The power of the Hastag

What is Twitter? Twitter is quite the hype these days. You hear more and more talk about it! However, it was quite the unknown phenomenon to me. Considering that more and more applications are being adapted and used in the classroom, I thought why not go figure out how to use it and if it had any potential for the classroom Using sites such as this one  and my friend’s twitter account, I went off on a mission to demystify what all this hype was about. to tweet After investigation, I discovered that Twitter is an online social networking AND microblogging service. It allows it’s users to read or make posts of 140 characters. Therefore, this allows for short, clear cut messages. This messages are called “tweets”. (However, to be able to post messages you have to be registered. If not, you can still read all the different posts….you just cannot post any yourself!) You can also “follow” someone. This means that their “tweets” (posts on twitter) will appear on your feed; this way you will not miss any of their posts. Twitter also allows you to “retweet”. This basically means that you can share what someone else posted. However, both tweets and retweets are tracked to see which ones are the most popular.

Another important aspect of Twitter is the hashtaga  “#” sign. Using the hashtag, users can group posts together by topic or type. For example, in the context of a classroom, using #ESLMissNancy could group together everything that the fictive Miss Nancy posted on Twitter for her students. Her students could then have access to all this information in one place due to this hashtag. Just for this element, I can see the invaluable tool Twitter could become in the context of a creative writing or and ESL classroom.

K-12 teachers have taken advantage of Twitter’s format to keep their classes engaged and up-to-date on the latest technologies. The following projects provide you and your students with 50 ways to Twitter in the classroom to create important and lasting lessons.” – Samantha Miller

How to use Twitter in the Classroom?

First of all, the use Twitter in the Classroom, you should set up a new Twitter account for your class! You should “protect” your updates to keep is private and safe. Then, you can invite parents to “follow” you. This way parents can know and see what their child is doing in class. They can also access all this information from their home, which makes it all easier.

  • Tweet about upcoming due dates or assignments. Tweets are the perfect way to remind students of what they have to do. It is short, quick and very accessible!
  • Have a running news feed for the class. This way all the classroom information is located in one place that has easy access. It is a good way to help structure those students who are always lost and loosing their worksheets, papers, guidelines, etc… This can also be very useful for the students who were absent on a certain day!
  • Have your own classroom hashtag. Once again, all the information will be regrouped in one spot. Nonetheless, now students will also be able to share information, documents, or findings of the internet with the rest of the classroom. This will help build the feeling of a community within the classroom!
  • Facilitate research. Typing  keywords into the Twitter’s search engine can be a good way to find all kind of different sources (from microblog entries  to links and videos that were posted under this topic).

Twitter in the Classroom?

Chart

This nice image comes from TeachBytes (2013).  It makes a link with the Bloom’s Taxonomy Chart we learned about in Introduction to Linguistics (at Laval University) and Twitter. Go take a look! It clearly explains how Twitter can be used in the classroom to maximise your students’ learning

How I would use Twitter Personally, through my excursion in the world of Twitter, I see its invaluable asset to teaching literature or creative writing in class. It is an excellent way to encourage and enstore collaborative writing within a classroom. Here are a few ideas of how to creatively integrate Twitter in the classroom!

  • Write summaries. The short limit of characters allows students work on their abilities to clearly summarize in a few words. It helps them become more concise in their writing.
  • Produce a Tweet dialogue between two conflicting/opposing characters (e.g. Hitler and Anne Frank). I also found this neat site that is definitely worth checking out for inspiration! It make Tweets in the way of some past Historical figures. It is a good way to learn about History, and about style and identity in writing.
  • Use Twitter to write a Short Story.
  • Write a collaborative story. Have one student start the story with a tweet. Then, each student can add on the story by writing a tweet of their own. You can link up all these different posts with a hashtag!

Here is a Bonus tool for teachers!  It is a hashtag feed focused for teachers and tips for the classroom! You should definitely check it out.

Have fun discovering Twitter!

PowerPoint presentations 2.0: Prezi

If you look up “Power Point presentation” in the dictionary, I am pretty certain the synonyms you would find would resemble this:

Power Point presentation: Boring, long, never ending, ugly and  a drag.

boring

However, no one can argue that these presentations aren’t  a visual tool with ENORMOUS POTENTIAL. As presenters, we just never seem to be able to unleash its full potential of awesomeness! We tend to forget that the presentation can be interesting, bold, creative AND interactive!

