Prezi, the New PowerPoint

A PowerPoint is an integral part of teachers’ visual supports. How many PowerPoints have you created this year only? How many of them do you think your students remember? Maybe one, maybe two, surely not the majority of them! Looking back, do you think it was a waste of time? Let me answer that question for you. No, it wasn’t! Although PowerPoints can be great when they are used appropriately, you should seriously consider using a new web-based tool: Prezi, the new PowerPoint.

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Instead of having a plain and boring PowerPoint with a lot of text, too little images, and too many slides, Prezi gives you so many advantages starting with the fact that it is a canvas that can become bigger and bigger as you continue adding things to it. Briefly, Prezi gives you the opportunity to add images, texts, graphics, links to websites and videos to your canvas. Moreover, you can create a “path” that you will follow during your presentation, it doesn’t need to be linear anymore. You can zoom on something, go back and fly around the screen to show your visuals in the order you want. You can make it even more captivating by using 3D backgrounds that will make it seem as if you’ve worked hard on your presentation, harder than you actually did. Be impressive!

In addition of its greatness, it is easy to use. On Prezi’s main website, there is a section with 4 videos explaining each step needed to make a good presentation with the tool. When you missed out on an information, it makes it easy to go back in video and find it.

I like this tool because, in my classroom, I can have my students participate to make them decide which aspect they want to know more about first. For example, I can create games with categories, a little bit like Jeopardy, and have my students choose what they want to answer first. Students love to play a role in the course’s progression and Prezi gives me the opportunity to let them do so. In brief, I need to take advantage of the fact that it let’s me be more flexible in my presentations and I need to use Prezi consequently.

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Educational Online Games: A Fun Way to Learn

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When I announce to my students that it’s time to play, I automatically see their eyes light up. I’m happy to make them happy and I like the fact that I’m tricking them into learning.

Not so long ago, we only had cardboard games and card games but now, with Internet, apps and CDs, many new games can be played. The important thing to do when selecting games for students is to find fun educational ones that have purposes and educational goals.

Resources

One solid source is The Official Web Site of the Nobel Prize , because its games are based on Nobel Prize-awarded achievements, so the content is clearly educational. Although it may not be suitable for young students, it is great for teenagers. For younger children, a good source is the Learning Games for Kids website. In addition of having categorized games, it has short lessons and sections that can be helpful to win the games.

Personal favourite

Capture d’écran 2013-04-17 à 12.05.11With all the educational games that are accessible online, instead of only having my
students practice their typing or do research when we have a period in a computer lab, I can have them play and learn. Personally, because my students need to learn a lot of new
vocabulary in order to speak English as a second language, I really like vocabulary games.  I can have them do crosswords, match games, word search, etc. That way, they practice the targeted vocabulary and it is more fun than just rewriting the word and trying to memorize it. Moreover, I can have them do mathematics in English. It practices numbers in English as well as maths. These are only two examples of what can be done.

Advantages of online educational games

The advantages of online games is that, if your students had fun, they will continue playing at home without anyone asking them to do so. It means that they will continue learning or studying by themselves without having the feeling of working. Moreover, according to a blog on Educational Computer Games, students have immediate feedback, which leads to self-analysis. They can automatically learn from their errors. Also, this educational technique can easily be played in groups with multi-player games.

To sum up, I strongly recommend teachers to use educational computer games when they have access to it because it motivates the students and gives good results. It can help them study and learn new rules. Moreover, it is fun. You will be happy, your students will be happy. What else is there to say?

 

 

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IWB: A Revolutionary Educational Tool

Students love technology. They are huge consumers of Internet. Most of them have cellphones, laptops, iPods, etc. Teachers need to become more aware of this reality and use it to their advantage. The interactive whiteboard (IWB) is the perfect tool to do so because it is like a giant iPad. Once a teacher has access to this tool, the challenge is to know how to use it efficiently.

IWB

IWB

Before going any further, I will briefly tell you what there is to know about IWB with the help of Wikipedia. You need to download/buy the IWB’s software onto your computer. The white board projects a blank notebook on which you can write or the desktop of the computer to which it is connected. The board’s surface can be controlled using a finger, pen, or other device. You can save notes written on the whiteboard into the computer; you can run software that is loaded on your computer; you can control your computer from the white board and so on.

In addition, it is important to know the benefits of using this tool. Some of the advantages of IWBs are clear visuals/graphics, interactivity for teachers and students, incorporation of video and images, manipulation of computer functions while standing, etc. (Course: Information Technology) Moreover, for your students, it makes the learning process more interesting and fun; instead of being scared to go upfront, they cannot wait to write on it. It can also be used as a good reward like by letting your student of the week draw on it for fun.

How will I integrate IWB into my teaching?

In my classroom, I will try to use as efficiently as possible this new tool. To do so, I will start by writing the plan of the day so that my students know what to expect. Then, when explaining an activity or a new project, I will write the main steps on the board (in addition of the detailed instruction handouts) so that they can refer to it when mixed up. I will also use it to do group corrections with the whole class.

