30 April 2015

That Time of Year Again - Testing and Revisions


End of April and in many places the term/semester is now heading towards its end. Which also means that teachers and students are busy with revisions and assessments. Although I may not be a big fan of mindless, repetitive gap-fills, every classroom activity has a place and time for their use. (One also needs to bear in mind student preferences, even if they are not a teacher's preference. Change in perceptions and learning approaches happens slowly)


Edueto  is a web tool that creates different kinds of exercises which may be used as revision or testing. Simple and clear, teachers can share and re-use their tests whenever they wish.  There is a library to save materials (tests), a folder for students and test results.



Below you can see what kind of activities Edueto creates:




For time-strapped educators, this is definitely a simple tool to look into, especially when teaching languages. 

How do you save time with testing? 



Further Suggestions:








29 April 2015

Expressing Thought with Design


Think First via photopin (license)


I wonder. And wonder. Why not? Why ever not?

It's not a question of "short attention spans". 

It's not an issue of "they are not able to do this and must focus on passing exams". 

It's not even because there is no internet connection or lack of digital device. 

So, why not?

Notegraphy is an App which offers three options - Basic, Plus and Premium. 

It's really easy to sign up and use the Basic version - with the added delight that students will have when they share their thoughts to their social networks with a touch of professional design. 

Teachers can use Notegraphy in all kinds of different contexts, where learners can write short summaries, share thoughts, express feedback for the teacher.

 In language learning contexts especially, it provides added interest as students can practice using key vocabulary and grammatical structures in a more current way, instead of the gap-fill  repetitions they know so well. For instance, learners may be asked to use target vocabulary or a grammatical structure.


Writing, like photography, has changed. Despite students still having the need to learn how to write a well structured, well thought out essay, there are also other ways of writing, other ways of expressing thought and communicating.

What better way to motivate students to write and express themselves
than by introducing a cool app  which they can use on any device, and in class?

Identity comes in many forms - the written word included.


How do you get students using apps to express themselves in times of change?



eBook Images: Version 2 via photopin (license)


Brave New Camera Trailer from Brave New Camera on Vimeo.




On Identity from Brave New Camera on Vimeo.



Further Suggestions:

Soundbites for the Classroom

Posters, Images and Metaphors


20 April 2015

The Career Dream



Moments when one chases dreams, moments when one inhales the living dream.  

Moments when one is grateful for having had the audacity, the difiance,  to meet a dream. Face to face. In all its splendour. 

There are other moments too, when I ask my students about their future dreams
- after all, if they are studying, won't they have dreams for their futures? 

For many, the future career is a fuzzy, hazy place they do not want to venture into.

For others, especially younger learners, the future is an uncertain dream, one defined by financial background, possible kickbacks and sheer luck. Futures are too unpredictable; too fickle. 

Yet, as educators we often ask students, gently reminding them that there are long-term purposes for sitting in classrooms day after day. 


The Career Cluster Inventory is a fun quiz where of course, there are no right or wrong answers. Learners can explore what kind of career is best suited for them. They can also  explore by determining their target salary to see if it matches their job choice. 








is another site which aims to help young people find out which occupation they should have. Students can explore this site by assessing themselves, looking into job families and making money choices. There are also tips about which field to study, job application tools and creating a skill profile, among other items. 




Dreams are unlike assessments, which need to  be immediately achievable. 


Dreams feed one's life, pushing us forward, hoping that each day brings us closer to achieving that goal. 

Dreams should always be unshackled, a sea free to sail,  free to roam. Free to chase. 

And grasp. One day. 



Trailer from Gilles Deschaud on Vimeo.


How often do you ask your learners what they dream of being in the future?

Further Suggestions:

The Future Belongs to Learners

Career Ignitor - Build a Resume

ResumUP - Create a Visual Resume

Chase Me - a 3D Printed Film (Find out more)



19 April 2015

Life, Light, Action! Videos for Storytelling


He squats motionless, his hands nimble with a lifetime of practice. At times, I wonder - is it him or his reflection which breathes? Under the midday sun, light, and life play tricks on my vision. Light, water, life all take over;  harmonious movement, intense colours lightening up under the unforgiving heat.  I hold my breathe, not wishing to disturb, yet aching to know the stories beyond. The stories that shimmer in the midday heat. Stories glowing with essence. 

Stories. They hold the essence of life, the key to our souls, our beings; stories hold the splintered patterns of our lives together.

Stories are meant to be told. 

When I began teaching, I did not have digital tools nor apps nor any digital device to entice learners. Yet, there were stories to be told,  voices to be heard.  Finding ways to tell these stories lied in simplicity. Today, paths to storytelling are even more engaging, with images, cartoons and videos. 

The longer I am in classrooms, the more I understand how relevant stories are to our learners, regardless of level and purpose of study. It is not a mere generational trend either - everyone has a story to tell, a story to be heard. And it is in classrooms where learning may be entwined with one's voice and story. 


Wevideo is accessible on any brower and device; just perfect for our age of mobility! There are different types of accounts, and Wevideo also takes into account the need to protect students' privacy, hence a "Walled Garden" for educators and students. 

Learns can create videos for different subjects while teachers can also create videos for flipping the classroom. 







A common complaint heard in staff-rooms across the globe - how to get learners to switch off from their mobiles. There are moments when yes, they do need to be switched off and out of sight. Focus is necessary. Then there are moments when educators can reach out to the many tools available and have students use on their mobiles for creativity and learning. For storytelling is learning.

