howaboutnono

Double negatives are a bitch

ClassDojo, or behaving well done right

Did you ever struggle to keep tabs on your students’ behaviour? Then ClassDojo might be the tool for you!

What is ClassDojo?

ClassDojo is a tool to keep track of the behaviour of students in the classroom, and analyzes it through reports that can be shared directly to the parents. It is a fun tool for both the teacher and his or her students, as it is customizable. Students can choose the avatar that represents them. Managing more than one class is also easy, since it is possible to create folders for more than one group. Moreover, the classes are associated to certain levels, a tutorial to create classrooms can be found here.

How can it be used in a classroom?

Since ClassDojo is a behaviour tracking tool, the best way to use it in a classroom setting is by using it to check on the students’ behaviour in class. Since it can be shared with the parents directly, it is a nice way to communicate with them without having to explain what happened specifically via email. The point system comes with simple guidelines for students to follow, but they are customizable too, to suit the teacher’s criteria. The clear distinction between the positive and negative behaviour to adopt in class is great for younger children. Teachers can also create their own criteria to evaluate. Every point given to the student can be notified to the parents, so they can follow their child’s behaviour constantly. Students that behave well and accumulate a certain number of points after a set amount of time may be eligible for a reward activity or a prize (toys, stickers, etc. work especially well with younger levels). Other testimonies about how teachers implemented that tool in their classrooms can be found here, here and here. More drastic implementation, such as that of projecting the classroom on a white board so that everyone can see the others’ results is also suggested here. Time saving is also discussed here.

To sum up, I think ClassDojo is a great disciplinary tool for younger learners but may be lackluster when used with grade 9 students (and above). It has become a very popular tool across the globe, and innovative ways on how to implement it are shared on many social media websites, like Pinterest!

 

 

Oh, how Pinteresting!

Social medias are always interesting tools to use in a classroom setting. What sets Pinterest apart from the others is its versatility.

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is a social media website that encompasses sharing through categorized bookmarks. It allows the users to follow other users as well.

How can it be used in a classroom?

  • First of all, Pinterest can be used to store and share ideas about classroom crafts. By doing so, others can get inspired with new ideas and have a greater variety of activities for students.
  • Secondly, you can integrate it to your and your students’ toolbar, so they can pin websites as they look up stuff. They can organize their search in folders. This helps organize their thoughts better.
  • Show off students’ work by posting individual works in a Pinterest group (called a board), like the Photoshop Peer Critique. This allows students to get feedback from their peers in a creative manner. Another example of that is the Portraits board.
  • Virtual field trips: there are tons of ideas out there for virtual field trips, as well as printables, videos, websites, etc. Virtual field trips is a good way to teach students about the outside world.
  • Activity sheets: many homemade teacher activities are posted on Pinterest, such as scavenger hunt worksheets.
  • Photo journals: By creating an account, students can post in a specific folder journals (since there is a description tool that can be used to write journals too) accompanied by a photo, either related to the topic or the mood of the journal.

Overall, Pinterest is a visually appealing tool that can be used efficiently in the classroom, and a great source of activities for teachers.

This website suggests other ways to use Pinterest in classrooms, and posted an infographic about it.

Other ways on how to use Pinterest are explained in details here.

Brainstorbubbling

What is bubbl?

That’s a fairly easy question. Bubbl.us is a free mind mapping tool to organize your thoughts, projects, you name it! The website shows various examples of how the mindmaps can be created. Unlike other softwares like popplet, bubbl allows users to include documents and pictures to the mind maps.

How can it be used in a classroom?

This website can be used to start off team projects. Brainstorming is made easier thanks to those tools, and students organizing their thoughts in a mind map oftens helps them to see the bigger image. It enhances critical thinking and creativity. A tutorial on how to use create mind maps can be found here.

The mind maps created can be made collaboratively, as they can be shared. This enables students to brainstorm separately or to work on two different parts of the project at the same time.

Teachers can use it to present concepts in language classrooms, where students cooperate together with the teacher to complete the mind map together. An example of that is the Wizard of Oz exercise. Other activities inspired from this website are descriptive activities, where the students are asked to write about the mind map studied without using the words it contains. Moreover, it is a good way to elicit information about novels students were assigned to read, as they can summarize their thoughts and organize them, while using recast.

