My top 11 blog posts from ’11

Magic in Education! is a blog that was created for the needs of a presentation on technology in the classsroom. Me and my collegue Makis Aggatheris were assigned to create a 3 hour workshop on New Technologies in Teaching. While we were preparing the workshop I came with an idea of having a blog where the participants can visit and see the links that I suggest them to visit. When the workshop was over, I decided to maintain the blog and keep publishing my ideas on technology in classroom. It is now 8 months amd it has been already visited from visitors from all over the world.

Here you can see my top 11 blog posts (according to the blog’s statistics) from ’11:

11. Make your own comics, Witty Comics

10. Penzu, your own personal journal and online diary

9Using Blogs in Education

8Wallwisher, Words that Stick!

7. Social Networks in Education

6How we created an interactive whiteboard with low cost!!

5. Web 2.0 apps

4. Prezi.com – Creating ashtonishing presentations

3.  How to create your own superhero comic

 2. 30+1  Ways You Should Be Using Facebook in Your Classroom

and….

1. Glogster.com: Poster your self! (Text, Images, Music and Video)

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New Technologies in Teaching Presentation Files

In the following link you may find the whole presentation (ppt file) of the workshop conducted  on Monday 30th May 2011: New Technologies in Teaching Presentation

You may also find the handout here: Handout

and the information leaflet on how we made our interactive whiteboard here: Interactive Whiteboard Leaflet


MICCAM – Create sentences with Video Vocabulary

If you want a new way of how to make your students become more interested in creating different sentences and familiarizing with different accents, here is your answer: your.miccam.com! The whole website is a video vocabulary. Its homepage consists of hundreds of different words. What can the visitors of this website do?

Your.miccam.com has many different uses.

The first of these uses is that the users are able to combine words and create many different sentences. In order to combine the words, the only thing that visitors have to do is to click on the words they want. They can send these sentences to every person they want through their facebook or twitter account or their e-mail address.

Users have also the ability to record and upload to the site any word they want by using the “Record Your Word” option.

Another use of this website is that users can familiarize with different accents, since each word that exists in this website has been recorded by people of different countries. They are able to listen to different people speaking and they practice their listening skill.

When you visit your.miccam.com do not forget to have a look on the “Create Your Chain” option. This is a special function that gives the users the opportunity to record a 3-second long video. Then, they can connect these videos with each other and create a funny story for a special occasion (eg the birthday of one of their friends). There are also some videos already available in order to get an inspiration. Do not forget to click on the “Sentences Gallery” option. Here, the visitors have a first taste of how the application goes on. I think that this option is a good way to start using this application.

You may wonder how you can use this application with your students. Here is your answer. Through this application, young students can practice on many things. By listening to different accents, they will get familiar with real-spoken English language. By combining words in order to make phrases and sentences, they develop their creativity. Also, you can have them record their own sentences in order to test their pronunciation and their speaking skills in general. I hope you find this application worth visiting!

Wordle – Beautiful Word Clouds

Wordle: Untitled

If you want to have an image of which terms or words you use more frequently while you write, Wordle.net is the application that you should use. Wordle is an application for generating “word clouds” from a text you have provided. But what is a “word cloud”? It is a visual depiction of words that make up the content of a web site. Words that exist in a “word cloud” are known as tags.

It is quite easy to make your own “word clouds”. Wordle.net needs no registration. The procedure goes as follow:

  • At first, you go to the website wordle.net

  • You click on the “Create” icon.

  • Then, you input your text and the URL of any blog, blog feed, or any other web page. You can also enter your del.icio.us username in order to upload your “word cloud”.

  • You click “Submit” and that’s it. Your “word cloud” is ready.

The procedure is very easy and fast. As you will see, Wordle gives prominence to words that appear more frequently in your text. However, you are able to make any change you want on the words’ font, size, colour and layout. As it is also mentioned in the site’s homepage, the “word clouds” you create are yours and you can use them in any way you want.

In my opinion, the major teaching perspective of Wordle is that you can accompany every text that you upload on the Internet and is going to be read by your students with an image in which you will summarize and highlight the most important terms. In this way, the students will pay more attention on them.

I am also sharing an interesting post about Wordle: Top 20 Uses for Wordle 

Glogster.com: Poster yourself!(Text, Images, Music and Video)

If you have a classroom full of teenagers and you do not know how to make your lesson more interesting for them, here is your answer: www.glogster.com! But what is Glogster.com? Glogster is a social network, based totally on flash, that allows users to create their own online posts which are called “glogs”. Glogs are interactive. This means that the readers of the glogs can insert things on it and, generally, contribute on their content.

