Blog Assignment #10

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For my last blog, I really want to share with you a tool I have recently discovered thanks to my university colleagues. Indeed, one of them wrote an interesting article about an app I did not know anything about before (http://brittanylavigne.wordpress.com/2014/03/05/going-paperless-huh/). Her article convinced me to try it out and let me say it is an amazing discovery that has already helped me a lot in my life as an student.

The app is called iStudiez. It is quite simple to describe : it is like an electronic agenda. I have talked before on this blog about saving paper and helping the environment, and this is a great way to do so. Instead of buying a new agenda every year or even every semester, this application allows you to store every piece of information that can be useful for a lot of school years (as many as you want, as I understood). There is a “Lite” version available on every App Store (on mac, on iPad and on iPhone – basically all Apple devices) that is completely free. However, as it only lets you fill information for 5 courses, I decided to switch for the Pro version, the complete one, that only costs 9,99$ (and I believe it is cheaper on the iPhone). However, if you do not desire to pay for an application, the Lite version is perfectly usable, you will only need to clear your agenda at the end of every semester, or when you have finished a course.

So I start by installing the application, and open it. The design is simple, clear and even beautiful (I especially love the little icon that appears on my Dock – it is a black board on which an apple is drawn with a white chalk – but that’s just me, and I love these little details). The main page is basically your agenda, where you see your courses of the day and the tasks that are to be handed in. But what is amazing is the level of detail you can go into (http://www.cultofmac.com/112686/headed-back-to-school-istudiez-pro-is-the-essential-mac-and-ios-app-for-students-review/). When entering your data, you first start by creating a semester, and then you enter the courses that are in this semester. Once your course is created, you can assign it a specific color so it is easily found, and then add a class. When you add the class, you can write when it is, from what time to what time, in what room, with what teacher, how much time it repeats (if it is a one time occurrence, like a meeting, if it occurs every week), and you can even specify the start and the end date (often the dates of your term – but sometimes classes only last a couple weeks, and iStudiez allows you to note it down).

The second main tab is called “Tasks”. That is my favorite part. In this area of the app, you can add the tasks that you have complete in your courses. You simply write the title of the assignment, and then you can pin it to a specific course so it is easily found if you have a long list of tasks. You also have a description box, in which you can enter, for instance, how much points the assignment is worth, and you can enter the due date. Finally, you have the possibility to specify the priority (low, average, high). The high priority tasks have two exclamation points beside it so you can see what you have to do first. You can even add a partner if you want to make sure you won’t forget. And of course, you can set your tasks list by either due date, priority or classify it by courses. It is super easy to manage.

iStudiez has another option which is great : grades (http://iphone.appstorm.net/reviews/productivity/istudiez-pro-an-a-grade-education-app/). You can enter your grades in the app and it will add up the numbers to tell you what is your average, for example. It is a great way to keep track of your evaluations and make sure you won’t fail a course. iStudiez really is there to help you in your daily life as a student. I have been using it for less than a week and I am already in love with it. It is well organized, easy to use (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdQURg8fssY) and it is in a place where I have great access and I’m sure not to lose : my dear computer.

But I can see you wondering : how can iStudiez help me as a teacher ? Well, I believe for the same reasons (http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2013/12/12-must-have-ipad-apps-to-in-your.html). As a teacher, you will have more than one class to manage and iStudiez is a great way to keep track of everything. Instead of adding “courses” in which your study, enter the names of your classes. You will always have access to the agenda to see which class you are seeing when (for example, you can specify that you see X’s class every 9 days on Monday mornings, and there you go !). You can also use the tasks option to add projects for the students, when will the exams take place, or even use it as a to do list. What is great about iStudiez is that you can build it to your own image and use it the way you need it. As a teacher, you can also use the “grade” option to keep track of your students’ results ! And it will be cheaper and more eco-friendly to use the app than to keep a huge pile of paper on your desk, lose important information or maybe forget things.

