Archive for the 'Vocabulary' Category

Flickr Vocabulary Pictures Based on Real Objects For Your Class

I have been having my Spanish students take  real life pictures of vocabulary items  that are in our textbook and  put those pictures in my class Flickr  account. The textbook’s drawings lack realism (what is that?).  Most students used their Smartphones. When students can see a real object such as a plate, they can  better learn the word.

Elementary teachers, special education teachers, modern language  / foreign language teachers, ESL teachers, and   people working with refugees can use these pictures.   The pictures usually have no words.  They can be used in any language.

There are about 600 pictures ; some categories such as comida (food) are very large with subcategories while others have about  ten pictures.   I will update this blog as the students add more categories.

To use these free pictures in your class   1) go to flickr.com, 2) click on the word Search,  3) Click on Tags Only at the far right,   4) Then in the search box, type in spancon + one of the following category names such as spancon +hora  (for clocks showing various times). spancon is the name for my class so you only see my students’ pictures of the category.

To show the pictures in a slideshow,  1) click on the slideshow icon (a screen)  in the upper right, 2) Click on Options in the upper right, 3) Adjust the time from slow  to medium to fast; slow  is about seven seconds between slides and  4) click on the X in the upper right corner to close the  Option window.  When the left  bottom side displays a triangle, the slide show is paused.  Click on the triangle and two bars appear, the slideshow is running. The first  slide will not change for a few seconds since it is on a time delay; just wait.)  You can also just click on the pictures at the bottom of the slide show to show select pictures.  Students can identify the vocabulary and even say very short sentences before the slide changes.

The category names are in Spanish (without accent marks)
actividad (common actions)
aparato (electrical devices – phone, headphone..)
casa  (house)  with cuarto (rooms), bano (bathroom), and cocina (kitchen)
ciudad (city -mainly traffic things)
clase  (classroom objects)
clima (weather)
color (color)
comida (food) with subcategories of fruta (fruit) , verduras (vegetables), bebida (drink),
cubierto (tableware)
cuerpo (body)
deporte (sports)
hora (clock time- digital)
joyas (jewelry)
naturaleza (nature)
numero (numbers)
oficina (office things)
ocupacion (occupation, jobs=
reflexivo (reflexive actions such as to brush one’s teeth)
ropa (clothing)
salud (health related)
quehaceres (household chores

I have over 15 Spanish spontaneous speaking activities  are at Teacherspayteachers:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

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

No Basic Differences in Textbooks in 50 Years: Go Virtual

I examined two textbooks that are fifty years apart, a Spanish textbook from 1960 and one from 2010

Both:
Teach the same grammar – present, present irregulars, preterite, preterite irregulars, imperfect, …..
Teach the same basic vocabulary- family, occupations, house, …. The 2010 textbook does have more modern words such as cell phone, computer…
Start each lesson with  written dialogue
Focus primarily on grammar- almost all the exercises are grammar focused
Have images – The 1960 has black and white illustrations and the 2010 has many colored photos.
Include cultural information
Have dictionaries

Some differences:
The  1960 textbook contains 200+ pages while the 2010 textbook has 500+ pages.
The 1960 has some testing/practice material while the 2010 textbook has  much online grammar practice.
The 1960 textbook has a story line of a family with a father who travels to Latin America.  The 2010 does not have a storyline.
The 1960 textbook teaches practical vocabulary essential to daily living and traveling while the 2010 teaches specialized vocabulary such as words to describe art in a museum.
The 1960 textbook follows the grammar translation methodology while the 2010 follows the grammar use methodology.

The 2010 textbook, once all the colored photos are removed, is essential the same as the 1960 textbook.
Do modern language teacher still want to focus primarily on grammar instead of communication?

For your subject area, how has the textbook, the staple of most classes, changed over the last 50 years?
Does it scaffold information to make it easier for students to learn?
Does it include strategies to help the students better learn the material?
Does it organize information in a way to help students see similarities and differences?
Does it build in self tests so students can measure their progress in a formative assessment manner? Does it provide formative feedback?
Has it gone to the “less is better” with more concentration on critical learning  or has it gone to “the bigger is better” way of thinking?

I’ve written several blogs about textbooks Smartphone (Mobil Learning Apps as Alternative Textbooks)  and Why a Physical Textbook?

Think of creating your own virtual textbook that truly matches the state goals and your district’s goals.

My book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students, is available through Eye on Education.

Also, my  book,  Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, is available through Eye on Education.

Smartphones (Mobile Learning) Apps as Textbook Alternatives

In a previous blog, I mentioned that physical textbooks seem so “yesterday” and suggested using online resources.

