Monday, July 8, 2013

Digging Deeper into the Mainstays

For this week's assignment, I got the chance to look at some new (to me) websites to determine how they might be used to enhance instruction.  Looking at these sites has given me inspiration for next school year, as I hope to implement many of these sites in my classes.

For the category of social websites, I chose to look at Edmodo.  I have been on Facebook since it first came out, and I check Twitter several times a day, so I wanted to look at a site I was less familiar with.  I signed up for an Edmodo account last year when I took a blog/wiki certification course, but I never actually set up a page for my classes.  Throughout this year, I have heard many teachers raving about Edmodo, and they piqued my interest in the site.  In looking into Edmodo more this week, I was extremely pleased to see that they have an app available now!  This makes using Edmodo with my classes seem like a much easier task.  I am constantly on my phone, and much more likely to keep up with websites when I can do so from my phone.  

Next year, I would like to set up an Edmodo group for each course that I teach (French 1A,1B, 1 and 2).  I would like to post all homework and class announcements on this site (and, like I said, I'll be much more likely to do this since there is an app).  My school uses Blackboard currently for things like this, but the process to update Blackboard is time consuming, and I also run into an issue where students have a hard time finding my class information in such a large site.  I also like that I can post assignments on Edmodo.  Posting a copy of assignments to this site would help eliminate excuses with my students, and I think would help curb the issue of missing assignments.  I am really looking forward to using Edmodo with my classes next year!

For the creative websites, I was already very familiar with Glogster, Prezi, and Voicethread.  I have used all of these myself, and have done assignments with Glogster and Voicethread with my students.  Therefore, I chose to look into another creative website,  I came across this site in another Wilkes class, but never had a chance to explore it.  About two weeks ago, a special education teacher I am working with mentioned this site to me as a resource for French students.  She suggested that it would be very helpful for students that are reluctant to perform skits and dialogues in class.  It would allow me to see that they understand conversational flow and questioning techniques, but without making them fearful or anxious.

In exploring Makebeliefscomix more, I am very impressed with this site! The first thing I noticed is that it gives you the capability to type in French.  This is not a common thing to see on a website, so I was impressed with the option.  To explore the site more, I tried creating my own comic.  I'm not one to read directions, so I just jumped into the process, and learned as I went.  It took a little trial and error, but after only about five minutes, I was completely comfortable with the process.  I created a comic in about ten minutes, so I know that my students could do some very creative work if they had a whole class period to work.  Here's a screen shot of the comic I created using this website:
Makebeliefscomix could certainly extend to other subject areas than World Languages!  I did a Google Images search, and found a variety of comics created with this program.  I found comics for math, science, and many other subjects.  I think that Makebeliefscomix is a very engaging site that students would thoroughly enjoy!

In the category of curation website, Pinterest was the only one I was familiar with.  I use Pinterest regularly, and am very comfortable with how Pinterest works.  For this assignment, I decided to give Symbaloo a try.  Symbaloo seems like a very easy way to organize bookmarks.  As someone that can get easily overwhelmed by busy sites, I appreciate the tile format that Symbaloo uses.  It makes bookmarks easy to find and access. I also like the ability to add Widgets.

A quick Google search led me to Symbaloo pages created by other French teachers.  I found one where a teacher organized all her classroom links into one place - the class wiki, Edmodo page, etc.  Another teacher organized French resources, such as a conjugation website, and online dictionary.  I also appreciate that you can change the language on Symbaloo to French, so that all the buttons and instructions are in French.  Little things like that can really help reinforce vocabulary with my students!

I can certainly see myself using Symbaloo with my students.  In my school district, middle school students are not allowed to type in web addresses.  All websites must be provided in link form by the teacher.  This can be challenging when I want my students to do research.  I think that Symbaloo would help in this situation.  I could easily create one site that students could access in order to get the links to sites for their research.  

This week's assignment led me to some websites that I'm very glad to have explored!  I now have some new ideas for next school year, and I think that these websites will help make my classes more engaging and organized.  I look forward to trying these websites with my students!

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