Wednesday, February 22, 2012

50 Innovative Ways To Use iPads In School | Edudemic

As you can see, is almost midnight and I am still researching and trying to figure out how to use these devices in the classroom. Well, in this process, I just came across with this article and thought many of you could take a look and find very interesting
apps for your new Ipads. Enjoy!!!

Buenas Noches everyone!

50 Innovative Ways To Use iPads In School | Edudemic

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

After the 11 tools...

Hi Everyone,

I just wanted to share and keep you posted about the things I have been using and exploring after the 11 tools training. First, let me tell you that I LOVE the diigo space and the diigolet tool is awesome! I am using this at home as well and I am already building my library with interesting websites and readings related to my class. I actually found yesterday this great blog from an Spanish teacher who is also experimenting with lots of technology in her class and posting back on the results she is having. So two thumbs up for the discovery of  diigo!
The second thing I wanted to share with you is Although it said in the info they provided us that you needed to pay to publish, I decided to explore it and guess what? you actually don't unless the backgrounds or characters you use are too expensive or if you use your account more than once. So what I did was creating a video and played with it to see how it worked, then I planned a little project for my students and gave them a rubric of what they needed to do.
-First, I organized the groups as I had explained in one of my previous posts. I tried to level the groups, so in each group I had two excellent students that I knew could help with grammar and vocabulary, at least one geek (based on what they told me) a shy student and a student who is not doing that well.
-Then, I ask them to create an account and share the username and password with everyone in the group so they could have access to edit at home. The idea was that every member of the group had something to do and  in case the time given in class, was not enough, they didn't have to meet after school, just access it from home and do whatever needed to be done.
- I borrowed 5 laptops from 2 of my co-workers who happen to have a set of 5 laptops in their classroom. Students work half of the period on Thursday 1/19 and half of the period on Friday 1/20.
-They were asked to create a dialog that included vocabulary from Unit 3B as well as the grammatical structures studied in this unit. So they used vocabulary used to give directions, the present progressive, Commands and the direct Object pronouns. They movie needed to last at least one minute.
I let them know that we were not going to be able to work in class Monday or Tuesday, but we were going to use some time on Wednesday 1/25 after discussing out test that day. So, after Wednesday they needed to polish it of finish it at home.
Presentations took place last Friday 1/27 and here are some samples of what they were able to create.

We did find problems along the way, starting with the fact that the laptops used were not working properly, so my first period, wasted time trying to make them work. Also, some of the students were not able to publish because the characters they used were too expensive and the had gone over the free "points" they give you, after that you have to pay.
To follow up, I had students fill a survey talking about what they liked, didn't like and their opinions in these kind of projects. These are some of the common things I found:

1. They didn't like the fact that I made the groups. They want to be able to choose the people they work with.Many of them say they were upset when some students didn't do their share and were just asking: Are you done?
2. They complained the groups were too big, which is true, but what are we going to do with just 5 Ipads in class? how we manage that?
3. They wanted more time in class to work in the project.
4. Many of them expressed their preference for individual projects.
5. They found hard to work and manage the different input and opinions of everyone in the group. ( I think, good practice for life ;D)
6. " Attempting to keep everyone on task was a bit difficult"

1. " I was able to practice my vocabulary and grammar with this project"
2." I realized I actually know a lot more that I thought I did" ( I had a big smile when I read this one, as this is my idea of these projects)
3. " It was fun using technology"
4." This project brought us together. I made new friends" (comment from a very shy student in my class)

Anyway, this is my feedback on this experimenting process. I do intend to keep posting about my experiences and hope we all start sharing our ideas and experiences.

Peace Everyone!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Tool # 11 ♫ These are a few of my favorite things! ♫

What a ride! I definitely was able to learn some new and cool stuff during this process. Some of my favorite tools are the ones I already posted about during the different blog entries. If you noticed, I already created the samples with the topics I will be teaching during this semester. Those tools were: Prezi, wisherwall, storybird, diiogolet, diigo, google docs, blogger, skype and of course the ones I have already been using such as you tube, teacher tube and animoto. From the ones mentioned above, I need to explore and practice a little bit more with Diigo and google docs.  There is also one that I did not explore during this training that I will as soon as I can, and that is Voicethread.
As we could see, all these apps and tools can make our classes more interesting and engaging, there is no doubt about it. However, it will take some time as we learn and/or teach ourselves to use them correctly. Also, it will take a change in the way we have been planning and try to tie all this technology to our objectives.
For many of us, it will take a change of mind as well. We need to be prepared to take our teaching outside our classroom and be ready for everyone else to see our work , share with others, collaborate with each other, maybe even be criticized at times  as well as give some freedom to our students to make them accountable for their own learning.

