Wednesday, May 26, 2010

TechQuest Project Evaluation

I’ve learned a lot from the first phase of implementation of my New Student Academy TechQuest project. It was interesting to see it all come together at the end, at least the first stage of it. It’s really important that the entire is mapped out at least briefly, especially to guide you towards your end goal and to see the light at the end of the tunnel (although judging from mine, there never will be a clear “end”). That map will work as a guide for me during the next few months as I work to complete the entire project. Another important aspect that I would include would do differently is I would take a look at the resources I have for review (not for the actual teaching that I create myself, but for games and activities to send them to after they’ve completed my “class” and need more review) before I create my project. For example, if I have games to learn the information, and then I see the same games to use as resources, there isn’t a point in putting them in my project in the first place as actual learning, because they’ve already been created and I don’t want to reinvent the wheel.

I also am happy to say that I have found a quiz program to use to give feedback while the student is taking the quiz – ZOHO Challenge. It allows students to receive feedback and work their ways to the correct answer. It doesn’t just let the student go through the entire program without being accountable for their learning. It helps create a more meaningful experience with a higher accountability. I will be changing my entire project in regard to Google Forms and switch it with ZOHO. It is a great tool for students and teachers.

If I could give anyone a suggestion from my experience, it would be to 1) have a plan BEFORE you begin the project (actually written on paper), and 2) to start right away and work on it a little bit every week. If you don’t do this and it’s an assignment, you’re going to regret it. If you are just creating the project and it’s not a class you are going to feel overwhelmed and will probably give up if you don’t set a time frame and pace yourself. Also, something to think about is to make the project a stand-alone entity. For example, if you build this on your school website and you lose your job, you won’t be able to take the website with you. So, I recommend creating your own website to build the project.

Finally, I would do the same project again and would try to make more interaction in the learning process at the beginning of the project when the students are actually learning (and not reviewing). I plan to implement the next parts differently in this way (and change the number “class” to reflect this new way of viewing things). I will, as I have said before, use ZOHO Challenge and not Google Forms. I plan to implement this throughout my classes that I give. I will also be expanding my “Academy” to include all the materials and information we learn in class available to the students at home. 

Friday, May 21, 2010

Project Implementation - Podcast

I've included a picture below of my TechQuest.

 Follow the link to go my TechQuest, New Student Academy.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wayne State Technology Presentation

Monday, May 10, 2010

Internet Research for TechQuest

Even though there are a lot of great resources online for reinforcing the Spanish language, after doing research there are not a lot of great resources of attempted projects that involve a catch up program similar to what I have proposed. There are, however, several resources that will guide me in a quest to create a great online program.

First and foremost, the most accurate research that I have found was when I attended the MIWLA (Michigan World Language Association) Annual Conference. Through this conference, I was able to network with a variety of different educators and consultants that have allowed us to take our program to the next level. This is important as I have used email on countless occasions to ask questions and receive responses, but no one had a really great idea for how to implement this sort of project into my curriculum.

After searching Google as a ‘first resort’ I couldn’t find anything that pertains to my project. I searched keywords such as “Elementary World Language Program”, and then switched “World Language” with “Foreign Language”. I got a broad amount of search results, and then added words to define more in-depth what I was searching such as “AND entry points” or “AND catch up”. I didn’t find any inquiries into what I was looking for, so I decided to consult Ñandutí, a specialized site for K-8 World Language teachers, but still came up empty handed.

So, I took it to the next level and posted on Ñandu, an email listserv for K-8 World Language Educators. The message I posted is:

“Hi All:

We started a K-8 Spanish program last year with my level (grades 3 - 5) meeting 2x a week for 45 minutes each time. However, I'm having an issue with catching up students who transfer in during the middle of the trimester or unit. Many of these students have never had Spanish before, so I am going to create an independent website where they can go to practice colors, numbers, the alphabet, and greetings during instructional time so they do not feel left behind.

Does anyone have any examples of websites or program you use to give students the opportunity to 'catch up'? I think this is an important part of my classroom and don't want these students to be left out in the cold.