I strongly recommend you iStudiez, because it will simply make your life easier (http://mashable.com/2013/08/08/apps-for-college/).
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go check this assignment off my “task” list for today.🙂

Blog Assignment #9

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In our last class with Mr Miller, we had to explore a creative writing tool that we did not know for an hour. We had to find out what it was and give it a try. I chose to try and discover Story Bird. I had heard the name before, and it sounded very good to me, but I had never actually went on the website to see what it was about. So I decided to finally give it a go, and I really liked what I saw. See, I absolutely love writing. When I was young, I spent almost all my free time to create all kinds of stories, with knights and magical creatures. In my future classroom, I want to make sure that my students explore their creativity in many ways. Story Bird is absolutely fantastic for it.

It is basically a website when you can create your own short book with pictures and share it with the world. You can also read what others have created all around the world. When you create your story, you choose a set of artwork by an artist (who drew illustrations specially for StoryBird) that will inspire the events of your story (http://teachersandcomputers.blogspot.ca/2010/11/lets-write-story-storybird.html) . That is what is great about it. No need for planning or any preparation : you let yourself get creative with what is offered to you. The website is very well-made and guides you well through the process. It is far from complicated, and in no time, you have in your hands (well, computer) your very own story. Afterwards, you can even print it, from a simple PDF file to a real hardcover book. There is also a great deal of tutorials available online to help you, made by teachers for teachers (http://www.edutopia.org/blog/storybird-new-teacher-boot-camp-lisa-dabbs). 

As a teacher, it is very easy to use StoryBird in your class. The website lets you create a free “Class account” that you can manage and share with your students that don’t have an email address (you can use it with younger students, which is great (http://barrowmediacenter.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/storybird-with-kindergarten/)). It is an extremely popular tool in the world of education. Indeed, more than 150,000 schools all over the world use it (https://storybird.com/teachers/). You have very well guided again through this process. Of course, you can make your account private if you don’t want anybody else than you and your class to see the projects the students will create.

There are some great options for teachers. When your students create stories, you can give them feedback (private or not) and even assign them a grade directly on the website. This makes the whole process of evaluation much easier and eco-friendly. Sharing is also very easy, between students but also with the parents.

But why use StoryBird ? Well, as I said before, it is great for the students to explore their creativity. Instead of getting them all mixed up in plans and charts in order to write a text on paper, they have a chance to create a story online with illustrations. They can simply “go with the flow” and write the things that come up in their mind when they see the pictures. It makes them use their imagination, and also practices their writing skills (http://teachamazing.com/storybird-digital-storytelling/).

You could also use the books your students created to raise funds. (http://help.storybird.com/customer/portal/articles/828585-what-is-class-fundraising-currently-on-hiatus-)Want to take your students to a field trip somewhere, but you don’t have the funds ? Ask your students to create stories relevant to your field trip and sell the books ! It is easy, parents will love the idea, and students will feel great about their books being sold to other people. 

If you are not convinced, know that students absolutely love it (http://www.teachinglikeits2999.com/2013/04/soaring-with-storybird.html). You have a chance to create a project that is not only very engaging for students, but interesting and fun to them, and that is a gold opportunity. 

Blog Assignment #8

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For this week’s blog, I decided to find out about a popular website that I knew barely nothing about and never tried out myself : Pinterest. Many of my friends were on this website, telling me how fun it was, and I had heard the name many times on TV or on the web, but for some reason I had never even checked it out. Recently, I heard that it was a great tool to use in a classroom, so I decided to take a look and discover what the hype was all about.

The name of this app/website really gives away what it is about : pins and interest. The moment you suscribe, they ask what interests you in life. Architecture, movies, gardening, travelling, the list is long. Depending on the categories you select, they will suggest you some boards to follow. “Boards” are like a photo album of pins that have a common theme : for example, in a board about Europe, there would be pictures of the Eiffel Tower or the streets of Venise. Then, what you can do is create your own boards with a theme each or pin what inspires you to the board your created. The number of boards that exist on Pinterest is insanely huge. There really will everything for everyone. By creating your own profile, you save, or “pin” the pictures that you like so you can find them easily later. It is a very interesting website to discover artists, get hairstyle ideas or to see historical pictures. I know that I will probably keep the account I just created. There is great stuff there.

But how can we use it in a classroom ? In a lot of ways, actually. Pinterest is a place about creativity and inspiration : that’s how you should use it in your class.

