Writing exercises are always more fun if you know that the texts will be read "for real". It increases creativity and accuracy when the students publishing what they write. It is fun and engaging to create books with images and colours! BookCreator has taken note of this, and they offer a free internet service where you can make real e-books. The books can be collected in the school's own e-library and of course, you can send the links to the parents or whoever you want.
I recently received a tip about a service called BookCreator, and of course, I wanted to try it out with my class. BookCreator lets students create a real e-book, and now that I have tried it with the students, I can honestly say that it was a long time since we had so much fun! It was easy to use the different tools, and it was possible to create many different types of books.
I have written several times about my love for Kahoot, but I have never really taken the time to calmly and properly explain how to create a Kahoot. That's why I'm going to do so right now. Here is an easy step-by-step guide on how to make the classroom rock!
Kahoot is a tool that makes it possible to create fun and engaging quizzes in a simple way. The most common way to use it is through quick knowledge questions, but you can also use questions that require more thinking. Kahoot will automatically add compelling music to your quizzes, that makes it more fun.
Playing Kahoot is a popular way to do something fun for a while. There's some competition and laughter at the same time as it is educational. It is now possible to assign a Kahoot that lasts a week and where the students can play as many times as they want. This is a fun way to create some activity in the corridors or assign their homework in a different manner.
Create a "Kahoot of the week"
If you have never created a Kahoot before, it may be a good idea to first read the post "Create a Kahoot":
Click here to read it
Many teachers have their hard drive full of old Word documents that were made to be printed and given to students on paper. The usage of these documents is declining at a furious pace, but that does not mean that they have become useless! They just need to be heated up a bit, and then they can be used many more times!
I recently read about TeacherMade in a Facebook group, and since I have already tested a plethora of similar tools, my expectations were moderate, to say the least. But I was actually pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to use and as a bonus, it was free for real (no hidden costs!). The idea behind TeacherMade is simple. It simply converts your old Word documents (or pdf's) into interactive and self-correcting documents that can be shared in Google Classroom.
Once you have created your interactive document, you can click on "My worksheets". You then select "assign" in the drop-down list, and you will have the choice if you want to publish the assignment in Google Classroom or if you want to send a link to the students. When the student want to work on their assignment, they are taken directly to the worksheet and may get started on their assignment.
PechaKucha is so much fun! When I started to present the idea of PechaKucha to my colleagues, it was a bit difficult because everyone thought I would be talking about some new digital tool again. PechaKucha isn't really digital at all, it is rather a format for giving presentations.
PechaKucha comes from Japan, but it has quickly spread worldwide because it is simple, fast and fun. In the original version, the speaker gets exactly 20 images to be displayed 20 seconds each. That means that the presentation will last for a total of 6 minutes and 40 seconds. Precisely!
When you get the chance to give a PechaKucha, it is vital to choose pictures with care and practice what you want to say to the audience. You can not exceed the time limit, and no one wants to listen to someone who is silent for even a little as 10 seconds on each picture. In other words, practice is the key to success. In Japan, this format has become so popular that PechaKucka evenings are held with lectures on a wide variety of topics during the same evening.
Now to my students! I teach a B-level group studying Swedish for immigrants, and they really need to get started speaking their new language. These weeks we were having "holiday and work" as a general theme, and it felt like a good time to end the project with a presentation that had a fun and international twist!
I planned the project to last for two weeks, and the first Monday the students got to choose 10 pictures they liked on Pixabay. At least three of the images they choose had to be about their jobs or future jobs. They saved their images on Google Drive in a folder they shared with me. In that way, I could print them out so that the students could take them home to practice their speeches.
The students got to choose Picturers on Pixabay that they thought represented themselves and their lives.
After this, they were given a blank paper where they placed their images in order from 1 to 10 and started writing sentences for each image. The students do not have many Swedish words on B-level, but they got to make different sentences with the words they knew. It could be "I like the forest", "It's nice in the forest", "I often walk with friends in the forest" and alike. They got the week to practice talking about their pictures and to keep the time frame of 30 seconds.
The following Monday, we opened our Chromebooks again, and I Presented Google Slides to the students. They got to create a presentation with their 10 pictures and put it in the folder they shared with me. When everyone had finished their presentation, they got until Friday to practice.
When it was time to hold the presentations, the students worked in groups of 6-7 students. They got one Chromebook per group, and I opened a document containing everybody's presentation-links. When a student clicked his name, the pictures began to appear for 30 seconds each, and it was necessary to remember what to say! Of course, I was kind and helped them with questions if they forgot what to say, I think it's essential that presentations are fun and not mixed with horror! The first student who held a PechaKucha seemed a little nervous, but pretty soon, all of them started to relax and enjoy the concept.
The project went super well, and I will do this again in different subjects!
