And here we are. Trying to make the shift to online teaching as smoothly as possible. For most of us, it is uncharted territory. Lack of information as to how we need to assess our students does not help either. We are on a roller coaster of emotions and sometimes we feel stuck, restless and unsure about what to do to help our students.
But, we need to stay at home. This much is clear. For how long? Quite uncertain. What is certain is that remaining at home is an unprecedented act of love to take care of each other and that we need to stay safe to keep our loved ones safe.
How can we assess our students’ speaking skills?
Meanwhile, the question of how to assess our students remains unanswered. In this post, I am going to share with you 3 easy ways to assess your students’ speaking skills. The tutorials are in Spanish but I have added notes in English to help you understand the steps you need to follow. Most of the times, the notes are unnecessary as everything in the app is in English.
1. The Easiest One: Audio Recording with Vocaroo
Why do I like it?
Students don’t have to register.
They just need to click a button and start recording.
They can upload their own recording and then share the link with their teacher.
They get a link for their recording and share it with their teacher. So, no need to upload or download their recording unless they want to.
2. As if you were in class: Videoconferencing with 8x8.vc
Why do I like it?
Neither the teacher nor the students have to register.
You can create your own room with a click and then share with your student the link for the room, which is always 8×8.vc/ (nameofyourroom)
It is a videoconference platform so the interaction is automatic as if you were in class.
3. The Whole Package: Video Recordings with Flipgrid
This is a more complex tool but it allows students not only to record themselves from their homes and then share the video clip in a secure platform but also interact with their classmates or teachers. Not in real time, though
Why do I like it?
It is very reliable and safe for the students
It is completely free.
Students can record up to 10 minutes
They can upload their own video clip or record their own computer screen
Teachers can send written or video feedbackwithin the app straight to the students’ email.
Teachers can develop their own rubric.
Teachers are 100% in control of the videos
Teachers can even share the recording with the student’s parents.
(NOTE: you might want to watch the original webinar here)
Do you know how to download a video from youtube or convert a PDF or a website into an editable Word document? Do you know where to find free images and videos to use in your projects or how to record audio and create a QR code to share with your students and colleagues? Did you know that long URLs can be easily shortened so that they can be shared more easily?
If you don’t, then this post might be for you!
I’m not a digital native. Far from it. Everything I know I had to learn by trial and error. However, right now, you can probably say I’m the typical technophile always on the lookout for new tools to create activities to spark up my classes.
The tools I want to share with you today are nothing fancy. You cannot create activities where your students will ooh and ahh, but trust me, they are going to save you a lot of time and a lot of searching. They have been tested and tried and I have been using them for a long, long time.
AUDIO AND VIDEO
Problem: I need to join/cut two audio files and I need to record myself on video/audio
This is a great tool to work with audio and video. It’s free, easy to use and you don’t even need to register.
What can you do on this page?
Cut video or audio ( you need to upload it from your computer)
Join two audio tracks
Convert video and audio from one format into another
Easily record video and audio ( and then download it)
Downside: you need to have the video/audio on your computer. Don’t worry, I’ll show you how to download a video. Keep on reading.
Problem: I need to record my voice/upload audio and then share it
Vocaroo has been around for a long time. They are even working on a new and improved version. It lets you record your voice in a very easy way or upload a file from your computer. Then, you are offered different possibilities:
Share it on social media sites.
Share or email the link
Embed it on a blog or website
Get a QR code
Downside: Vocaroo does not provide permanent storage. There is not a definite age at which messages are deleted, however, it is likely messages will expire after a few months. If a message is important you should download and save it to your own computer as soon as possible to avoid losing it.
Problem: My internet connection is weak and I need to download a video from a website other than youtube.
This amazing tool lets you download videos from any platform, even from youtube. To download a video, just get the link, copy/paste it into the box and download it. You can choose to download the video or just the audio.
Problem: My school has blocked facebook but I need my students to see a video there.
Solution: get the link for the video and then download it using videocyborg.com/
Watch the video to see how it is done.