What is interesting is that you can consult Pinterest itself to find ideas about how to use it in your classroom (http://www.pinterest.com/crhebert/using-pinterest-in-the-classroom/). There is a special category about education, full or resources, ideas, projects (and even tips on how to decorate your classroom). A lot of teachers use Pinterest to help other teachers, so don’t be shy to go take a look at what they put out there. There really is some amazing stuff.

You could create a Pinterest account for your class, and create boards for specific units. If you are working on food, for example, create a board about it and pin stuff that is relevant to what you and your students are doing in class. Pictures of food, sure, but why not recipes or stories ? If your students are doing a project about travelling, why not create a board with pictures of cities or places in it ? You could also create a board to motivate your students, full of inspirational quotes and stories. You could even create a board full of reading material suggestions, with book covers or excerpts of chapters (http://www.nea.org/tools/52865.htm).

Pinterest is a great way to create visual projects (http://www.edudemic.com/guides/the-teachers-guide-to-pinterest/). It is new way of sharing visual content with your students (other than Power Points or the Smart Board). You could always create a project in which students have to discover more about a specific time period. They could create in board with pictures that inspire this era in order to make sure they understand what it is about. Other students in the class can also refer to it if they ever need to. This could be a great way for them to revise before an evaluation ! If they don’t remember anything about a subject the class discussed, they can go back to the Pinterest board to get a general idea.

As a teacher, you can also use Pinterest to organize your lesson plans, or to communicate with other teachers all around the world (http://www.edudemic.com/guides/the-teachers-guide-to-pinterest/). What you have to keep in mind, though, is that Pinterest is still a social network and that you have to be careful. If you want your students to create their own account, they should be at least 12 or 13, and with parental consent.

I discovered that Pinterest is easy to use, free and fun. It is full of great ideas and inspirational pictures. I think that, by getting creative, you can create amazing projects with the website, so I would definitely recommend it to you. 

Blog Assignment #7

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So far, on this blog, I have written about tools I am familiar about, that I know very well or just a little. For this blog, I have decided to explore a tool I barely know anything about : the Smart Pen. This is a great technological tool to use in a classroom, that I have heard for the first time about only a few weeks ago during a conference about ESL teaching. The brief explanation that was given about it made me want to know more, so today I present to you the Smart Pen.

“What starts on paper, doesn’t have to stay there” (http://www.livescribe.com/en-ca/smartpen/) is the first thing you read when you go on the official website, and I believe it is a great description for it. Indeed, it is no ordinary pen. 

The Smart Pen costs approximately 120$ for 2GB of storage, and can go up to 200$ if you want all the gadgets it can include. The Smart Pen comes with not only the pen itself, but also with a notebook with a special kind of paper, or “dot paper”, that records the things that you write for you to upload it on your computer and save it forever. Not only does it record your writing, it also synchronizes with the audio around you. 

This can sound confusing. The Smart Pen looks very complicated when you first look at it, but it is actually quite simple. Indeed, all you need is your pen, your paper, and something important to keep record of. A class, for example. For students, the Smart Pen allows them to take extensive notes during the class on paper and to later save it very easily on their computer so they will make sure not to use it. They can also use the record option of the Smart Pen to record small parts of their class so they can go back at it later if they need to. What is great about the audio recording is that it is synchronized with your handwriting – tapping on a written word will start the recording from the moment the word was written. 

This makes the whole process of note-taking far less stressful for students and teachers (while in a meeting, for example). You also save the annoying and tiring task of always transcribing your handwritten notes to your computer (http://assistivetechnology.about.com/od/ATCAT3/f/What-Is-A-Smart-Pen.htm). Another simple but great thing about the Smart Pen is its size. It is very small, making it easily transportable from one place to another, and also far from heavy.

The Smart Pen is an amazing tool to not lose yourself in insane amounts of paper or computer files. As a teacher, you have a great deal of possibilities for its use. For example, when evaluating team conversations or debates, you can easily record parts of it while taking notes. That way, if you are not sure about what a certain student said, you can always go back to your recording to find out. Furthermore, since you have the file saved forever on your computer, you can use it for other classes, or to help other students. 

You can also use the Smart Pen to help create your lessons (https://smartpen-connection.wikispaces.com/Using+Smartpens+in+the+Classroom). Why not, while writing a worksheet or explaining a concept, record yourself explaining it and then send it your students ? That way, they can always go back to the previous lessons if they need to because the audio file will always be available. You could also create a project where the students would have to create a book and add their voices to it (http://www.engaging-technologies.com/smartpen-foreign-language.html#axzz2wHMPVIfJ). 

