Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Conquistadors Connect 2015: Madrileños & Clearwater teens

"When people come into your life, you have no idea how they will change it. These people have changed my life so much within these short two weeks. They will never know how much they meant to me. They showed me how to appreciate the small moments in life. They helped me transform as a person, and they taught me about many things I did not know (especially more Spanish). I hope to see everyone again and share memories with them. The memories that we have made these two weeks will stick with me for my whole life. I wish everyone luck as they continue their journey in life. This is not goodbye for us but it is see you later. Hasta luego mi familia!"
~from 13-year-old Florida participant as posted on her social media account

And a very special GRACIAS to all our family, friends and supporters who believe in the power of connections! Huge thanks to:

Colegio Decroly, Inés Guillorme, Safety Harbor Museum and Cultural Center, Matt Spoor, the Belleair Recreation Department, Kevin & Nicole Piccarreto, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Pablo Otalvaro, Adventure Blue (Daniel Vukelich, David Vukelich), Ciccio's/Water restaurant, Susan Bucci, Regions Bank, Raymond Villanueva, Panera Bread, Vikki Kaiser, Sail Honeymoon Inc. and Employee Leasing Strategies

For a summary of our program, please read here:

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Active Learning in WL Classroom through CENTERS: Cultural Exploration - el cinco de mayo

Whether it is because you want to bring an exciting new aspect into your teaching methods, or you would like to encourage more movement and active learning, or perhaps you want to differentiate learning, there are various reasons to implement “centers” into the World Language classroom. 

On this particular occasion, I was able to volunteer as a cultural guest speaker in order to share my knowledge of the “Cinco de Mayo” celebration of Puebla, Mexico. The lesson and centers were used in Spanish 1 classes consisting of students from Grades 6 - 8.

The lesson began with a 2-minute video to introduce the “Cinco de Mayo” historical background. Next, using Haiku Deck (and 2 decks), I introduced 20 new vocabulary words through images, oral response and pronunciation “gimmicks,” along with a little TPR. Finally, students were separated into six groups of 3-4 students for centers for small-group play. 


-Tierra de Dulces (Candyland) - using stuffed colorblock die, 4 game pieces (Go-go’s), a gameboard (hand-made on foam board), and the Haikudeck cards (images printed on cardstock as a PPT, with 9 slides on each page, cut apart) Students move along, while identifying cards by naming the correct word/phrase in Spanish.

-Lotería (Mexican Bingo) - Using a simple “table” in Word/Pages, within 16 boxes, I copied the images randomly into the boxes, and then labeled the Spanish terms under each image. Second, I randomized it and made 3 different boards. Third, I made a black-and-white copy of the PPT (9 slides on each page), cut them out, and placed them in a SOLO cup (for individuals to draw upon). Taking turns, students would draw one card from the cup, and give the group a clue or riddle, in Spanish. All of them would place a penny, or Bingo marker on the word, if they have it. First to get four in a row yells Lotería and wins the game.

-Matamoscas (Fly Swatter) - I wrote the names of all the vocabulary words in Spanish on the board in random “directions,” and handed 2 of the 4 students a swatter. I then called words aloud in English (or gave a riddle), and then students hit the correct Spanish translation. The students took turns in teams of 2. Whomever got the answer correct first, received the clue card and held onto it until the end of the game. Whichever team acquired the most clue cards won.

-Cabeza Arriba (Head’s Up) - created with the Card Creator app and allowing students to use my cell phone, a group of 3-4 students played the game. This game resembles Charades, but backwards. Whomever gets the most points (or most answers guessed correctly) wins. 

-Tiny Tap - Students can independently create an interactive question-and-answer session using the images from Haiku Deck, and their own voice/written questions to test for comprehensibility.

-Thinglink - Students can independently create an interactive “photo” where they add their voice/video using the images from Haiku Deck to demonstrate understanding.

Hope these activities prompt your own creation of CENTERS, whether it be for “El Cinco de Mayo” or any other vocabulary unit you have. Happy active learning!

Haiku Decks:

Cinco de Mayo - Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Cinco de Mayo - Vocab - Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

All my files can be found here:

Uno más: Here is another resource I have from a teacher from Schoology:

Thursday, March 19, 2015

"Guten Tag & Hallo" From Germany...With Love


Our friend and fellow education colleague from Munich, Germany was gracious enough to spend some time on Wednesday afternoon at a local private Catholic school teaching German culture classes to 6th and 7th graders.

Thank you, Elizabeth, for being a global educator and for engaging the students with your wonderful stories and perspective! 

