Week 7 – Collaborative technologies

October 17, 2010

What a great week!  I enjoyed so much learning about collaborative technologies.  many of them I know and use like wikis and blogs. Others, like the teacher collaboration sites were so full of information I could only view just a sample of them.  Even though many of them I will not be using in my foreign language classes, I will pass on to other teachers who will definitely find them useful.  Of all the available resources, I liked Curriki. It has detailed lesson plans, you can upload your lessons plans to share, there is a “connect with teachers” section and a blog. And it is free!

In Teacheraid, I found a PDF file called “web 2.0 for educators”  It is a fantastic source for teachers who are just getting started with technology.  I also like dthe blogging examples listed and the geocaching section.  Finally I liked the Google for educators section. I learned there is a Goole Geo Teachers Institute that I would like to attend next summer.

Regarding cost, most of these sites are free. Basic wikis and blogs are also free, and some of them offer a free upgrade if you do a camp (also free) in the summer.  If you have to pay, the cost is minimal.

The internet has proven to be a wealth of resources for educators and I am so glad we got to explore them in this class.

Week 6 – Video technology

October 8, 2010

For this week’s GAME plan, I chose an activity that involves 5th grade and 3rd grade students.  First, 5th graders review different ways of introducing themselves. Next, students write scripts in groups of 2 (or 3). Finally, they rehearse their skits and I tape them with my Flip Cam. ($180.00)  On a second lesson, the 3rd grade students watch the videos and answer questions to check for understanding.  Students are very creative and they enjoy watching and being watched by peers. 

Videos are very useful in foreign language learning. Students are curious about children in other countries, they enjoy the variety of accents and the possiblity to compare their way of living to kids in other parts of the world.  I try to use as many videos as possible in my classes.  Student-made videos also give parents a glimpse of how much Spanish their children are learning. They also are a great booster for the students themselves because they can hear how well they are learning.

There are two issues that I need to be aware of: 1. the size of the video and how long it will take to upload in a wiki or a blog; 2. many parents do not want their children’s faces to be shown on the internet, so they have to use puppets or disguises.

I have used a Flip Cam for some time now and I find it very easy to use.  On ething I have to remind students is to speak loudly.  In some occasions I have used iMovie and Windows Movie Maker.  They are quite easy to learn, it just takes some practice.

Week 4 – SMART Boards and similar technology

September 26, 2010

My main concern in writing my lesson plan this week was to use the eBeam in my classroom in a different, useful way.  I did not want to replace the regular marker for an electronic marker but keep beign “the sage on the stage”.  Also, I have the disadvantage that my students are not proficient in the language so I can’t expect them to do research in Spanish.  The lesson had to be meaningful and effective and really take advantage of the technology available.  The very positive outcome of this week is that I visited numerous websites that offered a variety of lesson plans and ideas.  I found The Teache’rs Guide at http://www.theteachersguide.com/virtualtours.html, which offers a variety of virtual tours.  Since I have an eBeam, I visited their site and saw many resources, too (http://www.luidia.com/education/web-resources.html).  Teachers at Shawnee Mission and other districts have wireless slates that allow them to communicate with their SMART board from anywhere in the room.  All this is amazing technology that is just being introduced in the classroom. i am exited about all these clanges!

I have an inexpensive webcam that I use as a document camera. Since my students have a hard copy of the paper I am showing, I don’t worry that the resolution is not very good.  This projection on the board allows me to show them how to fill in a crossword puzzle, for example. Or I can show them details of a sugar skull before I pass it around.

I have not used clickers yet but I’ve been told that you can ask questions and see the immediate results as a bar graph on your board. That can be very engaging for students.  I do use the interactive board to do activities in Spanish, we read short stories and use cartoons to describe what we see. The interactive board has proven very useful and engaging in my classes.  I am looking forward to visiting some of the sites listed in this week’s assignments.

