Mobile Monday: 6 neat ways you can use Apple’s “Siri” with your students

January 21, 2013

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

Quick overview: Siri is the name of Apple’s artificial intelligence assistant that is built-in to Apple’s newest iPhones, iPods, and iPads. Much more than just a gimmick, did you know Siri can be a useful tool for your students too? No app purchase required.

How does it work? If you hold down the home button on a newer mobile Apple device and a Siri voice prompt will appear. Simply ask your question by talking to your device. It may sound like science fiction but it works surprisingly well!  Here are some things your students can ask Siri:

1) Ask Siri to define any word in the English language: Not only will Siri give you a definition of the word, but she’ll provide you with the spelling too. This is a neat trick when know how to pronounce a word but aren’t sure how to spell it! (You would say: define conjunctivitis)

2) Ask Siri to perform simple or complex mathematical calculations: Siri can do mathematical calculations or provide students with comparisons of statistical information sourced from Wolfram Alpha. (You would say: What is 18% of 934? plot 4x + 12, compare the GDP of Canada vs. Sweden, what is 4.2kg in pounds? What is the boiling point of lithium?)

3) Ask Siri to show you any geometric shape or an image: Ask Siri to show you an isosceles triangle, a circle, or even a velociraptor! You’ll get an image along with other pertinent information (You would say: What is an isosceles triangle or What does a velociraptor look like?)

4) Ask Siri to transform your voice into a written e-mail or note: This is what Siri does best. Students can dictate and Siri will transform their spoken words into text. (Talk to Siri in a regular speaking voice but include all punctuation.)

5) Ask Siri to translate individual words from English into any other language, such as French: Use Siri for on-the-fly translation.. (You would say: What is Breakfast in French?)

6) Ask Siri for important dates:  Yes, Siri does history too! (You would say: When was the battle of Hastings or when did the Beatles break up?)

Can I see an example? Watch the following video (make sure to set YouTube to full screen or you won’t see much) if you’d like to see Siri in action:

Should I let my students use their iPhones or iPads in-class with Siri? Absolutely! However, there’s a time and place for everything. Just as you wouldn’t allow your students to talk to friends while you’re teaching, they shouldn’t start “speak” to Siri either. The idea is that perhaps we can start using mobile devices to help with lower level blooms (i.e. – remembering facts, dates, or calculating by hand) and start using more class time to do activities that promote higher order thinking skills. At the end of the day, I’m not saying Siri is THE reason to start using iPads in the classroom (far from it) but I feel that it’s one way to show how mobile devices can provide students with almost instant access to information.

Benefits and limitations: I think we’ve covered the benefits in this article. As for limitations, Siri requires an active Internet connection to work. She also won’t work well if you student has a thick accent. Last but not least, it takes a little getting used talking to a machine. Whenever I talk to Siri in public, I often get more than a few stares!


9 short video capsules: Everything you ever wanted to know about Edmodo but were afraid to ask!

January 15, 2013

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

all

Quick summary: This post contains nine short video capsules to help FGA teachers use Edmodo. Edmodo is a popular on-line platform that helps teachers network with each other or create an on-line community for their students. If you’d like to know more about Edmodo, here’s a link to my previous blog post.

Why this post? Starting in the fall of 2011, Edmodo has been catching on like wildfire with FGA teachers. There’s now lots of us using it to network with one another for professional development (i.e. – Learning Circles) while some of us are using it in-class with our students. To address any questions, I’ve recorded a few short videos tutorials to cover some important topics:

Signing up for Edmodo: If you’re not on Edmodo yet, please watch this video first: How to sign-up for Edmodo (0:43)

Using Edmodo: For those already using Edmodo, the following eight videos can be watched in any order:

What about Mobile devices? Edmodo is also available as an app for students to access your class Edmodo site from their iPhones, iPods, iPads, or Android mobile devices.


Top 5 blog posts of 2012: See you again in January, have a great winter holiday!

December 18, 2012

As the first term of the school year draws to a close, the ICT Blog will be taking a short vacation. The blog will return with weekly ICT suggestions and Mobile Mondays in January 2013. If you’re looking for some interesting ideas to try out when you’re back from the holidays, I’d like to present my personal top 5 ICT suggestions of 2012:

  1. Tubechop: We’ll start my countdown list with small and simple. This teacher centric tool allows you to “chop” down YouTube videos. Allows you to only show the parts of the video that you want to present in-class. Bonus: Also hides distracting “suggested” YouTube videos too.
  2. Book Creator: This app has been a runaway hit with FGA teachers. If you’re a language teacher with access to a set of iPads, this is a must see tool to help your students develop writing and speaking skills. Can be adapted for special needs too.
  3. QR Codes: QR Codes are a neat way to provide tailored information to your students on their smartphones or on a set of class iPads. The RECIT FGA team has started using QR codes in our own workshops too. Interested? Here are two short videos I made that explain how to create your own codes and how your students can scan them.
  4. Explain Everything: I’m a huge fan of this app which enables teachers to create their own teaching capsules. It takes a minimal amount of time to get effective results, no need to film yourself either. Great for flipping the classroom or to answer student questions.
  5. Edmodo is my top ICT suggestion of 2012, hands down! This tool is now actively being used by many FGA teachers and students in the Quebec English school boards. In a nutshell, it can either be used to network teachers with teachers (PD) or teachers with students (class website). Edmodo works on Mac, PC, and mobile devices. If you haven’t looked at Edmodo yet, check it out!

Last but not least, please feel free to submit any great websites, apps, or ICT materials that you’ve used successfully in your own classroom. You can do so by referring to the submit section of this website. If I feature your ICT suggestion, I will be sure to credit you. Thank you and happy holidays from the whole RECIT FGA team!

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Photo credit: Photo by Qflick user Jeremyiah used under a Creative Commons attribution license

Mobile Monday: Managing the installation of apps on multiple iPads in your classroom

December 10, 2012

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

This article was updated March 28, 2013:

Quick overview: OK, so you got a set of iPads for your classroom and have no idea how to manage them. How do you pay for all the apps? What is legal? What is not? Help!

The problem: Shortly after the iPad was introduced, teachers saw it was a natural fit for education. Many schools started buying iPads in bulk and placing them in the classroom. Sometimes the iPads were managed by IT, but often it was up to individual teachers or school administrators to figure out how to do it themselves. One has to keep in mind that the that iPad was designed first and foremost as a single user device. Quite simply, iPads are very easy to manage when the person who owns the device is able to manage it themselves. No issues with installing apps, creating iTunes accounts, and so on.

