I. Create a Digital Learning Environment Inventory.
1) What tools, software, operating systems, and equipment are available in your school and classroom? (including but not limited to: videoconferencing, streaming, photos sharing sites, video sharing sites, document sharing sites, podcasts, blogs, wikis, social networking sites, etc.)
My district is very pro-technology. All of the students in grades 4 – 8 in our district have school issued iPads. For a fee and rental agreement, they may take the iPads home during the school year. All of the teachers have school issued MacBook Pros and iPads. Every classroom in the district has a Promethean board. We have virtually unlimited access to any technology we need, with except for websites that may be blocked due to inappropriate content. My school has a Facebook account, a Wiki, and Twitter. I have participated in Skype conferencing to interview our last two Spanish teachers. Teachers from different content areas often collaborate using Google docs.
2) How does your school make use of school and/or teacher websites? Our school website (http://sms.rock-hill.k12.sc.us/) provides contact information for the faculty, schedules for athletics and other extracurricular activities, information about tutoring and our afterschool program, information about IB, and other useful links. For the past two years many of the teachers, including me have been using Edmodo. As of this year, we are all expected to use Canvas as a means to post relevant information about our classes and communicate with students, parents, and one another. Only a few teachers at our school have their own websites. I use mine (stutts.spanish.weebly.com) to publish information about lessons in case students miss anything in class.
3) How are you currently utilizing technology for learning? I create flipcharts for the Promethean board to present most of my Spanish lessons. I always present new vocabulary with images as well as written words. I use videos and podcasts to allow students to hear native speakers. I use music videos that reinforce specific vocabulary or sentence structures when possible. I often use Quizlet to help students practice vocabulary, Kahoot as a fun way to review, and any white board application that they like to engage all students and practice/assess concepts they are learning. Since they all got iPads last year, I’m still on the learning curve as far as finding effective ways for them to create and submit speaking and writing assignments. Fortunately I have a group of extremely tech-savvy 7th graders walking me through this process and teaching each other. My students also use Duolingo. Since the content is never tied directly to what I’m teaching, it is a “spare time” activity and something I strongly encourage them to use at home. I’m learning Portuguese as a beginner, so they can challenge me on a relatively even playing field.
4) From the list of global e-learning sites included below, which are available and which sites are blocked by your firewall? The only sites that you’re required to explore are listed here, but feel free to look at/comment on others on the list that I have attached. Please reserve time to explore these sites and process what they have to offer. I have access to all of these at school.
5) What sites and tools are colleagues in your building using?
We are all required by the district to use Canvas. In addition to Quizlet, Kahoot, and Duolingo, as mentioned above, I also use
- Dragon dictation
- Mi Vida Loca – http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/spanish/mividaloca/
Some of my colleagues provided this list:
- Online Discovery Techbook
- Google docs
- Haiku Deck
- Pic Collage
- Tesla Town
- Inventions Lite 2.
- Google street view
6) Is there a system for evaluating student technology literacy in your school? If so, how effective or helpful have you found the assessment? No
7) Gather suggestions from students on their ideas for integrating technology into their learning.
I showed my students a music video to introduce chores and they asked me if they could make a video like that. They planned what they needed to do and chose the format to record their work and submissions. I think for the most part, though, most of the integration of technology into the curriculum is teacher driven. As I told some of my kids Friday, we’re all on a learning curve right now and we’re all at a different place on the curve. Fortunately, a couple of the 7th graders are way ahead of me and are just as comfortable teaching me as I am learning from them.
8) What tools that are not presently available, would help to achieve district objectives?
It is a goal of our district to instill our students with 21st century skills. All of the teachers have been through mandatory training, and additional support is readily available when needed. We have access to any tools that we need, and if we find a site blocked, we can get it unblocked provided we have a rationale.
II. Using your Digital Learning Environment Inventory, develop a solution or suggest an improvement customized to your circumstance and curriculum.
My 7th graders have just started a unit on daily life. The first part of the unit is leisure activites and the verb gustar (to like). In the past I haven’t done a very good job of incorporating culture with the curriculum. More often than not, culture is taught as a warm up or extra activity. I use an interactive film series, Mi Vida Loca, that teaches language and culture, but the lessons are not usually in line with our regular lessons at any given time. Our text has several good audios and videos to teach the content, but the other Spanish teacher and I have been looking for more resources. Two weeks ago we showed “Landfill Harmonic” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJxxdQox7n0) a video about poor children in Paraguay learning to play music on instruments made out of recycled materials. Before showing the video, we talked about what they already knew about Paraguay (nothing) and I asked them to craft questions about what kinds of things they might expect to learn. This gave our students a glimpse into their daily lives, but after seeing the TED talks about a single story, I know I need to balance this image of poor South Americans with images of people from different walks of life. This past week I used a video of a young man from Panamá, Isaac, discussing sports he likes (http://www.spanishlistening.org/content/100-isaac-panama-favoritesport.html). Students listened to Isaac, and read a transcript of his talk. They identified all the cognates in the transcript, then used Socrative to answer comprehension questions about Isaac’s favorite sports. We also discussed how Isaac’s interests were similar to their own. Some students were surprised that Isaac said he liked tennis. They thought people in South America ONLY played soccer. In retrospect, I should have spent time having them make predictions about his interests before playing the audio. Still, it turned out to be a good lesson for practicing the vocabulary and helping them understand how much identifying cognates helps with comprehension.
III. Digital learning I frequently use in my classes
Duolingo, in my opinion, is the best free online learning website. It doesn’t follow our curriculum but I use it as my “go to” activity whenever students complete work early. It is completely self paced, so students of all levels can benefit from the program. I use it personally to study other languages and to keep my Spanish grammar sharp, since I only teach beginning levels. Duolingo for School is available, but I haven’t tried it yet.
Quizlet is a vocabulary building tool that I use frequently. I have created flash card sets for almost every unit I teach. Some of my units have a set of basic vocabulary for beginning level students and a challenge set for more advanced students. Students can set up a free account and create their own flashcard sets.
Spanish Listening contains an extensive set of videos in which a native speaker talks briefly about different subjects. I am not a native speaker, and even if I were, I like for my students to hear different accents. With Spanish Listening, you can search for different levels, speakers from different countries, and specific topics. This is a free site.
Mi Vida Loca is an interactive video program produced by the BBC. You are a character in the program, visiting Spain and learning Spanish as you go. You learn skills like ordering in a restaurant, shopping, and using public transportation, all while being caught up in the drama of a reporter who is being followed. My students LOVE this.
Conjugemos is a website that helps students practice verb conjugation. Students can select the mood and tense of verbs, and even choose selected verbs within a category to practice. They can also select specific pronouns to practice. Students will see a pronoun and an infinitive verb, then type the correct conjugated form. If they are incorrect, they will see the correct verb, type it in correctly to advance, then the verb will appear again after a few turns.