Problem: I need to cut a video from youtube
Solution: You needtubechop.com/
Cut it, get the URL and then download it using videocyborg (link above)
Problem: I need to convert a PDF into an easy editable WORD documentSolution:tools.pdf24.org/en/
This is a great tool to work with PDF. It’s free, easy to use and you don’t even need to register.
What can you do on this page? Pretty much everything.
Convert a PDF into a Word document and Word into PDF.
Split a PDF or merge them.
Sign or add page numbers to the PDF.
Remove or extract PDF pages.
Problem: I need to convert a website into a PDF file or an editable WORD document
You only need to copy and paste the URL into the box, choose the format and download it and save it on your computer. You don’t even need to register.
Problem: I have a scanned PDF or an image with some text and I want to extract the text
Onlineocr is free, simple and no registration is required. Copy/àste the URL ad then download the text as a Word document among other possibilities.
SHARING A LONG URL
Problem: I need to share with a long URL with my students
Sometimes we have to give our students a long URL which seems almost impossible to type without making a mistake. Instead of writing this long URL, use bit.ly to shorten it. To do it, paste the long link in the search box and that’s it.
PRINTING A WEBSITE
Problem: I want to print some content from a website, but I don’t want to print all the images and adverts.
Just enter the URL, edit the page getting rid of anything you don’t want to print, and then print it.
CREATING A QR
Problem: I need to create a simple QR Code with the answer to an exercise and download the QR Code to share it with my students
Easy to use and doesn’t require registration. Just paste your text and then save it to download it.
FREE TEMPLATES FOR POWERPOINT OR GOOGLE SLIDES
Problem: I need to find beautiful free thematic templates to make a presentation on Google Slides or PowerPoint
FREE IMAGES AND VIDEO
Problem: my students are doing a project and they need to find free images and/or videos
Solution: for free images: pixabay.com/ ;for free videospixabay.com/videos/
I hope these websites are helpful and save you a lot of time.
Oh boy. Does it bring back memories!
Dictations! To be completely honest with you, I have mixed feeling as regards dictations. I remember back in primary school when the language teacher gave us lots of dictations like a well- deserved break after a tough grammar lesson; and then, this feeling of “I don’t want to ever hear the word dictation again” that I got from my classes at university where the teacher gave us one-page-long dictations so quickly that when he finished, he was panting for breath and we were seeing red.
Although doing dictations is somewhat regarded as an old-fashioned technique, it is undeniable that a lot of benefits can be derived from doing this exercise. In fact, it is an integrative activity requiring the use of various skills like listening, writing and reading -when you read the passage you have written, looking for grammar or spelling mistakes. You might even add speaking if the dictation is used as a prompt to encourage discussion of the passage.
In case you are not fully convinced that dictations also have their place in the twenty-first century classroom, here are some more benefits you might want to consider:
• It improves spelling.
• It improves recognition of grammatically correct sentences.
• It helps students distinguish sounds in continuous speech.
• It improves students’ awareness of punctuation.
• It gives students practice in comprehending and helps them gain fluency in writing.
If I have managed to convince you, here are some links to online dictations you might want to try or if you are a teacher, heartily recommend to your students.
This site features two levels: elementary and intermediate. It has a very clean interface where you’ll see two recording of the same dictation. One recorded at a normal speed and the other one at a slow speed with pauses to give you time to write down what you hear. You only need to follow the instructions.
It is the beginning of the school year and there are some tools that I need to make sure are working properly. You know how everything works on the Internet. Some sites close down, others that promised to be free are now charging you and some others are still there but they don’t seem to work anymore.
Anticipating these problems that I may encounter, I am almost sure, one of these days when I am up to my eyes with work I have searched the net for some new tools that I know are working right now and therefore won’t let me down.
♥First of all, a much needed video downloader, free and easy to use. I never know when the already weak Internet connection in my school is going to crash.
