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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tool #11: Self Assessing and Reflecting

1. What are your favorite tools you now have in your personal technology toolbox? Briefly describe a particular activity that you will plan for your students using at least one of these new tools.

My gadgets are: 2 laptops - my school Dell PC & my personal (aging) Mac Powerbook, iPad, cell phone, Flip camera, digital camera, 5 old IBM laptops, etc.
I use a broad spectrum of digital approaches. These have mentioned in prior blog posts. It is important that students become comfortable with all kinds of digital tools. Sometimes they need to be forced out of their little boxes, which often are little more than texting, updating their FB status, watching Youtube videos, gaming. When I announce that I am sending them an e-mail message, the nearly universal response is "I never read my e-mail". I tell them that they had better start. My approach to digital projects is to patiently but firmly insist that they can indeed learn new things. I tell them that I am happy to sit beside them and help them make their way through it, but there is no alternate assignment. And then they surprise themselves and get it done.

2. How have you transformed your thinking about the learning that will take place in your classroom? How has your vision for your classroom changed? Are you going to need to make any changes to your classroom to accommodate the 21st Century learner?

I think I'm a bit of an outlier here, because I've always enjoyed jumping into things and taking a few risks. I am very fortunate to have manageable groups so this isn't so daunting. My thinking has undergone a gradual transformation for a while now, regarding digital communication and social media. However, there are some really wonderful, very old-fashioned teacher/learner experiences that can only happen in a face-to-face situation. 

3. Were there any unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?

Hmmm, I was rather surprised at how clunky this assignment was. It did not flow, and flow is really important to me. Also, I am a very visual person, and some aspects of this seemed so opaque that I just had to force myself to complete the tasks. (Other personal issues - my mother's death and funeral, revising the German AP syllabus, preparations for the German exchange - slowed me down a lot. But there's always something.) I did discover a few gems, though, and have a few new ideas.

One thing that I have seen - and which did not surprise me at all - is how INCREDIBLY patient, kind, helpful, resourceful, upbeat, knowledgeable, doggedly persistent our librarian is. What a HUGE task this has been for her to coax / herd us all toward our destination. She deserves fresh flowers every day!

My advice might have been that the iPad was the reward that we received upon completion of this "11 Tools" task. That would perhaps have motivated some of the more reluctant among us, or it would have freed up a few dozen iPads which could have been put to use by those who really recognize their value. 

Tool #10: Underneath it All - Digital Citizenship

1. Discuss at least three things you would want to make sure your students understand about being good digital citizens.
2. Share at least one of the resources mentioned above or on the Ed Tech website that you plan to use instructionally.
3. Explain briefly how you would "teach" the idea of digital citizenship to your students.
4. Explain briefly how you plan to share the idea of digital citizenship with your parents.
1. Students need to know:
a. Tools are tools and we need to know how to use them properly and take care of them.
b. Safety is essential - swimming, driving, cooking, using digital and social media all require careful use.
c. All must learn respect for individual privacy and intellectual property.
2. I have already used many of the digital tools described on the Ed Tech website. Google Docs is very helpful. I like some of the apps created by the Goethe-Institut, Deutsche Welle, ZDF, etc specifically for German language learners. I'm looking forward to using Skype.
3. Teaching digital citizenship is best done by modelling responsible behavior. Persistently guiding students, helping them make the best use of their resources, maintaining high standards pays off eventually.

4. Parents need to see examples of student products. From time to time, a component of the digital assignment should be parent feedback. I have created e-mail contact groups for each of my classes. This is another way to facilitate effective and timely communication.

Tool #9: Incorporating Classroom-Based Devices as Tools for Learning

  1. Why do you think it is important to tie the technology to the objective?
The medium must be compatible with the learning and performance goals. If it isn't, a lot of time and effort can be wasted.

2. Why should we hold students accountable for the stations/centers?

They need to be thoughtful and careful with any equipment - the books in their backpack, the facilities, etc. The facilities must be in the same good condition for the next group of students, ready to be used.

3. Visit 2 of the applicable links to interactive websites for your content/grade level. Which sites did you like. How could you use them as stations? How can you hold the students accountable for their time in these stations?

It has been my observation that students need guidance from a well-prepared teacher in order to make best use of his/her time, whether in the classroom or at home. They can get distracted by "shiny objects" in their digital environment as well as in their physical environment. The teacher is like a Himalayan Sherpa. He doesn't do the hiking for you, but he definitely keeps you heading in the right direction.

4. List two to three apps you found for the iPod Touch/iPad that you can use in your classroom. What do you see that station looking like? How can you hold the students accountable for their time in these stations?

