programs and Google Drive is that the Drive is free.

The only thing that I can point out that could be a problem with using Google Drive with your students is that we need to have access to internet at all time to use it. But, this is not a big problem according to me , because in 2015 it is easy to get free Wi-Fi. You can get it in pretty much every public places.

As a student who is using Google Drive, I can say that it is a really nice tool. It is actually the tool that my teachers showed me that I find the most useful. Everything can be done so fast. The thing that I like the most is that more than one person can work on the same document at the same time from different places or different devices. It makes things so easy for everyone.

Catherine Hébert

Advantages of having a Smart board in a classroom

Advantages of having a Smart board in a classroom

More and more school have the chance to get Smart boards in their classrooms. While I was in high school, couple of years ago, we would see Smart boards only in math and sciences classes. I remember that teachers were having so much difficulty using them. It was a new technology. Now, those boards are used by every teachers and in any classes. There are 10 types of Smart board that schools can buy depending on the needs. There are now trainings given to teachers so they get familiar with that new technology.

Smart boards give some kind of a flexibility to classes. You can still have the traditional teaching in your class; the teacher is in front of the class and gives some grammar lessons and students take notes. But with the interactive board, when the teacher sees that his students are getting tired of sitting on their chairs and listening to him, he can turn on the board and find some activities to do on it related to what he just taught to his students. That way, the student attention is attract to the front of the class because. Humans are curious, so whenever something unusual happens around us, it catches our attention.

Another advantage is that threw the Smart board, the teachers can directly get into the internet and have access to multiple resources. In fact, if the teacher feels like it would be interesting to show a video to reinforce the lesson he is giving, he doesn’t have to open the computer, the projector and prepare the video. The only thing he has to do is to click on the board and get the video he wants. Everything becomes more accessible with Smart Boards. It is quick and easy to have access to online resources at all time.

Those boards are interactive so the students can be more involve in the teaching. The teacher can ask a student to come on the board and draw something or answer a question. Afterwards, the work done can be save for a later use. As if the teacher explains something to the class and the bell rings, the teacher can save what he was doing and start the next class with it. He is saving time and his students won’t feel completely lost because they will remember to have seen that image on the board before.

As a future ESL teacher, I feel like having a Smart board in my class would be a big advantage. It would be an advantage for the reasons I pointed out before, but also because I think it can give a hand to teachers for classroom management. I think that students are more attentive when something is taught on a Smart board because it is different and also because it is interactive; it moves, there are many colors and many things can happen at the same time on the board. Also, kids and teenagers are always attracted by technologies, so if they know they can be ask to go on the board to answer a question and to try out the board at the same time, they will be happy and they will listen in class to make sure they can answer the question whenever you ask them to go on the board. I never experienced the Smart board in front of a class myself, but I know that with a good training and by being ready to use it, every teacher can benefit from that new technology.

Catherine Hébert

Notability : Easy way to take notes on your iPad

Recently, some schools started to ask their students to use iPads in class. Many application have been made for school’s purpose since then. I have been browsing on Apple Store to see what kind of application they were offering to students. Threw the hundreds I saw, there is one that I thought was particularly interesting. It is called Notability.

It is an application that is made to manage the notes you take in class. You can type your notes on it or you can record your teacher while he is talking in class to make sure you did not lose anything the teacher said. You don’t have to worry about having a beautiful handwriting, with this app you are sure that you will be able to reread all the notes you took in class. You can easily change the typing style, the color of the text, highlight stuff that you felt important, etc. You can make your notes pretty and understandable supper easily. Plus, the records you make are directly linked to your notes. Thus, you don’t have to search for which audio file is going with what typed notes file when you want to review. Everything is done automatically. You can put as much details as you like in your notes.

You can also markup documents and forms by importing PDF’s document or power point in Notability. That way, you don’t have to print out the power point and the documents the teacher sent to take notes on it. You can do everything with the app directly on your iPad, iPhone or iMac. You can also markup pictures that you took via Notability.