The name of this site is CatchVideo.net and the only thing you need to do is paste the url, choose the format you want -or even just download the audio- and off you go! Your video is downloaded into your computer and ready to carry with you in you Flash drive. Here’s a snapshot
♥Still working and overused at home by both me and my children to download the audio from youtube is my Listentoyoutube.com. Posthere
and then there this123.apps which is incredibly helpful when you need to cut or edit audio and the audio of a video. It offers, “online”, everything you could possibly need for free and you don’t even need to register.It offers six different audio or video related tools
♥Online Audio Cutter: It is an online application for cutting audio. It supports mp3 or other formats. If you open a video file, then the audio will be extracted. How do you cut the audio? Easy: 1.Open the file (video or audio), 2.adjust the interval and click Cut. 3.Save the track
There is also a Fade-in and Fade-out function, in case you need something a bit more sophisticated.
♥Online Audio Joiner: To join multiple audios into a single one. It supports all media formats and it can combine them, but it works better and faster with mp3 than with any other format.You can choose between the two modes of sound merger. If the “Crossfade” function is enabled, one track will gradually fade into another: the first track will gradually vanish, while the second will grow louder. This allows smooth transition when combining music tracks. Click here for more detailed information on how to merge audio
♥Online Voice Recorder: Records sound from a microphone. After the recording you can trim the sound and then download it.
♥Online Audio Converter. Converts audio into a wide range of major formats such as mp3, wav, ogg, m4a, m4r, flac… You can also convert several files at a time which will be compresses into a zip-archive to ease the download.
♥Online Audio Extractor: extracts the audio from videos and saves them as OGG, MP3, Wave or FLAC files.
To extract audio tracks from video files, just open video from your computer, select proper output format, and click the “Extract audio” button.
The application supports all major video formats (AVI, FLV, MP4, MPG, MOV, RM, 3GP, WMV, VOB and other).
♥Online Video Cutter: Once you have downloaded your video with CatchVideo.net you might need to cut the videos to remove an unwanted part. Well, this is just the tool you need. Open the application and just follow the instructions – It is fairly simple but I have to say that I have tried with a youtube video and it hasn’ t worked. Still, I think it is worth a try.
♥Online Video Converter : free tool that converts almost any media format to MP4, AVI, MPEG, FLV, 3GP. It also extracts sound from video and can correct video resolution
So, here you are! Honestly, this post is more for the sake of my memory than for any other reason. If… it can help anybody..it’s killing two birds with one stone!Keep posted!!!! 🙂
I couldn’t just wrap up the school year and kick off the summer holidays without mentioning these two interesting tools I’ll be trying this summer to add to the list of useful tools I have been trying on and off in the flipped classroom setting. The Flipped Classroom Concept is the new trend in education. Classes are flipping all over the world. Well, maybe in Spain, it is not so popular yet but I think it has a great potential in classes where the students are motivated to learn.
The Flipped Classroom is a reversed teaching concept. Basically the teacher, through about 5 minute -created videos, teaches the students at home and then “homework” is moved to the classroom. One of the advantages of this method is that students learn at their pace and while some students might need to watch the video just once to understand the content, weaker students will not feel left behind as they will be able to replay the video as often as they like without feeling they are interfering with the normal pace of the classroom. The student, then, comes to the classroom to work on what was explained in the video and time in the classroom is spent on practising, something the students cannot do at home on their own. There is,obviously, more time for student-teacher interaction. In this flipped classroom setting there are two tools I’m willing to give a try this summer and which I thought I would share with you, in case you want to give the Flipped Classroom a go next year.
The first tool is similar to MyBrainsharkand VoiceThread, which I have been using for two years. It’s called Narrableand it allows you to upload photographs and record yourself or upload an audio file narrating your photo. When you sign up you only get 5 free narrables but you can get more free narrables if you don’t mind sharing them in facebook.
The other one is a bit more complicated and demanding on the teacher’s side and if you are camera shy, like me, maybe not so appealing but, anyway I’m willing to try it.
It’s called Movenote and it helps you record a video of yourself teaching accompanied by slides. First of all, you have to upload your images or presentations ( it supports pdfs, excel,.. and many more) and then you record yourself using your webcam while you explain your images. There is also the possibility of uploading a previously recorded video and synchronising it with the slides. It’s free , you only need to sign up to an account . The only thing I don’t like is that you share via an url but it doesn’t seem to offer the possibility of embedding it in a blog or website.