However, all the elements listed above are similar to what I already do with a normal white board. So, in order to maximize the use of the interactive whiteboard, I will also access to the Internet whenever I feel like it. By that I mean that sometimes we don’t plan to go on the Internet, but a light in our head lights up and reminds us of a video we previously saw that could be interesting to show. With IWB, it doesn’t cause any complication, I just have to open an Internet page and take 2-3 seconds to find the video and show it. So, it’s easy and fast even when it’s unplanned.

In addition, with younger students, I will create interactive activities when they will learn new vocabulary in each unit. For example, I can create a word bank at the bottom of the board and put pictures of the words on the page so that students can come up to the board and drag the right word to the right image. It enhances their participation because they love tactile technologies. Moreover, I will discover pre-made activities on the software as well as on the Internet to use with my students depending on the notions that will be seen in class. Many resources exist; the possibilities are endless.

Why will it make my teaching better?

Using IWB will definitely improve my teaching because I will able to capture my students’ attention by bringing their attention to many different resources (Internet, videos, pictures, songs, games, correction, etc.) through the tool. Plus, it will make it easy to have access to information from current events, which are often more interesting than old and boring schoolbooks. Moreover, unlike a traditional board, I don’t have to erase notes in order to continue writing, I can only change page. So, when students don’t have time to finish writing, I can go back to a previous page. In brief, these are only some reasons why using an interactive whiteboard in nowadays’ classrooms is not only fun, but also essential.

Don’t worry! You are not alone!

To help you use the IWB, numerous resources can be found on the Internet. With simple key words typed on Google, you can find lists of suggested software, of prepared activities, of teaching advice, etc. One interesting website is Teacher Led. There are lists of categorized resources that might be useful or help you find new ideas.

To sum up, this technology will be in most of the classrooms soon enough and it will be primordial for us, teachers, to know how to use it and to maximize the interactive aspect of it. For those who have not started yet, familiarize yourself with it now. Who knows when it will come to your school?

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Mind Mapping

Whether your students are in elementary school, middle school, high school, college or university, mind mapping is a tool that I strongly recommend because it can be modified depending of the needs of the mind mapper.

What is a Mind Map?

A Mind Map is a tool that enhances the full potential of the brain by using creativity to help memory recall. It is a graphical technique that has a main idea, branches and twigs; it starts with a subject, then it is followed by important aspects of that subject, which are followed by main points of the important aspects and finally followed by examples.

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Why will I use Mind Maps with my students?

I consider this tool to be very effective when it comes to brainstorming and studying. So, each time a new theme will be introduced in class, I will do a big brainstorm with the whole group and I will ask students to give me any prior knowledge they have on the theme. Instead of just listing them on the board, I will create a Mind Map because I think it is a more useful visual tool. To do so, I will use the iMindMap software, which I am familiar with, on the interactive board and, with my students’ help, I will create main categories as well as sub-categories. When needed, I will add pictures to help them understand. That way, once it’s done, students will have a clear overview and understanding of what will be seen in the new chapter/unit. Moreover, because it is done on the computer, it will be easy for me to print it out and hand out paper copies to the students or to send it to them via their portal.

Also, whenever they will have a test on a book, I will have them use this tool with partners in order to create an effective study guide. All students will have the same main categories (setting, characters, plot/chapter, themes, etc.), but they will have to find the sub-categories as well as examples from the book. That way, while doing it they will also be studying and, once it’s done, they will all have a clear overview of what to know for their test/exam.

In brief, as a future teacher, I consider this tool to be a great visual help for students. It brings a new dimension of understanding and it can bring students to use their creativity in order to make their MindMap more interesting and fun. Plus, it increases memory recall, which helps students remember what they studied.

Once students learn how to do a Mind Map and how to use it, it becomes helpful on a daily basis and for their whole life.

Mind Mapping Software

Mind Maps can be hand-drawn, but they can also be made on computers with the help of mind mapping software. There are several advantages to doing them using a computer program or application. First of all, there is the aspect of flexibility. It gives endless possibilities to modify it, to add information and to move things around without having to erase any of it. Also, there is the possibility to send it by e-mail to teammates or collaborators that can modify it on their side. So when it comes to teamwork, this aspect is very useful. Thirdly, the Mind Maps can be exported on other programs such as PowerPoint for a presentation, Word for an essay or a research, etc. Finally, you can add pictures from the Internet, from scanned drawings or from a library of photos. That way, if someone likes to draw, he/she can still add his/her drawings to the Mind Map and if someone hates to draw, he/she has plenty of options to use.

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To sum up, Mind Mapping is a great method that I suggest every teacher to use. You should teach it to your students using computer software. If you think that it is too complicated or that you are too old to use that kind of technology, you should think it over because it is simple thanks to detailed instructions and to the help of Internet. Whenever something is unclear, you just have to type a question on Google and you will find many websites answering your it.

Once your reluctant side is gone and that you realize it is not that hard, think of your students. They are the ones using technologies everywhere. Why not use their favorite tool? First, they will have more fun doing Mind Maps. Second, they will be able to continue using that tool for as long as they want. It’s a win win situation. They might even thank you for showing them such a useful tool.

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