23 March 2015

Adding Spring to Presentations






With no disrespect to these (above mentioned) tools, there comes a time when presentations just blur into a senseless maze of deja vu, maps well known,  blending the hope that the end arrives soon and painlessly. 

Been there?

Know what I mean?

Yes, there is PowToons , which adds sparkle and is great to share messages and reminders with students, as well as for students to create their own.

Below is a simple example:

But with Spring comes the urge to try out new presentation tools, which may, perhaps lead one out of the dreary maze of the expected. Here are some suggestions.

One of my favourites at the moment, is bunkr

and below you can easily understand how simple and interesting it is to use:

Personally, I find it one of the most interesting approaches to creating a presentation.

Two other tools which have caught my attention, are rawshorts (free to sign up to)

And Sparkol - though there is the pricing to consider.

Presentations don't have to be the regular, mental check-out session, where the audience struggles to remain alive, where presenters mumble onwards, reading slide after slide into oblivious digital dust. 

Presentations are so much more. 

So please, please, please, TEACHERS and Students alike, let's remember:

What is your favourite presentation tool at the moment?


I'd like to thank Mark Curcher, Director of the Program Director of 21st Century Educators at TAMK, Finland, for the meme above.

Further Suggestions:

SlideDog (for Windows only)

Reflections on Public Speaking

Presenting for  End of Academic Year

Slide Your Show


Ruri - free App for iPad

Financial Responsibility with Learning Games

Students today have the opportunity to learn at the click of a button, with a wide range of digital tools and apps to then display their skills and what they've learnt. 

Within this learning context, there is the need that students are taught digital learning skills - not only bodies of knowledge, but  skills which will enable students to become life-long learners, skills to navigate and to participate positively in the digital world. Despite the shiny new digital devices I regularly see in my classrooms, digital literacies are still, sadly,  lagging behind. 

Another skill which I think is relevant to include in classrooms today, is financial literacy - a skill which is not only for the purpose of passing an exam or test, but one which is immediately meaningful to students (e.g. how do they manage their pocket money for instance) and which they will need throughout their lives. 

Cash Crunch 101 is a free App, offering a game approach to finances. 
 Players choose their avatar (male or female) and then follow the cues to play the game, (by clicking the dice). As they make their financial decisions and they will also receive instant feedback. 

Players can also ask Brian (image on the left) how to play the game or use the glossary (a plus for students learning English). 

The website also includes notes for teachers and some additional sites to explore. 

How do you feel about financial literacy? Should it be part of classrooms today?

Further Suggestions:

(Images generated with RedKid.Net ) 

2 March 2015

Revision with Games


Revising is an integral part of learning and can be fun when games are used. I have already mentioned how Kahoot.it, Flip Quiz and Socrative are great resources to use in lessons, as well as  how Edmodo's Quiz feature saves teachers time and gives students the chance to do the quiz either in class or within a certain time frame chosen by the teacher.  As you can see below, you can name the quiz, set the time limit and choose the format of the quiz, i.e. Multiple Choice, True/False, Short Answer, Fill in the Blank, and Matching. It is very user friendly for both teachers and students. Another bonus is that teachers can re-use a quiz in the future.

Today I'd like to point out some other tools which are worth using for revisions. 

Quizizz is free and similar to Kahoot ,  gives students the opportunity to play in teams and works well
on all devices. Here is a brief walkthrough:

Quizdini - which offers the format of Multiple Choice and Matching games.

eQuiz Show is another option for creating a  Jeopardy-style review game:

What other games do you suggest for revisions?

28 October 2014

Games and Avatars for Halloween

Avatars are not only for dressing up times, but, if students haven't had the opportunity to create an avatar yet, Halloween is a great time to do so.

The Mini-Mizer  is a well known tool that creates mini lego avatars , while MeMaker also creates avatars suitable for younger learners. 

Moonjee creates funny, strange faces,  almost alien-like.
 It also offers an additional tool - users can then analyse how attractive a face is. 

Pickaface is free, but users need to register.

3D Myself  is another site where anyone can create avatars,

while Make Human is an open source tool for making 3D characters.

Last suggestion for today is Head in a Jar, which is available for both iOS and Android.

KidsActivities has a range of activities and ideas for young learners and Halloween , including special Halloween snacks.

Which avatar will you be creating for Halloween?

Further suggestions:

Who are you? Where's your Avatar?

Teaming (or Taming?) Teens

Word Games for When You are Stuck in the Middle

Kusocartoon - Cartoonize your photo

BeFunky - to create cartoon avatars (now as an app for both iOS and Android)

Avatar Secrets - "A digital project in form and content, Avatar Secrets explores the complexities of human connection in the wired world, examining the evolving nature of community, relationships, empathy and interdependence in the real world, and in the digital frontier."

