Tech Integration: "I know it when I see it."

 
 
 cass teaching class.jpg

cass teaching class.jpg

 
 

What does technology integration look like in your classroom?

This is the question posed to us in Course 4. I'm attempting to answer it with an example from my class.

A few years ago I had a 5th grade student, Cass, who wanted to teach others Spanish. Her level of Spanish was amazing and I suggested she teach an online mini course, not having any idea what that could really look like. Cass decided to give it a go and created a Google form seeking potential students and/or classes. I sent out her form via Twitter to spread the word. When someone responded she instantly shared the news with me.

cas email
cas email

A Spanish teacher in Florida wanted her to teach her 6th graders.  Cass composed an email to the teacher in Florida. She cc'd me in on the conversation but the letter came from her. They chose a date. The Florida teacher then sent Cass the material she wanted her to "cover".  Feeling a bit overwhelmed, Cass shared with me the list of 40 plus words present in the traditional end-of-chapter pages.   I was sad, yet not surprised, this teacher was still using such a traditional textbook/approach, but that's another post.  Cass and I decided 40 words weren't practical for one lesson and chose six important verbs from the list.

Cass prepared her lesson. She asked for the names of a few students in the actual class and learned that the class would be visiting the Dali Museum in the near future. She created a lesson that integrated the students in Florida and the new vocabulary with an imaginary story of the theft of an important piece of art at the Dali Museum. She created flashcards with images to use in her lesson. She practiced in front of our class and received valuable feedback from her classmates.

feedback.jpg
feedback.jpg
 

She also came to my 1st grade class and practiced the lesson in front of a bunch of eager 6-year-olds. We then Skyped a friend of mine in Costa Rica who was learning Spanish so she could practice the lesson once more over Skype.

The big day arrived. Cass was ready and excited. I was a little nervous.

cass ready for teaching florida kids.jpg
cass ready for teaching florida kids.jpg

The lesson started fabulously but almost immediately the video feed in Florida went out and Cass couldn't see the class.  She could hear them but she couldn't see them. Fortunately, they could still see and hear her so the lesson continued.  She was slightly rattled but continued like a pro. I would not have remained so poised. Reminds me of last night's episode of The Voice where the contestant continued singing after her mic went out. Cassidy finished her lesson in about 25 minutes and we were both thrilled. The teacher thanked her and then wanted her students to thank her as well. We quickly created an Edmodo group for an easy location to continue the conversation. Each student in Florida wrote a post to Cass thanking her and sharing their new learning.

Screen Shot 2014-04-24 at 10.36.22 AM
Screen Shot 2014-04-24 at 10.36.22 AM

Although it was time for lunch and recess, Cassidy stayed in and personally answered each reply.

This lesson represents for me true integration of technology (or redefinition) according to the SAMR framework.

The funny thing...

My biggest take-away with her lesson had nothing to do with technology. It was when the Florida teacher commented to me that she thought it was quite interesting (I believe she meant interesting in good way) that Cassidy made the lesson personal and chose to teach the vocabulary in the context of a story.

This brings me to the TPACK model of technology integration which has always been a bit complicated for me in the past.  As transformative as the technology can and should be, pedagogy and often content trump the technology for me every time.  Even moving up the SAMR scale won't be truly transformative if content and pedagogy aren't addressed in the learning.

Hopefully Cassidy's lesson inspired another WL teacher to possibly look differently at her pedagogy and content.  Then again, the inspiration would never have happened without the amazing possibilities that the technology affords us today.

Could effective technology integration be like Justice Potter's definition of pornography, "you just know it when you see it" but cannot define it?

 

Digital Storytelling in the WL Classroom

“Tell me a fact and I’ll learn. Tell me a truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.”   ~ Indian Proverb

Storytelling has been a major component of my World Language classroom for many years. New vocabulary and grammatical structures are embedded into stories co-created by myself and the class. Students are the actors: a king, a talking tortilla, an octopus or possibly Shakira.  Stories are an effective vehicle for providing compelling, repetitive and personal comprehensible input.  Because language is acquired through comprehensible input, I have found storytelling effective for both helping students acquire high levels of Spanish as well as creating a close-knit community of risk-taking language learners. 

storyboard 1st.jpg
storyboard 1st.jpg

I have used the traditional paper/pencil/crayon storyboards for years. Quick and easy for assessing Listening Comprehension (Interpretive Mode) and practicing retells (Presentational Mood) but many kids (often the older ones) find drawing difficult.

