TOONDOO

The educational website tool that I will present today is called Toondoo. This website is designed to the creation of comic strips. The website offers a free version, which is very nice and which has a lot of options. The tools are easy to use. If you are a teacher and you feel the need to show a video on how to use Toondoo to your students, there are videos on Youtube.

You can create your character or choose some already created. Here is an example of a short comic I did using the basic tools of Toondoo:

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Toondoo would suit students of all age. With the younger ones, I would recommend using the options already available; the older could work on creating characters and doing more complex stories. What is nice about that tool is that you can share it with the public, with people you know or you can keep it to yourself. So, if teachers would want their students to do a project, they could all only share it with the teacher. Then, the teacher can present the projects to the class, print them and do a book story or just keep them to themselves and evaluate these projects. An example of a project an ESL teacher could ask his or her students to do could be to reinvent a famous tale like Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland. The students could work in teams of four and do a 8-strip story. Then, the teacher could print the students’ work and put them in a binder; it would be interesting for students to see their classmates’ stories. While doing the projects, students will feel like they are playing and having fun which they will, but the project will also help them to develop their social skills, to practice to write stories in a logical way, to learn how to cooperate, and to practice their English.

On ToondooGuide, it is written that ‘’ Illustrations can be used to get students attention and increase their emotional interest in a topic.’’

A project was conducted in a university by students in a class where they had to learn about special teaching method. For this project, they had to use Toondoo. The goal was to be able to understand behaviorist, cognitive and constructivist learning theories. The students worked in teams of four. After the project, some students were interviewed on their feelings about the project and the use of Toondoo, a student said ‘’the time I spend in this process was amusing and merry. I think it is an effective practice for a permanent learning.’’

There are some people who had problems with Toondoo, some said that the paid version was not really well-organised and that sometimes, they had to pay twice. Others said that the content on the popular page can be inappropriate for students, which is true.

TeachersFirst mentioned ‘’Potential safety concerns: If you are having students create their own TOONDOOS, you will want to prohibit their accessing the links to « popular » TOONDOOS and others available to the public, since the site is open for anyone’s idea of « funny » content. Our editors did not see anything objectionable, but you never know.’’

I personally enjoyed discovering that website and I would be willing to have my students work with it. The free version does not seem like a dangerous place, I would not allow my students to go on the popular page; it would also not be very interesting for them anyway since most of the comics are in a foreign language. It’s a good tool that would make me (as a teacher) and my students happy.

Pixton

Pixton is a website where you can create comics. It is an effective tool for teachers to use with their students to write comics. There is a 30-day free trial. During that trial, you can have up to 50 students. With the free trial, you cannot download your creating, but you can publish it to the website. The paid version, for an individual teacher, is $10.99 per month. With that paid version, the teacher can have up to 200 students’ accounts. The paid account can be canceled at any time. There is also a paid option for schools and districts. It costs $2.15 per student per year.

This website is made for creating comics. There are endless options. With the advanced tool, you can modify and create features. You can create characters and use them in more than one comic. There are of helpful videos on how to create a comic, so you can show some to your students or ask them to watch them individually. You can you can share your work to a website, a social media, and download it to your computer. To print you work, there is a little charge.

By having a teacher account, your students can be added in a list, you can have access to your groups by going into “My Classrooms” section. There, you will see every group; you will be able to edit your lists, to change the name of the groups, to see how much students are in those, and to delete groups. You can also control what students see and do on their accounts.

Teachers can create new project or choose project already created and modify it. The already made projects are sorted by level, subject area, and key word.

Each submitted comic appears on the teacher’s home page. When the teacher see the work, he or she can choose to accept the project or to send it back to the students; the teacher can write a comment like “You did not do enough panels, you need to have 20”, so when the student receives it, the message appear and the student can modify it and resend it again. When the teacher approves a work, it is shared to the students’ gallery where the whole class can see it. Then, students can comment on their classmates’ works to congratulate them or to give pieces of advice for the future.

Sam Shank, a middle school teacher, mentioned that the tool was a “Creative and fun way for students to develop a story”.

Teachers can grade students by using a five stars system or by asking students to evaluate their own work. There is a rubric with evaluation criteria where students can read and choose in which category they think they fit, in A, B, C or D.