27 October 2014

Poster Projects

I open my eyes wide and listen to the breeze, as I glide across this body of water. No one can stop me now! In the distance there is land. I am sure there will be blue and green parrots with long tails! Best of all, there will be sweet water streams to drink from .... 

The story could go on. But as a teacher, I don't know the plot nor ending. I don't always know what inspires, confuses, delights my students as they day-dream away, longing for academic tasks to end and more fun times to begin. 

Learning is not always fun and sometimes students need a space of time to create, to let their imaginations run loose, or even, more simply, focus on a mini project that may (or not) be directly related to the subject they are studying.  Having students create a poster is a way to offer them a creative project which may be connected to current school activities,  to the subject they are studying (e.g. if done in a foreign language for instance) or directed towards one of the many international days celebrated around the world (e.g. Water Day).

PosterMyWall, is free and has different templates to choose from.

You can also use PosterMyWall to create collages, calendars and photo cards - all  free. 

There is also a wide range of backgrounds to choose from, giving choices to learners. 

Glogster also has an app ready to use on iPads,  while Thinglink allows interactivity by adding  images and video. 

Other options for creating posters are CanvaTackk, and why not, Easy Movie Poster, which also offers different templates and the possibility to customize as each learner wishes.

Mini projects don't necessarily need to take endless hours and really engage students to use digital tools for learning and for sharing beyond the classroom. 

If learners are not encouraged to use their imagination and creativity in classrooms, where else will they be nurtured and supported to let their daydreaming turn into something tangible?

Further Suggestions:

A Creative Approach to Book Reports

Posters, Images and Metaphors

20 October 2014

With a Byte of Help for ESL/EFL

Alba Soler Photography via photopin cc

I consider myself fortunate to work with so many amazing teachers, but there have been times when I needed immediate help/inspiration for plotting lessons. So, where does an individual ESL/EFL tutor reach out for help? Other than great sites like the Teaching English by the British Council on Facebook (already mentioned in this blog), teachers can connect on Twitter, Edmodo and other networks. They can also reach out to Off2Class

Off2Class is free, has a blog where different issues on ESL/EFL are discussed and includes resources for teachers.

What other sites do you use for help in ESL/EFL? 

Kalexanderson via photopin cc

16 October 2014

Creating Websites

Free HDR & Photomanipulations - www.freestock.ca via photopin cc

When I began this blog,  I had my (then) current students in mind as a potential audience. Since then, this blog has changed, gone through different phases, and it's likely that this  may happen to everyone who shares in blog formats. For me, that is natural in the sense that blogs are organic, changing as oneself learns and grows professionally. 

As a result,  I sometimes wonder what recommendations I could possibly give when others begin their own blog. In regard to learners,  maintaining a blog is a great way to have an E-Portfolio ready to present whenever necessary, let alone an opportunity for practising and developing digital literacies. For others, it has become increasingly easy to set up a blog as there are plenty of videos and sites which readily offer tips, guidance and encouragement. 

However, there is one question that is not always asked - Why open a blog? Is it only for the aspiration of creating a space for dialogue and interaction among a certain circle of friends/colleagues?

Answers will inevitably vary tremendously, according to the many contexts and aspirations that may be embedded in blogs.  For anyone who wishes to start a blog, these are some alternative websites to develop blogs.

Strikingly  is mobile friendly and free to start with.

Once you register, there are different templates to choose from, according to one's purpose:

Jimdo also offers different templates for different purposes in mind. 

Until now, Jimdo is free, with the option to upgrade to JimdoPro and JimdoBusiness.  Here you can compare the differences.

Webr, is another free web builder, which is easy to use in 4 simple steps.

As the others mentioned above, there are different templates to choose from and it's also mobile friendly.

Urban Woodswalker via photopin cc

Blogging, like marking, may be done for different purposes. Marking is usually justified by how teachers need to give students feedback for their writing - which is quite logical. However, marking is more for teachers to have a clearer notion of what still needs to be revised, presented again in class and consolidated with learners. The emphasis is that whatever results from the marking load, is for the teacher to then decide what needs to be done in class, rather than learners actually "learning" from their mistakes (and no, I won't ask how students really look at the feedback and act constructively on it).

But, coming back to blogging and websites - there are choices, both for one's purpose, type of blog and platform.

Do you have a favourite platform for blogging (other than Blogger, Wordpress, Edublogs)?

Ed Yourdon via photopin cc

Further Suggestions:

Blogging Platforms Around the Block

Visual Blogging and Surveys

Sailing the Shift in 2012



Keep it Simple, Stupid: 7 No-fuss Online Tools for the Lazy Blogger

16 Blogging Platforms that Won't Distract from Your Writing

19 Ways to Use Blogs with Students  - Starr Sackstein

A Collection of Blogging Resources

Blogging as Conversation - Steeve Wheeler

Educational Blogging - Stephen Downes

The Question Should be:  Why Are You *Not* Blogging - Alan Levine

Why are Academics (still) NOT Blogging - Lawrence Raw