This application is also synchronized with cloud storage solutions. This is something fantastic because it is a very safe way to save your notes and everything you did with Notability. Even more, if you lose the electronic devise on which you have all your notes, you will be able to have them back by login yourself on iCloud. iCloud also give you the opportunity of sharing your notes with other people and also see the notes that people shared with you. Thus, if you feel there is something missing in your notes, you can always ask someone to share them with you on iCloud and you will be able to pick them up via Notability and mark them up afterwards. Also, once you are satisfied with your notes, you can share them via Dropbox, Google Drive, Email or AirDrop. By sharing your work, you can receive audio and written feedbacks from your peer on your file directly on Notability. Of course, your peers have to have a Notability account to do so, but still it is useful.

It is an application that is very useful, but that is also really cheap to buy. It is only 2,99$ on Apple Store. What is amazing it that you can switch very fast from writing to drawing, so you can easily keep the pace of the class. The app is getting faster every time there is an update done on it. This app is ratted four stars from most reviewer on the App Store website

As a future ESL teacher, I feel like having my students have Notability on their electronic devices in class would be an advantage. If is easier for them to take clear notes in class threw this application with all the options it offers. Also, they could record the teacher’s voice. This would save them time whenever they have a question. They only have to go back on the record and listen to it again to find out about the information they are looking for. It also saves time to the teacher because he does not have to repeat himself. I think that Notability is a very nice and useful application that every Apple product’s owner should buy.

Catherine Hébert

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Benefits of integrating technology into teaching practices

Nowadays, technology is present everywhere in our lives. Thus, having to use technology at school is now part of our reality. Many teachers are integrating a Website or a blog to their teaching practices. The teacher and the students usually have access to it. They can login the Website and have access to an online teaching platform. It becomes very pertinent for the teacher and the students to have access to that kind of technology because teachers and students are in contact all the time via the Web. According to Rebekah Bennetch, a Lecturer of Professional Communication at University of Saskatchewan, a website page reinforces the learning community environment of a group. If a student has a question he can login on the website page or the blog and post his question so every students and the teacher can answer it. The student and the teacher can save lot of time that way. Instead of waiting the whole weekend to get an answer, the student can get an answer faster either by a classmate or his teacher. On the other side, if a question is asked 10 times to the teacher, instead of answering 10 different emails, the teacher can post the answer on the page so every student can see it. Also, it gives the chance to the teacher to give extra information to his students at any time. This is very interesting for a teacher because it can be easy to forget to tell essential information in class and that way you don’t need to wait until the other class before transmitting the important information.

Also, Jay Wilson, an assistant professor Of University of Saskatchewan, pointed out something really interesting. He says that those website pages and blogs give students the opportunity to learn at their own pace. The teacher can put all the information seen in class on the website and if a student missed a part or did not understand a certain notion, he can go on the website and read again the course notes or watch again a video that was shown in class. Thus, it gives a chance to poorer learner to take time at home to review with all the same information that was given in class. As a student and future ESL teacher, having the opportunity the reread the information can be really helpful for some people. Learning a second language can be hard for some students as they are not all learning the same way. Having access to blog or a website page allow visual students to see an image, a video or simply the course notes again and again. The teacher saves time by putting the information on a Web page or a blog because he does not have to repeat over and over again; he only has to refer his students to internet.

Posting the course plan and course note in advance is also something we can do with Websites and blogs. Having students that come in class prepared and aware of what will be discuss can change the whole atmosphere of the classroom. You can push the knowledge further and you can have more interaction with students because they know what’s going on. Heather M. Ross, a design specialist of University of Saskatchewan, who uses a website and a blog for her course, uses that technique and she says that it gives a total different energy to her classroom as there are more interactions.

Thus, I think that a Website page or a blog is really useful for an ESL class. In fact, it gives students tools to keep in touch with English even at home. It reminds them to do their homework and the teacher can share articles in English, videos in English, etc. That way students don’t have to look for information and tools in English because everything can be posted on the Website. It can help students improve their level of proficiency in English.

Catherine Hébert