Story Jumper

Story Jumper is a tool where you can create your own story. It is also totally free! It is very similar to Story Bird, but when I started working on Story Jumper, I preferred it. I thought it would be repetitive a bit, but I really liked the tool. It leaves imagination for both the students and teachers. It is also a very user friendly tool. You do not have to look up how it works it is very clear. The images are either in categories or you can just type what image you actually want. You can also upload any images , either from Google or your own desktop. Compared to Story Bird, you only have one type of story that you can create

You can create an account very quickly and once you are signed in you simply click on ”create new book”. To add new pages you simply click on add new page. To add the icons/images you simply click on the image on the side menu and it pops into the story page. Creating an account is free. You can either register like anyone else or as a teacher, where you can give feedback to your students. When you connect as a teacher, they give you a pin number for your students to enter. It is possible to choose the size of the icon, if you want it further behind other articles or on the first plan, to rotate it 360° and flip it side (meaning if the animal faces left you can make it face right). To write the story you can choose any type of box for the text, from transparent to a cloud and star rectangle. You can choose your own: props, scenes, photos and texts. If you want to print the book, it is possible. If you want a hardcover book it costs 24.95$ up to 24 pages and 0.50$ for every additional page. (to order a hardcover though, the story must be at least 16 pages. To have an idea for the pricing visit: Story jumper. But don’t forget, you do not have to print it! You can read it online as well. An interesting point is that there is an auto-correct spelling tool, therefore it underlines words when there are mistakes in the text.

This story tool can be very useful in an ESL classroom because it gives the opportunity for teachers to write stories that are adapted to their students knowledge of English. Teachers can either focus on some vocabulary or even grammar rules that students have to learn or practice. If it is a lesson, teachers can use a project or SmartBoard© and show the story there. Mr. Walker thinks that it is possible to write stories that can be used to teach reading skills. These books may be read on a SmartBoard© or individually.  Later, the teacher can send the link to student s when they will study and practice. An advantage of the printing option (or saving for later) is that if you have other similar group(s) or you know you will have a similar group the year after, you have the possibility of re-using it. Having teachers write stories for their students is an option, but they can also have the students write one.

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Students can write books by either using specific verb tense, a specific content/theme (favorite sport), using specific words that were learned over the year. It brings out students creativity and they have fun. Once the students have done their books, they can either go in front of the class and present it, or read in small groups of four. Therefore, if the students are in front of the class, the teacher can grade their spoken English. The same if they are in small groups, the teacher can simply walk around a listen to them speak. They don’t actually realize that they are doing an oral presentation and speaking English. As we once did in elementary (when website like this weren’t very popular (or existed?) Our teacher had us (grade 6) write a small book about any subject of our choice (by hand) and present it to students in grade 1 or 2. It helped both students, us in grade 6 wanted everything to be of good English and the younger ones it gave them the chance to hear English somewhere else than by their teacher.

Another option in an ESL classrooms is to have them write ‘journals’ where students each month they can write about something they did well in school and say why they are proud. They can add a different page every time and at the end of the year see how much they improved. It can keep the motivated and have a positive attitude. Story Jumper gives the opportunity to students to practice their English, without necessarily know that they are, and have fun. As agreed by Educator Review, create a story about anything using engaging graphics and kids won’t realize they are writing!

According to me, a disadvantage I find is that you can only use this with children in elementary rather that in high school.

But, personally as a future ESL teacher I would really use this tool. It is very simple, fun and creative. Probably, according to me better than Story Bird for the usage I would do. It gives more possibilities for the images and props. It has children have fun while doing English and it can motivate them to go to their English course and find it important. Today, with all the technologies around us, students will get bored very fast with textbooks and regular paper work.

