My Macbook

Posted on

I finally got it, my macbook! It is a nice little thing that is perfectly easy to use. I love the way it works and the way the files and programs are organized. Of course it took us a bit of time trying to find the WEP password for the wireless router, but once we did.. I was good to go! (Thanks again to Brandon for all his help).

How I got the mac was a pretty cool experience too. I was gathered in my classroom in the high school with many principals, administrators, fellow trainers (that’s me) and even the superintendant. Our tech director took us through what the mac looks like, what all the ports mean, how to maneovre the operating sytem, set up email, set up internet and showed us cool programs we can use. It was 3 hours of pure learning and I loved it! I sucked it all in and suprisingly remembered most of what I was told. Now I have to teach the same ‘meet your mac’ workshop in a few weeks. I hope I remember it all!

I love fun new tools 🙂

Putting it all together

Posted on

So I’ve had loads of fun checking out all the new links, resources and tools that I learned about at the Keystone Summit. Now, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty and think about how I’m going to actually use what I have learned. How am I going to get my students to use the technology without even realize it? How am I going to teach them how to use the tools and learn the curriculum along the way? How am I going to seamlessly integrate all this great technology!?

Here are a few of my general ideas with questions and calls for help!

I’ve already created my own, and one for the students, but what about the students creating them? Where do they fit in? Taking inspiration from Kristin Hokanson’s Learning Latin America project, I hope to guide my students in creating a wikispace for the Regions of France. I have an existing project that involves a webquest, a powerpoint, and a sample recipe. I plan to modify the project in such a way that the students will be creating a wikispace about the Regions, with each group creating the page for their region. Each group will have to present their page and create an activity to go along with their presentation. I still have a lot of thinking, organization, and planning to do, but I’ve created the wikispace for it already!…

Now, for French 5, I am thinking about using the wiki as the ‘home base’ of all online work. And as mentioned below, I’m considering using the wiki for the discussion board too. French 4… not much room in the curriculum for a wiki construction project but I’m still thinking on it…

Discussion Boards-
Last year I used eSchoolbuilder for my French 5 discussion board, and although it worked well with my students, could there be something better out there for me to use? I’ve considered using just the discussion tab on the French 5 wiki page, but that isn’t as secure as eSchoolbuilder was. I have also created a Google groups account for French 5, and that’s another way to go. I would really love to use the wiki though because then everything can be all in one place. I have to still decide on this one.. any suggestions?

I also have an issue with how to provide valuable feedback to my students with their discussion board entries. Last year they just got a grade and hardly any verbal or written feedback from me. The class surveys at the end of the year told me that they wanted and needed feedback from me. I’m struggling with how to give my students feedback in such a way that it is natural for me and not too time consuming. Any ideas?

As you’ve seen if you visit my pages, I love Voki. I want my students to all make at least one this year. I’m trying to work out when is the best time in the curriculum for each of my courses to do this. I am absolutely going to get the French 5 students to create them as introductions of themselves for their epals. French 4 – probably during the unit in which they discuss relationships and getting along with people.. maybe as a ‘video-dating’ thing where they describe themselves. Forum – Probably during the Quebec unit where they discuss what sports and activities they like to do. It’s just a really cool tool that I think the students will really get into. And if they are writing their scripts and speaking in French, they are learning along the way!

Comic Life-
I already have my Forum students create a comic strip during the Belgium unit in which we study the popularity of comics in Europe. The project currently involves Power Point. I have had students use Flash and other software in the past, but I would love it if this year’s students used Comic Life. I could offer them a variety of tools to use and have them choose, but Comic Life is very cool and I think the students will love it. I just have to get them all to DL and install it… that may be an issue.

I will absolutely be having my students all create at least one podcast this year. I have already begun to restructure a French 4 project to include a podcasted advertisement for a hotel. Last year they presented their advertisement to the class, but next year they will be scripting and recording a podcast advertisement along with a brochure made in publisher. The students told me they really liked the project last year so this year has one more added element that they will love! (I hope).

I think French 5 will have multiple opportunities to record podcasts but I need to figure out when they best fit into the curriculum. I think I will have them use podcasts a lot for their epals, instead of letters. We will still do both but I think that the addition of audio and maybe even video will create deeper exchanges for the students. The students last year really enjoyed their epals and having a connection with someone in the world who actually speaks this language they are learning. If we add pod and vodcasts to the exchange, I can see these feelings of connection only get stronger.

I have also found and subscribed to several French language learning podcasts through iTunes that I will share with the students on my wiki. I may even challenge the students to find more and post them to the wiki for extra credit!

