Thursday, July 26, 2012

Path to Success in Spanish Graphic

I am playing around with creating some graphics to post in my classroom next year, as well as some of the cool online graphic tools. I really want to have some things that I can point to in my room to remind students that learning a language is not always easy, or doing things the right way is really worth it. I created the visual using Word, and the roll over definitions on

I think this is close, but as always, value comments and/or suggestions.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Flipping for Fluency - The Webinar!

I received word today from my friends at confirming the date, September 18th at 7EST, for a foreign language flipped class webinar. This is something I have been working on since the Flipped Class Conference in Chicago, and I am glad that it is coming together. Register here!

I know that there are many language teachers interested in (and already) flipping their classrooms. I have many ideas for things that I think would be great in the presentation, but I really want to hear from you about what you would like to see in the webinar. Please fill out the following form and let me know what your interests are so that I can best meet your expectations.

Thanks in advance!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Flipping for Fluency...the first weeks of school

I want to get the blog focus back to the classroom, and that is easy to do because it is all I have been working on for the past 2 weeks. I have been reworking videos, writing PBL assignments, and creating better parent communication.

My new focus for grammar videos is a quick intro and then a story, or some other catchy way to show students how to implement the new concepts. I have been working with a variety of sources to make this happen.

I made a cute video for the future tense with GoAnimate, which will be published soon, but in order to push it out to YouTube I have to pay a small fee, so I am trying to do a couple at once so I can only pay once (or get it all done in the 30 day free trial!). This was cool because I typed the script and chose character voices. This was awesome because I could actually choose Hispanic speakers, so it makes it more like a real listening exercise! I am going to use it that way and have students answer questions and hypothesize in the future about possible outcomes.

Yesterday, I finished a video that I am planning to send to the parents of my students this year. It is using PowToon, which is still in the Beta, but looks really cool. Flipped for Fluency parent video was easy to put together once I decided what to say! I am going to send this out with my parent letter about a week before school starts. A word of caution though..have your script together before you start playing or you will be working on it forever! (I fell into the trap I always warn my student about when using cool technology!)

I have written some PBL exercises for my Mini Review Unit, which is the first two weeks of school. I am covering present, past, and future. I cut down the worksheets to just some quick conjugation worksheets to get the kids thinking in Spanish again. Then they will work on the PBL projects which are a combination of solo and group work. The Present Assignment Sheet outlines a "getting to know you" presentation. I do think that this is going to be a much more effective way to let the kids demonstrate their proficiency. Hence, I have decided to call them Proficiency Demonstrations. In the 6 regular units of study, these will replace my Unit Assessments from last year.

When creating the PBL assignments, I have tried to leave as many choices as possible open for the students. This is probably more apparent in the one I wrote for Unit 1 Proficiency Demonstration. I gave some guidance by giving them steps to consider, but left the topic and method of presentation up to them. I also decided to cut the vocabulary list down to the bare minimum 54 words for a 5 week unit. I decided that the students will have to discover many words pertinent to their topic on their own, so they did not need an exhaustive list from me.

I am looking at my assessing strategies and going to make some big changes to improve for next year. I need to get more things straight in my own head before I can commit them to the blog though.

On another note, I am going to be working with Sofia to have a Foreign Language Flipped Webinar in the middle of September. I will blog, post and tweet the details when I have them!

Friday, July 6, 2012

So you want to flip? Great resources to get you started!

In response to a number of emails I have received about getting started with the flip, I wanted to try to group some great resources all in one place so that you fledgling flippers (is there no end to the possibilities with alliteration?) have a good place to start. It takes valuable time to find the right resources, so hopefully this will save everyone time and give you the information that you need. This is a more in detail look at portions of my earlier post Steps for a successful flipped class.

Where do I find more information? Use resources like on my MentorMob Playlist or use a powerful search engine Mashpedia to find available resources. Increase (or get) a personal learning network (PLN) of educators with similar interests in goals. Check out Twitter and look at #flipclass, #flippedclass, #langchat, #edchat. Don't be afraid to follow the rock stars you find there! Publications like Tech & Learning or eSchoolNews. You can receive free subscriptions to both, and they are full of great resources and articles. If you are looking for a mini-class on flipping, check out the new Flipped Class Certification program which is a fantastic place to get the basics on flipping.

