Sunday, March 3, 2013

This is it....this is me!

Well, it seems another Wilke's course has come to an end.  This was an outstanding course.  I finally feel like I have walked away with some great resources that I will use in my classroom.  For our final project, we were to create a digital portfolio about ourselves.  I took some time and tried out the sites recommended in the course, but in the end I went with  For me, it had the easiest features to use and I like the final page layout the best.  Connecting the provided apps was easy.  I did have to search around a bit to include other sites that are important to me.

With the links I connected, you really do get a good sense of who I am and what matters most to me.  Why not take a look?

Gracias por esta experiencia.

Now that was awkward...

As my 9 year old son loves to point out to me, when things just don't seem right he considers them to be awkward.  That is the feeling I had hosting my first Webinar. 

I started by creating an account on the site:  USTREAM.  As this was my first attempt at doing something like this, I chose not to create it through my Facebook or Twitter as I wasn't sure what it would then do to those accounts.  I watched a couple other live broadcasts that were running at the time and then made a few samples of my own.  I am definitely meant to be live, as in in-person, and not live through video.  I can easily stand in front of a classroom of 30 or a crowd of 1600 and talk.  But for some reason, that little camera in front of me just does something to my nerves!

The first few videos I attempted were of various lengths and just were me babbling about anything.  It took me awhile to find how to play them back, but once I did I quickly found the delete button as well.  Once I felt I understood how it worked, I sent myself a sample e-mail and tried the link.  I got a little flustered with the commercials.  I was hoping not to have them, but then I would need to purchase into the program and I wasn't ready to do that. 

I decided to do a Webinar as a recap and an update of all that our youngest daughter has accomplished.  It was four years ago this week that we made the decision to adopt her from Honduras and began the legal proceedings.  I then set my date:  March 3 and time 5:00PM for my live webinar.  I sent out e-mails to every friend and family member so that they would have the link.   Here it is:

Hello, everyone!

So, for one of the courses I am taking during my year off, I have to create a Webinar. This is all very new to me, so for my first attempt, I am only going to share it with family and great friends I consider family.

At 5:00PM Eastern (2:00 on the West Coast), please click on this link:

to join in on my webinar. It will basically be a LIVE short presentation on Cesia Maria. It will only take a few minutes, so if you are able, please log in and enjoy! If you are not available at 5:00, it will be recorded so you will be able to see it later.

OH, there will be a short 30 second commercial to start. There is no way around that. Sorry!

Hope you are all well! Thank you in advance!


I then worked on a power point to use to show pictures of Cesia that we have received over the years from missionaries who had met her.  Many of these pictures were never seen by family members.  I then asked everyone in my home to log onto their device and see if they could connect to my webinar.  It took a little while, but everyone with a "newer" device got right on.  I was amazed to see that not only our desktop and laptops worked, but also our Ipad, Kindle, and smart phones.  It just proved how truly "accessible" things are. 

One of our biggest frustrations was that the majority of my viewers do not have Facebook or Twitter so they were not able to log on and make comments.  Until we ran the test runs, I wasn't aware of this.  Maybe if I were to have created this on a different program, this would not have been the case.  It did result in a lot of phone calls when we were all done!!!

I was able to see how many people I had viewing my webinar, but as the majority could not comment, I could not see who they were.  At no time did a name ever pop up anywhere.  With the webinar I attended earlier in the week, we were all able to see who was in attendance.

As for the actual presentation, it went as well as I had hoped, but definitely not professional quality!  First, I could not figure out a way to upload my powerpoint to UStream so I just placed my camera in front of the computer screen and advanced it as I read my script.  If I were to ever do this again, being able to upload a video or powerpoint or other presentation program would have to be a must!  Of course my 4 year old didn't take a nap today so she wasn't the most cooperative, but still as cute as ever!  I was able to record and save the Webinar so here it is:

