Thursday, February 18, 2010

A site for elementary teachers

Guys, I've just found a great site called Poisson Rouge. I'm sure elementary teachers will profit from it. It's very visual and great to be used in the mimio. They offer over 200 games and interactive activities that include a vast array of topics, like music, numbers and art.
Interactive games include real world applications and everyday objects. By clicking on images, you are taken to a game or activity. By naturally exploring, children will learn to grow their minds and their creativity. For example, when you click on the clock, you are taken to a game where you can move the hands on the clock to match the correct digital time that is being displayed.
In the bottom right hand corner, you can see pictures of castles with a Greek Flag, an English flag, a French Flag and a Chinese Flag. These flags represent the languages that are used in a specific game. When you click on one of the castles another castle appears. By scrolling over areas of the castle, you can learn categories in these languages of different words like toys, animals and numbers.
Teachers can use this site to let their students simply explore. They can even create a scavenger hunt of their own list of items and have students try to find them. The simple activities are great enough on their own for vocabulary reinforcement and practice.
Because there is no main text on the site, creators decided to give parents and teachers who are preparing lesson plans a quick guide to all the games, activities and animations on the site.
With so many engaging activities and games, your students may get lost in this exciting site! I have to say that I did! Hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

PowerPoint X All the rest

It’s amazing all the effort we have been putting into adapting to the world of technology in the classroom. It seems that the need to naturally insert the computers and projectors in our lesson plans has fallen on top of us as an avalanche. Now we’re right in the middle of it and we are working hard to survive.
Many of my colleagues are investing time and money in this venture and Powerpoint is definitely the most popular topic in the conversations I could participate. The reasons for that are very easy to understand after observing a good lesson prepared in Powerpoint. The visual gain is enormous. We can organize the content better and it’s great to work with pictures, making flashcards obsolete. There are a lot of activities that can be developed using Powerpoint, and in that our friend Lilian Marchesoni is an expert. It’s really fun to play games and the animations make our presentations interesting. The ideas are many and knowing how helpful they are we share them with other teachers. Our wiki (CTJconnectED) is the place to share and explore them.
However, I can’t help thinking about all the doors that the computer-internet-classroom combination may open. We can bring the world into your classrooms and probably the only amazement will be our own. The internet is part of our students’ lives just as the television is. We should take advantage of this fact and foster the so desired language production and aquisition through this means, which is very natural to them. Wikis and blogs are two very powerful tools to create a link with the students, sometimes even with parents. Storytelling now is something much more stimulating and there are many sites that allow you to create your own multimedia stories. Pictures, songs, articles, they are all a few clicks away. And of course, we have to mention social networking. Visiting Orkut, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and others are part of the routine of most internet users.
I’m certainly a Powerpoint fan, but our students will benefit a lot if we use the internet as a production enviroment. The students will produce under our supervision. Besides the e-folder exercises that are meant to help our learners with reviewing the class content, we may encourage them to write blog posts, embed videos they create at the class’ wiki or blog, use their own pictures to tell a story or as a trigger to a discussion thread. Let’s remember that there is a huge number of online resources to use in class and many of them may be used by the students at home. Powerpoint is a great tool, but we’ll benefit a lot from learning how to apply those other online resources in our pedagogical practice. Some good online tools we can use are Voicethread for storytelling or anecdotes, wikis or blogs as a way of communication among students and teachers, You Tube and Flickr as source of images and videos, which we can embed in our wikis or blogs with just a few actions. Take some time to get to know them and in case of doubt talk to the EdTech team.