Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Vocabulary GIF and AR Activity

This activity was such an incredible lesson. My students chose three vocabulary words they hadn't quite mastered at that point. By using Google Drawings, they drew a visual representation of the word they chose, then used a GIF creator.

We then used Aurasma to create an aura for the words so they could use the Augmented Reality word wall when they needed to "look up" a word.

Movie Talks!

Movie Talks are such a wonderful way to practice repetition in the target language while using technology. We begin by finding a movie short on YouTube. I found one that was perfect for practicing the past tense. "Anya" is such an endearing story, the kids responded positively to this activity.

This story is such a wonderful way for students to learn about real situations across the globe while using the target language at a comprehensible level. The story of Anya is about an orphaned girl who arrives at an orphanage in Russia back in 1996. We practiced words such as "era" ad "tenĂ­a". I pre-taught many of the words I knew they did not know ahead of time. WE created signs and/or motions for many of them. 

I did the Movie Talk with them and stopped frames and discussed each one in Spanish, asked questions, and reflected on the situation in the story, we then played the video with sound without interruptions. The kids responded very positively to the story.

So, it was such a great lesson in past tense, I created a story using the vocabulary words we were working on and had my students "Volleyball Read" it together. It was strictly a narration and I purposely chose not to include dialog. It was a great success! 

I took this lesson even further, and had them create a cartoon that plugged in the possible dialog or thoughts, of the characters in the frames they chose. Using Snagit, we cut frames from the movie short and used these to create our very own comic strips. They chose 3-6 frames, used PicMonkey to create a comic strip with the "collage" tool, then they inserted word/thought balloons with unique the text features.The beauty of this lesson, was the fact that the kids had to insert the dialog in the target language that was not present in the story. They had to infer what the characters might be thinking or saying since there was no dialog in the movie (with the exception of two single word phrase). This lesson was exciting for them and gave them skills to create. They included this in the e-portfolios as well and gave some great feedback. They were very excited to create these from scratch. I loved that it was evident what they inferred in the frames they chose.

Global Education

TCEA, (Texas Computer Education Association) this year, left me such an appreciation for the need for a global perspective in education, that I had to step back and ask, Why? Why are more educators not taking this perspective? We have an amazing opportunity to equip our students with tools that will help them become strong collaborators, creative thinkers, and amazing innovators.

We have been Doing Mystery Skype and MHO in Spanish; as well as connecting with students throughout the world. These activities have been such and eye-opening experience for my students.

On Friday, one class taught a lesson to fourth graders about Cinco de mayo. The kids had props and costumes. They first pronounced the vocabulary words then acted them out. They wrote a simple story in Spanish, and read it slowly and comprehensively while acting out the vocabulary words each time they were mentioned.

I was so proud of them as they planned the lesson and worked very well together. Their reflections stated how accomplished they felt and how fun it was to help others understand the history behind Cinco de mayo.

We have done several Skype Misteriosos with other Spanish language learners. This activity has strengthened their geographical vocabulary and their confidence to communicate in the target language.

Spanish Novel Reviews

Students playing a game that required the use of QR codes. The front of the card provided the questions and the back provided the answers.

We begin our class with SSR (Silent Sustained Reading) each day. We have many novels available so my students have choice in their reading. These novels can be found on the TPRS Publishing website. Their semester project was to creatively present a review of their favorite novel read this semester. 
This was no ordinary presentation. I decided to give my students a challenge and put a twist on things as they had to present their project through the perspective of a person, place, thing other than the main character; but the biggest challenge was that they could not use PowerPoint, Word (or any other word processing tool) or posters. I gave them a list of project ideas and told them they were not limited to this list, it was just there to help spark their creativity. I had some amazing projects and they were very creative.
Some of the more creative projects came in the forms of board games, skits, and animations. 
I found that allowing for creativity and giving my students this opportunity to really think out of the box, they surprised themselves. In their reflections, many mentioned how proud they were of their level of creativity and truly enjoyed this project.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Guantlet has been Thrown...

Thanks Steve Wick (@rechargeedu) for sharing this

I had the opportunity to visit the architectural firm PBK last year with Klein ISD's new Transform Academy. We watched -very intently- how a high-functioning team operates; and it was truly a mind-blowing experience. 

