Wednesday, January 14, 2015

How to Have Success with Projects: Bitstrips Edition

license
You know how projects can sometimes seem overwhelming? Too much work to set up? Kids don't perform as well as you'd hoped? I can't say that all of my projects are runaway successes every time, but I've found that using the right tool and the right processes can make them more meaningful for students. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Low-tech, high-interest

World Bank Photo Collection license
Sometimes a pencil and a partner are more effective teaching tools than the newest app or the sleekest device. I was reminded of this at ACTFL in San Antonio this past November, when I went to a session called Challenging Students: Learning Language Through Discovery. (There wasn't a handout per se, as far as I know, but you can access my notes here.) It was one of my favorite sessions, because the presenters used activities in Mandinka and Mandarin to show us how we, as students, could figure out language concepts on our own. The activities were engaging, memorable, fun and made me feel like I had achieved something. So of course I immediately began thinking of how I could integrate this into my classes.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Anti-Homework

Photo credit: Daniel Go license
When I was an impressionable newbie teacher, a world language educator I highly respect told me that students needed daily homework in order to facilitate language acquisition. For years, I would assign homework out of workbooks (fill in the blank, choose the right word, matching, multiple choice, crosswords, word searches, ad infinitum) because I truly believed that those assignments helped students learn the language.

Can you guess where this is going?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Master Twitter in 5 Steps

Photo credit: Karola Riegler

Is this you? 
You’ve joined Twitter. You’re following a few people. Your profile picture may or may not be an egg. You’ve even tweeted a couple of times. But you’re wondering what all the fuss is about. 
Or maybe this is you? You’ve joined Twitter and you’ve found tons of interesting people and ideas. But there is just way too much information. You can’t keep track of the stuff you want to know more about.
If either of these scenarios sounded familiar, you’ve probably begun the process of building your PLN (see this post I wrote back in September), but you want guidance about how to make it extraordinary, transformative and--most importantly--personalized for you and your needs. Here’s how to master Twitter in five steps.

Monday, October 27, 2014

You Should Read...

Cover image from Amazon.com
Building a Better Teacher, by Elizabeth Green
@elizwgreen

My teacher bookshelf is, to use the words of an educator I admire, too often "aspirational." It's rare that I find the time and inclination to read books on teaching when I'm working hard at it ten or twelve hours every weekday (and several hours on weekends too). But this book made me go "Yes!" and "Huh!" and "How?" and "Finally!" many, many times as I read it. In short, it's worth it, and I think all educators should read it immediately. Here are four reasons why.

Monday, September 29, 2014

New School Year Resolution: Build a PLN

Photo: DafneCholet via Flickr
In August and September, many educators make resolutions for the new school year. They resolve to try a new instructional practice, integrate a new technological device or program, or refresh their classrooms with new decor. Some of these resolutions last all year; some fizzle out by October. But there is one resolution that can keep your teaching fresh all year long, for many years to come: building a PLN.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Cell phones during exams? YES!

All of my Spanish II and III students used cell phones on their final exams this year. And I was so proud of them!

They had been using their cell phones (specifically, QR code scanning apps like this one) all semester to access listening and reading resources. I wrote an earlier post about the benefits of doing this. The final exam, of course, had a hefty interpretive proficiency section as well as speaking and writing prompt, so the students were really just continuing to do what they had been doing for months in class.