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!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Exploring those sites you never knew existed!

Using the directory link:, I explored numerous sites that I can easily see complimenting my course.  After registering either through facebook, twitter, or by creating an account, edutecher recommends a variety of sites to you.  On the sidebar, though, you can also select specific criteria to narrow your search such as subject and grade level:

1.)  After selecting World Language and High School, I instantly noticed the site; UClass (United Classrooms)  The icon grabbed my attention right away.  When I first began teaching, I had my students write to penpals in other countries.  It was always a favorite activity of ours, but the time between receiving  the letters, sending them, and then receiving another was too long.  It ended with students only receiving 2 or 3 letters a year.  I had hoped that eventually I would find a site that would do this all electronically.  Over the years I had tried a few, but they all seemed to cost money or overtime had more advertisements than members. 

UClass allows me to pick the countries with whom we would like to exchange letters as well as find other teachers from all over the world with whom I can connect and collaborate.  Each week there is a different topic for discussion and some contests that students can enter on a particular theme. 

In evaluating the site, the overall appearance was clean and easy to follow.  The directions to register and enter information were also very user friendly.  There are no annoying and/or inappropriate ads. that pop up or line the side margins.  It is free!!  You can also share this site with parents for them to join in.  Anything that includes parents into my curriculum and my classroom is an A+ for me!

The only real difficulty I had is that I had to sign up an actual classroom to begin posting in the forum.  For the time being I have signed up my children to see what kind of response I get to the question I posted:

Profe Wert11:43 a.m., Feb. 8, 2013

Hello from a snowy Bucks County Pennsylvania, USA. I would like to set up correspondences between my high school students and students in a Spanish speaking country. Is anyone interested?

I will update my blog as to any responses I receive.  If this site really does connect me with another class in a Spanish speaking country, this will be an extremely valuable site for me.

Of the next two sites I previewed, I was really disappointed with the actual sites.  The first, dot SUB was an online video translating program.  The concept is that it will take any video and translate both verbally and with subtitles in to any one of 35 languages.  As a Spanish teacher, this would be an incredible site for me.  There are so many times I download videos online from Spain to show to my classroom and it would be really helpful to at least have the English subtitles.  Unfortunately, it had a free 30 day trial but never listed the actual costs.  You had to instantly upload a video that you had created for translation.  The directions were very difficult to follow.  At that moment I chose not to continue. 

The next site I tried was elovivo.  The concept behind this site was a word to word translator.  Again, it was not what I had hoped it would be.  I typed it my first phrase to translate and nothing happened.  I logged out, logged back in, and then tried again.  Again nothing happened.  It also had a language exchange section in which it would match me with someone else who spoke Spanish that wanted to learn English.  Again I tried that link and nothing happened.  After spending so much time on these two sites, I was reminded of why technology can really frustrate me, too!!!

 2.)  The next site I joined made me feel much better.  Free Rice 2.0  is a site not only dedicated to building vocabulary, but to helping to feed the world.  This site is sponsored by the United Nations and the World Food Programme.  I had heard about this site before, but had never visited it.  As per the diagram below, just about any subject matter can be reviewed. 


As students answer questions correctly, the words get harder.  10 grains of rice are donated for each answer.  I made it all the way to 950 grains of rice before the Spanish / English exercise stumped me!  The words do recycle themselves and over those 95 questions about ¼ of them repeated, but the words really do get harder quickly. 

I can see my more advanced students doing this as a supplementary activity.  The words are very random; everything from days of the week, to verbs, to weather, to body parts, to conjunctions, etc.  As most language lessons are thematic, students would need to have some background in the language. 

I went on to visit some other sites that I will explore more in depth later.  The nice thing about edutecher is that you can create your own backpack.  I was able to click on backpack on the sites that looked interesting to me so that I could easily find them later.