Friday, March 13, 2015

All that glitters is SCOLT - March 5 - 7, 2015

This last week, I had the amazing opportunity to present both a workshop and a concurrent session alongside fellow iPad Gurus and Spanish teachers Donna Guzzo, Janet Robles and Michelle Olah at the Southern Conference on Language Teaching (SCOLT) in Atlanta, Georgia. During our sessions, we emphasized the benefits and creativity possibilities for students in a 21st-century learning environment that does not emphasize rote-learning but rather authentic use of target language, thus honing learning and innovation skills (critical thinking, communication, collaboration & creativity) and problem-solving skills. 

During the workshop, Donna, Janet and I worked with educators in separate "centers" to demonstrate 3 apps, and then facilitated their productivity with these apps. We discussed possible activities, projects and tasks in which to use these creativity & productivity apps in the WL classroom (as soon as Monday). Educators make the BEST STUDENTS, and their creative juices were flowing. In my center, we utilized Aurasma, Padlet, and Nearpod. 

Due to personal family reasons, Donna and Janet had to leave the conference early. Therefore, because I prefer to present with a "partner-in-crime," Michelle Olah stepped in during our iCreate session. Attendees participated in live tutorials of 3 apps, as Michelle and I called on one volunteer to come up to the front and utilize the chosen app for the first time. Applications we facilitated included Photo Mapo, Educreations, and Tellagami. Again, the educators in the room were eager for the active-learning pieces. We had a lot of laughs, and immediately tweeted out during our session the digital artifacts that were produced. Amazing learners! 

(World Language teachers are crazy and fabulous, by the way!) To all the attendees and those that may just happen upon this post, please share your experiences and digital artifacts with us. We love to hear about the creative activities happening in your classrooms. 
Happy creating!!!! 

Handouts and session examples from both the workshop and session are available in shared Dropbox folder here:

Saturday, February 28, 2015


It is all about the LEARNING, no matter where in the world the student is located or even how old the student is...we are all co-learners. 
I nominated my colleague and friend, Jennifer, here at this link:

I was restricted to 250 CHARACTERS, but if I had 250 WORDS, this is what I would say:

As an Educator Innovator, Jennifer Williams champions teachers every day to develop and implement instructional pedagogies that engage new digital literacy practices.  Both an educational leader and the recipient of the American Montessori Society’s Research Award for 2015, Jennifer works with university programs and pre-service Montessori teachers to bridge the gap between theory and practice.  Breaking through century-old methods, she works to find ways to effectively prepare beginning teachers to integrate technology into Montessori classrooms and lessons.  Together with teachers and students, she uses technology as a meaningful learning tool discovering practices that complement and enhance traditional Montessori tenets in powerful and transformational ways.  Jennifer examines ways teachers can challenge themselves to co-learn with students and explore as digital composers in common learning spaces.  Through her vision of providing all students with authentic opportunities for international collaboration and relevant learning with use of advanced teaching practices and latest technology, she seeks to empower teachers and students to prepare for their futures in a world that will prioritize creativity, innovation, and exploration.  At Calliope Global, she strives to inspire educators from around the world to be curious and motivated in efforts to lead meaningful change.  Seeing the world through a global lens, Jennifer believes in the power of teachers to act as change agents to transform the educational landscape of our world in new and innovative ways.  It is my pleasure to nominate my colleague, friend, and inspiration, Jennifer Williams, as a 2015 Digital Learning Champion!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Power of Connecting: #Read4Fun

Four years ago, as I started in my doctoral program, I was ready and prepared to make some life sacrifices.  Quickly, sleep was replaced by studying, social events were replaced by writing, and words in my life, such as relax and unwind, were replaced by words like quantitative and qualitative.  I immersed myself in research and was ignited by the way one study would lead me to five more.  However, along the way and without notice, my reading identity had changed and reading for pleasure was lost.  Though I am always reading, I realized recently that something was missing.  So, I started to reflect and quickly found that it was the connection that I so missed.  Connection to characters, connection to stories, connection to other readers.  Book clubs just don’t seem to exist in my current world of academic research and educational studies. 

So, as I prepared for my 40th birthday coming up next month in March, I decided that I needed to find a way to do both.  Research is part of me now and will be a constant in my life.  It energizes me and keeps me questioning and searching for knowledge.  Therefore, I needed to find a way and find the time to re-connect to my identity as a reader that I used to know; one that devoured books and stayed up late because the pages just seemed to continue turning without me even realizing. 

