GG Surrender at 20, Who Fed Gragas

Using the Smartboard in classrooms, the smart way


I was in high school not so long ago. I was studying in the last year before the new educational reform in Québec arrived, and all we ever had in class for our use were old textbooks and dictionaries. Nowadays, however, technology has developed quite a lot, and teachers now have access to not only new textbooks that are up to date, but also a laptop for their use as well as a Smartboard. The project proposed by the government is one of the largest in North America in terms of implementation of ICTs in classrooms.

As a future teacher, the use of a thing such as a Smartboard in a classroom got me all excited, as you might imagine. I felt overjoyed the first time I used it in my first practicum. It was like giving a candy to a kid, or rather a toy. Not only that, but I am required to use it in order to help students learn. I can finally hope to give students what I wish I would have had as an education, that is the proper tools to encourage students to participate and interact in their English class, instead of mostly doing individual work. However, how can the Smartboard help me achieve that goal?

First of all, the Smartboard is cleaner than a regular board. Have you ever felt frustrated when the teacher erased the board, but missed a little spot? Or when he used and erased the board so often that you can’t see clearly what he’s writing anymore. Or maybe he just couldn’t find a chalk to write on the board. Well, that problem is completely solved with the Smartboard. No need for chalk or even an eraser. Want to clean everything at once?  Create a new page. You want to go back to what you just said but you changed the page? Go back to your old page. No need to erase, you can just create a new page and go back if necessary, instead of losing forever something or having to re-write on the board. As for cleaning the Smartboard surface itself, you won’t need to clean it so often, and just follow Alex Kane’s tips or what the manual that arrived with the Smartboard says.

Another way to use the Smartboard in class is by making it fun. Let’s say you’re teaching students from an elementary school how to read a clock. You can go online and look for a game, such as this one. You can then bring some students in front of the class, and they need to read out loud the time written, then stop the clock when that time is reached. That is just one example of the many things you can try out with your Smartboard. For a rather long and interesting list, I suggest you look at Mrs. Hurley’s website under her Smartboard favorite section.

Another way to use the Smartboard is to show a document, for example instructions for an exam, and write down clarification on the board directly for everyone to see. That way, if a student is late, you can tell him to look directly at the board and it makes the whole thing a lot clearer.

Overall, these are just a few points on how you can use the Smartboard up to use in your classroom. There are many others, such as calculation contests for a math teacher (two students go up front and try to solve the problem as quickly as they can) or a geography teacher (students go up front and write down the name of the capitals or countries on a map shown on the board). It’s also a good way to correct exercises directly on the sheet (shown on the Smartboard), and it makes it easier for students to follow.

The whole point of having those kinds of resources is to use them. We just need to be Smart about it 😉


How to use YouTube in classrooms

How to use YouTube in classrooms

YouTube for ESL students

If you mention YouTube in class, suddenly students get all excited. They know they’re going to watch a video, and they can sit down and relax while watching it. They also know they’re going to have fun watching it. However, how can a platform used mostly for watching videos be used to make students learn?

First of all, a lot of videos on YouTube are extremely instructional. I’m thinking of Vsauce or Discovery Channel for example. As mentioned in Kenneth Beare’s article, it might be interesting to ask your students their interests, such as science, music, or other stuff. Afterwards, all you need to do is find a video according to their interests, show it to them, and let them enjoy. Of course, you can do many sub-activities related to the video watched, such as a pop-quiz, a list of difficult vocabulary words, or ask them to write down words they’re unsure the meaning of.

Let’s take an example. Let’s say students are interested in planets, you could hint them that the earth doesn’t look like we think it does on a map, and then show them the Vsauce video on Earth. After watching the video, you can ask them what surprised them most in the video, or what new stuff they learnt while watching it. After, you could hand them a pop-quiz they need to answer related to the video they just watched. 

Let’s take another example. Assuming your class is intermediate or advanced level in English, you could show them a video of Miranda Sings about something that interests them, let’s say fashion. Now for everyone who have heard of Miranda Sings, it’s obvious she is not serious in her video and that the whole Miranda Sings character is fictional. Also, you would know that she has a peculiar way of talking, saying words like Titter instead of Twitter, bootiful instead of beautiful, etc­. A fun activity to do with your class could be to ask them to write down words that were mispronounced and write the correct way it should have been said. That way, they can both enjoy the activity and learn simultaneously. You could also show them a video such as PsychoSoprano’s LEARN TO SPEAK ENGLISH!, where she gives an example of what native English speakers usual mistakes are, and ask the students to identify as many mistakes as they can possibly notice.

