Monday, December 3, 2012


Podcasts in the Classroom

    Podcasts are new to me. I was familiar with the term but had never used one in my classroom. After reading and finding some that I liked this week I feel that podcasts have their spot in the educational setting.
    As a recorded lecture, for the most part, some podcasts are not very exciting for the student. It can require a lot of focus and listening, something that not all students have. Using this approach can be difficult to keep the students interested and engaged. However, I like the idea of using an audio podcast as a listening activity or to give authentic learning material to the students. Using this approach, they are able to hear authentic accents and also apply what they have learned.

   In this podcast on por and para (it is Podcast 28) Ben and Marina explain the uses of por and para with examples. I like the idea of using this because it is a different approach- my students do not have to always listen to me, they are exposed to others speaking the language and need to make the connection through listening rather than writing, which many are more comfortable with.
   At the end of the podcast, as well as the beginning of the next, Ben says several statements and says "beep" where por or para needs to be inserted. Marina then is asked to repeat the sentence and fill in the blank with the correct word. I would do this with my students by having them listen to Ben's original statement, ask which they would fill in and why, come to a class consensus and then check our answer with Marina's. If our answer was wrong, we would look at why and I would have a students explain to me why the other would be used. As they become more comfortable with this exercise, I would call on volunteers to repeat the statement and choose the correct word.
    Further thinking about how podcasts can be beneficial in a foreign language classroom, I could extend classroom time by assigning a podcast for homework and having the students complete a listening assignment with it. Also, as the students grow more familiar with podcasts, I could have them make their own for a particular topical, having them create their own lesson for it. This would help them become more familiar with the topic and help me understand their thought process and if they are understanding and explaining it correctly.

Monday, November 19, 2012


        Epals is an awesome website to connect with other language learners around the world. Using Epals, students are able to globally collaborate with other students by working on projects and sending emails, just to name a few. By looking at the join project section of the website, you can search for a project that appeals to your group of learners. You can then join that project, where the students can be on the other side of the globe! What a great learning experience for everyone involved!!

        Using the Epals website you can also look under find classroom to find a class that you would like to invite to join your project. In this section, the classrooms are easy to read- you can instantly see where they are located, the age group, how many are in the class and what languages they speak.
         The learning center part of the website has an array of games, discussions and activities for students to use with others around the globe. There is even a common core implementation center for teachers to use. Here you can share and use projects and resources that incorporate the common core state standards.  
          I love all of the features that this site offers! My students can learn from native speakers as well as teach them things about our culture and language.
         For my beginning Spanish-language learning students, I can join a project where they can exchange emails with Spanish speaking students in Europe. Through this project, they can discuss their school days, specific cultural traits of their language and compare and contrast the two languages. This will not only expand their knowledge of the language and culture but it will also allows for language practice through writing. We could even use voice thread to converse back and forth rather than just using email. This would be a great way to practice the spoken language and work on comprehension!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Using Animoto

     Using Animoto was much easier than I had anticipated. It is a great way to creatively tell a story, teach vocabulary, etc.; the choices are endless.
     I chose to use Animoto to talk about color vocabulary. It is a very basic concept but one that my students always understood better with pictures. Seeing an image helps them associate the color with something. I could use Animoto to introduce new topics, to reinforce topics we are working on or to even review material already learned. It is a fun way to get the students involved and they always love when technology is used!
     I would love to have my students create their own Animoto to show me what they have learned. For example, they could use pictures of weather conditions and insert text of what each picture is describing. They can present these little presentations to their classmates. In a higher level class, the students can choose pictures of cultural significance in Spain and write a little description about it.
    Animoto is a great way to assess students' learning, to promote technology in the classroom and to have them work cooperatively with one another.

Try our slideshow creator at Animoto.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Voice Thread in the classroom

This week's voice thread lesson really grabbed my attention. I love the ease of using this tool. It also provides another outlet for students to express their thoughts and to be assessed. I chose to comment on Julia's  and Wen's voice threads. Both had wonderful images on their voice threads to go with their lessons.

Julia's STEAL acronym was a great reference and provided so much information for the students. I really liked that we were given the option to use a short story or story that we read in class or one that we read on our own. I think that simple choice appealed to all since some may not have been interested in the stories read in class but could still be a part of the lesson by using a story that they had read outside of class.

