Research and Exploration of Curriculet

Curriculet is a tool that allows its users to add to any reading assignment: questions throughout the text, media annotations and quizzes. The tool also allows teachers to keep track on their students’ work in real-time and give them feedback. It is possible to login as student or teacher. Teachers will have access to a store of pre-made Curriculet and the possibility to create their own. PDF, GoogleDocs, or Word document can be imported. When teachers will select a certain passage of the text, it will allow them to embed a note, ask a question, or create a quiz. Students will need a code or an URL provided by their teacher to have access to their Curriculet classroom’s page. After their reading and questions answering, students would get a report on their answers and the data would be available to their teacher.

This how Curriculet is presented on their official website.

The store allows teachers to buy and use some public domain literature, searchable by categories like grade level and genre. A pretty wide range of classics from literature are available, but there are not as many contemporary titles (better for High School level than Elementary). Of course, those titles are offered with ready-made Curriculets. A Curriculet is all annotations, questions and quizzes added to a text, grouped together.

, an Elementary Classroom Teacher from Colorado, described in his review, how this tool is good for learning. He first explain that for students this tool is perfect for improving their reading comprehension skills. The reading experience is altered in a positive way because of the checkpoints added through the text. The fact that students get correction automatically after answering a question throughout the text, helps them know if they understand each part the text, and they know if they need to read again a particular part. Moreover, if a teacher wants to help students get in deeper comprehension of a text, the teacher could add some of her personal reflections or some reference to other analysis of the text.  Also, Shiroff explains in his review that the ability for students to interact with each other with Curriculet, can have students more engaged in their learning. The reviewer explains secondly that this tool is helpful for teachers who want to measure their students’ understanding of about any text. Assigning Curriculets as homework can free up class time and allow teachers to check if the readings are done and even review students’ annotation on their text. All those use of the tool help teachers keep an eye on their students’ reading comprehension skills.

Donna M., a classroom teacher in California, described her use and explained to her tought of the tool. In her review, she first say that she used this tool as homework to support in-class instruction. She liked that students could add reference of recording, video or photograph to their text. Those references added interest and helped students understand. Also, the reviewer noted that students could highlight sections of the text and have vocabulary words defined. This is particularly interesting for English language learners when they don’t understand new vocabulary or don’t remember a word across an article they are reading, Donna M. also explained that after presenting the tool to her students, she latter had them create their own Curriculets. With regard to the Ministere de l’Education, des Loisirs, et du Sport, English as a Second Language program, using this tool is a good way of developping the Competency 2: Reinvests understanding of texts. Students would practice their text comprehension and represent their understanding of the information and language through reinvestment tasks.

Elizabeth, an High School Teacher, wrote a review of the app. In this review information about pricing is shared. For free, teachers will be allowed to teach 10 Curriculet texts, and for 50$ they will have unlimited usage for a year. Per book, the prices vary from 1$ to 3.50$. For the schools, the price is 5$ per students per year. The reviewer also mention that Curriculet is available on any computer or mobile device, as long as access to the internet is available. She also reported that she liked to  »spy » students, with the Time tracking feature, and know who was reading and how much time they spent on their work. She spent time looking at students’ annotations and highlights to help herself analyse students’ understanding. What was not possible, but she suggested was to have every students’ annotations on one page, and to prevent access to content until a question was answered.

Research and Exploration of PowToon

Powtoon is a videos and presentation creation tool. It allows its users to create their own animated videos and animated presentation that will catch the attention of the audience. It is made to be easy to use so that you don’t need to be a professional in animation to produce something good. A feature that allows users to post their Powtoon on Youtube is included as well as an option to save them on their computer. This app can be used for free or with different subscription options. Some access subscription for education are available but not necessary. PowToon is in constant evolution and updated on a regular basis

This video in presented on PowToon’s official website

When you log in for the first time on PowToon, you can use your Facebook, Google+, or LinkedIn profile, or you can create one on the page. Then, you have to choose if you want to start a ‘studio’ project (video and animated presentation), or a ‘slides’ presentation (informative slideshow). Both are introduced by a quick tutorial. Many templates are also available to help users start with their presentation.

Mieke VanderBorght, a researcher at the University of Virginia, described PowToon as a super-cool presentation tool that relies on teacher for classroom relevance. She started by describing features of the app such as professional voice-overs, possibility to download on DVD, and share with other users. A good number of images, animations, and visual styles are available for free, but the classroom and premium accounts unlock even more. This tool could be good for the classroom because the originality of the presentations created will absolutely catch the attention of students and foster their engagement. VanderBorght proposed letting the kids be creative with the tool. Also, teachers could replace written reports by presentations and ask students to present their work afterward. Students can work on this tool in groups or individually. The benefits of attention-grabbing presentations are explained on the PowToon blogs. However, the researcher tought there was not enough support and examples of the pedagogical use of PowToon compared to what was offered for the buisness use of the tool.

