Monthly Archives: March 2013

Cable Television for Students

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Since a couple of years, the use of technologies in classroom has been more and more common place. People are getting used to see teachers using computers, Internet, Smart Boards and other types of devices to catch the interest of their students, but few think of cable television as an educational device!

Basically, including cable television in classrooms is something pretty easy, the only thing the schools or school boards have to do is to subscribe to a cable company such as Videotron or Bell in Quebec and install the cables or decoders in the classes and plug them to the existing of newly bought televisions. Not something really complicated! In addition, like mentioned in eric digests blog, many cable companies and television companies have made commercial-free television programming available to the schools and at real low prices or even free.

The advantages of incorporating live TV programs in the classrooms are numerous, the list goes from catching the attention of the most difficult or troubled students to giving extra activities or listening to the better ones including the opportunity to give fun reward activities to the students when they deserve it. All those advantages, listed on media room, can have major benefits on the classroom dynamic, can interest students to the content of the lessons and can also give good and actual supports to the teachers. With access to live information, actual programs and content-based documentaries, ESL teachers and all other teachers can make sure that their students feel connected to what they are learning. Cable TV can be used to give a concrete support to abstract subjects which can help students understand what the teacher is saying. For example, if a science teacher is talking about animals at their natural state, it is much more powerful to show a National Geographic documentary than just give them sheets that explain how animals behave in nature. Of course, this could also be possible with only a television and a DVD, but with cable television, the content shown to the students is more actual and can be directly related to the students’ lives and what they really enjoy watching.

In my opinion, equipping our classrooms with cable TV only has benefits. The teacher has a full control over the content, he can decide when it is adequate to listen to a certain program and what type of program to watch. He can also support his lesson by using any shows or any educational channels. Moreover, a teacher can also catch his students interest by asking them what are the shows or programs they like to watch and he can use those shows to reward the students. This way of working can, in a way, give the chance to the students to choose the content of their courses and it can motivate them to work well and avoid off-tasking, in order to have the right to watch their favorite TV program.

I remember when I was in my ESL classes when I was younger and the moments I enjoyed the most were the ones where we could watch movies or TV programs in English. If my teacher could have used cable television back at that time, she could have integrated the TV shows the weak students enjoyed and it would have been easier than having to rent them of find them on the Internet and doing so, my teacher could have reached a bigger percentage of students’ interests.

In summary, like stated in cic online, one company dedicated to educational broadcasting, cable television in classrooms can bring extra information and educational content to the teachers which could not have been possible in traditional classes and this is why I believe that it would be great to include this technology in our schools.

Can Laptops Be Beneficial In Our Classrooms?

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When I think of laptops in classrooms like mentioned in Nicole Glass‘s article, the first things that come to my mind are Facebook, Twitter and all those distracting websites!

It is true that when students have access to computers and laptops during their classes, they are often tended to do anything but listen to the teacher, but used in supervised and controlled contexts, laptops can represent great tools for students, but also for teachers!

In traditional classrooms, all the students are sitting at their desk, listening to the teacher (hopefully), taking notes on sheets of paper, reading books and doing worksheets. All those tasks seem a little bit boring and absolutely not adapted to the 21st century students. But how to integrate technologies and technological ways to teach without simply giving a disturbing device to the students? Using controlled laptops!!

The use of laptops in classrooms is something pretty new in schools and is still debated. According to some people, the use of those devices can only disturb the students and impede their learning, but for others, like me, they represent a great way to educate students on the proper use of technologies in their lives, but also a good way to interest a larger amount of students, mostly the ones that tend to drop off school.

Like mentioned on cbc news, the use of ”laptops make[s] learning more interactive and effective.” Indeed, with laptops in classrooms, students can have direct access to an infinite amount of information from all around the world, they can also express themselves on blogs, they can increase their creativity by creating original websites, and the teachers can give students online activities which are much more interactive than regular worksheets. Laptops can also give a sense of responsibility to the students and help them become more mature. Briefly, laptops in classrooms can represent a lot time saved, they can help student express themselves in any language, their first or their second or third one, it can help them improve their creativity, their sense of responsibility and also help them know how to cleverly use all the technological devices that surround them in today’s world. In addition, like mentioned in laptops school classes scores article, laptops can also have major benefits on the students’ results at school and can decrease the percentage of school drop offs.

According to me, all those advantages make the use of laptops in classrooms, something to encourage as much as possible.

However, it is important to keep in mind, that even if they are great educative tools, they can also represent one of the biggest distractions for students. To counter this point, many tools are available for the teachers. The school can restrict the access to internet by blocking certain sites such as Facebook, Twitter and etc. and teachers must supervise thoroughly their students’ screens.

To conclude, I would say that, contrary to what I thought at the beginning, laptops in classrooms, when well supervised, can have major benefits on students’ learning and can also help them getting more responsible and aware of the possible dangers linked to technologies and this is why I believe that they should be used to a certain extent in today’s classrooms. Maybe not all the time, but in certain periods of the day, on a regular basis.

Twitterature or not Twitterature? That Is the Question!

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First of all, for those of you who are not familiar with Twitter, here are the major lines of its uses and purpose.

According to Daniel Nations in his article what is twitter, Twitter is, “in essence, micro-blogging is for people who want a blog but don’t want to blog.”  Twitter is a way to shortly express yourself (140 characters or less), to get news from your relatives, but also from people from all around the world. It can also be used in order to stay informed of the latest news in politics, science, show business and so forth. In short and in my opinion, Twitter is a mix between Facebook and the old MSN messenger.

