Tech Talk Workshop – FFLA 2015

Along with my dear colleague, Maria Dona-Morice, I had the pleasure to give a workshop at our annual Florida Foreign Language Association Conference in Saint Augustine, Florida.

FFLA 2015 Annual Conference

FFLA 2015 Annual Conference

In this workshop, participants learned more about various ways to incorporate technology in their World Language courses. Some of the materials presented: Educreations, Oculus Rift, NearPod, and many more!

I am sharing our presentation below hoping it can give you some ideas to use these great tools in your course. Enjoy!

Tech Talk Workshop – FFLA 2015

Oculus Magicus

Oculus_Rift_development_kit_2

This is how they look

Magic comes to class when you pull out those bulky, cool, trendy Oculus Rift. As soon as I found out that we got two of those in my school, I knew that I had to use them in class. It turns out that it can be a great tool for the Foreign Language course, and many ideas come to mind as to how they could be implemented in the classroom, so here I am sharing it with you!

But, first things first, some of you may have never heard about this. What are the Oculus Rift? According to their Website, the Oculus Rift is a new virtual reality headset that lets players step inside their favorite games and virtual worlds. A gamer’s dream, as you may think, but what about a learning motivator to add some spark to your course?

Certainly, the Oculus have plenty of potential. In my case, I have decided to make them become my own “language lab”. Since I do not have a language lab close to my room, I think that this tool could be a good temporary solution.

It is quite easy to start using them. Check out this link for a step by step explanation.

Tuscany Demo

Tuscany Demo

The Oculus come in with a Demo. In my case, I had the Tuscany Demo already on them. I have not downloaded any other game yet, but I am sure that there is a world of possibilities out there if  you decide to go over the options provided in their system.

So, given that this is a house and you get to walk in it, what can we do with it in the Foreign Language class? You got it, house vocabulary, prepositions, directions! That’s what I did.

When wearing the Rift, you can turn and look around, but you cannot walk. In order to do so you must use the keyboard in your computer. So, I used this to my advantage requiring students to indicate the directions they wanted to go to next. Yes, an excellent way to apply the command tense (L’impératif) and prepositions. This is how I proceeded:

1. Teaching the impératif.

2. Reviewing prepositions.

3. Reviewing the parts of the house.

4. Multiple exercises in class prior to using the Oculus.

5. Oculus listening and speaking!

* Since I only have 1 oculus, I made sure that my other students had exercises to work on while I was conducting the speaking assignments.

In #5 these were the requirements (all in the target language, obviously):

1. Students describe the scene.

2. Students respond to teacher’s questions: Where are you? Do you like it? How is the weather? What is to your left? What is in front of you? etc.

3. Students direct the teacher to wherever they want to get to in the scene.

4. Toward the end of their experience, student locates an item in the house.

5. Student explains to next student how to get to the item that he located (scavenger hunt type of way)

6. Next student tries to find the object and confirms with previous student if it was the item that he had selected for the “scavenger hunt”.

Note: When using this demo, I highly advise you to limit each student’s intervention to a maximum of 4 minutes. Most of us (including myself) get motion sick after 4 or 5 minutes. I do not know if this happens with all games in the Oculus, but this is my experience with the Tuscany Demo. Also, please make sure that you tell students to let you know if they want to stop at any time if they are feeling sick.

Do you want to see it in action? Check out this video created by my favorite Educational Technologist, Lee Howell, and check out her blog here.

And you, have you ever used the Oculus Rift in your class? If so, what did you do with them? If not, how would you like to use them? Please, share and comment below.

Have a wonderful, oculus magicus lesson!

Let’s GoAnimate!

GoAnimate is an excellent tool for almost anything! This site has a lot of potential. I am so glad that my school got a membership! The options are just unlimited…

Click on the image. It will direct you to GoAnimate's site.

This year I decided to use GoAnimate in both my 6th grade Spanish and French classes. We are currently reading a very fun and engaging TPRS book: Noches misteriosas en la Alhambra/Nuits mystérieuses à Lyon written by Kristy Placido and published by TPRS Publishing – totally recommended, find it here.

So… this book leads to a lot of projects! My students are thoroughly enjoying it. Last year I used the free version of GoAnimate. It is great, since students can create mini project with cute characters for free. But, the paid version is obviously better. With the paid version there are more character and movement options and, the best part, students can create longer movies.

We are currently in the chapter 3 of the novel. I wanted my students to review the vocabulary and events of the story while at the same time showcase some creativity. Therefore, the requirements for this project were to summarize one chapter’s event and creating an alternate chapter. I gave students a document with the following instructions:

You will be creating a long video in GoAnimate in which you will summarize the events that take place in the chapters read so far in our class novel. You can choose to just represent one chapter or more than one BUT you must also include a continuation made up by you. This continuation is the most creative part since only in this section you will not be following the events that actually happen in the novel, you will be making up your own!

