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”

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”

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”

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”

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)”

Integrating technology in the classroom Wish List

We’re constantly trying to think  of meaningful ways to integrate technology into our classroom. We’re doing some of these things in one form or another (i.e. class blogs and student wikis), but we’re always trying to improve our practice. Here’s our wish list for things to experiment with over the next few years. 

Are you doing any of the following things in your classroom? What were your experiences? Would you do it again? Continue reading “Integrating technology in the classroom Wish List”

Technology Projects for the Classroom

Tomorrow is the last day of school before the Winter Holiday Break. So, ofcourse we’re eagerly awaiting our two weeks off so that we can play on the computer more and work on some side projects.

(On a side note, one of our students did an incredible job on her student wiki, updating her KWL chart for our Integers units at midnight. Another one of our students is hacking a remote control to make an infra-red pen to use with a wiimote smartboard. So, I don’t think I’ll be the only one playing on the computer this holiday…)

Google implements a philosophy based on the 20/80 principle: 80% of your success is created by 20% of your effort. (Or, conversely, 80% of your time only produces 20% of your results.)

Alex K, a Technical Soluions Engineer over at Google talks about the “20 percent time” in action: “The 20 percent time is a well-known part of our philosophy here, enabling engineers to spend one day a week working on projects that aren’t necessarily in our job descriptions”

This holiday break, we’re looking forward to focusing on some “20 percent time” projects that aren’t “necessarily in our job descriptions,” but will hopefully lead towards some fruitful results that aid our teaching practice. Here are some of the projects we’re looking forward to experimenting with: Continue reading “Technology Projects for the Classroom”