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.

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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,