Thursday, 9 August 2012

Final Project Entry

Language: French
Grade: 11
Unit: Love and relationships

Artifact 1: Mixpod

I've included songs about love in this Mixpod that can be found in the right sidebar.  I could use this tool to preview listening exercises for love songs.  For example before a listening exercise, I could tell students to listen to the songs beforehand at home.  During my practicum I did ask students to find a french song and post it on my blog.  I could have used Mixpod to make a playlist for them.  This would also be a great playlist for quiet classroom work.  I could see Mixpod as a great tool to introduce students to the French music scene and to French culture.

Artifact 2: Wallwisher

I signed up for Wallwisher and created a wall that contains brainstorming and responses to the question: "What is love?" I think the URL capabilities in Wallwisher are very useful and students can enhance their thoughts with links and material from the internet.  Of course, it is very likely that students will fool around on the wall as I have simulated.  Clear instructions and criteria should make Wallwisher and other similar tools easier on classroom management.  Wallwisher would also be useful for debates.  If the teacher led a debate on the topic of relationships, students could add stickies with their opinion.  The teacher could group their opinions with other similar opinions and or put them in a scale.  This would make debates meaningful and students can always refer back to their argument which is on the screen.

Artifact 3: Quizlet

I made a sample Quizlet with a few vocabulary words related to the theme of relationships.  I could do quick quizzes in class with Quizlet and the students could study them at home.  I've also noticed that when students look up a word in the dictionary, they don't write it down for future reference so they forget the words they looked up.  A quick way for each student to build their own "dictionary" is to have them enter words into Quizlet as they find them or learn them.  Hopefully, they will reduce the time they spend looking up a word over and over again.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Response: BYOB

I am in complete agreement with this article.  The concern that would be predominant for most teachers would most likely be the texting that could occur.  An approach that seemed to work for others was to have the students place their cellphones on the desk so the teacher could see them.  For them, it was better to have the cellphones as an open part of the classroom rather than something the students would hide under the desk.  I really like the idea of using the devices that students would bring to class to help them learn and to save teachers time.  In thinking about this further, I've realised that if a teacher or a professor was engaging and used teaching practices that worked, even if I tried to distract myself with technology, I would feel like I was missing out.  I was almost distracted from distracting myself because the teaching was so exciting.  If we combine excitement, a meaningful integration of technology, and reflective teaching, we can become triple threat teachers.

Embed - Aug. 8 - Prezi

I've embedded a revamped version of Prezi lesson I did for my practicum.  The original version didn't have a path put in it so I could navigate it more like an overhead.  This version has more zooms in it.  Making this prezi did get me thinking about how to reduce zooming.  It seems like Prezi overzooming   happens less from intentionally zooming, and more from just plunking down elements and putting in a path without being aware of how the Prezi will move from one element to another.  In this Prezi, I aimed for visual motifs that would enhance understanding of the grammar concept, which was the comparative and superlative.  I think Prezi is a valuable tool that I still would like to use in my teaching.  However, I will strive to use it more meaningfully and to put more design effort into the presentations so they have a more positive impact.

Response: Powerpoint

This article was very important for me, because I have been reflecting on my use of Powerpoint and other information delivery devices during my practicum.  The author points out that powerpointlessness may stem from the delivery of the presentation or the Powerpoint presentation itself.  In some cases, maybe both.  Powerpoint seems to be the fastest way to get information to students and along with many other educators I did not have enough time for students to obtain the information in class, themselves, in other ways.  I used Prezi quite heavily, and I found that I overused the zoom function and became a bit zoom-happy to the chagrin of my students.  However since I used Prezi to showcase one word or more at a time, it really helped students remember certain points.  On the other hand, I wonder if I have become dependent on these information delivery devices.  As my school advisor said, a teacher worth their weight in gold needs only a piece of chalk and a chalkboard.  In that vein, I need to be aware of this so that I don't lean on technology in ways that make me become complacent.

Embed - Aug. 7 - Google collaboration

I've embedded a Google doc, a Google Powerpoint slide presentation, and a Google form.  I think these are great tools for students collaborate for group work.  Google collaboration capabilities also make collaboration between teachers easier.  For example, if I was co-teaching with someone, working together to come up with lesson plans, and other documents would be easy.  I also really like the chat feature on Google docs.  If teachers could share and collaborate on Google Powerpoint they could share their slides and collaborate that way.  Finally, I really like the idea of using a Google form to poll students.  Instead of me looking at the data myself, Google form organizes it for me.  Now this makes me feel like daily assessment of where students are at is possible!

Friday, 3 August 2012

Response: Collaborative Projects

I am really glad that this topic was addressed.  I have been part of many attempts at creating online learning communities and student-motivated sharing.  In all instances, the attempts fell flat.  One of the reasons for these failures was clunkyness of the technological platform.  I am sure that there are more user-friendly community learning platforms out there for teachers to find and I am excited to discover and use them!  I am particularly interested in the author's discussion of genuine interdependence.  I wonder if there are tools available that can identify how much students participated to an online product, like a blog entry or comment has a student's name on it.  This could keep students accountable.  On the other hand, I wonder if the term "genuine interdependence" is referring more to students relying on each other instead of eliminating students contributing less than their group members.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Embed - August 2: Scoopit!

