To buy or not to buy, that is the question.

ADVANTAGES

When I was young, I loved and waited for the period when we would go to the computer lab. During my first practicum, I realized that it has not changed. Students still want to go to the computer lab. I think it would be really nice to have Ipads integrated into classrooms, but especially into ESL classrooms. It would motivate students to learn through a known tool, the Ipad. Also, it would help making the usage of technology by students more structured and meaningful than it is right now.

There are a plethora of applications available to Ipad users. A lot of them are free to use, some others cost a little. This allows teachers to have access to many useful applications in order to teach their material, as well as for filling up the students’ free time with meaningful exercises. There are applications for beginners as well as for advanced students. There are also applications for personal improvement, so that students who would like to improve faster than others can do so, or to learn another subject.

Having an Ipad for every student allows teachers to share documents on all devices at the same time very easily with apps such as google drive and idea flight. The interface is extremely intuitive and almost anyone can use it with ease. Documents made with apple products are easy to make visually pleasing.  Moreover, having an Ipad per student in class instead of a computer allows the teacher to see what his/her students are doing and it is easy to move, with a cart.

Another advantage is that if a student is ever able to leave with one of the ipads, it is easily findable. If it cannot be found, it just becomes a very expensive paperweight as soon as it connects to a WIFI network since Apple can deactivate it.

DISADVANTAGES

The major disadvantage for having an Ipad per student in ESL classes is that it cost a lot of money. For an Ipad Air, it costs from $519 to $819. As for the latest version of Ipad mini, it is from $419 to $719. Most retailers do not sell the Ipad 4 and the Ipad mini without Retina display anymore. If the school buy a lot of devices, there could be a discount, but even then, it will still be quite expensive.

Another disadvantage is that with an electronic device in front of them, students can easily get off task. It is really important for a teacher to keep his/her students’ attention in order to improve the effectiveness of his/her interventions. Ipads can be controlled by a server to be locked during the teacher’s material explanation. Also, to reduce off-task behaviors, Ipads have to be filled up only with school stuff and as much as possible, disconnected from internet during class time.

I think having an Ipad for each student is way too much money to spend for a school. However, it could be a long term project. School could start fundraising for ipads every year in order to upgrade their Ipads every four years. Even if students have access to an Ipad during class time, not all activities should be done on that device. The teacher should be ready for every situation and get material ready if technical issues ever arise.

Storybird – source of motivation and creativity

storybirdAt some point in the learning process of a student, motivation tends to run away and there are only a few teachers who can avoid this situation. Many teachers fail to motivate their students to learn. It is even harder for a language teacher to motivate student to something that he/she cannot see his progress right away. Storybird is a good tool to use in language classrooms, either for the students’ first or second language. It is really easy to use.
Story-Bird (1)

Storybird is very helpful to language learners since it allows the learner to create stories as well as read stories created by other members all around the world. For a student in an ESL classroom, having the students write their own story helps create a positive atmosphere. It is interesting because students can use the images provided in the application for inspiration and learn through a creative process.  Using storybird leads to social reinforcement because other students can add feedbacks to the stories which, at the same time, increases participation of students.Storybird_editor (1)

If the stories are made in class and the students are so proud of their stories that they want to show them to their family, they can easily share or print them. It is also possible to raise funds by selling the students’ book created on Storybird.

Fundraising-2_Storybird


ejy63csm55 bubble1Storybird provides a great source of inspiration to the students since they can read stories on many subjects. Even those who do not want to write can do it.

 

 

Also, what is really nice for a teacher is that creating an account per student for the whole class is simple. Storybird gives many opportunities to teachers. One of these is that they can easily give private feedback to their student. It is also easy to grade the students’ work. Stories created with Storybird are short, which means that younger students are able to use this tool. Students are even able to see many stories per class. It gives the teacher enough time to verify the understanding of his/her students before moving on to another story.  Storybird helps teachers to think up new activities and projects for his/her class.

Another reason why a language teacher should use storybird in their class is that it is free (basic version) and accessible. There are, of course, rules to follow, and which the students have to follow too. By the end of the year, if a student really did not appreciate the application, he can always delete his/her account.

Genevieve Pacada, a 4th grade teacher and a graduate of Full Sail University with a Masters degree in Science in Education Media Design and Technology, encountered some difficulties but overall she finds Storybird to be a very useful tool to use in her classes.

