Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Podcast Heaven!

I don't know how teachers taught up to date culture without video podcasts! I enjoy using all types of podcasts to supplement the culture sections in our really outdated textbooks. I actually found enough information to completely stop using the textbook except as a teacher guideline! Specific podcasts that are informational (and FREE) to help my teaching include:

Samantha Brown's Tour Of Latin America: This podcast was free last summer after the series aired & included clips of her television show throughout the countries of Latin America. Since they are only clips of the show, they are perfect as "fillers" for 5-10 minutes during class. Specific scenes such as a restaurant in Argentina & a clip from the Feria de Abril in Spain are two that I have used recently. The link below sends you to the website set up with her most recent podcasts, but as I mentioned earlier, the podcasts that I reference throughout the year now cost a fee through Itunes. http://podcasts.travelchannel.com/samantha-brown/page1 It is important to check Itunes & the internet frequently for updates since free offers don't last forever!

Coffee Break Spanish (http://freelanguage.org/learn-spanish/coffee-break-spanish-podcast) is also a podcast that I have used this year. This native dialogue contains relevant grammar and when combined with listening comprehension questions it is a great tool for students to listen to native speakers. The rate of this podcast is quite fast for my Spanish 8 students, but once they listen a few times they understand. It is nice that there are so many different episodes because it is easy to find an exact grammar or vocabulary topic that is related to what we are currently studying! My finace is also using coffee break to help him brush up on his Spanish skills so he can join in when I speak Spanish!

Overall, Spanish podcasts and cultural videos are readily available on the internet for classroom use! It is important, as mentioned earlier to stay current with the available resources as sometimes they change quickly. Podcasts, both video and audio only are a great resource for any subject area at any level!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

These global sites, Taking it Global & KidLink are great tools to be used by educators and students to make a difference personally, locally and to the global community as a whole.

KidLink provides ways for students to connect to curriculum on a more personal level. Through the completion of activities that combine curriculum and personal interests and ideas that the students hold, the students are encouraged to be more engaged than a simple teacher directed, textbook lesson. The activities such as find out the meaning of your name and decide your future career provide life skills while encouraging written work.

Taking it Global provides students a chance to become knowledgeable about global concerns and promote awareness of these concerns among their community. This site differs from KidLink because it enacts lessons that could be used to promote global unity instead of life skills.

These two sites could be used in my classroom during our advisement period, homeroom as well as during my Spanish classes. Providing students the opportunity to think about future life choices through KidLink & display their work with other children around the world would be an interesting activity that the students might enjoy. Taking it Global could be used in one or two different ways. First, the students could engage in a community service project during a Spanish club or Student Council activity. Another way to use this site is to promote cultural awareness of global concerns in Spanish speaking countries. Both of these sites could promote diversity and encourage the students to take interest in communities and issues around the world!

Finally, Skype could also be used as part of a Global Cooperation Project. In our Spanish classes or homeroom we could directly connect with another classroom that had posted on KidLink or to a community that might have been affected by a global issue found on Taking it Global. Although starting this partnership might be difficult, global awareness can be achieved and students both at my school and around the world.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Las Peliculas--Movies!

