Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Professional Learning Plan

Over the past few months, I have gained a lot of knowledge on how to address problems and opportunities through the use of technology.  I have learned more about the TPACK framework and how to use it as a Spanish teacher.   I have learned about production value with the creation of  my first podcast.  I have learned to grow as a professional by collecting data from my classmates and colleagues using Google Forms.  I have used Google Hangouts to communicate with other professionals and created a Jing presentation on how to use Edmodo in a flipped classroom.  I have increased my PLN by joining MACUL through Facebook, continuing to use twitter, blogging, and joined discussions on Classroom 2.0.  I used Glogster for the first time to create a data visualization tool.  I learned about professional learning and why it is important to be a leader of technology in my workplace.  Last, but certainly not least, I made a plan and implemented it about a wicked problem that I have as Spanish teacher.  While implementing my plan, I learned about pen-pal emails, VoiceThread, and Skype.  Looking back, I realize that I have learned so many useful things throughout this course.  I have to admit, this was a difficult course for me because it challenged me to create things that I have never done before.  I really tried to push myself to use new technology and now that the course is almost over, I am proud that I pushed myself to learn so many new things that I can use in my classroom to enhance my students' learning.

Looking back at some old goals that I had made for myself, I realize that I have reached many of them.  I have become familiar with technology tools that have increased my knowledge strong enough that I can share it with my students and colleagues.  Over the past few months, I have attended monthly technology meetings held by the PLC technology support group at my school.  One thing I would like to still do is share some of the ideas I have learned during this course.  The first thing I would like to share with my PLC group is the Jing presentation I made on how to use Edmodo.  The group can really benefit from this tool and perhaps I can share it in a larger staff meeting in the future.  

Some goals I am still implementing because I have come to realize that they take time to put in to action.  One thing that I am still working on is increasing my students’ knowledge with technology so they can do things inside and outside of the classroom to become better language learners.  I still need to continue to encourage my students to use technology (for educational purposes) outside of the classroom.  I have give them some apps to help with Spanish, but I want to do more.  Also, I plan on growing individually by continuing to create my personal learning network (PLN) by staying connected with twitter, MACUL, Classroom 2.0 and educational blogs. 

Another goal is to use technology to help my students become global learners.   I want my students to use the Internet to be creative, connect & communicate with the Spanish speaking world, and to see traditions of other cultures.  I also want to become a global learner myself by using technology.  I want to connect & communicate with the Spanish speaking world so I can show my students the world without leaving the classroom.  I want to use the internet to connect with other teachers throughout the world and learn new ideas of how I can use technology in my classroom to make my students global learners and 21st century learners.  I have started to implement this with the research of online pen-pals.  This idea is going to help my students and myself to connect with the Spanish speaking world while increasing their confidence in using Spanish.  

Next year, I want to start off the year by applying for different grants.  This way I can try tools like VoiceThread in my classroom.  Along with VoiceThread, I would like to learn how to add video and audio on Google sites so my students can add these features to their online portfolios.  

My personal goal is to finish the MAET program by next spring!  I know that I want to continue to stay up to date as technology is being integrated into more classrooms.  I know that MSU and the MAET program will fully prepare me to be a great educator that is able to integrate technology into my curriculum.  Go green!

One aspect of being a teacher, is that you are always learning. Whether you are taking a class, going to a PD or PLC meeting, discussing things with colleagues, or sharing and learning ideas from your PLN.  I am excited to continue the program through MSU this summer and want to continue to integrate technology into my classroom next fall. 


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Wicked Problem Findings and Implications

For the final part of my wicked problem, I will be reflecting and assessing the solutions that I have implemented over the past few weeks.  I have began to implement the use of pen-pal emails, VoiceThread, and Skype to help increase the confidence of communication in a world language classroom.  I will also be considering implications for future wicked problems that I may encounter in my years of teaching.  

I began looking into pen-pal emails to increasing the confidence in communication with writing and reading skills.  I thought that it was going to be really easy to find websites to interact with native Spanish speaking students.  I discovered that the websites provided by my textbook were not very resourceful and that I was going to have to find another website.  I ended up using ePals and it was very user friendly and safe for students.  I have found a reliable website, but I am still waiting to hear back from a few teachers that I have contacted.  It is hard being in this waiting zone and I feel stuck because I have to rely on another teacher communicating with me.  While I am waiting, it will allow my students time to practice their writing skills in class and hopefully make them really prepared so we can send emails as soon as we get in contact with another classroom.

I researched using VoiceThread to increase confidence in my students' speaking and listening skills.  VoiceThread ended up costing money, so I had to find out if we had an account at my school.  Unfortunately we did not, so this part of my implementation was not going as planned.  I don't want to invest the money in the program this year because there's only about a month a of school left.  In the future, I would like to seek out a possible grant from the technology department or the PTA in the beginning of the year so I can use the program all year long.

Lastly, I wanted to look into the benefits of Skype to increase the communication in students' speaking and listening skills.  Unfortunately, I did not have time to research the use of Skype, but I will look into in the upcoming weeks especially because VoiceThread is not going to work out this year.  If Skype doesn't work out, there are other tools I can use such as Google Voice, Google Hangout, Audiboo, CLEAR, and GarageBand.

