Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I.E.P.: Rosetta Stone Software

Rosetta Stone is a software program designed to teach a specific language to non-speakers of that language. Students set up their own profile and can chose between a number of activities that include reading, writing, speaking, and listening components. (I have determined that the Recommended Program would work best for my students.) This is an immersion program and at no time do students hear their native language.

Each level is divided into four units and each unit has a Core Lesson and a number of additional activities. Vocabulary and grammar are introduced through a series of questions associated with images. If students answers correctly, they progress. If they answer incorrectly, they have to answer again. At the end of each unit is a Milestone. A Milestone is a staged conversation in which students have to provide the correct responses based on the images seen and what the other people, represented by pictures, say to them. This allows students to practice the language in a realistic setting.

The current question everyone asks foreign language teachers is, “Does Rosetta Stone software work?” This question has been posed to me many times this year and up until now I did not have a good answer. I did not learn how to speak Spanish in this way so I did not know. However, that excuse did not work well when my Superintendent approached me at the last Parent Teacher conferences, his son is in my Spanish II class, and asked if the district should invest in the software. After stumbling over my words, and possibly making an idiot of myself, I became determined to find out what the hoopla was all about and if it could benefit my teaching.

To figure out if it could be helpful I decided to open the one copy of Rosetta Stone purchased by my district at the beginning of the year. I started by reading the instructions and the literature provided in the package, then I posted the question on Teacher.Net (the online chat form I used this semester for Spanish teachers) but did not get any responses, I also read reviews by others online, and finally I set up a profile for myself. I started at the beginning of Level 1 and skipped around looking to see what I could use. I am still not sure if this program is all it claims, but most reviews are good and I would be curious to try a different language out for myself. Already being fluent in Spanish it is hard to know what I would learn if I were not.

I think that this software could be incredibly useful in my classroom as a supplemental activity. I would not use this on a daily basis but it would make for an excellent emergency sub plan, a great way to review information before a test, and an engaging way to introduce new vocabulary. There are examples of each of these lesson plans at this link. I would spread out the lesson plans posted throughout Spanish I and Spanish II and no two lessons would take place within the same unit.
What I like best about the program in a classroom setting is that students can move through the lesson at their own pace and there are enough supplemental activities to keep the faster students busy while the slower learners progress. I also really like how it tests each student individually on pronunciation. We do numerous speaking activities in class in large and small group form, but it is difficult to catch every slip up every time and the more often students say a word the wrong way the more likely they are to remember it that way. The program also gives students feedback after every exercise and provides them with a progress report at the end of each Core Lesson and supplemental activity. I believe that when learning a language students need constant feedback and an individualized computer program can accomplish this more efficiently than I can.

Overall, I like Rosetta Stone for my classroom and I am going to discuss the program with the Superintendent in the near future

image used from Rosetta Stone at this URL.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Social Networking Spanish Style

The web- based community that I participated in this semester was Teachers.Net a Spanish Teachers Chatboard. On a number of occasions I sought the advice of others in the units that I was planning. In particular other teachers helped me to understand more fully the differences between the words “por” and “para” both of which technically mean “for” and on the differences in the schedules between Latin America, Spain, and the United States. I took the ideas that they offered and adapted them to fit the needs of my class.

In addition, I responded to posts when I felt like I had strong contributions to make. I advised a teacher about how to create Spanish Sub Plans for non-Spanish speaking subsitutes (I knew of a good book) and this in turn started an email correspondence between us.

However, more helpful to me than participating in the chatboard was reading the posts of the other teachers. I made it a point to visit the site at least once a week and I spent hours pouring over posts and looking at the recommendations of others in my profession. There are constant debates about grammar and vocabulary rules that I had frequently wondered about but had no one to talk to about them. Also, other teachers provided me with other links to look at and the reflexive power point I am using in my Teacher Work Sample came from this site. I also have joined Yahoo Groups for Spanish Teachers based on a recommendation from this site and used an awesome and highly esteemed video from YouTube on the day before Valentines Day to have my students practice listening to Spanish vocabulary they know.

This assignment is over now but I plan on continuing to use this and other sites I found through Teacher.Net’s forum in years to come.

Spanish Resources Online

My Favorite Resources:

Online Resources for Teachers of Spanish


Google Image Search

The three resources above are just a few examples of the websites I have used this year to improve upon my teaching abilities. Whenever I feel stuck or confused I take to the web. These websites are just examples of what is out there that I have accessed and have become important references for me.

Online Resources for Teachers of Spanish is a site created by an individual teacher that lists units she teaches in Spanish I. Each of the pages attached to this site have been created by this teacher and outline ideas for activities that she uses in her classroom. I originally found this website when looking for help on a unit about food and I used her idea about having students create a menu. Since that time I have gone back to her website on other occasions and I look forward to incorporating more of her ideas next year.

Teach-nology is a database that I use when looking for help on many of the units I teach. It lists 56 different websites for Spanish lesson plans many of which I have accessed this year and found to be very helpful. One great activity I found that my students absolutely loved was on how to teach colors. Each student is given a slip of each color that is taught and they must put them in order on their desk as you recite colors. You recite colors more and more quickly as they progress.

Google Image Search is not much a secret nor is it specific to teaching Spanish but I had to include it on my list as it is the website I use most frequently. It is incredible. Whenever I teach new verbs I find pictures that represent the verb and have my students identify large images in the front of the classroom and then create flashcards using these images. We then use the flashcards in a number of activities. I would be a much poorer teacher if Google Image Search did not exist, as students frequently point out my inability to draw. I also recently used Google images to create an immersion lesson plan about animals. I could go on and on. I love it!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Explanation of Spanish Grammar Rule- Digital Story

I really had a lot of fun making this digital story, which explains how one category of irregular verbs works in the preterit tense of Spanish. My fear, however, is that without having a lesson based on how these irregular verbs work, and a general understanding of Spanish, you will not be able to understand it very well. I do think that it could be used as an anticipatory set for the lesson on how this class of irregular verbs works.

