My Diigo Account

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(*Link that will allow you to access my Diigo page)

In Spanish digo means “I say” so this is a really clever name for this website. I created a Diigo account and inside I created a group called Technology Fans.

The Diigo site will be a very useful tool for me. Currently, I do attempt to make lists of interesting websites and apps, but my system involves using a Word doc with notes. With Diigo, I would have a tool to quickly bookmark sites that I would be able to organize and find with ease. And I really like the ability to take notes. I watched a Diigo video on Youtube which was very helpful for understanding the process of taking notes.

What I will enjoy most is introducing Diigo to my high school and college students. Who doesn’t need a tool to save the numerous websites we see everyday! This tool will help with organizing resources they collect during research. I still see students printing out multiple pages for articles to embed in research papers. Standing by a printer is a waste of time and a waste of paper. 

Which reminds me, in every school educators are also told to watch their printing habits, this is another way Diigo can help.

This is a great tool! I am excited to learn more about it!

 

 

Ready Made Content: Prezi

Ready Made Content: Prezi

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I think Prezi can be a fabulous tool! While Power Point, Google Slides, and other presentation tools are incredibly useful, Prezi offers a non-linear type of platform where the creator creates paths on a canvas with zooming, elliptical, and cyclical motions which are highly engaging!

In Power Point vs. Prezi by Adam Noar, the Prezi advantages are listed as 1) zoom function, 2) non-linear paths, and 3) sharing for free with up to 10 collaborating members. He suggests spending time on learning how to use the tool and to be sure the presentation is engaging, otherwise the tool loses its “wow” factor.

Another advantage is the ability to search for ready-made content. For my high school AP Spanish literature course, the class has 37 readings we have to complete in one year for 32 different authors. The lessons have to include information on the country of origin, socio and political climate, cultural traditions and customs, vocabulary, literary genre, use of figurative language, and connections to the 6 AP themes such as identity, society, interpersonal connections, and others. Needless to say, teaching this course is challenging, especially when we use a textbook with not supplementary presentation materials for the instructor. So, my life saver had been the ability to search for premade content.

For example, in November we read the 6 most famous chapters of the novels for Don Qujote (yes, Cervantes wrote 2 books for el Qujote!) which are visually rich and contain endless references to historical figures, fictional readings and characters, …etc. But by doing searches on google, there are numerous resources posted that are well made and accurate. I have taught my students to search for this ready-made content to serve as a starting point when they are assigned to research a topic.

Some of the best ready-made presentations are built on Prezi. The Prezi format of point A to Point B to point C to point A in cyclical motion is perfect to narrate the story of a writer’s life or the journey of a character like Don Quijote that return to their home. The zoom in and out feature in a sense can create a “closer/intimate” view of an image for a cathedral or village. The elliptical motion of images of war and suffering give the sense of the chaos and powerlessness of the people that live and experience those moments in history.

The other day we read a poem by Alfonsina Storni who references the bitterness of the single tear drop that falls when society condemns tears as weakness. I began showing a pre-made Prezi I found online, and the beauty of the images on the presentation that reflected Storni’s life began to get to me emotionally, so by the time I got to the slide where I had to explain to the class, she committed suicide by walking into the sea near her home, I could feel a lump in my throat so I had to look away. Now that’s a powerful Prezi presentation, don’t you think?

 

 

 

Self-Produced Content: Audacity

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As a foreign language instructor, helping students develop their listening, pronunciation, and speaking skills is essential. Our standards are aligned to these proficiencies so our instructional activities and assessment must provide practice and evidence of growth.

Audacity is a free, open source software for recording and editing sounds. Before Audacity came along, an instructor would have to pay for software that created digital files of the recorded sounds. This was an expensive thing to do, especially to put the software on every computer in a language lab. Audacity is downloaded for free from the site so an instructor can invite students to do the download at home to their assignments.

The software requires that the user have a headset with microphone plugged into the computer in order to begin recording. The recording can be saved by doing as export in different types of file formats. The most convenient is making an mp3 file which can then be upload into an LMS or shared via other platforms.

Students report it is user friendly tool and most student are able to figure out (without the manual) how to cut/edit, do multiple layer recordings, and how to export into mp3 file format.

Audacity can serve for podcasting recordings, for pronunciation practice, for recording interviews, and so many other audio based activities.

For my online courses in the summer, I have created audio files on Audacity to introduce students to the vocabulary in their chapters. Our textbooks are for 200 level students so the vocabulary becomes much more challenging. In the classroom, I am able to review the words out loud for students and point out cognates or how to make connections with suffixes or prefixes, as so forth. My online students need that type of help as well so I created Audacity recordings for each vocabulary section. I also added sample sentences to model how the word is used in a complete sentence. To share those files, I created a Youtube video where you can hear two examples of those MP3 files.

The feedback from students has been positive and students expressed that while the publisher’s e-book has pronunciation of the vocabulary, my audio file with sample sentences and suggestions for making connections was a very helpful supplementary tool.

By the end of the 2012 summer, I had created audio files using Audacity for the literature, non-fiction readings, and reviews for previous vocabulary. I posted the audio on the course LMS page and made the files optional resources.

Synchronous Communication: Zaption

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Zaption is a cool tool for both secondary and college level courses. Zaption is a web-based tool that lets someone add images, images, text, quizzes, and discussions to videos from YouTube and Vimeo. The purpose is to make a video engaging. The instructor has the ability to add content to the video that is best suited for the lesson; while viewing a video, the student is asked to respond to questions, read inserted text, view an image, or participate in discussion.