Overall, I believe that these tools will work well to increase students' confidence in communication.  A few weeks is not much time to see a significant increase, but I did have students practice writing to a pen-pal.  As I was walking around, I asked students about their writing.  Many were very excited to be writing to an actual person!  I had students send me their emails because I wanted to check them before we send them off.  After looking at the students' emails, I could see that they were very well thought out and that students were writing more than they would have if I had given them a list of things to write.  Also, students seemed to be encouraged to look up new vocabulary to describe themselves whereas if they were writing it to me on a test, they would have just used the vocabulary that they know.  I am sure these good effects will carry over once we use VoiceThread and Skype.  I am excited to continue to see all the benefits that web tools have to offer.

In the future, I will continue to have a well thought out plan, but I will look into the programs/tools  before I commit to using them.  The reason why I will do this is because I didn't know VoiceThread was going to cost money.  I just decided to use that automatically because I heard great things about it, just not the cost part.  Also, I will seek ideas from other colleagues.  I didn't do this throughout this project, but realize in the future my colleagues are facing many of the same problems as I am.  It would be great to attack the problem as a team!  Another good idea would be giving students a survey at the beginning and end of the trimester.  It would be good to have students assess their growth and confidence in their communication skills. Plus it will help me know which areas are working out well and what areas still needs some help.  Lastly, I would begin to implement my strategies in the beginning of the year or the start of the a new trimester.  This would be more beneficial because students will start off the year using these tools and will learn how to use them throughout the year.  I can use scaffolding by starting at the beginning of the year and work towards a final project at the end of the trimester.  I believe this will be encouraging for students because they will be able to see a final product of all of their hard work from the trimester. 

I still feel that students will still struggle with this in the future, hence why it is a wicked problem!  The main thing I would change is implementing the problem in the beginning of the year.  This way students don't feel like I am just forcing them to do something, it will be more natural through the use of scaffolding.  Also, I will apply for grants through the PTA or other resources.  This way I can use online tools that may cost money. 

One conclusion that I can make is that there are solutions to these wicked problems that we face as teachers, administrators, or technology specialist.  With a well thought out plan, you can begin to implement strategies using web based tools and technology to help solve problems.  The other conclusion that I can make is that others have really helpful and great ideas about resources that you may not know about.  After giving my survey, I received great ideas on tools to increase my students' communication.  I learned about tools that I had never heard of.  It is great to stay in communication with classmates and colleagues. 

A recommendation that I have for the future problem solvers would be to narrow your ideas from the beginning.  If you have too many ideas of things that you want to do, you will not have time to implement them all.  The next recommendation that I have is to have an open ended question on the survey that gives you the opportunity to get ideas from others such as which technology tools they use.  If a person has used a tool and knows it's good, then you know it's worth a try! Lastly, I would recommend the use of Evernote to record information while you are implementing your project.  It is a great tool that stores all of your information (emails, notes, screenshots, and more) in one place.  Using Evernote was a tremendous help when I was writing out the implementation part of my project. 

Overall, it has been a very good experience to try and fix a wicked problem that I have in my classroom.  It is motivating to know that there are strategies and tools worth implementing that can improve problems while using technology.  In the future I will continue my work as a problem solver! 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Wicked Problem Implementation

Over the past 2 weeks, I have been implementing solutions to my wicked problem.  My wicked problem is students not feeling confident communicating in Spanish.  Some of my solutions include using Skype, VoiceThread, and Pen-Pals to increase their confidence in writing, speaking, listening, and reading in the target language.  I can now see why I chose this as my wicked problem.  There is no easy solution!  Though my ideas have guided me in the right direction, there is still a long road ahead.  I am going to explain what ideas worked over the past 2 weeks, what ideas may need to change, and how I plan to continue to solve my wicked problem.
I discovered a great tool while implementing my solutions.  That tool is Evernote.  Evernote is a great resource to organize notes, pictures, important emails, screenshots, and more.  I personally used it to keep all of my observations in once place and have found it very resourceful.  I would highly recommend this tool to others.  

I began to implement my project in my Spanish 1 classes.  I have 2 classes made up of 8th and 9th grade students.  Spanish 1 students struggle with confidence using the language and practice a lot of writing about themselves.  It can be monotonous for the students writing similar things over and over again and it becomes monotonous for me reading the same thing over and over.  I thought pen-pal writing would be an authentic way to have students write to real people in Spanish speaking countries.  I encountered a problem because finding pen-pals was harder than I thought!  I used websites provided by the textbook, penpalsnow.com and mylanguageexchange.com, but they didn't seem to fit very well with what I envisioned.  I was surprised to find that Penpals Now had inappropriate adds in the margins especially since it was provided by the textbook.   It didn't feel very 'safe' to me and I would not have felt comfortable sending my students to that site.