Kahoot! in ESL CLassrooms

Kahoot! Is a free online quiz and survey software. It is very simple and user friendly. It can be played in any level classroom, but also as fun activity with friends (well what, doesn’t everybody have a cell phone today ?). The game master (here it will be a teacher) has so simply create an account. Once the game master is connect, he/she can create a quiz from scratch or take a quiz that is suggested on the website (either leave it that way or modify). The way to do the activity is to project the quiz on the screen at the front of the class. There is a ‘pin’ number given so that students can login to the quiz. Players can either connect by cell phone, tablet or computer, but in a classroom, computer is the solution. On the players screen, they do not see the answers written out, they only see a color logo that is linked with the answers on the board. You can either decide to create a quiz, discussion or survey. Teachers/game masters have the possibility of giving more or less time for the students/participants to answer the questions, depending on the level of difficulty.

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Kahoot! is a very interactive tool that a teacher can use to teach, explain and review material. In an ESL class it is a fun and interesting way to play grammar games and review questions. Without actually calculating the results for real grading, it gives the possibility for teachers to analyse the understanding of the students. A fun part, maybe for the younger ones, would be to insert images related to the vocabulary they are learning. For example, you can put a picture any farm animal (let’s say that is our subject) you give them 3 different animal names and the right one. It can permit the teacher to see how many knew the word in English and adjust their teaching accordingly. This is probably more for elementary beginners, for intermediate students it can be prepositions. This can be done, similar to the use of a Smartboard© where you put objects on, under, behind, etc; giving a choice of 4 different prepositions. For the stronger ones in English it can be short sentences and the students have to find out what verb tense goes in the sentence. An interesting option, is by using it as a reading comprehension quiz, to help them remember what they read about and see if the understood the book/reading. You can either teach using those exercises, use them as a review or even as an analysis to see the level of the students. These are very simple exercises that can be useful in an ESL classroom. Being an interactive tool, students get to practice their grammar, reading skills and their basic English, while having fun.

The generation of today prefers technology to paper, therefore giving them the possibility to play with any technology will make them more motivated to learn in a second language classroom. It can add a little bit of energy to the classroom, since the top 5 students are listed on the front screen and they can see their names pop up. If you start each of your courses with a little review quiz it can motivate students to study a bit since they know that if they have a good grade their name will be shown at the front of the class. It brings a positive mood in class and students like it. As, Sylvia Duckworth, a French teacher in Toronto, tried it with her students and found that ”I used a Kahoot! game for the first time with my grade 5 Core French students (all boys), and I don’t think I have ever seen them more excited or engaged in an all French activity as they were during the game.”

Although adding competition by having the top 5 shown at the front of the class is interesting, it might also be a negative point. Some students might be disappointed that their name never shows up, or some might not like having the attention of having their name there. Also, as seen in the course (which I hadn’t seen when I tried with friends) it does not work that well with too many students. If several students were at equal points, at first place, they wouldn’t always see their name. There were at least 2 students that had finished first with the same points, but only one name appeared.

As a future ESL teacher I would probably use this tool, for both elementary and high school because I find it very interactive and fun. It gives the possibility to the teacher to quiz his/her students as a review and see if they learned well the past lesson. In class it brings a positive and fun mood, students participate more. For sure I wouldn’t award grades on the quizzes, but simply to analyse and make them practice/review. At first, I only thought about the idea of having the teacher create a quiz for their students, but while researching on that tool, I stumbled upon Edshelf where it suggested to have the students create quizzes themselves. That way, they could reinforce their learning by thinking about potential right and wrong answers.

Pixton

Pixton is a tool to create comics. It is a very fun tool to play with either for fun or in a class. There are three different types of accounts: Pixton for Fun, Pixton for Schools and Pixton for Business. With Pixton for fun, you have a 7 day trial and with Pixton for schools you can get a 30 day trial. In order to try the teacher version, you have to be a teacher and be able to prove it. The individual teacher account (up to 200 student accounts) is 10.99$/month and school or district (any number of student accounts) is 2.15$/month.

When you sign up, there is a ‘friend’ named Clive that gives tricks to how the website works. To start you simply have to click on the blue pencil. Then, you create a character(s) and once you have created the amount of characters wanted, you can start your comic book. It is very easy to put text in the bubbles, add or take out a character and change the background. The tool is user friendly, everything is clear and simple for first time users.