How is the iPad different from managing school computers? When schools purchase a set of iPads, they’ll likely be shared between multiple classes and students. As so, IT departments need to set the iPads up as they would a multi user device, such as a Mac or a PC. Not only does this make the initial setup of the iPads pretty tricky, it can affect a student or teacher’s ability to quickly install apps since the account or payment information may be restricted to one person or department. Granted, if your school is nice enough to get you a set of iPads for your classroom, what’s the best way to go?

Sharing one Apple ID, not a good plan! In the beginning, many educators set up ONE single Apple ID and placed it on all the iPads in their classroom. Teachers would pay for one instance of the app and then it would magically appear on all the iPads. While Read the rest of this entry »


ICT Tip: Zygote Body allows students to explore a 3D model of the human body

November 27, 2012

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

Link: www.zygotebody.com

Quick overview: Formerly the Google Body project, Zygote Body is a free online tool that allows you or your students to interactively explore a full 3D model of a male or female human body. This tool really comes to life if you can use it in-class with an interactive whiteboard (i.e. – SMARTBoard) so that you or your students can touch the board to rotate, pan, and zoom around. The tool contains highly detailed models, yet the interface is shockingly easy to use. Free!

How does it work? Using the slider on the left side of the screen, you can pull back the different layers of the body see the skeletal layer, muscle tissues, nerves, etc.  If you’d like to focus on one body part, you can use the search function in the upper right hand corner to zero-in on specific body parts. Zygote body requires an up-to-date browser such as Google Chrome or Firefox to function properly. Lastly, as the site uses highly detailed 3D models, a modern computer will definitely help speed things up and run more smoothly.

Looking for something similar on mobile devices? I haven’t had a chance yet to test Pocket Body for the iPad and iPhone but I’ve heard lots of good things about it. Like Zygote Body, it also includes 360 degree rotations of the human body. You can check it out at this link.


Mobile Monday: An app to help students create simple eBooks using their own text and spoken dialogue

November 19, 2012

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

App info: Book Creator for the iPad / Cost: 4.99$

Quick overview: An app that allows students to create interactive eBooks on an iPad. The app is extremely easy use, even for beginners. Books can contain images, student voices, and music. A must see for language teachers!

How can I use it in the classroom? I’d highly recommend that you take one or more classes to help your students create their short texts (just a few descriptive sentences) before even touching the app. Once that’s complete, ask your students to gather images on the iPad using the built-in camera or images from the Internet to support their text. If you’d also like to make this into a speaking exercise, you can ask your students to narrate their written text using Book Creator’s built-in voice recording tool. Books created in the app can be exported (e-mailed) as a PDF file or Apple’s iBook format to maintain the audio recordings.

Who is this most suitable for? I’ve found that this activity works best with lower to intermediate levels of English or FSL students. We have also used the app to create interactive storybooks with Ruth Thomas and Eugene Abram’s “Step-Up” students, a special needs program at ACCESS Riverside. The goal is for students is to create a short situation using only a few sentences of text revolving around a central theme. The activity helps students with basic writing skills, grammar, and (optionally) speaking. Please watch the following video for a brief overview to see how the app works:Can I see an example of some actual student work? Yes! Two students in Tina La Rosa’s ENG-B124-4 Accessing Services course at Galileo Adult Centre wrote their own text, took pictures, and recorded their own spoken dialogue for their eBook. To demonstrate what is possible, they have graciously allowed me to share their work on the Blog. You can download their book in either PDF or ePub format. Alternatively, if you’d like to see a video of their work (including their recorded dialogue) please click on the video below: Source: Karen Rye, RECIT at Riverside School Board. A special thanks to Tina La Rosa and her two students Kader and Fateh for their contribution to the blog, along with Eugene Abrams, Ruth Thomas and the Step-Up students at ACCESS. I would also like to thank Susan Powers, and Sharon Meehan at ACCESS for being the first teachers to explore this resource with me.


ICT Tip: Instacalc allows your students to generate their own “real life” equations

November 13, 2012

This ICT tip could be applied to the following subjects:

Link: www.instacalc.com

Quick overview: An on-line tool that helps students calculate different variables using plain English terms. Students can create their own calculators to generate real life equations and then share the calculators with the other students using a unique link.

How can it be used in the classroom? If you believe in the “See one, Do one, Teach One” philosophy towards learning, ask your students (ideally in groups of two) to come up with a calculator that calculates something interesting to them. Provide them with a challenge to come up with a working calculator that calculates something they would encounter in their every day life or an interesting statistic they’d like to demonstrate. The goal is to get them to create something that makes the math more relevant and share the results. Can another student validate if their classmate’s calculator is working properly? If so, what math did they use to do it?

How could they use the tool? Students could go on the Internet and collect raw data or statistics. Next, which of these variables do they need to plug in from their data to come up with a working calculator? Please follow this link to see a feature tour of what’s possible with this tool.


ICT Tip: The Scale of the Universe… and everything in between!

November 6, 2012

This ICT tip could be applied to the following subjects:

Link: www.htwins.net/scale2

Quick overview: An ingenious approach to help students explore and understand the scale of everyday objects and their size relative to each other. Do you know how big objects are that are measured in micrometers, kilometers, gigameters… or even a zettameter? Hint: some are way bigger than you think! Truly inspiring, a great conversation starter for a math, science, or biology class. I’ve spent hours playing with this website, it’s definitely worth checking out!

How can it be used in the classroom? Start with an object as small as a quark and then slowly zoom all the way out to see the entire observable universe and everything in between! On this website, similar sized objects are compared to one another in metric units as students zoom-in or out using a slider located on the bottom of the screen. Clicking on any of the objects will bring up an interesting fact about it. Fully interactive with an almost zero learning curve. Your students might also be interested to know that this entire tool was programmed by two 14 year old brothers in high school. Adobe Flash required, will not work on an iPad or iPhone. Source: (Terrific Tools for Teaching with Blooms Taxonomy, San Diego ISTE 2012)Looking for more material like this? Check out the classic 1968 NFB film “Cosmic Zoom” at on YouTube. This NFB film might appear a little dated to your students, so you be the judge before showing it to your class.


.. And now for something completely different: It’s time to start a PLN!

October 30, 2012

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

all

What is this about? After polling hundreds of FGA teachers from across the province, the area where FGA teachers indicated they needed the most help was networking with other teachers. As so, we’ve started a huge push towards helping teachers find proven ways to network with one another by helping them create their own Personal Learning Network, or PLN for short. Starting a PLN is a relatively easy way of ensuring that you obtain relevant professional development throughout the year, sort of what you’re doing right now on our ICT blog! But first, a word from our umm.. sponsor:

Here’s my short video that explains how a PLN works:

.. and here’s Marc-André Lalande’s take:

How should you start? If you’re interested in starting your own PLN, please don’t hesitate to contact Marc-André Lalande (@malalande) or myself (@a_spector). In addition to Twitter, there’s also other free tools to help you establish your PLN such as The Educator’s PLN which is an active network of teachers who participate in discussion groups, share resources, and more. For those of you already using Edmodo in-class with your students, you may want to check out the Edmodo Teacher Communities to connect with same subject teachers and obtain materials for your course.

