Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Putting it all together: Using technology in the language classroom

Les Contes de Fées

This is a unit that could be in a grade 10, 11 or 12 FSL classroom. The unit focus is on fairy tales, and the focus questions of the unit is "What are the lessons of our childhood" "Quelles sont les morales de notre enfance?". The final project of the unit is a group project where students will modify or create their own fairy tale, the project consists of a script/ prose of their fairy tale and a presentation of their fairy tale to the class (play, video, audio recording with powerpoint slides, prezi etc.) There are so many places in this unit that technology can play a role but here are a few key things I might try in the classroom.

Giving an example of a final product:
It is always important to show students what they are striving for in terms of the final product of their project. I would show examples of final products that other students had done before. Using youblisher to upload PDFs of students work and I would embed videos from other students past work. We might look at the examples briefly in class but by having them up on the blog the students can go back and look at them more closely to get ideas for their own project. 


Reading and listening to fairy tales:
Rather than have story time in class (which can take a lot of time and isn't always all that interesting) I would pre record my own voice, or the voice of a francophone friend, reading short fairy tales or fables. I could use an online program like soundcloud to record the stories and then I could embed the recording onto a blog that the students have access to and include the words to the fairy tale or fable or a set of questions to answer about the fairy tale in a google form . 

Creating an online forum for the students to communicate with each other. The project would be done in groups of 3-5 and I would show the students how to create a googledoc or a wikipage space where they can talk to each other bounce ideas around and put their rough drafts together

Correcting the work using BonPatron:
I would be sure to show the students how to use BonPatron in order to have them correct their written work before handing it in.

Reading 10: BYOD

Bring your own device! It's such a great idea when used effectively. The one argument of "not everyone has access" is becoming a non-issue in many school. I know in my practicum school I used technology that asked students to use their cell phones in class for things like poll everywhere and taking pictures of assignments and things we did on the white board together.

This article outlines some great ways that technology is being used with cell phones in the classroom. I would like to learn some new and exciting things that teachers are doing to integrate BYOD into the classroom. The criticism I have of this article is that it is not brining in any new ideas for me.

I would love to have a class set of ipads or tablets or similar devices and to create notes and activities all set around electronic devices rather than spend so much time photocopying paper and asking students to carry around a 20 pound text book. I'm pretty certain that we are going in that direction and we are using paper less and less for certain purposes (the use of the kindle and e readers rather than real paper back and text books). I am very excited to try in my future classroom to use these BYOD technologies and ideas and I hope that BYOD becomes less controversial and more like normal teaching. I am embracing the idea of students using their phones in class and becoming engaged with the learning by using technology.

Day 10: Presentations

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Reading 9: Comments

Powerpointless: I love this saying. I have had to sit through so many awful powerpoints throughout university and at conferences, but I have also seen some great presentations. I think that powerpoint is a good tool for students to use in class but they do need to be given a set of rules, or examples of what to do an what not to do in their presentation. I thought the author gave a good overview of what most people already know about presentations, and he made some good points about how to help students to create effective powerpoints. In class there is often a time when you want students to present their ideas to the class, and in a language class presentations can be a part of oral practice. It is important that you give students options on how they can present their projects, some students might feel more comfortable using a poster board, others might want to use powerpoint, or prezi or other online tools for presenting information. I like the idea of showing students new ways to present their projects and allowing them the opportunity to test out presentation tools. It is also important that the focus of the presentation be on the actual learned material and not the presentation tools exclusively. It may be important to have a class on how to best use the presentation tools before giving the students the time to create their own presentations.

Day 9: Group Work

I love google docs. I don't think I would have managed to get through all of the group work that we needed to do in the teaching program without google docs. I know that group work in school is often difficult with students who have different schedules, maybe sports after school etc and who have difficulty getting together with their groups. Using google docs allows students to do work more easily with each other without having to get together in real life to exchange ideas. 

I've also used google slideshow many times for projects where we need to present something. Having google slideshow means that the roles can be distributed more evenly, you don't need to have one person creating the powerpoint, everyone can contribute to the slideshow their own material. This allows for everyone to do a part of the actual learning. 

I've never used google forms but I can see it being a really great tool to communicate with students and parents. It might be great to use for teacher-teacher relationships and for Pro-D communication. 