Two different ways the tool can be used in the classroom are described by Steven M. in his review for PowToon. First, he said he asked students to create a 30-60 second video about their past vacation activities. Second, he asked students to create a commercial. Students worked in small groups on this project and used scripts from a bank of radio commercial scripts. Students recorded the audio track of their commercial and then created their visual component. The only issue noted was that only one student at one time could work on the visual editing. The teacher said he preferred to use this tool in place of PowerPoint or Prezi and encouraged his students to do so.

Eric Curts, a Technology integration Specialist, wrote a review for PowToon in education. He gives some examples of activities that could be done with this tool. One that could be adapted to an ESL classroom would be to act out a section from a story students are reading to help them understand. Also, teachers could make short comic to explain new concepts or vocabulary words. The reviewer also noted that the free version of the app was limited to five minutes per videos, but there was no limitation to the number of presentations.

The advantages of a PowToon for education access are that it helps teachers assigning and collecting the work of their students, it allows users to have access to more images and styles, and it is possible to make up to 15 minutes videos.

Research and Exploration of RWT Timeline

ReadWriteThink(RWT) Timeline is a tool for tablets that allows students to create a graphical representation of events trough time. The graphic can be organized by time of day, date, or event, and users can add short or long descriptive text. Images can also be added to the Timeline graphic to make them more visually appealing.

Here is a tutorial video of how to use RWT Timeline

When students open this app they are asked to choose an avatar and a name that won’t appear on their project. Then, they choose a name for their project and see it appear on a blank sheet with a dashed line across the middle. Students can click on the line to add an event to the point they clicked. They can then add a short description and an image to the event. Timelines can be saved, edited and sent by e-mail. The app and the benefits it can have in the classroom have been reviewed by Amanda Bindel, a retired teacher from Texas. She explains that this app is easy enough for elementary-level students to be able to use it. However, not much customization is possible so every project looks similar and the logo of the ReadWriteThink and International Reading Association appear at the bottom of every project. The reviewer explains that the app could be used by students and teachers to present any idea in a timeline graphic. For example, timelines of events from a short story could be organized for better comprehension. Timelines could also be used to present the procedures of an activity or to note achievements throughout the school year.

Karen Larson, an Academic Technology Specialist from California, wrote a field note about RWT Timeline. She recommended this app for any subject areas where organizing events is the goal because there are no date or specified time written on the line so any kinds of information can be organized. She also tought the app was very simple which was good for younger learners, but older students may lose interest to it.

Lindsey Fuller, a sixth grade teacher in Illinois, wrote about her experience with RWT TimeLine on her blog. She said she used the tool to plan research and presentation projects, so every student had to think about what they had to do. Also, she used the tool to lay out the events of a story, in order to facilitate and practice comprehension, and to dissect the development of this story.  The teacher also appreciated that she no longer had to do time lines on paper. With the older technique, the result was most often a mess, where images were hard to integrate, and it took too much space. She would ask students to send their timelines by e-mail when they were done.

In the ESL classroom, I think this app could also be used to explain verb tenses to students because with a clear and easy to edit visual support students would surely understand better. Also, the app could be used to plan a short written assignment and to order main points to be discussed.

This is what the TimeLine interface looks like

Research and Exploration of Socrative

Socrative is a tool that allows teacher to engage their students in assignments and educational activities on their tablets, laptops and smartphones. With this tool it is possible to organize real time types of questionnaires and get instant correction of answers. This can save a lot of time and allow teacher to give more questionnaires to the students. Those questionnaires are also really appreciated by students

The first picture shows the teacher’s interface, the second shows the space race interface, and the third shows the live results interface.

On the app or the website, it is possible to login as a student or as a teacher. Teachers need to sign in or use their Google profile to do so. Students only need their classroom number to log in.  Teachers can create quick questions (Multiple choice, True or False, Short Answer) or series of questions to from quizz. The Space race option is also available, it is the same as normal quizz, but in a game form where students can compete against each other or in teams and see their performance on screen.

