July 22, 2013

7 SNACK tools for the classroom

This is not a promotional post. However, it is a description of tools you can use with students which are VERY PRACTICAL for creating online content.

The tools I'm about to describe are all SNACKTOOLS from one single website.

FIRST, let's start looking at the different widgets you can create for free.
1. PHOTOSNACK - create slideshows with pics from facebook, flickr, photobucket or from your computer. http://www.photosnack.com/ 

How do I use slideshows with students?

- showcase students' work by creating slideshows and embedding it in a class blog or send to parents via e-mail.
- present vocabulary to students by adding captions to each picture.
- ask students to create slideshows with vocabulary they have learned doing their own research on a topic.
- for digital storytelling - students can create slideshows telling a story.

2. PODSNACK - create playlists with MP3 recordings you make or with youtube videos.

 How do I use podcasts or video playlists with students?

- ask students to record dialogues using their cell phones and send the mp3 files to you. Aggregate all recordings to one playlist and share with parents or publish it in a class blog.
- create an audio Webquest where students have to find different information by listening to different podcasts.
- for the flipped classroom - aggregate video lessons per unit in a playlist and share it with students.
- video-record students role playing dialogues and organize them into the same playlist.
- as a listening dictation - use the website to record students reading sentences they have created and send playlist as a listening dictation for homework.

3. TUBESNACK - very similar to podsnack. For video playlists. http://www.tubesnack.com/

4. POLLSNACK - create polls, surveys and personality quizzes. http://www.pollsnack.com/

How do I use Polls and Surveys with students?

- use surveys at the beginning of the semester to get to know students better.
- use polls to give students the chance to choose an activity for the following class.
- create surveys about topics students have been discussing.
- ask students to create their own polls and surveys and present the results to class.

5. FLIPSNACK - transform word and PDF files into e-books / flipbooks.
http://www.flipsnack.com/ .

How do I use e-books with students?

- collect student's drawings and written work on a word/pdf file. Use FLIPSNACK to transform it into an e-book to share it with parents.
- for storytelling: have groups of students collaboratively create a story during the school year. Then students add images or photos to their story (word / pdf file). At the end of the term, each group publishes their story as a flipbook.

6. SLIDESNACK - add voice to your ppt presentations and then share (you can export to Youtube). Slidesnack doesn't record on Google Chrome, try Firefox instead.  http://www.slidesnack.com/

How can I use this tool with students?

- if you create tutorials using ppt, add your voice to them by creating a slidecast.
- for storytelling: sts can write a story, then create a ppt with images to illustrate the story, then they can record themselves narrating their own stories.
- students can record about themselves as an introduction to an online course.
- students can record themselves reporting after having developed a project.
- students can record themselves talking about what they have learned that year.

7. NOTIFYSNACK - create notification bars for your website or class blog.

How can I use this tool with students?

- create alerts for class blogs before important dates and tests.
- add greeting alerts to school blogs on important dates.
- invite students to contribute to the class blog by suggesting beautiful sentences to be added each week.

July 18, 2013

Printing from mobile devices WIRELESSLY

Imagine you can print a document or photo you have on your cell phone, ipad or laptop using a printer you have in another part of the house or somewhere else. Moreover, you can use your classic printer which is the one  connected to your desktop and internet connection.

 Well, WE CAN DO THAT without spending any extra dime. I know this might not be SURPRISE to you but I was jumping up and down with joy a few minutes ago when I saw my document being printed wirelessly. I thought I would have to buy one of those new cloud printers for that.

To learn how to do that, I watched two videos. The first one was from the Google Cloud Print page: https://www.google.com/cloudprint/#jobs

The second one was a very helpful TUTORIAL

You can also print from  cell phones and ipads. This is a tutorial for printing from ANDROID DEVICES .

When trying to do that from my android phone, I downloaded the CLOUD PRINT app, opened it, clicked  the print button on the top right, selected GOOGLE DRIVE and a document, picked a printer and voilá.

