April 2nd


SpeekPeek


SpeakPeek is a very original online portal that allows ESL teachers to create interactive speaking and listening exercises for students to complete and submit on the same portal. Using a microphone, students record themselves doing the speaking exercises, and their results are saved on the site for teachers to listen to and grade. Teachers have the opportunity record “solutions” to the exercise in their own voice, and they can provide personalized feedback individually to student for each exercise.

As explained on the official website, it’s very simple to use. First, you create your speaking activity. Second, your students record their answers. The final step if for teachers to listen to their students and grade them.

peek

Advantages

I found a nice blog , written by an EFL teacher, discussing the use of Speech Peek. The author list a variety of advantages I definitely agree with.

1. It is a great way to create digital assignments that can be accessed anywhere.

2.The students receive personalized feedback online.

3. It is a great way for students to practice speaking and listening.

4. The lesson can be as precise as the teacher wants.

5. The students are able to record and listen to themselves, making changes and monitoring their own production in order to improve pronunciation.

6. Teachers can provide recordings of their own voice.

Disadvantages

In order to complete the tasks, students have to have access to a computer with a microphone at home, which might not be the case for everybody.

Pedagogical aspects

Speech Peek, in my opinion, is a great tool for ESL teachers. This kind of tools is very interesting, both for the teacher and the students. The fact that it is a speaking practice tool is very engaging and amusing for students. I believe this tool could be a good motivator for students who are a little bit more sky that others to speak since only the teacher can hear them do their exercises.

Furthermore, it is much more original and alluring for students than typical written exercises as homework.

I conclude that this is a great tool that teachers should use, but only if all their students have a computer and a microphone to work with at home. There are many advantages to this tool, and it is very unusual and stimulating for both teachers and students.

March 26th


Quill.org


Quill.org is an  interactive grammar tool. This is a lesson based,or exercised based website. This is used by teachers to teach grammar lesson by lesson or by whole units. They can assign the lessons to individual students or to whole classes. Each lesson begins with an introduction and diagnostic paragraph for students to read, proofread, and rewrite. As explained on this website, the writing and the editing is done directly within the interactive tool. Within the lessons, students read sentences and correct them by typing an edited version. It looks like this:

quill

Advantages

I agree with Amy Lauren B. a teacher who wrote a critique about Quill.org. She states that “learning grammar and writing skills in an authentic context reinforces learning and helps foster transfer”. As a future second language teacher, I believe that grammar learning should be acquired in the most accurate and realistic situations. Furthermore, real time feedback is an aspect of this tool that I really like.

Disadvantages

With regards with the disadvantages, I, once again,  agree with Amy Lauren B. She states that it would be better if explanations were not hidden until after answers are corrected by students. This would help them with errors which they have no clue what’s wrong with.

Pedagogical aspects

This website is helpful for teacher because it gives access to precise, targeted grammar lessons that teachers would have to create otherwise.  Indeed, lessons are adaptive; students get immediate, instructive feedback as they progress. Since the grammar lessons are adapted from grade 1 to 8 second language teachers can target the grammar level their students is at.  The color code is easy to distinct for teachers.  This code is: green for mastery, yellow for difficulty, and red for review needed. A negative aspect of this tool would be the students’ motivation. Like Jessica L. explains in her critique, since students have to rewrite the whole sentence, it demotivates them.

As a conclusion, I would recommend this grammar tool, but to be used with moderation. I don’t think that this tool can replace grammar lessons or a grammar book entirely.

March 19th


SuperTeacherTools.net


SuperTeacherTools.net is a fantastic classroom management website. As a future English teacher, I find this website to be very easy to use and very helpful.

The first step is to create a group by creating a user name (your e-mail address) and choosing a password. The second, and last step, is to create a class. When I tried this tool, I named my first class Group 1A. After naming your class, you write your students’ names where asked, and that’s it! When you class is created, you have the choice to use three different tools. The Seating Chart Maker, the Random Name Generator and the Group Maker.