Digital storytelling is incredibly more powerful in terms of building language proficiency. Digital tools today enable my students to capture our class stories, create their own and easily share them with a wider audience on my website or their blog. The ability to easily work with audio, text, images and now video is amazing!

Here are a few examples of students creating digital stories.

iMovie (above)

Zooburst

Storykit

Go Animate

Voicethread

Course Three inspired me to create a digital story(with iMovie) based on our most current class story. Kim was correct in stating the amount of time required to make an actual video. Embarrassingly, it took me about 10 hours to complete mine and it is no masterpiece. I created it primarily on the plane with no wifi and wanted to experiment with the different features. I'm grateful otherwise I’m sure I would have spent double the time looking for images of Juanes and music from Marc Anthony. I tried, instead, to focus on providing repetitive language and asking a few simple questions to prompt students while viewing.

My only caution, as a language teacher, in using Digital Storytelling is the potential amount of time spent (in class) creating digital stories.  Although most tools are quite easy, there still is a learning curve and I find my students move back to English when learning how to use the tool or program. I'm trying to teach language such as What do I do next? or How did you do that?  to mitigate them moving into English. Also, students and teachers can spend too much time looking for the perfect background, color or image.  I say too much time only because class time is limited and searching for the perfect color of blue will not increase a student's proficiency in the language. That being said, giving time lines to finish stories and encouraging out-of-class creation are two strategies that have worked for me.

Limiting the tools you teach students is alright, too. There are so many options to create digital stories. New tweets everyday, with long lists, appear in my stream.  It is not always about having lots of different tools to tell your story but having a few that work well for you and your class. That way, you are spending more time leveraging the power of the tool, rather than learning a new one. Sometimes I send kids home with a list of choices and they report back as to the best ones.  Ideally, I'd love it if my students came in to my class already having had practice with a fews tools, as they do with a pencil or pen.

Please share examples of digital storytelling in your language classes. I'd love to see them.

Can a digital story land you a job?

teeth pic monkeychicks pick monkey If I walked into your class, what would I see?

Have you ever been asked this during an interview?

When I'm asked, I try and paint a picture in the interviewer's mind so he or she can feel what it would be like to be a student in my classroom.  I've also asked similar type questions when I'm interviewing teachers with the hope of getting an authentic glimpse into their classroom. The last thing I want to see, honestly, is the portfolio sitting on the table.

I may have a better option.  Digital storytelling.

Why not immediately start the cued-up video or quickly send the link if you are on a Skype interview of your class story to answer the above question?

This course again moves my thinking up an iteration.  I thought I had a killer (smaller than most which I know was appreciated)  portfolio 20-years-ago and just three years ago when asked why I thought I was qualified for a certain position, I casually pulled out my iPad showing a quick Keynote (mostly images) as to why. It's almost 2015 and I need the next version to answer to the question.  A digital story is the answer.

"I realized the importance of having a story today is what really separates companies".

— Blake Mycoskie, CEO of Tom's Shoes

I believe this is true for educators as well.  Being able to effectively share your story with a potential employer will set you (and me) apart.

This Animoto video I put together for parents last year during the holidays is a start. Images, short video clips, student work, teacher-student interaction and parent testimonials will be the framework of my class story.

The trick will be keeping it super short. Two minutes is probably the key length. Maybe I'll make two versions: a 3-minute video and a 30-second trailer depending on the purpose and/or stage of the interview process.

I’ll be ready when the next opportunity comes for me to share my story. That is, of course, until the next version is launched.

Infographics: Hitting all modes of communication

Sport habits in Spain

by yolsclemente.

Infographics, like the one above, are a fantastic way to present information in a visually appealing fashion and provide (thanks to the images and organization) authentic material that is more accessible to our second or third language learners. In addition to our students consuming/interpreting meaning from these authentic sources (WL Standard 1.2), they provide us another tool for producing/presenting/creating in the target language (WL Standard 1.3).

Here are a few ideas for teachers and students where the use of an infographic could be of value. 

