Day 15: What tech tools are you most grateful for? Why? How have they changed what you do?
Number one is absolutely my projector. I love that my students and I can pull up web pages, watch music videos, and just generally get in touch with the Spanish-speaking world. I have a class set of iPads that I use a lot, but sometimes a particular web pages won’t work on the iPads, or if I want everyone to see or watch the same thing together, the projector just can’t be beaten.
Of course, I do love the iPads though. They are an excellent tool. They allow me to create and proctor tests without tying up the copier (or waiting for it!). They allow my students to do listening activities at their own pace and listen as many times as they need to without driving the rest of us crazy. They let us view things in color. They give my students the opportunity to explore Spanish-language department stores and absorb language. They allow students to look up words quickly and easily (although relying too heavily on translators or dictionaries is definitely something I want them to learn not to do!). Kids can play vocabulary review games one-on-one, they can hear words pronounced. There are a few things that are difficult (Prezi and Google Slides, for instance, have limited options), but overall, I simply can’t say enough good about the iPads from a world language teacher standpoint.
This year, I’ve started using Edmodo. I had heard about it last year. Several middle school teachers use it so I heard about it at our district’s middle/high school tutoring program last year. This year I revamped my curriculum, and with it, my homework. Rather than assigning worksheets every day, my students have 2 assignments each week, which they turn in on Edmodo. I don’t have to deal with a folder full of homework, losing papers, or, more importantly, spend nearly as much time grading as I have in the past. If you haven’t checked out Edmodo, and your students have pretty reliable Internet access, I definitely recommend it. The website is pretty easy to navigate, and there are apps for iOS, Android, and Windows devices.
Finally, no post about tech would be complete without mentioning Twitter! I use it exclusively for school purposes. Following other teachers (mostly language teachers), #langchat (which I haven’t been making it too lately…oops…), keeping up to date on news in Spanish-speaking countries, and following some of the musicians and musical groups whose music I use in class. I get great ideas from other teachers, and I learn about awesome new things, like Te@chThought and their excellent blogging challenges!