Archive | February, 2012

Interact with other classrooms

23 Feb

I have tried several different sites for collaboration between students this year.

The most interesting part to me has been the reaction by my students.  We are collaborating with a classroom from San Jacinto, California (we are in Bay City, Michigan).  Many of my students have loved it and a few are indifferent about it.  I have some students who are still technophobic, they make a big deal out of HAVING to do technology in Spanish class.  The ones I am most confused by though, are the ones who are annoyed that we use many different types of technology and many different online venues.  I suppose I should not assume that all students like to have an eclectic experience…

Currently I am using Collaborize Classroom. It is very easy to organize classes and create discussions and polls.  Discussions and polls can be assigned to everyone or just one group very quickly.  When you are finished with a discussion or poll, you close it out.  The nice thing is that does not mean it is gone forever.  It goes to a new folder for you to review and out of the student view.  The student create their own accounts and you accept them into the class.

Another one we are trying, right now on our own, is Diigo Education.  My favorite part about it immediately was adding students into separate classes without their email addresses.  This site is not a discussion site.  So far we have used it for research.  When we are in the lab I can have the students bookmark the sites they are using.  It allows me to see where they are going, and also gives some references to me and the entire class.
I have not used Diigo to it’s fullest potential yet.  I would love to see how others are using it.  Here is what Diigo’s site says:   “Diigo is much more than a simple web annotation or social bookmarking service — it is a new kind of online research and collaborative research tool that integrates tags and folders, highlighting and clipping, sticky notes, and group-based collaboration, enabling a whole new process of online knowledge management, learning, and teaching in the information age.”

Schoology is a new one I/we are trying out.  I think it will be a great discussion area because it looks and acts like Facebook.  The big difference being that each assignment is a new page, so the information doesn’t disappear.  Setting up was easy.  I created a class and was given a code to give the students.  When they put the code in, they were directed to my class to make an account.
Here is what Schoology says about their site: “With Schoology, educators can do things as simple as posting assignments, quizzes and links to additional resources or as sophisticated as conducting online courses, providing one-on-one remediation, or hosting discussions.”

My new adventure will be with Diipo.  It is on my summer list of things to do.  It is “social networking for your class”.  It looks VERY promising.

We also have a wiki page, BCC Spanish, that we use when we go to the lab or to post their work.  I have found it is easier to put all of their directions for their lab days on the wiki.  It comes in very handy for those students who are absent or do not finish their work in the lab.

My final tip for using so many different sites online, is to make a document for them to save their passwords.  Ours is called “My Spanish Passwords“.  I have this template on our wiki page.  The very first time I assign a password (which is always their textbook online), I have them open the document and type in their password.  The template is a table with 3 columns.  the first column is the name of the site, 2nd column for user name, 3rd column is for their password.  they save this in their H-drive.  Before I began doing this I would be asked incessantly for their passwords each time we went to the lab.  In some cases, like for Photo Peach, we use a common password.  That way all of their work is on one page to check.  I made a class Google account just for this reason.




Using Prezi in the Classroom | The Creative Education Blog

18 Feb

Using Prezi in the Classroom | The Creative Education Blog.


Using QR codes in school

15 Feb

For now I am using QR codes quite simply in my Spanish class.  I have high hopes on what to use them for. I use the Kaywa QR Code generator.  It is as simple as putting in some text or a URL and clicking “generate”.  There are lots of QR code generators out there.  A Google search will produce a ton of them.  One option is which allows you to track how many times your code has been scanned.  QR Stuff allows you to use several types of data and output options.  You can even make your code in color.

I post print outs of QR Codes in my classroom.  Right now the ones I have posted are links to Quizlet flashcards.  I love Quizlet!  We go through the current flashcards almost daily.  It has eliminated the need to use class time (or my own time) to create flashcards.  Besides the obvious flashcard use, it has practice and games for the students.  They can also download a set of flashcards to print the flashcards in various formats.  When they scan the QR code from my print out, they can bookmark it on their phone to find again later.  Make sure to tell students to download a QR Code scanner to their phone.