I realized how we are -as educators- grossly underestimating the skills our students will need to be competitive in their futures. They require Avengers©-like collaborative skills, problem solving ninja skills, and (among many others) be creative innovators. I hear so often how teachers (in 1:1 environments across Texas) use their tech as glorified worksheets or for warm-ups and are very unwilling to change the way they have done things..."because they have 'worked' for so long". At the risk of ruffling feathers, I ask this question: How can we get our students to the "PBK mindset" of innovation and asking questions, this "edutopia", if you will; if so many educators still focus on the answers, rather than the questions?

We must equip them with tools and skills to nurture their inner creators. Thank goodness we have so many amazing resources literally, at our fingertips! We use Google apps in our class to create, collaborate, and innovate. I tossed out the projector and brought in interactive panels and an HD TV. My students collaborate in a variety of ways and have become skilled at working with others, as it is done holistically -every day- in my class. They create with Google Drawings, evaluate and give feedback using Google Slides, experience and experiment with Google Cardboard, Google Earth, and Google Maps, and they will begin communicating with others, globally, using Google Hangouts.

I want to equip these students with the knowledge and skills that will transform their lives, not just their learning. Won't you join me, and help our students be creative independent thinkers that work well with others that possess a global mindset? The gauntlet has been thrown...now it's time for us all- teachers, principals, directors, superintendents, parents- to step up, grab that gauntlet, and leave those worksheets behind.

Have You Moved Over the Google Side? Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, I introduced several uses of Google Drawings for a collaborative experience. In this post, I will focus on a few ways you can use Google Slides along with Google Drawings to encourage students to create, share, and provide feedback.

After teaching them little tips and tricks with Google Drawings, I had them share their creations in Google Slides. I created a shared Slides presentation and had each team share their Google Drawings. They were to leave a comment on several of the slides (this is a great way to teach them verbiage for constructive criticism). I heard many of them ask a student, "How did you do that?" or "Wow! I wish I had thought of that!" It is so rewarding to hear them discuss their work in a collaborative setting.

After a training I did in Klein ISD in 2015, I had the participants give feedback at the end of the session. I wanted them to see they could use this to have students reflect on activities, lessons, experiences, etc.

I came across several ways to use Google Slides in the classroom and my favorite has to be the beginning of the year activity by Alice Keeler ! It is brilliant! Especially, for those of us who struggle with learning our students' names!

I would like to take this one a little further and make it also and end of the year activity (since I teach 8th graders, and they are about to start high school). This is a fun activity that will allow them to see their growth through the year if you add reflective questions.

Google tools are so much more than some people have experience with...especially Google Drawings and Google Slides. Most people think of Google Slides as simply a presentation software; but it is so much more. I hope you share this tool with your students and allow them the opportunity to experience Google in all the creative ways they should be used!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Have You Moved Over to the Google Side? Part 1

I am a geek and love Star Wars. 

I also love Google tools, so I decided to use the theme, "Are You Ready to Slide Over to the Google Side?" for my tech session on Google Slides. 

It was fun and best of all, I had teachers using the collaborative features and they LOVED them! Most had never used Google tools for collaboration. These tools are fantastic for all classrooms but I am finding so many incredible things that benefit our Foreign Language students! I will be sharing these in a series of posts since they will be filled with tons of engaging activities!

The first tool I want to talk about is Google Drawings. This is not just a "Paint" for Google. There is so much more to this program than meets the eye! The best part of Google Drawings is the ability to have more than one person work in the drawing at the same time. There are some fantastic ideas out there on the internet using Google Drawings, but these are some of my favorites:
Creating a Timeline:
When creating a timeline, your students must know the information as they must research whatever it is they are going to place on the timeline. If you have them in teams of 4-6, they can be responsible for certain events/periods. For example: A Walk Through History Timeline
You can assign students different Eras that you want them to cover and they are responsible for those sections of the Timeline. You can do one in Foreign Languages for Wars in Spain, or A timeline over Pablo Picasso's paintings/styles, etc. I did this one for a training session on Google Drawings in my district:

Another clever use of Google Drawings is to create your own graphic organizers in teams. You can actually "see" the thinking process as they can comment in the drawings and help one another. One graphic organizer we did in class was discuss a character from a Movie Talk we did (this example is done in English for the sake of all language teachers):

Sylvia Duckworth does a wonderful job with her SketchNotes. I encourage my students to draw the definitions of words as this helps them remember the words much better. You can check her SketchNotes here.

The kids really enjoy working with each other using these tools. I hope you will allow your students the opportunity to collaborate and create!