But how can a power point presentation become such a thing?If I could read your mind, I bet this is what I would be hearing at the moment).

In one of classes, a student showed up for her oral presentation with something different. It was something familiar yet it had a creative twist. It was informative yet very CREATIVE. It was pretty. It was captivating. BUT, most of all….it was interactive! I just had to figure out what this incredible tool was. Here is what I discovered…

Well search no further, the tool you have been waiting for is : Prezi !

 

What is Prezi?

Prezi is a presentation software  that stands out from the others by the possibility it gives you to tell a story on a virtual canvas. This means that your presentation is not fixed to the traditional solid slides we are used to! Your presentation can now do many more things than just switch slides at the click of a button. You can know create an interactive map. The presenter can zoom in and out of their presentation as they please. Your presentation is now in 3D. This just brings it to a whole new level. There are just so many reasons why you should use Prezi in your classroom!

This description can seem confusing or mind boggling at first. That is why you must see a Prezi presentation to fully understand what it is. The neat thing about Prezi is they have a sharing space. You can have access to presentations made by people from all around the world. This can inspire you or simply be the presentation you were looking for!  For you to understand the magic of Prezi, check this presentation out:

 

Reasons why I will use Prezi in my future ESL classroom

  • Collaboration: Using prezi promotes collaboration. You can have multiple users working on the same presentation at the same time. This way, it facilitates group work. Integrating Prezi in the classroom can help the teacher focus on cooperative learning structures. It can also make it easier for students to complete a task. They can do their assignment from their homes or from wherever they wish to complete their tasks.
  • Build communication skills: Prezi is used during oral presentations. In the context of an ESL classroom, this can be used during an oral communication exercise. It is a good tool for students to practice their communication skills. Being armed with a great presentation can give them the courage and motivation they need to do their presentation! When you are well prepared you tend to stress less for something. Considering that stress being a factor that discourages students from participating actively in the classroom, equipping students with a tool that puts them at ease for their presentation can only help them to gain courage and confidence in their own personal abilities! It is a win-win situation! (Creating their presentation also makes them work on their writing skills!)
  • Professional skill: Nowadays, more and more jobs are requiring some sort of presentation. Thus, showing students how to create a good presentation can only help them for the future. Working on this skill will prepare them for professional jobs or opportunities they eventually will have to perform. It can help them distinguish themselves from the competition.  Also, when a class activity can be applied to real life situations, students tend to be more motivated to accomplish them. This can also be a factor to increase the class motivation/active participation!

 

  • Develops creativity: Prezi is a great tool to encourage students to develop their creative side.

 

Another good aspect of Prezi is the present online community. There is a forum where people exchange their ideas. There is also a youtube channel where Prezi presents different aspects or applications offered to you with their software. It is an excellent  way to get you started or to find innovative ideas for your own presentations!

So now that you have the information, go check it out! It is definitely worth it!

 

 

Innovate your classroom with Socrative!

Attending the SPEAQ conference last month, I was introduced to an online system that every teacher should discover! It is called: Socrative. Does the name ring any bell?

socrates

First introduced by Annie Krespil during the “An Old Story Made New” conference, this online system seemed to be a key element for creating a strong environment for active participation in the classroom. The way she introduced Socrative to us made it seem as if it was the solution we were all waiting for to rev up the traditional classroom setting. She stated that Socrative allowed her to accomplish more in her classroom, taking less time to do so.

Before continuing on the matter, I think we need to cover something essentiel;

What is Socrative?

Named in honor of the great greek philosopher, Socrative is a smart student response system that allows teachers to engage their classroom through various exercises. This system follows the socratic method in which a form of discussion between individuals is created by asking and answering questions. This serves to create and stimulate critical thinking among the participants. Its purpose is to develop the participant’s communication skills. This is exactly why Socrative offers a variety of exercises and quizzes for the teacher to challenge his or her classroom. It allows the students to instantly respond to questions displayed by their instructor. Their responses are instantly displayed (anonymously) in a chart form. Teachers can use this feedback to guide their instruction, and to re-emphasize content areas that are troubling the students.

How does Socrative Work?

Teachers and students must download the Socrative application. By logging into their online classroom, students then have access to the exercises and quizzes made by their teacher.