Do I see myself using this in the classroom?  Possibly once we find a school in a Spanish speaking country to connect with, then absolutely yes!!!  I would think that the instant response and communication would be best!  Although there was a bit of a delay in the broadcast today, I do think this could be beneficial in this specific situation.  I've enjoyed the links in this lesson to see how students spoke directly with famous athletes or astronauts.  That is most definitely taking the learning out of the textbook!  I need to start working on some high-power contacts!!!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Attending my first Webinar

For this week's assignment, we were to attend a Webinar.  I chose:

Whatever happened to Joy?  Teaching in a Digital World  on

Discovery Education, Wednesday, February 27, 2013  4:30 – 5:30PM

Here are my reflections:

1.  What were the strengths and weaknesses of the show format?


To be honest, it was an amazing experience to attend such an informative session straight from the comfort of my home.  There I sat in front of my computer with my kids near me completing their homework.  I wasn’t sitting in some cold classroom in a tiny student desk trying to stay awake after a long day of work just thinking about how much I missed my family and wanting to hear about their days.  Not only did I benefit from this experience, but as my children got to listen in it led to some very interesting dinner discussion on what they really enjoyed about school. 


For a more professional response, it was really easy to follow the webinar.  The sound was clear and the presenter was extremely enthusiastic and “real” which captured my attention.  He spoke at a good pace.  He used a variety of notes, videos, links, etc. He was able to reach 80 of us at the same time.  The ability to share comments and questions through typing in the sidebar made it completely interactive.  I like the fact that you are able to comment and question without disrupting the presentation.  There was another man in charge of the “logistics” who was able to keep the flow of the secondary conversation going and respond to questions that were being posted.


I opened a word document while following the webinar and instantly started taking notes.  Everything I needed was right at my fingertips.


One weakness was that for some of the 80 attendees of the webinar, parts of the webinar could not be viewed because they was downloaded from youtube and these educators were viewing the webinar from schools that had filters that blocked Youtube.


Another weakness was that at times I missed a link or quote that I had hoped to jot down.  I had hoped to go back in his presentation to get the link, but that was not possible.  I’m understanding by what others posted that I will be able to download his presentation at some point and then be able to share it with others.


2.  Would you participate in future shows of this nature?


Absolutely!  I love the fact that as the presenter shared additional resources and websites, I was able to continue with the webinar and yet go to the sites he was talking about to experience them firsthand.  Multitasking at the ultimate level!  While all that was going on, other attendees were sharing additional resources.  I just kept jotting them down to research later.  And while all that was going on, my 4 year old was sitting on my lap watching the videos with me.  She loved the Harlem Shake video!!!


3.  How could this type of webcast be incorporated into the classroom?


Being a language teacher, I have seen the importance of making my teaching visual!  Although I try to present my information from all different learning styles, I know that there are always those students who just didn’t get it.  I can easily see how a lesson could be transposed into a webinar with the same verbal instruction, but also with corresponding visuals, graphics, and demonstrations.  Add in another explanation of the same concept from YouTube or another source and very possibly that student who just didn’t get it during class time with me, may now understand.  Sometimes just hearing it from someone else is what it takes.  In the readings that I have done, this is also a valuable tool for students who are absent as well as for substitute teachers who are covering your class for an extended period of time.


4.  How might you use it with students?   As attendees or broadcasters?


Again, using a webinar as reinforcement or some “reteaching” for difficult concepts I think would be very beneficial.  I can also see students using this as broadcasters.  I’m picturing my students holding a webinar about a specific Spanish speaking country.  This would be so much more entertaining than the traditional PowerPoint or in class presentation. I love the idea of being able to pose questions without interrupting the pace of the presentation. 