What happened next was magical and truly exemplifies the power of reading and the power of connection! And it all started with a tweet!

This past weekend, in efforts to inspire my “re-connected to reading” self to books, I sent out a tweet to my PLC on Twitter asking for great book recommendations.  Soon after, the amazing Sean Gaillard @smgaillard responded with a suggestion.  This sparked a connection with Connie Rockow @crockow8 and Lena Rockwood @Dr_LMR.  Connection turned to conversation.  Conversation turned to collaboration.  And collaboration turned to creation.  Within hours, #Read4Fun was formed!  Together, the four of us were energized and eager—each motivated to share our excitement surrounding books!  We tweeted to each other from the grocery story, the beach (sorry northern friends---yes, the weather here in Florida was nice enough for a beach day yesterday), and then from bookstores.  We gathered books for our reading lists and started to tell others.  Very soon, more people started sharing similar stories of how they, too, missed the readers they were years ago. 

One day later, #Read4Fun, a concept that was built on both books and connection, had organically developed.  Something that started simply with a birthday wish and a tweet was bringing me back to my reading self.  And, don’t you know, I stayed up way too late last night--lost in a book with pages that just seemed to turn themselves into the early morning hours! 

Looking forward to our inaugural chat this Sunday at 7pm! 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Global Kahoot - how AMAZING!

I am proud to announce that we are officially Kahoot Heroes! At the Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC), a group of early-adopter educators spread the word to thousands about the powerful impact of this amazing and engaging teaching tool. From taking part in the record-breaking-world's largest-Kahoot (with over 1,000 players) to sharing its classroom potential in concurrent sessions, instructors happily learned new ways to incorporate this technology into the classroom and crossing all disciplines.

Yesterday, while conducting a Professional Development learning session at a World Languages Department learning community event at Freedom High School in Tampa, I introduced the educators to Kahoot by playing a Kahoot... and they were instantly hooked! Of the tech tools discussed, Kahoot was definitely the audience favorite! It was rumored to me that one of the teachers would be creating a Kahoot that very night to play with her students the next day. Now, that's excitement!! Don't forget, if you are pressed for time, you can search for an already-made-Kahoot among the "public" Kahoots on their website, duplicate it, and then edit it to your taste and needs. User-friendly, simple, and fun are all great aspects of this tool to the educator!

Now, because global projects and collaboration are my passion, and I have been dreaming about doing this myself, here is an AWESOME post written by Heidi Samuelson (@swampfrogfirst) about combining Kahoot and Skype to create the ultimate classroom experience. Please let me know if you try it out yourself, and send me details and pics. I would love to share!

Heidi, your students must think your class is AMAZING! Happy connecting! 

FETC 2015 - It is all about Connections!

Thanks to all the amazing people with whom we were privileged enough to connect and also with whom to learn and share:

@Edtechnerd (Bryan Miller, Pine Crest School) 
@TanyaAvrith (Amplified IT)
@ThankYouKatie (Katie Evans, Edutopia)
@KatieKjewett (Katie Jewett, St. Cececia's School)
@Langexploration (Language Exploration Enrichment)
Denise Moore (Tampa Catholic High School)

Reflection to come soon! 

In case you missed it, here are Fran's slides and handout for her FETC concurrent session: Global Connections with Apps: Talk It Up! 

Friday, January 16, 2015

5 Ways to Prepare for #FETC2015

The countdown is on and I am working this week to start preparing!  Here is a list of my Top 5 Tips to Prepare for #FETC15!  Can’t wait to meet new tech friends and see past tech pals!

#1: Identify Your Goals
For each conference, I always try to clearly answer these two questions:
“What do I hope to learn?” and “What can I look to share?”  This year I was able to answer these questions pretty easily.  My first goal this year is to find out how universities are preparing preservice teachers to integrate multimodal and digital literacies.  I also am excited to see how teachers are finding ways to empower students to guide their own learning through use of technology.  After my action research this year, I am eager to share what I have discovered about learning space design at my poster session on Thursday from 2:30-3:30.  I am also setting out to find all teachers that are interested in “Going Global” and connecting their students with students from around the world!

#2: Plan Your Schedule
This year’s conference schedule is available and ready for download at  This year, I am trying to befriend my 3-hole puncher!  There is nothing like newly printed papers, hole punched, and organized into a binder!  Today, I took out my highlighter and started selecting sessions.  Since I work best through brainstorming and collaborating, I always love attending session with my colleagues and friends.  Contact friends this week to plan out must-attend sessions, workshops, and times to meet at the exhibit hall, Makers’ Hub and STEM Demo Area.  After presenting in an IGNITE session at ISTE, I have a new obsession with these new, innovative, and fast-paced style sessions.  This year, I can’t wait to get to all the ASPIRE sessions to get ready-to-implement ideas from transformational leaders and experts in the field! 

