Archive for May, 2012

5 Smartphone (Mobile Learning) Concerns

As I have been using smartphones in my classes, presenting about it,  writing about it, and reading about it, I have some concerns.

1. Why limit mobile learning  to lower-level drill and kill activities?   Spanish teachers can have their students  study vocabulary on a topic such as a restaurant via an app. However, they can also use a QR code to show the students a restaurant  in Lima Peru and have their  students talk about the restaurant.

2. Why limit mobile learning to text-based learning?  A common mobile learning activity is to have students use a QR code to go to a web page and read the information.  Why not take them to a video or a  photo that shows the same  learning?  Math students can watch a Kahn video instead of reading about the math.

3. Why limit Smartphones to  individual activities?  Instead of Johnny sitting by himself learning about a country,  why not have Johnny and Rosa contrast different pictures of the same country?  Johnny has one picture and Rosa a different one.

4. Why limit mobile learning to one small view?  English students can search the Internet on their mobile learning device and find a poem about love  but these same students can create QR posters in which they show how the human condition of love shows up in a poem, a song, a movie, and a TV show. They can compare/contrast the various types of love.

5. Why limit Smartphones/tablets to just learning when students can use it to analyze their learning?  As students do various speaking tasks, they record their scores  in a Google document spreadsheet. They can see how well they  are progressing at any time.  Likewise, they could use an online rubric checklist (Google Doc) to help them assess how well they have written their essay.

How do your students use Smartphone, Tablets or Mobile Learning? Are they limited?

I have 20 Spanish spontaneous speaking/fluency activities at Teacherspayteachers:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

My formative assessment books:   http://is.gd/tbook   Formative Assessment Responding to Your Students,   Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment  Successful, and    Student Writing Through Formative Assessment

Using Technology to Prepare Student to Do Well on Finals

We want our students to do well on the class final, department final, school district final, state final or national final.  However, often it is not what our  students know but how they will be tested that determines their grade.

Here are some techniques to use technology to help prepare students for finals so that they can perform well.

1) Give them self-correcting online assessments that mimic  parts of the final.  For example, students can do  several reading comprehension passages  in a program like Quia.  The program instantly tells them whether they are right or wrong. You can build in hints/strategies so that the students can learn  how to get the answer correct such as “Answer the question word ‘Where’ with a place.”

2) Have a wiki where students can post comments on their strategies for doing well in  each section of the test. One student might write “(For the reading passage) I underline the question word in the question and then I underline the answer in the passage.”

3) Have a texting-based program for the class where anyone can text questions as they do  final practice activities. Other students can explain how to get the answer.  For example, one student texts  “Can’t figure out the answer to ‘When do they go to the movies?”‘ since no time is given. and another student responds, “After eating supper tells when something happens; after is a time word.”

4) Use a Power-Point like program that not only quizzes students but then sends them to appropriate online resources if they have incorrect answers.  For example, if students incorrectly identify a math problem, the PowerPoint shows them to a math video explaining that concept.

5) Identify the most common errors that students will make on the learning goals in the final and have the students, in groups, prepare a short one to two minute video explaining those concepts.  They can make these videos not as full explanations but as cheat-sheet videos in which they emphasize the most critical parts.  For example,  Spanish students may review how to ask questions in the preterite tense in the “you” form and how to answer them in the “yo” form and they may review the most common verbs such as “to go” to get ready for a speaking final. They can post these on the school server so that other can access the videos whenever they want.

6)  Use a QR code to send them to a Google Form short 5-10 item quiz based on a final test section.  As soon as the students finish the mini-quiz, show them the class (not individual) results and go over, in class, strategies to overcome  the common mistakes that students made.

Do you know now how your students will do on the final?  Use technology to assess them and help them improve.

I have 20 Spanish spontaneous speaking/fluency activities at Teacherspayteachers:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

My formative assessment books:   http://is.gd/tbook   Formative Assessment Responding to Your Students,   Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment  Successful, and  Student Writing Through Formative Assessment

Scaffolding Modern Language Speaking For Fluency Through Questions

In the Modern Language / Foreign Language  class, speaking is the least developed skill .  Teachers may spend much time in teaching a new grammar concept but they usually do not spend that same amount of time in helping students to become better at speaking. One way to help students improve their oral communication involves scaffolding their speaking from very structured speaking to  spontaneous speaking.

Students can start off by  looking at a sheet  of questions and asking one of  the written basic target language question such as “How are you?” and   “Where do you live?”to their partner who answers. Then, the partner  asks them a different question from the sheet. They continue asking and answering for many questions.   A next baby step incorporates the students modifying these basic questions.  I have included  italicized words  for  Spanish students to change (http://bit.ly/squestc).  For example students might change ¿Cuántas clases tienes? to  ¿Cuántos libros tienes?

After students have reviewed question words, they can ask question words about   randomly given common topics such as school and home.  Their partner checks to see which question words they used and tells them which they did not use.  As students develop their ability to ask questions about a topic, their partners answer these questions (http://bit.ly/squestw).

Next,  the students move on to asking and answering questions about a  common topic as presented through a graphic such as clip art picture of a girl at a birthday party or  a family at a beach. The  students randomly select the topic to speak about and begin to have their conversation about the topic (http://bit.ly/scontop)

As students become proficient at asking a wide variety of questions and answering those questions, they increase in their ability to speak. They become more fluent; they begin to speak spontaneously.

I have 20 Spanish spontaneous speaking activities at Teacherspayteachers:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

My formative assessment books:   http://is.gd/tbook  including Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment

Final In the Course What is it really?

We are within a few weeks of  finals.  Some good questions to ask are   What is a final?  What learning do we want the students to  show on the final?

A history teacher  tells his students that the final is on  Chapters 1-15 and all they have to do is know that information. Obviously, the students become overwhelmed because they do not know what is really important in the chapters.  They do not know the format of the final – multiple guess or essay writing? They have no idea of how to study for the final.

Teachers give paper and pencil finals, scantron finals or online computer scored.

Let’s look at some possible types of  written final (not project based):

Wikipedia  defines a final as a big unit test.  The final covers the same material that has been previously covered and in the same way but covers more of it in one exam.  An American History final is just  parts of previous tests;  instead of 50 questions, the students have 200 questions.

– Some teachers give a put-it-all-together test in which students have to integrate what they have learned during the course.  For example, an 8th grade  Science final involves students reading and critiquing an experiment on the health of a local stream.  They have covered everything previously in individual sections such as  the biological or physical aspects but they have not had to go to the big picture of the whole stream.

– Some teachers create a final that consists of  the final improvement on previous work.  For example, students have revised a Contrast essay previously in English class and they do a final revision as  their final.

– Some teaches create  a final that goes  far beyond what the students  have learned in class. The final  includes brand-new material such as many vocabulary words  the students have never seen and it may ask  them to do tasks that they have never done before in class. For example, in class students have only answered literal questions on  reading passages  but the final has mostly inference reading questions.   The final generally does not test the regular forms but focuses on all the irregular forms or exceptions.  Only the A+++ students might pass this final.

Some questions about a final:

Do the  students know what precise learning goals will be on the final? Do they know which learning goals are the most important for success in the final?
Do they know how these learning  goals  will be tested such as multiple guess or try to fill in the blank?
Does the final reflect the same level of learning as  done during the course?
Do the students have a sample final that mimics the final  both in content and format?  Do they have an online practice that explains the wrong answers?
Is the final an opportunity for the students to show how much they have learned?

What type final do you give?

I have 20 Spanish spontaneous speaking activities at Teacherspayteachers:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

My formative assessment books:   http://is.gd/tbook


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