The Seating Chart Maker is a tool to make a classroom plan with the assigned desks. You can add desks, change the shape of the class, have the tool place your students in alphabetical order or in random order. I named my students a, b, c, d, f, g etc. and choose to have them seated in alphabetical order. The Seating Chart Maker created a classroom plan that looks like this:

seating

I find this tool very useful for teachers. It helps the making of the class plan. It is simpler and easier to do and you don’t waste time drawing a plan or trying to put your students in alphabetical order all by yourself. Mandy Mackin explored these tools and did a nice review on her blog. I do agree with her that the Seating Chart Maker could be more complete and that some of the manipulation could be more elaborate.

After, I tried the Random Name Generator. This is a tool that generates random names from you classroom list. It looks like this:

generator

And when you press on NEXT, the generator randomly chooses a name. It looks like this:

name

The lucky student is student “h”. You can continue generating random names by pressing NEXT again. I find this tool very useful for giving out prizes. Instead of writing the names of your students on little papers and drawing a name from a box or a hat, you only have to press NEXT! What a time saver.

The last tool offered on this website is, in my opinion, the most useful one. This tool is the Group Maker. This tool created random teams and looks like this:

groupmaker

You can choose to form your groups by the number of students you want in each groups or by the number of groups you want in total. I choose to have groups of four students. The Group Maker tool created groups like this:

groups

I find this tool to be very interesting for many reasons.

The most important one, in my opinion, is the pedagogical aspect behind it. This tool is quite useful for teachers who use cooperative learning groups and do cooperative learning activities. The use of random teams has its advantages. Kagan, the co-author of the book Cooperating Learning, states that random cooperative teams brings : Fairness, novelty, variety, fun and that they are quick and easy to form.

As a future ESL teacher, I will certainly use cooperative learning teams, and this tool will be handy for team formation.

In conclusion, I recommend the use of these three tools: The Seating Chart Maker, the Random Name Generator and the Group Maker because it makes life easier for teachers.

Anne-Marie Garneau-Beaudoin

Future ESL teacher

February 26th


Citelighter – Say goodbye to note cards: Research and citations made easy for students.


Citelighter is a tool for students to use when doing research and composing research paper or essays. This interesting tool works like a toolbar attached to the web browser of your choice, from a computer or on a phone. Its functioning is very simple. Students find an article or a text on the Internet, and when they find a quote or a paragraph they find interesting, they use the toolbar to highlight the said part. This tool keeps the citation or paragraph highlighted in memory and automatically creates a bibliography. In addition, students can writes note that are linked with the excerpts they want  to keep. This toolbar also permits students to export their work to Google Drive, Words or an E-Mail address. In addition, there are  tutorials offered to help students with difficulty.

I find this tool absolutely amazing. As a future ESL teacher, I will have students write papers and essays with multiple sources. I think this tool can help reduce plagiarism in a significant way. Since the tool automatically creates a bibliography, there are no more excuses for un cited excerpts or citations.

Furthermore, I believe this tool can really help students do their work effectively. This tool keeps them organized without any effort. I know I will have to deal with students that are unorganized and that some of them might tell me: I lost my page, I don’t remember where I took this quote, I don’t remember from which text this excerpt comes from, etc. Using this tool, their work is organized and saved for them.

Amy Lauren B., a teacher that did a review and a critic of this tool, says that “the automatically compiled bibliography may encourage student passivity rather than inquiry into the why of the citation process”.  I do not agree with her. I believe this tool, unlike what she states, can actually help students develop a habit in writing their sources and being organized in their research and note-taking process. However, I totally agree with Yuliana Bagan, who says in her review that this tool has many advantages.

In conclusion, I recommend this tools for ESL teachers as well as other teachers for all the advantages this tool offers to students. This tool makes it easier for students doing efficient research, and therefore helps them being efficient in their writing process.

Anne-Marie Garneau-Beaudoin

Future ESL teacher

February 12th


The use of social Medias by teachers – Facebook


Facebook can be a very useful pedagogical tool for ESL teachers and teachers in general. One of the most significant advantage to use Facebook as a teacher is the increase of engagement from students. Studies have shown that the use of Facebook in classrooms encourages students to participate and that the use of Facebook can give them the sens of belonging to a group. This membership feeling is motivating for students. Also there is a relational aspect of using Facebook in classrooms. The casual interaction outside the classroom context has a positive influence on how students perceive their teacher.