What surprised me the most was to see how much there is out there that I had no idea. I really feel like I am so far behind and it worries me a bit to know how much I still need to learn. I am also feeling a little stress over the challenge we have ahead of us. I just hope I can do a good job for my own benefit and for my student’s benefit as well.
And now, let’s take that assessment and see how much I actually learned. I will keep you posted about my results.
Good Luck everyone!

Tool # 10 Digital Citizenship

Our role as teachers has always been to prepare students to be successful in life, out in the real world.  The new world  today is technology and although kids are surrounded by technology since early age and “know” more than adults, it is important to notice that we must teach about safety and responsibility when using technology.
Learning and teaching about digital citizenship is one of the most important things we have to teach to our students today. Notice, I say “learning” as well. Many of us are not too familiar with many of this new technology and of course before we teach it, we need to learn it and understand it.
Three things I consider Important for my students to know and understand are:
1. The responsibilities they have with themselves and others while on the net. They need to exercise Digital Ethics and understand how some behaviors and/or comments can harm others.  (cyber bullying).
2. To make appropriate decisions such as what boundaries should they have for sharing information on facebook.
3. To understand how all those digital footprints can affect their future.
I really liked Wesley Fryer presentation and it is definitely one of the resources I will share with my students and parents.  For the student is obvious we can plan to have presentations during class and “teach” the idea through videos, lectures and discussions of their own experiences. For parents, I think the school could sent out informative brochures or/and organize informative sessions and invite them to attend. Although in our school the majority of parents are educated, there are still many of them who also may be technologically handicapped and would need our help.

Tool # 9 and now what? What Should I use and how?

I believe for some time now, some of us have seen technology as an isolated tool. Simply used  for an activity from time to time and limited to TV, CD players and maybe to project a powerpoint presentation. Today, we can really tie technology to the objective by having students use or apply one of these so many tools to prove their knowledge and understanding of a topic. At the same time, we are also preparing them in the use of these tools that obviously will help them to be successful in their future careers.
While working in centers we are making students accountable, and for me, this means that we are teaching them to be responsible for their own learning.
Sadly, none of the interactive websites listed there, can be use for my class. The only one that has a couple of activities for Spanish is Thinkfinity, but I would not be able to use them with my Spanish II students.  In the SBISD Interactive database, Foreign Languages is not even listed in the choices in the search bar. So, I think the FL teachers will need to start collaborating to start our own database. I have used a couple of places where you have interactive activities such as  and where you can find games created by other teachers or create your own if you subscribe.
Regarding apps for IPods and IPads, I have found iflash which allows you to create flashcards, Foto slideLite to create slide shows. These two apps can also be downloaded to Iphones. Recently, I  heard  about hello hello Spanish which some teachers in other states are using in the classroom, but I have not check that out yet.
At this time, I need to do a little more research about how these devices and tools are being used by other FL teachers around the world and take some ideas from there. If some of you have ideas, please, I encourage you one more time to share them. I know for sure that as we start using these devices and become experts, ideas will begin to flow.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Tool # 8 The Devices

The only thing that was new for me in this tool, was the Netbooks, which good for us, is not that different than our laptops having basically the same capabilities.  Couple of the differences are that is smaller, the ports are located to the side and two great features: a Webcam and a SD card reader. (love those)

Regarding Ipods and IPads, I am very familiar with those as I own a couple of those devices and I am familiar with the sync process as well.

Managing the devices: I guess that many of us have been wondering: "What am I supposed to do with 3 or 5 devices with a class of more than thirty students?
As of now, I believe the solution will be to create centers.  Couple of suggestions would be to:

_Plan well in advance and  carefully.
_Create work groups in the class.
_Designate a student per each group who will be responsible for the device and
_Identify experts.

Good luck to everyone and please let's start sharing some ideas!

Tool #7 Let's get out of the classroom!

Conversational Spanish Skills
Objective: To practice and build up conversational Spanish skills involving the students in experiencing interesting Spanish interactive materials and activities based on real life situations.
Date to be implemented: May 2012
Tools: Skype
Description of Project: Once students have learned the uses of the preterit and imperfect tenses, we often practice and reinforced the material through songs. One of the artists we listen to in class, is Honduran singer and song-writer, Guillermo Anderson. I have invited Guillermo, who luckily is a friend, to a video conference where students will be able to meet him, ask him personal questions (which students will be asked to prepare in advance) and of course, request a song.