Monthly Archives: October 2013

Amigos en Asia

Course One: Final Project-Amigos en Asia

 

Background:

My students in DP Spanish I were reading a book that mentioned a student attending a school Singapore. Most of my kids asked, “¿Dónde está Singapore?”. Normal response for kids living in the US… A few more questions came up.  So, we decided to send letters to kids in Singapore to have our questions answered.  This connects well with WL standards.  We started writing letters (typing) when we realized we should just share the letter/doc with the students in Singapore.  A much faster option and we could include pictures and links. My students are NEW to a GAFE environment so the logging in, share settings, and creating links took a bit to sort out.

Here is the doc we used to choose a buddy and post our letter.  Our sister class in Singapore did the same and added their letters to the doc in response to what my students had first written. We also need a short intro so a few students made a short video introducing our school and our class.

The minute we had officially shared all our letters students wanted to know when we would hear something from our new friends. They asked everyday if I had received the letters so they could read them.  The power of connecting with someone on something personal is so powerful. They were hooked.

Upon reading their new friends’ letters they immediately judged the Spanish level of their friends and had lots of cool comments.

  • Wow, my girl is smart. Her Spanish is amazing.
  • Cool, we take the same classes.
  • She saw Maroon Five!
  • He likes to ski, too.
  • I cannot believe how many languages he speaks.

We used butcher paper to share out a bit what we had learned from our friends.

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Next steps:

My students want to continue to communicate with their friends in Asia. They originally said they wanted to Skype with their new friends but most were nervous about their Spanish ability and more were just nervous to meet someone new.  So, we are going answer their questions, react to what they wrote, ask more questions and share more about our lives.  We will do this by making a video. The video will give us a chance to alter the Spanish audio if needed.  We can add subtitles as well. Lastly, closer to the end of the school year, we will hold a few Hangout Sessions where students can jump in and meet their friends.  We are always open, however, to any idea our school in Singapore may have on the process.

Reflection:

So far I’ve been extremely happy with the project. My students have improved their Spanish, learned a bit about International Schools, and have started the process of making friends with kids 1/2 way around the world.  They have also learned a lot about GAFE. And, they have been completely engaged in the process. I was a bit frustrated at first because I came from school where many systems (blogs, GAFE, etc) were built in. I’m using a lot of tech with my kids that is brand new to them.  I’d love more collaboration throughout the building in terms of use of tech. I found myself using more English than normal when I am explaining some of the new technology.  Also, I was unsure about the editing process for their letters. I followed our DP rubric  (as far as a grade) but wanted them to have the best letter possible as their audience was much wider than just me. Some didn’t seem to care.  I was the one worried. I think I felt as if my students were an extension of me and I wanted to do a good job. I have to learn how to let my students be themselves while still providing enough guidance/español for them to be successful. I did correct some of the grammar in their letters even after they had “tried” to fix their mistakes.  I don’t think I would have been so worried if the audience had only been me.  After reading their buddies’ responses, I heard quite a few comments from my students as to wanting to do a better job next time. Most importantly, the message was more important to both groups than a proper conjugated verb. I’m looking forward to continuing with this unit/project.

 UbD Template

 

 

Voicethread for assessing language over time

After recently reading the Step by Step Guide to Global Collaboration, I was reminded of a project my students and I participated in years ago.  My 4th grade Spanish class in Colorado connected with a 4th grade class in Costa Rica.  Kids were paired together to create stories together using our wiki. As a way to get to know our buddies, we created a VoiceThread and my students talked about the others kids each student’s personal slide.

For example. Sammi’s favorite animal is a Lion or Carly’s favorite color is blue.

Lots of language practice while also building community.  We embedded the VT into our wiki and shared it with our amigos in Costa Rica.

DVE meets CDS (link to the VT if it doesn’t load)

Fast forward a few years.  Students are in 6th grade. I decided to use the initial VT to assess students language.  I added a current picture of the student and asked students to comment on each student as they did back in 4th grade.  Student loved seeing their previous pictures and listening to their voice samples. This year, I’m doing it again as this group (8th grade) moves to the high school next fall.  VT, already a fantastic collaborative tool, is also fantastic to capture growth over time. What tools are you using to track student growth (especially oral communication) over time? 

 

Twitter is my choice

In the last few days I have found 30 +  valuable Tweets containing content that I will use at some point in the next few weeks. Here are just a few of the resources that showed up in my Tweetdeck app that I have shared with colleagues.

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Día de los muertos                  Mi novio es un zombi             The Relevant Teacher

As good as Twitter is, I am still one of the only teachers that uses it in my District for Professional Development.  So, in order to share content/resources/connections, I have to use a listserve, an email or a  face-to-face conversation. Sure, it take another few steps to share out the content to teachers not on Twitter. However, we need to meet teachers where they are at the moment.

I like what AJ Julian writes in It’s OK for Teachers NOT to be on Twitter . “Twitter may not be for everyone.  There are other options that might be better for various reasons for others.”

I agree. I joined the MoreTPRS listserve almost 20 years ago and am still a member.  I never would have learned what I have about language acquisition and methodology without the inspiration and collaboration of this amazing network.  I have formed many friendships with these educators and look forward to seeing them in person at various conferences around the world.  I cannot yet claim the same for my Twitter relationships. For years many of these amazing language teachers were not yet on Twitter so I spent my Language Learning PD mostly on the MoreTPRS listserve (meeting them where they were). I used Twitter for more Tech, Leadership, and general Education topics.  Thankfully, many of these awesome language teachers are now on Twitter.

Yes,  let’s meet our teachers where they are but slowly sharing with them the power and ease of Twitter or Google + is a good thing, too.  I plan to give another little demo on the power of building your own PLN. Twitter will be the first tool I mention. If you are thinking of doing the same, here are a few resources you might want to use.
Twitter Handout

Twitter Infographic

Twitter 101 Presentation