Here is a link to my UbD unit on the culture of celebrations used for my final project. The video is a presentation and reflection on that unit.

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  1. What were your goals for your lesson/project? The standards related to learning about culture through holidays and celebrations, and using tech tools to research, produce and present.

  2. What tools did you use? Why did you choose this/these tools for this/these task(s)? We used online sources to research holidays in the Spanish speaking world, because there is more available to students. We used e-mail to correspond with students across the world, because this helped establish a relationship. We used Skype chat and video calling to talk directly and live, but this proved difficult due to time zones. We used slide presentations to create augmented presentations. We created and uploaded videos to give our peers more personal communication.

  3. How did you go about introducing your lesson/project? We began with discussion of our own celebrations, and sharing thoughts on what we knew or thought we knew already regarding others’ traditions.

  4. How did the students react? Students were excited at the prospect of “meeting” and befriending kids from another country and exchanging ideas with them.

  5. Outcome? Did you meet your goals? Not really. We didn’t get enough interaction to learn all I had hoped from prime sources.

  6. Evidence of learning? There were revelations made, like seeing that Mother’s day is universal but not necessarily celebrated at the same time everywhere.

  7. What would you do differently next time? What did you learn? I need to get more classes involved and participating, and begin earlier in the year. That way relationships can be established that will lead into more discussion beyond introductions. There is a lot more learning possible than strictly cultural and can be on-going all year and potentially beyond.

  8. How do/did you plan to share this with your colleagues? I began by using a CFG protocol with teacher colleagues to fine tune the unit before introducing it to students. I have also already heard from other CoETaIL participants regarding my and their work. This is expanding my PLN.

  9. What was your greatest learning in this course? That is a hard one. I have forced myself to learn new technologies and apply them to my classroom. I can produce multimedia presentations that I couldn’t do before. This might be the tool I use most to engage my students, especially if I continue to flip my instruction.

  10. Did this implementation meet the definition of Redefinition? I feel we achieved all levels of the SAMR model in this implementation, in spite of the fact that our outcomes were limited. Using email to correspond with students in other countries, blogging about that learning, and reading and commenting on others’ postings is reaching (potentially) a global audience. Posting self-produced videos is another example of the transformative use of technology that cannot exist without the digital environment at our access today.


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The End?

Dead EndI am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, but this is not the end. I have one more week to put the finishing touches on my final project, and I am excited to finish up the certification program, but I am more excited for all that I have learned from the 5 courses.

Like any living thing my unit grew and changed, was not perfect and isn’t finished. There were numerous frustrations along the way, as well as successes. I didn’t get everything I had hoped for, and I got more. That sounds trite and cliche, but we educators can be full of those.

The final posting will be up next week, I’ll reflect a little more then. Feel free to comment!



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Critical Mass

Tuning protocol

I was fortunate enough to use a tuning protocol from CFG with a group of colleagues to fine tune my unit/ final project. This is a way to run ideas past a group of colleagues and ask for their professional help. Teachers are great critics, meaning they know how to point out areas of strength while helping you see the areas that could use some tweeking.

The preparation for the protocol itself forces you to focus your thoughts and planning.  You want to go into the meeting knowing you are ready to discuss all aspects; from standards addressed, essential questions and enduring understandings to activities and assessment tools. That doesn’t mean you consider your unit done, though. You are hoping to gain insight on how to improve it.

This can be a little daunting- putting yourself out there for everyone to go through your work with a fine tooth comb. But your colleagues are themselves teachers and know the position you are in. I got some great feedback on my day and it will help me to make my unit better.

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Just Play It

Making it fun!

After watching Gabe Zicherman’s The Secret Power of Gamification I see that I need to re-think my understanding of the concept. When told to play video games as an assignment for my CoETaIL course work, I immediately looked for online games aimed at the subject I teach. I played some and had my students use them in class. The ones I found were fun enough, but not necessarily educational enough.

As I have said before I am not a gamer. I was 12 when Pong came out. We bought it and I was fascinated, but I just didn’t catch the bug as new games and technologies developed and hit the market. I guess my circle of friends didn’t either, because we just didn’t play. That leaves me a little behind when trying to learn how to play now. The games don’t seem at all intuitive to me.

Old School

I do like games, though, and I know that education can and should be fun. And now I see the necessary problem solving skills required by many such “video” games is the draw and harbors the true educational potential. Its not so much the content of the game as the process involved in maneuvering through the various tasks that make it motivational and educational. Process not product- Where have I heard that before?

Its not the game itself, but using the mechanics of game thinking that produce results. Zicherman points out how the challenge followed by success that occurs frequently during well designed gaming releases dopamine in the brain. No wonder its so addictive! Channeling this into learning is key to keeping things moving for students.

My cohort Colleague Shane Sullivan points out that games are also a great platform for learning to fail. The challenges that require more effort and more attempts to master are the ones more worth achieving. Problem solving skills are taxed and re-applied until the task is mastered. I see this thought in at least 4 of Andrea Kuszewski‘s 5 key ways to increase fluid intelligence:

  1. Seek novelty
  2. Challenge yourself
  3. Think critically
  4. Do things the hard way
  5. Network

The networking comes in when we see how most gaming is done socially or in teams. The status afforded the player/ learner who dominates a particular task is often more important than the “stuff” (grades) he or she receives for their efforts. This translates into real life in examples like CNN’s ireporters. People from all over the world submit pictures, videos and stories in the hopes of having their story showcased. There is no money involved, so why do they do it? It must feel pretty good to see your name associated with a widely publicized piece.

I feel like I am rambling a bit here, but I am trying to bring together a lot of different thoughts on a topic that should be simple to describe. Real learning is fun and challenging. Gamification seems an excellent avenue to accomplish this.

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Re-defining Myself

redefinition – definition of redefinition by the Free Online Dictionary ...

Welcome to the fifth and final CoETaIL course! This whole experience has been transformative and redefining for myself, and I look forward to what my new future as an educator holds for me.

I was assigned the task of playing video games this week. I like that. But finding ones useful for your subject area (Spanish for myself) requires a bit of work. And a bit of play- especially if you haven’t familiarized yourself with the basics of keyboard gaming. I found as a resource with many options and some free games to play. My students instantly loved the opportunity and explored. Each game lets you choose a specific topic to frame the play around. The Flea game that I played allowed a lot of play and not a lot of Spanish, but the kids enjoyed it. Cargo Bridge was one I could see becoming addictive and I liked how it automatically threw out questions in Spanish regardless of what was happening in the game. It made you work more.

I looked for games that were specifically for practicing Spanish, but I want to explore adapting and transforming other games students already know for curricular use. I guess that means more play/ research. The 123 games were basically substituting drill work, but offering this in a game format is motivational for many. The trick is going to be transforming learning with games.

Ruben Puentedura’s comparison of the SAMR model and Bloom’s Taxonomy really strikes a chord with me. I always appreciated the reminder to force kids to think at higher levels in order to promote growth that Benjamin Bloom promoted. Using SAMR we see that enhancements through the use of technology in education are comparable to lower cognitive skills, while using tech transformatively pushes higher cognitive skills. SAMR reminds me not to just jump on the band-wagon of computer use in school, but to pursue true improvements to student learning through transformative uses.

I reviewed a few of the exemplary CoETaIL projects shared with us, but two stood out for me. Brent Fullerton’s “Sun Bear Rock” project seemed to really get kids motivated and used many different tech tools to accomplish that. Students involved themselves in service learning and the use of technology covered every level of Bloom’s and SAMR. I liked Travis Ion’s “Redefining 5th Grade” even though it was more of a personal journey than a specific project. He and his students both benefitted immensely from his professional growth. Again, the tasks and projects completed using various types of tech tools covered every level and aspect of both Bloom’s and SAMR. This is a worthy goal of every unit of instruction.

As I dive into the final project I focus on redefining and transforming my unit. I hope this translates to similar changes in students’ feelings about their work and the effort they put into it. Redefinitely.

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¿Cómo Eres?

Eres muy bajo.

Here is a link to my project incorporating technology in a flipped classroom model. I am implementing this learning theory in my Mid-school Spanish classes right now and adjusting as I go. I appreciate being able to apply theory into practice through the coursework I am doing with CoETaIL. I know this unit isn’t perfect, so I’ll appreciate any feedback.

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Game On!

Cut & Paste

We are asked to write about two very interesting and evocative topics this week: What is the future of education? and What role will technology play in that future? My first thought is that if I knew the answer to either of those two questions I could write a book, reform education, become famous, and live comfortably off the royalties. Others are trying to do the same.

More realistically I can become informed about new ideas from experience and sources like the Horizon Report, TPACK from Punja Mishra, and trend setters like James Paul Gee. Technology is not going to disappear and kids are becoming increasingly adept at using it, so why not adapt it to the school setting?

The principles of SAMR must guide me to use any technology for the right reason. Comparing Bloom’s Taxonomy with this model we see the importance of choosing a question or a tool for the optimum reason, and being thoughtful about that during planning will ensure best practice.

I have been implementing a flipped classroom model in my mid-school Spanish classroom. It is an attempt on my part first of all to give the students more time in class to practice the skills they are learning, and secondly to implement some technology into my pedagogy. I am going through a learning curve and adjusting as I go, but I am happy with the increased amount of student involvement and motivation to use the language. This is the most important factor in acquiring a new language.

A new trend I have just learned about (but have been waiting to hear) is gamification, or the use of video games for educational purposes. Now I can justify gaming as professional development! Jane McGonigal gives a wonderful Tedtalk in which she states, “My goal for the next decade is to try to make it as easy to save the world in real life as it is to save the world in online games.” I have never been a gamer, but I think I will become one. My 9 & 11 year old boys will be sooooo happy.

Speaking of the boys- What changes will the growth of Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) bring to the world of undergraduate, graduate, and even post-graduate education? Will they be able to get their college degrees without having to physically attend a university? Visions of Animal House dance through my head… Will I need to keep stockpiling money for their college days? Visions of a beach in Thailand dance through my head… MOOCs are redefining higher education already, and it will be interesting to watch those developments.

It is very difficult to say where I will be in 5, 10, or even 15 years. I’m not sure where I’ll be tomorrow. International education has given me more professional opportunities than I ever dreamed possible. I do know that wherever I find myself I will be experimenting with, implementing, and fine tuning how I use technological applications in an educational (and personal) setting. CoETaIL has helped me to open my eyes to so many new ideas and has motivated me to transform my view of education and the world in general. Game on, I say.

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Back on Your Heads!

See What You Can Do by Flipping Computers?

Using technology in the classroom is a given today, so a teacher needs the skills to manage and integrate their use effectively. As the Isenet article points out, classroom management in general is a prerequisite to good teaching, and trying to bring computers into the mix without being prepared is asking for trouble.  There’s a whole new set of issues that come into play- access, differing levels of students’ navigating abilities, and staying on task to name a few. Those terms sound familiar in discussions of classroom management if you remove any reference to tech!

Our school is in its second year of 1 to 1 netbook use by all mid-schoolers, and I teach Spanish to sixth, seventh and eighth graders. I am myself a late comer to technology (I didn’t even touch a computer until I was 28), but I am trying to stay on top of current trends by integrating technology usage into my pedagogy. In fact I am flipping my classroom in the hopes of freeing up more classroom time for practicing the language.

My students are disproportionately non-native English speakers, studying Spanish in Vietnam. They need practice in using the language in real situations, and there isn’t a lot of opportunity to practice outside of the classroom, or get help at home. I realized right away that my students were losing practice time if allowed to work on their computers during class. So flipping instruction seemed the logical choice. They are assigned short instructional videos (mine or favorited YouTube postings from students or other teachers), and asked to reflect in writing on those videos. Class time is freed up for practice, review, re-teaching and enrichment.

When the kids got computers last year I quickly saw the need for effective control of their usage. Students are adept at toggling between chat, gaming, Facebook, and the given task depending on where the teacher is in the room. In fact, it quickly becomes the norm for students to enter the room and turn on their screens automatically. This was the first discovery I made and the first rule of thumb- wait to be told to turn them on.

I am learning how to manage the use of technology in the classroom. I hope that by flipping my classroom I am providing my students with what they need. I am grateful for any advice on managing the use of computers, and so really appreciate the Horizon Report/ New Media Consortium . They provide insight into what trends and new technologies are coming soon, and it looks like we will soon be promoting gaming as an educational tool. It seems like a natural step to motivate people by letting them have some fun while learning. That in itself is a major flip in philosophy for many!

How do we let kids have on-demand access to technology and know that they are staying on task? They are very used to “playing,” so how do we get them to use their devices as learning tools? Good classroom management skills are necessary, and just as in the pre-tech days of education, training the students is the most important part. But informing teachers through professional development is a necessary component of effective technology integration, because without it teachers let students establish the rules and procedures. We want to give them a voice in the matter, but we are the professionals here, right?

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Flippin’ Out,r:8,s:422,i:164 Seeing the choices for the first project of the year in our CoETaIL course I knew right away which learning theory was for me- the flipped classroom. I am implementing this currently in my instruction of middle school Spanish at Saigon South International School so the timing is right for me to learn more about it by teaching about it. We have a one-to-one netbook program in its second year, and I am forcing myself to grow professionally utilizing more technology with my students. This infographic from Knewton gives a good overview of the theory. It is a little surprising to see that the theory is relatively new and can be credited to two innovative teachers from Colorado.

The growth in technology and its accessibility has as Punya Mishra says in his presentation on TPack, “changed every other profession so do educators have a choice?” Students can and should become a part of and designers of their own knowledge acquisition. The trick is in coordinating technology, pedagogy and content through teacher creativity since most technology is not designed with educational purpose in mind. His article Too Cool For School delves into this a bit more, and points out that new gadgets and apps don’t have to be disregarded. In fact the potential for learning in each needs to be tapped.

As Will Richardson points out, the current educational model used to work but the world has changed around it. Teachers were the most effective deliverers of content, but now students can learn whatever, whenever and where ever they want. Students must become inquirers who know how to find, interpret and evaluate information that is readily available and can be tailored to match individual curiosity differences.

The flipped classroom model takes advantage of technology applications and lets the student receive instruction at home, freeing up class time for practice. There are uncountable numbers of videos, powerpoints, lessons/quizzes and other resources available online that students can access. The teacher can point students toward pre-screened material, or let the students find their own lessons. I prefer to tell them what to look at for homework, and I have even started producing some of my own lessons and posting them to YouTube. There are of course good and bad resources out there, so making your own is one way of ensuring the students are receiving proper instruction.

My students then have more time in class to practice writing and speaking, as opposed to just listening. Also, parents are concerned they can’t help their kids on their Spanish homework. Students work together and peer tutor while I circulate and check progress and elicit conversation. They are getting more practice than before.

The day in class looks a little flipped, too. Using a lesson plan format like Gagne’s the day begins with step six and proceeds through step 9 of the previous day’s material. Then the teacher goes into step one of the next topic and works through two and three. The students  go home and do four and five. This may not be the exact sequencing, but its flipped, isn’t it?

I’m excited about working in this style. I’m implementing more technology in my classroom, giving my students some autonomy in their learning, and growing professionally. My main goal is to get my students learning more Spanish, though. ¿Cómo se dice “flip” en español?





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Reflective Eyes View Course 3

by Frank Patrick

Iceberg by Frank Patrick

What is visual literacy and how does the manipulation of visual elements affect the viewer?   These were essential questions  in  CoETaIL course 3, and forced me to think about those ideas in depth.  The visual part of that term is easy to get, but the literate part means you go truly beyond the surface meaning of something you “see” and evaluate for other less obvious elements that vie for your attention.  There’s more to it than meets the eye.

This course put me to work with projects that I found useful and motivating.  I like it when we can kill two birds with one stone by using our homework to teach students. I also thought the progression through infographic, presentation Zen presentation, pecha kucha, and digital storytelling worked.  I am motivated to do more graphic work and projects to support my curriculum.

This course introduced me to Garr Reynolds and Presentation Zen.  I like how he doesn’t spend too much time telling you what you shouldn’t do, but focuses more on the positive. Images that affect your gut or evoke memories automatically put the viewer’s brain in your corner- or in the opposite corner if that’s your intent.  We gain and hold the audience’s attention largely through visuals.  We also lose their attention without some zing in graphics used. And Garr’s making a living himself teaching us by doing presentations about presentations.  I want to be him!

This is all about sales.  You’re selling ideas, products or services in the end. Eye tracking studies analyze the movements of our eyes, and executives and designers use the data to decide which images that will most grab our attention to put where to help guide our eyes.  Darrin Stevens did it every week on Bewitched usually without the help of his witchy wife.

We’re sensitive to light while still in the womb  (if you’ve got that sense). I remember seeing my own children move toward light while still in utero.  That first glimpse of light after birth must have seemed strange.  Or is curiosity piqued to put an image to some things you’d become familiar with through sound?  So, we know the importance of images to our view of the world so to speak.  We could probably draw before we could talk. Making sense out of sounds took more time to develop. Visuals had and have the advantage of being perhaps more easily interpreted.

Visuals are one way  we can really grab someone’s attention, so as teachers we should be integrating these thoughts into lessons and presentations.  After all, we’re selling, too.  We can’t forget that part of our duty is also to get kids to be a little aware of evaluating visuals in their lives.  They are bombarded with images aimed at getting them to buy something, and maybe they can see through some of the crap.

CRAP.  I hope to apply CRAP.  Not like sunscreen; but use contrast, repetition, alignment and proximity in the graphic design process.  Its a handy acronym to help one focus a little and stay mindful of the power of picture.  Of course this being a course about visual literacy I instantly see an image in my head when I hear the term.  I’m sure that’s what the person who coined that phrase had in mind. Oh, the power of visuals!

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