These educational exercises are available through smartphones, laptops and tablets. This means, students can answer the teacher’s question with their smartphones or their own personal laptop. What a neat way to modernize your class by introducing technology in the classroom!

If you would like a glimpse of what Socrative looks like, check this video out!

Surfing the internet, I found 13 interesting ways Bradley Lands of The Landscape of Learning uses Socrative:

  1. True or False Questions
  2. Multiple Choice Questions
  3. Short Response
  4. Visual Data (Bar graphs and visual short responses)
  5. Exit Ticket
  6. Pre-Assessment
  7. Post-Assesment
  8. Create Short Quizzes
  9. Upload Premade Quizzes
  10. Reflection
  11. Collect Background Knowledge
  12. Quick Check for Understanding
  13. Voting on best responses

All these activities would be easily applicable to an ESL classroom environment!

Among the many different aspects of Socrative, one that is very interesting is the Exit tickets“.

Basically, this is a mini quiz that students must fill out before quitting Socrative. The neat thing about this option is that it allows teachers to verify if students understood today’s material or not. It is a good way for teachers to monitor if the class material was generally understood by all or if it is something that should be revised again in class. It is a good way to get feedback on the feelings of the students on their understanding. It also is a good way for students (who could be too to do so) to ask for extra material or extra help concerning a specific aspect of today’s class. It is less intimidating to write a message online than going to ask the teacher for help at the front of the class. Let’s face it, “exit tickets”  are just one of the many wonderful tools for teachers that are available through this online system that is Socrative!

Why should you use socrative in the classroom?

Need more reasons to use Socrative in your classroom? Here is a list!

  • Easily access your students level of comprehension
  • Raise the level of participation in your classroom through the competitive “clicker quizzes” (turn your students smartphones into clickers like in quizzes on television)
  • Use socrative to poll your classroom. It is a quick and easy way to get feedback from all your students at once.
  • Cut down paper! You can have your quizzes and evaluations online. Therefore, you get to go green and cut on the usage of paper in your classroom.
  • Less room for cheating! Each students works on a question at a time. This way, it is less possible for students to cheat off someone else. Each students does not have the same speed rate and they won’t all be on the same page at the same time. It is easier to monitor if someone is looking at someone else’s screen than traditional paper exams.
  • Allows the teacher to circulate more in the classroom. You can set up various teams in the classroom and assign them various quizzes and activities online. This way, the teacher can then circulate from one team to the other. This enables the teacher to concentrate his or her attention on a smaller group of students at once. Therefore, this makes it easier for the teacher to create a deeper interaction with his or her students.

If you would like more information, check this Socrative PDF guide.

 

 

Smart Pen

 

pen

 

“The pen is mightier than the sword…”

The person who first coined this quote must definitely have known about the Smart pen‘s existence! Apart from being the modern-day-classroom-magic-wand-spectacular (oh yes, this tool is just so amazing a new word had to be created smartpenfor it!),  what is the Smart Pen exactly?

What is the Smart Pen?

The Smart Pen is a tool shaped like a pen. It had an ink cartridge, so you can write with it like you would with any conventional pen. However, it does way more than that. It comes with its own notebook. This notebook is made with special paper. Whenever you write on this paper, the pen will also record everything that is being said as you are writing. All you need to do is click where it is written “record” at the bottom of the pages! Later, you can tap on the section of writing you are interested in your notebook and as you tap on the notebook you will hear the recording of what was said previously at the same exact moment when that note was taken. To accomplish this incredible feat, the pen is equipped with a camera where the tip is. This allows its sensors to see where on the paper you are tapping on. The pen also comes equipped with a built-in microphone. It gets even better! You can actually hook up your pen to your computer through a USB portal. This allows you to upload everything you have recorded. You can then listen to them over and over or send/share these recordings with other people! The possibilities are truly limitless!

As a future teacher, I was truly impressed by the unlimited possibilities of this tool.  The Smart Pen is worthy of mention considering how great its potential is to bring the classroom to a whole new level! Here is a video that explains quite clearly how it functions.

The Smart Pen is a tool that has as much potential for the students than for the teacher. Once you integrate its use in your classroom, you will not be able to go back! Think about it for a second, this pen opens up the world to a huge number of possibilities.

