Monday, June 10, 2013

Amazon's deal of the week in software includes up to 75% off on Norton antivirus protection. This deal is only valid until Sunday. You can save as much as $65 for a one year download. When your life depends on a computer, it pays to protect your information.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

iPad apps that worked for me

For Spanish teachers who are looking for apps that they can use in their classrooms or for parents who are looking for apps that can help their children learn a foreign language, here are some apps that I used this year that worked for me:

  • Gus on the go:Spanish- It has great graphics. It presents the vocabulary in themes and as the student unlocks new sections the previous vocabulary is integrated as a review. I used it with K-1st.
  • Mind Snack- It allows the teacher to control what vocabulary to include in the game. As they completed one segment an egg with a mystery creature would crack a little bit. Students liked playing with this game, and they looked forward to having the egg crack a little more. I used it with 2nd grade.
  • Feed me! from Pencilbot- It was a simple game. I used it with Preschool and Kindergarten. The students enjoyed tickling the monster. Even though they tried to get the answer right, once in a while they asked if they could pick the wrong one on purpose to see the monster get sick. The found it funny and entertaining.
  • Busuu kids- It has a garden theme. The audio recordings of the vocabulary seem to have been done by a native speaker. Once one segment of vocabulary is complete a flower with that theme pops up in the garden. As students learned new words their watering can would fill up. Games were short, but fun.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Conference attendance

In March I attended a conference called "Teaching through Technology" hosted at Harker School in San Jose, CA. Unlike most conferences that teachers attend, we were encouraged to attend, but were not mandated to do so. I enjoyed interacting with teachers from both public and private schools in my area. It was interesting to see the wide array of resources that exist in some school districts versus others. While there were resources mentioned that I was already knowledgeable about, I also learned some new things.

Here are some things that I enjoyed:

1. Teachers that had access to both iPads and pc's in the classroom were encouraging students to use the right piece of equipment for the task. A teacher pointed out, "you don't take a brand new Mercedes Ben on a camping trip". Students were allowed to choose between an iPad or computer depending on the particular assignment need. For example, needing to type a long document, a computer, or needing to take high quality pictures, an iPad.

2. I played with two new pieces of technology that provide a way to make any regular dry erase board into a SmartBoard. One was the Mimmio and the other was the eBeam. They also are linkable to one or many iPads allowing students to respond and interact in live time with the teacher. This seems to be an affortable and innovative approach to classroom learning.

3. I learned that teachers who use iPads extensively in their classroom have discovered that their students if given the choice prefer using apps that allow them to create products instead of simply playing an educational game. This seem to be especially true with Middle School students. Maybe this is the beginning of a new path for educational technology in the classroom. More of a focus on discovery than practice.

4. For foreign language teachers like myself, it was great to see what other teachers are doing with e-books. One teacher shared that instead of purchasing written copies of novels, she has purchased a certain amount of Kindles that she then purchased digital copies of novels for. This allows foreign language teachers to access a larger quantity and quality of texts without having to worry about shipping. This particular teacher choose Kindle's for her class instead of iPads because of the price difference.