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”

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,, 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”

Twitter in the Classroom

twitterAt the end of June, our Grade 8 Language Arts (English) class experimented with using Twitter in the classroom.

Continue reading “Twitter in the Classroom”

Classroom Technology – Where does the funding come from?

Classroom technology is great… but where do we get the money to fund the educational technology? I would like to have a class set of laptops for my Grade 7 and 8 students to use: 

Continue reading “Classroom Technology – Where does the funding come from?”

Classroom Technology: Classroom Clickers (SMART Technologies’ Student Response System)

Classroom clickers are a piece of educational technology that allows you to get your students more involved. You put up a question on your computer and students use the classroom clickers to vote in their answers.

SMART technologies has a SMART Response student response system (formerly called Senteo) that has caught my attention.

I’ve heard people talking about clickers before, but it wasn’t until I visited Brian Aspinall’s website after he left a comment that I did some more research. Essentially you can post a question and have students click in their response using individual remote controls. You can set up questions using the SMART software (or Powerpoint, I believe.) Continue reading “Classroom Technology: Classroom Clickers (SMART Technologies’ Student Response System)”

Social Networking with Web 2.0

Our Google pagerank has dropped to a rank of two and we’re not sure why.

Pagerank is Google’s opinion of how important a website is. The higher the pagerank, the more important Google (and apparently the world) thinks you are, and the higher you show up in a search listing.

In a nutshell, Google is a popularity contest. The more websites that link to your website, the more popular you and the better your pagerank. If a cool kid (i.e. a popular website) links to your website, then their vote counts for more (after all, they’re cool), and your pagerank improves even more.

So we’ve decided to socialize. Continue reading “Social Networking with Web 2.0”

Use Google Translate to Help Parents Understand What is Going On

Consider your own experiences with communicating with parents about your reading program. What are the key barriers to parent involvement in your teaching situation?

Personally, I’m big on integrating technology into my classroom practice.

However, I think the greatest barrier to parent involvement is the language barrier. Continue reading “Use Google Translate to Help Parents Understand What is Going On”

WordPress Lessons

We’re in the process of finishing our first ebook on how to set up your school website or classroom blog using WordPress.

Originally, we wanted to include step-by-step instructions on how to install WordPress as well as how to use WordPress.

In the end, we decided to focus on providing step-by-step instructions on how to get a WordPress account in the ebook, but to publish the step-by-step instructions on how to use WordPress online. (That way teachers could just point their students to a specific webpage, instead of having to print out the lesson.)

Stay tuned as we start to add our WordPress lessons here for students from Gr 4-12.

Edublogs Scheduled Maintenance

We’re working on our free ebook with step-by-step instructions on how to set up a school website or classroom blog using WordPress, and hit a minor snag: Our account was down.

Not a big deal, but what if you were in the computer lab and wanted to get your students to comment on each other’s work? Things happen, but we started thinking – technical difficulties aside, which is better?

  • Running your school website off of a free WordPress service (like or
  • Or, running your school website off of your own webhost or school server?

You have more flexibility when you run your own self-hosted WordPress account, but you need the time and technical know-how to host and maintain your ste.

Running your class site off for free uing or is nice because another company is hosting your site and maintaining the WordPress engine, but nothing is truly for free. The services and features you have are limited and you end up with a watered-down version of WordPress.

Food for thought.