Thursday, November 24, 2011

Podcasts in the Classroom

     Ever wanted to make your classroom more interesting?  How about using a Podcast!!  A podcast is a video or audio file that is available online about a specific topic.

     A Podcast I recently watched, Platos Espanoles, was all about Spanish food.  The Podcast was completely in Spanish and has great vocabulary for students.  The speed of the language use was not too fast so students should be able to understand it.  In my classroom I would use this audio file for practice with vocabulary, comprehension, and cultural learning.  The students could answer questions about what they hear that include vocabulary terms, a knowledge of their comprehension, and questions about specific cultural foods.

     By using a Podcast in your classroom you can easily make your classroom more fun, diverse, and interesting for your students!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Global Community

    Ever think the world wide web is just too dangerous or risky for your classroom?   We all have!  But ePals is a great site that can change your mind in an instant.  It offers many different features and ideas for your classroom and is great for teachers or students. 

     For students, there are links to other pages, such as National Geographic or the Smithsonian.  These are great educational tools for students to have at their fingertips!  Furthermore, there are pages about black history, digital storytelling, the Earth, and biodiversity.  There is also a student forum to talk about issues they are interested in and a book club where students can talk about the books they have read.

     The teacher page has some similar features to the student page, such as the link to National Geographic or other educational sites.  In addition there is a teacher forum (like the student forum) for teachers to discuss topics of interest to them.  Also, there are pre-made projects that teachers can use for their classes. 

     I think this program could be very useful for a classroom, in that it give the students some freedome to explore different topics but in a safe and educational environment.  Also, the projects available to teachers are a great source and would be fun and interesting for students to do!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Digital Storytelling for Teaching

     Until recently I did not even know what digital storytelling was, but now I see how easy and useful it can be for teachers, not to mention fun.  Using sites like  Animoto, Slideroll, or Stupeflix, teachers can create a story with pictures, text, and music about anything they want.  The basics of these sites are free, making it even easier for teachers to use it. 

     The site that I tried out was Animoto.  It took me at most five minutes to log in and begin creating a digital story.  I was able to add my own pictures, and then put in text, and select the music from the site.  It was a very simple process and could be used to teach anything, from culture, to grammar, or vocabulary.  Below is the digital story that I created about Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). 

Give one of these sites a try and you will see how easy, fun, and education they can be for you and your students.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Teaching about Food through Digital Storytelling

     A great way to teach students about cultural food is by using digital storytelling.  I created an example digital story about How to Make Paella on Bubblr.  Below is a copy of this story.  I would use this in order to teach students about other cultures.  It was so simple for me to create that I would definitely consider having my students pick another Spanish food and create their own digital stories showing how to make their food.  This would get students interested in the class by allowing them to use technology and have them learning about other cultures.

     If I were really to use this digital story in my classroom I would add some Spanish into the slides.  Instead of just reading all the ingredients in English, the students could learn about the culture and some new food vocabulary words all at once.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Digital Storytelling: How is it used?

Computer Setup
Photo by Karin Dalziel
     Before we can learn about how to use digital storytelling we must understand exactly what it is.  Digital storytelling is "the practice of using computer-based tools to tell stories" ("The Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling").  More specifically, it is "a short, first person video-narrative created by combining recorded voice, still and moving images, and music or other sounds" ("Center for Digital Storytelling").  According to "7 Things you should know about digital storytelling", a simple digital story can consist of "a set of slides with corresponding naration or music".  A more complex digital story would combine "narrative with digital content, including images, sound, and video, to create a short movie".
     Now, that we know that a digital story is a computer-based set of images or video combined with music or sounds to create a movie or slideshow, we can move on to the question: How can digital storytelling be used?  One way it can be used is to tell a story about personal tales of historical events.  If done correctly, these stories can be very emotional and effective in connecting with students.  Another way it could be used it to do a "show and tell".  This could introduce vocabulary by showing pictures and then orally or in writing present the vocabulary word that goes with the picture.  One more way it could be used is to have students create their own digital stories in a second language telling about either their own story or an imaginary story that they have created.  This is a great way to incorporate language and technology in the classroom to get the students more involved and having fun in school.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Twitter in Action

      There are so many ways that Twitter, a popular micro blogging website, can be useful for teachers.  I'll give a few examples of its use here just to get you started on this potential educational resource. 
     An article titled, On the Deeper Connections Built Into Throw-Away Questions, by Shelly Blake-Plock, discusses one of these great uses of Twitter.  It talks about what as teachers we may call a "throw-away" question and how one of these seemingly pointless questions can spark a great debate among students through the use of Twitter.  By posting one of these questions, such as: "Latin Students: How many museums can you find on Twitter? +10 pt coupon to anybody who Tweets 20 museums with collections in Ancient Art!", a teacher can really motivate their students to start thinking out of the box and using a site like Twitter as a resource (Blake-Plock).  The next day so many students will come into school with a list of museums to get their bonus points and for once they will (not admittedly) like doing their homework cause students enjoy the use of social networking sites.
     In Educational Twitter Chats Calendar, the author writes about using Twitter for educational chats.  These are basically a way to connect with other educators who are interested in the same topics as you.  For example, if you want to know about using Twitter to teach Spanish, there may be a chat specifically about that.  So you would go on the chat and be able to discuss the topic with other teachers and get new ideas about how you would use Twitter for a Spanish classroom.  The article also mentions a new calendar feature that can make it easier for teachers to keep track of all of their educational chats on Twitter.
     These are just two basic uses of Twitter but there are so many other ways that Twitter can be used to enhance and improve any classroom!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Social Networking Group: Learning with Computers

     There are many social networking groups available for teachers, but the one I checked out was called Learning with Computers.  This groups site is a place for foreign language teachers to post what they know about integrating computers into the classroom.  Teachers can then read each others' ideas about how to best use computers in teaching students a foreign language.  This seems like a great place for L2 teachers to post and take knowledge from each other about technology to make the classroom a better place for learning.