Google Docs

Google Slideshow

Google Form

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Reading 8: Comments

This authors Blog post was very interesting if maybe a little scattered. I know from my own experience as a student and also from my practicum that there is real value to doing group work but a lot of the time they are more trouble than doing something on your own. I love the idea of using technology to make group work better. Using things like wikipages etc to create a forum where students can communicate with their group members at their own times and in their own space. I thought it was interesting that the author talked about using hyperlink, I can remember using hyperlink when I was in elementary school. I don't really see the application of hyperlink to group work but I think it's interesting that the author has been thinking about how to use technology in the classroom for so long. He must have some great ideas. I would like to read more of his blog posts and try to integrate some of his ideas on group work into projects I create in the future.

Day 8: Curating Content

I created a scoop it account with the Topic of French as a Second Language. I selected a couple of pages from the web that I liked. I know that it would take more time to create a really interesting scoop it page and I hope that I will get some suggestions from the scoop it site for my topic. I can see creating a scoop it with good resources for the classroom for students or for other teachers. I think if used properly delicious can be a great way to share resources among teachers. I haven't really researched the livebinder site but if you can upload word documents to the livebinder as well as webpages it think it would be a great site to create an online resource for teachers to share their content.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Reading 7: Comments

Innovations in Education

The reading for today comes out of left field for me, I didn't really know that curating content was a thing. However as I understand it it is the process of collecting materials from online sources and thinking about them critically, having a purpose in mind and creating a forum for them to be viewed by others. I wonder at the purpose of curating content or why you might want to ask students to curate content. I guess having students learn how to get content, and understand it is valuable but I don't really get curating. Maybe it will be explained in detail and with context in class and I will see the value of "curating content" but as it stands it is somewhat a foreign concept to me with no real life application.

Day 7: Podcasting

Here is episode 1 of Ensemble!! I love the idea of creating podcasts, once you get the hang of using garage band it it amazingly easy to make podcasts that sound kind of professional. I think students would love a project like this. Also if I had the time and motivation it would be fantastic to create your own mini lessons to go along with your in class material, kind of like the idea of flipping the classroom. I love being able to embed the file in the blog, I am very much in love with technology!! I can see the practical application of podcasting in the classroom. I will be looking at other language podcasts to see if there is anything that might be good to follow and listen to in the french classroom.<br />

listen to ‘Ensemble Episode 1’ on Audioboo

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Reading 6: Comments

I love when teachers use new technology to create excitement in their classroom while teaching skills that have been important for decades. Oral communication is not new to the classroom, teachers have been asking students to give oral presentations in front of the class for a long time, but giving it a twist by asking students to create podcasts might bring a new sense of excitement. I really like the author's point about creating an authentic purpose for learning- creating your own content rather than just consuming it. Giving the students the goal of creating this podcast that potentially people from around the world could listen to.

I was thinking of some applications of podcasting and Concour d'art oratoire came to mind right away. As most french immersion and francophone students will remember presenting concour d'art oratoire was a yearly struggle. Having the students create a podcast of their concour would allow them to listen to themselves, share their concour and maybe alleviate some of the fear of presenting in front of the class (I would still want students to practice speaking in front of the class but they would have the podcast that they created that was perfect and edited to feel confident about) I would also love to listen to some of the concours that I have heard in the past but which have been lost to memory.

Another great thing about podcasting is that it is giving students a skill: story telling. A real life applicable skill that might follow students their whole lives, maybe students will have an interest in broadcasting, in entertainment, politics etc because of their experience creating podcasts. Being confident in oral presentations is a fantastic skill to pick up as a young student. I also really love that it is a project that parents can really engage with, they can listen to their child's podcast and feel like they are engaged in their child's learning. Anytime you can get parents more involved in their child's learning it is a great thing.

Day 6: Vocabulary Building


Striped dress
84 CAD -

Alexis Mabille bustier top
435 CAD -

MOTHER DENIM skinny jeans
325 CAD -

High heels
84 CAD -

Steve Madden high heels
150 CAD -

CÉLINE mini bag

KORS Michael Kors michael kors watch
61 CAD -

River Island feather earrings
9.46 CAD -

Here is a sample of a polyvore I created. I really enjoyed doing this and I can see how students could become very involved in creating their own polyvore. I'm not really sure if I would ever use this in class but I like the forum and it does make for a fun way to pass the time. 