Sunday, February 24, 2013

Todo Sobre Mi

Integrating Social Networking

Each year in Spanish I, my department has students create a power point review of all the content studied by creating a presentation about themselves.  The project is entitled, "Todo Sobre Mi"  (Everything About Me).  This is always a favorite activity for everyone because it gives students the opportunity to "show off".  As all students in our high school have a laptop or netbook, technology is readily available to them.  The entire Spanish I curriculum has students talking about themselves, their activities, their likes, and their dislikes
For this assignment, I decided to take this existing project and turn it into a social networking activity.  Instead of creating an ongoing powerpoint that never gets seen by anyone other than the student and myself, we will now run this project as a Blog.  This course has really taught me the power of blogging.  I love that the blog can be updated at anytime from anywhere!  In the past if a student forgot their netbook, they were unable to work on their project.  Now that their project is online, they can assess it (as can I) from anywhere.  Not only that, so can their family members and friends to add to it.  Finally, by being able to share their blog with others, peer editing will be much more valuable and much more accessible now. 
Here is the outline for the project:
Todo Sobre Mi Blog directions

Here is a sample first page:

Todo Sobre Profe

Monday, February 18, 2013

My week in pictures! Love this!

Now this is my type of assignment!!  As a photo-aholic :)  I love taking pictures.  Each year I create a digital year-in-review photo album that I share with grandparents and keep as journals of all that we have done as a family.  This week I will post a picture each day of something that we did or something that happened.  I'm afraid that after this assignment, this may become a new hobby/addiction for me!

SUNDAY:  A trip to the Outdoor Show at the Philadelphia Expo Center.  My children hanging out with some of their best buds in a present Daddy would like for his birthday!

MONDAY:  I guess the outdoor show had an affect on my kids.  Here is Daddy teaching them how to do archery!  I am so thrilled to have a family that loves to do things together!

TUESDAY:  Well, it was an exciting evening in our home last night as I burned myself cooking dinner and now have 2nd degree burns on the fingers of my right hand, so thank goodness we had to go out to eat tonight to support our daughter's cheerleading squad.  The Doctor wrote me a scrip to give to my husband that forbids me from cooking for the next month.  Not a bad deal!  But as my hand is all taped up, typing may be a little difficult for me now.  Although I'm sure you would just love to see the picture of my hand (ugh, not very pretty)  I figured a picture of my daughter and her cheerleading friends would be better. 

WEDNESDAY:  Well, it was a pretty non-eventful day today as I spent the day nursing my injury from Monday night.  So here is a picture of my kids preparing to make the "fritillies:" the fried dough pockets that caused my little kitchen accident. 


THURSDAY:  A busy night for us as our son had a basketball game.  This is his first year playing at the advanced level.  That is our number 34.  So proud of him!  Although his team did not win, they played a great game!

FRIDAY:  It's Equine therapy day for our youngest!  We adopted our Cesia Maria two years ago.  Once we brought her home we found out that she has cerebral palsy.  She has made remarkable progress!  With all the therapies that we do with her, equine is by far the best!!!
SATURDAY:  It was an all-day cheer competition for us today!  Our daughter competed in the midget division.  They did an amazing job, but only took 3rd place.  She is the base in the middle:

REVIEW This was a great assignment for me.  I've quickly realized why I have taken off this year.  Yes, my main goal was to learn more about instructional technology, but it sure does seem like my kids take up a lot of my time!  I wouldn't have it any other way.  While completing this assignment and choosing my pictures I kept thinking that this would make a great tool for keeping my parents (who live across the country) up-to-date in all that we are doing.  They are always saying that they never know what we are up to, but this way they could easily follow along! 

In thinking how I would use this in the classroom, I thought it would be neat for groups of students to work together to blog about where they find Spanish used in our community.  As students are out and about, they could easily take pics of what they find and then give a short description.  At the end of a specific period of time, groups could compare their blogs.  I am always trying to find ways for students to link their classroom learning to their lives!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Necessity...the mother of invention!

As I looked at all the work I needed to complete this week for the two Wilke's courses I am taking, this assignment scared me the most!  So, as any good student would do, I saved it for last!  I planned a nice quiet day at home so that I would have plenty of time to figure out just how to make a movie on my cell phone.  Now I take short videos of my kids doing crazy things all the time, but I don't ever do anything more with them!  So I cleaned up the house a bit, folded some laundry, played with our youngest daughter, and then, just as I was sitting down to start, some dear friends called.  They were on their way to the outdoor show at the Philadelphia Expo Center and they really wanted us to join them.  I first told my husband that he should just go with the kids and that I would stay home and figure this project out.  But as those little eyes look at you and beg you to join them and your "redneck" husband gets that hunting, fishing, manly look in his eyes, you just have to go. 

