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.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Conjuguemos Website Review

After visiting Merlot to find an activity for my Spanish 1 classroom, I discovered this helpful website: Conjuguemos. Please read on if you would like to discover more about a website for language learners of all levels to practice conjugating verbs or learning vocabulary in a fun way.  

Quality of Content:
  1. Does the software present valid (correct) concepts, models, and skills? Yes, the software presents correct drill practices for conjugating verbs and practicing vocabulary.  I checked with the the Spanish book (Avancemos 1) that I use in my classroom and the vocabulary aligns correctly. 
  2. Does the software present educationally significant concepts, models, and skills for the discipline? Yes, it provides you with drill practice and correct answers for vocabulary and verb conjugations.  It provides a word chart and vocabulary list that students may look at before they complete the practice exercises. 
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching-Learning Tool:
  1. What stage(s) in the learning process/cycle could the materials be used? This website should be used for "practice". 
  2. What is(are) the learning objective(s)? What should students be able to do after successfully learning with the materials? Depending on the objectives presented by the teacher, the students should be able to master a certain vocabulary list or verb tense.  
  3. What are the characteristics of the target learner(s)? Prior knowledge of Spanish.
  4. Does the interactive/media-rich presentation of material improve faculty and students' abilities to teach and learn the materials? It doesn't improve the faculty's ability to teach the material because it is a site for practice.  It will improve the students' ability to learn the material.  
  5. Can the use of the software be readily integrated into current curriculum and pedagogy within the discipline? Yes.
  6. Can the software be used in a variety of ways to achieve teaching and learning goals? Yes.
  7. Are the teaching-learning goals easy to identify? No. 
  8. Can good learning assignments for using the software application be written easily? Yes, students would be able to practice their material using this website at home with Internet access.  It has worksheets that can be printed under the Spanish Grammar Lab tab. 
Ease of Use:
  1. Are the labels, buttons, menus, text, and general layout of the computer interface consistent and visually distinct? Yes.
  2. Does the user get trapped in the material? No. 
  3. Can the user get lost easily in the material? No.
  4. Does the module provide feedback about the system status and the user's responses? In order to print results and/or send results to the teacher, the student and teacher need to be a member of the website.   
  5. Does the module provide appropriate flexibility in its use? Yes.
  6. Does the learning material require a lot of documentation, technical support, and/or instruction for most students to successfully use the software? No, the website is very easy to navigate with basic computer skills.
  7. Does the material present information in ways that are familiar for students? Yes.
  8. Does the material present information in ways that would be attractive to students? Yes.  A great feature is that students can time themselves and see their results instantly.  It makes practicing Spanish feel more like a game for the student.