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 espa├▒ol. 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 Pron├│stico 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!