You will have one day in class to write your script, another day to be trained on the tool, and three days to work on the project. Once done, do not forget to publish it!

This assignment is due on Monday, March 10th.

Please see the rubric for more information.

So, as you can see, I made sure to scaffold the process:

– Script creation.

– Tool training.

– Project development.

I cannot stress enough the importance of this scaffolding practice. Students tend to get lost in the technology. And GoAnimate leads even more to this ¨lost in the technology¨ situation. The tool is very appealing to students: the colors, movements, and little accessories that they can add are just countless. It is almost like a game for them. The teacher must make sure that students work on the nitty gritty first, this is, the content; later on they can get lost and play with the little cartoons, colors, and accessories.

I am sharing my rubric with you. Please feel free to modify it: GOANIMATE_PROJECT_RUBRIC.

Pros of this tool:

Versatility. This site can be used for almost anything! All you need is imagination. Examples: students projects such as creative writing in any course, even math, government or history class; flipped classroom, created by teachers or students; listening exercises or tests, perfect for language courses. Can you think of any other option? Please post it in the comments field under this post entry.

Audio. Students can record their voices. This is a feature that I specially value in my Foreign Language course since it can be used kind of like a language lab.

Feedback. Students have the option to comment on each other’s projects. You could make this a class activity. I assigned it for homework. They had to watch at least one project and then comment on it in Spanish/French.

User friendly. Very easy to used. If you are not too techy, no worries. Check out this tutorial.

Cons of this tool: Very few, but there are some cons:

Game appeal. Students may get overexcited and may start playing with the cartoons instead of focusing on the content. This con can easily be fixed. All this takes is extra monitoring from the teacher, and scaffolding, scaffolding, scaffolding! Provide due dates and grades per due date so that students are forced to follow your deadlines.

Audio issues. This always happens, not just with GoAnimate but with any tool that has an audio feature. The problem is not as much the website but the student’s computer: their microphone may not work, they may not have Flash installed, they may be using the wrong browser, etc. The good news is GoAnimate has an excellent customer service line so, if problems arise, you can always contact them and they will work on their end in order to fix the problem.

Lastly, I would like to share some of my students projects with you! They are outstanding and very fun, they are so creative and engaged. GoAnimate is a treat, for students and educators alike.

GoAnimate in Spanish here!

GoAnimate in French here!

Draw My Life in ELE and FLE

As you may know, there is a ¨Draw My Life¨ trend in YouTube. It consists of recording a video of your life while drawing in a whiteboard. It’s quite cool and entertaining. Obviously, most of your students most likely have heard about this (my 6th graders all knew about it before me!)

Students drawing

Student recording

So, I wanted to create something similar in my class. We have not     learned past tense yet in 6th grade so talking about their lives may       have been too hard for their level. Instead, I had them create a story (creative writing in the target language). In this story they       had to use vocabulary and structures previously learned in the course. Creativity is always highly encouraged! Also, it was required to integrate some cultural aspects of their ¨country of adoption¨. This is, their Hispanic/Francophone country that they are assigned at the beginning of the school year in my class. Students had first to research  about some cultural characteristic that they would later incorporate in the storyline.

Students using Imovie

The story creation was the first section of the project. While doing this, students were not aware yet of what they were going to do with their story afterwards. I do not want for them to get distracted with technology, so I gave them a few days to create their own, personal story in the target language. I shared a rubric with them to make clear my expectations for this part of the assignment: Writing_RUBRIC

Once the story was completed and graded by me, I explained the Draw My Life idea. I gave them the option to use index cards, some students are more technological than others, so I differentiated and made sure that each student was in their comfort zone. I also shared a rubric with them, you can find it here.

And the results were, as usual, outstanding! All students were on task, enjoying every minute of the assignment. They were helping each other record and they were proud with the final result, so was I!

Check out these links to find some examples of the projects that my 6th graders beautifully completed for our World Language Class. Enjoy!

In Spanish:  http://vimeo.com/81144850 and http://vimeo.com/81144849

In French: http://vimeo.com/81144851 and http://vimeo.com/81144852

Narrable your stories

Narration and storytelling are key components of my course. When I found Narrable I could not wait to use it. Not only it is a very user friendly tool but it is ideal for storytelling. What really excited me was the fact that it is all based on pictures and audio. Great opportunity to teach Creative Commons usage, and to practice speaking skills in my Foreign Language class.