This tool can be useful in an ESL classroom because a lot of students do not like to read a lot. Therefore it gives teachers a way to have them read English and see spelling. Comics don’t have a lot of text but with images,  children read in English and don’t actually realize they are reading and they enjoy it.

As an ESL teacher you can either create a comic for the students to read or ask students to create one to practice their written English. An interesting option while using this, is that once students have created their own comic strip they can then practice their spoken English while reading it to the class. They can therefore practice both their written and oral English, while the teacher can evaluate the students. Students do not realize they are actually practicing their English because they are having fun. Since students aren’t always comfortable to speak in front of the class, you may have them work in pairs or even act out their comic, this way they can have fun.  As stated on Commonsensemedia, Pixton is less about learning a particular content-area lesson and more about sharing knowledge with other

You can teach new material using comic strips, making it more fun for the both teachers and students. As a teacher, you can either give them specific aims or let the students do free time writing. It also gives opportunities for teachers to work on grammar and syntax without students noticing it. It will motivate students to try and achieve more in an ESL class.

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Directly on the website, there is a pedagogical aspect page of the use of Pixton. More specifically, they talk about second language acquisition.  It talks about how much it allows for creativity, that it is fun for students and it is interactive. It can subtly integrate ICT’s in classrooms.

Personally, I think I would like to use this later when I teach English as a Second Language. I like using technologies because I grew up with them all around me. It is also fun because you can create and have fun while preparing your teaching. Though, I would probably try to find a tool similar to Pixton, but that you don’t have to pay for. I would use this to teach students from elementary to secondary cycle one.  But, probably make students of  elementary cycle three and secondary cycle one play with it.

 

Easy Test Maker

Easy Test Maker is a web tool to create tests, quizzes/exams, questionnaires or even activities. It is quite a simple tool to use and useful for any type of class. You can start by signing up very fast. Once you are logged in you can create your first test/quiz by simply clicking ‘‘Click here to create your first test’’. You can then create a name for your quiz. Then you must choose your section heading. There are different types of quizzes/exams: Short answer, multiple choice, true or false, matching or fill in the blanks. Web 2.0 Teaching tools have EasyTestMaker in their top 5 Quiz Generators for Online Educators. It is a website that suggests a lot of different tools for classrooms. The first time you  sign in, you have a page saying what buttons are used for what. Also, EduTeacher, which also recommends useful tool, gives it 4 stars on 5. It is highly graded on both website, which can show its usefulness.

The section headings are the different parts of the exam. Once that you have chosen the type of question, for example True or False, you can either click on ‘add another question after saving’ or simply click on saving and add another type of question. The questions get numbered automatically and you can see your quiz/exam on the screen. It is possible to decide the value of each question when writing the question. If you want to change the order, you can simply move around the questions. The tool is free, but there are 3 different optional services: 1) Free: Easy to use test interface, all question types available, answer sheets, multiple sections, automatic question renumbering when questions are moved, 25 test limit. 2) Plus: Automatically generated alternate versions, exam builder, export PDF & word, spell check, bold (highlight, italicize), unlimited test (44.95$/year). 3) Premium: Upload images (charts or graphs), online test (publish any test to be taken online, results automatically graded, print individual test results with grading marks. Export results in Excel/CSV file (74.95$/year).

Both the answer key and the test itself can either be printer or saved (PDF or Word). When published online it opens more possibilities because it can give the grades automatically. It is also possible to alternate questions in order to make more than one version of the test. In any classroom, it can be used to give students fast results and know how they did on their exams instead of waiting a couple classes.

