Thursday, October 4, 2012


So, I just listened to the Webinar from the - and I have some opinions.

First of all the pannel seem to be quite a lot like my classmate Jack: they don't quite see the value of technology, such as twitter or other social media sites, in the classroom.  As we spent all summer trying to decide, it most certainly can be!

One example of this I have seen in my placement this semester.  There is such a thing as Facebook for Professionals.  Here, students in a local middle school created videos on an app called "SockPuppet" using the target vocabulary, and then they posted it to their teacher's site.  It's safe and private, and the teacher is utilizing a piece of technology that students are already familiar with - Facebook! In this sense, technology isn't damaging any learning, it's making it easier for the students to use!

"Learn by doing" is one thing that the pannel members said that I do agree with. I myself learn by doing and by practicing the language.  I think that there is a lot that students can "do" with technology, while still learning (as evident from my other blog posts, I am very optimistic when it comes to this topic).  To appease these gentlemen, I think that teachers should definitely find ways for students to learn by doing on the internet or with technology (like the SockPuppets or a flipped classroom idea); then I think that these men would see the benefit of the technology in a classroom. 

To end this post I will just ask, if these men are not particularly fans of technology, why did they opt to do webinar?  Food for thought. 

That's it and that's all y'all. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Reflections on the last day...

Yesterday was the last day of the summer semester, and we were fortunate enough to have a group of former SecMAC students come to talk about their experiences in the program, in their current placements, and in their use of technology.  

The most surprising thing is that they all want to use and develop neat things to do with technology in their classrooms, but they might not be able to.  For example - one school has a lot of technology equipment, but it none of it is functional (either out of date, or there is no administrative support to do so)! It is eye opening to hear that, although we are being trained in this program to use the latest and greatest teaching technology, we might not be able to use it! Or, there is a chance that my grand ideas about having students research water politics in Bolivia might take much longer than expected, because students might not know how to do research (This of course makes sense, but I had gotten used to the practice of researching done by college students, so I would have to modify that lesson to include how exactly to do research online, and how to get information that is within their ability leve)

The discussion made me think that even thought I have many ideas about how I will use technology in my Spanish classes, which is such a bummer!  I think I've come across in this blog as super excited about how to use what I'm learning in my classrooms, and the thought that I might not be able to do is disheartening.  It 

The former students did give me some ideas in terms of coping with whatever my situation may be.  One technique that I will likely use is called, and it is a tool that allows you to download YouTube videos.  The benefit of this site is that you can get around the probably YouTube ban on the school's internet, and it will play without internet as well to avoid any connection issues.  Another technique that I will use is the Librarian / Media Center Specialist.  This faculty member would be useful when teaching the students how to properly search on the internet, or how to use the technological tools that the school has. 

So I leave for this summer break thinking about the technology in my placement, how I can take advantage of it while I'm there, and how I can cope with whatever is thrown (or not thrown) at me in the years to come.  This course is teaching me invaluable techniques for the classroom, and I am determined to use some of the tools I have blogged about in my own classrooms!

Nothing is impossible, the word itself says 'I'm possible' - Audrey Hepburn

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

SO INSPIRED (so I'm writing an EXTRA blog post)

This weekend I met with my possible placement teacher for the fall, and she is exactly the teacher I want to be.  She loves using music and art and TECHNOLOGY in a classroom! I just wanted to share with the blogsphere some of the really cool things I took from our meeting and what I'm finding on my own!

First she is doing this really great thing in her class called The Flipped Classroom.  This is technique in which the teacher gives the student work to do at home, online... THEN! The students will come to class the next day, and there will be an activity based on what they should have done, at home.  SO!  The students will do the leraning on their own and it requires the teacher to trust the students, because if they haven't done the lesson, then they won't be able to complete the work in class (there's also away to monitor them actually doing the learning at home, kind of like a screen shot).  My mentor was very excited about this, and she said that her students came to class, and were helping one another, and they successfully completed the assignment, and she in awe at how the students were engaged in the lesson - because they had done their work, and they were using technology.  

Another thing that she does is use this  This guy, uses his students and posts music videos that other Spanish teachers can use in their classes.  His songs will use the target vocabulary and the target verb tense for each lessons!  My mentor has her students make their own videos too - either songs or skits.  It's such a fun way learn the language!

