Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Podcasts- Introducing the TC (target culture) and TL (target language)

I chose to share a podcast from  This site offers podcasts for sale (this one below would be just $1.00. I chose a podcast about travel to Mexico. I teach a chapter on Mexico in my Spanish 1 course, where the students have not yet been exposed to much Spanish yet, but are just learning to appreciate the culture and geography of Spanish speaking countries. 

The use of a podcast on my blog would be beneficial in this introductory learning activity to Mexico, and could be spiraled up to the higher language classes by simply uploading the podcast in the target language (Spanish) rather than the audio being in English.
.Some things covered in this 5 minute podcast include:

  • Which country separates the United States of America from Central America? 
  • Where, on average, do people eat half a kilo of tortillas every day? 
  • Where is home to the cactus and the Chihuahua? Mexico, of course!
  • Mexico, or the United States of Mexico, is a federation of thirty-one sovereign states. 
  • Mexico's land mass is almost three times that of Texas, which it borders.
  • Mexico is the world’s fourteenth largest nation

This podcast is an excellent way to engage the young language learner.  I would like to include a podcast from each country that we study in level one Spanish. Each would simply be assigned to the students as homework for listening practice/knowledge. A blog question/answer prompt could be added for testing comprehension.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

How can I use ePals in my classroom?

I explored ePals for the very first time. I am almost hesitant to admit that I have been a language teacher for 7 years and have not had any experience with ePals. I immediately went to find a classroom and match the students that I teach (13-17 years) according to their age group, preferred location, first language, etc. I immediately saw an opportunity to break away from the traditional classroom, and  collaborate with students from different corners of the world and become engaged in this cultural exchange community. I view this as a valuable opportunity to offer learning outside classrooms, while offering authentic Spanish language input, something that my high school's town does not have much experience with.

I think it would be great to allow my students to work in pairs to try their best to translate something that a high school group of students wanted to talk about from Spanish to English, and vice versa.  The relevance is what would really motivate the students.  

Through this Web interaction, students from both classrooms can learn new cultural knowledge from their partners.

When I consider something that I lack in my teaching, I myself like the other language teachers that I collaborate with, typically respond that it’s difficult to find native or fluent language speakers that our students can interact with. ePals is a solution.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Using VoiceThread in the classroom

Melissa M created a very simple VoiceThread activity that I chose to comment on for Mod 10. I liked her Wordle image and the use of the pen tool. I would definitely use this simple activity in my classroom with a variety of situations. It would be ideal to work on vocabulary words, again using the pen tool.

Melissa M VoiceThread

Miao G created a VoiceThread that i would use for my students after returning from our class trip or a field trip. She asked 3 simple questions and her directions were very simple and concise.

Miao G VoiceThread

VoiceThread can also be an interesting Digital Storytelling tool. A student could upload a few personal photos and speak in Spanish to describe what is happening in the photo. Their fellow students would love the interactive photo story and I would value the authentic speaking and listening experience for my students.
I am eager to use VoiceThread as a foreign language learning tool.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Using ANIMOTO for Spanish vocabulary

Make a video of your own at Animoto.

I experimented using Animoto. Unfortunately, I was only able to create 30 seconds or so of video. I think that this tool couls be used for a review of vocabulary, or prefereably I would have my high school students create their own videos in Animoto using a list of assigned vocabulary. The effects are visually pleasing and the software is user friendly.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Have you tried Bookr?

One site for digital storytelling that I recently explored is Bookr.
For the sake of trying Bookr for the first time, i kept my story short and very direct. See above example.

I have recently become an "expert" on Web 2.0 technologies, and have found a passion for teaching it to others. I used  Bookr, a virtual online bookmaking tool to create this. I used Flickr photos to help illustrate my concise questions and points.

I think that digital storytelling can be used in all areas of education, including the business world.
I suppose that I could use this simple online book publishing tool in my classroom when I do my "buffalo tourist" project. My level 3 spanish students come up with 5 tourist attractions in Buffalo and using the subjunctive, they must make recommendations to others as to why it's important to see this or that, or what it is doubtful that this or that has that, etc.
Using  Bookr would add a technology element to the project and introduce the students to Flickr and the notion of copyright laws. Simply exploring Flickr for the first time opens up a world of computer rules that many high school students are not familiar with. Combining Flickr, personal photos and other media enhances the learning experience.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Listening is hard.

Most people are either too distracted, or too impatient, to be really good listeners. In some parts of the world, this has resulted in a profusion of individuals who get paid to do the emotional labor of listening – researchers, therapists, social workers, etc. Yet anyone can learn to listen deeply. When they do, they create space for the storyteller to journey into the heart of the matter at hand.
Center for Digital Storytelling

What is Digital storytelling?  At its most basic core, digital storytelling is the practice of using computer-based tools to tell stories.  It all revolves around the idea of combining the art of telling stories with a variety of multimedia, including graphics, audio, video, and Web publishing.

I think that this simple truth speaks volumes to me because I tend to twenty-five 14-year olds in one classroom at a time. As a high school Spanish teacher, I look for as many tools that I can get in order for my kids to listen. Whether it's computer, re-arranging desks, turning off lights, singing, dancing... A tool is a tool, and it only works well if you know how/when to use that tool.

Technology is a powerful instrument of creativity.

Many people blame themselves for their lack of technological savvy, instead of recognizing the complexity of the tools and acknowledging that access and training are often in short supply. But new media and digital video technologies will not in and of themselves make a better world. Developing thoughtful, participatory approaches to how and why these technologies are being used is essential.

Center for Digital Storytelling

well said...

I think that digital storytelling is an enormous asset to the education world. If I am able to motivate, intrigue and enhance my classroom in any way, I will dive right in. I have used a form of digital storytelling for my Spanish classes before. The site was StoryJumper.
The students were so engaged in the new online story creating site that they forgot that they were writing in Spanish and seemed to then do so with ease and less anxiety.

Poultry Club boys listen to the expert

Sure looks like these boys are listening! Great photo