26 June 2013

Présentations du Webinar de l'AATF: 26 juin 2013

The AATF held its first pre-conference Webinar on 26 June 2013. Please explore the presentations and leave your questions or comments below. We will continue offering thematic Webinars throughout the year. 

Jayne Abrate - Utiliser les activités en classe pour la promotion du français.

Catherine Ousselin - Les réseaux sociaux pour les enseignants 

Magali Boutiot - Etre francophone en Nouvelle Angleterre

16 June 2013

Thinglink for World Language Educators and Learners

Photo credit link to Thinglink
Thinglink for World Language Educators and Learners

Traditionally, language teachers have given students vocabulary lists to memorize followed by pictures to label. While it is important that the students interact with visual content, a simple picture with a basic word or sentence does not engage a student at his or her fullest capacity. The knowledge provided for this task was teacher-centered and evidence of student learning involved regurgitation of the content. However, for deeper knowledge of vocabulary and grammar, it is recommended that students learn the concepts through contextual audio, visual, and spoken examples. Thinglink is a Web tool that allows students and teachers to annotate an image with video, audio, and textual tags. The tool is useful for educators who wish to provide a more thoughtful introduction to vocabulary, grammar, or culture with interactive (and student-chosen) elements. It is also an excellent assessment tool for learners as it requires them to demonstrate their comprehension of the concept beyond a basic translation.

In my example, I have used the idea of animal descriptions. This could be any thematic concept (tense, storytelling, vocabulary, culture). My 1st year students learn the verbs “to have,” “to be,” adjectives and verb conjugations through animal vocabulary. It is an engaging thematic unit for them as they are familiar with and interested in animals.

The expected outcomes of the unit are:
1. Description of animal body parts using the “to have” verb.
2. Description of animal size and personality with the “to be” verb.
3. Description of animal habitat and activities using appropriate vocabulary and a variety of verbs.   
4. Demonstration of knowledge of the animals that live in the local biosphere.
5. Demonstration of knowledge of endangered animals and their needs.
6. Discovery of new animals, vocabulary, and descriptive language.

In the initial introduction of animals, the teacher may choose to prepare 5-10 Thinglink interactive images as the “romance / enticing” activity that present the intended vocabulary and verb sets. The images should provide visual and auditory stimulation through Comprehensible Input (Krashengeared toward the appropriate level. Students are able to explore and discover the concepts in a “natural” fashion. While this is not the entire presentation of the vocabulary and verbs, it allows an initial and comprehensible introduction that will entice and not intimidate the learner.  Consistent repetition of the core concepts (have, be, verbs, body parts) leads the learner to interact with a basic overview of the intended outcomes.
In my example, I have used the “to have” verb with body parts. I produced a short sound clip through SoundCloud (think Twitter for audio, without the 140 character limit!) to describe a squirrel (It is smart, sneaky, small, etc.) along with common squirrel activities (running, jumping, eating, etc.).The embedded and subtitled video provides exposure to authentic language in a non-threatening, engaging, and amusing setting. Note that I have not included a grammar-based video describing the verb conjugations and adjective accordance.
Using a tool such as Thinglink provides a space for students to feel as though they are learning, but through a self-guided investigation.

For an assessment of student growth, teachers may assign 3-4 animals per student with a list of requirements for tags. In this manner, the student will demonstrate his or her speaking, reading, and aural comprehension by building a tagged image encompassing these standards. The task is personalized because the students choose the animals and the media. In my experience, students demonstrate their strongest work when they are given a structured task, but with the freedom to adapt it with their own knowledge and artistic styles.

When working with Web tools, I require that students write, review and rehearse their eventual demonstrations on paper and in person before they commit to the Web. Allowing free reign on the Internet without preparation may lead to plagiarism, Google translations, or direct copy/paste of a text. As always, teach students the basic steps that they should follow with any research and production. The fact that this project is Web-based should not detract from core standards and expectations.  

