Reflection Blog #10

New Technologies

Everyday technology moguls are coming up with new ways to make the technology that is available to us bigger and better and with increasing tendency to gear it towards our youth.  However, even today’s students can’t keep up with with the everchanging technological advances and I often find it difficult to get them to advance with the technology.  Students like to use that with which they are comfortable.  For most of them, their cell phones are what they are most comfortable with and I am currently exploring the apps they can use for my class on their phones.  Although cell phones are not permitted for use within school, I’m sure I would be able to get more students to do homework if it were on something like their cell phone.

As for usage at school, we recently purchase a cart of 30 iPads which I am working on finding apps to use in class.  Once we are able to secure more apps and the funding to use the iPads more efficiently, I am going to work towards making them a weekly in class assignment.

As a foreign langauge teacher, I love the idea of Virtual Worlds because there aren’t many students that willl have the opportunity to travel to the places I teach about so going there virtually is the next best things.  It allows my students to be able to see the important sites of various places without it having to cost a dime and I can control where they go and what they see.

I am not sure, yet, how I feel about interacting with my environment.  I think that we, as humans, can be easily sucked into worlds that are not real and that we need real life experiences, not just virtual ones, to explore the full extent of what the world has to offer.  We can’t stop interacting with reality just to say that we have experienced something so I think that while technology is an important resource in education, I do not think it should be the only resource or take the place of real, live interaction.



Coffman, T. & Klinger, M.B. (2007). Utilizing virtual worlds in education: The implications for practice. International Journal of Social and Human Science, 1(55), 301-305.


Reflection Blog #9

Mini projects

Overall, I think mini projects are a great idea in the classroom.  Mini project give students the opportunity to explore and show what they know while incorporating technology into their lessons.  It also gives students the opportunity to become proficient in areas they would otherwise not use.  It also serves as a more authentic form of assessment.  Sometimes information that students can not produce on a test or quiz is more easily accessible when given the opportunity to do so in a mini project, plus they can delve a little deeper into areas that may not have been accesible during class time.

Because I teach a language, using programs like Photostory help my students express the language in ways that they may not be able to do otherwise.  More often than not, my students use Photostory to create presentations on cultural aspects of the the language that we simply do not have time talk about but we have also started to use it for things like making family albums in order to describe our families in the target language.  I also love to use WORDLE to highlight the fact that not every word in a paragraph is essential to the message of the paragraph.

One website to which I have been introduced through this course is CAPZLE.  Although I am still trying to maneuver through the website and figure out its facets, I like the potential for what it can do and how I can use it in class.  In Spotsylvania county we have access to a site called SCORE that is powered through ANGEL and much like CANVAS, it allows us to post additional resources for students to use and learn outside of class.  CAPZLE gives the opportunity to group several resources together on a “timeline” in order for students to navigate through information at their own pace as well as manipulate the resources for increased retention.


Solomon, G. & Schrum, L. (2010). Web 2.0 how-to for educators. Washington, DC:

International Society for Technology in Education.

Reflection Blog #8

Mini Projects – Digital Storytelling & WORDLE

I am a very big fan of mini projects and have used them in my classroom many times.  I especially like the idea of digital storytelling because it allows my students to be able to show what they know in the target language while using their 21st century skills.  I chose to do a digital story for one of my mini projects because I could create something that I would be able to transfer into my current classroom and use as an example with my students.  I love having my students use Photostory in order to be able to tell things like introductory stories about themselves, create family albums and tell fairytales.  The great thing about Photostory is that it is very controlled and the students do not have as much freedom as they do with other programs so instead of getting lost in all the extra things they can simply focus on the pictures and the story.  The only thing I wish Photostory could do is add accent marks onto words but I’m sure eventually it will.

I also am a big fan of MovieMaker and like for my students to create at least one video using MovieMaker each school year but because we have to spend so much time in the computer lab when we use MovieMaker, I can only allot one project each year.  The students love it though because they can play with the animations and special effects.  Because, when using MovieMaker, they are editing video and sound files, I give them a little more leeway with the effects to make their movies a little more interesting.

The other project I have chosen is a WORDLE project because I found some really great ideas on the sites provided that I want to use with my students.  Because I teach middle school Spanish I have to be careful with the text that I choose and WORDLE helps break down the text showing the students how you don’t have to know every word in order to be able to get the main idea of the text.  Middle schoolers struggle with wanting to know every single word in the text they are reading in Spanish which is not necessary and they waste so much time on insignificant words in a text.  I like this activity to be able to really illustrate that some words in the sentences simply don’t matter.