As most teachers, I have had my good and less happy moments in classrooms. Indeed, there are have been classrooms which have made me despair with their lack of interest in any activity I introduced. Nevertheless, it has been the most challenging of classrooms that, weeks or even months later, reach out to me, saying how they miss my lessons. It is not me, nor the lessons they miss. Nor the games.

It is the opportunity to tell their story.

It is the moment the learner initially struggles with a new tool or app. The moments which follow - self-discovery, autonomy in learning, the unleashing of voice, self and creativity. It is the moment of asserting oneself, the satisfaction of production and sharing one's work, one's voice.

Learning is hard work. Treading  those corridors of learning is not always simple.

Giving voice to those struggles, accepting that learning demands grit but that it can also bring about satisfaction and pleasure, is part of what educators can bring to students today, by opening spaces of storytelling.

Not only with images or text, but also with the movement and flow of life that videos offer.





What corridors will be opened when learners engage in their telling their own stories?



What hidden gems will be discovered?





What's your story?









Further suggestions:

Lego Movie Maker - Free App

Wistia - Video Hosting

Wistia Library - tips on how to improve video creation with mobile devices and more

Videolicious - Free App

Stupeflix - Free (shared by Nick Peachey)

Stampsy - Create visual stories




Credit:

I would like to thank Tim Residorf for his generosity in letting me share three images from Burma/Myanmar here. Tim Reisdorf is a Canadian travel/portrait photographer from Winnipeg, whose images tell singular stories. Filled with harmony, compassion and aching beauty, Tim Reisdorf captures the essence of souls and stories in every image. Among other projects, he is currently developing a travel blog. 

23 March 2015

Adding Spring to Presentations

PowerPoint....

Keynote....

Prezi.....

HaikuDeck....

....yawn....

With no disrespect to these (above mentioned) tools, there comes a time when presentations just blur into a senseless maze of deja vu, maps well known,  blending the hope that the end arrives soon and painlessly. 

Been there?

Know what I mean?

Yes, there is PowToons , which adds sparkle and is great to share messages and reminders with students, as well as for students to create their own.

Below is a simple example:








But with Spring comes the urge to try out new presentation tools, which may, perhaps lead one out of the dreary maze of the expected. Here are some suggestions.

One of my favourites at the moment, is bunkr

and below you can easily understand how simple and interesting it is to use:






Personally, I find it one of the most interesting approaches to creating a presentation.


Two other tools which have caught my attention, are rawshorts (free to sign up to)



And Sparkol - though there is the pricing to consider.





Presentations don't have to be the regular, mental check-out session, where the audience struggles to remain alive, where presenters mumble onwards, reading slide after slide into oblivious digital dust. 


Presentations are so much more. 




So please, please, please, TEACHERS and Students alike, let's remember:





What is your favourite presentation tool at the moment?



Credit:

I'd like to thank Mark Curcher, Director of the Program Director of 21st Century Educators at TAMK, Finland, for the meme above.


Further Suggestions:


SlideDog (for Windows only)

Reflections on Public Speaking

Presenting for  End of Academic Year

Slide Your Show


Update:

Ruri - free App for iPad


Financial Responsibility with Learning Games

Students today have the opportunity to learn at the click of a button, with a wide range of digital tools and apps to then display their skills and what they've learnt. 


Within this learning context, there is the need that students are taught digital learning skills - not only bodies of knowledge, but  skills which will enable students to become life-long learners, skills to navigate and to participate positively in the digital world. Despite the shiny new digital devices I regularly see in my classrooms, digital literacies are still, sadly,  lagging behind. 

Another skill which I think is relevant to include in classrooms today, is financial literacy - a skill which is not only for the purpose of passing an exam or test, but one which is immediately meaningful to students (e.g. how do they manage their pocket money for instance) and which they will need throughout their lives. 

Cash Crunch 101 is a free App, offering a game approach to finances. 
 Players choose their avatar (male or female) and then follow the cues to play the game, (by clicking the dice). As they make their financial decisions and they will also receive instant feedback. 



Players can also ask Brian (image on the left) how to play the game or use the glossary (a plus for students learning English). 



The website also includes notes for teachers and some additional sites to explore. 


How do you feel about financial literacy? Should it be part of classrooms today?



Further Suggestions:















(Images generated with RedKid.Net ) 

2 March 2015

Revision with Games

ImageChef.com


Revising is an integral part of learning and can be fun when games are used. I have already mentioned how Kahoot.it, Flip Quiz and Socrative are great resources to use in lessons, as well as  how Edmodo's Quiz feature saves teachers time and gives students the chance to do the quiz either in class or within a certain time frame chosen by the teacher.  As you can see below, you can name the quiz, set the time limit and choose the format of the quiz, i.e. Multiple Choice, True/False, Short Answer, Fill in the Blank, and Matching. It is very user friendly for both teachers and students. Another bonus is that teachers can re-use a quiz in the future.





Today I'd like to point out some other tools which are worth using for revisions. 

Quizizz is free and similar to Kahoot ,  gives students the opportunity to play in teams and works well
on all devices. Here is a brief walkthrough:






Quizdini - which offers the format of Multiple Choice and Matching games.










eQuiz Show is another option for creating a  Jeopardy-style review game:




What other games do you suggest for revisions?