All teachers could use it. IF we focus on the English as a second language classroom, ESL teachers, whatever the level they are teaching, could ask their students to work on Pixton. Teachers can also use it on smart board to do an example on how to use it. An example of a project that could be asked to students could be to write a story in 15-20 panels about characters going on an adventure. Just by asking students to do this simple story, they have a chance to practice their second language, to know how to convey an idea precisely and logically, and to know how to tell a story in a logical sequence. Plus, if the project is conducted in pairs or with in teams, the students can also develop their social skills and learn how to communicate and cooperate with others.

Mr. Brown, a 7th grade teacher wrote: “Pixton allowed my students to be fully engaged on the material that I was teaching while simultaneously drawing both their interest and creativity in a very interesting medium!”

Another project could be to create a comic about a grammar rule. The students could create a character who explains the grammar rule in a creative way. During a class, students could come up front to show their comics and read them out loud. It would be a good and fun way to present grammar rules. It would also motivate them to listen and to understand.

Ms. Muncy, a fourth grade science teacher mentioned: “Pixton provided a fun, creative outlet for students to demonstrate their understanding. “

To conclude, I really think that elementary and secondary teachers should use this website. The online aspect is a plus; the school doesn’t have to install the software into their computers. I tried it, it’s really fun, there are so many possibilities, you can really write about anything. It’s also easy to use.

Zimmer Twins

Zimmer Twins is ‘’A nice site for students for digital storytelling for creating web comics” (David Kapuler). On this website, you can create your own movie by using short videos which are already on the website. On some of those little videos, you can write dialogues. The mini-videos are about a boy, a girl, and a cat. You can choose the setting and who is/are in the specific video. There are many options. You cannot upload your final product, but you can share it with the teacher and students.

As a teacher, you can manage your students’ account, you can choose their password. You have your list of students. Beside each name; you can click on movies, to see their creations. You can also view their profile, manage their accounts or delete their accounts. By deleting a student, you also delete all of his or her work. With the free accounts, you have a maximum of remaining movies, if you pay for your account, you can create movies unlimitedly. There is an option to print your students list and their passwords so you can keep track of this information. You can also manage the comments below your students’ videos; if another student comments something inappropriate, you can delete it. In the section “My unread’’, you can view new students work. Beside each students’ videos you have not watch, it is written ‘’new’’. To view the new content, just press on “new”. This is very interesting to have the option to press on that and to be directed on the new content since a teacher could have a lot of students and not know who posted new content without that option.

To have your students view your movie, there is an option you can select which is called “teacher pick”. Selecting that option puts your video on top of the class movies’ page. On that very page, you and your students will be able to see every student’s videos which is a nice way for the students to be inspired and to have a chance to read in English. You can also ‘’favorite’’ your students’ video. By doing so, you will be able to refer to them in the “My Favourites” section at all time and be able to show them to your class as examples. You can always remove a video from that section by clicking on ‘’favorite’’ a second time.

You can also create blog entries. You can, for example, ask students “What do you want the next video to be about”. Then, you can write choices like “cats’’, ‘’A party”, and “A trip to space”. After that, students can vote by selecting their favorite option. It is a nice way to connect with students and to have them feel like they have a say in the activity choices.

An activity a teacher could propose to the students would be to create a short story and to ask the student to finish it in a one-minute video. For instance, the video could be about a boring day and the characters desire to go on an adventure. It would be good in an ESL class with young students (elementary to secondary two, depending on the students). It would be fun for them to develop their creativity and to practice their English. What would also be fun would be for them to present their video in front of their teammates. They could also read the dialogues written in their video to the group; it would make them practice their pronunciation. It would be fun for them to see what their friends did and it would be also good for them to hear the other videos’ dialogues in English.

Someone wrote: “With simple commands and word combinations, kids can create their stories and can see the results of their efforts immediately. Kids can demonstrate learning across a range of subject areas if they set specific goals for their creations.”

Joe T, a teacher, also points out that: “It is a good alternative to slide presentations and other printed presentations that students are frequently assessed.”

The free version only allows the teacher to have five students and to do 12 movies. It would be good if the glass would be divided in, for example, five teams of five to do one group project. Otherwise, the paid version would be a good idea, especially if the teacher plans on using this tool with many students and do the same project in the years to come. See the prices here.

