Two Tools that Stand Out for Me
Flipgrid is an amazing tool. As soon as I learned it, I knew that I would use it in the classroom.
Flipgrid offers students the opportunity to exhibit their speaking abilities in a fun and innovative way. It affords me as the teacher the ability to be able to hear each of my students speak-a task that I cannot do effectively without such a tool for many reasons.
Firstly, many students shy away from speaking in front of their teacher but Flipgrid allows them the opportunity to practice as much as they like and then speak into the camera. This is something they cannot do when the teacher is walking around the classroom and may “eavesdrop” at any point into their conversation. At that point of “teacher” intervention, they have no choice but to speak, regardless of how much they were or were not able to practice before hand.
Additionally, Flipgrid is simply practical because it is a forum where I can hear each student speak on my own time, after class, when I can really listen and assess their oral abilities. With 31 students in my classroom, this is hardly an option in a 40 minute period.
I gave my students an unseen about becoming a taxi driver in London. They needed to read it and answer the follow-up questions. I then transformed this reading activity into a speaking activity.
I asked my students to extrapolate and think about possible conversations that could come out of this unseen. Together we filled in the attached document with their ideas. Their ideas included conversations between a taxi driver and a passenger, two student taxi drivers, a taxi driver and his family and more.
The students worked in a pairs, chose a scenario that interested them and then reread the passage several times to fine tune their expertise in the material. In this way, they practiced their reading skills repetitively, reinforced their comprehension and garnered the confidence to be able to use this information in conversation mode.
They DID not write down a script for their conversation but were allowed to formulate ideas of what they would talk about.
The students practiced their conversations as much as they wished and when they felt ready, sat down in front of the computers and began filming their conversations with Flipgrid.
It was truly enriching to watch the students; sitting in class, in the hallways and on the grass in the schoolyard, engrossed in the activity and earnestly trying to produce a conversation that would not only sound good but that would “look good” as well, thanks to Flip Grid.
Take a look and see for yourself!
I’m proud to say that I have shared this tool with my colleagues in a PLC hishtalmut and they have eagerly adopted it.
The second tool that really stands out for me is Camtasia.
I used Camtasia in the same way that I used Flipgrid.
That is, the students again became experts in a topic that they had read about. Again, they brainstormed ideas about conversations that could reasonably come out of these texts. After practicing several times, they then prepared a green screen and started filming, using their smartphones. In addition, they chose a picture or a video, based on the information of the text to use as their background setting.
They sent me their finished products and I put them on Camtasia. They did an amazing job.
I’m proud to say that the students enjoyed Camtasia so much, they opted to use it for a different school project.
Because the students do not want me to publish their work on YouTube and because I cannot upload a video to Ourboox from my computer, I will send you their Camtasia creations in a separate venue.
1. Where did you hear about the course?
I heard about the course while I was sitting on a bus in South Africa and Howie mentioned that he was giving a class in Tikshuv that would be very worthwhile .
2. Was the course beneficial for you?
Yes, I enjoyed learning new tools and incorporating them into my lessons. As explained in the first part of the assignment, I especially enjoyed learning how to use the Flipgrid and Camtasia tools. At the end of the course, Howie also exposed us to some other digital tools that I hope to use in the classroom like the online Powerpoint Games. It was nice to hear the inspiring lectures on TED but I didn’t feel like they addressed the digital goals of this course.
3. What were the strengths and the challenges for you during the course?
The strengths were learning new tools. I didn’t feel that there were challenges. The assignments were reasonable and self explanatory.
4. Would you prefer to learn face 2 face …or long distances lessons?
Learning long distance lessons if VERY convenient but there are disadvantages. The first one that I can think of is that when learning a new tool, teachers often need guidance and the security of knowing that the instructor is nearby to help. In addition, if we had more face to face lessons, then the teachers could share and demonstrate how they used the digital tools in their lessons. I believe there is great value in this exchange of ideas. While the forum is meant to address this purpose, I think that in reality, teachers find it difficult to commit to taking the time to examine their colleague’s work in enough depth on a forum.
5. What do you feel was missing from this course?
I would have liked to learn more digital tools.
6. What are your suggestions for next year…
I would suggest exposing the teachers to more tools, expect them to use them in their classrooms and then return to the course and share their ideas of implementation with the other teachers in the class. Because there would be ongoing assignments, I think that a final project could be annulled.