To guide you through your first Thinglink creation, I included screen captures of the steps as well as the Thinglink-produced SlideShare and links to the various media types. You should create your own account on which you experiment before introducing the students to the site. Providing the learners with your first few examples will allow them to conceptualize the expected outcomes and procedures. Demonstrate the basics of uploading a picture, Web-appropriate behaviors (digital citizenship basics), assessment of media (video length, language, appropriateness), and recording to SoundCloud.

Screen Shots from Picassa Web - Click directly on the slideshow (or HERE) to view a larger version in Picassa. Captions for the pictures appear at the bottom. 

Thinglink SlideShare

I suggest having one account for Thinglink and SoundCloud to track student work and progress. In the past, I have provided one password for the entire class for both sites. You may wish to have students (if age and district policy allows it) to create their own accounts for each site and have students share their work. If your district does not allow YouTube access, ask students to research videos at home and send themselves or you the link to the videos. The bonus to Web-based tools is that students may work on these projects at home as long as their work has been previously prepared and approved.   

Lastly, Thinglink has a new iOS app for iPods, Pads, and Phones. In my investigation of this free app, the user is able to add video and text to a picture, but I have not found (as of June 2013) a way to add a SoundCloud audio file.

I have built this lesson based on basic requirements and assumptions. If these requirements do not meet your realities, please contact me and we can discuss options and workarounds.

1. Access to computer lab OR iOS app (iPod/Pad/Phone)
2. Home access to computer or iOS device.
3. SoundCloud access with microphone or recording device. SoundCloud is available as an app on Android and iOS devices. A file may be recorded on the device, uploaded, and sent as a link to be added to the Thinglink image.
4. YouTube access for teachers and/or students at home or at school.

The 2D paper-bound textbook is fast meeting its end. The need for interactive and engaging replacements is a reality. Language teachers are usually granted the most freedom in exploration and innovation. Therefore, it is important to investigate the appropriate, easy-to-use, and FREE tools that are available that can be adapted to language learning and teaching. Thinglink is an excellent tool for both learners and educators. Please let me know if you have any questions, concerns, or thematic ideas.
Bonne chance et bon surf!
Catherine Ousselin

Additional blogs and references to Thinglink:
1. Free Technology for Teachers: Thinglinks Launches a Free iPad App 
2. AuntyTechIdeas: Educate with Thinglink

04 May 2013

Building Student Connections and Electronics Portfolios in a Google Drive Environment

For the complete article on this post, please refer to the Volume 38, Number 4 issue of the NationalBulletin published by the AATF.  

In the April 2013, National Bulletin, I published an article (Building Student Connections and Electronics Portfolios in a Google Drive Environment) on the use of the Google Drive environment to connect with students and to create student e-portfolios. The article contained several screen shots designed to guide the reader through the steps of building a shared resource for teachers and students. While the screen shots were useful visuals, they had to be reduced to fit the two dimensional medium of the page. By adding the screen shots to the blog, users will be able to explore the true image size and interact with the author through the comment section. Each picture includes a short caption, to view the pictures to view the pictures in a non-presentation format, please click here. If you are interested in creating a Google Drive environment for your classes, but still have questions, please contact me at catherineku72@gmail.com or on Twitter: @catherineKU72. 

14 April 2013

Create and share video quizzes with Blubbr and YouTube

Create and share video quizzes with Blubbr and YouTube

You  may remember “French in Action” from Pierre Capretz!
 One aspect of that program that appealed to me the most was the use of movie clips as authentic resources to engage the learner and introduce popular culture references. I have tried to compile video clips of my own, but it does take time to find the clips, download them, and clip/organize them. Before I was able to assess comprehension electronically with mobile devices, I would type questions and make photocopies for each student. This involved correcting, returning the copies, and extra time. My ideal would have been to be able to add questions directly on the video clip and be able to see student comprehension immediately.

