Sunday, March 27, 2011


I recently re-discovered I belonged to a community called Edmodo.  This re-connect occurred due to my OER work.  Through the state people in charge of my OER work, I was able to conference call with a great gal at Edmodo, Michelle Best, who explained how it works and where OER might fit in to the program.

What has hit me in the past few days is that Edmodo is designed to curate.  You are essentially a gatherer of your own materials mined from the web to teach a lesson.  You can also attach files from your desktop.  You can arrange these items for your classes.  You can share them easily with your peers.  You can tag them.  You can find them easily.

Why is this an a-ha for me?  Basically, my desk at this time of year is over-run with paper.  Paper is everywhere in my room.  It's getting way too cluttered.

Edmodo is my cloud.  I'm going to work my way through my courses, and Edmodo them up.  So I don't need all this paper everywhere. And if my computer crashes, I will still have my site there.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Monday, March 14, 2011

How to use Garageband to assess speaking in World Languages

Here's something that has been working lately.  I have used it with different grammatical structures levels 2-3-4.  It's been taking a good 45 minutes per class.

The question is about music.  What's your most favorite song?  Who sings it?  What's the genre? Why do you like it?

There are no wrong answers.  We listen to the music.  Everyone has to share 5-10 seconds.  We ask the questions to each other and listen. 

Using Garageband, I then direct the kids to record themselves speaking.  You have to break the kids up into pairs.  I have a good building for recording, it's very quiet.

The script is there already, as is the soundtrack.  So, recording is easy, and then have the project sent as an attachment in email for grading.

The richest learning seems to be when we are listening to the music. 

I grade the recording on accuracy and fluency.  It's a skill sharpener.  Short, sweet, and effective. 

I use Garageband to assess speaking quite frequently.  I think I will play the convos for the kids tomorrow and do dictation. (Evil cackle). 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

música: irka mateo

In 1492, the island of Hispaniola, which is now where Haiti and the Dominican Republic sit, was ruled in part by a female Taíno chief and poet named Anacaona. After she was killed by Spanish colonists, the chief became a potent symbol of national pride for Dominicans. Anacaona is also the name of a 2010 album by Irka Mateo, a Dominican singer who specializes in bringing indigenous themes and musical forms into her songwriting. Mateo spent years traveling across her country researching poorly-documented folkloric traditions, and later hosted a television show about traditional artists called Music From Kiskeya. These days, she’s living in New York and has put together an incendiary band that makes deeply Dominican music that is both thoughtful and danceable. “Hombre de la tierra” features the classic sound of the button accordion, along with bachata-inflected guitars, hard-driving drums, and Mateo’s spirited vocals.

from Gig Alerts

Friday, March 4, 2011

Good morning, Portland, Maine

Sunrise over the harbor

Teamwork, teambuilding.  I spoke of this time.  I knew this time was coming.  The crazed time of putting it all together to make sense.

Does it make sense?

It made sense today.  Today was good.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wordle and One Way to Use It in World Languages

Figure 1

Wordle? What is it? Why care?  

I use this word frequency tool to gauge what kinds of words my students are struggling with when speaking Spanish.

Here is the process. It can be tweaked for shorter or longer assignments.

I had my juniors write reflections on a recent career day held at school, in Spanish.  They responded to seven prompts about the day, and their responses were 3-4 simple sentences.  These were arranged into a short essay.

After writing and editing,  they recorded themselves reading the essay.  Because we are a 1:1 school they did this using Garageband, but there are many ways to do this on-line.

I received an email with the recording.  For record keeping purposes, there is a naming protocol--the subject must be last name and name of project, the file name must be last name and name of project.  This helps tremendously when students look at you innocently and say, "But I sent it to you."  If I can't find it by last name, they have to re-send.

Meanwhile, using Google Docs, I made a table and emailed my students the link to this table (see Figure 2, example is the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish).  Each student copied and pasted their essay text into the table, as well as their word count, as well as their name, date and assignment. 

Figure 2

To evaluate, I listened to each essay as read by the student in Spanish with the Google table up in front of me.  I bolded  mispronounced words in the table in Google docs and made the table private so that the students no longer had access the the link.  I made a list of bolded words by student and posted them in the table.  I printed the table and cut it up so each student received a piece of paper with typed feedback on it.  In Figure 2, students had multiple attempts to improve pronunciation, and NE means "No error".

Enter Wordle found at  This is the program I use to give feedback, anonymously share data, and give each student a chance to practice the problem words, see patters, and work on pronunciation.

I took the exact number of words mispronounced from the essay, copied and pasted the column of student errors, and used Wordle to see what words were mispronounced the most. 

Look  at Figure 1 above one more time.   What did they struggle with?

I projected the Wordle, and we discussed the errors, and we went over the largest words several times.  Not surprisingly, the fact that most of the mispronounced words were cognates was discussed.  We worked on specific techniques of pronunciation. 

That is just one way that I use Wordle!

¡Zambombazo! and other things of note

If you found yourself here via Zambombazo, welcome!  I recommend the Zambombazo site to learn Spanish in a culturally relevant and FUN way!  It's designed so you can pick and choose activities that get you to use your skills and stretch your mind.  Creators Zachary and Betsy Jones have seen amazing growth in numbers of visitors.  In my opinion this is due in large part to the high quality activities that are offered.  (Although my French colleague misses the French version dearly).

Friday the OER team will present at FLAME in Portland, Maine.  Hope to see you there. Our session has "Wishlist"in the title.  Of course that "Wishlist" is the Master List of OERs for World Languages.

More to come in April when Phase 2 wraps up.


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