I have been playing around with word cloud generators this week. My students have made a list of 10 things they are thankful for and then found the French equivalents. They made their own word art today in class. Tomorrow we’re going to the computer lab to generate some art on the computer that can be published to our class web page.
I have found that word art generators are hard to come by. I ran into Wordle and Tagxedo along the way. Wordle seems to be very popular but I find the options to be a bit limited. Tagxedo has a lot more options and allows you to create some really great looking shapes with words. For private users, you could even create some of this art and buy it on t-shirts etc.
Here is what I am thankful for:
Ok, maybe almost having bronchial pneumonia was a good thing for me this weekend. I have gone nuts catching up on blogs I love to follow, found some new blogs to follow, and writing up my own posts. I have missed my personal learning community or professional learning network or whatever it is you want to call it!
I went to the FLANC conference a few weeks ago and got lots of great ideas. I whipped out my handy little bag full of goodies today and found some things I’d like to post here that may help some other folks.
- PowerPoint and Motivation in the Classroom – This session had some great ideas on how juice up PowerPoint for your classroom. One neat idea in particular was how to embed a Flash timer in your PowerPoint. This might come in really handy for me as I like to put all my warm-ups on PowerPoint. The kids need something to get them moving as they like to chatter and then before I know it, I’ve lost class time due to so many taking so long to do a short warm-up. You will need to scroll down a bit to find the presentation she did at FLANC on 10/14/2011.
- Blog it! How to Implement and Use Communicative Blogging in the FL Classroom – Awesome session from a school where the foreign language department has every student set up with a Google account. The students then use blogs as digital portfolios so they can publish their work.
- What’s Cooking in World Languages? – Interesting presentation on how to cook simple foods in class and combine that activity with teaching grammar along the way. They had an interesting take on using the culture and interest in the food to make grammar (teaching imperative etc.) more palatable for students (no pun intended).
- Teachers as Advertisers – I didn’t go to this session but another teacher passed the presenter’s link to me. She has some neat ideas here about teachers being advertisers and teaching foreign language from that point of view.
I have one more that I would like to share but am waiting for a link to the materials. Enjoy!
Dabbleboard – Online whiteboard for drawing & team collaboration – Interactive whiteboard software.
I found Dabbleboard today after posting that last article about interactive whiteboards. Just thought I would share. This looks like it might be easier to use than the software installed on my teacher computer and it’s web-based and has a free sign-up. It also has the advantage of being collaborative so the possibility to use this in a computer lab or when your students each have a computer in front of them is there. Your students could then add to the drawing.
This is the system I have in my classroom. It's the Epson BrightLink with Easiteach software.
I read this great post on tweenteacher.com about interactive whiteboards. I am blessed to be in a great classroom with a mounted projector and an interactive whiteboard (it’s interactive with a stylus not by touch) but I have been struggling to find ways to use the interactive whiteboard bit and I couldn’t figure out why that is. Isn’t it every teacher’s dream to have a setup like this in their classroom? I think Heather from tweenteacher.com put into words why I’m frustrated.
The big clunky forward facing, whole class method of lesson delivery via Interactive Whiteboard, I believe, is the Laserdiscof educational technology. The overpriced fad of Interactive Whiteboards (whether Smart or Promethean) is imperfect in their current incarnation. Sure, we all imagine classrooms with“Iron Man2”:-esque 3-D touch sensitive lessons, but inherently these pieces of equipment do not illustrate the spirit of technology in information delivery: all-access, collaborative, open, interactive, etc…
Currently, they are only as engaging as the lessons created, and those lessons are tedious to create and time-suckers in their efficiency. The prep time to create charts that utilize any effects over-and-above what you would already do with a laptop and LCD projector feels clearly developed by those with a disconnect to the precious time we have in education and the many hats we already wear.
The few times I have found ways to use the interactive whiteboard have mostly been teacher-centric and I have felt guilty afterwards. The kids are enthralled because it is different but, especially in middle school, this kind of thrill does not last long. So I have tried preparing some activities where the students get the stylus and go to the board but, again, only one person at a time can use the board. I get the kids to hand the “baton” of the stylus to the next student so I try to keep them engaged through the anticipation of getting to go up and use the board. This is still not ideal particularly if it takes a student a while to figure out the answer. I start to lose those kids already on the fringe and they start misbehaving out of boredom.
I think the interactive whiteboard has its place but I am really struggling to:
- find activities that are engaging enough to keep the whole class interested
- find activities that are easy and quick to make
- find web-based activity makers as I can’t download any software on my teacher computer
I don’t think we should dismiss IWBs altogether as they do have their place in the classroom and I know they can be used to create some great components to lessons (I just haven’t been uber successful with this yet). I agree with Heather that mobile technology is the way to go. I would much rather my kids have tablets or even laptops on a 1 to 1 program and be allowed to buzz in with their cellphones to a poll question in the classroom. Since our school is far from that, I will keep trying to think of ways to make my lessons better and more student-centric using the technology I have at hand.
Infographic Of The Day: How Our Students Stack Up Against The World | Co. Design.
Interesting infograph comparing students around the world and how we stack up.
I heard Tom Brokaw on David Letterman last night talk about how Asian students were at the school doors before daylight and studied late into the night with flashlights. I have a hard time getting my students to do two or three little practice activities for homework that should take them no longer than 10-15 minutes. What can we do differently to motivate our students? I don’t know the answer to that question but if we don’t figure it out we’re going to be in big trouble in this country one day.
CintaNotes – a Free Quick and Easy Text Grabber !.
This looks like a great option for those doing research papers/projects. CintaNotes allows you to gather and collect snips of information and URL links from the web in one place. I could see students loading this on a USB stick and running it from that.
Just thought I would share that quick tidbit today.
It’s good to finally be back. It has been an interesting few years outside the U.S. but I’m finally home again and back in the classroom. Now I’m teaching French in middle school which is quite a different experience for me. It’s also a challenge. I’m fortunate enough to be in a 21st century classroom with a mounted LCD projector, interactive whiteboard, document camera, flat screen TV, and built in amplification system. Once I feel like I’m on my feet with teaching middle schoolers, I want to really dive into using more of these tools in my teaching. Classroom management is my greatest challenge at the moment and my primary focus. Middle school boys are a whole new world. They wiggle, find every possible means to be out of their seats, tap or beat on their desks, make strange noises…the list goes on. Organization is a foreign language to boys. Anyone else out there teaching tweens from 11 to 13, please feel free to chime in with advice on how to teach these boys!!
I am looking for ideas on how to use the interactive whiteboard (one with a pen instead of touch) and good tools to use with it. Mine does not have a gallery of resources like Smartboard tools. I have used it mainly to operate my computer while at the front of the room. I have done a couple of activities with PowerPoint where the students manipulated objects. I need some ideas though so please share what you’ve done if you have a board like mine that isn’t operated by touch.