The Web tool, “Blubbr,” comes very close to meeting my needs. The site allows users to choose videos from YouTube in 20 second clips (more on that further down) and add questions for that specific clip. Blubbr is fairly easy to use, even for the novice technology user. The steps to build a video quiz include:

1. Creating an account through Facebook or Twitter. It seems that a user may also use an e-mail account.

2. Creating a new "Triv" or activity. 

3. Compiling the videos to be used. I did this step in tandem with building the quiz in a different tab in my Internet browser. Blubbr allows users to search for videos from its Web site as well.

In this first search, I copied/pasted the URL of the video I wanted to use. 

In this search, I copied/pasted the actual name of the video from another open tab in my browser.  

Blubbr has an internal search bar that suggests similar videos. You can search for a specific video by name or choose a theme (like "Fruits"). 

4. Choosing the clips to be assessed by using the time slidebars on the clip. You may choose to focus on one video or use a variety of videos. Using just one video for your first activity will decrease the amount of time spent on the creation process.

5. Writing the question and choosing the correct answer. Preview the video and make any corrections to timing or questions. 

6. Sharing the product through social media, by e-mail link, or by embedding the quiz in a blog or Web site.

7. Be sure to add tags (themes) to the activity at the end so that others searching for an activity can find yours. The tags I used for this activity were "français, vocabulaire, fruits". 

 My opinion on the interface (human-site ease of use) of Blubbr Web site:
As I mentioned, it is fairly easy to choose your videos from the search function on the Blubbr Web site. I had a few moments of frustration of trimming the clip to 20 seconds as I wanted to pause longer on an image in the clip. With practice, this will not be too much of an issue. I learned quickly that the slidebar under the video jumps back to the beginning of the clip if you click in the blue area. The play and pause buttons on the actual video refer to the entire video, not just the clip. I encourage you experiment with these tools. This could also be a great job for an advanced student or dedicated classroom aide. 

As it is a newer tool, there will be changes based on user recommendations. My main requests would be to allow activity users to view the video multiple times. Pedagogically, this would help language learners listen more intently and tune into key phrases. The second request would be to create classes with student accounts. This might be a far-fetched request, but tracking student comprehension growth throughout the years would be helpful. In the interim, students can share their scores with you by taking a picture of their scores, showing the score in the computer lab, or by registering as a user so that their scores appear with their names. 

As it was my first project, the compilation of four videos and the creation of thirteen questions took one hour to complete. If you use just ONE video for the whole activity, this time will decrease dramatically. The more teachers involved in the process of collecting and tagging useful videos, the easier the creation process will become. Teachers in need of suggestions could use social media groups to request ideas. Crowd sourcing is powerful and effective. 

If you make a video for language learners, please share it with the AATF Commission on Technology in the comments or on the AATF Facebook page.

Bonne continuation!
Catherine Ousselin 
Co-Chair of the AATF Commission on Technology

03 March 2013

Thinking About Syncing? Technology tools for World Language Educators: Sharing digital lessons with students with Edcanvas

Thinking About Syncing? 
Technology tools for World Language Educators: 
Sharing digital lessons with students with Edcanvas

I learned about Edcanvas from my PLN on Twitter. If you have not joined Twitter yet, you are missing out on the best (and free) professional development available to teachers. Please consider joining and follow me to learn from World Language teachers from across the globe. 

Beginning a digital connection with learners through online tools may seem a bit overwhelming at first glance. The first choice is a platform: Web site, blog, Edmodo, Weebly, etc. There are many options for teachers to use and each has its own positives and negatives. However, without Professional Development or free-time to explore on one’s own, choosing a reliable and easy-to-use platform may prevent teachers from taking the first steps. Templates are an excellent option for beginners as they offer the ability to produce quality lessons without major time commitments or technical knowledge. I have experimented with and written about sites such as Symbaloo and others that allow users to click, copy, paste, and share their resources with students. These tools do not require any technical knowledge beyond a list of valuable and well-designed online resources. Sharing one’s own resources (PowerPoints, PDFs, Web sites, Photo arrays, YouTube videos, etc.) has not been as easy. Most templates have required using embed codes to connect resources into one linear production. Edcanvas has taken the resource sharing concept to a new level that is attainable for all technical levels. Edcanvas allows users to choose resources from across the Web and build a unified canvas to share with students. 