You could also use the Smart Pen to record lessons for students who are absent so they will get the same content as the other students, or create things such as audio pop quizzes (http://www.msubillings.edu/summerinstitute/presentations/Educational_Uses_for_the_Livescribe_Pulse_Smartpen.pdf).

The opportunity is there. Why not try it ?

Blog Assignment #6

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Is it odd to imagine a classroom that does not use paper. Indeed, picture a whole class full of students using their iPads as their main tool to work. It is a little bit startling. But when you really think about it, it is a wonderful resource to use. The possibilities that are now open to you simply can’t be counted. There are dozens and dozens, all creative and useful. iPads were created by Apple, and are basically like small computers. They are easy to handle and move around, not very heavy, and kids simply love them. If parents have iPads at home, children will use them to draw, for example, and play a lot of different, fun games. However, iPads can be used for other things than playing games. They actually are an incredible tool to use in a classroom, and even improves it (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/12/131210-ipad-learning-education-space-science/). 

First, it is great for you as a teacher. By using iPads, you don’t have to worry about paper anymore. No more endless photocopies, no more losing the students’ work, since you can keep everything at the same place in your computer. It is also less confusing for the students, because they will also always have their work at hand wherever they are and will not lose it (no more ‘my dog ate my homework’ !). By using a software such as Google Drive, which I explored in an earlier blog, you can keep track of your students’ work very easily and make sure they do the assigned work.

There are a lot of apps you can use on the iPad to help you create fun, meaningful activities for your classroom (https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1UJnqyK52X26az5zN5kr1ISTNPwbdUbxfG6M-9WMW4Do/present#slide=id.i133). As mentioned by Mr. Miller, you can use, for example, iMovie. This is a app that enables you to create small videos, like movie trailers. This a very fun project for your students. For example, they could write their screenplay on a Google document, then film themselves with the iPad, and finally edit the whole thing with iMovie, which suggests you a ton of fun “trailer themes” and helps you create an awesome, realistic movie trailer.

The iPad also gives you the opportunity to help your students practice their talking. This may sound odd, but it is actually a great idea (http://www.bbcactive.com/BBCActiveIdeasandResources/iPadsintheClassroom.aspx). In high school, I remember exchanging letters with another student from Chicago to help me with my writing. Why not do the same, but with speaking ? You can ask your students to install Skype, make contact with another classroom someplace else in the world, and make your students correspond with them via Skype. It is easy, and not only does it make the students practice their oral proficiency, but it opens them to other cultures and gives them the opportunity to share and discover more about the world around them.

If you want to make your students read, but you are worried about actually being able to get the books, you can use your iPad. There is a wonderful application called iBooks, in which there are a lot of free books available to download. Jane Eyre, Dracula, there are a lot of possibilities. You won’t have to worry about the students forgetting their books at home because it will always be there, on the iPads. The students can bookmark the page at which they are so they don’t lose track. It is also much cheaper (http://www.emergingedtech.com/2013/09/the-many-benefits-of-using-ibooks-in-education/).

If you are worried that students might never listen to you in class because they are too busy playing Candy Crush on their iPads, don’t worry. There are a lot of resources that you can use to prevent this. You can always lock the iPad on just one app, the one you want your students to use (http://howto.cnet.com/8301-11310_39-57605575-285/lock-the-ipad-to-just-one-app/), or you can block access to certain websites (Facebook, for example). You can also use more traditional ways, like asking them to turn their iPad screen around to keep their eyes focused on you.

iPads are a great tool to use, with a lot of possibilities. I believe it is the future of the classroom, and a great way to reach to the students.

Blog Assignment #5

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For the most part of my student life, everytime I heard the words “visual support” with “oral presentation”, it meant Powerpoint. It was the ultimate, best way to create fun, colorful and relevant visual support for the many oral presentations I had to do in high school and Cegep, and even university for a little while. When I bought my computer (a Macbook Pro), I didn’t  have access to Microsoft Office and was really bummed out about not being able to use Powerpoint. So I found some kind of equivalent : Keynote. Overall, it was okay. The templates were really professional, and it was easy to use, but I still missed Powerpoint for some reason. Then, during my first semester in university, when I had to do a group presentation for a class, one of my classmates said “I can make the Prezi”. My immediate reply was “A what ?”.