Week 3 – Handheld Technology

September 19, 2010

In reviewing the hand held devises available for schools, I was very impressed by the IPod G4 ($290) and the IPad ($500).  I decided to use the IPod G4 in my lesson plan because I am particularly interested in the application called FaceTime.  FaceTime allows students to call and see students in other countries.    

The IPad was of particular interest to me as a mother, since I see my 7th grader carrying around the school a mountain of books and trapper.  I believe that schools could go wireless completely, especially in middle and high school.  Books can be accessed online; assignments can be emailed back and forth or completed as a wiki or blog.  Note taking can be accomplished with the keypad and it can even record lectures.

Clickers are also useful in most classrooms. My school acquired a set this summer and I have not been able to use them yet. I would use them to check understanding of vocabulary. The 2Know (set of 32 $1500.00)allows students to enter a response. That would also be very useful in my classes to check for spelling accuracy.

Digital pens seem to me that would be very useful to students during homework and study time.  Students with disabilities can review lessons, listen to their teacher again and review notes taken during class.  At a starting cost of $130.00 these pens seem affordable enough. One good thing about them is that not all students need to have them. 

GPS and geocaching sound very exciting for learning more about the world.  I entered the name “Buenos Aires” in city and I found many geocaches hidden all over the city. This would be fascinating for students to explore other cities.

As more technology becomes available, more ideas will develop to use them in a meaningful way in the classroom. Cost and training are two obstacles that need to be overcome before the use of technology is successful. Fortunately, this  master’s program is helping us learn about technology in practical ways.

Week 2 reflection

September 3, 2010

Using technology to assist students with special needs.

One area technology has made incredible progress during the last century is in assisting people with special needs. “…new developments in assistive technologies are producing tools that are better able to help all students achieve, regardless of their disabilities.” (eSN Special Feature: Assistive Technologies. Retrieved September 2, 2010 from http:://www.eschoolnews.com). Hearing aids, prosthetic limbs, diabetes pumps, braille machines, speech recognition software, etc. are providing students with a better quality of life than a few years ago.  As a teacher, I am very excited to use all the new technology available to me to improve the quality of learning in my students.

Until 2009 I was a travelling teacher.  I had read about Multiple Intelligences and Differentiated Instruction, but there was very little in term of technology that I could apply to meeting diverse needs.  One of the first things I did when I got my own classroom, with interactive whiteboard and DVD player, was to use this technology to make my lessons visually and aurally more attractive.  With a scanner, I uploaded worksheets so I could work with the students completing them. This helped students with spacial challenges.

My next challenge will be this year, as out school embraces the principles of Differentiated Instruction at all levels.  I plan to incorporate music to my lessons, when students are working at their seats and for transition times.  One area I am committed to develop is differentiated assessment. With the use of clickers, online activities, and a variety of oral practice, I can check for understanding and assist any struggling students as we go, without having to wait until the end of a unit.   I also want to develop at least 2 stations for my students to use this year.  I am sure technology will be an important part of the lesson.  Finally I am in the process of finding a school to Skype with. I would like to meet students in Argentina, since I already teach my students about my native country.

 I am interested in exploring the use of iPods and iPads for teaching.  I can see how these devices can be very helpful for teachers creating and maintaining student portfolios, grade books, and calendars, but I have not find ways to use them for student learning.  One important aspect to consider when planning for new technology is cost.  I am very lucky to work in a private school where parents support technology improvement and had bought 2 laptop carts and are committed to maintaining the computers in the school up to date.  Unfortunately, to use iPods or iPads in the classroom, I would like each student to have his/her own.  IPods are about $200 each and iPads are about $500 each.  A set of 23 would be very costly to get.

In the past, I have had students with Asperger’s, with hearing problems, with speech impediments, students with ADHD and ADD. Now I have a student with limited English skills. I am sure that in the future I will continue to see students with a variety of abilities and a very exciting challenge is how to develop lesson plans to accommodate that variety.

Week 1 reflection

August 27, 2010

Where am I with technology in my classroom?