Without trying to sound pushy or preachy, I’d really love to see more of us starting a PLN. Speaking to you as a teacher, it was a game changing experience when I started using Twitter for my own PD last year. Instead of waiting for PD at conferences or workshops, I now get my PD whenever I want and what’s most relevant to me.. I’m now constantly discovering new Web 2.0 tools, iPad apps, and teaching strategies throughout the entire school year. I’d be more than happy to help you go through the steps to get setup or come into your centre to provide a hands-on session. Just let me know! (Thanks to Marc-André Lalande also Steven Anderson, Kyle Pace, and Tom Whitby from “Understanding & Using Web 2.0 Tools to Create Personal Learning Networks” @ ISTE 2012, San Diego)


ICT Tip: Google Chrome Language Immersion extension for FSL students

October 23, 2012

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

Link: Google Language Immersion Extension for Google Chrome.

Quick overview: An amazing tool for FSL students (or students learning any other language) that are already somewhat fluent in English. The Google Chrome extension only translates certain key phrases on a webpage so that the translated passages are interspersed next to words the student is already familiar with in English. Want to see an example? Please see the official Google Chrome Language Immersion promo video.

How can this be used in the classroom: Instead of simply translating an entire webpage from one language to another, this Google Chrome extension allows the student to choose how comfortable they are in the language they are learning, and in-turn, the extension will only translate certain passages of the original webpage. Even if the student is not familiar with a new word or a phrase, it’s possible for them to deduce the correct meaning as the passage will be surrounded by English words the student is already familiar with. As your student becomes more confident, they can control the difficulty (i.e. – amount translated) by adjusting a slider. Simple, yet brilliant! (Source: Understanding & Using Web 2.0 Tools to Create Personal Learning Networks @ ISTE 2012, San Diego)

Technical stuff: Requires Google Chrome. If you’d like to know more about Chrome Extensions before installing them in your web browser, please follow this link.


ICT Tip: Tubechop allows you to extract a small portion of a YouTube video to show in class

October 16, 2012

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

all

Quick overview: Tubechop allows you to select an existing YouTube video and present only the part you want to show to your students. No more having to fast forward through irrelevant or potentially inappropriate content in front of your class!

How can this be used in the classroom: Keep in mind that “chopping” should be done before your class starts. You’ll then have a new link you can bookmark on your teacher computer or share with your students. Check out the video below to learn more. (Source: 101 Free Tech Tools by SimpleK12 @ ISTE 2012, San Diego)


Mobile Monday: A roundup of the best iPad “notetaking apps” for both students and teachers

October 8, 2012

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

App #1 info: Notetaker HD for the iPad / Cost: 4.99$

Quick overview of app #1: A notetaking app for the iPad which simulates a pen and paper. Students can also import photos, draw perfect shapes, and move around handwritten text as one would in a word processor. Notetaker HD automatically sorts notes by date and time to keep students organized. Notes can be edited at a later date, e-mailed, or printed on a computer.

How can app #1 be used in the classroom? I always find amusing whenever someone compliments me for being organized. Back when I was in high school I had one binder for all my subjects (imagine torn loose papers falling out from all sides) and I constantly scribbled my notes anywhere I could find a spare page. I only became more “organized” when I started storing all my files, calendars, contacts, and notes digitally. If you have students that also struggle to keep organized and they have access to an iPad, you may want to suggest they experiment with this app too.

Are there any other advantages to app #1? Typically, one of the disadvantages of writing on the iPad screen is that it’s hard to hand write at a “normal size” with a stylus or your finger. i.e. – Letters tend come out much bigger than if you were writing with a real pen. This particular app addresses this problem with an ingenious zoom mode which reserves a space at the Read the rest of this entry »


ICT Tip: Pen.io allows you to generate a simple webpage in a matter of seconds

October 2, 2012

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

all

Link: www.pen.io

Quick overview: Pen.io allows teachers or students generate a simple webpage in a matter of seconds. Absolutely no web design skills necessary. Great for students or teachers who need to quickly place a small amount of written information on-line. Free!

How can it be used in the classroom? Pen.io isn’t meant to create detailed websites, there are other tools for that. Teachers can use Pen.io to post up class announcements, homework, or simple instructions for assignments. Likewise, students could use Pen.io to post up short texts such as stories, poems, posters, or public journals that they would want to share with others. If desired, one can also embed images and YouTube videos into Pen.io webpages.

Something to keep in mind: Pen.io webpages are public. Students should be reminded to use discretion when posting content of a personal or sensitive nature.


Mobile Monday: Brainscape enables students to create their own flashcards

September 24, 2012

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

iPad version: Link / Web version: Link / Cost: Free

Quick overview: An iPad app that allows students to create their own sets of flashcards to be used as a study aid.

How can it be used in an individualized classroom? Ask a student to come up with about 10-20 flashcards (i.e. – both question and answers) around a topic you are covering in class. Next, work together in order to validate whether the flashcards are correct or not. The student can then practice with the flashcards in class or at home. For classrooms without iPads, Brainscape is available on the web too! (Source: Sandra Piperni, Readaption Officer at ACCESS St-Lambert)

How can it be used in small groups? Do you have access to more than one iPad in your classroom? If you are interested in exploring a collaborative, student centered activity, place your students into small groups and provide each group with an iPad. Each group would be responsible in creating 10-20 flashcards around a particular topic. Once complete, ask each group to exchange iPads so they can try out the other students’ flashcards. Alternatively, you can connect iPads to the class projector (with an Apple VGA adapter) to discuss and validate the sets with the whole class.

Does this type of activity challenge the students? While I generally prefer to highlight apps that focus on higher order thinking skills, this app is a great fit for students who need help memorizing core concepts, grammar, etc. I believe that asking the student to come up with both the questions and answers provides a better understanding of the material and a higher chance they’ll retain the information.


ICT Tip: Three “less is more” ICT tools for you and your students

September 18, 2012

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

all

Quick overview: Less is more! Three on-line tools that aim to keep “information overload” to a minimum.

Viewpure: When presenting YouTube clips, do you find that all the comments and suggestions for other YouTube videos distract your students? If so, try using the Viewpure website to show a YouTube video on a minimal clean white background. To use this tool, simply copy the URL of any YouTube video and paste it into the “enter YouTube URL” box found at www.viewpure.com. Need step-by-step instructions? Then watch this video.

