New beginning…

After a 4 month break from my blog, I figured that today is as good as any other day to get back to posting.  To catch everyone up, I was offered a job here in Regina as a replacement for a teacher who would be going on maternity leave at the end of September. This is at a VERY big elementary school with almost 700 students from K-8. My position will be with the grade 5/6 french immersion class. (The schools has two streams. The french stream is approximately 1/3 of the school population).  I was fortunate enough to be offered a 2 week subbing job at this school with a different class at the start of the school year. This gave me a chance to learn how to get around the school, the atmosphere, the staff, the students, and the daily routine. I was able to spend some of my lunch breaks with my future students, which was amazing. I’m very excited to start this position on October 3rd. In the meantime, I’ve been getting myself familiar with the middle years curriculum. It is quite different than the High school Core French curriculum that we studied from front to back in my 4 years at University. One of the ways that I’ve been preparing for my classes, is searching for a french book that my class read when I was in grade 5. It took a lot of tracking down, but I was finally able to find out the title of the book, as well as a library that would lend it to me. I just received the books in the mail today, and it made my day! If anyone is ever needing french books, “Le Lien” in the town of Gravelbourg has been very accommodating and quick with their deliveries. They provide you with free shipping, and allow you to keep their resources for 3 months. I’m looking forward to using this in my classroom as well as many other ideas that I’ve come up with in the past several months!

Before taking ECMP 355, I thought that Social Networking tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and Skype should be avoided in school.  In my elementary and high school, theses types of sites had filtering programs to block students from accessing them.  I have had it ingrained in me until my last semester of school that technology belongs at home, and that teachers should deny students opportunity from participating in social networking during school hours.  But, throughout the semester, I’ve learned that these tools can be very beneficial in the learning process of the students. I’m now a firm believer that social networking should be a regular part of every class. By understanding how our students are using these social networking tools, we can help make school even more relevant and meaningful to them.

Here is a short clip that explains why social networking should be used in schools. This is from the site “Twiducate“, a social networking site for schools.

Studies show that students are using social networking as more than keeping updated with their social life. When students ages 16-18 were asked what they learn from using these sites, the students listed technology skills as the top lesson, followed by creativity, being open to new or diverse views, and communication skills. This proves that students are practicing the skills that are needed in the 21st century to be successful.  I think that this allows them to develop a positive attitude toward making technology a part of their everyday life, and that we shouldn’t be discouraging them from this by taking away the privilege of technology during the school day.

I think that schools are going to increasingly use more social networking as part of their regular classroom work.  I am seeing more and more schools using Twitter as a way to keep in touch with parents, students, and teachers.  Social networking sites are increasingly becoming a bigger part in promoting schools and divisions for parents and for future teachers who are looking job jobs.

As we prepare ourselves for a future led by technology, we need to stay updated and knowledgeable about how to integrate social networking as part of our every day lessons. Here is a list of 100 Inspiring Ways to use Social Media in the Classroom. There are many beneficial strategies listed here that we could easily start incorporating as we start teaching. I hope that I can be a technology leader in my school where students and I can collaborate together in creating a classroom atmosphere that is centered around technology.

 

Wordle in the classroom

I decided to create a Wordle with random words that I’ve used in my blog posts.  I am proud to say that almost every word that they chose to put into my wordle is somehow connected to teaching and learning.  In the process of finding the home page for Wordle, I found a slide show presentation called: “51 Interesting Ways to use World in the Classroom“, which was on the website “Ideas to Inspire“. Ideas to Inspire gives ideas for several different programs on how to incorporate them into classrooms. Out of the 51 ideas for using Wordle, these are the ones that I like the best:

1) Guess the fairytale – then use to highlight key words so students can write own tales.

2) All About Me- write the key words that would introduce them

3) Make the syllabus look interesting- Copy and paste the entire syllabus into Wordle, print out as A3 (or larger) and use as part of a display.

4) Have each student write expectations he has of the classroom. Combine all lists in Wordle to create a Classroom Norms poster or team t-shirts.

5) Use Wordle to compare/contrast themes in literature.  For example, Romeo & Juliet vs. West Side Story.  Copy and paste entire work into Wordle and get results.

6) Create a Custom Image Header for Your Blog – Use your class blog url to create a Wordle and use the resulting image as the custom image header for your blog.  Change the header periodically to reflect your blog’s changing themes and content.

7) Make a Unique Gift – If students are preparing for a holiday like Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, etc. They could Wordle wedding vows, family stories, favorite love songs of their parents or grandparents, or just the names of the people in their families to create a very personal, but creative and artistic gift that’s suitable for framing.

8 ) Spelling with Wordle – Create and post your weekly spelling list using Wordle.