Another way to use YouTube is to show artists. Sometimes, the textbook you use will mention important or influent artists that younger generations won’t necessarily know, such as Elvis Presley. If you show them a video, they are most likely to remember who it is and what he did. The same can be done with grammar notions viewed in class. You could explain to the students something, let’s say how to write dates. After your lesson, you could give your students the link to a YouTube video that would help them review what they just learnt, in case they’re still unsure if they understand. Many different channels can be used depending on what is needed, you can see a list there if you want.

Another important aspect of using YouTube as a language tool is accents. As mentioned in Tarun Patel’s blog, ”YouTube videos can be used in an ELT classroom for various teaching vocabulary, accents, pronunciations, voice modulation and what not.” At an advanced level, students might want to learn how to recognize different accents in English, such as the Australian accent or the British accent. As everyone knows, accents are not so easy to imitate, therefore YouTube can show them an authentic accent directly.

Overall, I think YouTube is a good way to teach more stuff to your students, or show them things you could never have without it. It is a powerful instructional tool that is there to be used, why not use it?

Usage of Facebook in schools

Most people have a Facebook account, however I surprise myself to think that it can actually become an important tool for communication between teachers and students.  Moreover, it could also help me in my task as a teacher. I won’t focus on every possible benefit there may be in using Facebook in class. If you are interested in reading a few, I would suggest reading David Hartstein’s article, How Schools Can Use Facebook to Build an Online Community. What I will focus on is how a Facebook group can be used to motivate students to learn by themselves.

First of all, I don’t think Facebook itself should be use IN class. When teaching a second language in high school, you don’t have access to the computer room so often, and therefore the use of Facebook should be excluded from class. Now you might think, ”if students cannot access Facebook in class, then what’s the point?”

The use of Facebook outside of class. That’s the point. When creating a Facebook group, it needs to be private so you can filter who enters and who doesn’t. You also need to make sure they need your permission to join the group, so that only your students can be part of it. When all of this is done, you can start posting what is needed such as the course plan and homework. Students themselves can also ask questions, and you may be able to answer even on a Saturday if necessary. Being able to communicate and help your students when they need it is very useful. As mentionned in this article, Facebook can be used as a ”Broadcast” account, in order to share what needs to be shared.

Moreover, using Facebook over any other similar website has a distinct advantage: almost everyone has a Facebook account. Your students most likely have one, and their parents too! As mentionned in this article, it makes a great way to reunite everyone under the same roof.

As an English-as-a-second-language teacher in the dominantly French-speaking Province of Québec, it is hard to find ways to motivate your students to learn English. Why bother learning? After all, they can live a nice life completely in French if they desire. So here’s the thing. When you learn another language, even more if that language is English, you open so many doors, metaphorically speaking. You can travel pretty much anywhere, make friends you could never have met if you didn’t speak English or travel to the other provinces of Canada or to any other English-speaking country. You can understand one another, and that’s the whole point of learning to speak another language. But the most important thing is…

Fun. It needs to be fun. If there is no fun, then they won’t even consider trying the proposed activities on their spare time at home. But what needs to be done to make sure they have fun? Some easy solutions are Youtube and video games. Youtube is full of Youtubers, people who post videos about their interests, activities, etc. There are some really fun videos and parodies that can also be found on Youtube, and most of them are in English. A nice way to help your students learn and motivate them on the long run is by making sure they want to learn. If you show them a video from a certain Youtuber in class, you can post the link on the Facebook group page. That way, they can go watch the video again if they liked it, or watch more videos from the same person. That way, they will use their free time to have fun, but will also learn at the same time. Another way is video games. Some of them are almost entirely in English, or requires co-op mode where you chat online with other players. Knowing English will help them explore and be part of an online community, as well as practice the use of English. Also, if you can make it fun, they won’t even care if they have to learn math!

In the end, whether or not you want to use a Facebook group up not for your students is up to you. If you prefer using Twitter, something else or nothing at all, then it also is your choice. But there are many benefits in using some kind of social network to share information and create a community. Just make sure to use them intelligently 🙂

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What I’m actually doing:Image

What I wish I could do: Image

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