Mural.ly

As they describe it here, “Mural.ly is a new web-based application that lets you create your own virtual bulletin board, posting and arranging inspiring images, notes and more to spur your imagination. It also enables small teams to collaborate on murals, bringing a new dimension to team creativity.”

To this “virtual bulletin board”, or as I’ll call it : a mural or poster, you can add pretty much everything, from photos to videos and links and sounds.

You can have a look at this tutorial on the website of Mural.ly. What I remember from it is that this tool is really easy to use. I wouldn’t even explain to the students since it works pretty much like any other tools of this kind, which they all know how to work with it.

On top of this, there are many advantages to work with Mural.ly.

First of all, you can do so much with Mural.ly but it always is so simple to use.

Plus, you can look for any web content that you want and add what you find of interest to your work. There is no need to do a research seperatly from your mural.

You can even work in cooperation with Google. If you have an account, you can share documents from your Google files to your mural.

More over, you can share a project with anyone, and anyone can cooperate on one project. It is a nice tool to brainstorm in teams.

At the end of the class, students could have added important info about what they just learned to a collective poster and later use this poster to study. It is a way to create a visual support, which will help them remember the subject.

As you share one of your mural with the students, they can comment simply with a right-click! It is easy once again and you can collect their impression on your work and their understanding of the subject so far. Looking back at your mural, you can modify it to make it more useful for the students.

Another great option of Mural.ly is that you can keep your work private or make it public. You might wanna wait until it’s completely over before you share it, or you might prefer to receive feedback during the time you are working on it, at every step of the process.

One more advantage is that there are tons of possiblities to create a  visual support for your subject. You can use a pen to circle or point arrows at what you think is important. You can also draw shapes of all kinds.

Moreover, if the students don’t like the way you arranged information on the mural, they modify it so it’s easier for them to work with it. This way, everyone is satisfied and more productive!

When creating their own mural, students can draw mind-maps more freely than with other tools for which it is their only purpose.

We are saying “Hi!” to another great tool for students to do presentations. “Bye-bye paper posters!”, thanks to the continuous evolution.

Here is the opinion of another fan of Mural.ly who uses it in the classroom, get inspired!

However, one of its disadvantages is that it cannot yet be used with iPads, but I’m pretty sure they are working on it!

Conclusion of this post: DO NOT hesitate to use Mural.ly !!! It works out pretty well 🙂

Reasons why you should use iPads in your classroom!

When I was in elementary school, I’m not even sure tablets had been invented and you wouldn’t hear of technology in the classroom, or at least not from what I remember. Things have got a little different: technology is now everywhere!  As a future teacher, I can’t escape it. Even if it is way more demanding in the term of classroom management, iPads (or technology in general) should be integrated in the classroom as much as possible. Before having a look at my arguments, have a look here if you are not sure what an iPad is exactly, thanks to Wikipedia! Now that everyone has at least a basic definition of iPads, here are the reasons why I think we should integrate Ipad in the classroom:

1. Using technology comes naturally to children. Take advantage of this. It is even easier for them to take notes on the tablet than on paper. And probably faster. Moreover, on the iPad they can add tables, links and images.

2. They have to hand in a homework? I have a copy, you have a copy, EVERYBODY has a copy! Result: no paper copy, the environment is saying thank you, and it never gets eaten by a dog again!

3. You can use “Explain Everything” as a teacher, YESSSS! Everything you need in one place, the time you save using this app, you can use it for classroom management!

4. iBooks. Do I need to say more? “Mrs I forgot my book in my locker” said no student with an iPad ever.

5. Electronic textbooks are less expensive than printed ones. And going back to the last argument, they will always have it with them!

6. There is an infinite number of applications with educational purposes.

7. You can use the camera on the iPad to film students’ presentations and keep it for later evaluation.

I hope I have convinced you with these short but meaningful arguments! Even if you might have a hard time with classroom management at the beginning, it will pay back sooner or later!

However, just to make sure you survive, have a look at those useful tips 😉

 

Make me travel!

In my practicum, students have done many geography projects. The first one was about Canada, in which they had to present a province in teams. Now they are working on a country with a teammate. They found a lot of information and now they are presenting it in the form of a pamphlet. One thing that is missing according to me is visual support, other then their posters. Because when talking about places to visit and things to do in the country, it is has to visualize. If the students were using a mapping tool, it would make the presentation much more real and interesting.

The mapping tool I am using is Scribble Maps, in which you can scribble and write on Google Maps. It is simple to use and you can come up with really good results. Here is a tutorial to learn about the basics.

This blogger gives ideas on how to use scribble maps in the classroom in many ways!

Furthermore, as my classmate Marianne Fortin blogged about, Google Earth allows stories to get realer! While reading a story, students can identify on a map the places visited by the characters. This way you get a better mental image of the story. What is fun with Scribble Maps is that you can see the map you’ve created on Google Earth. So, instead of looking at each places individually as the story goes by, students can keep notes of the different places and, at the end, create a Scribble Map that they will eventually look on Google Earth.