Other fun things about Bubbl

Several bubbl reviews can be found online, such as here, here and here.

 

 

How is it like over there?

“The lottery of birth is responsible for much of who we are. If you were not born in the country you were, what would your life be like? Would you be the same person?”

The website IfItWereMyHome is the best when it comes to make students think about others abroad. How? Because it compares the person’s living conditions with those of another country.

The website compares different data like death in infancy, unemployment, birth rates, life expectancy, electricity & oil consumptions, wages, money spent on healthcare, chances of having HIV/AIDS, etc. It also compares the size of the country on that to which it is compared by transposing it on a map. An example of can be shown here. There is also a paragraph about additionnal information regarding the country that is included with each country, as well as book suggestions which are about the country.  This can be used as a source to get students to read about a specific country.

It is a great tool to add in classes when talking about politics, environment of the contemporary world. The website talks about disasters such as the Pakistan Flood or the BP Oil Spill, and relates it to the students’ surroundings through the use of a map. By allowing the website to access the location info of your computer, it takes the map of the disaster’s impact and tranfers the effects on a map of the place where the students live. For instance, the Pakistan Flood would cover an area as big as the distance between New Jersey and la Manicouagan. By transposing issues to the person’s life, they may relate to it more and feel concerned about it, which helps retain information.

 

IPads and classrooms: Better than you thought!

With the constant growth of the place of technologies in society, iPads are a good place to start in a classroom. Assuming people have access to a 1:1 ratio of iPads for students, here are some great ways to incorporate its use in the classroom. You’re thinking about something? THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT!

1. Replacing textbooks with iPads.

Books are heavy to carry, iPads aren’t. Many publishers now offer an iPad application for their textbooks. Those are easily accessible through iBooks. The only downside to it is that if you forgot your iPad at home, you’re pretty much screwed for the rest of the day.

2. Taking attendance.

Taking attendance is made easy through the application called Attendance. This app allows you to add your students in groups with personalized avatars/pictures for each (hopefully, you’ll use their school ID picture), so it’s fairly easy to use at the beginning of the year as well.

3. IPadagogy

IPadagogy is a youtube channel that offers app reviews of iPad apps, such as TopNotes, a notetaking app which can also include videos (videos!!!) in your notes.

4. Its rise in popularity and resource guides

With the rise in popularity of tablets and other devices, many have created resource guides, such as Kathy Schrok’s. Her resource guide even includes evaluation forms for apps, which could be included in computer classes related to the use of iPads. The iPad has a variety of teaching apps, some of which you can find here. Its popularity also makes people interested in creating applications, which helps the app community grow bigger each day.

5. Writing tools

Writing apps are great for practicing writing, especially when learning a new language. Korean Letters is a nice app to start learning how to write Hangul characters or to practice. Aside from the previously mentioned TopNotes, there is also Notability that is worth mentioning when it comes to notetaking applications.

6. Dictionaries.

So many dictionary apps exist, it’s crazy!  From language dictionaries to Dictionary.com & Thesaurus, you have all the possible dictionaries you may think of in one place to make it, once again, fairly easier to carry everything around.

All in all, I think the use of iPads in classrooms is creative and the biggest example of forward thinking! However, I think students should use other tools as well, instead of focusing on a tool only. As the saying goes, don’t put all your eggs in one basket!

OneNote it down!

One of Office’s greatest invention is that of OneNote. Why? Because it is simple, effective and creative.

First, OneNote allows people to share everything through a cloud, under the same principle as icloud. This makes the notes taken in class by students available at all times. Moreover, just like with documents on google drive, students can work on two computers on the same document simultaneously, which is explained here. That comes handy when doing group projects in computer lab classes.

Second, this blog post explains how it’s a virtual binder. It’s classification tool enables students to organize their notes as if they were using a binder. But it’s better than regular binders; you can share that one with others! What is more, you can draw, scribble and sketch in that binder, just like on real paper! Hence, using that file in class to teach, adding stuff on it while teaching and then sharing that document with students is very easy.

