Edmodo in the classroom

After learning about this topic in class, I decided I’d check it out a little more and see what all the hype is about. Surprisingly, Edmodo is actually a very interesting tool. Basically it’s a private and scholarly version of Facebook. I started by visiting the Edmodo website and being greeted with their slogan “Where learning happens.” I decided to take their word for it, and keep looking. On their website, they actually provide visitors with a nice video about what you can do once you join with your students. In the video, they talk about how Edmodo helps connect all learners with the necessary people to result in success. They then go on about different activities one can do with students in class.  I found it very interesting that they suggest having polls to get students thinking and get their opinion, as well as use the tool for homework reminders and announcements. The website allows the teacher to set up a classroom group as well as a parent group so that they can be informed as well.

I decided to visit different blogs to see what kinds of things different teachers were doing with this tool. I came across this interesting blog, which suggested different things that she was doing herself in her classes. The first thing she mentions is how Edmodo allows her to have time to teach beyond classroom time. Sometimes it’s hard to get all the material across, so Edmodo allows an interactive way to connect with students once they’ve left class. One of the activities this educator uses in her classroom is Peer Conferences. She has students post their work on the page, and other students are required to give feedback to the students that will allow improvement. They are required to reply with a specific positive comment, and as a “what if” question. I thought this activity would be a great idea with students, and it also gets them to practice their writing skills and developing ideas.

I came across this presentation, which nicely sums up the practical side of Edmodo. First they mention how you can have a library of all files, which means you always have a copy of students’ work. Also, it means students can hand in electronically which is practical in a lot of different ways. Students and parents also have almost instant access to the teacher if they need to ask a question or whatnot. The presentation also mentions that it’s a great way to get students thinking by starting the class discussion before the class even begins.

I enjoy the way this tool makes a classroom more personal. Each student is a part of a group, and the teacher or other students are always there to answer questions. I enjoy the different possibilities of using this tool, and students will likely enjoy it due to its similarity to Facebook. After reading all of this information, this is definitely a tool I would consider using in my classroom. 

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Prezi vs. PowerPoint in the classroom? I vote Prezi.

A few days ago my friend and I went out for lunch to catch up. She had just come out of class, and as she got into my car the first thing she said to me was, “I can’t handle another PowerPoint presentation, Allison. It’s too long and it’s way too boring.”  Her teacher was using PowerPoint’s to transmit information to the students, and lecturing them on the content pretty much word for word. Sure, this is not unheard of. Most teachers use this tool continuously because they are familiar with the tool and because of how easy it is to use. So I decided to search the net, and see if there were any other tools similar (and more fun) to the infamous PowerPoint presentation.

The first thing I came across was Prezi. Funny enough, it is apparently PowerPoint’s biggest competitor. The Prezi website is actually very captivating, so I decided to learn more about it. After clicking the explore button, I couldn’t help but activate my comparison mode and try to find all the differences and similarities with the competition. Generally, I learned that Prezi is a tool that allows users to make a presentation in all sorts of different ways. In classroom contexts, students can share and collaborate, they can import from PowerPoint (obviously), it’s very user friendly and looks like a uniquely designed poster. The main argument here is: it’s more fun for the eye.

According to this site, one of Prezi’s biggest trademarks is the ability to zoom in and out  of the presentation if needed. The structure resembles that of a mindmap layout, it can look much more appealing for students since it is more flexible. The most interesting thing I found out was that it was originally designed with the iPad in mind which means that it is Whiteboard friendly. It’s designed for the touch screen and made to be interactive. Also, Prezi is very collaboration friendly. Students can edit together and collaborate in teams while using this tool.

This slideshow mentions different ways Prezi can be used in class. The trademark, zooming in and out of key words or phrases, can be used for vocabulary. Students can see a definition, discuss, and when they come to a conclusion they press on the word and it zooms in. there are many different activities that can be done for vocabulary. Also, Prezi can make Venn diagrams, which are fun for brainstorming with students especially since they are interactive. Also, Prezi can make mindmaps and all sorts of other graphic organizers. A fun idea for a project is using Prezi to create advertisements. Since it’s so interactive, students could create a poster for something and present it to the class.

As a person who used to hate when teachers opened up a PowerPoint presentation, I think Prezi is definitely a tool I would like to use. I like how interactive it is and how many things there are to do with the tool. There’s so many options, that it seems like you can get much more out of it than PowerPoint. 

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Pinterest!

After endlessly hearing about Pinterest… I have finally decided to check it out. Little did I know, I actually like it. Since I am already in the mindset for educational tools, I immediately thought it would be an interesting tool to research for classroom use. So I started off by taking a tour of the Pinterest website, looking through the different categories and trying to think of ways this could be used in class. Pinterest allows users to join different categories of what you like, which means that you basically subscribe to pictures you like. All the categories you choose to like and you find interesting appear on your board, and all the things you pin or repin appear on your board eventually. Hence the name PINterest…

According to this website, there are actually several ways that Pinterest can be used in a classroom. Teachers have been using this website to share lecture notes, share quotes, share suggested reading materials with students and pictures related to topics. Students can like or repin the things related to the class and end up with a board related to the topic. Students can organize their boards the way they want to, and the pictures or quotes are automatically linked to the source so the teacher can link all sorts of things together.

