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.