OH, IMPORTANT (kind of obvious) INFO: your printer has to be on and online to be able to do its job. kkkk

Apart from printing wirelessly, with google cloud print you can also share your printer with others. Let's imagine you have a guest at home who would like to print from his cell, or you're in a bus but want to have a document printed waiting for you at the office for an urgent meeting. Isn't that brilliant! https://www.google.com/cloudprint/#jobs

When I was a child, I used to dream of future technologies such as a telephone with a camera but this idea of printing from my own classic printer wirelessly really caught me by surprise.


- Printing from the cloud makes everything simpler now. Imagine how easily your students can print their work for display in the classroom.

- Or if students are writing a story together online and want to print it at school, they can.

July 16, 2013

How to embed PINTEREST boards to blog posts

Yes, you CAN EMBED a pinterest board.

In my previous post, I shared an idea I had from a fantastic PINTEREST BOARD called "History - tools of the trade". As you can see, I took a screenshot of the board, pasted it to the blog post and linked it to the pinterest board.

What's the advantage of embedding applications?
Well, one, your reader does not have to leave your blog to explore what you're sharing. They can choose what to click from your blog.

So how can we do this?
I didn't find it so easy, but here is a tutorial I've created to help anyone wishing to do that.

The link to the WIDGET BUILDER page is http://business.pinterest.com/widget-builder/#do_embed_board .

This is a board I chose to embed in this post. It's A SUPER HERO board full of interesting ideas for class activities.

July 13, 2013

How to use a PINTEREST board to spark up conversation

It's amazing the kind of stuff people curate in PINTEREST boards.

This week I came across a board called HISTORY - TOOLS OF THE TRADE which inspired the idea I'm sharing in this post. http://pinterest.com/AmylynnRichards/history-tools-of-the-trade/

As you can see from the image, the board is a collection of old stuff we used years ago. It's quite funny in fact to remember what they were used for.

The idea I had for an activity is the following:

- As I teach teenagers, the idea would be for them to discover different objects people used in the past (from the pinterest board) , read about it, ask their relatives if they had one or even if they still have one. Learn about it.
- In a following class, students could present to the whole class or small groups the chosen object (either using the image from pinterest or showing the real object if they have it), talk about what they have learned from their research and conversations with relatives.
- They could even create a joint post for a blog where each student would write about their findings.

Language: USED TO,  names of objects, verbs in the past.
Skills: reading, speaking, listening, writing. ALL.

July 12, 2013

Ipad apps for GREEN SCREEN videos

In case you don't know. WHAT'S GREEN SCREEN?

 According to EHOW,

I've always wanted to try out creating green screen videos with my students but didn't know how to start. 
With the IPAD it's quite easy.

The easiest app in my opinion is FX Studio. Although you have to pay U$2.99 for the app, it's quite easy to create your green screen movie.


This was my first trial with FX Studio:

 What I liked about it:

- it's very easy to use and there are various backgrounds and effects you can choose from.

What I didn't like so much:

- As far as I know, there's no way I could use my own images in the background. :(

The second app I tried today was VideoFX Live.

I couldn't find a youtube tutorial but at least I had access to this written tutorial which helped me a bit. http://videostarapp.com/blog/2012/03/making-better-green-screen-videos/

After some trials and errors, I discovered that first you have to click NEW FX, choose the effect USER PHOTO, click PICK PHOTO to choose a photo from your own ipad and then click RECORD to make your video. 

I feel a bit embarassed to share this simple trial but here it is.

 What I liked about it:

- the app is FREE but by paying U$ 0.99 I was able to use my own background photo.
- there are MANY background images, animations and effects to choose from.

What I didn't like so much:

- I couldn't find a tutorial easily.
- It took me some time to find how to go about the green screen effect.
Now , HOW COULD I USE THESE APPS with my own students?

I searched for some ideas and these are a few links which I really liked:

- Green Screen classroom Projects

- Project: students choose as a background a place they would like to visit. Then they would have to use 3 props to talk more about themselves. An example video: http://youtu.be/uovkgxCj-wY

- Project: students create a Civil War film.