Movie clips & videos on the internet are great ways to capture student interest. The clips that I have linked to the side are videos that I have used in the past 2 weeks in my own classroom. The fashion show video provides students a real-life example of what they are going to be doing in our class during the next two lessons. The verb videos use a pop-music song & the important rules of verb conjugation in Spanish to explain how to conjugate etc. Without the use of these music videos & similar clips throughout the year, students can be quite bored with simple grammar & culture. These videos provide an alternative to just teacher-directed instruction.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Micro-blogging is a recent phenomena in education. "Although blogs are not a magic bullet, they can undoubtedly contribute towards more motivation and interaction with our students," (Blogging & Microblogging...). This statement reiterates the importance for teachers to recognize the trends of student interactions and use their interests within the classroom to increase learning. The use of blogs of course cannot replace the benefits of learning provided in a classroom, but it can most definitely enhance the experiences of the students.
Specficially, the article Blogging and Microblogging at the CILT 14-19 Conference promotes student interactions through assessment, intrinsic motivation and listening activities to mention a few. Students could benefit by peer feedback as a form of assessment after they post something on a blog. Similarly to our posts & reactions by our group members, classmates could comment on their classmates work. Students who are interested in technology could set up the blog for the classroom and use their talent to provide a resource to the class. The tecnology aspect would also be reinforcing the second language aspect since they would be applying new vocabulary & grammar into their posts and the blog in general. Finally, listening assignments could be posted on the blog to decrease the classtime taken to complete these assignments and also to provide the students the chance to listen numerous times instead of me repeating it in class.
The article Can we use technology for educational activities highlighted how a blog can create a community among students and the entire world. While learning a second language, it is essential to provide students with authentic experiences with the language. A blog or twitter could instantly connect students with native speakers. "It connects people that I wouldn't have met otherwise," (Can We Use Technology for Educational Activities). The change in classroom dynamics keeps the material interesting and the students engaged. Of course, the connections made with others via these blogs would need to be strictly monitored and done with parental permission which is sometimes hard to receive. However, as this technology becomes more popular and recognized as beneficial, I believe the possibilities of expanding the foreign language learning environment are endless.
In conclusion, the diverse aspects of blogging and twitter provide educators with many different ways to expose students to new technology and communities they otherwise wouldn't have interacted with. It is our job to stay current with information and continue to grow as learners to expose our students to the best possible learning environments.
Blogging & Microblogging at the CILT 14-19 Conference: http://www.boxoftricks.net/?p=642
Can we use technology for educational activities?: http://www.scribd.com/doc/2286799/Can-we-use-Twitter-for-educational-activities


Twitter has a great way of updating an educator with up to the minute information on useful education sites. The sites I have been following, ELLClassroom & Brighthub both provided useful updates including a link to a Schools to Watch conference that one of the "twitters" attended. This is pertinent to my job because I am on the committee for Schools to Watch for my school. At first the information was hard to find & understand, but once I started looking in depth it became easier. One thing that I found easy was looking at the followers of the people I was interested in. I could click on their pages & instantly find someone else with other ideas similar to my interests.

In general, I am pleased with the accounts I have been following, but for a social network among friends and family I find Twitter a bit confusing.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

RSS Feeds & Bulletin Board's

Good lord this mod took me a while to figure it out, but once I got the hang of it, I found some great ideas!

The blog that I added & later read was Classroom Displays (http://usefulwiki.com/displays). The addition to this blog that I hope to use in my classroom was the bulletin board display called "No Said" (http://usefulwiki.com/displays/2009-01-09/no-said-high-school-bulletin-board/). This bulletin board is a creative way to encourage diverse vocabulary in the classroom. I plan to use this in my own room ASAP, but instead of said being the word that can't be used, I plan to use "bien." My students are constantly asked "como estas--how are you" & their favorite answer is "bien--good." How boring!! By putting up this bulletin board they are encouraged to use more diverse answers than just good.

I will keep you posted on the results of the bulletin board experiment ;-)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Exploring ning.com

This is my dream website for a Spanish class!! It includes all aspects of culture, pop music, videos, weather reports in combination with classroom assignments, new vocabulary and links to classroom grades!! The students seem to be actively involved in creating this page, so I am guessing it is from a high school level class!! The content of this page is inspiring for a "tech-wannabe" like me!! WOW!

Professionally, I could use this group to model my own site & it encouraged me to include new things on my current wiki space!! I like the idea of the cartoons describing reflexive verbs on the left margin of the page & think I might add a similar assignment on my current class's wikispace! My students would have to find pictures of Spanish/Hispanic foods & define them "en español!


Check this page out if you are intrigued!! ¡ Es genial!