There is a great Google slide show that many people have contributed to called 45 Interesting Ways to Use QR Codes in the classroom.  The activities range from scavenger hunts, sharing upcoming events, link to added practice or video tutorials, virtual tours and much more.  I even learned how to make a QR code with my personal information.  I did this one at Jumpscan:

My QR code

QR Treasure Hunt generator allows you to easily create a treasure hunt for school.

This video illustrates how QR Codes are used to enhance learning opportunities for students at McGuffey School District in Claysville, PA.

e-school News has a great article called “Using QR Codes for School Communications“.  Imagine putting QR codes into the newsletter or posting them in the office for parents to scan the school lunch menu, sports schedule, fliers for upcoming events, etc.

This is obviously one of my summer projects.  By then, I am sure to hear of more great ways to incorporate them.  It’s one of those things I am excited to use, but want to make sure I use it to benefit learning, not just because it’s so darn cool.  :)~


Networking with other teachers

10 Feb

I love to share with other teachers and find out what works for them.

I have joined a few social networking sites.  It is very exciting to see what others are up to and be able to answer their questions too.  It makes you feel so powerful and knowledgeable.  I also have a hard time keeping up with them.  I have heard that there are ways to manage your online networks, but haven’t tried any yet.

These are the networking sites that I try to keep up with:

Classroom 2.0 is a free, community-supported network. We especially hope that those who are “beginners” will find this a supportive comfortable place to start being part of the digital dialog. Because of spammers, we have to approve all memberships here. While your membership is pending you are still welcome to peruse the site or attend any events!


Teacher 2.0 is an independent community for educators to explore their interests and passions, and to build a network of support for educators at all levels.  Through this community, with online events, interviews, and workshops, our goal is to have educators help each other become re-energized in their careers and in their contributions to the world.


Our communities help connect you with ideas, information and inspiration that leads to success in the classroom. Browse the categories to find your areas of expertise.


BetterLesson was founded by a group of teachers from Atlanta and Boston public schools to connect educators and help them create, organize, and share their curricula.

Most of the people I follow on Twitter are teachers.  I teach World Languages so I follow a lot of language teachers.  I also follow teachers who are techies.  Each Thursday night at 8pm there is a #langchat in Twitter where we share our ideas on a different topic.  The #langchat archive is there to look back at because the tweets fly so fast I can hardly keep up.  The summary and archive make it possible to still enjoy the experience.
There are many chat sessions that happen every day, many that are related to education.  If you use the hash tag, you can follow along and contribute.  There is a list of hash tag chats for teachers at this page and at this page.  If you do a “Twitter hash tags for teachers” search, you get plenty more.

If you have some favorite networking sites or ideas, please share.

Gracias, Penny

My “págame” system | teachforjune workshops

10 Feb

My “págame” system | teachforjune workshops.

One day in the computer lab

9 Feb

I shared with participants in my presentation at the “World Language Mini Conference” at SVSU some of the sites I like to use when we are in the lab for a day.

Here is what I came up with, I know there are a lot more out there:

This is a site that I built a couple of summers ago for the Bay Arenac ISD WL teachers.  I keep it updated when I find new things.

With PhotoPeach students can create a rich slideshow in seconds. They add in background music, captions, and comments easily.   This is one of those sites where I have a log in and share it with them.  I use a common password, one I do not use outside of class.  Since they all log in with my user name and password, all of their shows are on my page for me to check out quickly.

This site is great for editing and commenting on videos.  I have heard some teachers say they upload videos for the students to dub in their target language, I have to try that…  It can be a great collaboration tool.

This is great to take polls or practice simple structures.  You can ask “What are you going to do this weekend?” and have the students answer in the target language on a sticky note.  Here is an example.

Students upload an image and make it speak.  Be sure to show an example before going to the lab.  It is also helpful for the students to write their script ahead of time.

Students create nice comics easily on any topic.  They have to print them out or I have them do a screenshot, paste it into Paint, crop, save as a jpg then put it on their wiki page.

Create and subtitle a movie.  Drag scenes into the queue, then type away! Students will need to email it to you.

Lots of fun stuff.  I like the trading card maker and the badge maker.