EasyTestMaker is useful for teachers because it enables them to give quizzes and test for small homework instead of a regular paper worksheet. This tool can be useful in an ESL classroom because it is one of the courses that students don’t have a lot weekly, giving mini quizzes between courses can help refresh students’ mind. Therefore, it can maximize class time because you do not waste time on correcting the homework in class; only give specifications if a question has been missed by the majority of the students. Students often forget their English homework because they put more importance on French or even Math; if you ask them to do them from home and they can get an automatic grade, students will be more motivated to learn the target language. As stated earlier, English teachers do not see their students as often as other main courses, it is good for teachers to have automatic feedback and change their course plan if too many students do not have good results. Another interesting option for ESL classrooms, is if you give the students a reading and ask them to answer the short answer questions. By doing this, you can integrate computers, since they are answering short answer questions, the students have time to use an online dictionary, a thesaurus or even a translating website. That way, students can learn on their own and improve their knowledge of English. It is also possible to make a verb test and bring students to the computer lab. Students don’t like English courses that much, bringing them to the computer lab might motivate them.

One negative aspect is that whether quizzes or test are done home or in class, it is easy to cheat. It demands the teacher more effort to pay attention and preparation (i.e. creating more than one version). Another disadvantage might be the fact that there are paying versions. Since the free version you can only create a limit of 25 tests, after not too long you have to buy a new version. It does cost a lot, therefore this is something that would make me hesitate to use it, since after a while I have to pay to have the possibility to give more tests. But, if you have a printed copy of each you can easily scan them for future courses (waste of paper, not ecologic!). Also, all the interesting options are in the paying versions, which makes it less attractive to teachers.

I personally do find this tool practical to give as a homework for students in an ESL classroom. It is very simple to create different quizzes or tests and very effective. I was able to create a quiz, with three different type of questions and have the answer key on my side. If need be, there are different tutorials on Youtube. I also find very practical the fact that we do not need to print 100 copies for each student, it can all be online. I would suggest to use this tool once in a while, therefore you can create tests, once in a while and wait longer before having to use the payable version,

Storybird

Story Bird is a website where you can create your own story. Totally free! It leaves place to imagination and creation for both students and teachers. It is a very user friendly website, simple and filled with varied options of images. Anyone can use this website without having to search on Google how it works. The images and pictures are divided in simple categories that are easy to understand for both younger and older ones. There are three types of stories that can be created: picture book, long form and poem.

You can create an account in not even two minutes. Once you are signed in on Story bird you must simply start by clicking on ‘Write’ then you can choose the theme of the story you are about to do. Once you have chosen the theme that you want, you select the type of story (picture, long form or poem). The first, picture book has several pages where you can put images and text. The image can either take the whole page, three quarters of the page or half. While the text takes the empty space left, if there are some. The second, long form is one single page, with once again different images that are centered with text underneath. To create a separate chapter you can simply insert a divider, identified with three diamonds. The third, poem is a single page where you can write your text and add one image.

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This story website is useful in an ESL classroom because it gives the opportunity for teachers to write stories adapted to their students level of learning, but also give the possibility for students to practice their English. A teacher can ask students for example (maybe more elementary) to create a book with family members, such as Mother, Father, Brother, Sister, Cousin, etc. Students can have the possibility to be creative and have fun, while doing an English project (wow, isn’t that amazing, students enjoying English!). Having the students practice some basic but important words. If need be, when students are having a hard time for any types of words, such as verb tense, the teacher can create a story to have them practice exactly what they need. Teachers can use these stories to explain and demonstrate: grammar, syntax and spelling in an interesting way. Such as Chad Sansing says, bringing a purpose for writing is essential for any classroom use, here for an ESL class. An ESL teacher can easily present this to the whole class if they have a Smartboard© or a simple projector. If a teacher knows that it will be useful for future groups that he/she will have, it is possible to get a printed version of the book. Since second language courses are not what interests all students, having an interactive and original presentation will keep them interested. Since teachers can add students to their group, they can help edit the English in the story, and then have the students read it over. It is their own work; they will be interested in reading it over and seeing how improved it is. In an ESL classroom it is good to go over what students have learn, teachers can see what they have learned or even have them do simple book reports on it. Storybird can give the possibility to students to practice their English in a fun way, without actually realizing that their English is being evaluated and practiced. If you want to make your students read your story you can either show it in class on the website or make it public where they can go see the story themselves as homework. Having the students write stories and show them to their parents after can make students even prouder and create a good story. It can easily bridge house life and school life together, as agrees Mr.Avery a 6th grade teacher in Massachusetts.

