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”

Twitter in the Classroom

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

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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: 

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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)”

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”

Use Technology to Engage Boys in Reading and Writing

“Educators and parents may have been too quick to dismiss boys’ preoccupation with computers as a diversion from their own book-based literacy, not recognizing the computer’s capacity to empower users to gain access to, and control of, information. It is imperative that educators and parents be aware of the impact of the multimedia world, and understand the positive ways in which these new languages and cultures can be harnessed as adjuncts to book-based literacy.” (Millard, 1997, p. 46)

“Boys thrive on the visual language of television, cartoons, and video games… Researchers suggest that boys respond so positively to images because boys are more oriented to visual/spatial learning. As a result, visual images “accelerate” boys’ learning” (Daly, 2002, p. 16).

The use of technology is often advocated as a way to engage boys and close the gender literacy gap. (OMOE, 2004, pg 40):  smart boards, blogging, wikispaces, literacy software. Continue reading “Use Technology to Engage Boys in Reading and Writing”

Dynamic Visual Brainstorming Software – PreWriting, Brainstorming, Organizing and Outlining Ideas with a Computer

So, we’ve decided to write a book. A small summer project to warm-up with before heading back into the classroom in September. Of course, this is a great opportunity to try out some visual thinking software to help us with our prewriting.

We have a huge list of software and educational technologies that we wanted to check out for the new school year. Aside from drooling over a SMART Board and using digital ink in our classroom, one of the items on our wish list is to check out some dynamic graphic organizer software.

Inspiration Software is an American company that specializes in visual thinking and learning tools. Their product, Inspiration 8, is a great tool for Prewriting – you can brainstorm, organize, plan and create the outline for your next masterpiece. (You can also download a fully functioning, 30-day trial version of Inspiration 8 for free.) Continue reading “Dynamic Visual Brainstorming Software – PreWriting, Brainstorming, Organizing and Outlining Ideas with a Computer”

Education Technology for the Classroom: From Blackboards to Digital Projectors to SMART Boards

Even though it’s summer vacation in Ontario, we’re still thinking about ways to integrate technology into the classroom.

In fact, we’re considering investing in a SMART board, so we spent some time reflecting on the pros and cons of some of the educational technologies to help us teach in the classroom.  From low-tech to high-tech, chalk and markers to digital ink, there are many different options:

Continue reading “Education Technology for the Classroom: From Blackboards to Digital Projectors to SMART Boards”