Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A media-rich environment for language learners

Sandra Mancusi and Joanne Molaro started off by explaining how they use Drop.io. Their whole session can be found there, and the login is student. They also created a prezi, which can be found in their list of links or viewed directly.

Sandra and Joanne applied for a tech grant last year from the division to create a language lab. They got a grant and picked up computers, speakers, a smart tablet and a data projector. They also attended ISTE in the summer of 2009 to prepare themselves to use the tools. I am excited about going to ISTE this summer, and their experiences make it sound like I will like it.

As the presentation started, getting the smart tablet and the smartboard working was an issue. However, they worked around technical issues, and showed a variety of tools they were using. I was reminded that we need just in time support available in our collegiates and at central office, so that when there are technical problems, they can be quickly solved.Sandra and Joanne are adept enough users that they can work around it, but many others are not.

The free web 2.0 tools they are using create a really rich set of expereinces for students. Sandra explained how using Glogster allows students to speak in Spanish, record their writing and personalize layouts. The ability to create, personalize and share is very well connected to 21st Century Literacies.

As Joanne was explaining her voicethread she did a great job of explaining how it helps English as an additional language learners. She created a presentation of Rememberance Day, and gave students a copy of the text. They pre-learned words, and uses the voicethread as a listenting activity. This allowed her students to listen and re-listen, to decode using the images and to prepared for the new cultural experiences. It also introduced students to Voicethread.

Voicethread is a good tool for assessment for learning, because you can leave oral or written comments on the digital story. Joanne created examples and the class discussed criteria. Then they created their digital story. As they were presenting, Sandra noted that audio visual examples help students process the content more effectively. Sandra and Joanne showed student voice threads and how to make comments on them.

Each time I see voicethread used, I think about how we want to teach students how to give specific, descriptive feedback. When Joanne's students presented their voicethreads, she had them explain what they chose and why, which helped with metacogintive skills. Since the project asked students to compare their orginal city with their lives now, there was a good chance to do critical thinking. Sandra noted that there is no real way to archive work for free. That is a problem if students are trying to develop portfolios and show their learning over time, whcih is critical to metacognition.

Sandra and Joanne showed a wide variety of tools, and it is worth your time to view the links at the top of this page. However the best thing about their session was what they spent a lot of time explainign why they did what they did and invited audience comment. If we do this kind of thing again, I think we should suggest more why and audience doing in general.

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