The Xperium Xperience

I must say I was pleasantly surprised with the Xperience! During the TELL Pilot a few years back I went to Arnhem with my class to the very first Xperium. Which wasn’t a success. But everything was so much better here inside the HAN. For starters did we have 2 very enthusiastic TELL teachers! Who actually knew a lot about technology, so we had plenty of examples (and therefore plenty of ideas on how to incorporate technology into our lessons). The actual Xperium team at the HAN put a lot of time and effort into the small things that made the day very worthwhile. They gave us the introduction in English, they tried very hard! The presentation was very informative and fun to watch with all the interactive elements.

When it was time for the actual workshops we learned a lot about apps we can use in the class. We had an in-depth tutorial on how to use the smartboard and it’s programs. Nowadays there are nearly endless possibilities. In the old days (like 5 years back when I was still in school) all the digital tools were merely tools. No digital version to be found anywhere. But now it’s all there right behind the screen. The best part is that most kids know how to use it naturally because they are growing up with technology!

After the tutorial we had time to try something out on our own. Me and 2 other girls chose to make a news broadcast about the British Royals with a lot of special effects. We went to the local green screen (also known as the green staircase/toilets) and shot our little video.

After the workshops we all got together to share what we had done and come up with during the actual working time by giving small presentations.

All in all the day was very well organised. The outline was clear and the content was very informative!

 

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Meme-orize your memes

Memes are a big part of nowadays youth culture. Every generation has something, well this one seems to have memes. Not the most world changing movement ever, or is it?

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I think people greatly underestimate the power of memes. For the sake of making this post relevant I will stick to the school subject and incorporate relevant memes.

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I can still remember when some pupils asked me if I knew what memes were once, Apparently their old (as in age… their words, not mine!) biology teacher didn’t have a clue. He didn’t recognize any animal specie called meme (he thought it was miem) so that made the pupils wonder if all teachers were like that. I said I knew a thing or two, trying to hide the fact I brose 9gag on a daily basis, and acted all cool about it. But deep down inside I felt the need to show off my meme knowledge so the next lesson I started incorporating memes every now and then. Which led to the pupils and me bonding over .. memes ..

 

 

The thing that struck me was how not everybody knows how to use memes correctly. There is a certain picture which goes with a certain phrase. It’s simply not done to mix them up, be it by mistake or on purpose. Some teachers are not aware of this new meme trend and simply slap a sentence on a picture and think they have just made a meme. But lo and behold when the meme generation sees this atrocity! They will fly in their captains (also a part of the meme culture) who will explain the right usage of the meme and thank him/her for saving the day. Of course plenty of salty meme hooligans will arrive at the picture as well. Planting (remember the forest app? my pun does! and now, so do you!) their sarcastic comments and looking for a fight. And of course there will be the so called grammar nazi. Who will point out every single spelling error.

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So there actually is quite a lot going on in the background of the meme picture. The good thing about memes is that you can use them in many different ways.

For example, you can use them to motivate your students in a new and “cool” way.

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You can use them to activate prior knowledge about actual events

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You can use them in a slightly sarcastic way to tell pupils what NOT to do

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You can use them as fillers to make conversation

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Those are just a few ways of incorporating memes in lessons.The thing that is so good about memes is that it’s something new and if you want to show you know what today’s youth is all about you only have to learn how to meme. Of course not everybody takes this meme generation serious, which is understandable, considering not every understands it, it all depends on if you want to be up-to-date. I just want to point out that because of the increasing usage of technology in classrooms, at home, in the bus and wherenot, memes have had a chance to become so big because you can communicate with people all over the world. Which in turn leads to a bigger need to understand and use the English language successfully which leads to a greater responsibility for English teachers!

But remember the meme culture actually is a thing and it has certain manners that need to be kept in mind. For example you always post a picture of a potato at the bottom of long posts.i - kopie - kopie

 

Duolanguages with Duolingo

Another great app/website I use is Duolingo. It’s a language learning program which works really well. You start off on a very low level and expand your language knowledge. Something that really makes it worth your while is the sheer amount of different languages. Most courses revolve around a single language but Duolingo is so big there is a very long list to choose from. Another thing that makes it great to use in class is that it’s free and you can use it anywhere as long as you have an account. Which you need anyway to save your progress.

