Welcome to my blog!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Thing 11

My "plan of attack" for the rest of the school year and into next school year is to slowly start incorporating what I've learned into the classroom. I'm not going to try to do everything at once because that would be overwhelming. One idea that comes to mind is to have students share their Power Point presentations over slideshare this term with my Spanish classes. They will each be researching a country and will have to present their country from the perspective of travel agents.

I'd like to really spend some time this summer working on a bloglines page that my students could access that would be strictly for the classroom and wouldn't contain personal preferences (such as ESPN tennis scores!). Along with that, I'd like to start a blog related to my English classes and my Spanish classes. I would like my English students to blog again next year. (It's possible I could set that up by the 3rd tri- I'll have to think about it). My hope is that discussions in a blog format would be more engaging than answering a packet of study guide questions. (One of the reasons I did a blog with seniors last year was also to get them in the habit of checking email and communicating with colleagues online because they'll have to know how to do that to succeed in college).

I'd really like to learn more about podcasts for Spanish. At our school we have a Japanese class that is taught through podcasts. I think I should try to sit in on it one day and see what it's like. I'd love to get in touch with a lady I worked with in Spain and have our students communicate online! That would be one of my ultimate goals. (We could save money on stamps, too!)

I'll have to look more at slidecasts, too. I'm interested to spend more time trying that out and then have students try it out.

Personally, Google docs is going to be awesome! What a time saver! I like being organized and using sites like delicious and bloglines is perfect for keeping things together online. I've already been tagging all our links in 11 things to delicious.

I can't wait to share some of this information with my coworkers. I wonder if any of them have already taken the 11 things course before. I know a few other English teachers have their students blog. I also know some teachers have facebook accounts and have students as friends on facebook. This could maybe help prevent cyber-bullying. I will definitely make colleagues aware of the 11 things course first by word of mouth. My boss is the one who emailed all of us about the course in the first place.

I'd like to bring up Google Docs and slideshare at the next foreign language department meeting. I'm hoping will discuss possibilities about these forums as a department.

Pedagogically, I'm excited to jump right in and get on board with these new technologies. I plan on it. But yet I wonder, if we're saying that kids are lacking social skills because they communicate via a screen instead of face-to-face, are we encouraging this form of communication by advocating the use of blogs and Google docs where a group of students can conduct a project without speaking face-to-face? I feel torn. There's a side to me that says "I can't wait to figure out how to communicate online with Spanish students from around the world!" And there's another side that says, "that's great, but you'll miss the varied and unique hand-writings of other cultures, stamps, envelopes, hands-on artifacts..".

I think we can best stay connected as a PLN by blogging and commenting on each others' thoughts. We can always still communicate by email if we have a specific question for someone.

I'm very excited about all that we've learned in the 11 things course. I noticed there's a 23 things course...I might have to look into the extra "things" beyond 11. Although, this is plenty to soak in at once and try out.

Thing 10

Las posadas (Mexican Christmas)

Thing 9

Slide Share would be useful for uploading Power Point notes. Students could access notes at home this way if they are absent. Rather than direct them to Slide Share, I would consider having them view the notes via blogger or another site in case they have trouble finding the right presentation at home.

I think I would use Slide Share the same way I use Teacher Tube- to look up relevant videos for my classes. Unlike Teacher Tube, you are sharing among various professions from around the world, not just educators. This could have its advantages and/or disadvantages. To explain, an advantage might be having access to first-hand, expert information on a specific topic such as Argentinian cuisine or the current economy of Thailand; information of which textbooks maybe skim the surface. This is also information that most teachers wouldn't upload to teachertube.

I think this would be one way students could share their Power Points with the world. As a representative of my students, I would have to make sure they've cited any outside sources that they have used. As an English teacher, I would feel responsible for students who didn't cite material. What if the writer of an article saw his/her exact sentence/photo on one of my student's presentations? That could be one big issue- copyright.

I love the idea of the kids being able to publish their work. It becomes more meaningful to them when they know they'll be sharing it online instead of just in front of their peers or with the teacher. Perhaps this could increase the quality of their finished products. Furthermore, parents could be able to see projects their sons/daughters have been working on.

La tortilla espanola I embedded because this is my favorite Spanish food to make at home! We'll be doing a food project in Spanish this year. I always heat up the ingredients on a frying pan; I've never microwaved it...maybe that could be easier...

Las posadas is a Power Point I recently made. It briefly explains one Mexican Christmas tradition. I'll admit, I'm a bit nervous about how well I did on the Works Cited page because I used several images online.