How would I use the Smart Pen in the classroom?

  • Record oral presentations: This way students can listen to their presentation. This allows them to hear what and how they said it. You can use this recording to ask them to create an auto-evaluation. The students could also fill-in a correction grid with all the mistakes they hear themselves make. By correcting themselves, they will be less inclined to make these mistakes again.
  • Justify your evaluation: As you are taking notes on the speaker, the Smart Pen will automatically match the notes you are taking with what the speaker was saying at that exact moment. Therefore, if a student does not agree with what you have pointed out, you can justify your point with the exact audio moment in question. This  helps to develop a sentiment of trust between the teacher and the students. When you can justify why you gave them such a grade, students feel that your evaluations are honest and just. They will not have the feeling that they were graded depending on the relationship you have with them, but rather on the quality of what they produced!
  • The power of sharing: Using the Smart Pen in the classroom allows you to share everything that was recorded with your students. You can send them an e-mail with today’s class content. This way, it will help them study for their exam tomorrow. You can send the recording of the today’s class to a student who was absent. This allows the absent student to “retake the class” without compromising your lunch hour! (We all know teachers do not have so much free time to prepare their various activities during the day.

Since a picture is worth a 1000 words, here are a couple of concrete examples of what you can do with this Smart Pen.

As you can see, its possibilities are limitless.

Livescribe also offers various applications and additions for their Smart Pen. Here  is a list of additions with an educational purpose. If the Smart Pen interests you, they are  definitely worth looking at.

Here are ideas for the use of the Smart Pen especially in ESL classes.

If you want more information about this product and its accessories, click here.

iPads in the classroom: To use or not to use?

ipadClassroom

In this world of ever growing technology, it is even more important for teachers to adapt their classrooms to it. Yes, iPads are known to be used for leisure. They could be a source of distraction. However, if you know how to use them, it is possible to use them in an awesome EFFICIENT way in the classroom! (The more you know your tool, the more you know how to prevent these distractions!)

iPads can be very useful in the classroom. You just need to discover how you can use it, what aspect of it would be useful for you! Here are some examples:

  • Visual support: Using the iPad opens up the window for a ton of visual support. Whether it be a document you found or made on the web, videos, pictures, etc… It is a simplified version of a projector. Also,each student can have access to the image from their own seat. Therefore, everyone can see clearly.
  • Classroom management: Using an iPad, you can hook it up to your board. This way, you can circulate in the classroom as you write. As a teacher, you are no longer chained to that board. It is easier to manage a classroom if your back if not faced to them. There also exists a wide range of applications to help you accomplish a good management of your classroom.
  • Easy correction
  • Facilitates feedback: Through internet, you can exchange e-mails with your students and their parents. You can send them personal messages to give them feedback, or can simply write directly on the assignment that was handed in.
  • Easy access: With the iPads you can easily store your files, your student files and all the other documents you think could come in handy. It is then easier to find what you are looking for through your search engine than through a messy desk.
  • Allows creativity: You have endless possibilities of what you can do with the iPads. It is an invaluable tool for teachers to create their class material. With all the different applications available online, you can easily add a magic touch to any lesson plan!  
  • Endless supply of tools and resources. It’s true! Go search the internet. The possibilities are limitless. A lot of them are free. Why not make good usage of them!

For example, there is this neat application called iPrompt. This purpose of this app is to help the learner  acquire fluency when reading or giving an oral presentation. This app can be very useful in the classroom to help your students read more fluently. It can also be used to improve their speech making skills. How it works? Basically, you can copy the text into iPrompt and then change the speed at which the writing will appear. This way, you can adjust the speed to the student’s level. Here is a tutorial for further information.

There are other apps to help you get free E-books for education and learning. All teachers know the importance of taking all the resources that are offered to you. Not every school had a big budget for new books every year. Therefore, why not take advantage of these free E-books! Here are sites that you should check out on this matter: Project Gutenberg and Baen Ebooks.

To those who are still sceptic, I had the chance to observe the use of iPads within an elementary school classroom. The success was immediate. Students were interested, invested and concentrated on their task. Through conversation with my associate teacher, it was revealed that: “She had never seen them be as concentrated as when they work on their iPad”. Let’s face it, we are dealing with a new generation of students. They are not only used to having technology, they were raised using it. Therefore, teachers can benefit greatly from implementing technology within the classroom. It is an excellent way to increase the participation level of the students in your classroom.