Now that the bases of Twitter have been stated, let’s take a look at what is Twitterature!

For most people, literature can sometimes be complex to read and understand and it is perfectly normal! Not everybody is a Nathaniel Hawthorne of a William Shakespeare! In order to counter this problem, some people have decided to create short, odd and personal interpretations of the world’s greatest literature works on Twitter. Twitterature is to write something like a short summary (often less than 20 Tweets) of a classical work just as Hamlet, Harry Potter or the Da Vinci Code in a way that makes the work as close as possible to the 21st century world. Actually, “in a curious way, Twitterature is just as much a celebration of the classics as it is a mockery of them.”  twitterature

Here’s an example of Twitterature:

Harry Potter (1–7) by J. K. Rowling

@NotoriousHPHello everyone from under the stairs! Aunt and Uncle threw me under here again. Gosh, life is so hard.That fat fuck Dudley stole all my food! I wish something good or at least interesting would happen to me.

OMG I’m a WIZARD! And my parents are DEAD WIZARDS! Off to magic boarding school. PEACE BITCHES!

OMG Hogwarts OMG I have two friends OMG magic OMG the Slytherins are Nazis OMG there is an EVIL WIZARD out to get me.

Snape a douche! Dumbledore a wise man (but maybe gay?). Voldemort tried to kill me! Flying broomstick! Battle over magic crack-rock!

OMG the year’s over. Time goes fast when you’re having fun. Goes slow if you have to read seven books with lots of adverbs.

Back to school! Should be a great year! I hope nothing crazy happens like last time.

No! Voledemort is trying to wreck my shit up AGAIN!! I am TIRED of these MOTHERFUCKING SNAKES IN THIS MOTHERFUCKING CASTLE!

Back to school AGAIN! This year definitely better! A dude who tried to kill me turned out OK. Sometimes misunderstandings happen. LOL.

Oh man, big tournament at my school this year!! PSYCHED! I hope nobody dies this year, and every year as if by clockwork.

Competing in a tournament. Also: is it just me, or should they really have a tougher vetting process for Dark Arts teachers?

OMFG VOLDEMORT AGAIN. Don’t worry, I have the hang of this by now. Plus there’s a secret society out to protect me. Give up already LV.

I AM UNDERGOING A LOT OF ANGST RIGHT NOW. And this Asian girl is giving me a major hard-on. Blue balls suck. No magic potion for it either.

Don’t believe anyone who says Voldemort isn’t back AGAIN. I KNOW WHAT I SAW!

Big brawl at Ministry of Magic! Sirius is dead. Super-pissed. I just used the torture spell, didn’t I? I’m going to Azkaban now, aren’t I?

Back to school again! Boy, everything better go well this year or I’m going to eat a wand.

Hey! My friend’s sister is totally hot for me. Feels a bit dirty, but yeah baby, you like my scar, don’t you? Wanna see my wand?

SNAPE KILLED DUMBLEDORE WTF WTF WTF WTF WTF? THIS IS LIKE THE BIGGEST CLIFFHANGER EVER!!!

Sometimes this guy, Tom, keeps showing up. I don’t want him around but I don’t have the heart to tell him, because he killed my parents.

NM last tweet. Killed him. Something about a prophecy. Who cares? Last seven years have felt like same one, over and over.

http://www.twitterature.us/us/ex.htm

As you can see, the author of this Twitterature summarized in less than 500 words J. K. Rowling’s seven Harry Potter books! Okay, it’s not an exhaustive, true or 100% respectful summary, but you have to admit, for those of you who have read the books, that it kind of gives the major lines of the J. K. Rowling’s work and in a much more funny way!

I believe that this example explained pretty well what compose pieces of Twitterature, but now, we must take a look at its possible use in our classrooms!

Would it be justified to make students write or even read those shorter versions of literature?

Can Twitterature be seen as real literature?

Wouldn’t Twitterature lower the students’ abilities to read and analyse correctly literature?

In my opinion, great famous pieces of literature have more than lose their attraction in high school classrooms. Students are not interested in reading complex books that have been written five hundred years ago! Students want to feel concerned about what they read, they want to feel connected to the story. How can you feel related to books that talk about wooing ladies by reciting them poems at the bottom of their windows with a violin and thousands of roses! Nobody does that anymore, everybody knows that you text the person you want to date, period and end!

Literature needs to modify itself to the 21st century constraint and that’s the reason why I believe that Twitterature has more than its place in today’s classrooms. Let’s say that secondary five students are asked to read Shakespeare’s  A Midsummer Night’s Dream and have to write an analysis of the story, wouldn’t be easier for them to understand the story if they can have access to other people’s summary? I believe so!

In addition of giving extra information about literature pieces, Twitterature can also be used in writing assignments. Indeed, let’s say that secondary five students are reading The Scarlet Letter in their literature class. Their teacher asks them to write a summary of the story in less than 500 words. What do you think is going to interest them more, writing an essay on a sheet of paper or an interactive summary on Twitter? It’s clear to me that the Twitter assignment wins!

Of course Twitterature permits more dereliction than traditional writing assignments, but well supervised by teachers, it can represent a great way to interest teenagers to literature, don’t you believe?

Let’s Tweet about it!