I found Scoopit! very attractive and easy to use.  It seems like when you start to scoop, it's hard to stop.  As I reflected back on my practicum and how I shared resources with my students, I glossed over them very quickly.  Perhaps content curation and resource sharing needs to be addressed explicitly in the classroom.  As many of us were surprised to discover, many students have poorer internet searching skills that we expected and may not be able to find quality tools on their own time.  With entire classes sharing resources in class, students may be motivated to use these resources at home.  Therefore, not only do students need to be introduced to tools such as these, explicit sharing and featuring of certain scoops may be necessary.  Content curation on Scoopit! also led to thoughts on creating authentic learning communities.  It seems like for this to occur online, collaboration and sharing needs to be fast, fun, and easy.  I will definitely try to use Scoopit! and other tools to strive for that.

Embed - Aug. 1: Audacity

I've embedded a sample "radio show" podcast created using Audacity.  It has 20 seconds of my voice and part of a French rap song in it.  I think podcasts are a useful tool and can motivate students.  However, after I recorded a podcast myself, I started to wonder if it exacerbates or makes obvious differences in student oral proficiency levels.  I think that in subject where most students are using English, it might be easier.  In FSL, students might have pronounciation issues.  On the other hand, podcasts could motivate them to improve their pronounciation.  Scaffolding with Audioboo may be a good idea to ease students into podcasting.  I can use podcasting in many ways in the classroom.  I can create a radio show as I did in this podcast.  To lighten workload, I could also collaborate with the other teachers in the school and have teachers of different subject areas each week talking about an idea that students had difficulty with or tough questions students asked them.  (e.g. How to pronounce "r" in French, Why do we need to learn math anyway?, What would have happened if Severus Snape went back in time and assassinated Hitler?)

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Response: Content curation

I found the article well organized and reflective.  However, at the end of it, I still was not sure what content curation actually was.  This is the first time I've heard of this term.  I knew that curators at museums interpreted a museum's collections and would be involved in putting displays together for the public.  In that vein I guessed that content curation in education involved teachers interpreting content for students.  I looked some examples online of content curation on Pinterest and others and it seemed more like content sharing. I think I have an idea of what content curation for a History 12 course might look like, but I'm not too sure what it would look like for a FSL classroom.  My last thought was that if content curation is interpreting information and displaying it for students, it sounds exactly like when teachers deliver content in their classrooms using Powerpoint, notes, the textbook, and other lesson delivery devices.  In other words, for all of teachable subjects, a 75 min. lesson block is made up mostly of this content sharing.  I'm wondering if this will replace that.

Response: Podcasts

A fellow teacher candidate did talk about podcasting before as a teaching resource, but I find the idea of student-produced podcasts very exciting.  Now that I think about it, having students record their voices keeps them accountable and they are very conscious of the quality of their work.  I felt the same thing when I recorded myself teaching or when I screencasted in this class.  There is something powerful in hearing your own voice being played back to you.  I thought of a similar medium in terms of this kind of accountability, which would be video where students would see themselves as well as hear themselves. Video requires more planned elements such as blocking, camera angles, and other techniques and it is also more time-consuming.  Podcasting can be a better alternative to videos.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Embed - July 31: Polyvore

I've embedded a set I've created on Polyvore.  Students could use these as inspiration to write dialogues.  For example, they could have two characters in the dialogue: the customer and the shop employee.  They could also use the set for a writing exercise on description and use of adjectives.  Another possibility is to have the students describe the set and have the class draw some items according to the description.  I like the idea of analysing characterization.  A variation of this could be a set and the students have to describe the personality of the person wearing it.

Response: Online translators

It's interesting that after I mentioned online translators in my last post, that we are looking at online translators today.  However, after further thought, online translators can operate as sophisticated dictionaries.  If students attempt to rely on a translator to do their work for them and plug in complex sentences, the translator most likely will not translate properly.  I think that online translators is one of the first issues to be addressed in an L2 classroom.  Once in my practicum, I did discover that a student used a translator.  It was mostly correct except for a handful of very awkward words.  The level of the French I saw was also beyond that student's ability level.  Now I wonder if the student found someone to translate it for her.  Either way, it was obvious and I had her rewrite the assignment for me in class.  I also noticed that the spacing between letters and the odd placement of periods made me suspicious.  That student was meticulous and would never put in strange periods and spaces like that.  Once again, I'm wondering if there is a technological solution to this besides having the students write in class with pen and paper.  It seemed like even if my SA and I were clear about online translators, they would still try to use it anyway thinking that we wouldn't notice.  The most frustrated person in the end would still be the teacher.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Embed - July 30: E-mags

I didn't know that so many e-mags would be available for free and in high quality!  I've embedded a volume of the e-mag «Clap!».  I could use this particular magazine for an in-class exercise or for homework.  I do agree that magazines are more visual and this particular magazine is quite visually attractive.  The students would be interested in the pop culture content in the magazine as well.  The articles can be very short and can be used as prompts for writing.  This would be particularly useful as a resource paired to many resource packages that schools buy such as Ça Marche! and On y Va that have units with themes on film and TV shows.  It would be a great way to supplement a textbook with more current content.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Response: Reading in the L2 classroom