Thinglink

The tool for teaching that I will present today is called Thinglink. A Thinglink is a picture or a video that you annotate by adding hot spots. Hot spots are circles on pictures; you can write a comment or information and share a link or a video in those. If you add a video, it will start on the same page as you put it, over the picture. You can add as many hot spots as you want on a picture. Every time you drag your mouse cursor on one of them, it opens a little window showing your comments and links. Thinglink is also an app for ipads and iphones. To annotate a picture, you can upload a picture from your computer, you can copy a web link, you can import one from Facebook, and you can import one from Flickr. Here is an example of thinglink I made on Divergent. The fact that the app and website offer a free version is a major plus for students and teachers. Laura Conley, a professor, said: “Thinglink is easy to learn. You can basically start using it in minutes!” and I couldn’t agree more! I first arrived to the website not knowing what a Thinglink was and after watching a three minute video on YouTube I knew how the basic features of the website worked.

When you first go to the website, you can chose to get started as a normal user or you can choose to get started as a student or teacher. By choosing to have a teacher account, you have the possibility to add up to 105 students (to have more, you have to pay for the full version). What is good about Thinglink is that teachers can create groups and receive a notification every time someone posts a Thinglink. A project that could be good to do would be for secondary students to present a painting and describe the elements in the painting, the techniques used, etc. For example, they could describe The Birth of Venus, say who are present in of the painting, describe the setting, and the choice of colors. Mary, a middle school teacher from New York mentioned why she likes the app as a teacher: ‘’This app provides students with a quick and easy way to tag and make two-dimensional, non-interactive photos more interactive. By tagging images, students can demonstrate understanding, provide links/URLs to supplemental videos or websites and truly create depth to what might otherwise be basic content.’’

Andrew, a teacher mentioned:  “If used to have students select relevant information and summarize their learning, it can be a quick, interactive activity that helps foster understanding.”

It is great for visual students. It can also develop their creativity. It turns an assignment some would find boring into something amusing. Even elementary students could use it to, for example, present the characters of a movie they saw by using a photo of the cast and using hot spots on every member and then do an oral presentation on their movie.

To conclude, this app would be good for school projects, to integrate ICTs in class, to develop creativity, to help them understand concepts more easily, to develop social skills (by working in teams or doing oral presentations), to motivate students, and to have students feel like they are playing when they are really working.

STORYBIRD

The website I observed this week was Storybird. Storybird is a website where you can create your own personalized stories.

Storybird is a nice tool for teachers. When signing up, you can choose to sign up as a regular user, as an educator/teacher, as a student, as a professional writer or as a professional artist. I chose to sign up as a teacher. When you press on the educator/teacher option, you are directed to a page where you fill in information about your account: the school, the name of the class, the zip code of the school, etc. Then, you can add or invite students to join your group. You can create the students’ accounts by filling a grid by writing every student’s first and last name and by creating a username or you can have your students to create their own account and give them a code to add on their account to be part of your storybird group. For example, my group code was P79P9; I would have to give it to the students by writing it on the board for example and by asking them to add me. To have more information about how to create a teacher account and how to manage it, please see this page.

There is a tab to create assignments. When creating an assignment, your fill in a form. You create a name for your activity, a description, you put an image or a video to help the students understand the assignment (you can enter a URL or choose a file). You then choose if they can use all artwork to do their work, if they can use a specific artist or use a specific tag. For example, an assignment given by a secondary art teacher could be to focus on a specific artist known on the website that they would have studied in class, so the teacher could ask the students to create a story using only this specific artist’ work. After choosing that, the teacher can choose the format. There are four options; you can choose the Longform Book (multi-chapter), the Picture Book (multi-page), the Poem (single image) or any format. If we take Magritte as an example, an elementary English teacher could ask the students to use only one painting of Magritte and create a free verse poem. However, you cannot upload a picture. You can only take the ones that are on the website. So, if they would write a poem inspired by Magritte, they would have to choose a picture on the website that made them think of the painting or that would relate to their poems. Here is an example I made about the famous “trahison des images- Ceci n’est pas une pomme”: When you choose to do a “single image”, you cannot write your own words, you have to choose from the few words given; it can be a good challenge for elementary students. After choosing one of these options, you have to choose a due date. By pressing the box to enter the date, a calendar appears so you can see exactly where the date is placed in the calendar.

Most reviews that I saw were positive. The negative point that often came up was about the fact that you cannot have more than one group on your teacher account if you use the free version.

