I Wix !

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In the context of a course at University, I have been asked to build a WebQuest which implies to build a website from scratch (To see what a WebQuest looks like, click here ). As the “technologically-retarded” person that I am, I spent a quite important amount of time trying to figure out how to create a web page. I finally found a very handy tool on the Internet. It is called Wix; it is a website, to create website ! Not bad isn’t it ?

Even better is the fact that Wix is really easy to use. First, create a free account on the Wix site. You can also log in via your Facebook or Gmail account. Once you signed up you can access your account from any technological device because the platform is cloud-based meaning that you don’t save you project on a computer hard drive, but rather on the Internet itself.

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So, now that you are logged in there are several things you can do before creating your own website: you can explore some websites made on Wix or you can take a look at the different features that could help you starting your own web page. Among those features, there is a support center available 24/7, and hundreds of free templates to help you start your project. It is also interesting to note that Wix has a learning center with tutorials and step-by-step demos.

When you are ready to begin the creation of you website you will see that there are many things you can add to your page. For example, it is possible to integrate videos, music songs, documents, links to social site or applications such as Facebook or Google Maps. Wix can also be used for blogs.

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I am using Wix to create a WebQuest, however, you can use it in many different ways if you are a teacher (or a future teacher). Have your students create a webpage or a blog about their passion or their favorite hobby and evaluate their writing skills at the same time.

Take a look at my finished work with Wix !!

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WeVideo

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I looked on Internet for more tools that could be great for me to have in my toolbox as a future teacher. I found out a very interesting website for video editing; WeVideo. This site caught my attention because it is a tool I would have appreciated to know about when I was in high school. In secondary 2, the teacher had us doing all sorts of videos in teams of 2 to 4 students. We had to write scenarios, film the scenes, edit it and present the final product to the class. I particularly liked to do the videos and present them because it was less nerve racking than doing oral presentation. However, the editing part was very challenging because most of us did not have a video editing tool on their computer (most of the time I had to do it because my dad had a very complicated software to transfer videos from VHS into DVDs). It would have been nice to know about WeVideo at this time, because it is easy to use and the Internet version can be used from any electronic device. There is even an application for Smartphones !

On the WeVideo webpage for schools, it is promoted that having students to do videos encourages collaboration among the students, creativity and storytelling. When students are working on a video they have become producers of knowledge; they explore the subject in depth and go beyond textbooks to produce something good and entertaining to present. Creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration are all skills that are involved in the creation of a video.

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WeVideo is pretty simple to use. I did a little bit of exploration with the tool and I discovered that it is easy to film the scenes, download them into your WeVideo account, drag and drop them into the timeline. Then, you have your video ! It is also possible to build a storyboard from images, add music or sounds and share your projects with Google Drive, Facebook or Youtube. Enjoy 3 editing modes: Timeline, storyboard or advanced timeline. With any mode it is possible to add themes to your videos, bubbles and texts. Students can be up to 5 working on the same project from different computers. For more features and tutorials, the company has a Youtube channel to help you (and your students) in your projects.

–> WeVideo Overview

It is possible to access WeVideo for free on the Internet, but it is also possible to get an advanced version for a minimum of 3$ per months. There are other version that allow teachers to create an account for a whole class, it is possible to subscribe for a year and all students will have access to a WeVideo account.

Try it ! 

Bye Bye Black Boards !

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I was in secondary 4 when I saw the first SMART board in one of my classes. I can remember that the teacher was not eased nor pleased to teach with this new tool. Few years went by since my secondary 4, but the popularity of SMART Boards is growing in schools and most of them are now equipped with those interactive boards. The SMART company assures that its products are innovative and evolving meaning that the products you use today will adapt and still be up-to-date in a few years.

The main advantage of the SMART board lie in the fact that they can do almost everything with the tip of your fingers. SMART boards are connected to computers, but the board itself acts as a computer too. From the big screen you can surf the web, watch videos, modify documents, and save them. It is also possible to share your presentation on other computers !

Beginners can write, erase, and draw on it. There are also applications and games that can be added to the SMART board software to make the teaching even more interesting and interactive. SMART boards are also useful because they replace television and projectors. Be sure to practice a little before using the SMART board for a presentation in class, so that you are familiar with all the features of the tool. I’m telling this from personal experience because the first time I worked with a SMART board during my practicum I almost panicked; I did not know how to scroll down the page !!

Now that I have worked with the SMART board a couple of time, I enjoy more this tool. I think it is fun to work with. Students can come in front of the class, write stuff, and participate in games. It makes the classroom a more interesting place for them to be when they know they can participate more actively. It can also be use to note down ideas from brainstorming sessions. Students then get a visual support for their own ideas.

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Amber Price, an Instructional Technology Resource Teacher, suggest 10 ways to use the SMART board in a classroom. The last thing she suggests is to use the SMART board for PowerPoint presentation, but PowerPoint is only one of the thousand presentation tools available for teachers. (See my articles about Prezi, and ThingLink). It is certainly, the main reason why I will use the SMART board in my future classes. In this regard, you may want to download the SMART Notebook on your computer; it is a software to create SMART board presentation. The Notebook is essential when working with a SMART board, because it is this software that gives you access to the magic pens, and highlighters and stuff.

Now, Let you imagination go and find all possible ways to adapt the use of the SMART board to your style of teaching.

Pretty Prezis

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Which one of us haven’t fall asleep in class while listening to a boring teacher reading notes from a PowerPoint ? I did! PowerPoints are certainly useful to present new materials, but they are common and they always come back to the same pattern: slide, slide, next slide, etc.

There are many tools that allow us, teachers (future teachers), to do presentation and that will certainly get our students’ attention. One of the tools I found the most interesting is Prezi. It is an on-line tool, it is simple, and it is possible to sign up for the basic version for free with any device (computer, portable, iPads etc.)!Prezi is a fun tool because it is interactive. When you create a Prezi you have to choose a background that will best reflect your ideas or begin with a blank Prezi. You can add frames, arrows, and themes to connect your ideas. During the presentation, just click the area you what to present and it will zoom in. To make it more interesting you can put links, videos, and pictures as well as pdf’s and even music !

One of the main advantage of Prezi over Microsoft PowerPoint is that Prezi is non-linear; I mean here that there are many ways to get from point A to point B.

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I will certainly use it in my classrooms to present new content and activities. Nice images, templates and colors will certainly be a support for keeping students’ attention. It is also possible to share Prezi presentations, which is an advantage of the tool; it will allow students to access the presentations of the previous classes from home for example. KunkleRobb talks about his experience with Prezi in a high school classroom. He says that ” Prezi seems more like a video show which is great for high school students with incredibly limited attentions spans.” This is what teachers should aim for: catching and keeping students’ attention.

I will also recommend it to my students for their oral presentations because it is simple and fun to use. They will feel that their presentation is more interesting because of the interactive background and hopefully they will be more confident. Some students will probably prefer PowerPoint because it is more structure, but some others will prefer the creative, non-linear path offered by Prezi as Michelle Leibel, a student supporting Prezi, suggests.

Take a look at this amazing Prezi presentation if you want to be convinced!