 

Awesome is the word for it!

TEACHERKIT

Wow! I just discovered an amazing application for teachers. It facilitates everyday life, it saves time and energy, and it makes the teacher save paper.


TeacherKit
 is an application that can be used on Apple devices (Ipad, Iphone, Ipod) and also on Windows 8. It is free to use.

Teacher kit allows the teacher to follow the progress of his/her class during the whole year. On the main page, you can see all your different classes. You can have an infinite number of classes, but if you have too many it can take time to load and even crash (see comments on Itunes).


MY CLASS

Once you have created your class, you can see the positioning of your students in the classroom; change the orientation and the setting of your classroom. You can also decide of the classroom setting yourself or let the application sort students by their first name, last name or grades. When you click on a student, you can see his/her personal information, his/her attendance ratio, behaviors note and his/her grade.  If ever you have a hard time remembering your students’ name, you can take a picture of them for attendance purposes.class

 

 

 

 

ATTENDANCE
It is easy to take attendance for every period. Just select “Attend all” and then click on students who are absent. You can also know how many times a student was absent during the year, or if, for example, he/she attended the third-class activity. An exclamation mark appears near their name when students miss classes.

BEHAVIOR
In this section, you can add notes about each student’s behavior with the date. A number appears by the student’s picture when bad comments are recorded. The number corresponds to the number of bad behaviors observed. This tool makes report cards easier to fill in, since all notes on students are kept in one tidy place.

grades1GRADEBOOK
Within the gradebook section, you can add all the tests you will give during the year. You also enter the properties of the test, and at the end, it calculates the total grade for you.  It also gives the letter (grade) associated with the final mark. You can also classify students’ grades by alphabetical order or by strength. The application even calculates the average for you

Something that is really nice is that you can export data from the application and send them by email so you can have access to it through other devices.  You can also send private messages to parents about their children’s behavior or grades or to the student themselves to remind them of incoming event, assignment, etc.

Many teachers around the world use and appreciate TeacherKit to follow their class progression. If ever you have a hard time using it for the first time, you can take a look at this tutorial.

Duolingo for teaching purpose

 duolingo2

Duolingo is a very interesting application for second language learners. It is accessible to a large number of people since it is free of charge and it can be used on a mobile device as well as on a computer. Also, the interface is in the mother tongue to help learners understand. French native speakers can only learn English with Duolingo. However a Spanish option is coming soon. For students who already speak English, Duolingo offers to learn second languages like Spanish, French, Italian, German and Portuguese.  The English learning option is also offered for learners who speak Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Turkish and more. I personally tried the web site and the application. Both are well constructed and easy to follow. Students complete units according to their level in the second language. Within each unit, they have to translate, associate pictures with words, write what they hear and also pronounce (when their microphone works and when they can use it).

duolingo1
Researches proved that learning a second language with Duolingo is effective.  It is even more effective for students without any previous knowledge of the second language.

I believe that Duolingo would be a nice tool to use in an English as a second language classroom. It would have to be considered as a plus for the class or enrichment for students who need or want to practice their English. I think so because there is no teaching on Duolingo. Also, just as an example, during the first Duolingo unit, we have to figure out on our own that the third person singular of the simple present takes an “s”. If units are about subjects seen in class, students already know that they need to add an “s” to the verb, thus getting the knowledge before making the mistake. If students rely solely on Duolingo, they have to take the initiative of going on another site/resource in order to have the complete information about why is the answer correct or not.

However, I don’t think it could be used in a school context. It would have to be for independent adult classrooms. First, the interface is a little childish so most teenagers would, most likely, not like it. Moreover, it cannot be used for elementary students since, if they do not write the answer correctly in French (the first language) when asked for a French translation, the answer is not good. Since they have just started writing in French, mistakes are bound to happen. I think they should not be penalized in their English learning process for their difficulties in French. Duolingo will indeed help students practice their French writing skills by pointing out the wrong spelling, but the purpose of the application is to learn English.

Also, I do not recommend that students complete the “article” part of the application. This part consists in translating English article, poems, etc. into French. Duolingo uses English learners to translate web pages for other companies. Indeed, “ Duolingo already makes money rather cleverly – by pooling its students to do translation exercises that another company is actually paying for.