Wen's voice thread used a lot of visuals to tell John's story about his high cholesterol. Even if a student did not have his/her own suggestions to offer to John from the beginning he/she could use the food pyramid chart to come up with suggestions. I liked the visual aid to help those that may need it.

Voice thread is a great tool to use, especially for those that may not be comfortable in participating in class.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Prepositional phrases

    I used bookr to create my story, Where is my dog? Using this story, students will understand prepositional phrases. They will be able to label where objects are located using prepositions and will also be able to produce their own sentences using prepositions. I chose to make this simple story with prepositions because, as a foreign language teacher, this is something that my beginner level students always seem to struggle with. But, when they have a picture to go along with it it is much easier for them understand.
     As students become more comfortable with prepositions, they will be able to describe where classroom objects are located in their classroom and will work on developing their own bookr story to illustrate it.


ClassroomB Learning Space by Wootang01
ClassroomB Learning Space, a photo by Wootang01 on Flickr.
     Flickr is a tool that I can see myself using with all of my students. My students love to talk about their lives and tell about what they do or have done and this is such a creative and fun way to do these things! says that "digital stories let students express themselves not only with their own words but also in their own voices, fostering a sense of individuality and of "owning" their own creations." I like the idea of them being able to express themselves through storytelling without the face-to-face exposure. Some students, especially middle schoolers, can be so nervous to present to their class. Flickr provides an opportunity for the to feel more comfortable and to tell their story in a little different way.
     Using Flickr with my students would be a big hit! They LOVE technology and are very creative so this is definitely something that they would connect with instantly. I could introduce cultural aspects of the language through photos and narrate the presentation, stating what the photo is of, the importance it has, even ask the students questions to check for understanding.
     Once I started to read about Flickr I immediately thought about having my students use it to narrate a biography about themselves. In the past I have had them write a story about their childhood, talk about things that they have done and include memories that are special to them. They also have needed to include pictures with their story. Instead of having them write about their childhood on paper, they can use digital storytelling to tell about their childhood and narrate the pictures that they use.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Third World Farmer

    After looking at various games, I chose Third World Farmer. I think this game gives the student the opportunity to problem solve and by the choices made, they will either succeed or fail. I have played this game five times and I have to admit I was horrible at first! But, each time I am getting better and better! This game really forces the student to understand world problems and to use cognitive skills.
     Using Third World Farmer, I would have my students keep of log of how much money they have, what they spend for the year and how much they made, repeating this every year. The objective would be for the students to understand adding and subtracting figures in a non-traditional math way (solving equations). This would ready them for their own life, learning how to manage money. They would have to present the log that they have kept and explain to the class what money they used and what they made each year and if they had enough left over for the following year and the outside factors that affected this. 

    I could also use this game as a history/geography lesson. The objective would be to understand and discuss how resources affects life in third world countries. They will also be able to compare and contrast our own life with those in a third world, like Africa. Working in small groups, students can compare and contrast their own life to that of Africa's. Then, as a class, we can discuss the results before having the students write their findings. Talking in a small group (where some may feel more comfortable talking) and then in a larger class group will give the students plenty of ideas and time to ask questions before having to work on their own and write their conclusions. 

Gamification...what is it?

     I had never heard of Gamification until this week. Video games have never really interested me so this week was an eye-opener. Wiki defines Gamification "as the infusion of game design techniques, game mechanics, and/or game style into anything." After seeing some examples of these types of games, I can clearly see the advantage they can have in education. Today's educational world is not about testing to show what facts and formulas students have memorized but rather testing students on APPLYING that information to problem solving. In this YouTube video it discusses online gaming implications in the classroom, the speaker makes some great arguments for the benefits of inline gaming in the classroom. He states that these games promote cognitive skills, specifically situated cognition. In short, when teaching, we need to teach them in the environment that they are going to demonstrate that knowledge, as stated by the speaker in this video.
       In addition to using cognitive skills, online gaming also promotes collaboration and problem solving- which is exactly what NYS education is gearing their assessments towards!