I have helped some pupils out during my last internship that were struggling to keep up with the rest of the class. With both of them I started a Duolingo account and we kept at it during my internship. At the start we needed some time to figure out how Duolingo works but once we knew it all started going very fast! You start off with basic sentences, words and grammar structures. I have noticed it’s the same for every language. You do different exercises which let you see, hear and type words. When you have mastered them you go up a level. This keeps repeating itself whilst the difficulty of the levels slowly goes up. But because you are so intensely repeating the words you are actually ready for the next steps.

A few good features about the in-game system is that you have a certain amount of hearts. When you give too many wrong answers and by doing that losing all your hearts, you have to start over. This is something that a lot of pupils recognize in their own games and makes it just a tad more competitive. Another thing that’s incorporated is the flame like icon. It sort of makes me think of “being on fire” or in other words being on a spree. If you play/learn consecutive days in a row you gain bonusses!

Lately Duolingo has actually put serious effort into making their courses fit for use inside school. Many teachers use it in their classrooms on a daily basis! The great part about this is that pupils can actually work anywhere, as long as they have Wi-fi!

The thing that really draws me in is how happy and colourful everything looks. Most people think about boring, dull repeating of the same stuff over and over when you ask them what they think of when you say “language learning” but Duolingo shows this is not at all the case!

Stay focused!

With the Forest: Stay focused app. I installed this app a few months ago, messed around with it for about an hour, which resulted in a wilted forest, and I got so sad over it I didn’t touch it for the next few months. However I had another look at it and I actually find it a very useful app! The app is all about leaving your phone alone. Which sounds a bit contradictory with it being an app but it’s very effective if you need to finish projects or you simply want to stop yourself from checking on your missed notifications every other minute.
I myself don’t struggle with being addicted to my phone, I sometimes forget to keep it close in case of an emergency but there are plenty of moments during the day I wish people wouldn’t be on their phones. Just think about getting on the bus or a train and people bumping into you or taking up extra spaces and not realizing it simply because they’re … on … their … phones.

How many times do their parents have to tell them to get off their phone? But wait! Sometimes the parents are the ones actually being glued to their phones.

Anyway back on-topic!

The thing that I like the most about this app is the minimalistic approach. The forests look nice and cartoon like and the explanations are short and simple. There is a lot of room for personalisation. For example you can choose what type of seed you want to plant in your virtual forest. Depending on the amount of time you choose to keep it idle. It ranges from 5 minutes all the way up to 2 hours. The smallest time unit is of course a smaller bush but even so you have a choice form different concepts per time unit. Of course there is the pay-a-small-fee-to-get-additional-content option because we are oh so vulnerable when it comes to getting extra stuff (but that’s a topic for a different post) which gives you even more different plants, trees and bushes. Even themed ones!

Another great new feature is the summary option which allows you to quickly check your statistics. This way you have a handy overview which helps with improving your rhythm even more.

I can actually picture this app being used in class. This way you can check who has sinned, by looking at their wilted forest and who has made the most out of the opportunity, by having a lush green forest.

I have added some pictures and screenshots to show some features and give a general idea of what the app looks like below.

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Textadventures.co.uk

When I was working on our Design Assignment we looked at different things we could use. At some point we found Textadventures.co.uk. I made an account and found out it’s actually really cool and very useful!

Basically the site gives you the option to create and play text adventure stories.
You can design everything you can think of. There are so many possibilities it would take hours and hours of investigation and simply trying the site to find all the features.

I myself have tried a lot of different stories. The fun part is that they are actually made by other users. So you don’t need to get certificates, you can just sit behind your pc and work on your own stories. You can make it as detailed and neat as you want.

The cool thing about this site is the huge amount of great features. For example you can make a story with choices. Meaning you can assign answers to get recognised by the site to determine what your next screen will be. A simple example would be “You have reached the crossroads, do you turn left or right?” And have the pupils either type “left” or “right” into the chat box. According to what answer was given the on screen text will differ.

