Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Educreations: My New Toy

I love technology. While I still have lots to learn, I love using it in teaching and learning and I especially love discovering new cool tools that help me to be a more effective teacher  and help my students learn more effectively as well.  And I also love teaching at a dynamic and innovative 1:1 district that is 21st century in every way.  I learn a great deal, just from my colleagues at MGSD, but now that I've become an avid tweeter, I'm learning so much more.

Last Monday during #ELLchat, I learned about Educreations.  If you have an iPad, Educreations turns the tablet into an interactive whiteboard, allowing users to record, write and insert graphics into a single page or multi page presentation which can easily be shared or embedded into a blog, course website or other medium.  If you have laptops like we do, it's still wonderful because of the recording feature, although the writing part is not great.  While Educreations best used as an iPad app, I still find it to be a wonderful teaching and learning tool.  My ESL students and I used it today and we had some fun.  Actually, I had fun and the students probably just had fun watching me get all excited about it.  

Here's why I like it.

1.  Flipping Classroom and Read Alouds
The recording feature makes it ideal for flipping the classroom and doing read alouds.   It's also a great presentation tool for both teachers and students.  While drawing would be awesome, inserting a graphic, diagram or other object and then adding the verbiage to go with it would allow students to view the demonstration at home or use it as a review/study tool.  It would also allow the students to explain their work and giving teachers another way to assess.

2. Speaking Practice for ESL students
This is how I'm going to use it.  Yesterday I reviewed the rules for pronouncing words ending in "ed" and so I used Educreations for speaking and reading practice.  Students took a screenshot of a given paragraph that contained numerous words ending in "ed" and were asked to read the paragraph.  From this point on, I will use it to measure speaking, reading fluency and pronunciation.

3. Easy to Log In and Share
If you have a Gmail account, you can login using Google and when you are ready to share, you simply click a "share" button and it will give you a link or a code to embed in your product.

4.  It's FREE.
Anything free is welcomed in education, so long as it's useful and not just fun and interesting.

Like everything else, it's not perfect so I do have to warn you about its drawbacks.  First of all, if you are imperfect like me, it may frustrate you a bit.  If you need to edit one part, you will need to erase the whole thing and start over.  Furthermore, you have to complete the entire presentation in one sitting.  No saving and going back to finish it later.  Wasn't crazy about that part either.  It's also very simplistic and so you are quite limited.  For example, there's no copying/pasting and you can't draw basic shapes.  Nonetheless, I find it a pretty cool tool and I think it will be very beneficial to my ESL students, especially my beginners as they learn to read, write, speak and listen in English.

Check it out and let me know what you think.


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