  • The classic Who am I? Novice Level assignment
  • Music, cultural or historical presentations
  • Syllabus, exam or assignment make-over
  • Why learn another language?--Advocacy campaign
  • Book talks or novel reviews (themes, new vocab, characters, culture, etc.)
  • Passion Project-students pick something of interest
  • DP Themes: Health, Leisure, Technology,  Global Issues, and Cultural Diversity
  • Visual of the class story

My students and I have had the best luck with both

Piktochart Logo.

I've heard great things about Visual.ly but have't been able to figure out (user error, I'm sure) how to personally create my own.

Infographics are not meant to be printed. Maybe that's not accurate but a reality in my school with no color printer and the drive to reduce paper consumption. And, they look just awesome on the screen. My student, Luisa, asked proudly if she could put hers on her blog so others could see it. That's a good sign.

I'm looking forward to experimenting with adding a QR Code that links to questions, audio, video, etc. This will provide the opportunity for interpersonal communication (WL Standard 1.1) with additional authentic listening.

Here is a site with lots of infographics for Spanish. Pinterest has some fabulous examples as well.

Lastly, encourage your students to use infographics and visual data in their other classes. Although it may appear that everyone is doing it (I'm talking to my COETAIL colleagues); they are not. 

Good luck.  I'd love to see some fun examples in your WL classrooms hitting all the modes of communication.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colors of Chichicastenango as a writing prompt?

 

I used these ten images to inspire my students during an in-class writing assignment this morning.  Students wrote original stories using new vocabulary and cultural elements from Guatemala.

We have been reading the novel Esperanza and just finished viewing the classic El Norte movie. The novel is fantastic but has limited images and the Oscar-winning film, produced in 1985, certainly did not do justice in showing the amazing color, fabric and scenery of Guatemala.

Although we have interacted with images of Guatemala like the famous Chichicastenango market during this unit, I thought a visual writing prompt might inspire students to be more creative in writing their stories.

Most students found the images helpful in some way.

Here is their feedback (translated back to English).

The images on the screen...

Helped me think.

Helped me add details to my story.

Gave me inspiration.

Gave me a specific setting for my story.

Gave me some ideas as to  where to begin.

Reminded me of specific events in Guatemala.

Helped create an image in my head.

Maybe not at the Modification or Redefinition stage of the SAMR Model of technology integration but  the feedback above is compelling enough for me to keep adding  images in new and unique ways to help my student acquire Spanish,  feel more successful, stay engaged with content and become more passionate about different cultures.

 

 

 

How do you say UPGRADE in Spanish?

These were Ben's exact words when I had the class shift their eyes toward the screen as we began class yesterday. Embarrassingly  I had been using an old mini white board to write my class agenda/objective for the day.  My pens are half dried-up, the board is stained with permanent scratches and my handwriting is atrocious. As much as I try to pump my students up with awesome content (like a Pirate), I was killing them with my lame text-based introduction of the material.

No more.

This is the UPGRADE.

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app

Course 3 has motivated me to look for new and intriguing uses of images and design in my lessons. Ben's reaction to a simple upgrade* in how I shared the agenda inspired me to have the next three days of lesson plans ready to go.  That's a miracle in itself.  I'm usually looking for a marker just before kids are coming into class to write-out the agenda. Besides a more effective design, the addition of culture (Guatemala in this case) and the personalization with actual pictures of my students, I'll have a digital record of each day to review at any point. I'm using Keynote (it's faster/easier for me) to create and share with my students but I can easily move these agendas to SlideShare or Haikudeck (like I did for this post) for online storage, sharing or viewing. What super simple ways are you adding the power of images to your classes?

*mejor versión, nivel superior o actualización 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happiness with Images

 
 

Inspired by the The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and the 100 Happy Days challenge I just saw posted on Facebook, my students and I are going to use the power of images to document what makes us happy over the month of April. In Spanish, claro.

This assignment should be personal, relevant and fabulous practice for communicating about self while hitting WL Standard 1.3 in the process. We'll also learn about the importance of using creative commons images and giving attribution.

Design is tough for me but I have no doubt my students will create some amazing projects with a little guidance and a few Zen design principles. I'm looking forward to sharing their creations with their parents, their pen pals and you all. 