Rachel R, an elementary teacher from Pennsylvania wrote: ”Students LOVED writing their own stories & really getting creative. As a teacher for almost 500 students, my one negative is that you have to pay to have more than one class, makes management hard”

A 12-year-old reviewed: ”This is my absolute favorite website. The environment is great, everyone is so nice, and you can really let your creativity flow. So so so great!”

Storybird is also a great way to add ICTs (Information and Communication Technology) to your class. As Nina Mityuk,a teacher, puts it: This is a great tool for students to create stories and share them with anyone they choose to share it with. It’s a great way to implement technology in my lessons because students learn to navigate through the computer and also learn to comment on other books. I would recommend it to every classroom teacher – it’s great to be able to publish books without going through all the expenses of printing it.”

What is also great about the website is that you can read tones of stories written by other users. You can even comment and discuss about the story with the writer and other users. A teacher could ask the students to review a story taken on that website.

The thing that is bizarre about that website is that you must be 13 years old or up to subscribe to it. If you are under the age of 13, you must provide a parent’s email address so that the latter will be notified that his/her child use that tool.

To conclude, I think Storybird is good website to use in the classroom, especially in elementary classrooms because of its childish images. It is easy to use and easy for students to understand how to use it. It could be good for projects like writing an adventure story about a particular topic like dogs and cats or writing a book for children (on the secondary level).

Here is an example of a short one-page story I made that would have been a good one to two periods project for elementary children.

Is Goodreads good for students and teachers?

Goodreads is a website and an app which relate to books. You can create a profile and add as much as 5000 people to your friend list. A teacher could ask their students to add everybody in the class. As part of a reading project, teachers could ask their students to read a book and then do a review. That way, every friend would have a notification when someone would post a review and would be able to go read it. Using Goodreads is a good way to encourage students to read more and to get interested to literature in general. If a student thinks that a review of a mate is good, he/she can add the book to a list call “to-read” and consult it later on.

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The thing that is great about the application on the phone or on tablet is that it sends you notification every time something happens to you or your circle of friend.

For a teacher, creating a private group can be a good idea.

“Goodreads can be used by educators to help a class of students monitor each others reading habits and discuss books together. We recommend creating a private group for the group interested (classroom, school, etc).” (answer from Goodreads on “Can Goodreads be used as a teaching tool for students?”)

The group can be useful if a teacher wants everybody’s opinion on a book or if he wants his students to post an assignment like a review privately. Every time something new is posted on the group, every member can receive an e-mail or a notification (if they choose to have this option; in that case, it would be likely to agree to those options).

When creating the group, the teacher can choose the title, give a description and write the rules. The group can also be secret, which means that no one who is not a member can find the group in the search bar; it also means that the teacher would have to add the students himself.

There are a few options when creating the group. One that can really be interesting for the teacher is the one that can allow the moderator posts to be highlighted. It would help the students differentiate their teacher’s posts from the other students’.

A teacher could also only create a group for students to put their favorite books to recommend to other students.

An inconvenient with Goodreads is that the student has to have an e-mail in order to be able to create a profile. For younger students, it can be a difficulty since they might not all have e-mail. You can help them create an e-mail address, though. Before starting a project like this with younger students, you might want to ask the parents if they all agree. A middle school teacher (Ms. Graves) helped her students create g-mail and posted a few weeks later how she felt about the project of having a Goodreads group:

“So far we are having a blast. The students really like it, especially when they are writing their own stories. They are also learning social skills, because some students don’t like what people are doing to their stories, so they are learning cooperation.”

As a student, I must say I would’ve loved to have a project on Goodreads. The website is easy to use, interesting and almost every novel is on there. It would be really useful for an English teacher since they have every book written in English that I searched. Unfortunately, there are some books written in French that I didn’t find. I found a student’s point of view on a project she had in school on Goodreads:

“From a student, I can say goodreads is helpful. You can have students use the writing posts on their profiles to write responses or English assignments. If the class is reading a novel together, that novel can be located here on goodreads. Students can make comments and teachers can grade said comments if wanted. You can even make private groups for students to discuss a book just between themselves. Goodreads made class much more interesting […]”

Overall, I really think that Goodreads is a good tool for teachers and for students.

iStudies Pro

iStudiez Pro is an app that can be useful for teachers and students. To this day, Apple’s cellphones/tablets/mac and Windows software (since August 2014) are the devices on which the app works. The full version is 3.49$ in the apple store, but you can get a lite version for free. I downloaded the free version on my iPhone 5c. When you open the app, the first thing they ask you is if they can access to your calendar. Then, after you chose “yes”, they ask you if you are used to the app or if it is the first time you use it.