Now, you may wonder how you can create your own glog. I have to admit that it is quite simple. At first, you have to register in the application for free and here you are. As soon as you subcribe for Glogster.com you can create your glogs easily. You are able to add to your posts backgrounds, images, videos, text, graphics, audio files and other staff either from Glogster.com’s gallery or from your own files. Your glogs can be shared with other people on the web, such as your students. Also, you have the ability to download and save them on computer-compatible formats.

An other part of Glogster.com is Glogster EDU. Glogster EDU was launched in order to serve teaching purposes. It allows teachers and students to use glogs for education. The procedure to create your glogs on Glogster EDU is the same as on the Glogster.com. A difference between these two apps is that Glogster EDU is not free. It is up to you which one to choose.

Many of you will wonder why to use Glogster.com. My answer is that it has many advantages for the young learners. As you will realize, since it was first launched in 2007, Glogster is very popular among teenagers in many countries around the world. That’s why your students will find it fascinating to use a so entertaining social application for teaching them. Also, you can share your glogs on your Facebook or Twitter account with your students. Teenagers check out their accounts everyday, believe me. Do not forget…Glogster.com lets students express their imagination and ideas freely and we, as their educators, should listen to them and take their opinions into consideration.

Example:

Here is an example of a glogster used for educational purposes. You may broswe in the application to see other instances.This particular glogster is a book review from a student:

Example of an educational glogster

 

Images:

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Tutorial:

 

 

Wall.fm – Letting Everybody Have His Own Social Network

If you want to create your own social site and use it in order to come in contact with your students, here is your answer: wall.fm! This is a Web application that lets you built your own social network (such as Facebook, Twitter or MySpace) in a few minutes. It is free of charge and I am sure that you will find it very easy to handle.

Wall.fm offers a lot of features. You can upload all your work on your social site and have your students read from their computers instead of distributing your material on sequence in class. You are able to instantly chat with your students and help them solve any problem they may face while reading. Also, the features of using wall.fm’s wiki will be ready soon.

In order to start you have to give a name to your social network and then create the network’s web address. You may also write a tagline and a small description for your site. After that, you have to select the site’s theme (there are many to choose from) and register your profile. Bear in mind that you can connect via your Facebook account! And that’s all, fellows, your social network is ready. You have to manage your material and invite your students to join it.

One thing you ought to know is that wall.fm protects your network from being deleted or destroyed. That’s why you do not have to be afraid that your work might be lost. In order to learn more, visit the wall.fm home page and read the “Open source community software” part. Click on the “Learn more” option to read the whole passage.

The only drawback of wall.fm is that you might be asked to pay a small amount of money if you want to use some of the premium features of the website.

That’s all I had to say about wall.fm. Once again, I want to highlight that creating your own social network is a great way to store your work, come in contact with your students and help them overcome any difficulty they may face.

Prezi.com – Create astonishing presentations

If you want to create a lot of presentations using your computer but do not want to have to create slides, prezi.com is an application that suits you. It is an application that lets you create your own presentation online. The thing which makes this application different from other similar applications(eg. Microsoft PowerPoint) is that you do not have to create different slides. You place your material, such as text, images, videos and other presentation objects on a surface that works like a kind of “canvas”. In this way, you are able to create non-linear presentations and zoom in or out in order to go through all the material you have placed on your presentation, Also, you have the ability to create a “path” in which you will arrange the order in which your material is going to be presented.

Although you may find it difficult to handle Prezi at first, this does not mean that it is a complicated application. This will happen because it is based, as I have already mentioned, on a different concept. On the contrary, Prezi is quite easy to handle and I am sure that you are going to find it fascinating. There are, also, a lot of videos on Youtube showing how Prezi works. In the end of my presentation, I am going to supply you with one of these videos that I found very helpful. Another difference of this application is that it is designed and based on flash. That’s why you are going to need a flash player and a fast Internet connection in order not to “burn” your PC’s CPU.

In order to get started with Prezi, you have to register. Prezi is what we call a “freemium” application. This means that you can work on it either as a free user or as a premium one. The very first thing you have to do in order to register is to choose a license. The first one is the free license, known as the “Public license” which supplies you with 100MB storage space and an offline player. However, your presentation will have the Prezi logo on them and they will be published publicly in Prezi’s showcase. For more storage place and other benefits unfortynately you have to pay some subscriptions. For more details visit their subscriptions page.

The only drawback of Prezi, as mentioned by some users, is that you cannot make changes in the text font. This means that the style/colour of the letters is pre-settled and you have to stick with them.

That’s all I had to say about Prezi. I hope you all try it out and you will see that your presentations are going to be much more attractive and your students will LOVE them!!!!!

Here you can see an example of a prezi presentation:

You are also welcome to see a tutorial to see ways of using this application.

