Saturday, October 31, 2009


As a final project I have designed a unit which gives students the chance to use presentational language through the use of a technological tool.

The task is for students to use the target language to research and read about a topic which impacts teenage life; for example drug use, alcohol, consumerism, and so forth. One of the goals of this project is to connect the themes the students study in their other classes; humanities, health, science... To make sure they can handle the language I will previously make a selection on articles and material on several of these topics.

Using movie maker; students need to enhance the most important information they have learned about the topic. Then include a section in their presentation with a strong message of "do's and dont's." The idea is to impact the audience as much as possible with facts about the information and suggestions on solutions. This project will integrate specific grammar and vocabulary points covered in the unit.

Some students will need to learn about the tool. Fortunately, several students are familiarized with movie maker already; so the idea is to have the experienced students help and guide the students who are learning how to use this tool.

This project will allow students to improve their language skills through the use of Spanish in a broader context. The prior knowledge they will have by connecting the topics from other classes' curricula will support what they do in my class.

Once the videos are ready; the plan is to post them in their blogs to reach a broader audience and be able to interact with other language learners around the world.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Screencasting could be very useful in a language class. I look forward to create lessons using this tool. When I need to explain a grammar point or vocabulary word explicitly I write up lessons using a word document; I include visuals and use language I know my students will understand.

A possible way of improving these lessons and notes is through the use of screencasts. It allows me to record an audio file as I explain a grammar point or use a specific word in context. It gives students the chance to listen to a lesson repeatedly; so it could be a great tool to support different learning styles.

On the other hand, it could also be a useful tool for students to use. They could create screencasts to show their understanding of a concept, or show the subtleties of language; or use language in a greater context. For example, a great cross-curricular activity for Math and Spanish could be to explain, in Spanish, how to use a Quipu

Altough screencasting does not allow interaction; it becomes a resource for students to use continuously and a tool for them to show their understanding.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Videos in the language class

Videos can be rich language and cultural resources in a language class. The web now offers a great variety of videos; you can pretty much find anything you need! These are some ideas on how videos can help enhance learning.

Videos and music/literature: This is probably the most popular way of video use. Using a song which goes hand in hand with a lesson, vocabulary or theme. It is not only the music, but the images and lyrics with it - all in one- it provides students with one of the tools they enjoy the most. The same applies for poetry; with images,and sound.

Videos and culture: I have found great videos to introduce cultural aspects of South American culture; from celebrations such as the Day of the Dead; to the typical Quinceaniera, to South American dances...

Videos in class and assessment: Students can create videos easily to show their understanding. It is also a common tool for assessment; several placement tests recommend video taping students to see their language growth. It is a great way to record language growth.

Videos allow to play and replay to practice different language skills. Students can create and work with these independently.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A digital story to share...

One of my favorite tech tools to use in my language class is voicethread. It is not only easy and manageable but it allows great interaction in different ways.

Last year, I created a project for my Spanish students in which they had to choose images which describe them best; their interests; their nationality; family…any information about themselves (but no pictures of themselves) They made a recording, in Spanish, to explain why they chose that particular photo and what it tells about them. The final product was a slide show of photos with the students’ voice explaining who they are.

This project did not look for one particular grammar point, or vocabulary; it attempted to have students use Spanish as a whole. The goal was to interact with other learners via a digital tool; using powerful pictures to show who they are.

The students did not only interact with other students and teachers in our school; but with students at an international school in Taipei...all in Spanish!

This is what I created to show my students how to use voicethread...

Take a look...

"A picture shows me at a glance what it takes dozens of pages of a book to expound" (Ivan Turgenev)

We all know that images can carry a stronger meaning than a text. In a language class; sharing cultural experiences through images may bring great opportunities to go beyond reading or hearing about different cultures. It may also become the means for students to use the target language in various ways. Through better presentations students will also learn to become better presenters - despite the language they may be using.

With this in mind, during our last session I had the chance to sit and improve a presentation I used last year in one of my Spanish classes. The presentation intended to open up a discussion about the celebration of Carnival around the world; and reflect on any similarities the students may find in their own cultures.

I selected better images which conveyed a clear message, used a few words and allowed the pictures to do the talking for me...

This is what I now have...

Carnaval En El Mundo