While I enjoyed the entire process of making the story map, writing the script, and creating the illustrations, I was frustrated by the technology and I am still not completely satisfied with my final product. When I uploaded the narration Windows Movie Maker did not want to accept the file format and it took me a number of hours and numerous phone calls to my technological savvy friends to get it figured out. Then I noticed that the recording device I used picked up all sorts of background noise. I have since lost my voice due to illness and cannot fix it at this point. I see why the final 20% of production takes 80% of the preparation time.

Please check out my video here, my story map (which ended up getting a bit twisted) and script here, and my rubric here.

I hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Article Assessment # 5

The Overdominance of Computers by Lowell W. Monke

In this article, The Overdominance of Computers, Monke makes a compelling argument about the use of computers in the classroom. He outlines how teachers need to help students develop responsibility and compassion before setting them loose with technology. Without these key components, students can easily abuse technology and create great injuries to individuals and society. He argues that even though we live in a highly motorized world, we do not teach six year olds to drive. Instead, we concentrate on raising responsible children that will someday bring this outlook into the driving world. In much the same way, at a young age kids need to be encouraged to explore the world around them and interact in person with other individuals. Only after students have explored the world surrounding them and have developed a sense of themselves in relation to the world, should they be encouraged to use technology.

  • Computers are powerful tools and can be used for both good and evil.
  • Students need to develop ethical discipline in order to resist the temptations presented by technology.
  • Kids need authentic experiences rather than the symbolic reality provided by technology in order to become complete, well-functioning adults.
  • One study shows that the use of technology overall has lowered the test scores of students.
  • Face-to-face interactions are one of the most important keys to reading-readiness.
  • The current generation experiences 30% less of face-to-face interactions than previous generations.
  • Computer time must be balanced with other activities in school.
  • In order to fix the mess that we have made of the world future generations will not need only technical skills but will need to be ethical, responsible adults.
  • After students develop responsibility and ethics it is important to introduce technology into the classroom in order to prepare students for the technological world we live in.
  • By high school digital technology must be prominent within the classroom.

I think that this article makes some great points and that educators should keep in mind exploration of the real world and human interaction when teaching. While incredibly important at an elementary school level, these things must be remembered even at the high school level. I get frustrated when my students are hesitant to interact with each other face to face but instead ignore the people around them in order to maintain text-message conversations with others. Technology is important and it does have a place in the classroom, but I think that other mediums need to not be forgotten.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Article Assessment #4

Assistive Technologies for Reading: Text-reader programs, word-prediction software, and other aids empower youth with learning disabilities.
by Ted S. Hasselbring and Margaret E. Bausch

In this article Hasselbring and Bausch outline how new technologies can assist students with special needs in the classroom and help them to find success at school. They argue that as more and more special education students are incorporated into the traditional classroom support must be provided to them, and that technology provides a likely solution. They outline the technologies that are available and how they might assist in a myriad of ways from reading selected text aloud to students to providing the necessary background information to kids before they read the material individually. The information and success rates they cite come from Kentucky where the majority of schools have adopted such technologies and have had pleasing results.
  • 44 percent of students with learning disabilities spend 80 percent or more of their school day in inclusive classrooms
  • These students are expected to perform grade-level work but are not given specialized support.
  • As many as 8 of 10 students with learning disabilities have reading problems that are so significant that they cannot read and understand grade-level material without help.
  • Text reading software helps these students by reading text aloud and provides them the opportunity to follow along at the same time.
  • Students using this software are more likely to go over the information more times than when teachers read aloud to them.
  • Word prediction, another feature of the program, predicts what word the student is writing and gives them several options to choose from which helps to speed up the writing process.
  • This program also reads back what students have written allowing them to self-correct their work.
  • These soft wares provide students who have difficulty reading and writing an equal opportunity to succeed in school.
  • Computerized reading training exercises have also proved highly effective in teaching students how to read independently.
  • One study reported that after using these programs 18% of students did not require further intervention after one year in the program.

These technologies sound amazing. I can see how they could be used in every subject taught in school. However, I do think that they present their own concerns. It is important to remember when using such technologies that each student must be individually evaluated to find out exactly what they need and how their needs can best be met by the program. It would be incredibly easy to make this technology available for everyone or to over-compensate for student difficulties with these types of programs. I think that if students can benefit from reading training programs that should be the key focus. The other technologies, which help students adapt, should only be used to help students until they are able to do it themselves, or in extreme cases. I wish I had these programs in my health class right now!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Educational Philosophy

In creating a movie that outlines my educational philosophy I was able to identify what is important too the education of my students . I took this philosophy and paired it with pictures of student work that I thought exemplified their accomplishments. Using MovieMaker I developed an audio/visual representation of my thoughts. Please read my Philosophy Statement below or watch the video at this link.

Philosophy Statement:
It is my philosophy that the classroom is not only a place to study the content area being taught, but an environment in which students are free to explore their individual capabilities and interests. As a high school Spanish teacher it is my job to help my students become active learners as we explore the distinct cultures and vocabulary of Spanish speaking regions. Students must be encouraged to, and supported in, taking risks, making mistakes, and learning from their errors. Laughter and a sense of comfort are key components to student achievement and success. If teachers are successful at building a trusting relationship with their students, there is no end to what can be accomplished together. Each student must be an equal participant and actively work to broaden their world view and communication abilities.