Another great feature is the possibility to use fragments and links. This makes it very easy to let pupils watch something and give additional tasks beforehand or afterwards. This way you can make the lesson very interactive without having to worry about the pace. Every pupil can just work in their own pace and progress through the digital story while watching the materials.

Something else that’s cool is the fact that there is an actual app that goes with the website. So if you do not have access to a pc you can always just download the app so you can use your phone or tablet.

Textadventures is completely free. You only have to make an account by signing up and you’re ready to go! The site is organised into categories so you can choose what type of activity you want to do.

I am definitely going to use this during my next lessons!

TELL me about Gamification!

What is it?

It’s a new trend! A new way of teaching and above all a big step forward! Why not incorporate the very thing teachers seem to fear? A lot of teachers complain about pupils being addicted to games. Not just on their desktops but also on their tablets/Ipads and even their phones. Can you really blame them? School is made out to be boring and games are supposed to be fun. It has already been proven pupils are no good at making long term decisions. So the questions: “Do I make my homework?” and “Do I study for that test I have next week?” or “Do I play a nice video game (with my friends)?” Aren’t very hard to answer for most pupils. For years it has been a problem that a lot of teachers and parents have struggled with but now a solution seems to have been found: why not implement game aspects in your lessons? It’s a big succes!

Can we use it in our classroom?

Yes we can! Studies have shown that certain game aspects motivate students to do more work and work harder in general. There is a wide range of possibilities. For starters you would have to think about what type of game you want to use. A simple Kahoot! quiz may seem nice at first but apart from a lot of fun and laughter, what do pupils really gain? Mr van Geffen has made a very handy, compact guide on how to set up lessons in his “Gids voor Gamification”. It’s an all-in-one guide. He starts by explaining what this new hype is and later on goes down into detail on how to set up lessons, or even whole courses based on the ideas of Gamification. There are so many advantages gamification has to offer over the old method of teaching from a book!

What are the advantages over traditional teaching/learning?

So what are those so called advantages?

Well,

  1. It’s very accessible. Many schools have even adopted the new Ipad class idea. Every pupil either has a laptop or an Ipad/Tablet to work on. This makes gamification perfect! They will always BTOD!
  2. Pupils feel as though you connect with their world. They like using technology because it is such a big part of their lives already. It’ll be like second nature to them.
  3. Pupils will be very motivated. Just take a second to think about all the different ways of motivating them. Give them badges when they successfully complete tasks, maybe give them perks so they can show them off to their fellow students.
  4. A bit of competition is good! They will work harder and achieve things they didn’t think possible at first. Give them a timer, make them compete against each other, have them race to the finish, award a price to the winner.
  5. It’s very easy to keep track of their progress. Most programs have a built in section in which you can analyse all the data.
  6. Pupils won’t see it as boring work. They will actively work to get better while having fun as well.
  7. Pupils will develop their skills without realizing. They don’t have to grind word lists or repeat the same exercises over and over to understand the grammar. But once they reach the test and their mark will be higher, they will have this very precious moment of personal achievement!
  8. Rewards! You can make this as big or small as you want. I previously mentioned giving them badges for completing tasks. You can also give them a mark, a real prize (which they can touch), a big compliment in-game, points to level up.. There are so many possibilities!

What do you need to keep in mind?

Games are all fun and games (see what I did there…?) until they start taking over. Enthusiasm should be rewarded but the teacher needs to keep an eye out for pupils that take it too far. Maybe they can’t help it but they get so competitive they turn into mean trolls? (deliberately making fun of people, maybe even in a hurtful way) Or maybe they can’t stop themselves from playing these games all the time and other subjects suffer?

There is a lot of potential! But like always you need to give students a very clear structure and guidelines on what to do, and what not to do.

What do I think about it?

I love games! Not just digital ones… There are so many good things games have to offer in education. I would gladly incorporate games in my lessons. I wouldn’t let them take over my lessons, and I wouldn’t want to work without courseware, but games can motivate students to pay attention just a little longer, or they pick up just that bit of extra information.

TELL me more

After last week’s lesson I decided it would be a good idea to spend this blog on the different models that are used within TELL. Not just to give my readers a good understanding of the terminology but also to help myself study and understand these models.

