Your New Best Friend: Planboard

Tired of keeping piles of old agendas and trying to find lesson plans through those? If the answer is ‘yes’, I have a solution to your problem: Planboard App. This application is free and helpful on so many levels. To create an account it is easy as pie, you only have to go on the Planboard’s website and sign up.

Image

Basically, Planboard is a tool, for teachers, that helps us put on the Internet lesson plans, find resources and collaborate with others. Because it is streamlined, it gives us the opportunity to take a look at our plan anywhere we want and whenever we want. Plus, it avoids taking the chance to lose our agenda in which I keep all my life as a teacher. By clicking here, you can take a look on its visual aspect.

Before reading this short article,  I didn’t know something was missing in my life. Between my agenda for my first practicum and all the ones to come, I didn’t know how I would manage to keep clear, simple and findable lesson plans. With this tool, I can manage de create lesson plans based on the schedule of each class I will teach. That way, I don’t get mixed up from one group to another and I can have everything at the same place.

Moreover, I will certainly have to be a substitute teacher many times once I am done studying. With this tool, teachers will be able to let their substitute know what needs to be seen, where they are in their lesson, etc. Having the possibility to consult the teacher’s lesson plan on the Internet will help me be more confident and sure of what needs to be done during my substitutions. Plus, the teacher will feel more at peace when leaving his/her classroom to another person. This is what Herbert Lui discusses in his article, which I find quite interesting.

To sum up, Planboard is perfect for people who are less organized like I am. It is simple to use and perfect to avoid losing things. It clearly is a tool I will start using from now on. You should too!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Weebly Websites

In a couple of words, Weebly is a free service used to easily build websites. To have access to it, it is simple as it can get. You go to the home page and you create an account by signing up. In order to use it, you can either explore the website by yourself or watch a tutorial video.

As a future English teacher, I can use Weebly for Education because it allows me to create student accounts that I can manage and moderate, which makes it a controlled environment even if it is on the Internet.

This service offers more than 70 built-in designs, for those who are not very good with technologies, but we can also create our own designs. For school purposes, I would strongly recommend to use the ones that are offered in order to avoid unnecessary complications. Moreover, it has a bank of multimedia features which includes pictures, photo galleries, videos, documents, maps and audio players. This aspect of the tool adds to its easiness of usage and gives the opportunity to share/hand in many different types of work.

With this tool, I can create a digital portfolio of schoolwork, which is great because students can hand in their work through it and, at the same time, avoid wasting paper. Moreover, instead of losing all the amazing projects they do during their school year and having all the hard work they put into disappear, with a digital portfolio, I can have them take pictures of their projects and put them on the website. That way, they can go back to see it whenever they want and show it to others. It also allows parents to follow their child’s progress and to know what they do at school, which they usually appreciate.

In addition, I can create a WebQuest for my students. For example, if I want them to do a model of the Solar System, I can create a website with steps to follow, pages to fill-out, links to go see, etc. That way, students clearly know what needs to be done and it’s fun!

During projects, instead of having my students do the usual poster on what has been researched, I could ask my students to create a website on their subject. That way, it would give students the opportunity to use their creativity in a different way and it would make the final presentation more interesting and interactive.

Weebly

In brief, I really like this tool because it opens doors that could have stayed closed if it hadn’t been that easy to use. It also brings to use their favorite device, the computer, in an educational way. It’s awesome! For all teachers out there, you should seriously consider using Weebly.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cellphones in Schools: Not a Piece of Cake

Personally, in my classroom, I don’t want my students to have their cellphones with them because it is a gadget that becomes too complicated to control. I don’t mind if they bring them to school for security purposes or because of parents’ request but, as soon as they enter the class, I want them out of my sight by having students drop them in designated box or put them into provided lockers.