Printfriendly: Do you ever print out webpages but don’t like wasting gobs of ink and paper on ads and blank pages? Copy the URL of any website you’d like to print and paste it into the “enter URL” box found at www.printfriendly.com. With Printfriendly can even remove parts of the text or images you don’t want included. Need step-by-step instructions? Then watch this video.

Readability: Do you have students that have trouble focusing when there’s too much clutter on the screen? If you’re using Firefox of Chrome, then you can install the free Readability extension which will transform any webpage into plain text on a white background with a click of a “read now” button that will be installed in your browser’s toolbar. No copying and pasting URLs required. This extension is safe to install and is widely recognized in the education community. Readability can work in conjunction with your iPad, smartphone, or Kindle with a “read it later” function. Need more info? Here’s a video with more information.

(Sources: 101 Free Tech Tools by SimpleK12 and Best High School Education Apps by Dr. Alice Christie @ ISTE 2012, San Diego)


Mobile Monday: Complete Class Organizer helps students keep track of their homework and class schedules

September 10, 2012

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

Info: Complete Class Organizer for the iPad / Cost: $4.99

Quick overview: This week we’ll look at a student-centered tool. It’s the start of a new school year. Have you already identified certain students that tend to forget about quizzes and homework? Do you suspect that part of the problem is that they are having trouble keeping organized? There’s an app for that!

How can this be used in the classroom: In a nutshell, this app is an electronic organizer designed specifically for students. The app can help students keep track of multiple class schedules, class info, textbooks, upcoming assignments, quizzes, and exams. Not only is it simple to get the app up and running, it’s also relatively easy to continue using it throughout the school year. If desired, students can also take notes directly within the app but I’d recommended using a specialized app like AudioNotepad or Notetaker HD if they’d like to use an iPad to take notes during class. (Source: Sandra Piperni, Readaption Officer at ACCESS St-Lambert)

Can multiple students use this app on one iPad? This app is intended for students that have exclusive access to their own iPad. If your classroom shares a single iPad, this tool may not work well with multiple students using the same iPad.


ICT Tip: Edmodo – Go beyond a class website, create a classroom community!

September 4, 2012

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

all

Link: www.edmodo.com

Quick overview: Looking for a new way to start the school year? Edmodo is an online tool that allows you to create an interactive class website. Unlike a traditional class website, Edmodo allows your students to engage in group discussions, submit/receive assignments, vote in polls, share links, or consult your class calendar. Edmodo looks similar to Facebook but is specifically designed to be used in eduction. The best part is that it’s also easy to use and setup! There’s an iPad, iPod, and iPhone app too. Well established, secure, and free.

How do I set it up? Upon signing up for Edmodo, you’ll be provided with a unique “class passcode” to share with your group of students. Students enter the passcode when they sign-up. Edmodo can also be used as a communication platform for teachers in a Learning Circle or a Personal Learning Network.

How safe is it for my students? To discourage cyber-bulling, students can send messages to the group or the teacher, but not privately to each other. All content is teacher moderated and only your own students can join the group. Since Edmodo is not Facebook, it’s not blocked in schools. As an added layer of security, some teachers like to change the group passcode once all of their students are accounted for as to avoid any “uninvited guests” being unintentionally invited later in the school year. (Source: Flip Teaching Secondary Mathematics – Best Practices in Action at ISTE 2012, San Diego)


Mobile Monday: The Explain Everything app allows you to illustrate a video lesson with your iPad

May 21, 2012

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

Info: Explain Everything for the iPad.

Cost: 2.99$

Quick overview: Explain Everything is a screen recorder app that allows you to annotate as you write words or move images around the screen. Your voice is recorded with the iPad’s built-in microphone. Great for Flipping the Classroom!

How can this be used in the classroom? This a very handy tool if you’d like to explain a concept before or after a lesson. As a math teacher, you could use a stylus to write out a math problem and explain as you solve it. If you are biology or science teacher, you can import an image (anatomy, cell structure) and use the app to highlight or move different parts of the image as you narrate. Last but not least, this app works great if you’d like to start producing materials for “flipping your classroom” regardless of what subject you teach. Videos are exported to MP4 format which can be played back or further edited on a computer.      

Benefits and limitations: While I’ve covered other iPad apps that allow you to create a screen recording, you’re forced to do the entire lesson in one take. The great thing about Explain Everything is that it allows you record ONE slide at a time. This means if you cough or make a mistake, you’ll only have to re-record the slide you were working on and not the entire presentation! The iPad microphone is also extremely sensitive so it will pick up sounds of your clothes shuffling or other sounds around the room. Be sure to record in a very quiet environment.

Video Tutorial: For a video (2 minutes) recorded using the Explain Everything app on the iPad, click the play button below:


Teacher Feature: Learning Links by Darlene Brown (TLE, SWLSB, CDC Vimont)

May 8, 2012

Link: www2.recitfga.qc.ca/learninglinks

Quick overview: Darlene Brown, Executive Director of  The Learning Exchange and English teacher at CDC Vimont (Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board) maintains a site full of useful web links for multiple subjects. Learning Links can be used as a professional resource for teachers or used directly with your students. As Darlene teaches in the FGA classroom herself, you can expect to find material which is relevant for your Quebec general adult education students.

What is it? Quickly and easily find interactive, printable activities on interesting topics without having to search through numerous sites: Multimedia resources, videos, puzzles, information, quizzes, interactive materials, references, lesson plans and games organized for easy use. Sections include enjoyment and entrainment, workplace skills, law, basic ICT usage, and so on. Thanks Darlene!


ICT Tip: TED-Ed helps you “Flip your Classroom” by using existing on-line videos

May 1, 2012

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

all

Links: ed.ted.com

Quick overview: Not only does the TED-Ed website have lots of great videos that were created in partnership by educators and animators, the website now allows you to take an existing video and build your own lesson around it. More specifically, you can pick any TED-Ed or YouTube video and attach your own quizzes, short answer questions, and links. After that, share the unique web address with your students.

What is Flipping the Classroom? Check out these short video clips by Aaron Sams and Jonathan Bergman to explain the concept. If you have a little more time, you may also want to check out this video by Salman Khan. It’s worth mentioning that in adult education, we often avoid assigning homework since many of our students have commitments outside of school. As so, videos can instead be shown in class or students can be taken to the computer lab during class time.

How can this be used in the classroom? In my opinion, using multiple videos allows you to differentiate your teaching materials and avoid a one size fits all lecture. That being said, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to “flip” everything you do. On the contrary, I’d save “flipping” for the tricky stuff where students may benefit from watching multiple (and preferably short!) explanations. Rather than creating your own videos from scratch, using YouTube or TED-Ed videos can allow for a quick and sustainable way to flip your classroom.