I continued my search for a educational and safe website.  I found  ePals global community. The website is more geared at connecting classrooms together rather than just one pen pal at a time, like the other sites suggested.  I am in the process of contacting teachers, but don't know if I will be able to implement the actual pen pal writing within the next two weeks.  Instead I will get the students ready by writing mock pen-pal emails.  They will still get the written practice. 
As soon as I am contacted by the teacher, the students will be ready to send their emails.  I had students write emails on their school Google accounts and save them for later use.  I will give them a prompt so they include some needed information, but I will also let them write what they'd like.  (Obviously it needs to be school appropriate.)  Please feel free to view the assignment.  I've found that students write more when they have freedom in their writing and when it is to an actual person.  I strongly believe that students will write more with less restriction from the teacher.

Email to ePal teacher in Spain.

Currently the students have written the emails and have sent them to me.  I would like to check them before they are sent out to the recipients.  I am not checking the emails for grammatical errors because I think that the students that respond may tell my students what they need to fix.  I am checking the emails to make sure that all things written are school appropriate.  
I have not yet been contacted by any teachers matching up with the needs I am looking for in pen-pal communication which poses as a problem.  I will continue to use ePals to contact other teachers.  The practice emails seem to be very good so far.  The students included a lot of great ideas in Spanish and seemed to be writing with confidence, but I am still seeing common grammatical errors.  One good thing I saw while students were writing is that they seemed more concerned with their emails sounding good because it was going to a person, not just me reading it off of their test.  Overall, pen-pals seem to encourage students to write authentically and with more confidence.    

The next thing I looked into was signing up for a VoiceThread account.

Signing up for VoiceThread.
Signing up was really easy and the website offers video tutorials on how to use VoiceThread.  However, there was a big bump in the road...it costs money!  I contacted oue technology expert at the school to see if our district has an account.  

Email to technology expert.
Unfortunately, we didn't have an account.  The next step I plan on taking is contacting our PTA to see if I can get a grant for the use of VoiceThread.  I hope that they will support me and see the educational uses that VoiceThread has to offer Spanish students.  
I have not had the opportunity to research Skype, but I have used it in the past so I am somewhat familiar with it.  I need to make good relationships with pen-pals before I can move onto Skyping with them.  I am excited to look into the uses of Skype.

I discovered many great ideas from the survey I conducted.  I was delighted by the thoughtful responses of my peers.  If VoiceThread and Skype don't work out as planned, I have various other ideas on how to have students practice their speaking skills and gain confidence.  Future ideas that I can use are Audiboo, CLEAR, Garageband, Google Hangout, and Google Voice. I look forward to looking into these ideas.

Overall, I am very happy with the pen-pal writing and ePals website.  It will be a great way to increase students' writing and reading skills.  I am going to continue to look into VoiceThread and Skype to increase students' speaking and listening skills.  I am confident that technology will help improve the confidence of students using their Spanish skills in the classroom.

Mobile Learning

Mobile learning like every idea, has its ups and downs.  The down side is that is can be difficult and expensive if your district doesn't have a big budget to use on technology.  Grants are out there, but may be hard to get as so many teachers value mobile devices.  A lot of times, students have devices but can easily get "off task".  Can you blame them?  I love checking Facebook and Twitter myself!  Although there can be many obstacles, they can all be overcome with a smart, motivated, techie teacher in place!

So...there are some downsides, but there are upsides too!  Students can use awesome apps on their iPhones or iPods, they can download podcasts and music on their MP3 players, and they can download audio books on their E-Readers.  The good news is, they can all be used in healthy ways to promote educational learning.  

Recently I've used laptops in my classroom.  The students were working on a WebQuest where they learned about the food habits of a Spanish speaking country and World Hunger.  They also had to create a restaurant skit using Google Docs so that all students could add input at anytime, anywhere.  It was great to watch the students move their desks and form small groups while using the laptops.  Other students chose to work more independently while using the laptops.  They pulled out their headphones and listened to music (all in Spanish I am sure!) and they began to connect with each other and learn about the world.  

One thing that I would like to try in my classroom is using different poll websites where students can text their answers.  I really like Poll Everywhere because students do not need a smartphone to participate, they only need standard text messaging.  This makes it easy for all students to participate. It is quick and provides instant results.  Also, if a student doesn't have their cell phone that day, a student can easily pass their phone to a friend to use.  It is great for a teacher because they can see what their students know or don't know at that exact moment and use the results to move the direction of the class based on their students' knowledge.

I've also began to have students tweet using their smartphones.  Many students don't have a Twitter account which becomes a problem, so they tweet old school style...sticky notes.  The students that are able to use their phones, love tweeting.  The students that use sticky notes, love tweeting.  Originally, I wanted to show the tweets using the projector so students can read each others' tweets on the board.  Since, not all students have a twitter account I was met with a major challenge that I was somewhat able to overcome.  The only problem is, I overcame it without using technology. 

Plan B (if students don't have smartphones)

I foresee this being a problem in the future with the use of iphones and other smartphone devices.  Not all students will have one and those that do may not have the proper app you are trying to use.  I know a lot of parents don't feel comfortable have their child use certain apps, so I didn't want to force a student to sign up for an account.  Perhaps I can use something like Edmodo in the future, a site that is secure for students to use and has similar features to Twitter.  