La tortilla espanola (Spanish omlette recipe)

Thing 8

The first idea that jumps out in my mind is using this with other coworkers. It would save a lot of time if 2 or 3 people were working on a Power Point presentation or other documents. We collaborate sometimes, but often times, as a new teacher especially, I'm making a lot from scratch or at the very least tweaking others' ideas. For example, I just worked on and uploaded a Power Point about Las Posadas (Mexican Christmas). Because this information won't change (for a while...), it would be beneficial for all Spanish teachers to have a copy of the presentation online. We could agree to show it for Spanish 1 classes. The Spanish teachers like to switch the level they teach each year; for example, I should hypothetically get Spanish 2 next year. If we created notes about Spanish holidays for each year (or other topics) then I could just go to Google docs and retrieve. This would save myself time from creating something brand new, and it would save the veteran teachers time from having to answer my emails : )

I could see Google docs being beneficial with writing assignments for English. Often times students have problems converting a document they were working on in class to be compatible with the programs they have at home. This would be a huge benefit! It would obviously be helpful for group projects, too. This way students don't have to worry about bringing in flash drives or who saves the work to whose file because they would all be sharing the same file online.

Personally, it would save me time also from saving information to a flash drive and then uploading it onto my work computer or emailing myself documents I've created at home.

Problems would involve setting up the students' email accounts and teaching them clearly enough so that they understand exactly how it works and are able to use Google docs at home by themselves. Other potential problems might be students trying to copy each others' work online , which would be more difficult to monitor (of course, if the final products are the same it will be obvious what happened).

For now, I can see more advantages than disadvantages to using Google docs. Perhaps once I try it out more (both for me and with students) the disadvantages will be clearer.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Thing 7

I'm new to social bookmarking. I like the idea of being able to organize bookmarks on one website instead of on one computer. I can see how using delicious can become addicting. I'm already linking several sites to it. With Firefox, I installed an add-on so that I can see all of my tags and bookmarks at once. (I wasn't sure if I should have done that or not). I'm thinking of adding the sign-in pages to my email so that when I'm on my computer, I'll automatically go to delicious first and then anywhere else I need to go.

Social bookmarking is something I would like to start using right away in the classroom. I give students a handout with links to Spanish websites or English writing sites, but now I can send them here and tell them to follow the Spanish or English tags. They'd have access to several sites without having to type each one in. Many of the novels we read are in online text on the web, and so I could provide links to literature. That way if a student forgets his/her book in his locker, he can still do reading online.

I'm also thinking that students could set up an account and set up tags for other students' blogs, too; an alternative to using blogrolls.

I'd like to hear more ideas about ways other teachers have used social bookmarking.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Thing 6

I apologize if I sent the same comments more than once. When they didn't show up on the page right away, I thought I needed to resend it. Then I realized that they need to be accepted before they show up.

Thanks for commenting on my thoughts so far! It's great to have this wide exchange of ideas with other that you don't see on a daily basis.

Thing 5

I'm very excited to start to use bloglines. I like how bloglines is customized to an individual's wants. It makes me realize just how much information is out there and how much information I don't know about everyday! I'm especially excited to start reading some of the edublogger blogs. I just read CoffeeBreak in Espanol. Listening to their conversations and authentic accents should help to keep me fresh with the language. Furthermore, I might be able to play some of those conversations for my students to check for comprehension. I would prefer to use a conversation from a site like CoffeeBreak instead of a boring, textbook-generated CD. Conversations on Coffeebreak are real and are happening now- they're about real, living people instead of a fictitious Carlos or Ana talking about what they will do this weekend.

I'm also excited to get updates on tennis!

I customized msn.com (mymsn) and it seems it was done in the same way. I could choose to have updates on sports, weather, news, movies/music, etc. Do websites like that function in similar ways to an RSS feed?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Thing 4

Web 2.0

Web 2.0 affects my personal daily life. I communicate through emails (with family, friends, co-workers, parents, sometimes students). I have a facebook page that keeps me connected to friends and family. I'm always using Google to look up new information (Google maps and/or mapquest for directions). I use the Internet to check the weather, to read news online, and sometimes to shop. I rely on computers for many things. The only thing I don't like about having to rely on them is that I don't like the feeling of being stuck in front of a computer a lot.
We've moved on from the t.v. screen to the computer screen to stare at.

Professionally, I'm learning new ways of using Web 2.0 to improve instruction. It's something that's constantly changing. I feel lucky that I have already been exposed to wikis, blogs, etc.; it's a lot to take in at one time.

It seems like there are endless advantages to using Web 2.0 in the classroom. For example,
the first idea that comes to mind is how Web 2.0 opens up opportunities to teach across curriculum. I know that is something that has always been encouraged, but Web 2.0 would make this an easier task. I always thought I wanted to connect my Spanish students with those in Spain (where I studies abroad and have some connections) as pen pals. It looks like an idea like that would be obsolete. It would be much easier and much more cost effective to have them communicate through the computer.