Looking for on-line video materials? Be sure to check out the TED-Ed videos which are categorized by subject and created specifically for education. There’s lots of great new material to be found. If you’d like to know more, I’ve included a link to an overview of how it all works.

Are we offering any workshops on flipping the classroom? The RECIT Provincial and Regional services is planning to offer an FGA Flipping the Classroom workshop in late May 2012. Please contact either Marc-André Lalande or myself if you’d like more information.

Video: To see a 3 minute video example of how to create your own lessons from TedEd or YouTube videos, please click the play button below:


ICT Tip: Stupeflix allows students to create a simple video montage

April 24, 2012

This post could be best applied to the following subjects:

Link: studio.stupeflix.com/education

Quick overview: Stupeflix allows students to easily combine images, text, and music to create a short video montage. No previous video editing experience needed.

How does it work? Students gather images and place them in the order they would like them to appear. Next, students add text captions to tell a story in relation to the images. Stupeflix then automatically generates a professional looking video montage. Here’s a simple example I created for the Blog.

How can this be used in the classroom? As an exercise on persuasive language, students could use Stupeflix to present their viewpoints in a format similar in format to a TV commercial. Before even touching a computer, students can be asked to brainstorm 8 to 12 images they felt would best get their point across. Images can be obtained from a digital camera or from copyright free source like Flickr Creative Commons. Alternatively, Stupeflix videos can be used by students to create a “hook” or introduction leading up to an oral presentation or PowerPoint. While Stupeflix doesn’t allow your students to record their own voice it can be used to help students develop writing and communication skills.  (Special thanks to Nancy Sher and her English class at CDC Vimont for trying this one out with me! )

Benefits and limitations: In the time between writing this article and publishing it, Stupeflix has changed from a free to a paid pricing model. As I only share free resources on the blog, I considered withholding this blog post. One factor that changed my mind is that Stupeflix just introduced Stupeflix for Students which is reasonably priced and worth looking into.

Video: To see a 1 minute video example of a Stupeflix video, please click the play button below:


ICT Tip: ESLYes contains 365 short ESL stories that include pre-recorded narration and text

April 17, 2012

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

Linkwww.eslyes.com

Quick overview: A website that contains 365 short stories designed for the ESL classroom. All of the stories are narrated by professional speakers. Similarly, there’s also a section called easy conversations for beginners which are sorted by category.

What is it? Students follow the text as the story is read out loud. Each short story is accompanied by quizzes, vocabulary, and other interactive activities. The site is easy to navigate and the printed text in each story is large enough to be seen from the back of the class if projected on a interactive whiteboard or digital projector. (Source: Mark Richards, James Lyng Adult Education Centre, EMSB)

Update 4/17/2012: One of our readers pointed out that there are a lot of distracting ads on this page. If you’d like to automatically hide  the ads, then I recommend you install AdBlock for Firefox or AdBlock Google Chrome which works great with this site.


ICT Tip: Alternatives to YouTube and other on-line video sites to use in your classroom

April 10, 2012

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

all

Links: www.vimeo.com, www.schooltube.com, www.dotsub.com

Quick overview: Three different video websites that are similar to YouTube but are less likely to be blocked by your school board or district filters. Also, more places to look for existing material when flipping your classroom!

What are these sites? Like it or not, YouTube is often blocked by our school board or district filters. On the ICT Blog, we’ve shared ways to circumvent the blocks but these workarounds often require some advance preparation. In this post we’d like to provide you with some quick alternatives for screening videos in the classroom.

How are these sites different from YouTube? While Vimeo and SchoolTube‘s video collections are nowhere as comprehensive as YouTube, many of the videos on these two sites have been created by students or amateur videographers. This opens up the door to all sorts of potentially interesting videos that can’t be found elsewhere. In addition, as SchoolTube has been specifically created for education, your students can upload their own videos if they choose to do so.

What about videos for second language learners? Second language students may be interested in Dotsub which contains English language videos of news broadcasts, current events, documentaries, and so on. However, the main appeal of Dotsub is that students can watch the videos on the site with written subtitles in the language of their choice. (Source: Joanne Salvagio, Saint-Laurent Adult Centre, EMSB)

Word of caution: Even during a spontaneous teaching moment, it’s still a good idea to check out a video in advance before showing it to your class, especially when showcasing videos you are not familiar with. Is the video relevant and appropriate for your students?

Want even more video sites to explore? Still not enough? Here’s a great link to 100 other video sites to explore using in your classroom. (Source: Missnoor28 via Twitter)



ICT Tip: Popplet allows your students to do collaborative brainstorming

April 2, 2012

This post could be best applied to the following subjects:

all

Link: www.popplet.com

Quick overview: Popplet is a “mind mapping” tool that allows students to explore and expand upon their ideas in a visual way. It’s free, collaborative, and easy to use!

What is Mind Mapping? Mind mapping is a different way for us to organize our thoughts. A mind map is often setup like a tree, whereas you begin with one main concept and then branch out to many related topics. Each concept in the mind map is represented by a “bubble” that may contain a few words, an image, or even a video. The lines drawn between the “bubbles” indicate the link between the concepts. I’m the first to admit that I’ve never been terribly excited about mind maps. I’ve always liked to simply jot down my ideas in a bullet point list. That being said, I’ve started using Popplet with my colleagues and I’m amazed at how intuitive it is to brainstorm together. It’s definitely worth trying out and it also works well on an IWB (SMARTBoard) too!

How can it be used in the classroom? Popplets can be used by students to brainstorm, consolidate information from multiple sources, plan tasks, or present a topic. A Popplet mind map can be created by one student or simultaneously by a group of students on different computers. A maximum of six popplets can be stored within an account. If you reach your maximum, you can simply delete the popplets you’re done with to get more. Popplet mind maps can also be exported to PDF or JPG.

What about mobile devices? Popplet Lite and Popplet is available for the iPad for those with iPads in their classrooms. (Thanks to Catherine Boisvert, FSL teacher at Eastern Quebec Learning Centre, CQSB for being the first to explore this resource with me!)

Video: To see a 5 minute video demonstrating how the tool works, please click the image below:


ICT Tip: Manythings.org for English Literacy (ESL) students

March 27, 2012

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

Link: http://www.manythings.org

Quick overview: A website that contains a variety of self guided learning activities for ESL students.

What does it do? Are you looking for short activities to help ESL students build listening and reading skills? If so, you may want to take a look at the American short stories in the Listen and Read Along section of the Manythings website. All the American short stories are read out loud by professional speakers. The students can play, pause, and rewind the short stories as many times as they need. In addition, some stories highlight the individual words as the author reads each passage. In regards to other content, the website contains activities that deal with reading, listening, biographies, videos with subtitles, and more.. (Source: Kim MacDonald, Place Cartier, Riverdale Campus, LBPSB)

Will this site work on all computers? Adobe Flash is required for a significant number of the activities on the Manythings website, but there is a large section of activities that will work on computers without flash or mobile devices such as the iPad or iPod.