#3: Identify Your “Must-Meets” & Start the Conversation
At each conference, I always set out to meet three or four change-agents that have inspired me to be a better teacher and leader.  My “must-meets” always tend to include an influential educator and also an organization or company that has made my teaching practices better!  Next, after I find my “must-meets” and identifying their sessions, I start the conversation.  I reach out on Twitter and through email and let my “must-meets” know I am looking forward to connecting! 

#4: Set Out to Share & Connect
I have seen first-hand the importance of connection and collaboration and firmly believe that strong relationships and friendships are key to happiness and success as a teacher.  So, for FETC, set out to share and connect!  Print up some simple business cards or contact cards with all your information including school, email, Twitter handle, and research interests.  A headshot or QR code are also great add-ons.  Make sure to update all your social media accounts with your current information and then start sharing!  You can use the hashtag #FETC to share your plans for the conference. 

#5: Meet up with Your PLC & Celebrate!
FETC is a great time to celebrate your accomplishments and share your goals for the future with members of your Professional Learning Community.  I love how hallways and corridors of the conference center are alive with conversations and any moment at FETC is a great time to develop relationships and meet new friends.  Utilize the scheduled social events and lunch and dinner hours to meet up with friends from the past! 

Can’t wait to see you all next week!  Let’s keep the conversation going!  What are your goals for FETC 2015? 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

"Rainbow at noon, more rain soon"...or so goes the proverb

It was September, and it was the time I usually teach the students about how to talk about the weather, en español. That time of year in Florida is always interesting because the weather is still very warm and we typically get a lot of thunderstorms. Unfortunately, when the weather is poor, the students do not get to play outside at recess; therefore, they are quite interested to know when the rain will "go away."

Just as students apply the National Standards "5 C's" or five goals that focus language learning, by using comparisons, students will develop insight into the target language and culture (as well as their own). From an early age/level, their classroom investigations should provide them with a deeper understanding of how Spanish culture reflects the perspectives, practices, and products of the people who speak Spanish. 

Now, bring in the Educational Technology instruments. Use the "Weather+" and "Google Earth" apps to investigate the weather and location of Latin American countries. Utilize information found to create "El Pronóstico de Tiempo" of certain country capital cities around the world. Next, find a teacher in one of those countries with whom you can Mystery Skype using the "Skype" app, and then, discuss the weather. Communicating or interacting with an authentic classroom in another part of the world allows students to hone their valuable (interpersonal mode of) communications skills.

This time, in addition, I created a beautiful Haiku Deck presentation to capture my student's interest, and also to help orally teach the words of a song I used to utilize from the Realidades program. Later, the Haiku Deck slides (as seen below) can be printed as "board game play cards" for a mean game of Spanish-style Candy Land!

Here are a couple links to use and/or share:

El Tiempo - Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Watching videos in Spanish provides students with the opportunity to practice their (interpretive mode of) communication skills. Simple use of an appropriate video from YouTube is a great example of integrating technology into instruction to enhance learning.

Un video de SAS Curriculum Pathways:

It is unusually cold here in Florida as I edit this post. Keep warm, wherever you live in the world; and please let me know if you have more ideas about how to engage students with weather lessons. 

License Plates...Vanity Plates with global flair!

I remember when I was in high school, and the prospect of owning my own car made my imagination go wild with the personalized license plate I was going to procure (well, at least in my mind)!  With this activity, middle school Spanish students were given the opportunity to put their creative juices to work and think about their future vanity plates.

I have to admit, though, that I stole the wonderful premise from a high school Spanish teacher in Pinellas County.  But, I did add my own creative flair and parameters to the activity with the elaborate instructions and further global sharing! Students were asked to create personal car License Plates as a writing and speaking prompt for language class.
Attached are my Activity Instructions, as well as my students' work as examples (except the first one, which is my pretend Gator Vanity Plate). 
Happy creating and speaking!

Now, the same activity was completed by global peers at Colegio Decroly in Madrid. They also used U.S. license plates, instead choosing a state that they wish to visit one day.  Here are our global partners' responses including videos of the oral presentations:!License-Plates/c1fks/F7BF49C7-6E35-4AB0-BDBE-D417C4F77F2F
We are so excited to connect with them!