This is an inspirational and somewhat quick read for how actual MFL teachers are using technology in their classes to increase engagement and teach more efficiently. A side note: the majority of the people who contributed to this e-Book have been in my PLN for months. It was nice reading the wisdom they could share in more than 140 characters. I have been benefiting from their knowledge from tweets and blog posts.
I have many of the shared experiences they had. There are some highlights below (mostly to refresh my memory for later). If any of this interests you, you should check out the book yourself because your personal highlights will most likely be different than mine.
- Bookr ~ create a ‘book’ using images from Flickr. This would be great when discussing a new cultural topic. There is also a group on Flickr where Creative Commons images that would be applicable in foreign language education are stored.
- Easispeak Microphone ~ easy to use microphones that can be plugged directly into a USB hub to transfer the information. It seems to be the audio sibling to the Flip video camera. Personally, I would rather have 1:1 net books with Audacity installed.
- Using Phones ~ Most phones have audio recording capabilities. Instead of paying for a class set of audio recorders, allow the students to use their cell phones to record themselves. There are options for uploading or sending recorded messages from cell phones to other websites so everyone can have access. Or they could just pass their cell phone and share with a partner.
- Songsmith ~ This is from Microsoft Research (you are able to get a trial version). You sing into the computer and record your voice. You choose the style of music you want to accompany your singing and Songsmith is able to match music to what you sing.
- GoogleMaps ~ Last year I started to use GoogleMaps to have the students practice giving and following directions in Spanish. Last year, I used my laptop and just projected the map on the screen. It was hard for the students to see the details. On the plus side, they enjoyed occasionally sitting clustered on the floor around the screen. It was always an option when we did the activity. They felt like they were in elementary school again and thought it was a treat. This year I travel to a room with 1:1 laptops, so it will make it even easier to have students give directions to a specific location. The idea I got out of the book was to find a directional path that includes lots of pictures. Google has linked images to many of the routes – so when it says turn right, you will see an arrow going right on the street. This should help ease students into giving directions. This is especially challenging for 8th graders since they do not get to drive yet, so they have limited senses of directions. By giving them pictures, they will not get it wrong because they are confused about where they should be going.
- Build Your Wild Self ~ Easily my favorite discovery from the reading. Every year, I have done a creative creature activity with the students. Originally students had half a period to draw a creative creature and half a period to describe the creature using Spanish adjectives. This year, I wanted to make the activity more technological savvy. I was unable to find a suitable digital (and free) creature creator. Some of the students attempted to use Paint, but it was too time consuming. On the plus side, we were able to publish and share the creatures on a Voicethread. That was a huge success. However, I am already excited to do this same project next year with the Create Your Wild Side website from New York Zoos. There are lots of options, so the students will have a chance to be original. However, it will not become overwhelming. It should also cut down on the amount of time students need to create their creatures. More time can be spent writing, editing, and publishing the creatures and sentences.