How to create your own superhero comic

 

Did you watch superhero cartoons or did you read comics when you were a child? Do you think that comics have beneficial effects on language learning? For those who believe so, I have to present a very entertaining application for creating your own comic or have your students create their comics as well. In order to find this application, you have to visit the internet website http://.superherosquad marvel.com and then click on the “Create Your Own Comic” option.

This site is primarily an entertaining site, since it is about a popular comic series in United Kingdom and in other countries as well, called ‘The Super Hero Squad Show’. This cartoon series portrays the characters of the Marvel Universe (eg Wolverine, Captain America, Ironman and many others) in a cartoonish super-deformed-style. However, you, teachers, do not have to worry that this website is only about games and entertainment. Its comic-creating option is both fascinating and quite educational for your students.

Back to the comic design now. Once you have clicked on the “Create Your Own Comic” option, you have to select if you are going to create either a small comic strip or a whole comic book. Although you are going to use the comic strip in your lesson, I am sure that almost all of your students will be so fascinated that they will visit the website from their PCs and they will spend a lot of time trying to create their own comics.

By using the application, you are going to realize that you can select everything that is going to be inserted in your comic. You can choose comic strip style, background, characters (I wish there were even more characters available), added objects and dialogue bullets. Once you have put these items in your comic strip, you are able to maximize, minimize, rotate or even delete any item that does not suit you. When you finish, you can either print your outcome or you can download it to your computer as an image (.pdf) file. The only drawback of the site is that, although it is fast, it is Flash-heavy which means that you may need a fast Internet connection in order to run the application from many computers simultaneously.

 

Benefits of the site:

 

It is a site that can be used with different levels of students. Although the whole concept of using a comic strip in the teaching process may seem childish, it can work with older students as well. You can create a number of your own comics that you will hand in your younger students (one in every lesson). In this way, young children will develop their reading skills and their vocabulary. Concerning your teenager and adult students, you will have them make their own comics, consisted of minimum 3-4 way. This will help them develop their imagination and their writing skills.

I think that your students will be greatly benefited by the usage of comics in the teaching process. They will find it as a game but through this game, they are going to improve their skills in English. I am looking forward to telling me your opinion after you have used the “super hero squad” comic-maker.

 

 

 

A Test Generator that you are going to love!

Written by Menelaos Aggatheris:

Are you tired of trying to create a test for your students through the old-fashioned way? Are you of those who cannot stand the photocopying machines? Or are you just a friend of PCs and new technologies, in general? I have the best solution for you!

Few days ago, I came up with a program for creating tests on-line, a so-called “test generator”. The application’s name is ‘testmoz test generator’ and its email address is testmoz.com. Testmoz is a simple test generating application created by Matt Johnson, an undergraduate student at Washington State University, Vancouver.

Testmoz is an easy-to-handle application. It needs no registration or log in, that’s why every teacher can use it either they have a good relationship with their computer or not. As soon as you visit its main page, you will come up with some useful information concerning this application along with the two main options of the site, “Make a Test” and “View a Demo”. Through the “Make a Test” option, you will create your own option. I will talk about this option in extent, later. The “View a Demo” option will lead you to a sample test, in order to have a first taste of how the program works and see the different types of questions (True/false, multiple choice, multiple response and fill in the blank questions).

Let’s talk, now, about the creation of your test. Firstly, you click on the “Make a Test” option. Then, you have to insert your test’s name and password (you have to remember the password in order to give it to your students). In the next page, you are given some information about the creation of your test. Again, you have to remember the test URL in order to give it to your students. The “settings” page lets you to Change the quiz name, description and what happens after the quiz is graded. In order to insert your questions, you move to the “questions page” and you click on the “Add New Question” option. Then, you have to select one out of the four types of questions (True/false, multiple choice, multiple response and fill in the blank questions as already mentioned). After you have finished, you click on the “Save and Add New Question” option till you insert all your questions and click “Save”. After finishing that, you only have to publish your test. To do so, you move to the “Publish” page and you click on the red “Publish” button. You can see the results of those who have taken your test on the “Reports” page of the application.

Before I finish my presentation, I will briefly focus on the main advantages of Testmoz (as proposed by the application’s makes, as well):

 

  • Detailed Reports

See the scores, averages and actual responses to questions. You can even export the data to CSV.

  • No Registration

Neither you nor your test takers have to register.

  • Professional Appearance

The neutral colour scheme works with any business or school.

  • No Ads

You won’t find any text ads, banners, or pop-ups.

  • Passcode Protected

Prevent strangers from taking your test.

 

I hope that all of you will visit Testmoz.com and find it as fascinating as I found it. I will be waiting responses of those who will use this application!