3. )  The final site I joined was Babbel  This was by far the most impressive site I found.  This is a site dedicated to teaching foreign languages.  Again, I chose to explore the Spanish lessons.  I first did the trial and was so impressed I went on to join the site.  At this point it is all free.  I do have a feeling as I go on it may eventually charge me some sort of membership fee. 

The site is based on thematic units.  The first unit I did was greetings.  What I loved most is that it hits all the learning styles in the way it presents the information.  First you see three terms.  As you click on them it shows you a picture representing the word and then pronounces the term(s) for you.  On the next screen it has you match the Spanish term with the corresponding picture and English translation.  The next screen has you spell the word.  It gives you the letters to help you.  If you spell something wrong, it highlights the error in red until you choose the correct letter.  Next it puts those three

words/terms into an actual conversation.  I loved this!!!!  It instantly allowed students to apply what they had just learned.  While in the conversation, little explanations will pop up to help clarify something or make you pay attention to a specific detail.  The entire time you still hear the correct pronunciations.

babbel example

 In evaluating this site, other than the cost, I was really impressed.  The site is very easy to use.  The format is sleek without any distracting links, advertisements, or graphics.  You really focus on the language.  I could easily direct my students on how to get started. 

(I went on and completed the first two units and then it did end up charging me a fee to unlock the entire program.  Unfortunately, I don’t see the district paying for this site, but I may share it with my students and they could do it on their own.  It is really worth it!  I will contact the developers to see if they would offer a site license for a school district or maybe even run a pilot program with me to see how an entire class could use this.) 


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Getting Web 2.0...organized!!!

Thank you for this assignment.  I signed up for the Wilkes EDIM program to gather more hands on tools that I could really use in my classroom.  These are exactly the type of things I had hoped to find!

URL shortening:

Wow!  This is amazing and really what I needed.  As always, it took me a little time to figure it all out, but after I got the hang of it, I started to create Bundles based on Wilkes' courses, ESL sites that I use often, and Spanish sites that I love.  This is such a great resource.  I did start to create a bundle for my personal sites like banking, email, credit cards so that I had them all right there for easy connection, but then I got concerned with exactly how others can view and access my sites.  I will need to do more research with the private/public options. 

Thanks to Bitly, I cleaned out my Favorites Bar and favorites tab and now just have Bitly there.  It's like my own Web 2.0 filing cabinet.  I can't believe how much easier it is now to find the sites I use most often.  It also made me realize just how many sites I really do use!  For my educational sites, I renamed each one beginning with Profe (that is what my students call me) and then what the site was for.  Example:  this blog is now listed on Bitly as profeblog.  That is much easier to share with someone.

I would love to use this in my Spanish classroom for when my students do their country research projects.  They must create a multimedia presentation in which they are a tour company and they are trying to sell us a vacation to their specific country.  I always ask them for a site list from where they gathered all of their information.  I then type in each URL to verify the information in their presentation.  Using Bitly, I can now have my students put all of their sites into a bundle and rename that bundle with their country name and site # (after they number all of the sites that they referenced.)  This will save me so much time!

QR Codes:

So when trying to think of what to use for my sample QR code, I figured I would treat anyone daring enough to actually try it on this blog, to one of the most ridiculous youtube videos I have ever seen.  Unfortunately, it does remind me of many of my students!  Enjoy!

Our district is putting forth such a technology initiative that they encourage teachers to have students use their phones in the classroom.  To this point I have only had my students load apps to vocabulary review games that I create and post for them.  But in the age of youtube, I can't think of  a better (and more entertaining) way to get my students involved in my class.  The idea of not knowing what they will find when they scan the barcode is the best as this will motivate them to want to do it.  As a high school teacher, the more "tricks" I can find to encourage my students to use their phones for educational reasons in my classroom, the better!

