Tuesday, December 16, 2008

MovieMaker and PhotoStory

It's incredible what you can produce using MovieMaker and PhotoStory! With these two programs - both of them free and available for PC users - anyone can become a movie producer, filmmaker, director, actor, and sound engineer!

How to get these programs: MovieMaker is probably already on your PC. Look in your Start menu, click on "all programs" and then look for "Windows Movie Maker." It's most likely been on your computer forever, but you probably never noticed it (at least that's what happened to me!). The other program, PhotoStory, is available for free download (click here).

I use MovieMaker to edit videos that I record using either my Canon PowerShot SD800 (an excellent digital camera that also has digital video capabilities) or my Flip camera (I also recommend this - it's VERY easy to use and also lightweight and inexpensive!). I use PhotoStory mainly with still photos (digital or scanned in from "old school" prints!).

Click here for a full selection of videos I have created for use in teaching Spanish, French, English, Italian, German - and even one in Indonesian!

Quiet on the set... ¿listos? y... ¡acción!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Ning, and Twitter, and Flickr... oh my!

I have been exploring three new sites: Ning, Twitter, and Flickr. I include them all together in this blog post for several reasons... First of all, they all allow users to share information with other like-minded people. They all have potential uses for education (though I'm still working out what those could be!). And finally, they are all social networking sites that seem fun and easy to use. I'll start with Flickr first, since at this time, it's the site I know best.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, last month we were visited at our school by Will Richardson last month. He urged us to become familiar with web 2.0 sites for our own personal uses - and THEN we should explore the sites for educational purposes - only after we fully understand them ourselves. Well... I agree! I got into Flickr due to my current collecting obsession: vintage Pyrex (!) I am crazy for Pyrex bowls from the 50s, 60s, and 70s, and this mania brought me to a website for other Pyrex entusiasts like myself: PyrexLove. From that site, I was drawn to the Flickr site, where folks post photos of their latest Pyrex acquisitions. I now find myself checking Flickr on a regular basis for my own interests - and miraculously, ideas for teaching languages are starting to come... I could see sharing photos from the target culture and asking students to add comments and mark their favorites.

I am less familiar with Ning and Twitter, but have signed on for accounts on both. With Ning - a service that allows you to start an easy social network, I could start a simple website and have students sign on and share information (in the target language, of course). I plan to start a Ning for our upcoming participation in the North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad (NACLO). Twitter is a site that allows you to update your friends and family about your daily activities. It is what they call "micro-blogging." I am still exploring the use of this one for teaching world languages.

Does anyone have some creative ways to use these new web 2.0 sites for teaching languages?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Blogging in the language classroom

Little by little, teachers -- and their students -- are getting into blogs in our ESL and World Language Department! It's amazing what students are able to write in the target language, and they report having tons of fun while doing it. Check out some of our language blogs:

Palabras Pintadas - Spanish 5AP blog by Ms. DeSimone

Italiano Tre - Italian blog by Mr. Vittorino

El Blog de la Srta. K - Spanish 4 students by Ms. Kirschner

Cuna de Lobos - Spanish 3 students also love novelas!

Español 2 blogs by Ms. Reiss - period 2, period 3, and period 4

Italian blogs by Mr. Vittorino - Italiano Tre and Italiano Quattro

ESLebration - Middle School ESL classes

...and so much more to come!!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Will Richardson and Web 2.0

On November 4, a day that will long be hailed as historic in the United States, another sort of history-making event was happening at my school. We were fortunate enough at Herricks UFSD to be visited by Will Richardson, author of the book: Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. During his talk, Mr. Richardson inspired us to think about ways in which web technologies can transform what we are already doing in our classrooms. He shared many sites and tools that will prove useful in our daily teaching. Among these "gems" are:

Monday, June 2, 2008

Creating and Using a Voki Avatar

I feel as if every day something else pops up on the web that is fun, interesting and really useful for teaching languages. Today I messed around with Voki (http:www.voki.com). You can create an avatar (a computer version/representation of yourself) and use that image to say whatever you want - in whatever language you like! It is super easy - and terribly fun! You can make the avatar look like you (check out my attempt on the left) OR you can be a flower, a sumo wrestler, Hillary Clinton - whatever suits your fancy! There are loads of background to choose from as well. I love the Eiffel Tower and can picture my French teacher colleagues creating their own avatar and reporting some information "live from France"! I can envision students creating their own presentations using an avatar and their own voice - talk about lowering the affective filter... kids who are normally shy about presenting something in class could easily practice using their avatar. VERY cool! Check it out...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Skyping with Caracas

Anyone who has ever tried Skype is undoubtedly amazed. I first used Skype when I was travelling in Venezuela. I used it to make a personal call home - first to my home phone, and then to my husband's cell phone. The quality of sound was great and it was incredibly cheap (the 20 minute call cost less than a dollar, if I remember correctly). Since then I have wanted to "Skype" another classroom. This month, we finally did!

I established a "sister school" connection between our 7th grade middle school students and a 6th grade class of native Spanish speaking students in Caracas. We set up accounts on Skype (which is free) and set up a time to "meet." We connected a web cam, fired up the SmartBoard and placed the call. At first, we had trouble connecting, getting the web cam to work, etc. After a bit of a struggle, we were ready to start videoconferencing.

The students on both continents LOVED the activity. It was amazing to see the Venezuelan students crowding around their web cam as ours craned their necks to get in frame so that they could appear on camera as well. Students on both sides asked and answered the typical "checkpoint A" (level 1) questions: ¿Cómo te llamas?, ¿Cuántos años tienes?, ¿Qué te gusta hacer en tu tiempo libre? and so on. I was thrilled with all the language that they actually got to use during the 20 minute call!

To see our students in action during the Skype call, check out the video on our department homepage (scroll down to the bottom and click on the "Skyping in the Classroom Video."

Question: Are there any sites out there where people can simply connect "in the moment" to another classroom that is ready to Skype? One of our biggest challenges in this project was getting the time difference coordinated (believe it or not!) It would be great just to be able to connect at any time during the day and find another classroom ready to chat.

Who else has Skyped recently? I'd love to hear your experiences...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

VoiceThread - talking about photos online!

I really like VoiceThread. This site enables users to upload photos and then make comments (orally or in text format) about the photo. A teacher might upload a photo and have her/his students upload their comments about it. I think it has a lot of potential for teaching world languages and ESL. I am still in the process of finding the educational version and signing on as a teacher... Here's a really neat use of VoiceThread - imagine this with a class in Spanish!


Does anyone else use VoiceThread in teaching languages?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Using Web 2.0 technologies for teaching languages

I am obsessed! It is all so exciting. I am interested in the types of projects and activities that people have developed using web 2.0 technologies (i.e., blogs, wikis, podcasts) in teaching world languages and ESL. What are people finding particularly useful?

I especially LOVE wikis. They are so incredibly useful for collaborating on writing, peer editing, etc. What are YOU doing?