Thank you! Kerry”

I feel that a lot of the time the best resource I have are other Elementary WL teachers. It’s typically by word of mouth that we find out about new and creative ideas and programs available, so I figured that this wouldn’t be any different. I am still waiting on a response, but will certainly post any responses I receive from this inquiry.

Next, I decided to inquire in a more specialized area and used MSU’s E-Resources as my guide. I decided to use JSTOR to search first, “Elementary Foreign Language” and again came up with a broad basis. But then, I narrowed down my search to, “Elementary Language Program Structure” and came up with an interesting article that brings new light to my project, titled, “Flame-Foreign Language Alternative Mastery Example: Another Approach to FLES Models Currently in Use”. Shockingly, I realized that this article comes from a journal, “Hispania” that I receive in the mail and don’t have time to read (usually). I realized that this article may help me in determining whether or not I could supplement new language instruction outside the classroom and during instructional time, something I didn’t really think about before now. It brought about a completely different light to my situation.

I also discovered another article that leads me to believe that my project needs to be very interactive in nature, as it described, “The Role of an Interactive Book Reading Program in the Development of Second Language Pragmatic Competence”. It was interesting to read the findings of this article with an interactive component to the Second Language Acquisition in a literacy context. This article was taken from the Modern Language Journal, so I then journeyed to the journal to see what else it offered. It led me to the article, "The Contribution of Collaborative and Individual Tasks to the Acquisition of L2 Vocabulary” which has been very helpful in my quest to formulate vocabulary awareness and acquisition during this project. When thinking about it, the project consists of a lot of vocabulary, which this article will help me with how I introduce and reinforce it.


I was very frustrated with the lack of resources in general that were available to me through different search engines, the most prominent being JSTOR and the MSU E-Resources. Next time, I believe that I will not even bother with Google, as a project of this magnitude has very little resources to be found in the Elementary WL classroom. 

Thursday, May 6, 2010

TechQuest Project Description

When I began working as an elementary World Language teacher, I thought I knew it all. Fun things to do, great culture to teach, classroom management skills, how classes were run: Everything. Boy, was I wrong!

Not only did I learn about what it really means to be a World Language Elementary teacher (everything from not fun but ENGAGING lessons, how to build a *hopefully great* curriculum, learning abilities of students, and especially classroom management skills) but I also learned about a very important need within our K-12 Spanish program.

At the elementary level, students leave the school and new students come to attend almost every week. And it almost always feels like these students are lagging behind in what I am teaching, specifically in the areas that are most important to a beginning language speaker: Numbers, Alphabet, Colors, and Greetings. These concepts are central and are integrated into all of my 18 units (6 for each grade) throughout the year. The students who begin school in the middle of the year need a ‘catch up’ so that they can ‘hang’ with the other students in class; not feel like outcasts. I try to create unity and collaboration, not the opposite.  

It is for this reason that I plan to create a website where the sole purpose would be to provide students with the necessary resources to independently catch themselves up in Spanish class while the class is finishing up their units (students typically enroll in school during the middle of my units). This will give them an opportunity to comprehend and understand the information that is crucial to success in Spanish, while I can continue teaching the Spanish unit without worry that the new student isn’t catching on.

There are several resources that I have used and will continue to use to determine the most important aspects to include in the modules. The most important resource are my fellow Elementary World Language teachers in the area. Through Wayne RESA, there is great following of Elementary World Language teachers. Another great resource is the Center for Applied Linguistics. They have a great portion of the site called Ñandutí geared towards pre K – 8 and includes a listserv that I subscribe to with a lot of great information.

This project will affect the four common places of education by allowing the students to learn independently the most important language aspects that will be crucial to their success in Spanish. The teacher will be able to monitor progress (through various checks as well as integrated assessment through the use of Google Forms and email) all whilst not leaving the rest of the class to catch one new student up. It allows the teacher to touch several different needs at once; the class and the new student. Finally, although the students will complete this workshop in class via computer, adults within the community may use it once it is up and running to brush up on Spanish as well as learn right along with their students, and possibly even excite some parents into supporting the program. It would even be great if we could have a community education facet of the catch-up program someday.