As we’ve seen, Scribble Maps is a great tool to get the students to improve their geography skills. Another way to do so is by taking quizzes. There are a tons of quizzes you can find on the internet. Moreover, there is more than just geography quizzes, it can be on any topic of your choice, whatever the subject you are talking about in class. One of the best website I found is Sporcle. Do you know your countries ? Here’s a way to find out, try it!

Let’s blog!

In the ESL classroom, it doesn’t matter what you talk about, as long as it is in English. When the students are free to choose the subject, that’s where you’ll find their motivation.

Let’s do a blog project (Yes, just like what I’m doing right now!) But here is how I see it.

I wan’t to have my students write about what they already know, deepen their knowledge of stuff they like and even discover what they didn’t know that they didn’t know. Are you still following ? To make it short, I wan’t to open their mind! Of  course it won’t be done for nothing. While learning about their interests, they will be working on 2 important competencies of ESL classrooms, which are reading and writing. Let me explain how students will be working on those competencies.

Starting with the learning competency, this is how students will get there ideas from. How to learn about things you don’t know that you don’t know?

Here comes my finding of the week: StumbleUpon! As it is described on its web page, it is “a giant collection of the best pages on the Internet”. First of all, you have to create an account (see the link above) which will take you only a few minutes and then you select your interests, in other words, the subjects you want to visit pages about.  StumbleUpon will recommend you pages in your interests that you can go through at this moment, or save for later. You can also make lists of your favorite pages.

How does it fit with my blog project? Well it’s a way to find new ideas different then a Google research. When doing a regular research, you have to know what you are looking for. What I like about StumbleUpon that is different is that the starting points are your interests, and then who knows where it will bring you!

Furthermore, as a member of the StumbleUpon team, Currin Berdine sees it as a very innovative way to teach languages. It provides the teacher with many different ways to have their students use their new language skills, he says. Once you get the basics, it’s an ideal tool. Just as a weekly homework, appart from the blog project, students could have to write a quick hundred words about what they have learned this week through the StumbleUpon’s suggestions.

Getting back to the blog, after students have done enough research on their subject, by reading different pages, they are ready to start the writing process! The first step of this process will be to create a blog. As I’ve seen in my Computer Applications class, there are many different sites to create personal blogs. I’ve only use WordPress so far and like what I can get here. It is easy to add photos and links to your posts. There are great design options and it is not hard to run.

I won’t talk too much about this part of the process, maybe I’ll keep it for another post. But to help you, here are some sites : Word Press, Blogger, Tumblr, Weebly and so on.

And then, all that’s left to do is write! No minimum or maximum lenght, no special structure, free to write what comes out of their mind!

Extra Work   Something that could be add to the project is a section of new vocabulary! When doing a post, ask them to publish a short list of new words they have learned while reading about their subject. And what about working on the speaking competency? Have the students discuss in pairs or small groups what they have learned while doing their blog!

Google Drive, part II

I’ve already written about Google Drive and its numerous utilities. However, lets focus more on how I would use it in my ESL classroom. Google Drive is a very creative tool, lets see what students can come up with !

Documents

I love the ideas from M. Miller to write poems and stories in collaboration with other students. The start point can be a blank page, where each student has to add a sentence or paragraph. One student could also create a story with missing names of places or adjectives and another student would have to fill in the blanks. Another great idea I found among these 37 interesting ways to use Google Docs in the classroom is the “I am unique because…” activity. Taking turns, students will complete this sentence on the same Document. This way, you can learn a lot more about your students.

Want to have your students aware of the mistakes they often make? Write a text including those mistakes and have the students correct them on a shared document. Moreover, when asking students to write about a subject, you can ask them to share their text with a peer to get it corrected before they hand it in to you.

Because it can get messy if everyone share ideas on the same document, a table will facilitate the communication and keep everything clear.

Forms

The form can be used to get feedback on a lesson, by enumerating each important point and asking to rate the understanding from 1 to 5. Forms can also be used to communicate with parents instead of giving sheets to the students to bring home.

Moreover, after an educational visit, forms are a great tool to get students’ impression on the activity and then decide if it should take place the next year.

Many other ideas are put forward on this blog: 80 ways to use Google Forms in your classroom!

At the beginning of the year, I suggest to have the students create a form by asking each of them a question linked with their interests. Using the results, you can create groups sharing the same interests to work together throughout the whole year.

Spreadsheets

Spreadsheets are a great tool to collect data from the sudents which can be analysed, averaged, charted and explored by the students afterward. Creating quizzes and tests online is one of the tips suggested by Mohamed Kharbach in a post about the use of Google Docs in education.

Create an “assignment tracker” using a spreadsheet to keep track of students results and homework. This way, parents and students can have an overlook of their work.

Presentations

All the lessons should be presented using Google presentation, so you can share a copy of it with your students. If you share it before the class, they can follow your presentation and give comments in the chat window simultaneously!

 

These are just few ideas, but I’m sure there is a lot more that can be done with Google Drive.

Feel free to share you ideas with me 🙂