Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Flipping Spanish 201 - Let's Begin

As promised, I spent all of naptime working on the new style of video. Unfortunately, the twins took a shorter than normal nap, so it still needs quite a bit of work. I have identified some issues, but thought I would share it with my friends anyway. Any and all feedback is appreciated. Here is my revised video for por and para. Zapatos Nuevos   (Hopefully this one has addressed all the silly issues mistakes I made trying to rush! Thanks to all for the feedback!)

I have a basic outline of the new structure for my class, and wanted to share. (Remember I have 90 minute classes every other day). My goal is to incorporate: a different country during each unit of study, daily life conversation and listening practice, as well as daily (maybe weekly) journaling.

  1. Word of the Day
    1. I have seen this in quite a few AP posts, and don't see why I can't get this going in III and PreAP. I will give the word, definition, synonym and antonym. I want students to make a (good) sentence and identify any other words that they know that are similar (i.e. an adjective form, noun form, etc.).
  2. Vocabulary (Skits?)
    1. Task every student with coming up with a good sentence for 5 vocabulary words. Have students (in predetermined groups of 4 or 5) choose the best one. Then have the students with the best sentences "perform" a skit with the sentences put together....or something like that.
  3. Conversation of the day
    1. Question of the day
      1. Based on a daily life topic
      2. Based on a cultural topic - possibly current event, and then relate it to US
  4. Individual/Group Work - Listening, Reading , Practice Exercises, working on projects, etc.
  5. Ongoing Speaking Assessments
    1. I am basing these on the class conversations
    2. One formal assessment per student per unit (at least)
  6. Google Voice - Yes, I am continuing this.
    1. Weekly voicemails on a variety of unit and life topics that students need to listen and respond to.
  7. Journaling
    1. I am going to give topics here, especially first semester. I will probably include some free choice. I am going to use Moodle for this, especially since I just found out about how to use accents in Moodle.*See note below for details.
    2. I am looking for practice writing and continual improvement. I am not really planning on grading every one of these.....probably will at the beginning though to keep kids on track.
  8. Random Presentations
    1. This is a big push for me this year. I want students to be able to be in front of the class and talk in Spanish. I am planning on starting small, with 30 second "describe the picture" and moving up from there.
    2. I can't stand listening to kids READ when they present. I WILL NOT stand for it anymore. If they WILL NOT PRACTICE, I will MAKE THEM PRACTICE!!!!  ;)
I am thinking that sounds like a pretty full class! Can't wait for feedback!

*From one of my new best friends from the Flipped Class Conference, Tammy Stevens at eclass4learning. If you haven't done so already, check them out! They have some cool Moodle ideas as well as some great webinars coming up!

Special Characters in Moodle:
On a PC:
You can type special numeric codes when holding down the "alt" key. You can see the codes by using the character code program by going to All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Character Map. On a Mac this link gives info. on how to do it

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Reflections on FlipCon12

The Flipped Class Conference is over, and I have been home for a few days and have read through my notes and the notes, tweets and blogs of others. I am still reflecting on much of the information, but overall think the conference was a great success. I loved meeting all the foreign language flippers and potential flippers that came to the conference and attended virtually. Technology is awesome when we can stay connected even after the conference to continue to question and share ideas. I still have to work my way though all of the sessions via video since there was no way for me to attend them all. There are so many great ideas and presenters in other content areas and I can always find a gold nugget in every presentation.

My own presentation was interesting because I focused heavily on the "how" to put it into practice in your classroom. Because I am such a perfectionist, I did change my presentation from day 1 to day 2 and think it was better the second time around. The problem is there is just so much I wanted to convey that it was hard to keep on track with my prepared presentation. Just as in class, if someone asks a good question, a teacher can lose what they were going to say next. Next time, I am going to take a page from Jon and Aaron's book (haha!) and do slides with a guiding statement and pictures. (On a personal note, the feedback hasn't been compiled and sent yet, so if any of you saw the presentation and thought improvement was needed, or you were looking for something more/different, please comment and/or email me so I can continue to improve!) If you weren't able to see the presentation, I think this slide should convice anyone to flip in foreign language.

My biggest takeaway from the conference was to never stop improving how I incorporate the flipped class model in MY class. With that in mind, I have rewritten the format for my units (ok, I have only done one unit so far!), how I offer the practice of vocabulary and grammar, a realistic way for how I can include different countries perspectives in my class, and even how I make and present my videos. I am so excited about the changes, I am just unsure where I am going to find the time to implement them all. It of course means that I have to go back to my classroom to delve into all my resources to be able to effectively implement my new master plan.

