Microsoft Translator: A Game-Changer in the ELL Classroom

Microsoft has released a new conversation component to its Translator app for Windows, iOS, Android and Kindle. One person starts the conversation on their device which creates a private room complete with its very own URL and a QR code. Others can then join the room to be part of the conversation. The really amazing part is that each person who joins selects their native language and as they speak Translator converts the spoken word into text on each person's device--in  the language they chose upon entering the room! 

I can envision this being used in the classroom for ELL students or refugees who may be arriving from war torn parts of the world (think Syria).  One way this could be done is through Presentation Mode which mutes all participants microphones except for the room owners. Just imagine a classroom with students who speak Arabic, Spanish, Chinese, Russian all have the teacher's English language translated to their native tongue!

Here's a video I made that shows Translator converting my English spoken into a Windows 10 laptop converted to Arabic on a student's iPad.



Washington State Geologic History Activity

I left the classroom in 2010, but every year it seems I get at least one request for more information about an activity that I did back then.  Full disclosure, I got this activity from a colleauge, Dave Cruz, who taught 7th grade with me at Snoqualmie Middle School. Isn't that what we do as teachers, take the best of what we see from others ? Anyway, I think what happens is that teachers are searching for activities related to the Geology of Washington and they come across this video that I put on YouTube in 2009:

It seems that teachers have a desire to try this activity but don't have all of the materials.  Well, in an effort to make these materials more available, here they are! 

You can view them embedded below or click here to download.

Microsoft Sway: The "Swiss Army Knife" of Digital Storytelling Tools

Just as with the Windows 10 videos that I wrote about here, I recently had the opportunity to create another set of training tutorials, this time on the topic of Microsoft Sway. Sway is a fairly new tool from Microsoft that can be used in a plethora of ways, from classic presentations to flipped classroom lessons to company newsletters.  Built completely for online use, Sway also works great as a real-time collaborative tool as well.  

These videos are designed specifically as training modules for the Microsoft Educator Community, where teachers can earn badges for completion of the course. This opportunity arose thanks to Kim West (@kiwestify), whose  company insight2Execution focuses primarily on offering training to educational institutions around Microsoft products.  And once again, I teamed up with the fabulous Becky Keene (@BeckyKeene) to create the scripts and videos.

Click here watch the videos and/or take the course yourself!  And let me know what you think in the comments...