Model 1: The TPACK Model

Shulman first came up with the PCK model when he wanted  to find a way to integrate language and teaching. Nowadays that model would be outdated so a new part was added called Technology. Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge determines what kinds of knowledge aspects teachers need to have to successfully use technology inside the classroom.

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The three circles are the main knowledge bases called Technological, Content and Pedagogical knowledge. These circles are slightly interwoven to show that most things are connected in this model. A lot of important knowledge is hidden in the intersections of this model. The ultimate goal is to reach the middle so you are in the TPACK area.

CK -> Content Knowledge: Teacher’s knowledge about the subject matter to be learned or taught.
PK -> Pedagogical knowledge: Teacher’s deep knowledge about the processes and practices or methods of teaching and learning.
TK -> Technology knowledge: Knowledge about certain ways of thinking about, and working with technology, tools and resources.
PCK -> Pedagogical Content Knowledge: knowledge that is applicable to the teaching of specific content.
TCK -> Technological Content Knowledge: An understanding of the manner in which teachnology and content influence and constrain one another.
TPK -> Technological Pedagogica Knowledge: An understanding of how teaching and learning can chnge when particular technologies are used in particular ways
TPACK -> Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge: Underlying truly meaningful and deeply skilled teaching with technology.

Basically this model describes all the aspects of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge. Not everything has the complete TPACK package.

Model 2: The SAMR model

The SAMR model is about the different levels of technology use. It’s not a ladder that you have to climb but it states the different types of technology integration in class.

Dr Ruben Puentedura came up with this model to make it easier for teachers to integrate technology in their learning experiences. Substitution and Augmentation are mainly about enhancing the materials that are already in use. While Modification and Redefinition are about transforming materials so that the use of technology and it’s usefulness is maximized.

Image result for samr model

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Model 3: Digital Literacies

In the whole world people acknowledge the importance of the upcoming digital literacies. Special subjects have been developed and are taught about them.  Nowadays it’s important to know how to use these new abilities as effectively as possible. It’s not just about knowing what the digital literacies are, but to be able to use them in an advanced way. You need to be up to date.

Image result for 4 types of focus digital literacies nicky hockley

 

 

TELL me all about TELL!

Hi,

I will be keeping a blog for the purpose of showing handy apps and websites I have found during the TELL lesson series. In every post I will comment on them using my personal opinion. I will also try to incorporate lots of unnecessary puns and other horrible TELL jokes which will have probably been used before, a lot of times, like, a lot.

So my first idea was Kahoot! which lasted exactly until the teacher said Kahoot! was not supposed to be used due to the large amount of blog posts already written about Kahoot! Which is a shame, but it’s okay. There are plenty of other resources.

After that I opened the installed apps folder on my phone and found: SOS Notes and Socrative.

I will be spending the remainder of this post on explaining what SOS Notes is, considering many a post will have been written about Socrative I think.

So let me TELL you!

Many weeks back when I was in the local bookstore I decided I needed more notebooks. So I went to the notebook section and my eyes fell on the Oxford emblem. I picked it up, had a quick look, and it turns out the pages have a special sign embedded on the corners.

I read the instruction page very carefully and it actually turns out those signs are special codes that your phone recognizes, when you download a certain app. I ended up buying 2 notebooks simply because I felt I needed these new, cool, innovative and mostly fancy notebooks. When I came home I installed the app for it called SOS Notes.
Basically what you do is write your notes in your notebook – open the app – click the scan button – then the app automatically looks for the 4 signs which determine a page – it works its magic with the camera, meaning you get super high quality photos if you hold your phone still whilst making the picture – and you can upload your notes to your phone/pc/apps like dropbox – which makes it super easy!
1. You always have your notes on you
2. You don’t have to deal with big stacks of paper
3.  You don’t lose notes
4. The app doesn’t take any room on your phone
5. The app is very optimized. There is no unnecessary fuss involved, the layout is clean and simple. It takes no time to set it up, just make sure you give your note the right name.

At first I thought the result would be blurry pages which would be unreadable, but because of the 4 signs the app can make the picture very clear!
For those of you who are interested: http://www.oxfordsosnotes.com/
Bookstores should sell them but I know that sites like Bol.com also have them in stock