Here is another QR code to help with Spanish vocabulary.  As you can see, I've put the QR code on my couch as well as other furniture around my living room.  As I am not teaching this year, I thought this could be a cute game to play with my kids.  My children will walk around the living room with my phone and scan the link.  This QR code will take them to a website where they can click on the matching picture of the piece of furniture and it will say the name of that piece in Spanish. 
When teaching, I love to teach my students new vocabulary by using real artifacts instead of just a list of English to Spanish terms.  Just as we all learned our first languages, we learned through association with real objects and situations, not a predetermined vocabulary list.  This would be a great activity for students to walk around my room scanning QRs of various objects to learn how to say them in Spanish. 


The first bookmarklet I tried was Printliminator  This site allows you to go into a website and remove the unwanted adds, graphics, extra fluff found on the page so that you can print out a clean page from that website.  After viewing the video demonstration (very appreciated!) I went ahead and started using it on some of my favorite websites.  This was another amazing tool.  Personally, I know for a fact that I will use this when I print out my boarding passes for our family vacation next month.  This will cut down on all that wasted paper and wasted ink.  Although I always hit:  print without advertisements, there is always something more that prints other than just the boarding pass. 

In the past I always tried to just select the information I wanted, copied it, and then pasted it into a word document for printing.  Many times, though, the look of the page would become distorted or the formatting would change and result in me spending many hours trying to reformat the content to look presentable.  This is going to save me a lot of time both professionally and personally. 

For my classroom, I would love to see students use this when they are printing out information from any site.  The amount of paper wasted is unbelievable.  It doesn't even seem to bother them. 

The second bookmarklet I previewed was Quietube  Yet another extremely valuable tool!!!  Quietube takes all the "extra" out that appears around a youtube video.  No more inappropriate pictures of similar topics or vulgar comments others have posted.  I love this!  There are so many great resources on youtube, but I'm always afraid to put them on my screen in my classroom as the strangest things seem to pop up. 

As my family lives across the country, I'm learning how to upload videos of my kids' sports competitions on youtube to share with their grandparents.  Many times the files are too large to simply upload directly and send to them, but they can always access youtube.  I'm going to experiment with uploading a video, clicking on quietube and then sending that link to my parents so that they only have to see what I want them to see.  I know my Mom would appreciate it!!!

The same goes for when my students want to share a youtube video with the entire class on the big screen.  Using quietube will now be a mandatory step prior to anything being shown. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Time to jump into the 21st century!

I will admit it.  It takes me a long time to jump onto the bandwagon.  I think the internet was made available to the public for a good year before I finally broke down and got involved with it.  To be honest, I even held onto cassette tapes for a long time when the CD first came out.  And, no, I still don't have any type of device for downloading music now.  I just keep playing my old CDs over and over ( I did get rid of those cassettes...well, most of them!)

So, finally, as a required assignment I am going to explore some of those sites I have heard so much about but have never taken the time to explore.  While on my educational sabbatical, one of my biggest goals was to learn more about twitter.  I truly don't know anything about it, so I am going to begin there.