9) Give pupils a self-esteem boost & improve relationships – Write each child’s name on a separate sheet of paper. Circulate each sheet around the class so each pupil writes at least 1 nice/+ve attribute about every other pupil. They can repeat words others have used. Collect the sheets, type each pupil’s list of attributes (editing where necessary!) with their name x10 & Wordle the result.

10) iTunes Playlist – It is possible to create a Wordle out of the artists in my iTunes playlist.  The steps are outlined at http://www.theteacherlist.ca/2011/03/extra-a-fun-use-of-wordle/

Intensive French

 

 

I recall reading one of my classmate’s blog entry on the Intensive French program, but I cannot find it anymore.  The reason that I’m bringing this subject up is that I had an interview yesterday for 3 Intensive French positions in Christ the Redeemer school division in Alberta. Asking me to interview for these positions was very flattering since this is not many schools yet. I would say that it is still in its pilot years.

I first heard about Intensive French last year in my EFRN class. My prof spent a lot of our class time focusing on this program and we even spent a day in Saskatoon observing a couple classes as part of our OCRE. It was very beneficial for me to see a class in action instead of just reading and hearing about them.

How the Intensive French program works, is that it is taught to Grade 6 students who have no previous french background. In the half of the year, the students receive approximately 80% of their instruction in French, and in the second half, it moves down to 20%. The other subjects are compressed into the second half of the year. This means that all the outcomes from each curriculum will be attained, but the number of resources used to get to the learning outcomes is reduced. And since many of the learning outcomes are the same between languages, many of the ELA outcomes are met during the French classes. It centers around communication rather than writing skills. Therefore, there is a lot of interaction between students and students with their teachers.

Great results in the language acquisition in the last few years have been very apparent. After the first half of the year, students in Grade 6 Intensive French are at a Grade 2 French Immersion level. I think that this is fantastic because these students are going to continue moving on with French after having this foundational knowledge. After they complete Intensive French, they move on to Enhanced French in grades 7-12 which provides more hours in French than would Core French.

Since learning about this program, I’ve made it a goal to teach this at some point of my career. I just didn’t think that I would have the opportunity as a first year teacher. I can see it being very challenging for teachers because it is so “intense”.  Many of the classrooms that have implemented Intensive French have to deal with the transition of English speaking students to French students. I can see this being a huge program in the next few years if there would be more bilingual teachers who are willing to teach outside of the Francophone or Immersion programs. I can’t wait to see how this will develop over my teaching career!

Now that our ECMP 355 class is officially over, I’m wondering how we are going to stay on top of the technology world.  In the last four months, Alec introduced us to many ways to incorporate technology into our classrooms. He showed us several sites and tools in every class that broadened our horizons. From this, we were able to experiment with them and decided which ones we liked the best. But come Tuesday, we won’t be getting this great opportunity at the tip of our fingers anymore.  Now I’m left wondering, where can we get the updates and advice on the latest technology?

I know that for myself, Twitter will be one of the most likely places that I will go for updates for the time being.  Through the social networking that I did for my Final Project, I am now following many educators that share links to interesting and relevant sites about technology in the classroom.  For those of you who are seeking more Tweeters to follow, we have a link to a list of Educators that we can choose to follow.  I highly recommend having Tech-minded Educators on your Twitter as they post interesting tweets that are often helpful. They can also be used to guide us if we tweet any questions or are looking for participation in a project.

Another suggestion that I have to keep updated, is through Blogs.  I found a good link on WordPress titled “Technology in the Classroom”.  On here, you will find blog posts from several people that are related to technology in the classroom.  One of the regular bloggers on this list, “Eduhowto” has a really great blog with posts that are more or less all connected to technology. He provides a lot of insightful information and opinion on tools that he has used in his own classroom. As well, all of his blogs have links to other articles or sites that are additional aid to the topic of his post. I highly recommend anyone in the classroom to take a look at his blog.

I’m hoping that others have advice to share on what are some options to stay updated with current practices of using technology in the classroom.

For my Final Project, I’m developing a french resource that will hopefully one day include French speakers from the 29 countries that have French as an official language. This has been a lengthy process because of the social networking required to get in touch with these people.  I first started searching for people at the end of February and have made my way up to 9 countries that are represented, however I only have 6 of the recordings on hand today. I fully intend on continuing this project until it is complete, even if it takes me several years. It will not only be satisfying to complete it, but I know that it will be a profitable resource as there is nothing like this available for french teachers.

Here is the link to my Wiki, which explains the project as well as provides links to other pages: http://bit.ly/eZn3ol

This is the link to my map of speakers if you would like to see it directly (link is also on my wiki): http://bit.ly/hSTeiM

This is my Summary of Learning that I put together with Camtasia. I found it relatively easy to use, and kept waiting for a big problem to occur, but….nothing🙂 I wish that I would have allotted more time to this project, as I would have liked to add more reflection. As a side note, my youngest brother, Pavel (10 years old), made his long awaited debut in the youtube world.

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