You can always check this site out for even more interesting information and ideas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wikis: a cool tool to add to your classrooms!

What is a Wiki?

I learned about Wikis for the first time when I attended this year’s SPEAQ Campus. The presenter Annie Krespil introduced this concept in one of her conferences. Basically, a Wiki is a Content Management System. The most popular one being Wikipedia. It is a collaborative website where anyone can add or modify an article. However, apart from this one site (Wikipedia) that all students seem to use as a reference in their papers, Wikis are a remarkable tool to implement in the classroom. Teachers would benefit greatly from getting to know this tool.

 

wikiHere is some information to get you started!

Wiki 101

A wiki is a simple web page. Its advantage relies in the fact that it can be edited by many users. Therefore, this allows for a constant interaction between the teacher and the students. They can be used as sources to obtain information and knowledge. Wikis can also be used to create discussions amongst its users and participants. Since it is a collaborative platform, participants learn from each other.

Why use a wiki in the classroom?

There are many different ways as to how  a wiki could benefit a classroom.

Creates a sense of community: There are no direct leaders in a wiki. Everyone is allowed to share, edit and create within a wiki. This creates a sense of partnership and a desire for cooperation among the students in the classroom. Sure, the teacher makes sure that everything runs smoothly. However, the operation of the wiki does not solely depend on the teacher. This also helps to build up the autonomy of the students!

Easy comments: Peers can comment other peers. Teachers can easily comment their students’s work. Teachers may also privately comment certain pieces of work (making their comment only accessible by the concerned student). Parents may also have easy access to the teacher’s comment, making them thus more aware of how their child is doing in the classroom.

Easy access: All the work can be placed online. No more loosing of the copies. No more forgetting the homework. Everything is accessible in one place. This makes it easier for teachers to correct. It also makes it easier for students to search for their homework. Students no longer have to search among their numerous books for that one piece of paper they are looking for. They can simply go online where all their documents are together.

 

Wikis also have a positive influence upon:

Student Participation and interaction: The students of today are more inclined to participate when technology is involved. ICTs are part of their interests. Students who are interested are more willing to participate in the classroom!

-Group Projects: It makes it easier for students to communicate together. All their information can be found on one place.

 

How to set up a Wiki? 

As you can see by this video, Wikis are quite simple to set up. The hardest part is choosing with type of server you want to use!  If you have any more questions on this topic, there are many articles and/or videos up on Youtube explaining all the different things you can do with a Wiki.

Furthermore, here is a step by step procedure to start your own wiki.  It can be used as a good checklist when you are setting up your own Wiki!

If you are still unsure as to whether you would see Wikis being a part of your classroom or not, go check these out. They are good  examples to really understand the beauty of a wiki.

Youtube: A teacher’s sidekick!

As a future teacher, I see the importance of adapting your classroom to the new technologies. Kids theses days are hooked so early to all kind of different screens (TV, phones, iPads, etc…). This is the reason why teachers would benefit from the implementation of Youtube within their classroom! Everyone knows or has heard about Youtube. It is quite accessible. In fact, it follows most of us in our back pocket. Why not take advantage of this and show to our students all the educational potential it holds!

Students can go watch videos,  depending on their interests, but in the language that is being studied! It offers an opportunity to hear more of that target language. If they are learning a foreign language, these Youtube videos can help them get used to hearing and understanding the language they are studying. In the case of ESL teaching, there a lot of videos online.

Just to name a few possibilities:

  • You can find online “Spoken English Lessons” like this
  • You can find videos on specific grammar topics like this 
  • You can find situational videos that demonstrate how to act/ what to say in certain situations like this 
  • You can record your class and put it up online so your students will be able to review the class content
  • You can even find videos that give tips for future teachers! Whether it be examples of activities you can do in class or suggestions of good class management skills..

There really is an endless opportunity as to how Youtube can upgrade your classroom experience!

If you are looking for inspiration, here are a couple of good examples of youtube channels for teachers!

Youtube is also an excellent resource to help plan your class. You can use it many ways to help increase the level of in-class participation of your students, or simply to help you organize your class.