Wordle: Moss
I like the idea of wordle as a pretty picture that alludes to a certain topic or content. I don't really see how it is all that useful in the classroom but it might be a fun cover page that students can make for a project or a way of synthesizing a unit. Creating a picture book is a cool idea for a project where you might ask students to write a story to go along with the pictures you've chosen for the book but I am not sold on using other peoples pictures from flickr to create the book. As a project I asked students to create a story using pictures or video to show their daily lives. Many students used powerpoint to show their story, some used prezi, a couple of students created stories on paper, I could have shown them the bookr site and that forum could be another option for presenting their project.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Reading 5: Comments

I like the message of this article. Sometimes when teachers don't like students doing certain things, like using wikipedia as a source or using translators or whatever it may be, teachers will just say, don't do it, and then ignore the problem. I like that this author is urging teachers to accept that students are going to use translators even if you warn them not to, and that it is our job to show students who to best use translators. I use google translate often as a quick reference instead of online dictionaries because sometimes its faster to translate one or two words, but I do have enough knowledge of the languages to judge the validity of the translation. I think making online translators part of a project at the beginning of the year could be a great idea.

During my practicum I encouraged students to use online dictionaries, I showed my grade 11 and 12 the grammar check website, "" and I even suggested that they use google translate for certain checks. You can always tell when a student has written something in english and put it into the translator and not checked the outcome. Making your students aware of the pitfalls of online translators can be a great learning opportunity and will hopefully make for fewer incoherent projects and papers that you have to give back to the student for a second try. I would be interested in coming up with a very well thought out project and graphic organizer to help show students the pros and cons of online translators.

Day 5: Ebooks and Publications

Guide to Boundary Bay Field Trip
I chose to upload an instructional guide that I made for a Biology class as a field trip project. Although this particular documents wouldn't be useful for the classroom it might be a neat way to share resources with other teachers. I really like the idea of creating an easy to view flip book of a pdf document. There are times when I wonder about the validity of asking students to copy down notes when there is no distinct learning goal associated with the act of copying. It might be nice in certain situations to have the option of guiding students to a site where they can view the notes or activity that you want them to have without asking them to print it off or without having to make 60 copies of the document yourself. I like the format of the youblisher and how easy it was to use. 

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Reading 4: Comments

I loved the suggestions made in this article about showing students strategies for reading in their L2. I love practical ideas in articles, ideas that I can see myself implement in the classroom. The idea of using non-sense words to show the students that they can guess when reading in their L2 is something I will definitely try. In general there is a lack of emphasis on teaching students strategies, such as reading strategies, in the classroom. This is not only true for the L2 classroom but for all subject matter. We need to be teaching students the strategies that they need to read, to understand a text, to pull information from text, to study etc.

Another great thing about this article is the focus on students deciphering context. There has been an emphasis in several of the articles about creating context for the students to help in their understanding. I love the emphasis on context rather than trying to ask students to understand random sentences pulled out of nowhere that have no context like "my aunt's pen is on my uncle's desk". When in life do you ever need to understand anything with no context? Giving students the tools to use metacognitive skills to think about the reasons why the text was written, the purpose of the text and the goal of the author allows them to build context themselves. Making it very explicit what is expected of the students as they read a text allows them to become confident in their understanding skills. It is important to give students the confidence they need in order to challenge themselves.

Reading matters

Day 4: Music and Culture

Grand Corps Malade: Les Voyages en Train 

Je crois que les histoires d'amour c'est comme les voyages en train
Et quand je vois tous ces voyageurs, parfois j'aimerais en être un

Pourquoi tu crois que tant de gens attendent qur le quai de la gare
Pourquoi tu crois qu'on flippe autant d'arriver en retard

Les trains démarrent souvent au momenty où on s'y attend le moins
Et l'histoire d'amour t'emporte sous l'oeil impuissant des témoins

Les témoin, c'est tes potes qui te disent au revoir sur le quai
Et regardent le train s'éloigner avec un sourire inquiet

Toi aussi tu leur fais signe et t'imagine leurs commentaires
Certains pensent que tu t'plantes et qu't as pas les pieds sur terre

Chacun y va de son pronostic sur la durée du voyage
Pour la plupart le train va derailler dès le premier orage