So after reading some basic ideas for using this tool in class, I wanted more. So I visited this website and it listed a whole bunch of ways to use Pinterest in class either for students, for fun and for teachers. The main idea behind using this tool in class is to show, and not tell. Students can be more visual with what they do, and they can share it amongst themselves by commenting, repinning and searching for specific things within the website. Students can use this tool to brainstorm and do visual group work by searching in the educational pins or just searching through the website in general.

Although it doesn’t seem like a really educational website or tool, there are a lot of things students can do to get started with projects. It’s a good tool for brainstorming and gaining general knowledge about a subject that students can refer to throughout a project.  For the purpose of projects, it is definitely a tool I would like to try using in class. 

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Popplet!

When I think of Popplet, I see a giant interactive mindmap. For a while that was all I saw. Now, I see several possibilities and a very interesting tool to use in the classroom. On the Popplet website, I was hooked by their slogan, “A place for your ideas.” The reason for this is, since I am a visual learner myself, spreading out my ideas and brainstorming using tools like Popplet has always helped me retain information and organize my thoughts. When I am a teacher, I need to make sure all types of learners are benefiting from the activity and learning at the same time. This is an excellent tool to collaborate together, record thoughts, explore different ideas and all while having a little fun.

On this blog, I was presented with different basic ways to use Popplet and a introduction to the tool. According to the website, it’s as simple as this: sign up, add a name, click to add a box (or bubble) and customize it! Basically, it’s a way to make your ideas connect to each other. It can also be used to make combining sticky notes, a simple mindmap, as a presenter or a simple multimedia tool.

On this site, the author stated different advantages for the learner. This tool allows users to create a concept map from any subject they want. Whatever they choose, they can develop ideas and broaden their minds to the content and different ideas. The users must think of ways the ideas connect. The relationship between the concepts are the key to creating a successful Popplet. It allows learners to present their ideas visually. The main reason why this tool is helpful according to this author, is that it ensures that visual learners get the information. I completely agree with this statement, and I complete agree with the advantages she presents.

Lastly, this website attaches the tool to language learning, which I found very interesting since I will be a second language teacher. According to the author, collective data from different teachers has shown that Popplet is great for learning languages. The reason is that both sides of the brain are being used to create whatever the learner has to create. They are being creative, logical, technical and using their language to do so. Examples of projects they have used in language classes are basic brainstorming, storytelling, organizing information, homework, planning and studying.

Due to all the positive sides to using this tool, I would definitely consider using it with my students. It would allow them to visually present their ideas and communicate differently than with pen and paper. 

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Google Drive in ESL Teaching

From what I have read, heard and researched, Google Drive is a very interesting tool for an ESL classroom. Before the introductory class on the subject, I admit to not really knowing what it was and how to use the tool. After experiencing it first hand, and recognizing the amount of fun we were having by just playing around with it, I realize that this is not the last I’ve heard of this too.

As a future teacher, it is important for me to learn about all the different tools out there. But all of that is useless if I don’t know what to do with them once I’m creating my own lesson plans. This slideshow really introduced me to basic, fun and creative ways to integrate the tool into my classes. After reading through all 37 suggestions, I retained a couple for my own use. With students, I would absolutely take advantage of Google Docs, and have students collaborate on a document or presentation. Allowing them to all work together synchronously is a great way to get them to be motivated. Students prefer being interactive, and allowing them to collaborate on one document is very interesting. For example, perhaps I would have my students write a story. This not only practices their writing skills, but their comprehension. Students can sit at their own computer, and write a story and everyone else will see what each student writes as they write it.

On this blog, a teacher mentions how she used this tool in her classes. She mostly mentioned things I had already read about, but there was one thing she did that caught my attention. Since students can write on the documents once they have access, they can work on assignments anywhere. Teachers can comment and give feedback while work is being done, which allows students to review what they’ve done and correct their mistakes. This teacher did this with a group of students, however, the continuous interaction through the document resulted in a type of tutoring session. The teacher used the opportunity to make sure they learned something from it. I personally think this is awesome. Why not teach them something at the same time? I would definitely try to incorporate as much learning as possible when using this tool. Similar to this idea, this site talks about using Google Docs as a writing workshop. For example, students can write things and practice their writing while being corrected and having someone interact with them at the same time. They could have a simple subject, and either edit amongst themselves.

Another use I found interesting and that I would definitely use, was for reading. On this website, the author indicated with images in a sort of presentaton how she uses the tool to have students read and annotate at the same time. She allows allows discussions to happen while the students are reading, so if one student has a question then all the other classmates can answer. Students can then go on to answer questions to evaluate comprehension.