  •  Ice breakers. Videos can be used to engage students,to help them start discussions. This is a good tool in language classes to help provide more opportunities of oral practice.
  •  Save videos. Make a playlist of relevant videos for your class.
  • Archive your work.  This allows you to save your old work and material. You can then send it to new students. This saves you time and space!
  • Exam review. You can easily upload videos and information that can help your students review for an upcoming exam.
  • Video message to your students. Create an account for your class. Forgot to give specific information about an assignment or you would like to send them a message before the next class? A video online is a quick easy way to do so. You can even send them an e-mail to warn them of this recent upload.

The possibilities are endless! Go have fun with it, you will not regret it!

Storybird: Once Upon a Class…

Surfing the internet, I stumbled upon something incredible. I present to you: Storybird! If you could be friends with internet sites, this site would be my BFF!

Their motto : “Create, read and share virtual stories”.  This site allows you to create stories online from their picture bank online. You have the creative liberty of doing whatever you please. As a future teacher, I have fallen in love with the simplicity of this site. There is even a section specifically for teachers and another one for parents. It seems as if it was made to be used in classrooms! In fact, The possibilities for the classroom offered by Story bird seem limitless.

Reasons to love Story bird:

  • It’s Free! It also takes less than 5 minutes to set up an account.
  • Amazing art. There is nothing like nice art to inspire you in your writing projects Students can use this art as the focus point of their story. Also, through visual art you can grab the attention of your visual students!
  • Puzzle solving. Readers can unlock special pages and bonuses hidden in the stories online. This helps  your students to develop problem solving skills. This game factor can also help increase their level of motivation to accomplish their tasks,
  • Social reinforcement. Students can receive feedback from their peers. This can help to build their self confidence in their work. It also allows them to work their social skills within the classroom. Having students give feedback to others is an excellent way to create a writing community within the classroom.
  • It’s a grade booster! Teachers and kids report higher grades in writing and reading comprehension when using Storybird regularly

Useful for the classroom:

  • Facilitates grading. You can correct and assign grades online.
  • Easy sharing. This site makes it easy to share the stories once they are completed. You can even e-mail them to parents so they can see their child’s progress.
  • Fundraising.  You can sell your online creations. This can help to finance a school trip.

Reading about it was just too fun, I had to try it out. Here is a small sample  of what you can do!. Personally, I found it quite easy and amusing  . I definitely intend on trying out more stuff soon!

Are you having the urge to try it out for yourself, check this tutorial out!  Here is another one made especially for teachers.

Do you need ideas to start writing yourself? Here, check out these examples of story ideas.

Dweeber : an online study group

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What is Dweeber?

 Dweeber is a social networking site whose aim is to facilitate doing homework. It enables young students (aged 13 to 17) to accomplish their homework with their friends. This way it is fun, it is efficient, and it has more chances of being done!

So, what exactly is Dweeber? One could say it is a Facebook for young people that has an academic purpose. Here is a little history to introduce you to this site…Dweeber was opened to the public in 2009.  Their aim was “to allow young people to use the growing phenomenon of social networking to actually help them learn, study, and do homework, as opposed to getting in the way of it“. It has the objective to empower young people and to create a habit of helping and sharing with  their peers. As a  future teacher, I simply adore their guiding principles:

  • Everyone has their own unique brilliance.
  • Think of differences as resources rather than disorders
  • Track assets rather than deficits
  • Think of mistakes as experiments rather than failures.
  • Everyone has an inner Dweeb, a geek part of us that is passionate about something important.

Another interesting part of Dweeber is that they have a Youth Advisory Board. This way teens can also get help from teens if they have questions on the site’s procedures. This is great. Some students prefer asking their peers or people within their age range for questions, rather than going to go see an adult. (In the same direction, Dweeber allows students to interact between each other. This also enables the shy students to get the information they need without having the scary task of asking their question in front of everyone else in the class!).

Would you like to get started? Check this video out. It explains to you all the different parts of this site.