CHOOSING THE DEMO

When choosing the demo, they don’t show a video or memos with arrows; they only give you an already filled file.

There are four categories

  1. “Today”

So, in the section “today”, you can find your classes of the day. For example, if you already entered that you have a French class every Tuesday from 2pm to 5pm, every Tuesday, you’ll find that schedule in the “today’s section”. There is even a count down from the time the class begins to the time it ends. You can even add a note like “do not forget to bring the yellow sheet” or something like that; when you click on your class of the day, you will see that note. Also, you can see the location of the class, the name of the teacher and if you have any assignment due. At the end of that class, you can press on “Add assignment” to write down your homework or you can press on “cancel this class” if you don’t have it anymore or if that day, you don’t have that class. Also, when a class is done, it deletes itself from the “today’s” page and when you have other classes later that day, they also indicate them.

  1. “Calendar”

The second category is “calendar”. When you press on that icon, you see the present month’s calendar. You can swipe to previous or next months. The calendar really look like your apple device’s calendar. When you have one activity, it is indicated by a little dot under the date, if you have two activities, there are two dots and so on. Well, you have the “Schedule” where you can see all your events, and the “Assignments” section where you can only see your assignments; it can be really useful if you want to see what assignments are to hand in the days to come.

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3. Assignments

The assignment category is, in my opinion, the greatest thing about this app. It allows you to see your assignments from due dates (it is written “today” or “tomorrow” or the dates to come depending on your assignments). You can also choose to see the assignments by course by clicking on the “course” category or to see them by priority. Adding an assignment is really easy, you can click on the “+” icon on the right top of the page. Then, you press on “course”, it’ll open a list of all your courses so you can select the one in which you need to do the homework. After that, you title the assignment and you can write a description of it. You choose the due date (you can press on a date in the calendar or on “next class” or on “today”) and you categorize it in “low priority”, “normal priority” or “high priority”- if you choose high priority, a red flag will appear beside the assignement. You can even add partners by pressing on “Add Partner”, it will direct you to your contact list where you can select your partners. There is even a subcategory called “Completed” where you can see all your completed assignments. A teacher can use this app to be more organized by writing what his/her classes are, when, and when are the assignments due.

  1. “Planner”

The planner section is designed for the general information about your semester. You can add more semester if you have the full version, but having one semester is already enough, in my opinion. When pressing on “my semester”, you can see all your classes, by selecting one, you see how many times in the week you have it, when, where and who is your teacher. You can add your Holidays schedule in the middle subcategory “Holidays”. You can add all your teachers’ information in the “Instructor” subcategory. You can write their e-mail, their webpage, their office hours, their department and affiliation, their phone and see in which classes he teaches and when these classes are.

iStudies is a really good app for students especially, it can help them get organized since most of them are more often on their cellphones then checking their agenda. By having this complete and clear device, a student cannot forget an assignment if he checks it every day. The “bad” thing about this app is that there isn’t a possibility to have alerts. Overall, I think that it can even help teachers, and the free version is complete enough, in my opinion.

« iStudiez Pro is a great app for keeping track of your classes, assignments, and tests. It can feed into iCal as well, so you can track your commitments on your main computer too. » – mike457

« Oh, forgot to mention this- for those of you with iPhone/iPod Touch, there is an app called « iStudiez Pro » that organizes courses, assignments, meetings, exams, etc. It was about $2 I think, and I normally don’t promote stuff like this, but it has been very helpful. » – ImaJerseyGirl

Please check the official website for more information and updates on the software.

I think istudiez pro is good for today’s students. It is not for nothing that ICTs are more used in class today than ever before, this generation doesn’t like paper, they like technologies. I saw, in my practicum, that secondary students can forget to use their agendas or just decide not to. With istudiez pro, they can go on their phone and have an electronic agenda and check it once in a while. What is the first thing most students do when they wake up? They check their cellphones. With reminders of their classes and due assignments, they won’t forget homework assignments again. Also, what is different from a normal calendar and istudiez pro is that you have everything in one app. It is specialized for your classes; you have your teachers’ email addresses, courses schedule, classes location, and more! I liked the app, the lite version is enough, it is a good tool for students to use, in my opinion.