Your students are bored of PowerPoint. Switch to Prezi

Chances are, your students are tired of PowerPoint. It was catchy at first, but now your students are used to having lessons on the data projector.

They’ve seen bulleted lists fade in and out and they’ve watched slides go by one by one. PowerPoint doesn’t hook your students anymore. Been there, done that, and they’ve even written their own PowerPoints.

Prezi is the new PowerPoint.

If you haven’t used it before, then the flashy transitions will hook your kids. It’s cool.You know how you can zoom in and out of places in Google Earth – like you’re flying? Well, Prezi is a lot like that.

Instead of using slides, you have one big page that you spread your lesson over and then you zoom and twist around your page to focus on different ideas. check out the example Prezi by Paul Hill at the bottom of this page.

Here are some other great Prezis about making great Prezis:

After the initial wow factor fades away, Prezi is still a great teaching tool because you can jump around in your presentation instead of going slide by slide.

8 Reasons why you should switch to Prezi in the classroom Continue reading “Your students are bored of PowerPoint. Switch to Prezi”

How accurate is Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11? Using the Rainbow Passage to measure accuracy

We recently bought Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11 Premium. It’s hard not to got sucked in by their marketing.

Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11 claims on their box that you can just say words and watch them appear “three times faster than typing — with up to 99% recognition accuracy right out of the box.”

This caught our attention because we’re looking for authentic ways to bring technology into the classroom beyond interactive whiteboards and digital projectors:

  • As a teacher, Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11 could make you more efficient. For example, we type out a lot of student feedback and if we really could work three times faster, then it means that we could cut down the time it takes us to mark essays and assignments significantly.
  • If you’re a student, chances are you don’t type very quickly. If you have a learning disability, you might even have difficulty getting your ideas down on paper. The idea that you can simply speak out your ideas and the computer will capture them and type them out for you could be very useful for some people.
  • (Nuance does provide an academic discount on their Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11 Premium to qualified students and teachers. Make sure you read these 10 things to know before you buy the Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11 premium education version.)

But just how accurate is Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11? We’ve been using Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11 every day for the past 17 days.

Before we bought Dragon 11, we did a fair bit of research online. (Originally we bought the student/teacher version of Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11 premium. But, we returned that and eventually bought Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11 premium wireless because it comes bundled with a Bluetooth headset.)

Google brings up a lots of sites repeating this idea that with Dragon NaturallySpeaking (DNS), you can get up to 99% accuracy.

Now that we have Dragon NaturallySpeaking, we’re curious to see how accurate it really is for the average user.

  • Results: how accurate is Dragon NaturallySpeaking?
  • What did we learn from all of this? Continue reading “How accurate is Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11? Using the Rainbow Passage to measure accuracy”
  • 10 Things to Know Before You Buy Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium Student/Teacher Edition

    What’s the Difference between Dragon NaturallySpeaking Home and Premium (and Student) Editions? Click here for more info. 

    Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12.5 UPDATE


    Are you a student or teacher? Are you thinking about getting Dragon NaturallySpeaking? Did you know there’s a student/teacher version which is $100 cheaper than the regular premium edition?

    Here are 10 things to know before you buy Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium Student/Teacher:

    Continue reading “10 Things to Know Before You Buy Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium Student/Teacher Edition”

    Nuance (Dragon NaturallySpeaking) Gave Us a Full Refund

    We recently canceled our order for Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11 Wireless Teacher and Student Edition.

    Not because we don’t love Dragon 11 – we’re still cautiously optimistic and excited by the voice-recognition software. In fact, this post was written using Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11 Premium Wireless. (Jump to the bottom to see the accuracy rate.)

    No, we returned the Education Edition back to Nuance because we found a better deal at Staples in our hometown. When we wrote our initial review of Dragon 11, we were having some trouble with Nuance’s cancellation/return policy. We’re happy to report that we received a full refund from Nuance. Continue reading “Nuance (Dragon NaturallySpeaking) Gave Us a Full Refund”

    Using Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11 in the Classroom

    We just got Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11 Wireless Premium and we are cautiously optimistic. We’re trying to figure out whether speech recognition software can make us more efficient, as well as how good it would be in the classroom.

    Right now, this post is being written using Dragon and Internet Explorer. (I did have to use some keyboard clicking and mouse highlighting when I was editing.)

    I’m not sure if it’s easier to speak our ideas rather than typing this post, but that could be because we’re just starting out. Here are some of our first impressions. We’ll follow up with a second post in a month to see if our thoughts change after we become better acquainted with the program. Continue reading “Using Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11 in the Classroom”

    Using Clickers in the Classroom

    Our school is fortunate enough to have access to interactive whiteboards (SMARTboards), SMART airliner tablets, and a class set of clickers.

    If we were going to invest our own personal money into our classroom technology, we would definetely get a class set of clickers over the airliner tablet or interactive whiteboard. No contest. Here’s why.

    Continue reading “Using Clickers in the Classroom”

    Integrating Technology into your Language Arts Public Speaking Lesson

    We’ve been teaching our speech unit to Grade 7 and 8 students for several years, but this is the first year we’ve really had an opportunity to integrate different types of technologies into our English lesson.

    Let’s be honest. Most students hate doing speeches. They don’t like spending the time to write the speech, revise their work, or to present in front of their classmates who might bully them if they don’t pick a topic that’s popular, original, or cool.

    Having said that, overall, students (including lower-end students and disengaged boys) were more interested  in our unit because the technology hooked them in a meaningful way. (As opposed to technology for technology’s sake.)

    Here’s what we did:

    1. Prewriting: Using a class blog / website to generate ideas
    2. Prewriting: Using Mind Web software to help students brainstorm ideas for their speech
    3. Writing the speech: Using Google Docs to allow student revising / editing and feedback
    4. Practicing the Speech: Watching Examples of Greatness
    5. Practicing the Speech:  Online stopwatch
    6. Practicing the Speech: Video feedback
    7. Assessing the Speech: Peer feedback using clickers

    Continue reading “Integrating Technology into your Language Arts Public Speaking Lesson”

    Why we’re thinking about leaving Bluehost and finding a new home for our Classroom Blogs

    We run several classroom blogs and professional sites, including this blog on using educational technology in the classroom. Mostly we use WordPress, but lately we’ve been experimenting with bulleting boards (phpBB) for our online literature circles.

    You can only go so far with free accounts, whether they’re with Blogger, WordPress.com, Edublogs, or Wikispaces. Eventually, you want to be able to do more. That’s when we looked into setting up a self-hosted WordPress account and looked into finding a web host.

    Up until now, we’ve been quite happy with BlueHost. They use Simple Scripts to let you set up a variety of websites with the click of a button, including WordPress, phpBB, etc.

    So, what changed?

    Continue reading “Why we’re thinking about leaving Bluehost and finding a new home for our Classroom Blogs”

    Make Money Online in the Classroom

    If you’ve spent any time on the internet, you’ve already been indoctrinated into the world of Making Money Online. Just do a search using one of the big 3 search engines (Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft), and you’ll see ads beside your results.

    When we were growing up, we made money as teens by mowing the lawn, babysitting the neighbour’s kids, or having a paper route. As we got older, we started to get our first job: working at summer camp, a fast food joint or the local supermarket. Finally, we went to college or university to earn a degree and get a “real” job.

    So it can be hard for us to understand that kids want to (and can) make money online.

    Here are two things to think about:

    1. Make money online as a teacher to help offset the costs of your technology-integrated classroom.

    2. Explore the topic of Making money online with your students (either as a media literacy unit or as an extra-curricular club.)

    Continue reading “Make Money Online in the Classroom”