 

What you should know about Interactive Whiteboards

written by Menelaos Aggatheris

INTERACTIVE WHITEBOARDS


A modern technological tool which is already available in some private and public schools in many countries (mostly in private ones!) is the interactive whiteboard. However, most of you do not know what an interactive whiteboard is and how it can be used in a classroom. I think it is high time for you to learn some things about an educational tool which, in my opinion, will be imported in most of the school in the next few years.

Let’s start our discussion by defining what an interactive whiteboard is, in general. It is a device that includes a large interactive screen/board sensitive to touch, that works via a computer and a projector. The projector projects the computer’s desktop on the sensitive surface of the screen/board. In this way, the whiteboard’s screen becomes a “live” computer desktop, which can be tapped to pull down menus, highlight, and move or open files by the users.

In order to make this device work you have to connect the interactive whiteboard with a computer through a wired medium such as a USB or a serial port cable, or via a wireless connection such as Bluetooth. A projector is connected to the computer’s video output and projects an image of the computer’s desktop on the board’s surface. But this is not enough. In order to make the whiteboard’s screen act as a Human Input Device (HID), which means as a mouse or a keyboard, you need to install to the computer a special device driver software. You can use either your finger or a stylus (digital pen) or an other form of token pen as a pointing device for the whiteboard.

 

Why to use interactive whiteboards in teaching?

After presenting you a general definition of what an interactive whiteboard is and how it works, I think that it is time to give you some reasons in order to understand why this device is so useful in the teaching process. Most of these reasons have been proposed by experts who have conducted a lot of research around this topic within the last years.

The reasons are:

  1. The interactive electronic whiteboard is great for demonstrations. The presenter’s ability to run the application from the board and to mark the important points on it by writing with the stylus or using one’s finger like a mouse brings on enthusiasm to students.

  2. The board can accommodate different learning styles. Tactile learners can benefit from touching and marking at the board, audio learners can hear the class discussion and visual learners can see what is taking place as it develops at the board.

  3. All ages of students respond favourably to board use. Researches have shown that the use of the interactive whiteboard in classes, in which the age of the students ranges from younger learners to graduates of the university, is always successful.

  4. One-computer classrooms can maximize the use of limited computer access by using the whiteboard.

  5. It can interface well with other peripherals. You can use any other type of peripheral device you may want to, in order to present some more material to your classroom.

  6. The board is great for meetings where the participants need printed copies of the proceedings. After the end of a particular exercise(e.g. brainstorming) or at the end of the lesson, you can print and give out handouts of the whole lesson to your students.

 

Let me now talk about the two main reasons why to use interactive whiteboards, in my opinion.

  1. It is an interactive device. Let us not forget that we talk about a device in which students can feel free to input their ideas on the board and the teacher can distinctively control them by sitting on their computer. In this way, students feel that they actively contribute in the teaching process and are more efficient than they used to be.

  2. It is a fact that interactive whiteboard is a kid magnet! In young learners’ classrooms, all the children are drawn to the board and they want to use it in every opportunity. Children’s participation in class is much larger than it used to be in the past and therefore their grades are greatly improved.

 

How to use interactive whiteboards in class?

 

This is going to be the last part of my presentation concerning the interactive whiteboards. I am going to supply you with a list of ideas of how to use the interactive whiteboard in your classrooms. Again, most of the points are based on researches which have been conducted on this issue.

 

Here are some suggestions of how you can use the interactive whiteboard:

  • Save lessons to present to students who were absent

  • Create video files to teach a software application, a lesson, or as a review to be posted to the server or web.

  • Use the built-in maps to teach continents, oceans, countries, or states and capitals.

  • Present presentations created by student or teacher

  • Have students create e-portofolios including samples of their work and narration

  • Digital storytelling

  • Teach whole class computer or keyboarding skills

  • Brainstorming

  • Take notes directly into PowerPoint presentations

  • Reinforce skills by using on-line interactive web sites

  • Creating a project calendar

  • Teach editing skills using editing marks

  • Use highlighter tool to highlight nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.

  • Teaching students how to navigate the Internet

  • Illustrate and write a book as a class. Use the record feature to narrate the text.

  • Diagramming activities

  • Teaching vocabulary(Electronic Word Wall)

  • End each day by having students write one thing that they learned

 

This is a first presentation of some important features of interactive whiteboards. I hope you find them helpful. Do not hesitate to ask questions for things that you want a further analysis.

Final note: Always remember that, although it looks like a game to some people, interactive whiteboard is a powerful instructional tool and with proper planning, preparation, and training, it can be adapted for use with a wide range of subjects and ages!!!!

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You may see an example of an interactive whiteboard below: