Saturday, December 13, 2008

new vocabulary

Lately I've heard whining from the students. Life is hard, the season is stressful.

My tack is to define them as scholars. "You are scholars," I'll say as they moan and sigh over de-coding.

"Scholars look for the right answers with their peers ."

"Scholars use the Oxford Spanish-English Dictionary to check their spelling."

This is my attempt at encouraging them. A very simple framework of grammar is necessary to understand Spanish and unfortunately, it is not innate to my students. However, my enthusiasm for their potential as scholars seems to help them along.

"Scholars are the ones who get paid to learn," is one counter-attack to the weary sighs for having to conjugate a single verb.

"Really Ms. Beane?"

"Scholarships? You know, when you receive money to learn? Makes sense to become a scholar..."


The peer editing process needs to be defined and expanded. I want my Spanish 3's to peer edit the Spanish 1 work. I want the Spanish 4's to work with the Spanish 2's.

december dream

Every so often the schools close due to weather. Today was one of those days. It is really a gift to all of us in this hectic season. Of course, I worked on my lit review. But I also got outside to enjoy the day.

Grades closed Wednesday and my freshmen wailed. "Our grades are so low!" I patiently explained that they had just been assessed for the first time, and yes, the benchmark seemed low, but they were freshmen in a first-year course, and that was normal and natural. "But my mom will be mad!" I patiently explained that there would be more assessments and that their grades would rise if they were willing to do the hard work of learning Spanish. "But it's been so easy up until now!"

Sigh. Yes. It feels painless to learn, talk, discover, and communicate. But this is a school and the school does like to know what exactly the students know.

Other than freshmen freaking out the lowest grades they have ever experienced in my class (little do they know what Spanish is 2 is like, traditionally a roller-coaster of grades due to more complicated grammar) the rest of my classes ran smoothly this week. Spanish 4 is creating their own cafe and I am staying out of their way as much as possible (my job is to got to the City and buy the Exotic Ingredients). Spanish 3 is immersed in Maria's story and they are doing so well with it. They are also pals with a Dominican boy named Lucas and the correspondence is muy dulce.

The Spanish 2's are the joy of my days. Last class every day. Bouncing, happy energy. Ideas galore. There is a nice balance of risk-takers and cheerleaders. And I see real growth, kids coming out of their shells and making meaning of their worlds in a language not their own.

The food program is also going well. We have consumed about 10 boxes of fruit so far. All paid for with nickels, dimes, and quarters.

Also, the spirit of giving is present. Each class has chosen a gift for our dear volunteer from Panama. And not useless things either. Things like a backpack, fancy scrubs, and a stethoscope (she is a nurse). It almost makes me want to cry just thinking about it.

I love teaching in December.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Ivan Krstić

If you do not know who he is, it's because what he does is mostly silent. But know this: he likes to help people, and he's very smart.

Ivan agreed to let my Spanish 4's interview him via Skype. That was yesterday from 10-11 Maine time. He is in Croatia which is 6 hours ahead.

The next task is to transcribe (yes, write!) selected quotes and then translate them to Spanish. I would like to edit the video and share it with the students at the next assembly.

For the 4's, their next task is to design the Expertos del Mundo website...and create a pitch for their Dominican project so they can go before the school board.

It was a very encouraging interview and we thank Mr. Krstić for his time. He is busy; he gives a lot of talks, after all.


MaineScire aka Erin and I have completed our unit for our Mindtools class!

Click here for the complete unit.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Conversation Prism

The Conversation Prism, originally uploaded by b_d_solis.

Are we missing out on teen conversation and collaboration and knowledge-building and peer-educating because of an inherent fear of new ways of “talking” to each other?

I’m converted. I speak digital, new media, whatever it is. Maybe not as fast and as furious as a teen, but I am part of the daily thread.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

a joint project with MaineScire


What is the Latin word for science?

How are plants categorized?


Walk the property of the school.

Take pictures of wild plants and trees and moss.

Find the Latin name for each one.

Make a wiki page with your results.

Tag each page with the correct Latin name.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

notes for class

The Research Proposal
Proposal Introduction

Briefly describe the P, P, and Q(s)

Sample or Population

My data will come from a regional northern New England school district. I will look at different factors such as number of years that a second language has been taught in a district, grade span of world language learners, and significant assessment data for the subject.

My plan is to have a control group and an experimental group. My control group will have minimum access to technology and will be paper-based. My experimental group will be computer-based and required to be part of an on-line community of learners.

All groups will have the same assessments given and the score will be compared to see if the experimental group scored significantly higher on modern language acquisition and achievement tests.

I selected the source of my data as the National Spanish Exam, and I selected the subjects because recent regionalization has brought several districts under one administrative head. There is not yet a consensus as to what curriculum, instruction, and assessment practices will be used in the world language departments. Additionally, this will lay the groundwork for a distance learning model that could function at multiple sites within the new regional district.

Indicate the size (N or n)

The number of students (n) will range from 60-100 participants.

demographic variables (characteristics)

Students will come from three distinct high schools in northern New England. There will be males and females from grades 10-12. The total number of towns represented will be (find data) and the town size will range from (smallest) to (largest). The wifi capability in the region is (find data) and preliminary surveys indicated that (what percent) of students had access to high speed internet in and out of school.

“tools” for data collection

The National Spanish Examination is an online, standardized assessment tool given voluntarily by over 3000 teachers throughout the United States to measure proficiency and achievement of students who are studying Spanish as a second language.

From 1957 until 2005, the National Spanish Examination was administered in a written format.� Beginning in 2006, the National Spanish Examination was administered in an online format through the Quia Corporation and will continue as the first online national foreign language exam.

The means to convert what we observe to symbols

Operationally define the behavior or construct

If an inanimate source, describe where it is and how it was created

Often requires citation.


How do you know the instrument measures what it is intended to measure?

Unique to a particular purpose for a particular group

professionally and empirically established


How do you know the results will be consistent?

Can be empirically established

Research Procedure

What will you do to answer the research question?

Lit Rev provided the justification

What may limit the application of the results?

Imperfections; bias

Address how you attempted too avoid or minimize


where, when, how were data collected and managed?


-How will you organize the data?

Like to show boys versus girls as well as wiki versus paper based results. Would like to see results by town and look and influential factors beyond the technology integration.

-What quantitative and/or qualitative steps will you take to convert data into information?

I plan on using InspireData to put in the data acquired by the AATSP.

Timeline (for the final project only)

Project a calendar of events


Dates (months only)

Tasks and supporting activities

Presentation, 5 Pwr Pt slides

Title, presenters, school, date

Method (tentative)
Sample, instruments, analysis


an nice interview with Jonathan Rippy

10:38 AM me: rippy, hola...what is it again that you do?
Jonathan: Hola Amity! Que pasa?
i am a programmer
me: what languages?
10:39 AM Jonathan: java,c,c++,perl,ruby,python, a little bit of lisp (inspired by zack :))
me: nice
what language is Sugar written in?
Jonathan: others too
me: or is it itself a language>
Jonathan: i've ... never heard of Sugar
10:40 AM Jonathan: checking
it's written in python! :)
me: YAY
Jonathan: saw it on this page
me: I need to learn python
sweet deal
Jonathan: Python is incredibly easy
me: how is python set up as a language?
Jonathan: to you happen to know other programming langues?
10:41 AM languages even
me: not really just romance languages
Jonathan: haha
Es muy bueno tambien
me: it translates
Jonathan: :)
when computer scientists write things up on the board,
they use pseudo code ... which is not really a language
10:42 AM me: it's just commands, write
Jonathan: just sorta writing things out loosely without using a specific language
me: right
oh ok
Jonathan: python is the closest to pseudo code i've ever seen
so it makes it much easier to use as a language
me: can you show me a screenshot of python?
Jonathan: hmm
one sec
10:43 AM the canonical first example that people usually see in a language
is the "Hello World" example
me: ok
Jonathan: that is, how do I make this language print out the words "Hello World" to the user
in python it looks like

#!/usr/bin/env python
print "Hello World"
and that's it
me: ok
Jonathan: you place that into a file
me: user, location, environment
Jonathan: and then you can run the file
10:44 AM i'm not sure the specifics of this sugar platform, but choosing python seems like a good idea on their part (to me at least)
python is preinstalled on Macs
me: niiice
Jonathan: i have use a mac
me: I need python bootcamp
Jonathan: i <3>
me: I have a macbook
Jonathan: nice!
10:45 AM me: thanks to the great state of Maine tech initiative
Jonathan: excellent
me: so THANKS may I publish this info
me: on my teacher blog?
yes, seen that
Jonathan: ok
me: I do better with real people
Jonathan: oh oh
do you still have like 2 minutes?
10:46 AM me: yes, I am home all day
Jonathan: ok
do you know how to go to the terminal?
me: no idea
Jonathan: /Applications/
run that program
me: ok
Jonathan: now type
me: I'll try and say "Hello World"
Jonathan: and you should see something like
$ python
Python 2.5.2 (r252:60911, Apr 23 2008, 00:18:10)
[GCC 4.0.1 (Apple Inc. build 5470) (Aspen 5470.3)] on darwin
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
10:47 AM me: I do not see Terminal
Jonathan: one sec
me: is it in MyApps?
I have a teacher image
Jonathan: /Applications/Utilities/
sorry, it should be there
i typed it wrong before
10:48 AM me: darn it all
that feature is locked
Jonathan: :(
me: argh
Jonathan: :(
me: I need an admin image, I iwill ask for one
thanks for the tutorial
10:49 AM Jonathan: ok sure
that's too bad that they locked that down
me: yes, 'tis
Jonathan: i understand why they did, you can delete everything
if you don't know what you are doing
me: right
so...they should TRAIN us
Jonathan: agreed
me: technological professional development is severely retarded in education
10:50 AM we have ubiquitous computing and no one knows really what the little white boxes are capable of
ok I should stop ranting :)
Jonathan: that's too bad :(
no i don't mind

what is your grad school degree in? education?
me: technology in education
10:53 AM master of science, research based
Jonathan: nice!
my master's is in computer science
i really like helping me
i've considered going back into teaching eventually
me: who do you program for
Jonathan: NetApp
10:54 AM me: cool
Jonathan: trying to find you this website
i can't seem to find it
me: I want to get into professional development in technology in education
Jonathan: it lets you write python code online
me: super
10:55 AM I'd like to be a consultant and train teachers, sort of hunker down with them for a few months and get them started with things like Sugar
Jonathan: that would be cool
i'm sure teachers could certainly use the help
me: um, yes
I work with many
Jonathan: i remember, in highschool, that i was the go-to student for them
me: we all need as much help as we can get :)
Jonathan: they would seek me out
10:56 AM me: that is me now
that was zach in school though
Jonathan: i had other teachers "get me out of class" to come help
of course they had permission from my teacher
10:57 AM me: ha

my tv was B and W
and I wanted it color

10:58 AM and I said, ok, I am not interested in solving this, you all solve it.
took them 15 minutes.
Jonathan: nice!
a more productive use of their time too
me: they are rarely asked to solve problems
Jonathan: solving a problem

11:00 AM i seemed to have encoutered that alot myself
i have a link for you!
11:01 AM me: create a new paste?
Jonathan: were you able to view mine?
me: yes
Jonathan: awesome
me: how do I type into a field
raw code?
Jonathan: yes, in the "New paste:" area
me: ok
Jonathan: like, try to change it to count to 20
11:02 AM and to say hey to me instead
or you could blog it, and say hey to your readers hehe
me: what is "for i"
Jonathan: it's a 'for' loop
it uses the range function, on the right, to generate a list of numbers
11:03 AM then, it traverses through the list
and assigns to the variable 'i' the value of the current list position
lists in python look like this
[1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10]
if i say
list = [1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10]
then i create a new variable, named list ... of type list with those values
i can directly access an entry in the list
me: ok
11:04 AM slow down bro
that's a good start
Jonathan: haha
sorry i had a typo in my example list
it should look more like this
11:05 AM >>> list = [1, 2, 3, 4]
>>> print list[0]
comma seperated
me: SyntaxError: Non-ASCII character '\xc2' in file on line 4, but no encoding declared; see for details
Jonathan: hmm
me: I just copied your code and pasted it and changed a few things
Jonathan: you must have an issue with the syntax
with what you typed
11:06 AM me: figured it out
no spanish characters
Jonathan: awesome
oh yeah
he might not have support for that on his website
Jonathan: awesome!
me: yay!
Jonathan: yay :)
11:07 AM now you can play around with those tutorials
me: thank you very much!!
Jonathan: to some degree at least
ultimately, it is better to run it on your own computer obviously
but until then, you have something to work with :)
11:08 AM me: ok, off to play
Jonathan: ok
sure thing!
De Nada! :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I teach mostly with projects, throwing in an occasional test. Testing kids can be tricky. You want to know what they know, you want to know what they think they know. I like vocabulary tests and conjugation tests, things that must be memorized. I love to give spelling tests, because it is important to learn how to spell in any language, and the sounds are different and they must learn to internalize those sounds so that they mean something.

Today I was tested. 30 vocabulary words, plus MEA results analysis and intervention strategies. This test was announced in September, and I did not work very hard at studying. Instead, I made myself present and aware in class, and did a lot of reading, but not the textbook. I read journal articles and reports and saw the vocabulary in context. That helped. I noticed several people made flashcards. I read my own notes, and two of my colleagues' notes. That really helped a lot!

How do others test? How do others study or expect their students to study?

As I said, I prefer to teach with projects, and measure growth over time. I like to give student surveys and something I like to call an exit slip. It asks questions that are designed to help the learner reflect and name his or her experiences. Naming something is very powerful. Especially in a new language.

Monday, November 10, 2008

student-led conferences

I am feeling so good about student-led conferences. My students are amazing.

The protocol I am using is very simple.






Order of events:

  • Introduce your parent/guardian to your teacher
  • Identify strengths and weaknesses in class
  • Share your checklist/wiki
  • Ask for feedback
  • Shake hands



Parents wrote the nicest things to their children. Things like "I am proud of you." I got a little choked up today. Families actually hugged. This is my type of thing. Communion and sharing.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

it worked

The students actually did work, my room was clean, and when I closed the books yesterday for the quarter, many of the students expressed satisfaction with their own efforts to learn and document their growth!!

Now the task of assessing work begins (I have done several assessments throughout the quarter but this will be summative). The portfolio checklists are all stacked in front of me and my mode of attack is sets of 5. I think I can evaluate 5 portfolios an hour.

With about 100 to look at, give or take...that is 20 hours worth of work.

This should be a fun weekend! I mean it! I love seeing PROGRESS and the portfolios are a jumping-off point for measuring growth.

Mme. K and I made up a survey ( together and that will be the other fun part of the weekend. I love seeing student responses to learning. We asked them to evaluate US as teachers and give US feedback on how to teach video projects better. Nothing like giving students a voice. The survey is on-line so compiling the data is very simple.

Mme. K. and I also had the students print out their favorite wordles ( that they made this quarter and we are going to do a Wordle Wall next week. It should be a nice big chunk of visual data to look at and learn from.

Oh! I was asked to submit a paper for a conference in the spring. My brain is humming! I love the creative process of teaching.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

will it work?

Today is my first day "out". I am taking a personal day. While I sit at home and recover from some intense recent events in my life, in the front of my mind I am wondering if my systems at school are worth their salt.

Will my students actually work for a sub?

Will my plans be clear on the Google calendar?

Will my room be clean tomorrow?

As a seasoned teacher, and one who has had two major illnesses while teaching (think multiple days off to recover from super-virus and mono) taking time "off" from teaching usually translates to "oh crap, what a mess they made while I was gone, now it is time to clean up and get back on track."

Hopefully all systems are a go and this is avoided today. It helps to have a seasoned substitute. And the computers. And the calendars.

I am eager to see the student response to change today and how they roll with it.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


It's Saturday and I am in grad class. This is my reality. I work at school and I go to school. This leaves me precious little time for my own personal outlets such as painting, writing, photographing, gardening. However, the focus this year is on my own education and the education of my students. I am gladly trading the creative time for the educational time and I am working really hard to maximize creative time while working!

So for example, today I am learning the programming language LOGO, developed by Seymour Papert, and it is both logical and creative! I have wanted to learn how to program ever since I found out is was my only way to get into MIT (ok, if I don't get into MIT for a Ph.d., I'll be fine..I just like to know what the top of the heap expects). So today, I am in class, CREATING, PROGRAMMING, and learning.

I'm tired....grades are due next projects are coming in and there is some major troubleshooting to "fix" some issues....students are learning to communicate effectively.....I am learning to balance my time....

No whining here, just reality. I am happy professionally. I am going places with the work. My students AMAZE me daily, from the little sprouts of growth to the major gardens of growth. I am happy to use the metaphor of the garden in education. I know how to garden.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

El juego de la taza

The video project I assigned had to be between 1.30 seconds and 6 minutes long.

The intended audience is the elementary school via wiki. Those lucky kids, each classroom has a SmartBoard and a smart teacher.

This was the first video handed in and it is excellent!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

live from Afghanistan

When a student asked me if we could use technology to talk to her dad in the Middle East, I said YES. It wasn't in Spanish but I think it meets the Maine Learning Results! Connections, community, culture, communication!

spontaneous song!

It was a special birthday for one of the senior girls. Interestingly enough, she takes French, but was using the computer. The Spanish kids decided to sing and I managed to grab my camera just in time!

Some good news

Video projects at school are due this week and the work thus far has been incredible. I can't wait to share.

My Spanish 4's spontaneously burst into song yesterday. It was someone's birthday. It was fabulous and I caught it all on video, forthcoming.

Other good things? I feel so blessed lately, with good school things. I ordered the movies for the year and cannot wait to show them. The good people at Devaney, Doak and Garrett in Farmington gave me a lot of free posters. (Free!!!!). And Madame K. and I agreed our project-based learning for quarter 2 will focus on FOOD. Yes, FOOD. Bring on the holidays, people, because World Languages plans to celebrate.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

plugged in

plugged in, originally uploaded by Amity Beane.

From 2006.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

reflections on chapter 1

How far have computers come in helping students achieve and grow as learners?

Initially computers were used in education as drilling machines with a built-in reward system. The question appeared, the student submitted the correct response, and the reward was usually some graphic depiction on the screen (balloons, fireworks, etc). This reward was for recalling the information and nothing more.

After this stage, computers were utilized as tutorials. These acknowledged incorrect answers with remedial instruction. Information was presented by the computer and the student tried the test again. The major fault of this type of student-computer interaction was the lack of reflection or empowerment by the student to learn from error through investigation.

The third stage of the student-computer relationship involved intelligent tutorials. This very scientific model had three components: the student model, the expert model, and the tutorial model. The student made a product which was compared to the expert product stored in the system. The discrepancies between the two were noted and the tutorial model ran based on that data. In my opinion, the intelligent tutorial was essentially as sterile as the basic tutorial.

I use the mindtool model. This model is constructivist. The technology tools which students use to interpret and make meaning of Spanish are mindtools!

There are two types of processes using the mindtool model. The first is experiental. This is a very active process and students must experience something in order to have data.

The second process is the reflective process. This is necessary to examine the data and present it.

The technology tools are then used to create new content and become the building blocks of real knowledge.

my first inspiration product

Technology to address diversity

I made this in class with other talented MSAD21 teachers. (Here's a shout out to all of you brave souls!)

Click on the image to see full size.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

What are mind tools? What do they do?

Facilitate student-centered, inquiry-based learning. That's what I do. And I use computers to do it. I use the tools available on the computers as cognitive tools to promote critical thinking.

Some of the tools we use in my class are Skype, Glogster, VideoThang, Wikispaces, Flickr, Facebook, Google products, and more.

We use computers to CREATE content. We use computers to plan, produce, present, and provide "pheedback". I got this idea from Marco Torres--he calls it "the 4 p's". He's amazing--check out his FlickSchool.

"Students learn from thinging in meaningful ways." I agree completely. That is why I got rid of the textbook because it does not promote critical thinking but rather recall. I teach from the you of Bloom's--CREATE is my power verb in teaching Spanish. All kids CREATE in Spanish.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

music and the video projects--an update

So. It's no secret. Jumpcut has become a speed bump this past week. Several groups have shot their film yet the program to edit it is not working!

No fear. Plan B is always available.

Tomorrow: music for the freshmen. I want to make emotion-faces out of paper plates, too. For those who do not want to speak. I want to share the Afro-Cuban All Stars and some YouTube videos taken in Latin American sports stadiums. Drums!!

My Spanish 4's will install VideoSplit and VideoThang. Hopefully these programs will work better so we can all move forward with production.

My Spanish 2's and 3's will make promotional posters for their videos. In Spanish, the word for advertising is propaganda. Should be fun! Glogster ought to do the trick.

I hope to team teach again tomorrow...whilst WorldCultures watches Baraka.

Last resort for quarter one video projects are one-takes (high stakes, 90-second clips of continuous dialog) hosted to Flickr.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

music and homework

Two topics in my head this weekend. Make that three.

Music: I must do more of it in class. To that end, I borrowed two large bongo drums from a fellow teacher. That ought to help the music situation, that plus the Afro-Cuban All Stars.

Homework: I do not assign homework. I assign projects. If the students choose to do them at home or at school, fine by me.

Last thought of the weekend: a memory garden. I bought bulbs at Walmart and will plant them with the students soon.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

do all the good you can


Do all the good you can,

by all the means you can,
in all the ways you can,
at all the times you can,
to all the people you can,
as long as you ever can.
-John Wesley-


Sometimes I have weeks where there is not a whole lot of "teaching" but instead a lot of listening, responding, and helping students figure out how to deal with Life. I'm not a social worker or a psychologist, and I know my place at school--I never try to do the work of someone else--but let's face it. When a student comes to me and says, "I can't do my work today because I am dealing with Life"--I take the time to ask the questions and listen to what they are dealing with. If I need to refer the student to someone else more qualified to deal with their Life, I do.

This was one of those weeks. A week of real break-throughs on many levels for many people. And I noticed something.

The people who received help, gave help.

Once their needs were met, they met the needs of others. I wish I could give examples but I respect the private lives of all I work with.

Doing good is a wonderful cycle.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Kiwi En La Clase De Espanol

Kiwi En La Clase De Espanol, originally uploaded by jillybean ( :.

It's going good!

Monday, September 22, 2008

msad21 worldcultures logo

msad21 worldcultures logo, originalmente cargada por Amity Beane.

I am now teaching a new class! It's wonderful! All in English.

Friday, September 19, 2008

c'est chouette!

School today flew by, and was highly engaging.

I'm officially assimilating the French classes to the tech culture at the East Campus.

All of the teachers worked together to make one large learning environment. Thank you, co-workers! We shared rooms, students, computers, the printer, highlighters.

My Spanish kids were buddies with my French kids and all made wikis, set goals, found themselves on-line. We talked A LOT about Internet safety, I overheard the Spanish kids spouting off very good advice about what passwords, what types of pictures, etc. The classroom was very alive.

New fruit today. Bananas. They really like bananas. And kids are starting to come in from other classes because they are hungry and want a snack. Snacks are so important. In French culture, and Dominican culture. In Venezuelan culture and Panamanian culture. I love the culture of food!

Monday: major furniture moving. The French room will now become a workshop. All my glue, scissors, paper will be in the room. Perhaps even the folders. I now have two rooms and two languages and over 40 computers and cameras and a very supportive environment. This is the year. The kids are going to rock it out and the payoff will last a lifetime.

Monday, September 15, 2008

words of wisdom

A wise woman once told me to develop negatives into positive, like a picture. Makes perfect sense to me, so here are the positives!

My students like to go outside and play!

My students eat a lot of healthy food.

My students design things daily. Each class is developing a dynamic that is, for the most part, focused on my agenda of creating, designing, sharing, moving, growing, cooking, etc. with the ultimate goal of being in Spanish.

My students love music!

My students create things daily.


Thinking about the design of my room. What if there were less computers and more collaborative work. I think I would reduce wasted "net time" if students were forced to prioritize the use of the machine.

Also, less table work. Floor work is good. I want beanbag chairs!

Setting the projector up in the middle of the room and projecting onto the southern wall is a very good way to show films. I can also use that space to project maps that we can trace as a class. Tomorrow I'll move those machines out.

I'm loving thinking about French and thinking in French as of today.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

oh, the connections

If you look back in the archives of this blog, for a long time I was planning a unit with the guiding question: If we are what we eat, what are we? I love teaching a language because the opportunities to communicate with it are endless and this topic is dear to my hear (growing up on an organic farm and all). I switched my essential question mid-stream--"What drives us to follow our dreams?" but the food question was still a' burnin'. My take on food consumption is that we consume too much of the wrong stuff, we are disconnected from where real, healthy food comes from, and we have ridiculous portion sizes. My state, Maine, has a real child-obesity problem, as well.

So...what action did I take? I ordered two cases of fruit through the food service and started offering healthy snacks in my room for a quarter. This pricing was to cover the cost of the fruit. Every day, kids plunk their quarters into the mug and grab an apple or an orange from the bowl. I allow them to eat in my room and fill their hungry bellies with health, nutritious fruit. The apples are LOCAL APPLES (yay!) from the town I live in. The oranges come from Florida.

Now, kids are starting to ask me if they can eat OTHER snacks in my room. I did not anticipate this. When it first happened, I asked (in Spanish) "Is it a healthy snack?" So far the snacks have just been peanut butter crackers. I said yes to that. I am waiting for the bag of chips to brought in so we can discuss that!

Thursday night, I went to Walmart and picked out several different kinds of fruits. Bananas, melons, grapes, limes, pineapple. Friday I had my Spanish 4's chop it all up and record the process and take still shots with the Spanish names. We'll do post-production editing, sound track, voice overs and subtitles next week, but the point is instead of apples and oranges on Friday, kids were exposed to all different kinds of fruits with different countries of origin. The price was still a quarter and by the end of the day almost all the fruit was gone and I recouped my initial investment of 21 dollars. Kids *loved* the pineapple and limes and grapes. The melons were not such a big hit. One girl told me I was smart to sell them fruit!

Some class, soon, I'll set it up as a Spanish market and make the kids dicker for their snacks. It's such a good concept to teach them, especially if they ever travel to Latin America!!

My 4's were soooooo happy with their kitchen and video production time. I was so proud of them for cutting and photographing and presenting so much fruit in just 80 minutes.

My Spanish 1's munched happily on healthy snacks while we watched a Spanish telenovela designed especially for teens learning the language.

I love incorporating food into my curriculum and having content and full students for a class period.

For those kids who did not have any change, I let them give me an IOU for the day.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

happy Thursday!

Today something happened that was so cool, I hope it happens again.

One of my students, when I first shared Skype, told me her dad is working in Afghanistan and has Skype. Would I allow her dad to Skype our class? At first I didn't give a clear answer, and then I decided, sure! So we set a time and date.

Today was the day. C. and I worked together to get the technology in place. My students moved furniture to make a better audience space. Instead of Skype we used Yahoo chat. He wore a headset and was located in a bunker. There was a lag but we communicated. I gathered two other classes in the room and we spent about 20 minutes chatting.

And this was not the most exciting part.

The most exciting part was when two other students approached me after class. They want to use Skype for their own communication with loved ones that live far away.

It is not about the technology. It is about what you do with it.

The interview process must be clarified for the students, but I see many more interviews in the future.

Oh, I signed up for a second class tonight--mo' skoo. Topics include mind mapping, concept mapping, GIS, GPS, Inspiration, and various other systems of storing, retrieving, and presenting data.

Monday, September 8, 2008

happy Monday!

Today just flew by.

My freshmen are learning the "big picture" words...words like Metas, Habilidades, Realizaciones...(goals, abilities, achievements). We used Wordle to visualize the words....soon we'll get to de-codin (aka grammar).

Spanish 2's finished Glogs on goals. I'll do a gallery of them and someone will make it to the Hall of Fame. Next up? Their first workshop on production--they'll produce short films for the elementary school.

Spanish 4's began the earnest work of storyboarding. So far, one team is showing how to play a game, one team is making a cooking show, and one team is demonstrating how to play field hockey. Should be interesting. I closed the wiki but interested parties can request to join.

J. is coming on Wednesday to chat with everyone and a student's father is Skyping the class from his military base. Should be a good week for distance learning.

Oh! My colleague and I presented this:

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: msad21 internationalclub)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

good things

Yesterday was the first day that my volunteer, J., came into the room. It felt very successful--she spoke with each student in Spanish, and several students interacted with her without my help. It was great! She'll be back next Wednesday.

Last night was my research methods first class. I think it will be a lot of work but very engaging. I shared Zach's graphs and this lovely image from Flickr. Lovely data!!

Today: the 4's will use Glogster for their first multimedia presentation. The 2's will use 280Slides to begin their elementary school work. The 1's will register for the wiki and begin their categorization of words. I teach a lot of grammar this way.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

jing and screencast

I'm psyched. Just did my first screencast and found it pretty simple.

Check it out!

I downloaded Jing and used it to capture audio and screenshots to teach people how to sign up for my wiki.

simple solutions

It occurred to me today that so far, no kids have been waiting by my door for the bell to ring at the end of class. Not having a clock in my room or a bell system forces students to be accountable/responsible for themselves and not let the machines do all the work of herding them from place to place. This effectively solves a dilemma I presented during a PLC session last year.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

No Child Left Behind and Bloom's Taxonomy

Mastering Low-Level Content from Scott McLeod on Vimeo.

the first days of school

The first week of school ended yesterday and I feel very positive about my classroom environment and my students. The learning space is structured with a large square in the middle of the room surrounded by chairs, and computers along the outer wall. There are cabinets in the corner full of art supplies, a counter space with plants and a bowl of fruit, and two bookshelves full of print resources. I have a lot of shelves to display my realia from the Spanish speaking world.

Everyone seemed genuinely happy to be in the room and I had no discipline issues whatsoever! I took everyone's picture for a visual seating chart to be created.

My room has no clock and my campus has no bell system. I wrote the class times on the board and instructed my students (in Spanish!) to set their cell phone alarms for the right time to leave. This made them so happy. Cell phones are verboten in my school but in my room, they are used as a tool.

I had several students express how happy they were with the new room. Last year's room was small and confining with few resources. This year it is resource-rich.

A few highlights:

I was showing the Spanish 4 class the Amiguitos wiki when my elementary school teaching partner called on Skype. It happened while I was projecting the wiki and so she appeared LIVE and began to chat with us. The 4's were thrilled with the "flattening" between high school and elementary school.

One of my Spanish 2 sections was also viewing the wiki, both the welcome video and the video that my elementary teacher partner made with her first grade class and sent to us. Mrs. Y then called us on Skype. She arranged her students in front of the camera and I did as well. My class asked them how many kids were in the class. "14!" "!5!" "No 14!" My Spanish 2's giggled at the first grade antics. Then they proceed to teach the first graders the numbers from 1-15 in Spanish. Both sides of the conversation were a bit giddy and giggly and "Wow!" The exchange lasted about 6 minutes (long enough for first graders and Spanish 2's on a Friday afternoon). It felt completely successful in terms of teachers managing distance interactions in an education, collaborative way. It was definitely my moment of the week.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

What I did with the last day of my summer vacation

I joined two Nings thanks to Julie Lindsey. (See 'em on my sidebar, cool!)

I also updated my professional wiki with my educational philosophy. Read it and weep.

The grad school wiki went bye-bye....instead I'll continue to add content to my professional wiki and call it good.

More to do...will update later.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Check the Alitas Collaboration Wiki for the most recent updates.

Soon, I'll be updating the Grad School Wiki.

My MSAD21 Wiki is gaining weight, depth, breadth.

The Exploration project was approved by the department head.

I'm officially a mentor as of yesterday--I'm teamed with the new French teacher. We worked on curriculum during our first session. Yay, Maine Learning Results.

My friend J. from Panama/E. Dixfield was approved to volunteer ever Wednesday in my classroom.

The computers will be imaged tonight and powered up.

The classroom configuration is complete...will post pics soon.

I'm proposing parent education nights for tech....the tech director liked the idea! Now to make tutorials....will have my students do it.

Ordered the first trial run of food for the class: one crate apples, one crate oranges, trail mix, and peanut butter. Now need to figure out the water--I want a cooler in my room. Also need a fridge.

(Food is BIG in my both my cultures...yankee and latin.)

Having a great day prepping for school and the summer bash we are throwing...the end-of-summer bash.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...