March 10, 2016

EdTech & Web 2.0 in the World Language Classroom Day 1

As any of my colleagues, family, or friends will tell you, I'm a complete technology junkie.  It's true in my personal life (much to my husband's dismay), but nothing is better than when I get to combine tech with my love of education, curriculum, and, of course, world language instruction. On any given day, my students and I probably use more than a handful of tools both inside and outside the classroom, but learning about a few more is always exciting.

I plan to write a blog post at a later date about how I gradually fell in love with educational and instructional technology, but for right now, I thought I'd write about all of the awesome tools I'm learning about right now while at the MACUL (Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning) annual conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I'm here with four of my favorite colleagues and I'm loving the opportunity to immerse myself with almost 5,000 fellow educators who share a common interest.

This morning's keynote speaker was Jaime Casap, Chief Education Evangelist at Google. First of all, how cool is that job title?! Chief evangelist?! Awesome. Besides having an incredible job title, Jaime's presentation got me thinking about the way I view and use technology in my classroom and the way I ask kids to use their tools. I loved the way he presented his message about the implications of technology on the futures of our students and even though I try to stay relevant with technology, that I need to use the tools they are using.  Perhaps my favorite quote to put it in perspective was this:

After the keynote, I attended a session called Twitter for Power Users with  Leslie Fisher, all-knowing tech guru. Last August, I had the opportunity to attend four of her sessions and I immediately implemented many of the tools she introduced (most notably SeeSaw and Go Formative).  I don't consider myself a master of Twitter by any means, but I got a lot better after last fall after learning that Twitter is THE place for professional development for teachers. My favorite, as a Spanish teacher, is #Langchat, but Leslie told us that there are over 180 educator chats that occur every week. If you haven't checked out a chat, Twitter might just be the best PD venue you didn't know existed.  Plus, if you're like me and crave constant professional growth, you can connect with like-minded colleagues both locally and around the world.  Next week, I plan to virtually attend my state chat, #MichED, to hear what my fellow Michigander teachers are talking about. 


After a luncheon with the Multimedia Special Interest Group (MACUL SIG-MM), I went to a session entitled, "Never Buy Another Posterboard: Digital Creation and Publishing." Even though sometimes I feel like I flood my 8th grade students with tech, I still do posters and I'm dying to move away from them for the most part. For instance, I teach 6th grade 8 times throughout the year and I am completely over my classroom being taken over by family tree posters every nine weeks. I've replaced some of my projects with Padlet assessments, so when I found out about a similar tool called Linoit today, my attention was peaked. At first glance, Linoit looks very similar to Padlet, but there appears to be an emphasis on incorporating audio and video into the digital poster.

The other thing that struck me in the digital creation session was ThingLink.  I learned about it last summer and thought it would have implications for WL classrooms, but totally forgot about.  Basically, it allows you to take any image(s) and add audio, video, text, hyperlinks, and more to it to make the graphic come alive. I think this would be so cool for classroom activities and even presentational speaking assessments.  Here's one I found that would be perfect for my 7th grade or even beginning 8th grade units.  Just click the images to make them come alive and keep in mind you can embed both audios and video.  

¿Cómo es? 

All in all, my first day of MACUL 2016 was a both motivating and interesting, but perhaps the best part was being surrounded by people who are as excited about educational technology as I am.  After a long (and slightly overwhelming) day of learning, my four coworkers and I headed to Brewery Vivant to try new foods and drinks (including a bone marrow appetizer with bread) and discuss the best of everything we learned.  Technology and fun colleagues are a great combination, especially when paired with delicious culinary experiences. Stayed tuned for the next blog entry about day 2.

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