Another advantage of using Facebook, specifically for ESL teachers, is that this platform is a perfect way to get in contact with native speakers of the target language. There are open groups like: The English Community or the Club Español de Québec (for Spanish teachers) where it is easy to have access to native speakers of any languages.

It is important to know that using Facebook in education can have positive points, like mentioned above, but also negative ones. While using social Medias in a classroom, teachers have to be aware of the consequences it can have if they are not fully informed of how to properly use it.

After doing some reading on the subject, I will now suggest what to do ,and of course, what not to do while using Facebook as a pedagogical tool.

The first advice I’d like to give to teachers and future teachers on how to use Facebook is to decide of a line, a limit, which you will respect. In my opinion, teachers should not use their personal Facebook page for educational purposes. If you want to use Facebook as a school platform, put resources on it or sent messages to your students via messenger, I believe the best way to do it is to create a “school profile” or “class private group” that has absolutely no link with your personal profile. Doing so, you keep your personal information inaccessible for students to read or see.

The second advice I’d like to give to teachers and future teachers is: do not add your students as friends in your personal account. Even if those students are now out of school. If you want to keep in touch with you former students, there is plenty of way to do so without using Facebook. And this applies to student’s parents too.

Having students or parents of students have access to your personal account can lead to some disastrous consequences if you don’t closely watch what you put on your Facebook. There have been many cases where teachers have been laid off for status, photos or videos posted on their personal account. Even though students and parents don’t have access to your profile, remember that you are a professional working in the public area. Things can be wrongly understood and lead to your boss firing you because of that. Something you might find “appropriate on Facebook” might not seem appropriate for your employer.

Only one little angry stream of your thoughts put on Facebook can ruin your career.

My third advice is to, please, use your judgment. You have a brain, USE IT!

You should ABSOLUTELY NOT write anything on your students, their parents, or your classroom on your personal profile. Anything that is linked the following subjects should also not be discussed on your Facebook profile if you are, or will be, a teacher. These subjects can lead to misunderstanding from the reader or “un politically correct” statements made out of anger or sadness from you.

  • Religion/ religious issues
  • Racial issues
  • Sexual orientation/ LGTB issues
  • Political opinions/ issues

If you still want to be friend with your students, here are some tips on how to do it safely as possible.

Anne-Marie Garneau-Beaudoin

Future ESL teacher

February 5th


The use of interactive board in ESL classrooms


Technology used in classrooms increase every year. A type of technology that is more and more present at every level of education is interactive white board. I’d like to share my findings and opinions about that.

As a future second language teacher, I have to ask myself if I should use this technology or not. In my opinion, every teacher that has access to this type of tool MUST take advantage of it.

First of all, interactive boards are equipped to make teaching easier and faster, and they can adapt to most of the teaching disciplines, from English to Chemistry.

Second of all, it does not only make life easier for teachers, but it also benefits a lot to the students. Dr Mary Ann Bell, in her article, explains that the overall concept of an interactive board is very appealing for the younger generation of students, from kindergarten to advanced studies. I could not agree more with her. Because they are born in an era of technology, it captivates them way more than a simple Power Point that teachers show sit at their desk. The interactive board is a tool that teachers use standing up, moving around the screen and gesticulating. Students follow what the teacher says and does much more than when they are listening to a traditional lecture. Younger children (as well as older ones) have fun doing activities on interactive boards.

I will explain some functions of the interactive boards in regards to the pedagogical aspect. I will focus on the Smart board, since its the one I used the most.

First, time management. There is a chronometer that you can put on your slides and use as you wish. Is is not only useful the teachers to manage their time, but also for students who have to complete a task in a given period of time. Having a chronometer on the board that rings when the time is up helps them manage their time and grabs their attention at the end of the task without the teacher having to say anything.

Second, as an ESL teacher, the Smart board has multiple tools that give dynamic to vocabulary learning of a second language.  One I find very interesting and fun is The Morning Calender. This tool is an interactive and colorful way of teaching vocabulary about basic calendar information,  weather, attendance, as well as number words and shape recognition.