Third, it enables you to create task lists. This proves to be useful when keeping track of due dates for papers, assignments, you name it!

Fourth, you can create wiki-links very easily, making notes for students more interactive. A tutorial to do so can be found here.

Overall, OneNote is set to replace Word in no time, as it proves to be much more effective as a tool than Word will ever be! And if the students don’t have OneNote at home? Converting the documents to PDF files is done in a click, making them accessible to all!

Youtube it out!

Youtube is a great tool to use in class. Students are always interested when Youtube is mentioned in class, as they use it outside of school for entertainment purposes.

One way to use Youtube in a classroom is by showing movies. In language classes, input in the target language is necessary to acquire better language skills. Watching movies is a great way to enhance their exposure to the language by keeping it interesting. Many movies are available on the website, and there is the possibility to filter the videos labeled 18+ to make sure it is viewer-friendly.

Another way to include Youtube in courses is through experiments. There are TONS of channels strictly related to science experiments, such as Science Bob or SpanglerScienceTV. Viewing experiments is a simple way to teach material in an interesting manner for the students.

Interactive science tutorials are also available, on channels such as dancingmadscientist. They enable the students to visualize the experiment before reproducing it. Other tutorials about school subjects like mathematics can be found in a simple research on Youtube. For instance, there are tutorials  for factoring with algebra that are easy to follow for students. Vihart is, in my opinion, the most entertaining teacher on Youtube. The doodlings are fun to watch while learning something.

The last application of Youtube in class I’ll discuss is that of language classes online. Some channels, like talktomeinkorean and SpanishDict, are dedicated to teaching languages online. Showing those in class may make it easier to get new information through or to review things the students have a harder time to grasp. Other channels also focus on pronunciation, so it’s easier for students to learn how to pronounce correctly more difficult words.

Catch it if you can

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Hot Potatoes is too hot for you to handle; it’s the perfect software suite for teachers. You can download it here. It takes less than five minutes to get the software going!

What is Hot Potatoes?

Hot Potatoes is a free (since 2009) software suite (currently at version 6) created by a Development Team at University of Victoria. It allows teachers to create Jcloze, Jmatch, Jquiz, Jcross, Jmix (interactive multiple-choice, short-answer, jumbled-sentence, crossword, matching/ordering and gap-fill exercises) types of exercises and also to mix them all together with The Masher. The developers have also created Quandary, an application to make Action Mazes.

How can it be used in a classroom?

First of all, it allows you to create tons of exercises in a wide variety (multiple-choice, crosswords, etc.). The format is quite easy to handle, and for those of you who are not techsavvy, the website has a very long list of tutorials.  They also provide you a huge  clipart image bank, in both matte and transparent backgrounds, that can be used in language teaching. If you still cannot figure it out, there’s Michael Rottmeier who created a website about Hot Potatoes, examples included.

An idea for an activity suddenly pops up into your head but you don’t have access to your computer? Don’t worry. There’s also paper templates available here (although the headings are in German) to create Hot Potatoes exercises while not having access to the software.

Other users have also shared their ideas about creating exercises on the software suite, which can be seen here and here. The exercises can be shared online with the students and the teachers on this website, where a teacher can create an account and publish his or her exercises for the students to do them online (that’s for all the greenies out there!). And not only is the access environment different for the students and teachers, it restricts the students in what they can do. The website also allows the teachers to uploads files other than Hot Potatoes, such as PDF files, which is a great add-on. 

All in all, I believe Hot Potatoes is a great time-saving software that is quite versatile and interactive. I’d recommend it to any teacher who needs a bit more time (and let’s face it, we all do!).

Other fun things about Hot Potatoes

Dr. Stan Bogdanov has published a book called Hacking Hot Potatoes: The Cookbook, available in PDF here.

The Slideshare Revolution

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In this 2013 list of great tools for learning, Slideshare is ranked 16th. Well expect it to get more popular in the next few years. Why? Because it’s awesome. The funniest part is that the list’s summary was made with it.

What is Slideshare?