  • Social = Twitter  (
    • Well, I've done it.  It took me over an hour, but I have posted my first tweet.  The site was easy to use, but I had a really hard time trying to find 10 different people to follow.  As I am the very busy Mom of three young children, I don't know very much about pop culture or current artists, but I was able to come up with 10 contacts.  I did find a connection to an organization I first learned about while in Honduras adopting our youngest daughter.  That was a great way to catch up on what they've been doing.  It seems the five stars I picked had some very random things to say that didn't mean very much to me.  I found five colleagues to friend, but once they were on my list and I explored their profiles, I realized that they hadn't written anything in quite a while.  The superintendent of our school district popped up as a suggested contact.  I viewed her site and realized that she had more tweets than some of the stars that I picked.  I eventually posted my first tweet asking that when someone reads it that they respond so that I can see how long it will take to get a response.  How do I let people know that I've joined Twitter?
    • To be honest, I'm really not sure how I would use this in the classroom.  Again, the colleagues that I located on twitter hadn't posted anything in quite some time.  As a Spanish teacher I spent a great deal of time searching tweets in Spanish that possibly my students could follow, but truly nothing was appropriate for me to share with them.  I am wondering if there is a site out there that has already identified appropriate tweets for the classroom.  I guess if I wanted to use this as a quick response tool, I could post a question on Twitter and then have my students respond to it on their phones or netbooks.  This could be something similar to the Todays Meet that I wrote about in my last post.  I will assume that if everyone joins my twitter, then everyone would be able to see everyone's responses.  I can see Twitter used as a great way to post each night's homework.  Maybe this sounds very old fashioned, but just as I don't friend current students on Facebook, I don't want to know about what students are doing in their private time.  It would seem to me that if I join all my students as contacts so that they could follow what I post, I would then see everything they post as well. 
    • While I was typing I had a thought..I went back and researched "Spanish Word of the Day" and found @SpanishWords4U  This is a daily tweet with a Spanish word or phrase, the pronunciation, and then the word used in a sentence.  I guess this takes the place of the daily calendar of Spanish words that I normally keep on my desk at school!
    • I then went back to Twitter and searched the term Spanish Teacher.  Oh my!  I guess I now understand how students are using this in the classroom.  It bothered me to read the things students were tweeting about their Spanish teachers.  For this reason alone I really can't see how this could be beneficial in the classroom.  The few Spanish teachers that I could actually find had very random things posted.  Maybe these were things that made sense to their students, but I couldn't follow it. 
  • Creative - Prezi  (
    • I just learned how to create a power point presentation about two years ago.  I am still trying to figure out how to add the affects.  Again, it's not that I am not smart enough to learn these things, it truly is a time issue for me.  There aren't enough hours in the day to accomplish all that I must accomplish and then try to research and learn something new.
    • Prezi is an online presentation program.  The first thing that jumped out at me was the fact that multiple people can access the same Prezi to edit it.  That has been a huge deterrent for me for Power point because students had to save it on a memory stick and then give it to the next student in order to work on it or save it on the district server, but then they couldn't access it outside of school. 
    • One of my colleagues uses Prezi a lot in her class so I asked her to share some of her thoughts on it with me.  She said that one of her favorite uses is to use it as a visual demonstration.  It is sometimes really difficult to visualize conjugating verbs in a foreign language, but a quick Prezi presentation that takes you through it visually step by step solidifies the process. 
    • Prezi also is wonderful for creating cultural reviews.  The ability to embed both pictures and video with great ease makes it possible to feel as if you are actually touring through a country.  The thought of never having to see another big poster with random pictures and facts really pleases me.  Again, as I played with my own Prezi presentation, I realized just how easy it is to embed elements. 
    • My colleague also shared that Prezi makes a more "interesting" way to present a content of study.  Whereas PowerPoint just moves from slide to slide, Prezi allows you to start with the big picture and then narrow down to the important details.  The movement itself is more eye catching.
    • I can easily see myself using this in my classroom to teach grammar.  It is really easy to make creative presentations around vocabulary, but grammar is so much harder.  I think the ability to zoom in and out will really help to highlight the key concepts. 
  • Curation = Pinterest  (
    • Although I was very excited to experience my first Tweet during this assignment, I never imagined how excited I would be to visit Pinterest for the first time.  I first learned of Pinterest when I took my 4th and 5th grade children to school at the end of summer to meet their teachers.  My 4th grade son had gotten my 5th grade daughter's former teacher.  When we walked into the room my daughter instantly stopped and asked her what had happened.  She responded with, "I found pinterest!"  I went on to ask her what that meant and she shared a little with me about it.  On pinterest she was able to find new display board designs, new seating arrangement ideas, and a whole lot of new ways to organize all of the stuff she would need in a classroom overflowing with children. 
    • Again, I typed in the word Spanish classroom to see what I would find.  I was both shocked and disappointed that the majority of what was posted were advertisements for the purchase of products to use in the Spanish classroom.  From what I had heard, I thought I would find neat decorations that I could make or neat ideas for how to make my classroom look more pleasing.
    • I continued to type in random terms relating to teaching Spanish and I really didn't find anything that I felt I could use in my classroom.  There were a few designs for decorating a Spanish classroom with bright colors and realia, but more than that I really couldn't find anything.
    • I first thought that possibly students could post things that they make at home for the class or even short dialogs that they create to share with the class, but that opens them all up to the world of being seen by people who need not to be looking.   I think this is one of my biggest fears with all of this.  The more we "put our students out there' the more exposed they become. 