      Online games, like The Curfew use problem solving techniques along with reading and writing skills to navigate through the game. I have played this game a few times this past week and I keep getting more and more into it each time! This game asks questions that you need to answer in order to gain the trust of the game players. The Curfew promotes interactive education to learn about civil liberties in and outside of the classroom. This game would be for the secondary English language learner and I would first present it after discussing cultural freedoms and rights, comparing our country to the L2's, problem solving, etc. I would first provide a walkthrough of the game so each learner has the general idea of what is being asked of him/her. Then I would allow the students to attempt the game individually, to explore and form questions that they have along the way. As they travel through the game, critical thinking and comprehension is a must. The player must make decisions, ask and answer questions in order to get the outcome he/she is looking for. After having each person attempt it on his/her own, I would then ask the students to work in pairs or small groups to compare their strategies and to see what worked and what did not. This would allow for collaboration, personal interaction with others by verbal communication as well as exercising their problem solving skills together. 
      Using these strategies of asking questions and using critical thinking from the game and their discussions about it with classmates, the students will be assigned a small group to work with. Each group will have a part to complete within the activity before the next member can begin. In order to complete the activity each member must trust each other, ask questions to gain information and use critical thinking to solve their assigned activity. This will show me if the strategies that were outlined in the game, The Curfew, were understood and if they can successfully use them. The objective will be for each group, and group member, to work together and complete their activity using the strategies learned- asking questions, trusting others, using critical thinking and problem solving. 

Maestro de español

I chose the Yahoo group Maestros de español. I really like this group since there are SO MANY great ideas being shared about teaching and learning the Spanish language. I joined this group and can now share lesson ideas with fellow Spanish teachers. There are some great website suggestions to use in the classroom with students in addition to videos and lesson plans. I have also found this group useful to ask questions- anything from grammar to cultural questions that you need answered. Signing up for the group was easy and I was able to set-up how I will receive messages from the group so it is not overwhelming. I think this group is going to be a great tool for me as I am the only high school Spanish teacher at my school so I can use this as an outlet to communicate and share with others that are teaching the same things.

Monday, October 8, 2012


          Until recently I have only thought of Twitter as a social site and not a means to communicate with students. In addition to discussing technology in this course, one of my former college classmates recently was honored by NYSFLT for her webpage design and I started to follow how she was integrating technology into her classroom, with both her students and their parents. One of the things that ways that she communicates with them is by using Twitter. The reaction to this use of technology has been overwhelming in her classroom and it got me thinking that maybe Twitter can be used in the educational setting and not just for social media.

          60 Inspiring Examples of Twitter in the Classroom has a wonderful list of ideas on how to incorporate it into a classroom setting. Two of my favorite suggestions are to use it as a bulletin board and as a means of communication with parents. I often find myself spending my “free time” (non-teaching time) emailing or calling parents. By using Twitter I could communicate with multiple parents at once. Of course there would be those that are not part of the Twitter world but it would be much less time-consuming I am sure if I used Twitter as a way to communicate with parents.

            I also really like the idea of using Twitter as a bulletin board for my students. We all spend countless time reiterating directions and going over due dates, etc. “Tweeting” these things would be a better way to get this information to my students since most of them LOVE the social network world! What a great idea this was!

            In the Teachers Guide to The Use of Twitter in Classroom there are some great guidelines to keep in mind when using Twitter with your students. You must establish “Twitter Etiquette” so students, as well as parents, are aware what is and is not appropriate. It may seem simple but proper language, politeness and quality postings should be expected and enforced. Since social media is an outlet for everyone to express their feelings, differing opinions should be accepted and discussed.

            Overall I think this social media tool can be a great outlet in the classroom if used appropriately.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Collaboration opportunities...

I really LOVE the idea of being able to have an exchange with students from other Spanish classrooms. This VoiceThread website is a wonderful tool to use to collaborate with other classrooms learning the Spanish language. By using the VoiceThread technology my students would be learning/practicing the Spanish language, learning to work with new technology as well as meeting and conversing with new students. What a great experience for all involved! As a high school Spanish teacher, I am constantly looking for new ways to give my students a fun experience with the language and this website is a wonderful source. With this I can set up times to speak with students in other Spanish-language learning classrooms and use frequently in the classroom as a communication tool. By using a tool like this in my classroom I can connect two separate groups of students by a common interest- learning a foreign language!!!

Today's learner is like a...

I see today’s learner like a thruway. All of us are on a course with the same end in mind. Each path involves a different route but, in the end, we get to our desired destination.

On the thruway cars get left behind, passed and fly by others. Each learner learns at a different pace, some have no problems and cruise along the path towards educational success while others get stopped along the way. On the thruway cars are stopped for various issues and then get back on their course once the issues are solved just like learners need to stop for help, clarification, etc.. When we are driving and having car issues, we often stop on the side of the road for help, and in our time of need others stop to help, like a teacher or peer help us along in the educational setting.