I am planning on recording my new, Flipped Class 201 video for por vs. para tomorrow, and I will post a new (working) outline of my approach to the class as well. I am still working out how this new project based practice will align with my Benchmark Assessments, but I still have a about six weeks to figure it out!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Flipped Conference Day 2 - TedEd and Bergman and Sams Plenary

Today was the final day of the Flipped Class Conference, and I approached it with excitement and nervousness. The day began with my recording for TedEd. It was cool to see how they record everything and be a part of that process. Unfortunately they aren't ready to do any TedEd videos with foreign language, but they wanted to have the recording on file for when they are ready. However, as with all things, I gained some valuable ideas for the creation of my new videos. I am going to create "stories" to demonstrate my grammar concepts. I think it is going to be time intensive, but I think that the payoff will be great. I am going to start posting my new videos to Sofia, which is a great site that I discovered through Crystal Kirch and they were sponsors of the Flipped Class Conference. They are doing some great things on their site, and although the language offerings are thin now, I am hoping that with all the new language flippers they will grow.

The plenary given by Jon Bergman and Aaron Sams was, of course, the highlight of the day. They had so many great points, and I know that there will be so many comments out their about their presentation. In my opinion, there are two things that really stood out about their presentation. First, their message (which they say frequently) which is that their is no "right" way to incorporate the flip in the classroom. Teachers need to think about their students, curriculum, teaching styles and environment and decide how the flipped classroom best fits their needs. The flip is NOT a cure for all of the issues in education today, but it is a move in the right direction. The best way they showed this was the empty didn't have a step-by-step for putting the flip in a classroom....a powerful "lack" of a slide.

The second was when they talked about the Flipped Class 101. I think this is the most important thing for new flippers to remember. When you start, it is ok to have easy, basic videos. It is ok to use some worksheets while you are figuring out to do with all the new class time. What is not ok is to stop there. Teachers have to continue to improve not only the videos, but the types of assignments and assessments that you give your students. Making a big change like a flip is hard, and you aren't going to perfect it in one year. The only thought I have to add is for new flippers to write their story. Whether it be a public blog or a private notebook. Keep track of what you are doing, what works, and all those "next year, I am doing it this way" ideas. We continue to expect more from our students, and we need to continue to expect more from ourselves.

With that said, I am ready to accept the challenge of Flipped Class 201! Who's with me?

Flipped Class Conference Day 1 Sessions -Moodle and Research

I was able to go to two sessions on Tuesday, and they were both fantastic! Joe Liaw did a presentation on Moodle and Ellen Dill on her research with the flipped class in her French Classes.

Moodle is a great resource for organizing videos, resources and assignments as well as an online assessing tool. In the past, I have always felt that Moodle was a resource for Math and Science teachers because of the ease of creating online testing for their content area. Before attending the conference I was already learning more about Moodle and wondering if it was a viable solution for the language class too.

While listening to Joe's presentation, I am convinced that Moodle is the direction that I am moving in for next year. I want to not only have a place to house my videos and documents, but give the students an opportunity to take practice quizzes and even do some basic checks for understanding and  comprehension in an online format. I also want to give students the opportunity to complete more practice assignments online (without paper and terrible handwriting!). Additionally, Moodle has the capability to do online blogging and I really want to get students writing everyday. I am so glad that I have Joe as a resource to ask questions about Moodle when I need it. Joe has also shared some Moodle resources just for language teachers which I will post about after the conference.

For my final session I went to see Ellen Dill. I was very interested to see the research that she was able to compile about the success of the flipped classroom. I have so many people ask me about "proving" that my students are more successful and because I restructured my curriculum as well as moving to the flip, I really can't do that. Ellen had some great ideas and great feedback from her students. It was awesome to see the graphs and numbers that proved what I already know....flipping the language classroom works!

The best part of the conference is not really the sessions, but being able to network with the other flippers and future flippers. If there is one thing I have learned as a language flipper is that I need to be ready to look outside my content area to find ideas and nuggets of information because there aren't so many of us out there (or here in Chicago). However I will say that the language flippers and future flippers that I have met here have tons of ideas and enthusiasm! Can't wait for tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Flipped Conference 2012 - Keynote thoughts

Early start today with presenter meeting at 8:15! Although I was really curious about Brian Bennett's keynote today, I have to admit it was hard to concentrate because I was getting nervous about my own presentation. The Flipped Conference 2011 didn't have any foreign language speakers, so I really wanted to be able to give all the foreign language teachers great tools and inspiration to start their flipped journey. Brian's keynote made some great points, some which are difficult for we, as teachers to accept.