What do you use to make your videos? I use Camtasia 8 which isn't free, but has great tools that some of the free resources don't. For me, I have to have the editing capability, adjusting audio levels, have an easy way to include the webcam into my presentations, and it is super easy to create the videos in a variety of ways (including offline options) for all my students. With this new version, I can include captioning and quizzing which I am very excited to try. You can try it for free for 30 days with the link above. If you must use a free software (which I get, I am a poor teacher too!) try some of these: Jing, Screencast-o-matic, or if you are a Mac person, try using iMovie.

Where do you post your videos? I post my videos in a couple of places to try to avoid any technology issues. I do post to YouTube, even though it is currently blocked at my school, because I found students found my videos easily using their smart phones and the YouTube app (when they are using their 3G). I also post to Screencast and to Sofia because students can access both places at school easily.

What content do you offer through videos? I teach all of my grammar concepts via video. I also have students practice vocabulary with videos as well as have listening and culture videos for students to watch. I give the students practice exercises that are basic comprehension, and in class we have discussions and/or do activities to demonstrate comprehension of the material. I am revising my videos from last year and publishing links to some of them here on my blog. Check out the first, Zapatos Nuevos.

On another note, as you move through the process, I encourage you to start your own blog. Even if you don't share it (but you should), it is really a necessary part of the process to take time to reflect on what has worked, what didn't, and most importantly you can see where you need to make adjustments for next year.

As always, comment or email me with questions and I will do everything I can to help you!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Off to a great start in 2012 - Reflections on #flipclass chat from 7/2

First, if you are not a Twitter person, you might want to become one just to participate (or follow along) with the #flipclass chat every Monday at 8EST. Even if you can't make the chat, you can read the archive and get some great ideas. I am not big on Twitter, but this is a great resource.

The focus of the chat this week was getting the next school year off differently (and better) than last year. For new flippers, a great way to get started is a great letter for parents/students explaining the flipped class. Last year, I emailed one to every student and parent and then sent it home on the first day. Check mine out here. One of the great ideas from the chat was to create not just a letter, but a video to share with parents so they get a good feel for how the system works. I am going to have to add that to my To Do list for the summer.

Another idea from the chat was to use newsletters to send home to parents to keep them apprised of how class is going. I like the idea of doing this as a video created by the students so they can show their parents something they have learned in the target language. Think of how hard they will work to create this if they know I am sending it to parents! As a parent, I would be pretty impressed to get something like this from my kids teachers. This also addresses a problem I have been having with the Project Based Learning idea - having an audience. I am envisioning the students having to create a visual to go along with their speaking (skit, picture, PP slide) to help parents understand the meaning of what they are saying. The more I think about it, the more possibilities I see.

The topic of Back to School night came up, and the group started discussing the possibilities of flipping it. Of course, I was the one that saw this as a possible escape from this evening (but seriously, I teach mostly Juniors and Seniors, and hardly any of those parents come anyway!) However, in all seriousness, this is another opportunity to send home a video of what is going on in class. (I would be creating this one.) Since the flipped class looks so different from the traditional class, it would be a great window for parents to see it in action. I am thinking I would show the video on Back to School night and then email it to all the parents afterward. This idea works nicely with my goal this year of documenting students working in class through pictures and video. Just to be safe, I am going to add a line to my syllabus that informs parents that their students may be photographed and/or filmed in class which will be shared in the education community. (CYA, but a necessary evil.)

I am looking forward to experimenting with the new Camtasia 8 and trying out the closed captioning on videos. I can see endless possibilities for this. This could enable me to use video clips that I know are a little advanced and help the students with some captions to assist in teaching listening, which is always a goal. It would also be a great way to use a grammar video at various levels. For example, a video on the present tense in Spanish I would be spoken in Spanish, but have the captions in English. However, that same video in a Spanish III class would not have the captions. I have to do more investigating into this. It may be something for the Flipped Class 301!

Hope you all have a great 4th! Here in Colorado we will be without any fireworks since we are in so much fire danger. We still have 11 wildfires burning!