    What Web 2.0 tool works best for you with your students?

    In a recent interview with Ed Migliore, Spanish teacher and department head, he introduced me to the Web 2.0 tool of Todays Meet (  Sr. Migs uses this tool to allow students to add their comments and thoughts on a particular subject as a warm-up or introduction to a new unit of study.  This tool allows everyone to comment without the disruptive behaviour of everyone calling out.  He also posts sentences to be translated and then asks all students to enter their translations.  This permits all students to work at their own pace.  Sr. Migs can also easily see who did and did not answer and can quickly identify those students who are struggling.  By TodaysMeet allowing the conversation to be deleted after different time intervals, teachers can use this Web 2.0 tool as either a quick check or it can be used to facilitate an ongoing discussion.  At the end of the lesson, Sr. Migs has a copy of everything his students had to say plus any questions students may have posed. 

    As this was a Web 2.0 tool that was shared with staff from our Technology Department, Sr. Migs was instantly able to incorporate it into his classroom without fear of the site being blocked by the district filter.  One of the only obstacles Sr. Migs still encounters is the occasional student who forgets that everyone can see what he/she posts and ends up posting something far off the topic being discussed.  Another obstacle would include those days when the Internet is down and the site cannot be accessed. 

    Sr. Migs recommends this site to all teachers, but he advises that you practice using the site with a few people first before introducing it to an entire class.  He also recommends establishing some ground rules in regards to; language used in the posts, staying on topic, everyone must contribute something, number of times one can respond to a particular post, and keeping the conversation "on-line" and not turning it into a verbal conversation. 

    I had the opportunity to try it with a few of my family members as I am currently not in the classroom but out on sabbatical.  Each family member got his/her laptop and we tried it.  To be honest, it was a lot of fun.  We ended up being in all different rooms of the house and held a conversation about what everyone would like for dinner.  Our daughters had an easier time with it as their typing skills are much more advanced than my husband's!!   I love the idea of posting a warm-up question to the class and having each student respond to it while I am busy taking attendance and getting myself ready to begin the class.  I am looking forward to using this tool upon my return to the classroom next year!

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013


    As taken from the website:  Creative Commons Licensing for Educators:

    Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike (by-nc-sa)This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. Others can download and redistribute your work just like the by-nc-nd license, but they can also translate, make remixes, and produce new stories based on your work. All new work based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also be non-commercial in nature. Read the Commons Deed | View Legal Code

    I have chosen this licensing as, as a teacher, I have chosen a career in which I share my knowledge daily in the hopes of someone listening, retaining, adapting, and utilizing what it is that I have chosen to share.  As an exchange student in Spain many years ago, I learned that in Spain the concept of copyright really does not exist.  If someone has said something the same way you would have done it, then use it and move on.  There is no need to spend the time reinventing it a different way.  To me, that makes perfect sense. 

    My first entry...

    "Profe"  Alaina Wert
    EDIM 514A
    Tonight I begin my very first blog.  I write this for my Wilkes University course EDIM 514A.  The fact that it has taken me almost 3 hours already just to create this Blog makes me a bit nervous.  My days of instructional technology courses teaching you how to thread a filmstrip are long gone.  I sure hope my younger colleagues who have grown up already doing all of this will be patient (and helpful) to those of us who still don't know how to "tweet"!!
    Creative Commons License
    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.