No handouts! That is the one common thing every single source I visited mentioned. It seems much easier for a teacher to carefully see how students are working and thinking by using this tool. Students get to see each other’s work and they get to interact in one way or another. I would definitely use this tool along with all the different ideas I read about. It seems so much more pleasurable for students, and for me, the teacher.

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Glogster!

Once again, I have searched for different ways technology can be applied in classroom settings. And once again, I have been introduced to a fantastic new concept. It goes by the name of: Glogster! I found the initial description on this website, which allowed me to learn the basic idea behind it. Basically, its an interactive visual platform. It’s called Glogster because it’s a graphical blog. The way it is used, is that users create a poster or a webpage that looks like a poster which contains multimedia. On the poster, you can put anything you want ranging from pictures, text, audio, videos, drawings, graphics, links.

I watched a video, showing users how Glogster works. It was useful because it really showed examples from beginning to end. Basically there are three steps. Choose a template that appeals to you, give it a fun name, and make the poster! Simple as that. Of course, students generally need more explanations than that, but all the same, it doesn’t seem like rocket science. The video host explained that these electronic posters can be created individually or collaboratively, and that almost anything can be added onto them. Students can make it look like whatever they want, which allows them to get creative.

My first impression was how fun it looked. Glogster states that the main purpose for this tool is to “engage students, inspire curiosity and excite learners.” I agree. I personally think that learners would enjoy the opportunity to create an interactive poster where they can click on a picture, or on a link, or on a video and present it in a unique way. It looks like a poster, but readers can interact with the content. Taking this into account, I started to notice that there were several possibilities for it to be used in an ESL classroom.

According to this website, students can use this tool to write book reports, make digital posters and complete their homework. It can also be used to write book reviews, character portrayals, story setting, practice vocabulary and for brainstorming. As for teachers, we can use it to prepare lessons and make visually appealing and interactive presentations. Students can also collaborate with others, making them develop important social skills as well as developing media and visual literacy.

As someone who adores the use of creativity in the classroom, I will most likely want to use tools like Glogster in my classrooms. i personally think it is a great tool, which allows students to create something from scratch and interact with it. They have something unique at the end of the project and they to show their work since the whole class can see the class’ Glogs. It’s a very interesting way to make schoolwork become fun and interactive and I love the possibilities it creates. 

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Kidspiration!

As I searched and searched for a topic that interested me regarding technology in education, I came across certain software that were designed for students in primary schools. Since my current practicum is in high school, I’ve been mostly focusing on tools and how we use them in high school classes. So, while I was on a website listing all sorts of ways technology can be used in classrooms, I came across Kidspiration. Immediately, I clicked on the link given and I was brought to their website.

First, I explored the website trying to figure out exactly what it was. However the first thing that caught my eye was what seemed to be their slogan, “Kidspiration –The Visual Way to Explore and Understand Words, Numbers and Concepts.” Immediately, I knew I’d love it. Why? Because I’m a visual learner, and I personally loved activities that required visual concepts rather than being lectured on the subject. So I dug a little deeper, and I started watching the videos provided on the website and reading how useful it is for children from Grade 1 to 5.

I decided to type Kidspiration in Google, and see what came up. I wanted to know if it was popular and if people actually used and enjoyed the software. The results were encouraging. I came across this website that explained exactly what the purpose of this software. The main idea behind this software is that students develop thinking skills and reading and writing skills. It is centered on visual and auditory communication and sharing and sharing. It is considered to help students write effectively, collaborate and understand concepts better.

Now, here’s how it works. Basically, it has a similar layout to the Smart Board. However, you can do much more with this software. According to this website listing “50 Uses for Kidspiration” you can do mindmaps, graphs, flow charts, maps, diagrams, plot summaries and so much more. By reading this PDF, I also learned that there is all sorts of fun activities already created that can be done. For example, they mentioned practicing word order with students. Basically, on a blank screen, the teacher would jumble around words in the wrong order and ask the students to put them in order to form a sentence. The cool thing about this though, is that the students can listen to the audio version of the sentence and practice their reading to find the right answer. Another example is reading journals. The students are able to record their own voices, which practices oral interaction and they are able to write out their journals and insert images.

All of the learning is visual, auditory and done through communication. I love the idea behind this software. I love that students are engaged in the learning, and that they can learn a second language through interaction with technology. Students end up with a MyWebspiration, where teachers can look at their work and comment on it. They can practice at home, and they can build their own story. Another motto of there is “Learning to think. Learning to learn.” I really enjoyed reading about this software, especially the huge PDF with all sorts of activities. This is definitely something I will use if I have the opportunity to teach this level. Not only because all of the learning is visual, auditory and communicative, but because it seems like a fun interactive tool that young children will be eager to use due to all the endless fun possibilities there are.

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