I would like to enlarge on that concept through the use of Smartphone or Mobile Learning Apps.  Let’s use a Spanish class as an example.  Spanish students need to go from mere memorization to high level language use.

Students can use apps for basic memorization of words.  For example, they could use a program such as

Spanish Flashcards Free  (http://freeapk.com/app/1093_android+app+Spanish+Flashcards_1.6.html).  Likewise, they could use an   app such as 1001 Spanish Verb Android App  Free (http://androidappsgames.com/android_app_1691.html)   to learn basic verb forms and to see the various conjugations of a verb

A step up from mere memorization on individual words  is learning language phrases. The free Hola Spain Tourism HandAPP (http://www.appbrain.com/app/hola-spanish-handapp/com.movinapp.hola) has Expressions organized into categories such as Greetings, Phone, shopping (22 expressions), directions, etc..Since these are grouped into categories, the student sees both the essential questions and answers. These cover many of the common vocabulary topics presently in the school curriculum.

With these apps, students can practice on their own anytime and anyplace.The classroom time can be spent in creating conversations based on the learned words and phrases. If the student has done a practice conversation such as about health and has not remembered a certain phrase, the student can quickly review the phrases using app on the mobile device.

These few apps show that a language teacher can certainly replace a physical textbook. In a future blog, I show how students can use apps at a high language level.   Students can become more engaged and more active in their learning as they use apps

Are you app to use apps in your classroom?

My book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students, is available through Eye on Education.

Also, my  book,  Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, is available through Eye on Education.

Why a physical textbook?

It seems so “yesterday” to use a physical  textbook such as in a Spanish classroom. Any instructor can easily find PowerPoints, Youtubes, etc. that teach and practice the   grammar and vocabulary in Spanish.  Any instructor  can easily find online sites that explain grammar and drill that grammar.  An instructor can find Internet sites that have vocabulary lists or can easily post such lists to a class  wiki.  Imagine if a department asked each instructor  to create one activity such as a spoken conversation or  a listening comprehension that takes the grammar and vocabulary to the level of communication. The instructors can find current pictures of the culture from Flickr and other sources.  Students can converse about the daily culture that relates to  the situations in the virtual textbook.  Students can communicate about the situations.

With a few handouts made in Google docs and the links to the grammar, vocabulary, communication activities, listening, reading,writing,  and culture, the instructors could run a whole course without a physical textbook.   All the resources can exist in the class wiki.  Students can have access to theses resources 24/7.   Since the resources come from various sources, there is more of widening  of the students’ learning. When instructors use  virtual textbooks, they can add more resources in areas where students demonstrate weaknesses (formative assessment).

In addition, students can contribute to the virtual textbook.  As they do activities such as writing five important questions about the situation, these questions  can be posted to the virtual textbook for other students to answer.   I believe that within a year, instructors could have a virtual textbook that outshines the limits of the physical textbook. I have used  a virtual text and feel that it best meets the needs of my students.   The virtual textbook can fit the specific goals of the instructors while meeting national goals. The virtual textbook can be easily modified as better resources become available.

The virtual textbooks will not cost any money! Also as students migrate to smartphones, their phones become a valuable learning tool in class.

My book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students, is available through Eye on Education.

Also, my  book,  Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, is available through Eye on Education.

Talking to Babies Makes Them Successful in School

Christensen, Horn and Johnson in their Disruptive Class argue that one of the most disruptive ways to improve education is to have children 0-3 years hear more “language dancing” (Risley and Hart term) where the parents  engage in face to face conversation with the infant and talk in adult, sophisticated language.  The business talk  of  “Let’s get in the car”  or “Eat your peas” does not contribute much to language development. They quote research to show that a significant portion of a person’ intellectual capacity is determined in his/her first 36 months and the most critical is the first year. Risley and Hart affirm that some working class parents do talk to their children and some affluent parents do not. Race, age, or income are not factors, simply the amount of time that parents talk to their children.

I would like to propose a  serious change in education.  I advocate that the federal govt or state pay retired teachers to go to talk to young babies for two hours a day for five days a week. Even if the teachers are paid $10 an hour or twenty dollars a day or $100 a week for a total fifty two weeks or  $5,200 a year, that would be a tremendous Return on Investment (ROI).  Imagine students going into school having heard 48 million words as opposed to the 13 million words.   Hopefully, the children’s parents after hearing the sophisticated talk of the retired teachers will change their talk to their children. We could get rid of HeadStart and use that money.  Many of the reasons for universal Pre-K would be eliminated.  All students would start school at a high level of language.  All students could start off being successful and continue to be successful.

Let’s starting talking to babies now!