Article322647_no-cell-phone-sign

People say that cellphones are useful in classrooms for academic purposes but, seriously, what does this device has over computers, laptops or iPads? Nowadays, every school has access to computer labs, some of them even have laptops and/or iPads. For example, instead of surfing the Internet on the hand-on technology, I prioritize the use of computers or give the research part of a project as homework so that my students can use whatever device they want once they are at home. If they want to calculate something, then I have them use a real calculator, not the one on their phone. If they want to have a reminder, then I tell them to use their agenda but, then again, once they are at home they can add their reminder to their electronic device if it makes them more confortable. See, many things can replace the use of cellphones, so let’s avoid integrating this technology to our classes.

cellphones-in-schools

Moreover, cellphones bring many different disadvantages that I consider to be unacceptable in my class. In fact, a cheating factor is created because they can sneakily use their phones to text a classmate for answers or to surf on the Internet in order to find answers. I think it is unacceptable and I don’t want to take a chance by allowing them in my classroom. This device is also a major source of distraction because they either are texting, surfing on social medias or just looking at random websites. Sometimes, I can even hear them ring. It has become an addiction and when they aren’t able to forbear from using it during courses, students not only aren’t concentrated, but they also distract their classmates and me, their teacher.

200181253-001

In addition, I consider bullying to be a major problem in our schools and, since social media has been used by the majority of our society, cyberbullying has increased. I personally think that it is something important to take into consideration when accepting cellphones in schools because it gives bullies the opportunity to terrorize their victims all day long. Nowadays I do not see a lot a physical or verbal violence, students have become sneakier, they now use psychological violence through Internet and can bully their victims whenever they want. Can this be a cause of the recent young people who took away their life? I think it plays a certain role. By banning cellphones in my classroom, I make sure that none of my students cyberbullies their classmates when they are with my.

I agree with the fact that endless possibilities of usage exist with cellphones, but I still think that they are too difficult to control and that other strategies can replace them. Therefore, I don’t want to see cellphones in my classroom.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Skype: Conversing to Improve

As a future ESL (English as a second language) teacher, I need to know what technology exists in order to help second language (L2) learners. I have been familiar with Skype for about ten years now and I consider it as a great potential tool.

windows-skype

For those who are unfamiliar with this program, in brief, Skype is free video chat software. With access to Wi-Fi, you can call anywhere in the world for free if you call another computer user. You can also call from your computer to a telephone but, in this case, you have to pay a little sum.

Skype is a technology that I will integrate in my teaching system because it opens so many doors. With Skype, I can procure after school help to students who have difficulties with homework and tasks. If school finishes at 3:30 p.m., I can give availability until 5 o’clock by keeping my Skype account open and by answering to student’s questions. Skype also gives me the opportunity to have videoconferences with guest speakers. Lets say I had my students read Margaret Atwood’s novel, The Handmaid’s Tale. To make things more interesting, I had Atwood accept to participate in a videoconference and answer to several questions on her novel and her life prepared by the students. It creates an out of the ordinary activity, which students might appreciate. Moreover, it can be a great tool to have students help each other out. Peer-tutoring is valorizing for the stronger student and it is beneficial for the weaker one. I can have special periods dedicated to peer-tutoring and students can ask for help outside of class. These are only few examples on how it can be used in any teaching environment.

skype-in-the-classroom

More specifically in second language learning classes, Skype is a perfect tool to improve students’ oral skills and to open their mind on different cultures. For example, I can use the service Tonik to connect my students with native speakers. It allows them to have face-to-face interactions with speakers who have grown up in the language they are learning. At first, I could give them pre-determined questions and then, let them have free time to discuss about anything they want. Moreover, by coordinating with a teacher in the target language, I can have my students discuss with ePals. That way, throughout the year, they can develop a friendship, practice pronunciation and learn more about their ePal’s culture. In addition to these uses, like Suzi Bewell did with her French as a second language class, I can have my students prepare a show and have them perform in front of a class of students living in another country with the help of Skype. It can be surprising to realize at what point the audience appreciates the students’ efforts.