Prezi is an amazing tool to create visual presentations for school or business. What is really great is the fact that it is on the internet : no need to download a program. Also, it’s completely free, which is really, really cool. All you have to do if you want to use Prezi is to sign up, and it takes about 5 seconds (even less if you want to connect it to your Facebook account). Of course, there are different kinds of memberships, and some cost money, but the free version is usually more than enough for what you have to do. If you work in education, you have the opportunity to have a free, complete membership. Once you’ve signed up (and it really takes 5 seconds), you can immediately start creating. And it’s super easy.

Another thing that is great about Prezi is that they are all public. Once you’ve created your presentation, anybody can see it. So if you go on the Explore page (http://prezi.com/explore/popular/), you can see all the great Prezis that have been created by people all around the world. As a teacher, you can certainly find presentations that can help you with your content. You want to introduce Edgar Allan Poe to your students ? Here you go : http://prezi.com/explore/search/?search=edgar+allan+poe#search=edgar+allan+poe&reusable=false&page=1&users=less. There are even Prezis about grammar, that can help you introduce a new concept to your students (for example, here is one about the article : http://prezi.com/i77ki1upsir3/the-article/). It is also a great way to give interactive, fun lectures (http://prezi.com/prezi-for-education/). 

So your Prezis are always available to your students. Just send them the link, et voilà ! What is great about this is the fact that students can always go back to the Prezis if they ever need to. If there is a test coming, and someone is struggling to remember what are the different types of article, they can just go back to the Prezi and revise the content. It’s really easy and accessible from basically anywhere. But this goes both ways. If your students create Prezis for assignments, you can also go back to see what they have done. Of course, for younger students, using Prezi might be more difficult (http://www.readwritethink.org/professional-development/strategy-guides/teaching-with-zooming-slideshows-30886.html). Why not create tutorials to help them ? There a lot on Youtube, or you can create your own. You could even create a Prezi about how to use Prezi. The resources are there, so why not use them ?

What is fun about a Prezi is that you don’t just have “slides” like in Powerpoint. You can literally “fly” between your bullet points and zoom on some to make stand out (http://www.bbcactive.com/BBCActiveIdeasandResources/UsingPreziInEducation.aspx). For students, it makes things simply easier. If you zoom on something in particular, they will know and understand that it is important. And you can use colors and pictures to make it more fun.

I really suggest you to try out Prezi. You may feel like betraying Powerpoint, your long-time friend, but even the founder of Powerpoint agrees with me. He said about Prezi that it is : “A marvelous approach to the visualization of information.” (http://prezi.com) Do you really need any other argument ?

Blog Assignment #4

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Out of all the social networks that exist, I would say Tumblr is my favorite. It is a special place, where you can share pictures and videos and find other people with the same interests as you. You create your own blog, which becomes some sort of a little personal bubble that you can design and forge the way you want to. You can find everything on Tumblr – from cat jokes to philosophy essays to artistic portfolios. That’s what I love about it. Sometimes you may feel like you’re the only person on the planet who likes something – but you’ll find on Tumblr that it is absolutely not the case. 

When you sign up on Tumblr, you create a blog. You choose your URL, and then you can design it with different themes and different colors. You can even build it yourself if you know a little about HTML – but that’s quite a challenge. Once you’ve created your blog, you have your dashboard (it’s a little like the News Feeds on Facebook) and you can follow other blogs that are of interest to you. It’s that simple.

When I thought about using Tumblr in a classroom, I first said to myself : “Oh no. Bad idea. This website of crazy.” Because it is. But then I thought a little more, and I found some ideas. Then some more ideas. And now, I’m convinced that it can be a great tool to use in a classroom. (http://www.bizjournals.com/buffalo/print-edition/2012/01/06/teachers-students-find-tumblr-clicks.html?page=all) You can create a network of blogs for your class, for example. Why not ask your students to each create a blog and then to follow each other ? That way they can see what everyone else posts and shares. You can set up a “class blog”, ran by you, where you can post resources, pictures or videos to help the students for any assignment they might have. Like a group on Facebook, creating a small Tumblr network for your classroom can really be a great way to share important information or resources. Tumblr is especially great for pictures. 