- The Nome Storytelling Project (Superb idea)

Oh, something important I forgot to mention, although these kinds of videos are called GREEN SCREEN with both of the apps I mentioned you DON'T NEED a green screen at all. All you need is a blank white wall to make the recordings.

July 11, 2013

E-portfolios and Webfolios: the same thing?

First of all, what are e-portfolios? And are e-portfolios and webfolios the same?

As I am a highly visual learner, I've selected two very interesting videos on the topic.

"It's an easily accessible online area where you store all you think is important to your career development."

"They serve as a student's professional digital footprint showcasing a combination of student's work in different formats over a period of time."

 A key word mentioned in this last video is REFLECTION. I'm a great fan of e-portfolios myself  as it can help learners reflect about their  own learning and it's EVIDENCE of what students have learned.

In my opinion, the use of e-portfolios is one of the best ways to evaluate student's progress as well.

In order to help me understand more about e-portfolios, I've also read some articles about their use in education.

An article I really enjoyed reading was
"Portfolios to Webfolios and Beyond: Levels of Maturation" written in 2004 by Douglas Love, Paul Gathercoal and Gerry McKean. In the article, the authors describe different levels of maturation when adopting e-portfolios as an educational tool. The image bellow taken from the article is the taxonomy developed by them.

They also make a distinction between e-portfolios and webfolios.


Another visual resource which I found very useful was the infographic below taken from the blog post http://www.pontydysgu.org/2013/02/issues-in-developing-and-implementing-e-portfolios/ . The blog post mentions the original article which inspired the infographic in which a dichotomy is  brought forth:  e-portfolios for LEARNING X e-portfolios for ASSESSMENT.

Diagramme: @lee74 (some rights reserved) http://www.flickr.com/photos/lee8/7164889790/
I've been teaching online since 2009 and I've used different tools to have my students create digital portfolios. First, I had my students use BLOGGER for their blog-portfolios. Then, for many years I opted for the POSTEROUS platform which was very easy to use as you could post by sending e-mails. However, unfortunately, Posterous has closed down and if you haven't exported it to another platform, bad luck, the blogs are gone. This year, a few weeks before I started a new online course, I had to rush to find another alternative to Posterous and I ended up choosing TUMBLR, for its ease in publishing different media and its popularity. A drawback I found was that you can't easily leave and receive comments in TUMBLR so that would limit the type of communication I wanted.
I myself made use of a platform to create my own learning portfolio for one of the subjects I took at UFU, Universidade Federal de Uberlândia, while doing my M.A. in Linguistic Studies. We were free to choose what format of portfolio we created, either paper of digital and my choice was a wiki at WIKISPACES. My first doubt at the beginning of the semester was what to include in my digital portfolio for that specific subject at university. I decided to keep adding everything which I thought would be EVIDENCE of what I had been learning. 
Next semester, I'm moderating a new group for the CULTURA EDTECH online course and my choice for the webfolios is WEEBLY. It's super easy to create your Weebly blog / portfolio. I liked the way you can drag and drop elements into the editing dashboard and create your blog posts. Apart from being able to publish at the website, you can also download the weebly app and post on the go.
But these are not the only platforms we can use to create digital portfolios, there are many others. 
These are some of the blog posts I've curated on tools to create portfolios:
If you still wish to learn more about the topic, another great resource is this PREZI presentation

July 7, 2013

CULTURA EDTECH new group 01 August

What's CULTURA EDTECH? It's an online course for EFL and ESL teachers worldwide.

How is it different from other courses? It's a 3-month course aimed at helping teachers reflect about technology integration.

The groups are generally small so that we can build a community of teachers who can learn together. 

Are you an experienced teacher but don't feel comfortable with the digital tools  and apps available nowadays? This might be an interesting course for you, where you can get all the support you need.

 We've already had students from different parts of Brazil, as well as from England, the U.S., Spain and Japan. Apart from living the experience of learning online you'll learn how to use different online platforms which could be used with your own students.

 For more info http://culturaedtech.wikispaces.com/ABOUT+THE+COURSE