Promising iPad apps:

ZDFmediathek provides reports on news, weather, sports, culture, etc.

DW-Themen provides short articles on current events, a glossary, and a short reading comprehension quiz.

LEO is an interactive German/English dictionary and phrase app developed by the Technische Universitaet Muenchen, and excellent source of information for students of German.

Adventure German is a game for learners of German and was created by the Goethe-Institut.

5. What about other ways to use the iPod Touch/iPad? Share another way you can see your students using the device as a station.

I have used the iPad to record videos of student presentations. Students have used it to search for information at German web sites. We have used it to watch youtube videos of a German singer-songwriter as well as interviews and speeches. It is a handy gadget, and it has much to offer.

Tool #8: Taking a Look at the Tools

After watching the videos/tutorials, list two to three things you learned about the device(s) that will be in your classroom this fall. How do you plan to manage the device(s) in your classroom? Do you have ideas/suggestions that others may find useful?

My students and colleagues know that I have never shied away from new technology, and I have never worried about being fully prepared or ready for every exigency. My philosophy is: 1. If I don't know something, one of my students will, and 2. It will all turn our OK. So far, that has been the case. For the past few years, I have had a set of 5 old IBM laptops in my classroom. We use them all the time for all sorts of things. For a long time, I have been using Flip cameras, iMovie, iTunes, GarageBand, and other tools to create student projects. 
The first time I used Flip cameras, I realized that I had no idea how to do an important step in the process. I just turned to one of the girls who was a little ahead of the others and asked her to figure it out. In a matter of minutes she was able to explain it to everyone. Problem solved! 
Another time, the students were creating slide shows with narration. They then had to "share" them - upload them to the site. Some of the kids were having trouble, so I asked one of them to create a step-by-step flow chart. It was very clear and easy to follow. Two years later, I'm still using it. 
Although I haven't been using the iPad very long, we have already made use of it in my classroom. My AP students are also permitted to use their iPhones to access the interactive German/English dictionary 
During the "11 Tools" project, I discovered Google Docs. We have already begun to use Google Docs presentation tool for student projects. This has become the most valuable item in my "11 Tools" tool bag. Students no longer have the excuse that they don't have the necessary software or that the formats are different or that their printer is broken. I can also look at the projects while they are underway and offer comments. Brilliant!!!

Tool #7: Reaching Outside your Classroom: Online Digital Projects

  1. After visiting the resources above, design a collaborative project with another classroom. 
  2. Post the following about the project:
    1. Content objective
    2. When you plan to implement
    3. What tool(s) you plan to use
    4. A brief description of the project (plan - two or three sentences)
    5. If you need to find another classroom - We can begin networking with other classrooms right here!
Previously, I was a member of Angel Course Development Training. Participants studied on-line teaching and learning via Region IV. After a semester of weekly sessions in synchronous and asynchronous learning, moodle, best practices and ethics, etc, I successfully completed all of the required assignments and received my certificate. We were required to conduct real time discussions where all participants were connected using the Blackboard platform. So I have experience using these tools.
Foreign language education is all about making connections with communities beyond our borders. Digital communication is the perfect medium for facilitating this. The great this is that we already have a partner school in place. Memorial HS students of German have participated for nearly 30 years in a student exchange with English students from Werner Heisenberg Gymnasium in Garching, a suburb of Munich.
My project would expand the scope of this exchange beyond the 20 MHS and 20 WHG kids and include students, faculty, families and communities. We would use many tools - blogs, skype, e-mail communication, etc. Specific areas would follow the AP syllabus: globalization, environment, family life, public and private identity, technology, beauty and aesthetics. Using tools appropriate for the task, students will gain a deeper understanding of German culture.

The project would begin during the summer of 2012. We will present our proposal to the Werner Heisenberg Gymnasium administration and decide on a focus for the first year's activities.

Tool #6: Using Web Tools to Promote Discussion in and out of the Classroom

Choose at least two of the tools from the above list. Create an account for each (if required). Use each of the tools you choose to create a sample of how you would use it in your classroom. Embed the sample (preferred) or link to the URL. Share your thoughts on how you see the tools being integrated into your classroom. How do you see them encouraging participation?

I have used digital media to promote discussion - blog, e-mail groups, the site for students of German. Skype would be very helpful in connecting my German student with teenagers in Germany. I have succeeded in creating and downloading a Skype account and ready to try it out.

I prefer the Wordpress to Blogger, because it is easier to use, easier for my students to write posts and comments, and more pleasing to the eye.

I have created an Edmoto account. For the moment, I'll just include the following link:

I created a short quiz using Edmoto, but some aspects are rather opaque, especially how to create the group that will take the quiz.