I have previously created a website through Dream Weaver. I would like to learn how to do so now online. If every teacher at school had his or her own website, I could see several advantages to that. One would be that teachers would know when other teachers planned on giving tests. This could be beneficial to students because it might decrease their chances of having several tests on the same day allowing to focus their study on one subject. Another advantage is it would ignite professional dialogue among teachers, which would surely benefit the students. I feel that perhaps technology could bring back a curiosity for learning.

Still, if a student wants to get accepted into college, he or she will have to take a standardized test. Once that student is accepted, he will also be taking placement exams. Right now, students will still need to learn how to write well-organized, reflective essays and take standardized tests.

Teaching in the 21st century means that students will need to learn how to use the latest technologies and computer softwares and programs to be successful adults. I think we are at a challenging and yet exciting time in education. The hard part will be keeping up with it all. I hope that kids will still be kids. Play outside. Socialize. Interact face-to-face. I think we'll need the help of parents, too.

As a new teacher, it's hard for me to imagine schools 20-30 years from now. Whatever I might think could easily be turned upside down by a new technology in the next few years. It's important to make a commitment to flexibility and the willingness to learn. At the end of the day, our efforts are aimed at student growth and learning. Right now, thinking about it all makes my head spin to be honest. I hope I can keep up : )

Thing 3

Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century

I just graduated college in December 2007 and I started teaching right away. I would consider myself just outside of or just inside this generation of the technology savvy student. I learned how to type in 1st grade on green and black screen big computers in a private school. By 8th grade in a public school, I was learning how to create Power Point presentations and learning how to use Microsoft Word and Excel.

In my classroom today, I use Power Point for my notes, I've had students blog in English, and I've shown relevant videos from Youtube or Teachertube. I've also hooked up my MP3 player to my computer to play songs for my Spanish class. I've used Windows Media Player for listening activities in Spanish, too. These are ways I've started to use technology in the classroom.

My goals would be create a website for my classes that students could access at home. The website would include homework assignments and links to relevant materials.

Throughout my years of education, I did notice a shift in learning- from individually taking notes to a consistent flow of group projects. Even in my college classes they emphasized a new shift in collaborative learning.

I could envision a future where every student has his or her own computer. (I know some schools already have that). With this push toward technology use, that would be necessary. I believe that every child has a natural curiosity to learn. The challenge is bringing out that curiosity in the classroom. Some of my fears/concerns for students today include: 1) They don't take responsibility for their own learning 2) They won't engage on personal levels if they're encouraged to constantly interact via a computer/I-pod/cell phone 3) They know they can access knowledge quickly on Google, but still lack the necessary skills to intelligently navigate the web 4) They believe what they read online without questioning the website or the source.

Furthermore, this new push for trimesters is detrimental to strong math, science, and language skills needed to compete in a global economy. They say the U.S. is behind in math and science, and yet I know that where I teach students are encouraged to explore other areas of interests (sports classes, arts, etc.). If Michigan wants its students to be fluent in languages beyond English, then they need to fund and implement plans for foreign language classes at the elementary level and carry them out throughout high school. It's common knowledge now that studies have shown kids acquire languages more easily at a younger age.

We're at a crossroads in our current educational system. It will be a great challenge for educators to find that balance between a foundation of knowledge and preparing future generations for the "global economy."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thing 2


I learned how to set up a blog in college and discussed how to use one in the classroom (via wordpress). The only times I have blogged have been professionally- as a student in college and as a teacher with my students. I think it's both wonderful and scary that the world can easily access your thoughts through technology. Wonderful because it connects the individuals around the world in an unprecedented way (although language barriers might be an issue). Scary because once you put something out in cyberspace, it stays there.

I set up a blog last school year with my 12th grade students. They were assigned 2-3 posts per week and had to answer questions related to the reading in class. Other times they had to respond to a newspaper article or a topical question. The students were required to respond to at least 2 other blog posts throughout the week. I had my own account and would blog with the students. I would respond to their posts with brief comments or inquiries. The problem I found was that the students often forgot to post blogs on time and that it lacked flow to the discussions. Overall, for a first time shot at blogging with a class, it went fairly well.

After watching the video on Guerilla Season Book Club, I really like the idea of blogging for the purpose of a book discussion. I might just try it this year with my 9th graders (I have all freshman this year). Concerns of mine would include protecting the student's identity, which was addressed in the video, and assessing the blog posts . I would be interested to hear how the teacher for the Guerilla Season "graded" this assignment.

I like the (intended?) pun "Eracism"- Erase racism, E-racism : )

A lot of this sounds great- connecting kids globally.... BUT how could it fit into the curriculum state/national standards/benchmarks? be logistically feasible as an addition to computer lab time?

At college, there was a group of English professors who created online "videogames" related to literature. A teacher could request a code to enter into a particular literary world such as the world of Shakespeare. Each "world" contained various links that students could read through and explore. Perhaps I'll check up on that and see if there have been any advances.

After reading the other websites, I feel like I have a lot more to learn about the possibilities of technology as a learning tool.