My book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Students, is available through Eye-on-Education.

Reponding to Your Students

Common educational vocabulary Formative Assessment

I think that every six months or so every school district, state education, and educational publication should publish its current definition of all educational terms. I  have looked at four different educators’ definitions of formative assessment and those definitions differ drastically.  One educator feels that formative assessment focuses on teacher instruction.  Another feels that it focuses on the assessments that are given periodically. The third concentrates on formative assessment as the weekly quizzes that a teacher gives.  The fourth sees formative assessment as the feedback that teachers give students. Since these educators do not define formative assessment in the same way, they get confused when each other talks. They do not have the same language.  Therefore, they  do not work together.

When will teachers accept a common vocabulary for the good of all teachers?  When will educators become a community of learners instead of educators on different pages? Let’s work together to help improve student learning!

Use a district wide Wiki to share  and develop common definitions and provide examples of that definition. Have educators build on the components of that definition.

Pre-assessment: Open Eyes or Blinded

This semester I have given many pre-assessments to my students. Last semester, I made many mistakes in instruction because I did not know enough about my students before the beginning of the semester. I taught material that they knew and did not delve into material that they did not know. I assumed that they could read the textbook when their reading rate and comprehension which I tested once I saw a problem revealed an average class reading rate in the low 100s and a comprehension rate of 60% or lower. I thought that since they were college students they could organize their own writing.

So this semester, I have given them writing diagnostic, writing patterns past knowledge diagnostic, grammar diagnostic, vocabulary diagnostic, and reading diagnostic. I can hear the moans about wasting all the time on diagnostic. My students spend 45 minutes on the combined writing and grammatic diagnostic, three minutes on the vocabulary one, four minutes on the past writing patterns and about 15 on the reading one. So in just about one hour and ten minutes I have done six diagnostic tests that have transformed how I teach writing to the students.

What pre-assessments do you give and how do you change your instruction to better improve your students’ learning?

Diagnostic Testing for Vocabulary

I’m teaching two writing courses and I’m giving a diagnostic writing in each.  They write an sample essay.  However, I found out a tremendous amount about my student’s vocabulary with a simple vocabulary activity that I did in class. I gave them various vocabulary lines like   scorching……. freezing in which I asked them to add words in between or at the ends such as scorching…boiling…hot…cool…frosty…icy…freezing.  I gave them four other opposite  lines to do.  I could quickly tell who had an indepth vocabulary and who will probably have difficulties in expressing themselves. I walked around as they were doing the vocabulary sheets and recorded my observation.  Next class, I will have to do activities to help them enlarge their vocabulary so they can be expressive writer

What quick diagnostic tests do you do in your class that give you powerful results

Critical and Common Educational Vocabulary

Computerized list

Does your district or school have a list of its critical educational vocabulary such as “authentic assessment” or “performance task”? Does the district define each and provide an example of each? Do all faculty understand the critical vocabulary and use the critical vocabulary in the same way? Do the same school have a common vocabulary so that the whole school talks the same talk and means the same thing each time they use a specific educational vocabulary? If not, then help your team or grade level to create a list of terms so that you all are on the same page each time a word is used. You want to avoid “Oh, I thought you meant …… when you used the word “assessment”. Each time you update the word processed list email it out to all the team or school or post it on the school’s blog (website).
See how much better you all communicate and how much better you focus on student’s standards learning through having a common educational vocabulary.

Developing Students’ Listening Comprehension Skill With an Image (Picture)-Spanish, World Language, ESL

restaurant

Developing the listening skill through using images (pictures)

One student describes a picture orally to a partner. When the first person is done, the partner repeats the description, using the picture as an aid for recall.

One student orally describes the picture to another student who does not see it; the second student then repeats the description to the first student.

Two students look at a picture; then one student looks away while the other student asks him questions about it.

One student orally describes a picture to a second student who does not see it; the second student then draws a copy of it.

One student orally describes a picture to an­other student who then is given a choice of three pictures and must choose the one described.

One student describes a person or an object in the picture and the other student identifies which person or object it is.

While both students look at the picture, one students describes a person or an object in about five to ten sentences and includes one or two incorrect things about it. The second students has to tell what was wrong and correct it.

The first student says ten sentences about the picture and then the partner says ten different sentences. The first student listens for an duplicate sentences.

I would assign students to get several pictures from the Internet (Flickr) on a specific topic such as restaurant, city, house, etc. so that they can share the pictures (URLs) with me and print out the pictures for work with their partners. As a teacher, I can quickly build up my digital visual library for listening.

 

©Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007

 

Revised from Harry Grover Tuttle’s “Using Visual Material in the Foreign Language Classroom”, Learning Resources, Vol 2-5 (Feb. 1975) 9-13.