Use resources such as YouTube, DropBox, Google Drive, Flicker, and your own files (Word, PDF, PowerPoint, etc.) to create an easy-to-explore digital notebook/canvas for your students. 

Setting up your Edcanvas account: 
As a personal preference, I tend to register on a site with my e-mail as opposed to interfacing through Facebook or Twitter. I have used my Twitter account for Pinterest, but that was only after discussing it with longtime users of the site. If you do have a Google/gmail account, it is a good idea to use it for registration. You will be able to use documents in your Google Drive or videos that you have organized on your YouTube channel. 

Building an Edcanvas: 

The theme that I am sharing with first year French students is animals. We start our exploration with farm animals as they are well-known by most students. I have collected and bookmarked resources over the years: YouTube videos, authentic (native language) sites with animals in context, language learning sites that provide picture vocabulary and sounds, and my own documents. To build a coherent site for the students, I will assemble these resources in a logical introduction. For this blog example, I took a few resources (not all of them) and built a basic canvas for demonstration purposes.  

To pull in a resource, I can either search for the site on Google (under the Google tab), find a video on YouTube under its tab, search for basic pictures through Flickr, or upload a file that I have previously created or saved from another site. You may also enter text on a slide instead of dragging a resource. Once you have found the element (Web site, YT video, picture), simply pull/drag the element to the canvas. In my first block, I have written the title of the canvas. In the second, I have added a YT video with a song about farm animals. For the third box, I uploaded a PDF with animal vocabulary that I found online. In box number four, I included an authentic Web site that demonstrates animals. In the last two boxes, I included another Web site and a textbox with a description of pigs. 

When adding a resource (YT video, Web site), please preview it to ensure that it is appropriate for all levels. 

Adding a Google Drive / Dropbox document: 
If you have documents already saved to your Google Drive or Dropbox, allow Edcanvas to connect to your accounts in order to search for documents. You may also upload documents directly from your computer. 

Sharing the Edcanvas with others: 

Edcanvas provides several ways to share the finished product. If you wish to keep the canvas private, choose the correct sharing option from the list. This does not ensure that others will not access it, but it keeps the canvas from turning up on a site search.  

1. Edmodo: If you are an Edmodo user, you may add it to your library and share it with your connections.

2. Share through Twitter and Facebook: This will be useful if you collaborate with other language teachers or if you wish to promote your work with new users.

3. E-mail or link, yes this “antiquated” option still exists!

4. QR code: Copy or save the provided QR code and add it to your handouts, blog, or social media. Users will be able to scan it and access it directly.
5. Embed code: If you do use a Web site, blog, Tumblr, etc., you may copy the code and add it directly to your site. 

Recommendations and conclusion: 
If you have had reservations in the past about building a blog, an Edmodo site, or any other form digital tool to connect with your students outside of class, Edcanvas is an excellent option. It is a quintessential tool for true beginners. 

Researching the resources takes an initial investment of time, but if you have already bookmarked and organized your personal files, the time involved to build a basic canvas will impress you. Building online resources for your students also projects an interest to engage learners through multiple media. 

Share the project with your building supervisor and the district superintendent, especially if your language classes are in danger. It is important to show administrators that World Language teachers are innovative and dedicated to expanding student resources. 

If you have built an Edcanvas for French learners, please consider sharing it with the AATF Commission on Technology by adding the address in the comments.

It is my intention to add more posts each week. It has been a busy year, but if you have been following me on Twitter through the AATFrench or catherineKU72 accounts, you will have seen my other posts on technology ideas. Additionally, the AATF Delicious site has many useful links for authentic resources and Web tool sites. Lastly, I have updated my personal “Thinking About Syncing ?” technology site for WL teachers. If it is not on this blog, it is on of these resources!

Please share your favorite sites or ideas with us in the comments.

Bon surf!
Catherine Ousselin