Blog Post

Tools for teaching

Hello all,

as promised here is a quick overview of some tools I use for teaching. These are mostly ipad apps but if you use any other media do chime in. As always I would love to hear what new tools people are using to teach as well as new ways you are incorporating old tools. I know for example that Google Earth is hot now in language classrooms, but all things map-like scare me. So if you have any great tips on using google earth in a classroom please do stop by.

 

Teacher Kit

I'll start with the basics. I've been using Teacher Kit for a while and it's been pretty good. It's a free ipad app that allows me to take attendace, record grades and contact my students quickly. What I like about this app is that it allows me to see certain kinds of information very quickly. Questions I usually have to field especially at the end of the semester include: "what's my grade so far?" "How many absences/tardies do I have?" "How is my class participation?" I usually just incorporate this information into a larger class participation sheet for students once a month so they can track their own progress so it is great to have all that information on hand and easily accessible without having to scroll through endless excel sheets and flip through grade books.

 

CloudOn or Goodreader

I use this app mainly to give comments on essay drafts on the go. CloudOn works very well and can do everything on a word doc including add comments, insert footnotes etc. It beats having to lug a laptop around (unless you have one of those sleek macbook airs then this is not really an issue). If I want to give handwritten feedback (preferable for longer essays or final papers) then I'll use Goodreader...drawback is that it only supports pdfs for now.

 

SlideShark

I'm a recent convert and I LOVE it! Slide shark allows me to project ppt from my ipad, use my finger as a laser pointer and control the slides from my iphone/ipod touch so that I can circulate freely around the room and contribute to my students' conversations when they break out into small group discussions. The presenter view is also great so that I can see my teaching notes while only the actual slide is projected on the full screen.

 

7 jours sur la planete

This is great for giving students an interactive medium in which to learn vocabulary. It is focused on French language but I suspect there may be equally cool apps for other langauges. 7 jours features video clips from French news every week in different categories. There is a script to go with the video if students need to read to pull out words. There is also a vcabulary list with sound for students to get familiar with new words in the video. Then on to vocabulary games. I love the multiplayer mode that splits the ipad screen into two so that students can play against each other matching words to their definitions, spelling them out or finding them hidden among other letters. Awesome app!

Timer bomb

This is not an ipad app. I thought I'd throw in some non-Apple related tools to mix things up a bit.

http://www.online-stopwatch.com/bomb-countdown/full-screen/

I am sure there are a bunch of these online, but this one makes a particularly startling, obnoxious, loud explosive noise which definitely makes speed dating more fun and lively. In case you're wondering what speed dating is doing in my classroom, for the trickier grammar points I find it useful to have students repeat the same structure over and over again in a variety of sentences they have crafted themselves. So they will first write out the sentences usually giving information about their food preferences or how often they go to the library etc and then it's guys on one side of the room and girls on another and speed dating starts. At the end of course they have to find someone who they are compatible with, but having 30 seconds to rattle of 10 sentences makes it lively and engaging especially at 8am.

 

There are a bunch of other tools including google earth, twitter and facebook that could make learning more collaborative and definitely more engaging. I am currently exploring the possibility of bringing back pen pals! But via twitter so that my students can have some authentic input by exchanging with French students in an informal medium. One lit prof talked about having students create new facebook profiles as characters from the novel they were reading and posting weekly. What a wonderful way to get at diction and tone, character traits and relationships! I think having your students embody the very characters they are reading could be fascinating and very productive! Thoughts welcome!

 

 

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