Other Spanish (Hispanic images) for conversations or writing

Spanish streets – Calle
https://eduwithtechn.wordpress.com/2007/10/30/spanish-street-callescenes-photos-from-flickr/

Spanish sports –Deporte
https://eduwithtechn.wordpress.com/2007/10/19/spanish-sport-deporte-pictures-from-flickr-for-student-conversations/

Spanish transportation Transportes
https://eduwithtechn.wordpress.com/2007/09/26/spanish-language-transportes-transportations-from-various-hispanic-countries/

Spanish restaurant Restaurante
https://eduwithtechn.wordpress.com/2007/09/16/restaurant-pictures-from-flickr-for-spanish-and-other-language-conversations/

 

Spanish Language Menu
https://eduwithtechn.wordpress.com/2007/08/30/learning-hispanic-culture-through-spanish-language-menus/

 

 

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YouTube Video Creation Reflection- Vocabulary

Here are my reflections on uploading a YouTube video that I made on teacher exercises to improve vocabulary in English, ESL, and World Languages. http://www.youtube.com/v/bZ6OJgC4JCM

It took time to find and or create images. The longest time was to find the Flickr images of fruits and vegetables under the Common License, probably about 8 minutes.

I used the free Gliffy to create the concept maps.

It was hard to find crisp examples that would clearly demonstrate the strategies; I had some but others I had to figure out.

I put the presentation in PowerPoint (really Open Office’s Presentation software) so that I could easily go from screen to screen. I used a very large font size so it could be easily seen. I kept the mouse on the extreme right side of the screen.

The presentation starts with a title, author, and contact information screen.

I used a camera stand to avoid the jiggling that my earlier video English essay had. It took a few minutes to get the computer screen to be in the digital camera’s screen- I had to use the zoom in, move the stand, etc.

I had to be very close to the camera and speak in my outside voice to make sure my voice would be recorded. I recorded it inside to avoid extraneous noises. I turned off all possible noise making things (air conditioner, cell phone). The last time I had recorded the Spanish Direct Object outside and you can hear the air conditioner and other noises.

I decided to both say and show the words (strategies) so it took longer than I had planned.

I did have to redo it since I mixed it up what I was reading one of the last screens. I knew it was quicker to redo it than to have to edit it. My camera held both the original and the second movie version.

It took about 27 minutes to upload a 2:31 .mov formatted movie.

I found it difficult to tag this since it covers so many subjects – English, ESL, and World Languages. I know that most World Language teachers will search by their language such as Spanish and not World Language. I was not sure how to tag it to indicate beginning vocabulary.

It takes YouTube about from one hour to seven hours to process the video once it is uploaded depending on the traffic on YouTube. Mine took about 40 minutes.

I just got to see the video and realized that the camera was not straight on so that some of the words are not easily read. I showed it to some other people and they like that I supplied the words and have a specific example of each.

Let me know your reaction about the content and what could be done to make it better without going Hollywood 🙂

I challenge you to put up a YouTube or TeacherTube video during the summer. Let’s try for 300 videos before school starts.

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007

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Reading Vocabulary and Technology

 

Reading

Vocabulary is the basis for good reading not only in English but in other subject areas.

English teachers can show the students a thematic based picture of vocabulary items at the start of each lesson. For example, the teacher may show a Google picture of twenty different animals and have the students, in groups of two, identify each of these. The teacher can have a whole class review. This brief daily vocabulary review helps the students increase their vocabulary.

When students identify which word in a group does not fit, they are sharpening their vocabulary reading skills. The teacher can show four words such as A-Robber B-Thief C- Villain D- Crook and the students respond with their Personal Response System clickers.

 

Students can be given a word and they create an Inspiration map with meaning, synonyms, antonyms, and the word used in a sentence. Students can compare each other’s maps. In addition, students can create associated word maps for a given word such as war. They can use the Flickr third party program of airtightinteractive to see various other words (tags) associated with the initial word.

As students use electronic talking books, the books read to them and pronounce words. These books can be CD-ROM or online.

How else do you use technology to improve students’ reading?

 

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007

 

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A Superintendent’s Conference Day on ELA through Technology

ELA and many technology

I had the wonderful experience of being the keynoter on ELA and technology at an elementary school. I did a presentation on improving ELA skills through videoconferencing where we videoconferenced with two “sites” – one on listening to an “expert” read a science poem and answering questions and one peer to peer on Readers Theatre about Three Little Pigs with human tableaus to show comprehension.