Overall, I am excited to continue to use mobile devices in my classroom and it is easy to see how many benefits there are to learning with the use of mobile devices.  Don't forget to tell your students to BYOD tomorrow!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Wicked Problem Survey Responses

Recently I conducted a survey about my wicked problem, which is how to get students to feel more confident while communicating in a second language.  Overall, 9 people took the survey using a Google Form.  I based my results from the 9 people and broke it down using percentages and pie graphs that can be seen in the SlideShare below.   

The first question I asked was to discover the position people hold in their workplace. Of the 9 people that took the survey, 89% were teachers, 11% were technology integration specialist, 0% were administrators, and 0% were full-time graduate students.  Most people that took the survey were teachers and one was a technology integration specialist.  In the future, I would ask people to fill out what content area they teach.  It would be helpful to know if they use the following tools in their content area, so I could see how it relates to teaching in a world language classroom.

The second question I asked was to find out how many people use Skype in their workplace.  100% of the people that took the survey do not use Skype.  I found this surprising because I thought more people would use Skype.  I want to look into more information about Skype and its educational purposes.  Perhaps Skype is not a good source for better communication in a foreign language classroom because it is difficult to use or not very helpful.  Also, I may need to look into another idea (not Skype) to increase students' speaking and listening skills. 

The third question I asked was to discover how many people use VoiceThread in the workplace. 78% percent of the people that took the survey do not use it and 22% use it.  This is not as surprising to me because I think VoiceThread is mostly used in foreign language classrooms.  It's likely that people that took the survey are not foreign language teachers.  Also, after looking into VoiceThread, I discovered that is cost money to join.  This may be a reason why people don't use it in their workplace.  I am excited to see that some people are using VoiceThread.   It is encouraging to know that other educators and technology specialist are using it!  Based off of the results from questions 2 and 3, I will try to use VoiceThread first to increase the confidence of communication then look into using Skype.   

The fourth question I asked was to find out if people believe that Skype and VoiceThread can help enhance communication in a foreign language classroom.  Overall, 100% of people that took the survey believe that it would help!  It is very encouraging that people who use and don't use the tools believe that it will increase students' communication.  It shows that people who use it, find it to be a successful tool.  Also, it shows that people who don't use it believe that it has helpful features to improve the communication skills of learners.  I agree with the survey results and will try to use both of these tools to help solve my wicked problem.

The fifth question I asked was to list any effective technologies that you may know about that may help increase confident communication in a foreign language classroom.  This was my favorite question in the survey because everyone listed so many helpful ideas.  I am excited to use these tools in the future, especially if I am unable to use Skype or VoiceThread to solve my wicked problem.  People listed the following great ideas that may be helpful in increasing communication skills in a variety of content areas!
Audioboo (iPad)
Dragon Dictation
Google Apps
Google Chat/Hangout
Google Voice
iMovie (iPad)
Online textbook with recording materials
Rosetta Stone 

Overall, the survey results have given me encouragement to use Skype and VoiceThread to increase communication amongst many learners.  After trying out these tools, I will try to teach my colleagues how to use them to raise awareness about them in the workplace since many people do not currently use them.  Lastly, I will try using some of the tools that were given to me by other educators and technology integration specialists.  The tools I am most interested in (from others' responses) are CLEAR, Dragon Dictation, and Google Voice.  I hope that these survey result can provide some insight for you and give you some ideas as to how you can increase communication in your classroom.

Data Visualization with Glogster

After browsing the website, Free Visual Tools, I discovered great data visualization tools.  Data visualization tools can help a learner view information easier and access multiple types of representation about the subject being presented.  I took some time to navigate through the website to find which tool would work best for what I wanted to represent which is what I have being working on in my Wicked Problem Project.  My wicked problem is getting students to become more confident speaking Spanish in a World Language classroom.    

I used the tool Glogster to represent the 3 tools that will help a Spanish student become a more confident learner.  Those 3 tools are VoiceThread, ePals, and Skype.  Glogster allows you to connect links to these websites, which is an excellent feature giving easy access to the viewer to connect to the information.  Glogster also allows you to embed videos and MP3 files.  I embedded a video (visual) on how to use VoiceThread.  (I chose a video on VoiceThread over Skype and ePals because the other sites are more user friendly.)  I embedded the MP3 of my podcast (audio) that describes my wicked problem, giving the viewer an option to hear as well as look at the ideas being presented.  At the end, I brought it all together showing how they all work together to make a learner more confident in using the language!

The "ah ha" moment I had was how awesome these tools can be!  I feel like pen and paper limit students' creativity so much.  I brainstormed an idea of what I wanted it to look like and then when I created it using Glogster...it was WAY better!  I was able to add visuals, podcasts, and videos adding multiple representation of the product to reach a bigger audience.  

I viewed other data visualization tools such as: Exploratree, Dia, and Open Clipart.  Exploratree would be a great website to create and print thinking guides.  The website was user friendly and provided many features such as creating, printing, saving, and sharing the thinking guides.  It has similar features to Google Apps because students can work in real time and it allows others to 'view', 'edit', or 'comment' on the thinking guide. Dia did not seem very user friendly to me, but it can be used for making diagrams.  Open Clipart has free clip art!  I am excited to use this website in the future because I use clip art all the time in docs and presentations and it can be hard to find good clip art for free!  