Another great aspect of Tumblr is the “ask” option. Every blog has what Tumblr calls an “ask box”. When you go on somebody else’s blog, you can go on their ask box and write a question to them. The message will be sent directly to the person’s inbox, who will see a little red icon appearing on their dashboard, indicating they have a new message. They can answer the question, privately or publicly (if they choose this option, both the question and the answer will be posted on the blog as a post). This can be a great tool if the students have a question to ask their teachers – way easier than sending emails or waiting for next class.

Tumblr is full of weird blogs dedicated to weird stuff, such as cats wearing hats or to some extra in a popular television series, but it also full of blogs by creative and awesome people. Photographers, painters, sculpters, editors, graphists, the list goes on. Asking your students to go on Tumblr can be a great way to make them discover art and culture – and the website always has great suggestions for you. If you go on http://www.tumblr.com/spotlight/, the website randomly generates a category for you (for example : architecture) and suggests great blogs to you. You can also choose the category on the right sidebar if you have a specific assignement for the student. Why not make them follow interesting blogs about the subject to make them discover more about it ? (There’s even an ‘Education’ section !)

Tumblr is full of other resources. There is basically a blog for everything you might need. Your students need to get creative in their writing ? Suggest them http://awesomewritingprompts.tumblr.com. They are doing an art project and need resources ? There is a blog for that (http://artresourcecollection.tumblr.com). Many teachers have their own blog and share stuff for other teachers, like this one here (http://girlwithalessonplan.tumblr.com). There’s even a blog about Garfield comics… without Garfield (http://garfieldminusgarfield.net). I told you there was a blog for everything.

All jokes aside, I think Tumblr could be a great tool in the classroom (http://www.emergingedtech.com/2013/01/how-teachers-are-using-tumblr-in-the-classroom/). Of course, it would have to be used carefully, like every social network. There are some dark sides to Tumblr that you don’t want your students to see. You can always make them use an extension call XKit (http://xkit-extension.tumblr.com) which allows you to create blacklists (things you don’t want to see on your dashboard), but if you follow the right blogs nothing bad should happen. You can also ask your students to set up a password to the blogs, and give a class password, so that the classroom and only the classroom will have access to the blogs. 

Tumblr is one of many social networks, but I would recommend it because it is interactive, special, and fun. The students will be able to get creative and to have their own blog. Also, it is awesome. Do you need a better reason ? :-)  

Blog Assignment #3

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One thing I know is that when I am a teacher, I want my students to read a lot. As a high school student, I read tons of books in my English classrooms and absolutely loved it, so much I often took initiative and read books by myself outside of class. Reading in English made me love English. I used to say that I was able to “read the authors’ true words”, not the translated ones. Reading an entire book in a language you are not completely familiar with is quite a challenge, especially when you are young, but it is a good way to learn quickly – and you are quite proud of yourself when you get through it.

 

That is why I think that using the website Goodreads in a classroom is a brilliant idea. Of course, it would be for a more advanced level – I don’t think it would suit elementary classes, but it is perfect for high school students. In short, Goodreads is a website where you can keep track of the books you’ve read, the books you want to read and the books you are reading. There are all the books in the world on this website – and you can put them in different lists, favorite them, and even review them. A lot of teachers have tried it out in their classrooms (http://pwillemse.wordpress.com/2011/10/18/using-goodreads-com-in-the-english-classroom/ and http://teachingcontext.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/goodreads-in-the-high-school-classroom/). For some it was a success, for others a failure, but I think that by using Goodreads in the good way, you can create some amazing activities for your students, and open their mind to the world of literature.

 

For example, why not ask the students, at the beginning of the school year, to create their “want-to-read” list of 4 or 5 books, and ask them to read them all by the end of the school year ? Of course, the books would have to be a certain length and to be approved by the teacher (and maybe make sure that the books are available at the school library or can be bought – or why not create a list of books and make the students choose in the list ?), but the students would have the opportunity to choose books they are interested in and will be motivated to read. As they read the books, they can update their status via the website. This is a good way for the teacher to see the students’ progress, so that you can encourage them and give them positive feedback if they do well. When they finish a book, they would need to write a short review, post in on Goodreads, and share them with the rest of the class.

