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!