A beautiful summer has flown away and another school year has just kicked off! For most teachers, this is a very busy yet exciting period of time since we get the chance to make a brand new start, set new teaching goals and bring fresh ideas into our classrooms!
If you are a novice in the use of technology and you wish to ‘go techy’ this school year, below you’ll find a selection of 6 basic, very simple educational tools and websites you can explore and use with your students.
JING is definitely number one on my list. It’s a fabulous tool that captures what you see or records whatever you are doing on your computer screen. Once you’re done with your screen capture or video, simply upload it to screencast.com and share it through IM, email, social media and more. You can create up to 5- minute- videos to:
– Provide feedback on your students’ writing assignments in a more elaborate and contextualized way.
– Give instructions alternatively.
– Add voice to your Power Point presentations.
In fact, any speaking activity can take place with Jing! Ask your students to send you a Jing video about:
-Their likes and dislikes (a favourite website, song, actor, their most hated movie character etc.)
– An object, an animal, a photograph they love, explaining why it’s important to them.
I personally love using Jing with my FCE students! They can compare and contrast pictures while recording themselves. This way they get a lot of practice and reflect on their performance! This is the link to one of my FCE student’s video: http://bit.ly/14SixDZ
On the Techsmith website, you’ll find many free training videos that will take you step-by-step through the use of Jing. Trust me once you try it, you’ll love it 🙂
EDMODO is a great social networking platform for educators. At first glance, Edmodo will remind you of Facebook. However, it’s more private, educationally- orientated and definitely safer! It allows you to set up class groups quickly, share your materials, assign homework, and create puzzles, polls and quizzes! So, go ahead and host your own online classroom where learners can log in and collaborate after school too!
AVATARS When you go online with your students, their safety is of utmost importance! If your students are under 18, they should use avatar images in their profiles instead of real pictures. Avatar- creation is a fun activity that also provides learners with hands- on practise in identity- building.Have a look at the cool avatars of myself that I created using 3 awesome websites (marvel.com, southparkstudios.com & reasonablyclever.com). Which one do you like best ;-)?
KEYBR is a nice website you can use to train your students- especially the younger ones- to type accurately and faster.
TAGXEDO– ABCYa: Both are wonderful word cloud generators! Tagxedo is more sophisticated and will appeal to your older students while ABCYa is ideal for younger learners. Pick the one that suits your students’ age group and needs best and let them be creative 🙂 If you want to learn more about Tagxedo, click here.
SKYPE We have all used or at least heard of Skype! It’s a free, easy tool which opens up your classroom to the rest of the world! Your language learners can benefit from talking to experts as well as cooperate and share ideas with other classrooms. This way, foreign language learning becomes much more targeted and realistic! Here are 10 creative ways you can use Skype in education http://www.edudemic.com/10-ways-to-start-using-skype-in-the-classroom/
**Things to consider when using technology:
-Always have a back-up plan because many unpredictable things may occur in technology-based lessons!
– Make a contract with your students including strict, clearly-set rules about the appropriate use of technology in your classroom. The consequences of their violation should be clear too! Then, have both parents and students sign it to ensure a smoother school year!
-Don’t be ashamed of not knowing! Make your computer- geek students your assistants! They often know lots of useful tricks and they are eager to help the teacher out when technology ‘emergencies’ come up!
– Raise students’ awareness on how to stay safe online! This is an excellent video you can use to teach them about online safety: http://premierskills.britishcouncil.org/en/learn-english/staying-safe-online
Technology is a powerful teaching aid that can give a new dimension to our lessons if used wisely, for the right reasons. Don’t be afraid to embrace it, even if you face difficulties in the beginning because this is part of the ‘game’. In the long run, you’ll realize that stretching out of your comfort zone now and then is really enjoyable and rewarding!
All the best& good luck!
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Collage made using photos taken from http://flickr.com/eltpics by @CliveSir, @sandymillin, @foster_timothy,@aClilToClimb and AnaMariaMenezes used under a CC Attribution Non-Commercial license, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/“