Coffee Break Spanish is a series of podcasts that provide dialogs with specific vocabulary and are read with a Spanish accent rather than a Latin American accent. They can be very beneficial while learning Spanish because it goes into detail about the entire dialog after it is read and even gives some alternative vocabulary that could be used. There is one podcast - Lesson 37 - that I find very useful because it deals with asking and giving directions which is what I am practicing with my own students. Instead of listening to the entire podcast with explanaiton I would like to make it a listenting activity where my student will listen only to the dialog and answer questions about what they hear. That way instead of listening to the explanation they can provide me with an explanation about what they understood. They can then use the dialog as a model when they have to create their own dialog about asking for and providing directions with a partner.
Voxopop is a global message board where you can add voice messages to ongoing discussions. After connecting with a classroom in a Spanish speaking country (see previous post) it would be great to communicate through speech and share thoughts on a completed project. The advantage is that students can leave their voice messages for each other and do not have to both be using the tool at the same time. This is advantageous because if I connected with a class from a Spanish speaking country we would not be able to be in front of the computer at the same time due to time zone differences.
I can really see the benefits to using ePals, a site that promotes world-wide connections and communication between students. What I found most useful was the ease in which to connect with other classrooms - you just click the continent/country where you would like to find a classroom and there are numerous postings from teachers who want to collaborate. I have wanted to get my students involved in a penpal/Epal relationship with another school, but haven't because I didn't know how to find a classroom or how to get started. In the postings it even says the age of the students involved and how many there are so you are sure to find a good match for your own classroom. I also liked some of the ready-made projects offered by the site, especially "The Way We Are". The essential questions that the projects aims to answer include - how are we different from our ePal, how does the natural environment affect my ePal's life, and what effect does my ePal's culture have on his or her way of life. This goes hand in hand with my current classroom themes and is something I would like to use with my high school Spanish classes. The site promotes this specific project for elementary or middle school level, however I would like to modify the worksheets so that they are in Spanish and I would choose to collaborate with Spanish speaking students. Therefore this project would be at a level where my students could communicate with Spanish speakers using the target language. Additionally, learning about the culture and environment directly from a primary source would be exciting and motivating for students.
Check out the Epals website for great ideas on global communication!
Using videos in the classroom is a sure way to get students' attention. I found three videos and I posted the links in my blogroll. My favorite is the music video that teaches students how to conjugate Spanish -ar verbs in the present tense to a Justin Timberlake song. It would be a great video to show after teaching the new grammar point to help reinforce what was just learned. The video about searching on Google is a great resource for students when they are assigned a project or need to do some research using the Internet. It has a lot of useful information about narrowing down your search or how to focus your search to certain websites. Many students are unaware of these features.
Flickr is a great resource to bring in pictures for my students. In regards to culture, the possibilities are endless. If we are talking about a specific town or place I could search for pictures of that place. There are even pictures of foods, people and products from various locations. Showing real pictures makes a discussion in class more meaningful. Additionally I could share my personal photos from my travels without worrying about bringing in the physical pictures and having my students touch and bend them.
I could also use the pictures on Flickr to get my students talking and or writing. By using Bubblr, available at www.pimpampum.net/bubblr/ you are able to create comic strips using Flickr pictures. I created one that shows a skateboarder completing various tricks and the students could fill in what he is thinking using Spanish. This allows them to showcase some of their creativity. I would really like to take some pictures of myself - walking, falling, then the aftermath - and put the scenes into a comic strip using bubblr. The students would be amused to see me in the pictures and it would allow them to creatively use the grammar I am currently teaching - the preterite and the imperfect past tenses. To see the comic strip I created click on Andar en Patineta by Cwudzinski.
It seems like everyone is talking about Twitter lately, and it is not only for the actors of Hollywood. Many educators are starting to use this tool as a way to collaborate and offer real-time interaction between users. It can also serve as a forum to ask questions/get advice/receive directions/find support. For my own professional development it would be wise to find experts in the field of Spanish education to follow. It also makes sense to introduce Twitter to students in a way that is beneficial to their learning. Many students may already be familiar with Twitter and they may even be following some of their famous idols. However it would be great to show them how to use this tool in an academic sense. There were some good ideas in the following article/powerpoint called "27 interesting ways to use Twitter in the Classroom." One that would work well in a foreign language classroom is the story starter - where I could start a story and my students could continue it with a tweet. This provides even quiter students with a way to be heard. Another way to incorporate Twitter would be to post what is going on in the classroom and provide parents with another mode of communication with me. It would be a great way to make a quick annoucement to both parents and students. Overall Twitter can serve as a way to make writing more enjoyable and can promote literacy and editing skills at the same time. However one article, "Can we use Twitter for Educational Activities?" points out some flaws of Twitter in the classroom. The constant tweets can be a distraction for some students and having only 140 character tweets may lead to bad grammar skills. As a teacher you must also be aware of the privacy of the students and Twitter spam. Right now I do not think I am experienced enough using Twitter to introduce it into my classroom program. However I do believe it could help me personally in my own development by following other Spanish teachers, finding useful websites through them, and asking questions/seeking advice about the best ways to teach topics from people more experienced than myself.
While we already know the result of where the 2016 Olympics will be, you can still see the promotional videos for Madrid, Spain. I like them because they show parts of Madrid and use some basic Spanish. I showed two of them in my Spanish 2 class. Before watching we were able to talk about the process of picking a city and the importance of hosting the Olympics. Then we watched a video which showed parts of the city and another in which people spoke in the past tense: I sang, I lived, I applauded, etc. I covered up the subtitles and had my students try to understand what was being said. The video was perfect because it combined current events with the preterit tense, which I was already reviewing with my classes. Click here to see the post with the promotional videos