ICT Tip: Mathboard is an iPad app that helps students with basic arithmetic

March 19, 2012

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

Info: Mathboard for the iPad.

Cost: 4.99$

What is it? Mathboard is an iPad app that can help students work out basic arithmetic problems with minimal intervention from the teacher.

How can it be used in the classroom? So far, we’ve used the Mathboard app in an individualized math classroom. Before the students arrived, the teacher and I selected which math problems (subtraction, addition, square root, etc..) would be generated by the iPads. We then paired same level students and asked them to work out the problems in the Mathboard app. The Mathboard app keeps a running tally of all the math problems the students worked on. As the students were working, we were able to see (at a glance) which math concepts the students were struggling with. What impressed me the most was how the students worked side-by-side and helped each other out on tricky concepts. Two groups worked together on one iPad, while another group used paper and pencil in conjunction with an iPad. The app also has a “chalkboard” mode which students can pull up and work out with a stylus (or their finger) directly on the iPad’s screen. It also has a “problem solver” mode which will explain how to solve the problems step-by-step, if the student is stuck. (Special thanks to Cathy Hortop and her group of individualized students, New Horizons, ETSB)

Benefits and limitations: The app costs 4.99$ which is relatively pricey for an iPad app. It also defaults to a multiple choice mode when the app is first installed. I’m not a fan of multiple choice as students can simply guess answers and throw off the teacher. Thankfully the settings in the app can be permanently changed so that the students have to manually input the correct answer. As a side note, it’s often difficult to find applications that deal with basic arithmetic that aren’t targeted for young children. Thankfully, the Mathboard interface is free of “cartoons, balloons, and puppy dogs” and is a perfect fit for adult education students!

Video Tutorial: For a video (4 minutes) how to use the Mathboard app, click the play button below:

ICT Tip: Corkboard.Me allows for realtime collaboration between your students

March 13, 2012

This post could be best applied to the following subjects:

all

Link: hello.corkboard.me

Quick overview: A website that allows you or your students to simultaneously place written “sticky notes” on a virtual corkboard. More than just a simple message board, students will see written sticky notes appear as they are being typed. No usernames required, simply start a new Corkboard and share the URL with your students. Free!

How could this be used in the classroom: Corkboard.Me could be used for class research projects, brainstorming sessions, peer correcting, or a collaborative class message “wall” without using private Facebook accounts. For those of you familiar with Etherpad, CorkboardMe is similar in concept but with “sticky notes” instead of a writing pad.

Benefits and limitations: Corkboard.Me is quick to setup, easy to use, and collaborative. A limitation is that anyone can make changes to the notes if the public corkboard is setup with a free account. As so, I would suggest the tool be used with a more mature group of students and a series of “do’s and don’ts” should be established right from the start. Since anything can be changed or viewed on a public Corkboard, I would avoid posting crucial homework assignments or private comments.

How to manage this resource: To keep track who wrote what, I’d suggest students sign their names at the end of their notes. I would also suggest the teacher use a URL shortener such as TinyURL so it’s easier to provide the address of your corkboard to your students. (Special thanks to Stephanie Sabbagh, Place Cartier, LBPSB for inviting me into her classroom and trying this out with her winter French prep students!)

Video: To see a 3 minute video demonstrating how the tool works, please click the play button below:


ICT Tip: Prezi instead of PowerPoint?

February 28, 2012

This post could be best applied to the following subjects:

all

Link: www.prezi.com

What is it? Prezi a popular on-line presentation tool that goes way beyond your typical PowerPoint. Prezi can be used by both students and teachers. Prezi offers free licenses for students and teachers.

What’s Prezi? Well.. Prezi is one of those things that needs to be seen to be understood. As so, I would encourage you to look at this sample before reading any further. In a nutshell, a Prezi presentation contains all the information you’d like to present on one huge canvas. With each click, the screen zooms and flies to the next point. If after you’d like to know more about making your own Prezis, you can follow this link.

How can it be used in the classroom? Prezi can be used whenever you or your students might use a PowerPoint presentation. A Prezi presentation can be made collaborative so a whole team of students could work on one presentation. Also check out the PreziU library which contains categorized presentations contributed by teachers and students. For my mobile blog readers, the Prezi viewer is now available for the iPad too!

Benefits and limitations: Prezi is an on-line tool. This means there’s no need to worry about USB drives or if you have access to the latest version of PowerPoint. It’s also easier to integrate YouTube video clips into a Prezi than in a PowerPoint. However, the fact that Prezi is on-line can also be disadvantage. If your Internet connection is down, so is your Prezi! Technically, Prezi Desktop allows you to download an offline version of your Prezi, but that feature requires a paid account. (Special thanks to Nancy Sher, CDC Vimont, SWLSB for inviting me to try Prezi with her English 5061-3 students.)


Mobile Monday: Using Videolicious to help students with oral presentations in a language class

February 20, 2012

This ICT tip is for the mobile devices category:

Info: Videolicious for the iPad, iPhone, iPod.

Cost: Free

Quick overview: An overview of how we’ve used the Videolicious app with FSL and English students to help develop writing and communication competencies. An advantage to using Videolicious is that it allows students to present an oral presentation without being put on the spot in front of the whole class.

How can the app be used in the classroom? Students were paired into groups of two and were provided a topic by the teacher. Before recording anything on the iPad, the students were asked to research their arguments and write out a bullet point list of what they’d like to communicate. In the next step, students used the iPads to select pictures, videos, and music to support their spoken text. After everything was recorded, the class reviewed the videos together. The entire activity can be done in about two hours.

What about different levels of students? For higher level students, the activity was geared towards using English language to persuade or arguing a viewpoint. Lower level FSL students used the app as a springboard to get them talking in a second language about a particular theme (i.e. – what I’m doing over the holidays, what I saw on my way to school, etc..)

What advantages did the mobile technology bring to the classroom? The app limits the student to 50 seconds of speaking time, similar in format to a TV commercial. This forces the students to present short, concise speeches. It was not uncommon that the students had to record multiple takes to get things right, providing them with lots of practice! The way the app is designed, it does not allow the students to fiddle with editing, which could take away from working on the language. Last but not least, if you’re considering this activity with your students, it’s VERY important that each group of students has a quiet place to record their videos. (Special thanks to following teachers who graciously invited me into their classrooms to try this activity: Shanna Loach and Megan Maclean, New Horizons, ETSB – Stephanie Sabbagh, Place Cartier, LBPSB – Darlene Brown, The Learning Exchange and CDC Vimont, SWLSB)

Interested? We have enough iPads and iPods to accommodate your FGA classroom. Please contact me to discuss how we can adapt this activity for your classroom!