She also uses a Google phone number for students to practice speaking.  Por ejemplo, the students might be learning how to invite someone to the movies, and they can call and get oral (and authentic) practice with the language.  And she also uses something called Camtasia - but I haven't had the time to research this in more depth, but it seems like a screen recording software, and I'm guessing this is what the students use to verify that they're doing their online portion of the work at home.  

Things that I've been doing online lately:
I made a Pinboard on my Pinterest (if you're not on there and would like an invite, let me know!) where I can find adorable teaching ideas that other teachers have found useful (or adorable).  

And for my research paper about music in second language acquisition, I found this:  And look!  There are songs that you can use music in classes OTHER than just languages!
Anyway - I have just been so crazy inspired, and I thought I would share it with y'all :)

Living is like tearing through a museum. Not until later do you really start absorbing what you saw, thinking about it, looking it up in a book, and remembering - because you can't take it in all at once - Audrey Hepburn
First Five Days

Today I read a post by Ewan McIntosh ( "Are you a dawdler or a doer."  The video (which I suggest everyone go watch) is super inspirational.  Hearing educators from other countries explain the benefit of being a doer teacher, and it makes me think back to my doer and dawdler teachers, and how I might answer the question, "what will you do in the first 5 days to be a "doer" teacher?"

My dawdler teachers on the first day of school went through the syllabus, they introduced rules, and they had assignments that were usually do that first Friday of class.  My doer teachers were the ones who had music playing when we walked in, they usually started class with ice breakers so that everyone felt comfortable in class. I actually had a professor the last semester of undergraduate who spent the first day not going over the syllabus or the story that we needed to have read for that day, but talking to us, and getting to know us - he memorized our names by that day!!

So what I'm thinking, is that the way to start off the first 5 days of class is with getting to know the students - ice breakers and get to know you games - because I want them to know that I'm honestly interested in who they are outside of my classroom.  I'm going to ask them how their summer vacations were, and what their favorite part was, and what they're most looking forward to in the upcoming school year.  

I think every teacher should watch this - because I've had experience with both dawdlers and doers I know which had the most impact on me as a student, and I know which I want to be as a teacher.  I want to inspire my students and let them know they can enjoy learning, that it can be fun and that they can be successful, and being a doer teacher is how I will do this.

Also, this project should be checked out -  It required students to film a video, then send a silent version of that video to a school that is learning that language (China learning English exchanged with Australia learning Chinese).  Then the students had to interpret what the movies were saying.  How cool?!  I just love the idea of crossing cultural borders through media, and then assessing one's ability to understand body movement in relation to language.  I love this project.

I was born with an enormous need for affection, and a terrible need to give it.  -Audrey Hepburn

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Organizing my Teaching - Online!

For class this week, we were each assigned a tool to make our lives easier (Dropbox, Skype, Evernote, or Diigo).  I am already an avid user of Dropbox (to share videos and pictures with my family) and Skype (to video chat my friends), but I presented on Evernote.  I can honestly say that Evernote is something that I will use in my classroom.  It will function much like a class webpage, and a way that I can hold the students accountable for doing their work.  For example, on Evernote, I will post the worksheets, syllabus, maybe any activities from the whiteboard if a student missed class, and the students will have this all available to them on the web (they don't need to have the App, although it would make life easier).  So everything the students need to be successful in my class will be right at their fingertips.  Which I love!!

I know the purpose of this blog post should be how I felt about teaching this particular tool to my classmates; and I think that I shared my true belief of its benefits with my group (because again, I really do think I'll use it).  But I would like to talk about some outside research I've been doing recently for another one of my classes on the use of music in a Second Language classroom.  In thinking about how I would like to use music in my Spanish classroom, I have been linking it to what I have learning in this class.  One amazing site that I stumbled upon is called (also available as an iPhone App)!  This site will allow students to listen to FM Spanish Language Radio stations from across the country.  Stations like LaMega in NYC or LA 96.3 not only play Spanish language music, and conduct interviews in the target language, but it would introduce the students to cultural information about the groups living in each area (Puerto Rican or Mexican, for example).  

I know I have to link this research to what we did in class today, and this is how: I would have this link available on the class Evernote, and assign the students to listen to one station for an hour a night for homework (assessment being that they should write about what they heard).  This way, I know that they will be learning about the culture, and I know that they will have exposure to authentic, conversational Spanish, instead of just the textbook vocabulary.  

So, you see, I found the class this week (which was entitled Organizing your Online Life) not about organizing my life, but how I can take the tools and organize a classroom, to help my students succeed.  And I think that using the tool like Evernote will help me accomplish this as a teacher.