Le grand amour change forcement ton comportement
Dès le premier jour faut bien choisir ton compartiment

Siège couloir ou contre la vitre, il faut trouver la bonne place
Tu choisis quoi? une love story de première ou seconde classe

Dans les premiers kilomètres, tu n'as d'yeux que pour son visage
Tu calcules pas derrière la fenètre, le defilé des paysages

Tu te sens vivant, tu te sens leger, tu vois pas passer l'heure
T's tellement bien qu't as presque envie d'embrasser le controleur

Mais la magie ne dure qu'un temps et ton histoire bas de l'aile
Toi tu te dis que tu n'y es pour rien que c'est sa faute à elle

Le ronronnement du train te saoule et chaque virage t'écoeure
Faut que tu te lèves, que tu marches, tu vas te dégourdir le coeur

Et le train ralenti et c'est déjà la fin de ton histoire
En plus t'es comme un con tes potes sont restés à l'autre gare
[ Lyrics from: ]
Tu dis au revoir à celle que tu appelleras désormais ton ex
Dans son agenda sur ton nom elle va passer un coup de tipex

C'est vrai que les histoires d'amour, c'est comme les voyages en train
Et quand je vois tous ces voyageurs parfois j'aimerais en être un

Pourquoi tu crois que tant de gens attendent sur le quai de la gare
Pourquoi tu crois qu'on flippe autant d'arriver en retard

Pour beaucoup, la vie se résume à essayer de monter dans le train
à connaitre se qu'est l'amour et se découvrir plein d'entrain

Pour beaucoup, l'objectif est d'arriver à la bonne heure
Pour reussir son voyage et avoir accès au bonheur

Il est facile de prendre un train, encore faut il prendre le bon
Moi, je suis monté dans deux trois mais c'était pas le bon wagon

Car les trains sont capricieux et certains sont inaccessibles
Et je ne crois pas tout le temps que avec la SNCF s'est possible

Il y a ceux pour qui les trains sont toujours en grève
Et leurs histoires d'amour n'existent que dans leurs rèves

Et y a ceux qui foncent dans le premier train sans faire attention
Mais forcement ils descendront déçu à la prochaine station

Y a celles qui flippent de s'engager parce qu'elles sont trop émotives
Pour elles s'est trop risqué de s'accrocher à la locomotive

Et y a les aventuriers qui enchainent voyage sur voyage
Dès qu'une histoire est terminée, ils attaquent une autre page

Moi après mon seul vrai voyage, j'ai souffert pendant des mois
On s'est quitté d'un commun accord mais elle était plus d'accord que moi

Depuis je traine sur le quai je regarde les train au départ
Y a des portes qui s'ouvrent mais dans une gare, je me sens à part

Y parait que les voyages en train finissent mal en général
Si pour toi c'est le cas, accroche toi et garde le moral

Car une chose est certaine, y aura toujours un terminus
Maintenant tu es prévenu la prochaine fois tu prendras le bus.

       I actually used this song with my French 11 and 12 class. On the very last day I wanted to do something fun with them so I decided to teach them "verlan" the french slang where you say words backwards. There is one example of verlan in this song so it maybe wasn't the best example of verlan but I really liked this song and there is very entertaining dancing in the music video that the students really enjoyed. 
      In class I gave the students the lyrics first and we went over what the general story was we also looked at some of the words that were new and I gave a lesson on "verlan". We watched the video and listened to the song and the students were pretty lost since the singer does say the words really fast, but they got the story and we did stop the video to listen to his use of "verlan" a couple of times. I thought it was good to show them some french music that was more modern than what they usually heard in french class and I also liked the idea of showing them a different genre of music than they are used to. 

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Reading 3: Comments

Reading for day 4

Culture in L2

The article and the responses to it seem to be having a very interesting conversation about the place of culture in the ESL classroom. I think the discussion can very easily be broadened to the L2 classroom in general. I really believe that culture has a very important and valuable role in the L2 classroom. The language it influenced by the culture and the culture is influenced by the language, one cannot be without the other in my opinion. The purpose of a learning a new language is not pass a test in the end and forget what you learned but rather to be able to put what you learned into practice in the real world. Presumably when you get to the "real world" you will be inundated with the culture of that world. Having been exposed to some aspects of culture needs to be a part of the L2 classroom.