Video: To see a 1 minute video demonstrating how the app works, please click the play button below:


Teacher Feature: Hilda Smolash (EMSB, Marymount)

February 14, 2012

Teacher: Hilda Smolash (CCBE, English Literacy)

School Board and Centre: English Montreal School Board, Marymount Adult Centre, in Montreal, Quebec in conjunction with the RECIT FGA Regional Service.

What is the project? Hilda’s video project aimed to help literacy level (ESL) students improve their communication and writing competencies through the production of short video skits, based on real-life situations.

How did it work? In the first class, Hilda’s students were placed into groups and each group was asked to recreate a real-life situation in which they wanted to improve their spoken English. The situation had to include an exit strategy (an ending). Hilda reported that the initial part of the activity sparked lots of animated discussion as the groups had to reach a consensus. The following class, each group practiced their skits, but without written lines – they had to improvise the words just as they would need to do outside of the classroom. Next, they filmed their skits. With some assistance from Hilda, students were then asked to summarize the main parts of their skits by writing short captions in the third person narrative. In the last class, the students acted as “directors” and worked with Avi to incorporate their written captions into their video skits. Avi took care of the video editing so the students could continue to focus strictly on language learning, not on the video making process.

Are you interested? If you’re an FGA teacher who would like to develop a similar activity in your English or FSL class, please let us know. We can provide pedagogical support and technical guidance, along with equipment.

Video: To see an in-class video (2 minutes) demonstrating Hilda’s project, click the play button below.. Also don’t forget to check out the official press release!


Mobile Monday: What are QR codes?

February 6, 2012

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

Quick overview: Ever notice those strange patterned boxes (see first image below) that are popping up on printed advertisements and everywhere you look nowadays? They’re called QR codes. The neat thing is that they can be used in your classroom too.

What are QR codes? QR codes are computer generated patterns that are meant to be deciphered by mobile devices with a camera. Think of a QR code as a secret code that can’t be read by humans. To read a QR code, you’ll need to hold your mobile device’s camera up the QR code and you’ll instantly get linked to a website or shown a large body of text. A QR code looks something like this:

How can they be used in the classroom? Second language teachers could record audio clips which are linked to QR codes to model pronunciation or provide a definition. During class, the student points the camera at the QR code (let’s say on an object in the classroom or on a field trip) and hears an audio clip of the teacher speaking. Another popular use for a QR code is to setup a virtual “treasure hunt” for second language students. The idea is to place QR codes around the school or  Read the rest of this entry »


ICT Tip: Visuwords puts a new twist on looking up words in the dictionary or thesaurus

January 31, 2012

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

smart_button

Link: www.visuwords.com

Quick overview: The Visuwords website is a unique twist on a dictionary or thesaurus. Students look up a word and immediately see color coded “pop-up” connections to adjectives,  antonyms, related words, definitions – all at once!  Surprisingly intuitive and easy to use. Works well with an Interactive Whiteboard.

How can this be used in the classroom: If you’re teaching in an individualized classroom, you could leave this website running on your Interactive Whiteboard while your students are working on reading or writing assignments.  If a student is unfamiliar with a word, they can walk over to the board themselves to look up certain words. Roll your mouse (or finger) over any of the “bubbles” to get a more detailed definition of the words. Double-click the “bubbles” to bring up more word connections. Last but not least, this tool could be used with the whole class when discussing new vocabulary. (Source: Candace Hackett Shively, ISTE 2011 Philadelphia)


ICT Tip: YouTube for Schools

January 24, 2012

This post could be best applied to the following subjects:

all

Link: www.youtube.com/teachers

Quick overview: A version of YouTube designed specifically for education. This can also be a great resource if you’re looking for subject specific videos to help flip your classroom.

What does it do? YouTube for schools contains videos categorized by subject and grade level. Teachers and students can find videos of science experiments, language tutoring, math examples, world events, and so on. In an attempt to minimize distractions for students, YouTube for schools does NOT contain any comments or “side bar” video suggestions. Please keep in mind that if YouTube is currently blocked in your center, this new site does not automatically mean YouTube will be unblocked. We’ll talk about some alternatives for educational video sites in an upcoming blog post.

Video Tutorial: For more information on YouTube for Schools, please click the (1 minute) video link below:


Consider this: Twitter for Professional Development?

January 17, 2012

This post could be best applied to the following subjects:

all

Quick overview: A short video explaining the benefits of using Twitter for your professional development as a teacher.

What is this about? Believe it or not, Twitter can be an invaluable educational tool that can help you easily connect with other educators in order to find new ideas and resources to use in your classroom.

How does it work? Twitter isn’t at all like Facebook. You don’t have to share personal information or spend a lot of time if you don’t want to. In fact, it’s perfectly OK to simply start “following” people or educational organizations you find interesting and see what they have to say from time to time. It’s soft of like tuning in to watch the evening news to see if anything interesting has happened. However, instead you’ll tune-in to “follow” web resources and teaching tips tailored to your classroom needs.

Need help? Are you an FGA teacher looking to sign-up for Twitter and need some pointers where to start? Give us a shout by e-mail. If you’re already on Twitter, we are: a_spector (Avi) alainphaneuf (Alain) and malalande (Marc-André). We so strongly believe in this self-guided approach to PD, that if there’s only one thing we hope you take away from our ICT Blog this school year, it would be to start using Twitter!

Video Tutorial: To explain the pedagogical benefits of using Twitter for PD, my colleague Marc-André Lalande has put together an amazing (5 minute) video called “To Tweet or not to Tweet: (Source: Marc-André Lalande, RECIT FGA Pedagogical Consultant, via r.u.aware blog)


Mobile Monday: Speech-to-text with Dragon Dictate for the iPad

January 9, 2012

This ICT tip is for the mobile devices category:

Info: Dragon Dictate for iPhone, iPod, iPad.

Cost: Free.

What does it do? The app will transform spoken speech into text. No training required, just speak and go!

How can it help my students? If you are an ESL (Literacy) teacher, this app could be used to help your students with pronunciation. Students could practice individually by dictating short sentences to the app. If the app repeatedly has trouble recognizing certain words, this can be a cue for the students to ask the teacher for the correct pronunciation. Students could also benefit by seeing grammatical errors “written out” that might otherwise slip by unnoticed when they are speaking. Lastly, this app could be beneficial for students with disabilities that may prevent them from typing on a regular keyboard. Text generated in this app can be e-mailed or copy and pasted into other apps. Definitely worth checking out!

