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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

The next school year is about to begin. While sad to say good-bye to the summer vacation, it’s still exciting to see what the new year will bring.  Before our students walk through our classroom doors, there’s a good deal of front-end preparation and planning that we all do. Struggling with technology is not something that anyone looks forward to at this time.  Here are some tips to avoid some of those struggles and help us along the way:

  1. At the beginning of the year don’t try every tech tool that you might have read about or someone told you about. Pick something you feel confident that you’ll use. When you and your students are comfortable using that tool, then try adding something else.
  2. Practice using any tech tool before you plan on using it in the classroom. You never know what problems you might encounter: blocked sites, incompatible software, login issues, tool too complicated for age-level of the user.
  3. Remember that not only are you teaching your respective target language, but you need to teach your students how to use the tool as well.
    1. When working with a new tool that you plan on using for performance assessments, introduce that tool in a smaller assignment to give them experience.
    2. We want the language to be the product, not the technology. We don’t want them to fail because of complications with that technology.
  4. Integrate technology in your lesson planning process, not as an occasional activity.
  5. Some students don’t have the same access to the internet and other tech tools at home. Make sure that there is enough class time available to get these types of assignments done at school.
  6. Technology should always remain a tool and support instruction, not a toy and not the focus of instruction itself. Before using one, ask yourself how this helps your students meet your learning targets.
  7. Always have a backup plan. Technology can sometimes fail. Having a backup plan can save the day and prevent loss of instructional time.
  8. Have a web site. Use what your school provides or try out Google (free). Use this as a place to keep parents informed: Standards, learning targets, unit overviews, important dates, your schedule, links to other sites, policies, class newsletter, etc.
  9. Develop a personal learning network (PLN). Use twitter! There are so many teachers using twitter as professional development and collaboration tool. You’ll be able to learn, ask questions, and share with fellow educators all over the world! Search for the following world language related hashtags: #flteach, #langchat. There are more, but these can get you started. Visit https://twitter.com.
  10. Find educational blogs to follow. These can provide ideas and inspiration. Here are some ideas:
    1. http://mmeduckworth.blogspot.com
    2. http://langwitches.org/blog/
    3. http://zachary-jones.com/zambombazo/
    4. http://community.actfl.org/ACTFL/Blogs/ViewBlogs/
    5. http://teacherbootcamp.edublogs.org/
    6. http://marisaconstantinides.edublogs.org/
    7. http://languagesresources.wordpress.com/
    8. http://deutschlich.wordpress.com/

Why might you put this time and effort into something that’s not the target language or culture itself? Because this is where our students are today. This is the culture in which they are growing up. This is their language and we need to speak it as well. Not only will we identify more with our students, but we can benefit from the world of technology. World language teachers are often isolated (singletons) in their respective buildings. Technology can bring us connections like never before. Through these connections we can become stronger, better informed, and never really alone.

 

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“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

Plato

Today’s 30 Goals goal is “Leave it Behind.  Make a list of ways you can leave your stress behind and not carry it with you into the classroom. To take this a step further, try one of these stress relievers today and share the experience with us.”

I read today’s goal and laughed to myself. This is something that those around me have been after me to better work on for so long!  For 15 years I was a single-parent and worked full-time. To be everything that my child needed, my students needed, my building needed, and that life demanded was more a heavy burden that I was struggling to carry than part of a journey.  Over the last couple of years, I’ve taken a closer look at that journey and made some gradual changes. Let me emphasize that these are gradual changes and that the journey continues…

  • Family. When it comes down to it family lasts longer than our students, our curriculum, our administration, our buildings. They are our foundation. Give them a hug before you leave for work every day and tell them how much you love them. My new husband keeps me in check with this every day. J
  • Prayer or meditation. Open you heart and mind at the beginning of each day to set your focus and remind you of what’s really important.
  • Walk. Walk to relieve the stress, lower the blood pressure, get your blood flowing and stimulate your brain activity.
  • Reflect. Reflect on your day – your day with your students, your class successes and failures, your choices, your direction.
  • Collaborate and Refuel.  Find your PLN! If not at your school or even your District, try online. There are so many out there and I am thankful for all those that all me to lurk, participate, or both.  See this link for information on Personal Learning Networks.

I am not perfect at implementing all of these as regularly as I should or you may even think, but I have seen the positive effects that they all bring: positive for my students, my health, me career, and my family. I’m still on the journey and wish to thank all those that have helped me!

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