The Prezi Pretzel

Power Points are like so 2008…

Since 2009 presentations have been taking a new turn. No longer do presentations have to be slide by slide black on white boring, drab, and non-educational. With Prezi there are so many more options to make presentations more dynamic. In short, Prezi is like a Power Point/Mind map presentation. It combines zooming in and out, moving and dynamic colors and pictures. In short, every image in a Prezi presentation is linked with a certain number. When making a Prezi the creator decides the order of the numbers which determines in what order the images will be shown. When I experimented with Prezi it is one feature I really appreciated, I liked the visual aspect of the layout and of the editing tools.

In class there are many uses for Prezi, even more than there are for Power Points or Mind maps because it combines both in my opinion and it is much more interesting than Power Points. In education, Prezi can be used for things like lectures (of course), students research presentations and even animated story telling (http://ctl.uregina.wikispaces.net/Prezi) This video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bHyW6un-Kc is a good example of what animated story could become, it does not have to be as elaborate a few pictures with a cute backgroung can do the trick. In Prezi, as it is presented in the above video, it is also possible to include music! Which in my opinion makes presentations even more dynamic. It doesn’t have to be hardcore dubstep like in the Youtube video it can simply be a little relaxing background music over which the teacher can talk and still be heard. I think animated storytelling could be a really good tool t use in an ESL class with younger students. Rather than just reading them a book or asking them it read it themselves, an animated story has images and music which can help the students understand the meaning of words and the feeling of the story more effectively. It is also possible to integrate Youtube videos, diagrams and even images. Prezi also has a huge database of high resolution images that can be used in presentations.

What is also great about Prezi is that it is interactive whiteboard friendly, it was first made for the i-pad and so is tailored for touching and interacting with. (http://www.bbcactive.com/BBCActiveIdeasandResources/UsingPreziInEducation.aspx) Also, if a teacher has a lot of Power Points they don’t want to have to restart, Prezi has a function which imports Power Point files into Prezi. No starting over! http://www.howtolearn.com/2013/07/using-prezi-in-education/

It is nice for students to present their projects made with Prezi on the interactive whiteboard because it gets them used to technology and all children like to play with interactive things. They will also feel more in control of their presentation and closer to the content. Touching the content, I think, makes it more concrete for the students. I also think that students presenting with Prezi, will be much more interested in their presentation than students making a simple Power Point or poster. Because Prezi is animated and can be made so colorful and interesting, I think students will feel more motivated.

Learning Prezi can be a little complicated, the blank template is of course, empty, and when I tried it I found it hard to get started. Not knowing where to click or how to take out the frame, etc. I’m also not sure how much one can customize Prezi from a blank template. It doesn’t seem like there are that many other than using a pre-made template. Apart from creating a whole personal template, which looks quite complicated, I found that there were not that many options when using a blank template. Otherwise, there are many very nice templates that have already been created by other users. These can be more easily customized and adapted because the bases are already in place. When using Prezi with younger children, I think I would show only the very basics of the program and let them grow with the software, otherwise I think they could get lost and abandon the idea.

I think that when Prezi is learned, and there are so many Youtube tutorials to help, it is a great tool for making classes more fun and interactive for students. It is important for people to have something to look at to keep their attentions on the class. Prezi to me, is more eye-catching because of the movement of the transitions between the images. Prezi is a really good tool to ensure that any material a teacher wants to present as a projection, has an opportunity to get across more effectively because the students are paying more attention to the presentation.

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Ogle my Google

As with many tools previously discussed in this blog, this one is also well known. Google might even be the most popular website ever. Everyone knows Google, but do they really know what it can do? As a teacher, who wouldn’t want something that can bring together all the students’ assignments, quizzes, a class schedule, class plans and numerous teaching tools and activities! Not only can Google bring all a teachers’ material together but it is also a useful tool for students to work with in individual work as well as in teamwork.