Overall, Glogster was the best for me because I was able to use pictures, texts, videos, podcasts, and link websites.  It has a little bit of everything!  Also, my students use it in their ELA classes at my school, so I thought it would be good to learn how to use.  Perhaps I'll  have them use it in my class someday!      

My Brainstorm

 My Glogster 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Group Leadership Project Presentation on Edmodo

For my group leadership project on using Edmodo to help develop a flipped classroom, my partner and I created a Jing presentation that can be used for professional development.  Throughout the Jing presentation we provided screenshots from Edmodo's website.  We used the cursor to show where one would need to click as if they were navigating the website.  We highlighted Edmodo's great features such as: creating classes, assigning homework and assessments, using polls, embedding links and Google Docs, and more!

If I was going to use this presentation for professional development at my school, I would create an invitation on Google Calenders and invite all staff members to attend.  After seeing the amount of interest, I would book an appropriate location to show the presentation and have teachers use computers to try Edmodo on their own.  To start off, I would show the Jing presentation so teachers can get a general idea of what it is and how to use it in their content area.  I would then play clips of the Jing presentation and pause it throughout to take time to work with teachers one on one or answer questions as a whole group.  I would monitor the group and answer questions as I am giving directions on using Edmodo.  I would make adjustments to the presentation as I saw necessary depending on the needs of the attending teachers.  

Before teachers leave the presentation, I would have them fill out a quick Google Form to provide feedback on the presentation.  Their feedback will provide common questions that need to get answered in future sessions.  Ideally, I would like to provide other Edmodo professional development sessions where teachers could meet and focus on using specific features of Edmodo that they may still be unclear on how to use.  It is so important to provide follow up on professional development because often teachers feel like they need more training and it can boost motivation to use Edmodo in the future to help flip their classrooms.  Lastly, I would  provide a follow up e-mail to all teachers letting them know that they can contact me if they have any questions regarding Edmodo.

Enjoy the presentation and feel free to email if you have any questions about how to use Edmodo or how to use this as a professional development opportunity for your school.     

Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is required.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Brainstorm, Storyboard, and Script for Group Leadership Project

For our group leadership project, Jenn and I decided to teach our colleagues about how to use Edmodo to facilitate in a flipped classroom.  Edmodo is a great tool for teachers because it has a very easy to use format and is a great place to store student work.  One idea we really like for a World Language classroom is having our students record themselves responding to given prompts and posting their recordings to Edmodo.  Students can also post questions to Edmodo where the entire class can see the question and answer.  Unlike Twitter and Facebook, Edmodo is a more secure place for students and teachers to communicate. Teachers have the ability to approve students postings to make sure they are classroom appropriate.  Another great aspect is the calendar where you can post any important dates such as tests, quizzes, and project due dates.  You can also connect with other teachers at your school to collaborate with one another.  Assignments can be posted to Edmodo with links to different websites or podcasts that students can work on at home providing them more time in class to discuss and practice, which is one main features of a flipped classroom.

We used PowerPoint below to create a storyboard that gives an outline to each scene.  Our plan is well thought out with easy to follow instructions and visuals.  It displays our screenshots from Edmodo and correlates the script with each slide so we know what to say and when to say it!  Remember the 5 P's. Proper planning prevents poor presentations. 

You can view our script which narrates the storyboard.  We plan on guiding teachers through the steps of how to sign up for an Edmodo account and how to use all of the great features it has to offer to help flip a classroom.  We want to narrate our storyboard using Jing and perhaps put the screenshots in a Prezi presentation.  We have not finalized our idea yet, but that is the plan so far! 

I hope you have a change to view the storyboard and script and see the wonderful things Edmodo has to offer your classroom!  It integrates Technology, Pedagogy, and Content Knowledge.  That is a lot To PACK into your new and improved future flipped classroom!  

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Web-Conferencing with Google Hangouts

Web-conferencing with Google Hangouts is a great tool for conferencing with colleagues, classmates, and students.  It has more advantages than disadvantages to creating great communication with others around the globe.

I used Google Hangouts to discuss my group leadership project with my classmate Jenn.  We scheduled a meeting time through email and met up in the hangout.  It took a few tries to get started because we were having some problems with microphones and sound.  Once we got started, we were able to record live on YouTube.  It was awkward thinking about putting yourself having a casual conversation on YouTube.  I kept wondering, what if my students found this!  After we started recording, we began to talk about our project and which technologies we were going to use to teach our colleagues about flipping the classroom. We also decided which technology we were going to use to communicate the idea of flipping the classroom with our colleagues. Everything went very well, with only one surprising moment...I got to meet Jenn's dog and her mom!  It was very nice to meet both of them! 