So, I figured that if the point of these courses was to learn how to use all the technology available to us and the fact that this specific assignment was all based on using your cell phone, this was the perfect time to test it out.  So as soon as our youngest fell asleep in the car and the our other children got comfy with their electronic devices, I made my video!  What fun!  The best worked!  The even better part, I got to spend the day with my family.  I hope you enjoy!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

I can do more than just make a call on my phone?

This week we are looking at activities we can do with our students using a mobile device.  My cell phone has become my best personal assistant.  I can instantly call someone when I need something, text when I just have something quick to say, snap a photo when I don't have my camera with me, enter important events in my calendar which then get sent directly to my husband's phone (favorite feature!), check on all my friends and family through facebook, and of course keep up with my emails.  Isn't that enough?  What more can this little thing do?

I interviewed Wendy Orseno, a fellow Spanish teacher, about having students use their cell phones to record oral dialogues and assessments.  The majority of my colleagues use this feature and have encouraged me to try it, but I have always stuck to the "live" version during class.  Here is our conversation:

1) What is google voice and how do you use it in your classroom?    Google voice is a feature on Google in which you create an account and phone number which others can call in and leave messages.  I create a different phone number for each class, issue the phone number to my students, and then on days of oral presentations students dial in and record their conversation.  Then, I call in to retrieve the messages.
2)  What are the steps you take in introducing Google voice to your students? (Do you have a directions sheet you could send me?) Yes, I do all my speaking that way but don’t have an instruction sheet. If you want one, I can make one for you. It’s simple!

3) How often do you use it in your classroom? Every time I give a speaking assessment.

4) Do students work individually, pairs, small groups, all of the above? I have used it in pairs and individually. I try to do one of each for each chapter.

5) I know our district encourages the use of mobiles in the classroom. Has any administrator ever seen you use them and if so, what was his/her response? No, unfortunately they haven’t seen it but they do know we use it.

6) Do you inform parents in advance that you will be using this tool with their children? Have you ever gotten any feedback or concerns from parents? I have not sent emails home to parents and also have not been questioned.
7) Why do you use this tool over just having students speak to you in person? Saves a TON of time!!! Love it and so do the kids!  If I miss something, I can just go back and replay it.  It takes away that intimidating aspect of having the kids stand directly in front of me or, even worse, in front of the class.  They do so much better with these conversations as they record them when they are ready.  If the made a mistake, they can instantly rerecord.

8)  While I was exploring the site, I noticed that you can have the conversations transcribed.  Do you have Google transcribe the phone conversations for you and then send it to your email? If you do, how accurate are the transcriptions? No, I cannot use that feature.

9) Are there any challenges you have encountered with using this? I cannot find anything negative to this feature. Love it and it makes assessing so easy and quick.

10) Are there any other mobile sites you use in your classroom? Kids sometimes use their phones for Quizlet. They can also use on their phones.

After this conversation with Wendy I went ahead and created an account to try it for myself.

My number is 215-259-8194 if you would like to leave me a message, but remember it will need to be in Spanish!  It took me sometime to set up the account, but after I figured it out it really was easy to use.  I can now see why everyone else is using this!!  I can sit at the comfort of my home computer and listen to the conversations.  The voice quality was clear and I could pause the recording to take notes or write comments.  It was not able to transcribe my message.  I will need to work with that more.   I like the fact that by the time I listen to the conversation, it will already be their best one.  There will no longer be those "giggle attacks" or mess ups that cause us to restart numerous times.  When students are absent, they can still call in and record.  When I am absent on the day of an oral presentation, they can still do it!  One question I was left with that I have forwarded to Wendy was where her students record the conversations.  Do they do it right there in class or at home?  How does she make sure that they are not reading from a script.  I am very excited to try this feature when I return to the classroom next year!