The instructor can use either a premade or self-created video from Youtube or Vimeo. The site requires a Youtube or Vimeo URL to begin a Zaption project.  The creation of a Zaption project is very user-friendly after that. Once a video URL is uploaded, the page provides an easy to use screen where the video takes center stage under the content building icons that are simple click and drag tools. The tools have options but not so many options as to confuse someone.

My one issue with Zaption was figuring out which presentation URL one shares with others since I had assumed the site served as an asynchronous presentation tool and did not see there were two different types of sharing features. The “Sharing Your Video Lesson” in Zaption provides both a “self-paced” lesson and a “present live” lesson.

With the self-paced lesson, the site gives you a url link that can be shared with one click on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google Classroom, or can be gmailed. This is an easy click since the entire Zaption account is accessible via your Google, Facebook, or Edmodo accounts. The self-paced lesson can also be copied and shared via other platforms since the link is the url to the presentation.

The “present live” presentation is a synchronous presentation! The instructor sends students a date and time for the live presentation. Students go to zaption.com/join and gives them the “unique join code”. This code is the key to enter the live presentation. Students can raise their hands to ask a question or simply post a question. The instructor has a pointer and a marker to highlight important information during the presentation.

What stands out to me is the basic tools are free. I will experiment with having my students use this tool for their class presentations. I am sure they will come up with creative ways to use it!

Something I would like to try: Dual Boot Laptop

Image source: http://www.laptopmag.com/articles/how-to-dual-boot-windows-8-while-keeping-windows-7-as-your-default-os

Dual Boot Laptop

I learned about this concept through a classmate in my ION workshop. What is a dual boot for? Well, it is a problem if you would like to access to both Window 10 Linux Mint which operate on the opposite types of computer: PC and Mac. For example, if you own a Mac computer but would like to use Windows 10 on your computer that is not possible. Or is it?

Through some google searches and youtube videos, I learned that something called a “dual boot” allows this. The process is to install two operating systems on the computer’s internal hard drive and at “boot time”, choosing between them with a boot loader that boots the installed operating system. The howtogeek site has information about how this works.

There are some tutorials on youtube which take you through the step-by-step process.  Some are better quality than others.

The comments to the youtube videos on dual booting  range from “thank you” postings to questions about why certain problems result when the set-up was attempted. Would I try this set-up on my own? On the one hand, I would love to learn Linux Mint. I have never owned a Mac nor have enough money to splurge on a 2nd laptop just to “play” with the tools. The schools, secondary and college, have PCs so I will by PC for my home computer. But I envy people, like my brother, who are familiar with the Mac system.

This dual boot seems like a possible option, and as I get ready to retire my current laptop that has always had a loud fan issue since I bought it off the QVC channel, I guess I could take a risk and try it on this old laptop. However, after watching the video the process looks complex and from user comments, not everything goes smoothly all the time so I might be wasting my time.

But, I appreciate learning about this possible option. If I did go this route with my new laptop, I would ask for help from the technology experts I know. And like all tech fans, I like to at least know what something is, so when people talk about topics, I can follow along and offer an opinion. Even if it’s just a simple idea. J

Assessment Tool: Quia.com

Quia

Quia.com is the reason I live and breath instructional technology. In 2000, I discovered quia.com and became the Quia Queen of my school.

..so 16 years later, I am still paying my $49 Quia subscription.

What does Quia offer for a Spanish teacher/instructor? It is a user friendly site where I can create a unlimited class websites, interactive games like Hangman/flashcards/battleship, quizzes/exams, surveys, and upload Word docs, pictures, and audio files. The templates are easy to use and the options allow for customization.

Do you want content that is already made? The site also has a page where you can search ready made content that other instructors are sharing for many different types activities and assessments for many disciplines and levels.

Why pay the $49 if I can google digital flashcards for “Spanish clothing vocabulary”? Yes, I can search and find links for free that may or may not align with the content in my book. Yes, I could also use the tools in my LMS, but sometimes they are clunkier and they lack the Spanish special characters that students need.

The top reasons I have used quia are simple.

  1. I make tailor made resources that are aligned to students’ chapter and book, and the resources reflect a Backward Design planning to hit on the skills needed for their summative assessments.
  2. When my students see resources that have my name stamped on the bottom, it give the impression that I cared enough to make the materials for them. I believe it makes them do the activities since “I took the time to do this for them”.

Don’t be put off by the simple web design! We all know better than to judge a book by its cover.:-)

Asynchronous Communication: Pinterest

 

I have been a fan of Pinterest since I discovered it had hundreds of paper craft “pins”! What origami aficionado doesn’t want to spend their summer looking at hundreds of photographs on their favorite hobby fantasizing that one day he or she will make a perfect paper bouquet?

But it didn’t occur to me that “formative assessment”, “lesson plan“, and “social media” had a PIN. This is such a cool tool!

At the ITC conference Nancy Webb and Mary Schellhase shared they use Pinterest with their online students as an asynchronous communication activity.

First, they create a Pinterest board for their marketing course. For example, if the course is Marketing, the instructor makes a specific MKT 101 page. Next, the instructor goes into the Pinterest settings to give students’s accounts permission to edit that board so the student can “pin” a resource to the class page. The resource can be a video, a link to another site, a blog, ..etc. The class Pinterest board can go on the instructor’s LMS page as a widget. The asynchronous communication is both the shared postings or can be assigned as posted comments at the bottom of the pin or board.

I like the visual appeal of the Pinterest board! In my course, with the numerous types of cultural topics, our Pinterest pages would be interesting boards to create.