Monthly Archives: February 2013

E-Readers in Our Classrooms? Why Not!

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In your opinion, are traditional textbooks outdated? Do you believe that they are slowly losing their place in today’s society? If so, you’ll probably be happy to learn that those old books are slowly being replaced by new and technological devices in our classrooms!

Since a couple of years, some schools all around the world have started to integrate what are called e-readers in their classrooms. This seems great! Technology in our classrooms, wonderful! But what really are e-readers? What are their functions or advantages?

Let’s take a look at all those points:

What is an e-book?

“An e-reader (electronic reader) is a device for reading content, such as e-books, newspapers and documents. A standalone e-reader typically has wireless connectivity for downloading content and conducting other Web-based tasks.” whatis

How can we use those devices in our classrooms?

In some school boards, like mentioned in lulu’s blog, e-readers and e-books are slowly replacing traditional books. Indeed, the schools are slowly buying e-readers and electronic versions of their books in order to have the latest books, the latest versions and the best material possible.  Those devices can represent a great amount of money saved for the school or the parents!

Another advantage of e-readers and e-books in class is that it allows teachers to publish content on them and then make it accessible to their students. In this particular case, the e-readers can resemble computers which is a good point because students all grew up with computers.

According to me, integrating e-readers in classrooms can be beneficial. It can give a sense of responsibility to the students. They can all download the content they want on their e-reader and then have access to much more information than if they were using traditional books.

In addition to giving a sense of responsibility to the students, e-readers can help students feel more connected to the subject they are working on in class.  It can improve the interest of the students and it can help classroom management by permitting to faster students to do extra activities while others are finishing the regular ones.

After having considered all those aspects, it seems to me that e-readers and e-books are great tools to integrate in classes. It can have benefits on the students, the teachers, the parents and the schools!

Interactive Whithe Board: A Genius Invention or Simply a Way to Save Ink in Our Pens?

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Interactive White Boards, does it ring a bell?

When you ask some older teachers, Interactive White Boards (IWBs) are waste of money, time and effort and don’t really worth using them. For younger or more open-minded ones, IWBs are revolutionizing how to teach.

Who to believe?

In my opinion, the IWB is one of the best inventions that teachers could have dreamed of. Teachers can use them to take notes and then make them available to their students, they can also use them to get their students involved in the classroom and they can also use them in order to create more dynamic courses. These are only a couple of examples of the IWBs, there are tons of others! According to me, those revolutionary boards are great tools that should be used as much as possible by the teachers. Of course, not all the teachers are able, or willing to incorporate the IWBs in their classroom, but if they were, the entire world of education would be changed!

Let’s take a look at the major benefits that can stem from Interactive White Boards!

First, like mentioned by Marysia Walcerz in her article “What Are the Benefits of an Interactive Whiteboard?“, IWBs are the perfect tools for teachers who tend to be last minute people. Indeed, let’s say for example, that you did have time to prepare extra activities for your 3rd period because you said to yourself: “Those kids are pretty slow, I won’t need any extra activity.” But then, surprisingly, the group does perfectly well that day… What are you going to do? Use your Interactive Withe Board! With this tool, in less then a minute you can have access to material to deepen your lesson, or simply to reward your students! Isn’t it wonderful!

Another important benefit of IBWs is, like stated in Thomas Radcliff’s blog “Top Benefits of Using an IWB in the Classroom“, the easiness of saving the content of your course (notes, discussion questions and answers, students’ projects, etc.) directly in you computer. Thanks to the Interactive white Boards, you can not only save the content of your course, but you can actually send it directly to the students or upload it on a platform where they can access it.  This can help teachers to save time because they don’t have to retype all their notes.

Those are, according to me, the two major advantages of the IWBs, but of course the list is much more extended. It goes from the simple integration of videos in the classroom to the complex creation of interactive mathematics shapes, formulas and so forth.

Here is an interesting website, topmarks, that can help teachers to integrate IWBs in their classroom. It suggests many activities classified according to the subjects the teachers are interested in.

After having considered all those benefits, it seems ridiculous to me not to promote the use of Interactive White Boards in our classrooms. In my opinion, IWBs only have advantages and represent a great manner to make sure that our classrooms are not completely off the track in what has to do with the complex and fast changing world of technologies.

It is clear to me that Interactive white Boards are not only a way to save the ink in our pens our the chalks in the classrooms, they are great tools to integrate in classes!

 

Issuu: Be Your Own Magazine Editor

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Most of the time, when students are asked to write texts about their interests, their feelings or simply things they relate to, they don’t really take it seriously because the task doesn’t seem to be concrete or real for them. Actually, for a majority of the students, a writing assignment at school is simply something obligatory to do in order to accumulate a certain amount of points to graduate. But what if they had the chance to customize their texts, to share them with the rest of the world and to receive feedback, comments and congratulations for their work? Wouldn’t this increase the effort they put in their work? I believe so! This opportunity has now been given to the students with issuu, a website designed to publish home-made magazines on each and every subjects.

This is a quick overview of what is Issuu.

Like mentioned in the video and on the8blog, Issuu is a platform that permits to everybody, to publish their own online magazines or journals. With this website, everyone can transform his personal works or researches into an international tools which can be consulted all over the world. Just like a blog would do, Issuu gives the opportunity to its members to express themselves  about whatever they want, from personal poetry to deep social researches for examples. The only major difference between a blog and Issuu is that with Issuu, your work can be customized into magazine-like online pages, which makes the whole process much more interesting for its user. The fact that Issuu is so creative and interactive is one of the reason that makes it a wonderful tool to use in today’s classroom. Indeed, with Issuu, a teacher can download his or her course plan and make it available for his or her students, but this site can also be used in all the student’s writing assessments! Think about all the possibilities!

Issuu gives the opportunity to the students to transform a boring  writing assignment into a creative process. They can write a Short Story magazine of their own, they can make different researches on sciences, literature and so on and publish it directly on the Internet in a way that makes their works available all around the world. Issuu also gives the opportunity to teachers and students to have access to works of their peers from everywhere in the world.

When I tried to make my own magazine, I realized that Issuu was, at first, a little complex. To register, the site asks to add friends on your account, which I found useless and against privacy, something that can cause a problem with students, but then I realized that I could skip this step, which solved my problems. With Issuu, people can simply upload their PDF files or create their own magazine with the website. This part is, in my sense, more useful in our classrooms. Another “problem” with Issuu, like mentioned in Devan Goldstein‘s blog, it that you Issuu magazine is not so easily accessible to the rest of the world. Other people, unless they have the complete link to your website, won’t be able to find your magazine by looking for it on Google, for example.

Here is a quick tutorial of how to publish with Issuu.

To conclude, I would say that Issuu can be a wonderful tool to use in classrooms. It can engage students in their assignments, involve them more in their creation processes, like mentioned on weebly, it can create a link between the classroom and the parents and finally, it can allow them to share their work which can give them the impression that they are doing something real and concrete, not only an assignment to graduate from high school. Used correctly, Issuu could completely transform writing homework!