I am in the Proficient Phase as described in Cennamo, Ross, Ertmer, 2010, p.21.  I use a variety of technology-based resources to engage students in learning experiences. My classroom is equipped with a computer, eBeam, DVD player and a Flip camera.  In the school there are two laptop carts equipped with Macbook laptops, a color printer and a wireless router.  I am trying more and more to include technology in my lesson plans, but I feel limited by the proficiency of my students in Spanish.  I only see them twice a week for 30 minutes, and this is not enough to develop independent Spanish speakers.

Where do I want to go with technology in my classroom?

I would like to progress to the Transformative Phase (Cennamo et al., 2010, p.21) where I engage with students to explore effective ways in which they can plan, manage and evaluate their learning experiences.  Professionaly I would like to become a tech support person for my school, I want to be able to use all the 21st century technology (like Siftables, IPads, clickers, cell phones) to increase students’ participation, creativity and independent thinking.

What are my top 10 elements of a 21st Century Classroom?

Based on Tech & Learning (www.techlearning.com/K12/Fundamentals), my top 10 elements of a 21st Century Classroom are:

  • Emerging content areas such as global awareness;  
  • Learning and thinking skills that include critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, creativity and innovation, collaboration, and media literacy; 
  • Using technology in the context of learning so students know how to learn;
  • Life skills: leadership, ethics, accountability, personal responsibility, self-direction;
  •  Authentic assessment that measures all areas of learning;
  • Introduction of new tools: individual notebooks, table PCs, IPods, IPads;
  • A learning space that encourages collaboration and cooperation;
  • Project-based learning;
  • Formative assessment;
  • Differentiated instruction that adjusts learning activities to address varied learning styles.

What kind of learning environment do I want to create for my students?

I want to create a learning environment that incorporates the top ten elements that I mentioned above. My ideal classroom would address the issues mentioned in the video A Vision of 21st Century Teachers (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4g5M06YyVw).  Students would be independent learners working cooperatively to create projects that reflect their thinking and problem solving skills and that reflect their learning. They would learn to be creative, independent and self-directed.

What resources do I have to help me create the learning environment?

This Master’s program has been an invaluable source of ideas, tools and techniques.  The technology coordinator and other colleagues at my school are also a valuable resource. The internet and library are a good place to find relevant information.

Comments on 21st Century Classroom:

I agree with  Alan November’s video “Who Owns the Learning” (http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=929307666112123725#) that we are not teaching students to be successful in the modern world.  The more affluent private schools maybe doing mor etowards that goal, but poor, inner city public schools and even middle-class suburban public schools are being hand-tied by the No Child left Behind Law that forces teachers to teach the test, taking away from the daily learning most traces of creativity, group work and differentiation.

The youtube videos were interesting although there are some facts that I don’t find too relevant for us. Comparing our country to China delivers a very emotional punch to our competitive side, but in my opinion, does not really matter. Our cultures are very different, the way we learn is different. I don’t think  the parents of my students would be very happy if teachers started treating children the way they are raised in China. Chinese people, as well as in many other countries in the world, are compelled to learn English for a variety of reasons. In Argentina, even kids in slums know some English to understand songs and videos. 

I enjoyed the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9-4wb6aK_k&p=0D049DD3DDFF63C1&index=1&playnext=2 . I completely agree with th eopinions of the deans and leaders about the future of education. I felt it was very accurate when one of the said that to be able to teach 21st Century skills, teachers must have them first.  That is one of the main challenges we are facing now in our school.  Teachers who do not feel comfortable with the advances of technology are being asked to “think outside the box”  I believe that for future generations of teachers this will be much easier. For us it is so hard because we were the generation that grew up with pencil and paper and need to teach with computers and IPods!

Hola!

August 23, 2010

Bievenidos! Welcome!

I am an elementary Spanish teacher in a private independent school in Kansas.  I have been teaching for 23 years. Last January I started my Masters in Technology Enhanced Teaching  at MidAmerica Nazarene University. This program has given me a variety of tools to use in my classroom.  In this blog I will explore topics related to technology-enhanced teaching. I welcome your comments!