The idea of Plickers is similar to Kahoot, but in Plickers, each student has their own number (their tray) which allows the results to be saved over time in stylish charts. The teacher can follow a student to see how they are doing at different stages. It sounds great, but after testing I can't give Plickrs five stars and I'll explain why.
In order to create complete quizzes, the teacher needs to be a plus member and it is not free. If you are not a plus member, you can only create series with a maximum of five questions in a row, then you could instruct the program to play the series one after another without interruption, and so the students noticed no big difference. The big difference was however that as a teacher I do not get the good-looking charts. Instead, it gets quite messy.
Everything went well when we started with the exercise! The students got their badges with their own number on and then the first question showed up on the canvas. All the questions have four options; a, b, c or d. The students should take their badge and keep it so that the right option comes on top. Then I scan the whole class at once with the phone and it will record who responded in what way. The students' names are in a list next to the question and they will be marked as green when their answers are recorded, so I can see that I don't miss anyone.
It was a bit of fun, but not like "rush-in-the-stomach" exciting. In a Kahoot there is captivating music, time counts down and some cool effects. This was kind of quiet and almost tedious. When the very first wow feeling folded (and it did so after the second question) it became pretty boring.
It was fun to test Plickers once, but it's not something we're going to use again. It was a little too quiet!
I think QR codes are a great way to get started with digital tools in your teaching. They will lead directly to the page that you want your students to use without having them navigating through a lot of other links to get to the destination that you wanted to show them. The history of your activities is saved in the phone which allows students to return to the page or assignment after class.
What's a QR-code?
In order to understand what a QR code is, you can think of Braille writing that is used for people who are visually impaired. Braille is built up by small dots that mark different letters and together they form sentences. The QR-codes are made the same way. They usually contain a link that makes a website appear when you scan the code, but technically they might a message in which someone just typed "Hello! I'll be home at 5". One could say that the dots of the QR-codes form a separate language that is created to fit long sentences in a small area. It takes two things for QR-codes to work. The first is that anyone who wants to create them needs a service that converts text into the QR-language. The second is that anyone who wants to use them has installed an app that converts the QR-code back to text. Personally, I always use "QR code Monkey" to create QR codes and "QR code readers" to scan them on my phone.
How to create a QR-code
There are several services on the internet that offer free QR-codes and there is no huge difference to them, but I've come to get hooked on one called "QR-code Monkey". What I like is that it's easy to make nice looking QR-codes and not just ugly black ones.
You can find QR-code Monkey here!
At the top row, you will find "enter ulr". The "url" thing is just a nicer word for "link" and so you paste your link into the frame. When that's done, you may continue and click the other menus to select the colour and shape of your code. You may even upload a small image that should be in the middle of the code. Just be sure to choose a shape on the code that doesn't have dots in the middle so that no important information (no important letters!) become hidden by your beautiful picture! QR-code Monkey has many photos that you can choose from right away, such as a Facebook logo if your link should lead to a group on Facebook!
When you're done with colour selection and shape, click "create QR code" and you'll see how the image pops up on the right. Press "download png" to download to your computer. When your QR-code is down, it comes in a format called png and most other programs can read it without any problems! This allows you to paste your code into, for example, a Word document and treat it like any other image. Just be sure never to change the proportions of the picture! You may make it bigger or smaller, but you must not accidentally make it longer nor narrower because since it will lose readability if you do.
Just how small you can make your picture depends mostly on how you intended to print it. A standard home printer isn't accurate enough to write really small dots, but a commercial printer has better equipment and can handle smaller formats. As a benchmark, I usually think that I won't make the codes smaller than 10*10 cm. At that size, the small codes are tiny and neat and there are usually no problems for anyone to read them.
How to read a QR-code
In order to read a QR code, you need an app in your phone that can decode all the different dots and make readably text out of them. I use an app called "QR code reader". It works great and is free! When to read the code, just open the app and hold the phone in front of the QR-code. <em>Do not click anything!</em> The phone will now spend a few seconds finding and reading the image and then it will reveal what was hiding in the picture. You'll then get the question if you want to open the link and of course you want that! One advantage of this app is that at the top there is a tab called "history" and that allows you to go back to things you scanned earlier and open them again! The history-tab is like automatic bookmarks.
Good luck with your creation of stylish QR codes!
I am the technician who became a librarian, but who got tired of the quiet and peaceful life at the library and started working as a teacher. I brought with me everything I knew about databases, information retrieval and networks and soon I was an ICT-educator. Today, I work as a teacher at Komvux in Norrköping.
I have always had a nerdy great interest in technology. I can find interest in everything from robots to model railroads or the steel industry of the industrial revolution. Technology should take us forward and prevent us from everything boring. You need to dare to be somewhat lazy and ask yourself if there is no easier way to get something done. The human desire to get away is what has driven the technical development and find time for other things. Like model railroads, for instance!
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