Some disadvantages are that on the side of creativity is that the images are character theme based, so the images are mostly all the same. This makes Storybird somewhat limited since you can’t download your own images. Another disadvantage according to me is that you cannot save the document in a PDF format, it can only be online or you have the possibility. An interesting part is that you can order a printed copy.

I myself as a future ESL teacher would use this to teach English in Elementary because it brings about children imagination and creativity while having the chance to develop and improve their English skills. I think that it is important to find interesting ways to teach a second language to students to motivate them.

Use of the Ipad in an ESL Classroom

Based on today’s generational habits, schools don’t have any other choice than to adapt themselves. Therefore, textbooks and worksheets have been taken over by iPads and computers. Most teachers that have been teaching for several years do have a hard time getting used to it, but the ones just starting are motivated to try new technologies. Worksheets and textbooks are not completely obsolete, but they have given place to new material.

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iPads are very useful in any classroom, from a science to a language course. It gives students a fast access to a thesaurus and a dictionary, which is very practical for an ESL classroom. With the dictionary or thesaurus application right in front of them, students will get used to looking up words instead of putting their hand up each time they have a question. An advantage of working with iPads is that students can hand in their projects/homework automatically and ”the pupils learn more efficiently as they get instant feedback” – Anne Laure Bazin (assistant head teach at Mont Bay Academy in Cornwall). That way, students still remember what they handed in and can understand better the corrections without reviewing everything.

It is also more simple for teachers because they can share more easily their resources with other teachers. It is more practical since the teacher can take the attendance and send it directly to the school direction. Ipads have the advantage of offering a variety of different applications, that can offer classroom management help, quizzes , games, storytelling, note taking, audio recording, dictionary, etc. Since all students learn differently it is useful to have an iPad that the teacher can customize according to each of their level of learning (ex. Download a podcast or an image). Ipads are useful for an ESL classroom because a simple tool like MeteoMedia can help students (maybe this time elementary students) with getting to know their weather expressions. All the students have immediate access to a lot content. The fact that students use Ipads in their ESL class and not in their other classes, makes this one more attractive to the students. Often English, is not the class that students like to participate in, this might motivate students to participate and speak the target language. ESL teachers can create their own interactive material that works best for their students, because they know them very well. A teacher can also share their notes or make students follow a power point presentation while the teacher is giving the lesson. Having the chance to be in direct contact with notes and move them around according to their own way of learning, helps students learn instead of memorizing. Such as Brandi McWilliams (English Teacher) said: ”They don’t just memorize the book, they don’t just spit it back our for me, they know it because they’re involved in it, they’re visualizing it, and they’re making a movie in their head about it.” Getting students involved, helps them learn better.

I think that yes it does have a lot of advantages but I feel like students forget how to write. What I mean by this is that since everything is autocorrected by an iPad application, the student doesn’t understand his mistakes and can’t concentrate on improving them. Students become dependent of the iPad, so they, according to me, forget to read real books! Another disadvantage is that often in a class, there are always plenty of students that do not have their iPads with them, either because they forgot it, they are being repaired or even waiting to be repaired.

ClassCraft for ESL Teachers

Before talking about the target website, Gamification must be approached. Gamification is basically the use of game design elements in non-game contexts, which differentiates if from serious games. It is the use of games into classroom contexts to help teachers with regular class routines and to motivate students. Nowadays  technology takes a lot of place in children and teenagers life, but also young adults. Therefore, schools have no choice but to adapt to this situation; this is where gamification becomes of great use. Gamification gives the possibility to motive students to participate and do their homework because the results appear on the board.