To sum up, I consider Skype to be a great tool not only in normal classes, but also in foreign language classes. It gives the opportunity to students to receive help from their peers and teacher, to talk to people who speak their target language as a native language, to learn about new cultures, to have fun practicing pronunciation and so on. It is something that should be integrated in every class.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Endless Possibilities with Google Drive

“I forgot my homework at home.”

“My dog ate it.”

“I lost my paper.”

“My printer didn’t work, so I wasn’t able to print my homework.” 

How many of these sentences will I hear over the years? Will students ever learn? I don’t count on it.  So, why not integrate the perfect tool into my teaching system to avoid these kinds of situations? Google Drive is the tool to use.

Image

With Google Drive, I can create “turn-in” folders with my students. That way, I have an easy access to their assignments, I can give them feedback and they cannot use their previous excuses. It’s a win-win situation. Simple steps need to be done before being able to use this tool with my students. First, I need to have them create a Gmail account. Then, in the Drive section, they need to create a folder with a strategic name (e.g. last name. first name. group number). After that, I need to show them how to add me in the sharing settings and how to allow me to comment/edit their homework. Once it’s done, they use this folder to hand in assignments through the school year. It’s simple and very practical.

Moreover, Google Drive gives the opportunity to work collaboratively on the same file (Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides or Google Drawings) at the same time. So, no excuses are acceptable when it comes to teamwork. It can be useful for projects. When students aren’t able to meet up outside of school, they can still work together from home and see what one does at the same time he/she does it. It is as if they were working on the same computer.

Plus, when it comes to the collaborative aspect of the tool, it enhances my possibilities to create interactive activities in class or at home. For example, with the drawing component of Google Docs, I can create a brainstorming activity with the whole class. Lets say that I want to create a debate on abortion. I can have students brainstorm on the pros and cons of abortion and have them give as many ideas/arguments as possible, which they need to include on the brainstorming map that is done using Google Drive.

Image

Also, like some activities seen in Mark Miller’s workshop, I can separate the class into teams and have them do interactive tasks using a shared file. They may have to create a comic strip, to write a story with 300 words without using the letter ‘f’ or to create a poem using the ABAB format where each student must write four lines. The possibilities are endless and the outcomes can be quite surprising.

To sum up, Google Drive is an awesome tool which I will use in my educational system for several reasons. First of all, it gives me the opportunity to easily have access to students’ assignments. Secondly, it avoids lost papers. Thirdly, it adds an interesting option when students need to complete a team work at home, but they aren’t able to meet up face-to-face. Finally, it enhances the possibilities of creating interactive activities. I really encourage other teachers to use this tool. Not only it is great for your students, but it is also great for personal use.

Image

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Facebook: An Interesting Tool

Image

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest…the list could be long. Social medias are everywhere and rare are the people who do not own an account in at least one of them. Why not take this information to my advantage? I know that most of my students are addicted to those websites; they cannot resist the temptation to go and check what’s new. So, why not letting social medias become one important tool in my classroom system?

Image

Not only are Social Medias free, but they also bring countless possibilities of usage. Here, I will concentrate more on the advantages of using Facebook with my students. First of all, Facebook gives me the opportunity to create private groups with selected people. That way, I can create one group per class and put progressively all the homework, exercises, project instructions and study guides that are given through the year. It gives lunatic students the chance to know what needs to be done and when it needs to be done by simple clicks. Plus, it stays there, so there is no possibility of losing anything. Moreover, by having a private group with my classroom, I can be easily reachable for questions and students can answer one another’s questions. It enhances teamwork and feedback is given rapidly.

In addition, when I want to create an event involving my students, I can put it on Facebook. That way, there is no confusion on the hour, date and place. Unnecessary repetition is avoided. Plus, if I want them to bring something or do something, they can discuss with one another to make sure that everyone knows what their job is. On many levels it simplifies my life and their life as well.