During this class, I plan to implement the “Alphabet” as we just received two new students and the alphabet is incredibly important to reading and pronunciation. As Spanish teachers say, “If you know the alphabet, you can pronounce ANYTHING in Spanish.” I plan to create several independent StAIR modules for this project, integrate Google Forms as a means of informal assessment, and create several videos for the students to access as a teaching point for each module which I will upload onto TeacherTube. It is also important to note that my project will be formed on a Weebly website: either at:, or at a new website address yet to be determined.

After the class is completed, I will work diligently to integrate "Numbers", "Colors", and "Greetings" in the same manner. 

I am wondering, though, if there is another facet of this that I am not thinking of? I have to remember that this project is geared towards 3rd, 4th and 5th graders - all three levels, so it has to be easy to comprehend at a 3rd grade level but challenging enough for a 5th grader. 

Any comments are very welcome!  

Image: 'Preschool Colors':

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Final Reflection on 811

I really believe that I have learned that there is a very big difference between integrating technology and learning WITH the integration of technology. By utilizing several different effective teaching strategies within the technology (such as scaffolding or simulation and porblem-solving), the students are much more likely to be engaged in the learning and put that knowledge into long-term memory.

The web-based technology that I looked at and then created made me think about what would be best for my situation, and then I developed a plan to integrate a recovery program for new students coming into the district in the middle of the year. This technology plan for the Spanish program is going to be extremely beneficial for the department. With my evaluation skills of technology as well as using student feedback, we will be able to create this recovery program and it will be very successful. Creating the recovery program in the Spanish Department is my new long-term goal.

I've met my personal goals for this class, but not overall. I think I have so much more to learn either on my own or within a classroom seeting with best practices in technology integration. I'm excited and looking forward to it immensly!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Internet-Based Learning Environments

“Every Michigan student will have meaningful technology-enabled learning opportunities based on research and best practice that include virtual learning experiences.”

Students in grades 6 - 12 need to have 20 hours of online experience before they graduate. It states that the students will, "become familiar with a key means of increasing their own learning skills and knowledge. It will also prepare them for the demands that they will encounter in higher education, the workplace, and in personal life-long learning. While students informally develop technology skills and gain experience through their media-rich lives, an online learning experience will require them to complete assignments, meet deadlines, learn appropriate online behavior, and effectively collaborate with others in an instructional setting." Basically: they need to get ready for the real world with ever-changing demands and new technologies. 

Recently, I was discussing with my world language colleague how we could create and utilize one of these technologies in the classroom that qualify as an online experience: The Electronic Portfolio

In the state of Michigan, they recently decided that students have to have 2 years (or the equilvalent) of a World Language. However, they absolutely have no idea what this entails, such as one state exam to pass out of this, or will the district decide how to prove that they've had this experience? We want to be prepared and expect the unexpected. 

We are planning to create an online portfolio for the students that we would maintain from grades K-2 and then would begin updating with their own work at the 3rd grade level. They would maintain this until their last language class. We are still working out the details and are having an issue with how we would house each student's work and progress. Technology is evolving so quickly that we are afraid they would create a portfolio in Kindergarten (well, we would) and then by 3rd grade we'd have to switch programs. 

To create these projects that would be available on their electronic portfolios, we would use different types of strategies. We could teach so many different topics and benchmarks, such as using simulation and problem solving to teach weather in Latin America and create a vlog to post on their portfolio to showcase their progress. Through scaffolding, we could create Wikis to teach about culture and have students in other countries contribute to the learning experience by using the Wiki as well. We could discuss things like food, music, hobbies, and past times and we could break down negative attitudes from the get-go! It would cover an entire Michigan World Language Standard (Culture). 

Many Web 2.0 technologies would be simple to integrate meaningfully. I think it would be easy to integrate a lot of the things that they recommend in the Michigan Companion Document, however, as I've read amongst my peers, WebQuests would be difficult to integrate simply because they take a lot of time to make quality Quests and there aren't many out there that are worthy.