 

The teacher could even ask for the books to be from different genres (fantasy, mystery, history, etc) so that the students could explore and find out what they like the most. It is also a good way to make them learn more (http://www.ascd.org/ascd-express/vol5/511-kissner.aspx). On Goodreads, there is the possibility to create discussion groups, so the teacher could set one where the students could ask questions about the books, and maybe share their favorite quotes from what they read !

 

Why is reading important ? (http://inspirationboost.com/8-reasons-why-reading-is-so-important) It is an excellent way for students to learn new vocabulary. As a teacher, you can ask them to highlight or write down the words they don’t know when they come across them in a book, and create a list of new vocabulary. You can later ask them to define the new words and put them into context. Reading is also a good way to improve the students’ writing, because they are able to see real, meaningful sentences. It has been proven that reading has tons of positive effects on children (https://www.earlymoments.com/Promoting-Literacy-and-a-Love-of-Reading/Why-Reading-to-Children-is-Important/). Through reading, students acquire amazing experiences. As a teacher, it is important to open your students to things they might not be absolutely comfortable with, and push their limits to make them learn more. Setting, for example, a 5 book goal is a good way to do that. Create fun activities around the challenge, and it can become really meaningful for the students.

 

I believe Goodreads is a great tool for classrooms. By using it correctly, you will be able to make your students love reading and discovering new books, and also make them live a lot of adventures through the books they will read. Like the author George RR Martin said, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies ; the man who never reads lives only one”.

 

Blog Assignment #2

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When someone mentions Google, we mostly think about the search engine. But truth is, the company has created a whole world around it.

You probably know about Gmail, where you can create your own email address. But what you probably don’t know is that this address opens you the doors of a dozen possibilities. Google bought YouTube in 2006 (http://www.nbcnews.com/id/15196982/ns/business-us_business/t/google-buys-youtube-billion/), and having a Gmail address enables you to have an account on Youtube, where you can comment and like videos, suscribe to channels and even upload your own personal videos. Having a Gmail address also gives you access to Google Play, where you can rent movies or buy apps (http://play.google.com/intl/ALL_us/about/overview/index.html), Google + (where you can share photos and chat with friends) and even Google Drive (free storage space).  In short, Google is a whole world, full of tools and possibilities. 

But what I want to talk about in this blog is Google Docs. Basically, this application enables you to share documents with other people. Sounds simple, right ? But what is amazing about Google Docs is that you can enable your friends to not only see  your documents, but also to edit them. So if you are in school, and you have a team project, you can simply put the paper on Google Docs and let your teammates add their own parts to the whole project. It is less complicated than always sending your parts by email, where it can get lost. Sharing your documents via Google Docs also means no more page layout problems. No more “this file is not compatible” popups. I find that pretty amazing. USA Today posted a review ((http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2013/08/31/review-google-apple-decent-contenders-to-office/2723315/) of Google Docs vs. programs like SkyDrive or even Microsoft Word. Who is the winner ? Google Docs.

Now why use Google Docs in a classroom ? The main reason, for me, is that it is easier. It is easier for you as a teacher, because you can have constant access to your students’ work. It is also a great tool for you to give them feedback (for example, write advice or corrections directly in the document, using another color). Instead of asking students to print out their work at each draft, and have dozens of copies on your desks, where some might get lost, you have them all on your computer, all in one place. It is also better for the environment. As a teacher, it is also a great way to give resources to your students. You can post articles or texts on the Google Drive and give your students access to them.  Google published a presentation on all the ways you can use Google Docs (and all the other tools by Google) in a classroom, and there are dozens (https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1OhZuPRWgT-eit2-c4yEER4epRC3IumbOcTH2saONMeg/present?slide=id.g323f8ef1_2_99).

Google Docs makes your life easier as a teacher. But it is also easier for your students. I personally used it during my years at CÉGEP, and it was very useful to me when I had to do projects in team. It is a way of always having your work somewhere, safe, where you will not lose it because your computer crashes or because your dog eats it (;-)). Also, Google Docs is great for team projects. Sometimes, it is hard to work with other people, because your schedules don’t match, or because one member of the team goes away for the weekend, or anything. But with Google Docs, you can share the work from anywhere, at anytime. It is easy to see your partners’ work, share advice and comment, and even correct each other to assure that your project is good and that you are proud of it. You can also use Google Docs to brainstorm while researching for a project (http://gettingsmart.com/2012/12/5-ways-to-use-google-docs-in-the-classroom/). 

