Wednesday, 8 August 2012

August 8

These activities are aimed towards beginner Spanish students.  The ideas and themes discussed in LLED480 presented for me a great opportunity to build on some of the topics included in a Spanish 9 unit that I taught during my practicum by exploring some of the technologies that I utilized in this course. The topics included in this Spanish 9 unit are daily or leisure activities, regular -ar ,-er, and -ir verb conjugations, likes and dislikes, the seasons and months, and the days of the week.  

In introducing the verb vocabulary, I could start with this SlideRocket presentation.  Since the photos are pretty self-explanatory, it would be easy for students to figure out the meaning of the verbs. An audio component, where you can record your own audio, would have to be added in the future.  In this way I can record the sounds/pronunciation of the words, adding a listening component to the presentation.  This presentation would also be posted on my Spanish 9 blog, so that students can have access to it for more practice.


To reinforce the new vocabulary, I could ask the students to work with a partner to recount and write in Spanish about their favourite weekend activity.  

Later on in the unit, and after learning regular verb conjugations, I would use the following YouTube video for practicing regular verb conjugations.  This is a great listening activity in which I would include a fill-in-the-blanks-with-the-missing-song-lyrics handout.  Students would work on the handout after listening to the song at least once. A Google Document with the complete song lyrics would also be posted on my blog for students to access.   

Google Doc - Song Lyrics


Towards the end of the unit, and before a Final Exam or Final Project, students would have the opportunity to practice and review the vocabulary learned in class using Quizlet.  The particular link includes all the vocabulary introduced in this unit, as well as a listening and a written component, English to Spanish matching, etc.  This Quizlet activity would be posted on my Spanish 9 blog for students to access any time. After completing the listening component on Quizlet, students could create their own audio as a speaking project/activity, using Quizlet's vocabulary list, and Vocaroo's voice recording service which is easily accessible.  The completed project would then be emailed to me for marking.  

  Unit 3: Days, months, seasons and weather

For a Final Project, I could ask the students to create a presentation with Bookr.  This presentation would include the Seasons in Spanish, types of weather that we encounter during each season, and the activities that the students or their friends and family members like or dislike to do during each season.  My Bookr presentation would be posted on my blog as an example of the project's requirements.  The Final Projects would be then shared in class.

Day 10: BYOD Teachers Talk Classroom Use

Since I have experienced the use of cellphones in the classroom first hand, I think it is a good idea, for the most part.  During my practicum, on the recommendation of my sponsor, I always allowed my English Language Arts students to take photos of the overhead of notes or the vocabulary that I had assigned for homework or for a quiz.  Students can sometimes be slow in taking notes or they miss the notes because they are participating in class discussions.  On the other hand, as Susan Bearden states, students cannot pay attention and participate in class discussions as much when they are focusing on note-taking.  This inevitably affects their learning. 

In the language classroom, however, that might not be really conducive to learning, since learning a language implies learning how to write as well as learning how to speak.  Students need the practice that comes with writing in order to learn a language properly.  Using mobile devices to check the meaning of vocabulary or to remind oneself about homework is a good idea, nevertheless.  And although I agree with the author about the multiple possibilities for using mobile devices in different study areas, we also need to monitor closely if students are using them for learning purposes or if they are just using them for socializing with their friends during class.  Setting "clear parameters" for mobile device use is a good idea, however, that does not guarantee that students will not use them inappropriately. 

My SlideRocket Presentation

This is such a great idea for introducing new vocabulary. Since the photos are pretty self-explanatory, it would be easy for students to figure out the meaning of the verbs. 

Day 9: Powerpointlessness

Everyone has experienced the senseless use of powerpoint presentations.  I have definitely seen powerpoint presentations with all the bells and whistles but with very little substance to them. Reading this article brought to mind a project on the topic of Human Rights that a group of English 11 students were required to present during my volunteer experience.  Most of the presentations were very unorganized, without discernible purpose to them, yet very fancy in terms of design, photographs, and sound effects.  The students presented by reading right out of the slides, since all the information was right in front of them in bullet form, copied and pasted right out of the web.  This forced me to try to read and listen simultaneously, making the presentations hard to follow and the ideas presented incoherent. 

These are the kinds of presentations that Brown cautions us against, urging us to train our students to use powerpoint effectively and with purpose. Training students to first research a topic, then organize their ideas appropriately, and finally use powerpoint in order to enhance and aid their presentations is an excellent idea.  This can be a tool for enhancing their learning as well, since collecting and organizing information in a meaningful way may help them develop a thorough understanding about their topic. 

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Google Docs

My google doc:

My google presentation:

My google form:

TPRS: Teaching for Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling

TPRS is a Comprehensible Input based language teaching method which focuses on the meaning of the message rather than how the language works.  This method focuses a lot on gesturing and dramatization for establishing meaning.  For more information, as well as for lesson plans, workshops, and publications, please visit the following websites:

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Day 8: Collaborative Projects

We all have experiences with collaborative projects. Whether from the B.Ed program or from our teaching experience, we all know that collaborative projects either work wonderfully or don't work at all.  As Peter Skillen clearly points out, some students rely on others to do their work, or don't contribute equally. This of course leads to all sorts of issues within the group, such as poor grading or resentment from those that worked harder.  

Personally, I have never been a proponent of collaborative projects.  During my practicum experience, students working on group presentations or projects approached me to tell me that they had done all the work, while their partners did not complete their assigned tasks.  This made my students feel resentful towards their classmates and made me feel unfair in giving the whole group the same grade.  

However, I can also see the advantages that Skillen points out.  For instance, I can understand how teams of experts on a specific topic have a wider base knowledge than a single writer or individual member.  Collaboration offers a wider range of expertise and skills.  Different opinions and knowledge among the group members raise more questions and "encourage[] students to have an explicit understanding of the work of all the other students in the group". 

For that to happen, though, there must be good group dynamics. That can possibly mean grouping students based on ability and motivation.  But how feasible is that?  Most teachers usually group the "good" students with the less capable ones.  This can lead to the problems mentioned above.  With that in mind, and although I can see the advantages of co-constructions and collaborations, I am not sure that I see ways of making them more effective, as I believe that the issues that arise from them are inevitable when grouping individuals of different abilities and motivations.   

Thursday, 2 August 2012

My LiveBinder

Day 7: Innovations in Education

After reading this article, I was confused about what content curation really is and what its benefits are for both teachers and students.  So I did some research and found out that content curation is the process of sorting out information and presenting it synthesized around a specific topic.  But I was still confused about the article.  Is content curation a process that involves teachers, students, or both?  And how does the web fit in all this?  So I did a little more research and found out that since education has become immersed in technology, content curation pertains mostly to information collected from the web.  The sorting of the collected information becomes the task of the  the students, and it is later shared in class presentations or through web communities, showcasing students' work and individual interests.  

I thought that as an idea content curation is great!  If we show our students how to research and sort out internet content, engaging them in finding appropriate materials, reading them in depth and critiquing them in order to contribute to class or web conversations, we engage them in developing a variety of skills, e.g critical thinking.  I am still confused, however, as to how content curation works.  Is it applicable in a flipped classroom only?   How can a teacher incorporate content curation, in language learning for instance, as a learning strategy?  

Wednesday, 1 August 2012