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Archive for the ‘World Languages’ 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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“If we teach today like we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.”

John Dewey

“True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.”

by Socrates

Challenges are good for us, even if we don’t always want to admit it.  For this reason I am thankful for the 30 Goals Challenge. I am thankful for the goals, ideas, and reflections that have all been a part of this. If I am to take this experience seriously, then I can’t ignore this challenge, a global communications challenge, one that I haven’t actively attacked as a World Language teacher. Sounds like a given, huh? It’s not as easy as it seems.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that one of my duties as a World Language teacher is to show my students a glimpse into the world outside their immediate community, outside of their direct sphere of experience. That knowledge will hopefully help them understand other peoples and perhaps themselves a bit more.

Making that actual connection, however, with the global community is a big step. It’s finding the connection, finding a means with which to communicate from both ends, dealing with time differences, school district red tape, etc. There’s a lot to do, lot of hurdles that I haven’t even tried to jump. So, when posed with the challenge of actual global communication my response is: but, umm…

So, once again, I would like to thank Shelly Terrell and the 30 Goals Challenge for posing this to us.  It’s not just that the challenge brings to the forefront something that I have been shoving to the bottom of the pile. It’s that the challenge also provides us with examples and resource ideas to start from.  My first step: start exploring these resources. My end goal: providing my students the opportunity to communicate with someone across the globe.

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