These are some of my favorites for students to create something.  We also do a lot of collaboration work in the lab, which will be the topic for another day.

Gracias, Penny

Search engine madness

3 Feb

I just found a new search engine that I am crazy about (so far)!  I will share that later…

I use Google.  I have a Google account, I like to search for images, sometimes use the translator, LOVE Google Docs.  Google has even become a verb, an everyday word.  I can be the noun “Googler”.

I saw a new search engine posted in Diigo today and I thought about all of the ones I have used:

Spezify:  results are in thumbnail form
Wolfram: Math and more search engine.  We had fun putting in our first names and seeing what they ranked (Jacob is number one for boys).
Kid Search:  Found this nice kid friendly list
Pic Search:  Less likely to have indecent pictures.  I ask the students to use this one in the lab.
Multicolr Search lab:  Search by color!  Great for my elementary WL.

I also love Only2clicks to make your own little search engine.  If I am having the students do some research on Hispanic customs, people or festivals, for example, I give them this link and tell them to only look through those pages.  It is a pretty cool site because I have other tabs there that are not shared, so the students cannot see them.

So the new search engine (to me anyway) is Carrot2.  I did a search for Cinco de mayo.  Up came a side menu with 12 folders in it.  I could click on Battle of Puebla, History, dances, etc.  It was one of those moments when you think “Why didn’t anyone do this before”.  Like I said, it is brand new, but I am going to use it for a while and see how it goes.

I would love to hear other people’s favorite search engines!


SVSU mini conference

2 Feb

I am taking a break in preparing the technology session for the World Language Mini Conference on Monday.

Topics for the technology session are free online tools, the WL teacher wiki page, networking with other teachers, and finding authentic material online.

For several of my online tools I have a class account.  I have a Google account that is just for my classroom.  Students log in to many sites with that email address and the class password.  They joke each time we do a new website because they already know they password…  I like to have them use the class account in sites such as Photo Peach where I can see their finished products all on the same page. The trick is they need to name their project with their name because “Sra. Hildinger” is the default author.  Their Photo Peach project might be called “Breanna S” for example.  I do discourage them from using last names.

There are times, especially in collaboration sites like Collaborize Classroom, Diigo Education, Schoology and others where they do need to create their own account.

The online tools I will present include:

Quizlet: an online flashcard maker.  It is incredibly easy for me because my textbook is online.  I just copy and paste the vocabulary words from the book into the “Import” section and they are created in seconds.  We take a few minutes every day in class to review with flashcards.  I was annoyed at first because some students would yell out the answers before other students could have a chance to think about it.  My solution (for now) is they have to wait 3 beats.  As soon as we hear the words we do 3 beats (a mixture of claps, stomps, snaps, etc).  They cannot give the answer until then.
It is much more than simply a flashcard maker and presenter.  I put the link on our EdLine page so they can practice anywhere.  I even made QR Codes from the URL.  I print them out and post them in the room for the students to scan.

Only2clicks:  I like using Only 2 Clicks when I want the students to do directed research.  We have all had experiences when most of the lab time was spent doing research.  If I know the best sites to find the information, I make an Only 2 Clicks page for them to use.  Example.

Wallwisher:  one of those sticky note sites.  I like that students can add a picture.  One of the activities that works great is creating a class Wallwisher.  Each student builds a different wall and poses a question in the target language.  For example, “What do you like to do on the weekends?”.  Then they walk around and answer each other’s sticky notes.  Great for a change of state during a 70 minute block.

Photo Peach:  Photo Peach is a slideshow creator.  Since we use a class log in, I can see all of their projects on one page.  Students first have to upload their photos or clip art, then write a sentence or two about the page.  I tell them what vocabulary and grammar structures I expect to see.  The slideshow is nice because it has some movement in the final project.

Issuu: Easily turn a research project into a beautiful magazine.  When finished, the students can get an embed code to put on their wiki page.  Much better than grading 30 research papers with no pictures.  I do have the students do a bibliography at the end of such research projects.

Well, back to preparing for the technology session.  Cresting this post has helped me organize my thoughts a bit.  🙂


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