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.

Tool # 6 I am digging this!

I really liked Wallwisher,you can create it really fast, students do not need to create an account and can be used as a quick assignment. I did two samples of the two commands, but I am not sure why they do not show. However, if you click at the bottom where it says "Post a sticky note", it will take you to the original wall I created. You can see the samples I did, click on the wall and add your own command if you wish to. This is fun!

In the link bellow, I am sharing a bookmark on my Diigo space. This is something we can share with students via twitter, facebook or by creating a group in my own diigo account. This reading is about the Imperfect Vs Preterite. I expect the students to read, highlight what they think is interesting, but they can also ask questions by adding sticky notes. Check it out and tell me what you think. Could this be uploaded in google docs, so everyone can collaborate? I am wondering, with so many tools I am starting to get a bit confused. Please let me know.

The Imperfect Vs Preterite: Read, highlight and ask questions

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Tool # 5 This is just great!

Although I found this tool very interesting and fun, I encountered various problems or challenges along the way. For starters,some of the videos in the 11 tools blog, are not longer working! so I had to find the information somewhere else. Then, I had some trouble uploading my prezi presentation on the blog. I wanted to embed the  presentation on the post not to hot link, and that, although easy in the end, took me quite some time to figure out.
Then, I visited, explored and even created something on go animated, which I thought would be awesome to add as an assignment for the students; however, at the last step, it prompted me to pay if I actually wanted to see what I had created. Then, I tried other sites that sounded interesting, but also were either paid or just would not work for what I had in mind. Finally, I ended up with prezi and
I found prezi very easy to use. I really like it because you can add  images, videos and text with no hassle at all and put together a nice presentation in just minutes!
Bellow is  my presentation which I plan to use to introduce the Present progressive to the class.

Storybird, I plan to use it as an assignment for the students at the end of the semester. At the end of the semester when they have learned the past tense and the imperfect, I ask them to write a short story using the two tenses. This year, I will have them work in storybird where they can also collaborate and publish their work. Although I opened a regular account, I plan to open a teacher account later when I am ready for the project. Students can download their book if they want to at the reasonable price of $2.99 or just have it in their account in storybird.
Here is the short story I wrote, which is a sample of what I might expect to see from my students.

la historia de martha by yosetm on Storybird

Tool # 4 The Google Apps

Google Apps is one of those other things I have been hearing for some time now, but had  not the chance to explore. I am really amazed in how things  I thought were already easy such as sending an attachment to my friends, can actually be easier.  When I heard google docs, I always thought about a word document, so I was also surprised to learn, that I can actually create presentations and have other formats. 
I have created this presentation about the present progressive which I have shared with a couple of co-workers so they can help me edit it.

How can use this in my class? Easy, from time to time, I like my students to work in group projects outside class time. However, finding the time to collaborate with a team outside school, sometimes is challenging for them because of their different schedules. With google docs, they can collaborate from the comfort of their home and at their convenience.  This is something I will definitely try to use!

Tool#3 We all love Videos and pics

There is  no denying, we all love to add some videos and pictures to our class whenever possible. Students also love videos and get all excited when they know this will be part off the lesson.
My primary source for videos in my class has been YouTube, the amount of material that can be found is just amazing and I have been able in the past, to embed them into power point presentations, so I do not have to deal with other distractions. Later, I discovered Teacher tube. I opened an account in teacher tube, and I use it to actually upload my students work.  A couple of times during the year, my students are required to create a video and I ask them to upload them here or to you Tube. The advantage of Teacher Tube is that I know the content they find there,while navigating, will be safe, as opposed to you tube where they can run into all kind of weird stuff, even when searching for something related to my class. 
The following is a sample of one of my student's work for unit 2A.  For this project students were asked to describe their daily routine using reflexive verbs. Students were given several choices for presentation such as power points, videos, and the old fashioned construction paper books. The student in the video is not one of my bests student in the class and has various grammatical mistakes; however, he got really excited about this assignment and was eager to share it with the rest of the class. I gave them three homework grades for this assignment and a couple of weeks to be completed.

New to me: Discovery Education: I think there are a couple of videos that I can actually use from this site, but honestly, not that many. You can checkout the one I found about Preterit Vs Imperfect in the link bellow. There is also a thumps down for this site, please correct me if I am wrong, but is my understanding that although there is a sharing option, this just provides the link. Once you open the link, it will still request a username and password before opening the file. 

The Imperfect progressive (Click to see the Video)

I Also Check out Blinkx which I found very similar to You Tube. I typed on the search “The present Progressive” and most of the videos that gave me were actually from you Tube.
About Copyright, I learned that as long as we, teachers and students, are publishing to a secure location, we are basically fine. What we cannot do is copy or published copyright materials to the general public. Because of this, I think sites like Flicker are good choices for images, so you don’t have to worry about copyrights.
Finally, Dropbox.  I already have a Dropbox account and so far, I believe this can be useful for my personal use. I can store lessons plans and other materials I create without the worry that if my computer crashes or is stolen, my work will be lost, as everything will be stored online.  
Have you found any uses for dropbox in the classroom? If so, please share. 
The videos I embedded here, are videos I will actually use in the unit I am teaching now.

                                          The Present Progressive

Friday, January 6, 2012

Tool # 2 And we are just getting started…

Wow! That was a LOT of info. Some of the points that stood out from the commenting advice, where the ones related to:  how to make our blogs more interesting to the readers and the rules of Netiquette.
I believe when writing on a device, we may forget that this is the new way of “interacting,” so we still need to invite comments and ask questions, although sometimes, we might see that not every blogger out there might be following  these basic rules.  I particularly loved the “Be open ended” advice.  We are NOT ALWAYS the experts and there is ALWAYS something to learn from EVERYONE, which leads to the next advice. Be Humble!  Not always an easy task for some of us. Do you think this is an educator thing? I mean, after all, we are taught to always show confidence and expertise in front of our audience (our students). Moreover, to show our weaknesses, failings and gaps in our own Knowledge might not be something we are used to. But hey, please add on, I really would like to hear how you feel about this.
Regarding Netiquette, I guess we all agree, we need to adhere to the same standards of behavior online, that we would follow in real life. So let’s be gracious, encourage others and my favorite: “Comment if you have something meaningful to add to the conversation and care about the topic.
All in all, I think I am starting to add some spice to my blog. I added questions, invited for comments and…am I being controversial? Well, maybe not yet. You tell me.
Last but not least, I would like to share the URL to the new space I intend to explore more.  This is my space at This is a site that aims to improve your online productivity. It allows you to take personal notes and highlight text information on web pages just as you would on a piece of paper. You can then bookmark and save this information for further review. All of this information is also saved online and, can be accessed by any computer or browser, including cell phones with browsing capabilities. So, yes, I already downloaded the application on my Iphone4.  You are also able to network with other people that have your same interests, in this case, educators.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Tool 1. And here we go...

Although I enjoy technology, and I am always looking for something new to add into my classroom; this will be my first time blogging. (woohoo!) I have always wanted to explore blogging, but had not find the opportunity to get to it. 
So far, the experience has been fairly easy as I find myself comfortable using technology.  However,  will see what new challenges this brings.
I am excited to learn more about the new technologies that may be available out there and hope I can find some that can be useful for me, as well for my students.