Month: April 2014

It has been right under my nose the whole time!

I have been writing about all sort of tools you can use in education and I used WordPress to share my thoughts. With this blog creating/hosting service, it is easy to write about any topics you want. It is quite easy to use but there is definitely a learning curve. The first time you actually try it might be a little overwhelming because this website is feature rich and there are many options at your disposal. However, the user interface is clean and the navigation is fluid. But the goal is not to use WordPress because it is pretty and fancy, it is because it is a useful and powerful tool.

 

WordPress can be as useful to you as it can be to your students. One year ago, WordPress released an updated with a new feature called education vertical for teachers. It was meant to help educators easily create websites for their classes. It is a great initiative that brings new possibilities on how to share content with students, and how these students can access class ressources. Additionally, the sites or pages created with this tool can be locked with passwords.  It is clear that WordPress is more than a basic blogging platform.

 

 

What is great too with WordPress is that you can effortlessly link YouTube videos, images, or any other URL sources. Thus, you can show your students any content you need from only one WordPress page. You don’t need to open a word file, a webpage, and a photo viewer application for a specific lesson; create a page with all the things you need , and you are good to go. You can also share your lesson plan through WordPress. There are countless possibilities. On this wiki, you can fin several interesting ways on how to use WordPress.

 

 

This article explains how WordPress can become a platform for course delivery dans learning, and how it can promote learning outside of school. Also, you can ask assignments to be done on WordPress. This way, instead of asking for hardcopies or documents via email, you can easily go on your students’ WordPress blogs to look at their work. Additionally, it is really easy to link the sources used to complete an assignment. It’s a great way to go paperless.

 

All in all, WordPress can be the solution for many aspects of school work management and in class presentations.

 

Do you love to pin?

Well it seems like everybody does. Here is a great visual on how Pinterest works and how it can be used in education:

Image source: http://edudemic.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/professors-peers-pinterest.jpg

 

I think the main idea behind using Pinterest in classrooms is to find a way to connect with your students and to reach a wide audience. Pinterest is the 3rd largest social media platform and according to Julie DeNeen, Pinterest is the premier platform for many professions. With its online pin board architecture, Pinterest is basically a visual tool that inspires creativity and new ideas. It is easy to find stuff you care about and to discover completely new things. Here are some basic tips: with the search engine, you of course search for education category, you can create your own boards about the subjects from your course plan, you can provide reading lists and additional ressources to your students, you can easily find new ideas for project and supplemental material, and so on.  

 

At its hearth, Pinterest is a tool created to share information. It emphasizes on interaction through interests and ideas. It is a great social platform to share ideas with people from the same profession. Thus, you can easily collaborate with your colleagues and your students. It is also a great organizational tool with is gorgeous visuals and the pin system. It is easy to remember the sources of your pins and why you choose them. You can also categorize your boards and create one for each subjects of your course.

 

You can also ask your students to use Pinterest as a creative tool to create presentations and to do special projects and they can easily collaborate with their team members by creating their own board. In an article by Jeff Dunn, it has been said that by using Pinterest, “The students were very excited and engaged to have a place to network with other teachers. […] Throughout this experience, both I and my students realized that effective teaching strategies don’t have to be confined to the classroom. Today, we have over 30 boards and 1300 pins.” 

 

With its great design and its ease of use, Pinterest is a great tool to engage interactions and share information with your students. Also, there are many different websites with video tutorials that can help you with your first steps on Pinterest like this one. You can even go on Pinterest education section. It is fun you will see.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what about a video?

Every student loves it when a teacher presents a video in front of the class. Every single student. If one tells you otherwise = liar. What is great now is that we have several different services we can use to show and share videos to them. One that particularly stands out is YouTube. In 2014, Pretty much everyone knows what YouTube is and how to use it, and youngsters are most certainly the ones that spend the most time on it. As soon as you use YouTube in your classroom you become relevant. You use a product students can relate to. This is important because if the content of your course is fresh and interesting, you win students’ attention. Adding to that, YouTube hosts a plethora of videos that can accompany any types of lesson for free and with a fast and easy access. (If you want a tip, use Google Chrome browser and install the Adblock Plus plugin, you will never have to wait after an add for the video to start). For these reasons, YouTube is something a teacher should try to implement in the classroom on a regular basis.

 

What’s great is that YouTube has a useful education channel you can subscribe to. You will always get new content that suits your needs from this channel. It is always fun the kick start a class with a little video that introduces the subject or activity you want to present to your students.  With a YouTube video, it is easy to engage with students on current trending topics and start interactive discussions. Your classroom gets more intimate and students feel involve with the source of the material. As mention on an article by Michelle Jaworski on The Daily Dot: “A lot of teachers now use hooks, so they start with the short YouTube video to get kids engaged [and] no matter what’s on YouTube, if it’s in a classroom they’re excited by it.” Additionally, What is fun with a video service like that is that you have complete control of what you want to show with the playback controls. All this in a clean and simple interface

 

They are many channels that can provide fun and interesting videos. The Mashable website created a list of 10 YouTube channels that will make you smarter. On this blog you will find the ten most popular educational YouTube videos in 2013. This just goes to show how much content is available on this video sharing service. Also, according to this article, this “service has been adopted as the de facto video sharing site for social networking, business, government and education throughout most of the developed world”. So yeah, YouTube is feature rich and crawls with credible sources. You can find virtually every instructional video possible. If you have a question, someone has already answered it with a YouTube video. Thus, it is easy to give homework to your students and ask them to go on YouTube in order to complete a task. Moreover, using YouTube this way will arouse students desire to learn outside of class.