Using the "culture corner" sections in the text book is not adequate in my opinion, and due to the nature of text books most of the time the culture corner is a bit out of date.  Using video and music might be a great way to add culture into some lessons. It might also be an interesting year long project to connect students in the L2 classroom with other students in a corresponding L2 classroom in another culture. (pen pals between english speaking canadian kids learning french and french speaking canadian kids learning english) Another great way of having cultural connections in the L2 classroom would be to bring in guest speakers if possible. A guest speaker who is a native of a culture that speaks your target L2 classroom and who can bring in some artifacts.

Another question regarding culture in the classroom is what kind of culture do we include. There are many countries and regions that speak French for example. If we feel a certain connection to one culture we may be inclined to highlight it, but ideally it would be interesting to show many different regions' cultures in the classroom. In practice it might be hard to find good quality resources for all of the different cultures that speak your target language but making an effort to show that there are different cultures that speak the language is better than ignoring the idea of culture completely in the classroom because you can't do it all. To me it is not even a question of whether or not we should "teach" culture in the classroom, the only question is what the best way of doing it is and how can we make it more a part of the lessons and units and less a "culture corner".

Day 3: Upload Video

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This is a very rough draft of what I might have up on my blog for students to go to to review what they learned in class. For certain concepts in science some students grasp it right away and others need to be reminded over and over again. Having a screencast up somewhere that the student's who need it can go and review would save me the after school time and the time in class re-explaining concepts. Especially if there was a full bank of these kinds of short lessons with detailed description of what they covered the students might get used to using screencasts to review from and maybe even learn from. I love the idea of flipping the classroom but I really think it needs to be done in a way that doesn't completely leave certain students behind, creating review screencasts that students can go to could be a nice way to slowly flip the classroom. It was reasonably easy to create this screencast and I know that if I gave myself more time I could have done a much more elaborate and probably clearer job of explaining my concept. I think that in the future I will try creating more screencasts and hopefully start to have a bank of them to share with my future students.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Reading 2: Comments

Response to reading for Day 3: 

I really like how the article is trying to steer teachers away from showing complete films in the classroom. I think that there is value in showing video in the classroom. Students in L2 classrooms need to be exposed to native speakers of the target language however it is true that they will loose interest quickly if they do not have something to hold them accountable to listening.

I think it would be great to use video in such a way as to create some kind of interactive activity with the students. Showing a video clip that can be stopped deconstructed with the students and asks them to respond to certain questions or situations might be a way to make video clips more functional in the classroom. I really think that if we are trying to create conversational fluency in our students we need to focus on real life situations, and having all of the visual cues that they might have in a real life conversation with a native speaker.

Creating a script with the students’ conversation with the audio clip might be a way to assess understanding. Maybe using the program might lend itself to creating a forum for this kind of response from students.

Video clips might also be a great way to show students aspects that are culturally relevant scenes that might peak an interest in the students’ passion for the language. Showing video clips of this kind might require a different kind of assessment of comprehension, rather than needing to understand every word the students would need to understand context and general ideas. 

Monday, 23 July 2012

Reading 1: Comments

Response to reading 1

 Listening most definitely is a skill that needs to be taught, not only in the L2 classroom. The article outlines 6 strategies to use in the classroom to facilitate student listening. I like the idea of using the "think aloud" strategy as a way of showing your students how to actively listen. I find that often we as teachers take for granted that students have the skills they need already and that we do not have to teach them the skills only the content. We are responsible for creating students who understand how to learn. I think about how the L2 languages that are taught are actually applicable in real life, say for instance while traveling to a foreign country, and I think one of the most often overlooked ideas in the language classroom is that of context. When a learner applies their listening skills in the real world they are given a context, they can "read" the speaker and the context. Often in the language classroom we expect students to create context based on very little information, or understand oral language with no context. I believe that technology can really help teachers to create that context and teach students to "listen" actively based on all the information they have.

I would also be really interested in looking into the two surveys which the article recommends in order to assess the listening skills that the students have. If I have time I will be looking into how these surveys work and what types of questions they ask of students.

Reading for Day 2

Day 1: Create a Blog

Link to Class Blog:
Language and Technology: LLED 480D Gordon Powell