We considered using Adobe Connect, Vyew, MS Live Meeting, and Google Hangouts.  We decided to use Google Hangouts because we both felt comfortable using it and knew that it had great features like recording live on YouTube, chatting, capturing pictures, Google effects, and screen-sharing.  While hanging out, we were able to use the recording live on YouTube feature, where we were able to share our hangout with our professors for their viewing.  We also chatted, which was beneficial when we were having microphone problems and were not able to hear each other.  We were able to talk through chat while we were resolving the problem.  Both of us were unable to capture pictures because we were using Firefox as our browsers.  This is a feature I would like to use in the future, so I may need to switch browsers.  Since we were unable to use the capture feature, I took a screenshot of us on my laptop instead.  We didn't use the fun Google effects because we were not able to capture pictures.  However, we were able to screen-share, which was very valuable.  We used it to look at the assignment together on Angel and while looking up different features on Edmodo.  While screen-sharing, we noticed that our Edmodo accounts had different features, which would be important to bring up during a professional development meeting.  Overall, we were able to use most of the features and I found them to be very helpful and think that they increased the communication between Jenn and I.

Next time, I would switch browsers so that I am able to use the capture feature and Google effects.  Also, I would like to set up a reminder that goes to my iPhone to help me remember future meetings!

Google Hangouts can be used in so many ways in the classroom!  You can schedule "homework help hangouts" where you can help students with their homework after school hours.  Of course, you would need to this from home, but students could greatly benefit from getting live help on their homework.  Students can also create "student hangouts" where they help each other on homework and they can use it if they are working on group projects.  They could use it outside of the classroom if they needed extra help or need to work on the group assignments from home.  For me personally, I could have hangouts with students where we speak Spanish!  It could be for an assignment, practice, extra credit, or just for fun!
I will continue to use Google Hangouts in the future because I was very satisfied with the communication it provided for Jenn and I.  I believe it really enhanced our communication about the project.  I would also like to explore using Google Hangout with my students in the future!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Wicked Problem Part B: Podcast

Are you a world language teacher that often hears this statement?  I don’t speak Spanish!  My wicked problem is my Spanish students do not feel confident speaking the language and it is difficult to integrate authentic experiences. OR IS IT? Hopefully integrating technology (with Web 2.0 tools and assistive technologies) will bring more real life experiences to the classroom and encourage students to use their Spanish confidently inside and outside of the classroom.  Here is my Podcast

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Great Teacher in Clarkston

This article is about a Clarkston Junior High School teacher using technology in the classroom.  He does a great job using podcasts, pencasts, and one-to-one technology in his classroom.  Go Wolves!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Una Problema Malvada: A Wicked Problem Part A

The following is una problema malvada (a wicked problem) in Spanish classrooms.  That problem is getting students to communicate authentically and with confidence!  I have provide technology strategies, logistics of a solution, research, a plan, and indication as to why this will be a successful project. 

Educational Need
The educational need is students do not feel confident communicating in a second language, for my classroom the language is Spanish. Communication can include speaking, reading, writing, and listening.  The problem arises because students generally hear one speaker (their teacher) and it is difficult to truly immerse a student in a second language.  It’s easy to teach students phrases and rote questions and answers, but how do we get them to communicate as if they were really in a foreign country?  This becomes very challenging to do in a World Language classroom with limited time and few methods of authentic immersion.
My Technology-Integration Strategy
The effective integration of assistive technologies and Web 2.0 tools will help students have more real life experiences talking to native speakers.  Various authentic experiences will strongly encourage students to feel more comfortable and confident communicating in Spanish.
One tool that can help solve this wicked problem is an authentic pen-pal emailing website.  Students are able to write and receive e-mails from native speakers.  This will help them become more confident because they will be using their Spanish authentically.  They will be receiving letters from students in a Spanish speaking country and will hopefully continue communicating with them after the course is over.  In the future, if a student is in a Spanish speaking country, they will be more apt to communicate through writing because it is something they will have done before with a native speaker.
Many pen-pal emailing websites (the one I will be using is provided with the students’ online textbook, so it is safe and recommended) can lead to other things such as communicating verbally.  Normally, speaking and listening are two aspects of a language that my students struggle with the most.  Two great tools that can be used to increase students’ speaking and listening skills are Skype and Voicethread.  After developing relationships through emailing, it will be fantastic to Skype to have students practice speaking and listening with their pen-pals.  It will be authentic, they will be speaking and listening to a native speaker, and they will have a preexisting relationship with the pen-pal.  This will be a unique opportunity for students to use their interpersonal communication skills with confidence and with technology.  The technology aspect provides students a one-on-one experience using their knowledge to communicate with a native speaker.  That is as real as it gets, unless I can take my whole class on a trip to Mexico or Spain. (I wish!)
Voicethread will be the second means to getting students to feel more confident using their speaking skills.  Voicethread will be working on their presentational communication skills.  Students will be able to record their voices and be able to hear how they sound in Spanish.  They often don’t hear themselves speaking, making it difficult to improve their pronunciation.  I will be able to work with students one on one and help them with their pronunciation and fluency.  Also, they will be able to share their projects with their online pen-pals.  They will hopefully gain confidence while practicing their Spanish and will be able to use their voicethread projects as they advance further in their Spanish careers to see the improvement of their speaking.
Logistics of a Solution
First, I will make lesson plans that include the TPACK framework, so I can integrate technology to fit well with the content and pedagogy.  The technology for writing skills will be the online interaction with pen-pals.  The technology for interpersonal and presentational speaking and writing skills will be using Skype and Voicethread.  Next, I will need to schedule laptops that have Internet access and cameras.  I will need to check out headsets from the Media Center. Then I will contact our technology integration specialist to download Skype and Voicethread to prepare the laptops with those programs.  I would like to send a letter home to parents letting them the benefits of online pen-pals, Skype, and Voicethread. Finally, after the lessons are completed in class, I will assign homework where students try to use the tools outside of the classroom.  (If students do not have Internet access at home, computers are available for use in the Media Center.)
Research That Supports My Strategies
Research shows that when students use technology effectively in the classroom: 1. Are able to access more linguistic and cultural materials. 2. Can improve communication both written and orally or both at the same time. 3. Can receive authentic feedback from native speakers. 
Research from the TPACK framework shows the importance and effectiveness of integrating technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge together.  The assistive technologies and Web 2.0 tools that I have chosen will integrate the TPACK framework, so students are not only integrating technology into the lesson, but positive pedagogy and content.  This will allow students to gain confidence through real life experience that in turn will help improve their confidence communicatively with native speakers. 
My Plan