Tolisano, S.  (2011.)  Digital Storytelling Tools for Educators. 

Porter, B. (2008.)  The Art of Digital Storytelling.  The Creative Educator.


Reflection Blog #7

Sticky Notes for Brainstorming, Planning and Pre-Writing


So, I am going to try to use Wallwisher with my kids at school to try and get them to communicate with me more about our classes.  Hopefully they will respond to it positively, but only time will tell.  I did find the site easy to use and pretty basic.  I also liked how I could customize it with my own pictures and that I can upload videos and files if I want the kids to get to them.  I could definitley see my students using this to collaborate on group projects that they don’t finish at school or to post ideas for discussions or to track what they are bringing for our cultural food days so that we don’t have duplicates.  I think that this site could be a real asset for many classes.  I would love to be able to use it as a Spanish discussion board but my students wouldn’t be able to say very much so I would have to be very specific with the information the students would be required to produce on this site.

Over time, I hope that I am able to use this sticknote pinboard will become an everyday tool in my classroom and that the students will be able to help me evolve into something way bigger for us.  I use the sticknote app on my computer and love it to help me keep my life organized and think that a collaborative stickynote pinboard has the potential to be something very valuable in a foreign language classroom, but as a middle school teacher, I will have to tread very lightly with where I take this and how I monitor it.

I love for my students to use Web Inquiry in my class for the culture aspects that we would otherwise not be able to explore.  This site opens up discussion among the students about the information they find while exploring aspects of Spanish/Hispanic culture and allows them to come to their own conclusions because  “a web inquiry activity revolves around good open-ended questions tied around learning standards” (Coffman, p. 59, 2010).


Coffman, T. (2009). Engaging students through inquiry-oriented learning and technology. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Education.



Reflection Blog #6

A Flipped Classroom

What do you think?

I think a flipped classroom is an interesting concept.  I am not sure that I am entirely on board with it though.  I work in a middle school and the students that come through my classroom are still looking for the guidance and praise within the classroom during a lecture that is necessary.  I am also skeptical because even with me there pushing them, there are still students who don’t do what is expected of them and I would be afraid that without that there would be more students who don’t do the necessary work.  I could, however, see myself modifying this paradigm to fit the needs of my own classroom.I think that in theory a flipped classroom could work.

Is this the true nature of a flipped classroom?

I think the true nature of a flipped classroom is about self motivation, teaching responsibility and giving students the chance to take control of their own education (Kaplan, 2012.)  I think, in theory, it is an excellent idea because these are all things we want for our students but I also believe that not every situation has been taken into account.  Many of the students I work with do not have internet connection at home and while I never let that be an excuse, it has to be a consideration if an entire classroom is going to be based off of it.  Many of the students at my school don’t even have a computer to have internet connection and when we work on things that must be done with technology but I do so knowing that I will have to give up my afterschool time to those students who do not have access to the internet or a computer at home.  My fear is that this type of classroom doesn’t account for the students who have no support outside of school, students who rely on the interaction that a classroom lesson will get them.   I think one thing we, as educators, take for granted is the stability that our jobs provide to our families.  For many students, once they get home school is not a priority, not because they don’t want it to be but because when they leave school they are no longer the kids that we see but rather, the adult of their household.  It happens more often than anyone can imagine and a paradigm like this does not account for that and I am a firm believer that students should not be punished for the mistakes of their parents.  Technology isn’t always a good learning too because it isn’t always available the way we would like it to be.

Is this good pedagogy?

I do not think it is bad pedagogy but am not quite sure if it is good either.  I think that it is a new and interesting way to get the students interacting with the technology available to them and I definitely think that was created with the student in mind and a student centered classroom is the most effective way of getting students to retain information

How can this approach be implemented effectively in your classroom?

I would not use a flipped classroom all the time or for a whole lesson but I think I could modify it to fit into the way that I teach.  I think the students would love to be engaged in lessons like this, if not all the time.  I would love to try it out on one of my smaller classes first, though, to see what would need to be fixed before introducing it into a classroom with thirty two students.


Kaplan, M. “Flipped learning network,” EdGeeks. (2012). Taken from on 06 October 2012.

Solomon, G. & Schrum, L. (2010). Web 2.0: How to for educators. International Society for     Technology in Education.