There are many tools other than the traditional Google search that everyone knows and loves (move aside Bing!). For instance, there is Google Drive, where students can share and work on documents together. Documents can be a text document, a spreadsheet, a form or even a drawing. If the work is also shared with the teacher, he or she can correct and even add comments to the students’ work. While working in the same document, students have the possibility to use the “chat” function to write to each other while working. With this tool it is easier to communicate when not working next to one another. As it is, Google makes it possible for students to do long distance teamwork, which is useful because students’ schedules are very full and they cannot always meet for schoolwork. http://www.edutopia.org/google-educators also proposes using Google Drive for making presentations and peer reviewing which can be very useful when writing texts, teammates can comment directly on the text and the author gets instant feedback.  Here at Université Laval in the BEALS program, we use Google docs for peer reviewing quite frequently and I think most people appreciate not only being able to access the work from anywhere but also because most of us have an environmental conscience, we appreciate not wasting paper.

Another advantage of Google Drive is that there is the possibility of “connecting” apps to it. For example, I’ve added Heap Note which allows me to take notes, make lists and make schedules directly from Google Drive. Apps like these are useful because they keep everything in the same place and in order. It helps teachers stay organized. There is also Picto4me that creates sheets with different images and their names underneath, it is also possible to record voices to say what the images are when clicked on. It would be a great too to use with less advanced, or younger, learners for vocabulary. I think that it would also be a good way to initiate younger students to using technology in class.

Another interesting tool mentioned here, among many others on this website: http://educationaltechnologyguy.blogspot.ca/p/google-for-educators_22.html is Google Earth and I would add Google Maps to it too. With Google Earth in a English class it is easy to learn names of cities and countries and have a look at them at the same time. Students love to look around at different places on earth. Now on Google Maps there is even a way to create customized maps. With students it would be possible to teach them directions and left/right by asking them to present their own custom maps to the class and describe how to get to their destination. Also mentioned here: http://www.teachhub.com/100-google-tricks-teachers at tip 21, is information about the ocean in Google Earth, students can even look at shipwrecks recreated in 3D. I think interactive tools like these catch students attention and keeps them interested in the class.

A very new tool (or we could also call it a game), that Google has developed is https://www.buildwithchrome.com/ it is a website where students can play with “Legos” on their computers. In an ESL class this could be useful to get students to learn colors or description words. A teacher could ask students to build their house then describe it to the class. I think students would love playing with the “Legos” and I think even older students would like it. I loved trying this tool out I thought it was so full of possibilities and that it really encouraged creativity. To learn how to use Build With Chrome, there is a Build Academy where Google gives you challenges to learn how to use the website, the challenges get more complicated as it goes along.

The link above also talks about Google Translate. Even though in ESL classes we want students to learn English on their own, Google Translate is a good tool to be aware of and to use. It is important to explain to students that it is absolutely not made for sentences or whole texts, it is really made for single words. Some students will rely too heavily on Google Translate but they will be easily recognizable. It is a tool to present after careful consideration only and may be better used with more advanced students who would not need it as a crutch.

I think Google is a wonderful tool with so many facets to explore and I think that as a teacher it can become an integral part of a successful class. In ESL classes as well as in mathematics, Google has a tool for everything.

February Online Tool Favorites 2014!

“Have you seen the video where…” How many times have you heard this? Unless you live in a cave, and even if you do, I’m positive you heard this at least once. If people talk about only a small part of videos they watch, imagine how much time they spend watching videos. YouTube is now a staple in most people’s lives. It is there to watch movie trailers, cat videos, vine compilations, music videos and to find out how to open a wine bottle without a corkscrew. Of course, those are the most common uses one can think of with using YouTube, but can it be used in education?

I’m convinced that it can be a great tool to use with students. There is, of course the traditional way of using YouTube in class, which is showing students an informational video about a subject or another. This is a very good way to get their attention (every child and teenager likes videos) and to teach them things about animals for example, or about a historical figure. Certain schools in Indiana have even implemented what they call “the flipped classroom” in which the teachers film important parts of their classes for students to watch at home and have them do their homework in class (http://indianapublicmedia.org/stateimpact/2011/10/12/how-youtube-is-changing-the-classroom/). When they do their homework the teacher is present to answer questions. Now i’m not saying every class everywhere should do this, but it is an example of how YouTube can be used effectively in the classroom.