Digital Footprints for Everyone?

no one on duty
no one on duty

Times are changing.  Just this past month, my principal said he is no longer opposed to social media, our secretary joined Twitter, the counseling department asked for a mini course on digital safety and there are even talks of 1:1 in the future. Fantastic news, right? Yes and no. As a building, we are starting to open our minds to the amazing possibilities of technology. However, we have LOTS to do to teach our students, teachers and parents about Digital Citizenship.  Just having the tools does not mean we know how to properly and positively use them in and out of school. I feel like Jim Steyer, of Commonsense Media,  who says that schools are often "late to the party."  We are late, very late. Educational leaders have been urging us for years to teach our students about Digital Citizenship.  Here are just five reasons why we need to teach Digital Citizenship in schools.

As part of Course Two, I thought I'd start to create and compile some resources that could move us all forward.  Who knows?  We may be late to the party but maybe in the near future we'll be hosting Digital Citizenship weeks like Los Angeles Unified School District or Yokohama International School. Or better yet, creating learning environments where becoming a global/digital citizen will be so embedded in everything we do that there will be no use for special classes, PD, curriculum or blog posts.

Until then, this first lesson was designed to be delivered during our Access period to the entire school. The learning is designed for both students and teachers. The concept of building a positive digital footprint will be just as new/scary/challenging/foreign to our students as it will be to our teachers. I'm looking forward to accessing how both groups learn and grow together.

UBD Lesson Template

Huellas Digitales

Compfight by Reza Vaziri

Huellas Digitales-Digital Footprints

I'm struggling with the desire to help my students learn about building positive huellas digitales while at the same time facilitating a Spanish class and improving levels of proficiency. Much of the language associated with Digital Citizenship is difficult to access for the level of my students. However, communicating (in more than one language) in a global society is one of the major goals for students studying additional languages. So, the topics are truly a perfect match.

I just need to backwards design a few lessons that will make our conversations on Digital Citizenship and huellas digitales more meaningful while also improving their ability to communicate in Spanish.

The plan is to:

  1. Generate a list of language associated with technology to start using in class.
  2. Use this poster from Edmodo.
  3. Have my class of Native Speakers remix/reuse this video (alone or with partners) using voice, text (In Spanish) and their creativity to produce videos in Spanish I can share with my students learning Spanish.

Common Sense Media: Digital Footprint Intro from Joaquin E. Jutt on Vimeo.

4. Lastly, when more confident with the lingo en Español, I plan to have these older students connect with elementary students in Madrid, sharing the importance of building their huellas digitales. 

 

Gadgets and Widgets are Hooks for WL Classes

Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 4.58.08 PM I've been experimenting with how to make our student blogs more interactive, communicative and personal while at the same time increasing our proficiency levels in Spanish. I thought the use of gadgets and widgets might help. Widgets are little pieces of code that run small programs on your website.  As for blogs, they are often housed in the sidebars. Widgets can run on any website while gadgets (widgets by definition) are created just for their own sites.  For example, Google Gadgets are for their site like Blogger.

Given so many choices out there, many students first chose PacMan or Donkey Kong to add to their site.  Not downplaying the choice of a game and lack of español, I then encouraged maps of Buenos Aires, weather reports, calendarios, translator programs, horoscopes, Vokis, newspapers and sports reports-ALL IN SPANISH. It's amazing the variety of choices!  All students found something of interest. A favorite, keeping in mind we live in the mountains of Colorado, was the Open Snow widget with over twenty language choices including Spanish from Spain or Latin America.

Students interpreted (Standard 1.2 for the WL teachers out there) authentic language but most importantly, their blogs are becoming more of an expression of who they are rather than just place for them to post their assignments. The variety of widgets on each blog brought more interest to each other's blogs which increased communication between the students.  Language such as How did you do that? and What do I do now? was practiced quite a bit (Standard 1.1).

As I look forward to adding more interactive hooks to our blogs, I think a playlists of their favorite songs with the Spotify widget is our next move.  Next, a Soundcloud widget for oral language samples and our class stories and would be a fantastic way to share with parents and administration how well the students are learning.

Adding a widget is simple.  I just added two to the right on this blog. Many options are included in your blogging platform which makes it easy.

Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 6.47.02 PM

 

If you are looking for something more specific (target language widgets), find the widget, look for words GET EMBED CODE, choose the TEXT Widget or Gadget under Appearances in your blog and paste the EMBED CODE.  Voilà!