Then I did an interactive presentation on Increasing ELA learning through Technology in which I went through Vocabulary, Basic/Literal Reading, and Inference Reading. Many teacher commented that they never thought of using technology to improve these specific ELA learning. Numerous of the activities were based on Robert Marzano’s work.

Then I did a mini-workshop on creating Big Books using PowerPoints.

I was very impressed with the faculty. They were attentive and participated. They seemed eager to learn new techniques. I was amazed when I told them how to search for PowerPoints on a topic (topic +.ppt or “term” +.ppt such as “Rhyming Words” +.ppt), most admitted that no one had ever shown them that technique. Several had taken full day district workshops on PowerPoint.

What do you do to make subject area technology use easier for teachers? How do you help your fellow teachers? Do you share your Sight Words PowerPoint? Do you work together to find great images for the PowerPoint that has few words? Or do you take over their keyboard and do it for them which disempowers them?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007

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Effective Vocabulary Learning and Technology

Vocabulary Definition or Understanding

Marzano in Building Background Knowledge for Academic Achievement (2004) identifies six steps that have been proven to be effective in helping students learn vocabulary terms. He quotes much research for this method.

1. The teacher provides a explanation, description or example of the term. He does not define it.

2. Students restate the explanation of the new term in their own words.

3. Students create a non-linguistic representation of the term such as graphic organizer or pictures. This can be done on paper or electronically.

4. Students periodically do activities that help them to add to their knowledge of the vocabulary terms. Some activities are compare, classify, generate metaphors, generate analogies, revise the initial description or non-linguistic representation. The teacher can present these activities through a Power Point devoted to the term.

5. Periodically students discuss the terms with one another such as issues and questions about the term. Their issues and questions can be done in a program such as Inspiration.

6. Periodically students engage in games that allow them to play with the term in sponge activities like free associate, most other synonyms, and related topics. You can have these available in a PowerPoint to display quickly during any free moments at the end of class.

Students record the term in their notebook which has three columns- description, representation, and insight.

So how do you improve your students’ vocabulary learning through technology?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007

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Enlarging Students’ Vocabulary Through Technology

Vocabulary which doesn’t belong

I’m being doing much work in showing ELA teachers how they can improve their students’ vocabulary through technology. If students do not have a good vocabulary, then they will have difficulty in reading. I’ll give examples using PowerPoint although other technologies can work as well

Each day show a picture of different topical vocabulary such as various fruits and have the students identify the fruits orally or through writing. If you cannot find pictures on Google or Flickr, then check with your Foreign Language or ESL teacher. Another solution is to take your camera to places such as the grocery store.

Have students in pairs talk about an experience such as how horrible the cafeteria food is as they look at a projected cafeteria picture and then have them list all the descriptive words (adjectives) that they used to describe the food. Have them combine their lists with at least three other groups so each group has a bigger list; the bigger group will make sure that everyone understands each word, Then have the pairs describe another picture and use even more descriptive food words. This could become a vocabulary growth game. How many words did they originally use and how many words did they use the second time?

Play “which one of these doesn’t belong” by showing them a list of four vocabulary words such as book, magazine, movie, newspaper and have them explain why. By using PowerPoint slides, you can quickly go through numerous lists. Students can create their own lists within a given vocabulary category.

You may comment that there could be more than one answer such as to the “rose, tree, weed, plant” and I agree. As long as students can give a logical reason, then it’s OK. I prefer lists in which students can think of several possibilities since then they are always looking for other connections. I prefer divergent thinking instead of convergent thinking.

So how else do you improve students’ vocabulary by using technology?

© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007

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Classroom Formative Assessments (Class and Individual) with Technology

Formative Vocabulary Strategy

Here are two examples of formative assessment using technology in an English classroom.

Formative -Class

I asked students to do their usual journal writing for their normal eight minutes. At the end of eight minutes, they counted the number of words in their writing and wrote it in their journal log. While they did another activity, I went around, recorded their scores, and then inputted the scores into a class spreadsheet on the computer. Within a few minutes, I showed the students a projected graph of that day’s writing fluency class average and compared it to the last time we did the activity. We talked about our increases and shared successful techniques that some students used. We did this at least once a week and their scores increased from 80 words to about 180 words in less than ten weeks.

Formative – Individuals

The students write down the vocabulary learning strategy that they used on each weekly vocabulary quiz. Each week when they got back their quiz, they entered their most recent score in a personal spreadsheet so that they could see a graph of their vocabulary scores. If they got below an 80, then they had to try out another vocabulary learning strategy from the class list that we had generated. They were to try the new technique for two weeks. They could monitor their own vocabulary learning strategy success and make changes to be more successful.

What regular classroom or individual formative assessments do you build into your class?

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