After researching information, I discovered three tools that best fit the solution of increasing students’ confidence of learning a second language.  Online pen-pals, Skype, and Voicethread are all beneficial programs to increase students’ communicative skills in Spanish. The first step will be getting students access to computers with Internet and correct programs such as Skype and Voicethread.  My school has laptops, computer labs, and headsets available during the day.  The Media Center is open before and after school and during lunch with computers that have Internet access for students that want to use these programs outside of the classroom.  (Students may also visit local libraries with similar tools if necessary.) 
The next step will be teaching students how to use these tools effectively to gain more confidence with communication.  I will give students writing prompts to use while writing to their pen-pals because Spanish 1 students have limited vocabulary.  After providing them with several writing prompts overtime, I will let the conversations with native speakers just take place because I want this to be an authentic experience for my students.  When they are finished with Spanish 1, I hope they will continue communication over the summer and will try to keep their same pen-pal as they move on to Spanish 2.
Skype and Voicethread will be used for speaking and listening skills.  I will share my main goal with students:  The goal is to communicate with native speakers authentically, not to finish the assignment!  Before Skyping with pen-pals, I will have students write out questions to ask and possible responses.  I want them to be prepared, but will let them know that realistically their pen-pal may ask question they don’t know answers to! (Therefore, I will provided them with the answer, “Yo no sé”.)  Voicethread will be used more for practicing presentational skills.  I will have students speak about themselves, describe others, and read Spanish paragraphs.  This will allow the students and myself to hear their pronunciation and practice their fluency.
The last step will be preparing students to use resources on their own to communicate in Spanish and use technology outside of the school environment.  I hope for students to gain enough confidence with their communication skills, that they will stay in contact with their pen-pal through emailing and skyping.
Indication of a Successful Project
This plan will be successful because I have a proper and well thought out plan in place.  My school has the technology to support my plan.  I have the knowledge as a teacher to implement lesson plans that follow the TPACK framework and the motivation to use technology in my class.  I believe using Web 2.0 tools and assistive technologies such as online pen-pals, Skype, and Voicethread are all authentic and fun uses of the Spanish language for students.  These real life examples and relationships will encourage them to communicate more with native speakers and feel more comfortable using the language.  Once they are feeling confident using the language, I believe that they will be motivated to try communicating and practicing Spanish inside and outside of the classroom. 
Resources and Citations
Punya, Mishra and Matthew J. Koehler. “Introducing Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge.” (2008): 2-14. 
Zhao, Yong. “Recent Developments in Technology and Language Learning: A Literature Review and Meta-analysis.” CALICO Journal. 21 (2003): 7-23.

A little bit about me!

This was my first time using Jing.  It is a screencast that will tell you a little bit about me. Enjoy!
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Friday, March 8, 2013


There have been many teaching strategies that I’ve learned over the past two months on how to integrate technology into my classroom.  Some things I’ve learned about are how to use and post resources on MERLOT, how to create a Webquest, about the 3 principles of the Universal Design for Learning, how to use Web 2.0 in the classroom, and face to face instructional strategies.  Learning about all of these different ways to integrate technology has motivated me to use assistive technology in a way that improves student learning and reaches the widest range of students possible.

Integrating web-based technologies has helped me to think more critically about the types of technologies I am using in my classroom.  I’ve learned that it’s not what you use, but how you use it.  In the past, I was using technology just to use it.  Now I am using technology effectively.  Today, I had my Spanish 1 and 2 students creating google docs and presentations.  It was great!  I had to do some explaining, but they were catching on so fast. (Thank you to all of the other teachers at my school that have been using google docs with them!) It is very rewarding to see students engaged in the lesson while using technology.   

I have started integrating technology into my class more and more which was one of my goals.  I have also used google docs with students, which was another goal of mine. One of my personal goals was to integrate technology into my classroom at a point where I feel comfortable using it.  I am getting over the fear that I might not know how to use something and that it’s okay because I will learn!  I am so motivate to integrate technology effectively into my classroom!