Reflection Blog #5

Creating a music video

Music videos are very relevant to today’s student.  They have to be entertained and the more entertaining something is, the more likely you are to capture their attention for the entire topic.  Videos are also good to try to help stick something in their head for longer than the fifteen minutes that you spend on it and great for allowing the students to apply what they have learned and show the world.  Students love a pat on the back and this is a good way to get them so they  love making their own video without even knowing they are using the application part of Bloom’s taxonomy.  It’s easy to teach students things they have to memorize but to have them use it in a way they see as valid helps the information find a place in their brains where it won’t go away.  Videos are a great way to get kids to use their knowledge and be proud of what they know.  I have used videos in various ways in  my own class room from an introduction to material to reinforcement of material to application of material.  Videos are a great resource, when used the right way, in any classroom.


Reflection Blog #4

Information Literacy and Creativity

In this week’s perusal of websites and course activities I found many that I could apply in my own classroom.  I absoultely loved the iPiccy site and bookmarked it immediately.  I can’t wait to show my students at school how to use this site and what we can do with it.  I have a wonderful technology lesson where students have to superimpose themselves into a travel journal around the world and this site will add some great effects to those pictures.  I also really loved the Technorati site.  It definitely gave some well informed opinions and is easy to navigate.  I am going to use this site, in particular, when I go away to the FLAVA conference at the beginning of next month.  I already have an idea planned for students to navigate this site with a webquest and mini project.

As for the Scratch program, I think once I get the hang of it I will be able to do great things with it but so far all I’ve done is confuse myself.  I am going to keep working at it though and hopefully have something to show for it.  I know that I want my characters to be a taco and burrito but haven’t perfected the creation of them yet and I definitely want it to be a conversational interactive game but am working out the best way to do that so far.  The program is very user friendly but as someone who is a perfectionist when it comes to things like this, everytime it doesn’t work the way I want it to, I scrap it and start over so it is taking me a little while.

I visited Kathy Schrock’s site but have used this site many times in my classroom, mostly for preparation of things.  I am a firm believer in working smarter not harder and Kathy Schrock has done a lot of work that I don’t have them time to do and am very grateful that she shares with other educators.  Her site is a wonderful resource for teachers and thank goodness she has been willing to share all her hard work so far.


Coffman, T. (2012) Embedding Information Literacy into your Course. 

Schrock, K. (2012) Kathy Schrock’s Guide for Educators.



Reflection Blog #3


Washington, DC The Capitol

This image of the Capitol building was found through a Google Image search and was located on the Flickr website.  I set my Google advanced settings to “free to use or share, even commercially” and sifted through all the images labeled under Washington, D.C.

I was so glad to have this lesson on searching by licences because I try to teach my students to give credit where credit is due.  I usually have had them copy and paste the URL into a text box that they add to the photo/picture so that they are giving credit to the sites that posted them but in addition to that I will now show them how to search by license so as to only access photos that have given permission to be used by others.

With a generation of students who are always looking for the easy way out, it is important to teach them that it is okay to use other people’s work as a resource as long they give credit to those who did the work and that includes photos, as well.  In a world full of technology that makes it easy to claim someone else’s work as your own, it is essential that students know the difference between stealing credit for someone else’s work and using it as a resource because if we don’t educate them on the difference, we will create a generation of lazy, apathetic members of society.  Their thoughts and ideas have to be their own with the help and support of what is available to them.


Stanford (2012): Retrieved from:

Image Retrieved from:


Reflection Blog #2

Digital Natives vs. Digital Immigrants

I know that all the research says that I am a digital immigrant but I don’t feel like one.  Technology has been a part of my education every step of the way and while I believe that it is an important asset to our classrooms and allows us to interact and explore things that we would otherwise not be able to, I think that is should not be all that is used in the classroom.  I am very fortunate to work in a school division that has provided a lot of technological resources to its teachers and students but technology has to be integrated into each classroom, not take over the educational process.  Students still need to know how to manipulate things and use the other resources around them to take full advantage of their education.  We need to teach them to use what they know to become troubleshooters and solve the problems and issues that they are working on and that does not always involve the technology afforded to them by their school systems.

After reviewing the two sites presented, The Core Knowledge and Partnerships for 21st Century Learning (P21), I could not really find anything inherently wrong with what they were presenting.  They both have really good points and ideas and I feel like if they worked together could come up with some really great lessons and curriculum but I have found that in public education there is not one good answer about how to reach every child because every child is different and I felt like the Core Knowledge did not account for the students who have learning disabilities, specifically processing issues and that P21 did not account for students who come from low income homes.  Together the two programs could help solve what the other is lacking.  If the Core Knowledge could integrate the P21 technology into its curriculum, it would promote inquiry in each classroom by first identifying the important information that the students need and then allow students to explore that information further.   (Coffman, p.  13)  It would also allow the students and teachers to collaborate to gather more about the Core Knowledge information and make the curriculum more enticing and engaging for the students.  This would also allow the students to absord the Core Knowledge while working at their own pace to delve futher.