Image

Another advantage of using Facebook is that I can get in contact with other schools and create partnerships with schools all around the world. It opens a window on the world and it gives my students the opportunity to talk with people their age, but of other races and with other cultures. That way, they become more open-minded, less judgmental and more tolerant. I believe that it is a great way to learn more about the world they live in and give them the desire to travel and discover other countries.

However, I know that I need to be aware of some factors. Before including Facebook in my educational system, I need to educate my students on how to become responsible users of such social medias. Students need to be taught how to put private settings so that not everyone in the world can have access to everything on their profile. If they don’t know it yet, I need to make them understand that what is put on the Internet is never completely erased. Also, they have to realize that bullying on Facebook is as bad as doing it face to face and that they should stand up against cyber bullying. Even adults don’t always realize the consequences of their actions when it comes to the Internet. A single post or picture can get them fired or eliminated as a candidate for a job.

Considering all of this, I think it is important for us, as teachers, to educate our students before incorporating Facebook as a tool. Once it is done and that they become responsible users, we can start having fun and working cooperatively to keep them interested and to give them the help that they need.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

iPad: The New Educational Tool

Image

Nowadays, whether they are in elementary or secondary schools, children are surrounded by technology. They often own expensive products such as iPhones and iPods and, even when they don’t own any, they still know how to use them.

In classrooms, students get bored pretty easily, we always need to be careful not to talk for a too long period, to create fun and educational activities, to move around and so on. When they have an iPad in front of them, they suddenly become very attentive and motivated to complete their work with the tool, which is great.

Why use iPads in schools?

First of all, as an English teacher, I don’t always have my own class and I need to move from one place to another throughout the day. An advantage of having iPads instead of having laptops is that they are a lot lighter, so easier to transport. Also, they have a long battery life, so I don’t have to worry about wires. Plus, they are simple to use and most students already do how they work.

Secondly, instead of being interested of what comes out of the iPad, I can concentrate on what comes in. Let me explain, iPads can record videos and voices. So, when doing an interactive activity, I can put an iPad where each team interacts and record what they say, how they pronounce, etc. That way, I make sure that everyone speaks English and I can note errors that are frequently made.  When doing a presentation, I can record my students and watch over the video at home in order to grade them.

Thirdly, I can have them play educational games with different apps. For example, Miss Spell’s Class is an app that uses words from Dictionary.com that are commonly misspelled. Students have a list of 20 words and need to choose as quickly as possible the words that are spelled correctly and/or incorrectly. It creates a friendly competition in the classroom and the student with the highest score wins. Because it is done individually, I feel like students don’t feel pressured and that they are not scared of making errors even though they still want to win. I like these kinds of games and I consider them useful.

Finally, I hate wasting paper. So, instead of having to make copies for each student, I can have texts and instructions on the iPads so that students can have access to them. That way, I only print out activity sheets and save a lot of paper. In brief, I truly believe that iPads are beneficial not only for students, but for teachers as well.

Warning!

However, iPads are expensive and are not always used to their fullest potential. If we want to integrate this technology into our educational system, teachers must be trained to use it wisely. Otherwise, iPads become simple notebooks that cost a lot more than paper and pencils. In order to learn how to intelligently use iPads, teachers should have access to training sessions and they should try to discover as much as possible by using it, by reading books like iPad in Education for Dummies, and by surfing on the Internet on websites that exist to help teachers, such as iPads in Education.

Numerous apps are available on this tool. Children that don’t even go to school yet benefit from iPads thanks to applications that help them learn to count, to recognize different shapes, to say the alphabet, to listen to stories, etc. Moreover, they have fun doing so. It’s great!

To conclude, I am a fan of Apple products. I think they are easy to use and full of interesting tools. However, like my classmate points out, their products evolve very rapidly, new versions come out almost every year. It makes it difficult to stay updated and products become easily outdated. A lot of money is needed to bring iPads into our students’ classrooms, but is it worth it? Will it be used during a long period or only for a couple of years? These are important questions to ask ourselves before spending an important amount of money in this useful technology.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment