Summary of Learning

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My journey through technology in Core French

Well, the time is near and my independent/directed reading course is almost at an end. This journey has allowed me to discover the many ways in which technology can be integrated into Core French education. It has also opened my eyes to all the valuable digital tools, software programs, and apps available for both teachers and students. Throughout this course, I have been able to examine the possible ways that technology enhances learning within a Core French setting. Moreover, how it can assist in the development of language learning.

My inspiration for researching technology in Core French began with my six years of teaching the language. At that time, technology was not used within my teaching practices. In fact, I had very little experience with using technology to support my daily lessons and taught the French language in a more traditional fashion. By this, I mean the drill-practice method for memorizing vocabulary, grammar, and phrases as opposed to practicing more task-based approaches which included the use of digital tools and social media sources. It was clear that I was not providing my students with diverse and realistic learning experiences that focused on the concepts of communication and the practical uses of language. Although I tried my best to motivate and engage my students to take an interest in the French language, my lack of experience/knowledge to customize student learning prohibited my ability to meet the diverse needs of my students.

Within today’s digital world, technology in the classroom is now a crucial part of education. Whether or not you value technology or think that it adds to your classroom, there will always be skeptics that will say otherwise. But, if you’re a supporter of technology in the classroom, then you probably already know all of the positive benefits it offers for students, such as increases motivation, improves engagement, improves knowledge retention, encourages individual learning and the ability to work collaboratively with peers. Establishing a balanced approach to technology can be a difficult process, especially for teachers who feel they lack experience with using technology. But, integrating technology in Core French presents unique benefits for teachers as well, like provides new teaching experiences, convenience, variety of content and promotes parent engagement. Moreover, seeing as students are already interested and actively engaged in technology, why not harness this natural fluency and attention for educational purposes? Something to definitely consider, right?!

Aside from the many benefits that integrating technology into a classroom setting can offer for teachers and students, I have learned that technology can also assist in the actual development of a language. Today, there are a wide variety of technologies available for students to support project work and share in their learning. Furthermore, technology presents itself to be a personalized and independent learning tool as it allows students to work at their own pace as well as to practice the French language through interactive activities either during class time or from the comfort of their homes. Meanwhile, receive instant feedback. Teachers and students can benefit greatly from using digital tools/platforms like Quizlet, Socrative, Edmodo, and Google classroom to support language learning.

Upon identifying the benefits of integrating technology and examining how technology can actually assist in the development of a second language, it was time to research digital tools that would be suitable and effective for classroom use. After several attempts to reach out to the Core French community (using Twitter), I was surprised and saddened by receiving no responses. So, I had no choice but to explore the online world, while experimenting with numerous software programs and apps that would benefit teachers and students within a French setting. While conducting my research, I discovered a variety of digital game-based learning platforms and trivia tools that demonstrate great potential for learning the French language. Moreover, these tools can be incorporated to support teaching instruction as well as used for additional practiceDuolingo, Kahoot, Zimflex and Languagenut are all effective teaching tools that are engaging, enhance learning and challenge student’s comprehension of the French Language. I highly recommend Core French educators give these programs a try, as they are a fun and creative way to integrating technology into the classroom.

In conclusion, I have learned that there are many advantages to integrating technology in Core French. By doing so, educators are presented with new teaching experiences, while students are motivated to learn the French language through interactive and engaging activities that focus on all four components of learning a language; listening, speaking, reading and writing. But, before integrating technology into our teaching practices we need to take time to successfully plan for the obvious challenges that may lie ahead, such as a lack of technological devices and time management. We need to be conscious that connection problems, downloading issues and other difficulties can cause road blocks when implementing a lesson using technology. Due to these issues, teachers will sometimes shy away from using it because of time restrictions. Therefore, to lose even ten minutes a day or a class period because of connectivity issues is not feasible and it’s one important reason why technology integration often fails in schools. Furthermore, technology may look like it’s easy to come by, and that every student has access to it, but that’s not always the case. Many schools do not have the funds. Therefore, if educators wish to promote additional school work that involves the use of technology outside of the classroom, they would have to ensure that all students have access to it. For those that do not, this would promote inequality. With that being said, the integration of technology in a Core French setting is possible, just as long as teachers take the time needed in order to successfully incorporate it and are prepared for the challenges that may arise.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

Learning French with technology!

For this week’s post, I decided to experiment with numerous software programs and apps in hopes of discovering effective tools that may be integrated and used within a classroom setting. In my resent search for resources, I came across a few digital game-based learning platforms and trivia tools that demonstrate great potential for learning the French language. Specifically, these tools can be incorporated to support teaching instruction as well as used for additional practice. I encourage all Core French and French Immersion teachers to take a look at the resources below, as they appear to be quite successful in language learning.

Duolingo

Duolingo is a free learning language program that is very user-friendly for both teachers and students. The app entails a series of engaging lessons and mini-games, where gamers gain points for correct answers or lose points for incorrect answers. Each lesson includes a variety of speaking, listening, translation, and multiple choice challenges. Furthermore, Duolingo motivates you to stay on track by earning “streaks” based upon the number of days you spend using the app to learn a language. New vocabulary is introduced through images and grammar points are explained in the form of speech bubbles. For teachers, that’s an incredible way to keep your students engaged through test-like games. Students are challenged to keep their score high and need to pay attention to new lessons to advance their score. It’s also great for motivation, as users can set a specific learning goal. Moreover, the app allows teachers you examine your student’s writing, reading, and speaking skills.

Kahoot

Kahoot is a free online program I have grown accustomed to, as I have used this game-based platform many times within my classroom. Although it creates somewhat of a competitive environment, I’ve always found it to be fun, encouraging as well as engaging for my students. It is also a wonderful pre-assessment tool that may be used at the beginning of a new unit (to examine the student’s previous knowledge about a topic) or for reviewing learned content. Kahoot can also be used as a formative assessment tool and can assist the teacher with identifying students who have grasped concepts and the students who have not. There are many French quizzes already prepared and ready to be played, however you have the option to create your own quizzes, depending on the content you are teaching to your students. Kahoot may be played in small or large groups and promotes team building and collaboration.

Zimflex French Games

Zimflex is a free interactive game site for players learning a language. From what I have observed, the French vocabulary is very accurate and the site offers thematic categories, such as numbers, clothing, colors, and food. There are also specific subject areas that offer a variety of games, so this site could even be used for Math practice! Moreover, this game site also offers worksheets that teachers are welcome to use! Zimflex is a great digital tool as it is proven to be both engaging and fun!

Languagenut

Languagenut is a digital resource specifically designed for elementary and high school students. It is a program that could be used during class time or even at home. It satisfies every individual learning style in a variety of engaging games and other activities. This resource is great for French teachers because it focuses on all four components of a language, such as listening, speaking, reading and writing. Furthermore, it is engaging for students, improves teacher confidence as well as tracks the student’s progress. I highly recommend French teachers give this resource a try as it presents many benefits towards language learning.

As an educator, I realize that integrating technology into a classroom setting is often easier said than done. Although the majority of teachers and students enjoy working with technology, establishing a digital classroom can be a difficult process, due to the limited amount technological devices available in schools and time management. According to Jessica Irvine, a fellow Core French teacher from Regina Public Schools, she states “I love using technology in French, especially for project time’! ‘But, the computer carts are booked all the time’. ‘Plus, with the limited amount of time I have designated per class period, it is difficult to accomplish all the things I have planned’. ‘For a 45 minute period, I barely have time for instruction, let alone explain and get the students started on the activity’”. I completely agree with Jessica as I have experienced similar challenges while trying to integrate technology in the past. Despite these factors, I am still confident that the integration of technology is possible, even if it means students bring their own technological devices from home (with permission from their parents, of course). In the end, it’s up to you to decide what or how much to use technology in your classroom. At the end of the day, you need to make the best choice for your students.

As you can see from this week’s post, there is a wide selection of software programs and apps available to Core French teachers which are free to use. Although it may take a little time to experiment with these resources, it may be worth it as they help to engage students, enhance learning as well as challenge their knowledge of the French language. Moreover, many of these apps can be accessed on a variety of technological devices. So, aside from being integrated into the classroom, they also act as a supportive home learning tool for students. It is important to note that technology simply cannot replace the role of the teacher as technology in the classroom would never flourish without the support of teachers. Therefore, we should recognize the critical importance technology plays language learning, rather than resist technology to support our teaching practices.

Until next time…Thanks for stopping by!

Can technology assist in language learning? Yes it can!!

Last week’s post focused on integrating technology into the classroom and the benefits it offers for both French teachers and students. By integrating different forms of technologies, teachers are presented with the opportunity to spice up their French teaching in fun and creative ways, while their students remain engaged by learning the language in realistic situations that challenges their knowledge. You could say, integrating technology in Core French presents a win/win situation for all!

Aside from the many benefits that integrating technology into a classroom setting can offer, such as improving student engagement and encouraging individual learning, technology can also assist in the actual development of a language. How do you ask? Well, technology can assist in the learning of the French language in a number of different ways. According to Gary Motteram, “Trying to find ways for people to do meaningful spoken language practice in a class can be very challenging, particularly if, as a teacher, you lack confidence in your own spoken language skills. Linking your class to other classes around the world, using tools such as video conferencing, can give a reason for a learner to ask a question and then try to understand the response. It might also provide support for the teacher, too. The technology mediates the process, getting language out there and giving feedback that shows whether someone has or hasn’t understood what you have said”.

Within today’s digital world, students can use a variety of technologies to support project work and can effectively display and share their learning of the language. Technology presents itself to be a personalized and independent learning tool as it allows students to work at their own pace and complete interactive exercises either during class time or from the comfort of their homes, while receiving instant feedback. In fact, there are many free digital tools available for French teachers that may be useful in the development of the French language. Quizlet is an effective online tool that can help French students learn and memorize vocabulary words and phrases in the form of a quiz. Although there are currently a variety of French vocabulary quizzes and activities prepared and ready to use, teachers are welcomed to create their own in order to support what they are covering in the curriculum.

Socrative is a digital platform that serves numerous purposes for both teachers and students. What’s great about this tool is that it makes assessment both fun and engaging for students because of its real-time feature. Socrative has three main options: Quiz, Space Race, and Exit Tickets. Whether you are assessing student’s previous knowledge about a particular topic or assessing new material, each of these features provide instant and detailed feedback. Moreover, Socrative launches three delivery methods: Instant Feedback, Open Navigation and Teacher Based. Each of these delivery methods are effective because they display specific areas for improvement, based on the students results. This way, the classroom teacher can identify the area where their students need improvement. Whichever method you choose to use, you can be sure to benefit from being able to visualize student comprehension.

Video with audio is another powerful tool that can be used in the development of learning the French language. Producing videos presents students with the opportunity to be creative and collaborate among their peers. Furthermore, it provides student ownership of their work which also increases motivation and engagement. Some possible projects can include: producing short films that targets the French language based of the thematic units listed within the curriculum, create animated videos that display a French conversation in detail, create a screen cast, or a podcast centred around vocabulary. These videos can be easily uploaded onto any digital classroom or student portfolio, such as Google Classroom or Edmodo. Both of these digital platforms provide teachers with the ability to create and organize assignments/projects in a paperless environment, while providing a safe place for their students to share in their learning with their family and peers.

Therefore, integrating technology presents a variety of ways of how it can assist in the development of a language. However, these tools do require some research and planning in order for them to operate properly and enhance student learning. It is important to note that “technology can not eliminate every obstacle of student learning in classrooms but those teachers who invest effort and time to integrate technology into their education skills can reap enormous benefits in classroom management, student involvement and the pacing of instruction”. With that being said, French teachers who struggle to integrate technology into their teaching practices are encouraged to explore the power of social media in order to expand their PLN as well as discover software programs and apps that can assist in the development of language learning.

Until next time…Thanks for stopping by!

Benefits of integrating technology for French teachers and students

As an avid technology user, I am always on the look-out for digital tools that may be integrated into my teaching practices, in hopes to enhance student learning. In today’s digital world, technology is embedded in almost everything we do. As adults, we rely on technology for many different reasons: Business, education, communication, and for entertainment. Therefore, it is no surprise that technology is embedded in our children/students’ lives too. Although I value technology greatly, I have always made a strong effort to promote technology in moderation for my students. By doing this, I am establishing a more balanced approach to technology, demonstrating that technology should be an “add-on or an enhancement”, not a replacement.

But, establishing a balanced approach to technology can be a difficult process for educators who do not consider themselves to be “technologically-savvy”, due to a lack of experience with technology use. Therefore, integrating technology into subjects such as Core French may not occur, resulting in the language to be taught in a more traditional fashion. However, it is important to note that there are some benefits to French teachers who do decide to branch out of their comfort zones and incorporate technology into their teaching practices. These benefits include:

New teaching experience. Apps are revolutionizing the classroom, and for the right reasons. Teachers now have tools to stay on top of their students, keeping records of students’ behaviour and progress, organized all in one place.

Convenience. Mobility means that you can literally take your devices anywhere and still have access to content. Gone are the days when you (and students!) had to carry heavy bags filled with various books. Having an iPad or a smartphone means that we can all make do with a single, weightless device. And unlike websites, apps don’t always require Internet connection.

Variety of content. Apps are a great way to keep your students engaged. They never know what’s coming! Lessons are progressive, interactive and highly visual, and allow you to bring a wide range of content to your students, from audio and video to quizzes and games.

Parent engagement. Apps can greatly improve your students’ progress by allowing you to build a relationship with their parents. Communication between teacher and family can greatly increase the chances that a student will effectively do their homework.

Like Core French teachers, there are benefits for students who possess the ability to engage in different forms of technology use, within the classroom. Why? Well, since students are already interested and actively engaged in technology, why not harness this natural fluency and attention for educational purposes? Furthermore, when teachers integrate technology into Core French it puts students at the centre of their learning. Specifically, it provides students with the opportunity to be actively engaged and practice the language in realistic situations. According to Pano Savvidis, here are some of the main benefits of integrating technology use in the classroom:

Improves engagement. When technology is integrated into lessons, students are expected to be more interested in the subjects they are studying. Technology provides different opportunities to make learning more fun and enjoyable in terms of teaching same things in new ways. For instance, delivering teaching through gamification, taking students on virtual field trips and using other online learning resources. What is more, technology can encourage a more active participation in the learning process which can be hard to achieve through a traditional lecture environment.

Improves knowledge retention. Students who are engaged and interested in things they are studying, are expected to have a better knowledge retention. As mentioned before, technology can help to encourage active participation in the classroom which also is a very important factor for increased knowledge retention. Different forms of technology can be used to experiment with and decide what works best for students in terms of retaining their knowledge.

Encourages individual learning. No one learns in the same way because of different learning styles and different abilities. Technology provides great opportunities for making learning more effective for everyone with different needs. For example, students can learn at their own speed, review difficult concepts or skip ahead if they need to. What is more, technology can provide more opportunities for struggling students. Access to the Internet gives students access to a broad range of resources to conduct research in different ways, which in turn can increase the engagement.

Encourages collaboration. Students can practice collaboration skills by getting involved in different online activities. For instance, working on different projects by collaborating with others on forums or by sharing documents on their virtual learning environments. Technology can encourage collaboration with students in the same classroom, same school and even with other classrooms around the world.

Students can learn useful life skills through technology. By using technology in the classroom, both teachers and students can develop skills essential for the 21st century. Students can gain the skills they will need to be successful in the future. Modern learning is about collaborating with others, solving complex problems, critical thinking, developing different forms of communication and leadership skills, and improving motivation and productivity. What is more, technology can help develop many practical skills, including creating presentations, learning to differentiate reliable from unreliable sources on the Internet, maintaining proper online etiquette, and writing emails. These are very important skills that can be developed in the classroom.

Therefore, with all of the advantages that integrating technology has to offer for both teachers and students, perhaps they will serve as motivation to “spice up your French teaching” and persuade students that learning a foreign language can be fun and engaging, but also an important life skill.

Until next time…Thanks for stopping by!

Parlez-vous Francais?

Bonjour! Comment ça va? Parlez-vous Francais? We all know learning a second language (such as French) can be tough, especially if the language you are trying to learn isn’t considered to be a natural second language for English speakers. In the article Leaving The Mother Tongue: Why Languages Are So Hard To Learn And Which Are Easiest, Chris Weller states “Linguists like to pick things apart, so we can think of languages as being made up of three basic components: the phonology (how words and letters sound), the grammar (how those sounds are organized in a sentence), and the words themselves (how ideas and objects are represented verbally)”. Now, unless you were raised in a home where multiple languages were practiced daily or you were immersed in school at a young age, finding the desire to discover and absorb yourself in a language different from your mother-tongue, might seem intimidating unless you have the time or “discipline to master a new language through practice”.

However, teaching foreign languages in schools are becoming more difficult than ever before. Martin William, from the Teacher Network, states “Language pedagogy has come a long way since the days when repetitive grammar-translation methods were regarded as the only way to learn”. Although the traditional drill-practice method for memorizing vocabulary, grammar, and phrases proved effective in the past, educators are finding that students now require more diverse and realistic experiences in order to successfully comprehend a new language. Specifically, teachers are encouraged to practice task-based approaches which emphasize on the concepts of communication and the practical uses of language. Moreover, “The primary purpose of language is communication – grammar is important, but there’s a bigger picture. Language is no longer seen as being learnt through mechanical exercises, it’s developed through students interacting and engaging.” In today’s digital world, there are a wide assortment of technological devices and online tools at our fingertips. But, is it possible to utilize technologies in the development of learning a second language? Perhaps, this is worth investigating? Even if it means stepping out of our comfort zone to explore new digital tools?

When I accepted a specialist position with Regina Public Schools in 2010, I was assigned to teach Core French. At that time, I was still fairly new to the teaching profession, having taught only for 2 years prior to moving to Regina, Saskatchewan. As a teacher who is fluent in both French and English, I was excited to teach the French Language because I enjoyed learning it in school and recognize the importance of being bilingual in Canada. I felt confident in my ability to teach the language due to my enthusiastic and creative teaching practices. However, once the school year officially began, I found it more challenging to teach Core French than I had initially expected, due to the lack of teaching resources available for Core French teachers. Moreover, the constant responsibility to inspire English-speaking students in my school to take an interest in the French Language. As exhausted as I was, I never gave up. I knew it was my duty to get the students excited and motivated to learn, whether it was through singing songs, playing games or participating in enjoyable French traditions, such as indulging in delicious French inspired foods. However, after teaching Core French for 6 years, I decided I was ready for a change and transferred into a classroom position. When I reflect on teaching Core French, my heart is filled with many wonderful memories, but I also remember the many challenges I faced. Although I no longer teach Core French, I’m still determined to find new ways for Core French teachers to motivate their students and to help them understand that learning a foreign language can be fun and engaging. Furthermore, help them to discover the many benefits involved; such as meeting new people, boosting brain power, developing the ability to multi-task, expands career potential, and builds self-confidence. However, explaining these reasons to elementary and middle years students can be a difficult process as children within this age group have not yet mastered the understanding that they are accountable for their own learning experiences. While teaching Core French, there were many incidences where I found my-self focusing on classroom management as opposed to teaching curriculum content. If I’m being honest, I struggled…A lot. Luckily, I work with amazing educators who were always there for me, when I needed support.

Throughout this course, I will examine ways of incorporating technology into Core French education by using a variety of digital tools, apps and resources. I will explore the following questions: Does technology in these settings benefit teachers and students? Is there a benefit to incorporating technology in this setting? Does technology assist in the development of learning a second language? For the next 4 weeks, I hope to be able to discover valuable technological tools/resources for Core French that may be used within the classroom setting or at home. I realize it can be challenging for teachers to provide access to technology for their students, due to the limited number of technological devices as well as time restrictions throughout the day. Therefore, it is my goal is to uncover digital tools that are user-friendly for both teachers and their students, are easily accessible, and can be incorporated into daily lessons. Moreover, provide students with the opportunity to practice the French language at home with supervision from their parents.

Therefore, my plan for the next upcoming weeks are as follows:

  • Research language software/tools in depth to determine which programs would be suitable for classroom use.
  • Research Core French resources beyond the Saskatchewan Curriculum, using a variety of social media platforms.
  • Explore the Twitterverse by investigating tweets specifically related to Core French, in hopes of expanding my PLN as well as gain resources and/or ideas about how technology can be integrated with learning a language.

Until next time…Thanks for stopping by!

Digital citizenship…a teacher’s guide!

Throughout this course, the focus of my major project has been geared towards developing a curriculum-based resource that supports digital citizenship and media literacies within schools. As an educator, teaching my students about digital citizenship is crucial as technology plays a huge role in shaping the way our students communicate, learn, and create. Within today’s digital world, students are highly exposed to a wide assortment of different technologies and as technology continues to advance, they are left to adjust at a fast rate. The effects of technology on children are complicated, demonstrating both pros and cons. But, as to whether technology actually helps or hurts in the development of our children’s thinking, it depends on the specific way it is used, their activity in online spaces and the frequency it is used at.

As parents and teachers, it is important to recognize that technology is here to stay and that our children and students will continue to have exposure to it, as it is used often within our home and in schools. Rather than resisting it, we are left to educate ourselves about the distinct difference between being digitally/media literate and computer literate. In today’s digital society, children are being raised to operate a variety of technological devices at a young age. However, learning how to play games on a computer, tablet or smart phone is very different from comprehending how to act appropriately and responsibly in online spaces. Therefore, it is crucial for today’s modern youth to understand the ethics of technology associated to anyone who works or plays online.

We also need to educate our children and students about the importance of practicing digital safety and security when in online spaces. Disclosing personal and private information is often a mistake many children/students make as they do not understand the unfortunate consequences that may follow these actions. As responsible digital citizens, we are aware of the potential risks that exist within the digital society, however we would be naive to assume that our children and students possess the same awareness. The fact is, digital wisdom is simply not embedded into our brains, it needs to be taught. Furthermore, the expanding digital communication options have changed because people are able to keep in constant communication with their friends and family. Aside from email and text messaging, social media produces a wide assortment of apps that are usually free and offer instant messaging options. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that our children and students are spending so much of their time social networking. Although these digital tools offer quick and convenient communication options, they also open new doors to a range of potential risks. So, it is important that we educate our children and students to practice caution while making their presence known in the online world.

In conclusion, learning about digital citizenship and media literacies this semester has been extremely valuable! As a frequent technology user, this project and course has inspired me to monitor my digital footprint closely, contribute to the digital society in a positive manner, create equal opportunities for technology use, and to share the knowledge I have gained from this course to educate my students and co-workers about the importance of digital citizenship and media literacies. I would also like to express my extreme gratitude to Alec and Katia for creating the Saskatchewan’s Digital Citizenship Policy Planning Guide as it proved to be a very helpful resource in the development of my major project. Also, I’d like to thank the Common Sense Education website for offering a variety of effective resources for supporting digital citizenship as well as for creating interactive activities that are designed for both educators and students. Last but definitely not least, I would like to thank all of my EC&I 832 colleagues for sharing in my learning and demonstrating such support in the development of my curriculum-based resource. Your positive comments/feedback made all this happen! Now, I present to you the classroom code you will need in order to join my Google classroom to view the contents of my major project! The code is x0ak8x. Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by!