There are dozens and dozens of ways to use Google Docs in a classroom (http://www.edudemic.com/50-little-known-ways-google-docs-can-help-in-education/), and not only for sharing documents purposes. You can create some interesting and meaningful activities with this tool, alongside with the rest of the applications that the “Google World” has to offer you. I think that it is a great way to help the students work efficiently, and also to help your work as a teacher. Why not try it out ?

 

 

Blog Assignement #1

Please discuss using Facebook as a support tool for your teaching. Please reference elements discussed in class of any research you may do.

 

The thought of using a social network such as Facebook in a classroom made me frown, at first. For me, Facebook could only be used to keep contact with old friends or to stalk your “friends”’s pictures at three in the morning when you can’t sleep. But I gave it some thought and now, I believe that it can be a very useful tool.

Of course, as it was said in class by Mr Miller, you have to be very careful. Facebook should not be used lightly – you have to really think about what you will be doing before you do it. You have the responsibility as a teacher to assure that it will be used in a clever and secure way. As Mr Miller said, it is not something you plan in the morning for the second period of the same day. You have to plan very carefully how you will use this social network as a tool in your classroom. It is important that you keep things professional, and not let your vacations pictures come up in your News Feed when you open Facebook on your Smart Board in front of the class. Like it was discussed in class, it is a good idea to create a separate account for educative purposes – and what you do on your personal account is your business, even though you have to stay careful. It has been proven that a great percentage of employers check your Facebook account before hiring you. In 2012, it was 37% (http://www.tmprod.com/blog/2012/mind-your-facebook-37-of-employers-are-watching/). With the growth of the importance of social networks, the number must be even more imposing now, in 2014.

Teenagers are everywhere on social networks. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, there are tons. But as a teacher, you have a responsibility towards your students. Facebook itself published something called the ‘’Facebook for Educators and Community Leaders Guide” (http://fr.scribd.com/doc/170926128/Facebook-for-Educators-and-Community-Leaders-Guide), in which they give statistics and recommendations to teachers as to how to deal with social networks in their classroom (and outside). After reading this, it is easy to understand the huge repercussion that social networks have on young students.

But Facebook, or any social network, as we discussed in class, when use intelligently, can be a great tool to use in classrooms. The website OnlineCollege.org published a list of 100 ways to use Facebook in a educational environment (http://www.onlinecollege.org/2012/05/21/100-ways-you-should-be-using-facebook-in-your-classroom-updated/), and it is full of very good and creative ideas. There are a lot of articles like this when you look up the subject on Google. I believe the idea of a secret Facebook group for the class is one of the best ideas. After making sure the group has good security parameters, you can invite the students to join. This could be a good place to share information and advice and to keep contact with your students in an environment that they enjoy.

I personally love social networks, and I strongly believe they can be a lot of fun to use in class. In high school, my French teacher designed a Twitter project called “Un devoir sur Twitter”. Each week, we were assigned a theme and needed to produce a “tweet” of 140 characters or less on that theme. For example, there was one week where we needed to write a short ad. It was a lot of fun, and it used a social network in a very safe, creative way. The project was so innovative and the students appreciated it so much my teacher kept on doing it for a few years. She also decided to integrate Twitter as a real tool in class – during class debates, for example. We can read everything on her school account (https://twitter.com/AnnieSentiers). I am always inspired by her ideas about using more and more technology in class because I remember how much I loved the idea of using Twitter in class as a student.

As for other social networks, such as Instagram, there are tons of ideas on the Internet as to how you can use it efficiently in a classroom – and how to be safe, too (for example, this article talks about Instagram : http://edtechreview.in/news/news/products-apps-tools/777-how-to-use-instagram-in-the-classroom) .

After this, I am now convinced that social networks have their place in a classroom. Of course, as teachers, we have to be extremely careful and to make sure they are used safely. But there is no use denying social networks have taken over the world of teenagers, especially Facebook, so why not use them to create meaningful and interesting projects with our students ?