For the past 8 years or so of my teaching, I’ve had my students create video skits in which they demonstrate communicating in French using vocabulary and grammar they learned in class. Over the years the final products have become better and many students now edit their videos on the computer and are really good at adding music, transitions, titles, etc. But, I still get some videos filmed on VHS with bloopers in the middle, missed lines of dialog, horrible shooting techniques and so forth. This year I want to REALLY teach the students how to make a video. Of course the French and the curricular value is important, but so is creating a great final product. So, instead of just assigning the project and telling the students it is due in 3 weeks, I plan on guiding the students to better resources about making videos and giving them at least a day’s instruction on good techniques and tips on how to create a good video. I also plan on taking more class time to collaborate on the projects instead of just having them do it all outside of class. This way I can guide and help my students not only with the French aspect of their creations, but also the video-creation aspect and their pride in their final product.

Hrm, this one I’m still trying to tackle. I know it would be an awesome learning experience and opportunity for each of my French students to maintain a blog in French, but the thing that gets me is how I will keep up with it all. Currently I have epal letters and discussion board topics to read and assess. How would I do it with a blog for each student too? And where would they put their blogs? Google? Blogspot? WordPress? Others? How to assess & give feedback?

I would also love to use tools like Slideshare, Flickr, Jing, Box, VoiceThread and so forth with my students. I figure the best way to teach these tools is to just use them and show how to get them as I go along. I learned about them by seeing them on wikis and blogs and clicking and researching. I will encourage my students to do the same. I know that I do not have enough time in the curriculum to TEACH the technology and teach French, but I can guide my students and give them plenty of resources to help them out.

But as I sit here, I know there are a lot more things out there that I don’t know about yet. Anything I’ve missed?? 🙂

Voki fun

Posted on

So today I spent my time creating Vokis. You can check out the one for this blog to the right. The other 3 I created are on my wiki, teacher website and work blog:

I am now thinking about how I can use Voki with my students next year. I have already decided that my French 5 students will be making them to introduce themselves to their epals, and I may have the French 4 students do something similar.

How would you integrate Voki into your courses?

KTI Summit: Leadership. Voice. Advocacy.

Posted on

The motivation for the revival of this blog was the inspiring 4 days that I spent at the Keystone Technology Integrator’s summit held at Shippensburg University. The summit, sponsored by the PA Dept. of Education, was my ‘award’ for being recognized as a Keystone, a teacher who has successfully implemented technology in my courses. To find out more about the summit itself, visit the KTI Wikispace created for the conference, complete with presentation information, videoconferences, keynote speeches, and more.

Although the summit was a whirlwind of new software, links, resources, tips, tools and gadgets, there was indeed personal interaction and collaboration. I have started to create a whole new network of people with whom I share the love of technology and education. It is this network of people, and the others at the summit who haven’t made it into my network yet, who were given the charge of undergoing the tremendous challenge of transformation around these 3 words: Leadership, Voice, and Advocacy. I now believe that it is my obligation to take these 3 words and transform myself and start to tell a new story.

Throughout my 10 years of teaching, I have often shied away from Leadership, thinking that I was too young and inexperienced for anyone to listen to what I have to say. Throughout this past year and the involvement in the Keystones program, I have realized that I do have something important to share with my colleagues. I have noticed people being more receptive to my advice and fellow teachers often come to me for assistance with a variety of things. Although my ‘leadership’ has been very informal in nature, I feel that I am ready to take on a more formal role within my district to help lead and guide us into the 21st century.

Before the summit I knew I was a teacher who was good with computers and the Internet. Now I believe that I am an teacher and technology integrator who has an educated voice about technology and its implementation as a tool within education. I have learned how to seamlessly integrate it into curricula to be used as a meaningful avenue with which to convey the knowledge and information we are teaching. Web 2.0 tools have endless possibilities within any curricular area and are motivating and interesting to the students because they use them in their lives outside of school. It us up to educators like me and like those at the summit to raise our voices to break the paradigm of 20th century education. 21st century, here we come!

Advocacy defines Advocacy as: “The act of pleading or arguing in favor of something, such as a cause, idea, or policy; active support.” If that is the case, I am pleading for the school district boards and administrators to listen to our voices. I am arguing that embracing the tools available to us and our students will lead to meaningful, life-long learning. I am in active support of school reform to include use of the world’s resources with our students. I am in active support of teacher professional development to share our knowledge with them and help them see the light. I am in active support of the continued conversation of becoming a better educator in the world of the digital natives. (Can you ever make the transition from ‘digital immigrant’ to ‘digital native’?)

At the summit we were told to create a project in which “The task was to think about what a school would look like…SHOULD look like in order to produce 21st Century Learners.” ( Kti Wiki) Here’s my group’s project: