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”

Still using WordPress for our Classroom Website

We’re just creating our new classroom website for the 2009-2010 year. We had it up and running in about 15 minutes by setting up WordPress 2.8.4 (3 minutes to create the site; 12 minutes to cut and paste the content from our Meet the Teacher newsletter.)

Continue reading “Still using WordPress for our Classroom Website”

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”

Hide Google Ads based on Geographic Location (Country or City)

We’re thinking about starting an entrepreneurial (Make Money Online) extra-curricular computer club at school: applying critical reading, writing and thinking skills while trying our hand at online fundraising for our school. 

We’ll probably start with making niche-websites that are monetized by contextual ads (i.e. Google Adsense). Google has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to click fraud (i.e. clicking on your own ads.) And while making money online ethically will be the corner-stone of our club, it’s hard to believe that students won’t be tempted to click on the ads on their own at home. 

So, we need a way to hide the google ads from showing up to students in our city so they can’t click on their own ads, but still show google ads to the rest of the world.

Continue reading “Hide Google Ads based on Geographic Location (Country or City)”

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)”

WordPress Plugins we use on our School Website

We haven’t posted recently because we’ve been busy experimenting with educational technology for the classroom, instead of simply writing about it.

It turns out that one of our colleagues has a kindergarten student who has his own free blog. Apparently, he reports on the classroom activities and uses exclamation marks quite liberally in his writing.

So, to honour the future bloggers of the world, we decided to do a quick post showcasing WordPress plugins that we use on our school website and classroom homework website.

(We run our classroom and school website using free WordPress software on our own self-hosted blog. What gives us the edge over someone who only has a free blog account is that when you run the WordPress software on your own computers, you have complete control over which plugins or themes you install, essentially making your classroom website infinetely expandable and customizable.)

Continue reading “WordPress Plugins we use on our School Website”

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”

How to Hide Unmoderated Comments from Students in WordPress

Many teachers are blogging in the classroom. It’s authentic writing that hooks struggling readers and writers, especially boys.

However, there is one huge flaw with using WordPress or Edublogs in the classroom. Students can read unmoderated comments when they are logged into the edublog or class blog before the comments get moderated and published online. They can’t edit the comments, but they can still read them.

What does this mean? Continue reading “How to Hide Unmoderated Comments from Students in WordPress”