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.

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