As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.
Audrey Hepburn

Friday, July 20, 2012

Lost in Translation

Today in class, as we knew it would, the discussion centered around video games. But not in the way that I would have thought.  Professor J started by having us translate some crazy symbols.  Go ahead - try to do this (from

This is not the exact text that we were given in class, but think about how you would go about reading this.  If you're like me, you'll go strait to the computer and Google this.  And then, when you don't find your answer, you ask for help, figure out what the symbols probably mean and try to translate (and get it nearly right, but not quite). The way I would translate this paragraph would be something along the lines of waking up and getting ready for the day.  

So this task has two useful applications in my mind.  First is an obvious connection to foreign languages.  If I handed this to my students on the first day of class, they would think I was crazy, because it's obviously not Spanish (but as I'm thinking about it right now, it could be read in Spanish...right?); but is it any different from giving a beginner class this? 
They won't know the words, there are probably some symbols like ˜or ´that they are unfamiliar with.  How would I expect them to approach this?  Probably Google, then ask a friend, UNTIL they have learned how to read in Spanish.  Second, this task is kind of like a video game we decided: it's challenging, there's not a lot of risk in translating, worst that can happen is that you get the translation wrong (which I did), and its kinda fun (at least for me). 
So the question comes, how do you implement this in a class?  If someone has suggestions, that would be great!  Otherwise, I will suggest a few more Apps that I would want my students to be using to make their Spanish language learning fun!                                                       
Learn Spanish - MindSnacks (One of the Best Education Apps!)             English Spanish Language Adventure

I don't want to let the other part of today's class go unnoticed, because I had a blast learning how to make my online portfolio!  I'm truly learning things that I find applicable to my everyday life, like Flickr.  How did I not know how to use that before?!  In case anyone would like to see this portfolio it is aquí!

That's it and that's all!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Really? Video games in a classroom?

Yes, really. When I think about how crazy this whole thing sounds, I think back to how I learn how to use computers in elementary school: Type to Learn taught me how to type by somehow linking the practice of typing to rocket ships; Zoombinis, which I have already explained but in case you are unfamiliar:

This was (is?) my favorite thing to do in elementary school technology classes - once you finished your typing practice you were allowed to play Zoombinis.  As I said in a past blog, as a player you take these jelly bean creatures through a magical forest to get to Zoombini-Island, and to do so, you have to complete a set of puzzles.  These puzzles were things like "Find a pattern of lilly pads to get the Zoombinis across the pond," or "Based on what ingredients the Italian monster liked and disliked on his pizza, what is the perfect pizza?" And if you FAIL any of these puzzles, the Zoombinis who didn't make it through the task would be sent back to their slavery island (from which you are to save them) and you had to start the journey all over again.  Sooo, what was I getting from these games?  I mean, it's subtitle is "Logical Journey" and I didn't feel like I was learning, I felt like I was really trying to help these jelly beans on skateboards get safely to their home!  But clearly, with my now awesome puzzle and reasoning skills, I was in fact learning something.

The James Paul Gee article maps out what values that a video game should have, IF it would be used in a classroom setting.  Let's see then if Zoombinis had any learning value.  One of the criteria is that there is a low risk of failure - well, if I failed a puzzle, the Zoombini would get shipped back to slavery!  I would say, high risk.  Good games are customizable to individual playing styles - well, let me think.  I was able to customize what my jelly beans looked like (whether they had one eye or roller-blades) but as far as my playing style, the game did not offer any variation for the different players.  A good game should let the player develop strategies and get used to using these strategies, then change up the game!  Well, there's another fault in this logical journey: I did develop a strategy, which was memorize the patterns, because they only vary slightly (like which ingredients the Italian monster wanted)and then at some point, you memorized how to pass each level. 

Sorry Zoombinis, but I would not use you in my classes.  Not only is there no benefit for a Spanish class, but really, I was just speeding through my actual learning activities to play with the Jelly beans.

What I WOULD do is use any of these things: and maybe encourage my students to go to  These games will actually have academic and educational value in a Spanish classroom, and hopefully increase the students ability to use the language - because they will be engaged, challenged, and when they mess up, they're not going to punished like the Zoombinis were, they will be learning from their mistakes.  

La sabiduría nos llega cuando ya no nos sirve de nada. -Gabriel García Márquez