I thought the article was very practical.  I appreciated the reminder from the article that students need to be reading different kinds of texts and that aren't always storing information in paragraphs.  I also liked the reading exercises that we could make quickly to help students with their reading skills.  My question is then how we would integrate technology into this area.  Technology does enable us to share text from the Internet with our students (e.g. blogs, websites).  However, if I did assign reading a webpage for homework, it is highly possible for students to Google Translate it.  During my practicum I did come across this problem and a teacher's solution for this was to do everything in class the old school way with dictionaries and paper.  Of course, there is nothing wrong with the pen and paper approach and we do not need to forcibly include technology in areas such as these.  However, it is true that student productions created with the aid of technology are easier to mark and students learn a great deal from online dictionaries as well.  I'm hoping that there is an online tool that could help with that.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Embed - July 26: Culture through music - La Fouine

In this post I have embedded a quietubed version of La Fouine's Tomber Pour Elle and included a link to the lyrics.  
I used this song as a listening exercise in my class, but if I were to talk about culture, I could ask them them to pick out words relevant to that.  References to the RER, the apostrophed words, and the slang would expose them to other aspects of French culture.  When I showed this clip in class, many of my students were surprised that the artist and the people in the video were not all European.  Just seeing a wider view of francophone identity can be beneficial in itself. 

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Response: Culture in the L2 classroom

I liked the article in the sense that it raised a lot of questions and avoided presenting a narrower view of culture in the classroom.  One of the most important questions it raised that is closely related to FSL culture in the classroom is authenticity.  My highschool French teacher was amazing and I model much of my teaching after her style and techniques.  However, I still had a strong impression leaving highschool that "francité" was a man with a moustache, a baguette, a beret, and a striped shirt.  It is absolutely true that FSL teachers can do more for French cultural understanding.  Technology could definitely help in that regard, by giving students access to real live francophones or a wider variety of representations of francité.  Connecting with today's class on videos, this medium could definitely help students see francophones participating in culture through daily life and candid conversations.

Embed - July 25: Screencast

This is a screencast of part of a lesson explaining how to use passé composé and imparfait in a sentence.  I used Prezi and background music to make the video smoother.  I could use screencasting in many ways in my practice.  I could post lessons on difficult concepts that students ask about so that they can review it as many times as they would like at home.  This creates easily accessible differentiation for students that need it.  I could also screencast videos for Social Studies as well where I could zoom in on historical images or military maps and deconstruct the image or explain military movements.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Response: Video in the classroom

After reading the article by Canning-Wilson, it seemed like most of it was pointing out that there was no scientific study-proven evidence that video helps with language learning.  Later on in the article, the author does list benefits that videos can bring to L2 classrooms.  There seems to be contradiction in the article content in that respect.  This does bring up the idea of how much our teaching practices, especially that of technology integration, should be based on research.  Though it difficult to actually implement action research projects in classrooms, much of teacher practice and experimentation can be considered scientific and based on hypotheses and tests, even if most of it is anecdotal.

In another vein, I do think about the visual "crutch" quite a bit.  It is difficult to find age-appropriate content for students, especially for the highschool FSL classroom.  Videos seem to be a go-to source.  One way to circumvent this potential problem is to brief the students on the content, show only the audio component, and then show the visual component to check to see how drastically the comprehension differs in each stage.  That will be a method that I will try in September.

Embed - July 24: Audioboo

This is an excerpt from a song by Québécois artist Coeur de Pirate.  The students could listen to the song first and then listen to the spoken version I've recorded in order to scaffold their listening.  

I like this tool very much!  During my practicum, I found that a lot of the recordings used in the listening exercises were too difficult for my students to follow.  The language was too high-level and it was annoying for the students to have every other word rewinded.  I modified it by reading the scripts myself and modifying on the spot.  This was not very efficient, since with a recording a teaching could do administrative tasks while the class did the exercise.  Tools like Audioboo could enable me to record a modified version of the script where I could insert fun sound effects and music.  The students would be more engaged and I could finish other tasks at the same time.  Also, students could record their own dialogue and self-evaluate their own French.  It might take some getting used to, but it would be a powerful tool.  Parents could also hear recorded versions of their children's oral French improving as the school year progresses. 

Monday, 23 July 2012

Response: Listening strategies

I was quite excited to read this article on L2 learning, since I haven't read much from the area in my
courses as I would've liked.  The strategy-based theory is interesting, and it seems like the osmosis approach to language teaching is still out there.  It may look like application of the "osmosis" philosophy but it may also be teachers not knowing where to start teaching listening.  Looking back on my practice so far, it was interesting that teaching grammar and writing was quite strategy-based, but listening was not.  The students were supposed to "just do it".  I'm curious as to how we can use technology to teach strategy-based learning.  I have used French songs in class, but it would be great to hear about other tools and resources as well.