Deleted review from friday :(

Posted: February 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

Not sure where my review from friday has disappeared to, but I’m trying to locate it.

In the meantime, check out this list of emerging technologies from Wikipedia.

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I know I’m a bit behind on the technological curve on this one, but I don’t have an iPhone. Many of my friends and students do, so I get to mess around with them quite often, and I’ve been on the fence about getting one for awhile. Things like this make me lean much, much more to the iPhone side of the fence.

Google translate takes voice input and it translates it for you in up to 50 different languages? That’s amazing! As a language teacher this makes me unbelievably excited (it might even make learning a foreign language cool again!), and as a human being who travels frequently I can see the many applications dancing before my eyes.

Well done, google… again.

TED talks

Posted: February 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

If you haven’t checked them out before, I highly suggest that you check out the TED talks. There are a variety of videos there on almost any topic imaginable. I’ve downloaded one to use in my class tomorrow, and I’m excited that my students will have the opportunity to hear from some of the most intelligent and influential people in the world.

Take a look! No matter what subject you teach, I can guarantee you that you’ll find something useful.

The technology: Cellphones

My impression:

I’ll admit a bit of trepidation when I was considering this idea, but I’m glad that I finally decided to take the plunge. This little experiment has been, by far, the most well-received of my tech challenge. Almost all of my students have a smart phone, and those that don’t are very familiar with how to use them and were more than willing to share with a friend for the activities.

Classroom management with the phones was (and still is) a bit of an obstacle, but I’m going to stick with it because I can see the benefits and enthusiasm in the students.

Possible uses in the classroom/ Lesson ideas:

  • Students can use their cellphones to access websites like StudyBlue (you can read my review here). One activity that I tried this week was to have students create flashcards in StudyBlue for their friends on a concept that they had learned (I teach french and used this as review for grammar. Each student was responsible for one verb tense that they created flashcards for and shared with the other students). They then worked in small groups, reviewing the material together and using the flashcards to assess their knowledge.
  • I used PollEverywhere (look for the review on PollEverywhere next week when I’ve had a chance to really try it out) software during lessons to ask students a question about the material. They texted the answer and I could display the data right away, so I knew if they got it.
  • I haven’t had a chance to do this yet, but I think I might try and use voicethread next week for some digital storytelling, allowing the students to use their cellphones to comment on the material.

Where can I learn more?

Some of the ideas for this post came from this blog

Rating:

5 stars. I’ll be doing this again and integrating it slowly with my other classes.

This week I’ve decided that I’m going to try things a bit differently. Since it’s the start of a new semester, it seems to me to be a great time to bring out some new rules…. so I decided to try allowing my students to use their cellphones in class (against school policy- shhh!). It’s entirely possible that I may get in a lot of trouble over this one. However, I’ve opted to live by the saying “it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission” in this particular case because 1) it’s something that I’m willing to defend if confronted about it, and 2) I don’t think anyone will confront me about it anyway. I’m a bit of a rebel though, I’ve been letting my students listen to ipods for years (again- against school policy)

It’s very new ground to me, so I’ve had to establish some rules with my classes. I opted to start off with only one class to see how it goes, and so far it’s been going well. We’ve had a few little bumps along the road, but I’m generally happy with my decision and I think I might introduce the idea to another class next week.

Look for my full review of the experience on friday!

My favourite education blogs

Posted: February 1, 2011 in Websites

I wanted to take a bit of time today to point out some other fantastic education technology blogs that I frequent. There are so many fantastic educators out there who are good enough to share their knowledge with the rest of us. Take some time to check them out!
Larry Ferlazzo

comPOSITION

Chris Atkinson

Gary Stager

Teacher Reboot Camp (Shelly Terrell)

21st Century Principal

The Innovative Educator

Free Technology for Teachers

Review of Engrade

Posted: January 28, 2011 in Websites
Tags: , , ,

I’m always hearing about Engrade, an apparently amazing online gradebook that’s free (always a plus), so I decided to give it a shot.

I’m impressed.

Since second semester starts for us on monday, I’ll be using this site to track my grades, attendance and communicate with parents and students.

The technology: Engrade

My impression:

Wow is this website ever easy to use. Registration is easy, signing up your class is a breeze (and they don’t need an email to register), and the interface is extremely intuitive. It is (by far) the easiest grade book I’ve used.

Since it’s online, there’s the added advantage that you are able to access your grades anywhere that you have internet access (handy for inputting marks when you’re marking at home). Of course, this also carries disadvantages with it: if the website goes down for any reason your marks are lost, and if you loose internet access but need to get into your gradebook, you won’t be able to. Of course this can be overcome by exporting your data into a spreadsheet periodically.

I haven’t used the discussions, wikis, flashcards, or quizzes with students yet, but I took a good look around and they seem easy to use as well. I’ll update you next week on how those work in real-life.
Possible uses in the classroom/ Lesson ideas:

In my opinion, the biggest strength of engrade is how accessible it is to students and their parents. You don’t have to worry about constantly updating students on their marks, and parents can easily view their child’s attendance as well. Essentially, the site makes communication easy. I’ve also found over the years that students are often baffled by weighting and how their final grade is calculated. With Engrade they can see weighting in action and always know what their final grade is.

Pictures:


Where can I learn more?

www.engrade.com

Rating:

5 stars

I have an unnatural love for Google. Seriously.

That love only got stronger when I read today in the Google Blog that they’ve added an education category in the Google Apps Marketplace. If you’re lucky enough to be part of a school district that uses Google Apps for Education, this addition is big news. The new EDU section allows your administrator to purchase (if necessary, some are free) and add apps quickly and easily.

Here’s a quick video:

*Happy Dance*

The school tries, they really do, but when unblocking YouTube is seen as a progressive move- you have a problem (and a serious one at that).

Too often it is left up to the individual teachers to ensure that their lessons are technologically rich. Certainly, many teachers are stepping up to this task, but what about those who aren’t?

Too many students are leaving our schools with no idea about what is available to them on the internet or how to use the internet safely. For this reason integrating technology shouldn’t be an option, it should be mandatory.

“How to use the internet” should be the new “look both ways before you cross the street”. We need to show students how to use sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter safely. Unfortunately, that can’t be done if integrating technology is seen as a bonus rather than a requirement.

From my research on Twitter, I’ve come to the conclusion that everyone on the internet has been using Wallwisher except me. After using it this week, I can see why…. it will definitely become a major part of my Web 2.0 tools.

The technology: Wallwisher

My impression:

Wallwisher is an absolutely fantastic tool, and I can’t believe that I haven’t used it before now. There are so many possibilities for the classroom, and its usefulness to teachers is made even more strong based on the fact that posts can be locked so that they are only viewable once approved. At the same time, posts can be either anonymous or not, making it easy to have students’ input on issues that would normally be too difficult. Wallwisher makes it easy to post links, pictures, or audio. The only limit is that posts have to be under 160 characters, which isn’t always a bad thing.
Possible uses in the classroom/ Lesson ideas:

There are so many possibilities for using Wallwisher in the classroom, but instead of me telling you, you should read this (31 ways to use Wallwisher in the classroom).

I used Wallwisher as a final wrap up for my students before their exams next week. Since this was my first time teaching the course, I asked them to post their likes and dislikes about the course, in the hopes that I could better my teaching for the next time around. I got some great suggestions, all anonymous (as per my request) that I’m not sure I would have received under another format.

Pictures:


Where can I learn more?

www.wallwisher.com

Rating:

5 stars