I just think that it is so important that we keep the students at the front of all of these new teaching methods and fads because, really, they are the most important part of education.  While all the technology and new ways to teach are fantastic for today’s classrooms, sometimes students can be intimidated by it because of their styles of learning or their home lives.

I teach Spanish to 7th and 8th grades in a public school system and some days it is not about the amount of Spanish content they learn or how savvy they are with technology but instead that they showed up.  We have to remember that all of these movements in education usually start with someone trying to sell a product (and don’t get me wrong, a lot of them are really great products) but they aren’t doing it with the students in mind, they are trying to sell the teachers and administrators.  I could tweak both of these programs to fit my classroom and I just might, but individually they are both missing something;  Together they make up some of what is missing.



There is already so much out there to help enhance classrooms with the technology available to them.  I love my SMARTBoard and we have tried lots of different interactive white boards in my division and SMART is by far the best I’ve used and it’s provides lots of resources for FREE!  Check out the link below to find lots of great interactive activities to use in your classrooms.


Coffman, T. (2009). Engaging students through inquiry-oriented learning and technology. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Education.

Partnership for 21st Century Skills (2011). P21 FAQ. Retrieved September 6, 2012 from:

The Core Knowledge Foundation (2010).  Our philosophy: Every child deserves equal access to common knowledge. Retrieved September 6, 2012 from:


Reflection Blog #1

Technology Integration Matrix

1.  Describe 1 example that you found especially compelling and 1 that made you raise an eyebrow skeptically.  Explain and provide support from  your readings.

Color Story – Active Learning, Adoption Level

I found this lesson very interesting and adaptable to my own classroom.  Because level 1 Spanish is very much like the elementary grades I can often take activities that are at an elementary level and adapt them to fit the needs of my own students.  I really liked this lesson because it not only practiced the vocabulary necessary but helped their brains make the necessary connections to relate that vocabulary back to something the know by changing the color of the word to match the word or even replacing a word with clipart.  This type of activity allows students to form the mental picture they need to come up with the vocabulary they are learning and that is used in their classroom everyday.  These mental connections help the retention of the material so that the students are able to reproduce it when it is necessary.

This lesson was also a good example of integrating many of Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction because it engages the students from the beginning to the end of the lesson allowing them to understand why they are learning the information in this was all while keeping their interest level by incorporating the technology available to them.

I think that reason that I was so drawn to this lesson was #1, because I could easily adapt it to my own classroom  and #2 because it does incorportate so many of Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction which, in my mind, all good lessons should do without even knowing this theory exists.  Gagne’s theory is a clear way to ensure that students are engages and retaining the necessary information.

Keyboarding Skills – Active Learning, Entry Level

I was not impressed by this activity because while it is important that students have keyboarding skills at some point in their education, I do not think it is necessary at the elementary level.  At this level, students are still putting language together and absorbing so much of what they need in other areas of technology and CORE subject areas that keyboarding is something that can be held off into their high school years.  I have found that even with my middle schoolers, their lacking keyboard skills do not hold them back from using and employing the technology available to them in school.  Also, the explanation of the video was not very useful at all.  It was not explained in any depth how this skill is incorporated in the class or, for that matter.

2.  Explain one example of technology use in teaching that you have seen first hand.  In which cell in the matrix would it fall? (e.g.  Collaborative-Infusion, Authentic Adoption, etc.)

Working in a county that is so technology forward, I have had the unique privilege to incorporate technology in my classroom everyday.  The great thing about technology in a foreign language classroom is that it allows for authentic interaction and exploration.  Students who may never have the opportunity to visit the places we talk about in class are able to explore those places through webquests and virtual field trips.  They then take these experiences and turn them into presentations to class either by PowerPoint or Photostory and share with the class what they learned, saw and felt about their discoveries.

I think that this sort of use of technology falls into the Authentic-Adaptation category of the Integration Matrix because it is allowing the students to explore and immerse themselves in something that is outside of their everyday lives and it allows them to choose how they do it all while being in a controlled environment like a webquest or virtual field trip.