My next goal is to use the webquest that I created with my Spanish 2 students.  I didn’t get the chance to because we switched trimesters.  My next goal is to learn how to use voicethread or learn how to embed students’ voices on google presentations.  I would love to have them record so I can hear their español!  I would also like to have students share their presentations in front of the class.  Having them use the StAIR or kiosk mode on powerpoint would be great for the stories they will be creating at the end of the year.  My personal goal is to finish the MAET program within the next 2 years and my long term goal is to continue to use technology effectively and in a way that is fun for students to learn!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Online Teaching Experiences

A WebQuest would be an online experience that would be very beneficial to students learning Spanish.  A WebQuest guides students while they are online to discover information about a particular topic.  

I recently created my first WebQuest and I am so excited to use it in my classroom.  The WebQuest I created has students explore Spanish speaking countries and their typical eating habits and types of food.  It also has students create a restaurant skit and learn about World Hunger.

A WebQuest can help a language teacher cover a variety of content including communication, cultures, connections, comparisons, and communities.  It can help students improve their communication skills interpersonally, interpretively and presentationally.  It is a great way for students to learn about different cultures using online resources.  They are able to explore great sites that have awesome information about the Spanish speaking world.  They are able to connect their Spanish skills and knowledge with that of other content areas, whether it be history, geography, science or math!  They are able to make comparisons not only between English and Spanish, but also between the lifestyles they live and those of other countries.  They are able to reach out into the community and find websites that offer Spanish resources.  Overall, it connects their learning with Spanish in a variety of beneficial and useful ways.  They can become GLOBAL LEARNERS!

Pedagogical strategies that might be used within a WebQuest are scaffolding, critical thinking, role-playing, group work, hands-on learning, active learning, and experiential learning.

One technology that I tried which was not very beneficial with language learners was creating an e-portfolio.  Partially it was difficult because students have different teachers throughout the year because we are on a trimester schedule.  It started off as a great idea because I had students use google sites to prepare their e-portfolios.  They created different sub-categories and even wrote in Spanish!  I found it difficult to keep all of the students on track, some were way ahead and some were way behind.  Overall, I had a challenge as a teacher because it was difficult to keep up consistently and perhaps it was difficult as a student because it is not their first language.  Any suggestions?


You may also view my StAIR project on Merlot's website. It has great resources for educators!

StAIR Project

This is a StAIR Project that I created for my MSU online class.  It is geared for Spanish 1 students in grades 6-12.  It will go well with noun-adjective agreement and description vocabulary.  Please visit the following link if you would like to view it or use it in your classroom.  StAIR Project

Thursday, February 14, 2013

I signed up for a Wikipedia account today!  I didn't realize how easy it was to add and delete information.  On the Clarkston Community Schools Wikipedia page, I added a link to Clarkston Junior High School's website.  There was not a previous link, so now people can find out information about CJHS!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

UDL Guidelines for Food Unit Lesson Plan

I am evaluating a Spanish 2 lesson plan using the UDL guidelines. The lesson is on my blog if you would like to view it. It is a lesson using assistive technologies to create a video ordering food in the target language, google apps to add to online portfolios, and Web 2.0 tools to discover information about world hunger in Spanish speaking countries.  My original lesson plan features some standards of the UDL guidelines, but after learning more about UDL, I see that my plan also has barriers for students.   I would like to break these barriers in the future so I can reach a wider range of learners in my classroom.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

WebQuest Review

I've decided to review the WebQuest on Introduction to Spanish 1.  I have never done a WebQuest with my Spanish students but think it is something very valuable to try.

1. Synopsis: This WebQuest is meant for introductory Spanish students in 9th grade.  It focuses on introductory restaurant vocabulary, writing to a "penpal" using simple sentences and phrases, and creating a portfolio of resources.  The educational goals are to teach students why it is important to learn a second language, introduce beginner level speaking and writing skills in the target language, and the importance of a portfolio for future use in higher level Spanish classes.  The Michigan World Language Standards and Benchmarks addressed are standards 1.1, 2.1, 3.1, 3.2, 4.1, 4.2, and 5.2.

2. Pedagogical Strategies: The WebQuest uses scaffolding because students start out by finding information, then they create a skit as a group, they practice the skit as a group, but the final copy is rehearsed from memory.  The scaffolding is effective because it allows students the ability to search and learn vocabulary and grammar, practice it, then put it to use on their own.  

3. Technology: It's taking advantage of technology by opening students' eyes to the global community.  Students are able to learn about culture and the language at the same time.  It is change without difference because students are not learning different information they are accessing it in a different way.  It is more effective that passing out papers because it allows students the ability to explore.  If you only give students handouts you are limiting them to the information you give them.  Allowing them to go online gives students the chance to encounter the world through the web.  They are guided with useful resources, but are also able to go on their own to learn more information.  

4. Flaws?: All of the links and images are working well.  The material is up to date and the websites linked throughout the WebQuest are useful.  The resources and images are credited to being found using the google search engine. 

5.  Improvements: I would make the font easier to read because it is difficult to read with the background color.  I would also like to add some pages that are in all Spanish (perhaps more appropriate for higher levels of Spanish) because I it would be good for students to also see authentic resources.  The portfolio that students create goes in a 3-ring binder, but you can integrate more technology if you have students create an online portfolio.  It will be more accessible for students in the future, easier for them to add material, and easier to share with parents and staff.