Teach web 2.0 did a throughout review of Dweeber, here are the main points (its strengths and weaknesses):  

Strengths: 

  • The registration is free for everyone
  • Students can work together collaboratively
  • Easy to navigate the website
  • Homework help among friends
  • Designed with students in mind
  • Students can personalize their pages
  • Has chat rooms with foul language blockers
  • Gives students the opportunity to practice appropriate chat room etiquette.
  • Only approved “friends” can contact student
  • helps students view their differences as resources
  • builds student confidence

Weaknesses:

  • Aimed for students aged 13 and up
  • Dweeber is in beta – aka still under construction
  • May be blocked by some school districts
  • Privacy issues with other people who are not friends with the student/class
  • Only 8 students can interact with the whiteboard at a time
  • Can be used for more social networking communication instead of homework use
  • 43.5% of the site is used for OTHER use…instead of homework, math, tutoring etc
  • Requires signup with an e-mail address

 Ideas for the Classroom:

  • It is an excellent place for communication between the teacher and the students. Dweeber can be used to post information related to the classroom (homework, forgotten messages, assignments, guidelines, etc…)
  • Using Dweeber creates the environment necessary to implement a cooperative learning experience for the students.
  • Dweeber facilitates students working together on a project after school hours.
  • The teacher can set up online study sessions for the students. (Students can create Flashcards for their homework).
  • Through the social networking, students can share ideas together to improve projects. They have access to peer feedback.
  • Students can use the whiteboard in groups to cooperate together in solving math and/or science problems.                                                                        dweeber whiteboard

 

Recommendation:

Personally, I encourage you to go try out Dweeber for yourself. Sure, the environment of social networking is a tricky one when it comes to young people. It can be easy for them to leave the homework behind and focus on the communication aspect of this site.However, I do believe in the power of such a tool. I frankly see the great potential Dweeber offers for students to achieve their homework in a cooperative learning environment. For those who have access to technology at home, I would definitely recommend introducing them to this site.

On the plus side, compared to Facebook, Dweeber is more suited for kids. Therefore, it could be a good alternative for those who do not wish to create a Facebook group for their class (see previous post). Dweeber is a social networking site made to be used by kids. Therefore, it is reassuring to know that they do not collect any personal information. The also aim to keep off their site the information they do collect. However, it is still recommended to have students get parental consent. Hosting a netetiquette 101 class in your classroom beforehand couldn’t hurt also!

Leave a comment and me how you are/ or how you would be using Dweeber in your classroom

Can Facebook be used as an educational tool?

fbIn these days of the iGeneration, teachers need to adapt to technology in order to compete for their students’ attention with the newest technological gadgets. To do this, teachers should embrace social media in the classrooms. Used effectively, social media like Facebook can become an incredibly resourceful educational tool.

Facebook has the bad reputation of creating a severe dependency among its users. However, if its use is supervised, it can become an incredible educational tool. Facebook allows teachers many interesting possibilities to improve the classroom participation of their students.  I bet you are currently asking yourself: how can that be? How can encouraging students to spend even more time than they already are spending on the internet a good thing? Here are a few reasons.

Facebook is more accessible. Let’s face it. Students spend most of their time looking at their cellphone screens. Why not take this opportunity to have school related information directly in their back pocket.

Facebook can be used to gather all the information in one place. Who looks at an agenda, a course syllabus or all those different e-mails anymore? Sometimes having to search in too many places for different information can be so overwhelming that the person just stops looking. Having a Facebook group means that everything can be found in one place. As a teacher you can post due dates, readings, assignments, reminders and polls.

Facebook facilitates sharing. It becomes easier for the teacher to send documents, files and readings to their students. Students can also share their work with their peers.

Students have room for feedback. They can create discussions or polls. They can also post articles, readings, websites and blogs that are related with what is being studied. It is also a good place for them to ask any questions they may encounter.

Parents love it too. You can use Facebook to send messages to parents. Parents can read the information found on the Facebook group to know what their child is seeing in class. They can find information regarding the upcoming homework. If you allow it, they can even use this social media to directly ask questions to the teacher.

The endless possibilities allowed by Facebook enable you to jazz up any classic activity! Whether you host an online book club session, have a virtual pet day (sharing picture of a pet instead of bringing the pet in causes less trouble and it can be less scary for some students) or you can even give penpalling a go by connecting with another classroom around the world. These are but few of  many creative ways Facebook can liven up  any activity.

Do you need help to build your own Facebook group for your classroom? Check this out.

If you are en educator and have more questions on how Facebook could be good for your classroom, check out this Facebook Guide For Educators 

If you find this topic interesting and you would like to read more, you can click here or here

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