Interactive boards are fantastic in classrooms, but, on the other hand, it all sounds like fun and games until you have to master the thing. Different brands of interactive boards can be simpler than others, but they can also be difficult to master for teachers. If teachers want to be efficient and competent whit interactive boards, they need practice. From my personal experience whit the Activboard and the Smart board, mastering the basics is easy, but more complex or advanced options may need hours to fully master. While doing an activity with your students, using interactive boards, teachers have to know what they are doing. This way, it goes fast and smoothly.

This is an example among others of what insufficient training can lead to.

I had a teacher in college that, at the beginning of the year, changed our local so that he could have access to an interactive board. We were all excited about discovering this new technology until he started using it. Most of the time he used it, it was a disaster. It was long and painful to watch as a student. Many times it took 15 minutes only to access the activity he wanted to correct. Or, in the middle of the correction, he changed pages and the answers he was writing were now somewhere else, lost in space.

This anecdote is an advice to anyone who wants to use this technology in classrooms. Please, practice, practice, practice, and test your material before the beginning of the class! You will avoid losing precious time and avoid laborious attempts in fixing your mistakes.

This small article, written by Professor Ashley Yarbrough, resumes in a clear way the general advantages and disadvantages of interactive white boards.

Anne-Marie Garneau-Beaudoin

Future ESL teacher

January 29th


Integration of a website or an educational content management system into teaching practices – my findings and opinions


The purpose of this particular article will be to present my findings and opinions about the integration of websites or educational content management systems (CMS) into my future teaching practices. Educational content management systems can take many different forms and have many different uses in a classroom. A CMS is a software program such as WebCT, Blackboard, or Moodle where student learning is delivered online.

The CMS I chose to test is Moodle (Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment). Moodle is an enormously versatile system for course and learning management. I experimented with the demo as a teacher (you can choose if you want to do the demo as a teacher, a student or else). I found some advantages and some disadvantages for the use of Moodle in an ESL classroom.

The advantages

I find Moodle to be very useful. It is not only a course platform, where you provide learning resources like giving access documents from your class, but also a platform from which you can assess and evaluate your students by having them complete quizzes and see the results. You can also encourage collaboration by starting a forum or setting a workshop activity. Furthermore, you can communicate in many different ways. You can comment on the course page for students to see and send private messages to your fellow teachers, among others. Another beautiful thing about Moodle is that you can customize your page.  These are only a few examples of all the things you can do with Moodle.

As a future English teacher, I also focused on the pedagogical approach behind Moodle. Moodle is a system where the teacher AND the students are contributing to the learning experience. It’s like a small learning community of students with the teacher. I really like this concept of give and take from both the students and the teacher.

Moodle is also a great platform for maximizing the use of the target language (English in my case). As a future ESL teacher, I find interesting that students can participate in a forum and ask questions to the teacher or to other students (in English of course). The communicative aspect is nice for ESL classrooms.

What kept my attention too was the quizzes and grades system. I have not had the chance to built my own quiz since the demo version is only accessible for a short period of time, but what I have seen of this use of Moodle seems quite complete. Not only can you build your own tests (which your students complete on their computers), Moodle corrects it for you and shows you detailed grades on you teacher page. This is a great tool for an ESL teacher and teachers in general.

 The disadvantages

Even though Moodle seems awesome, there is a major problem with it. Many teachers that use Moodle have came with the same conclusion. Moodle works well, but only with small groups. Here’s an example from this blog: having a big group tacking the same quiz at the same time can cause bogs and troubles.

Reading this article written by a systems developer, I stepped on another disadvantage that I did not think about. We all assume that the new generation is well adapted to technologies and won’t have any difficulty using it, but what if you have students that are having a hard time with the CMS you are using?! That can be very demotivating for a student and even become a disadvantage for them , but also for the teacher. If your students are not able to find documents on the class Moodle or are not able to send a message in the forum because they are not familiar with the software program, everybody is back to square one.

In conclusion, there are great advantages to use Moodle, but also many disadvantages. In my opinion of future ESL teacher, the pedagogical approach behind Moodle is very appealing, but the technical aspect is scary for someone who is not that good with this type of technology.

 Anne-Marie Garneau-Beaudoin

Future ESL teacher