 

 

So what are you waiting for? Jump on the bandwagon!

 

 

iPad for one and iPads for all!

During the current semester I did my first practicum in elementary school, and my associated teacher had the chance to have an iPad, a smartboard, and an Apple TV to give her lessons. That was a far cry from what I knew was possible in terms of interaction with technology when teaching. When I was in elementary school and high school, I was lucky if my classroom had an over-head projector. Anyway, it is certain that this kind of set up (the one from my practicum school) is not available in every school institution, but the iPad itself is a terrific tool in classrooms. At first I was not entirely convinced by what this device can bring, but now I know it is a tool every teacher must master.

 

iPads are made by Apple and now they come in two different sizes and there are over 5 generations. As it is the most widely adopted mobile operating system (for tablets), the iPad has the richest collection of applications (apps) for education optimized for its screen size. Thus, the iPad is the smartest choice as of right now if you want to own a tablet and use it in class. If you go in the iPad section of Apple’s website, the company will get you started with all the features an iPad has to offer. Their pitch is so well done and the website is so fancy that you will want to buy 2 of these little gadgets. It is a great way to know a little bit more about this product even if Apple is praising their product just a little too much.

 

 

What I want to talk about is the plus value of having an iPad in the classroom as a teacher. The first advantage of an iPad is its ease of use. Everything is easy to manipulate with the intuitive multi-touchscreen, and the apps boot up in an instant. It is effortless, fun, and portable. You do not have to bring your cumbersome laptop or to worry about having access to a computer in class.  This way, you can use this tablet at anytime during your lesson and still be able to walk around the classroom; mobility and efficiency.

 

Now an iPad is not just made to be move around. It is a useful tool that can be use in many aspects of your teaching habits. The iPad is great for surfing the web and researching topics in or out of the classroom. You can also do revisions with your students using various mind mapping apps. You can also easily take pictures of students’ projects and then share them with your colleagues or with whomever you wish. You can even record your student’s oral presentations in order to give better feedback when correcting.

 

You can find a ton of apps developed by different companies in the App Store. What is convenient though, it that Apple has a strong lineup of apps of its own, and most of them are free. For example, with the Keynote app, you can rapidly make a nice presentation for your class about a new topic.  Clicking on this link, you will fin a comprehensive list of all the best iPad apps teachers need. On this other website, you will fin all sorts of links for everything iPad related. It is another good way to get started. There a many interesting ways for using an iPad like using brushes to paint, draw, sketch, and doodle.

 

This piece of technology is the perfect tool to help unleash your creativity and captivate your students.

 

 

Tweet fever!

I have been a Twitter member since 2010 and I remember creating my account just because I had heard that it was a great social network that was getting pretty popular. However, I never really got into it until the beginning of this year’s NHL season. I started following Hockey insiders from various sport news outlets like TSN, ESPN, RDS and SB Nation. I did not have many subscriptions but I had what I needed in order to stay up to date with all the latest news from the NHL. Moreover, I gradually started to learn the way Twitter works and to take advantage of its great features.

 

Here I am, 8 months later, and all I use is Twitter. This is the best thing I have discovered since Ketchup and I really, really love Ketchup. I now follow many different people, companies, and movements and it is a joy to scroll through the tweets feed with all the latest and greatest things the world talks about. This had me thinking: Twitters offers so much (see endless) possibilities, I could as well integrate it in my future teaching career. So this is what I want to talk about: the many ways to use Twitter in the classroom.

First of all, Twitter is the ultimate tool to connect with the things and the people you like. It might seem like it can be a waste of time, but its organizational structure renders this social network a major educational tool.

There are countless ways to use Twitter in classrooms. With Twitter, it is easy to set up a feed dedicated exclusively to due dates, tests or quizzes. You can also coordinate assignments and share notes. You really have the possibility to get creative with this tool, and push an idea forward. Twitter can facilitate many aspects of your teaching like when posting materials and article, and on top of that, students will always have an easy access to all those links and posts. The interactions with the students will get richer and more dynamic as the year advances. Thanks to the hashtag system, you will always have something new to bring to the table and your lessons will stay fresh, relevant, and stimulant every week. Twitter did not make is way to the top of the results of the 7th Annual Learning Tools Survey for nothing. With Twitter, you can bring authentic conversation with your students, connect them to real-world problems, and expand the boundaries of learning.

Additionally, it has been said that Twitter actually increases in-class participation from students. “Fortunately, educators have found that Twitter is an effective way to broaden participation in lecture. Additionally, the ubiquity of laptops and smartphones have made the integration of Twitter a virtually bureaucracy-free endeavor“. Moreover, digital communication seems to help overcoming shyness barrier.

 

Twitter definitely is a powerful tool. Let’s embrace it.