Another way I could find to use YouTube would be to create playlists on a teacher’s account and have the playlists pertain to different subjects. (http://www.edudemic.com/youtube-in-classroom/) These playlists can be assigned as resources for homework. Also, by having a YouTube channel as a teacher and having students follow it, it allows the teacher to put in videos of important parts of class before exams for reviewing. It also allows them to say, make a video explaining a project and giving them links on where they can start their research. Everything is at the same place and it is an easy reference to get back to. The comments section can be a good resource for the students too, students can ask questions and either the teacher or others students can answer. It can become a good place for students who are having a more difficult time with their homework.

For research projects, YouTube can teach students how to use keywords effectively and will test their ability to concentrate on the task at hand. Because YouTube has so much content on it, most of it not being relevant to class, it is important for students to learn how to concentrate. I wouldn’t use YouTube in this way with younger children because not everything on YouTube is appropriate.

There are many resources for teachers to find instructive videos to show their students like https://sites.google.com/site/mistersill/google-goodness/youtube-in-the-classroom On this website there are many videos. From how to tie a show all the way to tools for teachers. Websites like these are abundant on the internet. On YouTube there are many channels for ESL teachers. I searched a little and found many videos and channels that look really instructive, I’d never thought of looking up teaching on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/user/eslteachersgoldmine This channel for example, looks like a good resource for activities and classroom management tips. In the comment section, teachers can contribute their own ideas and read ideas of others. I think YouTube is a good way to help teachers evolve as educators.

I think that YouTube is a really good tool to use in class. It can be used for so many things and I think students appreciate having videos either at home or in class. It makes class more varied and interesting for them. For teachers, there are so many things to discover and learn about other teachers all over the world and their techniques. Plus, there are some really good cat videos. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbP2N1BQdYc

You Pique my (P)interest

Pinterest is mostly know as a place where people share and “pin” fashion, beauty and fitness related things, but Pinterest can actually be much more than that. It was first created to be another community or way of sharing different things, but as we know when new ideas are created people will find many more ways to use it than what it was created for. Teachers and educators are now sharing more than 500,000 education pins daily (http://www.edutopia.org/blog/teachers-stuck-on-pinterest-kendra-jarvis). Personally I did not know that Pinterest held an eductional part. When I explored it a little, I was surprised with how much information students and teachers could really get from this unconventional source.

When I think of Pinterest in the classroom, I think of the students using it first. I think that it would be useful for group project, brainstorming or research. In a group project, Pinterest could be used to share ideas, concepts and information via pictures (http://www.bbcactive.com/BBCActiveIdeasandResources/UsingPinterestforEducation.aspx). What is great with this website is also that every “pin” has the original link attached to it and that can lead to even more information. Teachers can also leave comment on students work directly on the “pinned” image. For students, Pinterest is more eye-catching than other research engines because all the images are big and colorful and there are a lot of things to look at.

I also think that for a research project Pinterest would be a very interesting tool to have kids use. For instance if they have to do a report on their favorite animal, they have pictures and information about the animal all in the same place and can build their project in a more efficient way. It is a one stop shop for information. It is also a way for students to share their projects among themselves. http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2012/06/educators-guide-to-use-of-pinterest-in.html I think that the more students know about the tools at their disposal, the more they will know which to use for certain projects. I think introducing them to many things will help them be more efficient and more autonomous.

As for teachers, Pinterest is also a great resource to share and find new content and activities for classes. With the new “education” section (http://www.pinterest.com/all/education/) teachers can share lesson plans and while looking through this section I even saw a lot of posts on how to deal with students with ADHD or Autism. It’s a fabulous way to get input on lesson plans and just see what is going on in the teaching community all over the world.

I think that as a resource in education, Pinterest may be an unconventional choice but it is worth a look. Both teachers and students can benefit from the colorful layout and tons of information hidden in these cute little “pins”. It’s an opening to so many different opinions and ideas that I can’t think of someone who wouldn’t benefit from the use of Pinterest.