Some drive recklessly along the thruway with no idea of where they are going. Many, in the educational journey, float through their academic careers like those reckless drivers. As a driver, we are able to choose the lane we drive in and the route we take just like "learners often select and pursue their own learning" as stated in George Siemens' article Connectivism:A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Constructivist principles acknowledge that real-life learning is messy and complex.

As George Siemens says that "through social needs we are able to connect with one another" in his video The Impact of Social Software on Learning. Much like when we are on the thruway, the chosen path connects us to one another but we all get there in our own way.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Technology used in testing?

I commented on the post No More Memorizing in Schools- Yes, Really! in the Edublogger. The title popped out to me right away. In my previous blog posts I have mentioned that I think that some depend on technology too much so this post caught my eye and I immediately thought, here we go again relying on technology! Then, I thought about it for a few minutes and talked with my husband about it and I think there is a valid point made in this post. As a teacher, I do not rely solely on my own knowledge. I collaborate with others, use the internet, textbooks, etc. to develop lessons and activities for my students. Do I know everything about teaching Spanish and the language itself? No, but I do know a lot about it. I think allowing for the use of the internet during SOME assessments would be acceptable. Students would have to know how to use the internet to get the information that they need. However, their knowledge in the content being tested must be strong enough so that they are not solely relying on the internet/technology for answers. That will be the difficult part to judge- what they know and what they know because of the use of the internet.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Allowing for creativity

I saw this video during a staff development day last year. When it ended, my colleagues and I all looked at each other because most of us are not technologically savvy, at least not to the extent that our students are. We realized that we needed to adapt to the way our students learn. However, like I mentioned in my previous post, we want to find a balance between the new technology that our students are using and making sure that they can socially interact in world without solely depending on technology. Technology is a wonderful tool and avenue for all learners, especially those that are shy and struggle with standard tests. Personally I believe that we, as educators, can integrate technology into our classrooms by using it as an assessment tool. For many, it would take the pressure off from the standard written test and allow for creativity to show how they processed the material taught. 

Hurting or helping?

Wow, what an eye-opener on the way our world is changing and the dependence we have on social media! Our personal lives are often available for the world to see. We turn to Facebook to connect with old friends and new acquaintances instead of picking up the phone to call them. I think that is one of the biggest problems with social media. Too many depend on "writing on someone's wall" or tweeting at them and lack the socials skills that our world once had. Of course this does not mean everyone is like that but I see it a lot in today's youth.

 On the other hand, I love that our schools are adjusting their teaching approaches to include all of the new technology that is out there. However, I also think that kids today still need to know the basics of writing, not typing everything, and know how to carry on a face-to-face conversation. I found it fascinating that Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Google are not welcome in China. Maybe this is part of the reason that their academic scores are higher than ours?...They do not rely on social media to learn. Just a thought. I think our world needs a balance between all of this but I am not sure how that can be reached. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Blogs in the classroom...

          In my classroom I could use a blog to have my students practice using the Spanish-language outside of the classroom. Since blogging is brand new to me my initial thoughts are to post a question/statement and have my students type their thoughts and opinions in response. By doing this, they will be practicing their comprehension skills as well as their writing skills. Students can have the opportunity to converse with classmates, the instructor and native speakers. The only downfall that I can see with that is the fact that the students may use an online translator.
         Students can use the blog to express opinions and/or provide comments about classroom activities, etc. I like this idea since some students are shy about speaking up in the classroom and feel more comfortable in a different setting.
         I also like the idea in the text, Chapter 2, about web logging and using a class portal. I would use this to communicate information about the class through the school year as well as in the summer and during breaks. The class portal also would serve as a way to communicate with parents/guardians. They can access classroom rules, curriculum, handouts, a class calendar, assignments due dates, etc. As a middle/high school teacher, I often have parents calling or emailing me to find out when things are due so they can stay on top of their child. By using a weblog, this would hopefully eliminate a lot of questions.
         By blogging, students can engage in conversations, express opinions, and use the language beyond the classroom setting as stated in the National Standards for Foreign Language Education.

National Learning Standards for Teaching Foreign Language met:
 Standard 1.1: Students engage in conversations, provide and obtain information, express feelings and emotions, and exchange opinions
Standard 5.1: Students use the language both within and beyond the school setting