For example, he addressed students that finish their required work for his class and then did work for other classes. I know that this is an issue that many of us struggle with. I agree with him that if a student has finished their work, they should be able to work on something from another class. His comparison was "if you, as an adult finished creating a presentation ahead of the deadline, would you continue to work on it?" When you think about it that way, it seems cruel not to allow students to do something else when they finished. The only question I have is, " How will administration respond to students doing math in my Spanish class? " So far, my administration hasn't brought it up, but it might raise eyebrows if I was observed and students were doing other homework. (Honestly, it doesn't happen too often in my class.)

Brian also had some interesting ways of choosing groups. He had a grid with words and students picked the words they thought went together based on the word Pluto. Science people chose "Mars, Mercury, Venus", I picked "Mickey, Minnie and Donald". (Clearly I have been hanging out with the kids too long!) But, it was a cool new idea for choosing groups.

He also discussed assessments and giving choices to students when taking assessments. He has created "choice boxes" to help students pick projects, but students can pick their own way of demonstrating knowledge. This is something that I am doing for unit assessments, but I wonder if it could work for the Benchmark Assessments (Vocab and grammar) as well.

That is what I love about this conference and my flipped PLN (personal learning network). Everyone has great nuggets of information no matter what your content area. All you have to do is stay open to the possibilities.

Flipped class conference day 1

Today was all about learning to use SnagIt and Camtasia. Camtasia has a new version, which has some cool new features, but is going to involve some practice. I worked with Ryan Eash of TechSmith. He is a the "man" behind all of the tutorials for Camtasia, and he definately knows his stuff.

It was an intense, busy day. I am looking forward to spending more time with the computer when I get home to learn all of the new upgrades. The one that I am especially fascinted with is the Quizzing feature. In Camtasia 7, I couldn't get it to work, but in Cam8, as long as I post to Screencast these will work. I really want to incorporate more online comprehension checks to cut down on "paper" work that my students do. I am committed to moving to PBL (Project Based Learning) and I need more class time to make it work. (Funny, huh? No matter how much time there is in class, it never seems to be enough.)

Sadly, I didn't connect with any foreign language teachers until the reception at MentorMob after the conference. I was able to finally meet Ellen Dill, who is a middle school French teacher that is also presenting at the conference.

Going to the Cubs/Sox game was a great end to the day...I love extending my PLN over baseball and brats! Can't wait for tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Flipped Class Conference and TedEd

It is almost time for the Flipped Class Conference, and I know it has been a while since I have posted, but I have been frantically trying to perfect my presentation and get ready. (I also took about a week off from any talk of school - what a treat!) I have submitted a lesson for TedEd, and am interested to see how they view my submission. If you haven't checked out their new site, do it now! My lesson was on por vs. para and it would be great to see some foreign language videos included in their library, so even if mine isn't chosen, I hope they appear soon.

I have been continuing to learn over the summer, and encourage you all to do the same. I attended a great webinar yesterday hosted by Crystal Kirch, a great math teacher in California. Don't discount information based on content area, you never know what will spark an idea for your classroom. She gave me some inspiration to finish my presentation for Chicago (again!) I joined some new flip groups in Edmodo (Flip Share - 0ywjwj and Flipping your Classroom - x8hx3w).
On that note, hopefully many of you are attending the conference; if not in person, then virtually. From what I hear, there will be as many virtual attendees as attendees in person. Please let me know if there are any specific questions you have that I can address. Email me, post to the blog, or I am on Twitter at @SraWitten.

I am still brainstorming all my ideas to incorporate PBL in the classroom next year and have a long post coming about those once I get them organized. Thanks to the PBL group in Edmodo for helping me work through some of my questions about this new idea. I am going to increase the time in the target language next year and I know this is a great way to do it!

I have so much more that I want to add to the blog and have more plans for videos about flipping, some student feedback from this year, and my post-conference notes from Chicago. More to come after the conference next week!

p.s. - I can't believe I am going to hit 5000 views to the blog this week! Thanks to all of you that read!