ClassCraft is a classroom management website/application. The application is available on the Apple Store and on Android. The application for Iphones and Smartphones is available only when you register for the premium version (which offers more). ClassCraft is played in more than 1900 classes, in 50 countries and played in seven different languages. This application/website is a combination of Class Dojo and World of WarCraft, a computer video game. It is similar to Class Dojo but incorporates many elements from video games, which makes it less childish. The application/website is available in several languages, such as English, which makes it easily adaptable for an ESL classroom. I created myself an account, it seems complicated at first because there are a lot of options. It would probably be a bit easier for someone that games often, since it is based on a computer game. One practical option is that each time you open a new section of the website there is a mini tutorial that you can watch. There is also a demo class when you log in for the first time in order to try it out.

Similar to Class Dojo, you can give and take off points based on students behaviour in class. Instead of accumulating points for themselves only, students are in teams, that way their point accumulations affects more than one person. It is possible for the teacher to give XP (points) simply for attending class, this way it does motivate students, whether in elementary or secondary because they know that if they show up they give points to their team. In their teams, students have to accumulate experience points in order to level up.

There are four different types of points that students can accumulate: Health, action, experience and gold points. The first, health points (HP) are like the characters life level, if it attends zero, it dies. The teacher can make sure that all students get a new amount of HP every day, to make sure that no characters die. They are taken off based on the students behaviour, such as: arriving late to class, disturbing the class or incomplete homework. The teacher can decide at the beginning (and change during) the amount of points lost in those categories. The second, action points (AP) are points that permits the use of power and abilities. Abilities can either be won or given as a privilege by the teacher for good behaviour in class. The third, experience points (XP) permits the characters to level up and get power. For example, finding a mistake in class notes or even giving a correct answer t a question in class. With the amount of points given by the teacher on the website it gives student experience points. The last one, gold points (GP) is money with which they can buy what they need, for example powers or even a new gear. When players are about to die, their partners have to share points with them to keep them alive, because they need all teammates to finish the game. The fact that they are in teams is very helpful and interesting, as stated by Joseph Pang, a grade 7 teacher of English: ”One of my best moments from implementing Classcraft was seeing one of my most disengaged and socially awkward students working together with his teammates to complete quests”.

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There are three different types of characters: Warrior, Mages and Healers, which can be either male or female. The website doesn’t have many restrictions on the amount of powers given to each characters, there are basic settings but the teacher can modify the points. For example, a Warrior has more HP points and less AP points, the teacher can decide to give more HP than AP or even make them equal. As oppose to Class Dojo where the avatars are assigned randomly, here students can choose which or the three they want, the sex as well as their skin color.

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ClassCraft is good for an ESL classroom, because often it is a class that students don’t think it is important to attend, but if they know that when they are absent they penalize their students, they will be more motivated to come. The expectations are clear to the students because everything is written on the classes craft. It can be useful in the way that each time a student speaks in their first language they lose points, but also the other way around. This will motivate students to speak the target language. It is useful in any type of class, of course it was not created simply for ESL courses. It has the advantage of having the possibility to schedule the game from one month to a full year. It is user friendly, by letting the teach enter each students by important a spread sheet list, instead of one by one on Class Dojo. Cite his SS reaction. It is useful for ESL teachers because you can create your own lesson, writing in both the first language and second. I created myself a classroom and a lesson. When you create the lesson you choose the title and give a description, then you decide how many XP(points) students’ get for doing this particular activity.

Overall, it is an interesting website, but you have to look a lot before finding all that you can use.I like the fact that it is not too childish and that it can be for both elementary and secondary, therefore you don’t have to work on 2 different classroom management websites if the year after you have a contract in the other age category. It is very useful to get the students attention and make them want to be in class. Students seem to pay more attention and participate when there are points given. Jeff Noonan, an experienced ESL teacher, made a conference at SPEAQ on Campus ULaval, in which he gave comments on his students’ response: ”they respect the games rules which helped with classroom behaviour because I was not the one enforcing discipline, the game was” – Noonan. Yes it is a very interesting website, but once again today people complain that children spend all their time on video games. Therefore, it is once again making them connect and play with a video games. But, if we forget all this, yes it is very useful for teachers.