Organize your day logically with Schoology

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During my practicum, my cooperating teacher kept telling me that preparation is the key to successful teaching and to avoid loss of time in the classroom. I learned my self that being prepared also make you more comfortable with what you have to do, when, in what order and so on. But when a teacher has 4 classes of two different levels to take care of, how can he/she manage all the work that it implies ? For sure, having an agenda is a starting point. Folders are another way to keep all the papers, activities and other stuff organized. However, if I tell you that you can do all this and even more with Schoology do you believe me ? Well you should ! Because this online platform will allow you to do everything in one place… and also because it has been rewarded by the American Association of School Liberians. Posting assignments, maintaining calendar, recording grades, and communicating by e-mail with the students is a fast eye-in to some of the basic feature of the tool… Schoology is thought to be “the most robust course management and active, personalized learning that both educators and students care about on the devices they want to use”.

I can already imagine myself working with Schoology in with my classes.The basic features of this tool are very interesting. It would allow me to keep all my stuff in the same place and all organized into folders without the “paper” part. One online folder for each class. Done with messy teacher’s desks !

Another thing that I would do with Schoology to facilitate my task as a teacher would be to create custom pages for each group and for each activity. This is actually a very good idea because this way, students can find everything they need on their group page (Links, homework, activities, grades, calendar, etc). Nowadays, students are always connected to a technological device, therefore having a page on the Internet with everything they need is perhaps THE way to make sure they have everything they need at their fingertips. (It is interesting to note that Schoology is also available as an application for Windows tablets and iPads). Schoology can be used with Google Docs and Turnitin. It is also possible to access the Schoology App Center for the most effective educational applications available.With the discussion boards integrated in the platform, students could interact with each other in a controlled environment, ask each other questions about homework, projects, exams, and ask me for clarifications and further explanations.

There are several learning management system (LMS) available on the Internet for teachers, however, I will give you one  more reason to choose Schoology before anyother platform: IT’S FREE ! Great isn’t it ?

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Violets are purple, Roses are Red, and Literature is FUN !

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During my practicum, I have had the opportunity to observe several classes of different levels doing various activities. Moreover, in my personal experience as a student; I took over 10 English courses during my studies and I am not done with it (Future English Teacher oblige!) However, even after all those years, I was wondering “How can we make literature fun to the students?”

Surfing the net in quest of an answer, I ended up finding a number of tools that will certainly make the life of English Literature Teacher easier. (And of course that will make learning situations more interesting for students.)

BITESIZE !!

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The first we site I found was a Website from BBC (the TV channel). The actual web page is called Bitesize KS2. It does not only contain cool stuff for English teachers but also for math and science teachers. What I found particularly interesting about this web page is that there are a number of activities for beginners and intermediate students. It is possible to find activities and exercises to practice reading, writing as well as spelling and grammar. In the reading section, there is information about poetry such as information about what narrative poems are, the patterns found in poems and figures of style. I found particularly interesting that there was a little video/game in which students can review the basics of poetry and test their knowledge at the same time ! It is simple, interactive and fun. Students will like it ! Ps. It is possible to add subtitles if students have problems understanding what is said.

LIT2GO

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Lit2Go website is also very nice ! It is a bank of literary texts, stories and MP3 audio files. It is interesting to note that the all passages come with a word count, citations, playing time as well a reading strategies. PDF versions of the passages can also be downloaded for further reading and review. From the website, students can access to information about some of the major authors in English literature and from an author’s page it is possible to access work pieces of the author. (e.g. William Blake). Passages are also classified by genre and collections which makes it easy to search for particular texts. I thought it was a great website because of the amount of work available on it. Students will be able to work and analyze texts and poems from home or from school without having to bother about carrying a book. Also, the MP3 audio files available is useful because it allows students to practice their reading and listening skills as well as their vocabulary and pronunciation (they will learn new words and hear them in context).

MY STORYMAKER

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My StoryMaker is another fun website I also found. It is an tool with which your students will be able to create their own stories and cartoons. This kind of activity would be a good writing practice for students particularly for beginner and intermediate learners of English. I tried it myself and at first it seemed a little complicated, however, I discovered that it is possible to access a tutorial while creating your story. It is very important for tools like that to provide tutorials because the task can get very challenging. Fortunately, the tutorial for creating a story in My StoryMaker are simple, efficient and clear. Choose a character, a goal and another character and let your imagination do the rest. It is also interesting to mention that there is no need for subscription to make a story.

I found another version of this tool that has more features and that could be used for intermediate and advanced learners. Unfortunately, PlayTown: My StoryMaker is an application and can not be used on a computer. However, as discussed in my last post many schools are now equipped with iPads, therefore activities and story creation is still possible!

Of course there are many more websites available for English Literature teaching, surf the web and found out the one you prefer and that best fits your interest, your students interests and their language level. Go outside the textbook and have fun !!

Save Trees ! Use iPads.

ipad-3-school As you may have noticed, I am not a huge fan of technology even tough I believe that Internet can be a very useful tool for teacher. After one of my course at University, I was surprised to find myself wishing to possess an iPad ! During the lecture, it appeared that the iPad can allow a teacher to conduct an impressing number of activities and projects with your class. It must be mentioned that a growing number of schools and school boards buy iPads for the students and that those iPads can be borrowed on demand by teachers. If it is not the case in your school, you can go on the Apple website and sign in for offers. Most web sites I talked about so far in this blog are available on iPads, iPhones, and stuff, but there are many, many applications that you can download on the iPads to personalize the activities and contents to be learned. There are applications available for any grade you are teaching, so because I am not yet a teacher, I decided to look for 2 specific applications I would use with any group of elementary or high school grade.


First, I found Endless Reader. screen568x568 This application is perfect for ESL teachers in primary school because it offers introduction to sentence construction and spelling. There are interactive puzzles in which students can see the words, recognize them and memorize them more easily. screen568x568-2screen568x568 It is then easy for a teacher to get activities and small practice for students with this app. Working in teams to the construction of sentences sounds to me like a simple and fun task that elementary students would like. This way they can help each others and learn at the same time. The iPad then becomes a collaboration tool. Despite working in teams, what is more fun than little cute monsters everywhere, huh ?! Nothing !

The app is free, but you can purchase packs (see the left-hand side of the page “Top In-App Purchase”) that give access to more words. The same developers did another application for alphabet learning it is called Endless  Alphabet. This application also targets elementary students.


The second application I came across is Comics in the Classroom. screen480x480This app is perhaps more appropriate for high school students. It is a good tool for students to learn about historical events and famous people and to practice their reading comprehension skills at the same time. It is probably an application for individual work or whole-group questions and answers type activities.

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At first, students can see short movies about the chosen event and after they can take a look back at the story and fill speech bubbles to put their new knowledge to action. It must be noted that the application has comic titles from various periods of time, and different continents. With the read-along feature, students get to practice their reading and listening skills. This application would bring a diversity in class that the students will appreciate.

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For teachers, resources are available to download. These resources include PDF’s versions of the comics packed with research tasks, and ideas to  introduce comics in the classroom.


 

Both applications presented here are only a small example of what can be done with iPad applications in class. There are also several applications made for the teacher such as presentation, organization and gradation tools. For ideas, or advices regarding iPad apps, click here