Video Tutorial: For a 2 minute video on how to use Dragon Dictate for the iPad, please click on the video below:



Consider this: What is “schoolisyzation”?

December 6, 2011

This post could be best applied to the following subjects:

all

Quick overview: Did you ever come across a school problem, especially in math, that uses a real-life context, but still didn’t make any sense?

What is this about? In this 6-minute video presentation, my colleague Marc-André Lalande presents his thoughts on the subject of “schoolisyzation” and how he thinks technology can help us improve our pedagogical practices. (Source: Marc-André Lalande, RECIT FGA Pedagogical Consultant, via r.u.aware blog)

Feedback: Comments? We really want to hear what you have to say! Please feel free to leave your comments on our blog with the “leave a comment” link below this post. Also, if YouTube is blocked in your school, you can view Marc-André’s original SlideRocket presentation from his r.u.aware blog...


ICT Tip: Exploring different approaches for oral presentations using Voki

November 29, 2011

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

Link: http://www.voki.com/Voki_for_education.php

Quick overview: Do you have students that are uncomfortable with public speaking? Using Voki, a student can create a virtual animated avatar that “speaks” a recording of your student’s own voice or written text. Works in French too.

What does it do? Voki allows students to customize a unique looking virtual person, called an avatar. The avatar could be a representation of the student or a fictional character from a book. To make the Voki speak, students either type in text, speak into a microphone, or call in their recording with a cell phone. The Voki avatar is limited to 1 minute of “speaking” time, which helps students keep things concise. A Voki can be embedded into blogs or sent by e-mail. Free. (Source: Dr. Kipp Rogers, ISTE Philadelphia 2011)

How can this be used in the clasroom? There’s a huge bank of lesson plans for using Voki in an educational context, but one approach I like is using Voki to help students that are uncomfortable speaking in front of the class.

A sample lesson idea: Let’s say your students are assigned a book to read and are asked to provide a viewpoint from the story’s protagonist. If your focus is helping your students develop writing skills, you could ask the students to write their viewpoints for their animated Voki to speak. Once complete, the students’ Vokis are presented to the class using a projector and speakers. Alternatively, if you’re focusing on helping your students develop oral skills, you could ask students to speak and record their viewpoints using a microphone with Voki. The Vokis are then presented to the whole class and “speak” on their behalf. The point of the exercise is to get students sharing their viewpoints (formulating thoughts, mobilizing writing and/or oral competencies) without actually having to be put on the spot in front of the other students.

Something to consider: I highly suggest that you set a short time limit when students create the look of their Voki Avatars. The goal of using Voki in a language classroom should be to get students better at writing or speaking, not creating pretty Avatars!

Video Tutorial: For more information on how to use this Voki, click the (3 minute) video link below:


Mobile Monday: Using the iPad with ESL/FSL students and the ComicBook! app

November 21, 2011

This ICT tip is for the mobile devices category:

Info: ComicBook! for the iPhone, iPod, iPad.

Cost: 1.99$

Quick overview: Using the ComicBook app in a literacy (ESL) classroom to help students develop basic writing and communication competencies.

How can the app be used in the classroom? Sharon Meehan teaches a literacy level “Building Foundations” course at ACCESS Riverside in Brossard, Quebec. Using the ComicBook app in conjunction with the iPad’s built-in camera, Sharon’s students took pictures of each other to create a simple comic. Students used the iPads to insert written captions to simulate real life situations, such as ordering at a restaurant. At the end of the exercise, the iPads were  connected to a digital projector so students could collaboratively edit grammar and spelling, or rearrange the placement of the written captions.

What advantages did the mobile technology bring to the classroom? The app’s easy to navigate interface (symbols and pictograms) helped students focus on the activity, rather than getting bogged down by a complicated computer interface. It was surprisingly easy for the students to create the comics, even if they didn’t have a strong grasp of the English language. The limited length of written “comic bubble” style captions also ensured that the students wrote short, concise interactions. 

Interested? The activity was closely linked to the prescribed elements of Sharon’s ENG-B122-4 course and it mainly focused on developing writing competencies. Would you like to do a similar activity in your Literacy or French second language classroom? We have enough iPads to accommodate your class and we are booking now for January 2012 and beyond. Contact us to discuss how we can adapt this activity for your classroom!

Video: To see a 2 minute in-class video demonstrating how Sharon’s students used the app in the classroom, click the play button below:


ICT Tip: Royalty-free music for students to use in multimedia projects

November 15, 2011

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

all

Links: www.jamstudio.com and www.incompetech.com

Quick overview: Websites that either allow students to create or download copyright free music for use in multimedia projects.

JamStudio: JamStudio.com allows students to cook up their own musical compositions to use in projects, even if your students aren’t musically inclined. It’s similar in concept to Apple’s Garage Band but everything is done through a web browser instead. A free educational account is required before using it with your students. (Source: Tammy Worcester, ISTE Philadelphia 2011)

Incompetech: If your students are simply looking for “ready to use” royalty-free music then send them to the Incompetech website. They can search for music by feel (moody, happy, dramatic, etc) or by genre. Listen and download the music for free, no fuss, no muss.. no catch! This is a great resource for iMovie, Movie Maker, or other ICT projects. Here is an example of an upbeat silent film piano score or a dramatic film score found on the site. For more information on copyright usage, see the FAQ section. (Source: Robert Miller, ISTE Philadelphia 2011)

Update November 22nd, 2011: I’ve received two additional (totally amazing!) royalty-free music sites from our readers Chris and Dano. Be sure to check out MusicRevolution and DanoSongs if you’re looking for some high quality tracks.

Some considerations: As I’ve mentioned in other posts, students can easily get caught up in creating the bells and whistles (i.e. – music) for a project when the main focus may be about developing language or other competencies. Try to remember to keep them on track. Last but not least, don’t worry about being an expert with either tool. There’s a good chance your tech savvy students will figure out how to insert the music into their projects on their own.


Video Tutorial: For more information on how to use these resources, click the video (3 minutes) link below:


Mobile Monday: Explore the solar system with the tap of a finger!

November 7, 2011

This ICT tip is for the mobile devices category:

Info: The Solar System for iPad only.

Cost: 13.99$

What does it do? Are you teaching your students about the solar system? If so, this app presents your students with easy-to-read information about the planets and celestial bodies in our solar system, accompanied by interactive “touchable” 3D models based on real life NASA imagery. All the information is presented in a non-linear fashion and could be a beneficial approach for students who enjoy learning at their own pace. Last but not least, the intuitive interface is similar to The Elements app we reviewed in another blog post. Check out the video below if you’d like a quick demo of how it works!

Video Tutorial: For a video (3 minutes) overview of The Solar System app, click the play button below:


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