Thursday, March 29, 2012

Effective use of technology

Spring Break is so wonderful. Not that I am really on vacation; I have been working pretty much everyday. Yesterday, I planned my whole day around a webinar I found on The title of the webinar was "Powering the Digital Classroom, It takes more than computers." I was intrigued.

The webinar looked at a study where the success of students correlated directly to the student to computer ratio. The best part of the webinar was the nine key implementation factors. (Here is a link to the slides It was a free webinar, so I don't think I am stepping on anyone's toes.) Two of the nine really caught my eye: virtual field trips and online formative assessment.

Online formative assessment is something that I have been thinking about and really wanted to incorporate into the flipped classroom, but my time has limited me. I have done quite a bit of research, but had never taken the plunge. I am proud to say that today, I finally sat down and figured out how to use YouTube annotations so I have a little mini quiz in my latest video. (Check it out  If you are going to work on annotations, some words of advice. First, set aside some time so that you can really figure it out in one sitting. Second, I found it easier when I made my Power Points to have the wrong answer first, and keep the language on the right answer general. If you watch it you will see. I watched 2 or 3 different YouTube videos by josephbison one of which can be found at

Yesterday I finally figured out how to implement flubaroo, which is a Google script that can correct online quizzes for you. If you are a Google apps user, I recommend you check it out. It really didn't take very long, and there are plenty of videos to walk you through using it. I had never even really taken the time to sit down with Google docs and create a form, which was also remarkably easy. I created an exit survey for my students for the end of the year to get their impressions about the flip.

On to virtual field trips.....I have been thinking about incorporating Google Earth into the classroom since my class read a Spanish short reader that was set in Spain and I kept having to explain to them what El Escorial was or what the Plaza Mayor was. My plan is to go back through the books and make a sightseeing tour on Google Earth so that the students can watch it before they read and then have a better idea about what they are reading about. Although I have played a little with Google Earth, I have to dedicate a whole day to really figure out how to best make it work. I am planning to have it put together for the conference in Chicago.

I also never realized that there were companies that put together virtual field trips. Since money is a major issue, if one of these companies that puts these together is any good, I may really consider it. The pricing I have seen didn't look too bad, but I have to do a lot more investigation.

Luckily, since the last unit in Spanish III is technology, I can throw just about any of this at my students and it fits with the lesson plan. I am curious to their feedback on the online quizzes in the videos and some of the Google docs forms. Time will tell!