.This video is an overview of Socrative

Rachel M., a Spanish teacher at Cornell Senior High School, in Pennsilvania, did a review of the tool and discussed her usage of the tool and reflexions about it. First, she explained that she prefered to use this tool for formative assignments rather than somative ones. For those practice quizzes, the teacher prepared about 10-25 questions. Then, she started answering the questions with the student by using the  »teacher-paced » option. This option allowed her to disscuss of answers and pitfalls and students internalized a lot of this. After, she reviewed most of the questions, she would start a  »Space Race » to evaluate what students recalled from the discussion. Concerning her tought about the tool, she said she loves it for different reasons. One of the reason is that is is free to access from any smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Also, she loved the fact that she could easily look at the data in detail or in general. Another reason is that students can use fictive names when their score appears on the big screen. Socrative allows open-ended responses and this was crucial in the context of a language classroom.

Socrative is a tool that allows to create online teacher-led or student-paced quiz for instant response. This is analysed by Anthony C., an educator with Computer Science and Technology Integration as a focus, in his review of the tool. This educator used Socrative as an entrance or exit-ticket activity. He reviewed past material, considered new ideas and questions, tried out pre-test, and gave feedback. He used short answer questions to consider new ideas, and the multiple choice and true or false questions for student paced quizzes. Students loved to receive instant gratification for their responses. Moreover, the educator tought that the possibility for teachers to view data as a chart in the dashboard was really helpful for a quick scan of students results. This tool was mostly useful for formative and pre-assessment and as an indicator of progress.

On her blog Emma Frances Bloomfield, a communication scholar and Ph.D. student, wrote an article about Scorative. The blogger based her opinion on the arguments that many students revealed to be nervous at the possibility of being called upon or to participate in class discussions. According to her, Socrative relifs the pressure of initiating conversation or being correct. The tool also helps saving time and engaging every students in activities. She used this tool to assign weekly reading re-cap quiz. Those re-cap quizzes were formative, and helped the teacher and students to know if they retained the material. After each quiz, she chose how she wanted to receive the data, in order to refer to them them latter. Knowing in real-time what questions were more difficult for student allowed her to meet the needs of the students in her discussions, without needing students to volunteer.

I personally tried this tool in my Computer APPs classroom as a student and tought it was pretty fun. Even if every student in that class were young adults, the space race activity was really appreciated by everyone. I think those kinds of quizz are so much fun that they could also be used as rewards. For example, in an ESL classroom, at the end of class the teacher could give a quizz in English about a random subject students liked. This way students would have fun doing the quizz while practicing their English written comprehension.

Research and Exploration of Thing Link

Thing Link is an interactive media platform that empowers its users to create more engaging content by adding a wide variety of possible media links to photos and videos. This tool is already very popular and it can be used to create interactive images and videos of all kinds.

This video explains how to start with Thing Link.

Amy Lauren B., a retired teacher, gave her reflexions about this tool in her review. First, she describes the tool as a fun and secure way for students to demonstrate their learning. The process of editing images or videos is pretty simple. Any image or video can be uploaded and then links to web-pages, audio recording, and videos can be added. The educational version of the platform only allows teachers to create groups and control students’ access to those groups or classes. Second, the reviewer explained how Thing Link could be used for learning. She tought that letting students lead the way and express themselves was the best way to use Thing Links’s full potential. Also, teachers could use Thing Link to collect tagged images and create an interactive slideshow for a pre-activity. In ESL, students could use this tool to tag vocabulary words to images or to regroup information (related videos, notes) about a subject for a research.

Mark R., a classroom teacher in a juvenile court and community schools in California, gives in his review some classroom implications for the use of Thing Link. First, this tool could be used to create multimedia definition of new vocabulary, by adding audio pronunciation and other explanation to an image. Second, students could use a calendar image and create links to events or upcoming evaluation. Third, students could analyze different component of an image by making links with previous learning. This tool allows users from the classroom to turn normal images into more inspiring sources of learning.

In her webinar, Susan Oxnevad did a complete overview of the tool. The Thing Link education community manager said this tool provided students an opportunity to enhance their learning. Some particular features of Thing Link are described by the educator in her review. One of those features was the rich media tags that allowed to create a link that will embed information on the page, so you do not have to open a different window to see it. Also, the tool is web based and available across platforms. Moreover, teachers could provide students with many collected resources into one image as an alternative to textbook, or students could create a portfolio to note goals and reflexions.

I did my own experimentation of Thing Link and it took me only a few seconds to be able to login and create my own Thing Link image. It was possible for me to login from Facebook so I did not have to create an account or profile for this website. Once I was connected, step by step instructions showed me how to import an image or URL and then how to add links to it. I also had no difficulties to share it and import it on this article.

Here is the result of my experimentation.