First off, I created three Word Documents including the rubric, a cheat sheet, and instructions on how to use images from the Web. Please find these documents below:

NARRABLE RUBRIC

NARRABLE cheat sheet

USING IMAGES

I tried to make sure that students had a clear and neat instruction about what they were expected to do. As usual, I also did my best to make sure that they would work on their story line and ideas BEFORE working with the technology tool. Very often students just want to jump into technology. When this happens the project might look beautiful and really techy, but the body of the project is missing. I make sure that I stress the importance of having a well structured story. This is what I asked them to complete at the top of the Narrable Rubric document.

Narrable is quite an easy tool to use. Additionally, it is free! However, in the free version you can only create a maximum of 5 projects. This was not an issue for me, I just made sure that I told the students. Projects are very easy to delete, so whenever they created too many that were just drafts they could easily delete them in order to remain in the free version. I think that this is a great tool for Foreign Language courses. Narrable becomes a mini language lab.

Once they completed the assignment they had to embed it in Schoology. This way students were able to see each other’s projects, and even comment on them.

Another very important thing that we learned with this project was how to use and cite online images. Our wonderful Educational Technologist, Lee Howell, shared these with us:

Easybib – It creates MLA Citation automatically!

CC Search Engine – We won’t be using Google Images as an image search engine any longer. From now on, students will have the habit of accessing this great site, and selecting the engine from there. The CC site filters the Creative Common licensed images. It offers convenient access to search services provided by other independent organizations.

Here are some of the beautiful Narrables that my students came up with. Enjoy!

Spanish 1 Example 1

Spanish 1 Example 2

Francais 1 Example 1

Francais 1 Example 2

Metablogging

I blog, therefore I reflect.

A blog is a reflection. But what about reflecting about blogging? Why should we blog?

As professionals, learners, knowledge enthusiasts and digital citizens, blogging opens a new world for us. That is why I decided to think about my blogging. And, in the process, I found some interesting resources that helped me put my thoughts together.

bloggingBecause, as Lorelle estates:

“Your blog is your unedited version of yourself.”

and…

“Yes, blogging is entertainment. It is performance. Each blog post a show, sometimes an opera, sometimes a 30 second commercial. Like a show, it may start with a bang, lead you along from song to song, have a great climatic moment, then leave the audience wanting more.”

Picture attribution: Licht, NotionsCapital.com, Mike. Rosie the Blogger. 2007. Photograph. Flickr. Yahoo!, 14 May 2008. Web. 18 Apr. 2013.

Lorelle, what an excellent resource of never-ending information! http://lorelle.wordpress.com/

But, what really summarizes what I consider to be the key components of teacher blogging is beautifully explained in Henrietta’s wonderful Prezi. Thanks Henrietta!

http://prezi.com/fvspygmjnhov/why-should-teachers-blog/

Why blogging? Blogging to become better educators, to improve our practices, to reflect on our approaches, to share, to showcase our classroom, and to provide a better educational experience day after day, year after year. Blogging rocks!

Global Connections – The World in the Classroom

La Francophonie is one of my favorite celebrations. It is global, diverse, and Francophone! That is why every year I incorporate a lesson plan to commemorate the spread of the Francophone language and culture around the world.Francophonie 3

This year, my students became the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie. This institution actually exists; find out more about it clicking here 

So since this Institution is real, and the Francophonie is also a real event that is actually celebrated all around the world, I decided to make my class become a mock Francophonie Organization.

Students were divided by departments; Communications, Marketing, PR/Events, Cultural Diversity, President, and Vice President.

Each department had a different task. While PR was in charge of organizing the entire week of events, Communications was responsible for the creation and maintenance of our Website and blog: Website , Blog.

On the other hand, the Cultural Diversity team was in charge of researching the cultural and linguistic diversity of the Francophone Countries, while Marketing made sure to advertise the events through posters and banners, and the President and Vice President prepared their speeches, and oversaw the entire project approving/disapproving the events proposed.

Francophonie 1

This project takes a lot of supervision from the teacher, taking into account that it involves a very large group of students. I provided due dates for the different tasks. Please check them here. Providing the kids with a checklist was also critical (even if some of them didn’t really use it). I should maybe provide a grade for its completion next time, since I consider that it really keeps them better organized. Please check it out here.

I created a different rubric for each department, since each department had different tasks. Here they are:

Cultural Diversity Rubric

Communications Rubric

Events Rubric

Marketing Rubric

President/VP Rubric

This was an amazing project. Students loved it. They learned to work independently, cooperatively, and in a real-life situation. Most of my students are very business oriented, so this assignment helped them understand how a business works in the adult world; you need to be organised, responsible, and adapt to last minute changes.

I am very proud of my students. The event came out wonderfully  and we achieved one of my main goals: to promote the French language and Francophone world.