Slideshare is a Web 2.0 slide hosting and sharing website. It allows you to publish, either publicly or privately, a variety of files. It supports Powerpoint presentations, Word documents, PDF files, pps, pot, pptx, ppsx, potx, OpenOffice, Keynote, and Excel files, with a maximum file size of 100MB. It also allows sharing the uploaded documents on Facebook, Twitter, Xing and LinkedIn. Users can download the uploaded files and modify them, comment on other people’s presentations, add an mp3 file to the slides, create ads and Zipcast. It also developed a blog more recently to keep the users informed. It was sold to LinkedIn for 118M$. It is the world’s largest presentation sharing website, with 60M monthly visitors and 130M pageviews.

How can it be used in a classroom?

First, it allows the students to gather information from other users. They can look up specific slides by searching key words related to a topic. It is also possible to have a list of contacts, so a teacher could add only his or her students and share the slides with them only (explained in this tutorial). That also stands for the students. Creating a classroom environment on that website is easy! Other examples can be found here, here and here. The uploaded presentations can be embedded on blogs and other networks.

You can create an event presentation to create buzz about it. School play, fundraising event; you name it.

Students can also create ads with Leadshare, which can be a cool project to work on in class.

You can also embed youtube videos inside presentations, which makes it even more interactive and can complement the presentation by showing science experiments, tutorials, movies, documentaries, basically whatever floats your boat.

Last but not least, the Zipcast is a tool used to create conferences and air them while the presentation is going on. This can be used for online classes or after school tutorials. Moreover, the conference also has a inbuilt chat, so the users can interact among themselves.  I think it’s the most useful thing that was added to the website.

Overall, Slideshare is a great tool for interactive classroom presentations and online classes. I hope other teachers give it a try!

Other fun things about Slideshare

The website’s CEO, Rashmi Sinha, was in the World’s Top 10 Women Influencers in Web 2.0 by business magazine Fast Company.

Slideshare is used by the White House, NASA, World Economic Forum, State of Utah, HP, IBM and O’Reilly Media.

Teaching and Social Networking: Why not have both?

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In this upcoming age of technologies, the teaching profession has once again undergone a sharp shift in its student-teacher communication tools. With the rise in social networks, this new generation is less prone to interacting in a one-on-one fashion with teachers. The latter will, in the near future, have to adjust to this reality; students are more at ease when interacting with others while sitting behind a screen. Are teaching and social networking really that distinct nowadays? I don’t think so. In my opinion, they go hand-in-hand. But then, you may say, how do we approach such a risky tool and use it in class?

By setting boundaries. It’s that simple.

Including social networking in a classroom situation can be risky, especially when it comes to facebook. Privacy settings can be lengthy, but it’s worth taking your time to set them properly. I personally have a profile so private people cannot look me up unless we have a friend in common. And even then, they cannot see my pictures nor my posts unless I accept them as friends. I also prevent my friends from seeing some pictures by dividing them in categories (a tutorial of which can be seen here); my real friends can see everything, my colleagues have access to some stuff, my classmates have access to other things, etc. Filtering is key. Another cool tool is having to approve which pictures and posts appear on your timeline (when friends post stupid things on your wall or tag you in pictures), so I can once again check what I want others to see and what I want to go unnoticed. I also have a friend who created another facebook account just so she can verify that nobody can access stuff on her real profile.

Now, I’m not as paranoiac as I seem to be. When students can look you up on the internet, they can find surprising stuff. Which may cost you your job.

The best tool on facebook, I believe, is the groups we can create. Creating private groups allows the members to only see what is shared on the group without having to friend the other members (here, the students). They may click on your name, but all they’ll encounter is your profile page, which you’ll have toggled a bit before thanks to the privacy settings, right? Right.

So hang in there, my friend! Facebook is not that scary. Actually, it can be quite useful. Students love how interactive an online group can be, and there’s tons of ways to use it efficiently. You can check some of those here. And, needless to say, the internet is not limited to Facebook! There are many other social networks a teacher can use, from Instagram to Twitter to Livejournal! Heck, even forums are easy to set up nowadays and the personalization of a unique profile and username for each student can be a thrilling experience. So go and explore with your “digital natives” all the possibilities because trust me, they know social networks more than you do.